Recycle your childhood memories

“Innocence is the very essence of childhood and pure, unfiltered freedom is its reward. Joyful screams mixed with laughter are the evidence leaving us with snapshots of hope and promise.”

Recycle those fond memories from childhood with your children. It is tempting to just sit in the beach chair and Instagram away under the umbrella the whole time while the kids play, but the memory-making moment is in the interaction.

Are you pulling the seaweed onto the shore for the kids to play with it? Are you joining in the hunt for the rarest sea shell? Are you filling the buckets with ocean water to fill in the holes the kids are digging? Are you digging the holes with them?

The new memories your children make don’t have to be carbon copies of your own (who remembers carbon copies?) but you can facilitate the new ones because of your experience.

Just some thoughts for the weekend. Enjoy yours and make some memories.

Family Bonding Time

Most of the best memories from childhood we ones that we shared with family and friends. Don’t you agree? It is important to facilitate and share moments with your children.

Here’s some thoughts:

  • Don’t waste the time doing selfies of yourself sharing your moment. Get into the moment instead of telling all your FaceBook friends about the moment. You can post that stuff later.
  • If you are doing something that doesn’t work out, don’t lose heart. That picnic bbq lunch you burned or the gingerbread house that fell apart usually provides great memories and laughs afterwards.
  • Lots of great moments happen throughout the normal daily routine. You still need to plan activities.
  • Don’t let a small budget discourage you. I Google searched “free family activities” and found this article titled, “Free Family Fun” http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/free-family-fun/
  • Quantity leads to quality. Planning and facilitating times your family can do an activity together will lead to good times.
  • Photograph, video, or collect something from the activity. For example, if you’re at a park, pick up a leaf.

Go beyond documenting the event. Create a photo album. If not physically, at least digitally. Make a scrapbook. It has to be accessible for the family to look at. Give your family the opportunities to be able to reflect and connect to your family history. I keep a 12-old video camera under the tv. About once or twice a year we connect the camera to the tv to watch at least an hour of old footage. The kids couldn’t believe all the crazy noises they made as babies. My wife and I couldn’t believe how much younger we looked.

Spending time together takes not only some planning but commitment as well. Family activities have a lot of benefits as you already know. Those times also give your children the space to know you not only as a parent but as a person as well. Those times also give you to the space to know your child as a person too.

Got thoughts? Insight? Tips? Questions? Comment below.

Looking for my Invisible Child

Apparently, I have an invisible child who goes by the name of “Nahmee.”

Me: “Who’s turn to clean the litter box?”

My visible kids: “Nahmee.”

Me: “Who left the cereal box open?”

My visible kids: “Nahmee.”

I decided that my new quest in life was to find this invisible child of mine. I began doing homework online and searched for answers. Unfortunately, my Google searches for “Nahmee” did not come up with anything substantial I was looking for.

I eventually shared my story with some friends. To my surprise, I discovered a common theme between many of my friends who were parents. Here’s are some of my findings.

  1. The first friend told me that he is on a similar hunt to find his child, “Wununtme.” To this day, he has not physically seen nor heard this child.
  2. One mom said that she not only had one invisible kid. She had invisible twins, and their names were “Idonno” and “Ididndoit.” She also has not had a tangible encounter with this child.
  3. Another friend shared that her invisible kid has a Spanish name, “Yonofui.” Different language, same results. Nothing.
  4. Two older friends told me something strange and thought-provoking. They each had an invisible child who seemingly disappeared when their visible children grew up and out of the house. That could be a great news story if they end up having invisible grandchildren.

I am seeing a common thread that has been woven into each family. These mysterious children are invisible little beings who make messes in the house. Even though the parents have not made these invisible children responsible for any chores, their physically visible brothers and sisters says that they are. I think it’s terribly wrong for my visible children to blame all of the undone chores on the one child, who I haven’t even met. However, if my invisible child doesn’t speak up or show up, I won’t be able to address the messes he or she leaves he behind in the house.

So the quest continues. I can’t wait to finally meet my invisible kid. We have a lot of catching up to do. Until then- Nahmee has a lot of chores to work on.

If you have invisible child and have some insight or maybe have miraculously met your child please comment below.

Bonding Moments

Father showing his son
how to find the right one.


Thanks for taking the time to read my 2-line poem. This image reminds me of how it can be and should be between a father and his child. Does it have to be a physical task? Does it have to be a traditionally masculine activity? Is this form of mentoring exclusive to sons? No, not necessarily, but I believe fathers should make it their highest priority to invest their time into their children.

I remember the first time that I took my son fishing. He was about 6 and excited to catch fish as many 6-year old boys would be. We drove for about an hour to a lake that I was told was consistently stocked with fish. We were both eager, but I was totally unprepared on a hot Summer afternoon. When I mean totally unprepared I mean totally unprepared! I acted on a spontaneous urge to try fishing. I think I had been buried in work and school for weeks and knew that my son and I had to do something.

Why I chose to fish instead of another activity is a head-scratcher because we could have skated at the local skate park because that was something we were already doing together. We could have gone to the movies because I knew how to watch movies. I must have thought that being on a lake would have been refreshing. Plus, I wanted to teach my son something. Whatever my dad and uncles taught me about fishing when I was a kid was somewhere lost in my memory banks. Fishing skills were zero.

A friend was kind enough to let us borrow a couple of fishing poles. We went to the tackle shop next to the lake but bought the wrong bait on this muggy day. I you can imagine after baking on a lake for 3 hours, the only thing we caught were sunburns. We were fried, hungry, tired, and majorly disappointed.

Are you old enough to remember the Looney Tunes character, Sylvester the Cat? Sylvester was me, and Sylvester’s son was my son saying in major disappointment, “Ohhh Father….” Yet, I n that massive failure of a fishing day, bonding occurred between my son that day. I didn’t have a smartphone then to distract me. My attention was on my son and the potential catch. There were times of silently staring into the water together. In between the silent and mostly frustrating moments, we sat and talked about stuff. We sat and talked about stuff. A lot of layers get peeled off revealing the soul when you have time to just talk. It’s worthwhile for the parents. It’s rewarding for the children.

Your children may witness you failing at a lot of things, but they will win when you invest your time with them.

Do you have a major fail moment? Feel free to share. Your comments are appreciated.

Using Boundaries

Could you imagine driving the day our government lifted all traffic laws? It would be a great start to get on the open road and put the pedal to the metal without the worry of getting pulled over by the police. Most likely, you wouldn’t make it to the open road. The chaos of multitudes of drivers driving every which way would make your journey treacherous to say the least.

Traffic laws were put in place to save us from ourselves. Do you know where I am going with this? We pay attention to the lines in the street. Just like the painted white lines in this highway keep the drivers and their passengers safe while enroute to a destination, so do the universal boundaries that govern the areas of our life: our health, money, career, and our family. I believe that God put them in our lives to bring benefits to our lives not hamper them. People have tested boundaries from the beginning of time. I can tell you that gravity does not exist, but the moment jump off the roof it doesn’t matter what I believe. I will be going down in a hurry and injury and pain will be the result. These boundaries exist.

Take this perspective and apply it to your parenting. Use the boundaries to guide your children to keep them on the road to well being.

Make the boundaries clear and consistent. I recently drove through the local mountains in a thick fog. Visibility was very poor. In some stretches of the mountain road I had to rely solely on the reflective center line to navigate through the fog. Make the boundaries clear for your children. Write them down. Put them on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror. Tell your children. Have your children repeat it back to you what the boundaries are. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t change the boundaries based on your feelings or your convenience. By doing these things you are making boundaries clear and keeping them clear.

Follow though. I have been in of countries that had traffic laws but didn’t have the traffic officers to enforce the laws. I remember in one city street, the drivers made 8 lanes out of 4 marked lanes. It was nuts. Men got out of there cars to handle their disputes that turned into fist fights, meanwhile bringing traffic to a halt. The chaos and violence were a direct result of a lack of follow through. Whatever you decide as the correction part keep it consistent. It isn’t based on your temperment. It should be based on your children’s development. The purpose is to get your children to think about their actions and attitudes.

You might be familiar these words that start off Psalm 27, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” King David, the writer likened himself to a sheep and God as his shepherd. David stated that the shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.” Isn’t it interesting that the “sheep” said that it was the instrument of correction that brought him comfort. That is because the rod isn’t just for correcting. It is more than that. The rod is used to protect. David himself was a shepherd and killed a lion who preyed on the sheep. The staff he used to prod and correct the sheep was also used to eliminate danger as well.

The point of discipline is to help your children create those boundaries in their hearts to guide them when you aren’t around. Your discipline of your children should go beyond telling them, “No,” and correcting them just because you are at your wit’s end. Help your children establish the boundaries for themselves. Who’s old enough to have taught your teenager how to drive a car? I am sure that you didn’t decide to permanently stay in the passenger seat to teach your child how to drive. It was a much shorter process than that. You intended for your teenager to know the rules of the road for him/her to operate the car without you. Shouldn’t we have the same intentional process with our children?

What are your thoughts? Your input is appreciated.

Lead Your Family Above the Noise

We get bombarded all day and night with messages. We are pounded with billboards, website banners, pop ups, commercials on tv, and jingles to name a few. I don’t have a long commute but do listen to sports radio while running errands. My kids and I sing 1-877 Cars 4 Kids. Why? Because it’s stuck in my head! And yes, I sing it with a heavy twang like the singer in the commercial.

I don’t know the exact formula of marketing, but I do know it’s powerful. Kids programming is about 10 minutes or less of the actual show before the kids are hammered with a commercial. Of course they are going to ask you for to buy stuff all day. Did you know by the way, Sea Monkeys are still around? Yeah, the same Sea Monkeys that we read in the comic backs back in the day?

So much of the tv shows and radio programming out there is just noise, and we have to rise above the noise ourselves as individuals and bring our families with us.

Get clarity for yourself first. You are in control of the screen door to your mind. What are you allowing to influence your mind? What are you screening out? My email inbox is at least in the hundreds daily. Twice a day, I do a mass delete of emails and save the bill reminders and the handful of emails I will actually read. One of those is a Bible-verse-a-day. Here’s what was in this morning’s inbox, “There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25. My purpose for getting that daily verse emailed to me is to entice me to read the entire proverb to get the full context. I will meditate on that like chewing on some beef jerky and set the course of for the day. It will show up in my speech and what and how I talk with my family.

Next thing, is just to turn it off. Turn off the news. Turn off the reruns. Put the tablet running YouTube videos down. Get outside. If you stay inside do something else. The main thing is to turn off the noise when you have the ability to do so.

What do you instead of watching tv all day or having a device in your face? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and we will continue on in a couple of days. Make it a great Monday above the noise!

Your Children And Social Media

girls playing on street

Would you let your child freely interact with strangers? That question is the basis for my thoughts and opinions on children using social media. It is hard to have a simplistic grasp of the explosion of social media. We can share our lives via photo, video, sentences, and a song in an instant. We are interacting in ways that we couldn’t imagine years ago. My 80-year old low-tech dad just followed me on Instagram. Times have changed. Social media has opened avenues of communication that allows the participant to access dozens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Where do our children fit in the social media picture that is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives?
That brings me back to the first question. Would you let your children freely interact with strangers? The answer for my children is no. In public situations, when strangers approach my children, I make sure I redirect the interaction between me and the stranger. When I’m shopping, I don’t let my children leave my side to interact with people I don’t know. Why would I allow my children to do that on the internet?

Things to think about…
  • Predators are rampant on the internet. They are all over the internet in every social media platform: FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Personal profiles can be easily be created to misrepresent the user. A predator wouldn’t typically identify himself as one on his profile. People are not who they say they are. I just checked into my Instagram account and someone started following me. The profile pic was stock photo of a model. Who knows who the real person is behind the account? I don’t. Neither does your child.
  • Peer pressure to post things for shock value. We are a “like-hungry” society. We crave more likes and reposts on the photos, videos, and words we post on social media. People pay money to buy followers on social media platforms. “Likes,” “Favorites,” “Repins,” and “Reposts,” are the fuel that make social media go. That pressure is on our children to fit in their digital world as well as their physical world. We all know that the easy way to get attention to internet activity is to promote sex and vulgarity. The pressure is on our children to promote the same things!
So when can my kid join in?
I’m going back to my theme. The permissions I allow my children to be in the physical world is similar to the interaction I would allow my children to have on the internet. If I allow my son to work at the local movie theater, where the bulk of his interaction is with people he doesn’t know, then yes, I would allow that in his digital world as well. With boundaries? Yes, and I will set them. Freedom without responsibilities and accountability is not freedom. The process is all about trust, and trust is earned, not given.

What is your involvement?
Parenting is active. Anytime, you don’t interact with your children or you do not actively supervise your children’s activities, it is very likely that your children will go beyond the boundaries. Street signs remind me about the rules while I drive to keep me and others around me safe. Those road signs are not consistent on the internet. The parent must be guiding his/her children, and that includes setting limits on time, content, and interaction. I can and will tell my child, who can and cannot be his internet friends.

The key rule in my house is that all devices stay in the living room. All interaction on all devices happens here. My pre-teens in the house and friends that wanted to video chat today. It had to happen in the living room. I did not have to be in the chat with them, but at least I was within view and earshot of their conversation.

Our children need boundaries the same way a river needs banks. When there are banks, the river is a source of life. When the banks are gone the river becomes a flood. I believe in saying no with purpose. I believe that setting boundaries for your children will help them create boundaries for their own lives.

What are the boundaries in your house for your children? Is it clear? Are you actively involved? Do you have any ideas and tips to share? Comment below.

Zoltar Awaits


Zoltar was waiting
The man had no clue
With 50 cents debating
His fortune was due
He dropped the 2 quarters
And Zoltar began to talk
And gave the man orders
Of where he should walk
Life directions for a half a buck
Zoltar likes how it rolls
He gives the man some luck
And keeps his unknowing soul.

Thanks for reading my poem. I saw Zoltar while my friend Stephen Davis photographed unsuspecting tourists on the pier. I know it’s a silly poem, but don’t we get just as silly when we base our futures based on strips of paper inside fortune cookies and throwing coins into a fountain? Let me know what you think. I appreciate your feedback!

A Surfer’s Conversation


The godfather at the local break sat his listeners down as he preached from the back of his van to share one more key to his version of life. 

“It’s all in the conversation,” he pointed out. “Take this one guy. He wanted to be with this girl so badly, that he woke up at 5am just to join her morning session. He tried to convince her that he was as experienced as she was in the water, but she saw through his stories. She told him later that she just wanted to be friends.”


“Some guys chat from the moment they get their toes wet. They talk while they paddle out. They talk while sitting in the lineup. They talk while you’re trying to paddle into a wave,” the godfather added. “If they’d talk less, they’d catch more.”


“There’s nothing you can do when high tide turns the break into a swamp,” the godfather continued, “I can’t tell you how many guys end up watching and talking before walking to the closest coffee house to talk some more.”
“All I can say is…” the godfather paused as if he had changed his last point in mid-breath, “make your words count and paddle more.” He ended his surf-sermon, hugged his listeners, knowing that he would get to preach again the next day.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. Some people are just more artful at conversation than others. Mike, the surf teacher is a real person and a real storyteller. People like him produce a lot more smiles in this world. Isn’t storytelling and conversations make life more exciting? I appreciate your feedback, and if you like my content please share it.

Check out the Steller version here.

If we could all pick up some trash

I have seen this lady numerous times in this part of the city. She seemed content in her work; a work that may be unrewarding for many. This was my first time up close with this woman. She strolled through this section of downtown Los Angeles where the homeless population gathered and littered the streets. This day, the consumers of the street market were worse; they consumed their food, then left their food wraps, napkins, and empty bottles behind. (It always bothered me how people could intentionally drop trash on the street when a trash can is literally a few feet away.)

Yet, when I observed this woman, she continued to pick up the pieces of trash as a few people oblivious to her presence would drop their unwanted items right in her path. The woman stayed in a consistent flow of moving, stopping, and picking up trash. At least in this moment, she looked focused and satisfied with her progress.

I remember my days as a 4th grade teacher, and I would direct my students to pick up trash before going to recess or at the end of the school day. It was almost every day that a student would refuse to pick up trash with the the excuse, “That’s not my trash.” Wouldn’t our world be that much more amazing if we all just picked up a little bit of trash?

Wouldn’t our world be that much more amazing if we all just cared a little bit more?