Hope and Disappointment (An Ellie Lesson)

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My daughter is a hopeful person.

She wakes up every single day at around the same time excited for whatever the day will bring. There is never a sad, “Oh man, what will I do?” moment with her. Each morning, she awakes not remembering the day before but anticipating the joy that is to come.

Ellie’s hope is SO big that when she gets bad news, she falls hard. The other day we noticed that her eyes ACTUALLY well up before a single tear falls. Just like in the movies. Ellie will stare off into the vast distance and those green eyes just go. (Side note: that will get me every time…).If Ellie finds out that she can’t go to a friend’s house or that a trip is postponed, her life is OVER.

Until the next day when she awakens to new hope. New chance. New possibilities.

Today, she was hoping that her friend could come over for a playdate. Wifey and I weren’t sure it could happen and wisely said, “we’ll see…we don’t know…” because we’ve been bad at telling her we’d be doing things only to take it back because of broken plans (funny how adults shape disapointment in their kids through the little things. A little, “I know I said we would BUT…” goes a long way.)

So we didn’t place any hope in the situation. But Ellie did. For over an hour, Ellie sat on the couch with her play backpack on…waiting in anticipation for the arrival of her friend. And when her friend came, she responded with a defiant laugh and jump of “I knew it!” At that moment, hope won the day. And it was awesome.

Now I know she’s 3 and that one day she’ll be older and possibly miserable as only a teenager can be. But for today? I love that she’s filled with hope. Hope that we’ll always go to McDonald’s. Hope that her favourite sitter will come over and take her out to buy a fish. Hope that Sid The Science Kid will come on TV JUST when she says so. Hope that the sun will come out so she can play outside (or snow for winter). Hope that everyone will like her and be her friend.

I pray she always “keeps” her playdate backpack on as she gets older. I pray that as she puts “…childish things…” away that she never loses the hope found in believing “…like a little child…“*

And God help the person who ever ruins that.

Meaning? God help me.

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*Scriptures found in 1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV) & Luke 18:17 (NIV)

Netflix, TV and My Kid – A Parent’s Tale

“It’s not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day.” – Homer Simpson, B.A. and father of The Simpsons.

This, for many people, is their unspoken motto. A life filled with sitting in front of a flat screen/laptop watching hours of episodic television, 24 hour news TV or March Madness. That statement is much of my life’s story (minus the troubled Bart-like kid), for growing up I had 3 parents: Mom, Dad and TV. Much of my pop culture nerdish quotes and ideas come from hours as a kid, teen and at times, adult, watching and learning from TV. From Perfect Strangers to Community, Summer to Winter Olympics, from Lost to Fringe, from live to PVR/Netflix and online, TV had been a part of my framework and a part of how I see things.

Now I’m not writing this blog to tell someone to turn off their TV and get to running outside or fasting or something.  Nor am I writing to invite that for myself from a loving commentator. I think there’s someone much Bigger than I am who can do that. I’m writing because I have a daughter who like her father loves TV. And because she loves it and we let her watch it (with we hope, wisdom), it’d be good to talk through how we do it and hear from other how they walk their kids through it, if at all. So here’s how we’ve done TV with Ellie and what I’m learning in the process.

  1. Some cartoons aren’t good for her. At first we simply left a Canadian channel called Treehouse on all day while she played for background noise. And in all honesty, sometimes we did it for a break too (any “Oh man I’m not alone!” chants starting?)! And what we would hear would most often by fine but some shows, even for kids, would promote behaviors that we didn’t want her to see as approved. And this goes for me (and you) too. I talk about that on number 4.
  2. Know the limits. Winters are the worst for this. It’s not like you can go outside at minus whatever to ride a bike and Lord knows craft time, if you’re not a craft person, can be draining. So the easy decision is to simply turn on the TV and walk away. And for a time we would do that. Now we let her watch some educational stuff for a bit then turn the TV off and enforce play time. And that might be in her room with toys, might be coloring, but it is something away from the ‘tube.
  3. Talk with her about what she sees. I think good parents know when to simply say no and when to explain a no, even to a 3-year-old. The reason to explain isn’t to get them on your side or even the Lord’s side but instead to help them start to think critically over what they take in. This past summer Ellie was watching a kids show on my iPad through Netflix when a character said something I found inappropriate. My initial instinct was to take the iPad and walk away. Instead, we had a short talk about being nice and kind with our words. Did it stick? She’s three. But I do believe that the seeds are there.
  4. Set an example. Man this is hard. Am I on my phone in front of her all the time, checking emails (not tweets, if you remember)? My iPad? Even a book? Am I paying more attention even to writing this blog than to playing with her and her brother? It might not be a TV but if it’s something and it’s for a long time, it might at well be a TV. I have to take my own breaks, even when she’s sleeping. And I also have to constantly reevaluate what is appropriate and not. As I read today through Jon Acuff’s Quitter, “Discipline begets more discipline.” How I do things will affect her greatly, to make better calls, take better breaks and know when something shouldn’t be in her life.

So, thoughts? Ideas? Do you own a large TV but never use it because of different principles (side question: then why have the TV? But I digress…)? Was TV never a big deal for you? If not, what do you find is? How do you help your kids think while they do? If you don’t have kids, how to figure out what you watch and how much is too much?

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Parent Real Talk: Feeling Sucky

If you’re a parent, you’ll understand this feeling: inadequacy.

This isn’t what we’d project on Facebook with our fun family pics or on Twitter with our happy 140 character notes, but more often than not, behind the front door of our homes, we sometimes feel this way. Especially when it comes to how we raise our kids.

The other night, Ellie was taken by SOMETHING. She was kicking her brother, crumpling her face while crossing her arms, cry screaming (which is a mixture of both crying and screaming) and just not listening to us at all. The night ended up with her in bed crying at 7:00 with no snack, me standing outside her room angry that I yelled at her (there is a difference between being stern for her sake and simply yelling because I lost my cool) and Liam picking his nose.

That night I felt like…I wasn’t a good dad. I know I am but there are days where I just feel…inadequate.

Question for Parents: Ever known that feeling? What seems to trigger that for you?

It’s worse when you’re out somewhere and you kids seems to…dare I say “embarrass” you. You know those times when they are the only kid who throws themselves into a foam-at-the-mouth, roll-in-the-dew (#seewhatIdidthere, Cobourg Camp peeps?), punch-kick-claw-yell-cry state while other parents look on with that face? You know the face…that smug look that says, “If that was my kid that would NEVER happen!” And it is so embarrassing, isn’t it? I know it is for me.

The real talk truth is that every kid has moments like that, whether we want people around us to know it or not. If a kid doesn’t:

– Sleep long enough or sleep too little
– Eat enough or sleep too little
– Play enough or play too little
– Feel the sun or to the moon
– Find out there is no Santa or some fictional character
– Suffer from first world problems like “Sorry no McDonald’s, kiddo” or “No Ellie, we’re not getting Starbucks banana bread (told you…first world yuppie problems)”

…They will freak out. And the younger they are, the harder it is to explain to them why they can’t have what they want and why they shouldn’t respond they way they do. So there are only a few things I can do.

1. Pray a lot. Becca and I picked up a cool booklet by Mark Batterson called “Praying Circles Around Your Children“, based on his book “The Circle Maker.” Without giving away too much of the book, the main gist is to help give parents direction on HOW to pray for their kids on a regular basis. The other night, I made a list of things I will speak over my children. For Ellie, kindness and honesty (among other things). For Liam, humility and love.

2. Apologize. I lose my cool sometimes. If you’re a parent, you know what that’s like. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to say sorry to a three-year-old who would rather play than listen at the time but if I live a life of apology, maybe when they are older, they’ll learn that being wrong and admitting it is okay.

3. Say “I love you” a lot. Today Ellie asked me, “Daddy, do you still love me when I do bad acts?” I told her that I could never NOT love her no matter what she did. Out of that, on her own, my three-year-old said, “Daddy, I’m sorry for hitting and yelling…”. She apologized for something she did the last week. Love brought out honesty from her, not my yelling.

4. Still discipline. Sometimes my kids are going to need to be disciplined and as a good dad I have to do that. But I have to talk afterwards.

5. Not compare myself to other parents. Hey other parents: I know you have sucky days when you get mad at someone else because you had a bad day at work or something. Because I know that, that face don’t mean nuthin! People without kids, know this: Your kid will mess up. Your kid will do dumb things. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It just means you’re like every other parent, whether they say so or not:)

6. Remember that kids remember. Today I saw a tweet from Mark Driscoll that made me pause (Thanks Taigan Bombay for retweeting him). It said, “Men, we need to be the kind of men we want our sons to become and our daughters to marry…because they will.” I think that goes for all parents. Our kids will be like us no matter what, so let’s all aim to be the best we can be.

…Tonight when I got home, Becca and I had to have a long talk with Ellie about her recent behavior. It was crazy to see Ellie embarrassed and saddened by her actions. She even tried to hide, reminiscent to two people who tried to hide from their own discipline so many years ago. Yet when all was done, we had a dance party.

Thankfully when things are done right, the ending is always sweet and filled with awkward attempts at dance moves meant for teenagers and NOT 30 year olds.

Parents: Please pass this along to other parents to hear their thoughts! How have you dealt with your own feelings of inadequacy?

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

Married to a Mumbler (A Marriage Story)

THIS IS A CONVO THAT HAPPENS OFTEN IN THE HOME OF THE CHASES

Chris: Hey hon…where the ________________? (choose whatever)

Wifey: mmh meme muummgmn, mhm memem mhemmm.

C: Pardon me?

W: mdmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmmmm

C: (To himself) …uh…umm…ooo-kay…I’ll just…dang…

Liam: Da-da-da-da (fart)!

____________________________

This summarizes many of the conversations I have with Wifey on a daily basis. Now not all of them are like that. A lot of them are full-voiced and filled with beautiful syntax, structure and substance. Some end with laughter. Others, with meaningful pauses and lingering gazes. And still others with loud points made and the cries of “Ha! I win!” that follow.

But yeah, in a lot of them, I have no clue what Wifey is saying. Here’s a summary of why this is (or rather why I believe this is):

  1. Wifey has a naturally soft voice. I THINK I’ve only heard her yell at me once. She’s been justifiably mad a bunch  but yelling isn’t her thing. Which makes me very afraid for the day she breaks and yells out.
  2. Wifey has a naturally higher voice. Now when I say I don’t mean squeaky high or chalkboard high, just higher.
  3. Wifey is a “baby of the family”-last of three child. I think that all younger siblings develop that “Talk under your breath”-thing so they don’t get beaten up or something. I’m no clinical psychologist but that’s my opinion. It’s easy to say whatever you want (good, bad, nice, mean) in a lower grumble.
  4. I am naturally hard of hearing. This is both in being stubborn AND in what I hear. Years of big headphones and loud base filled tunes have wrecked my ears. As for being stubborn…I got nothing.

So you can imagine the frustration Wifey must feel when she asks something of me and I can’t respond because I’m not sure what she said. ALSO: She, like many people, hates repeating herself! So that’s never fun to say, “What?” (Ever notice that when people repeat themselves, the tone is much more “You’re a deaf dummy!!” Or is that just me?)

So with every mumbled statement made, I have different responses that I can make, with each have different results.

  1. Pretend Like Nothing Was Said (Times used: 25%. Fear of reveal: 80%. Percentage of wifey’s anger: 90%). So in this scenario, I just walk around FULLY knowing she said something but out of either fear of asking again OR being too lazy/tired at the time to re-ask the question, I say nothing. This then consists of me walking around or strategically playing with the kids, who are always loud and therefore blocking my ears. This always works by leaving the room.
  2. Guess what was being said (Times used: 15%. Amounts of times incorrect: 60%). This is a good one if you’re not worry about being wrong. My natural response is to often say, “I thought you said…” which is responded with a “Why would I say that?!” Which is always true.
  3. Stand, Pause and Wait for a Repeat (Times used: 30%. Frustrated glances from Wifey: 70%). How annoying would that be? Just having me stand around you, not doing anything waiting for you to say, “Did you HEAR me?!” Never a good one to choose. I really should change my approach here.
  4. Get sarcastic and mad (Times used: way more than I should). This is when I’m tired at my wits and I’m thinking “Just a bit louder, puleeze!” Any negative response I receive based on this when I’m called out on it is fully deserved. Plus, it’s a bad example for my kids to see, Wifey to feel and me to be. Trill
  5. Respond by saying “What?!” (Times used: It’s my default! Classic response: eyeroll and repetition). This one has  the right intentions but wrong delivery.
  6. Mumbling back. This is never a good one. This is when it get really immature on my part. I tend to do this more when I know Wifey may be saying something that she actually doesn’t want to say allowed.
  7. Just asking (Times used: 5 to 7%. Residual effect: Minimal). I get nervous about asking, which is dumb because she is my best friend but when I do, while there might be some annoyance, getting the task done is better than not. Plus, I know that she knows that she mumbles at times, so I should give her the fairness of simply asking. PLUS, I have MANY more hangups than that! I am talking many.

Being married to a mumbler is “tough“, and by tough I mean funny enough to blog about, but not as tough as other issues found in marriages. I think it’s fair to be real about stuff like this though. Just like she would be on how I didn’t help her find her keys, once. We, and by we I mean couples, never talk aloud about the little things, which often makes openings for the BIG things. And in  my doing so here, it’s not as a complaint (trust me, I told her about this post and she laughed at it and said okay, especially since I’m showing off my immaturity) but more in a “You know a funny thing Wifey does that I feel fine sharing with you is…”-type way. I do know that I am very fortunate to be with someone as funny, talented, forgiving and creative as her. In two weeks it’ll be seven years of her accepting and putting up with me, not the other way around. We do get on each other’s nerves at times (as other young couples do at times) but in the end, Chase loves Brown (maiden name) For Life.

Even if many-a-times I have NO clue what she’s saying.

More than likely, she’s talking about the beard.

PS. Ellie is a lil Mumbler too, which makes for fun moments too!

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

I Hate Chris Chase (Based on a True Story)

The other day while I was fabrezing my beard, I logged onto my WordPress to see the movement of my latest post. While doing this I noticed something quite…unnerving. Someone did a google search for me. Now before you say, “Calm down there Mr. Narcissist!” Look at what the search was (this is not made up):

Now that’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? First, I’m not google worthy. Secondly, HATE? Wowzers! Like the person couldn’t even just search my name or my work or something but that they actually “Hate Chris Chase.” And it’s not general hate. Nor is it invitational hate (as in Let’s hate…). It is personal hate…and its something that I’m sure they didn’t expect I’d ever see.

So I saw that and my mind went racing to figure out who would do such a thing. I mean…I am loud and while not as loud as I used to be, I do get up there in volume. I sometimes put my foot in my mouth at the pain of others, but I am much better at saying sorry now than I was back in the day. Could it be someone from my old youth group (I do wish I had more friends from that time in my life at times but life is what it is…)? Someone who I spited accidentally or maybe purposely? Could it be Frank Grimes (go to 0.21)? So then who could it be…this really bugged me,

Because no matter how confident you are, especially if your identity isn’t found in yourself, or something/one else but rather in Christ, you still want to be liked or even loved by others. Call me weak. I call it human. We’re all built for relationships. No one is above wanting to be accepted. Even snobs want love. Even bullies want love. Bullies bully cause they don’t know how to ask for love. And when you find out someone doesn’t like you, most of us, when we’re alone get really bothered by it, even if for a split second. And trust me, it sucks (if I had a dime for how many time I got blamed for a friendship flame out i’d have at least 25 cents). The weak part is when you can’t get over it, i guess.

So I got pretty sad. Then angry. Then wanting to find a way to track the person down and simply ask them why…then I decided to create a back story for this person…and that made me laugh a lot. Cause it was good.

Then, after 3 hours  (or so…) of laughing to myself I realized that I wasted my time on this person’s  anger/resentment/unforgiveness/fear/narcissism/sad googling/mistake (hard to believe but there is more than just 1 Chris Chase in the world) and realized that “haters gonna hate”, I guess. And even if their anger is justified (albeit not gone about in a healthy manner) I’m no better if I sit there and hate them back or even dwell on their hate. So, I decided to leave it. Until I blogged about it…and went through it again. But now I’m fine…i think…lol.

 

I guess the beard really isn’t for everyone. Real Talk.

…And to my friend, the googler…It’s all good. Thanks for reading the blog anyhow. Hopefully we can make amends one day. And if not, I hope you have diarrhea for a month

…kidding:)

(*added today) I guess I also have to admit that we all have hate in our hearts too. I mean we all don’t like/trust/accept people. There are some we connect with and others who we don’t as…easily. I need to work on that in MY life as well. Love (and hate) is a two way street…

PS. The beard lives on. The beard drinks hate and produces grey hairs of wisdom.

PPS. I normally have my phone on vibrate but when it’s on loud, this is my ring tone – 

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

Dealing With Boys (Letter to Ellie)

Boys Suck!!

Something that will bug me forever, Eliana, is that you will one day like boys. Even worse: boys will like you. A lot. You’re funny, pretty, smart, creative, confident (just today when mom asked you if you’re silly, you said, “No, I’m beautiful!”)…the list goes on. And while I will already hate the boy who marries you (kinda), I feel that it is my responsibility to give you the inside track on the majority of guys (there are some exceptions, but in many areas, we’re all the same) and what you need to watch out for.

Now I don’t worry about you ever having to stand up for yourself (the other day at day care, I saw you push a boy over when he tried to give you a hug. The fact that it was during bible story time, is besides the point.). But as you get older, a boy will take your attention and possibly break your heart. And it’ll suck. So before that happens, here are some things about boys you need to know.

1 – Boys Suck

Just right off the bat, they do. All of them.

2 – Boys are smelly

They all sweat a lot, some smell a lot worse than others but the all smell. Really bad.

3 – Boys live in a land of passive aggressiveness

You think you know what they are thinking or how they are feeling. You ask them for their opinion and they hem and haw at you. They get mad but mumble under their breath. They ignore you because they don’t know how to express themselves but desperately want your attention. Is he mad at you? At life? Just quiet? Is he a vampire? Rarely will you know how they feel and when you do, you’re sorry you found out. They know what, or who they want…it just takes them a while to know how to ask for it. (See Edward from Twilight…or so I’m told…).

4 – A lot of boys have dad issues

Boys will try to be just like or completely unlike their dad. A lot of what they are trying to find on the path to manhood has to do with figuring out how their dad feels about them (because THEIR dad never knew how their OWN dad felt about them…you see, men only do as they’ve experienced…). (When you’re old enough, see Good Will Hunting).

5 – A lot of boys are scared

They will never say it because men are to be heroes, leaders, soldiers and athletes (when’s the last time you saw a guys accountant or psychologist action figure?), but underneath it all, they fear. They fear failing, commitment, getting over their issues, never making it, being broke, doing life wrong, living in regret, growing up, zombies…you name it. When you meet “him” ask him what he’s scared of. If he says nothing, he’s a liar. If he says, “I don’t fear because_________”, he’s a liar. Now if he says, I fear this, but I bring that to God everyday, you’ve met someone who hopefully has a good sense of self-awareness. They’ll know that they can’t get over their stuff on their own. I should say, however, that because I am a cynic and because you are my daughter, I MIGHT not fully believe him so he and I might have our own coffee date to hash that out:). (When old enough see the movie Antoine Fisher)

6 – Boys suck at giving and reading signals

He won’t know if you like him and he’ll think you want him. Use words, not eye and ESPECIALLY NOT YOUR FACE!!!!! (Example: Every man who has ever lived. Period.).

7 – Boys want to be better

Even the really rough ones, when they are away from their crew, don’t want to be bad. Many of them want a better life for themselves and for ones they may bring into the world. Some are rotten apples who have been dealt a bad hand (whether they were spoiled or left alone). And if you confront them (and wade through the passive aggressiveness) and ask them about it, they’ll tell you. However, once they are back with their crew, it’ll be like it never happened (see The Simpsons episode where Nelson dates Lisa for an example).

8 – Boys often don’t know how to be the “starter“.

You won’t be sure if something should be happening or IS happening and he won’t say anything (see nos. 3, 5 &6). And so you’ll become the man to ask him what’s going on. That should never, ever be. If you have to go to him for that, you’ll have to do that for the rest of your life. And it’ll annoy the heck out of you. Think on that one.

9 – Boys will break your heart (knowingly and unknowingly)

At least some will do it knowingly. I will hunt them for sport. The guys who do it unknowingly…they are the worst. They led you on, didn’t know how to get out of it and they broke it off in an ugly manner. Urgh…boys really suck (Example: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World).

10 – Boys are territorial

They may not want to be with you but at the same time, they won’t want anyone else to be with you either. It’s really weird…and when you’re taken, they won’t know what to with themselves…watch out for guys who are naturally selfish. If they are selfish with stuff, they’ll also be so with you.

Bonus: Beware of the guy best friend. You may end up marrying him OR running after him like in “My Best Friend’s Wedding…”

Bonus 2: Boys suck. It’s true, kid. They do.

Bonus 3: Even the Christian ones can be sucky. That’s a whole other letter, kiddo.

There are so many more things I could say. And I’m no psychologist here. I just know a lot of guys, kiddo. And I was a boy too (and still am sometimes.). My prayer is that as you do life the right way, you’ll meet the right kid of guy who will take care of you and love you sacrificially and unconditionally. And something I have to remind myself of is that you will (i don’t know if it’s consciously or unconsciously) look for a guy who is either a lot like or the complete opposite of me. And so if I do life right (love my life, love your mom, you and your soon-to-be brother or sister), your standards will be set and you’ll be okay. And if I don’t, I’ll meet him and say (to myself, of course…maybe to your mom…), “You’re MY fault.”

And it will be.

I love you kiddo. And when a boy breaks your heart, we’ll sit on the couch, eat ice cream and plot our revenge.

I already have their graves dug out 🙂

P.S. This is not ALL guys, I know. Dudes, I got love for you. I just gotta give my kid the 411 on the bad ones! If you have a daughter, you know EXACTLY what I mean. None of you want a dummy son-in-law right?

#EODYC “Friday” – The Performance!!!!! (read and rt)

 

Here’s the proof!

 

Click on this link to see myself, Matt Robinson and Ian Walters perform Rebecca Black’s insult to ears and music called “Friday”. This link will take you to facebook so you’ll need to log onto it it to see it.

But it’s worth it. Trust me. I wouldn’t share it if it wasn’t!

Yup, wasn’t a dream. It did happen. You can fast forward through the preamble. It really did look like fun.

I’ll try to get a youtube version up here as soon as possible!

Thanks for reading, watching and dreaming!

If you were in school today, this is the BEST after school gift you could ever get!!!

PS – Any thoughts on a song for next year?