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  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.

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  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.