A house on wheels provides tons of adventure

This  article first appeared in the CS Monitor on June 12, 2016. My Grandma just passed away and I’m dusting it off in remembrance of her and her love of travel.

My cousin Brice is armed with the bow and arrow. Of the two of us, he is the better shot and the more ruthless. I have a plastic bag filled with paper “snaps” that go bang! when thrown on the ground.

A foolish woman thought she could steal a few moments of rest alongside this winding road in the Great Smokey Mountains. Little did she know that lurking behind the shade tree she had parked under were two 7-year-old boys about to attack.

She is asleep. This is going to be easy. First, I will…

Read More >
 
1 comment

What my autistic son taught me about happiness

img_2950

It’s that time of year when we are constantly reminded through ads, resolutions, and unrealistic expectations that we are less than others. People are more organized, fitter, harder workers, better looking, and overall live better lives being better people than you and me.

Feel better? Are you overcome with hope and positivity?

Perhaps the happiest human I know is my son Griffin. This might surprise some people because Griffin, 5, is on the autism spectrum. The stereotype for someone on the the spectrum is that he or she becomes easily frustrated by people, lights, sounds, a break in routine. This can lead to anxiety and sometimes depression.

One night recently Griffin woke us up, not crying, not whining, but laughing an uncontrollable, body trembling belly…

Read More >
 
12 comments

Should we be for child labor in Bangladesh?

sadia-001

The worst thing isn’t that we live in a world where child labor exists, it’s that we live in a world where mothers and fathers who love their children send their kids off to work for the day because they have to. They have to rely on their income.

At least that’s how I feel about child labor. It’s not as clear cut of an issue as some make it out to be. In fact, a group of academics came out against the UN’s stricter child labor rules calling them a damaging mistake:

“Banning children from work doesn’t bring them back into school; in fact, it might do the opposite if they were working to pay their school fees.

“For some children it’s a matter…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

The sweetest Obamacare story you’ll hear this week

img_3001

Griffin was down in the basement in his “boy cave.” Harper was doing an art project on the kitchen table. Annie was preparing dinner. And I was shopping for Obamacare on healthcare.gov. My appetite a bit less as I scrolled down past ever-rising premiums and deductibles trying to find a plan that worked for us.

We are thankful for Obamacare and the fact we can’t be turned away for my son having a “preexisting condition” of autism. No private insurance company would insure us otherwise.

Basically, we pay the insurance company $10 and they pay $100 of our expenses. Of course, we pay a lot more than $10 each month to have insurance. Our premiums and our deductibles (which we…

Read More >
 
2 comments

Thanks for the inspiration, Donald Trump. Let’s get to work!

There are a lot of reasons I didn’t want Donald J. Trump to be our next president, but there is one reason (and probably only one) that I’m glad he won.

The night of the election, I went to a watch party hosted at The Downtown Farm Stand. (Can you get more liberal than drinking organic beer and eating organic free-range, potato chips with your GMO-free friends? Probably not.) Like everyone else we expected to watch the election of the first female president. I can’t say I was a vigorous supporter of Hillary Clinton (there’s something rather unappealing about political dynasties), but earlier that day when I cast a vote for her I did get the “feels.” I have a daughter and if her fascination…

Read More >
 
5 comments

6th grader writes editorial in support of garment workers in Bangladesh

IMG_5874

We all need to be a bit more like 6th grader Kayne McConnell of Shelbyville, Illinois. Kayne wrote an editorial to the Shelbyville Daily Union titled, “Upset over Bangladesh working conditions.”

He writes:

Hi, my name is Kayne. I am telling you about the garment workers in Bangladesh. They make some of the most popular clothing in America, but people are dying there.

I am only a 6th grader, but I care about these people. Like in Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed and killed thousands of innocent people!

Also in another factory in Bangladesh, a fire happened and destroyed the building, only two months after!

Please consider spreading awareness. These people need better work conditions.

People get killed by…

Read More >
 
1 comment

This photo shatters a common myth about autism

There’s this myth that people with autism aren’t affectionate.

Allow me to shatter that into 1,000 pieces with this pic:

IMG_3726

This morning my wife took this photo of our 5-year-old son Griffin, who is on the spectrum, snuggling with his sister, Harper. Griffin gives great hugs and high-fives. He giggles so hard he toots and then giggles even harder because toots are funny. And he has a smile that will make your day.

Not all people with autism can express their affection through actions or words. We’re fortunate that Griffin can. But I’m pretty positive that every single person on planet Earth, including those who are on the spectrum, feel love and affection just like you…

Read More >
 
4 comments

What happened to the great American Summer Job?

Teen employment

I got up at 5:42 AM to sweep floors, lug lumber, and do whatever I was told by my boss. By 11:30 AM, a time that many of my friends were rolling out of bed, I was done working my summer job for the day. I started my summer job between my 7th & 8th grade years. There were boards that weighed more than me. Once I hit high school, I started working full days, and continued to do so throughout my college summer breaks too.

I worked for my parents who owned a wood truss manufacturing business. The job left its mark, sometimes literally (I have scars), but more than that it taught me the value of a dollar and…

Read More >
 
3 comments
Read More >
 
Add a comment

Complaining about short summers is a #MiddleClassProblem

IMG_0976

How lucky are these kids? 

My daughter starts 2nd grade tomorrow, August 3rd. Where did summer go?

I want to say that summer was too short. I want to complain that our lives will once again be subjected to the school calendar and the threat of too many absences. (We got a letter last year.)

School should start at the end of August like when I was in school. My kids should have the idyllic summer breaks that I had. I want to say each of these things, but every time I start to or hear someone else say them, I think about the this article in my local paper when school let out in the spring:

Read More >
 
Add a comment