I am a radical parent.

My wife and I are trying something radical in parenting. We’re spending some time with our kids.

Okay, maybe it isn’t radical. In fact, it is probably the definition of parenting, but it is something that can be a challenge when your schedule is full of projects and work and household chores and hobbies and such. To make sure that we spend time with our kids, we’re scheduling it.

Wednesday nights after dinner are now reserved for 1-on-1 parent/daughter time until bedtime. My wife takes one daughter to the kitchen where she gets to don a special hat, apron, and oven mitt while I take the other daughter to the basement for some video games or Lego playtime. We all get to do something that we like–spend time with our kids and enjoy some personal interests–and our kids get some personal attention. And each week, we switch daughters.

I know, it probably sounds like a no-brainer, but being intentional about any activity, including fun ones, takes dedication. We’ve had one of these Wednesday night 1-on-1 times so far, and it was a ton of fun. I really want them to continue, I’m hoping for a long time to come.

Here’s a few pictures from that first one.

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Do you have any suggestions for what we should call these nights? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, do you have ideas for kid-friendly/healthy recipes that we could use in the kitchen with our kids? Please share those too!

100 (plus a few) Word Challenge | Could I Really Wear That?

Click here to see the prompt that inspired this story.Normally, I follow the rules for Julia’s 100 word challenge and stick to the word count suggested.

This week, I’m being a rebel because the story that came to me could not be trimmed to fit.

Oh well. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it anyway.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

With my folks out of town and Jessica getting out of work early, the last thing I wanted was to be stuck cleaning out my dead grandfather’s office. But here I was anyway. Looking around the room, I knew that this job was going to take forever. When I die, I hope I’m not as big a packrat as he was.

“I wish I had more time with my girlfriend,” I said to nobody, knocking some knickknacks from a shelf in a dramatically futile gesture.

“You could,” said a voice.

I spun around to see a short Arabic man standing amid the clutter of my recent outburst.

“Wishes are my area of expertise,” he said.

“What? Where did you come from?” I spluttered.

The man stooped to pick up a broken jar. “My former master must be dead, for he only used two of his wishes, yet here I am in front of you.”

“Your former master?”

The short man pointed to a large portrait of my grandfather.

“He was a hard man, but smart. Shrewd. He never trusted me. And his wishes made me work hard every day I was in his service. In gratitude for my release, I will grant your wish.”

“What wish?” I asked.

“More time with your girlfriend. Here,” he said, reaching into the folds of his robe and handing me a pocket watch. “Simply press the button on the side and time will stop for you and your girlfriend.”

“How do I know it will work?”

“You just saw me materialize in this office. Besides, I couldn’t lie to you even if I wanted to, could I?”

“Really?”

“Wear that watch tonight. Take your girlfriend out on a date. Press the button and see what happens.”

I looked down at the watch, inspecting it as though I was some kind of expert at paranormal timepieces. “One question,” I said. But the room was empty again.

When I picked up Jessica that night, she commented on my new watch. “Just wait until you see what it does,” I said.

I waited until we were on a busy sidewalk for maximum effect, pulled the pocket watch out with a practiced swing, and pressed the button. Nothing happened for a second… then we heard a shout.

“Watch out!” someone cried as a car jumped the curb to our left.

pocket_watch

4 Ways to Make Time

RelojDespertadorThere aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things that you want to do.

  1. Hire a Substitute – Teacher aren’t the only ones who can get subs, you know. Just find someone who looks more or less like you and pay them to do your job for the day. Even better, see if they are willing to do your job for less than you make. That way, you can take off all the time you want and STILL make money! Just don’t let management find out that you are overpaid and/or not working, since they might just cut out the middleman (you).
  2. Stop Doing Housework – You know what takes less time than vacuuming, doing the dishes, and cleaning the toilet? NOT vacuuming, doing the dishes, and cleaning the toilet. Sure, you’ll live in squalor and there’s always the chance of creditors taking your house away, but every reward has its risks.
  3. Sleep Less – Let’s face it. People waste a third of their lives on sleep. Invest heavily in caffeine, friend, because sleep is one of the hardest addictions to break. Of course, there’s a good chance that after three days without so much as a nap, you’ll be criminally insane. Just channel that insanity into a productive form so you can do the things you want to do, only better.
  4. Abandon Family & Friends – It’s time to go into Hermit Mode. People love spending time with you because you are funny, smart, and attractive, but you need to know when to say no. Sure, you will probably lose friends and anger those who love you most, but that’s okay, right? I mean, you have your all-important time to do whatever it is you wanted to do. That makes it okay, right?

So there you have it. All the time in the world. Do all four things and you’ll be amazed at all the time you were wasting! You won’t even have to try smarter approaches like re-prioritizing!

As always, thanks for spending your precious time reading my blog.

Back to School | It Begins…

Today is the first day of the online course that I spoke of earlier. To save you the click, I’ve enrolled in a free online course offered by the University of Michigan through Coursera entitled “Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World“. After reading the course syllabus, I’m pretty excited to get started.

That said, this is also my first full week back at work after taking a week of paternity time to help out with my newest daughter. I’ve forgotten just how busy life can seem when you are getting less sleep. Fortunately, my wife is encouraging me to go back to sleep in the middle of the night when the newest one needs to eat. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that the true difficulty of having two kids doesn’t come from the youngest one (who mostly just sleeps and eats and poops and wakes you up in the middle of the night), but from the oldest one (who is running all over pulling out the toys and things that you just put away probably because you just put things away and she sees that as an affront to her toddler feng shui).

Anyway, now that the time has come to do the online course, I’m wondering if I will be able to give it my all, when I am also trying to give my all to my wife, my family, my work, and my writing (including this blog). I’m a big guy, but I don’t know if I’ll be big enough to divide into that many directions.

This is just a worry I have. I’ve done difficult things before and have come out the stronger for it. I’m probably just quibbling here, but if you think of it, offer up a prayer on my behalf that I’ll be able to take care of my responsibilities and not lose my mind in the process of pursuing my creative outlets.

Two Days or Less

In two days or less, my wife and I will be officially adding one to the number of people who occupy rooms in our household.

We are obviously very excited, but in any crunch time you also think of the things that you are not going to accomplish before the main event happens.

For instance, in the next two days, I’m not going to finish my WIP, which means that I’ll need to find (make) time to work on my novel once we have two little mouths to feed and four little hands to keep from harassing the dog.

I’m not going to build the cool book lamps that I thought about building in the next two days.

I’m not going to design and build the toy chest that my oldest daughter needs. Her toys are everywhere, just everywhere. Not that having a toy chest would help much because she likes her toys to be everywhere anyway. I’m just saying, it isn’t going to happen.

I may not even get a chance to finish writing out my thoughts on my friend’s manuscript even though I’ve had if for months (sorry Bob).

Knowing that certain things are not going to be done on my schedule can cause me to act in one of two ways. Either I can freak out and try to accomplish all of my wants or I can accept the disparity and try to plan how I will accomplish them in light of my future additional responsibilities.

Yesterday, I wrote about how I’ve felt grown-up ever since I got married, but I realize that I still have room to mature. I think accepting my limitations and planning accordingly is part of that process.