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    G is for Giraffe.  It probably wasn't the best item to bring for 'G' day since most kids know G to make the "Guh" sound; but when Kai found out he could bring his favorite stuffed animal to preschool, there was no changing his mind.  

    It has been fun to see how excited he gets every week trying to find items for each letter.  He's learning a lot, and I know its helping build a strong foundation for his reading skills.  I'm grateful to his teachers for coming up with creative ways to make learning fun.  If we can instill that value in our children they'll never want to stop! 

  • Can Gratitude Be My Default?

    Being a father is an honor, a privilege, and a gift. Unfortunately, its easy for me to forget that, at times. I often fall into a mindset where I think of it as a job, an extra responsibility, or something I 'have to' do.  I don't want to do that anymore. I want to get to the place where grattitude is my default.  I want to be able to recognize the gift of fathehood just as much when the boys are testing my patience as I do when they are doing something that makes me feel loved.  

    I'm not quite sure what my process for improvement will be in this area. If you're reading this and you have any ideas, feel free to send them my way.  I'm thinking a good place to start will be making time to reflect, regularly, on the things I'm grateful for so that when I'm in a situation where its more difficult to maintain that perspective, I'll have a solid foundation built.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

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    Kai is in this phase right now where he takes forever to eat.  Even if its stuff he likes, he just doesn't want to eat it. Unless its a 'snack'.  He always wants to have a snack. We've tried different ways to get him to eat (including calling meals 'snacks')  but it feels weird to literally "force feed" him.  He eventually eats enough that we know he's healthy and everything; but it's still hard not to get impatient when it takes so long.

    The more I think about it though, maybe he's on to something.  I've read about how its healthier to eat several smaller meals throughout the day instead of just 3 big ones.  On top of that, I've heard that eating slower actually helps you feel more full so you're less likely to over eat.  And meals are meant to be a time to relax, talk and enjoy each other's company, right?  So, maybe he does need to eat a little more and a little faster, but maybe I need to chill out and be a little more patient too. 

  • Reflecting On My Grumpy Attitude

    Last night I wasn't that great at being a dad.  Sure, I was going off very little sleep, but I can't let that be an excuse.  I didn't do anything crazy, I was just really impatient.  I was rushing the boys through eating dinner, cleaning up, finishing homework, and the rest of the evening routine. I don't think I said anything insulting, but I was definitely short with my replies and I'm sure my face was saying a lot even if my mouth wasn't.  

    I still read the boys a story and kissed them good night, but it was really half-assed and my heart wasn't in it all. Its not like I had anything important to do, I guess I just wanted to be done with them for the night. Obviously there's nothing wrong with me wanting to have some time of my own, but in this particular case it was more about me being grumpy and taking the boys for granted than it was about just trying to carve out some time for myself.  Unfortunately, its not the fist time this has happened, but its probably the first time where I'm reflecting back on it and realizing that I don't want to act that way in the future. 

    I know I won't be present for every minute of every day with my boys, but I do want to be fully present in every moment I am with them.  That's definitely something I can do better.

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    This was the photo I posted to Instagram during our trip to our favorite pumpkin farm the other day. From the looks of it, everything was perfect and Kai was a little angel, right? Well, there is some truth to that. We did have a great time and both the boys were pretty well behaved overall, but the reality is everything wasn't as perfect as it seemed on the surface. In this case, I had forgotten to bring my camera so I just wanted to grab a quick shot on my phone to capture a memory of the day. Kai, however, really wanted to go in the corn maze, and he was not in the mood for posing. Here's how it went down:

    Me: "Smile Kai"

    Me: "Ok, that's pretty good...you don't have to do it so hard though...can you look at Dad?"

    Me: "Ok, that's close buddy...SMILE!"

    Me: "Kai, over here."

    Me: "Almost done buddy, just give me one good smile."

    Me: "Ok, Ok all done...we're all done."

    Kai: "Haha....works every time!"

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    Last Spring, when I started this journal, I wrote a post about homeschooling our son Aiden.  I mentioned how my wife and I were kind of torn on whether or not we wanted to continue homeschooling or enroll him in the school in our neighborhood.  We loved the idea of homeschooling and had seen good things come from it, but to be completely honest it wasn't working as well as we'd hoped.

    It wasn't "homeschooling's" fault though, it was ours.  We weren't as consistent as we needed to be with the lessons, and we didn't put in the time and effort to make them fun and interesting. Danielle and I got into arguments about who was going to do what and whether or not he was actually learning anything.  At the same time, Aiden was losing his excitement for learning and we were getting frustrated that it was becoming so difficult to get him to "do school". We could also tell that he was really craving more social interaction with kids his own age, and we were not doing a good job of creating opportunities for that to happen on a regular basis.  The whole situation was becoming very taxing on our marriage and our relationship with Aiden.

    It was tough to admit that we weren't doing a good enough job to make homeschooling work; especially with me being a teacher.  I felt a little bit like a failure, being able to teach other kids and not my own. But it was clear a change needed to be made. This Fall, we decided to give "traditional" school a try, and so far it's been going well.  I can see that Aiden's excitement for learning has been rekindled and we're not having to fight and argue about getting him to do stuff.  My wife and I are able to play a support role and still be very involved in what's going on without carrying the burden of doing it all

    I'm still a big propenent of homeschooling, and I know it works well for a lot of families.  It just wasn't working for our family during this season of our lives.  And even though it took me a while to admit that, I'm ok with  it now.  I'm learning that in parenting, and just life in general, good ideas don't exist in a vaccuum. Context is key. Just because something worked well for someone doesn't mean it will work well for everyone.  At the same time, just because something didn't work for us at one point doesn't mean it won't ever work for us. As we continue to assess both our boys' learning needs and goals, we may decide to do some form of homeschooling again in the future; but for now, we're thankful for where Aiden is at and looking forward to partnering with his teachers and school community to help make this current school experience as fruitful as possible. 

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    This poor little guy was throwing up all day.  Its one of the hardest things, as a parent, to watch your little ones go through something painful and not be able to do anything to make it stop.  The fact that he was so tough about it made it a little easier at least. He never even cried, he'd just say, "Oh, I need the bowl again..." and then just handle his business.  You could see it was hurting him though. 

    The more I think about it, this day was probably pretty easy compared to some days in the near future. There are probably going to be lots of 'painful' experiences ahead for both my boys that I won't be able to protect them from. Falling off a bike, getting made fun of by other kids, failing a test, maybe even getting beat up.  When they're younger its so easy to insulate them from everything, but as they grow you realize you have to start letting go more. Man, that's tough! I can barely even type that, let alone do it in real life.  I love them though, and I know they won't get everything they can out of this life if I'm hovering over them all the time. But you better believe when they come home with skinned knees, bruised egos, and hurt feelings I'm gonna be the first one ready to remind them how much they are loved and help them get patched up.  Then of course, send them back out into the fray to try again.