A Mom First

In All Things, A Mom First


A lot happens in a year. Births and birthdays were celebrated, along with the mourning of some really tragic losses of babies and young people way before their time. Many accomplishments happened along with plenty of failures and there was plenty of joy along side plenty of struggle and sadness. Even though, at times it is difficult to live optimistic in such an imperfect world of war and political division and tragedy, I found many things to celebrate and be thankful for in 2013, most of all the people in my life.

Since I already started on a journey on November 3 to take better care of myself, my resolution for 2014 is to be a kinder, gentler me so that my actions can better match the true compassion, concern and hope I have for people in my heart. God knows I am imperfect and difficult – so I will strive to treat people with the same decency and mercy that I hope people would afford me and that I know God does.

In order to become a person who laughs more and scowls less, I will not bury my head in the sand about the things that we can all work together to change or stop trying to challenge the people I love, but I will try to focus more on what I can fix about me and that is good about life and celebrate it. I will offer more encouragement instead of criticism of others, no matter how difficult or frustrating, and to do this I will attempt to be less stressed and more calm by taking more time to have fun with my family and friends; to make and have more joyful moments to balance out the heartache and frustration that comes with life; and to let go and let God more.

We are all a work in progress – so my wish for all of my friends, family, and myself is that we all find ourselves a little (or a lot!) better, happier, healthier and more at peace by this time again in 2014.


December 31, 2013 Posted by | Social Media Mom | | Leave a comment

What Will It Take To Reinvent Education?


Just as in reinventing management, where five fundamental and interdependent shifts are needed, so in reinventing education five fundamental and interdependent shifts need to occur:

Shift No. 1: GOALS – Putting Students First
“Our goal is to inspire our students to become life-long learners with a love of education.”

Shift No. 2: STATIC TO DYNAMIC – A dynamic goal of being able to create knowledge and deploy skills to new situations, whatever they turn out to be.
“In this world, teaching by transfer of information doesn’t work well. Instead the role of teachers (and parents) becomes one of enabling and inspiring the students to learn, so as to spark the energies and talents of the students.”

Shift No. 3: MODE OF COORDINATION & ACCOUNTABILITY – Dynamically linking the education system to self-driven learning of the students.
“In a word: bureaucracy. It’s stopped working in business. But it’s still being introduced into education with similar dispiriting results. Hierarchical bureaucracy doesn’t work when it comes to inspiring continuous learning.”

No. 4: VALUES – A shift from value to values.
“A shift from a single-minded preoccupation with economic value and maximizing efficiency to one of instilling the values that will create a passion for continuous learning over time.”

No. 5: COMMUNICATIONS – A shift from command to conversation.
“A shift from top-down communications (“the sage on the stage”) comprising predominantly hierarchical directives to horizontal conversations (‘the guide on the side’) that helps the student discover new resources, solve problems and generate new insights.”

Read the full article by Steve Denning:

Further readings in education:

August 2, 2011: Is Montessori The Origin Of Google & Amazon?: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/08/02/is-montessori-the-origin-of-google-amazon/

July 30, 2011: What does it mean to be educated?: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/07/31/what-does-it-mean-to-be-educated/

July 28, 2011: Wakeup call for the Gates Foundation: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/07/29/wakeup-call-for-the-gates-foundation-think-bigger/

March 20, 2011: A New Culture of Learning: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/03/20/qa-about-a-new-culture-of-learning/

Mar 24, 2011: The Montessori experience: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/03/24/montessori-is-an-example-of-the-new-culture-of-learning/

January 27, 2011: Obama’s State of the Union: A Sputnik moment: http://stevedenning.typepad.com/steve_denning/2011/01/how-education-is-infected-by-bureaucracy.html

January 10, 2011: The UK crisis in the humanities: http://stevedenning.typepad.com/steve_denning/2011/01/education-understanding-the-crisis-in-the-humanities-in-the-uk.html

December 8, 2010: The brutal truth about education in US: http://stevedenning.typepad.com/steve_denning/2010/12/the-brutal-truth-the-us-is-being-out-educated.html

September 17, 2010: Disruptive innovation in higher education: http://stevedenning.typepad.com/steve_denning/2010/09/disruptive-innovation-the-case-of-college-education-in-the-us.html

May 28, 2012 Posted by | Social Media Mom | 3 Comments

AWKkkward!! A Word So Trendy Even Our 2-Year-Old Uses It!

So the other day, I am laying on the bed face-to-face with Julian’s daddy talking and just having a moment together. As if on cue, 2-year-old Julian comes in with a large dump truck and plops it on the bed and then climbs up on the bed with it. Julian then wedges himself right in between Jeremy and I and lays back. He glances over at me and then turns and looks at his dad and then exclaims, “AWKKward!” We laughed so hard and Julian was SO proud of himself.

Now I realize that if a single word were trending on Twitter right now it would probably be “awkward” since I have heard it lately on the Progressive commercials, my 19-year-old uses it with his friends and I just heard it on another commercial today (can’t say much for the brand since I can’t remember what the commercial for). However, we had never heard Julian say this word before. But what was so hilarious was the context – this moment would have made the perfect commercial for something!

Julian’s vocabulary in the past few months is just amazing and we marvel all of the time at his use of language, sentences, inflection and his timing and context! The other day we asked him if he liked something and he said it was “delicious!” Then the other day I asked him if he wanted more of something and instead of yes or no, he said “I’m good.” Amazing, but could he really have grasped “awkward?”

Awkward is a word with a meaning that is so abstract and complex for a 2-year-old and even more so in the context the word was used in this situation. How did he know? Is the word just so trendy that Julian had picked up on it? I suppose he noticed that the word makes people laugh as an expression and he just happened to pull it out at an ironically perfect moment. But is it possible that he used the word exactly as he meant to? We will never know but one thing is for sure the trending word in our house right now, thanks to Julian, is definitely “awkward!”

December 13, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | Leave a comment

My Brother Ethan Lives in a Zoo!

Lion pic

Here you go Julian - here's your lion.

Ethan was out of high school and living at home without a job when his baby brother, Julian was born. So for the first few months of his life, Ethan was my helper and the very first diaper he ever changed was Julian’s. Then when Julian turned 3-months old he went down to the daycare where his oldest brother, Jordan, took over as his daycare teacher! Now Julian is 2-1/2 years old and about a month ago Ethan moved. Julian has a special relationship with all of his brothers and can name them (all six), even the ones who are not in our house now.

It has always been strange to explain to Julian when the older brothers have moved. But most of the time they stop back by for dinner or to do their laundry. So when Ethan moved all the way down to Texas to go to college, it was a hard concept to explain. What in the world is Texas. It was similar to trying to explain to him that his Dad went on a trip to Cabo San Lucas. He thought we just dumped him off at the airport and left him.

One of the last things Ethan wanted to do before he moved was to go on a trip to the Omaha Zoo with his baby brother. So our whole family (almost) pack up and took a day trip to Omaha. Julian had a wonderful time and he talks about the trip frequently. After being gone for over a month, Ethan finally got internet at his house and a couple nights ago he “skyped” us! Julian was very excited to see his brother for the first time since right after our trip to the zoo.

Thank goodness for Skype because, while it does not replace him actually being here, it is the next best thing to having Ethan home again! I was really… I mean Julian was really missing Ethan terribly.  Ethan was able to take Julian and I on a tour of his new home that he shares with two roommates, as well as a very large dog, two cats and a bearded dragon.

After showing us the bearded dragon, which Julian thought was an alligator, Julian exclaimed, “I want to see the Lion now Etin!” Apparently, combining the last memory of the zoo with Ethan’s collection of pets, Julian concluded that Ethan lives at the zoo!

October 11, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | Leave a comment

A Weekend Away in the Country for Mom

2011 Harvest Bloggers Tour

2011 Harvest Tour

If you are a Twitter person, I highly recommend following event hashtags on Twubs.com. It is a super-cool tool and I will be tweeting about the Harvest Tour through Twubs. Sign up today and follow the Harvest Tour Bloggers Tweets on Twubs http://twubs.com/harvesttour or on Twitter with Hashtag #HarvestTour. You can also see all of the images through the “bloggers’ eyes” at http://www.tumblr.com/tumblelog/harvestcountybloggerstour.

I will think of my little man, Julian, a lot this weekend as I am riding on a combine and checking out farm equipment during the 2011 Franklin County Harvest Tour.

Who would have known this Des Moines “city” girl would end up spending a weekend away in the country! You just never know where social media (you know that thing for reclusive computer geeks with no real friends) might take you…

I have attended more live and in-person events as a result of social media than I ever would have before it existed. So much for the idea that social media discourages real interaction!

Here I am in Hampton, Iowa, at the charming Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast – all provided FREE of charge just for touring and sharing about the festival.

Thanks goes out to the wonderful businesses in Hampton who sponsored the bloggers and welcomed us so graciously with wine, candy, pumpkins, homemade jam and scented sashe.

More to come about my adventure in the Hamptons… I mean Hampton, Iowa!

October 1, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Experience 9/11 Has Taken from Our Kids

When my older boys were little, I used to take quite a few trips a year by plane. Their dad would take them all to the airport to see me off. They would go all the way up to the departure gate and wait with me until the last minute and watch me enter the ramp and I would wave back at them just as I entered the plane. My three boys would stay then and watch my plane taxi the runway and take off.

When I arrived back from my trip they would be there waiting on the other end of the ramp until I emerged and then they would squeal and run up to me as soon as I was off the ramp. It was a wonderful feeling know their faces would be right there waiting for me as soon as I stepped into the terminal.

I have Julian now and his father travels a little bit to go on scuba diving trips since he is an instructor. For the first time, he was old enough to sort of comprehend and we told our little two-year-old that daddy was going to go on a trip on an airplane and we were taking him to the airport.

We showed up first thing in the morning and helped daddy with his bags. Then we walked him around the corner where we sat in a seated area on the ground floor for a bit and then not really knowing how soon before they would want you to board or be in the area, we went ahead and told Jeremy good-bye. Julian watched his daddy depart up an escalator and then there was no reason to stay so I told Julian it was time to go.

Julian was confused and upset wondering why I was leaving his Daddy “upstairs.” It did not help that I said he was going up there to catch an airplane. He thought it was strange Daddy was catching an airplane from upstairs and he wanted to know where the airplanes were… which were no where to be seen from the downstairs lobby.

I got him convinced to go and then we had round two of upset when we got into “Daddy’s car” and were leaving Daddy at the airport and driving home in Daddy’s car!  So for several days my son thought we had dumped Daddy off in some building called an airport where he saw no planes and then drove home in Daddy’s car without Daddy. If you asked Julian where his Daddy was, he would tell you “At the airport.” Finally his Daddy Skyped him and convinced him he was not at the airport and was in “Cabo.”

When we went back to the airport to pick up Daddy, it was down in the lobby area again. Julian apparently thinks you go up escalators and then are just mysteriously transported to some far away land or something.

It made me sad that Jeremy would never get the experience I had with my older boys when I used to travel – to have his son wait with him until they said it was time to board and to see his excited face waiting for him as soon as he stepped off the ramp.  It made me sad for Julian that he was confused and would not get to make that connection about flight and how a person enters a plane and the plane flies away.

I know this is probably a little thing that the events of 9/11 has taken away from us all. It took away actual lives but things like this visit to the airport reminds me of the freedom that it took away from us all.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | Leave a comment

New Expression of the Week from Sir Julian: “Let’s Do This!”

Julian Reef Kinnard – Future Scuba Diver – Current Source of Daily Laughter

Saturday night I stayed up super late. Something you never want to do when you have to get up with a two-year-old the next morning. But as I mentioned before, Julian is the best morning baby. He woke up at about 7:45am – I could hear him talking to himself and glanced at the clock to see if I could stall a little. I dozed back off and 30 minutes later I woke again to him giggling in his crib. I said, buddy are you ready to get up and he said “yes.” So I got him out of his bed and feeling lazy and tired, I took him back to bed with me. We watched cartoons and read books for a while — but I knew he must be getting hungry. So I asked him if he was ready to eat and he said “yes.” But we were both still lazy and settled back in. I asked him what he wanted and he said nanna (for banana) and cerl (for cereal). But we both just kept laying there talking about breakfast. A commercial came on and suddenly Julian popped up in bed and reached down to place a hand on both sides of my cheeks. He held my face and looked right into my eyes and exclaimed “Let’s Do this!”

Don’t know where he got this from but my sister reported to me that earlier on Saturday when she said she would watch a movie with him, but was being slow, he took her by the hand and pulled her out to the TV room and said “Let’s Do This!” We have heard this now several times around the house, so it is the Julian quote of the week and has been quite motivational for us. So fpr everyone feeling unmotivated — I know its the beginning of another week and all I can say is “Let’s Do This!”

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | Leave a comment

Laughter Just When Its Need Courtesy of Julian – Hope You Smile Too!

I woke up to the TV this morning with more news about the Norway tragedy – turned off the television. I decided to take advantage of Julian still sleeping and allow myself to doze back off – hoping not to dream about the sadness. My heart goes out to these parents and I can’t think of any thing more heinous than to target children. I said a prayer for the families and friends affected by this terrible act of murder.

Fortunately, I did not have nightmares and Round Two of waking up this morning was much better.

First some background:

I didn’t set an alarm before I dozed back off this morning as I thought I would wake up whenever Julian wakes me. Julian – sweet child – usually sleeps in until between 8am to 9am if you allow him to (I know…sorry parents of crack-of-dawn children). Even better, if you sleep in and Julian wakes up first, he will often play for quite a while in his crib before he even tries to wake you. I know he wakes up and plays because Julian’s crib is in the far side of our very large bedroom. Incidentally, he can climb out of his crib since he did do it once but he has never attempted it again – much like walking which he did once at 14-1/2 months on his dad’s birthday and then decided it was too much work and went back to crawling for almost two-months more.

My sister came to live with us recently occupying the room that will be Julian’s eventually. We are happy to have her, but have not figured out just yet how to rearrange bedroom situations with a large family. So since Julian is two and still in his crib its okay at the moment for him to occupy our room and for now we love to savor the morning sounds of our still baby-like little man on the weekends when we get to sleep in.

Julian Reef Kinnard - Future Scuba Diver - Current Source of Daily Laughter

Anyway, here’s the punchline:

After some time of playing in his crib, I assume since I was totally zonked, Julian decided it was time for me to wake up. I woke up to the shrill sounds of my 2-year-old’s best attempt at mimicking our alarm clock going off: “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!” I was absolutely in stitches! I opened my eyes and he caught my glance through the crib bars (because he was not going to sit up before he had to). But once he saw me he popped up and said, “Hear alarm momma?” Oh my goodness, I was crying I was laughing so hard. Then he said, “Want coffee momma?” He’s two – that deserves a banana! Another day I will give you my thoughts on children sleeping versus not sleeping with parents, but since he has patiently allowed me to type this post so far still entertaining himself in his crib even knowing I am awake, I am up now to get coffee and bananas for our breakfast in bed. Good morning friends and happy week!

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | Leave a comment

A Lesson in Perception from the Mouth of Julian

Strolling through the grocery store the other day, my two-year-old (who was in the cart facing the opposite direction) starts squealing in delight “Look Mom, Look Mom, See ’em!” I turned just in time to see and hear my son follow up with “See ’em! Grandpas Mom, See ’em?”

The two elderly men took it well, especially considering its probably not good etiquette for a small child to point and scream in delight as if he were seeing a couple of lions in the zoo. Not to mention they might not necessarily be grandpas. But I guess it comes down to the old adage that if it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

Perception is equivalent to reality. Even though no one could know without asking if either of those white-haired guys at the Hy-Vee Food Store were actually grandpas, if my two-year-old perceived that they were, then they were. Whether we like it or not, even by the time we are two, we already make assumptions and judgments about the world around us based on appearances and connections in our mind drawn from experience about what certain appearances mean.

I have tried to teach this lesson about perception to my older sons when it comes to getting jobs and meeting the parents of girlfriends. Often in the past, marketing been used to create an illusion, smoke and mirrors. Marketers’ jobs have been to make a company be perceived a particular way — maybe making the company look bigger than it is, or more innovative than it is, or more caring about the community than it is.

I recently had a discussion with a lawyer and an advertising agency owner at a networking after-hours about social media and what impact it has on credibility. The conversation was centered around this notion that social media and blogs really force professionals to be more credible in their fields. Viewing the blog and Facebook wall posts from business professionals is like glimpsing in through a shop window to see the barber, the tattoo artist, or the chef hard at work. A website may offer a glimpse of the “outside of the building” and gives a certain perception of the company based on good writing and professional graphics just like a freshly painted building on a well-landscaped plot of land. But you still have no real idea about the actual soul of the company or the quality of the people who work there until step inside the doors.

Many companies are nervous about this prospect and try to keep people from stepping inside and meeting their people by not having a social media presence or even forbidding it. Yet the mere absence of any presence may soon do more damage than protect against damage. The perception will soon be like the one people have today when a business does not have a website – old, antiquated, maybe even “a grandpa.”

Thought leaders with original content emerge out of a river of social media experts because of the transparency. In the days of stagnant web sites, as long as you could build an impressive and professional looking website and say great things about your business and every thing your business is expert in, then you could pass a business off as bigger and better than the other guy. But now the perception is if you don’t have social media links on your website and if your Facebook page only has 8 fans and you don’t have a blog then (right or wrong) you are old and worse you also don’t have any credibility to support the claims you make on your website. With social media there comes transparency and its harder to create a “perception” from a complete illusion because now not only can people see you, but they can hear you and interact with you.

Today for some businesses the website has even become less important than the blog and the Facebook page in terms of perception. If you go to a website and it looks a little old and outdated, but the blog and social media are insightful and fresh, then suddenly the old man can be perceived as young and vibrant. So just because your company might look like a Grandpa and be thought of as “old,” social media can completely change that perception. The trick is that in order to get the new impression of being new and fresh, a company really has to behave new and fresh.

Today, more than ever, if you look like a grandpa and you sound like a grandpa, then you probably are a grandpa – or at least that will be the perception.

July 13, 2011 Posted by | education, social media, Social Media Mom | Leave a comment

“I am Julian!” said Julian…and now I am “Scerred.”

In the month of May, Julian discovered his identity, not just recognized his name, but discovered that, “I AM JULIAN!” Its funny that at 2 years old and 3 months, Julian figured exactly who he was, was comfortable in his own skin and was confident in himself. For the entire second week in May, Julian shared his discovery with us no less than 200 times! Well maybe not in the same exact words 200 times, but with other little twists on the same concept:

“Hi Mommy…I am Julian.”

“Your name is Dylan (his brother)…I am Julian.”

“Tyson (our dog barking) HUSH! …I am Julian.”

“No Daddy, stop tickling me!… I am Julian!”

“I don’t want to take a nap… I am Julian!”

My sister accidentally scratched him and he exclaimed through sobs and tears, “OUCH! Lissa did it! I AM JULIAN!”

If he did not say who he was, he made sure to point out who we were:

“Thank You! … Mommy”

“Have a nice day!… Daddy”

“Good bye.. Car”

“Good night… Blanket”

It is so ironic that at just a bit over 2 years old Julian had found what most people by the time they are teens are completely clueless of and which many won’t find again until they are 40 – their self. So how do we lose our self? What in the world robs us of us by the time we are 15?

I think the answer lies in fear. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of our parent’s rejection. Fear of failing. Fear of being hurt. Fear of being laughed at. Fear of not being good enough. Fear we might not even like our self if we really knew who we are.

So ironically, by the very next week, before the end of May, right after discovering exactly who he was in the world, Julian discovered fear of things in the world. He woke up screaming and I rushed to his crib. He exclaimed “monsters!” We have no idea where he got this idea from. What did he see? What had he experienced already in the world that his father and I had not known about? How did he even know outside of Sesame Street what a “monster” was?

Just as baffling as the sudden discovery of him self, was this sudden discovery that evil exists in the world. The theme from that day forward, Julian’s new mantra has been “i scerred” (no that is not a typo for “scared” it his how he says it). He is now “scerred” of monsters, the dark and even jumping too high if he thinks he might fall.

In the course of a couple short weeks, my son realized he was his own person and then felt immediately unsafe. There must be some psychological explanation for why one followed right after the other. I was absolutely mesmerized by his recognition of his self and his confidence, then so sad to know he had already figured out their is evil and to have fear for himself. Julian no longer trusts that Momma can protect him from everything. Wow, I guess he is officially not a baby anymore!

June 24, 2011 Posted by | Social Media Mom | 4 Comments