November 9, 2011
One of you is just like him. He asks you to do something then gets out of your way. Any other interference is just that, no matter how well-intentioned. A girl after his own heart. The smaller one of you, well, he's not so sure yet. You're still at the point where he asks for something and either you do it, he gets a head shake, or there's a clueless look that could melt ice. He's not sure how he wants you to turn out, but waits eagerly to see how you grow.
If you become a person who wants to have input, direction, guidance, and pats on the back along the way, he will try to accommodate. Whatever way you operate, there will always be a clear desire to treat both of you the way that will foster the most constructive and beneficial activity. And don't forget happiness. Again, with all the best intentions.
But what happens when he doesn't quite realize what brings out your greatest potential? When you realize this, what is the best way for you to act? Cooperative followership, whether or not he knows it. Because it's not only the leader that needs to think and adapt.
August 8, 2011
Your teacher, coach, boss will say, "I need you to ..." then finish with something like do a presentation on the Pythagorean Theorem. Or lead today's calisthenics. Or head up a new working group. The first reaction for many: Oh crap, why me? After that, you have a choice to make.
You can mope and sulk and wonder how it came about that you got stuck with this.
Or, you dive in, ask questions, apply some thought and hard work. Do your best, add value to what you've been given, and realize that it's not about your own comfort, it's about making things around you better. Now you have an opportunity to prove yourself. Show what you can do.
August 7, 2011
It's Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter. Maybe at church, school, or eventually work. You'll decorate a certain way, say certain things, or otherwise establish your habitual patterns. This can be good. Habit patterns make the things we do easier. By practicing we get better at them. Through repetition we make fewer mistakes. And when the things we do have shown to be beneficial to either ourselves, those around us, or our organizations, we should keep doing them.
Here's the rub: When those things aren't so beneficial anymore, we should stop. Does that Christmas tradition we, as your parents, imposed upon you during childhood make you happy anymore, or is it just a chore you feel you have to continue? Are you learning from the traditional way of teaching or is more of a hindrance? Are you worshiping the same way because it still glorifies God or have you become stagnant in your faith?
These are questions you'll have to answer yourself when the time comes. As much as I (or others important to you) may try to influence the answer, you're going to have to decide for yourself whether or not the things you do are providing value.
July 4, 2011
Travel, anywhere you can go and get into it. Talk to the people (or at least try). Eat their food. Hang out.
Move away. Get a job somewhere else. Another country, another state, and get involved. You might find another regional culture almost as foreign as going to another country. This is good.
Stop calling the place you grew up "home". Home is where you live now. You'll never get into a place if you always think about leaving it.
I hope to do these things with you girls while you're growing up. Once you're on your own, I hope you continue them. Even if you settle back into wherever you decide you're "from", at least you'll have the experience of knowing that yours is not the only way of living.
July 3, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
Wherever you go, whatever you do, whether or not you have good experiences or bad, do your best. Add value to every situation you face. Whether it's leaving a rental house cleaner than you found it, helping your mom clean up a mess you didn't make, or excelling in a job you didn't pick, take positive measures to improve your situation. People will appreciate it and you'll find yourself sleeping better.
No matter what, grow where you're planted.
June 17, 2011
June 4, 2011
June 1, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 24, 2011
I'm a big believer that fortune favors the bold, as the saying goes. It's amazing the good that can come your way when you look and act confident. Not arrogant or pompous, but confident. Doors will be open and you'll have a better shot at getting what you want. And sometimes, unintended benefits will come your way. Rarely does this happen as a result of timidity. Move forward and you will succeed. I'm sure of it.
May 16, 2011
It made me think a lot about relationships. Seeing Nana B for what may have been the last time was difficult. I hope we get to see her again. She has certainly lived a long (96 years!), rich, and fulfilling life, as far as I can tell. So if we don't, I know that she will be living with God and we'll see her again "soon" enough. Being there with her and seeing how happy she was to meet you was another illustration of just how important relationships are. Of course, job success is important as it allows us to live more comfortably and propagate our family and friends' successes as well. But you have to make sure you foster the relationships with the people most important to you. One of these people was Nana B. The other one was you.
You love everyone, Little Bear. You'll probably be the social one so relationships will be easy for you. Until this trip, I had never really gotten to spend a significant amount of time with you. Your bigger sister likes a lot of attention draws it away from you. A lot. So a weekend with the two of us was perfect. The plane rides were difficult, but it was all worth it (and Continental still gives free beer to military). Now we're back, and I can tell it made a difference. There's a connection. A relationship built. A foundation we can build upon for the rest of our lives (at least for me).
So thank you. For a great weekend. And for reminding me, again, how important it is to be close to the ones we love. It shouldn't be so hard to remember.
April 2, 2011
March 27, 2011
March 26, 2011
Sometimes though, these lofty goals can seem so far away that we think they're unattainable. Girls, you need to start small. Whether it's rinsing your coffee cup and putting it in the dishwasher instead of just dropping it in the sink or putting away your book now instead of leaving it out to be picked up later. Ok, maybe these are my habits that I need to work on, but I think you get the point.
Do the right things now, starting small, and begin good habits. Soon enough you won't even think about them. These things being second nature, you'll be in the right mindset for doing bigger things. Small habits lead to bigger habits that ultimately pave the way for a life of service. Recognizing that it's not all about you, that there are more important things than just yourself are a part of service. Let's start those habits early, together, so we won't think twice about making a difference in this world.
March 17, 2011
March 15, 2011
How do I teach you to be aware of your actions and surroundings? While you're not going to do any real damage, this clearly isn't acceptable. A tiny kick now, even when you don't mean it, can turn into a crippling blow down the road. How do I teach you that your actions have consequences? And that you alone are responsible for those actions? How do I teach a two year-old that if you run down a hallway with your eyes closed, whatever happens to you or someone else, is your fault? (Though I will always pick you up when you're down, even if it is your fault.)
As you grow, actions will also become words. The consequences of their use will be the same. You will be responsible for both. Hopefully you will use them to help people and society. I pray that you learn how to use them for purposes greater than yourself. Unfortunately, sometimes you may hurt people. We all do it. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but many times it's simply because we don't understand what exactly we're saying or who our audiences are. Whether on a personal level or a world stage, our words and actions have effects. What those effects are depends on what is being said, who is saying it, and who is hearing it. Whenever we speak or act, we need to be careful.
So how do I teach you be aware of yourself and your surroundings? Hopefully I'm learning how to do this. I'm trying to lead by example. It's a hard lesson to teach to a two year-old. Sometimes it's hard to teach to a 32 year-old.
March 13, 2011
It hit me later that I've indoctrinated myself into embarrassment insensitivity. It starts small. Maybe Air Supply's All Out of Love came on hair nation and I didn't realize the window was down while we were driving by the drill instructors practicing at DI school. I thought I sounded pretty good. Maybe later I was practicing air guitar in the hallway with the front door open as the mail lady came to the door to deliver a package too big for the mailbox. What does she know about good air riffs anyway? Who really knows how it comes about, but eventually we, as parents, become unable to sense our own embarrassment.
So now I understand. Parents can't help it. It's a natural progression of life, adulthood, and parenthood. We stop being preoccupied with what others think of us. While we shouldn't turn this self-consciousness off completely, it probably shouldn't be turned up to 11 either. Sometimes turning it up too high holds us back and we don't realize our true potential. So if I continue to embarrass you, especially starting in about 10 years, I'm sorry. I'll try to keep it turned only to 4 or 5.
March 11, 2011
You knocked over your high chair this morning, Little Bear. With yourself in it. Your mom rushed over and found you a little shaken up, but ok. This is one of those times when a parent's heart stops beating and all the feelings of failure and inadequacy rush through the mind. The actual threat to your safety may not have been all that high, but so many what-ifs ran through our minds about what could have happened.
We could spend days worrying about all the terrible ways you could have been hurt. And for a bit, while emotions are still running high, we will. Once we calm down, hopefully we'll take this for what it is: a shock from a normal day's routine to highlight the fact that we need to be careful and think about the things we're doing and how we're doing them. You are basically helpless at this point, and we are the ones with the great privilege and responsibility of seeing that you grow up healthy, both mentally and physically.
So, we'll learn from this. We'll put you back in your un-knock-over-able high chair with its 5-point harness and make doubly sure that wherever we put you, there are no readily available dangers. Including yourself. In the mean time, we'll wait and see what the doctor has to say at your appoint today. And we'll worry. Hopefully it'll make us better parents.
March 7, 2011
"There are two types of poops: solid poops and air poops. Solid ones need a new diaper, air poops do not."
Since for the last two nights you have been vocalizing it each time you have an air poop, loudly I should add, I've either failed miserably (says your mom), or attained triumphant victory (maybe, Dave Barry might have covered something like this in his Guide to Guys).
Either way, I imagine this is another one of those areas, like bras and other lady topics, your mom will probably take over. Oh well, this topic is for the dogs anyway.
March 5, 2011
Unfortunately, there are many bad things we can learn from this portray of Mark, like don't forget your friends. Don't steal from others; ideas, money, or anything. Don't be a jerk. The list could go on.
Sometimes we get so caught up in doing things perfect the first time that we forget to just do. Sometimes we get too caught up in how other people are going to view us for doing what is important to us. Sometimes we just don't think we're good enough to accomplish anything big. Sometimes we just need to follow our heart, and do what we put our minds to. If it makes us $26 billion, that's just icing on the cake.
March 1, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 23, 2011
Ayow yo Dada.
I remember it like I remember the first time you ran to me as I walked in the front door after work. This time I was walking to the door, leaving for an overnight trip. I had already kissed you goodbye while you were preoccupied with one of your books on the couch. Before I got to the front of the house, you came running, knowing that I was leaving. So I hugged and kissed you again. Then as your mom stood in the doorway holding your sister, I walked outside. Before the glass door shut, you said it. I couldn't help but stop and smile. When I looked back you were waving at me and smiling too. I had to respond. I couldn't let those words go unacknowledged. So I blew you a kiss. We'd never done that before, but you caught on and returned it.
As I drove down I-95, I could think only of that moment. You saying those words was another one of those moments that will stick with me forever. There will be days when I need those memories. We all have them. Days that are long or difficult, tiring or frustrating. On those days, I'll pull out memories like this, and think about how much I love you too.
February 20, 2011
February 17, 2011
February 14, 2011
She asked me, "why would you want to have kids? They take up all your TV time and you can't go out and do anything fun." She has never come home to see her little Bear, big blue eyes looking up, blurting an innocent "dadadada." I still remember the first time you, Joy, came running to me. I would say I wish I had it on camera, but it has a special place in my mind that I'm not sure I'll never forget. And while she may be right about certain times, like cleaning up the puke that filled your entire car-seat that day (don't worry, your sister uses that seat now...), there truly is nothing better than a surprise hug. I could only smile at her and shake my head.
Then I realized it's Valentine's day. And she's single. While I hope she is happy, I realized that she may have been trying to tear down two institutions that make me the happiest: marriage and fatherhood. All in the name of helping herself feel better. I hope this isn't what was happening, but it was very convenient on a day when love and relationships are celebrated.
It made me sad. If only she could know the feeling of being loved by three wonderful people. Or be happy in her own situation. I pray she can find that happiness. And I pray that you girls will too, now and in the future, whether or not you get married. If I could tell you two things today, I'd say first, there is absolutely no feeling like the love I have for you two. Indescribable. (I tried once. I think I utterly failed). This is a source of great happiness for me. Second, don't let your happiness come at the expense of others'.
February 12, 2011
February 9, 2011
This is an important lesson to keep in mind because we all make mistakes at some point in our lives. Wrong decisions, stupid words, or a clumsy step happen to us all. What's important is how you react to it. There are those who will simply never try again. Why bother? I got it wrong this time, I'll just do something else instead and spare myself the embarrassment. Then there are those who get back up; those that realize their mistakes, learn from them, and start running again.
Sometimes dads need to remember this lesson too. So let's get up and run together.
February 6, 2011
1. Say please and thank you.
2. Share your cookies.
3. Don't poop in the tub, especially when you've got company.
Apparently one of you needs work on number 3.
February 5, 2011
February 3, 2011
February 1, 2011
Apparently I need a remedial class on animals. I saw a horse today and told you it was a cow. You got the noise right though with an aggressive “mooooooooooooo”. Your mom decided that she’d be the one to teach you two about animals. With that, we had to set some ground rules. Turns out I’m responsible for teaching you left and right, colors, and animal sounds. Your mom gets the animals themselves, girl-things, and feelings. You can come to me any time, about anything, including those things that are officially your mom’s. But if you ask me about a bra or something, I just might tell you mooooo.