Of letter spacing and love: why the little things matter

Of letter spacing and love: why little things matterMichael and Ashley will be having their first baby in a few weeks. Like anyone in their position, they’re dealing with all anxieties that come with that event. Michael, for his part, has been concerned with kerning.

Kerning is a typography term that relates to the space between letters. Most of the time, if it’s done well, you don’t really notice it. Things (words, signs, sentences) just look right; like they belong together. When kerning is bad, though, it’s really bad. Things look clunky, unkempt, and careless.

Michael, as a programmer who works with designers, knows kerning is important, but isn’t all that comfortable making the call himself. So he sent a picture to all the designers and asked for help to get the kerning right on the letters he’s hanging on the wall of the nursery. He wants “ELLIE” to look just right.

We have all been coached to spend a lot of time and energy making the big decisions, and they are certainly important. And you might think that there are other things– more important things– that Michael should be focusing on right now. But the truth is, he knows these little things matter.

Parenting, it turns out, isn’t so much about the big things that need to be decided and done. Rather, it’s all about the little things. How you react when she asks to sit on your lap and read a book. What you say when you’re frustrated from driving in snarled traffic. How you answer when she asks for something she really wants, but doesn’t need. And maybe most importantly, how you treat her mother; both when you’re happy and when you’re not.

It’s in these little things that our children learn to get along with each other. It’s how they learn to cope with things when they don’t go quite as well as they’d hoped. In these little things, our little ones find out that words can hurt, but they also heal. It’s how they learn to forgive and to put the needs of others before themselves. These little things, without a doubt, are how they learn to love, along with countless multitudes of other things.

I often hear parenting experts talk about teaching moments as if they only come along every so often. They couldn’t be more wrong… These moments happen every minute of every day, whether you’re aware of it or not. Kids watch. They listen. They learn. The good, the bad, and the ugly, all together, all the time.

So with a few weeks left until delivery, Michael busies himself with letter spacing. There may be many reasons for this, but it isn’t trivial. Instead, it shows that Michael has already learned one the key lessons of being a parent: Little things matter. A lot.

Ellie, when she gets here, will be in good hands.

Love that dog… and that boy

Love That Dog

Love That Dog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Jack loves to read; always has. Last night he shared with me his latest ‘favorite’ story, a delightful little book called Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. It is, appropriately, the story of a boy named Jack, his dog, his teacher, and – eventually – his words. Creech describes it like this:

The story develops through Jack’s responses to his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, over the course of a school year. At first, his responses are short and cranky: “I don’t want to” and “I tried. Can’t do it. Brain’s empty.” But as his teacher feeds him inspiration, Jack finds that he has a lot to say and he finds ways to say it.

Jack is both stubborn and warm-hearted, and he can be both serious and funny. Although he hates poetry at first, he begins to find poems that inspire him. All year long, he is trying to find a way to talk about his beloved dog, Sky, and the poems his teacher offers him eventually give him a way to do that.

In the book, Jack becomes especially enamored by the poem “Love That Boy” written by Walter Dean Myers. Ultimately, it is this work that inspires Jack to tell the whole story of his dog, Sky.

When I walked in the door last night, Jack’s first request was for the sequel to Love That Dog, the appropriately-named Hate That Cat.

I love that Jack loves to read. I’ll be absolutely thrilled when he decides he also wants to write.

Here is “Love That Boy” in full:

Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
“Hey there, son!”

He walk like his Grandpa,
Grins like his Uncle Ben.
I said he walk like his Grandpa,
And grins like his Uncle Ben.
Grins when he’s happy,
When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
Like to feed him cherry pie.
I said his mama like to hold him.
Like to feed him that cherry pie.
She can have him now,
I’ll get him by and by

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
I said he got a long, long road to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.
Walter Dean Myers

Find great wines that match your personal palette preferences

I’ve got a friend that knows wine. Todd reads magazines like Wine Spectator, seems to always know which wineries are crafting the best product, and has a knack for recognizing great value. He’s a very handy guy to have around.

The problem, of course, is that he’s not always around. Not only that, while he has a great feel for what he likes, but may not have the same knack for me. Or you.

I like wine, but I don’t read the magazines and I’m not overly concerned with what’s hot or what the “proper pairings” might be. In fact, I’ve learned that I prefer red over white regardless of what I’m eating. And I’m just comfortable enough not to care much what anyone else thinks of my preferences. I would, however, like to know more about what I’m drinking and it would be great if I could find great wines– even great values – without investing a lot of time or effort. Come to think of it, I’d love to have a personal sommelier who could match wines to my palatte and preferences.

Wouldn’t you know? Someone else had a similar idea and Club W was the result. Club W is an “online community of wine enthusiasts committed to taking the hassle, guesswork and pretentiousness out of enjoying a great bottle of wine at a reasonable price.” They believe (and I wholeheartedly agree) that wine shouldn’t be about being told what to drink, but should instead be all about discovering what you like.

Club W achieves this with their unique palette profile. By asking a series of questions about food and spice preferences (“How do you like your coffee?”, “How do you feel about salt?”, “Do you like blackberries, blueberries and raspberries?” etc.), they can better match wine suggestions with your palette.

The wines themselves are chosen by the five curators, each boasting an impressive pedigreé. There are four sommeliers (including Brian Smith, an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers) and Andrew Freeman, owner of a restaurant and hospitality PR firm. Each of them bring a unique background and a singular passion to their work: to deliver great wines directly to your door.

Club W is organized like a traditional club. Each month, they select and source 12 of the coolest small batch wines from around the world. Members can choose from these, or have them selected for you based on your palette profile. The minimum monthly order is three bottles for $39. Additional bottles are just $13 and all orders ship for free. You can cancel or skip an order at any time, and nothing ships without your prior approval.

The bottles they sell typically retail for between $15 and $20 (sometimes much more). According to Club W, A bottle of wine in a retail store has been marked up twice before you buy it: first by a distributor and then again by the retailer. When you buy wine through Club W you are actually purchasing directly from the wine maker or the importer, which helps them deliver the same bottle for less.

Club W believes that learning about wine should be fun, interesting, and easy; not overbearing and pretentious. To help, they produce a short video for every wine they select featuring one of the curators discussing tasting notes, background information such as the producer’s story, and an explanation of the growing regions or a short primer on the varietal. Each video is light and upbeat (like the descriptions of the wine itself) and aims to explain things in terms anyone can understand. Even better, each bottle you receive contains a quick-response (QR) code that will take you directly to the video when you scan it with your smartphone.

Club W says their mission is to transform choosing wine into an “ongoing conversation between our curators and your personal tastes,” all with the goal of making choosing wine as simple and pleasurable as drinking it. Judging by the first shipment I received, I’d say they’re on the right track.

[Note: Of the three wines in the first shipment, I’d rate two of them as perfectly matched to our preferences. The third was pretty close, just a little too much blackberry for me. The second shipment is on its way… Can’t wait! If you’re looking for something a little different, give ClubW a try and let me know what you think.]

Sweet deal: Ari from Club W commented yesterday and has offered all of you a coupon worth $19 off your first order! Just send an email to Ari and use the subject line: Cota Coupon to get the code. Enjoy!