Category Archives: Fatherhood

Family Road Trips….

 

If you follow Rachel at all on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that we recently endeavored on a 2500+ mile road trip with our family of 7. Why would we put ourselves through such an ordeal? Well we say the better question is, WHY NOT?

We desire to have a family life that says yes to adventure and no to the mundane. We realize this isn’t for everyone. As one of my favorite authors and preachers Mark Batterson says, “Don’t accumulate possessions. Accumulate experiences!”

This road trip was the opportunity to accumulate some experiences for our kids and to see some friends from Indiana. Since we made the move to Florida just over 2 months ago, Christian has had the hardest adjustment. He has really been enjoying life most of the time, but he misses his old friends the most—especially his brothers from a different mother, Jace and Will Tonagel. Jace and Will’s dad is Greg Tonagel, the men’s basketball coach for our favorite team, the IWU Wildcats. The Wildcats were getting ready to play in the NAIA national tournament in Branson, MO….so we said….WHY NOT?!? And we took to the road for an adventure.

Well, for those of you who are thinking about venturing on a road trip with a young family, here are a few tips we picked up:

  1. Have enough vehicle space.

You may not know this, but Rachel and I are rocking the old school 12-passenger van these days. Picture the church van you used to take summer youth trips in, but make it sweet gold instead of white or black. While this van has more room than we need, on more than one occasion we have been extremely thankful for the extra space. When you’re driving all day for 2 days in a row, it is very welcoming for the kids to have the space to be less likely to pummel each other. I’d advise having at least 2 more seats available than what you need. But to each his own. If you choose to use a 7-seat minivan for 7 people to drive over 1,000 miles, it’s your funeral. 🙂

  1. Find great friends.

On the first leg of our journey, we had the immense privilege of staying with our now dear friends Robin and Chad Merrill in the suburbs of Atlanta. Robin is also a Senior Associate with GiANT Worldwide, and she gave our family a supreme taste of Southern hospitality. Breaking a long into pieces trip by staying a night or 2 with some close (or soon to be close 🙂 friends is a great way to make a long trip much more enjoyable.

As you can see, Christian had a good time with the Merrills.

  1. Have entertainment boundaries for your kids.

Just kidding. 😛 If you know us at all, you know that compared to some we are fairly strict on how much our kids are allowed to play on devices or watch movies/tv. On trips, we tend to leave the boundaries MUCH more open. We do require them to turn things off and either read or rest occasionally, but for the most part we figure they’ll stop when the battery dies on their Kindle/iPad.

  1. Be Flexible! (Obviously)

Hardly anything in life goes as planned. Long road trips with young families are no different. If you are not a flexible person (in attitude not body) and desire to develop more flexibility in your personality, take your family on a road trip. You invariably have to be open to plans changing and making adjustments as you go.

All-in-all, we had an enjoyable experience on our road trip and highly enjoyed seeing friends again and watching our Wildcats make the final 4. The most unique experience? The kids really wanted to sleep in the van for a night on the way home. So with 3 bench seats and floor space available, the big golden Henry mobile became the Henry house on wheels for a night of sleeping in the panhandle of Florida. And you know what…..we all survived and accumulated another great experience.

So I encourage you….look for unique and adventurous ways that you can create unique and memorable experiences for your family right now. We’ll never get these times back.

 

–SH

Christian, Jace, and Will got their hands on my phone:

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Dad beards….

Dad Beards….

Beards are in style right now. If you haven’t noticed that, you apparently haven’t watched any sports James_Harden_Beard Jayson_werth_beard,

movies brad-pitt-beard ryan_gosling_beard,

or walked outside recently.hipster_beard

Beards used to be for only certain groups (Amish!)Amish_beard

but now they’re more widely accepted than a grown man in skinny jeans. Conan_skinny jeans

 

But what about beards on dads?

I have chosen to have a “sort of” beard for almost three years now. Simon

A “sort of” beard is a beard that stays very short and gets shaved to the shortest length of the hair trimmers about every two weeks. It never becomes a true, thick beard, but there’s always a little something there. I grew this when I started teaching college students to make myself look enough their senior to be their professor. Some people can’t picture me without it. 

But as a dad with a beard I regularly run into a major problem. The problem? Beards can be “scratchy” or “itchy” in the words of my chidders. Whenever I shave my beard close with hair trimmers, it then remains scratchy for a few days before it’s to the soft stage again. I’ve never had the long beard nor kissed a man with one (I’ve never kissed a man without the beard either), but my assumption is that it’s soft and not scratchy.

In the movie Saving Mr. Banks, Travers Robert Goff, as played by Colin Farrel, is the father of P.L. Travers, the famous author of the Mary Poppins books. He is depicted as a dreamer and drunk in the movie, but he absolutely adores and dotes on his children. In a conversation with his young daughter he asks, “Do you know why daddies shave their beards?” After receiving a puzzled look, he smiles at her and says, “Daddies shave their beards so they can give their children kisses.”

Beards are in fashion, but hopefully our choice to grow them does not impede us dads from receiving our God-given right of kisses from our children!

Dad’s—may you either keep your beards shaved off or long enough not to be “scratchy” so you may never miss the immense blessing of your child’s loving kiss.

–SH

For your viewing pleasure, some of the best beards on the market:

bestbeards bestbeards2 bestbeards3

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Why I am glad it was a boy…

I would have been happy to have another girl. In some ways I would have been elated. Our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th children were girls, so we were used to having them. We have a monster’s share of little girls clothes already and all of the hair clips, dolls, and princess dresses that accompany the world of little human females. I would have been very happy having another little lady in our home.

Mason is happy ALL the time!

Mason is happy ALL the time!

But we did not have another little girl. On October 18, 2015 we received the amazing gift of another little boy to our brood of creative little rugrats, and we are absolutely ecstatic! We would have loved a girl, but Rachel and I have now both openly stated that we really wanted a boy. I don’t know if it was to even out the teams or because we felt a little sorry for Christian, but we are both overjoyed to have Mason Lane in our lives!

As I think through it, here are a few reasons we’re so happy he’s a boy:

  1. Adriah

Before Mason was born, Adriah was the only child that kept saying she wanted mommy to have a “baby dirl!” (That’s “baby girl” in 3 year old talk.) So when she first met him and was asked if she wanted to kiss him, her answer was a quick and simple “no.” Fastforward 6 months and she is completely in love with him and constantly wants him brought down to her level so she can touch him and kiss him. When she holds him now she just wants to keep looking at his “tiny” hands and feet. I think they make her feel more like a “big dirl.”

I am also glad we had a boy for Adriah’s sake because in some ways she is most assuredly a youngest daughter. She is a little diva and loves making people laugh and getting attention. Having a younger sister would have been too similar to this little starlet in the making. A boy provides good variation and will allow both Adriah and him to better develop into individuals. Overall, for Adriah’s sake I am really glad we had a boy.

2) Christian

Christian, in the language of Strengthsfinder (Link), is strong in command and competition. He likes to be in charge and he likes to win his way. (I’m guessing a lot of 7 year old boys are like that, but he takes it to another level.) In the short amount of time Mason has been in his life, I am starting to see and hope for a change in Christian. He is showing that he can deeply care and think about someone other than himself. He showed glimpses of this type of care for Adriah–not wanting her to get punished at all no matter the level of her wrongdoing. But when little Mason is in a state of uncontrolled cry-screaming, Christian shows his deep concern. My hope is that having a little brother will bring out the compassion and love for others that we desire to see in our oldest boy. For Christian’s sake, I am really glad we had a boy.

3) Selah and Jadah

Selah and Jadah are now 6 years old, and they love playing house and having responsibility. As Mason has grown over the last 6 months, I have seen both of them take on more older sister and caretaker responsibilities. They love being involved in taking care of their little Mason in any way that they can. I can envision them feeding him soon when he gets to eat real food and watching over him as he learns to walk. For the sake of Selah and Jada, I am really glad we had a boy.

4) Rachel

Rachel may quite literally be the best mom in the world. She is very intentional and extremely patient. To say that she has developed a deep and lasting love for Mason is most assuredly an minimization of her affection. Rachel loves her girls very much, but Mason will give her the perspective of a different type of boy with a different personality. For Rachel’s sake, I am really glad we had a boy.

5) Me

It goes without saying, but I am ecstatic to have another boy. I feel as though I make so many mistakes with Christian, so Mason is my second chance. 🙂 (Christian, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. But everyone is better at something the 2nd time around.) Although now that baseball season is starting, it is strange to think that I will go through all of these developmental stages with another boy. But at least Mason will have his brother that is 7 years older to help too! For my sake, I am really glad we had a boy.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, no matter if you have a girl, a boy, or a puppy!

 

–SH

****To shed some light on our lives right now….I started writing this post the day Mason was 1-month old and intended to post it then. Maybe I’ll get to write something again in less than 6 months! 🙂

Our Family of 7

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