Let Them Be Little

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Congrats Grad!

The school year has come to an end by this point in 2017. Seniors are celebrating their achievements in high school.
Looking forward to take their next steps into college, the workforce or beyond. It’s been heartwarming seeing the excitement parents show as their son or daughter receive their diploma. As these seniors walk out of their high school gyms for the last time, many youngsters are just beginning to shape their lives, dreams and futures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class of 2017

As parents to a four year old, we had the absolute pleasure of watching our little one graduate last week too! Her class performed songs, recited bible verses and the Pledge of Allegiance. Her mother and I were beaming with pride and joy watching our baby girl grow up right before us. Where did the time go? She was born, we blinked and she enters Kindergarten in the fall. Every cliche about kids growing up to fast has never been truer. I as an individual never understood them until Finley came into our lives and now it’s an overwhelming feeling to try and slow time down with her. Regardless, we as parents could not be happier watching her learn both in and outside of school. She literally is a mini-me of my wife and I but with a personality that brightens even the darkest days.

The Value of Moments

A quote by the famous Dr. Seuss helps put life in perspective, specifically life as a parent to a young child.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss.

This is one of the main principles I created this blog for. To make sure we as parents, friends, and individuals take time to slow down and enjoy moments we easily take for granted.  I have to admit, I was choked up a couple times while watching Finley graduate from pre-k. As a parent we want the best for our kids but we also have to make sure we are working each day to better ourselves as parents. Our kids are sponges and see our best and worsts. Leave a legacy with your child that they want to pass down to their children someday.

At graduation last week, prior to the ceremony beginning, the song “Let Them Be Little” played in the background. Lyrics of “Let them be little, cause they’re only that way for a while. Give them hope, give them praise, give them love, everyday. Let em cry, let em giggle, let them sleep in the middle. Oh just let them be little.”

I leave you with this….the moments of them giggling and sleeping in the middle will only be here for a very short time. You will blink and these moments will become memories you look back on. Just in time for you to watch your little one walk hand in hand with their best friend out of their high school gym for the very last time.

Get Your Groove On

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I Need A Life Timeout

It feels like life has been moving in fast forward lately. I wish we could just hit pause or even the play button to slow things down a bit.  Between being out of town one weekend and having a fully booked weekend the next, life is flying by. I have to admit, some moments as of late are being taken for granted and not truly enjoyed. We are just crossing off items on our weekly ‘to-do’ list, making sure to not be late to the next event. Does anyone else ever feel like this? Thankfully this allows me to hit that pause button (if even for a brief moment) and reflect on just how awesome life is 🙂

Dancing Queen

This past weekend was probably the funnest weekend of the year so far. It was Finley’s dance recital. This included not just two performances by her but also a daddy-daughter dance! Yes, yours truly dusted off the dancing shoes and showed off my moves. She has been working so hard over the past 10 months. Yes, 10 months. Her dance class meets every Wednesday night (beginning in August 2016) for about 45 minutes. This was her second year in the program and it’s obvious she has a passion for dance! It’s been so much fun watching her learn and grow in these two years.

Her two performances she danced in, one was a ballet piece and the other tap. The theme for the whole recital was ‘Dancing Around The World.’ So as you can expect there were some unique sounds, dances and outfits! My favorite of the two performances was her tap. She was dressed up as the cutest frog in the world.

Finley is the 5th frog from the right; directly under the letter O.

The Spotlight Is Bright

The most fulfilling and enjoyable part of the recital was hands down, the daddy daughter dance. We spent six weeks practicing every Tuesday night. The song we danced to was a classic. It was ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by Frank Sinatra. For those that know me, dancing could be considered my kryptonite. However, performing with Finley was one of the funnest dances I’ve ever been a part of. There was no shortage of smiles and joy on our faces. One of the funniest comments Finley made was actually a couple days after the recital. My mother in law told us both how much she enjoyed seeing us dance together. Finley’s immediate reply was, “Thanks. It was so much fun but I am still a better dancer than dad.”  I couldn’t argue with that. She might be only four but she has dad beat on the dance floor.

Such a rewarding weekend this past weekend. Finley’s dance recital on Saturday. Celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday and words cannot express how much I love Finley’s mom. Jess is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me and I thank God for her each day!

Until next time,  don’t let life’s fast forward button get the best of you because as a parent you deserve the best!  You also have my permission to use those dancing shoes as much as you want. You’re kids will love every second of it!

 

 

 

It’s Wet Outside

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Rain Rain Go Away

This past weekend consisted of rain, more rain and even snow in some places! Mother nature reminded us that she is still in control. As thankful as we are for the moisture, seeing the sun today was a life changer. Despite the wet conditions all weekend, that didn’t stop us from making more memories.

Friday night was a daddy-daughter stay-in-night at home. We let mommy enjoy a girls night out at the movies. To say Finley was super-duper-over-the-top-excited about Friday night is a huge understatement. Our evening started with building a fort in the basement to watch movies out of. Of course her first movie selection was Aladdin. As an aging dad, there is something about rain in the evening that puts me to sleep. Right on cue I fell asleep halfway through Aladdin. Only to be awakened by Finley at the end questioning me why I fell asleep and with directions on which movie we were watching next. Within minutes The Little Mermaid intro was on the tv and we were settling back in the fort. What happened next is priceless……

It was about 9:00pm when The Little Mermaid started. I fought hard to keep my eyes open…..little did I know my co-pilot was fighting the same battle. Halfway into the movie, Finley sits up looks over at me and says “I am way to tired to be watching this. Let’s go to bed.” It was music to my ears. Movie off. TV off. Let the sleeping commence.

Photo credit to my wife as she found us catching some zzzz’s when she got home!

Party Hard

Saturday morning rolled around and I awoke with back pain. Finley and I had slept in our fort, on the SOO UNCOMFORTABLE basement floor. Side note…I remember sleeping on the floor being much more comfortable as a kid. Fast forward to age 31 and my body felt like I had gone 10 rounds against Rocky. Someone get a medic!! Of course Finley jumped up and hit the ground running….oh to be a child again!

Saturday’s headliner was a birthday party for one of Finley’s good friends. She was turning the big 4. One of the sweetest moments from the party was as the birthday girl was about to blow out her candles. (keep in mind, a lot of the kids there all were in an in-home daycare together for 1-2 years). Her birthday wish was for all of them to be able to take a nap together just like they did in daycare. So funny yet showed just how much they missed being together each day!

Craft Harder

Sunday. Still wet outside. Our morning was jump started as we went to church. Finley had a blast as usual in her Sunday school class. I hold high the importance of my child attending church and understanding truly who Jesus is and how much he loves us. It’s incredible to listen as Finley tells us what she learns each Sunday!!

After church, the usual routine of grocery shopping and running some errands ensued. I love my wife and I love my daughter but if there’s one thing I don’t love, it’s grocery shopping. Some day I’ll have someone do it for me….some day……

The best part of the day was soon after were got home from running errands. Finley was in a crafting mindset and I couldn’t wait to see exactly what she was going to construct. A 4yr olds brain is full of ideas…translating those ideas into crafts is a whole different story. As you can see below…with explanations….Vincent Van Gough, if alive, would be shaking in his boots after seeing these masterpieces 🙂

On the left you will see three figures as follows: daddy watching golf on tv, finley in the middle on the iPad, and mommy reading a book! On the right you see a majestic painting of the world!

We As Parents

Young minds are beautiful and parents should mold them with love. This past weekend is one I will cherish and remember forever. From one parent to another, don’t let the weather get in the way of creating memories with your children. Spending rainy weekends in a basement fort to holding a glue stick making crafts will have a larger impact on them then you can imagine.

Now where’s that medic…my back!!!

 

 

 

Are You Willing To Serve?

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#servegoddard

Sip…Sip…AND I JUST BURNT MY TONGUE AGAIN ON THE COFFEE. This was a common theme a few days ago on Saturday morning. I have a feeling I was not the only one as I sat next to over 500 other volunteers at Pathway Church. As we ate breakfast, the room was abuzz with laughter and smiles at 7:30 in the morning. Myself and the other volunteers were partnering with Neighbors United Goddard and would soon be traveling throughout our town, attending to 40+ commercial and residential projects that needed updated maintenance.

We as volunteers would soon be completing tasks both large and small. Including but not limited to cleaning homes, general landscaping, mowing, painting, fixing park equipment and trimming trees.

The A-Team (this was our group of course) received a couple projects which consisted of residential homes. Issues we soon conquered included general household cleaning and organizing. Then outside raking leaves, trimming trees and  cleaning of flower gardens. A lot of activities that many of us take for granted on a daily basis.

Attitudes of Humility

I am not sure whose life has been impacted more. For me personally, I have to say I was the lucky one. Giving a small portion of my time to someone who is unable to complete these  tasks we take for granted should be enough. However, seeing their genuine reaction and hearing how thankful they are that you took time out of your day for them……it doesn’t get any better than that.

We should strive to make this an aspect of our daily lives. Not just when we are asked to volunteer. A friendly reminder of this is found in Colossians 4:12. It states: ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and clearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ Help keep each other accountable as family and friends. You will be surprised how much your life will be impacted when you clothe yourself in a servant mindset.

Half of the A-Team after we knocked out our first house Saturday morning!!

 

Dad Traits

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My Old Man

My father was the most humble and hardest working man I have ever known. I was able to work hand in hand with him on our farm and learned many life lessons. While I was in college he unexpectedly died at the young age of 54 due to a heart attack. It has been the most devastating moment of my life thus far. Growing up I took a lot of moments we had together for granted. Always assuming he’d grow old into his 80s or 90s and spend countless hours with his grandchildren. However, life always has a way of changing our direction just as soon as we think we have it all figured out. This was a life changing moment for me and set in course events that would lead me to where I am today.

Passed Down

As a husband and father today, I see a lot of traits in myself that I have to thank my old man for. Putting faith, family and friends first was a cornerstone in my dad’s life. If you ask my wife I am certain she would tell you the same about me. She would also tell you that I did pick up some annoying habits from him as well. Such as rolling my dirty socks up and tossing them in the laundry basket or picking my toenails instead of clipping them, just to name a couple habits!! Growing up I also watched how he treated my mother and made sure he worked hard to provide for her and our family so our needs were met. I’d like to say that I am not perfect but I do strive each day to make sure that my family’s needs are met and provided for. Of course when necessary, I also make sure to spoil my wife and daughter because they deserve it.

Learning On The Fly

Regardless of how much I learned growing up with my dad, still many lessons I learned through trial and error. The most useful skill I developed was diaper changing. Up until our daughters birth in 2012, these hands had never handled a nuclear bomb in a diaper. I remember the first occurrence of this quite well. It was shortly after Fin was born and our first night at the hospital. Jess was fast asleep after being a rockstar through the delivery. Yours truly was not able to sleep in the room’s torture device aka the recliner. Then the moment happened. Finley started crying. The room mostly dark. I looked to my left. No one there. I looked to my right. No one there. THE TIME HAD COME. I walked over to Finley’s bed and grabbed a clean diaper. (at this moment I was really kicking myself for not paying more attention the nurse just hours before). I methodically opened up the diaper, making sure to hold Finley’s legs up so a bigger mess didn’t happen. Quickly I swiped a wet wipe….positioned it for a clean swipe and WHOOOSHHH. Clean butt, wipe dropped into the diaper, diaper tabs criss-crossed and tossed into the trash. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

As I raised my hands in victory and then began to rock Finley back to sleep, I could of swore I felt a hand pat on my back and it wasn’t Finley. I believe my old man had been watching (and I’m sure laughing hysterically) through the whole episode. It was then and there he realized I had conquered the diaper change and that he had already set me up to be the father he always knew I would be from that moment forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dad With A Daughter

Outside of the first diaper change, there have been many firsts for me already in just the first four years of Finley’s life. Making ponytails, buns, braids and picking out the right colored hair clips to match outfits are a daily adventure. One of the best ideas I’ve come up with is to allow my toenails to be painted once a week during football season. I’ve found that letting Fin paint my toe nails on a Sunday afternoon allows me to watch the Chiefs uninterrupted, at least for 5-10 minutes!  It’s a win-win situation for both of us.

Everyday there seems to be something new I learn as a father and as a husband. Just as I took for granted the time I had with my father, I instead try to make the most of every single moment I have with Finley. She is too young to realize the importance of each day I am able to spend with her. However, I hope and pray that she will some day look back and realize her father helped set in motion the values, morals and events that will make her successful in life both as an individual and as a wife and mother to a very lucky man (years down the road of course!!)

 

 

 

 

Jackpots and Ice Cream

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Who let the cat out of the bag?

Everyone loves surprises! If you don’t, please let me know, you need to have an intervention. Yesterday evening I surprised our daughter with a daddy-daughter date night. She came home from pre-k and the first words from her mouth were: I think you have a surprise for me. It was obvious at this point mama bear had already fanned the flames of a surprise on their way home. So as mama bear left to go play BUNCO with her friends, I let Finley in on my secret that we had a fun filled night ahead of us. First stop……All-Star Sports!

Winner, Winner. Chicken Dinner!

We rolled into All-Star sports on a cool and rainy Tuesday night. As expected, we basically had the place to ourselves. Down side,  all outdoor activities were off limits due to the inclement weather. The next best activity was to load up on tokens and win as many prize tickets as we could!  A couple visitors also showed up to help wreck havoc on the arcade games. My sister, Sara, and her fiancé, Jeff, surprised Finley and spent some of the evening with us. After some intense concentration and emptying out our token bag we strolled up to the ticket machine to cash in our winnings!

As you can see in pictures below we had a successful evening and ended up with 971 tickets. Very exciting until you roll up to the prize area and see that in order to get any of the ‘cool’ prizes you need 5,000+ tickets. We were just a few short…..Instead we finally settled on some other items. Of course Finley was very fascinated by them and that’s all that matters! If you’ve ever been to a place like this you know exactly what I’m talking about. Finally as we cashed in our last 30 tickets, a little frog ring and some fun dip capped off our night at All-Stars.

 

971 tickets later…who’s hungry?

Our evening could not of been complete without a stop at one of Finley’s favorite places. Chick-fil-A. This place has it all. Seriously. First of all some of the best chicken sandwiches, nuggets and fries. To ice cream and the infamous play area. It’s a win-win for parents and kids. Great food and a place for the kid’s to unleash all their energy. As a family we frequent this place often and enjoy every part of it.

Finley and I had the pleasure of taking part in Chick-fil-A’s daddy daughter date night in 2016. They provide this event specifically for dads and daughters to spend an evening together. Well fast forward to February 2017 and the word has gotten out to just how awesome this event is. Yes, when I signed up the event was already full. However, the amazing individuals that put on this event went above and beyond for us that were wait-listed and couldn’t go. They sent us out a voucher for All-Star Sports, along with some Chick-fil-A gift cards to help make our daddy daughter date night special. A big thank you to the Chick-fil-A in northwest Wichita at 21st and Maize Rd. Families like ours truly appreciate the values and generosity your establishment showcases through special events and the professionalism of the staff that are employed there!

Success!

Another daddy daughter date night in the books. I am still not sure who had more fun, me or her. Most of all, my hope and prayer is that she will continue to understand just how much her daddy loves her. I encourage any dad’s out there or mom’s reading this, set aside special times like this with your child. You might just surprise yourself with one of the funnest nights of your life!

 

 

March Madness…….Without The Brackets

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The sick bus has been making frequent stops here as of late. A few weeks ago Finley was fighting fevers, a nasty cough, an ear infection and more mucus than one person should be able to produce. In the meantime I managed to come down with a head cold that only severe cold Mucinex could conquer. Just as things were clearing up, the bus made one more stop and Finley came down with strep throat. Thankfully she is feeling better and Mama Bear has been lucky enough not to catch any of this. Even with the sicknesses, we’ve managed to stay quite busy.

Sports

Finley finished her first season of organized basketball recently. LOTS of things we can continue to work on. One laughable moment occurred in her last game. The boy guarding her would barely let her breathe. He would have won defensive player of the year award if there was one. She finally turned to me, a little upset, and said “daddy, I just wish he would leave me alone.” I had to bite my lip a little bit to keep from laughing. I reminded her that it was his job to play defense and her job to get open. Now if she will only keep that mindset until she’s much older, we won’t have any issues with boys 🙂  Driving home she reminded us that she had fun and wants to play again. That’s a successful first season in my book!

As state basketball is underway in Kansas, I have finished my first year as a Kansas high school basketball referee. Many new relationships were made and it was such a learning experience. It is such a different view of the game from our positions on the court. That’s aside from the ‘constructive criticism’ we zebras get from coaches and the fans. To truly enjoy being an official, you must have thick skin and be able to stay calm no matter what is happening around you. Of course nobody is perfect and we will make an unfavorable call. Our goal is to make sure the rules of the game are honored and kids are able to perform to their fullest potential. We just want to give back to the game that provided us with so many memories as players.

Fish food and dance shoes

Great news, we’re almost two full months in as fish owners and I haven’t killed it yet. I do wonder what it would say if it could talk. I mean it swims around in a bowl 24/7 and eats the same fish pellets everyday. If I was in that situation, there would be a lot of choice words!! Ally (it’s a boy if I’ve failed to mention) has become one of the family though. When we feed and spend time around him, he will put on a show for us and enjoys the attention.

Dance class is getting intense as we are now only two months away from the recital. Don’t get me wrong, we still just drop Fin off and leave for 45 minutes. But the new dance moves she shows us at home proves dance class is on another level at this point. Not only is Finley performing at the recital but yours truly is getting in on the action. Practices for the daddy/daughter dance will be starting soon. Yes, a lot of you are laughing right now as you read this. I can’t blame you. I don’t claim to have dance moves and never will but it’s for the kids and the laughs!

Prayers for Kansas

Lastly but most importantly please keep the families affected by the recent Kansas wildfires in your thoughts and prayers. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burnt. Along with livestock and many homesteads. Please pray for rain. Pray for comfort and peace for these families who have lost so much in such a short amount of time. Things like this are hard to reason and understand. They say there is a reason for everything and in time we’ll find the answers. Until then, keep these families in your prayers and reach out with a helping hand and with an attitude of humility.

Kids Will Be Kids

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Does this sound familiar?

Almost two full months into 2017 already and less than a month away until we officially hit spring.  As a kid, warmer weather meant longer days outside and  more mischief to get into.  It meant having friends over to go on adventures together and explore the world aka our farm. I had no idea what being an adult or a parent would require. Instead I had a carefree attitude and a trusty co-pilot in my black lab named Duke. I also would see how dirty I could become before my mom would not let me back inside the house.

Action Steps

Now fast forward to 2017 and things sure have changed. We’ve all aged and that means more responsibilities that we have to learn how to juggle on a daily basis. I would challenge each of us as parents to remember those times we had as young kids.  Make sure you are allowing your child to do what they do best, be a kid!!! There will be plenty of activities that we will sign them up for during the spring/summer/fall months. Activities such as sports, church camps and other social groups, and I do believe these are important. It’s also significant to understand that they are only young once. Take time out of your schedule to make sure they are able to do what they want to do. Such as going swimming, fishing, camping, or something as simple as playing in the mud after a rainstorm. I know I’m not the only parent that needs an excuse to play in the mud with our kids   🙂

Release your inner kid

Take time to cherish these moments in their lives. One of the best gifts we can give our kids in today’s world is an environment where they feel safe and most importantly are encouraged to be a kid. Too many times we can get caught up in thinking we as parents must have our kid’s daily summer schedule planned out in itinerary  form. When in actuality, all they want is for us to do a cannonball with them into the pool!!!

Eat Local

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This weekend we tried out a new local restaurant in Wichita and it did not disappoint! Opening just earlier this month and located at 3425 E Douglas in Wichita, Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. has a little something for everyone, along with a fun and laid back atmosphere. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not a breakfast place. They offer brunch on the weekends and are open during the week for lunch and supper. We visited during brunch hours and as you can see in the picture below there are quite a few options. Also pictured is one of their bloody mary’s, a must with any brunch. If anyone is wondering, yes they offer mimosas along with a full selection of beers on tap and other liquor but back to the bloody mary. I’m the type that likes to have a solid garnish setup on my bloody mary (bacon, olives, celery, pickles and some more bacon :)) and Dempsey’s Biscuit Co has a unique twist on theirs. Upon arrival to the table and seeing the only garnish was a lemon slice and a pickled green bean I was a little skeptical but ended up thoroughly enjoying not one but two bloody mary’s while eating.

The food here was top notch with a Southern flare to their menu. I went with a ‘Nashville Hot’ that includes Nashville hot fried chicken and sausage patty on a biscuit. It is literally a plate full that was eaten with a fork and knife. Here at Dempsey’s Biscuit Co., they offer three stages of hot. For the tamer taste buds and kids they offer the first stage ironically called – ‘hot’. Those enjoying some good spice they offer a ‘hot hot’ flavor. The third level of spice is called ‘reaper’  and well you can imagine the hotness if you dare. I chose the ‘hot hot’ expecting just a higher level of heat but surprisingly there was random spots of brown sugar melted on the outside of the fried chicken, a perfect combination of spicy and sweet. Other  options chosen at our table included but not limited to the Belgian waffle (Finley’s choice), a Chicken & Biscuit, and the Nashville Hot Chicken & Waffles. I believe we all left there stuffed and satisfied!

   

We strive to make eating local a staple in our dining experiences. By supporting local restaurants and businesses you are also supporting families that live in and around the same neighborhoods as you and I.  Leave a comment about a recent local dining experience you have had or any recommendations of places to check out.

 

 

 

Slopes, Skis and Snowboards

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Wow, what a past couple weeks it has been! Life has been crazy and in the middle of all that we were able to take a trip to Vail, Colorado for 5 days. We spent a couple days on the mountain skiing, snowboarding, falling and laughing. The other days consisted of traveling, shopping and exploring.

The most enjoyable part of the trip was being able to watch Finley experience skiing and the mountains for the first time. She was in awe as we got deeper into Colorado and around each curve there was another majestic mountain, some snow packed while others lined with trees. It was nothing like home here in Kansas and I could tell every second we spent there Finley was amazed with something new each time she turned around.  Skiing and snowboarding was an absolute blast, especially helping Finley into her skis for the very first time. I will have to admit that her first experience in skis was a much smoother sight than mine was ten years ago. This might also have something to do with her father believing he could learn quicker by trial and error on green and blue runs, the very first morning on the mountain, but I digress 🙂  Below is a short video clip of Finley’s second trip down the bunny slope, needless to say she does quite well staying up right. Teaching her to slow down, “pizza & french fry” for you skiers out there, was a whole different story and one that we can continue to work on next time while shredding some gnarly pow pow!

        

               

             

I would love to hear from you guys about your favorite skiing destination or a vacation you went on recently. Feel free to leave a comment!