Monthly Archives: March 2019

Captain Marvel isn’t Creative, but it Works

Captain-Marvel-Poster-new-look-1I try to be very creative when it comes to making memories of fun and laughter with the family, but I may be the only “creative” in my house.  So while I’m dreaming up ideas, my wife is simply wanting to go to the movies.

Amanda loves nothing more than going to the movie theater.  In fact, the other night over dinner, we were describing our “perfect days” and her perfect day had a movie in the afternoon and a movie in the evening.  I think that may be what happens when you grow up in a small country town where the nearest movie theater is over 30 minutes away.

So a lot of our dates are to the movies.  It’s not creative, but it’s what she loves.  The good news for me is that I can pick whatever movie I want to see and she’s usually in.  Last week we went to see Captain Marvel.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a super hero movie I didn’t like . . . yes, I’ve seen Electra, the Hulk made by Ang Lee, and the Batman movies with Ben Affleck.  Even though the world would agree that Pee Wee Herman would make a better Batman than Ben Affleck, I still enjoyed the movies.  Captain Marvel was a win for me and since it was a movie, it was a win for Amanda.

Find something your spouse loves to do and do it often.

One of the things that worked for us when our kids were younger was “tax payer childcare.”  That may not work for everyone, but “tax payer childcare” was on Friday mornings.  Friday is generally my day off and Amanda makes her own hours, so we would go to the movies when the kids were in school. The matinee was also a cheaper option so it was a double victory!

What are some creative ways that you’ve made childcare work for you if you were going to the movies with your spouse?

Sidewalk Chalk

20190321_194203Sometimes a creative idea doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.  This evening worked out perfectly because the oldest wanted to go to a school event, so that left our 9 year old at the house.  I had checked in advance to make sure we had sidewalk chalk in the garage and we did.

We spent about an hour and a half outside enjoying some beautiful weather.  We started off with some tic-tac-toe in the driveway.  We decided to play until someone won three times.  Some parents take the approach of letting their kids win, but there are enough participation trophies for kids already.  My child was going to have to earn her wins at tic-tac-toe.  She didn’t.  It was a clean sweep 3-0 and I’ve ordered my trophy for winning!

Next on the agenda was hangman.  We started working our way down the sidewalk taking turns of who was coming up with the words or phrases.  The only one she couldn’t get was “Walt Disney World.”  She got the phrase “dead spider” (picked because I killed a spider as I was drawing the hangman), but couldn’t get the magic kingdom.  That hurt my heart a little bit.

Mom showed up with Taco Bell and we had a picnic in the driveway.  After dinner, we went down the other direction of the sidewalk and we created a mural of our family date to the rodeo.  There were pictures of rides and places to eat, the concert stage with the Midland logo, and a rodeo arena with a bull that looked a lot like a unicorn.


$7.13 for sidewalk chalk (if you don’t have it already)

If you try this as a Dad/Daughter date, let me know how it went.  If you’ve got some Dad/Daughter dates, you’ve done and would be willing to blog about it, reach out and tell me!

Rodeo 2.0

josh turner

Sometimes you get those blessings in life where someone gives you a gift.  My love language is “receiving gifts” so I absolutely love those days!  Earlier in the week a friend of mine asked if I wanted two tickets to the Austin Rodeo to see Josh Turner.  It took me all of about two seconds to accept that gift.  I’ve seen a lot of concerts, but Josh Turner was on my bucket list.

I’m not going to write about a date to the rodeo since I just wrote about a Family Date to the rodeo a few days ago.  Instead, I was going to share with you our conversation on our date AND offer up a suggestion that might give you some guidance into intentional parenting.

Several years ago we made some values for our family.  This is a picture of our values.


On the way to the rodeo we spent some time walking through our values and evaluating how we are doing living them out.  In a social media world, we often see all of the exciting things a person is doing.  We see their best because we don’t want to post about the bad days in our life (unless we’re seeking attention from people).  I’m going to give you full disclosure on how our evaluation went.  We’re not a perfect family by any means.

1. Making Jesus First – We both felt like we were doing a pretty good job at that.  We spend intentional time as a family reading the Bible, praying together, and having spiritual conversations.  We’ve made our small groups, worship, and home group a priority for our family.

2. Impacting the World Through Missions – Our kids our young, but we’ve done some intentional serving in our community and in our church.  Our oldest volunteers once a month in the nursery to help out.  As parents, we serve a lot, but I didn’t give us that great of a grade.  We sponsor two children through World Vision (one for each daughter).  We haven’t done a great job of making our ministry to them all that it could be, so after our conversation on the way to the Rodeo, we decided to get that in gear and do better.

3. Making Memories of Fun and Laughter – We gave ourselves a pretty good grade here.  We like to laugh and we like to have fun together, but sometimes it is challenging because we don’t all have the same idea of what fun actually is . . . but we’re trying.  Stay tuned to the blog and I’m sure you’ll hear about the ideas I thought would be great that turned into open family rebellion.

4. Revealing the Heart of God by Loving our Family – I felt like this was an area of growth for me (I’ll say that Amanda does a better job at this than I do).  I was convicted that I often find my sarcasm and joking going to far at the expense of my kids.  My mentor told me years ago that we are to be to our kids as God is to us.  I’ve never forgotten that and as we evaluated our values, I felt like I needed to work on that area in our family.

5. Honoring God by Always Doing our Best – We have kids.  If you saw their bedrooms you’d probably conclude that they aren’t “doing their best,” but we felt like they were doing a pretty good job for their age.

So what is the takeaway?  First, have friends who give you free dates!  Second, think through what you value as a family.  What do you want your kids and your spouse to hold important?  Discuss these with your spouse or your family and write them down.  Hang them somewhere in your house where your family will see them regularly.  Come back to them and align your actions to what you say you value.

Hot Air Buffoons

BalloonI’m really proud of the title and it is the first sign that not all Family Dates go like you’d want them to go.  This was the second time we scheduled something as a family this week.  That is not a normal pace, but with my travel schedule taking me to Georgia twice this month it backlogged some time together.

Several years ago, I bought a “family bucket list” off of a website (I can’t begin to remember where I got it from or I would link to it for you).  It came pre-loaded with ideas and one of them was to see a hot air balloon.  We try to accomplish those bucket lists together and we’ve all seen balloons, but never when we were together.  Groupon came to save the day!  Here is a side note that you’ll see as a recurring theme on this blog, but Groupon and LivingSocial are two places where I get a lot of ideas.

Today was the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Georgetown so I grabbed tickets for the family so that we could do something together AND check off one of the items on the bucket list.  We drove over to Garey Park (which a day in your city park could be a family day in and of itself) and got there at about 5:00pm.  Friday night was the kickoff event and Saturday is a Polo match (which could also be a family day).  There were way more people in attendance than I thought would be there.

It wasn’t one of the better ideas for a family day simply because there wasn’t much to do.  Your two options were to shop at people’s booths (selling insurance, CBD oil, etc.) or  food booths.  I’ll admit the food booths looked pretty good, but it was pretty expensive ($3 for a soda).

There was one entertainment act during the evening.  A couple of guys had trained their dogs to catch Frisbees and they were fun to watch.  There was a face painting booth, but most of the designs were around $15 and I’ve seen kids on mission trips do similar work with their untrained hands.

The biggest disappointment was that there were no hot air balloons to be seen the vast majority of the time we were there.  The balloons were out in the field in the back of people’s trailers, but they weren’t inflated.  We did get to talk to several balloon owners and that was extremely interesting.  I bet you didn’t know that a hot air balloon cost somewhere in the ball park of $30,000!

Right before we were going to give up and go home, one of the commercial grade balloons decided that the wind wasn’t too much for them and started to inflate the balloon!  We did indeed get to mark one more thing off of the bucket list!

This Family Date was pretty unique, but you could always gather the family and make your own bucket list of things to do.  If you choose that option, make sure you put “ride in a hot air balloon” on your list!


Parking – $17 (in advance)

Tickets – $40 (two adults and two kids)

Total cost – $57 (but we didn’t buy any food or face painting AND got the Groupon discount)

Put on your boots and head to the rodeo!

103165_originalNot every city has a rodeo, but if you’re from Texas it isn’t too hard to find one.  I have some great memories of going to the rodeo as a kid (it didn’t hurt that one of my dad’s neighbors was a rodeo clown) so we tried to build some memories with our family at the Austin Rodeo.

This was an idea that worked for everyone in our family.  The 12 year old was interested because her friends had been before and she was “the only one of her friends who had never been” (win!); the 9 year old got to put on her boots and dress up (win!); mom loves anything we do as a family (win!); and dad loves the rodeo and concerts (double win!).

We headed out after school and parked around 5pm.  The Austin Rodeo is a three part experience: fairground, rodeo, and concert.  We started with some rides at the fair.  This was the part that hurt the most because my wallet thought we were at Six Flags, but the rides were more like Two Flags.  You could buy a half day wristband or a full day wristband for rides, but by the time we arrived the time had already passed on the half day wristbands so we opted for the cards.  I put $60 on one card and both kids used it (I’m too cheap to pay the extra $2 for them to have their own cards).  I had done the math in my head and figured that would cover enough rides before the rodeo started.  I checked the balance on the card a couple of times and it didn’t seem to be disappearing like I thought.  We guessed the rides were half price after 5pm (but don’t hold me to that).  We also got several free rides because the card didn’t work and they would just put us on the ride for free.

We grabbed dinner after that.  It was corn dogs, french fries, and drinks for the ladies.  It was Chicken Diablo for dad (bacon wrapped chicken and jalapenos that had been deep fried on a stick)!

The rodeo kicked off at 7pm and everyone enjoyed it.  We watched steer wrestling, calf roping, bronc riding, barrel racing, and of course, bull riding!  It was entertaining enough that no one had to go to the bathroom or get snacks.

midlandThere was an intermission after the rodeo as the stage was set up for the concert.  That was just enough time for two of the girls to get funnel cake and cotton candy; and for dad and the youngest to try on cowboy hats.  The night closed with a Midland concert.


$156 for 4 tickets

$15 for parking

$60 for rides

$75 for food (guessing here)

Total: $306 (my heart just skipped a beat typing that and I’m now in cold sweats)