Fathering in the Now

Musings on parenting and presence

Why I like unschooling

Why I like unschooling:
Putting washable crayons on the shopping list for tub math.

You know you’re a permissive parent when…

…your 5 year old walks into the kitchen saying, “I want to make an explosion!” and your brain immediately starts thinking about what chemicals are under the sink.


Best day yet

Watched a loon preen, swam, saw two sunning turtles, picked up broken glass and trash off our favorite island beach, ate freezer pops, watched a seagull catch a fish, swam some more, rode the zip line at Mémère and Pop-pop’s, studied a baboon dissection video, picked blueberries from the kayak, made s’mores, made kale chips, saw a soaring bald eagle, practiced diving, swam even more, built a fire, made up new constellations, and watched shooting stars.

Best day yet.



Planets, part 1: An astronomical metaphor

For the last 10 days, Delilah and Lilyana have been visiting Delilah’s family in Minnesota. As much as I miss them, the distance gives me time and space to contemplate and feel in different ways than I get to during our busy busy days:

When Delilah and I were first together, before Lilyana came, we were two planets who had come into each other’s orbit. As we became closer, the dance grew richer and more complex, then we chose to commit to one another and our orbits were permanently intertwined.

As Lilyana – or Emby as we called her then – grew in Delilah’s belly, we could feel our child-to-be’s energetic and physical presence, but she wasn’t totally “real”, she was still theoretical in a way because we couldn’t see her, smell her, nibble on her toes, hear her, or any of those things.

That all changed the day – no, the moment – she was born.

It was as if a new planet had spontaneously appeared in our constellation, one that instantly and forever changed Delilah, me, and us. A part of my heart, my brain, my awareness, my soul, something with a solid presence inside of me became permanently attuned to this new child, paying attention to where she was, her safety, her state of being.

Whatever else happened in my life, I would – and will always be – Lilyana’s father.

And there’s more: I got to and get to rejoice in the simple fact of her existence, to love her for simply being there, and to a degree, by connection and extension, rejoice in the existence of and have compassion for all beings, for aren’t we all infants at one time?

Even as I write this, my heart and chest are lighter, my belly has settled and I’m spontaneously sitting up straighter. My breathing has slowed and deepened. These are all signs of relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system, and the affective labels I’d use would be at peace, at rest, having more awareness, more aliveness and vitality. This is the state of being that deep down, I was desperately trying for all that time I was sitting alone and meditating. Who knew all (all??) I had to do was become a dad?

I’m looking forward to having them home, to finding out what’s changed in the time Delilah and Lilyana have been gone, maybe get freaked out a bit (Lilyana learned how to do forward flips on the trampoline?!?), and be part of our spinning, swirling dance.

Dancing on the beach

Young biologist

Watching and watching Lilyana’s movements, facial expressions, and words as she speculates on what will happen to whale foot bones in generations to come is way cool.

Meta drawing pictures with numbers

“…there is no data visualization without graphic design and no data art without data.” – Jorge Camoes, excelcharts.com, May 24, 2012

Here’s a doodle to contribute to the discussion:


I agree with Jorge’s assessment, and I also believe that representing “data visualization” to “data art” as a one dimensional continuum is a false duality that we can get caught in due to our own cognitive stress when we see data misrepresented and meanings confused by its presentation, whether the creator has done so out of intention or ignorance.

Like Stephen Few, I think there are distinctions we can make about the goals of visualization to inform and increase (or decrease) understanding, and/or appeal to emotion – whether it is the viewers’ aesthetic senses, encouraging (or enraging) people into political action, or just getting them to click on a link. It’s that “and/or” of what we are trying to accomplish with our data-based creations that makes for a multidimensional view, as in the graph above. The “best” visualizations can inform and also be beautiful.

The other kind of visualization

In my day job I take numbers and use them to draw pictures in order to help guide decisions and change behaviors. There’s another kind of visualization, though, using a different source of data:


Lilyana’s first drawing using Paper by fiftythree.

My daughter at play: Art or slip-n-slide, or both?


No word for this kind of love

It was a sunny winter day the first time I saw Lilyana swimming free under the water. The small pool at our Y has south-facing windows that let in afternoon sun and rays shine through the glass and white-blue concrete of the pool. I’d finally remembered to put on the swim goggles we’d bought months ago, and sticking my head under I watched as she wriggled and kicked as she figured out how to make her four year old body move downwards in a predictable way.

English has no word for the instantaneous combination of joy, delight, caring, watchfulness for threats real (water up the nose) and imagined, seeing backwards in time to all our earlier water experiences, looking forward to summers at the lake, going further back to my memories of growing up in the water, pride for all she can do, hopes that this learning and growing and play will go on and on through our lives, and awe. So much awe and gratitude that I get to be so lucky as to share this moment. Then she comes up, and I can already feel the Duchenne crinkles around my eyes and a massive grin on my face, and our eyes meet and she’s grinning too and we’re both glowing with this new.