Archive for the ‘Family Fun’ Category

250 Toys in 260 Weeks…really?

February 2, 2011

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I remember one evening getting up in the middle of the evening to go into another room in our house.  Lighting was scarce.  My steps were short and slow.  With small kids you never know what got left on the floor to inflict pain you can’t describe.  And then it happened…a pain shot up my leg as if I had stepped on a scorpion.  But, it wasn’t live.  It was a toy from our favorite fast food restaurant.  I’m sure I let something slip out that wasn’t Christian or family-rated.  Ahhh…I remember those days.

Toys.  Our kids had toys.  More than they ever needed or played with long term.  I wish I had marked each toy with something that indicated how many times they actually got picked up and used.  This morning during a men’s gathering at our church called, The Battle, Tim Lundy illustrated our love for “stuff” by sharing this statistic…by the time our children enter Kindergarten they’ve had, on average, about 250 toys.  When they are 260 weeks old, they have had nearly a toy a week.  Wow.  The sad thing is that many times those toys were only played with by the children, if they were played with at all.  When you add a Dad to the mix, the toy is no longer the central piece of the story.  When Dad is available to make those toys come alive, memories occur.

So, Dad, what if you went home tonight and took one of those old toys (or made something up) and began to draw near to your child?  Can’t you see the smile now?  Have some fun.  Role play.  Card play.  Yell.  Roar.  But don’t let your children live with the memory years from now that the toys in their life created pain—a representation of a substitute for time with dad and a fathers pain of a late night misstep.  Time…not toys.

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Being a “Rad Dad”

August 9, 2010

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I remember the first time my kids got into “social media”.  My son asked about something called Xanga.  It was like My Space and Facebook before they became popular.  It was my first entry into this new thing called “social media”.  I didn’t have a clue what it was but it began a journey for me to investigate so that I could enter into meaningful discussions with them about if and how they could use or embrace these new apps.

One day, I sat down with my daughter to look at her iTunes list just to see what kind of music she was listening to.  The purpose of my questions were not just to “check up” on her but also to enter her world.  It’s a lot easier to have discussions about what your kids are doing, music tastes, social media involvement, etc., when you have a little understanding of what they like, don’t like, listen to, and update or read on the internet.  This concept extends to more than online or music camaraderie.

If I were to ask you the following questions over coffee at Starbucks or Caribou (my personal favorite), would you be able to answer them?

  • What kind of music do your kids listen to?  Who’s their favorite artist?
  • What sports do they LIKE to play (not which ten do you have them involved in)?
  • What’s their favorite color?
  • Which subject in school do they feel really excited about when they are in class and which ones make them feel inadequate or do they struggle in?
  • If they could travel to any country in the world, where would they go?  Why?
  • Who are their favorite friends?  Which friends show interest in them?
  • What’s their favorite food?  Do they like to try new foods?
  • When do they feel most loved?

There are hundreds of these seemingly innocuous questions you could think of that would be a great date night tool to help you get to know your kids and the world they live in.  There are a lot of traps out there that our kids can easily get lured into that could harm them.  But, if we don’t take the time to get to know them for who God made them to be, our concerns and admonitions often are heard as “blah blah blah”.  So, my encouragement to you, dad, is to be “rad”.  Get to know the things that are happening and even startle your child by asking them if they’ve heard the latest _________ (you fill in the musical group or artist) and use it as a time of bonding and learning.  They might even think it’s “cool (a 70’s term that is gonna make a comeback–just you wait) that you know an artist that THEY like.  Then, you have a platform of beginning to teach and enlighten them if they are involved in things that might be harmful or even dangerous.  Teaching times are born out of a life that is focused on the child first and then their actions.

Dad Idea:  Write down a list of questions (similar to the ones above) and have them with you as you spend some devoted time with your son or daughter (by the way, this is a great thing to do with an adult child too–the nature of your questions might change but never too late to invest your time and attention on them and their lives).

Chick-fil-A’s Daddy/Daughter Date night

June 23, 2010

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I had a date with my 18 year old daughter last night.  We’ve had a lot of dates during her 18 years.  This one was a little different.  I took her out to a really nice restaurant with table cloths, reservations required and great food.  No, it wasn’t a 5 star-expensive eatery.  It was a local Chick-fil-A restaurant in West Little Rock, AR.  And, it wasn’t my idea.  It was their’s–Chick-fil-A’s.  Using Facebook, the owner/operators sent out a message to all the Facebook Group members that they were having a daddy/daughter date night on Tuesday, June 22.  All you needed to do was to email or call to reserve your seat.  I thought, “what a great idea”.  Hadn’t had a date with my daughter for a while and we both love Chick-fil-A so, why not.   Then, after stopping there for lunch earlier in the week, there was a little bag stuffer that reminded me of the Daddy/Daughter date night.  I asked my daughter if she wanted to go and she was quick to take me up on the offer (probably because it was a free meal 🙂 but maybe because she wanted to spend some time with the old man too).  But, she thought that most of the “couples” might be dads with their young daughters so we went as “uninvited” guests–on the “dl” (down-low for the uncool).

We entered and saw the tables in a section of the restaurant reserved for dads and their dates.  Just before  they entered the restaurant they were given a name tag and checked off the invitation list.  The owners posted reservations in half-hour increments from 5-7 pm.  So, dads and their daughters were streaming in while I enjoyed dinner with my date in another part of the restaurant.  As the couples entered they were greeted by the CFA “Eat Mor Chikin'” cow.  After they ordered and were seated they enjoyed one of the finest chicken sandwiches (or whatever they ordered) on the planet (in my humble opinion).  Then, upon leaving, the young ladies were given a carnation as a reminder of their special evening.  Some of the dads took their young dates to the play area for an after dinner slide or climb.  All the while, my daughter and I shared a nice meal together, connecting about our days–nothing earth shattering–just some good, quality time together, along with many other dads and daughters.

For all of you restaurant owners/managers out there…here’s a great way for you to contribute to the health of your city.  By providing an evening event for dads that was easy for them to act upon, this Chick-fil-A manager provided a win/win scenario.  The popularity of the event meant he had not reserved a portion of his resaurant in vain (I spoke with his wife (they are friends) and she said the 5pm slot was sold out–not sure how the others went but we saw a steady stream of dads and daughters pouring in during and after our time there).  Additionally, there may have been some new dad/daughter date night traditions kicked off in that Chick-fil-A restaurant that night.  Overall, it was a great event for the restaurant and for dads in the Little Rock area.  Way to go, Chick-fil-A!!!  Dads…it’s also a great reminder to start dating your daughters AND your sons on a regular basis.  Chick-fil-A made this one a no-brainer.  But, it’s not hard.  In fact, I’ve heard of dads who have put on their “Sunday best” and come to the front door to pick up their finely dressed date.  Make it special…make it fun…make it simple—-but do “make it”.  And, if they are grown—start now.  Never a better time than the present to spend time with your children, no matter how old they are.

Well, I guess it’s time to start thinking about where I need to take my wife on a date now.  Any other restaurants in Little Rock want to invest in marriage dates?  I’ll be checking on Facebook.

Dad Day: Gifts and Laughs

June 15, 2010

Ties.  Ugly Shirts.  Suspenders.  Hammocks.  What do all these have in common?  Well, they are typically some of the most often cited gifts that dad’s either actually or supposedly receive for Father’s Day (which, by the way is this Sunday for my kids who might be reading this—yea right ;).  For the most part, my family has done well to provide nicely chosen, practical and useful gifts.  I really can’t offer any funny anecdotal story about some hilarious gift I received from my kids.  But, I know some of you can!  So, here’s the deal.

What are some of the most funny, useless, returnable, memorable, or otherwise discussion-worthy gifts you’ve ever received (or given) on Father’s Day?

P.S.  For a list of what NOT to give Dad this year, check out this list:

http://bit.ly/94ktj0

“ConGRADulations”: 7 Ways to Celebrate Graduation

May 5, 2010

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You’ve cleaned up dirty diapers and bandaged “boo-boo’s”.  You just met the neanderthal taking your daughter to Prom and recently got a call from your son where he tells you he just cracked up the new car.  And, in between you’ve scolded, cuddled, kissed, spanked (can I say that?), wrestled, and worked on homework with them.  You made it through “THE” chat, with sweaty palms and a cracked voice and then wondered if they understood only to find out they knew much more than you expected (or wanted).  Trips and dates–dinners and late nights–movies and talks on the couch–evenings waiting for them to come home and mornings waiting for them to get up.  Ahhhh, 18 years filled with so many memories bring you to the day that you may dread but know is exactly why God lent them to you–you’re launching your child into the world.  Most of us will be launching them into college or some schooling.  Some into a job or even a young marriage.  It’s time to celebrate your child’s high school graduation.

Someday, I’ll chronicle the many and varied feelings my wife and I have had as we’ve launched two into college and will launch our last (daughter) this year.  But, though I’m nostalgic, I want to share how we can celebrate their accomplishment.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been pouring through thousands of pictures in iPhoto or songs in iTunes in order to produce the third graduation DVD.  Or, maybe it’s due to the fact that I’ve been watching my wife spend hours putting together a book of picture memories covering 18 years of our child’s life.  In any case, it’s our third time through this routine in the last four years (our son graduated in 2006, a daughter in 2008 and now our last in 2010).  So, over the next week or so, I’ll share various posts about graduation and celebration.  Now, I want to stimulate you with some thoughts about how you can celebrate this great moment in your children’s lives.  Here are 7 ideas to celebrate your child’s graduation—some we’ve done, a few that I’ve heard about and maybe a few I just made up but thought they sounded good 🙂 :

  1. PUT TOGETHER A DVD OF PICTURES AND SONGS THAT DEPICT THE MANY FACETS OF YOUR CHILDS CHARACTER. I’ve done this for our first two children and working on the one for our daughter this year.  I pour through “googleized” lists of songs that others have suggested for these kind of things and now have a lot of songs that I will share with you in another post.  I typically go way overboard on this and put together a DVD with a number of different slideshow arrangements.  But, you can keep it simple and still make it a powerful gift to give to family and your child.  We’ll sit down and watch it as a family when I’m done.
  2. CREATE A MEMORY BOOK OF PICTURES AND KEY WORDS. My wife has put together a memory book by going through years of old pictures and new digital ones.  We scan in the old to copy and use while printing the new.  Then, she uses various themes throughout by using different shapes, stenciled letter types and fabric or paper to make it interesting.
  3. HAVE KEY FAMILY AND FRIENDS WRITE A LETTER OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND ADVICE. Ask family and friends that have had an influence in your childs life to write a letter to them with words of encouragement by citing the character qualities they’ve observed in them.  Additionally, you can ask them to share a piece of advice or bible passage or story that might help guide your child into their upcoming unfamiliar steps.  As an added bonus you could put these letters into an album and give it to them as they head out to school or to their next adventure.
  4. EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY WRITES A TRIBUTE AND READS IT TO THE GRADUATE AT DINNER. Take your graduating child out to dinner with the entire family where each of you take turns reading letters to them (as they are able :)) about fun memories, things you’ll miss about them, things you won’t miss and some of the ways that he/she has impacted your life.  Make it fun and memorable.  Additionally, you can give them a special gift as a celebratory memory.
  5. ROAD TRIP. Map out a road trip for the summer between high school and college/job/?.  Make it a trip that might be themed after something that is geared for the graduates interests.  For instance, if she is into theme parks, consider driving to go to either one she’s always wanted to go to or take a “theme park tour” by hitting several over a 10-14 day stretch.  Or, if he loves baseball, consider a baseball tour or weekend event.  It might just be a camping outing if they love to camp and hike.  Whatever it is, make it about them.
  6. OPEN HOUSE. I grew up and lived most of my life in Minnesota.  An open house wasn’t an option, it was mandatory.  In fact, I had friends who would time the remodeling of their homes with the graduation of their children.   It is a way of life, at least in the metropolitan/suburban Twin Cities.  Since we’ve been in Arkansas, the idea of an open house seems to be catching on but has by no means been a “no brainer”.  So, if you live in a similar environment where you aren’t even sure what I mean by Open House, consider having one.  It can be a simple time of inviting friends and family over to your home, provide some simple refreshments, a large cake with congratulatory words and now digitally frosted photos and a home decorated with variously aged photos of the graduate placed around the home.
  7. YOUR IDEA HERE

I’d love to have you add to my list and give me the 7 ideas I promised.  What have you done for your high school graduate to celebrate this accomplishment?  What are you doing this year?  Can’t wait to add your idea to my list.

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Connecting With Your Kids Series: #4-Connecting the WWJD Way.

March 26, 2010

As a father of four, I’m feeling the shortness of days that are left while my children are at home. It won’t be long before Anna and I are on our own again. My oldest is already launched and her three younger brothers are not far behind. I’m feeling a healthy pressure to make the most of every opportunity (Eph 5:16) while we’re still doing life together at home. In fact, seizing those opportunities, becoming more “connection-aware,” is one of my “Year of Living Courageously” goals for 2010.

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Yet, one of the challenges to creating quality connection time with young adults and teens is that they are constantly on the move. They’re forming social connections of their own, exploring the world of friendships through Facebook, texting, video games and the more traditional means of sports activities and hanging out. So I began to ask myself, “How can I break through the day-to-day activity clutter and create a special time with them?” For years we’ve had “date nights” with each of them; one-on-one time with just Anna or me. While we haven’t executed date nights religiously or flawlessly, it’s something each of them have responded to very well. But this year I wanted to do something different—something even more intentional and memorable.

Joshua at the St. Louis Arch

So, earlier this year I suggested to each of our children that we put date-nights on steroids. We’d do a WWJD—“Weekend With Just Dad.” We’d plan together how we want to spend our weekend getaway, just the two of us. They were thrilled and so was I. Immediately, Joshua, our third-born suggest that our WWJD be a college road trip to St. Louis and Waco to check out a couple of colleges he had an interest in.

Last week, we completed our WWJD spending nearly 40 hours on the road. It was more like a week than a weekend, but it was also invaluable for connection. Sure, we could have flown, and we would have been less tired, but we would have also missed out on a lot of captive time in the car container. We would have missed out on a lot of laughs at funny road signs (“Bizarre Cattle Crossing”), Garrison Keillor’s Iowa jokes on CD, and the surprising results of the top ten silliest college mascots. Mostly, we would have missed out on the deepening connection that comes with just being with each other for an extended period of time. While we returned home exhausted, we both couldn’t wait for our next WWJD.

For discussion: What WWJD or extended one-on-one experiences have you had with your children and how did it affect your relationship?

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March Madness: A Family Affair?

March 13, 2010

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There is no greater sporting event on this or any other planet than the NCAA Men’s College Basketball championship tournament (aka March Madness), in my opinion.  In fact, my wife didn’t realize what this event turned me into before she married me.  If she had, I may have been watching this years event alone (as with the previous 24).  I hid it well enough so that she never thought anything of it when we set our wedding date (March 23, 1985).  Showing maturity beyond my years, I didn’t even flinch when we considered that of 52 weekends available, we had to have our wedding during one of the three dedicated to this event.  But, that maturity quickly disappeared and my immaturity reared it’s ugly head during our honeymoon.

No sense in going into too much detail (you can ask my wife and I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to share those memorable details with you 😉 ), but our honeymoon was the theater for my stupidity.  Let’s just say that the weekend after our wedding, our honeymoon continued and so did March Madness.  What’s so wrong about spending some of your honeymoon in a hotel room, anyway?

Now that you see my obsession with this event (I’ll be getting counseling but not until a new champion has been crowned this year), it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve dragged my family into my March Madness.  So, for nearly 20 years, we’ve filled out brackets at home (no money involved 🙂 ), and take turns circling winners and crossing out losers as the tournament progresses.  It’s become one of our little family traditions.  So, we anxiously await the announcement of the brackets so that we can pick out our winners and losers as a family.  Not exactly memorizing God’s Word together but it has been something that we’ve enjoyed as a family and look forward to it again this year as being uniquely “us”.

For Discussion:  What family traditions do you have that are uniquely yours that will allow your kids to build upon when they grow and have their own families?

DadPad Quotes & Notes: Soap on a Rope?

March 12, 2010

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.  ~Bill Cosby

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Most of you (if you’re under the age of 40) probably have never seen soap-on-a-rope.  Maybe today it would be substituted for an ugly tie or cartoon imprinted boxers.  Well, I could launch into a “van ride chat” (my kids would be able to tell you that a van was my favorite place to share a “lesson of life” (or a boring monologue in their presence) because they couldn’t escape my “sage” advice.  But, Bill Cosby is a funny guy and even I can’t try to take something that was meant to be a little tongue in cheek and turn it into some lesson.

So, today’s post is simple (and meant to be interactive):  What’s the funniest (or lamest) gift you’ve ever received as a dad or given to your dad (either intentionally or in retrospect you realized how silly it was)?  And, what was your reply (or your dad’s reply) when the gift was given?  (who knows, maybe we’ll generate a lot of ideas for Father’s Day in June 🙂

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