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weekly summit

Summarizing a mountain’s worth of stories, current events, creative ideas and stuff that makes us lol.

We all know that reading to and with our children is important. But what we may not know is that it’s important for them well beyond their toddler years and it’s also pretty important for us, too. Yet the number of children who read for pure pleasure these days is apparently at a record low. According to last year’s results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), just one in three 13-year-olds read for fun. Although reading leads to lots of good outcomes like improved vocabulary, academic and personal success and more socio-emotional depth, it also has critical neurological benefits. And reading together, a particular kind of reading, can lead the body to release oxytocin, the “love drug.” This, in turn, is a boost for children, but also for parents, so many of whom are struggling with anxiety, stress and their own mental health. All of which is to say that reading, especially reading out loud and reading together even when your children are no longer in diapers, is well worth your time and will probably make you happier and healthier, too.

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Recently Fred Miller, 56, an air force veteran, purchased a grand old house called Sharswood near his childhood home in Virginia. He wanted a place big enough to host his large extended family for their many cake-filled gatherings for birthdays, fish fries and the like. Some sleuthing by several relatives into the home’s history revealed a remarkable story. As it turns out, their ancestors were enslaved on the former plantation property Fred now owns. The tale of how the Millers made the discovery—and the revelations they uncovered—is truly astonishing and, as Leslie Stahl says in this 60 Minutes episode, both “impossible and inevitable all at once.” For anyone interested in the ways American history still lives on in all of us, this is a piece of TV news not to miss. 

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So Elon Musk is buying Twitter. If you’re anything like us, you’re wondering how exactly he has $44 billion on hand to do this??? We knew he was rich (the world’s richest, in fact), but, whaaaat? Well, turns out the deal is an unconventional one, according to this piece in the New York Times. But that’s no surprise really, it’s Musk, the quintessential industry disrupter, after all. He’s using a mix of cash—raised by selling Tesla shares and offering them as collateral for personal loans—and about $13 billion in borrowed money, which is “more debt than Twitter may be able to handle, given its patchy profitability,” the article notes. Whether Musk’s move is a brilliant one, or doomed to failure, is too early to say. But it will be fascinating to watch.

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Mom guilt. It would be a miracle if there was any mother anywhere who doesn’t feel it—and, frankly, probably too often, too. But this essay by Lara Bazelon, and adapted from her book, “Ambitious Like a Mother: Why Prioritizing Your Career Is Good for Your Kids,” suggests that it’s high time we start thinking about the conditions of motherhood differently. That is, we all must accept and embrace the fact that there is no perfect balance in mothering between prioritizing our children and our other obligations, such as to our jobs. And that’s just fine. Because, as it turns out, seeing a mother’s ambition is as good for children, and as important to their development, as are her embraces and her freshly baked cookies. What a concept!

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March is women’s history month and it has been since 1987 when Congress passed a joint resolution declaring it so. But it wouldn’t have if not for the work of—yup, you guessed it—some determined, hard-working and trailblazing women historians. These women were intent on rewriting a more inclusive, more accurate, American history that would recognize the achievements and contributions of women. Their path to Congressional action was not easy, and in many ways their work to better tell women’s history continues today. You can read all about them and their efforts in this informative piece from National Geographic. A fitting way, we think, to celebrate this month.

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Understandably all eyes have been on Ukraine these last several days. It’s horrible to see what’s happening there. If you’re struggling to talk to your children about the war, this post from our favorite college professor, Emily Oster, might help. It’s a list of tips for how to talk about hard things with your children, which means it will be useful whether you want to talk about the war in Ukraine or a sick relative or any of the other tricky topics that come up every day. You can also check out this post, which Oster references, by Dr. Aliza W. Pressman, a psychologist and clinical professor in pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Pressman is perhaps best known for her podcast, Raising Good Humans. She focuses specifically on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has useful advice on how to approach conversations about current events with school-aged children.Even if many of us are transfixed by the tragedy unfolding in Eastern Europe, there is also other news to report, including President Biden’s nomination of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. To learn more about his nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and her road from her home in Miami to Harvard University to the highest reaches of the American legal field, check out this profile in the Washington Post. Her list of accomplishments is long. She was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer—whose seat she will take when he resigns if she is confirmed, a former public defender, served four years on the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission, which shapes federal sentencing policy, and is now a federal judge. She is also the mother to two daughters and a big fan of Survivor and American Idol. You know, because we all need equal parts high-brow and low-brow in our lives, right??Late last month, the legendary doctor and global health advocate for the world’s poorest people, Paul Farmer, passed away. The loss of the founder of Partners In Health, one of the most influential global healthcare nonprofits in the world, was a tremendous blow. Yet, his life, and his incredible achievements, were more than inspirational. This story from Vox digs into four key ways “his life offers lessons on how to help people in need and create the communities we want;” lessons, the author says, that “can serve as a roadmap back to hope.” If Paul Farmer’s name is a new one to you, you might also pick up Tracy Kidder’s masterful biography of the doctor called “Mountains Beyond Mountains.” It is a stunning page-turner of a book that will fill you with wonder, awe and, optimism. Perhaps just what we need during this rather dark moment…

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Here’s an interesting, if perhaps not all that surprising, pandemic trend: a rise in the popularity of home births. Although hospital births still account for most deliveries in the U.S. there was a 22 percent increase in home births between 2019 and 2020. Among Black women specifically—who may want to avoid the higher rates of negative outcomes for women of color during hospital births compared to white women—there was a 38 percent increase in the number of home births between just March and December 2020. Yet one major hurdle remains for women who would prefer to have their babies in the comfort of their own homes: Insurers who often refuse to cover the costs of home births. Some in the field are calling the situation a “major women’s health issue.” For the women who’ve chosen the home birth path, the obstacles are frustrating. But few regret their choice.Not sure about you, but we’re still enjoying watching as much of the Olympics as we can fit in (hello new post bed-time routine). And we’ve been especially gripped by the story of Mikaela Shiffrin’s setbacks during these games and her openness about them, too. Although, of course, she’s not the only athlete—and great champion—to experience disappointment in China. Which is why this piece, about the way athletes approach failure, mental health and more, as well as how much the rest of us can learn from that, caught our eye. While Simone Biles started the conversation last summer, the writer here suggests that “these new struggles advance the discussion and challenge a surprised audience to think more broadly about what it means to strive and disappoint.” There is a danger, he explains, to “weaponizing rarefied success as a standard instead of preserving it as an exceptional act.” Because, of course, the great irony of sports is that winning is rarely the rule. Failure is what happens most. But losing, he points out importantly, “remains the greatest teacher.”

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We could all use a bit of bright, happy news, right? Well this story certainly fits the bill. It’s about a 190-year-old tortoise living on St. Helena Island, a tiny British territory thousands of miles off the African coast. Turns out the 440-pound tortoise is named Jonathan and he is the oldest living land animal in the world. There may be sharks that are older, but Jonathan, who is believed to have hatched in 1832, is the grand poobah of the land-living lot. The stories he must have! If only we could speak tortoise…Although it might feel like we were all just watching the summer Olympics, it’s time now to tune into the 2022 winter games in Beijing, which begin today. And, in honor of the event, we thought this story about a young woman named Eileen Gu, who at 18 years old just happens to be the best female freeskier in the world right now, would be of interest. Because what makes Gu’s story particularly noteworthy is not just her incredible skill and high-flying tricks. It’s the fact that the California native, born to a Chinese mother and American father, has chosen to compete for China instead of the U.S. It’s an unusual move and some wonder if Gu, who decided to make the switch at 15, was really capable at that age of understanding the implications of her choice. Either way, it makes for compelling reading because her decision necessitates deftly navigating the worlds of politics, diplomacy and the media, something that can be difficult to handle for even the savviest athletes and celebrities.

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If you aren’t already playing, get on Wordle now. You won’t be sorry! The simple, once-a-day, and now viral, word game is the obsession of the moment. It’s loads of fun, relatively easy, and gets your brain twirling. This essay is explores why so many people have taken to it and why it’s so perfectly suited to the challenging moment we are living ("variant, after variant, after variant"…sigh…). Have a read, enjoy, and then let us know how many tries it took you. Our best outcome so far is two…Even though the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was a few days ago, we didn’t want to let it pass unmentioned here. While there is plenty online to read about the civil rights leader, we found a couple articles of particular interest. One is this piece that looks at King’s legacy through an environmental lens and considers the ways his words, actions and teachings guide those now who are on the front lines of the fight for environmental justice and the work to slow climate change. The article, which includes insights from scientists, theologians, ministers and environmental and climate justice advocates, clarifies the important links between environmental and social injustice and the interconnectedness of all people—principals King understood well. Another worthwhile story, is this photo collection of rarely seen pictures taken during King’s early years. The series of shots include those of King with his family, giving speeches and confronting the many police officers who arrested him over the years. They are a unique portal into King’s life and a pivotal part of American history.

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Today, we are going to take a look back at the beautiful adventures of 2021. As a family, and as a business, our highlights were notable. And guess what!? They are because of YOU! Your families, your adventures and your support are what make us run, jump and do happy dances.

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Late last week the CDC announced when children who’ve been exposed to Covid-19 are tested regularly for the virus at school, they can safely remain in class rather than quarantining after every exposure. The CDC released results from two studies examining these “test-to-stay” programs and showing their effectiveness. Crucially, in both, children were masked. Those who were exposed to a positive case were closely monitored for symptoms, told to stay home if they became sick and tested regularly while still at school, meaning at least twice during the seven days after exposure. “These studies demonstrate that test-to-stay works to keep unvaccinated children in school safely,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, calling it “a promising and now proven practice.” Given our ongoing struggle with this awful pandemic, the surge in cases from the Omicron variant and data on how harmful lost school days are for children, it’s a hopeful sign—if schools have the resources to implement it…Although most of the holiday gift-giving focus is on children, this article really caught our attention because instead it’s about how to support parents in need. This piece recommends organizations that helps parents get diapers for their children (the lack of which provokes as much worry as food or housing insecurity for some), others that work to improve maternal health in this country—especially for women of color who “are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts”—and still others that provide legal assistance to workers who are also caregivers. If you’re looking to add some meaning to your gifting this holiday season by donating money, these groups are an excellent place to start.

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Alex Honnold—of “Free Solo” fame—is about to become a dad, to a baby girl. Will that change how he approaches his climbing? Will he continue to haul himself up—unaided—gravity- and death-defying routes few the world over would even dare consider? What would he say to his kid if she wanted to become a free-solo climber? In a short, but thoughtful interview with Outside Magazine, Honnold considers these questions and more. We love the part most where he says “I certainly don’t think of myself as a big risk-taker.” Guess it’s all about perspective!! Mostly, he says, he just wants to meet his daughter first, “healthy and whole.” Now that we can agree on.If you’re inclined to read more on the idea of risk-taking and parenthood, have a look at this story from Powder Magazine written by our very own copy chief.It happened again. Another school shooting. If, like us, you’ve been reeling from the news about the recent incident that left four teenagers dead at Oxford High School, outside of Detroit, Michigan, you might want to listen to this episode of The Daily podcast from earlier this week. It explains why the county prosecutor there decided to criminally charge not only the shooter, but his parents, too. It’s an unusual move and many are wondering if it will lead to a new way of handling these horrific crimes and a new national model for prosecutions that holds more than the shooter accountable.

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For the first time in Disney’s history, there are several Black Santas appearing at both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida. Because, as it turns out, there’s no good reason Santa has always and exclusively been depicted as white. And, representation really matters. It’s key not only for children to see characters like Santa who look like them, but it’s also key for children to see a Santa who may not. Why? Because by the time children are tweens, “racial biases and beliefs are effectively ‘set,’” which also means there’s not a lot of time to teach children about diversity. So, shout out to Disney, because time is of the essence.And, then for your holiday weekend reading pleasure, how about one good long story to really dig in? Here’s one about a new kind of luxury travel where the customer is purposely abandoned in the middle of nowhere and left to find his or her way out alone. There’s a little more to it than that, but not a lot, truth be told. In this case, the writer is dropped off somewhere in Morocco and left to walk about 18 miles through the Atlas Mountains, spending two nights alone before reaching his final rendezvous point. The result is a mix of adventure, beauty and discovery. And also the knowledge that the whole affair was, admittedly, a bit contrived while still offering excitement and fulfillment, too. The writing here is a journey in and of itself.

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The news a few weeks ago from the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen about Instagram’s impact on teen girls was, for parents of girls especially, pretty awful. However, this piece in the New York Times asks an important question: “How do we know for sure that social media is worse for teen girls than traditional media was for previous generations?” Because, sadly, feeling self-conscious and critical of one’s own body—and even more severe conditions like eating disorders—are not problems unique to Gen Z. As it turns out, the answer isn’t so clear-cut. Yet, one thing is certain: parents can arm their children with the skills to be savvier, more critical, users of social media and that training should start early.

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