Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

Naming — a Legacy!

We had an interesting time on Sunday after church.  Jeremy and Mel met me and my wife, Janice, at the Corner Bakery for lunch.  The agenda was a discussion of names.

First, let me say that it is an honor to be asked, and a further honor to be made to feel that our opinion actually means something.  Thank you Jeremy and Mel!

It was a lot of fun to get a little detached and watch the interplay between Jeremy and Janice.  Jeremy and Mel had their list of “possibles” and as Jeremy went through them, Janice grabbed a napkin and started writing.  I think that she had the “first pass” as I’m not convinced that EVERY name Jeremy read off made it onto her list.  Then, she crossed off a couple and handed me the napkin.

She said, “Underline the ones that you like.”  Having been married for more than three decades, I obediently underlined about eight … and crossed off two.  Just could not imagine having a “Silas” in the family!  I have already forgotten the other nixed name.  Then I handed the list back to Janice and she looked at my work, apparently dissatisfied with my ability to adequately narrow the field.

She handed it back to me and said, “Circle your favorite two or three.”  I looked over the list and handed it to Jeremy and said, “It’s not OUR kid, it’s their kid!  I’m just not THAT invested in what they name him.”

Understand that all of this exchange contained a great deal of jocularity and fun.  We spent another hour or so talking about names and the nicknames that would surely follow.  My dad always called Jeremy “Jerm” – a name which has stuck in the family to this day.  I warned that if they ended up with names (first and middle) that did not easily roll off the tongue and properly demand the appropriate attention in a heated moment, that I would revert to “Bubba”.  Jeremy and I both thought that was funny … Janice and Mel, maybe not so much.

I have to say that that lunch will be a lasting and treasured memory for me and my wife.  What a blessing to have the opportunity to be part of that special process!  I believe that Jeremy and Mel will also hold it as one of those “special” happenings that will help define them and their family.

4Moms Mamaroo

We are considering the 4Moms Mamaroo for our swing.  However, we have some concerns.  Some of the reviews that we have read have indicated that there are a couple of safety problems as the kid gets older.  Namely, hands can apparently reach the ‘no fingers’ parts of the device, and older kids can lean forward and reach the controls.

This is a fairly innovative product.  Rather than swinging, it mimics the motion of a swing by moving left to right and up to down, and has several different swing motions as options.

Our inclination towards this swing is pragmatic, as it has a very small footprint, allowing it to fit in small places — a distinct advantage over many of the larger swings.  Do any readers have feedback on the Mamaroo product?

Here is a youtube video by a fellow blogger, illustrating how the swing works.


Diaper bag update

Our original post indicated that we had decided on the Maxpedition Colossus bag… After attending the SHOT show in Vegas and being able to compare bags, we decided to go with the Mongo instead.  It’s a little larger and more of a messenger style.  Caleb, who I attended the show with, thought it was more size-appropriate and thought that the colossus might have been a bit small.  The foliage green is a very nice color, and is kind of a grey-ish sage.

Mel’s Grandma is home!

To any interested parties, Mel’s Grandma came home on Friday.  She had extensive rehab, and is back to her feisty self.  Mel’s cousin Mandy has come out for a few weeks to help out around the house and to ensure that Evelyn is using her walker.  Thank you Mandy!

Many thanks to Judy and her husband who came out and helped to make the house safer for Evelyn and Gene — including pulling up carpet and refinishing the hardwood underneath and rearranging furniture to ensure wider and safer walkways.  We could not have gotten the house ready without them!  Keep Judy in your prayers as well, as she is undergoing some tests.

If anyone out there is an expert on old slot machines, contact me!  Evelyn has an old one-arm-bandit that she is interested in selling, and is likely worth some money given its age.  My understanding is that it is in working order except for some (inappropriately sized) coins which are stuck in the coin channel and need to be removed.

Baby Names

Many readers know that Mel and I have opted to be surprised when the baby comes.  We don’t know whether we are having a boy or a girl.  This makes naming doubly difficult because we have to come up with not one set of names, but with two.

The girl names were easy — my wife was set on Aubrey Grace.  This easily meets all of my requirements, and it is a beautiful name.  Boy names, on the other hand, are proving to be unbelievably difficult.

Everybody has their own method for determining names.  Family names, unusual names, foreign names, name meanings, popularity (or rarity), etc. are all factors.  For us, we are trying to look at them all.

The middle name, if it is a boy, will be Robert, a family name.  The first name is what is giving us trouble.  We are considering William, Byron, Hunter, Jackson, Arthur, Edmund, Connor and a few others.  I know, the list seems a bit fragmented.  Old ‘crusty’ names, mixed in with modern ‘occupational’ names, most unusual but some popular ones.  Bottom line is that we want a name that has strength and that will serve the kid well throughout their life.  We also want it to be a traditional spelling (for the teachers sake) and ideally should have a strong meaning.  William and Byron are probably the top choices with Connor, Hunter, Edmund and Jackson close behind.

What’s your vote?

Front Sight

I have been a bit silent for the last week as I have been out of town in Las Vegas!  Thursday and Friday were primarily occupied by Ray and Kate’s wedding at the Luxor.  After a short and sweet ceremony on Friday the 13th, Mel and I spent a couple of days having a mini baby-moon.

The last couple of times we were in Vegas, we talked about doing some of the exhibitions, but have always run out of time.  This time, however, we were able to do the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, Bodies at the Luxor and CSI at the MGM.

On Sunday, I put Mel on a plane home and picked up a couple of friends from the airport.   We had something of a ‘Dadchelor Party,’ which involved firearm training in the form of a defensive handgun course at Front Sight.

In four days, we covered firearm safety, grip, aiming, presenting from a holster, presenting from a concealed holster, legal and moral issues, dry fire exercises, malfunctions, how to clear a house in dangerous situations and how to fire quickly and effectively.

The class was a mix of students with significant shooting experience, students who had never shot a gun, and everything in between.  After 4 short days, students who did not know anything were drawing and firing from a concealed holster — and hitting head shots at 45 feet.

Although Front Sight is somewhat controversial in certain circles, I found the experience to be enjoyable and the training to be effective.  In four days, I learned to draw from concealment and put two rounds into the chest at 45 feet in about 3 seconds — and faster at closer ranges.  The cost of attending this program is very low — most of the cost is tied up in hotel costs and travel.  The class cost about $125, plus the cost of ammunition (about 800 rounds).  If you have time, attend this class!

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RESPECT – What does it mean?

Find out what it means to me …

Aretha had all the answers! But how do we go about teaching our kids a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

Since I am past the child-rearing years, I have some observations, and some questions.

As I have shared before, I am pretty happy with how our kids turned out. But neither of them were always as respectful as we wished they would be. They were not the worst, either. I think, for the most part, they were more respectful to others than they were to us, and if a parent has to choose, I expect that it would be preferrable to having kids who speak their minds at home and behave when away, to having kids who are polite at home and mouth off to others.

There are cultural issues too. I observed when I was in Texas that many of the children there routinely addressed adults as “sir” and “ma’am” – frankly, it was pretty nice. In contrast, so many of the children here in Southern California are just “lippy” as a matter of course. To quote Tony Hillerman, “They behave as if they have no family.”

But the kids in Texas grow up to be just like the adults here. Some are great and some are scum. But they are polite! They even call the arresting officer “sir”.

We worked to make our kids independent and strong, and I think we did that well. How do you balance that goal with that of instilling a polite humility and respect for others? I do not know. It is a “gray area” anyway, as success or failure seems to change moment by moment and there is a wide range of “normal”.  Any suggestions?

We need to avoid unhealthy guilt or shame if we are not going to quench their spirits or cause other future problems. Reinforcing and encouraging the positive and ignoring or when possible discouraging the negative was what we embraced as an overall philosophy – but there were many bumps along the way. The only REAL consistency in life is inconsistency.

And what part of this is “caught” and not “taught”?  Are we adults respectful to others in front of our kids?  At times I was not – and I regret that now.  Language, tone of voice, attitude are all communicated even before the kids understand what they mean.  Yelling at drivers, criticizing the pastor or teachers, even our political opinions can easily teach our children about our own disrespect for others.  Our kids catch it from us if we are not careful!

I think that we perhaps overlook the idea that we owe respect to others – some because of their position, and some just because we have no reason (yet) to disrespect them. But how can we teach that? Or do we even have consensus that we should?

I look forward to your reflections and suggestions. I will soon have another go-round with my grandkids — I want to get it right!

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‘Jesus/G-d sees you’ as a corrective with kids.

As a theologian, I find it highly disturbing when I see parents say things like ‘Jesus sees you’ or ‘Jesus will punish you’ as a corrective.  There are both pragmatic and theological reasons for this.

First, the pragmatic… I have seen many people who grew up with this type of corrective rebel as they got older.  Introducing this kind of external motivation not to do things that the parent doesn’t like can feel oppressive and overwhelming.  This can be particularly damaging in strict households that don’t allow ‘questionable’ activities such as reading Harry Potter, as G-d becomes seen as a cosmic killjoy.  This is certainly not the way most of us want our kids  to see G-d.

This brings us to the theological.  What do we believe about G-d?  I will be speaking here from the Christian tradition.  Some people see the G-d of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and the New Testament as different — almost incompatible.  Certainly our Jewish friends believe this!  The Hebrew Bible focuses on fallen nature of mankind — the expectations of G-d and on mankind’s inability to meet those expectations.  The New Testament focuses on G-d’s method of redemption — the solution to the problem set up in the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew Bible offers grace in the form of sacrifice — but even this was too difficult for mankind.  The New Testament provides an easier form of grace that mankind is more capable of accomplishing.  Some might ask why G-d would wait so long to offer this easier grace.  The answer is simple — free will and pragmatism!  Free will demands that people are allowed to do what they will.  Pragmatism suggests that, if a solution were to be offered, it would need to be able to be spread as quickly as possible.  In the ancient near east at the time of Christ, there was an explosion in terms of exchange of ideas, much like today with the internet.  The expansion of the Roman Empire and the road system that they built encouraged trade, and this combined with the movements of the Roman army helped to move ideas from region to region.  The result is that the new form of grace had a chance to spread.

So, how does this apply to our understanding of G-d and how we discipline children?  First, G-d is a G-d of grace.  Second, he is interested in a relationship with mankind (something that can only be accomplished with free will).  Third, he is a G-d of justice.

Some object to the notion of G-d due to the concept of hell.  Perhaps we have failed to properly present the reason and need for hell.  It is not about punishment, per se.  It is about G-d’s respect of mankind’s wishes.  In other words, if an individual decides to be separate from G-d, why would G-d then demand that they spend eternity with him?  This would be a denial of mankind’s free will.  Instead, G-d provides a place for people to be separate from him.  The result is that this is a place absent of good, and is therefore not pleasant.

Back to kids, G-d should be presented as someone who wants to know the kids, and someone who they want to know.  Now, if some pervert was watching you in the bathroom, spying on you all of the time, and constantly looking to punish you, would that be someone who you would want to know?  Absolutely not… and it is not consistent with what we know of G-d.

Focus instead on instructing the kids to do good things — helping that old lady across the street would make G-d happy.  Worry less about the bad things that kids do, and certainly do not lay punishment at G-d’s feet.  Instead, use the traditional analogy of G-d as father.  The kid knows that their father loves them, and that their father also punishes them.  They also know that this does not mean that their father loves them any less, or that he wants evil to come upon them.  The subconscious mind will make the connection on its own as you talk about G-d as the father, without the perception being that G-d is a cosmic killjoy.


Brief update on Mel’s Grandma

Mel’s grandma seems to be doing better.  Mel visited on Monday and has talked to her daily — it seems that she is the most lucid she has been in a while.  They have ordered acute rehab, which will be fantastic if she gets accepted as she will get 3 hours a day of physical therapy.

She was admitted with a diagnosis of over-medication, with the doctor’s comment being “That’s a lot of meds” after reading the list of medication that he prescribed upon her discharge.  It is also possible that the meningitis is not entirely gone.  The prognosis looks good, and Foothill Pres is taking good care of her!