my hero

a month or so ago, i got word that eric olsen was leaving his position…as the camp pastor/director at luther heights bible camp…after 30 years!!!

in honor of his work and service, i would like to re-post this dedication to him…

Godspeed, eric!

outside of my father, there are a handful of men that have been and continue to be (in some cases) mentors to me…i consider it an honor and a privilege to have known these men…because they are…

men who have made me a better man…

iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another…

one of “my guys” is affectionately known as “big e”…his real name is rev. eric olsen…and he runs luther heights bible camp in the sawtooth wilderness (in central idaho)…he’s been the camp pastor/director there for more than 25 years…i was fortunate enough to have worked closely with eric over the span of 6 summers…a short, but highly potent and influential time in my maturity…

the term “big e” is fitting because he is a big guy…nature made him that way…he’s the kind of guy who can crush boulders with his bare hands and pull fully grown pine trees out of the ground without breaking a sweat…

ever hear of paul bunyan? this guy trained paul bunyan, folks…

no, but seriously…

you won’t see him on the front cover of a magazine or hear about him on twitter…but he’s the kinda guy you should see and hear about there …because he’s a good man, a man who has dedicated his life to the service of others…and when you’re around him this is unmistakably clear…

you won’t know what he’s about by what he says, he speaks sparingly after all…

you’ll know it by what he does…

by his faith…he lives it out every day…

by the way he treats people…the kindness and love he shares with his family, the staff, the campers, the supporting congregations and individuals from those churches…

by the way he works…whether balancing the books, repairing a leaky roof, rebuilding a trail, building a new cabin, recruiting and guiding staff members, raising money for the camp, navigating relationships with the forest service, or digging out the composting toilet…(yes, he’s the big boss…but, he doesn’t leave the gritty, grunt work to someone else…he doesn’t shy away from the dirty jobs…he shows up–every single day)…

working alongside big e is a lesson unto itself…if you can keep up, you can learn a lot…

so, thank you, eric…for everything…you made a difference in my life…you gave me trust, responsibility, and most of all–grace (and there was more than one time when i needed that;)…for a ‘gentle giant’…you were a powerful presence in my life and in the lives of many other people…and i know i’m better for knowing you…

cheers! peace. dett.

our last day with our day care provider…

yesterday, we said goodbye to one of the most important people in our lives…our day care provider…

given the impact this woman had on our lives, i am re-posting (below) a post i shared more than 3 years ago…

everything in this post is still true today…or, more true…meaning, you just need to “times” all of the good shtuff i said below by ten thousand (x 10,000) and then you’ll be close to just how much my wife and i love and appreciate her, our day care provider…

note: in the first version of this post, i didn’t give out her actual name–for privacy reasons–but i’m gonna do that now…because if you’re out there (in the twin cities)–looking for a place for your kids–look no further, sign up today!!!

thank you, stefanie berge/sharon (owner/operator of tender heart childcare) you’re the best around!

to see what i’m talking about, please keep reading…

before i was a teacher, i worked with kids in many different settings…coming through a gauntlet of years in youth work & (now) teaching, it takes a lot to impress and inspire me in this field…

but, i have been truly impressed and inspired over the past 3+ years…

with our in-home day care provider…

and yes, i said in-home daycare provider!  …in-home daycare programs are often regarded as marginal, “fly-by-night” operations that may be alright in an emergency….but not as a “serious long-term consideration”…because people think that “they’re just not as good as centers” or a mom/dad staying home with their children…nor are they viewed as “safe places”–you get the feeling that this is one of the most horrific decisions you can make for your children–tantamount to sending a kid cross-country on an orphan train (esp. from my parent’s generation) …like your kids will end up abducted, abused, neglected, abandoned, in the emergency room, dead in the street and on the nightly news if you leave them there!!!  i heard the world saying, please report to the shame corner and turn in your parent card, now!

…this is not the case with our person, sharon–yes, her name has been changed to protect the innocent–or in the many cases of parents who use amazing in-home daycare providers each and every day…anyways, my wife did the first drop-n-go routine, through a river of tears (mind you, this is a person who cries over  the voice🙂 and i did the job three days later…and this is what happened…

i entered the house, took off my shoes, and proceeded downstairs to find my children…i was excited to see them…arriving downstairs, i made eye-contact with my son and daughter…they recognized me and smiled…but, they weren’t that excited to see me…they stayed where they were–by the side (son) and in the arms (daughter) of sharon…i thought, what the hell is this?!  i’ve been your father for nine months–you think that was a piece of cake–i was there when you were colicky, when you wouldn’t sleep, when you had that “projectile shit”–the rapid fire, .50 caliber shtuff that ‘took out’ the nursery room door–and this is how you repay me…how dare you?!  i mean, i had envisioned my children running from sharon, bounding towards me–their father–with outstretched arms (press play on can’t hold back by survivor)…but, it didn’t happen…so, i made funny faces, talked to them, waved for them to come to me…but still, they stayed with sharon…so, i hiked back upstairs, put my shoes on, went out to the van and grabbed the wonder bar…so-to-pry my children off of their in-home daycare provider!

…since those early days, we’ve seen and heard all about the amazing things they’ve learned from sharon…sign language, “how to wear a helmet with style”, music, how to pronounce their “t’s”, please and thank-you’s, “how to help”, potty training–you name it…she is unbelievable …so, let me just take this moment to say…thank you, thank you, thank you, sharon…for teaching our kids, for loving our kids like that…i am impressed and inspired…you’re the “+1” to my wife and i, you’re the best around…

thank you, girls

despite my last entry, this school year has been 1000x better than last year…

the overwhelming majority of the kids i have are ‘into the student gig’ and ‘on top of their jobs’ in the classroom…

it’s a good feeling, it’s the best feeling…especially when measured against last year’s trials and tribulations…

it’s a much-needed reprieve…so much so that i’ve dubbed it ‘my recovery year’…

and i’m thankful for it…

i’m also thankful for a group of girls that i had in my class last year…a group of girls that got unintentionally pushed aside and lost in the turmoil and craziness that shrouded the last school year…pushed aside, but not forgotten…you see, they deserve mentioning, they deserve recognition…for the way they showed up in my class last year…

their names are natalie, lindsay, erin and sarah…

and last year, at the end of every class they said, ‘thank you’ as they left the room…and it was a genuine salutation…though a bit shocking, by today’s standards in public education…

so, ladies…here’s to you, here’s me raising a glass of coca-cola to you right now…

it didn’t go unnoticed, it mattered…

and i appreciate it!

cheers!

it happens (post script)…

potty training our twins has been like our experience (my wife’s) breastfeeding them…

it either happens or it doesn’t…

and of course, there are parents out there…you know the ones, the same one uppers who let us know just how elementary breastfeeding can be–well, they showed up again around this time…in this case, they made mention of how easy it was to potty train their kids…like it was a snap…like it was their own outstanding and hallowed abilities and skills as parents that made it possible…like God put ’em on earth just to show their kids how to ‘do their business’!

thankfully, i have a group of guys around me…who know better than that…men who have gone through their own trials and tribulations on this front (and life in general)…men who have been there for me in many ways, to strengthen and support me…and their wisdom and counsel has always been valuable for me as a father and as a man…

and they were there for me when i told them that my kids didn’t quite take to it

we were at the speakeasy (lyn 65 in richfield) sippin’ on old fashioneds when i told them that…

the kids were showing “the signs”, they were showing interest in “going potty on the potty”…so, we spent the weekend with them–having them sit on the potty and try…and try and try and try…reading books on how to go potty…and rewarded them when they did it…it was going well and we were ‘looking good’ going into the week at daycare…and they did well the first day back at day care…then, the next couple days they didn’t–they had a lot of accidents…

it didn’t take…they weren’t ready…i guess…

so, we’ve got them back in diapers…

[in my mind, i was thinking…what went wrong, what should we have done?!]

together, a few of the men responded with the same mantra (one after the other)…steve, jason and ross…

the timing has to be right, you’ll know when… 

then, ross chimed in again…

they’ll let you know when it’s time…

each of these men are fathers, each of these men have three children apiece…

so, i took their words to heart…and told my wife, too…

so, we’re taking it slow and in stride…

until it happens. 

tradecraft: boundaries (part VI)

boundaries at home: the wisdom of…parenting with love and logic…

reading books is a luxury that disappears once you have children…when someone asks me, what’s the last book you read, d.???…my response often sounds something like this…uh, let me think about that now…hmmmmmthe first ‘harry potter’ book…no, not quite that far back–maybe the first ‘hunger games’ book…the movies may be fresh right now (don’t see those right away either), but the books have been around for a while and i’m not on top of what’s new, you know…these twins have me on the ropes;)

but, the good news is–there is light at the end of the tunnel…and as they get older, it starts to come back…little by little…

i started to see that happening this past summer, when i had the chance to pick up the book ‘parenting with love and logic’ by foster cline and jim fay (and several opportunities to actually read it or at least parts of it, unbelievable!)…it was a book that was recommended to my wife and i by our friends nate and emily youngblood…and i’m glad that they made the recommendation, because it is a really great book for parents (both the ‘newly minted moms and dads’ and seasoned veterans of ‘the parenting wars’)…

for me, one of the greatest take-aways from the book so far...is the importance of choice in everyday life…and that, even if your kids are as young as 2 years old you can give them choices, options in the midst of a resistant or contrary behavior…choices that will help them and you reach the desired outcome of a situation–without a power struggle, no less…now, i’m a teacher, so this stuff isn’t completely new to me–i’ve written about choices/options as it relates to navigating expectations and boundaries and consequences with the kids i’ve worked with before…kids who are teenagers, mostly…but, working with toddlers is different…and working with my own toddlers has its own pitfalls–in other words, when certain challenges have come up, i haven’t always known what course to take…it’s like starting from scratch…

importantly, when i talk about choices or options that you can give your kids…i’m not talking about letting them call the shots…they’re 2 years old, people…but, what i am talking about and what i have learned from this book is the fact that even a simple, little choice can give them some power in a situation; it allows them the opportunity to think or to start thinking about things, what they are doing and what choices they are making…it is an opportunity to start working on those life skills…

let me give you an example of the distinction between your children making choices vs. your children calling the shots — and one of the many reasons for why i love this book…

one of the key phrases i picked up from ‘parenting with love and logic’ is: would you like to go by air or by feet?

it’s funny, i read this section of the book right when our toddlers, jack and grace, were first showing signs of serious resistance to our requests to go somewhere…telling us ‘no’ or ‘i don’t wanna’…and staying put, right where they were–immovable human objects…

common times for resistance in our family were/are:

  1. getting in the car
  2. going to the dinner table
  3. going to get changed
  4. going to their rooms for bedtime

here’s a case in point: jack was becoming more and more resistant about getting into the car when we had somewhere to go…so, one day, not too long after i had read the ‘by air or by feet’ part, he was up to his old tricks…not wanting to go to the car, refusing our directives and being non-compliant…and, of course, we were going somewhere fun…like the zoo–so, go figure (this is the kind of behavior that drives parents absolutely nuts)…anyways, the family was dressed and ready to head out the door when jack said…

i’m not going.

so, i asked him,

you don’t want to go to the zoo?

and he said,

no, i don’t.

[an impasse–if we continued to go back and forth like this, the situation would’ve turned into a power struggle–and nobody wins a power struggle; at the same time, if we had let him stay back and have his way when this is what the family was doing–we’d have lost this battle and it could’ve easily set us up for problems in the future–where we might find ourselves handing over our authority to our children again and again–or what i like to call: letting them call the shots]…

so, i paused for a moment and said…

jack this what we’re doing today…you can either go to the car by air or by feet…you can either walk there on your own or be carried (i explained it completely because it was our first go round with this technique)…

i’m not going, he said again.

so, i said…

so, by air, then?! (and picked him up and carried him to the car)

it didn’t take him long after that to realize that he had some say in how he could get from ‘here to there’…that he had a choice in the matter (a little life matter)…and since that first time, he’s often chosen the ‘by feet’ option…

importantly, and this is oh so important–in cases like this, you (the parents) are still getting the results you want…just like we did…in our case, what wasn’t up for debate or argument was the fact that he was going to the car and all of us were going to the zoo together…those were non-negotiables…how he was going to get there was up to him and allowable by “us parents” 🙂

despite the fact that this is something that won’t work with/be appropriate with older/bigger kids, it’s been such an effective response in our home that i’ve often daydreamed about using the same technique on my high school students:  what?! don’t want to go on the field trip–well, you can either go ‘by air or by feet’…what?! don’t want to go to ISS–well, you can either go ‘by air or by feet’…

i can only imagine the puzzled looks on their faces at being presented with those options…

🙂

honestly, ‘by air or by feet’ has saved us from countless knock down, drag-out battles

so, thank you so very much…parenting with love and logic authors, you rule!

 

this father’s day…verse 1

i was thinking that…

fathers and sons don’t say i love you all that often…

i can count on one hand the number of times i’ve told my dad i love him…i’m 42 years-old, people…that should give you an idea about the scope of this kind of thing…

but, just because we don’t say it all that often…or as often as women and mothers do…it doesn’t mean that we don’t have that kind of love for each other…

when i was growing up, my dad was the provider and protector for our family–in the traditional sense–with my mom at home with us most of the time, taking the lead in the child rearing…my dad was there for us (my sister and i)…but just in a different way…

among men…love is most certainly revealed in the act of doing something together…and so it was with me and my dad…whether we were kicking a soccer ball, going to a movie, watching a sporting event, completing a household project, taking a road trip, or having a catch…or even, just sitting side by sidesaying nothing

it was in those little every day interactions and activities together that i knew my dad loved me…

so, thank you, dad…for being there, for doing stuff with me (and chris)…

and though it’s understood, though it’s known…let me tell you, let me say it ‘out loud’ (nearly)…

i love you, i always have…

 

 

mother’s day…part II

when we were growing up, one of the things that i always loved about my mom was how welcoming she was…to my friends (and my sister’s, too)…my mom had (and still has)…

the gift of hospitality

she says she’s 1/2 croatian, 1/2 ukrainian (white russian version)…but, i believe, to this day…that she’s got some mexican blood in her…there is something innate, something at her core…that rises to the top, when she’s in her element at home…something that reveals itself as the mi casa, su casa way of life…

this was evident throughout our childhood when friends would come over and hang out and have a meal…

there were countless times when my college roommates [magne (& kristine), einar (& kjersti), and tom…besides kristine, all of these friends are native norwegians–born and bred, baby!  they lived and studied in the u.s. for their college careers and we had some great times together] would stop by on a weekend or holiday back from college…and she would make up an amazing meal (more food than you could imagine) …stuffed, we would lounge around, talk, play games and laugh together (except einar, who could always be found sleeping in the recliner)…

another time that sticks out in my mind is when we had a surprise night visitor…it happened on one particular christmas eve…

well, it was well past midnight and we were all asleep…when there was a knock at the door…it was phuoc (we called him ‘foo’)…[he was a friend from high school, but since then, we had both been to college and were now living in the same town of olympia, washington]…my mom and my sister found him some bedding and a place to sleep…and i greeted him in the morning…and we ‘just had christmas together’…it wasn’t planned, it wasn’t announced, it wasn’t even on an invitation–but, my mom took him in…

thinking back, i know he didn’t have anywhere else to go…so, he came to our house…he knew he would be welcome there…

hospitality was/is her love language...no doubt…this was especially important for us since we were a military family and moved around a lot…it was a really crucial thing for us to have growing up…because back then, we knew that wherever we went…our friends would always be welcome at our house…

so, thank you, mom…for that loving and welcoming spirit!  it is something that we hope to cultivate in our own home…as our children grow up…

happy mother’s day!

love. dave.

mother’s day…part I

this post goes out to my wife–the mother of my children…

the fact of the matter is…that some women are born to be moms (regardless of their status/standing in the world, marital status, or biological factors and realities)…it is a trait they possess…it is something innate…it is something that you know ‘when you see it’…

my wife is one of those women…

one of the things that i love to watch…other than the mummy’s day celebration on amc (‘mummy movies’ marathon)...is…the way that she loves our children…jack and grace…it’s not half-way, three-quarters, or even 99.9%…it is a complete and total immersion…100%!!!  this is not just ‘every other day’, or when ‘she feels like it’…but, she is there, she is present…every day…and they know it!!!  this is significant because she also works full-time, as a middle school teacher (7th grade science)…try doing that, then coming home and lovin’ your kids like she does, people!

amazing…

so, here’s to you, babe!  i love you, i admire you (bigtime)…and i wouldn’t want to herd (our own) cats with anyone else!

happy mother’s day!!!

love, me

joe

joe has been in my class for two years (the curriculum is set up so that you can take four semesters of criminal justice if you want to (and if your schedule “allows”)…

joe is a rarity among adolescent boys in today’s world…

because joe is the real deal; little about joe is a “front” or “false”…he possesses real self-confidence and bearing and maturity…and holds a worldview that, while not perfect, is truly positive…

joe has the potential to be a great man…

a few weeks back, i told the students that we would be watching freedom writers in class as a part of that week’s lesson (as a teacher, it is a truly inspirational tale–erin gruwell did some amazing work with those kids!)…a movie which usually gets groans from the boys, especially in a criminal justice class…and there was a groan that was voiced by one of the guys…but, joe cut it off…instantly…saying…

dang, d….you’re getting all inspirational on me now…it’s a good movie…makes me want to volunteer and donate all my money to the community…

he was saying it in a very awesome way, kind of giving me a hard time…but, mostly lending his positive support to the movie choice…legitimately so…and the other guys got on board with it too…they got on board with it because joe said it, because joe is a leader…to the positive…

not in some cheap-ass, rose-colored, leave it to beaver way…but, with gravitas (a word i’ve never used to describe a teenage boy before;)…and because he can communicate in that way, he can speak with some authority to his peers…in a way that immediately wins them over…

iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another…

it is something that i’ve appreciated all year–and especially, during this year…one that’s been really tough, one where i’ve been ‘on the ropes’ more than not…

but, joe’s been there (many times)…in my corner, and i can pretty much guarantee that i wouldn’t have made it this far without him…

in a couple of months, when he graduates…i plan on shaking his hand and telling him…

thanks for ‘having my back’ this year, i appreciate it…keep on keepin’ on… with ‘what you’re doing’…you’re a good man…you give me hope…

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