Dear Santa – On Behalf of Our Kids

Dear Santa,

Enclosed you’ll find Christmas lists from our three children – Jake, Sam, and Maggie.

We are so proud of all three of them this year.

Sure, they do the same kind of stuff that all 7 and 6 year olds do – it’s tough handling your feelings when you’re a kid. Every once in a while someone’s gonna get mad at a brother or sister or pout or be way too upset because of not getting something they want.

Heck, we adults don’t handle our frustrations so well either. And we can’t use ‘being 6′ as an excuse.

But back to the good stuff…

They are so much fun. They are so beautifully unique.

They all three have sweet and kind hearts.

They are gifted in their own special ways.

Jake is a wonderfully creative little boy who loves to do puzzles and build with Legos – he’s so good at focusing until the job is done. That’s a great skill! He also is quick to share his candy and and give a hug or nice word to me, his mom, and brother and sister if he knows we’re upset or sad. He seems to really notice when someone needs a friend.

Sam has become a beautiful writer. He has learned to express himself in notes and stories. He loves reading and always is ready for a sweet cuddle with his Mommy. He keeps his sister and brother laughing with his wonderful sense of humor and fun smile. He is quick to pray and show how thankful he is for the people and good things in his life.

Maggie loves life so much. She’s always ready for a party and always encouraging us to do fun things. She’s great at crafts (her rainbow loom creations are gorgeous). Her singing is beautiful, and we love that she sings fun songs and songs that glorify Jesus. Her heart for her friends and family is so sweet. She is loyal and full of imagination.

Our hope this year, Santa, is that you will be kind enough to grant a present or two to our children. We also pray that you share some of the goodness with other kids who might need something fun and joyful this Christmas season.  We’re happy to help you with that over this next week.

We know that the best things in life aren’t presents and toys and candy and treats. The best things are learning to be kind, learning to be patient, learning to help people who need help, and being joyful even if we can’t have everything we want. We’re so blessed and want to be better as a family finding ways throughout the year to bless other people – with our words, our time, and our resources… even if it’s a sacrifice.

Thank you again for the joy and wonder you represent!

Brett and Tina (Sam, Jake, and Maggie’s parents)

P.S. Thanks for letting us adopt Jingles the Elf. He’s a mess, but he’s fun.

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Go After What You Want

#Skillz. #basketball #youthsports #kindergarten

A video posted by Brett (@brettcohrs) on

I had a strange emotional reaction while watching my son play in his first ‘semi’-competitive basketball.

The children on my son’s team (the green team in the video above) looked to their coach every time before taking a shot, making a pass, or rebounding.

They didn’t really need to look to their coach every time. Sometimes, they simply need to go get the dang ball (or shoot it or rebound it).

Obviously, they’re 4-6 year olds and have never played basketball before.

But still, they need to learn to go out and grab the thing they know they are supposed to be going after (a rebound, in this case). They don’t always need permission. Go get it.

It’s the same for us adults.

Sometimes, we wait too long to go after the thing we want. We look over to someone else to get approval before we chase our goal.

Yes, we need to be courteous.

Yes, we need to be kind.

But also, yes, we need to be aggressive when we have a goal. We don’t always need approval or permission. We sometimes simply need to muster the courage to go grab it.

What’s more simple than that?

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I’m considering a much shorter version of my 2014 Starting Well Challenge prior to 2015.

If you took part last year (or not), would you be interested in tackling a challenge again this year?

If so, reply to this post by email or in the comments below (or via any of the social channels out there).

It’s My Birthday and I Have Unfinished Business

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I’ve decided to adopt Travis Meadows‘ song ‘Unfinished Business’ as my official birthday song from today until I breathe my last.

I’m only 43 so hopefully that will be some time, but until then, I’m all about this song. I figure I’ll have some sort of project going on until the very end (so morbid, right? Sorry! It’s actually encouraging):

I got a list of things to do before I die

If I lay them all on top of each other they’d stand about 3 feet high

The devil is in the details crossing T’s and dotting I’s

Sure made it easy putting off getting around to my unfinished business

I killed a lot of years by sweating over things that didn’t last

I killed the better part of my youth by growing up way too fast

I’m almost to the age where there’s less future than there is past

My regrets are only half the size of the shadows they cast on my unfinished business

 

Chorus: I got songs that I still ain’t sung

Old fights that I’ve still not won

things I need to teach my son concerning wisdom

Itches that I still aint’ scratched

Doors and closets I still ain’t latched

Fish I need to catch

I may be tired but I ain’t leaving with unfinished business

 

I’m gonna learn a few new chords on my beat up old guitar

I’m gonna be strong enough not be ashamed of my old scars

I’m gonna run my engine hard despite all my missing parts

Spend the last of my years trying to finish when I start unfinished business

 

Chorus: I got songs that I still ain’t sung

Old fights that I’ve still not won

things I need to teach my son concerning wisdom

Itches that I still aint’ scratched

Doors and closets I still ain’t latched

Fish I need to catch

I may be tired but I ain’t leaving with unfinished business

Got kisses that I’ve still ain’t kissed

I love yous that ain’t left my lips

Dreams beyond my fingertips but I’m reaching… I’m reaching.

 

I may leave tired but I ain’t leaving with…

Yeah I may leave tired but I ain’t leaving with…

Unfinished business.

 

I got a few more things that I need to do…

 

I know it might be a little heavy, but what I love about the song is that it admits to a bit of brokenness. We all have a screw or three loose.

But in the end, I just hope to push on through and do things like finish my bathroom project or not forget how to play my guitar so I can sing and play with my daughter. Or remember how important it is to take my wife on dates and be a fun dad to my boys.

There’s no reason to lollygag through life, right? That ain’t no way to live. I’m no longer that little guy in the picture at the start of this thing. But I got a lot of living left to do. I aim to take advantage.

Here’s Travis singing the song… I recommend listening:

The Impossible Task of Learning Patience While Getting Kids Ready for School

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I doubt I’m alone as a parent of school-aged children: one of the most stressful times of the day is between waking the kids up to getting the kids to the bus stop or to the drop-off.

Can I get an amen on that?

This week I made a commitment to myself. It was a simple commitment: Remain fully patient and maintain my cool each morning.

They’ll test you, won’t they?

My commitment was tested early and often. Some examples…

  • Me: “Here are your clothes.” Him: Commence to pouting and not sharing his feelings as to why my announcement of his clothes is causing emotional turmoil.
  • I was accused of purposefully and mean-spiritedly leaving cheese out of the scrambled eggs
  • I was, not all that politely, that I missed a drink order – that juice was requested, not milk (although I’m sure that I was heard him ask for milk – but I didn’t argue. You never win an argument with a 5 year old, even if you win the argument with a 5 year old).
  • There appeared to be a constant game of Chinese fire drill at the breakfast table.
  • Instead of brushing her teeth, the daughter kept getting sidetracked into American Idol vocal auditions in the restroom.
  • There was a twin on twin wrestling match.
  • I asked them to put on their shoes like 23 times.
  • Oh yes, don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks. (deep breath) Don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks.

I’m sure there were others, but go ahead and insert your own process in there.

I might be the only parent who sometimes gets a little testy while trying to get the kids to school. It can be rough. While I try to exude an air of perfection, I can be extremely weak and impatient and easily agitated. I have my own stuff I need to do. Writing before they wake up is a perfect example. If someone woke and came down right now, I’d be ridiculously annoyed (but I wouldn’t show it).

Lessons about patience….

There are lessons here. I’m not just making a weak attempt at humor. Here are a few observations that I’m trying to remember to help me maintain a blood pressure under 120 over 75 during our morning process (or any other stressful situation).

Kids are not efficient: Kids under 19 are simply not efficient. They are easily distracted. They are not naturally task oriented (unless the task is Rainbow Looming or playing Rayman on the tablet).  While we do need to help them move things along, we should relax our expectations that they should somehow be efficiently on task.

Make it a game: I forget this all the time. If we gamify things, then there’s a greater chance that they’ll do it. My boys come back to this chart throughout the morning, now. It’s still not incredibly quick, but it keeps them going.

The morning routine

The morning routine

Parents are the thermostat: Even if I have every right to lose a tad bit of cool, it never works. It just never brings the desired effect. If my temperature rises, then so do theirs, and that rise in temps always results in even greater inefficiency and more stress.

Parents can always lower the temp by maintaining their cool.

I don’t need the stress so make stress a choice: If I just give up my right to have boot camp style mornings, I’m a happier person. If I can save my stress until the actual work day is upon me (even there, why?), then it’s a win. If it doesn’t change things, then why waste energy on stress?

Set aside my own stuff during that precious hour: This one might be unique to me, but I do try to get in my own disciplines in the morning – writing, social media updates for a couple accounts I assist with, Bible reading and journaling, a little exercise. Sometimes their schedule busts in on my schedule. At that point, I just need to let go and be with my kids. What’s more important?

I get to know my kids better: One thing I’ve noticed in these few short days is that since I don’t constantly course correct my children while they get ready, they show their personalities while they bumble through their routines. They are hilarious. They have some wit about them. They really love each other and have fun with each other. It’s fun to watch.

What amazes me is that this whole thing is even an issue. Yes. Things need to get done. Children need to get to school. I need to get to work. But in the end, I need to remember that this is simply one more time I get to spend with my children. I don’t get all that much time, especially at their ages. I best enjoy it now.

Please note: Today there were some completely ridiculous demands about how the frozen waffles needed to be served. I was on the edge. Many deep breaths were taken.

May I Brag on My Kids for a Moment?

Sibs and friends

Sibs and friends

Yes, they are incredibly talented and brilliant in a billion different ways, but that’s not what is on my mind.

I don’t know if I will be able to paint the picture well enough, but I’m gonna give it a shot.

I have three children: a second grade daughter and twin boys who just started kindergarten. (their ages as of the writing of this post… should you find my blog 10 years from now, they are more than likely brilliant teenagers who never roll their eyes at me).

A child’s mom from one of my boy’s classes bought ice cream for everybody at lunch, but the students couldn’t eat it until after they finished their lunches. Unfortunately, my boy didn’t finish the meal in time and missed out. Consequently… tears.

My daughter was in the cafeteria at the same time, and she saw what was going down. Her little eyes welled up and, her teacher, noticing, asked if she wanted to go to him. My daughter’s teacher went and asked him if he was okay and let my daughter go give him a hug.

Then, my other son also saw what was happening and went over and gave his bro a hug.

Basically, I’m bragging about a sibling group hug.

I know they’re only 5 and 7, but if we can somehow facilitate their friendship as they grow – despite the sibling rivalries and the fights that will no doubt happen along the way, we will have considered ourselves mostly successful as parents.

I should probably brag on my wife here too. The friendship has grown from a long list of trips to parks, to the Nature Center, to libraries, and to other places and field trips (not the least of which are the epic adventures to Costco). Doing stuff together knits together, and that has been one of the best gifts my wife has given my children.

While I’m not bragging about making varsity soccer at age 5 or winning the Scripps Spelling Bee at age 7, I’m

proud that my young’ns are looking out for each other.

May they always have each others’ backs.