No. No. No.

The resistance is upon us.

I’m not talking about politics or civil rights. I’m talking about the toddler “no” stage.

Everything is no. Time to go. No. Let’s get your pajamas on. No. Are you all done with your food. No. (Even after the ASL signal for all done/no more was thrown.) Would you like to go outside. No. Would you like some milk? No. And then she thinks about it…yes, milk.

It is practically a muscle memory response. And maybe it is. Maybe it’s that my almost two-year-old is expanding her vocabulary but has seen such great results from no that she can’t stop using it.

One thing that is for sure is that this is normal. She has realized that she is her own person, and she is staking a claim on the land that is her independence.


Her job is to be defiant. My daughter is going through what is a normal developmental phase for a toddler. And there may not be an end in site until she is approaching four years of age.

Here are a few ways I battle, er communicate with my Toddler’s no:

Injecting energy. I’m in sales. And sales really is all about energy. One of the hardest sells can be for my toddler to put on her jacket and get ready to go. But if I make it exciting, she is more likely to accept her fate.

Distraction. Welcome to the world, girl. There are things that we, as people, don’t really want to do, but we must. Groceries need to be shopped for. Learning happens at school. Diapers need to be changed. Mom and dad have careers. But I find that if I distract her by pointing out the birds, trees, snow or a song, she is more likely to forget about being defiant and go with the flow.

Reasoning. Yes, I do try this tactic, but to much failure. The more rational adult mind likes to discuss and reason but the toddler brain isn’t there. I usually deploy this as a last result.

Call in reinforcements. We have the advantage (or maybe disadvantage, depending on your perception) of having two kids. And the younger looks up to the older. When the stars align I can pull in my Kindergarten-aged son to help dress my toddler. Try calling in your partner or a friend to help can work, too.

She is my second child, and it’s always a learning process. I have learned though to slow down and take time to decide on my response. Before, I may have been quicker to stone wall, but now I let her say no and decide which response may handle the situation best.

Let’s face it. Conflict is inevitable. And healthy for that matter. So once a course of action has been decided upon, us dads (and moms) must stick together. Giving in will only give your child something to shoot for in the future. This Zero to Three article ends with this note.



All Kids Are Home Schooled

My kids aren’t home schooled as you may think of the traditional parent-become-teacher home school program. But according to Seth Godin, we are all home schooled.


Think about it. There are 186 hours in a seven day week. My kindergarten son sleeps an average of nine hours a night, so eliminate those off the bat. That leaves us with 105 hours of vertical wake time.

I work a solid 40 hour work week, and my son and daughter are in school or after-school care at that time.  That leaves 65 waking hours together as a family.

Hours in the week = 168

Hours spent working/in traditional school = 40 (23.8%)

Hours spent sleeping = 63 (37.5%)

Hours remaining together = 65 (38.7%)

Cleaning, playing, shopping and living together. There are endless chances to teach here. More time during the week being a family than being away from each other at work and school.

How are you spending those hours? What distractions are you using to get away from the kids? Or what problems are you involving them in? What are your kids watching you do? What other circles of friends and family are you exposing them to?

You don’t have to be separated from their mother to be a “Disney Dad,” always wanting your time to be pure fun with the kids. You could be married but avoid house-work and only spend time with the kids when you’re taking them to ice-cream, fun parks, etc.

Teachers make a huge impact. There is no doubt about that. But if home life is creating a larger negative impact, the teachers are fighting a losing battle.

There Goes The Neighborhood:  Come on Over

A half-dozen liquor bottles were in view on their three-season porch, cigarette smoke wafted and the f-bomb was was dropped at shouting volume while I played in the backyard with my five and one-year old. There goes the neighborhood.

The next-door neighbor of mine for the past nine years sold his house. Then the rental sign went up, and the new neighbors just moved in.

My son wanted to “see” where the noise was coming from. Rather than peer over our fence, we introduced ourselves. Only the grandpa came to greet us, and he appeared genuinely warm through red eyes. He even has a grandson on the weekends who is the same age as my son.

The grandson was encouraged to come out, and he hit it off right away with my son. I’m a pretty understanding guy, and I understand the drive to indulge. I also understand the insanity that can proceed rounds of drinking. There are also certain behaviors I’d rather not expose my kids to at this age, but I said yes when my son asked if the grandson could come over and play. You could also bet that they were within my view the entire time.

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” says Jesus in Mark 12:31. But these aren’t the neighbors that I want to love I think to myself in response. I was hoping for a quieter family, with two kids the same ages as mine, maybe even going to the same school. Heck, throw in a dad that I can relate with and invite over for BBQ.

He wants to teach me something else. Sure, these neighbors act differently that I choose to in my life now. They even look different than my family. So in order to help me find what He may want me to learn with this change, I think of what I’d like my son to learn.

Learn to respect people. Learn boundaries. Learn that underneath various shapes, sizes and colors, we are all really after the same thing. Learn to hand over the fear. We can love our neighbors without being close friends.

The thing with fear is that it is learned. My son wasn’t afraid of the f-bombs, the smoke or the drinking. Kids aren’t born afraid of people who look different than them. Even when you think your son or daughter isn’t watching, that’s probably when they are watching the most.

Honestly, I didn’t really want to go outside of my privacy fence to introduce myself. But I hope I my kids learned something from the action. I know I did.

Falling Down is Learning to Walk

Later this month my daughter will be 15 months old, and we are waiting for her to walk on her own. My thoughts swing from wanting her to be my baby forever to wondering if there is a developmental delay.

According to’s Baby Milestone: walking writeup:

“Most babies take their first steps sometime between 9 and 12 months and are walking well by the time they’re 14 or 15 months old. Don’t worry if your child takes a little longer, though. Some perfectly normal children don’t walk until they’re 16 or 17 months old.”

So she may be on the tail end of “most” babies, and I’m not (overly) worried, but the important part is her willingness to fall down.


May we all learn from the youngest among us. Babies fall down hundreds of times as they learn to walk, but how many say, “Forget it. I’ll just crawl for the rest of my life.”

None. Unless of course there is an underlying developmental issue. Babies keep pushing through until they get it.

Whether you are in sales, engineering, farming, a full-time stay at home dad, making your way through school, or even if you’re taking on a potential hurdle in retirement, keep the walking baby in mind.

We can all benefit from keeping the walking benefit in mind. Fall down on your face. Get back up. Fall down on your butt, get back up. Repeat ad infinitum until you’re able to chase or be chased.

May there never be a time when you feel like staying down after falling. But let’s be real, there are those times. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. My daughter does that, too. Just reach out, let me know what you are going through that compares with learning to walk.



Always Seeking New Experiences

The other day my wife and I took the kids bowling. We had an amazing time, and neither of us are that into bowling.

At age four and eight months, neither one of the kids had been to a bowling alley before. This was a saturday afternoon, and there were only about a half-dozen lanes open. The place was hopping.

The beauty of it, was the awe and amazement from the kids. Both were wide-eyed and energized from the experience. From zig-zagging the ball down the lane off the bumpers to the crash of the pins and the action of people, both seemed to thrive off this new experience.

This is the most amazing thing about kids:  being able to see the world brand new. There were no judgements in their eyes. They just loved being out there in the world and in the action.



One of my goals as a parent is to offer this to my kids and to myself as long as I am alive. New experiences not only help the individual grow, but they bring people together. The world has so much to offer.

And the truth of the matter–the truth that I sometimes have a hard time believing–is that everyday is a new experience. It’s easy to get swept into the rhythms of life and feel like you may be repeating yourself over and over. But today, no matter if you read this when posted or years from now, is a new experience that has never happened before.

I easily forget this unless I am doing something new for the first time, like take my kids who have never even touched a bowling ball out bowling on a Saturday afternoon. (I must also give my wife credit as this is what she chose as her birthday celebration.)

But I’ve found ways to inject this newness on a day, without having to travel to foreign lands or go somewhere new:

  • Try a new food, like something off the Korean menu you can’t even pronounce.
  • Clean that closet you’ve been meaning to get to for a long time.
  • Invite new friends over that you’ve never entertained before.
  • Exercise. I was going to write try a new exercise, but this doesn’t even have to be that new. I find exercise in general freshens my eyes to the world.
  • Be vulnerable. Share something that is bothering you or difficult for you.

Keep fresh eyes one whenever you can, for the kids’ enjoyment and your own. The longer I am able to stay in this state, the more open I am to life’s experiences.

I think about the value giving my kids the interest and openness to try new things, and that is something that is priceless. This is also something that any parent can give to their child, no matter the socioeconomic background.

A Friend of Mine Chose Not to Vote & I Admire His Tenacity

On the eve of election day, I asked a friend of mine if he had voted already. For some reason, I knew what his answer would be. Something inside me said that he was going to opt out of going to the polls at all.

He didn’t see “any God-like qualities in either candidate,” so he chose to abstain. He told me this with such conviction, admitting that he is absolutely powerless against people places and things, so he wasn’t even going to cast a ballot.

I sure didn’t agree with staying home from exercising my constitutional right, but I admired his tenacity for standing up for his beliefs. And his right not to vote. He then went to mention a section of the Bible that previews dark days before the second coming of Jesus.

Maybe we’re on our way? Or maybe things have been dark for some time. Just turn on the news or your favorite social media network to see the racism, inequality, poverty and hate pouring out of people.


My friend wasn’t alone. Only 51-52 percent of registered voters turned out in this recent election. Maybe they too were handing it over to God?

I do know that this friend of mine is one of the most generous, caring and self-less individuals I know. He teaches music to kids and volunteers countless hours in service to others.

I’m so torn. It’s not the fabric of my upbringing to not participate in an election. I want to raise my kids with the idea that they can make a difference. That getting active in democracy will contribute to the greater good, but how do I do that when I don’t see it from the election results. How is building a wall contributing to the greater good of humanity?

We don’t need a physical wall to keep U.S. from its neighbors to the south. We have enough invisible walls shielding us from neighbors and potential friends. Whether you voted or not, we can demonstrate kindness to our children, so they can build the relationships of our future, not tear them down.

My neighbor across the street is a very quite man. His wife is disable and his two adult children live in the home, too. He took me by surprise the other day as I was playing with my son when he asked, “Before you throw out your pumpkins, can you save the stems for me?”

I did a double take and asked him to repeat himself. Turns out his wife does crafts, making ornamental pumpkins of some sort, and he asked us to save the stems for his wife. So I involved my son in giving the stems to him. It’s a small act, but my four-year old and I crossed the street together and brought the stems to their house.

I don’t care about his political beliefs. I don’t care who he voted for. I just know that my children remember these small steps of action. Joy was spilling from my son to visit their house and deliver the pumpkins stems.

And hopefully, someday my kids can stand with tenacity for what they believe in to break down walls, either physical or invisible to help their community.