Time Out for Brothers!

unnamed (3)

It’s been a LONG time since a post, but a new addition to the family has arrived!  Welcome, Micah!  As your older brother said, “Wow, he’s like a gemstone.”  So precious. 🙂  Mommy did another incredible job.  A new adventure begins.  The M&M Brothers make their debut, and it’s another new beginning of learning to be the best that we can be! 🙂

Malachy is one proud big brother and this Daddy is feeling truly grateful and blessed!
unnamed (2)unnamed (1)

Time Out for Time Outs!


P1020934-683x1024 Scan-133560005-727x1024

Happy 2014! So many amazing things happened in 2013, but the one thing I resolve for 2014 is to take more time outs to stop and think and post. Didn’t have the chance to sit down and blog much in 2013. Going back to school gave me an excuse to take off from writing, but I realize that I can always take a time out to write if I need to… and I need to do that more. I am so thankful and grateful for all that I have and know that because of that, I have much more to give back. So thankful for having such a supportive family and network of friends and colleagues. Malachy continues to be a source of inspiration to be the best dad that I can be for him. Not so easy sometimes when the patience is low and lack of sleep is high. So, in 2014, I will need to take more time outs to:
1) Blog
2) Read
3) Spend time with family
4) Get Organized
5) Learn…

That’s just the beginning, as I could probably add 10-20 more things to the list right now… Time out… 🙂

Time Out for Minecraft!

It’s been pretty crazy watching the world of MInecraft taking over so many households, including mine!  Kids can spend hours and hours in front of their computers and/or tablets creating virtual worlds that they can take part in with others inside the game.  At first, I just couldn’t believe kids could get into a game with such bad graphics.  Then, the realization set in that my own son was swept up in it, and there was no turning back.  As I watched Malachy play in Creative Mode and how he created different worlds and structures, how he watched YouTube videos to see how others used their inventories to create “new” items, I saw some of the positives in this game.  We limited his playtime, but we saw how it took over his drawings, his writing, his conversations, his Lego Building, etc.  There was even a New York Times article talking about the obsession and some of the benefits of it.  I was living it and witnessing it with my own very eyes. 🙂

Recently, LaunchPadToys came up with an awesome Minecraft contest using their Toontastic App called Toon Academy: Minecraft.  It’s like they read his mind when they designed this contest!  After telling Malachy about it, I knew he would go for it.  He’s already gotten so much support and encouragement from the online community, thanks to social media.  Very cool!

His video presentation demonstrated to me all the vocabulary and skills he was picking up through the course of his play.  It also made him really think about how to convey his message to others in a way they could better understand why he’s so passionate about Minecraft.  It took a few takes, but it was all him, and he put hard work into it.  It’s what engaged learning is all about.  Impressive.  Contest ends on Thursday (October 17th), so we’ll just have to wait and see… 😉

Time Out for H20!

What an awesome day it was yesterday!  Thanks to NYC H20, who organized the event, we got the opportunity to go canoeing on the Pepacton Reservoir and learn something about the water that we drink everyday.  Could hardly feel my shoulders afterwards, but it was worth it.

It’s mind-blowing being able to canoe on the very water that comes to our faucets from 100 miles away!  They do add some chlorine, fluoride, orthophosphate, and sodium hydroxide to our water, but it’s UNFILTERED!  Over 90% of our water comes to us in NYC through gravity, as it travels from the watershed in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley through reservoirs, aqueducts, pipes, and tunnels.  More than 1.1 billion gallons of water to about 9 million people in NYC every day! Pretty incredible, eh?  It was nice to share this learning experience with the family.

from NYC DEP

Another big lesson we learned was from the canoe itself.  Initially, Shien was rowing in the front, and I was rowing and steering in the back.  After lunch, we decided to switch, since I thought I could powerhouse it in the front.  Boy, was I wrong!  Being heavier in the front, I used more energy than ever, and Shien was having difficulty navigating in the back.  We were going nowhere fast.  We decided to make a switch in the water, where I had to lie flat on my back in the canoe, and slide to the back, while Shien climbed over, and Malachy stayed steady in the middle.  Teamwork!  After that, it was so much better!  I learned that just because you are working really really hard, doesn’t mean you’re always doing a good job.  You need to make sure you are navigating properly, or you’ll never reach your destination, wherever that might be. 😉



Time Out for Father’s Day!

DSC06278It’s turning out to be one of my favorite days of the year… Father’s Day!

Celebrating Fatherhood!  One of the most important titles I will ever bear in my lifetime, the title of Dad.  It’s awesome!  I am so thankful that I have gotten to spend all the time that I have with Malachy.  I know so many fathers don’t have that luxury or haven’t had that opportunity.  Even my own dad, growing up, he had to work 12-hour+ days, and we only really got to see him once a week.  The one day he would have at home, he usually had to take care of things around the house.  I remember my mom constantly asking me to help my dad, but I didn’t really know how.  Perhaps, he also didn’t have a whole lot of time to teach me, so I learned by watching him.  He taught me a lot, not so much through words but his actions.

With Malachy, I’ve had the benefit of speaking with him, modeling for him, and just being present and being a Dad.  It’s been one of the greatest joys I could ever ask for, along with spending time with Shien and with family.  I want to show him that he could do whatever he puts his mind to.  He’s inspired me to do more than I have thought possible from myself.  We are learning together…

Time Out for StoryPanda

Check out the StoryPanda iPad app!

So, the folks at StoryPanda have a Mother’s Day promotion, where they are offering SIX of their e-books for kids for FREE until Mother’s Day! 🙂  It’s a very cool app, because not only can children read their fun stories, but they are able to change/edit the words to create their own versions of the stories.  Also, with Storypanda’s books kids can swap in different characters, props, and backgrounds, too!  The six free books that you can download until Mother’s Day areBlack Cat Big CityMompersBoy Who Cried AliensMy Extraordinary FriendPaul The Imaginary and Yawn Chairs.  They are usually $2.99 per book, so it’s definitely worth checking out!

Cat Creates a Book from Storypanda on Vimeo.


Time Out for CEOs (Child Empowerment Organizers) and EPDs (Emergency Play Dates)!


CEOs - Take Two
The CEOs at their EPD (Emergency Play Date)…

A group of six-year-olds taught me the about power of networking this weekend.

After work on Friday, I get a text from my wife asking if I had the phone number of one of the parents in Malachy’s class. I asked her why she needed it and she texted back, “Wondering if they are around tomorrow or Sunday — the kids planned a secret meeting – LOL.”  I couldn’t wait for her and Malachy to come back from Karate class to explain what was going on.  They got a ride back from one of Malachy’s Karate classmates, who is also in his class at school and part of the secret meeting club.  Shien tells me that his classmate’s mom told her during Karate class, that her daughter told her after school that she HAD TO pick up 3 other friends tomorrow and drive them to our place, so they could have their secret meeting.  A designated chauffeur!  Shien immediately started texting and e-mailing the other parents to see if they knew or heard anything about it.  I’ve never heard of these Emergency Play Dates (EPDs) disguised as secret meetings before, and I was intrigued.  The kids were so certain that it was going to happen, and now, it looked like it was going to happen!

Of course, when I first asked Malachy, he says, “I can’t tell you what it’s about Dad.  It’s a SECRET meeting.”  I could tell that the wheels immediately started spinning in his head after he said that out loud to me, because we agreed that there were to be no kept secrets from Mom and Dad… EVER.  He paused and said, “You know, Dad.  I told you about it before.  It’s about the Fighting Club.”  Ah yes, the Fighting Club or the Fight Stoppers Club.  He and a few other of his classmates were tired of the play fighting and conflicts that occurred during recess.  Sometimes, they were the ones being bothered while playing together, so they started helping each other out and would try to help others in need of mediation or consolation, too.  Amazing.

So, after a few more texts and e-mails, it was all arranged.  1PM Saturday at our playground.  They met… and they PLAYED for 3 hours!  I stopped by the playground to check up on them, and there they were with all their socks and shoes off, one on each swing. They said they were trying to climb the rainbow sprinkler poles, and it was easier without shoes.  It was about an hour into their play, and I asked if they had their meeting yet.  Not yet.  I asked the other parents about it, and they were telling me how they would always tell them about the seriousness and importance of these meetings after school sometimes (i.e., playing in the playground), and they would talk about needing to meet during the “meeting,” but they never really had “the meeting!”  When the parents said it was time to go, they would then say, “But we haven’t had our meeting yet!”  GENIUS.  Our kids often hear about us adults telling them that we have have to go to meetings.  They know we need to talk through things and discuss things.  They get it.  Our kids sense the importance of them, and the message is very clear from them, too.  Kids play is IMPORTANT.  Kids need to meet.  Kids need to connect.  Kids need to network.  Kids need time to PLAY, and it’s SO much better without the disruptions.  It’s so awesome that they have created this safe place and group for themselves.

When Shien and Malachy came back three hours later, I asked how the meeting went, and he said it was good.  I asked him if they came to any big decisions or ideas during their meeting, and he said, “Yes.  We decided to create BIG obstacles, so the people trying to bother us won’t be able to get to us.”  I wanted to ask how they were planning on doing that, but I guess that’ll take another secret meeting or two in the future.  They do all the organizing, and we the adults are there to… 😉

Time Out for a Valentine’s Giveaway! (TRINITY 3-in-1 Rolling Suitcase Toolbox)

UPDATE: CONGRATS TO @KWIL79 (Kim) for Winning The TRINITY 3-in-1 ROLLING Suitcase Toolbox!

TRINITY Rolling Toolbox gets a big THUMBS UP!
TRINITY Rolling Toolbox gets a big THUMBS UP!

Thanks so much to TRINITY International Industries for allowing me to host a Valentine’s Giveaway — a Stainless Steel Rolling Suitcase Toolbox Organizer!  This one is awesome because it can be used by either gender for organizing whatever it is you want to organize.  It’s original function was probably to be used for storing tools, but as you’ll see in my demo video, it doesn’t have to be limited to tools.  Also, check out the blog post on Becoming Martha, who transformed the Rolling Toolbox into a Craft Supply Organizer.  She posted some amazing photos!

Here’s a demo video that I made for it.



So, how do you get your hands on one of these?  You can buy one straight from TRINITY’s website.  They are providing my readers with a 15% discount on purchases made by February 17 (use code TIMEOUT0113).  FREE SHIPPING!

The giveaway is limited to residents living in the lower contiguous 48 states.  You can have up to 3 entries and would have to leave 3 SEPARATE comments, as I will be using a random number generator to select the winner on Valentine’s Day and e-mail the winner by Midnight of February 14, 2013.  (i.e., First comment will be entry #1, second comment #2, etc.)  First way to enter is to just leave a comment on how you would use the TRINITY Toolbox or who you would give it to and why.  Second way to enter is to Follow TRINITY (@TrinityInternat) on Twitter.  After following TRINITY, leave a comment to say that you did so.  Third way to enter is to “Like” TRINITY (TRINITY Products International) on Facebook.  After “Liking” TRINITY, leave a comment to say that you did so.  When the winner is randomly selected, and if the selected winning comment is a Follow or Like, then we will make sure the winner Followed or Liked BEFORE being selected.  I will e-mail the winner to notify that he or she won, and TRINITY will ship to the winner directly.  DEADLINE to enter: Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14, 2013) at NOON, Eastern Standard Time.  Good luck, everyone!

Time Out For A Voice

MB900442068 (1)Last week, I wrote a guest blog piece, Is The Common Core Sending Children Over an Educational Cliff?, on Lisa Nielsen’s site, The Innovative Educator.  I couldn’t believe that it became the “hottest” post of the week on Lisa’s site, and I was so grateful to her because she’s given people like me a platform to have a voice as an aspiring school leader, as an educator, and/or as a parent.  In the piece, I wrote about my concerns about high-stakes standardized testing hurting our children and their education.  In writing the piece, I also knew there would be people who would agree and people who would disagree with my views.  After all, that’s what happens when you “put yourself out there” and have a real live audience, right?

Checking my e-mail this morning, I learned about a New York Post article that basically attacks and slams Lisa for her views on standardized testing and advocating for parents to opt their children out from these tests (if they choose to).  The URL name of the article is offensive (as it looks like they changed the original title).  Instead of presenting an opposing argument about how these standardized tests might be actually good for our children, the reporters go on to denigrate her position, post her salary, and attempt to shame her for having differing views from her “bosses.”  Yet, they question Lisa’s seriousness.

As the Director of Digital Literacy and Citizenship, Lisa is demonstrating the power of social media and digital literacy and citizenship to educators, parents, and students and educating them about the power of exercising one’s voice.  As we know, it can be empowering, but as we learn from this, there are also those who will attack you when they disagree with you or just try to hurt you, use you, or embarrass you for one’s own gain.  So, when such ugly “articles” are written up, we really have to question the authors’ purpose in writing up the piece, and the message they are trying to convey.  Who is the real “villain” here?  The person passionately fighting for choice and standing up for parents and students when it comes to high stakes testing and questioning what’s best for children or the person (people) resorting to name calling and ranting in order to bait readers?  No high-stakes standardized test is going to teach these real life lessons which our kids so desperately need to learn as participatory citizens.



Time Out for Giving Thanks!


Grateful.  I feel truly blessed.  Hurricane Sandy seems so long ago, but what an adventure it was for the three of us.  It was like that TV show, The Amazing Race.  With no electricity, water, or heat, we had to make do with what we had for a few days.  Luckily, there was gas, and we had a lighter, so Shien was still able to make delicious food for us by lighting the stove.  Toasted bagels never tasted so good!

Amazingly, we didn’t even miss Halloween, as my dad was able to get the car to us.  It took him about 4+ hours to get to us (usually a 20-minute drive), and we were able to go to Staten Island to do some trick-or-treating, see some of our family, eat a nice meal at my Aunt Amy’s, charge up our devices, and take a nice hot shower!  Things we daily take for granted were much appreciated.

When you’re in this kind of “survival” mode, and all you want to do is take care of your family, it truly puts things into perspective.  On that Friday, I was able to get up and bike to work (even though it was relocated to the Upper West Side), get some yummy packed lunch from Zabar’s, ride back home, and make the drive to Virginia so that we could attend a baptism, where Shien would be a Godmother to one of her dearest of friends’ son. 🙂 There was some worry that we wouldn’t be able to get gas, but two hours into the drive, and we got filled up, and all was good.  The whole weekend was amazing, and the drive back was great, too.  Going to work the next day without a complaint, knowing how fortunate we were.  Giving thanks…

because Dads need to take time out to STOP and THINK…