My first tattoo

A few days ago I went and got my first tattoo. I’ve wanted a tattoo for the past four or five years, but could never settle on something that I knew I wanted on my body for the rest of my life.

However, in an article that Marti and I read in New York Magazine lately, the author introduced a phrase that I hadn’t heard before:

Ya’aburnee (Arabic) [ya-BOR-nay] – approximately translates to “you bury me”, meaning that you hope your lover buries you because the idea of living without them is unbearable. Continue reading “My first tattoo”

Why we’re always apologising to our children

Our children are as entitled (if not more entitled) to receive an apology when we’ve wronged them. Acting as if we’re somehow superior to them doesn’t do anyone any favours

I think that most people would agree that it’s important for them to feel safe in their relationships by knowing that they will be treated with dignity and respect and that any wrong can be reconciled amicably. This is chiefly seen in marriages and close friendships and I don’t know why we don’t treat our children the same way.

Most people seem to think that using phrases like “because I said so” are normal and acceptable, but I question that. Such phrases imply that there’s a servant and a master, rather than a level playing field. As for me and my wife, we think that our children are little humans with feelings and ideas. While we have a responsibility to protect them from the dangers that they may face, they can make their own decisions and we try to allow them to do so at every opportunity possible. We empower them to be responsible for and to themselves.

Continue reading “Why we’re always apologising to our children”

Why we’re asking people to not bring gifts to our kids’ birthdays

Our children have plenty of toys and don’t need to be given gifts out of duty, so we’re asking that people give their time instead of a gift so that Ellie can enjoy an experience that she will remember forever (with the aid of photos at this young age).

In a couple of weeks, Ellie will celebrate her 2nd birthday. As part of the invitation we have specifically requested that birthday party attendees do not bring gifts. Here’s a few thoughts on why we chose to do that:

  • Today, gift-giving is very much an expectation when attending a child’s birthday party. As such, the gifts tend to be purchased out of duty rather than out of love, so the birthday boy/girl ends up with whatever seemed like fun for a reasonable price from the toy aisle at Target rather than a carefully considered gift given out of love and consideration.
  • Most of what children play with today is not compatible with how we are raising Ellie. In the absence of screens, branding and media, the best kind of toys for her are the kind of thing that you have to hunt down specifically as they’re no longer toys that most kids play with, so this avoids her opening presents that we then have to explain that she can’t have.
  • Simply put and perhaps most importantly, Ellie has plenty. She has lots of toys and doesn’t need more “stuff” in her life. Children fare much better falling in love with a couple of excellent toys than having myriad toys that they rarely play with. I realise that this isn’t an option for some people, but we’d much rather that people just come and spend some time with Ellie and create a memory with her; granted she probably won’t remember her birthday in the long-term (she will be raving about it in the short term), but she’ll have photos to look back on and see who was with her.

The completion of my family

With the arrival of Jack a few weeks ago, our family is now complete so these photos are the first of our whole family, causing me to ponder our little unit and the responsibilities of raising them well.

Following the arrival of Jack, my family is now complete. My beautiful wife Marti, my daughter Ellie and my son Jack now make up our little family unit of four, with no more room at the inn.

Jack will be the last of our children so these pictures are the first of our whole family. Even though I’m well aware of the fact that I have a wife and a daughter and a son, to see our family together in a photo somehow makes it seem that much more surreal. I actually have a complete family; it might seem weird for me to say that, but it really hits home that we’re now a whole independent unit responsible to and for one another. And we’ve got another couple of decades like this before we start to divide and multiply. Continue reading “The completion of my family”

When to announce your pregnancy

When you find out that you’re pregnant, one of the first pieces of “wisdom” that you’ll hear is to keep it to yourselves until about 12 or 13 weeks, as the first trimester is when the bulk of miscarriages occur. Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, you’re much more likely to go to term the theory goes.

I personally disagree and it was nice to see that a client of mine agreed. She became pregnant recently and became aware at about 5 weeks. However she didn’t want to let the fear of what might happen to the baby stop her from enjoying the moment.

She wanted people to share in her joy, and rightly so. She put it better than I possibly could, but I would encourage you to share your happy moments with the ones you love, not least because if the worst should happen, you’d want to be surrounded by the love, compassion and comfort of your friends rather than suffering in silence.

The sad state of maternity leave in USA

Americans rank last in the world when it comes to paid time off for new mothers with no such federal mandate which ought to sadden people that the sanctity of new life and the health of mother and baby are given such flagrant disregard.

With my love of John Oliver made well-known, his recent piece on maternity leave which he chose to air on Mother’s Day made me love him even more.

I was sickened to learn about maternity leave in the States when my wife became pregnant. Legally, a company doesn’t have to give you a single paid day off after you force a human being out of your vagina. The only law currently protecting mothers is the FMLA act which affords individuals up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for certain medical events (including birth) during which time your job is protected assuming you and your company meet all of the prerequisite conditions.

Continue reading “The sad state of maternity leave in USA”

The Human Podcast: deep discussions that provoke thought and change

The Human Podcast is a rare find: a podcast willing to explore the other side of current events and societal norms with intelligence, objectivity and wisdom

A few months ago, my wife sent me a link to a podcast episode, because it featured a guest that I knew and she thought I might enjoy it. His name was Justin Stumvoll and he and the two hosts Wes and Ryan spoke intelligently for an hour about men, our sexuality, the fact that we’re emotional creatures and that real masculinity is not found in bravado, but in your confidence and humility.

It was an excellent episode that really engaged me, got me thinking and more importantly wasn’t a dull repeat of oft-repeated clichés: it was out-of-the-box thinking that challenged the status quo, dared to ask the questions that people shy away from and invited discussion, disagreement and debate.

It took me listening to this episode to realise how much I miss conversation like this. I’ve discussed previously how objectivity is so absent in America and how dearly I miss it. Continue reading “The Human Podcast: deep discussions that provoke thought and change”

Things to not say to a pregnant woman

People are unbelievably stupid with the things they’ll say to a pregnant woman. She’s still human and more emotional and self-doubting than ever before.

The way in which we talk to and about pregnant women (and their husbands/boyfriends) is a little bizarre as far as I’m concerned.

Just yesterday, we met with our midwife who made a good point that there comes a point in a woman’s pregnancy where she is now undeniably pregnant (maybe at 5 or 6 months in) where people feel her body is now an acceptable conversation piece.

Aside from just being plain awkward, there are certain things which make the expectant mother feel bad. This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s just some of the things that we’ve experienced over the past 2 years that have caused irritation: Continue reading “Things to not say to a pregnant woman”

The burden of debt

The temptation of debt at a young age is a little too inviting for many people, myself included. Looking back, I wish i hadn’t bothered taking on any of that debt.

It all started when I went to university. During Freshers’ Week, several events are put on to acclimatise you to life at your university and student life in general and some of the many vendors at the events included banks and credit card companies trying to sell you on student bank accounts and student credit cards.

It’s a little too tempting. A credit card / loan designed just for me and my needs as a student? It can’t hurt to sign up. I’ll just pay off the balance every month.

It really is a slippery slope. When I went to university my fees were paid for because my family had a low income so I only needed money to live. Given that I was living at home and had a job, I didn’t really need the student loan that was available to me, but again, everyone else was doing it and who would turn down a loan that doesn’t accrue interest until you leave university, has an interest rate equivalent to the inflation rate (a few percent) and only gets paid back once you’re earning a moderate wage? Continue reading “The burden of debt”