Category Archives: Family

Welcome to #dadlife

Just a warning, I may be writing this blog for me (life is stressful at the moment)… but I think you might like it.

Welcome to #dadlife.

Welcome to time being a single piece of pie left and 14 people wanting it.

Welcome to money being a battlefield. Bills are tanks that slowly advance but hit you from far away with loud shells that leave holes in your landscape. Making it difficult to outrun the tanks; see they run on continuous tracks.

#dadlife has no filters to make things look better. It is filled with vomit, bags under your eyes, dirty dishes and loads of soiled laundry… so many loads of laundry. #dadlife is filled with frowns, a fading body, and carpet worn thin from the family routine.

Welcome to feeling like your dreams are expired spices in the cupboard. Always in sight, thought of when cooking, but no one likes their scrambled eggs with seasoning. So your dreams sit in the back, stale and out of date.

#dadlife is being last in line at the zoo. Making sure everyone sees the tigers while you answer the questions and making sure that a little one doesn’t wander off. You get the last drops of water and few chips left in the bag.

Welcome to finding strength you didn’t know you had. #dadlife builds your heart and mind, it is crossfit training for every aspect of your life. Every day is a rep for life, building strength to handle your children’s heartaches, while striving to build a home. #dadlife teaches you how to move in 12 different ways. You become limber and agile, being capable of handling different situations at the same time.

#dadlife breaks your heart with joy and then heals it with love as you watch your children shine, on a stage, with a colored pencil, or on the court. Your heart cracks as they express their talents, fulfilling their dreams. The cracks are then healed when they catch your eye with a smile that says thank you.

Welcome to #dadlife. It is like trying to find a treasure with a faded map. You can just make out the directions, but many times you forge your own way. Finding unique coins along the unexplored paths. After awhile you can read the next landmark, make a slight adjustment to stay on track. But soon find that the map is hard to read again. So, you decide which path to take on your own. Finding small treasures along the way.

#dadlife is just a hashtag, but through all the hurdles of this dad’s life, I am happy to share both the sorrow and joy of a life lived.

 

 

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When dad gets sick.

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. We were looking forward to the first weekend where we only had one activity on the calendar. I was going to get grades caught up. Spend time with the family. Watch the Super Bowl. Enjoy the downtime.

It started as a little tickle in my throat when I woke up Friday morning. We had a teacher in-service that day so the morning routine was relaxed. At lunch time we were going to pick up my blood pressure medicine. I got some cold and flu medicine, too. I thought it would be best to nip the scratchy throat situation before it got worse. By the end of the day I told my wife that I was going to get some rest when we got home.

I wasn’t feeling horrible, but I was tired. I thought part of it was the cold and flu medicine. Things turned for the worse. When bedtime arrived my throat was feeling tight and scratchy. I thought I just needed another dose of medicine, a good night’s sleep, and everything would be good in the morning. I was wrong.

We would go to convenient care in the morning. The doctor would talk about the option of draining my uvula if the antibiotics didn’t work because it was so swollen. I had strep throat. But I didn’t know that Friday night. I had one of the worse nights of my life as my throat and uvula worked together to make me feel as if I was choking on something all night. I would drink some ice water and the sensation would go away for a few minutes. I would close my eyes only to be jolted back by the closing of my throat.

I could not find a position that would alleviate the sensation. Your mind starts to panic in the darkness of the night. So many thoughts ran through my head in that darkness. At one point I did panic. My heart raced. I couldn’t stop thinking something was terribly wrong. But I survived. The night passed.

I would spend all day Saturday and part of Sunday in bed. Away from the kids. Away from the routine of my life. I could hear the laughter and conversation at dinner.  My little girls would stick their head in to say they loved me. My wife would fill my water for me. (I drank so much water!)

My sickness reminded me of a few things.

The first is that family is about routine. Now, not in the boring definition, but by what you do everyday. Each member of the family has a role. A family is the whole of all the parts. A family changes over time. Children grow, routines change and adapt to new situations. But the definition of a family is founded in what each person does. That is why I felt so sad as I listened to my family enjoy dinner Saturday night. They laughed. They talked. I missed that. Dinner time is part of our family definition, part of our routine.

The second aspect of life that was reinforced actually came during my struggle Friday night and maybe because I am only a few years away from being 50 and maybe because we have read the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” in class. (I have written about the poem before in the post, “Only Time Will Tell.”) But time doesn’t wait for your dreams. Time doesn’t wait for your happiness. Time doesn’t wait for anything.

Ironic that I wanted Friday night to end quickly, but it didn’t. But the saddest belief we have is that tomorrow will make our dreams come true, that we will be happier tomorrow. I see this in different ways. My seniors believe that they will be happier next year. I live it every time I pass up an opportunity to fulfil my goals. But time will pass no matter what. Time doesn’t care.

The last thing: I hate it when I get sick.

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Little Treasures

My morning routine is different this year. My wife heads to school with our two middle daughters. My oldest son usually heads to school soon after. I wait another 40 minutes to take my youngest daughter to preschool.

This week my daughter and I have been playing a game she created, “Treasure.”

We start at the front door.

Our river.

Which is really a river. We cross the river by rope, or bridge, or however she decides we can cross. Next, we find a treasure hiding in the jungle (living room).

Our treasure chest.

On the drive to preschool she retells of our adventure with joy in her voice.

But what I have discovered this week is that little treasures are everywhere. Most of them are right in front of us.

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I Love School

This morning my youngest daughter informed that she loved school.

“Dad, I love school!” my daughter randomly exclaimed from the backseat.

“That’s cool,” I replied.

“Dad… Do you want to know why I love school?”

“Yes, little one. Why do you love school?”

“Because I get to do jobs.”

Now, we had been discussing the fact that this week she was music helper. Next week she gets to be “fish helper.”  Other jobs that I am aware of are line leader, lunch helper, and some job that is connected with the activity areas in the classroom.

My daughter is five years old. School is pretty awesome.

What happens?

Where does the joy go for students?

This post is not going to answer that question. It is too big for a simple blog post. But my daughter reminded me that for most students, the start of their school experience is filled with joy. With a love for helping. Filled with anticipation to feed a fish, pass out music sheets, and to enter the doors of their school every morning.

I can’t change the whole landscape of education with a blog… but for grammar today we are using Grammar Rock… at least the students will be humming in the hallways.

Hopefully you will, too.

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Off to Grandma’s house we go, talking all the way

Life can teach you powerful lessons, if you listen…

The last couple of days life has revealed how important talking and listening is to our relationships. Here are the dots I’ve been given to connect.

  1. Taking my youngest daughter to grandma’s house in the morning.
  2. An assignment in class
  3. Focus on the Family program

Dot 1

For the last two days I have driven my youngest daughter to grandma’s house because her preschool doesn’t start until next week. Grandma’s house is 35 minutes away. For the last two days I have answered questions like:

“Why does the moon move?”

“What is your favorite place to go?”

“What is your favorite stuffed animal?”

It has been a joy talking with my daughter. When she liked an answer, she would say, “Oooooh, I like that, too!”

With six children, we have a busy schedule. It is not often that we get specific time to just talk with a single child.  We do have family time at dinner, or traveling to an event, that allows us to talk. But the specific one-on-one time is rare. Answering questions on the way to grandma’s house has reinforced the importance of finding time for each of my kids.

Dot 2

To start the year I have a small unit for the seniors that focuses on being successful next year at college. They write an email to a professor, they create a resume, stuff like that. The first assignment is to answer some questions about their college and life next year. Questions like:

Where is the Registrar’s office? Who is a contact person?

Who do you contact for safety issues?

Where is your favorite restaurant from campus?

This lead to a lot of conversations, as a class and with a single student as we tried to navigate a college’s website. Through the class period we would also talk about break and Christmas gifts. One moment in class got me thinking about the importance of talking… one student asked me about my New Year’s resolutions. Then another student asked about what Christmas gifts I got.  This was the only class that that type of conversation happened, but it made me feel like someone else cared enough to know something about me. Isn’t that the heart of our life? To know that someone else in this great big world, which at times is so harsh, cares enough to listen to us.

Dot 3

After dropping my daughter off this morning, I listened to Focus on the Family. Jim Daly  interviewed Ron and Deb DeArmond about their book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last. One of the focal points was about communication in marriage. During an answer Deb said that you hear with your ears, but listen with your heart. True communication is not just talking, but listening, processing, and showing you care.

It is a simple picture when you connect the dots: real conversations matter. Real conversations are an act of love.

I think the world needs more talking and listening…

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A Year Without a Smartphone

I don’t know if you have heard, but VitaminWater is going to give one person a chance to win a 100,000 dollars if they can go without a smartphone for 365 days.

Yes, I have entered for the chance.

Have you? Could you go a year without your smartphone? I doubt I will be selected. To enter you have to post on social media how your life would be different for the year. As I write this, Instagram says there are 59.3k posts with the VitaminWater’s contest hashtag, #NoPhoneforaYear. So, I doubt my three entries will even be seen.

But it is an interesting question to ponder. Two of my entries were focused on writing more and being more involved as a father and husband. Common ideas from other people. My third entry was based on what I would miss…

Smartphones do enhance our lives. I listen to music. I take pictures all the time. In fact, I was going to do the 365 photo challenge again for 2019, but decided to wait till VitaminWater chose the person for their contest. I would miss the instant communication with my family. Even the quick text to let them know I love them. Yes, I even play games on my phone. I have played Puzzle and Dragons for 1661 days (this is why my oldest son doesn’t think I could make it a year without my phone).

When I told my students about the contest, one student said 100,000 dollars wasn’t enough money to give up their phone.

Now, I could reference all the articles and studies about the power of screens in our lives. This is a cultural debate, but also still a new development in our society. The iPhone is only 11 years old. Think about that… both the positive and negative of what smartphones have done for us.

But again, this post isn’t about that, either.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for 100,000 dollars? I think I can.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for your goals?

I’m trying. I’m not giving up my phone. But I am putting it down to write this blog. I am leaving it on my nightstand more. Yes, I have played Puzzle and Dragons today. I have texted my family. Took a crazy photo at lunch. But I am letting my life dictate my phone use. I’m not letting my phone dictate my life.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for your goals?

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Not Under the Tree

Yesterday at church Father started his sermon talking about which experience was better: Attending a Husker game in person or watching it on TV. He expanded on the idea to discuss how important it is to be present in our faith, to be present in our lives.

Then my youngest daughter noticed that time moves. I let her wear my watch during church. At first she was fascinated by the backlight button. She would push the button, then cup her hand over the face to see the numbers light up. Toward the end of the service, she noticed that the numbers changed. My daughter updated me every minute through the last song.

“Dad, it’s 10:28 now!” she announced.

She was fascinated with this new knowledge… that time moves on… no matter what we do.

We can spend it on a phone. We can spend it on a computer. We can spend it learning. We can spend it with friends and family. Are we present as time moves forward?

Being present means that we have to deal with both the positive and negative of our lives. This is the biggest hurdle for us. It is easy to be present in our life when things are good. But to be present in life when things are tough, when you have to face the truth of your life, to face your fears and doubts; that takes strength.

The other hurdle is the simple task of being present in the routine of life. We work, we clean, we post on social media, we eat a snack, we live everyday. Being present in the routine is hard. It is easy to just let time move forward. “It’s 10:17! Time for bed.” And another day goes by without us really living it.

To be present everyday. To embrace the complexity of this existence. To face our fears. To love with an open heart. To find joy in this world. That means living our life. That is opening a present that can’t be found under the tree.

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