Magical Memories

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Dreams Becoming Reality

This past weekend was magical, exciting and completely exhausting all at once. We spent 4 days at Disney World in Orlando, FL. This was the first time Finley and I had ever been, as Jess visited when she was a young child. We set aside one full day of our vacation just for the Magic Kingdom. Goal #1, Finley meeting every princess. Goal #2, don’t fail on goal #1.

Our day began very early with breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This was a win-win for Finley and us as parents because she was able to meet 6 princesses, one on one, in about an hour. If you’ve ever been to Disney World you will understand just how important efficiency is. You want to limit your waiting in lines as much as possible. Meeting 6 at once is parent efficiency at its finest!! Another important item Finley kept close to her all day was her autograph book. Making sure to collect the princesses ‘John Hancock’ and a picture with each one. Don’t forget to check out my Instagram @chaddydaddyishome for more photos and videos of our trip. Also check out @mrsventers page, she’s the Instagram queen 🙂

A Fairytale Ending

Our night ended with royalty. Finley, or should I say princess Belle, visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and prepared herself for dinner at Be Our Guest. Making sure her hair, makeup and lip gloss were all in place, as her mother and I watched her transform literally into a princess right before our eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The atmosphere at Be Our Guest is the Beauty and the Beast setting. The Beast himself is present during dinner and as his guests we were able to interact with him after eating. Every detail of the setting was complete, even down to dessert. Yup you guessed it, we had the grey stuff and it was delicious. (don’t believe me, ask the dishes! or just look up the lyrics to ‘Be Our Guest’). As we exited the castle, we entered the Beast’s study and our very own Princess Belle shared a dance with the Beast. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day!

Beauty and the Beast from Chad Venters on Vimeo.

You Will Always Be Daddy’s Princess

Experiencing a place like Disney World and seeing the excitement in Finley’s eyes as we rounded each corner is something I will never forget. It was a weekend of first’s for her. First with Disney World and then going to the beach. We took a full day and visited Siesta Key Beach. Voted in 2011 as the #1 Beach in the USA, with beautiful white sand beaches.

The whole way home all Finley could talk about was the Magic Kingdom and how she wishes we could go back ASAP! It’s moments like these that I hope she will remember forever. She will get older, just like her dad and I hope some day she will be able to take her own daughter to Disney World. I just hope she will remember that she will always be daddy’s little princess.

 

 

 

Your Life In A Pile Of Dirt

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This past weekend, a pile of dirt had me thinking how it actually relates to our lives. Yes you read that correctly.  I recently laid sod in an area of our yard that had been home to an above ground pool. (check out my Instagram with pictures of this transformation @chaddydaddyishome) After finishing the sod project it was clear an excess amount of dirt had been delivered. I tried to hand it off my to neighbors but nobody was in need of any. Thus, here I was with a large pile of fill dirt and nowhere to go with it.  The only option I had was the city’s dump site where they accept clean dirt. So armed with my truck, a couple sturdy shovels and the Kansas heat…..let the adventure began!

From beginning to end, it took five pickup loads from my house to the dump site in order to get rid of all the dirt. It was one heck of a 2 day workout to say the least 🙂 Of course it also gave me a lot of time to think internally about life.

Memories

In my short 31 years, I have had to bury my own father and both grandparents from my mothers side. I’ve had my fair share of graveside services and filling in of graves. Yes funerals are a celebration of life but it makes a person really think about just how short life can be. At both of my grandparent’s funerals, the way it was set up is that family members take turns shoveling dirt into the grave. As others in front of me took turns I didn’t think it would bother me. Then the shovel was in my hands and the waterworks began to flow!

I remember like it was yesterday the sound of the shovel going into the pile of dirt. Then turning as I tossed it into the grave onto  the casket. It is images and moments I will never forget. We do hold onto the promise that we will see them again in Heaven. It is with this promise, thats has helped me become a stronger individual through these tough times.

When I was about to the end of the massive pile of dirt sitting in my driveway, I started to wonder about my life and the type of legacy I leave with my family, friends and acquaintances. Throughout life you could say that we accumulate a pile of dirt (memories) with those around us. I remember very clearly as I tossed another shovel full of dirt into my grandmother and grandfather’s grave, a memory of a time together with them would come into my mind. The size of your dirt pile doesn’t matter but the quality of dirt does. You could have the biggest pile of dirt sitting by your grave. If it’s full of weeds and stones, what kind of legacy did you truly leave? When your family or friends are graveside and they see the dirt being tossed in, what kind of memories will flood their heads?

Our time on Earth goes by in a blink of an eye. Make sure you are using each day to it’s full potential. I am not saying you must become the richest or most famous person to leave a lasting legacy. To believe that is nonsense. Instead make sure the dirt you leave behind from the hole you dig each day is clean. Dirt that is full of love, kindness and patience towards others.  Are we perfect? Of course not. We are going to make mistakes. It is how you react to those mistakes that has a long lasting impact on your life and legacy.

When all is said and done and my time has come, I hope those I’ve impacted will look forward to seeing my dirt pile.  That they will make sure to fill a small container with the fresh top soil. So they can take their memories with them wherever they go. In my mind that is the best legacy you can leave behind. What kind of dirt pile are you going to leave?!!?

 

 

 

The Art of Letting Go

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The Time Has Come

Has it really been 5 years already? I can’t believe the day is here. Where did the time go? Our little one has grown up too fast. It was only yesterday that we brought you home from the hospital. Can we turn back time?

All the above are common sayings you hear throughout your community this time of year. Along with being plastered all over Facebook with pictures and comments. A lot of parents are excited for this time of year to roll around. It means their kid is headed back to school and they can gain some sanity back in their lives and have a daily routine again. Such an exciting time!

A Dad’s First Time

Then there is us. The first-timers. The dads and moms that went to kindergarten round up a couple months ago and filled out a mountain of paperwork. Then telling ourselves, its still a couple months away, we have plenty of time, we aren’t worried. We blink twice and wait!…open house is this week?!? We meet our child’s teacher. Then help our child find his/her cubby and watch as they put their materials away. Is this really happening? I can’t believe the day is just about here, we think to ourselves, as we watch our child grow up right before our eyes.

The emotions have begun to sneak up. I’ll be honest, they have on me. I’m not one to cry or get super emotional over things. However I am having a very hard time comprehending everything that is going on right now. My daughter’s first day of school is on Thursday. In just two days. In my mind I keep playing over how the day will go. But I know it will not be as easy and as smooth as it plays in my head time after time.

Be Their Rock

Last night at our school’s open house it seemed like my little girl wanted to hold my hand every chance she got. My initial reaction  toward Finley when we walked into the school was one of not needing to hold hands since we were not in the parking lot any longer. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. We both needed to hold each other’s hand. Maybe, just maybe, this whole starting Kindergarten is going to be harder for me than it is for her.

So the whole evening I watched her every move. As she interacted with her teacher, her fellow students and other faculty. She seemed wise beyond her years, even at 5 years old. This is really happening. As we got back into the car and headed home, the first words out of my mouth were “Finley, where did the time go? I can’t believe you are about to start Kindergarten.” In the only way she knows how, she just smiled back at me and reassured me everything will be just fine. I know it will be Finley. But letting go on Thursday morning will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a parent.

 

 

 

Don’t Take Your Child’s Side

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Parenting 101

Let’s just make sure we are on the same page before going much further. Parenting is a team effort. Between the husband and wife. It’s also a roller coaster of emotion. Which at times make you wonder why you decided to have little mini-me’s in the first place. Regardless of if the pregnancy was planned or if it was a blessing in disguise, parents must be on the same page of the ‘parenting playbook’ at all times! This is crucial for parents to keep their sanity. Also to thrive in building a strong moral foundation in their child’s life.

I remember day 1 when our little girl was born, I cried and told my wife this was the happiest moment of my life (outside of our wedding of course). Between that day and now 5+ years later, there have been moments when I’ve wanted to pull my hair out. Be honest, I know I am not the only one thinking this! I love my child with all my heart but at times it becomes frustrating.

Stand Strong

It’s during the most frustrating times when your child disobeys/talks back/whines/throws a fit/you name it,  that you learn the most about yourself and your spouse. Will you take a deep breath and use teamwork? Or do you find yourself giving in and siding with your child when they do not listen?  Just so you can calm the situation and ‘kick the can down the road’ and say you will parent better next time. During these past few weeks life has really tested us as parents on this issue. We have had to call a parent time-out and reassess our goals and direction in how to handle the discipline used during these moments.

Showing our child, when she disobeys, that mom and dad are in agreement and stand together is imperative. Our child may not like it but we will not allow her to drive a wedge between her mother and I.

Life Lessons

Over time as your child grows, they will begin to see just why you as parents teamed up the way you did. How your decisive decision making and standing firm on your words/actions actually can positively impact their life in many ways. It will show them the importance of decisive decision making in their own life as they grow older. Of which, you should have set that solid moral foundation at a young age, so the decisions they make will be positive ones. Then later in life when your own child is able to experience parenthood, you can bet your bottom dollar they will parent a lot like their parents once did. What type of parenting legacy are you leaving with your child? I hope it is one of teamwork and love.

This does lead us into the conversation of being grandparents and the role they play…:) but let’s save that for another day. For now, grandparents spoil the grandkids. It’s all I know and love at this point in my life as a young father.

 

 

Parents Need To Date Other People – GUEST POST

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This is a crazy idea that I know many people out there may not agree with, but as a parent, I feel the need to date people besides my wife. There are two people in particular that I need to date on a regular basis. Maybe you guys are getting the wrong idea here, a date should be a fun time between two people where they make each other feel good and feel like a million bucks! Parents need to spend time on a regular basis taking their own tiny humans on a date, what else could I have meant?

When I was still in the Navy, I had a lot of chances to have a day off in the middle of the week and would have a Brennan – Daddy day and we would go do something fun. It doesn’t seem to happen very often any more, unfortunately. I took him to the NASCAR race yesterday for his birthday, he loves going to the races. We had a very full day! We got to meet Jimmie Johnson for a STEM demonstration and Q&A session. He got to ask a question (I had no idea that he was going to ask anything), and it was a very technical question about how he feels at Dover with the turns being lower than the straightaways. We met up with some friends and walked around the track. I even caved and got him a few little cars, a T-shirt, a soft pretzel and we even shared some deep fried Oreos. On the long ride home, he said to me that we need to do this more often and since I got out of the military, we don’t have as many days without the girls, mano-a-mano! This really got me thinking and he was dead on!

We had a bro-date and we both loved every minute of it (besides the 90+ degrees). We, as parents, spend far too much time disciplining our kids and stressed out by everything else going on and forget how precious of a time it can be for our tiny humans. We always try to spend family time, but sometimes the kids need some alone time with you. Every kid needs to know that they are our top priority, and as much as we can tell them, we need to show them. A date like this doesn’t need to be something as expensive as a sporting event, a simple walk or trip out for McDonalds or ice cream goes a long way. Last week, I took Lilly to work with me for Bring a Child to Work Day and she was totally different to how she is at home with my wife or around her brother.

These dates have many different purposes, besides both of us having a great stress-free day; it serves as a good example. They will hopefully understand that a date can be a fun time and that the most important thing is to make each other feel like a million bucks and how to treat another person. When they get (much) older, they will know how to treat other people, opening doors and pulling out chairs when going on a date. We set the example for them every day, how we treat our significant other shows them how they will treat theirs when they get older.

Talking to Brenn for 30 minutes or so, we decided that we are going to do this often and next time we are going to Buffalo Wild Wings for a dinner date. Lilly doesn’t know it yet, but we will be doing the same thing very soon as well! As I’m having this conversation with my wife, she tells me that her parents said something similar recently and are going to take one child Friday night and the other on Saturday so that they get alone time with each kid and we do as well. It is going to be a fun weekend for sure, on top of Brenn’s birthday Orioles game; we need to come up with a date or two.

Always set the example and stay strong out there dads! Be sure to check out my full blog at www.allgoodinthefatherhood.com

DIY Update

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1…2…3…SNAP

Smile big kids. Last week we took advantage of the majestic Kansas sunset and snapped some new family pictures.

We have used the same photographer now for multiple sessions and truly enjoy the product that she puts out. Lacey Woods Photography. Make sure to go to our Facebook page and you will see a link to her business page! If you are in and around the Wichita area, I’d recommend you look her up! She also gives out PEZ to the kids….what kid doesn’t like PEZ candy?!?!

It’s so much fun watching Finley during our photoshoots. She loves to pose and always has the funniest things to say that make us all smile.  In this photo above, the photographer told us to think of something funny. Finley right on cue shouts “back up terry, back up, put it in reverse!” There is a 4th of July video that we came across. I have posted it on our Facebook page. She has most of it memorized and was quoting it during this photo and others. I don’t know how many times we have watched it but each time we are in tears from laughing so hard. Seriously, go watch the video now!

The craziest part about our photo shoots is that she looks forward to these moments and loves dressing up for the pictures. Look at my Instagram (@chaddydaddyishome) and Facebook page for more pictures from our shoot!

 

A Cleaner Look

It’s been a handful of weeks now since we finished our cabinet overhaul in our kitchen. All the sawdust cleaned up. Tools put back accordingly. We took the plunge and gave the old oak cabinets a cleaner and fresher look. I have to admit, my wife and I are both very excited with the results. Here are a few before and after pictures.

BEFORE:

The oak had to go.

 

AFTER:

AHH, much better!

There are some other projects we are getting ready to tackle both inside and outside of the house. As we begin and finish these projects, we will make sure you all are kept up to date. Most importantly plenty of pictures will be taken!

To the other dads and husbands out there…it’s funny how the honey-do-list seems to never end, right? I wouldn’t want it any other way though. My wife is the best!

 

A Girl and Her Bounce House

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The Day Can’t Come Fast Enough

Ever since July 1, 2016, the question has come up multiple times. It is not an uncomfortable question. However each time it was asked, the answer would be a lesson in patience. “Is it next month? Next week? How much longer? I think it’s tomorrow!”  This was common to hear at our house as of late. Then, BOOM! Like clockwork.  On June 30, the big day finally arrived. Finley’s birthday.

Getting her nails done for the big day

This year marked 5 years of joy and laughter from the sweetest girl around 🙂  Prior to her big day she had a girls day with Jess and they spent the afternoon pampering themselves with a pedicure and manicure. If early signs are any indication, something tells me there are many more ‘nail dates’ to come for these two in the years ahead.

Movie Time! Bring on the Minions.

As if it was meant to be on June 30, Despicable Me 3 made it’s debut out in theaters. Finley could hardly sleep the night before.

 

Not gonna lie, I was a little jealous I missed the movie. I have a soft spot for minions!

One of the biggest decisions Finley had to make on her birthday was where the birthday girl wanted to eat at. Without missing a beat that evening, her immediate response was Buffalo Wild Wings or as she refers to it: “B-Dubs”. Two years in a row now and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. This kid would eat B-Dubs and Chick-Fil-A every day if we allowed her too. B-Dubs turned out to be a blast and of course Dad ate way to many wings. Stuffed. Feeling Miserable. Who wants ice cream??!!??

Bounce Houses Have No Age Limit

A summer birthday calls for friends, fun and water. We had a big birthday bash the following day on July 1.

Watermelon here! Watermelon there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife did an amazing job with the watermelon theme (I might be biased, but seriously, if you are looking for someone to help you come up with a theme or decorations for a party, Jess is your GO-TO!).

Also a big thank you to my brother and sister in law, Chuy & Marlene, for allowing the party shenanigans to happen at your place.

Rice Krispie Watermelon party favors

Frozen Sherbet Watermelon Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just add chocolate chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main attraction at this years birthday bash was the princess castle bounce house/water slide.

It was a huge success amongst kids and parents. I have a feeling the kiddos slept like champs that night. I will have to admit that a few of us adults also slept like little babies……after the party crowd had left, a few of us decided to test out the bounce house. Before it was all over on Saturday, I’m not sure who was having more fun, us adults or Finley!!

A quick public service announcement: you know you are aging when you are sore for the next couple of days from the bounce house and waterslide….hello epsom salt bath.

Finley and Nana

Which one to open first?

Happy Birthday To You!

 

 

Celebration Of Dads

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Congratulations! You’re A Dad

I still remember the moment my wife and I found out we would be blessed with a little girl. That moment became real life the day she was born almost 5 years ago to the day (June 30). Like some of my friends, we didn’t have a lot of practice with little kids growing up. So when we all had our first child, it was THE moment when ‘Dad Instincts’ kicked in for the very first time. I still cannot put into exact words the feelings and emotions of overwhelming LOVE I felt when Finley made her entrance.

These short (almost) 5 years with Finley have completely changed my life and Jess’s life forever. We have learned so much about parenting and even more about each other. Each day as parents we strive to teach our daughter Christian morals and values, both through discussions and our own actions as we interact with others. Have we been perfect parents? No. Have we learned from our mistakes? You better believe it! I can honestly say that I could not imagine life without being a dad. It’s a position that should be held with integrity, passion, love, patience and some sarcasm from time to time. There’s a saying out there that daughters will grow up and marry a man that reminds them of their father.  Ask yourself each day, are you setting the bar high enough for your future son-in-law? Don’t be the dad that in 50 years you look out at the horizon and wish you would of been better. Life moves too fast and you cannot get moments with your children back.

Cheers…Clink!

So to all the dad’s out there, Happy Father’s Day. I hope you enjoyed our weekend of fame as much as me!  Don’t settle for being just a good dad. Always strive to be a better dad, husband and friend. Make sure to add in some dad jokes from time to time. Even though your kid(s) may think the joke was lame, you’re still a superhero in their eyes.

Roadtrip to Missouri – Wedding Bells

This past Saturday Jess and I make a quick road trip to Warrensburg, MO for one of my best friend’s weddings.

It was an absolutely perfect day and I couldn’t be happier for Megan and Wade as they start this new journey together. Of course everything flew by so quickly and before we knew it, we were making the 3 1/2 hour drive back home on Sunday.

I will have to admit, I don’t know if there are any better road-trippers than Jess and I when it comes to tunes. I challenge anyone to try and top ‘County Songs from the 90s’ on Pandora!

 

Summer Is Already Here

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Suns Out, Buns Out

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 20. However, for some one not paying attention to the calendar, Memorial Day weekend serves as a great reminder summer is just around the corner. A couple weeks ago we spent three days camping at Santa Fe Lake. A local, hidden gem, just an hour away from where we live.

This was Finley’s first overnight camping experience. So Jess and I went into this with an open mind and excited to see how she reacted to it. Of course we couldn’t leave home without a couple stuffed animals and a princess blanket for her to have in the tent.  Overall, it was a huge success! We spent time fishing, swimming, grilling, and Finley’s favorite part of making s’mores around the campfire.

DIY’ers

Recently we took the plunge of revamping the look of our kitchen. Turning the rough looking oak cabinets into a lighter, whiter, masterpiece. Initially we took all the doors off and cleaned any residue that might of collected on them over the past few years since we bought the house. Next we let the sanding commence. Making sure to sand all sides, grooves and corners of each door. Doing so to not only smooth the surface but help create a foundation for the paint to settle into.

The biggest hurdle of the project was patience on behalf of the DIY’ers 🙂  It was paint one side of the doors, let them dry. Paint a coat on the cabinets in the house. Paint the other side of the doors. Rest and Repeat. Once we had a couple coats on everything, it was obvious the makeover was going to be a huge change to our kitchen. We also make sure to get some new hardware for the cabinet doors. Make sure to check back here for more updates and pictures to come of the new kitchen!

Striving To Become Better

Basketball is officially in the off-season this time of year. This doesn’t mean that kids are not playing to make themselves and teammates better. AAU, MAYB and other league tournaments are in full swing all across the state and country.  It’s exciting to see kids working hard to improve their skills. The student athletes are not the only ones working hard over the summer to make themselves better. This past weekend, as a high school basketball referee, I joined over a hundred other officials for a KSHSAA basketball officials camp. Here we worked with other veteran officials to help make ourselves better as we officiate games. Are officials perfect and get every single call correct? No that is not going to happen. We do take our jobs as officials seriously though. Working hard in the off-season to make ourselves better, one whistle and one game at a time.

 

 

Wedding Bells

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Save The Date

This December will mark our 5 year wedding anniversary. I always tell her how I am the lucky one! Before we were married, and even now, we always look forward to receiving save the date cards from friends who are going to tie the knot. Always enjoying the moments we are able to share both as a guest or even as part of the wedding party.

I Do

However this wedding was different. On May 20, 2017, I watched as Sara said I Do to her husband Jeff. Our family is now a part of another family. They have welcomed us with open arms and have shown so much love to my little sister as one of their own.

The bride and groom in all their glory!

As her older brother, I always wondered when this day would come. Remembering when my old man picked me up from school on Friday 28, 1992. It was the day my sister was born (it was a leap year, she was lucky she wasn’t a leap year baby!). Since that day life has moved very quickly and many changes have occurred. The most significant being when dad passed away in 2005. I knew as Sara’s wedding day approached that missing him would be weighing on her heart and emotions.

Little did I know it would weigh heavy on me as well. A couple weeks prior to the wedding, Sara came to me asking if I would walk her down the isle. She surprised me with a new pair of Nikes. Inside the box was attached a letter. It read: “There is only one man who can fill dad’s shoes and that is you. Will you walk me down the isle?” Of course after tearing up, I said yes.

Sara, our mother LaDonna, and Chaddy Daddy

What is a wedding without the cutest flower girl in the world? Finley filled her role as flower girl perfectly (yes I am a bit biased here)! She looked absolutely beautiful. I caught myself wondering at times just how fast life would pass us by and Finley would be the bride walking down the isle. UGH!

Finley exceeding all flower girl responsiblities!

Isn’t she the cutest?!!?

Exit Stage Left

The wedding was a huge success. A lot of friends and family that I hadn’t seen in quite some time were also there. It was great being able to catch up with all of them. As you can probably imagine our late night ended something along these lines…..Finley becoming super tired, she even put on her own shoes and told us as parents it was time to go. This is coming from a girl who danced the night away and usually we have to pull her off the dance floor to leave 🙂

Jess and I walked hand-in-hand out of the reception, with Finley half asleep on my shoulder. As we drove home talking about the day our very own daughter would send out her save the date cards.