I’m Missing a Wheel, But Not The Point

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a note…been busy living life.  Today, I’m just checking in long enough to share my favorite part of this last week.  Last night, I got to hang out with all three of you for a couple hours, and we played Legos…building creations with our imaginations.  That was, by far, the most relaxing and fun night I’ve had in a couple weeks.

Hanging out with you is fun for me.  I don’t always show it, but I’m going to keep working on that.  I’m still learning the value of disconnecting from the outside world for awhile so that I can better connect with you.  I have a lot of forces competing for my time, and I know from your perspective it can often seem like I place spending time with you near the bottom of my priorities.  I want to assure you, though, that I may not always show it, but YOU are the most important of those forces to me.  Last night was a good wake up call for me…just chillaxing with you and creating with our imaginations…making up stories about our creations and just being silly.  Smiling.  Giggling.  Laughing.  Bonding.  I gotta get me some more of that.


Props to SI for having the heart and spirit of a giver!  Dude, I couldn’t have built this thing without you.  Literally.  I was a wheel short.  I tried for 20 minutes to use the pieces we had left to make it into a 3-wheeler instead, but couldn’t find a way to get the front wheel mounted facing forward.  I finally said, “I don’t think I can make this work with just three wheels…I don’t know what to do now.”  Bubba, you just looked right at the pieces I was holding…looked back at the two you had…one with wheels and one without.  And you said “dad, you can have mine.”  And proceeded to take yours apart to give me a wheel.  There.  Are.  No.  Words.  Don’t ever change buddy!

Props to NE too for your creativity in helping me to piece together various parts of my creation…but also in telling stories about yours and mine throughout the night.  Your imagination is inspiring and just simply fun to be a part of.  Others are…and will continue to be…drawn to you for it.  Don’t ever change buddy!

By the way…one of my favorite memories of being a young boy your age is of playing with Hot Wheels and Legos.  It does this daddy proud to watch you enjoying the same now, 30+ years later.  Secretly between just you and me…last night brought out a little of the kid still in me.  I’m looking forward to doing that again.  Soon. 😉



Dancing Through the Snow…with a Beaver and a Prayer

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Snapshots of what happens when daddy is left unsupervised with three kids for 4 hours:

1. NE sings songs like his daddy. Just because we forget the words, that’s no reason to stop singing. In complete rhythm and tune, without missing a beat: “Dancing through the snow…and I wonder what comes next.”

2. Passing the urgent care I took SI to two weeks ago,

SI: “I went to that doctor before, and he said I have a beaver.”
Me: “A beaver!? You have a beaver? Awesome dude!”
NE: “No dad, not a beaver that eats wood, a beaver that you put the tempature stick in your mouth, and the beaver makes your head hurt.”
Me: “Oh. A beaver would be cool though, right?”
Silence. I think I stunned him.

3. I’m proud that NE has my debating skills…even when he uses them on me. Now we need to work on stopping while he’s ahead. In pleading his case for keeping his glass, chocolate milk bottle, I conceded and agreed to not trash it after he successfully pointed out that he rinsed it out with water and it’s not yucky anymore. Then as he takes the bottle from me and is walking away, he continues to argue his point…which occurs more often than not, and always ends with me saying “you successfully won the point son. Stop talking now or I’ll change my mind for no other reason than because I’m the dad…and I can.”

4. Dinner table conversation:
NE: “Mom says ____ is a bad word, and we shouldn’t say it.”
Dad: “I agree. I don’t like that word either.”
SI: “When we say ____, will momma spank our butts?”
NE: “No, momma won’t spank us if we say ____.”
SI: “Mommy and daddy will not spank our butts if we say ____?”
NE: “Nope.”
Dad: “If you don’t stop saying it right now, I’m gonna spank you right here in front of everyone.”
SI: “If I say ____, you’re gonna spank my butt?”
Dad: “Yes.”
SI: (with look of shock on his face) “Oh. Then I will not say ____ because I don’t want you to spank my butt if I say ____.”
Dad: “Thank you.”
SI: (after long pause) Why can I not say ____? Is ____ a bad word?”
Dad: “Yes, it’s a bad word, and I don’t like it.
SI: “Okay. I will not say ____, because I no want you spank my butt.”
Dad: “That’s great. Thank you.”
SI: “You’re welcome. Cuz I don’t want you to spank my butt if I say ____.”
Dad: “I don’t think you’re getting it son.”
SI: “I will get it when I say ____, and you spank my butt.”
Me: (fighting back a smile) “Yes son. Yes you will. While we’re here, I don’t like butt either. Can we say bottom instead please?”
Repeat conversation. Ugh.

At least there’s hope in the final moments of the night. For the first time in a long time, the boys played together for 20 minutes without the poking of any eyeballs, smacking of any bottoms, pushing each other down the stairs or belly bombs off the couch to break the other’s arms. I only had to raise my voice during bedtime routine once (yes…that’s an improvement…sad, I know). And rather than fighting for a spot beside me at prayer time, NE wanted to sit by his little brother and hugged him throughout the prayer…that he prayed. It’s been awhile since NE has wanted to pray, and he willingly offered twice tonight. I wish I could take credit, but I’m not into pushing my luck. At this rate, we’re overdue for an AFLAC claim. I should have invested in AFLAC’s heart attack policy. Odds are in our favor there. Night night.



Roller Coaster of Love

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What is it about being a parent that incites so many varying emotions within such a short time frame? Did God intend parenting to be such a crazy roller coaster? I know He never said it would be easy…I get that. But how is it that I can I go from a Sunday night bed time that has me stressed to the ends of my tolerance for arguing, bickering, fighting and yelling…ready to throw in the towel and claim my prize as world’s worst dad…ready to take you to a stranger’s house and unleash hell upon them (because I don’t think I could do that to a friend)…to Monday morning less than 12 hours later, feeling sad that you’re all leaving me home alone?

I mean really! Just last night I was praying for a break. And now as two are safely on the bus to school, the youngest is wrapping his arms around my neck, hugging me tightly with “I Lub Ooh Daddy” coming from such a sweet little face. And, what is this new emotion? Is that sadness? How is that possible? Last night I was looking forward to a quiet, peaceful day, and now I’m wishing I could spend the day with you. No wonder I have grey hair. My own body is going crazy trying to learn how to love you. But I do. I love you! I just have to learn how to ride the roller coaster of love better.



P.S. By the way, it’s sarcasm. Meant to incite laughter, albeit however sick and twisted that might be. I would never actually drop you off at a stranger’s house. That would not be a safe and prudent parenting decision. No, I’d just leave you in bed and take a long drive to nowhere. 🙂 I believe deep down in the psyche of every parent that’s ever lived, a similar thought has crossed their minds at one point or another during the raising of their kids. The difference between parenting success and parenting failure is the thin line we walk between momentarily thinking it…and actually doing it. If you make it to adulthood with me not being incarcerated, you’ll know I chose the wiser path. And when you have kids of your own, you’ll finally know what I’m talking about.

When I Grow Up

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As we watched the Olympics last night, out of nowhere NE asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up.

To be honest, I haven’t given that very much thought lately. Most days, it seems like I’m stuck in a revolving door…not able to escape the craziness of our life for more than an hour here…two hours there. I’m not complaining, mind you…wouldn’t change a thing…just saying that my vision has been pretty short-term lately. Most days, I’m not able to see past the end of the day, let alone plan for tomorrow…next week…next month…15 years from now when I retire.

So goes my conversation with a curious 5 year old:

Me: “But I’m already a firefighter.”
NE: “No dad. When you grow up and don’t want to be a firefighter anymore, what do you want to be?”
Me: “When I grow up, I want to be a great daddy and a child of God.”
NE: (With a grin) “Not when you die…when you’re still on earth, not in heaven.” (I love the innocence found only in a child.)
Me: “Then I want to be a Papa.”
NE: Giggles
Me: “I want to be a Papa when you have children.”
NE: (Giggles louder) “but I already have a Papa…and a grandpa.”
Me: “Then you can call me Poppy.”
NE: Uncontrollable giggles

And as quickly as it started, you’re distracted with the runners on tv, and the moment is gone. But the conversation made an impression on me…and I look toward the future…not to what I want to be, but toward who I want to be. I want to be a man of integrity, honor and courage, humbly serving others just as Christ served. I want to be the kind of dad that leaves a legacy for your grandchildren…that they can look back at and be proud of. For now, though, I’m happy to live in the moment…and watch you dream of what you want to be when you grow up. Whatever that may be, I’ll be your strongest supporter. I love you buddy!



What’s in a Word?

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What’s in a word? Thats a good question. Through the toddler years, as each of you has learned to talk, the mispronunciations of different words along the way has brought your mom and me much joy. As I write this, NE recently turned four, and I find myself reflecting back on these first four years. You each have your own style when it comes to learning to talk, and different words have caused you each your own set of difficulty. I wish we had done a better job of remembering SD’s first words, but we do have a few. What follows are the words we’ve found the most joy in through the years, in no particular order.

“Extodian” = custodian (NE) “I made a new friend today.” “What’s his name?” “I don’t know. He’s the extodian.”

“Flushy” = slushy (NE)

“Underrupded” = interrupted (NE) “You underrupded me”

“Misk it” = mix it (SI)

“Banilla” = vanilla (SI)

“Wad” = odd (SI) “I’m evens. You’re wads.”

“SupercalafragaLIPSTICexpealedoscious. (NE)
“bix-it” = biscuit. (SI)
“Hoxtabull” = hospital. (SI)

“My eye spells” = My eye spies (NE)

“Flick Flocks” = flip flops Started with NE and has been passed down to SI and up to SD and the rest of us. 🙂

“Poxable” = Popsicle (SI)

“opee meal” = oatmeal (SI)

“Gay el” = girl (SI)

“Para pepper” = paramedic (SI)

“Spink-a-wing” = sprinkling (SI)

“Horsey Kisses” = Hershey kisses (SI)

“Unappropriate” = inappropriate (SI)

“Hoxtable” = hospital (SI)

“Flick Flocks” = Flip Flops

“Long Cut” = Opposite of Short Cut
Self explanatory, huh? SD, you first said this to me about a month ago as we were walking across the church parking lot. We were running behind for the boys’ MDO Spring Fling, and I started out across the lot in a hurry to get inside. I was darting between cars and looked back to make sure you were keeping up. When I didn’t see you and called your name out, you hollered from about 6 cars away that you were taking the long cut. Touché. You got me there. Yes you are. 🙂

“He’s Zero.” = SD introducing her younger brothers before their first birthday
Okay, so this is more than just a word, it’s an expression. I just couldn’t leave it out though. SD, when each of the boys were born, you doted on them like any proud big sister would. You always introduced them by saying, “This is NE. He’s zero.” Who am I to correct that? Especially when you’re actually right. Zero does come before one. You rock girl!

“M’s” = M&M’s
This one is SD’s. You really love your M’s. It’s a vise you come by honestly. They’re my weakness too. As you learned what this little chocolate treasure was, you discovered your love for chocolate, and it was so cute hearing “M’s” come from your mouth that we kept this one. They will forever be M’s in our home.

“Walkie Talker” = Walkie/Talkie
I’ll admit…this is a silly word anyway. Back in the day when it was first invented, I’m sure it was awesome to be able to walk away from the big stationary radio and use a portable radio for the first time. Still…walkie talkie? That’s the best they could come up with? Nowadays, we call them handheld radios, or simply handhelds…in the fire service anyway. And right now, NE, you are fascinated with all things fire service. You all three enjoy sitting in the utility trucks at the fire station when you come to visit me at work. Why you enjoy “driving” the utility trucks more than the ladder truck I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the size of the big truck that intimidates you a little. Anyway, we’ve had some good times you “driving” me to fires, and we can’t just go to a fire without reporting in, can we? Good thing we have a Walkie Talker. Even better that you know how to use it.

“Whose” = Horse
SD goes horseback riding once a week, and SI, you are awed by the horse. You get as excited as she does when you see them. As I right this, we’re watching an episode of Sesame Street, and it’s all about horses. You’re awesome. Your eyes get real big, your mouth opens wide, and you gasp as if surprised, as you cover your mouth with both hands. Then you point at the screen and say “whose!” Love it!

“Nuggle” = Snuggle
SD, you’ll know that we still use this today, because it’s definitely a keeper. It’s always melted my heart when you crawl or walk up to me and ask softly “daddy? You nuggle me?” What dad could ever say no to some quality nuggle time with his beautiful baby girl?

“Snuggers” = Snuggle
NE, hearing you ask “you snuggers me?” as we tuck you into bed each night is priceless. Who could resist that? We do love our snuggers time! Yes, this one is a keeper too!

“Buggle Gum” = Bubble Gum
Confusing the “b” with the “g” is understandable…and cute. 🙂

“Mallemows”‘= Marshmallows
I’m laughing as I write this because I’m typing it out on my cell phone, and the auto-spell correct option on my phone recognizes the word and auto-completes the word for me after typing only “mallem”. Now that’s awesome! Who knows…by the time you’re in high school, it might be in the dictionary. Yes, it’s definitely a keeper. Quite honestly, if you asked for a marshmallow in our home, I don’t think we’d know what you’re talking about. Gotta love a hot chocolate with mallemows. SD, back in the day, you would eat through a bag like it was the last thing you’d ever get to eat. When we have them in the house, they don’t last long because when you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, they end up in bed with you.

“Crash” = Equivalent of a toast with our cups
SD, I don’t know what it is about crashing our drink cups together at every meal that has become a necessity for you, and I don’t remember how it started, but it’s cool. Some days, it’s just once…other days, it’s over and over in one meal. Either way, it’s become our thing, eh? A meal in our home is just not the same without it.

“Noggin!” = A Forehead Crash
I’m not sure how this one started either…no telling around here. I do know it can be painful, though. When I hear “noggin!” yelled out, I instinctively wince now. I’m not sure my head can take it if we keep doing this much longer.

“Snipe” = Snap
NE, you’re so cute. Mostly when you’re not even trying to be. You like to hide stuff in your hands behind your back. In your 2’s and 3’s, mama would ask you what you’re hiding, and you’d just look at her with a disheveled, sneaky grin…so she’d jokingly call you a little snipe. Around the same time, you were learning to get dressed on your own, encountering snaps and buttons along the way. Somewhere in there, snap and snipe blended and a snap became a snipe. Good stuff.

“But” = Button
Which brings us to but…while learning about buttons and snaps, button got shortened. Cute…till you would point out to various people in public with big buttons on their attire that they had a big but. Okay, so it was cute then too. 🙂

“Bak-a-baw” = Basketball
Actually, it’s everything ball. If it’s a ball, it’s a bak-a-baw. Baseball…soccer ball…football…tennis ball…doesn’t matter. And SI, you do love throwing a bak-a-baw. You can even take a rolled up dirty sock and make it a pretty good bak-a-baw. Tonight at the grocery store, you treid to use a cantelope as a bak-a-baw. You throw a mean bak-a-baw too. At just 22 months, your form when shooting hoops is spot on, and your fastball is painful at short range…painful because the accuracy isn’t quite there yet…you’re still a wild man with a bak-a-baw. We’re still in the early stages of this word, so it’s hard to predict if it’ll be a keeper or not…but it’s looking favorable.

“Hooker” = Trailer Ball
This one started as I was hauling the trailer for the Upward season in early ’11. NE, you’re fascinated with the trailer and my truck. Trying to explain that a towing ball is not like a basketball is hard. “It hooks the trailer up” is about all I could say to help it make sense for you. Man, I’ll tell you one thing, though…I wish I could have been there the day you saw Miss Rhonda from the church office in the parking lot and made sure she knew that she had a hooker. Ha!

“Lub” = Love
SD, I lub you too. I lub each of you more than I could ever say. I lub you so much I would die for you if it came to it. Only one man could ever lub you more than daddy, and He already did die for you. His name is Jesus Christ.

So, what’s in a word? I’ll tell what…some good laughs…some awkward moments…some pain…some new traditions…some love…and lots of great memories.



P.S. – Words added below have come along since the original writing of this note and are noted with the date I added them to the list:

“Tamperine” = Trampoline – June 1, 2011
We had a trampoline for several years…until the weight from you and 6 of your neighborhood friends all jumping at the same time ripped the fabric around the springs, so we had to remove it from active duty. After about 2 years without one, I thought it’d be cool to replace it. So far, so good on that decision…because you all enjoyed breaking it in this afternoon. NE, to hear you call it a tamperine does my soul good. It’s hard to tell if the “p” is actually a “p” or a “b”, because every now and then I think you’re saying “tamberine”. Either way, it’s awesome! Thanks for the help putting it together, by the way…I couldn’t have done it without my awesome helper handing me springs!

“Which hand the penny?” = Just a guessing game – June 1, 2011
SD, just yesterday I remembered this game you used to play growing up. You started when you were in about the 2nd grade, and it’s been awhile since you’ve done it…I vaguely remember you playing it a month or so ago. When you get in my truck, you take a penny out of the cup holder, hide it in one hand behind your back and ask, “which hand the penny?” For the first year, you’d always have it in the same hand…still not sure how I kept guessing the wrong hand all the time…

“Wa Yay” = Water (or anything to drink) – July 21, 2011
SI, watching you learn new words is really fun for me. You already bring so much fun and energy to the family, and as you learn to communicate, it’s even more fun. You’ve been saying this word for a month or so now, and it applies to anything you want to drink…water, milk, juice, coffee…any liquid. Yes, even coffee. I started NE out on this about the time he was your age, and I’m paying for it still. It’s really a sippie cup with mostly milk and a splash of coffee, but you both like doing things I do, and drinking my coffee is no different. Hearing you ask for your “Wa yay” is awesome.

“Aww Tay” = “Oh Tay” (from the movie The Little Rascals”) – July 21, 2011
The Little Rascals movie is a regular in our van. You guys love it. We’ve watched it so many times, I have the words memorized, which is okay by me…it’s an awesome movie. SI, just yesterday in the van on the way to church, when the movie came on, you said “Aww Tay”, and it was AWESOME. Hilarious stuff! They say it in the opening scene, and you just kept repeating it. Your mom and I kept saying it too, just to get you to keep repeating it, it was that funny. Good stuff.

“Abble” = Apple (or anything to eat) – July 21, 2011
SI, when you first learned what an apple was and started calling it an abble, it was awesome by itself. Now, just about everyting you want to eat is either an abble or a cookie…regardless of what it is. Could be cereal, a sandwich, a hot dog, yogurt…doesn’t matter. It’s all either an abble or a cookie. 🙂

“Ploon” = Balloon – July 21, 2011
If I could find a way to spell how this actually sounds, I would. To simply read “ploon” doesn’t do it justice. Try to imagine the sound your lips make when you have them closed and blow air through them…kinda like when you give someone a raspberry on their belly. Until this morning, I thought it was just with the word balloon, but as I was writing this, you were playing a game on my phone and saw a picture of an airplane. When you saw it, you made the same sound when saying “plane”. When you combine your “p” and “l” into the “pl” sound, that’s what is sounds like…then just add the rest of the word afterward, and that’s what we got. Wicked cool.

“Coose coose” = Blues Clues – February 2012
SI, you’re enjoying watching this cartoon, and I’m enjoying listening to you say it.

“Gooby Doo” = Scooby Doo – February 2012
SI, you love your Scooby Doo. I enjoy how much you and your brother enjoy it, because it takes me back to my youth, when I watched Scooby Doo after school every day. You have some new rain boots with Gooby Doo on them, and you show them proudly, proclaiming these are “my Gooby Doo’s’. Ruh Roh Raggy!

“I DOO Myself!!” = Exactly what it says – February 2012
It’s always a bittersweet moment in the life of a daddy when his child starts doing things for himself. It’s a time when you’re learning independence, one baby step at a time. With that comes that “daddy proud” moment when I know you’re maturing and growing. Yet it also comes with the acceptance that the closer you come to being independent, the closer comes the time when you’ll not want my help. It does do me proud to watch you gain your independence and start doing more for yourself.

“I Funk!” = Hahaha…this one is hilarious to me – February 2012
Bubba, you crack me up dude! Your mom and I started this one, but you just have your way of making it yours. When it was time for you and NE to jump in the bath, your mom started saying, “Time for a bath. You smell funky!” I followed suit, and shortly thereafter you picked it up and ran with it. “I Funk!!” is what you proudly proclaim when you want a bath. Not many people would proudly proclaim they smell funky! You’re all boy, son…my boy!!

“Butt-Cheye!” = Butterfly – February 2012
SI, tonight you and I were reading a book together. It was a picture book, and you were asking “what’s this?” with all the pictures. When we got to the butterfly, this is how you pronounced it, and it cracked me up dude. Just had to add it because you make me smile, in more ways than you’ll ever know.

“Ahhff” = All – February 2012
Another SI-ism, this is one I love and will remember always. As in, “I drink my milk. I drink ’em ahhff.”

“Cockadoo!” = Rooster – February 2012
Another SI-ism, this one came out at lunch after church today. As part of the restaurant decorations, two parrots were hanging above the table beside us. You pointed and said “one. two cockadoos”. It took a while to convince you they we’re parrots, not cockadoos.

Where’s My Baby Girl?

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I was sitting in the dentist’s office today with SD waiting for our appointments. As we were waiting, I was preoccupied with my phone (I know…nothing new, right?) when I was caught completely off guard. I looked over in time to see something I rarely see…you.

You see, to me you’re still my baby girl. It’s as though you’ve been frozen in time (in my head anyway) at an age so much younger than you are now. When I think of you, I picture an infant still learning to roll over…to crawl…to pull yourself up to a standing position…to walk…to run. When someone mentions your name, I picture you climbing the stairs one at a time on all fours. I vividly remember walking down the hall of the courthouse hand-in-hand with you as we finalized your adoption. You were truly beautiful in that white dress…those beautiful blue eyes staring up at me…filled with awe and wonder. What a happy day that was.

Today, though, as we sat together in that waiting room, I was scared. Scared because I was sitting next to a beautiful young lady. A young lady on the verge of becoming a woman. Sitting there flipping through a magazine, looking all grown up, I see that you’re not a baby girl anymore. And truth be told, that scares me.

You see, it creates an awareness in me that proves my time with you is limited, and I begin to question the quantity and the quality of the time we’ve spent together so far. I begin to question how many opportunities I’ve missed. Yet I know that dwelling on missed opportunities will only cause me to miss more. Very soon now, you’re going to be entering into a stage in your life that I’m not prepared for. I don’t believe any dad ever is really. I’m not ready for you to fight back against your mom and me with all your teenage strength, and I’m certainly not ready to go from being the smartest person on earth who knows how to make everything all better to an idiot who doesn’t know squat. I’m not ready for that. I regularly pray that one of two things occur: 1. Because of how truly special you are, this stage of life passes you by with minimal impact; or 2. God would fill my cup to overflowing, so that I can withstand it. Either way, I trust in His will and will find joy and contentment in our lives.

Truth be told, you’ll always be my baby girl. When you’re 33, you’ll still be my baby.



I’m Not A Rock

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I don’t know when this started occurring.  I know it’s been several months, but exactly when it started, I haven’t a clue.  I do, however, remember the first time it happened:

NE, you’re three as I write this, so for argument sake, we’ll say it was about six or eight months ago.  You would have turned 3 only a few months before this first occurred.  I was tucking you into bed after reading you a story.  We had just prayed together, like we do every night.  You were laying down, all snuggled up under your blanket looking up at me with those bright eyes of yours filled with such love and admiration.  You were happy.  I’d have given just about anything to have been able to read your mind at that moment in time.  Truth be told, I’d give just about anything to know what goes through your mind at any time of the day.  To watch you play, read, run…just to watch you process what’s going on around you brings about so many different facial expressions that evoke wonder on my part…wonder about how a three-year old processes all of that data differently than a 37-year old.  I digress…

Kneeling by your bedside on this night, I’m proud to be your dad.  Proud of all that you are…not because of what you’ve done, but just proud to know you and proud to be given the responsibility of being your daddy.  As I look down upon your smiling face, I say three simple words to you.  Words that any adult who reads this will hear and think nothing other than, this is a dad praising his child.  Three words we hear all the time, whether in being said to friends and family, or in mainstream media.  When composed in the order I chose to use them, they make perfect sense…to an adult.  In the mind of a three-year old, however, the same three words mean something completely different.  And until the mind of a three-year old is unleashed upon the world, no adult can ever be prepared for what comes next.

Three words…In my mind’s eye, I’m trying to tell you so many different things with these three words.  In my three words, I’m trying to tell you that you’re awesome…that I’m proud of you…that I’ll always be proud of you…that I’m here for you…that I’m blessed and proud to be your daddy…that you mean the world to me…that my life would never be the same without you…that you make a difference in my world…that you have a magnetic personality…that others are drawn to you because you’re a great person…that you’re a great helper…that you’re an awesome big brother to SI and an amazing little brother to SD…that you’re smart…you’re funny…you’re beautiful on the inside and the outside…that you’re good at problem-solving…that you’re compassionate and caring…that you think of others first…that you have a servant’s heart…that your decision-making is impressive for a 3-year old…that you’re a loving person…that I love you.

Three words that in the mind of a three-year old have no correlation to any of what I’m really trying to say to you.  Three words that in the mind of a three year old mean something completely different than their intended meaning.  As I look down upon your innocent smiling face, all that I want to say to you to express how much you mean to me is, “NE, you rock!”

And after saying all that I want to say, you look up at me with a puzzled expression on your face.  A brief smile breaks across your mouth as you tell me in all seriousness, “I’m not a rock.”

Not what I was expecting, but you are son.  You are more than you’ll ever know.  All of you are rocks in my life…rocks past which the river of my life flows and is blessed to have in its path.



A New Bed

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As I put this site together and try to organize all of the random thoughts that cross my mind on any given day…all the things I would want you to know in my absence…all the stories of your childhood that you’ll enjoy reading to your own children, I’m remembering stories I’ve either shared with friends and family in person or as short Facebook posts…stories of the things going on in our life at any given moment in time.  As I start to add to this “Daily Grind” chapter, I’ve been putting a lot of thought and consideration into what the opening of this chapter should be.  I can come up with nothing better than the following story I originally wrote as a Facebook post on February 21, 2011:

We finally assembled the bunk beds for the boys that we bought back in December.  That was a 3 hour process that surprisingly, went rather well (I’ve always been better at breaking than building/fixing…hence the reason I’m not in construction.)  Tonight, our family night consisted of Ju driving the kids in circles in the parking lot while I was at the chiropractor for 45 minutes.  I’m usually a once-a-week popper of the spine, but life has kept me from it for 5 weeks, so extra maintenance required a longer visit than intended.

A quick run to the grocery store and Target for some plastic sheets for the new bunk beds and new shoes for the boys.  NE wanted nothing to with any shoe except Lightning McQueen.  The red lights in the lightning bolts on the sides amaze him, and he walked around all night saying, “Lie Queen.  Kachow!  Kachow!  Kachow”!  He rocks.  Afterward, we stopped at the pet store for some feeder fish for our Oscar.  At home, we all sat and watched as Oscar (Ostrich is his SD-given name) ate 8 of 9 within about 5 minutes.  The lone survivor found refuge in the corner behind the heater.  At SD’s instruction, I chased him out of the corner so Ostrich could get to him, but he found his way back to the safety of the heater.   I told her that he’s earned the right to live another hour or so, so we’ll leave him be.  Honestly, the older I get, the more enjoyment I get from watching this than from what’s on TV anymore.

It’s 9:45.  The boys went to “bed” at 8:00.  NE likes the new bed so far, although he gets scared on top so he’s up and down between beds.  Unfortunately, Bubba loves the new bed even more.  While he has moved from his crib to NE’s old crib/toddler bed, it’s not working out so well right now…he is NOT ready to be in a bed without 4 sides.  So, tomorrow I’ll add the 4th side back to it to convert it back to a crib.  He was bouncing on the toddler bed earlier and did a somersault out onto the floor.  Never once flinched and got right back up for more.  On my 8th trip to their room to investigate the commotion, Bubba is on the top bunk with NE.  He’s wearing his bike helmet. I guess he figures a somersault off the top bunk requires a little extra safety gear.  Note to self, I need to put safety bar over the ladder tomorrow.

On a subsequent trip, (by this point I’ve actually lost count…it was a lot!), I told NE to just let Bubba crawl in with him on the lower bunk if he kept getting in his bed and crawling in with him.  On Ju’s next trip to investigate the commotion, NE had indeed followed my direction.  Bubba was in bed with him…and had NE in a headlock.  I really need to convert his toddler bed back into a crib tomorrow.

On the umpteenth trip NE made to our room to tell us how SI has again crawled out of bed, I’m done.  I’ve moved into their room and sitting on the floor as I finish writing this.  I think we’re making progress. 🙂

As a postscript to this story, it’s March 6th.  Two weeks have passed since we put your new bed together.  NE, you’re not so sure about the top bunk at night yet, so you’ve been sleeping on the bottom.  I can understand that.  It is a big bed for such a small child.  Your little body doesn’t even take up 1/4 of the available space.  SI, I really should have listened to my own advice from the above story.  I still have not put the 4th side back on the crib yet, so you easily “escape” your 3-sided bed.  At least we’re down to only about 30-45 minutes of sending you back to bed before you finally give up the fight and let sleep get the better of you.  Every night, though, you wake up at least once…more often than not several times, and every night, the pitter-patter of your little feet fills the silence of the night as you make your way to our room.  Over and over again.



I Want to be your All Pro Dad

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Originally written December 4, 2010

I got to spend three hours today at the All Pro Dad’s Day event with NE at the St. Louis Rams training facility. Let me say it was by far the best three hours I’ve had in months! I got to see the NE that I know for the first time in about 3 months come back…

NE, you have been struggling recently to find your place in our family. Let me make it clear right now as your father and the God-appointed leader of our family that you do not have to “find” your place amongst us. Your place within our family was established when God breathed His life into you and was solidified for us the day you were conceived. Your mom and I accept you and love you for who you are, no matter what you do along the way.

You have been struggling to find yourself amongst life in a household with your siblings. Your big sister and bubba take so much of our time and energy, that we have not been able to provide you with what you consider to be your most precious asset – our time. And it is indeed a precious asset, a responsibility to provide that I do not take lightly. As you grow, I pray that you will come to understand why your sister requires so much extra from us, and it is my heart’s desire that you grow to have a compassionate heart for her and not resent her for what she’s taken from you, our time. I see in you a heart that thinks of others. You share what is yours with your sister and brother, as much as a three-year old is able. Every time I give you a treat, like a piece of candy, you think to grab one for both SD and SI. While you three have your sibling rivalries and conflict, YOU are the one that comes to their side when someone outside of our family is hurting them. You have stood up for SD and SI with the neighborhood friends…kids twice as old and three times bigger than you. The day you did that made me so proud.

Lately you have been acting out aggressively in what I believe is your effort to get our attention, to get us to interact with you more. I have received the message and heard your plea. I am here. I will give you more positive interaction. I will give you more of my time. I will make time for you alone, away from your brother and sister. I will help you find your “thing”. SD has her Therapeutic Horsemanship every week, and right now bubba has being a one-year old on his side. Stuck in the middle, you don’t have your “thing”. It has become my passion to help you find your “thing” and to let you have it without having to share it. Today at the football event for dads was the first step toward that goal. The first step among many as we venture down this path together. You should have seen the way your face lit up when I told you the night beforehand…

I was tucking you into bed, I’d just read your bedtime story and we’d said our prayers together. As I was covering you up, I said, tomorrow morning I have a meeting and will be back after lunch. When I get home, how ’bout you and me go play some football together?”. You looked at me with a small smile, then looked over at bubba in his crib. Then back at me again. I said “bubba can’t go, just you and me?” you replied inquisitively, “sissy too?” “nope, jus you and me are going to play football. Sissy and bubba can’t go.” the smile on your face reached ear to ear and you kept saying “yeah!” over and over again.

Although your apprehension when we first arrived was warranted, you eventually warmed up to being in such an intense environment. We had to stand outside in the freezing cold on a windy day for 20 minutes to get in the door. Although you ha a heavy coat and my stocking cap on, you were frozen. There were a lot of strangers, and I appreciate that you don’t like strangers. That’s a GOOD thing, especially for a three year old. At about 30 minutes in, when I finally realized that your pleas to go home were actually you telling me you had to go potty, we fixed that problem and tried to return. The cheap frisbee the gave us as a door prize fascinated your imagination, and we broke from our group to play catch in the center of the field. For 2 1/2 hours straight, we ran and played, stopping only to lie down on the 20 yard line to draw monster trucks…

Image vs. Character

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Originally composed on July 21, 2010

My time here on this Earth always has the potential to be cut shorter than I hope and plan, and my fear is that I will either not have the opportunity or not take full advantage of my opportunity to communicate to you what I want to teach you as you grow into adulthood. My hope in leaving you these notes is that if I am called to be with the Lord before I am ready, you will have some record of the life lessons I hope to have taught you before my departure. The following was posted on a blog and Facebook by Randy Alcorn. I found it on July 21, 2010. While the words below are not my own, they echo what I would want to say about this topic. While reading it, all I kept thinking to myself was, “if I could communicate the difference between image and character to my kids, this is what I would want to say.” I love you more than I could ever say!



Randy Alcorn –

With the recent allegations against actor Mel Gibson, there’s been a number of responses to his situation that cry out for an eternal perspective. (When Gibson released his movie The Passion of the Christ in 2004, I wrote a review of the movie for our quarterly newsletter, and a follow-up response based on some of the things I said in my first article about Gibson. In both articles, I wrote, “Pray for him, absolutely, selectively agree with and support him, yes, but don’t make him—or anyone else—Christianity’s poster boy or spokesperson…Every time Christians get mesmerized by and try to capitalize on fame and celebrity, it ends up hurting them, biting us and undermines rather than elevates our Lord.”)Although these following principles about image and character are pulled from an article I wrote years ago about O.J. Simpson, they still prove just as true today as they did then.

The difference between image and character.
Image is what you are on a football field, in a movie, and in Hertz commercials. Character is what you are in the dark, when no one but God is looking. What are the traits it takes to get and stay famous? In many cases the answer includes a mammoth ego, self-absorption, and an impassioned craving for public approval. These very traits that compel one to pursue fame both reflect and produce a private inner life lacking in substance and integrity.

Anyone can look good in front of an audience, or even in front of their friends. It’s an entirely different thing to stand naked before God, to be known as you truly are on the inside. “Do not consider his appearance or his height . . . The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The difference between a hero and a celebrity.
Fame is one thing. Virtue is another. The two aren’t even remotely related. In fact, the more famous you become the harder it is to cultivate and retain virtue. Being a hero is something entirely different than being a celebrity. Celebrities are just people with good looks, talent, money, and the ability to draw attention to themselves. Heroes are people who stand courageously for what is right, often against the tide of public opinion, and at great cost to themselves.

Many public figures have proven long on image and short on character, just as many faithful servants of God have been short on image and long on character. Politicians are celebrities. But if they steal from the country, cheat on their wives, and promote the ruthless killing of unborn children, no one in their right mind can consider them heroes. (That many do so simply demonstrates our society is not in its right mind.)

When you and I stand before God and give an account of our lives, the ability to run with a football or manage a company or write a newsletter article will mean nothing. Our dependence on Christ to cleanse us of our sins and empower us to a new way of living will mean everything.

The difference between a self-made man and a God-made man.
We value a man who is independent. God values a man who is dependent on Him. We value a man who marches to his own beat. God values a man who marches to His beat. We value a man who is his own authority, who makes up the rules as he goes. God values a man who submits, who follows those unbending ancient rules made by Another. We value a man who believes in himself, who makes himself great. God values a man who believes in Him, recognizing He alone is truly great.

The difference between high self-esteem and accurate self-esteem.
People often say, “I can’t believe that [insert name of a person in the news] is capable of such evil.” Of course he is. So are you. So am I. We’ve fallen for the old lie, propagated by secular humanism and modern psychology, that man is basically good. But we’re terribly arrogant and naive to believe this. Read Romans 1-3 and see what God says about the human condition. Look at human history. Look around you. We’re all capable of horrendous evil. The man who thinks he is incapable of adultery and crimes of hatred and passion is not on guard against them, and does not call upon Christ to save him from them.

Years ago I read a fascinating and chilling book by Robert Lifton, The Nazi Doctors. As a psychologist interviewing former Nazi doctors and their surviving victims, he hoped to discover what made these “monsters” tick. What he discovered was much more frightening—the fact that these were in fact quite ordinary men who, given the opportunity, did horribly evil things. As long as we consider the Nazis monsters, we can separate ourselves from them. It’s only when we realize that we ourselves are of the same stock that we can come to terms with our capacity for evil and our need for Jesus.

The difference between Hollywood values and values that really matter.
Years ago, on the day after O.J. Simpson’s “chase” on the L. A. freeways, I was attending Promise Keepers in Portland, with nearly 30,000 other men. (Another 5,000 were turned away—there just wasn’t room.) Here, like the quarter of a million other men attending Promise Keepers gatherings that year, were men gathered to uplift the very values and power for righteous living that O. J. Simpson so desperately lacked. Men were learning about God, about taking responsibility, about loving and serving their wives and children.

The event went by in Portland largely unnoticed by television news that night. All those men at civic stadium did was commit themselves to being faithful in their homes and churches and communities and society, to keeping sacred promises in the daily grind of life. These men wanted to cumulatively build a track record of faithfulness to God and family. They wished to become heroes, if to no one else, to their own children. Small acts of daily faithfulness don’t make the news. But they matter much more than what does.

Commitments like the ones those men made that night will give our children, our churches, and our society an example to follow unmatched by that of any celebrity. A life enthusiastically applauded in the final day by the only audience that ultimately matters…the Audience of One.