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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What was your favorite part of the day?

Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite part of a typical week day is the very moment I walk in the door from work. I'm sure all of you working parents know exactly what I'm talking about. There's nothing else like it. I'm a hero simply for walking through the door and I'm home with the three people who mean more to me than anyone else in the world.

My wife freaks out, drops what she's doing and runs towards me with a smile that lights up the room. She tries to hug me with all her might but she underestimates how fast she's running and bounces off my leg and ends up on the floor as she frantically starts filling me in (two inches from my face) on which bad guy she's been fighting today. Scarlet Overkill? El Macho? The Shredder? If no bad guys have stopped by the house she enthusiastically fills me in on the latest episode of Bubble Guppies or tells me all about her adventures at school or in the backyard...

Wait a minute... I always get confused here... I think it's actually the kids who lose their minds when I arrive. Their mother is only slightly more calm. Slightly...severely... it's all the same. I'm still trying to figure out how to convince their mother that she should react the same way they do when I walk in the door. I should have her convinced any day now. I can feel it coming. I'll be sure to blog about it when it finally happens. ;)

Regardless of who reacts how, I'm just happy to be home in a house so full of love. I'm happy to see my wife's beautiful face whether she's in a good mood, stressed to the max, or just ready to tag me in so she can tag out and get a break. I'm happy to hear the excitement in the boys voices as they drag me into the playroom to help them find the Hulk or as they ask me to bury them in a pile of pillows. I'm happy to take a lick of my two year old's fake ice cream cones that he has developed such an affinity for. His favorite flavor is "Fadilla." I'm happy to be the bad guy that they've been searching for ever so impatiently while I was at work all day. I'm just happy to be home.

That's usually my favorite part of the day but every now and then something happens to overtake the reigning champ. The past two days have been prime examples. At some point during the dinner, bath and bedtime routine we usually ask the boys what their favorite part of the day was. The answers range from nonsensical and imaginary to sweet and heartfelt. My two year old's favorite part of the day often has to do with cheetahs. I'm still trying to figure out why. My four year old's favorite part of the day used to often be something like, "when I went to time out" or "when Fletcher bit my finger and I cried." At a certain point we sat down with Cooper and had a descriptive explanation of the definition of the word "favorite" and we got back on track.

We started getting answers like, "when we swam in the pool" and "when we hopped across the gym like kangaroos."; The type of answers we were looking for. My four year old has even started asking me and Mom what our favorite part of the day was. It always turns into a fun conversation.

Two nights ago I had just put the boys pajama's on when I remembered to ask them what their favorite part of the day was. Cooper's response was my favorite yet.

I looked at him with anticipation in my eyes.

"Cooper, what was your favorite part of the day?"

 He replied, "You Dad" ...accompanied by a "tackle hug" as he calls it.

Well, it doesn't get any better than that now does it? Thanks buddy.

Last night when I asked his little brother what his favorite part of the day was I got the same response from a tender and slightly smaller little voice.

"You Dad."

He must be paying attention to his big brother's example. I hope I never forget this.

People always say that parenting is the most "rewarding" thing in the world. Well, this is the type of thing they are referring too. I can't imagine much more rewarding than this at this point of our parenting adventure. Unless, of course, I came home from work one day and my wife reacted to my presence the same way the boys do.

Now that would be rewarding and by rewarding I mean hilarious.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quick Read: Brotherly Love!

This morning at Church my wife and I taught the 2 year olds class during the first service. We had 4 children including our youngest son, Fletcher.

After a few minutes of free play we sat them all down at the table, which is blue and shaped like a horseshoe.
Fletcher referred to the table as  "The Colts" all morning, which made me proud. You see, he is learning his NFL football helmets and he just learned the Colts a few days ago. 
That's my boy! Way to recognize a similarity. That's not the point of the story but I couldn't help but include that proud dad moment. Please, allow me to carry on.

Once we sat the children down we asked them all what they were thankful for before we prayed. Some of them listed off a few things like "toys", "mommy", "daddy", "my hair" etc.

Fletcher said he was thankful for his grandmommy and granddaddy which was very sweet. The best part though, was after every other child said what he/she was thankful for, Fletcher exclaimed passionately... "AND COOPER!" (his big brother) every single time. What an amazing big brother he must have. He just needed everyone to know that Cooper is so great that we should all be thankful for him. We just can't forget about Cooper.

As if this wasn't heartwarming enough, when we left church and headed home we overheard Cooper in the back seat talking to his little brother. He said, "Hey Fletch, I love you so much... and don't you ever get a..." which Fletcher replied, "dinosaur!"
If you keep up with my blog you know that is the right answer. If you've never read about it, you can do so Here: DON'T YOU EVER!!!

I'm so proud to see that love reciprocated between the two of them. What a great way to start the week. We can learn so much from our kids if we just try to. I hope this little story gets your week started on the right foot as well.

Don't forget to love each other!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015



You CAN'T!


There's NO way!

You'll NEVER make it!


Powerful words right? Especially to the fragile psyche of a child.

I don't know about you but when I was growing up it was always reiterated to me to keep that negativity out of my thoughts. Not just by my parents but by my teachers and coaches too. We don't say "CAN'T."

Don't use such negative words.

 Focus on the positive. 

You've probably heard the old saying, "Can't never did anything"  or "Never say Never." There are tons of similar ones. Well, from my experiences as a father, I happen to wholeheartedly disagree with those sayings.

I've seen CAN'T do a lot. It's power is impressive. It NEVER ceases to amaze me.

You're probably thinking that I am about to warn you about using these negative words with your children. However, that is not the case at all. I actually think words like CAN'T and NEVER get a bad rap. They can be some of the most motivating and encouraging words you could imagine. It really just depends on your perspective and who/where these words are coming from. Both of my boys have helped me learn this lesson over the past few years.

Don't get me wrong. None of us parents want our children moping around dwelling on the fact that he can't tie his shoes or she can't write her name or a million other things a child might be struggling with. I understand that. I'm not a complete idiot...close...but not complete. At the same time though, I don't think we should be teaching our children that words like can't and never are negative words. I think it's a good thing when a child recognizes that he/she can't do something and it's our job as parents to find a way to teach and motivate them.

I still remember the first time I heard my oldest son Cooper say "I can't." 

We were potty training. He was 2.

I instinctively replied, "We don't say I can't." 

I was frustrated. He was frustrated.

Potty training was one of our toughest challenges with him. I immediately wondered where he learned to say those words and why he was so easily ready to give up.

Then I said, "You CAN do it. I KNOW you CAN," in the most encouraging voice possible. I could tell that he could feel the positivity but it just didn't motivate him to try harder. This happened often. It was very discouraging for me as I'm sure it was for him. I remember thinking about how my wife and I are two of the most encouraging people I know. I wondered how could he possibly not find motivation in our encouraging words? We worked so hard to create the most encouraging atmosphere possible.

 If only I knew the power of can't and never at this point in my parenting adventure...

I made this discovery in the backyard one day a year or so later. It came from my complete and utter desperation to instill a love of sports in my children. We were playing baseball. Hitting from the tee. Cooper was losing interest. He started to notice every grasshopper and love bug in sight. I was losing him fast. The battle between father sports and  mother nature was about to be won by mother nature by KO with the help of her interesting little creatures.

That's when this Dad did some quick thinking. I started with a condescending laugh to get his attention. Then, when he looked over at me, I followed it up speaking the words, "You CAN'T hit a home run. There's NO way!" in the same condescending tone with a sneaky smile on my face. In my head I was thinking that those were the least encouraging words I had ever spoken to my son and I had no idea how he would react. Luckily for me, he saw it as a challenge just as I had hoped. At that moment, his face instantly lit up and he replied, "OH YES I CAN!" He stepped up to the tee and knocked one to the fence. I retrieved the ball and chased him to home plate just missing the tag before he got his home run. I dog piled on top of him and made a huge deal about how well he had done. Then I picked him up and we celebrated. He just giggled and beamed with pride. So did I. Cooper wins! Cooper wins!

Daddy wins actually! I never could have imagined how motivating the words "YOU CAN'T" could be for a child. I'm sure all children are not this way and I'm sure if I didn't have such a positive and always encouraging relationship with my children that these words would not have been interpreted in a positive challenging way, but I do... and they were.

To be honest, I don't think more motivating words have ever been spoken in our house. Turns out, my 2 year old, Fletcher, finds motivation in these words as well. Trying to get Fletcher to eat a whole meal of food at the dinner table is like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube. He would take a few bites, lose interest and start stuffing each bite into his cheek like a squirrel storing nuts. Take one guess at our most effective means of getting him to actually chew and swallow those stored nuts?

You guessed it.

Look at him with a shocked look on my face. Gasp aloud. Issue the challenge: "Fletcher! You can't chew up and swallow that bite! I say NO WAY!"

That gullible little joker bites every time. Both literally and figuratively. "I say YES way" he replies. Then he starts chewing his little heart out, which is frustrating. Why on earth does it take a challenge for you to chew up your food, son? Do you enjoy just sitting there holding food in your cheek wasting time at the dinner table? Really?

Are you kidding me? Oh well, I guess I can't complain.

It's safe to say that we use this technique quite often.

When the play room is a wreck: "Oh no boys, we're NEVER gonna get this place clean. I don't think we can do it!"

When hurrying to the bath: "If only you could take your clothes off and get in the bath by yourself before I count to twenty. You CAN'T can you? I don't think so."

When putting on lotion and pajamas or sunscreen: "You CAN'T freeze like a statue. Nope. No way. Not gonna happen. I don't think you can do it."

etc. etc. etc.

It may not work for your kids but it sure works for my little guys. I guess it all depends on their personality. Give it a shot if you'd like, you never know what might work. Remember, It's all in your delivery. I certainly had no idea these words would be so helpful. The next time you think about these words as negative words stop yourself and give them a little credit.



A tremendous thank you. You're not so bad after all.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Should We Do It?!?! I ask myself every day.

Every day.

Every single day.

I ask myself the same question.

Sometimes I ask my wife too.

I've been doing this since the day our second son was born.

I'm not exactly sure why.

I never have an answer.

She never really does either.

Well, I take that back. Some days I have an answer but the next day it changes. Then it changes back and so on over and over and over. Sometimes my wife and I have different answers on the same day. We both go back and forth. It's crazy! I've never struggled with coming to a decision like this before. Most of life's big decisions have come pretty easy for me. They've come pretty easy for my wife and I as a couple too.

Not this one.

When it comes to answering this particular question I'm like a teenage girl from the valley trying to decide whether to stay with my high school sweetheart or to break up with him and go get crazy at college. I'm constantly weighing out the pro's and con's and pondering the best and worst case scenarios.

(Cue the valley girl accent)

"OMG guys!! I mean, like, he is such a sweet guy, like, total marriage material. He drives a Range Rover. He sends the sweetest texts from his I phone 10...not to mention the snapchats. OMG! He bought me the most epic pair of rainboots. His parents are like totes rich and he has a totally sexy bod...but girls just wanna have fun you, How am i supposed to rage at my sorority parties with my besties when I've been dating him for 4 years?!? We're practically married old people already...ew... and there are so many other fish that swim to see in, whatever..."

Or something like that.

What do the cool folks say these days on social media?

Oh yeah, "The struggle is real" only I'm not an 18 year old sorority girl. I'm a 34 year old father of two young boys trying to make a tough life decision with the help of my wife and it's really difficult.

The question is:

Should we try to have a third child?

Toughest decision ever... but why is it so hard?

We were incredibly excited to have our first child. As soon as we felt like we had a decent grasp on parenthood we forged ahead with baby number 2 with no hesitation whatsoever but for some reason it's different this time.

When we first started out as a married couple we thought we wanted to have four kids. However, we got a late start. We didn't start having children until our thirties. We also had no idea how much work a child is when that child is ours... full time.

We have plenty of love to give to a third child but do we have the patience to go back to a life just trying to stay afloat in a sea of breast milk with a constant barrage of mid-night feedings and diaper changes, gas, indigestion, teething and God forbid...COLIC?!? Our first child was an easy baby. Our second child tried to kill us in his first 5 months of life. They were both perfectly healthy but I think our second child has scarred us. The "What If''s" and "Will we's" are constantly rattling around inside my brain. (Her's too, I'm sure... though they may have different priority and she may not ask some questions with the same frequency that I do.)

What if we have another baby? Will we have enough time to give all three of them the attention they need and deserve? Can we afford it? Do we want to afford it? Will we ever have sex again? Will our children miss out on fun because of the change of family dynamic? Can we have a third child and still be friends? Will we still find the time to go on dates? Will my wife go crazy? How will our boys react? Once they out number us will they start a mutiny and overthrow us? Things are as easy as they've been in years. Do we really want to take the chance of messing that up? Will we ever have sex again?...

 What if we have another miserable baby? What if we have twins? What if we have a baby with a birth defect or some kind of developmental delay? Downs Syndrome? Autism? Some kind of rare disease I don't even know about?

Or worse... what if we have A GIRL!?!?!?!

We are both scared to death of having a baby girl. My wife often says that she "speaks boy fluently" and would be lost trying to learn "girl." I think she's more scared than I am of having a girl, which is odd to most people. She's said on more than one occasion that if we could guarantee a third boy then she would sign off on getting pregnant a third time. The only difficult thing about having a boy in our eyes is having to care for the circumcision as it heals. Your heart breaks for the poor little guy. What made it easier for us was just looking at it as a pretty small price to pay for never having to buy a prom dress, tampons or pay for a wedding.

Winner! Winner!

I guess it's all about perspective.

Oh, speaking of that, I left out one "What If."

What if the baby is PERFECT? What if he is the perfect final addition to our family no matter how he turns out? What if she is the perfect blessing we didn't think we were ready for? What if we just need to pray a little bit more and have faith that God won't give us anything we aren't capable of handling?

I think we'll be just fine whether we try for a third or not. It's just crazy to me that we haven't come to a conclusion after putting so much thought into it. Patience. Patience. I know. It'll work itself out.

Do you guys have any advice on the subject? Have you struggled with a similar decision? The same decision?


...and oh yeah,  I can't believe I forgot to mention this...

If we did have a third child I wonder if we'd be able to find time to have... oh, nevermind... maybe I did already bring that up once or twice.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

DISCIPLINE: It's okay Dad. You're doing the right thing.

Oh man! 

Parenting is the best. It really is. There is nothing like it. It's the most rewarding thing in the world. There is no way to understand a parents love until you become one. I love my kids more than life itself.

Sound familiar?

If you are a parent you've probably said all of these things and you've probably said them multiple times at some point or another along your parenting journey. You probably also meant them too because they are all true statements.

However, parenting is not only the most rewarding thing in the world. It's also somehow simultaneously the most frustrating thing in the world too. I'm not breaking any news. I'm sure this also sounds familiar. In parenting circles we typically replace the word "frustrating" with the word "challenging" because we don't like to admit that the children we spend most of our time trying to convince others are angels, are actually not. They are nowhere close. I guess challenging is a much more positive word and it makes us parents, especially those of young children, feel like we haven't been defeated...yet. Truth is, they are VERY frustrating and its okay to admit that.

Why? Because once you've spent enough time around a two year old you come to the realization that it's a lot like being in a relationship with a tiny bipolar tyrant midget who doesn't speak English very well and makes way too many demands for someone who has such a major deficiency in the tenure department.

The good news is that we, as parents, hold the power to turn these tiny tyrants into human beings who resemble something a whole lot closer to angels than belligerent drunks with an attitude problem. That's where DISCIPLINE comes in. Ah, yes, it is such a necessary evil. There is nothing I look forward to LESS than disciplining my boys. It's simply in my nature to be loving and fun and nurturing and I don't feel like any of those things when I'm sending my boys to time out or God forbid, giving them a spanking. However, I also understand that implementing and adhering to a sturdy set of rules teaches a child his boundaries and if followed through on, one day turns him into an accountable young man.
The above picture is what we're trying to prevent down the road. I don't think they'd look near as happy in real jail.

We are a time out family. Nine times out of ten time out is an effective way to discipline both of our boys (ages 2 and 4). Taking away a privilege is another effective tool and a spanking is certainly not out of the question but it is used as a last resort and rarely do we visit that resort. (Hmmm, speaking of resorts, visiting a "resort" sounds nice right about now.) 

Anyway, consistently disciplining your children is tough. Resisting the temptation of letting a threat become empty may seem mean and unnecessary at the time, but it's actually the best thing you can do for your child.  I always thought the whole, "This is gonna hurt me more than it's gonna hurt you" thing was a bunch of hippy dippy bologna but it turns out there's a whole lot of truth to it. We all just  want to see our kids be happy and the last thing we want is to be the cause of unhappiness. Unfortunately, when we follow through on our disciplinary threats, our children associate that unhappiness directly with us. Who knew it was this tough to be on the other end of the discipline?

Like any difficult part of life a little encouragement  goes a long way. My wife and I do a great job of communicating our feelings to one another as we discipline our boys and it helps to keep us on the same page and keep us accountable for our actions. We are firm believers in disciplining out of necessity and teaching rather than disciplining out of anger or frustration. Our boys understand that we love them tremendously as we discipline them because we always make sure to communicate that to them but sometimes it's a little more challenging when both of us aren't home.

Tonight my wife was on a girls night and I was home alone with the boys. My two year old, Fletcher, was being especially challenging at the dinner table. Something I'm very used to. Fletcher had a rough go at it for the first six or eight months of his life. You can read about that here. Since then, however, he's been such a perfect addition to the family... except for at the dinner table. If it's not a pop tart, grilled cheese or cereal he usually does not want to eat it. It really just depends on the night. Tonight he was doing his typical "store the food in the cheek like a squirrel and no one will notice I'm not actually swallowing" routine. Needless to say, the stash of "nuts" in his cheek built up and I wasn't in the mood. So I hastily sent him to time out and told him he could come out after he swallowed his bite. We went back and forth for a good thirty minutes and my 4 year old, Cooper, devoured his meal and began to play. 

At this point I began to get discouraged. Doubt started to creep into my mind. Was I being too hard on him? Should I just give in and let him eat something else? Is he just exhausted? I really wanted it to be a fun night and this was the furthest thing from fun. What should I do? I didn't have my partner in crime, my wife, there to ask for advice. Just then I heard the sweet voice of my innocent little four year old from a few feet behind me

"It's okay Dad. You're doing the right thing."


Did he really just say that?!

Yes he did.

Is he infinitely wise beyond his years?!

I don't know if he said it because he thought that's what mom would have said if she was here or if it's something he's seen on a movie, or if he was just really enjoying watching his little brother get sent to time out, but whatever it was, it really helped. It helped me remember that I was fighting the good fight and that this would pay off in the long run as long as I was coming from a place of love.

I just replied to him, "Thanks buddy." and he said, "You're following the instructions."

At that point I began to wonder if his mother had left a set of instructions that I wasn't aware of.


Oh well.

I just gave him a big hug and carried on, feeling encouraged, and knowing that I was doing the right thing.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Everybody Loves Byron: Death in the Facebook Era

Disclaimer: There are so many people more qualified than me to write this post but I just felt the need to take advantage of the forum that I have... out of respect for a friend... and to bring light to some pretty amazing observations I made in the days following his passing. Much Love...

Grieving is not something that anyone ever wants to do but eventually we all have to do it. There are no instructions for grieving. Unlike many things in life, no one ever really sits you down and teaches you a lesson on how to grieve or mourn the loss of a loved one. As a general rule, I'd say that most people just figure out what works for them as they go, because everyone grieves differently. What works for some may not work for others when facing some of life's most difficult situations.

For some, grieving is a very private matter and they don't want any added attention on them during the process. Others, however, want the world to know just how much they miss the deceased (no matter how close they may or may not have been) and they seem to enjoy the attention. Their grieving can become a very public ordeal, even more so living in the Facebook era. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. I'm not judging people for the way they deal with loss. I'm just pointing out the fact that people are very different. When it comes down to it, whatever helps you feel better... DO IT!  (Unless it's smoking crack. Don't smoke crack under any circumstance!!) Hopefully, we all get some good advice or a shoulder to lean on from a family member or close friend in times like these.

In my 34 year life I've been blessed to be able to say I haven't lost anyone too terribly close to me. However, a few years back I lost a childhood friend from my one red light hometown to a freak accident. His name was Scott and he was a great guy. I was able to see how the viewing, funeral and celebration of life afterwards really brings people together to grieve, grow and come to some kind of closure or acceptance of their loss... a process that seems impossible when the news first surfaces.

It was truly a beautiful thing to see everyone go from devastation and tears of sadness to tears of  happiness and acceptance (considering the situation) as they recollect a life cut short. I was overwhelmed by how much that process really seemed to help, which brings me to the reason for this post.

Three days ago I lost another childhood friend from my small hometown of Keystone Heights, Florida to a car accident. Don't go feeling sorry for ME. That's not what this is about. He has family and much closer friends who need your condolences. His name was Byron Nelson. We called him TANK. We grew up playing baseball together in our elementary years.

We were always on the same team.

Byron was only slightly more handsome than I was. Mostly because I was too busy trying to be cool.

 We both always used the same bat to get us out of a slump. We called her "Old Faithful." We didn't always use Old Faithful because, in reality, she was a pretty ordinary bat but she just seemed to get the job done when we needed her most. To this day, when Byron and I would run into each other Old Faithful was always a topic of conversation. Oh, the good old days!!

 We were friends in high school but we weren't super close. As adults, other than Facebook interaction, we only bumped into each other once every couple of years, but I was always met with the biggest sincere smile, a giant hug and great conversation. Byron was a friend for life. Apparently, he was a friend for life with every single human being within a 100 mile radius of our hometown and probably beyond, which is no surprise if you knew Byron. This explains why Facebook EXPLODED when he died. I just have a few things I'd like to say about this explosion and the fallout afterwards.

On the grief spectrum, if there is such a thing, I fall very strongly on the side of a private griever. I share my feelings about a lot of things with the world on social media but I'm not the kind of person who takes to Facebook to write my own personal eulogy to someone when they die. When I heard the news of Byron's accident I was really sad. It was a gut punch. However, I am by no means one of Byron's closest friends and I didn't find it necessary to express my sadness on social media. (I certainly didn't expect to end up writing this blog post.) I thought I would just leave that up to his closest friends and maybe comment here or there on something that struck a chord with me...


Three days straight of nothing but Facebook statuses about Byron and the impact that his life had on almost everyone. LITERALLY, ALMOST EVERYONE. Everyone but was like I was the only one who decided not to shout out to the TANK and THAT really struck a chord with me. I've never seen anything like it. This guy got more out of life in 35 years than most people could squeeze into 70. He touched so many different people in so many different ways just by being himself... just by being happy and sincere. It was sad but beautiful to watch this play out over the last three days. It was like I was watching the whole viewing, funeral and celebration of life process that I spoke of about Scott's funeral before. It was playing out in front of me on social media and it was big and it was amazing, just like Byron. No matter how sad people were they couldn't help but share stories of good times because that's really all there was to share, even though Byron had been through more than his share of loss in his life. If you are reading this and you are friends with him I know that you know what I'm talking about.

I got to thinking and I realized that if everyone just grieved privately (like I chose to do)... and kept their comments to themselves during these sad moments... and left it up to those closest to the deceased... then the impact of that persons life would never truly be felt the way it should be. I felt the impact of Byron's life over the last three days like nothing I've ever experienced thanks to people who grieve differently than I do. Thank you for that. I definitely learned a lesson from you all. In the world we live in today, like it or not, people communicate on social media about everything and death is certainly fair game. A lot of people criticize Facebook and social media for causing drama and strife but fail to see the good that can come from it in a close knit community like ours in such a difficult time.

I just hope that somehow Byron knows that on the day he died he almost took the internet with him. He almost broke Facebook. I hope he knows that he was grieved and celebrated on social media like the rock star that he is for at least three days straight. I hope he knows that his death made everyone stop and wish they were a little more like him. I hope he knows that when we all think about his smile from this day forward we'll get chills knowing exactly how sincere it was and how treasured it should have been. I hope he knows that his death and all his friends caused me to do some deep thinking and share the effect his light had on me rather than keeping it to myself like I had originally planned.  

You know, it dawned on me earlier today that the one person I still specifically remember seeing and having a meaningful and uplifting conversation with years ago at Scott's funeral was Byron. He is and will always be truly memorable.

Definitely not ordinary, just Old Faithful!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Who are the people with the belly buttons?

There's been a question floating around my house for the past 6 months or so that has caused me to do a little thinking. The same question has been asked in multiple different ways by my 4 year old son. It actually started when he was 3...

"Hey Daddy, who are the people with the belly buttons?"

"Where are the people with the belly buttons?"

"Can we see the girls with the belly buttons again?"

"Why do those girls wear the shirts that show their belly buttons?"

You get the point. He's quite inquisitive about the girls who show their belly buttons. 


My wife and I are big sports fans, as you may already know if you know us personally or if you follow the Dashboard Dad Blog. We're constantly watching sports and our two boys have been exposed to just about every team sport imaginable. I honestly never even notice the cheerleaders anymore. Seriously, I don't...or at least I didn't until my son started pointing them out and asking questions everytime the game would come back from commercial break. He's even asked me to rewind the TV before.

Recently, we've been watching a lot of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Go Lightning! That's hockey for you non sports fans. He asked me the other night if hockey had cheerleaders. I told him no and he seemed disappointed. 

"Oh, just football and basketball?"

When he first asked the question about the people with the belly buttons I didn't know exactly what he was talking about but it didn't take long for me to figure it out. My initial reaction was pure excitement.

"That a boy!"

Like any red blooded heterosexual American Dad, I was proud. I still am.
My son is obviously attracted to the female body.
Scratch the alternative off the list of potential issues that I'm severely unprepared to handle.

Oh, wait a minute, My 3 year old son is attracted to the female body!?!?!
Uh Oh!!
Add that to the list of potential issues that I'm severely unprepared to handle!!!!

Oh boy. Is he going to be girl crazy? Is he going to come home from Kindergarten and tell his mother and I that he has 5 girlfriends, like I told my parents?!


Who knows.

I just had this flash forward to him as a teenager "checking out chicks" with his friends or little brother. Whoa! I wasn't prepared for this. 

I'm not here to take some moral highground and say that cheerleaders or swim suit models should wear more clothes. It doesn't bother me. I just find it very interesting that, with no outside influence from me or anyone that I know of, a 3 year old boy naturally finds a womans body to be attractive enough to cause him to grin sheepishly and inquire about it.

We also had an occasion a little over a month ago when our family was on vacation in Hawaii and he saw a swimsuit model on a poster at a store and he froze in his tracks to check her out. When I asked him what he was looking at he replied,

 "Uhh, nothing Daddy!!"

He seemed embarassed; like he got caught doing something he shouldn't. I certainly don't want him to feel like being attracted to the body of a woman is something he should feel any amount of shame about. On the other hand, I don't want him to go too far to the other extreme where he just gawks at women all the time. I tried to explain to him that he wasn't in trouble and it was okay if he thought the girl on the poster was pretty. I told him that Daddy thinks girls are really pretty, ESPECIALLY HIS MOMMY! He just smiled and asked why the lady on the poster wore a shirt that showed her belly button and I explained to him that is just how girls bathing suits look and we carried on.

There are so many things you just never think about before becoming a parent. This is certainly one of them. I guess it's true that this is something that probably wouldn't have even crossed his mind yet if we lived in a more conservative society, but we don't. I'm not going to waste my time wishing that we did because I don't think it's necesarilly a problem. Of course, I'm also not a father of daughters. Sorry guys.

I'm just going to teach my son to respect women no matter what and make sure he is well aware that he can talk to his dad about anything... even if he is only 4 years old. It's never too early to start that open line of communication.

So, what do you think? Do you have any similar experiences to share? Does this seem early to be asking this type of question? 

I look forward to reading your input. Until next time- DD

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Are You Thankful For?

 There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for. It seems like once I became a parent I truly realized the abundance of blessings that I already had in my life. I guess a new perspective and a significant multiplication of blessings will do that to you. Right now what I am thankful for is very simple and it's something we've developed as a family over the past four years. I am extremely thankful for the bedtime routine, or lack thereof, that we have established in our family of four.

Many families have a rigid bedtime routine that they adhere to practically every single night. They have a set dinner time and bath time followed by teeth brushing (hopefully), some version of story/prayer time and lights out at a specific time. This routine is rarely altered.


I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this type of approach but it's just not the way we choose to do things. Perhaps this will change once our kids get into school, but as for now our bedtime routine basically consists of dinner and bath in no particular order, followed by teeth brushing and...

A.) snuggling on the couch with one or both parents watching football, basketball, hockey or baseball depending on the season. Right now we are in the midst of the Stanley Cup playoffs so we're watching a lot of hockey at "bedtime." We are a big sports family and its the perfect opportunity to show them that watching sports as a family is important to us. Plus, they usually lose interest and fall asleep rather quickly.

B.) story time on our older son's bed. (we currently have a 4 year old and a 2 year old: both boys). We snuggle them up on the bed and read a few books. When we're all done we usually just turn out the lights, say goodnight and walk out. Our two year old who is still in a crib usually whines for about 30 seconds and then they either fall asleep or start talking to each other (which is always great entertainment listening over the monitor). We leave him in the bed with his big brother to fall asleep and we move him over to the crib later when we come in the room to check on them. This works out well. He never gets out of the bed as long as his big brother is there with him. The transition from crib to big boy bed with our first son was kind of a nightmare. He was always getting out of bed. So far it looks like we won't have to worry about that the second time around. This also provides a good opportunity for some classic pictures.

C.) On Friday nights or special occasions we'll all just pile into our bed for a movie or a few episodes of Fixer Upper or a good family talk. The boys love this and  they usually get a little rowdy but we only do it on nights when we don't have to wake up for anything in the morning. The quality time is definitely worth it although I end up having to lug them to bed at some point in the middle of the night.

Regardless of how we decide to do bed time on a particular night there is always one constant and that is prayer time. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you to do prayer time with your children if you don't believe in God (although it couldn't hurt) but I am going to advise you to do what precedes prayer time in our house because you don't need to believe that your blessings come from God to be grateful for them. Every night after story time or after we pause the television, we ask the boys what they are thankful for. They answer with an array of "blessings" ranging from favorite television shows to family members to friends names to favorite toys to animals to chocolate fishing rods. 

When we first started doing this they didn't have much to say. That's when my wife Daphne and I decided to ask each other what we are thankful for so we could set an example for them as to how the question should/could be answered. 

"I'm thankful for the roof over our heads" 

"I'm thankful for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep."

"I'm thankful for two healthy and happy boys."

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to make good choices tomorrow."

This is also a good time to show your kids that you love, respect and appreciate your spouse with answers such as "I'm thankful for the job Mommy does at home with you boys" or "I'm thankful for Daddy's hard work every day." After seeing this a few times their answers went from a blank stare, gibberish or "I don't know" to something meaningful. Sure, sometimes their answers are pure silliness but I can really see them developing an appreciation for the things in this life that they have. 

Now that we've been doing this for a while we get them to tell us at least three things that they are thankful for each night. My 4 year olds current go-to is, "I'm thankful for you, Daddy" which melts my heart every single night, of course. He usually follows that up with a shout out to his Mom and his little brother. 

Although my two year old typically likes to just give us a run down of his favorite TV shows, he's developing a reputation of thinking of people in his life who he is thankful for other than his Mom and Dad. When he randomly mentions our friends Adam and Amy or my buddy Leroy or Mrs. Janet from church, I know his wheels are turning and we're doing a good thing. They are understanding what gratitude is more and more each day. They are learning an appreciation for blessings. Even if most of the blessings they are grateful for are toys today, one day those blessings will be something more and they will be sure not to take them for granted. I can only dream of where they will go from here.

What about you? Do you have any routines or traditions that the rest of the world just has to know about? Feel free to share. In the mean time I will leave you with this video from a few days ago of my boys telling me a few things they are thankful for. Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

They Call it LABOR for a Reason (guest post by Daphne Grice)

They call it LABOR for a reason!

It is hard to believe that I am now the Mom of two very handsome little fellas... I am not sure if that is because it feels so wonderful or if I am so sleep deprived that the lines of reality are blurred. I wouldn't trade the bags under my eyes for anything in the world. So maybe I would have traded it for an epidural, but who's to say really?

Fletcher Lee Grice was born on April 27, 2013 at a very dark 4:25 am. We arrived at the hospital around 7:00 on Friday night- concerned that my labor was going to come quickly and we wouldn't make it in time, I would have to deliver the baby in the car, etc... Needless to say that wasn't Mr. Fletcher's plan. He took his time, let us savor a few more sweet moments as a family of 3, squeeze Cooper's neck and start the caravan to deliver. 

This time I decided I was going to go at this like a hero Mom... One who watched The Business of Being Born twice and felt like I knew nothing the first time around. I was determined that I was going to have the ultimate experience, feel like more of a Mother than I ever had, and take this like a champion. I came, I saw, I conquered... and I did a little bit of yelling, crying, and a lot of doubting myself. But we went to the hospital with the intentions of having a baby. And by George, we did.

I was SO worried I would not make it in time I had myself convinced that we should have been at the hospital hours before we arrived. "The second one comes so much faster"... "If you don't have an epidural your labor will go so quickly"... At 10:00 pm they broke my water, and each CM of labor seemed to come and go with little troubles- contractions, yes they were there though. I worked up to 8 CM and felt like a champion. I was breathing it out, walking around, laboring if you will :D In true Lee-Grice fashion we had a huge party there awaiting the arrival of our sweet baby who, at this point, we still didn't know if it was a fella or a gal. My parents, my sister, my in-laws- which included my BIL and SIL, were all there laughing, talking, falling asleep, and supporting me through this process.

Then it started to become more labor less laboring. Wow, it sure did hurt. It didn't help that my cervix was not sitting properly and the nurse had to "help it" along during my contractions. I know at one point I said very loudly "You are HURTING me!"- and she was... From 8 to 10 CM to pushing felt like the shortest-longest time in my life. I was in pain, it was a blur, then I was pushing, trying to catch a breath, pushing again, then there was a baby! My baby was here! I had done it... and I was EXHAUSTED!!! They let me hold him right away and I felt that huge rush that can't be compared to anything in life. WE DID IT! 

I am so thankful my hubby was able to be there with me (not that there was ever a reason he wouldn't, unless we go back to my fear of hardly making it to the hospital- in which he would be at work/the store/playing basketball and would not make it before the baby did :D), crying more than I did, holding my hand, and thank goodness keeping pretty quiet but super supportive. He cut the cord, cried a little more, then went to check on our new little guy. And I was left to finish the job, the labor. I just wanted to take a second and compose myself- I wasn't crying- I was sweating, and I was so out of breath! There were a few loose ends to tie up, a few things to get us to the actual finish line- and those were not pleasant either... and I felt every bit of them.

Finally I was clean, he was clean, and he was alllll mine to kiss, snuggle and fall in love with. But it was still a little hazy. I was there, but it felt like I was watching the whole thing. I could feel my heart overflowing but I could also feel my eyes getting heavy. It was a rush like no other. The pain is something you can't even remember that same day though. I know it was the worst pain ever, but the negative feelings pass so quickly. 

Comparing it to Cooper's delivery- I arrived at the hospital at 6 CM, received my epidural, pushed for a little while, had the baby, loved the baby right away, and felt nothing. I felt no different after having my epi-baby than I did with my natural birthed baby as far as love for him or that overwhelming Mommy urge. I did in fact feel like I could enjoy the moments after birth more with the epidural- you don't notice so much the follow-up tasks that are going on while you are loving on that sweet bundle. I feel like just as much of a Mom now as I did then, and it makes me feel wonderful that I didn't short change myself on the experience the first go round. I love them both with an overflowing heart and drugs or not they were my whole world from the first moment we met.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Mom Lottery .


You don't get to choose her.

One day you just squeeze your way out from between two legs or a doctor pulls you through some ladies guts and out of a big cut in her stomach. 


There you are. On stage.

It's really bright and everyone is watching you.

You don't know what else to do so you just start screaming for help.

Then, if you're fortunate, that lady who just sent you sliding out of her womb picks you up and shoves her breast in your mouth.

Wait! What?

Who is this lady?

You never even had a chance to do a background check.

A meet and greet.

Mom speed dating. 
You know...10 mom options. 
You get to sit down for 5 minutes with each of them, pepper them with questions and pick the one who seems the most compatible.


It's a lot like the lottery.

You get what you get and you're stuck with it. That is, if she even wants you.

If she doesn't want you, you can't go back into that nice comfy womb. You just get put on hold and you don't even get to watch the clear plastic container of balls dancing in the gale force wind, while you wait for your number to be called.

If she does want you there is still no guarantee that you should actually want her to want you. Last I checked, there is no such thing as a mom license. Are you going to a good home where you will be loved and nurtured the way a baby is supposed to be loved and nurtured? Many mothers bring their beautiful babies home to the safety of their nest with the best of intentions only to fail miserably.

Take the mother bird from "Are You My Mother" for example. Motherhood looked bad on that mama bird from the jump. First, she managed to find a way to miss the birth of her baby. Second, she let her baby fall from the top of a tall tree. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the poor baby bird had to wander aimlessly for the first hour or so of his life thinking that a kitten, dog, hen, cow or perhaps the dreaded SNORT might actually be his mother. Poor baby! 

Luckily, that scary SNORT was a hero and returned the baby bird to the nest and the mama bird was none the wiser. She didn't even know that she had already failed miserably. Ignorance is bliss, right?
Like anything else in this world, mothers come in all shapes, sizes and forms. Just because you are a mom doesn't mean you are a good one.

Anyway, back to the Lottery.

I've never won the lottery we play today at convenience stores with miniature pencils like the ones you get at putt putt golf courses and tiny scan tron like pieces of paper with rectangles full of numbers. I've never come close.

However, I did win the "Mom Lottery" some 34 years ago and something tells me that the odds of winning that are even more slim than the lottery we play today. The stakes are definitely higher.

Have you ever sat back and really thought about it?

Be careful if you haven't. It can be a lot like plugging in one too many kitchen appliances into the same outlet. 



Someone needs to go flip a breaker.

How much of who you are today is a reflection of your mother?

There are a plethora of women near your mothers age that could have ended up being your mom yet your mom ended up being your mom.

I know. When I put it like that it sounds silly...and No, I'm not on drugs... unless you consider sweet tea a drug. In that case, I'm sitting at my computer high as a kite on sweet tea typing a blog post about how mind blowing it is that my mom is my mom.

Boy. She must be proud.

Seriously though, I'm not sure what your situation is with your mother but for me it truly is mind bottling (or mind boggling for those of you who aren't familiar with Chaz Michael Michaels) to think about how blessed I am in the Mom department. I was born into this world to a mom who would literally do anything for me. She's disciplined yet forgiving. She's tough yet kind and understanding. She's like a finely tuned, well rounded athlete with a highly developed craft and her craft is motherhood... and she's good at every aspect of it. It's like I got the Bruce Jenner of moms.

Wait a minute. You have to remember that I was born in 1980. Back then Bruce was a man. I mean, he was THE man. Not only a man but THE man. On the Wheaties box, might I add, a highly trained Olympic male athlete at the top of his game.

My mom is THE MAN... but she's a woman. Now that I think about it, she may be the exact opposite of Bru... nevermind.

 I'm Sorry. This is going nowhere fast. Yet another bad comparison on my part.

Carrying on...

In all seriousness, if you read my blog frequently you know that I go on about my relationship with my dad constantly and my mom often takes a back seat. That's only because my dad and I are both sports addicts with a whole lot in common and a lot to talk about. I wont let dad high jack this post mom. This one is for you.

 In reality, my mother is the one thing in this world that I am most grateful for, including my wife and kids. I was able to choose my wife. I've been able to influence and mold my children. I had absolutely NO SAY in who my mom was going to be though. If it weren't for my mom's example of what a wife and mom should be I wouldn't know what qualities to look for in a wife/mother of my children. I wouldn't know how important it was to find a woman: 

  • whose priorities are faith and family
  • who understands the love and nurturing children require
  • who holds her husband accountable with just the right amount of patience and understanding
  •  who prays with her children
  •  who goes the extra mile to teach the things that some let slip through the cracks
  • who is capable of staying at home with the kids or providing for her family depending on what life asks of her.
  • who is honest and stands behind her word
  • who loves her husband and leaves no room for doubt
  • who willingly sacrifices what ever it takes for her children's well being

I could go on all night.

My mother possesses all of these qualities and many more.

What did I ever do to deserve a Mother like this?

When we were young my mom was a stay at home mom. As we got older things changed and she had to go to work full time so she delivered mail for the next 20 years. She adjusted. She sacrificed. She went with the flow of life with a smile on her face.

She was the spiritual leader of our household. She made sure we woke up and went to Church. She dragged my lazy butt out of bed every single day for school. Because of her I had perfect attendance from Kindergarten through 12th grade, which is no easy task, just ask her. All these years I thought it was something fantastic that I had done. She's the one who did all the work. She deserves the credit.

 To this day I still don't know how she did it. After I went to sleep she stayed up cleaning my filthy baseball uniform. I was the dirtiest kid on the team always sliding head first every chance I got but come the next game I was the cleanest kid, for a few minutes anyway. That woman could work mind blowing magic on a dirty baseball uniform and she still woke me up in time to get to school the next morning after putting in the over time. If it wasn't a baseball uniform it was a school project. She would NOT let us get a bad grade, even if we had to stay up all night.

We used to... who am I kidding... we still always give my mom grief because she can fall asleep anywhere at the drop of a hat. The couch... a red light...Church...the bath...the toilet...the middle of a conversation... it doesn't matter, Mom can fall asleep anywhere.

Mom was notorious for staying up all night wrapping Christmas presents. She was always dozing off on Christmas day. One year my brother and I got a Sega Genesis for Christmas. When we were done opening presents we decided it was time to play the Sega. There was only one problem. We didn't get any games. After a couple days of searching the house we found them in my Grandma's closet. Santa must have hidden them there. Another year mom lost the turkey altogether.

One time when my mom dozed off sitting up on the couch my brother and I decided it would be a good idea to start putting change on her face to see how much we could get on there before she woke up. We went to my dad's change drawer and grabbed a hand full of pennies, dimes and nickels and went to work. I'm not positive but I think there may be a picture of this floating around somewhere. I'll have to ask dad. Mom wasn't too happy with us when she awoke to a change face avalanche.

Anyway, I bring all of this up to say that we should have just cut mom some slack. We should have just let her catch up on her sleep. I don't think my brother and I realized why she was so exhausted all the time. The woman devoted every second of her life to raising and providing for my two older sisters, my brother and me and she didn't care how much sleep she lost doing it. She was forgetful and she was chronically exhausted but more than anything, she was DEVOTED to her family. She still is.

Because of her example I was able to recognize these same qualities in my wife when I met her. My dad recognized them too. We met her on the same day and only hours after meeting her he told me that I needed to marry her one day. When all my friends told me it wasn't time to settle down, I knew better. I knew I'd be missing out on a woman who shared so many amazing qualities with my mom.

That type of woman doesn't come around every day.

Now, because I won the Mom Lottery I've also won the Wife Lottery and therefore my sons have also won the Mom Lottery. What a beautiful cycle. I hope it continues. I hope one day my boys find their own little minds blown, their own little breakers flipped, when they attempt to wrap their heads around the fact that they ended up with the amazing mother they have, because she is amazing too. Would you like to know how I know?

Because my mom tells me all the time.

How did I end up with a wonderful mother like this?

How did my kids end up with a wonderful mother like this?

I'll tell you how...

My genius dad chose them both.


Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there, especially to my mom and the mother of my boys.

We love you guys.

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