Parenting Persectives: Encouraging compassion in tragedy

My heart broke when I heard the news. The baby. The hot van. The horrific, tragic accident that caused a little one to lose her life.

That’s what I tried to focus on as the judgment and criticism poured down on Facebook: It was an accident. The kind that could happen to anyone, no matter how vehemently we deny we would ever forget our child in a vehicle.

But it does happen, about 40 times a year on average, to “otherwise loving, caring, responsible, attentive, educated parents,” Amber Rollins, director of, said in a Forum article after the June 11 Moorhead incident. A change in routine is often to blame.

I knew this from reading too many stories about similar deaths. Stories that made me realize I wasn’t above such a tragedy. Stories that prompted me to keep my purse in the backseat after my first baby was born, ensuring I’d look back there before walking away from the parked car.

So I called for compassion. For love. For prayer. For all the things I hope people would offer me if I ever made a mistake with lifelong consequences.

As it turns out, in this case, there were previous complaints of neglect, signs that something perhaps could or should have been done sooner. More fuel for the fire.

Manslaughter charges have been filed. Judgment will be handed down by the court.

Still, I try not to judge, knowing the pressures of parenting and the imperfections that exist within every parent.

I think back to when my daughter Eve was just 6 weeks old. Flustered in my postpartum state, I forgot to buckle the straps of her car seat after a doctor’s appointment, and didn’t realize my mistake until after the car ride home.

I’d carried her across a parking lot and driven several blocks with her simply reclining unsecured in the seat. By the grace of God, Eve was safe.

I remember last summer, at a lake resort, little Owen strapped in his stroller, its canopy protecting him from the sun as Eve, my husband and I set about fishing from the dock. Except I forgot to press down on the stroller’s brakes. The wind picked up and the canopy acted like a sail. Down the dock he rolled at an alarming speed.

I froze, envisioning the stroller veering into the lake, my baby drowned, all my fault.

My husband caught the stroller before it fell, incensed at my forgetfulness. By the grace of God, Owen was safe.

There are precautions we can take, safety measures to avoid the preventable, education and resources to encourage best practices.

Even still, accidents happen.

And so there’s something else we can do: Empathize.

We are in this together.

We are imperfect.

We are parents.

Sherri Richards is a reporter for The Forum and mom to 5-year-old Eve and 22-month-old Owen. She blogs at

He’s got the cutest little baby face

Up and down the stairs of Section D my son walked, touching every knee in an aisle seat along the way. This is how we spent a recent Redhawks game at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, me or my husband patiently walking behind Owen, our exploring toddler.

As he climbed, I noticed how the baseball fans reacted to my little boy. Not with annoyance, as I would have expected, but delight.

Grizzly men, gray-haired women and foreign exchange students all brightened and smiled at my towheaded toddler, trying to engage him for that moment he was by their seat.

Of course every parent thinks their child is cute, but there is something about Owen’s cherubic face that draws people to him in a way we didn’t experience with his beautiful big sister, Eve.

My husband once went to the grocery store with only Owen as a companion. He came home claiming he’d found the secret to picking up women. Never had he gotten so much feminine attention.

I jokingly wondered how much we could charge to rent him out to single men.

I’ve noticed it elsewhere, too, the way people stare at Owen. Maybe it’s his wispy blond hair, bright blue eyes and deep dimples. His godmother calls him a Gerber baby. He would be the perfect model for a baby food label.

Or maybe it’s the innocent babyness he projects to the world, despite being almost 2. People sometimes express surprise that he’s walking, thinking he is younger than he is. They also refuse to believe me when I share what a handful he can be.

Regardless, the reaction we got at that weekend ballgame, the same one we receive at stores or parks, reminds me of the 2006 movie “Children of Men.” It depicts a future world where no children have been born in 18 years. When a young woman miraculously delivers a child, battling soldiers stop to stare at the infant she carries.

Because in a world with no babies, there is no hope.

Maybe that’s what my little man exudes. Hope. That is certainly something to delight in.

“You’ve got the cutest little baby face … “

Parenting Perspectives: Language breakthroughs at every age

My latest Parenting Perspectives column, printed in The Forum Dec. 25 …

My house is on the verge of a language explosion.

Little Owen, now 16 months, babbles from morning to night, forming every consonant sound along the way. But he has yet to meld these syllables into many words beyond “mama” and “dada.”

Honestly, I’d been a bit worried about his language development. Big sister Eve started talking before a year, and I don’t think she’s stopped to take a breath since.

At one of Eve’s toddler check-ups, the pediatrician asked how many words she knew. I had no clue. She was stringing together sentences as long as eight words by then.

Logically, I know boys tend to pick up verbal skills later than girls, and Owen is well within the range of normal. A developmental screening showed me so.

He communicates, the child development screener reassured me. He points his perfectly pudgy hand at exactly what he wants. He sharply nods his head once for yes and shakes it like an oscillating fan for no. He taps his index finger against his palm to mean “more” and wiggles his fingers for milk, his own adaptation of the common baby signs.

But spoken words are such rewarding milestones. And once baby knows enough of those words, parenting gets just a bit easier. It’s not so much of a guessing game of what your child wants or needs.

One day, Owen was in his high chair. “Wawawawawa,” he babbled.

“Water?” I asked. “Do you want a glass of water?”

When I started to fill his sippy cup at the kitchen sink, he shrieked in delight and understanding. I call it our Helen Keller moment. I’m anxiously awaiting more.

Meanwhile, 4-year-old Eve is advancing her language skills as well, beginning to read. It’s amazing to watch her take these 26 letters we’ve been reciting for years, attach sounds to their shapes, and put it all together. It’s like something just clicked in her preschool head.

Thanks to my husband, Craig’s, patient efforts each night, she’s now reading us bedtime stories. We write down random words to make sure she’s reading and not just reciting.

One day Craig wrote down f-a-r-t. Eve studied it, and politely said she wasn’t going to say “that word” aloud. He added h-e-r to the end and she sounded out “farther.”

Eve’s foray into reading has also made me realize just how difficult our language is to decode, as I try to explain why there’s no “sh” in sure; why the “gh” makes no sound in light or through but sounds like “eff ” in enough and tough; why “o” can also sound like “ah” or “ooh” or “ow;” why Christmas doesn’t start with a “k” and why the “ch” doesn’t sound like it does in church.

“Some words are just silly,” is my best explanation.

Such silly words to read, and so sweet to hear.

Sherri Richards is mom to 4-year-old Eve and 1-year-old Owen and a reporter for The Forum. She blogs at

Bracing myself for the bumps and bruises of boyhood

My Parenting Perspectives column for April 17 …

The bruise on my 8-month-old son’s forehead has worked its way across the owie rainbow, from red to purple to black to blue to yellow. It’s a fading souvenir of his first big head bonk. The first of many, I’m sure, given Owen’s squirmy nature and seemingly adventurous spirit. As I type, he’s trying to pull himself to standing, using a beach ball and curtain panel for leverage.

Owen's faded owie.

I’m not even sure what his head bonked – the floor, a piece of furniture, a toy. Any and all are possible as he rapidly learns to crawl and climb and stand. So I’ve begun to brace myself for the inevitable onslaught of self-inflicted ouchies that seem to be more prevalent with little boys than girls.

I’ve seen it in my friends’ sons, like Jenny’s little boy, James, who tried more than once to fly off the back of the family’s couch.

Craig and I have been lucky with daughter Eve, four years in with no gashes, broken bones or emergency room visits (insert sound of knuckles rapping wood table). This is in spite of her taking after her clumsy mother. We both are masterful at tripping over our own feet.

I remember Eve’s first bruise. She wasn’t yet 4 months old. I didn’t realize she could roll off the couch. I called the ask-a-nurse hotline, crying. She was fine except for the black-and-blue mark on her cheek, where she’d whapped herself with a rattle on the way down.

Owen’s owies haven’t sent me racing for the phone, a consequence of being a second-time parent, I suppose. But now I’m rearing a rough-and-tumble boy. Already he’s gotten himself into some precarious spots as he explores our home on all fours.

He’s trapped himself under the dining room chairs and gotten stuck on the bottom shelf of the coffee table. He’s pulled down a table lamp and discovered the stairs. I’ve swept pieces of cat food from his mouth. His dad recently pried a sharpened pencil from his hand.

And then there are the too-rough tummy pats, arm pulls and tight squeezes from Big Sister. Eve gives an entirely different definition to the phrase “tough love.”

As I listen to Owen grunt his way across the living room floor and up onto his feet, I find myself struggling to find that parental line of protecting him while letting him explore. How much should we let our little boys stumble? Where’s the middle ground between an overprotective helicopter mom and a neglectful one?

Jenny tells of her uncle sitting her down before they moved her pristine bedroom set into her and her husband’s first house. He calmly explained that the furniture would likely get scratched during the move, and she needed to prepare herself for that eventuality.

After James was born, both her uncle and husband gave Jenny the same speech again. One day this perfect little boy will get scratched. One day, he’ll need stitches. One day, he’ll break a bone. She may as well accept it now.

I guess bumps and bruises are a part of growing pains, for little boys and their moms alike.

Sherri Richards is an employee of The Forum and mother of a 4-year-old daughter and 8-month-old son.

Sometimes ‘Mompetition’ goes too far

My Parenting Perspectives column for Jan. 24, 2012:

As our 5-month-old baby boys played on the floor next to each other, my friend Tammy expressed some dismay that her son wasn’t rolling over like mine, even though Owen is a few weeks older than her little one.

“He’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing,” I reassured the first-time mother.

Having been through babyhood once before with my daughter, Eve, I’ve come to realize there’s no rushing babies. They’ll reach the milestones on their timetable, not ours.

In 2008, though, I studied daily the lists of “should be able to …,” “will probably be able to …,” and “may possibly be able to …” in my nightstand companion “What to Expect the First Year,” worrying a bit if Eve hadn’t yet achieved the “may possibly” skills.

I regularly took stock of how she was progressing compared to her little friends. I’m not sure what I hoped to accomplish, but the end result was feeling alternately boastful and discouraged.

This time around, I haven’t taken the first-year book off the shelf, and I’m doing my best to keep the comparisons to a minimum, between Owen and other babies, and Owen and Eve. They may both be my children, but each is his and her own person.

I’m also trying, though not as successfully, to stop comparing myself to other mothers.

What it is about parenthood that seems to give us all a case of comparison-itis?

Yes, there is value in assessing our children’s development against a standard, which allows intervention when necessary. Parents should wonder what advancements to expect at what age. But fretting when our child isn’t developing at the same rate as (or faster than) the neighbor is pointless and frustrating.

So is comparing our patience, creativity and enthusiasm to that of other parents. Though, for me at least, it seems inevitable.

There are the contented mothers in the parenting magazines, taunting me from the page. “Look how much fun I’m having with my kids!” their smiles scream. “And look how much they’re learning by doing kitchen science experiments and using homemade art supplies and playing with the Civil War diorama I made out of toothpicks and modeling clay! Why haven’t you done all these things with your kids today?”

There are the supermoms in my Facebook newsfeed, whose sunshiny attitudes make me feel guilty for complaining about the daily grind.

On the other end of the spectrum are the floundering “Supernanny” parents whose struggles always make me feel better about my mothering, though I’m sure the program was drastically edited to achieve that image.

One friend suggests it’s our competitive nature that brings on the comparisons. We’re all hoping to “win” at parenting. In order to win, we have to somehow be better than others.

So many of us try to achieve that superiority through our children that the practice earned an entry in Urban Dictionary. “Mompetition: The one-up rivalry that moms play making their child seem better, smarter, and/or more advanced than yours. May involve two or more moms and any number of children, even full-grown.”

Perhaps the best way to win is to focus on our own family. To accept our children for who they are, and our parenting style for what it is.

Sherri Richards is mother to a 3-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son and is an employee of The Forum.

Some assembly (and insanity) required

When Owen was born last summer, my thoughtful co-workers at The Forum pitched in to buy our family a new activity center to entertain the little one, as well as a baby monitor.

We hadn’t assembled the activity center, as Owen couldn’t use it until he was at least four months old and our Christmas tree occupied the living room for the month of December. Today I decided it was time to unbox this baby gift for my now 5-month-old son.

I was surprised how many pieces poured out of the box when I dumped it out. I dug to find the instruction manual, which like most manuals these days, seemed to lack actual instructions. Instead, there were pictures and arrows and letters and check marks and Xs with a few scattered verbs. This was my favorite illustration. From what I can gather, it is important to take the baby out of the activity center BEFORE tipping it on its side. Good to know …

Ummmmm, duh.

With that sort of direction, and less-than-stellar handywoman skills, here’s a rough breakdown of the next 45 minutes of my morning:

  • Set Owen in Bumbo chair next to assembly project.
  • Find round center piece and attempt to separate Parts C/P. Press where arrow shows to press. Press again. Press again. Wonder why pressing isn’t doing anything.
  • Finally separate Parts C and P as instructed. Attempt to locate nondescript Part D.
  • Find piece. Attempt to locate screws.
  • Find screws. Hand Owen a toy. Misplace screws.
  • Re-find screws. Try to figure out which screws I’m supposed to use.
  • Realize screws are labeled. Hand Owen the toy he dropped.
  • Misplace screws again.
  • Find screws and attach Part D to Part C with M3.5 screws.
  • Hand Owen toy. Find legs (Part E). Misplace screws again.
  • Find M4 screws and washers. Attempt to attach legs. Curse at screws and washers for not cooperating.
  • Finish attaching legs. Hand Owen toy. Attach six rubber bases (Part F) to bottom of legs as if putting Tupperware lids on the wrong-sized containers.
  • Turn activity center over.
  • Locate Part H. Try to figure out which part is Part I.
  • Connect Parts H and I as pictured.
  • Realize picture illustrates how NOT to connect parts.
  • Re-connect parts like in other picture.
  • Hand Owen toy.
  • Misplace screws. Dig through pile of emptied plastic bags. Find screws.
  • Attach Part J to Part G over Part H/I with M3.5 screws. Wonder if screws are tight enough.
  • Attach platform to activity center.
  • Hand Owen toy.
  • Try to locate screws. Again.
  • Crawl under activity center to attach Part L to top of Part C with two M3.5 screws.
  • Drop screw on my face.
  • Drop other screw on my face.
  • Locate screws. Struggle with screws. Know screws aren’t tight enough but move on.
  • Push Part M into Part C until clicks. Marvel that “click” is “clic” in Spanish and French.
  • Push Part N into Part C. Clic.
  • Attempt to push Part O into Part C. Push harder. And harder. Command it to “clic” in best French accent.
  • Use brute American force.
  • Click.
  • Celebrate. Realize I still have to assemble seat. Curse.
  • Snap six plastic circle things to seat. Slide on seat cover.
  • Realize seat cover is inside-out. Take off seat cover and reverse. Pull seat cover onto seat as if squeezing 1-year-old into a 3-6 month onesie.
  • Attach seat to activity center. Clic.
  • Set Owen in seat.
  • Take picture.
  • Realize need to put batteries in Part D.
  • Curse.

Thankfully, the activity center is now fully assembled and ready to be enjoyed. And I can put my screwdriver away until the next toy needs to be assembled, hopefully with more eloquent instructions, less cursing and still this much smiling.

Already active in his newly assembled activity center.

Tales of a Reluctant Cloth Diaperer: Chapter Pee

We’re three weeks into the cloth diaper experiment, and I’m thiiiiiiiis close to actually calling myself a CDer. Owen has been wearing cloth diapers for most of every day lately.

Owen seems pretty happy in his star-patterned CD

I did forgo using cloth diapers over Christmas when we were traveling.  Like I said, I’m close, but still a bit reluctant, especially at the idea of transporting poop.

Since I last updated readers on the cloth diaper chronicles, a college friend sent me an extra-special Christmas present: a sample box of reusable diapers she doesn’t use anymore, which brought my stash up to a level that allows me to CD frequently. Inside were a few different styles of diapers, so I’m now more familiar with the variety out there.

For the uninitiated, here is a very brief rundown of the basics (with help from

All-in-One (AIO): Just like it sounds, the entire cloth diaper is one piece. It has a waterproof outer layer so no cover is needed. You change it just like a disposable diaper, except it fastens with snaps or Velcro instead of tape. Similar are AI2, which feature a removable soaker pad.

Pocket diapers: Like the AIO, you don’t need a separate cover, but you do need to stuff the inside with an absorbent insert (or two).

Fitted diapers: These fasten a lot like the AIO and pocket diapers, but are not waterproof so they need a separate cover. When wet, you change the fitted part but can continue to reuse the cover.

Prefolds: Old-school style, you place these folded squares of fabric inside a wrap or cover. They’re often made from cotton, hemp, flannel or bamboo. Again, you can reuse the cover until it’s soiled or smelly. They may need a fastener, too.

My sister-in-law loaned me a prefold and Flip cover. She said these are her and my brother’s favorite. (And they are the ultimate CDers in my mind. They took their then 9-month-old daughter on a trek across Ireland, cloth diapering all the way!)

I’m much more partial to the pocket diapers, though. I like that they’re separate so each part dries faster than an AIO, but you still end up touching less wetness than with the fitteds. My SIL said she has a couple pocket diapers, but never really used them. I think your preference for diaper type depends a lot on what you try first, and what you get used to using.

I’ve also discovered I like snap-fastening diapers more than Velcro. Velcro is kind of a pain in the washer and dryer. If you’re not careful, you end up with a chain of diapers.

I’ve spent another $30 on the Cloth Diaper Experiment (bringing my total investment to about $80). I bought a medium-sized cover on to go over the fitteds, as well as some flushable liners (I’m told these will save on the gross factor once Owen starts solids).  I also got a bigger wet bag, to hold all my fancy, new-to-me diapers. Check out how cute it is:

Polka-dotted poop storage!

Who knew I would ever use the word “cute” when talking about the containment and disposal of bodily waste? That may evidence enough that I am officially a cloth diapering mama.

The Cloth Diaper Chonicles: Part Poo

Last weekend, I wrote about the cloth diaper experiment I was undertaking, in spite of my hesitations and easily turned stomach.  I figured they’d be a way for my family to save money, provided the diapers are purchased cheaply enough. So far, I’ve spent about $50 on a handful of diapers and inserts, concentrated laundry soap and a wet bag.

When we last left off, I was awaiting Owen’s first poopy cloth diaper. Because I breastfeed him exclusively, his No. 2 isn’t that noxious, but I was still surprised how well the cloth and insert absorbed the yellow-y goop. Again, way less gross than I’d anticipated! Woohoo!

Next up was my biggest fear of all: Washing the diapers.

Now, with a few loads under my belt, I have no idea what I was fearing. It’s seriously no problem at all. I just dumped out the wet bag into the washer without touching anything. I washed them one cycle in cold water to get out the stains, and then one in hot to sanitize them. Into the dryer they go, and they’re perfectly clean. Of course, we haven’t started solids yet. I’ve been told diaper liners and a diaper sprayer are helpful here, but I’m still factoring those additional costs.

I’ve also gone out into public with Owen wearing a cloth diaper, but because I was only out about an hour, I didn’t need to change it in public. I’m still reluctant about carrying around a wet bag of poo, so that adventure is yet to come.

We also haven’t tried a cloth diaper overnight, and I’m not sure I will. Unless I do so for your amusement.

I am discovering a few things:

It really doesn’t work that well to use disposable wipes with reusable diapers. While I usually tuck the used wipe into the used diaper and throw it all into my Diaper Champ, now I’m just left holding a poop-covered cloth with no where to put it. I think I’ll look into making my own reusable wipes. A friend once told me you can keep them a wipe warmer (which I got as a baby gift) with some water and essential oil.

The wet bag I bought can only hold about 5 diapers and inserts. That’s fine for now, because I only have four, and will work well for going out and about. But if I’m going to keep this up, I’m going to need to get more cloth diapers. Washing such a small load is wasteful. So, I think I’ll also need to get a diaper pail (a plain old lidded garbage can, probably) and some sort of liner for it, so I can let the laundry pile up a little. But again, that’s more money to invest, and less potential savings.

Finally, I’ve discovered there is waaaaayyyyy too much information out there about cloth diapers. There are so many brands and styles and accessories and techniques for washing/wearing/etc., it makes your head spin. I need to start applying some common sense and trying my own thing, rather than finding the “right” way to cloth diaper. I don’t think there is a “right” way.

That said, I would appreciate any tips from experienced CDers (acronyms are big in cloth diapers, I’ve learned). What’s worked for you? What was a colossal fail?

Let the adventures in cloth diapering begin

At 11:15 a.m. today, I put my first-ever cloth diaper on my baby boy. It’s a bit of an experiment in our household, one I’ve been putting off for fear of the unknown, and a healthy dislike of handling poop.

Owen in his first cloth diaper. He looks a little perturbed.

I never used cloth diapers with 3-year-old Eve, and claim complete ignorance as the reason. I had no idea the advances that had taken place with that particular garment, until my friend Tammy Swift did a story on their resurgence. Eve was 7-months-old, and Tammy asked me if I had any cloth diapers she could borrow for a photo. I said yes, referring to the 12-pack of white cloths I now use as rags. I think she was confused when I said I didn’t have any safety pins for them.

Once I found out how super cool cloth diapers are now (Snaps! Velcro! Inserts!), I still hesitated for three reasons. First, I’m not totally convinced, considering how much extra laundry they produce (and extra water used), that the end result is better for the environment. Before you lambaste me, please read this article in which Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the group doesn’t recommend cloth over disposable (or disposable over cloth).

The second reason is the dollars. Many parents cite cost savings as a reason to use cloth diapers, but I’m not sure the savings always add up, especially because I use generic-brand diapers. Here’s the math to back up that statement: My boss once told me he wrote a check for $500 to a local baby store for cloth diapers and supplies. Those would fit his daughter for her first year. My family goes through roughly one jumbo pack of disposable diapers a week. The Target brand costs $6.29/pack (though I usually buy the box and pay less per diaper than that). $6.29 x 52 = $327.08 plus tax, less than my boss spent and that doesn’t even include extra laundry costs.

There are exceptions to my money math. If you use the diapers for more than one kid, yes, it will save you money. Or, if you can sell them to recoup your costs. My friend Jacy ordered her cloth diapers online, and then after a year’s use, sold them on Craigslist for the exact amount she paid. Or, if you’re able to get the diapers super cheap. When a friend (another Jaci) was selling a generic brand of cloth diapers through a co-op for less than $5 for the cover and insert, I thought it was worth a try and ordered four. (If I use each one at least 30 times, I’ll make my money back.)

I wanted to wait until we were past those first couple of months, when Owen and I were still getting to know each other, before venturing into cloth. Then a couple more months passed by. I knew I needed to wash the diapers repeatedly in a special soap before the first wearing to increase their absorbency, a step that I unnecessarily complicated. And I needed to get a wet bag to store the soiled diapers, which I delayed.

See, there’s that third reason: My weak stomach.  The whole changing/storing/washing of the dirty diapers grosses me out a little. A lot, actually.

Which is why I was thrilled at about 1:30 p.m. today, when I changed that first cloth diaper. It was way less gross than I thought it would be. The diaper and insert (and extra mini-insert Jacy gave to me to pad the front of the diaper) absorbed all the moisture really well. I probably could have left the diaper on him longer. (I will say, it was hard to tell how wet the cloth diaper was. With disposables, I can tell by how “poofy” they get in the front. These were poofy from all the padding as soon as I put them on him.)

Cloth-covered bottom

So let the adventures begin. Owen’s napping now, and I anticipate change No. 2 will contain, well, No. 2. That will test my stomach, and perhaps my will to continue on with cloth.

What will tomorrow’s technology be for today’s tots?

After my husband explained to my 70-year-old mother that his new iPod Touch (a prize he won at a recent convention) held all the songs from all his CDs — about 48 hours of music — she looked at the newborn asleep in my arms. If we can fit a thousand songs in our pocket today, imagine what technology will be like when Owen is grown, she marveled.

Just think of the evolution she’s seen, from vinyl to 8-tracks to cassettes to CDs and mp3 players. From super computers that filled entire rooms to the laptop I’m typing this blog on, and even 3-year-old Eve’s toy laptop.

Heck, I’m struck by the changes in the technology we use to communicate, just in the time I’ve been a mom.

When Eve was born in 2008, I sent a mass e-mail to close friends, an idea that seems almost quaint now. I called relatives, and eventually put a few photos on Facebook. I didn’t text anyone.

To announce Owen’s arrival in August, my husband and I still called our closest family members. But I made the announcement over Facebook and Twitter and AreaVoices. We sent group text messages with cell phone pictures, and most of the visitors texted before stopping by. I wondered if it was really necessary to send out traditional birth announcement cards, considering most everyone on my mailing list was a Facebook friend and had seen Owen’s photos already.

Now as I watch Eve play on her toy computer, operate the real CD player in the living room, and figure out how to work her Dad’s iPod, I can only imagine what she’ll carry in her pocket 20 years from now. Or how Owen will let us know about the birth of a grandchild. A hologram, perhaps?

And I’m still figuring out how to Skype …