Tag Archives: kids

Siggi’s dead.

Well, that didn’t take long.  If you read the post from yesterday, you might remember that we received two goldfish as a party favor at a kid’s birthday party.  Our son named one Devo and we named the other one Siggi.

Siggi’s dead.

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Siggi is (was) the floater on the left.

Elizabeth noticed that one of the fish had “taken a break” from swimming.  To eliminate the thought that he was napping, I poked him with my finger.

Uh oh.

Now what?  Well, we did what any parent of a nearly-three-year-old might do.  We started the cover up.  First, we had to dispose of the body.

“How are we going to get it out?  We don’t have one of those little nets,” asked Elizabeth.

“I think I’m just going to pick him up,” I said.  And I did.  I laid him on a paper towel and did a brief autopsy.  Yep, he wasn’t moving.  Elizabeth distracted Rylan as I jetted to the bathroom.  Upon entering the bathroom, it occurred to me that I actually had to use the bathroom.

Do I pee first?

Do I pee on the fish?

There was no need to waste two full tanks of water on separate flushes.  So I rationalized that I should be humane and dump the fish in a bowl of pee rather than pee on the dead fish.  It seemed like the dignified thing to do.  As I dropped the fish carcass into the bowl, it hit at such an angle that it appeared to glide through the water.  For a brief moment, I actually thought Siggi was alive and I would have to stick my hand in the pee-water and pull out our Lazarus fish.

“OK, the fish is gone,” I announced quietly back in the living room.  “Do we tell him?”

We considered our options.  We could go get another fish and complete the cover up.  Two fish entered, two fish would remain.  Or, we could try to have “the death talk” with our son and wonder if he would understand.  Or…

Or, we could hope he doesn’t notice one is missing.

“I kinda feel like we’re lying to our son,” I said.  “No,” Elizabeth added, “as long as the other one is still there, I think we’re OK.”  As we were spiraling towards denial, our son said, “I want to feed the fishies.”

Fishies.  Plural.  Great.

“Sure, buddy,” I replied.  “You can feed the fish.”

Singular.

I picked him up and held him next to the food and the bowl.  He grabbed a pinch of the $4.25 goldfish food from Walgreen’s and dropped it in the fishbowl.  “Yay, he’s eating it!”

Whew!  It appears as if we dodged a bullet today, but we still need to formulate a plan for when Devo kicks the bucket…er…bowl.

Until then, long live Devo.

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Sometimes life gives you fish.

Sometimes life gives you things you don’t particularly want. Today, life gave us two fish.

We had a fun afternoon at a local splash park celebrating a friend’s daughter’s birthday. The birthday party was Elmo themed and featured a lot of Elmo’s favorite things. So, as a party favor, we got a bowl with two goldfish. Real fish. Living. In a bowl. With water.

This presented a variety of problems. The first (and most obvious) problem – the fish didn’t have names. Rylan quickly named one of them Devo. We named the other one Siggi after a friend of ours who is also small and orange.

The second problem was that we had to transport the fish all the way home without spilling the water or the fish. This dovetailed nicely with the third problem. We weren’t going straight home. We were going to “outside church,” as our son calls it. Our church has a Saturday evening service under a tent in the middle of 200 acres of land that will one day be built upon. We weren’t going home for several hours.

Do we take the fish to the service with us? Do we crack the windows in the car? Will these things boil?

On the way to church, in the midst of me showing people next to us at stoplights that I had a bowl of fish, we realized our fourth problem. We had to feed these things. Or euthanize them. OK, we decided on feeding them. We stopped on the way home and Elizabeth bought some fish food. I learned something today. Walgreen’s sells fish food. And, it costs $4.25. That’s like…a dozen goldfish. We could just not feed them and keep replacing them…OK, we decided again to feed them. Don’t call PETA.

Now, here’s the fifth problem. The fish WILL die. At some point, we are going to have to tell our not-quite-three-year-old son that his fishies died or moved out or went to the store. I’m not ready for that yet.

On the way home tonight, I was thinking about unexpected responsibilities. I thought about when the Samaritan woman ran in to Jesus at the drinking well in John 4. She had no idea he would be there. In fact, she wasn’t expecting anyone to be there. When Jesus approached her, he asked her to get him a drink. She tried to politely point out that Jews and Samaritans didn’t typically hang out. Jesus began to tell this woman about her own life. Jesus knew she had five husbands and was living unfaithfully. At this point, the woman thought he was just a prophet, but he was so much more.

(v. 25) The woman said “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us. Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

This lady was simply out to get some water. She was thirsty. Maybe she was going to make dinner and needed water for the pot. She never would have guessed that she was about to encounter the Son of God. She never would have thought that she was going to have her life changed that night. It was supposed to be another ordinary walk to the well, just like the last one, or ten or fifty.

The woman had a choice to make. She could have gone about her business and not have spoken to the Jew that she normally would have avoided. She could have left the well and ignored the conversation. But instead, she was so overwhelmed and convicted about what just happened that she immediately went back to town to tell her friends. She was so overcome that she actually left the water jar behind – the whole reason she was there to begin with.

I’m 164% sure that when I woke up this morning I did not think I’d be coming home with more pets. Our fat, loud cat, Gilligan (who is immortal), is enough. But, now that we have Devo & Siggi, we can embrace the teaching moments. As soon as we got home, we put the fish on the table and we showed Rylan how to feed the fish. In the morning, pending these things are still alive, we will do the same thing again. He will start learning how to care for others. One day (maybe Monday), these fish will die and Rylan will learn a lesson about death. I’m not looking forward to Rylan being sad, but I am looking forward to explaining more to him about God’s love for us.

Until then, meet Devo & Siggi.

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You matter. (For reals.)

Recently, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti did a photo study on children around the world posed with their favorite toys.  His series, Toy Stories, spans several continents and children from a variety of cultures.

Three thoughts came to mind while I was looking through his collection.

1. This is brilliant.

What a great idea for a photo study.  The toys were hand-picked by the kids and in a way, they represent their society, their hopes and their dreams.  I have a passion for photojournalism and telling stories.  I wish I came up with this idea first.  Seeing how these kids meticulously arranged and presented their toys, like this one from Noel in Texas.

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

2. What would my selections have been?

First, I’d probably pick my M.U.S.C.L.E. Man collection.

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I had (have) over 250 of these guys. I’d love to come across some more.  They are all in a Tupperware in my storage unit.  I used to spend hours playing with them as wrestling figures.  I can still remember their signature moves, rivalries and which ones held championship belts.

I’d also include my basketball.  I seemed to wear out one every few months.  I had plenty of these old indoor/outdoor leather ones chipping and fading away in my garage.

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3. These kids matter.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I think I’m getting soft in my old age.  I was looking at these kids and their toys and definitely got emotional.  Some kids had tons of toys.  These kids didn’t have enough hours in the day to play with all the stuff in their rooms.  But, then there were kids like Chiwa from Malawi.

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Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Chiwa is living in a block house, held together with mud and brick.  Chiwa sleeps under mosquito nets to prevent malaria and other diseases.  Chiwa’s clothes, bedsheets and legs are filthy.  But, look at the toys.  The little white dog is pristine.  It looks like it just came out of the shopping bag.  Chiwa took great pride in keeping the toys clean and desirable to play with.

This little girl is Kalesi from the Fiji Islands.

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Photo by Gabriele Galimberti

Look at the joy on her face!  She loooooves her backpacks and her dolls.  She even looks like a baby doll.  There’s not a lot in the photo so I’m only assuming that the rest of her home is relatively bare.  I can see Kalesi sitting on the hard floor taking care of her dolls.  She feeds them with the pink bowl and blue cup.  She carries them around in her Transformers backpack.

Viewing these photos made me want to go and just hug these kids and tell them that God loves them.  The same emotion and care they had for their toys is the same love and caring that God has for them.  I wanted these kids to know that they matter.

To this kid I photographed in a park in Asia where Christ is not allowed – you matter.

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To these kids enamored with boats and ducks in a lake in Spain – You matter.

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To this little kid in North Africa, whose family may never tell him about Jesus – You.  Matter.

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To these kids who had their portrait taken at a church in the barrio of Caracas, Venezuela – You Matter.  God has a great plan for your life.

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To these students who heard the Gospel during English club at their university and can make a difference in a socialist community – You Matter.  Place your faith in Christ and worship him instead of saints.  Show your city God’s love.

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To anyone who thinks they are too dirty, too broken, too messed up, too beyond repair, too unworthy, too old, too young, too confused to get on your knees and respond to a living God who is calling you to him – you matter.  You do.  You are God’s favorite possession.  He wants to shine you up and show you off like the kids showed off their toys.  He wants you to love him.  He wants to hear your praise.  He wants you to matter, because when you matter to the world, you matter to him.  It’s time to respond.

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Happy Facebook Explosion Day to Me

Birthdays are great. They are time with family and friends. A time for guiltless binging on desserts. A time filled with anxiety in keeping up with all the people making your Facebook feed explode.

Interesting fact. As of this writing, 30% less people commented on my Facebook wall this year than last year. I suppose that’s part of getting old, or moving, or that it’s a Sunday.

This was a day of songs. First was from my family.

My day started with getting the annual birthday song telephone call from Mom, this time immediately after I got out of the shower. After finishing my song, she asked if she could talk to Rylan, to which I replied ‘please let me put on pants first.’

Rylan was standing in the hall singing to me as well and bouncing with excitement to show me the Mickey Mouse Happy Birthday card he “colored” for me. This was followed up by receiving the present Elizabeth knows I can always find use for, an iTunes gift card.

Next, my Sunday school class sang to me before our lesson, shortly after I ate a Dunkin’ Donut because ‘it’s my birthday and I can.’

My last song came at dinner with some sweet friends from South Carolina who made time out of their vacation to spend time with us. I followed dinner with two scoops of ice cream wedged between two massive brownies, once again because ‘it’s my birthday and I can.’

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Of all the sweet things I enjoyed today, there was none better than hearing the prayers of a child. Rylan gave thanks for daddy and mommy and Bailey (and even for himself). He also gave thanks for Mickey and Donald and the playground.

After I tucked him in and turned out the light, he turned to me and said, “Happy birthday, daddy.” This is the cutest kid who ever walked the Earth. Or Mars. Take that, three-eyed Martian toddlers.

As wonderful as this day was for me, an imperfect human father, I can only think what God must feel when His children turn from their sin and give their lives to him. We pray without ceasing for the day when our children might make the decision to follow Christ as their savior. Only then will I know that I’ll hear the sweet, sweet words from my children for eternity.

I love my little buddy and baby girl so much. I’d gladly accept any pain or suffering so they wouldn’t have to. It will be years, maybe decades before they know and understand that I’d easily give my life for theirs.

Maybe by the time they are old enough to realize those emotions, people will just ‘think’ their birthday wishes to you directly from their head to yours. Technology just better not try to substitute my brownies & ice cream.

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Tips From a Toddler, Part II

In my last post, we looked at the first five lessons I learned from my awesome ‘little buddy’, Rylan.  Being a parent is everything I hoped it would be and nothing I expected it to be.  I’m a communicator.  I’m a trainer.  I’m a coach.  I’ve led conferences, presented to large crowds, coached top-notch sales people and mentored teenagers.  I’ve learned and grown as a leader from each situation, but I never would have expected how much I would have learned from my kids while parenting.

Here are some more of those lessons.

6. Try new things.  Constantly.

Last Thanksgiving we had dinner at my parent’s house in Vero Beach.  My dad was sooo excited to give Rylan a present — his first “fishing pole”.  Now, let me explain why this is a “fishing pole” (in quotes) instead of a fishing pole (no quotes).  This pole was outfitted with Spiderman logos and images all over it.  This pole was pretty sweet.  But, his pole was not supposed to catch fish.  In fact, it had a plastic fish already hanging off the bottom of the fishing line.  Rylan had never fished before and was anxious to give it a shot.  Papa (my dad) was using a real pole next to Rylan and actually caught a fish.  That moment might have been the pinnacle of his life (until he met Mickey Mouse).  Rylan could have been apprehensive to hold the pole and try to “fish”.  He could have also been scared to go up and touch the real fish that Papa caught.  Our little buddy is a brave little boy and he loves trying new things.

Are you willing to try new things in your life?  I’m not necessarily talking about experiences or adventure, you might be pretty daring.  What I’m referring to is much simpler.  As an example, I used to try to have my quiet time in Scripture at night.  I am absolutely not a night person. In college, there would be parties at my house until the early morning hours and I was in bed with my door locked at 10:00.  I am much more of a morning person.  I’m sharpest in the morning.  I have my best ideas in the morning.  So, I made myself available to God when I knew I was most willing to engage, even if it meant waking up before my alarm would normally go off.

7. It’s the little things

Rylan loves playing with our iPads, but we don’t always let him.  We use it to reward good behavior, like cleaning up without us asking or making it through a whole nap without wetting his pull-up.  (*parental confession, we also use it to preoccupy him when we want to do other things or just want quiet.)  Rylan typically freaks out a little when his iPad time is up, no matter how many times we tell him that it’s expiring.  We are trying to teach him to thank us for letting him play games rather than complain that the iPad has to go away.

How grateful are we with the small things?  How often do we fail to tell our friends we love them, only for one of us to move away?  How often do we fail to tell our clients we appreciate them, until it’s too late and they take their money somewhere else?  How often do we fail to thank God for the crazy amount of blessings we have instead of asking for more?  I have to make a decision each morning and pick out the shoes I want to wear.  I have a selection of shoes, but there are kids who go barefoot in our country and others every day.  I have hope in Christ, but people in other countries struggle to find any meaning in their lives.

8. Teach others

Rylan loves his sister, Bailey.  He loves to hit her.  He loves to pull her hair.  He loves to drag her across the carpet.  He also loves to teach her things.  Rylan shows her how to play with toys, cook in his play-kitchen and even talk.  Get a drop cloth when it happens, because it will melt your heart.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t truly understand something until you teach it to someone else.  Whether it’s Scripture, budgeting, software, processes or recipes, teaching someone else helps us understand the subject and ourselves better.

9. Talk to strangers. (Some of them)

We recently took a trip to Disney and we needed to take a pit stop at the bathroom in the park.  There was another man in the bathroom and upon walking inside, Rylan says, “Hi, are you peeing?”  OK, this is probably not the best example to illustrate my point.  Rylan is not shy.  He talks to anyone.  A repairman came to fix the electronic door lock on our apartment door.  Rylan talked his ear off the whole time and wanted a play-by-play of what the guy was doing.  Rylan also gives out high-fives in public regularly.

I travel a lot for work right now, which means I encounter a lot of different people on planes, at hotels and at restaurants.  I have a chance to connect, engage and maybe even influence someone else’s life.  But, I often choose to put on my headphones and zone out in my own thoughts.  Our experiences and testimonies are gifts.  We need to feel comfortable investing in other people and being vulnerable enough to let others invest in us.

10. Enjoy what you do

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This is Rylan on Christmas morning riding his new bike.  If you can’t tell, he flippin’ loved it.  When he has this much fun, he talks about it for days.  The first time he rode a pony was at the fall festival at church.  The ride lasted approximately 52 seconds, but the story about it lasted weeks.  Don’t even get me started about the time he met Mickey Mouse. I thought his head was going to explode all over our famous rodent friend.

We have to love what we do.  I’ve met a lot of people in my industry that just “have a job.” They are more content complaining about things than applying themselves and making a difference.  I’ve met a lot of Christians who claim to have a relationship with Christ, but there is no fruit.  If Christ is the center of our world, we need to talk about Him always!

We need to think back and relive that moment (we all have one) when we received the best Christmas present ever.  For me it was a Castle Grayskull set from He-Man.  I remember how excited I was to open it.  I was shaking.  Nothing could keep me from talking about it to my friends at school.

Now, that toy is long gone.  I really don’t remember playing with it as much as I remember actually getting it.  As a believer, my salvation and joy in Christ is ever-present and always with me.  I have to share that same jubilation when I talk about the eternal gift in God’s grace as I found in getting that temporary He-Man gift.

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