I took my six-year-old with me to the gas station to get drinks for our sick kids, and he walked up and down the candy aisle. “I wish we had gone to a boring store like IKEA, and not one that had stuff that is so tempting to me and cheap. (Whispers) Write that down.”

I just bought a new bag for my iPad, and started by going to the Release Notes show notes to find the company recommended by @joec. Can’t wait for it to arrive! There is a good chance I will be spending way too much money at this site. 😬 💼

When you’re trying to post every day, some days all you can post is that you want to post…

📖 🎧 Dad Is Fat

By Jim Gaffigan

As I was changing the baby, Micah (age 6) came over and asked, “What does his shirt say?”

Me: “I’m the boss. Until Mom comes home.”

Micah: “Hahaha. I wish they had a men’s size of that.”

Me: “Oh yeah? For whom?”

Micah: “For you! Cuz you’re the boss. Until Mom comes home.”

📖 The Sculptor

By Scott McCloud

🎥 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Solo date

Six-year-old to my wife: “The house is kind of pretty messy. Why don’t you ask your kids’ advice about how to keep it clean?”

n-1 is easy

As a father of six, I feel qualified in saying that however many kids you have, that number is hard. Take one away, and life is so much easier.

We were at a friend’s house recently for games, and the topic of kids came up. They said they wanted to learn from us how to handle their four children. Their youngest is a year and a half now, and life feels overwhelming at times. They thought we would have some answers since we have been through the phase of having four children.

This is a situation we have encountered many times over the years. People seem to assume that because we have so many children and are still alive, we must be experts on how to parent perfectly. They seem incredulous when we sympathize with them, as if we are patronizing them with their paltry number of children. The truth is that we have found reality to be exactly what we tell them. No matter how many children you have, that number is hard to the point of being overwhelming. If even one child is removed from the situation, whether at a friend’s house, or staying with relatives, everything feels much easier to manage. Put another way, n number of children is hard; n-1 is easy.

Because we have so many children, this results in us saying things to each other like, “What do people do with only four children? This is so easy!” We try to be careful to only say this between ourselves, so that we don’t offend people who are barely getting by with their four children. In reality, we are not more any more accomplished than they—we are just conditioned to a harsher reality.

The human body, including our mind, has an amazing ability to adapt. We see this when we are working outside on a snowy day and find ourselves sweating despite freezing temperatures. Whatever we routinely do becomes our new normal.

We have to be so careful of comparing our situation to someone else’s. We have a societal obsession with comparison that almost always results in a sense of defeat and despair. We never live up to what we see in someone else, especially when we compare our unedited life with their highlight reel.

The most important lesson I have learned from these n-1 moments is that what is hard for me is always different from what is hard for someone else. I need to exercise compassion, both for other people as well as for myself.

“Mom, I had the same plate of noodles that you had. The exact same as you. But I didn’t have sauce, or meatballs, or peas. And it wasn’t in a plate. It was a bowl. But it was the exact same as you.”


📖 🎧 Listening to Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin?: The Arc of Love from Audible. Just finished couple one, and even though their life situation is so vastly different than ours, I got so much value from it.

Starting to get a lovely little corner of serenity next to my bed thanks to my great wife and my four-year-old. The off-centeredness of today’s framed quote addition is a real challenge for me. I’m sure that’s the point, but still. Hard. 😆

When you do X in situation Y, I feel Z.

A powerful framework from Esther Perel for better communication, particularly between couples.

Crazy week and crazy day. Still reeling a bit. Hoping things settle down soon. #adulting 😒

📖 🛏 Started: Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor E. Frankl

Did you do your best?

I posted recently an experience that I had with my son:

At church today, my six-year-old handed me a piece of his toy and asked me to fix it. After trying for just a bit, I handed it back to him. He looked at it and asked, “Daddy, did you do your best?” Then he looked up at me intently and asked again, “Did you do your best?”

At the time, I laughed a bit at his intensity, but his two questions have continued to play in my mind. The second question communicates a level of challenge. It forces me to self evaluate and decide whether I really did give my best effort. It pushes me to keep going if I have the nagging suspicion that I could do more.

This question, by itself, is something of a double-edged sword. We all need motivation to keep going when our enthusiasm is flagging. In today’s world however, there never seems to be a lack of this kind of motivation. Everywhere we turn, there is something telling us to give 110% or to dig deep and push through. The problem comes when this starts to resonate with the voice of self-doubt and self-criticism that all of us have inside. If instead of hearing, “You should give your best effort,” we hear, “You are failing to give your best,” we are going to end up in a cycle of self-loathing and despair.

That is why his first question was so important. On the surface, it may seem that they were the same question. They were the same words after all. But the first question conveyed so much trust and hope. It wasn’t just, “Make sure you do your best!” It was also, “I’m sure that you did all you could. It’s ok to not complete the job all the way if you gave it all you had.” The part that was so meaningful to me as I reflected on the situation was that the trust was so automatic. His incredulity kicked in after a brief second, and he wanted to see if I just gave up or if I really did all I could. But his initial reaction felt like one of trust and acceptance.

As I’ve thought about this experience, I’ve wondered what life would be like if we all encountered these questions regularly. What if the first reaction to anything we did was acceptance and trust that we gave it our all, and a quiet assurance that our best is acceptable? That implied confidence makes it so much easier to face up to the second question with a straight back and square shoulders. We can look ourselves in the mirror, or look our questioner in the face, and be honest. If we have given less than our best effort, we are willing to re-engage and do more.

My hope is that I can provide more of those experiences to those around me, particularly those who are closest to me. My children need to feel an immediate acceptance and trust from me. They should know that they are enough. Just as they are. No changes needed. They should also know that I expect them to keep striving; to push themselves to do their absolute best. But all along the way, they are loved and accepted. And so am I.

📖 🛏 The Once and Future King

By T. H. White

Wow, what a surprising game. Congrats to Clemson, as well as Alabama. Fun to watch a young quarterback with such poise. Loved Dabo Swinney’s comments after the game, and to see how his faith is first in his mind. 🏈

My first Micro Monday recommendation: follow @Aleen for daily gratitude and inspiring progress. Excited to see where she takes App Camp for Girls!

Really exciting first quarter! Not going to be a grinding defensive game. 🏈

🔗 Controller Hierarchies

Every design has a tradeoff. UIKit is optimized for iOS interface conventions. I believe most apps follows these conventions most of the time. Designing a more complex system to solve every edge case makes the common case harder.

Build with vanilla!

At church today, my six-year-old handed me a piece of his toy and asked me to fix it. After trying for just a bit, I handed it back to him. He looked at it and asked, “Daddy, did you do your best?” Then he looked up at me intently and asked again, “Did you do your best?”

📖 It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Feeling blessed to have had a great game night last night. It’s easy to forget how rejuvenating it is to spend time with good friends. ☺

Sleeping on hardwood floors

Watching our new puppy sleep has helped me remember that sometimes people don’t need or want the help we feel compelled to offer.

Our puppy seems to alternate between two modes—unbridled energy or complete lethargy. My daughter has been doing a great job of taking him out regularly and making sure that he gets the exercise that he needs, as well as ample opportunity to do his business outside. I have often come upstairs and found him asleep on the hardwood floor.

Sleeping on the floor

At first, this would bother me somewhat. I would feel some amount of guilt that I was making the dog sleep on something so uncomfortable when I had better options available. However, we got him a bed and put it right in the spot where he usually rests. A wider version of the same picture shows how close he is to the bed, even as he is sleeping on the floor.

Sleeping next to the bed

I realized that I can’t force him to be more comfortable, and don’t need to take that on. If I have provided the environment, I need to step back and allow him to make his own decision. Not only does he not need the help I want to give, he doesn’t even want it. He has made his choice and I need to respect that.

As a parent or a manager, it is so easy to fall into this same trap. We see someone doing something that seems suboptimal or tedious, and feel like we need to step in and fix the situation. Most of the time, what the person has chosen is either the way that they like to do it, or just a natural step in their required learning progression. We need to care about people enough to give them space to make their own decisions, and then allow them to learn and grow from the natural consequences of those decisions.

This ties into one of my 2019 goalsbe curious. Instead of having expectations about how a situation should go, I want to be curious about how it actually is going. Often, there are lessons I need to learn which will come through observing and learning. Here’s to hoping I can let puppies sleep on hardwood floors more regularly.