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7 Ways to Explain July 4 to Children

Today is a great day for Americans.  Parades, barbecues and flags all around.  My family will go to the Chatham parade and then have some friends over to stand around the mothership (otherwise known as my grille) for some food and fellowship.

If we're not careful, my wife and I will raise four kids who have no idea about the real meaning of July 4.  They'll simply associate it with the trimmings of the day.

Here are some simple things you can do to teach your kids by means of a holiday like July 4:


  • Talk about it.  Ask your kids what they know about it.
  • Watch a t.v. show or movie about American history.  This is perfect for after dinner when things are winding down.
  • Go to a parade and clap for the soldiers.  These brave men and women deserve more than others- clap for them and point them out to your kids.  
  • Explain the symbolism of the American flag.  Here is a great resource.
  • Ask one of your kids to put on a powerpoint presentation about the holiday.  I'm not even kidding with this one. My 9 year old has done powerpoints of Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas.  It's my way of teaching him powerpoint and linking tech with a national holiday.
  • Watch fireworks.  Come on, everyone likes fireworks!
  • Discuss a passage from the Bible about freedom.  Romans 6:22 is a good start, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

How are you not only celebrating July 4 but teaching your kids about its meaning?



How to Respond When Someone Makes a Mistake

It was a lazy Saturday and we decided to grill some chicken legs as part of dinner.  As the official grillmaster for our family, I dutifully warmed the sacred grates.  When our legs got charred, we took them off and brought them into the kitchen.  As the rest of the meal was just about done, Cary (always responsible with food) decided to cut into the chicken.  They weren't cooked.

On to Plan B which included finishing the chicken on the stovetop.  

My work was done or so I thought.  I retreated to the porch and did some reading which was only interrupted by a smell of smoke.  The chicken, unattended by Cary, was cooking alright but the bottom of the pan was darker than ... well, you get the point.  My wonderful wife had gotten lost in some reading herself and forgot to check the chicken.

Was it her fault or mine? Probably hers but that's not so important.  Lord knows I've burnt many a meal, and that's when I was watching things closely.  

The key is this: what should you do when you or someone on your team makes a mistake?  I suggest four steps:


  1. Name it so that it doesn't happen next time. Ok, it happened so call it like it is and make sure it doesn't occur next time.
  2. Don't make a huge deal about it.  Sometimes the worse you make someone feel is a reflection of an issue you have inside of yourself.
  3. Realize that you've made some mistakes along the way too.  'Nuff said.
  4. Have a sense of humor.  Instead of minimizing the mistake, humor can show the other person that you still care about them and can laugh at even a bad situation.


Mistakes happen and none of us are immune to them.  The key is to respond with love and professionalism so that they are minimized for the future.  

Photo courtesy of FDP


6 Reasons You Should Step Away from Technology

My wife said to me about three months ago that she thought I was getting sucked in to what she called "too much technology".  Naturally, I shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes.  After all, I'm the techie husband that gets asked questions about computers when folks come over for dinner.

A few days later, a parent at school asked how I did it all, being a dad to four little kids and running a school during the day.  I smiled and gave a nice answer as if to convey that everything was in check.  Unfortunately it wasn't.

Cary was right- I was getting too heavy a dose of tech each week and it was getting the better of me.

I wasn't enjoying Twitter on most days. LinkedIn was feeling sterile.  My Tumblr blog at work was being ignored.  All of that led me to realize that I needed to step away for a while.  Last week I finally declared a technology fast and it did me wonders of good.  I don't think I'm still fully recharged but thought it was the right time to jump back in.  

My posts?  They'll be shorter, simpler and more to the point.  

Why step away temporarily from tech?  Here are six reasons why it will make sense for you:


  1. You'll have more time for those you love.
  2. You'll find joy in silence.
  3. Simple things will matter more.
  4. You'll physically feel better because you'll have more time to work out.  
  5. You'll get more sleep at night and sleep better.
  6. When you return to tech, you'll have new insights to share with others.


How is technology getting the best of you these days?

Photo courtesy of CLS



Going Offline Until June 21st

Readers of The Daily Saint blog know that a regular "pause" is important to staying productive. Often called Sabbath, this pausing keeps us fresh and allows us to refill the bucket with new ideas and renewed energy for the future. As such, I'll be offline until June 21st.  Peace!

Photo courtesy of FDP


Give Yourself Permission to Slow Down

Parents today are under a lot of pressure.  They spend hundreds of dollars a month on gas, shuttling their kids from one activity to the next.  In the back of their mind, they fear that if they do not engage in a frenetic schedule, their son or daughter will not be formed "properly".  They fear that Johnny won't get into college and then won't have friends and then will be living at home forever.  To counter this, they shuttle him to:




Summer camp

More soccer


Cub Scouts


Chess club

And on and on.  It's as if it's a crime to have a Saturday when your kid just hangs out around the house and reads a book.  (That would be ok if the reading was part of a Young Mensa Literature Discovery group.)

I used to struggle with this.  I used to worry that my kids would somehow be at a disadvantage if they weren't involved in a million activities.

Until I stepped back, looked at them and marvelled at their unique personalities and God-given specialness.  It was then that my wife and I decided to stop the madness and take it slower than most families would.  Our weekends are no longer a taxi campaign to get the gas tank to zero.  Instead, we enjoy doing as little as possible together as a family.

A general rule is this: one activity at a time.  In other words, if Grace wants to do softball, she can't do softball and forensics at the same time.  You can do this while kids are young.  As they get older, multitasking activities will probably be the norm.

Don't get me wrong, we still do things.  Take this past weekend as an example.  My son, Thomas, wanted to learn how to play tennis.  We got up early, for Saturday standards, and enjoyed an hour together hitting the ball against the equivalent to The Green Monster here in Berkeley Heights.  Sunday, same thing.  Without a doubt, these two hours were the most important thing I did all weekend.  He had a blast and is now interested in a new sport.  

Was it hectic?  Not really. Important to my son? Totally.

It's ok to slow things down with your kids and your family.  You don't have to maintian a crazy schedule.  It's ok.  Your kids will be perfectly normal if they learn to hang out at home, read a book, play in the yard and love their siblings.  You don't have to attend every holiday party or end of year event.  

Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to do this.  

What's holding you back from a more manageable schedule with your family?

Photo courtesy of PL