Monday, February 23, 2015

Just what most parents have been waiting for...........

Google Launches YouTube Kids - An App for Watching Family-Friendly Videos

And now for something we've all been waiting for...
YouTube now offers an app for watching family-friendly videos without
having to sort through the stuff that isn't okay for kids to see.

The YouTube Kids app is available for Android and for iOS.
The app allows children to browse channels and playlists in four
categories: Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore.
The app has built-in controls that allow parents to set limits how
much time their children can spend watching videos.
Parents can turn off the search function if they want to limit their
children to just the videos in a playlist.
Background sounds can be turned off by parents too.

Conscious computing: how to take control of your life online

Computer keys spelling 'The Tao of tech'

 'We work on machines that seem designed to interrupt us and keep us on edge. Then we try to relax using them.' Photograph: Aaron Tilley for the Guardian Aaron Tilley/Guardian
"After all, distraction – as the Australian philosopher Damon Young points out inhis book of that name – isn't just a minor irritant. It's a serious philosophical problem: what you focus on, hour by hour, day after day, ends up comprising your whole life. "To be diverted isn't simply to have too many stimuli but to be confused about what to attend to and why," Young writes. "Distraction is the very opposite of emancipation: failing to see what is worthwhile in life, and lacking the wherewithal to seek it." To recover from techno-distraction, "what's required is not Luddite extremism but a more ambitious relationship to our tools – one that promotes our liberty instead of weakening it."
What we need are ways of strengthening the muscle that lets you maintain control of your own attention, so that you can more frequently win the psychological arm-wrestle against the services and sites that are itching to control it for you. You could begin by going to the website donothingfor2minutes.comand following the instructions, which are a) to do nothing for two minutes, except b) to listen to the relaxing sound of waves. Move your mouse, or press a key, and the word "fail" will appear in big red letters. If the very idea of visiting strikes you as stupid or annoying – a tedious waste of time when you could be doing something more stimulating instead – then here's a slightly different piece of advice: you really, really need to visit."

Keep calm and carry on: 10 websites to help you through your tech addiction

Mac Freedom
Calm Your Box
Calm Down

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Follow up on Robyn Trevaud's work on sexting

Swapping nude images spells danger for teens
MacQ via Compfight cc
Police in Rhinelander, Wis., have long been aware that "sexting" — sending sexually explicit photos or text messages — is popular with teenagers.
But until November, when the mother of a Rhinelander High School student turned over a nude image of one of her son's classmates that she found on his cellphone, law enforcement officials had no idea the problem was so pervasive. That single image led police to identify dozens of students, all of whom had been trading explicit images with one another on a regular basis.
"It was overwhelming how many kids were involved," said Oneida County sheriff's Lt. Terri Hook.
Most of the photos were "selfies," private photos that were taken and sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Many were forwarded on to friends or posted on social media sites both locally and around the country. In all, hundreds of photos snaked their way through the school; some wound up in the hands of people several states away, police said.
More than 40 students were involved in distributing teen pornography, police said. Few understood that just having the photos in their possession could have landed them in prison — and on the sex offender registry for life.
"For most of these kids, it didn't even seem like a big deal to them. It was just something they did, something they thought everybody did," Hook said.
When the investigation was over, Oneida County officials declined to prosecute. Instead, students and parents attended informational sessions meant to stop the behavior from happening again.
"We could have kept on investigating. We could have, I'm sure, found much more," Hook said. "We stopped, because what was really clear to us was that we had a problem."
The situation in Rhinelander is not uncommon in Wisconsin.
Many teens send sexually explicit photos on their cellphones believing the image will stay private, police and prosecutors say. Yet increasingly, the images are finding their way into the hands of sexual predators, and the teens themselves can be faced with harsh, lifelong penalties for their behavior.
Of the more than 130 million images containing child pornography examined since 2002 by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, one in four were initially posted by minors themselves, said John Sheehan, executive director of the organization.
quinn.anya via Compfight cc
For teens, the consequences of sexting can go well beyond the humiliation of appearing naked on every cellphone in math class. A single image can easily jeopardize a job search or quickly torpedo a college application.

When those images wind up in the hands of the wrong people, the consequences can be disastrous.
At least 100 children from across the country fell into David Weaver's trap, police say.
Weaver, 51, of Cedarburg, not only collected sexually explicit images, he allegedly tricked teens into believing he was a young girl named "Sara." Once befriended by "Sara," the teens were persuaded to perform sex acts in front of webcams — alone, with friends and — most disturbingly — with dogs — while Weaver secretly recorded them, according to the federal complaint.
Once recorded, the video sessions were uploaded to file-sharing servers, where they were traded worldwide.
Investigators with the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation found more than 250,000 chat threads between Weaver and children and more than 2,000 videos in Weaver's possession, according to court documents. Investigators say they are working to identify the children in the videos, one of whom is believed to be from Wisconsin.
Weaver has pleaded not guilty to producing child pornography.
Some sexual predators use the nude images to blackmail teens into producing more pornography of themselves, or even to meet in person.
In 2009, Anthony Stancl of New Berlin was arrested after setting up a fake Facebook account in which he used a female persona to trick dozens of male classmates at Eisenhower High School into sending him nude cellphone photos of themselves, according to Waukesha County court records.
Once the photos were in hand, Stancl blackmailed seven of the students into performing sexual acts with him in parks, bathrooms and other locations after threatening to show the nude photos to other students, according to police.
Stancl was later convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Last year, parents in Marathon County called police when their 12-year-old daughter disclosed she had been raped by a 38-year-old man she met on Kik, a popular instant messaging application. An investigation showed Praveen Kharb, a native of India who was living in Bellevue, Wash., when the alleged crime took place, spent months communicating with the girl. He sent her expensive gifts before flying to the Wausau area to meet her, police said.
"The victim in this case had no idea she was dealing with a predator," said Theresa Wetzsteon, deputy district attorney for Marathon County.
Kharb has been extradited to Marathon County, where he has pleaded not guilty plea to first-degree sexual assault of a child. A jury trial is set for April.
Despite efforts by school officials and law enforcement to stop the behavior, middle- and high-school students continue to swap racy photos in record numbers. Many parents are oblivious to what's happening on their child's phone, and most teens don't seem to understand the consequences.
Nationwide, nearly 40 percent of students said they had either sent or received a sexually explicit image of themselves, according to a 2014 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, nearly double the rate of similar studies performed five years earlier.
Many students surveyed did not know that any sexually explicit image of a child age 17 or younger is considered child pornography. Simply having it is a felony.
"It's frustrating because you wonder, where does it end? Will it ever stop?" said Anthony Reince, a school resource officer with the Wausau Police Department. "In reality, the only way you can stop it is to prevent it from happening in the first place."
Sexting can also get teens in trouble with the law. Teens in several states, including Wisconsin, have been charged with felonies — including sexual abuse of a minor and distributing or possessing child pornography — for sexting, even when the nude images are traded with other teens.
In 2012, state lawmakers passed into law a mandatory, minimum three-year prison sentence for possessing child pornography. Previously, judges had the discretion to order lesser penalties depending on the circumstances. That means a 17-year-old who receives explicit images from a younger friend can be sent to prison for possession of child pornography.
The consequences of sexting can be undoubtedly serious, especially when trading explicit images results in more serious crimes such as blackmail or sexual assault. But increasingly, judges and lawmakers recognize that criminalizing every case, especially those involving common teenage behavior, might not be the best response.
Some states have passed sexting-specific statutes to lessen the penalties against minors engaged in sexting. For example, Texas has passed a law that will impose a misdemeanor on a minor's first sexting offense. Under the statute, a minor may be sentenced to community supervision if he or she completes a state-sponsored sexting education course.
Elsewhere, a judge in Ohio crafted an unorthodox sentence to help a group of minors understand the harm of distributing nude photos of themselves.
Eight teens who traded nude photos on their phones were sentenced to complete a community-service project: The judge told them to poll their peers about the consequences of sexting. An overwhelming majority of their classmates did not know that trading sexually explicit photos among minors is illegal, according to media reports.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom

hoyasmeg via Compfight cc

Dear Mom,
I've seen you around. I've seen you screaming at your kids in public, I've seen you ignoring them at the playground, I've seen you unshowered and wearing last night's pajama pants at preschool drop-off. I've seen you begging your children, bribing them, threatening them. I've seen you shouting back and forth with your husband, with your mom, with the police officer at the crosswalk.

I've seen you running around with your kids, getting dirty and occasionally swearing audibly when you bang a knee. I've seen you sharing a milkshake with a manic 4-year-old. I've seen you wiping your kids' boogers with your bare palm, and then smearing them on the back of your jeans. I've seen you carry your toddler flopped over the crook of your arm while chasing a runaway ball.

I've also seen you gritting your teeth while your kid screamed at you for making him practice piano, or soccer, or basket weaving or whatever it was. I've seen you close your eyes and breathe slowly after finding a gallon of milk dumped into your trunk. I've seen you crying into the sink while you desperately scrub crayon off your best designer purse. I've seen you pacing in front of the house.

I've seen you at the hospital waiting room. I've seen you at the pharmacy counter. I've seen you looking tired and frightened.

I've seen a lot of you, actually.

I see you every single day.

I don't know if you planned to be a parent or not. If you always knew from your earliest years that you wanted to bring children into the world, to tend to them, or if motherhood was thrust upon you unexpectedly. I don't know if it meets your expectations, or if you spent your first days as a mom terrified that you would never feel what you imagined "motherly love" would feel like for your child. I don't know if you struggled with infertility, or with pregnancy loss, or with a traumatic birth. I don't know if you created your child with your body, or created your family by welcoming your child into it.

But I know a lot about you.

I know that you didn't get everything that you wanted. I know that you got a wealth of things you never knew you wanted until they were there in front of you. I know that you don't believe that you're doing your best, that you think you can do better. I know you are doing better than you think.

I know that when you look at your child, your children, you see yourself. And I know that you don't, that you see a stranger who can't understand why the small details of childhood that were so important to you are a bother to this small person who resembles you.

I know that you want to throw a lamp at your teenager's head sometimes. I know you want to toss your 3-year-old out the window once in a while.

I know that some nights, once it's finally quiet, you curl up in bed and cry. I know that sometimes, you don't, even though you wanted to.

I know that some days are so hard that all you want is for them to end, and then at bedtime your children hug you and kiss you and tell you how much they love you and want to be like you, and you wish the day could last forever.

But it never does. The day always ends, and the next day brings new challenges. Fevers, heartbreak, art projects, new friends, new pets, new fights. And every day you do what you need to do.

You take care of things, because that's your job. You go to work, or you fill up the crock pot, or you climb into the garden, or strap the baby to your back and pull out the vacuum cleaner.

You drop everything you're doing to moderate an argument over whose turn it is to use a specifically colored marker, or to kiss a boo-boo, or to have a conversation about what kind of lipstick Pinocchio's Mommy wears.

I know that you have tickle fights in blanket forts, and that you have the words to at least eight different picture books memorized. I've heard that you dance like a wild woman when it's just you and them. That you have no shame about farting or belching in their presence, that you make up goofy songs about peas and potatoes and cheese.

I know that an hour past bedtime, you drop what you're doing and trim the fingernail that your 3-year-old insists is keeping her up. I know that you stop cleaning dishes because your kids insist you need to join their tea party. I know you fed your kids PB&J for four days straight when you had the flu. I know that you eat leftover crusts over the sink while your kids watch "Super Why."

I know you didn't expect most of this. I know you didn't anticipate loving somebody so intensely, or loathing your post-baby body so much, or being so tired or being the mom you've turned out to be.

You thought you had it figured out. Or you were blind and terrified. You hired the perfect nanny. Or you quit your job and learned to assemble flat-packed baby furniture. You get confused by the conflict of feeling like nothing has changed since you were free and unfettered by children, and looking back on the choices you made as though an impostor was wearing your skin.

You're not a perfect mom. No matter how you try, no matter what you do. You will never be a perfect mom.

And maybe that haunts you. Or maybe you've made peace with it. Or maybe it was never a problem to begin with.

No matter how much you do, there is always more. No matter how little you do, when the day is over, your children are still loved. They still smile at you, believing you have magical powers to fix almost anything. No matter what happened at work, or at school, or in playgroup, you have still done everything in your power to ensure that the next morning will dawn and your children will be as happy, healthy, and wise as could possibly be hoped.

There's an old Yiddish saying: "There is one perfect child in the world, and every mother has it."

Unfortunately, there are no perfect parents. Your kids will grow up determined to be different than you. They will grow up certain that they won't make their kids take piano lessons, or they'll be more lenient, or more strict, or have more kids, or have fewer, or have none at all.

No matter how far from perfect you are, you are better than you think.

Someday your kids will be running around like crazy people at synagogue and concuss themselves on a hand rail, and somebody will still walk up to you and tell you what a beautiful family you have. You'll be at the park and your kids will be covered in mud and jam up to the elbows, smearing your car with sugary cement, and a pregnant lady will stop and smile at you wistfully.

No matter how many doubts you might have, you never need doubt this one thing: You are not perfect.

And that's good. Because really, neither is your child. And that means nobody can care for them the way you can, with the wealth of your understanding and your experience. Nobody knows what your child's squall means, or what their jokes mean, or why they are crying better than you do.

And since no mother is perfect, chances are you are caught in a two billion way tie for Best Mom in the World.

Congratulations, Best Mom in the World. You're not perfect.

You are as good as anybody can get.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blocks, Play, Screen Time And The Infant Mind

Dr. Dimitri Christakis has done extensive research on blocks and play, and haslectured on media and children. He is the director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute. He's also a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
We talked about the way young children learn and how their minds develop. He's not against digital education tools, but he says they have to be the right kind and age-appropriate. He is raising alarms that Americans are over-charging their infant's developing brains.

In a broad sense, your research seems to point to the fact that over-stimulation in children's brains is having a negative effect when it comes to fast-paced media. Is that accurate?
Right. Our brains evolved over millennia to process things that happen in real time. And by definition, anything that happens in the real world happens in real time. It wasn't really until the advent of modern media that we were able to speed things up and make them happen at a pace that is surreal. And even early media didn't do that. That's a relatively new phenomenon. In the case of infants, there was no infant television viewing prior to about 10 years ago. And we've seen an explosion since then. Today, 90 percent of children watch TV on a regular basis before the age of 2 — in spite of the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises strongly against that.
And they do that, in a sense, and displace activities they previously did. In research we've done, the typical preschool child in the United States watches about 4 1/2 hours of television a day, and they're only awake for about 12 hours a day. So somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of their time is spent in front of a screen, [raising] the question of what are they not doing that they would otherwise be doing? What activities are being displaced? And much of those activities are traditional means of interacting with the environment and with adults. And blocks are a classic example of that.
Four-and-a-half hours a day! That's from research you guys have done, or others have?
No, it's from research we've done. It combines screen time at home and screen time in day care. Most of the studies to date have asked parents about how much their children watch at home. And, of course, most children in the United States are cared for during the day outside of their home. So you're missing all of that time. In fact, in the average home-based day care, children watch an additional two hours a day.
That seems alarming. And the idea that for an infant, lots of television and all the digital media options really are only a phenomenon of the last 10, 12 years?
That's right.
Can you compare children's television as it first started out versus what it is today? Are we getting that much more fast-paced? Are we getting much more digitally distracted?
We are. The pacing of all programs, both adult and child, has sped up considerably. Part of the reason for that is that the more rapidly sequenced the scenes, the more distracting it is. It's taxing to the brain to process things that happen so fast even though we're capable of doing it. And there's emerging science now in older children that watching such fast-paced programs diminishes what we call "executive function" immediately afterward. It tires the mind out and makes it not function as well immediately after viewing it.
It makes the mind not function as well in what sense? In making decisions? Processing information?
Processing information. The evaluations that are done afterward are of one's executive function, which is the measurement of high cortical functioning — things like remembering sequences of numbers, which requires you to concentrate. We see that after watching fast-paced shows, at least immediately afterward, children don't function as well. We don't see that with things like block play, reading or drawing, all of which happen in real time.
You did a randomized trial on building blocks, and you linked it to language assessment. Tell us about that.
In that experiment, we took 200 children, from a low-income environment, and we randomized them to two groups. One group got a set of large building blocks, that are intended for young children, at the beginning of study. And one got them at the end of the study, six months later. In the group that got the blocks at the beginning, we also gave parents a list of what we call "blocktivities." So these were simple ways to play with your child with blocks: stack the blocks, sort the blocks, divide them by color, etc. We had them keep daily diaries so we know how many kids played with blocks in a typical day.
Sixty-five of the children in the block group played with blocks on a typical day, compared with 9 percent in the control group. And most importantly, at 6 months, we looked at their language development.
And what we found was that the control group, those that did not get the blocks, scored in the 42nd percentile — meaning they were slightly below average. Which is unfortunately not uncommon for a low-income population. But the group that got the blocks scored in the 52nd percentile — so, slightly above average and significantly and clinically different from the control group.
So having blocks — and more importantly having activities that promote caregiver and child interaction — resulted in significant improvements in language over just a six-month period.
Is there something special about blocks? Or could it be any activity where the parent and child have to work together in simple, basic creation?
There is nothing special about blocks insofar as they provide an excellent platform for parents and children to engage with one another. But what is somewhat unique about blocks is that they're a great venue! Children love them and like to play with them both with their parents and on their own. In fact, in our study of blocks, what we found is that children played with their fathers much more with blocks than with their mothers.
The interesting thing about blocks is that, in one way, shape or form, they've probably existed for millennia. Long before anyone marketed such things, children probably built things with sticks and stones, and some children do that now anyways.
Blocks have never, ever, marketed themselves as an educational toy. For most parents, they've simply been something that was fun to do. And it's interesting because in today's climate there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of toys that make explicit claims that they are educational, that they will make your child smarter, or a young engineer or a poet. And the overwhelming majority of those products have no evidence whatsoever to make those assertions.
You're making a call to go back to old-school blocks and other creative play, but what about these digital tools? What do you say to skeptical, digitally savvy parents?
In medicine, we have a saying which says, "First do no harm," and I apply that to parenting as well. I'm a scientist as well as a parent, and I really believe that there is such a thing as evidence-based parenting. There are some things that we know that are good, and there are many things we have no information on at all. And there we have to rely on our best judgment. In the case of over-stimulation of digital media, this bombarding of young brains, we do have both a theoretical and an empirical foundation now to say that it is not good for children. At the same time, we have a very large body of literature that shows very clearly that traditional means of interacting with your child is exactly what they need for both the short term and the long term.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

6 Words You Should Say Today

rachel macy stafford monkey bars

Very rarely does one sentence have immediate impact on me.

Very rarely does one sentence change the way I interact with my family.

But this one did. It was not from Henry Thoreau or some renowned child psychologist. It was invaluable feedback from children themselves. And if I've learned anything on my Hands Free journey, it is that children are the true experts when it comes to grasping what really matters in life.

Here are the words that changed it all:

"... college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: 'I love to watch you play.'"

The life-changing sentence came at the beginning of an article entitled, "What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One," which described powerful insights gathered over three decades by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC. Although I finished reading the entire piece, my eyes went back and searched for that one particular sentence -- the one that said, "I love to watch you play."

I read the sentence exactly five times. Then I tried to remember the past conversations I had with my kids at the conclusion of their extracurricular activities. Upon completion of a swim meet, a music recital, a school musical, or even a Sunday afternoon soccer game, had I ever said, "I love to watch you play"?

I could think of many occasions when I encouraged, guided, complimented, and provided suggestions for improvement. Did that make me a nightmare sports parent? No, but maybe sometimes I said more than was needed.

By nature, I am a wordy person -- wordy on phone messages (often getting cut off by that intrusive beep) and wordy in writing (Twitter is not my friend).

And although I have never really thought about it, I'm pretty sure I'm wordy in my praise, too. I try not to criticize, but when I go into extensive detail about my child's performance it could be misinterpreted as not being "good enough."

Could I really just say, "I love to watch you play," and leave it at that? And if I did, would my children stand there clueless at the next sporting event or musical performance because I had failed to provide all the extra details the time before?

Well, I would soon find out. As luck would have it, my then-8-year-old daughter had a swim meet the day after I read the article.

Her first event was the 25-yard freestyle. At the sound of the buzzer, my daughter exploded off the blocks and effortlessly streamlined beneath the water for an excruciating amount of time. Her sturdy arms, acting as propellers, emerged from the water driving her body forward at lightning speed. She hadn't even made it halfway down the lane when I reached up to wipe away the one small tear that formed in the corner of my eye.

Since my older daughter began swimming competitively several years ago, I have always had this same response to her first strokes in the first heat: I cry and turn away so no one sees my blubbering reaction.

I cry not because she's going to come in first.

I cry not because she's a future Olympian or scholarship recipient.

I cry because she's healthy; she's strong; she's capable.

And I cry because I love to watch her swim.

Oh my. Those six words... I love to watch her swim.

I had always felt that way -- tearing up at every meet, but I hadn't said it in so many words... or should I say, in so few words.

After the meet, my daughter and I stood in the locker room together, just the two of us. I wrapped a warm, dry towel around her shivering shoulders. And then I looked into her eyes and said, "I love to watch you swim. You glide so gracefully; you amaze me. I just love to watch you swim."

Okay, so it wasn't quite six words, but it was a huge reduction in what I normally would have said. And there was a reaction -- a new reaction to my end of the swim meet "pep talk."

My daughter slowly leaned into me, resting her damp head against my chest for several seconds, and expelled a heavy sigh. And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:

The pressure's off. She just loves to watch me swim; that is all.

I knew I was onto something.

Several days later, my then-5-year-old daughter had ukulele practice. It was a big day for her. The colored dots that lined the neck of her instrument since she started playing almost two years ago were going to be removed. Her instructor believed she was ready to play without the aid of the stickers.

After removing the small blue, yellow, and red circles, her instructor asked her to play the song she had been working on for months -- Taylor Swift's "Ours." With no hesitation, my daughter began strumming and singing. I watched as her fingers adeptly found their homes -- no need for colorful stickers to guide them.

With a confident smile, my daughter belted out her favorite line, "Don't you worry your pretty little mind; people throw rocks at things that shine... "

As her small, agile fingers maneuvered the strings with ease, I had to look away. My vision blurred by the tears that formed. In fact, this emotional reaction happens every time she gets to that line of the song. Every. Single. Time.

I cry not because she has perfect pitch.

I cry not because she is a country music star in the making.

I cry because she is happy; she has a voice; and she is free.

And I cry because I love to watch her play.

I'll be darned if I hadn't told her this in so many words... or rather, in so few words.

My child and I exited the room upon the completion of her lesson. As we walked down the empty hallway, I knew what needed to be said.

I bent down, and looking straight into her blue eyes sheltered behind pink spectacles I said, "I love to watch you play your ukulele. I love to hear you sing."

It went against my grain to not elaborate, but I said nothing about the dots, nothing about the notes, and nothing about her pitch. This was a time to simply leave it at that.

My child's face broke into her most glorious smile -- the one that causes her eyes to scrunch up and become little slices of joy. And then she did something I didn't expect. She threw herself against me, wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, and whispered, "Thank you, Mama."

And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:

The pressure's off. She loves to hear me play; that is all.

Given the overwhelmingly positive reactions of my daughters when presented with the short and sweet "I love to watch you play" remark, I knew I had a new mantra. Not that I would say it like a robot upon command or without reason, but I would say it when I felt it -- when tears come unexpectedly to my eyes or when suddenly I look down and see goose bumps on my arms.

Pretty soon I found myself saying things like:

"I love to hear you read."

"I love to watch you swing across the monkey bars."

"I love to watch you hold roly poly bugs so gently in your hand."

"I love to watch you help your friends in need."

I quickly realized how important it was to express that heart-palpitating kind of love that comes solely from observing someone you adore in action.

But there was more. I learned that this powerful phrase is not exclusive to children and teens.

This revelation hit me when my husband, donned with white bandage on his arm from giving blood, was hoisting a large trash bag as we cleaned the art room at a center for residents with autism.

I watched him from the corner of the room where I was dusting shelves with my younger daughter. Embarrassingly, I had to turn away so no one saw me tear up. In that moment, I reflected on other recent events where I had been going about my business and had to stop to take pause. Moments when I stopped to watch my husband in action simply to admire the loving person, the devoted husband, and caring father he is.

But had I ever told him in so few words?

It was time.

And since writing is much easier for me than speaking, I immediately wrote my observations down. There were no long-winded paragraphs or flowery descriptions, just words of love, plain and simple:

I love watching you help our daughter learn to roller skate.

I love watching you teach her how to throw the football.

I love watching you take care of your employees in times of need or uncertainty.

I love watching you interact with your brother and sister.

I love watching you read side by side with our daughter.

I love watching you take care of our family.

I typed up his note and left it on his dresser. I didn't stand around to see his reaction because that was not the purpose of this loving gesture. I felt those things, so I knew I should tell him those things.

When simply watching someone makes your heart feel as if it could explode right out of your chest, you really should let that person know.

It is as simple and lovely as that.

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