Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Cora

Happy 10th Birthday Cora

Cora's 1st 9 Birthdays

10 years. My word, didn’t they go by in a blink. Who is this girl in front of me? I remember you screaming, barely 7 pounds and entering this world with authority. I knew it, the day you were born and I know it now, you, Cora Madison are a force to be reckoned with.

It’s an amazing thing to bring life into this world. At that moment you know, you will never do anything better, more meaningful or world changing.

Cora, to think, at 10, all the lives you’ve made better, and yet, there are so many more more lives for you to impact.

2 years ago I said to you, jokingly, “Cora, you’re like my best friend.” And you, ever so cooly, said, “I’m your only friend.” Now, I don’t know if you’re my only friend, but I have no doubt, you are my best friend. For we have a bond, that will be timeless and unbreakable.

Continue to be bold, honest, assertive and kind. You’ve only scratched the surface of the woman you will one day become.

Advice For New Dads

A really good friend of mine just found out he’s going to be a dad. He’s a hell of a guy. One of the best. He sent me an email, asking for advice on being a great dad. I have a ways to go, before I can claim to be great, but I did offer him 3 pieces of advice. As I read the email I sent him, it dawned on me, other new dads might enjoy those rumblings.

  1. You’ll screw up often. Or at least you’ll feel like you’re screwing up often. It’s ok, we’ve all screwed up. I’m serious. You can’t beat yourself up for the stupid mistakes. There will be plenty of them. I remember not realizing the reason Cora was so “sick” was that she wasn’t. She was just teething. But, all the signs said, no she’s deathly ill. You and your wife will make mistakes and that’s fine. No book, no web site, no person has all the answers. There’s no playbook. Remember that. Remember it often. It’ll help you stop beating yourself up for making mistakes.
  2. Cherish the middle of the night feeding. Totally serious. I’d always volunteer for the 1am/2am feeding, so my wife could sleep. Man, it was awesome. I told my daughter stories, we listened to Abbey Road over and over, we watched reruns of WWF wrestling. We did all the things she’ll never remember, but I will. For a solid hour, it was me and her. Remember to love this special time you get.
  3. Keep a journal. Could be a blog. Could be paper. The format doesn’t matter. Use it to write down everything from the serious to the mundane stuff that happens. I kept one for John’s first year. It was a combination of Post-It notes with dates, emails to myself, blog posts and other random ways for me to remember things. It had everything from the first time he watched Jordan highlights with me, to the time I changed his diaper 8 times in an hour and a half…then just gave up. You’ll laugh about these things. It’ll also make for a great reference manual when you have your 2nd.

Being a dad is the best job, even when it’s a shitty day on the job. Remember that when you get a call from an irate client. The work stuff is important. You’ll feel a burning need to “provide” for your child. It’s natural. But, at 1am, when you’ve got a bottle in one hand and the other cradled under your baby’s head, that bad meeting will seem so irrelevant and inconsequential. There will be other jobs. There won’t be another Cora or John.

I’ve edited the contents of the email slightly and added a few more notes. I’m glad I get to call myself a dad. It beats any fancy title out there and the ROI is tied directly to the effort you put in.

Missing The Forrest

Minnesota is a cold state. There’s simply no two ways about it. Minnesota is also a state that caters to cold weather sports like hockey. Unfortunately, super cold weather and sports aren’t a great combination. It’s one of the reasons Minnesota has so many skating rinks. You can enjoy ice skating without dealing with 5 degree weather.

Just after Christmas I picked up ice skates for myself and the kids. I’ve been trying to teach them how to skate. John swears he’s going to play hockey when he’s older. Now, with Minnesota being a hockey state, it’s tough to find rink time for free skating. Usually rink time is reserved for hockey games and hockey practice. One place that is dedicated to free skating is The Depot It’s pricey at $8 for adults, $6 for kids of ALL ages and $4 for parking. The Depot is connected to the Renaissance Hotel and an underground parking lot. By connected, I mean you can literally access the rink without ever having to step outside. Smart, right? I mean, if you’re a hotel guest, you’ll never have to step out into the nearly 0 temperatures of a Minnesota winter.

The Depot

Well, imagine my surprise when yesterday, we found the door connecting the warm hotel to the rink, closed. Not just closed, locked. We and several other families were perplexed. A Depot employee came out to inform the group that the doors were locked and we would all need to go outside and use the alternate entrance. More than a few families were miffed. Given the lack of warm winter clothes I guessed many of them were hotel guests; we weren’t obviously. We stepped outside, braved the old (8 degrees today) and used the alternate entrance.

I asked the woman collecting the entrance fees what the deal was with the locked doors. She was exasperated and very clearly stated:

1. It wasn’t her call
2. She thinks it’s “silly”
3. Management decided to enact the new policy to minimize the chance of someone sneaking in and skating for free

The employee and I both agreed that the likelihood someone would sneak in was minimal. Not only would you need to sneak in, but even if you did, you’d stick out pretty bad since all skaters receive a wristband after paying. She encouraged me to voice my complaint to “management” and encourage others to do so, as well. I couldn’t find management.

Think about this situation. For the 1 or 2 people a day who might sneak in (a $16 loss in revenue) The Depot grossly inconveniences 100s of paying customers. If more than 2 people, because of the new policy, choose to go elsewhere, The Depot loses more revenue than they would have had they not enacted the policy.

This is a great example of seeing the tree, but completely missing the forest. In the scope of the big picture this makes no sense. In the scope of the “problem” it makes lots of sense. As we think about the challenges we face every day in our companies and our personally lives, we need to remember to see both the trees and the forest.

Like Father…Like Daughter

When people look at Cora it’s no wonder they think she’s just like her mother. They look like twins. Long blonde hair? Check. Blue eyes? Check. Short, button nose? Check. From head to toe Cora is a carbon copy of Cheryl. Or so it may seem.

See, Cora may be a carbon copy of her mother, in the looks department, but when it comes to personality, she’s 100% me.

This September, Cora started kindergarten. After, some minor deliberation, we chose a STEM school program for Cora. When you look at where the world is headed, it’s hard to argue with a program that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math. The school we chose, Poplar Bridge is supposed to have a challenging curriculum and teachers who’ve seen it all and are thus capable of “managing” all types of personalities.

When I was in kindergarten, my parent sent me to a “special” school that was designed to unlock the potential in “gifted” minds. Seriously. Much like Cora’s school environment, my kindergarten pushed science and technology, while providing battle tested teachers.

Well, we had Cora’s first check-in last week. It’s not a formal parent-teacher conference, but it is an opportunity to understand how your child is performing, what they excel at and where there’s improvement. The feedback we received seemed like it was copied word for word from my kindergarten and primary school report cards:

1. Cora is exceptionally bright and articulate. It’s clear that the investment in time (we read to her all the time), experiences (the zoo, museums, etc.) and technology (she had an iPad at 3) have paid off.

2. Her handle on words and math are above the class average. Much in the same way, I was quizzed as a child, we quiz Cora. Sometimes she doesn’t even realize she’s being quizzed.

3. She likes to be the center of attention. I’d say, she’s a natural leader.

4. She can be bossy at times to the other students and a bit condescending. The condescension comes from the fact, she doesn’t understand why the other kids don’t understand the things she does. Personally, I think she needs better competition.

5. She has a problem sitting still and is always on the go. She’ll need that when she’s a future CEO.

6. She has a tendency to finish her assignments before anyone else and is dissatisfied in finding out there is no next assignment or reward for being first to finish. This one made me smile a Kool-Aid sized grin. She wants to be first, clear her list and wants the next challenge.

I didn’t attend the session with the teacher, Cheryl did. As Cheryl was sharing the feedback with me, I kept smirking, smiling and laughing. The apple, definitely, does not fall far from the tree. You might say, just as I’ve been decried, Cora is young, confident and restless. There’s a certain warmth that fills your heart when you realize your kids are just like you…even when they don’t look like you.

After receiving the stink eye from Cheryl, I stopped smiling, smirking and laughing. I said I would talk with Cora and help reinforce the feedback…especially the areas for improvement. Later on, with a serious face and a giant smile on the inside, I explained to my daughter, that:

1. She needs to respect and listen to the teacher.

2. She must understand that all kids are different and they all move at a different pace; she shouldn’t rub it in that she finished 1st.

3. While speed matters, so does quality and it’s better to be 2nd and have no mistakes than 1st with an imperfect score.

She nodded her head. She said she understood. She said she would listen and be better. I kissed her on her forehead, hugged her and thought, she’s only 5. What will the school say when she’s 10 or 13 or 17.

In the movies Road To Perdition, Paul Newman states to Tom Hanks, “natural law – sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers.” Apparently, Cora didn’t get that memo. It’s not just the sons, it’s the daughters too. I’ll take it. There’s nothing I’d change about her, even when you realize she’s young, confident and restless.

Cora Turns 5

Cora 1 Thru 5

Time flies. It really does. The above are photos taken on each birthday. It’s amazing how grown up she has gotten. It always blows my mind to think that I helped create her. Not to get overly sentimental, but you can really appreciate the concept of kids being a miracle…after you have your own.

At 5 she already has her own personality. We tend to think she takes after me…even though she looks like Cheryl. I’m just peachy with that. She has that great mix of confidence and cockiness that you’ll need to succeed in this world. Add in the fact, she’s a master on her iPad, growing up technologically savvy and is opinionated…and well…you can see why I’m busting at the seams just talking about her.  5 years; they go by in a blink.

I regret the days I don’t get to see her and I so very much enjoy the moments I do get to spend with her.  The distance and time challenges are made every easier, knowing she’s in the ever capable hands of Cheryl. These 5 years went by too fast. Let’s hope the next 5 years are as great to us as the first 5, but that they go by just a bit slower. There’s no rush!

First Photo From The New Nikon 85mm

I have an addiction. I love photography gear. For the past few years, I’ve managed that addiction really well. Although, to be fair, I was so happy with all my gear, there just wasn’t a reason at all to upgrade any of it. But, time marches on. More than 5 years after I purchased a Nikon 60mm Macro 2.8 and a Nikon 85mm 1.8 D, I had finally surpassed their capabilites. I’ve always felt that was when you should upgrade…not when a newer version of something came out, but when you’re work was being compromised by the gear.

Well, I traded in both the 60mm and the 85mm to Calumet Photo in Chicago. Calumet is a great place; I’ve done a lot of business there in the last 10 years. My intention was to trade in both lenses for the new 85mm 1.8 G. The G lens lacks an aperture ring, is lighter weight, sharper and more importantly contains a motor inside the lens that speeds up the auto-focusing. They accepted the trade in, but were out of stock on the new 85mm 1.8. Bummer. I waited nearly a month for them to address their out of stock situation…with no dice. So, on a trip to Minneapolis, I swung by National Camera (another great place) and picked one up.

This is the very first photo I took with the lens. Keep in mind this was taken, not with my Nikon D700, but with Cheryl’s D5000.

As Fro remarked in his review of the lens, when compared to the older 85mm 1.8 D, “When comparing the sample images at f1.8 it is clear that the new AFS blows the older AFD out of the water.”  He’s right. It does. It’s fast. It’s sharp. It’s light weight. It’s a huge step forward.  I took a good 50 snaps throughout the day and was never disappointed. Definitely a good purchase.

The Things We Do To Our Kids

The kids got to visit with Santa yesterday. The enjoyed chatting with the jolly fellow. But, honestly these moments are more for us as parents than they are for our kids. Looking at it that way is the only thing that explains why we dress our kids up and bring them kicking, screaming and crying (well, not my kids, but several others in front of us) to “Santa.”

Cora’s A Star

At Cora’s daycare, they try to feature a student every week so that the class can get to know each other a little better. Next week, is all about Cora.  I was given some homework from the school…I thought I stopped doing homework when I left college…and my assignment was to write a letter to the class that would help them know Cora a little better.

Here’s what I wrote:

Good morning everyone. I want to tell you about Cora. Now, I know you all think you know Cora. You know she’s nice, funny, kind, loves to smile, wants to be a princess and loves to talk. But, I want to share with you 3 things about Cora that you may not know about.

1. Cora loves to dance and sing. She has a natural talent for remembering all the words to songs. When we’re driving in the car listening to her favorite songs, she puts on her sunglasses and moves her head to the beat of the music as she sings louder and louder.

2. Her favorite food might be mac and cheese. When I ask Cora what she wants for dinner, she always answers with Mac and Cheese. A few weeks ago, Cora helped us make home made Mac and Cheese. She just might end up being a cook!

3. Cora is always looking out for her little brother John. It’s not easy being the big sister. But, Cora tries to be the best big sister in the world. She’s always hugging John and trying to pick him up. They go together like peas and carrots!

There’s so much to say about a wonderful girl like Cora. But, the best thing we can say is, she makes us smile every day.

You gotta love kids. Without them, we’d never get the chance to brag about anyone other than ourselves.

Getting Up

Earlier today I took the kids the park. Not just any park, but the park referred to as the “Shoots And Ladders” park. Honestly, I have nom idea why the call it that. The park is massive. It contains a water only area, a sand box, tire swings, a centralized mini play area (bridges, slides, ladders, etc.) and an entire section reminiscent of something from Neverland. The Neverland area has cargo nets to climb, tunnels to crawl through and of course slides to, well, slide down. Really, the Neverland area feels like a gigantic tree fort community. It’s cool. Heck, I want to play in it.

Well, as soon as we get there, Cora and John take off running and head over to these very large steps that lead up to a cargo net climbing area. Cora ran, jumped and climbed these stairs. While doing so, she frequently turned back to remind us she was #winning and that we needed to move faster. Her gloating caused her to take a huge spill. She fell like a ton a bricks. We thought for sure she’d end up with scrapes, cuts and tears. Nope. Instead, she picked herself up, didn’t brush herself off and said, “hurry up.” A parent witnessing the scene marveled and said, “that’s one tough little girl you have.” That she is.

Here’s the thing. We all fall down at some point, literally and figuratively. Falling down is expected. Failure is the norm. The real question, the real thing we’re evaluated against is what we do after we fall. It’s how we pick ourselves up that’s remembered. Did we sulk? Whine? Dwell? Point a finger? Complain? Cry? Look for pity? Or, did we take responsibility, learn from the experience and gracefully start again?

I don’t dwell or point the finger. I learn and move on. The quickest way to succeed is to fail. Seriously. Ever watch someone learning how to ride a bike? They fail repeatedly. They crash. They scrape. They cut. They cry. They fall. But, eventually they ride. Failing often and fast, while learning from the experience helps you go from not knowing how to ride a bike, to never being able to forget how.