Monday, September 17, 2012

Game over, I think not...

The reason why I have been so long in writing is the very subject I am writing about today.

It has been said, "Kids say the darndest things."  Teaching sixth graders has taught me that that saying is very much true.  Today, out of the blue a kid at the front of the class raised his hand in the middle of my lecture.  I of course called on him because I knew he was going to ask me to expound on some brilliant thing had I said or help guide him to the promised land of education bliss...I was wrong.

"Mr. Wood," the student said.  "Yes," I unwittingly replied.  "I bet I know what you said when you got married," he strangely asked.  "What's that?" I said.  "Game over," he said with a smile.

I then went into an almost frustration laced rant about how marriage is not like that.  At least it's not supposed to be like that.  Mine isn't.  To stick with the gaming analogy, I got a "one up" when I married Karen.  I can honestly say that my life is better for Karen.  Let's go back in time, and you don't even have to get up to 88 miles an hour.

Before Karen and I had started dating, I had grown tired of the dating game.  I mean, from a guy's point of view, it is a lot of money, effort and time.  So, I did what so many guys should have done, I swore off dating.  I didn't go on any dates for about a year and then a friend of mine set up a group date or outing, whatever you want to call it.  I didn't want to go, told him I didn't want to go, but the plan went on and I was there...with a stipulation I had made with myself.

Usually, we put our best foot forward on dates when we meet someone for the first time, don't we?  We hide that person that has our true personality.  The person that has that "different" sense of humor doesn't come along on the date.  So, our date doesn't get the real us.  He or she doesn't get who we truly are.  This time, let's just say the real me asked to go and I said, "OK."

After a pretty good night, I found myself walking Karen back to her car since it was dark and before I knew it, I was asking if it was OK to call her.  That was twelve years ago this month and I have been happy and content ever since.

Now, in response to my student, I would like to tell you some pretty cool things I get from playing the "wedding game."

1.  I get a "Ms. Pac-Man" or a best friend.  Yes, I know some of you are typing your emails right now because you want me to turn in my man-card.  However, I can honestly say that God did a good thing by blessing me with Karen.  No one, and I mean no one gets my sense of humor like Karen does.  I can cut up with her and have a blast doing it.  I don't know how many times I have started a sentence with, "I can tell you this because you're my wife."  If I had a nickel for every "That's what she said" joke we have told to each other, I would be rich.  I have some friends that are guys, but there is no one on this planet that I would rather spend time with than Karen.  Honestly, no lie.  I am serious.  No, she's not reading this while I type.  I promise.  She WILL read it after I post it, I will make sure of it. :)

2.  I get infinite lives.  I am pretty sure that without Karen's knowledge and guidance on some things, my life would be shorter.  At the least, it would not be as fun.  Karen works in the financial industry and I joke a lot that in the corporation that is our family, Karen is CFO and I am CEO.  I can make decisions without her (with her permission of course) but when it comes to our family's finances, the buck stops with her.  She is a guru with our money.  Happy wife, longer life.  Why would I try to do something that she is ultimately better at?

3.  I get power-ups.  I lived by myself for a few years before Karen and me got married.  How can I describe my old house to you?  Let's just say that if someone wanted to give me something for my house, I took it.  I had a green couch that didn't match anything.  I had a cream colored couch that had some kind of flower print all over it.  I also had a suede sectional that was missing legs on one of the pieces.  My house was so mismatched that people thought I did it on purpose.
   
Our house looks good now.  That whole thing about your house having a "woman's touch," there's something to that.  She has our house looking good and we have a lot of cool stuff.  It is nice for people to come in and say they like the house.  The main thing is when the Playstation 4 comes out, I am pretty sure I can get it because two incomes are a lot better than one.  Priorities people...

4.  I live with a marriage strategy guide.  Growing up, it bugged me that my Daddy would not clean out the sink after he would shave sometimes.  I don't know why, it just did.  So, every time I shave, I make sure to clean it out.  After Karen and I were married for a while, she told me that one of the reasons why she loved me was that I clean out the sink after I shave.  Score!!

Your best tool at a happy marriage is your co-op player.  Have you ever tried to play a two-player game and not talk to each other?  Have you ever played two-player on any of those Lego video games and the other person won't stay with you?  Either way, it stinks and it makes things harder.

Can I vent to you?  I love Karen, but she can't play two-player on Lego Batman or Lego Star Wars without wandering all over the place.  I mean, I am getting killed by every storm trooper alive and she is just running in circles.  Joker is shooting at me and Robin is over in the corner trying to jump on some ladder.  I digress...

5.  I get secret levels.  Do you remember when you found the warp zones on Super Mario and could beat the game in like ten minutes or less?  After we got married, I was able to experience so much more than I would have by myself.  Namely, fatherhood.  My son Brighton is like finding those warp zones over and over again like they were brand new.  Which brings us to why my writing has been so late.

Karen is expecting our second child (that is as scary as it sounds) in March and next month we find out what we're having.  In the Bible when it talks about in Genesis how bad pregnancy is going to be, it's not exaggerating.  She has been sick, real sick.  People have asked me if she has morning sickness.  I tell them yes.  There is a song called, "It's 5 o'clock Somewhere."  Her morning sickness song would be, "It's 7 a.m. Somewhere" because she is sick all the time.  So, I have been helping take up the slack around the house so she can rest when she gets home.  It's hard, but you don't get better at anything by doing nothing.  Blogging has taken a backseat for the time being.

So, to those of you who think marriage is "Game Over," you're wrong.  Instead of "Game Over," you should be saying, "Game On!"  Fatherhood should be the same way.  Becoming a Daddy doesn't make life harder, it makes it more fun.  Remember, even Pac-Man had Pac-Baby.  Remember he would drink the power pellets out of the bottle and be able to eat the ghosts too?  Man, I miss Saturday morning cartoons.

Be the Father God wants you to be and the Daddy your kids need you to be.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Not his first word, but his first bad one...

As hard as it is for some to believe, I don't curse.  I know some of you, think big deal.  However, when I give my students the "no cursing" speech and tell them I don't, they start asking questions.  The main question is, "Why don't you?"  I will tell you the same story I tell them every year.

When I was little, I was sitting at the kitchen table playing with my cars and there was a traffic accident.  As the two imaginary drivers were discussing what happened and my Mama was washing dishes nearby...let's just say the argument got heated and someone called someone a son of  a something.  My Mama turned around fairly quickly and asked me, "What did you just say?"

This was the moment of truth, I could have said nothing.  That was not the case and I repeated those four words.  I got fussed at and Mama marched me to the bathroom to "wash my mouth out."  I had heard people say that many, many times but thought it was only a figure of speech.  I soon learned that there was nothing fake about it.

Mama grabbed a bar of Dial soap and told me to open my mouth.  She put that bar in my mouth made me bite down and then gave my tongue a good scrubbing.  To this day, I can remember exactly what Dial soap tastes like.  Needless to say, it worked and cursing has never been a temptation for me.

Today, my son was walking out of the kitchen when he said a curse word.  He has repeated one before that we couldn't get off the television quick enough.  This was his first one that he used in the right way, I guess.

I then asked him that famous question my Mama asked me so many years ago, "What did you say?"  My son actually did a better job than I did and said, "I don't know, Daddy."  I asked him again and then asked where he heard that word.  His reply, "Out of my mouth."  I said, "No, son, who have you heard say that word?"  His reply, "I did."  We never solved the mystery, but he got a good talk about words we say and words we don't.

Being a good Daddy to me means setting a good example.  The one question my wife and I could answer was that he didn't hear that word in this house from his Mama or Daddy.  We know he is getting to the age where his answers might be, "Well, you do it."

I am a teacher, but most of what we learn as children come from our parents' examples.  That can mean what to do AND what not to do.  I hope my son grows up thinking, "I hope I am like Daddy when I get bigger" and not the other way around.  So many of the children I deal with at school want nothing to do with their fathers.  Just the other day I asked my class what would I be if I didn't spend time with my son and a student gave me her father's name.  Sad, sad, sad.

In our roles as Daddy, we have many jobs and there will be times where we are on the other side of our children's actions.  We have to be that voice of reason and correction that helps him or her grow up into something that the world can be proud of, gosh darn it.  :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

What is a good Daddy? From the experts...

In today's blog, I am taking a break.  Granted, I will be the one typing, but my words will not be the ones you read today.  As I was thinking about what to put in this week's blog, it hit me.  Why not ask those who our roles as Dads affect the most?

To give you some background, I teach three classes of seventy sixth graders Reading and English for an hour and twenty minutes a day.  I love teaching the older kids while some in my profession enjoy the little ones more.

I asked my kids at school to write me two sentences on what they think makes a great Dad and I told them I would publish their thoughts on my blog.  Two things stuck out at me about "my kids."  One, thirty-five of the seventy kids I teach have dealt with divorce or some form of it.  The second thing was a question one of them asked me when I told them what I wanted them to do today.  A student in the class raised his/her hand and asked, "How are we suppose to write about something we know nothing about?"

So here you go with Mr. Wood's kids' requirements of Dads.  Be warned, you might want to get a tissue.  Heck, you might want to get more than a few tissues.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Well, I think a dad is suppose to work and not be lazy...and sometimes cook for us.  If my Dad and Mom are divorced, my Dad should pay my child support and buy me clothes like my Mom does.

I think a good Dad should do his best to love you.  A good Dad should also make sure you have a good life.

A good Dad should go to your soccer games, buy you things you need, take you places, and do things for you.  A good Dad would leave work to come get you from school if you're sick or if you overslept, he could come get you and take you to school.

A good Dad should be nice.  A good Dad should buy you things to play with.

A good Dad should put food on the table.  He should also give you what you need.

A good Dad should take care of their child.  A good Dad should buy their children stuff.

They should love their kids.  They should also be there for them.

A good Dad should be there for his son.  He also helps them.

A good Dad doesn't leave his family.  A good Dad stays out of jail.

A good Dad always helps you and always has your back.  A good Dad helps you do homework if you need help.

A good Dad is a person who is truthful.  A good Dad is someone who is not a bully.

A good Dad should do stuff with his kid.  For example, my Dad hunts with me, shoots with me, helps me, and takes me places.  He should also love his kids.

A good Dad will be there for you all the time and come to cheer leading.  He loves me all the time.  He helps me with homework and helps buy the food.

A good Dad doesn't be mean to Mom.

I think a good Dad shouldn't leave.  If he does, he should leave a picture and his name.  If you leave, please come visit your daughter and don't forget to bring her some gifts, money, and take her shopping and love her.

A good Dad should always have some time to spend with his kids.  You know, teach them hot to do things.  Never leave his kids alone all the time, and if you have a baby, don't make him spoiled.  Remember, children are good because you have someone to have fun with.

A good Dad should work hard and pay the bills.  They should also have fun with their kids and not say, "I'm tired."

A good Dad should be nice to their kids and show good sportsmanship.

A good Dad should be kind, sweet, gentle, take their child to a lot of places, get him a few things every now and then.  He should just be kind to his child.  If you child is being bad, discipline him, but not too horrible.

A good Dad should put food on the table and pay child support on time.  He should also spend time with you.  He should also buy us food to eat.

A great Dad is someone you can have the best time with and he takes you places you really want to go.  A good Dad is someone who you can tell anything to.  He will put your life before his.

A good Dad will take you out for ice cream every Saturday.  A good Dad tells his kids he did a good job at something, even though he didn't.

A good Dad should do fun things with their child.  He should also take his kids to do stuff.

A good Dad should spend time with me and play with me.  He should come to my ballgames.  He should also play with me and not just my little brother.

A good Dad will be there when your children need you.  He keeps his promises and less work hours.  He is a good listener and gives advice on your problems.  He should try to relate to what you have to say.  He needs to occasionally have a family dinner.  A good Dad should have a great bond with his son, he should be able to have a conversation about anything.

A good Dad should play with you a lot and take care of you all the time.

A good Dad likes to hang out with me, play basketball with me, go mudding with me, and cut grass with me.

A good Dad should have fun with you.  If he needs help, help your Dad.

A good Dad should never tell your child bad things.  He should always be with his kids and try to make them happy.

A good Dad comes outside with us to play tennis and volleyball.  He also tries to us in a good mood.  He knows I love music and so he will turn on the music.  My even tries to play video games.  He is an awesome Dad.

A father should be someone who their children can look up to and be able to trust.  They should play with their children daily.  He should help a kid to learn to ride a bike.  My father helped me when I fell off my bike  and watched out for cars.  My dad bought a kiddie pool when I was four and he filled up it every week and would clean it out weekly.

A good Dad should talk to their kids about problems and encourage their children to be brave and happy.  I also think they should spend time with their kids.

A good Dad should defend you from the people who make you feel bad, even if it's your Mom.  He loves you even when you mess up so bad you're scared to say anything.  He tells you what you want to hear or finds a good way to tell you bad news.  He helps you understand.

A good Dad should spend time with your kids.  I care about my Dad but when I go visit him, he only pays attention to the other kids.  At least pay attention to me a little.

A good Dad goes to all my games, gives you attention, and plays with you.

A good Dad should always be with their kids and love them.

A good Dad spends more time with his son and be there for your son when he needs you.

A good Dad never lies to your kids, even when it's bad.  He also helps his kids when they are in a sticky situation.

A good Dad spends time with his kids, makes sure that there is food on the table, and acts silly and tries to fit in.  My Dad treats my siblings and I the same; he loves us very much.  My Dad takes care of us and plays the Mother and Father part.

A good Dad should be able to try to give what their children like or want.  A good Dad should be able to pay child support or stay with them.

A good Dad helps his children get along with each other.  He should try to make his child better.

A good Dad should go to their son's ballgames.  He should discipline his children if they do something bad.  Most important, he should spend time with his children.

A good Dad will spend time with his children and do stuff they like to do.

A good Dad should never leave his children.  I also think a good Dad should always love his children.  They should also find out what their children like and try it with them.

A good Dad should love his family and care about them.  He should play with his kids.

A good Dad is nice to his kids, motivates his kids, and tries to do stuff with their kids.

A good Dad should support his children and have fun with them.  They should not be tough inside, hide his feelings and get mad for no reason.  A good Dad is nice to his wife.

I think a good Dad plays with their children and is there for them.  He helps them do homework and makes them study so they can grow up and be someone.

A good Dad is a dad that play with his children.  He also supports him/her on everything they do.  If he was a good Dad, he would never leave his children.

I think a good Dad stays with his kids.  Make sure they have food and they're OK.

I think a good Dad is a person who carries us fishing and loves us more than anybody on earth.  Who is awesome! He works hard for what we have and stayed when our Mom left us.  He always comes to my games and has never missed anything in my life.  He pushes me to make the right decisions.  I love my Daddy so much!!!!

A good Dad would watch a movie with his kids.  He cares, calls and loves them very much.

I think a good Dad will stay with his children.  A good Dad calls and supports his kids.

A good Dad plays with you and has fun with you.  My Dad plays football with me and we have fun together.

I think a good Dad supports and cares about his children.  They should also help them and teach them things they can't learn about in school.  One of the most important things is to respect them and make they know you love them.

I think a good Dad spends time with his children and tries to put them on the right track.

A good Dad is one who cares and wants to do everything with you.  He would play with you go to almost every game you have.

_________________________________________________________________________________

I'll give you a minute to let those sentences sink in.


Can you tell which ones have a Dad?  Can you tell which ones don't?  My challenge to all of you Gold Medal Dads is look around you and look for those kids who need a surrogate Dad.  My students and I laugh a lot in class.  My other teachers in 6th grade refer to me as the "Daddy" of the grade level.  When I told my kids that today, I expected a chuckle.  I didn't get any.  I think some of them, even if they don't know it, want that man in their life.

Brighton is very blessed because he not only has a Mama that loves his but he ALSO has a Daddy that would do anything for him.  So many kids in our world don't have that.  Will you fill that gap?  Trust me, it's easier than you think.  As the words above mention more than once, it just takes a little time.


One of the best days of my life.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Do...or do not, there is no try.

For you Star Wars geeks out there, that quote should be very familiar.  For those of you who are not one with the force, allow me to enlighten you.

In the movie Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker travels to Degobah to enlist the training of Yoda, the Jedi Master.  Upon his arrival, he crashes his X-Wing Fighter into the marsh.  He learns of his friends being in danger and has to leave.  Yoda tells him that he can move his plane out of the swamp and his reply, "I'll try."  Yoda then comes back with that famous line, "Do or do not, there is no try."  Yoda then proceeds to move the plane out of the water.

This week, we Gold Medal Dads are challenged to "Balance Work and Family."  This is a huge challenge.

I recently received a brochure from the National Fatherhood Initiative and one statistic hit close to home for me.  According to the brochure, 71% of men would take a pay cut if it meant they could have more time with their family.  I was one of those men.

Don't get me wrong.  I miss the days of, let's call it, financial freedom.  My wife and I didn't blow money, but it was nice to be able to go out to eat and not worry about it so much.  It was cool to be able to go buy that neat gadget and know it would not hurt us for the month.  Those days are behind us.  Currently, crazy us are in the process of working toward a goal of getting my wife home.  If you would like to donate to that cause, please feel free to contact me. :)

I took a pay cut to spend more time with my family and my church.  I was never home.  Retail was good to me, don't get me wrong.  However, once Brighton came along, I learned all that glitters is definitely not gold. So, here I stand, about $15,000 a year poorer for the sake of my son.  Some look at me as though I am crazy.  To them I say, ask my son if he thinks it was worth it?  He said yes, I just asked him.  At least I think he said yes, he was stuffing his face with pizza.  Mama is resting from the pregnancy and Daddy is in charge of supper still.  I think I am going to see if Tombstone pizza wants to sponsor my blog.

The reason I used Yoda's words of wisdom is because balancing work and family is not one of those things you can vow to try.  Look back at all the "try's" in your life.  I tried working out three times a week.  I tried to cut down to one Sun-Drop a day.  I tried to exercise on a regular basis.  I tried to play tennis every Friday with some guys from school.  You see where I am going with this?

In the brochure, I liked a few of the suggestions.

1.  Tell your coworkers about your family commitments.  This is huge.  You cannot mention this in passing.  You have to make this a big deal.  Every year I tell my grade level that I can meet at any time to discuss the grade's plans and interventions, except after school.  After 3:05 p.m., mild-mannered Mr. Wood turns into Super Daddy or Bat-Husband.  I like either one, lol.  They need to know that you are a team player, but you will not sacrifice your family for work.

2.  Do your job!  The brochure says "Stay Busy and Focused" but I like my version better.  Get to your job, get your stuff done, and go home.  Don't doodle around the office talking to everyone about everything.  Workplace relationships are important, but the quicker you get your job done, the quicker you can go home.  The brochure goes to the extreme of suggesting a "Do Not Disturb" sign.  I, myself, arrange my desk in my classroom so people cannot see me when they are walking by.  I am not being rude, but during my planning times, I try to get as much grading and work done as I possibly can.  Trust me, my wife loves the fact that she sees virtually none of my school work.

3.  Limit work on weekends, vacations, and holidays.  I read once of an executive that had a special email for people to ask him questions on vacation.  It was something like interruptmyfamilytime@something.com.  I loved it because it forced the person to actually write out what they were doing to that man.  Your family loves you and does not like sharing you.  Trust me, when I worked at retail and people would call me at home at night and on my days off to ask questions, my wife was not a happy camper.

Did you notice that none of the suggestions said try to tell your coworkers about your family.  Or, try to get done with everything at work.  Did it say try to limit work on weekends?  It said do it.

This week don't try to be the Father God wants you to be.  Don't try to be the Daddy your son or daughter needs you to be.  Just do it.


Here is the newest picture of our little one.  He or she is growing like a weed.  It is hard to believe that three weeks ago they looked a peanut with legs and arms.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's about balance?

Whew!

I am a school teacher so my summer is over.  I know some of you are saying, "Oh, you poor baby."

I allowed school to sneak up on me this year.  I am teaching 6th grade Reading Language Arts again and I am ecstatic to be back with the older kids.  Since we are talking about balance this week in the Gold Medal Dad Games, this is a perfect time for me to have this checklist to work on.  Let's talk about my day today.

I woke up this morning and got ready.  I woke up my catatonic son and forced him to go to the bathroom.  He almost fell off the toilet while he was trying to stay awake.  We left for the babysitter, where Bright crawled on the couch and went back to sleep.

We had meetings at school until lunch.  My wife called and thankfully was having a fairly sick-free day.  However, we are probably seeing a pregnancy specialist since my wife's pregnancy recently was upgraded to a high-risk pregnancy.  As hard as my day was, hers I know was harder.

I was at school until about 5:00 and left for home.  I got in, fixed Bright a drink and started on supper.  Thank goodness I managed to have it ready at the exact time my wife got home so she didn't have to wait on it and could get something in her stomach.

Balance.  Balance is what keeps things from crashing.  Balance keeps things from breaking.  If one side is heavier than the other, something is going to fall.

Growing up, my father would sometimes bring his "bad day" home from work.  We could tell how the door would close if it was going to be a bad mood or a good mood.  I swore then and there, that when I grew up I would leave work at work.

I can honestly say that I have done a good job of leaving the manager at the door and allowed the husband and Daddy to come home.  I looked at my house as a retreat, an escape.  I looked forward to going home to see my wife and play with my son.  I enjoyed it so much that I left retail to become a teacher.  I promised my wife that I would leave "Mr. Wood" at school and especially for my son's sake.  I am his Daddy, not his educator.  I thought I would allow my wife to tell you what she likes about how I separate work and home.

"I don't ever feel like Maury takes anything out on me because of a bad or good day.  I never know if he had a good or bad day unless he tells me.  He has a good work ethic, which is bad at times.  When he was in retail, he wasn't able to contribute anything at home because of his workload and his need to finish his job.  That was one of the reasons he had to leave because he was out of balance as far as home and work.  Since him becoming a teacher, he is able to compartmentalize and balances family and work a lot better."
--Karen Wood

Any other advice, dear?

"Yes, use the time on the way home to let go of your day."--Karen Wood

This week, we will concentrate on our balancing act and making sure we are spending time with our families.  To mention something from former weeks, also be sure to give your spouse her time too.  She is part of the balancing act on the home side as well.

Remember, let's be the fathers God wants us to be and the Daddy our children need us to be.

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's not about me anymore.

I woke up this morning, like I wake up every morning.  I rolled over, hit my alarm clock and then sat up and stretched.  This morning was different though.  The armpit on my right side was killing me.  I touched it and it hurt, too.  I got up and told Karen about it and she said keep an eye on it.  I asked if I needed to go the doctor, but we agreed we'd just watch it.  After my shower, I got in my car and started off to my Mama's to drop Bright off.

On the road, while Bright was enjoying his peaceful second sleep in the backseat, my mind wandered.  "What if this pain is something more?" I asked myself.  I kept looking in the backseat and started thinking about Brighton not having his Daddy for those milestones in his life.  My Mama had cancer and I was trying to think what exactly I could be feeling under my arm.

I got to Mama's and talked to her about and she reassured me and said the same thing Karen did.  So, both important women in my life had agreed and I was OK...until I got to school.  My mind started wandering again.  Every time my arm moved, it not only brought pain but it triggered my mind to go into "gloom and doom" mode.

I watched the clock until I could leave and I went straight to the doctor.  The doc asked me questions and then felt under my arm.  "That does not feel like a lymph node," the doctor said.  "It doesn't," I reluctantly answered.  She then went on to give me some Latin medical terminology for my ailment.

It was an ingrown hair.

Why do I tell you this story?  Because five years ago, I would have just shook it off and went to work.  Being a Daddy has made my existence a bit more important.  My presence is needed on this earth.  Karen and I have discussed what we are to do if something were to happen to one of us.  As important as being a husband and wife is, we both know at this point in the game, our role as Mama and Daddy are a bit more important.

This week, we Daddys are challenged to affirm our kids.  A few of the tasks are: hug your kids, say "I love you", say "thank you", and complement your kids.  Do you really grasp the importance of your role in your child's life?

I read my Bible every night before I go to bed.  One of my resolutions this year was to read the entire Bible through from cover to cover.  Being a Christian since 1987, I should have already done this.  The important thing is I am doing it now.  One of the books I am reading right now is 2 Chronicles.  It is a book that tells of how Israel and Judah turned away from God.  Every once and a while we have a king that repents, asks for God's guidance, and gets Israel on the right track.  They are considered good kings.  However, Israel always falls back to the bad ways because the current king leads them that way.

Is this a leadership problem?  Is this an example of someone not knowing what they are doing?  In my opinion (my wife brought this to my attention), it is a Daddy problem.  Those kings are all succeeded by their children who start doing bad things.  If these fathers would just have taken the time to guide their sons in the right direction, Israel's and Judah's problems could have been avoided.

I know some of you might have never cracked open the Bible.  The analogy can apply to your life either way.  As Daddys, our opinions, our leadership, our guidance, and most of all, our example helps mold our kids into what they will become later in their lives.  Most of your strong leaders today, attribute their success to their parents.

We were walking through Wal-Mart today and I said excuse me to someone I was trying to get by in an aisle.  Brighton looked up at me and asked why do I always say excuse me?  I told him because it is what we are supposed to do when we need to get by someone.  Brighton is learning about manners.  How many times do we see rude people in public and automatically start thinking about their "raising"?

With these Gold Medal Games, I have learned so much.  I have learned that honestly, I am a good Daddy and I know that because Brighton has told me.  He crawls up next to me and props his arm on my leg and leans into me and watches TV.  Sometimes, in those magical moments, he looks up out of the blue and says, "I love you, Daddy."  I look at him and say, "I love you, too Buddy."  His reply, "yes."  It happens like that every time.

Stay tuned later this week for a special treat.  As my son has turned the big 4, I feel he is ready for his first interview.  We will hear from Brighton next week and the view from a four-year-old's eyes.  Please, please, please send me in your questions for him at brightonsdad@gmail.com.  I would love to have a few.  Let's shoot for the interview to air on Monday evening.

Here is a preview.

Q--What is your favorite television show?
A--"Wild Kratts"
Q--Why?
A--"Because I do"

This is going to be fun!!

Be the Father God wants you to be and the Daddy your children need you to be.


Follow me on Twitter @maurydwood2



Monday, July 30, 2012

"Dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria."

Yes, I know that title probably caught all of you off guard and you're wondering what in the world does that have to do with being a Gold Medal Dad.  Allow me to explain...

Some of you have no idea what that line means.  However, some of you knew exactly what it means AND where it came from.  To those who are in the dark, I'll feed you baby birds.  That is from one of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters.  I always use it when my wife, Karen, and I go into panic mode over something.

Let me give you another glimpse into our home life.  When something or someone doesn't quite turn out the way we had expected, we usually look at each other, wave our hands out in front of us and say to each other, "I guess they're different."  That is from the movie, The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

We always laugh with each other, not matter who might be watching us.  We have tons of inside jokes that almost bring us to tears.

I tell you this to share another great line I told my wife last night.  I say line, because it was a sentence, not because it was fake.  As I was getting ready for bed last night and my mind was wandering as it sometimes does, something hit me.  I peaked out the bathroom door as my wife was reading and said, "I like being married to you."  Did you see that?  I just scored some more brownie points.

In all seriousness, can you say that to your wife?

This week's challenge to us Gold Medal Dads is to "Communicate with Mom."  I find myself communicating with her more and more this week because like last week, it is a major effort to get all of these boxes checked.

Last night when I said that, she seemed shocked.  Not in that I said it, but that is seemed obvious to her.  I felt the need to say it because I think a lot of times that women don't think men like being married at times.  I myself like the extra cash to feed my superhero t-shirt and video games habit, but I digress.

I can honestly say, Karen is my best friend.  I have a guy that is like a brother to me, but we're not as close as Karen and I.  We laugh at the way we can take a favorite movie quote and insert into a conversation.  We love the way that we both look for "That's what she said" moments in every day conversation and can't wait to call the other one and talk about it, just to laugh again.

Tonight, we went out to eat without Brighton.  Trust me, he was there in spirit.  We talk about him so much that someone finally asks to see a picture.  Anyway, Karen was talking to someone while I was talking to another couple.  Do you know what we were doing?  Having the same conversation, essentially, but were building the other one up to the person we were talking to.

On the flip side, how many times do you vent to someone else about your spouse, sometimes complete strangers?  How many times is that someone your kids?  See where I am going with this?

Growing up, I knew if I wanted something, I went to Mama.  I knew I had a better shot at it with her than I did with my Dad.  It shouldn't be like that.

Brighton is already trying it and he is three.  I can hear him go and ask Karen something and then I hear his footsteps coming my way down the hallway.  He asks me the same thing and I ask him what his Mama said.  My 3-year-old sighs and tells me or I just holler and ask Karen.  I want him to know that his Mama and Daddy and are a united front.  We might discuss the decision and someone's viewpoint might change, but Brighton is seeing that divide and conquer will not work in our home.  Heck, Karen liked the University of Tennessee before we started dating.  She now wears crimson and yells "Roll Tide!" with the best of them because she wanted us united...and because there was no way I was changing sides.  Marriage is about compromise, isn't it?

However, all of this boils down to you and your wife enjoying being married to each other.  Here are some examples i thought of to complete this week's goals.

1.  Give Mom some alone time this week.
      This is a win-win.  You can spend some time with the kids and Mom gets a break.  Play video games with them.  Go outside and play.  Go to a baseball game.  Take them for ice cream cones.  Just go.  I run the water for Karen's bathtub and vow to keep Brighton away from the door.

2.  Have some one-on-one time with your wife/child's Mom.
      Date night, call a babysitter, go walking just the two of you and talk, without being interrupted.  Most importantly, put the cell phones up!!  It's hard for me, too.

3.  Do one extra household task this week to help Mom.
     Fold some clothes, clean up after dinner.  My wife always says thanks when I help her clean up after supper.  She says it makes her feel less like a maid.  And, it allows for more family time later.

4.  Talk with Mom about how you parent as a team.
     This should happen whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Parenting is a team sport.  Even if divorce is a part of the equation, don't let the children suffer because of it.  Trust me, I know, divorce sucks from a kid's perspective no matter the age.

5.  Ask Mom for one way you can improve as a Dad.
     I asked this and I got a lot of answers.  Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing?  Just kidding, but seriously, communicate to each other about how you can both improve.  We constantly have "performance reviews."  She'll ask how my Christian walk is doing and if there is anything she can do differently and vice versa.  Guys, if you treat your wife like a queen and concentrate on making her happy and feel special, she will do the same thing for you.  This in turn makes you a stronger parenting team, which makes strong children.  Then they get older and have kids, and the chain continues.

6.  Say something positive to or about Mom in front of the kids.
     This could also say, "Don't tear Mom down in front of the kids."  A child will automatically want to protect Mom.  It is in their nature.  A little girl is going be scared and a little boy will sometimes enter the argument.  Don't do this to your kids.  I will share for a moment.  One night, Karen and I were discussing something and our voices got loud.  Brighton came in and said, "Why not you be happy to each other?"  We weren't fussing, but it broke my heart to hear my little boy say that.  Children DO NOT need to hear their parents fuss.  Never.  It doesn't teach them anything.  In today's world, children need to know their Mama and Daddy love each other.  Sure, spouses fuss.  You can't live with someone for that long and not have a disagreement.
     Build your spouse up to your kids.  "Isn't your Mama a good cook?"  "Look how pretty Mama is tonight."  "Mama put her makeup on BEFORE she got in the car on the way to church."  You know, things like that...

7.  Resolve not to say anything negative about Mom.
     This is very similar to #6 but it needs to be repeated.  Daddys especially need to watch how they treat their wives.  Your little boys want to be just like you.  I have a shadow following me around all the time.  I am on constant guard about how I speak and treat Karen.  I open doors for her and tell Brighton he needs to do the same.  I tell Brighton he doesn't need to interrupt a woman, especially Mama, when she is talking.  We don't go into a store or somewhere else in front of Mama.  She is first because she loves us so much.  Besides, Karen does an excellent job of showing that there is still a chance I might be Superman to my son and I am grateful for that.

In closing, investigate and talk to your spouse about why you got together in the first place.  I told you before, Karen and I dated for six years before we got married.  We jokingly say that we got together because God had no idea what to do with us.  We both know that God blesses us our marriage because we constantly are working on it.  Let me put it in "man" terms for you.

How good of a golfer would you be if you only played once a year?  I can tell you because that's exactly what I do.  I play in a four-man scramble every year at our church picnic.  Our team shot three-over yesterday.  I had about three good "golf" shots.  The rest of them were OK.  Most of them were...let's just say I could have saved my back and just thrown the ball directly at the trees.

I say that because our marriages and parenting is like that four-man scramble.  We have help around us to pick us up when we're down.  If I chose to play golf at least once a week, every week until next year's tournament, don't you think I would improve.  Parenting is not a once-in-awhile thing and our marriages are definitely not like that.

We have to work every day to be the husbands and dads that deserve that Gold Medal.

So, as always, be the Father God wants you to be and the Daddy your kids (and Mom) need you to be.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 5: I found a good thing!

After completion of this week's Gold Medal Challenge, I technically won the Gold Medal for my efforts, but the winner was Brighton.  He had a blast and so did I.  We spend a lot of time together since I am a teacher and have summers off, but this week was a consorted effort to spend quality time together.  Next week's challenge for us Gold Medal Dads is Communicating with Mom.  Today's entry is going to be a preview of things to come this week and why this challenge is going to be easier than last week's.  It will also explain why I am a teacher today.

Let me start off by quoting a Bible verse.  Proverbs 18:22 says, "A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord."  I obtained my favor six years ago this June and my life is better because of it.

In this week's challenge, the Moms of our families are to take the forefront.  In all actuality, this week should be the easiest competition of your life.  If you look at this list and say to yourself, "This is going to be tough," then shame on you.  I only sound condescending because I only recently realized how I need to be acting.  My wife and the mother of my children should be honored in my house on a daily basis.  Especially for what she's done and does for me.  Let's go back a few years.

While we were dating, I worked as Assistant Editor at our town's local newspaper.  I was also the lead reporter, mainly because I was the only reporter.  We got a small town, OK.  Anyways, they laid me off on a Friday afternoon, about an hour before we were supposed to leave.  Clear out of the blue, no warnings.  I'm not bitter or anything, ;).  Actually, God had a plan.  Without that job, writing would not be something I like to do in my spare time and I would not be writing to you.

Well, a friend of mine got me an interview at a new retail store that was about to open in our town.  When I was eighteen, I was a department manager at one of our town's grocery stores, so I had retail experience and I was desperate for anything.

I interviewed and was offered a job to be over their inventory.  I took it and my days of working 8-5 Monday through Friday was over.  It was a good job and the Lord blessed me.  I worked hard and was promoted to Assistant Manager and pretty much doubled my pay, six months before Karen and I were to be married.  Fervent prayers, people!!

I was really enjoying my job (and the pay) when Karen and I got married.  We were able to honeymoon in Europe and had a blast.  That was June of 2006.

In November of 2007, Karen wasn't feeling well and called me at the store.  Little did we know that the miracle of life had already been working for about seven weeks at that point and Brighton began his journey into existence.  We knew our lives would be changed forever, but little did we know how much.

In August of 2008, Brighton was born and we were a happy family.  I was in the middle of another promotion during the week of his birth.  Seriously, I was taking classes Monday through Thursday, and I missed my graduation on Friday due to his birth.  Would you believe I almost had some issues getting off for my son's birth?

Life was good and Mama and Brighton were doing great.  Then, I was transferred to a store that needed my help to improve...that was an hour away.  I would leave the house at seven every morning and work until 6:30 p.m., putting me home at about 7:30 each night.  That was if traffic was not that bad.

One day, I was asked by my manager (who lived five minutes from the store) to work a double shift at the store.  That was 8:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m..  Needless to say, I was steamed.  I was missing out on time with my son and having to cover for other people's mistakes was taking away even more time.  So, I had to call Karen and tell her the news, again.  Yeah, this had happened more than once.  This time, our phone conversation was different.

Maury:  Hey Dear, I have to work until 10:30 again tonight.

Karen:  (silence)

Maury:  Did you hear me?  I'm sorry...

Karen:  You're done...

Maury:  I know...I'm worn out...

Karen:  No, you're done with __________ (company)

Maury:  (silence)  What do you mean?

Karen:  I don't know, but we're going to do something...I love you.

Maury:  I love you, too.

I hung up on my cell and just sat there.  What did she mean we were done with them?  What were we going to do?  I couldn't just quit my job.  That was a good bit of salary I was walking away from?  Little did I know in the next few months that my wife would make the ultimate sacrifice for our family as far as she was concerned and never say a negative thing about it.

To make a long story short, I quit the following July and started college again, completing and graduating with my teaching degree in May of 2010.  All the while, with no job.

I am about to start my third year of teaching and hopefully, this year I will continue my high test scores.  Every day, I set out to be the best teacher in my school because I have someone who gave up what she wanted so that I could be home more.

I tell you this because not many, if any, know the sacrifice my wife made or continues to makes.

In my opinion, there is nothing I could ever do to make it up to her.  When I was at that company, our justification of my working there was she would eventually be able to stay at home.  How do you think that makes me feel that I dangled that carrot in front of her and haven't been able to deliver?  I honestly feel like a terrible husband.  I work my tail off each and every day in an attempt to make it up to her.

She is pregnant with our second child and I was up with her last night at 1:30 because I didn't want her sitting up in bed sick to her stomach and watching her husband asleep peacefully.  I just sat there, rubbing her back and asking if I could do anything.  I even prayed that God would give me some of the uncomfortable feelings so she could at least sleep.


Someday, I would like to fulfill her dream and be able to say, "Karen, you don't have to work anymore.  You can stay home with the kids."  It just...for lack of a better word...sucks.  I'm starting work on my Master's in August and hopefully in a few years will be a principal.  Who knows, I could be writing books and making the big bucks, lol??

So, this week, I want you to sit down and think of everything your wife, the mother of your kids, does around your house without a word of complaint.  It's a lot.  It's a WHOLE lot.

I challenge you Dads out there to do this list every week, not just this week.  Without our wives, we wouldn't be Dads.

Some of you might not have a Mom in the picture for one reason or another.  God bless you for taking your role of Daddy seriously and being both parents to your kids.  I salute you and you will be in my prayers.

Remember to be the Fathers God wants you to be and the Daddy your children need you to be.

My hero and my wife, Karen, with her boys.
#DadGames12


Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 4: The rules of play--according to a 3-year-old.

Today, I decided to tackle the "Spend 30 minutes of interactive play together" challenge.  My son came and asked me to play with him in his room, so I went.  I learned a lot in my time there.  We played with his Batman Imaginext toys, which I am proud to say he has almost all of them.  He just needs Killer Croc and his collection will be complete.  However, I quickly found out that if you are going to play with Brighton, in Brighton's room, with Brighton's toys, you have to follow some simple rules.

Rule #1  Brighton is boss.

It seemed a little harsh at first and silly me tried to challenge the rule.  I went into the partnership of play thinking I was going to be able to choose if I could be Joker and the rest of Batman's Rogue Gallery or if I would get to be the Dark Knight himself.  I went in, sat down, and was given the bad guys and Brighton took control of the Batcave and Batman and Robin.

Having followed Batman to the secret whereabouts of the Batcave, I (Joker) perceived to use the Riddler as a diversion so I could break Mr. Freeze and the Penguin out of the jail at the Caped Crusaders secret hideout.  I don't know why it is a secret hideout, it was easy to find.  Anyway, I had sprung Penguin and the Riddler and we were almost in the clear when Brighton decided that he wanted to be the bad guys now.

Rule #2  Your role can change in a blink of an eye.

So, there I was, attempting to foil an escape by Riddler and Penguin when the Joker flew up in the air.

Rule 3#  The rules of physics are out the window when you play in Brighton's room.

Joker flew up in the air and hit the Batwing and blew it up.  Joker evidently had gotten some Superman powers from somewhere because he landed unharmed but I was unable to use the Batwing for the remainder of play time.  I (Batman) enlisted the help of Catwoman and was about to get out of this sticky situation when Brighton decided to be both the good guys and the bad guys.

Rule #4  Sometimes playtime is a spectator sport.

After watching the fight between Joker and Batman for a while, I got up and walked out of the room to return to normalcy and begin my correspondence with you.  Brighton has since left his room and is in the living room with his Mama.


This venture into a 3-year-old's dominion brought to mind one thing.  That little brother or sister we saw today at the ultrasound better get ready...and so should we.  I told myself we need to start teaching Brighton playing etiquette if you will.

Growing up, my brothers and I played pretty well together.  The cool thing was we were pretty close in age so when we got toys we tried to collaborate so we could have a pretty good collection of certain lines of toys.  We had a ton of GI Joes and their vehicles.  We would spend hours playing in the bathroom with our building blocks creating hangars and bunks and other rooms soldiers needed.  We had a lot of He-Man toys.  My brother leaned toward Skeletor while I was a He-Man guy.  We had all the Ghostbusters toys--firehouse, ECTO-1, ECTO-2, and all the guys.  We also lived on the farm so outside was somewhere we stayed a lot.  After my Daddy would finish mowing, we would take our toys trucks and tractors with some plastic cups and bail the grass clippings and haul hay.  I remember staying out there until my Mama hollered that supper was ready.

I am beginning to think that one of the many reasons God allows us to be parents is so we can enjoy those parts of childhood that we like.  I know a lot of the games I played as a child, I have incorporated into Brighton's life.  I like coloring with Brighton, getting in the floor and have good vs. evil battle it out, and sometimes just lie on his bed and let him give me his prognosis with his Sesame Street doctor kit.  According to the Cookie Monster stethoscope, I have a strong heartbeat.  And, I get to eat all the chocolate chip cookies I want! Winning!!

In closing, I know honestly some of you would rather do something else than get in the floor and play for a long period of time with your kids.  I will be honest, I don't do it as much as I should.  However, it is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids about sharing and play etiquette.  Trust me, I am a teacher and I have seen many kids that do not know how to play with others or share.  It is a trait that will do them well in life.  Being able to work in a team was something I was always on the lookout when I was in retail management.

I probably need to go check on the aftermath of our play time.

OK, I'm back and I have learned another rule.

Rule #5  Batman and Joker let each other borrow their vehicles.

Tonight, I believe we are playing Disney Trivia after supper so I am knocking out two in one day.  That will leave:

Have a Family Meal at least once this week.
Spend 30 minutes being active outside together (and don't melt)

and then I will take home the Gold Medal for this week.

Be the Fathers God wants you to be and the Daddy your children need you to be.

I have included a picture of our playtime as well as the first picture of our upcoming arrival.  Brighton waved at the screen when we saw him or her.  Until next time...



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 3: Reading is FUNdamental

You see what I did there with the title? Nevermind...

Growing up, I didn't like reading.  My imagination couldn't delve into it that much.  I mean, when I read, I just saw black letters on white pages.  What I did like was when my Mama read to me.

She would read me this old Social Studies textbook she found somewhere some nights.  We would read about Ferdinand the bull, or the popcorn story where a little bear decides to throw a party and pop some popcorn and things get out of hand.  Every Christmas Mama would also read us the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the King James Version of the Bible before we would go to sleep.  OK...before we'd fake like we were asleep and sneak down to play with our Santa Claus toys at 1:30 in the morning.  Me being the oldest, I was the one that usually made the decision to go down because I was quiet enough to check.  Now, my parents would hear my ankles and knees pop before I made it to the bedroom door.  Seems like the quieter I try to be now, the louder my bones pop.  Anyways...oh yeah, reading.

When my son was born, I knew there would come a time where I would read to him at one point or another.  One of our favorite books at first was Kitty Up.  It was so neat to see him immediately turn to the pages he liked.  Another story we read was Lullaby, Lullaby.  He always said he liked the part where the parents put the baby to sleep.  My favorite books were Just Like You and I Love You, Daddy.  Just Like You was about a Daddy Bear and his cub exploring the world.  The Daddy Bear let the cub make all the decisions with some guidance.  I would always tell Brighton that he was my little cub and I would be there to help him whenever he needed me.  Just Like You was a story about two bears again.  The cub wanted to be just like his Daddy.

He's older now, so the books and stories have gotten a bit longer.  We also can't skip pages anymore because that little genius will catch us on it and tell us that we missed some.

Right now, he is asking for God Gave Us You and God Gave Us Two.  The first is a story from the Mama's point of view explaining how the baby came to be.  In God Gave Us Two, the Mama is again talking to the child but preparing it for its brother or sister.  In the end, Mama ends up having twins.

In reading with my son, I realized something.  This is one of the few times you can have the complete attention of your child.  He always leans up against my side or my wife's side and simply listens.  He asks questions a lot about the story or it will jog a memory from the day's events and we talk about that.  I try my best to bring God into the conversation somehow.  I am reading a book right now that reminds me as a Daddy that my relationship will be his first taste of how our relationship with our heavenly Father should be like.

The funny thing in writing these little messages to you is that I am looking at things through your eyes a bit.  I am asking myself what do these parents need to hear from me.  Do I want to make them laugh? Do I want to make them cry?  I would not have noticed how still Brighton is unless I was writing this to you.  So, thanks.

Here is one piece of advice I have and you can do with it what you want.  I completely realize that as men, we are expected by society to be a certain way.  We are to be the rocks in our families.  We are the protectors.  We are the tough ones who keep our heads about ourselves.  However...

Love on your kids.  I don't mean hug them and tell them you love after arguments.  I don't mean pat them on the back when they do something good.  I mean let your kids know you love them.  I can't not tell you how awesome it is for me when my son hears the garage door open and comes running to me and says, "OH, Daddy, I missed you."  We were in Lowe's tonight and as I was pushing him around in the buggy, he looked at me, smiled, opened his arms for a hug, and told me he loved me.  I of course kissed him on top of his head and told him I loved him too.  He tells me to kiss his hair so that's what I do.  When he kisses my wife and I good night, for some reason he has to kiss our right cheek and left cheek.  Don't know where he got that, but I don't mind.

Take opportunities to just sit and be still with your kids.  If you are trying to approach something with your kids, try a book discussion.  As a school teacher, you have no idea how many discussions I start with a short story or make a connection to a lesson by using a movie or some other form of media.

My son is three right now and I know the times of him being able to just sit super close to me and rest are slipping away.  I am going to enjoy them all I can.  Tonight, when I got him out of the buggy, I told him he was getting heavy.  His response, "But you'll still carry me, won't you Daddy?"  I picked him up, hugged him tight, and said, "You know I will, buddy."

I guess this is it until tomorrow.  Day three is in the books.

Remember, be the Fathers God want you to be and the Daddy your children need you to be.



Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 2: Coloring is Awesome!!

Every year while I was growing up, my Mama would go Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving with some of her high school classmates.  We three boys loved it for two reasons.  The first one was the obvious one--we knew we were getting our Christmas presents.  The second was we also knew we were going to get a small surprise when she got home after being gone the whole day.  More often times than not, that surprise was a box of crayons and a coloring book.  I was very detailed in my coloring.  I would outline and use that black crayon until it was gone because I wanted each shadow and shade to look just right.

Years passed and I hadn't colored in a while and then my son came along.  When he got his first coloring book and crayons, we put him at his table and turned him loose.  It kept him occupied.  Then one night, things changed.

My wife and I had sat him down at his table and began to walk off when he we heard the question, "Mama and Daddy, do you want to color with me?"  For those of you who have kids, you know the answer to that is always a resounding yes.  So, my wife and I sat down and began our coloring.  It has become a semi-weekly thing at the Wood household to have coloring nights.  You color fanatics out there, go to www.coloringbookfun.com.  They have tons of free pictures you can print off.  If your kid can think of it, they have it.

Creativity is huge in life.  We as adults need to be able to think outside the box.  When I was in retail management before teaching, a lot of my ideas seemed "out there."  However, a lot of those ideas turned out to be pretty good ones because I had a boss that cultivated my ideas.  He would always said it's not a bad idea until it doesn't work.  The only way to see if it is good is to do it.  If not, start over.

On our last coloring session, I colored a Superman and so did my son.  After we hung them up on the fridge, my son walked over to them and looked at them for a minute and then walked away.  I asked him what he thought.  He said, "Yours is good, but mine is horrible."  That broke my heart.  I wanted to rip my picture in my half or color all over it if I knew it would make him feel better.  I asked him why his was horrible and he told me my colors looked better and his colors were wrong.

I told him nothing he does is horrible.  "I love your picture," I told him.  "I wished I had colored Superman's suit red because I like what yours looks like."  He smiled from ear to ear.

We have to be a fountain of encouragement to our kids.  My preacher used to ask if we were a cistern or fountain for God.  Cisterns are like jars and when the water is gone, they are essentially useless until someone fills them up again.  Fountains never stop.  Our children need to know that when they have a bad day, their Daddy will always be there to help talk about it.

I coached baseball for a few years.  Yeah, this is when you let out a collective sigh because you know what's coming.  Do you know how many kids I saw brought to tears because of an error on the field?  That error on the field was usually followed by an error off the field.  The tears weren't because of the coach, it was their parents, usually their Daddy.  Dads, we have so much power in our children's lives.

Today, my son and I colored a picture of Batman and Robin.  I told you we like superheroes.  His picture looks very similar to mine, of course.  He asked me for guidance the whole time we were coloring.  "What color is Robin's cape?" he would ask.  "What color are the buildings, Daddy?"

Our children are there for us to guide.  So many parents do not take that power seriously.  In Spiderman, the main message of the movie is with great power comes great responsibility.  As corny as it sounds, I use that quote a lot be it parenting or teaching or any other position of authority.

We have so much power to influence our children, be it good or bad.  Last night during the Twitter party, I tweeted that the smallest things to us as parents are usually the biggest things to them.  Simply going with them when they come into the room with their hand outstretched and that command, "Come here."  Brighton sometimes just wants me to come into his room and sit on his bed while he plays.  I don't do anything except answer his questions about who should go where or what block matches the others.

We had a good talk during the coloring.  To be honest, I think I enjoy it more than he does.  My wife says I am a kid but I say coloring is relaxing.  My pictures look better too since I am older and can take my time, lol.

Don't forget to keep up with your tasks.  I have left:

  • Have a family meal at least once this week
  • Read a book together
  • Spend 30 minutes of interactive play
  • Spend 30 minutes of being active outside
  • Have a family game night this week

Stay tuned Monday hopefully for a picture of my future child in peanut form.  We are so looking forward to Monday afternoon.  Brighton gets to go too and see his future little brother or sister.

Remember to be the Fathers God wants us to be and the Daddy our kids need us to be.  Until next time...

Here are our pictures we colored today.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 1: Special outing with the sponge

It's day one of my quest to complete every objective in my quest to being a Gold Medal Dad. My wife and I bought a bench that needed to be returned and I also needed to pick up my college transcripts in anticipation of my Master's degree. The town is about an hour away so I thought this would be a good day to have that special outing...just the boys. Let me preface today's blog by telling you that Brighton will be four in August. We pulled out of the driveway and I turned off the radio. Brighton didn't like that and asked what happened. I told him we were going to talk for a little bit. He was quiet for a minute and as I looked at him in the rearview mirror, he smiled. Then he said, "That's OK, we can listen to *DC Talk."

  *In all of Christian music, DC Talk is my favorite group. I have every CD they have made. "Jesus Freak" is my favorite song. I play a baseball game on my PS3 and have created myself. Yes, I created myself because that is the closest I will ever come to my dreams of playing in the "show" will come. The cool thing is that you can import your own music into the game for when you come to bat. So, my walk-up music is "Jesus Freak".

 I asked him could we just talk for a little bit but he kept asking for DC Talk so I gave in. I had the radio turned down so I could talk to him but he was paying attention. He was staring out the window singing along with the songs one after another. He likes the "doo-doo-doo song" which is "Jesus is Still All Right"; "Daddy's song from baseball" which is "Jesus Freak"; and the "other DC Talk song" which is "Sugar Coat It".

Then we...

 Sorry, Brighton came in here and told me to come to his room to show me Robin was hanging on for dear life off the roof of Joker's hideout. Clayface evidently had a change of heart and is now a good guy and helped take out Joker. When asked, Brighton said Batman was flying around on his glider somewhere. That kids loves his superheroes.*

  *His Daddy likes superheroes too. I really don't know why. Maybe its because I remember growing up and my first big time movie I remember seeing was Batman with Michael Keaton. I already have my tickets in hand for The Dark Knight Rises for tomorrow night. I also liked Batman: The Animated Series. Honestly, if you look in my closet on the top row to the far right you will see t-shirts for Captain America, Spider-man, Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Thundercats, and Voltron. Brighton saw a little Batman and Superman t-shirt at Wal-Mart and had to have them, so now we can match. 

On the way to the store, he started talking about animals. He loves his animals. Bright's favorite show is Wild Kratts. Brighton could work at a zoo right now. He can tell you the different types of raptors and examples of each. He can tell you how mother crocodiles take care of their young. Brighton can also tell you how some animals use mimicry to protect themselves. I have to open the shade on our sunroof so he can spot any raptors flying around. He spotted two turkey vultures while we were out. When we stopped at the college, Brighton asked to get on my shoulders because in his words, "It's faster than walking."

 As we walked up the stairs to the admissions office, a number of people looked at us and got my smiles. I smiled back because I am proud of my son because he speaks to people and waves back when they wave. 

After our stop at customer service to return the bench, we visited "Mr. Tent" in the middle of the store. "Mr. Tent" is a gazebo with a fly-netting on it. Brighton remembered him from our visit a week before and asked to go say hi.

 We drove a few more miles talking and he asked could we go visit Mama at work. I said sure but I would have to call first. After getting the OK, I told Brighton we would stop by and see her. Brighton asked if we were going to the mall. I told him no because Mama had a new job at a different building.*

  *My wife works for a company that used to have a kiosk in our local mall. That was over a year ago, but Brighton remembers stopping by there and seeing her.

 I realize that this is a lot to read but are you picking up on the pattern? My son is almost four-years-old and do you see how much he absorbs and retains? Everything he sees me do as his Daddy, he either wants to copy or talk about. He doesn't like "kiddie" songs because I don't care for them. He loves superhero shirts and shows because I like them. Every time I am playing my baseball game and he hears "Jesus Freak" he runs in to watch me bat and then goes back out again. He claps when I hit home runs and asks if I got a base hit. He constantly is showing me things he does, creates, or builds. You better believe I act like it is the best thing I have ever seen. Just to see his eyes light up when I am impressed is a blessing unto itself.

 In closing, while you are striving to be that Gold Medal Dad remember that your kids are sponges, no matter their ages. They are soaking up and taking in everything you do. They will remember things you have forgotten until they remind you of them. My mess up word is "Crackers".  Guess what Brighton says when he messes up?  When your child wants to show you something, just go and look at it. That's all they want. 

Speaking of which, my son has come in here three times to ask me to come and play Batman. So, I'm off to ward off the villains of Gotham City.

 Until tomorrow, keep striving to be the Father the Lord wants you to be and the Daddy your children need you to be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I recently began delving into Twitter. I have been a member for a while but not really used it. I just didn't feel cool enough I guess. Why in the world would people want to read what I have to say? I am a teacher by profession and have no less than 15 kids in a classroom trying to ignore me at times. They would love to have a delete button or a way to scroll through my lectures more quickly. I went to a conference with my brother a few months ago that was based on the Courageous movie. Needless to say, God lit a fire under me that has not diminished. My wife can tell a big difference as my role as husband has...let's just say I'm more in tuned with her. Just the other night she asked me what she could do to help me. I replied, "Honestly, I am just focusing on what you need right now from me." Yep, I got some bonus points with that one. Well, on Twitter, I found something called the National Fatherhood Initiative and have begun following it. This week they are starting something called "Be a Gold Medal Dad!" Each week they will send out a checklist to their subscribers detailing goals to achieve with your kids and family. For instance, this week there are seven challenges and if you get 1-3 marks, you win bronze. If you can get 4-5, you leave with silver. However, if you get 6-7, you take home the gold. Needless to say, I am competitive. You can ask anyone who knows me personally, if I am in it, I am in it to win it. I stress to my students at school if you are going to do something, try to be the best at it. At least if you fail, you are still among the best. So, here is my challenge to myself. Each week, I am going to detail my progress in achieving all seven goals. I am not sure how often I will post this week. It might be daily or sometimes more than once a day. Either way, the winner is my son Brighton and my wife Karen. Join me on this journey with my family and let's discover together what changes occur. It will be entertaining at times but who knows, you just might learn something along with me. God bless from this "future" Gold Medal Dad.
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