Kaden McLaws talks about his boys, his part in flattening the curve, coding and Mountain Dew.

I’m a front end programmer for S.D. Professionals, LLC. I stare at and manipulate code for hours on end. Once I log in for the day, I could literally be working in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa and I wouldn’t really notice. All I really need to work is a comfy gamer chair, six or seven large monitors, and a few cans of Mountain Dew.

(Full disclosure, during part of this lockdown, I was working a mere 50 yards away from an Iowan cornfield).

So when we switched to working from home mode, the changes to my daily work routine were trivial. However, there was a huge change in my home life. I suddenly became the entertainment for my two young sons, Ryker and Kamden. Dad was now home all the time, so it must be time to play. Since the lockdown, I have learned to code with one hand while fending off plastic swords with the other.

The other major concern was a change in the school schedule. Ryker had just started Pre-K this school year and he was making major strides in his reading, writing and communication skills. He had amazing teachers and friends who he was going to miss dearly. I think so many other parents of young kids feel the same way. As much as you try, there is no real authentic way to replace the at-school experience.

But if fake swordplay with my boys and homeschooling were our biggest concerns, we took solace in the fact that these were the same issues parents across the country were facing.

Once we were settled in and made sure we had the food, water, and necessities to respect the stay-at-home requests from local governments, we began thinking about how we could contribute to the efforts of the global community in “flattening the curve.”

My wife pointed out the answer was right in front of us. We had some old N95 and P100 masks on hand from an old painting project. We knew from family members in the medical community that there was a massive shortage of masks and protective gear long before the pandemic was gaining momentum in the United States.

McLaws Family Teamwork

I became R&D and Rebecca became production.

Producing a homemade mask that would pass muster if donated was the primary thing we needed to figure out. There were a few different versions of mask styles out there to follow but finding the one the medical community would accept was our charge. We eventually settled on a design model that would be effective and got to work. Reams and reams of fabric and a few Rube Goldberg adaptations later, we were ready to ship. When all was said and done we had produced close to 400 masks and shipped them to friends, family and the Manning Regional Healthcare Center in my home state of Iowa.

We know in the grand scheme of what is going on in the world, a few hundred masks would not make a dent in the national need. However, being able to send those masks was gratifying nonetheless. We wanted to do our part to flatten the curve and we did.

That Mountain Dew I love to down every day tastes a little sweeter now, knowing we helped in our own small way those front line workers in need.

Recipe For A Face Mask


  • Sewing Machine
  • Serger Machine
  • Hundreds of pinning needles
  • Dozens of fabric choices, and several dozen yards of each
  • Patience
  • Ingenuity
  • Iron, ironing board, and bias tape maker
  • A talented and caring wife (preferably named Rebecca)


  • Cut fabric to make two 9” x 6” pieces and two 7” elastic pieces
  • Put the backside of the two fabric pieces together and use an overlock stitch with a serger on all sides
  • Make three pleats and use pins to hold in place
  • Pin elastic to corners of the fabric
  • Sew top corner to bottom corner of each side of the fabric to hold pleats and elastic into place
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