Parenting daughters and parenting sons

ellie-smiling-at-daveI am the very happy and very proud father of an amazing girl called Ellie. Parenting her has felt like I’ve found my calling. I was meant to father a daughter, which is weird given how set Marti & I were on having a boy to begin with.

Once we had a girl though, we fell in love and wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t even imagine having a boy!

But now, here we are, and we are having a boy, which has forced the reality upon me and got me thinking: how am I going to father a son? Continue reading Parenting daughters and parenting sons

Giving gifts in 2014

I think I’ve finally got there. I’m Scrooge.

Maybe not. I think I’m just equally as disillusioned as everyone else is about gift-giving these days.

Christmas has lost the magic and wonder that it once had and it’s instead been replaced with high expectations from your children and peers of what they expect Santa to deliver on Christmas morning (don’t you remember when you had no idea what Santa would bring?).

This has obviously been going on for a long time, and some people my age may have been the same way when they were young as kids are today. And the parents don’t help matters, giving in to the onward march of capitalism into every avenue of their lives.

I have been ever more skeptical of capitalism after watching the creep of “Black Friday” move into Thanksgiving Day to the point where families are now not having dinner together, because they’re out fighting over a TV at Walmart.

I was very happy to hear that perhaps society has had enough as well. Black Friday sales this year were disappointing, perhaps because retailers are trying so hard to get the first Black Friday dollars that it’s no longer a day or even a weekend of sales, but a two-week event of lacklustre savings.

I also lament how capitalism has swept up the UK and created the same lunacy of fighting over TVs on Black Friday, despite not celebrating Thanksgiving. There is no Black Friday in the UK and the only reason it exists is to create more commercial hype and get people who are willing to fall for it to part with their hard-earned money (or more likely, another piece of their ever-dwindling available credit).

For me and my family, we’re not getting involved. I’ve never gone to Black Friday. At first it was because I don’t enjoy crowds or waiting in line for hours, but in more recent times, I avoid it because I actively despise how ridiculous it has become.

As we’re raising our daughter (and soon, our son), we want them to have a healthy respect for money and gifts, which centers around valuing what they have, and appreciating gifts what they are – an act of love – rather than a requirement, or expectation.

This year, we’re consciously scaling back on presents, both between ourselves and for our daughter. We’ll get each one or two gifts and that’ll be it. Christmas has become far more about spending time with family (as I remember it when I was much younger) than the presents.

Besides, I think that people are starting to realise that finding the right gift for anyone, even a close family member, has become extremely hard, because today, when we want something, we get it. Today. We don’t generally lack anything that costs less than $100 because our disposable income has never been higher and the cost of goods has never been lower, so the only things we don’t buy immediately are the enormous purchases like TVs and cars (while we’re on the subject, does anyone actually buy someone a car for Christmas? I can’t believe how many ads on TV are suggesting that you give someone a car for Christmas!).

My family in the UK (whom I’m visiting at Christmas for the first time since moving to the US, and who have never met Ellie) have found themselves in the same boat. They’re fed up with what Christmas has become and are just looking to get one or two presents for one another, but more importantly, to spend several days in each other’s company, playing games, eating, drinking and being merry.

And I think that many more people want to do that than will let on. I suspect there are a lot of people who will continue to be more and more extravagant each year because they think it’s what their family wants, when really, I think they’d appreciate it just as much spending some quality time together. Who knows, maybe I am Scrooge after all.

Create a website for your children

As a web developer, with my own site for documenting my thoughts and life, it seemed very appropriate that the very same day I learned that we were pregnant with Ellie, I built her a website to document the pregnancy and then her life outside the womb. And just recently I followed suit when I found out that Jack was on the way.

To me, creating a website for my kids was chiefly important because I live so far away from my family. Being from the UK and living in the US, I have a whole group of people that I care about a lot, and whom would want to follow along with my children’s’ lives closely, even though we’ll only see each other every few years.

As a side benefit, it is an excellent way in this day and age to record your children’s’ lives. It’s the 21st century baby book, except that it’s living and breathing, can be updated regularly and everyone can see it (or everyone that you want to see it can see it). Continue reading Create a website for your children

Inspector’s Device Mode – render pages as mobile devices will

I recently stumbled upon a feature in Chrome’s Inspector Tools which is extremely handy for web developers.

Previously, I had been resizing my browser window to mimic what each web page would look like on mobile devices to see how my responsive design was working.

However, there’s a much better way. If you click on the mobile phone icon, a new display comes up showing the size of a mobile device display and how the page will look on that device. Continue reading Inspector’s Device Mode – render pages as mobile devices will

The “awesome client” discount

It’s hard to get a good feel for who your clients are before you take them on, so sometimes you end up with clients that require a bit more hand-holding and a few more revisions than is ideal.

As such, your fees need to reflect the possibility that each project might take longer than expected because of this unknown. So when you have an awesome client and you don’t have to spend that extra time on the project (and in fact, can finish even quicker than normal), it’s nice to be able to give that money back in the form of an “awesome client discount”. Continue reading The “awesome client” discount

Who’s my doctor?

It’s inherently hard to trust doctors in America. In the land of the free, healthcare is privatised and opened up to the free market, which brings with it the ugliness of capitalism. I’m by no means anti-capitalist: it does a lot of good and has even enabled me to start and run my own business. However, my health is one of the few things that I do not want subject to the many faces of capitalism.

In case you weren’t aware, I hail from the wonderful rolling hills of England. I am proud to be British, but don’t shove it in other people’s faces (a la “America is the best country in the world”). The British way is still very ingrained in British culture and the way we do things, regardless of the influence that America has had on our society.

One of the vastly different ways that things are done in the UK is healthcare. Established in 1948, The National Health Service (NHS) brought freely accessible healthcare to all, regardless of one’s ability to pay. Funded by taxes, the NHS is still almost universally where all Britons’ healthcare is conducted, unless you happen to be quite rich and decide to opt for private healthcare. Continue reading Who’s my doctor?

Olympic-sized swimming pools

Since when did an Olympic-sized swimming pool become a standard unit of measure? Whenever journalists are talking about large volumes, they will invariably resort to referring to how many Olympic-sized swimming pools said volume would fill, as if that’s some sort of frame of reference for us, you know, after you bought an Olympic-sized swimming pool of rice, because it was on sale…

Add to this list of peculiar measures:

  • Football fields
  • Double-decker buses
  • Wembley Stadiums
  • Central Parks

What other “units of measurement” irk you that you’d be happy to see banished?

Should you give out your phone number?

When I first incorporated my business, I decided that I should really put my business phone number on my website, because people need to get in touch with me if I’m going to get any business, right?

I had secured a Google Voice number solely for business a while before, but hadn’t really put it to much use until this point. It still rings through to my personal cell phone, but gives me the option to disable it at any time (like when I’m on vacation, or sleeping) and to screen calls, record conversations etc.

My decision to put my phone number on my website wasn’t very well thought out though. I prefer to communicate via email for a few reasons: Continue reading Should you give out your phone number?