Happy Father’s Day – 2013
Jun 16 2013

Happy Father’s Day to all the great and dedicated dads out there.  It seems to me the role of “father” has become much more complex in the first world.  They have much more responsibility for parenting than they used to when I and my friends were growing up.  I think that increased role will have a very positive impact on our kids.  It may even create more empathy for both the mother and father roles in our society.

My life has been very busy, so blog posting has dropped down on the priority list.  I have many parenting, business, and music related things to write about so with any luck, time, and breathing room, I will be able to start writing more frequently.  But until then, here are a couple of thoughtful links on this Father’s Day:

Parenting – A VC by Fred Wilson

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking – The Guardian

Angry is a habit – Seth Godin

Author: | Filed under: Father's Day, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

You Are So Smart Mommy
May 2 2009

I try to mix my parenting and business posts here on entrepreMusings.  Of late I feel like I’ve been doing more parenting related posts, but I just couldn’t pass this one up.  This morning as I was getting the kids ready for swim classes and soccer, my 6 year old son said the most brilliant thing!  We have a busy day today as I’ll be taking them both to my daughter’s swim class, then to my son’s soccer game, and then later back for his swim class.  Then we are heading out so they can see their dad finish the Shiner 100 mile bike race later this afternoon.  It’s two hours from Austin so I’m sure they will both take naps in the car.  [UPDATE: It ended up being a 5 hour roundtrip because I didn't have the right directions.]

Anyway, my son was getting dressed for soccer, and he wasn’t sure what shirt to bring.  Sometimes they wear a black one and sometimes they wear a white one.  I told him why don’t you bring both just in case and then all of a sudden out of the blue he said “You are so smart mommy!”  I said “Really?”  He said, “Yes you are so smart to think of bringing both of them.”  I was like “Wow, thank you sweetie.  I’m so glad you think I’m smart.”  I gave him a huge hug and kiss and told him “I hope you still think that when you are 12 or 13 years old.”  He looked at me and said something like, “If I’m still playing soccer and you tell me to bring both shirts, you will be smart.”  We both laughed and my daughter laughed along with us.

He then couldn’t find his shirts and was looking in the wrong drawer and I told him to look in the other one and there they were.  He looked at me in disbelief and happiness that I found his shirts and again said “You are so smart!”  I was smiling from ear to ear and gave him another squeeze and tickle.  He was truly being genuine and he learned that I responded positively the first time so I thought he was quite brilliant to say it again so soon.  He’s picking up quick that when mom is happy, life is easier and he’s more likely to get to play the Wii.  :-)

I didn’t understand why people said boys have their moms wrapped around their fingers until I had a son.  My daughter has me wrapped too.  The wrapping loosens a bit when they whine but when they say and do brilliant things and when they flash their adorable smiles or are peacefully sleeping, it gets wrapped so tight it squeezes my heart and takes my breath away…

Author: | Filed under: parenting | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Dirt, Chocolate, and Purple Flowers
Apr 21 2009

I took my son to soccer practice today and his sister, of course, wanted to come too.  After getting both of them into the car, I realized I forgot something inside the house so I went back inside.  On the kitchen floor I saw dirt from his soccer shoes and some chocolate from one of those Quaker Oats chocolate chip granola bars he had just finished eating as a snack.  At first I thought it was all dirt but upon closer inspection I discovered the piece of chocolate.  I found it amusing for some reason.  I picked the pieces up and threw them in the trash and found myself smiling as I walked back out the door.

I guess I wondered how often we think the chocolate in our lives and businesses is dirt and how often we percieve the dirt as chocolate.  But there they are side by side and both get thrown away because they are on the floor.  I think I did try to eat dirt a time or two when I was a kid.  I was quite the tom boy.  I certainly do love chocolate.  I also thought how funny in his boyish ways he dropped a piece of the favorite part of the granola bar on the floor without realizing it next to the dirt that came off of his soccer shoes.  I’m not sure why I found it funny but probably because it was just a symbol of his boyish enthusiasm and excitement about going to do something he loved to do – play soccer!

So while we were out in the blazing heat of the early evening, my daughter and I were sitting on a partly shaded big rock and then she started wandering around playing with another little boy.  She was throwing rocks into some standing water with the little boy but sometime during this play time she found a little patch of little purple (my favorite color) flowers.  She brings me one and said “This is for you mommy,” and I said “For me? How beautiful! Thank you sweetie.”   Then she brings me another one and tells me I have to save them and put them in some water when we get home.  I told her I didn’t think we had something small enough to hold them because they were really tiny little flowers.  She said “uh huh!” and I said “OK.”  A few minutes later the wind blew them off the rock and I couldn’t find them.  I had to tell her that they blew away and she said “the wind?”  I said “Yes, the wind blew them away.”  She then profoundly said “Oh, OK.” Then she ran off to play.

So the point of this post is…well I guess there really isn’t one.  But if I had to make one up maybe it has to do with…well heck I don’t know what it has to do about anything.

Author: | Filed under: parenting | Tags: | 3 Comments »

Resolutions Anyone?
Jan 4 2009

Photo by Sandy Blanchardwhitetulip-sandybphotos

Last year I made New Year resolutions despite not normally liking to do so.  I even did a blog post called One Entrepreneur’s 2008 Goals.  And guess what? Some of them came true and some of them didn’t.  This year I’m not making any resolutions.  I’m going to try to go more with the flow.  Now that doesn’t mean I don’t have things I’d like to accomplish but I’m not going to make them goals.

Interestingly, I achieved all of my 2008 personal goals.  I lost 5 lbs (actually I lost more like 8).  I signed up for and took yoga as consistently as is possible with two kids and two jobs.  The yoga helped me lose 5 lbs, the other 3 I lost due to stress and an ongoing existential crisis.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t eat much and fidgets a lot when I get stressed.  I know some people hate me for it, but let me tell you the elevated crazy brain activity more than overrides the weight loss benefit.   I mean I don’t get as bad as seeing dead people, but I start saying and doing things that don’t make sense (at least to me), and I start making wild interpretations of other people’s actions (and non-actions) and words that probably don’t make sense but might and if they actually meant what I thought they meant, my world would be turned upside down.  Yeah, don’t even try to understand that last sentence.

I even laughed more and that’s because my son is a budding comedian, and I work with some funny people at my day job.  The only personal goal that I can’t say with 100% certainty I made significant progress in was “be less concerned with what other people think.”  I made some progress, but the trauma of “what will they think of me if I wear a purple peacock hat to a lunch meeting?” still plagues me.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cared less but I’m waiting for that day I can walk into a room and say whatever is on my mind (well not whatever because it would shock the innocent) and not give a flying flip if people think I’m nuts, a crazy entrepreneur, or a hysterical brown woman because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I’m saying is actually wise, intelligible, actionable, and worthy to be said.

I really only knocked out of the park one of my Babble Soft business goals and that was to “find great people to help make it happen.”  And that happened when Nicole Johnson joined me as VP of Product Development back in October.  We are slowly but surely making things happen and it’s so amazing to have someone as great as she is along for the ride.  We don’t know how it will all turn out yet given what’s going on in the world, but I feel honored to be working with such a talented, personable individual, who can fully relate to my life situation of a day job and two little kids!

The other business goals were thwarted by: the economy, my husband leaving his job to consult and start an amazing dual language immersion school called The Magellan School (i.e., hence the day job – health care benefits are very important when you have kids), having to unexpectedly pay a significant portion of my father-in-law’s triple bypass surgery expenses (yes, he was not insured), my mid-life crisis, and a random butterfly flapping its wings in China.

But you know what? Despite not making most of my business goals, life is great.  All my close family and friends are healthy.  My kids laugh and smile every day which makes me happy.  I enjoy my day job because although I’m underpaid (working on changing that slightly), it’s probably the best place I can be to help build the Austin entrepreneurial community and ride out this economic downturn.  Plus, I really like the people I work with.  I’m a huge believer in fostering an amazing work culture and a positive work environment, and we currently have that at the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and I have that with Nicole at Babble Soft.  So yes, overall my life is pretty darned good.

So my non-resolutions for 2009 are to sing more, laugh more, write more, make more funny faces at my kids, be less repressed, empower people, unashamedly love people, continue to take yoga, find a purple hat (any suggestions?), make some life changing decisions (I already got my hair cut short), and move the ball forward one day at a time on Babble Soft and at ATI.

So no resolutions for me, but I do like to get shit done and I’m hoping our brand new President of the United States feels the same, and I think he does! 

Oh, did I mention I plan to curse more too!  For most of my adult and teenage life many of my friends (most of them guys) have tried to get me to curse more and I saw no need for it.  Their jaws would drop on the rare instances I would curse, so I’ll see if I can work in more curse words into my daily (or weekly) discourse (mostly off the blog because I have a hard time writing curse words).  It might be awkward at first, but I’ll suck it up and overcome the awkwardness just like Dooce and The Bloggess have been able to.  They are some of the top cursing mommy bloggers on the Internet today and I cry laughing (or is that laugh crying?) whenever I read their posts.   I mean go read: This is one of those posts about how you can make money off your blog but instead of money you get a coupon for a burrito and tell me you don’t start laughing your ass off.  I’ll just have to remember not to curse in front of the kids…  Sorry mom!

How’s that for some non-Resolutions?!!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising, parenting, working mom, working mother | Tags: , | 10 Comments »

Behind The Baby Album
Dec 22 2008

During the holiday break, I’m trying to tie up some loose ends and one of those was completing my daughter’s first year baby album. She was born a couple of years before we released Baby Say Cheese otherwise I would have already had the pictures selected as each milestone occurred!

Her baby album has sat on our fancy, big, mostly unused dining room table for close to three years (removed for dinner guests and promptly replaced the next day). She will be 4 years old next year.

It has sat open, closed, or askew with pictures hanging in and out of it for years. I saw it often out of the corner of my eye and quickly switched my attention to other things. For those who know me, I usually don’t let things sit around undone but for some reason, I could never find the time to finish it. I would occasionally have a spurt of desire to complete it, would write some words, select some pictures, and ask my husband to print them. But quickly I would get distracted by something seemingly more important. And it sat there pulling me and repelling me at the same time.

We finished our son’s album just before our daughter was born which was 2 or so years after he was born, but that was mostly because his album is in Spanish and I don’t know Spanish. My sister decided to give us a Spanish baby album, so I had to nag, harass, make kind requests of their dad, who is fluent in Spanish, to finish the parts I couldn’t before our daughter was born.

Our daughter’s album is in English and on most days I know how to read and write English, but I had a baby album block…sort of like a writer’s block but it had a baby album slant to it. Several months ago, I came to the sudden realization that all my excuses of not having enough time, not being able to log in to my husband’s Mac to search iPhoto, not wanting to learn how to print pictures, and not wanting to deal with figuring out the dates of the pictures were masking my true feelings fears. And that fear had to do with closing a chapter in my life called ‘babyhood,’ despite not planning to (or wanting to) have any more babies. In my heart and eyes she will always be my baby girl but finishing her book puts finality to it and my heart is still adjusting to that feeling.

And it made me wonder about the other areas of my life where I might be doing the same thing. My fear of closing a chapter in my life and moving toward the unknown may be holding me back from discovering many unseen opportunities in business, my career, my life, or even my children’s lives. And I wondered if many other’s experience this sensation or if I’m the odd duck?

Oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, I finished her album today…just a few short hours ago…and she helped me do it. I’m moving on to the next chapter of my life, and I’m thinking to myself “thank goodness there’s no such thing as a teenager album!” From what I hear, people like to forget those years. :-)

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby say cheese, parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Success To Me – Clay Nichols
Mar 6 2008

I co-write articles on the topic of success for university alumni magazines with my fabulous writing partner Pam Losefsky. Our latest article for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, is on Clay Nichols.  Clay is a Michener Fellow at the Texas Center for Writers and Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at DadLabs, an Internet TV show featuring humor and advice on fatherhood.

Our goal with this endeavor was to get people thinking about what success means to them by reading stories on how others define success.  Please click here to see more success profiles.  Here is a thought provoking quote from the article:

Leadership in a corporate context is very different from that in a family context.  To me that’s painfully and brutally obvious, but I’ve run across many who don’t seem to recognize that distinction and the relationship with their families suffers irreparably.”  He goes on to say “The time you spend with your kids is going to be as valuable to your ultimate success as the time you spend with your colleagues.”

You can’t manage relationships with friends and family the same way you manage relationships at work or manage your career.  I fall victim to thinking it can be managed the same myself from time to time.  They are two different things and as we’ve seen from observing people around us trying to fit a square peg in a round hole doesn’t usually turn out that well.

Stay tuned for a whole new series with the next edition of The Alcalde that will be called Self Starter. We will be interviewing exclusively entrepreneurs from The University of Texas at Austin.  Hook ‘em Horns!

success-nichols.gif

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, father, parenting, success, success story, working dad, working father | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

5 Parenting Trends That Affect How We Communicate About Childcare
Feb 26 2008

5 Parenting Trends That Affect How We Communicate About Childcare
by Aruni Gunasegaram

new-family-with-baby.jpgThe more things change the more they stay the same.  We have all heard that saying, but what we sometimes don’t realize is that even though things stay the same, the ways we go about doing those same things change.  For instance, 100 years ago when we needed to get to work most people would walk, ride a horse, take a train, or take a trolley to get there.  Now we still need to get to work but most of us drive a car or take a subway.  50 to 100 years ago if we needed to get a message to someone we would send a telegram or a handwritten note.  Now we still might send a handwritten note but more often than not we send them an e-mail!

In the “old days” a mom would get advice and tips through the network of family members and friends who more likely than not were in the same town or village and within a short distance from her.  With families and friends being spread across the country and the world, moms are now using the Internet to bring back aspects of that network.  As moms rely on the Internet for information, they are also looking to the Internet for ways to share and manage their busy lives.   Here are some of the trends I see with regards to moms using the Internet when it comes to childcare.

  1. Since word-of-mouth from other moms is the greatest influencer on a mom’s purchasing decision, she is turning to Internet forums and baby-related sites such as BabyCenter and iVillage to ask questions, seek out answers, and look at product reviews.
  1. Many women who wait until they are older to have children are experiencing higher instances of multiple and premature births.  They tend to be more concerned when having to make the decision to leave their baby in the hands of a nanny or other caregiver.  They want to know what is happening to their baby and they want to know as quickly and easily as possible.
  1. Many moms are busier than ever and often don’t have time to think in between working and trying to get sleep so they seek out tools that will help them with baby care decisions.  They have less time than in the past to deal with these problems and are therefore looking for quick and effective ways to get the information or advice they need to handle their unique situations.
  1. Many moms are returning back to work earlier but want to continue breastfeeding and want to know how their baby is doing during the day.  They are hiring baby nurses and pumping at work.  This means that keeping track of how much she pumped, when her baby ate, or how much her baby ate as well as who did what and when becomes critically important in order to ensure the proper nutrition and health of her baby.  
  1. More and more moms are finding and hiring nannies over the Internet and nannies and nanny agencies are reaching out to moms via the Internet as well.  Nannies are given access to and are using the Internet at their client’s home and are using it to do their jobs better, check their email, and communicate with their peers.  Nannies and moms are also spending more and more time communicating by cell phone and email in order to schedule visits and coordinate other childcare activities.

Some changes take a long time and many seem to happen overnight.  Since the beginning of humanity we have taken care of our children but the ways we take care of them has changed drastically with the introduction of diapers, formula, baby safety related items, and most recently the Internet.  Who would have thought that over 36.6 million moms in the US will be regular Internet users in 2010? (source: eMarketer.com). The Internet enables her to do research so she can be a better-informed parent and a savvier consumer (51% of the moms surveyed say the Internet changed the way they get information about products and services) and allows her to network with other moms, as well. 

The overall trend is clear: more and more moms are using the Internet to communicate with each other and to get the information they need to take care of their babies.  Nannies and nanny agencies are participating as well and are using the Internet to reach out to moms and their employees.  With families spreading out and moms finding it hard to get the one-on-one face time with baby, family, and friends, the Internet is stepping in.  It is a tool that is helping make parenthood easier and bringing back some of the familial and social relationships that are so important in helping parents raise healthy children in a safe environment.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The tools we use to aid in childcare are different now, but the goal of safety, health, and love are still the same.  Are you ready to embrace the change?

The author of this article, Aruni Gunasegaram, is the President/Founder of Babble Soft, which offers web and mobile software applications that facilitate communication between caregivers by helping them to keep track of  breastfeeding and bottle feedings, mom’s pumping, baby sleep patterns, diapers, immunizations and medicine doses as well as baby’s first year photo album.

Author: | Filed under: baby, baby care, baby sleep, breast milk, breastfeeding | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

It’s Like Riding A Bike
Jan 27 2008

son-bike.jpgWe’ve all heard that saying.  Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget.  I experienced the sensation ‘of riding a bike’ for the first time as a parent this weekend.  Our 5 ½ year old son rode on his own.  He and I were both exhilarated!  I’m not sure who was more excited.

He hadn’t got on his bike since last year due to Holidays and weather and us being busy.  Plus since we are city-folk for some reason we don’t seem to have a lot of time to practice bike riding.  

On Saturday he saw his dad go for a bike ride and he wanted to go.  I told him I would take him later that afternoon.  We got him geared up and on his bike.  I walked next to him and held the handle bars for the first runs.  Then I slowly let go and held onto the back of his shirt.  He kept telling me not to let go but then slowly I let go and he didn’t realize it.  I told him “you are doing it on your own!”  He started laughing, talking, and smiling until he rode up on someone’s driveway and stumbled off the bike.  He did it several more times on Saturday and then again on Sunday, where he went even further.

He “got it!” Now his mind and his body know what the sensation is of riding on his own.  There is no looking back.  I felt so proud and the image of him riding away from my outstretched hand will forever be etched in my brain.  Oh and fortunately in a digital picture and also in a video. :-)

“It’s like riding a bike.”  Right now I’m hoping starting another business, raising funds, and all the other fun stuff I’m about to do is like riding a bike.  Some things are easier and you know what to focus on and what not to but there are so many moving parts that maybe if I just keep repeating in my head “It’s like riding a bike” I won’t fall down as much or I guess I’ll be able to pick myself up faster and get right back on!

Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, parenting, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Why I Don’t Want A Monster In My Pants – Target Marketing
Dec 8 2007

Yes, I know it’s a great post title but sadly I did not come up with it.  Naomi at IttyBiz did and I’m borrowing it because in that post she did a mini ‘who is your customer’ marketing case study on Babble Soft called Identifying Your Target Market, Or Why I Don’t Want A Monster In My Pants

Since I have been overcome with software testing, deciding on a full-service SEO firm, addressing Holiday cards, doing the company books, staring into space, and looking for other people who will help me for free, for reduced fees, for a free lunch, with all of the other stuff I need help with, I did not notice until a few days later when I checked her blog that she mentioned Babble Soft.  Oh and yeah, she didn’t link to my blog so I didn’t realize she was writing about me.  :-)

Here is her off-the-cuff list of potential markets for Babble Soft:

Babble Soft has two groups of people to which they can market, parents and non-parents. To save space, we’ll just talk about parents here. In the parent category, we have:

- Mothers who are anal retentive.

- Fathers who dig all the latest technology.

- Parents who live in the US and are subject to the BULLSHIT PARENTAL LEAVE laws, forcing them to go back to work too early.

- Parents of multiples.

- Parents who work opposite shifts.

- Parents with older kids, especially those with high needs.

- Mothers with post-partum depression. (When you’re depressed, you need someone to think for you.)

That’s off the top of my head. If Babble Soft were to specifically target any one of these groups and market to them appropriately, she’d have more customers than she’d know what to do with. That’s not even getting into potential baby shower gifts, gifts from distant grandparents, gifts from nagging grandparents, gifts from over involved grandparents, etc.

Nothing surprising there and they all make sense to me.  I made the comment on her blog that even if you aren’t depressed but you are sleep deprived (probably the same thing) and you can’t stand your spouse, you need someone to think for you. ;-)

The challenge as an entrepreneur is how to do that with extremely limited resources and no budget.  Anybody invented effective cloning technology yet? 

I haven’t done any formal Internet marketing to date, but I’m biting a big financial bullet next week and that will soon be changing.  We’ve done some PR (press releasestraditional media stories) but no one at the big publications like Parenting, Pregnancy Magazine, Parents, etc. will give us the time of day because [fill in the blank.].  I can’t afford to pay $15K+ to advertise on sites like that or on the granddaddymammy of baby sites babycenter.

Since this dilemma is just one of the reasons why entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart or the sane, I guess I’ll go see about answering Shane and Peter’s Interviewing You: The Entrepreneur post this pleasant, unusually warm December Saturday afternoon while my daughter and husband nap and my son works on a Transformer puzzle on the floor next to me…

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, entrepreneurship, working mother | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Grandparents and Grandchildren Humor
Nov 19 2007

A friend of mine forwarded me the following stories about grandparents and grandchildren today. It made me smile so I thought I’d share… :-)

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She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter as she’d done many times before. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, “But Gramma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!”

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My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, “62.” He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, “Did you start at 1?”

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After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, “Who was THAT?”

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A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!”

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My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?” I mentally polished my halo while I asked, “No, how are we alike?” “You’re both old,” he replied.

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A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather’s word processor. She told him she was writing a story. “What’s it about?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I can’t read.”

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I didn’t know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last she headed for the door, saying sagely, “Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these yourself!”

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When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, “It’s no use, Grandpa. The mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights.”

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When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.” “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” he advised. “mine says I’m four to six.”

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A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, “Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting,” she said, “how do you make babies?” “It’s simple,” replied the girl. “You just change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.”

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Children’s Logic: “Give me a sentence about a public servant,” said a teacher. The small boy wrote: “The fireman came down the ladder pregnant.” The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. “Don’t you know what pregnant means?” she asked. “Sure,” said the young boy confidently. “It means carrying a child.”

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A nursery school teacher was delivering a station wagon full of kids home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog’s duties. “They use him to keep crowds back,” said one child. “No,” said another, “he’s just for good luck.” A third child brought the argument to a close. “They use the dogs,” she said firmly, “to find the fire hydrants…

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