Silly Kid Dreams You Never Forget…

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As a kid, I loved baseball. I mean loved it. And based on my french neighbourhood in Pierrefonds, Quebec, I looked like that kid in the picture above. But it was cool because of how much I loved this sport! More than I loved the Lakers. So you know I’m serious:)

My friends and I would play for hours in the park, until it was dark outside and our parents were calling us in to come home. We looked like kids from the Sandlot or from the greatest Keanu Reeves movie EVER:

As you can imagine I was a huge Montreal Expos fan, even though our team sucked most of the time and our stadium looked like a really weird upside-down european version of the starship enterprise. See?

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Whether it was cheering Dennis Martinez, Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez or others, it was about dem Expos and MAYBE the Jays, especially during the World Series days. While I never would have wanted to play professionally (the whole A, AA, AAA system was taxing on my young mind) I loved it.

Now? Not so much. Three main reasons:

1. There is no more Expos. Well, there is but they are the Washington Nationals. I no longer have a team to call my own. And while I live in Toronto and enjoy the Jays, it’s just not the same. The strike of 1994 completely destroyed my team and my thoughts there. (Though I JUST read this that brings me so hope. If it happened to the Jets of Winnipeg, why not La Belle Province?)

2. It’s too easy to predict. Only 10 teams could actually win it all every year. Boring. That’s no difference then cheering for Bron and the Heat.

3. Have you EVER watched a baseball game on TV?

That said, I still have one baseball dream that I want to confess to you:

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I want to visit Fenway Park in Boston, Mass cause I wanna watch the Red Sox play. And this dream was only heightened by the effects of last week’s horrendous attacks. Funny how even the silliest dreams return during times of tragedy. Even the selfish ones.

Why? It would be so stinking awesome! To sing “Sweet Caroline“, see the Green Monster and to work on my Bahston accent (Oh man, Big Bahpi’s wicked smahrt with his bat!)…too much fun. Right now, it’s an improbable dream (money, time, two kids under 4 who wouldn’t appreciate the trip) but still, I dream and wait until it’s possible. And one day, it’ll happen!

Now, I don’t know if that’ll reignite my heart for the game…too much has happened between us. But maybe, just maybe it’ll open up a door to reconciliation. Not saying “Move over Basketball and Football and the Olympics” but who knows…maybe it’ll come true.

And as a grown up, I hope that my willingness to hold on to this silly dream will inspire Liam and Ellie to do the same when they be grown.

Daht be Whicked Smaahrt.

Other dreams: Go to Europe, Go to Israel, See a live Lakers game IN LA, buy Wifey a really nice new engagement ring and a better wedding cake (she wasn’t a fan of the last one…)…more dreams to share…more to come…

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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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Did I Just Sing “Friday??” – A Lesson From #EODYC (Read and RT!)

This past weekend I came to the sad realization that I am getting older.

Maybe it’s the gray in my beard. Or the fact that everything is loud or too bright. Maybe it’s the fact that I always make reference to something (Music, especially…) from years ago to let kids today how bad they have it now. I’m rambling here…let me explain.

My friend Jeff asked me a few months ago to be the co-host/emcee at our annual Senior High Convention, where students from all over the eastern churches of Ontario come together to be encouraged and to encourage others in their relationships with Jesus. I had an idea to open the event with a rendition of the Rebecca Black musical monstrosity known as “Friday” that I saw Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert collaborate on. I knew that it would pop (meaning go over well with the majority of the crowd because of its random placement and overall hilarity) if we did it right so but that if it didn’t, it would be a loss that we’d be unable to retract.

Life is risk.

So as the event is getting closer, I’m quietly stressing over the song, the duties, etc. We’ve never had someone do what I’d be doing before. Urgh. Thankfully, Matt Robinson, our event’s worship leader and all around great man and friend, helped on the musical and creative end to make the song work with his band. But something was missing.

The “Friday” rap.

On Wednesday, by way of Twitter, I contacted a student I knew and asked him if he’d be willing to do the rap, a mix of the original HORRIBLE lyrics and his own swag. The student jumped at the chance, wrote his verse and was pumped for the opportunity. I, on the other hand, thought about the logistics, the response, the spacing…technical crap. On the actual Friday, we did a run through and sound check. Again, I was really in the technical zone, PLUS I was sick with a cold and losing my voice (as if having a voice would make the worst song in the history of poetry OR prose or caveman writings better, but alas…) so I was in a pretty crummy mood. But then I would look at Ian, (aka Creo) as he was waiting for his mic check. He was so excited. He just wanted to rip the stage UP! He couldn’t sit still! Up the minute before he was to get in position, he look at me with the “Should I go up NOW?” face and I’d say, “I’ll let you know, man, don’t worry on it.”

Such a grown up.

Finally the night kicks off. I get into that “There is no one better at this job than me”-zone and go for broke with the hosting gig, dappered out in my Don Draper suit. I’m still not having full fun yet but I’m getting there. Then we start “Friday” (…in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, if this fails, oh man…) and the kids are having fun as the Shakespearian call of “7 AM, waking up in the morning, gotta be fresh gotta go downstairs…” penetrates through the speakers. Ian then has his shinning moment and the kid kills it. He really does, all swagged out as he ran the stage (he’s seen lot of rap videos, I guess!). Then the song went into high gear as Batman, Spiderman, a sumo wrestler and guys in unitards hit the stage for the finale. You had to be there, I guess (any videos of it out there…?)

It popped. It killed. It was epic. It was actually FUN!

Right after the song (Catch you on the flippity flip!), I went, changed and got ready for the next segment, really forgetting what just happened. Back to tech stuff. No time for roses.

Not Ian. His twitter was a-blazing, excited to perform in front of the “biggest crowd of his life”, truly finding his purpose as an entertainer and rapper. He tweeted on it all nite! I read them and laughed with joy, pride and hint of “okay, cool it down, son!”

…And then I realized that he had something that I, and many adults, have lost due to social media, 24 hour news channels, broken promises, lack of encouragement, bad high school experiences (which we’re still trying to break free from), dad issues and more: DREAMING. He still believes, and rightly so, that what he can do will change the world. I was like that once, excited to stand on a stage, be it at church or school…whatever. NOW? I think about wording, time, people’s perceptions, “could someone else do it?”, speaking to the influencers, etc. Ian reminded me that having fun is okay. It’s cool to get lost in the moment and simply BE. It’s okay to dream about being better. It’s okay to actually believe you can change the world, be it through a rap, a dance, a story, a conversation or a smile.

I just wished the lesson came from a cooler song.

Or a mime.

The DNA of a Good Husband…?

I am a big fan of magazines.

I can’t tell you how much money I have spent on Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, SLAM, GQ (depending on the cover) and Time. So much information…so many articles. Awesome sauce.

Last week, I picked up a copy of Esquire magazine because it had a cool music section and Mr. Kevin Flynn, a.k.a Jeff Bridges was on the cover (If you have yet to see Tron: Legacy, you need to. Pure eye candy). While I was looking through it, I saw an interesting article that prompted me to buy the magazine, bring it home and underline stuff. It’s title? “Hitched: A Man’s Guide to Getting and Being Married.” In it, various authors give their thoughts on why men still choose to marry someone though divorce rates are high and doing the “let’s just live together” movement is booming large. The article is broken into the following sections:

– Meeting the wife: Initial relationship building, marriage and kids
– The Middle Years: A Philosophy of Fighting
– When A Marriage Ends: Dealing with the ramifications of divorce, remarriage, etc.

The article also has a quiz on if you are a good husband or not (of course it’s according to Esquire status so it’s kinda funny, kinda gross and not indicative of whether you are or aren’t good at the ‘job’) and some little quotes from people who have been married for YEARS on how to make a marriage last. Here are some of them:

– “She cleans, I cook. It works.” Herb Burton, married 52 years to Sylvia
– “Hilary tells me that women say that they need three husbands in their lifetimes. As a young woman, they need an adventurer. As a mother, they need a father to their children. And as an older woman, they need a companion, a steady type of guy. If you can fill those roles over the course of decades, you’re in luck.” Paul Wexler, married 40 years to Hilary.
– “Everything’s negotiable. There’s no black and white. You can’t draw a line in the sand, because the sand moves.” Dick Tressel, married 40 years to Connie.

Some cool truth there, i think. And you know what I notice even more? The numbers. 40…52…that’s amazing.

So I got to thinking: What is the DNA or recipe for a good husband? If the perfect husband could be constructed (and I know it’s impossible but for the sake of the blog post, please keep that arguementative voice to one’s self) what would it look like? Is it simply, “love God and that’s it?” Is it “adventure and romance?” Is it “know the signs, don’t be selfish?” Is it all of the above?

You see, I’m going on 6 years in September, one beautiful girl at the age of two and other bundle on the way. I have a steady job, a sliver of maturity, a have a relationship with Jesus, good morals and fashion sense. But it that all that it takes? I’m not the greatest at listening or noticing things (check out Becca’s blog for proof at http://beccachase.wordpress.com) but I clean a lot, even at weird hours. I misread eye contact (and every married man knows what I mean…yup. Exactly.) but love shopping for wifey…don’t know why I’m adding this in but hopefully it give context.

If I had to put myself on a HUSBAND scale of one to ten (one being “How did that guy even get out of the nursery??” and ten being “What? Jesus got married and coaches little league?? Amazing!”) it really varies. There are days when I know I am untouchable. Then there are days when I know that work came first, or TV, or the iPad, or even Eliana. I’m still learning and I am very thankful for patience that is shown my way, even when the scale is tipping towards the one. But still…what makes a husband good? And a follow up question, what makes a marriage last?

So, I need your help both ladies and gentlemen! In your estimation, what makes a good husband? If you’re married and a dude, what do you think you need to be awesome? If you’re a lady and married, what about your husband do you love? If you’re single, what do you want to be (men) or desire and expect (ladies). Comments and thoughts are encouraged here (so is subscribing…but that’s a whole other story) so post them away.

One last story: At Ellie’s daycare, there is a lady who literally walks with joy. It’s amazing because it’s not annoying but rather infectious. On certain days when I am there, her husband comes to pick her up. And when they see each other, you can feel their sparks. It’s amazing. Whether they say nothing or gab away, they love each other. She is his everything. They are still newlyweds but love each other like they have been married for years. And to know her story of how their love came about makes me smile even bigger. He’s her hero (apart from Jesus).

I like that. I wonder what he’s doing right.

More Than A Voice (A Note to Becca)

Happy Mother’s Day, Becca!

I gave off the wrong impression…

When I first met Rebecca I wasn’t trying to prove anything to her. Normally when I liked a girl, I would show off and am to be cooler than I already was at the time. Lots of loud jokes, extra hand movements (I grew up among the French in Montreal) and looking to see if she was watching.

But I wasn’t thinking that when I met her. I was thinking, “That girl with the Capstone shirt is really quiet.” She thought of me, “wow, he is a a beautiful man.” Okay, she actually thought, “why is he sooooooo loud????”

Over time, we became acquaintances then friends. She could always sing and everyone knew that but she was always more than a “voice” to me. She was quirky, smart, funny, driven, hard-working (ask her if you know her about how long it took her to write a paper. Then after laughing, ask her about the average grade she’d get. Then kick yourself.), and pretty darn cute (that’s a whole other blog…). I remember being nervous about leading worship in front of our peers at school and how she was like, “you got this” and how she would teach me about worship leading, speaking, etc.

When we got engaged, Becca was pastoring somewhere and doing a great job at it, despite the many roadblocks in her path. I remember calling her to let her know about the position availability at APC and while she didn’t say it, I know that in her head and heart, she knew that her days of doing ministry on her terms were over. She’d never say it but she felt it. Yet she gave up her job and that life to be my wife and be my partner in what we do now.

That role has gone from being right with me week in and out to whenever she can because of our little one Ellie and her beautiful propencity for drawing attention to herself but she’s always supported, always corrected when I needed stand and always reminded me of the call and the mission. My first four years at APC wouldn’t have been half as fun if we weren’t at it together.

I typed this because in two instances (well, TECHNICALLY three, if you count two services) Becca sang at APC. And well. Well, better than well. Awesome. And I know that the majority of people who sat under her talent and ministry would have only seen a voice (something that always worries Becca), I saw the mother of my kid, the love of my life, the one who gave up her dream to partner into mine and I was her biggest fan.

Sacrifice, when it is properly recognized, should remind us of what we have and what we’ve been given (Maybe that’s why people hit churches up on Easter like lineups for iPad). It should cause us to do more than be happy but cause us to see where we would be without it. Also, it should bring out of us heartfelt thanks, gratitude and desire to pay it back somehow. I see and know how much Becca has given up for me…and for that, I say thank you. I will never be able to fully repay you for it but I will work my life to try.

You will never be just a voice to me. You will be my best friend, my equal, my love, my joke tester, my honesty reader, Ellie’s mommy, my dance partner, my same TV show lover, my teacher, my compass and my reminder of a Greater Sacrifice.

And you will always be the reminder that i don’t know where your keys are.

Rockstar, Big Dreams & Having Fun (a letter to my 2 year old Ellie)

I remember when I was about 5-6…

…I had a birthday party and got the best gift ever: a giant police car…with lights, a siren AND a walkie-talkie on it. It was loud, obstructive and awesome, just like me. Everyone loved it. I played with it until I went to bed, imagining a life as Sgt. Chase on the Montreal streets, taking out the law breakers, refusing bribes and always getting home in time for supper. It was a great dream. It was the best toy ever.

The next morning I woke up and ran out of bed earlier than normal, with a heightened expectation to play with my awesome toy. Yet it wasn’t where I left it. I looked through our whole house and couldn’t find it. I asked Mom and Dad and they said they moved it but I’ll see it later. I was deeply upset until about 5 seconds later when I was distracted by something else (I was 5-6…try to get a kid to pay attention for that long.). But every so often, even as I got older, I would wonder about my police car and dream of being a Sgt. I would imagine being in my room, no lights on but the blue and red of my car, its siren on 10 while calling into the station.

Years later, Mom and Dad told me they got rid of the car on the night of my birthday after I went to bed and put it in storage, later called the garbage. They saw the lights, heard the siren and saw the walkie and thought, “Nope. This toy’s gotta go!” No more Sgt. dreams. No car. I still dream of that car.

This past weekend, Ellie turned two. And during her small birthday celebration, she got a microphone set that comes with its own stand, mini stage AND buttons for claps and applause (from dinky small jazz club claps to Bieberific one). It’s a narcissist’s dream I tell ya. And from the moment she turned it on, Ellie “Twinkle Twinkle’d” all day, performing original songs as well as well-known favorites as per request. Oh yeah, there’s NO volume button on it. So it’s loud and echo-y all  the time. She even REALLY rocked out at one point, knocking things over mid-song (Click on the link to see her in action)! It was fun. And as I watched her mumble, fumble and bumble her way to entertain everyone around her, I vowed to never put it in storage or complain when it’s really loud and annoying. I realized that as her dad, I need to let her dream and catch her when she misses the star she was trying to catch.

Dear Ellie,

You’re a musical kid. It’s easy to see it. You sing on pitch, you have rhythm, you know how to hold(and pretend to strum) a guitar AND play drums. And you love a crowd. You love to make people laugh and to show off. You get that from me. Sorry:)

You may grow up to be a rockstar, kiddo, on stages with all the light and fame to go with it. If you do, stay humble. Everything you have is a gift.

Remember what you told me when I asked you where Jesus is…in your heart. Shine bright & give your all. I’ll be with you every step of the way. And let me say, that doesn’t have to be what you wanna do. Whatever you do (pending it’s legalities) I will be proud of. I know you’ll help and affect many…it’s all over you.

Yet there will be days when you don’t feel that support from people around you, or days  you feel like you’re not good enough. Those days are unavoidable, sweetie. But on those days, I’ll pull out that kiddy mic you got when you were two and you can sing “twinkle twinkle, little star” all day and night till the confidence comes back. And I’ll sit like I did on your two-year old birthday, with a huge smile that says, “that is MY kid! MY KID.”

I’ll always be your number one fan. You’ll always be famous to me.

Never stop dreaming, Eliana.

Da-ddy

2011…Painting a Picture

Dumb title…

I can’t even paint. In fact, I hate painting. I’m so bad at it that Becca took me off painting duty when we were (and by we I mean she) was painting Eliana’s room.

What I meant by the title is that I want to “metaphorically speaking” paint you a picture of what I want my 2011 to look like. No, this is not a late addition to the New Year’s Resolution Party. Nor is it a goals list. This is an if I could do a couple of these things really well, I’d be happy” picture. You see, I got really sick just before Christmas. pneumonia sick. In the hospital sick…wasn’t fun at all. And while I was recuperating, I realized that I really wasn’t taking care of myself in many areas.

  • I hadn’t done anything sports-wise or healthy in ages. Running stairs was hard.
  • I hadn’t really took time to read like I did in the summer.
  • I wasn’t taking care of my core soul.
  • I was getting bored and tired with everything and everyone (sorry if you were in that path…)

Now Becca and Ellie were the lifeline but I realized that I have to lead my home properly. That my wife won’t respect me if I’m lazy. And that my daughter will one day look for a guy who was like me. And if I didn’t like ME, I’d hate that dude…or really like him…but mostly hate him.

Anyhow…so as I got better, I started to do an inventory of my life, in a holistic sense (based off of Mark 12:28-31) and areas I wanted to improve with practical ideas on how. Then my buddy Josh suggested that I put it online to make sure that I did it or at least attempted to…so here’s my holistic list.

  • Feed my mind – This year, I want to read a book every 10 days. The type of books? Doesn’t matter. Listen to great music that inspires me. Take in a sunset. Paint. The last one is a lie.
  • Feed my soul – Really pray and get into the Bible. I’ve never been a sit down at 3 AM and get into the word guy. Sorry if that confession makes you question my Godly status. Hopefully the fruit from my life makes up for it? I’ve been really using the apps on my phone and iPod (and soon…the iPad) to make that a priority.
  • Feed my body – I’m looking at prices and my time to join the Ajax community centre. Plus I REALLY need to eat better. AND actually EAT!! I’d love to be 160 one day:). So working out…and playing more golf this summer. Went out twice. not enough.
  • Feed my heart – Dream a lot, enjoy company with my friends, make new friends, love my wife and daughter. Be passionate about who I am and what I do. Stay engaged in cool stuff.

The result of this picture: I’d be a better man, husband and father. And I’d live longer…maybe.

Think I can do it? What should I look out for? What are my roadblocks? Think you can help me do these things?