Little Hands, Big Hearts

The other day, God sent me a reminder about the man He plans for me to be.  I was home with the girls while Mama was at the grocery store gathering up supplies for holiday cooking.  I was at the table with our 1 year-old helping her finish eating.  Over in the kitchen I heard our 5 year-old dragging her tall stool that she uses to get things for herself.  Next thing I knew she was at the kitchen sink washing some dishes that we hadn’t been able to fit into the dish washer.  I didn’t ask her to wash the dishes, she was free to do what she wanted after finishing dinner.  The kindness of her heart melted mine.  Without saying a word she started helping with the work that needed to be done.  I always have a camera handy, so I grabbed a quick photo of our daughter, clad in her favorite zebra jammies, washing dishes.

young girl washing dishes

Little hands with a big heart can do amazing things!

This was a great reminder of the good things that God has planned for me (and all mankind) to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Several times in the gospels, Jesus tells his disciples to be like children – pure, innocent, loving.  In Mark 10, some children are brought to our Lord that He might bless them.  His disciples, thinking this task was below Jesus, rebuked the people who brought the children to be blessed by Jesus.  The English Standard Version of the Bible says that Jesus was indignant that His disciples would turn the children away from Him.  He then says, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

I believe children are God’s gift to remind us everyday that we should be more focused on loving and helping each other.  Our older daughter loves nothing more than to help fold laundry, cook with us, put silverware away…whatever she can do to help.  Sometimes it takes extra effort to have her help, but we appreciate her helpful attitude and good spirit, and take the extra time to nurture that BIG heart that God created in her.  She has little hands and a BIG heart that wants nothing more than to love and help…and be loved.

As proud as I am of our daughter when she does good things, I believe God must be even prouder of His children when they do good things.  In comparison to God, who spoke the world into existence, we are childlike at best.  We are called to use our little hands and our big hearts to help a world that so often is filled with need and pain.

For me, this begins at home.  I need to use the work of my hands, the words of my mouth and the kindness of my heart to lift up my wife and help her as she strives to live the life of a Godly woman.  With prayer, daily choices and my example I need to teach my girls about the God that I love.  Fathers especially need to live a life that is an example for their children.

Once things are in place at home, it is time to minister to others.  A minister who neglects his own family has missed the point of what it means to be a righteous servant of God.  Most times, ministering to people doesn’t involve having the right words.  More often than not, people just need someone who is willing to listen, hold their hand, or sometimes just wash their dishes.

I know that my daughter didn’t know what a blessing she was to me with her simple actions, much in the same way we may never know what a blessing we were to someone else along the way.  As this year wraps up, I encourage you to think about those who have helped you along the way.  Perhaps you can figure out some simple way to let them know that you appreciate the love they have shown to you through their simple actions.

I’ll conclude with 3 quick things:

  • Consider studying the gospel account of ‘the good Samaritan.’  You can find it in Luke 18:25-37.  If you have kids, this would be a great time to sit down and study the Bible together.  Note how the passage starts, some doubters of Christ were trying to bring Him down.  Notice how He is always able to re-frame their challenges and turn it into a lesson.
  • I am working on a set of weekly Bible studies for families in January.  The title is the same as this post, “Little Hands, Big Hearts.”  It will be some simple studies to do with young families, encouraging our young children to use their big hearts.
  • One of my favorite magazines is Seeing the Everyday magazine.  It is kind of pricey, but that is because there are no ads in the magazine.  The pages are filled with beautiful photos and stories of families learning about love through work and shared responsibility.

And finally a quick reminder for my daughter about her love for washing dishes:

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God bless you!

Weekend Project: Marshmallow Guns

One of the most enjoyable toys I can put together for a kid is a PVC marshmallow shooter.  Honestly adults have a ton of fun with these things too!  I debated about whether or not to put this post up, given the tragic events in CT a week ago, but decided most people who know me and read this blog would know that these toys promote wholesome family fun and good memories.  These shooters would also make a great last minute Christmas present.

Years ago my friend Doug gave me my first marshmallow gun.  I have made at least a hundred of them since then.  I’ve made big batches for church events and this year my wife had me make 16 shooters – 6 for gifts and 10 for a big family marshmallow fight that we will be having when her family arrives from out of state.  Let’s get to the project…

Marshmallow Gun Parts

All the parts you will need to make a marshmallow shooter.

You will need at least one 10′ length of 1/2″ PVC pipe from the plumbing section at your local hardware store.  Make sure it is” schedule 40.”  There is another kind of PVC that is tan/grey in color that you do not want to use.  A 10ft length of pipe costs around $2 and will make about 4 marshmallow guns if you cut and measure carefully.  (Handy tip:  Bring a pair of PVC cutters to

PVC Cutter

A cheap pair of PVC cutters.

the store so you can cut the 10ft pipe out by your car and slide it in your vehicle easily.)  While you are in the plumbing section, pick up (2) 90 degree elbows, (2) T’s and (2) caps for each shooter you plan to make.  Make sure that all of those fittings DO NOT have threads in them.  Many times the parts are jumbled and you might accidentally get one that is threaded.  Lowe’s has bags of the elbows, T’s and caps.  There are 10 in a bag and they run $2 to $3 a bag.

If you plan on making several of these guns, do yourself a favor and pick up a pair of ratcheting PVC cutters.  They run about $10.

Now the fun begins.  Mark out (5) 3″ lengths of PVC pipe, (1) 4″ length and (1) 9″ length for the barrel.  The ratcheting PVC cutters will get the job done, but for big jobs you might want something bigger.  I use a chop saw with an abrasive wheel to cut the guns quickly.  Obviously you have to be super careful with a big saw and I would recommend wearing ear, eye and breathing protection.  I

Marshmallow Gun Chop Saw

Cutting with the chop saw.

think the breathing protection (a basic mask) is a MUST because the fine PVC dust goes everywhere.  Cut outside if you can.

Once all your cuts are made, sand off any burs or rough cuts on the ends of your pieces.  Any rough edges or burs that are on the inside edge of the pipe will catch marshmallows as they fly by and cause a jam.  This is also a good time to wipe down all of the PVC with rubbing alcohol or another basic cleaner to prep for paint.  Use the photo below as a guide for assembling your marshmallow gun.  The 4″ piece is the mouth piece and the 8-9″ piece is for the barrel.  Make sure you DO NOT use glue of any kind to hold the gun together.  You will need to be able to take it apart later to clear out any stuck marshmallows.

Finished Marshmallow Shooter

An assembled and painted marshmallow shooter.

Before painting your marshmallow gun, make sure to remove the mouth piece and leave it at your work area.  You do not want to put your mouth on a spray painted surface.  (Note: I always wash

Painting marshmallow guns

Painting marshmallow guns on tomato cages.

the mouth piece with warm water and soap before final assembly.)  I have found that tomato cages turned upside down are a great way to hold the shooter up so you can paint it.  You can also use a stick stuck in the ground, just anything that you can slide the barrel down onto and will hold the weight of the gun.  Any standard spray paint will work on the guns.  The paint that is made specifically for plastic is great but if you’re like me you probably don’t have any on hand.  I like the camouflage colors that are made by Rust-oleum and the metallic colors as well.  A spray paint can trigger handle is also handy to have for any painting project.

If the final color of your marshmallow gun is going to be a light color, it might be a good idea to paint over the bar codes and printing on the PVC pipe with some white paint.  Have fun with different patterns and paint jobs.  A coat of clear matte paint will help prevent chipping, but standard paint will chip off with use.  Let the guns dry over night.  Make sure to run water or pressurized air through the gun to blow out any loose PVC dust.  You can also just blow it out with your mouth, just make sure not to inhale.  Make sure to do this before you give it to a kid.

The finished product is fun for all ages.  The marshmallow goes into the mouthpiece and is blown out with a strong puff of air.  A BIG puff can make a pretty solid hit.  For messy fun you can also lick the marshmallow before you put it in…they will stick to your target but will also leave some marshmallow residue.  (I get in trouble for doing this before I shoot my wife.) Try to play away from your house or a populated area to avoid tracking in squished marshmallows on your shoes.  Encourage children not to run with the shooter in or near their mouth.  Have fun!!!

marshmallow guns finished

A variety of finished marshmallow shooters.

Have a great weekend and do something fun with your family!

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Santa Chicken (or) Poor Zsa Zsa

Thanks to our friend Kelley, our Silike chicken Zsa Zsa got to try her beak at being Santa for a while.  I promise…no chickens were harmed in the taking of these photos.

Santa Chicken

Zsa Zsa our Silkie chicken in her Santa suit.

Zsa Zsa is the friendliest chicken we have ever owned.  She loves to be around people and probably thinks she is a poodle.  She is a Silkie chicken, a breed from China, that is very popular with show breeders for their friendly personality and unique appearance. She loves to be held and really enjoys being around us when we are outside.

My wife handled Zsa Zsa while I snapped these pics.  Our friend Kelley picked up the puppy Santa suit at Family Dollar.  Zsa Zsa didn’t seem to mind having the coat on at all.  She was not a fan of the hat…so we didn’t use it.

Chickens Don't Like Santa Hats

Chickens don’t like Santa hats. Probably hats in general.

We have had backyard chickens for close to 3 years now.  I have really enjoyed having them.  The girls really like working with them too.  When people come over to the house they always want to go out back and see the chickens.  I plan to write more about having backyard chickens in February when we will be getting some new chicks.

Chicken Santa Suit

One last photo of Zsa Zsa in her Santa suit. She actually seemed to enjoy this.

After being such a good sport, we let Zsa Zsa join our other chicken for some supervised roaming, scratching and foraging in the backyard.  Our other chicken is an Americana and her name is Oreo.  She was the lone survivor of a dog attack that killed our other 4 chickens.  It was a sad day.  (It is sad to have neighbors down the street who are irresponsible pet owners and took no responsibility for the actions of their animals nor will they even ‘man up’ to talk to me about it.  Sorry…still bothers me.)  But we have made sure our girls are securely protected now from the irresponsibility of others…and wild predators as well.  More on that in February.

Silkie and Americana Chicken

Oreo is the black and white bird and Zsa Zsa is in the foreground.

They are truly fascinating creatures to watch and chickens have been fun to learn about.  One of the best received lessons I have ever preached started off with a lesson on how we get eggs.  I have had more comments about that lesson than any other that I have ever preached.

Chickens Eating

The girls foraging for some tasty treats.

Merry Christmas from my family (and Santa Chicken) to yours!

 

 

Easy Spinach Chicken Enchiladas

My Good Helpers

My good helpers in the kitchen.

One of my favorite things to do with my girls is cook.  Our oldest daughter is an excellent helper in the kitchen and always likes to help.  Our youngest daughter is usually content to sit in her chair and watch.  This is a great time to teach my girls things that my Mom taught me.  We usually put on some music and have fun.  (Last night we were listening to Toots & the Maytals, Bahamas, and Mumford & Sons.)

A favorite recipe of ours is spinach chicken enchiladas.  I found the original version of this recipe at 5dollardinners.com and have modified it for things that we usually have around the house.  I like this recipe because it is fun to make with the girls, budget friendly, freezes well and pretty forgiving if you need to make adjustments to the recipe.

The first thing you need to do is cook some chicken.  You will need enough to get 3 cups of shredded chicken.  Usually 2 large chicken breasts will give you enough chicken to accomplish this, but you might throw a third breast in there to make sure you have enough.  A bit of extra chicken in your enchiladas won’t hurt anything, or you can always make chicken salad if you have some extra left over.

Did you know there is a super simple way to shred chicken?  Recently on lifehacker.com I learned that you can toss hot chicken breasts into the bowl of your stand mixer and shred them with the beater attachment.  My wife and I bought a Kitchenaid Artisan stand mixer as a Christmas present to ourselves…so I finally got to try this out.  It works sooooo well!  What used to take me 5-10 minutes took less than 1 minute for the stand mixer to accomplish.  I was so impressed that I even made a video…

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Shredded Chicken

Mixer shredded chicken.

As you can see the Kitchenaid mixer made short work of the chicken.  I was making 8 batches of enchiladas to give to co-workers as Christmas presents, so this trick saved me a ton of time.

Once your chicken is ready, toss 3 cups of the shredded chicken into a mixing bowl along with 1 cup of cheese, 16oz of sour cream, 2 bricks of frozen spinach (cooked and drained), 1/4 cup of onion, 1 tbsp of minced garlic, 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Mix all that up by hand.  Our older daughter loves to help measure things and stir the ingredients.  This is a great chance to talk about fractions and measurements.

Once everything is mixed up it is time to prep your pan and the oven.  Spray the bottom of your pan with a quick shot of cooking oil.  Not too much or your enchiladas will fry and get hard on the bottom.  Your oven needs to be set at 350.

Enchilada rolling

Small hands at work helping with dinner.

It is time to roll the enchiladas.  This is great fun for little hands.  You can be pretty generous with the filling because I always wind up with enough for about 20 enchiladas, even though the recipe is supposed to make 16-18.  Load up one end of your tortilla with the filling, roll it up and place it in the pan.  I can usually get 8-9 enchiladas in a pan.  You should have enough to make 2 pans of 8-9 enchiladas each.

Grab the enchilada sauce, pour one can on each pan of enchiladas.  Concentrate on getting the tops of all the enchiladas covered, especially the ends, to prevent them from getting tough in the oven.  Finished EnchiladasTake the remaining 3 cups of cheese and divide it among the 2 pans, covering the enchiladas.  I like to use colby jack cheese but you can use pepperjack if you like a bit more zip.  Place the pans in the oven for 30 minutes.

If all goes well you should have 2 tasty pans of enchiladas.  We love to make these at home and have one to eat and freeze one.  Sometimes we also use this recipe to make dinner for our family and have another pan to share with someone who is sick or shut-in.  This is also a great recipe to take to potlucks.  Feel free to print out the recipe card below and give it a try!

Spinach Chicken Enchilada Recipe

Click image to open and print.

Treadmill Desk (or) How Computer Nerds Live Long and Prosper

Treadmill Desk

My homemade treadmill desk in the office.

Update: My DIY treadmill desk has been so popular that I now have a site dedicated to it.  You might want to check out DIYTreadmillDesk.com for ideas on how to build your very own treadmill desk.

A few weeks ago, in a marathon day of sitting at my computer, I realized that sitting at my computer was slowly killing me.  I can’t tell you how many articles I have read in the last year that talk about the dangers of sitting for long stretches of time at work.  So I decided to do something about it…I built a treadmill desk in my office.

I felt oddly embarrassed to tell anyone I was thinking about putting together such a strange concoction of exercise equipment and high-end Apple hardware.  I ran the idea by my wife since I would be spending our money on this experiment.  She was supportive, as she is of most of my ideas, especially the ones that will keep me healthy.  A few others who I told had quizzical expressions on their face but were generally supportive.

I watched Craigslist (CL) for a while and kept missing out on treadmills that were cheap and nearby.  Who knew that so many people wanted a large piece of equipment that often becomes a clothes rack???  Eventually I landed a $75 entry-level unit on Saturday.  Sunday afternoon I ran to Lowe’s to grab adjustable shelving and some lumber so I could get to work.  With no one at the church office that afternoon, I was able to quickly and quietly build the desk that I had envisioned in my head.

Working at my Treadmill Desk

Working at my treadmill desk.

Monday was my first day to get on and give it a solid work experience.  I found 1.2mph to be my ideal speed for strolling while still being able to maintain control of my hands for typing and clicking.  Working at a treadmill desk is not about working up a sweat or getting the pulse rate up, its about not sitting.  I quickly discovered that my keyboard and mouse were in the wrong place.  I had simply laid a 12″ board across the treadmill handrails which put the input devices too low and at a weird angle.  After just an hour or so my right wrist was hurting…and I’m not the type to hurt too easily.

Monday was also the day that my grand experiment was discovered.  I am a youth and family minister for a church that I have a wonderful relationship with.  My office is on the other side of the building from all of the other offices, so other staff members have to make a special effort to come down my way.  Once the new addition to my office was discovered I was “on display.”  Everyone approved and a few even tried it out.  Several posts I had read about treadmill desks warned that you would spend the first week feeling like people were watching you, because they are.

Tuesday I added a bit of height to the board that holds the keyboard and mouse by adding a strip of wood under the front edge.  It helped but was not enough.  Tuesdays are a heavy computer use day for me, so I wound up finding a 6″ tall box that was big enough and sturdy enough to work on.  The box sitting on my existing platform provided the perfect height for my keyboard and mouse.  That night I built a 24″ wide, 6″ tall platform to add onto my setup.  I even tried my hand at a router for the first time to round off the edge of the board where my wrists would be resting.  (I still have all my fingers!)

Treadmill Desk Closeup

A closeup of my work space.

Wednesday I tacked the new addtion into place and had found the perfect fit for me.  A perfect fit that allowed my hands and wrists to be in the correct position.  The adjustable shelves on the wall allowed me to raise the Macbook Pro and second monitor to eye level.  I was now standing up straight, walking and working.  (I have also managed to chew gum while doing all this 🙂  The new setup also provided lots of space for any papers I might be working with or books I am using.

It has only been one week and I am loving this new style of working!  I have found out that I don’t work at my computer near as much as I thought I did, but every week seems to vary in my line of work.  I’ve logged about 10 miles of walking at the treadmill desk from Monday through Thursday.  I find that I jump right into my work in the mornings and get through tasks in a quicker manner than I used to.  I haven’t had any problems with the afternoon lull that often follows lunch.  I can read an amazing amount of text without getting drowsy like I sometimes do when I’m sitting.  I feel more creative and have had ideas popping into my head all week.  When I leave for the day my legs feel a bit tired but my body feels energized.  I have been able to accomplish a lot more at home after work and feel I am generally in a better mood when I get home…even if traffic is horrendous.  And my wife is very proud of me 🙂

Good shoes are a must.  I usually go to work in a pair of Merrell Olmec shoes that have Vibram souls.  They are pretty expensive but are the best shoes I have ever worn.  Having a secondary work surface is also a must.  I still have my big desk and can unplug the laptop and head over there to work if I need to, but I haven’t done that yet.  I am blessed with a supportive church that allows me the flexibility to work in whatever manner I am most productive.  When I am at home working, I miss my treadmill desk.

Treadmill desks that are manufactured start at around $350 for a desk and then you have to buy your own treadmill.  Treadmills with a built-in desk start at around $900 and the most popular one is around $1400.  I spent $75 on the treadmill and $65 on wood, shelving brackets, and wall anchors.  After one week I am SUPER happy with my investment.

What do you think?  Could you ever picture yourself strolling and working?  Do you have any questions about what it is like to use a treadmill desk?  I’d be interested to hear your questions or comments.

Thanks to all of you who are seeing this post after searching “treadmill desk” on Google or another search engine.  I have had a ton of traffic for my treadmill desk posts.  Please consider subscribing to my site via email or RSS to receive future updates.  And if you’re on the fence about making a treadmill desk…just do it!

DIY homemade treadmill desk

One happy dude on his DIY treadmill desk. Total cost approximately $140.

Give Yourself A Christmas Bonus

Our preacher gave a lesson Sunday morning about the ‘debtly sins.’  It was an appropriate topic for this time of year when so many people spend way more money than they have.  I am a minister and my wife is a nurse, so we have always had to be careful with our money.  My wife is a big coupon shopper and I am always on the lookout for a good deal.  We are comfortable, happy and well provided for.

One of my little tricks is using credit cardTwo Dollar Bills in a Wallet points to pay for Christmas.  (I call it my Christmas bonus.)  We are the type of people who pay our credit card balances off at the end of every month and I don’t mind making a bit of money off of the credit card company.  My card of choice is the Citicards Thank You card.  The points are the easiest to redeem of any card I have ever used.  This year we cashed out the points in Amazon gift cards for Christmas shopping, some items from the Thank You store and a few other things.

Citi is currently running a promotion for a Thank You Preferred card that gives you 20,000 bonus points (That’s $200 in gift cards) if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 6 months.  If you spend another $3,000 in the next 6 months they will give you another 20,000 bonus points, on top of the 6,000 points from the purchases you have made.  At the end of the year that would be 46,000 Thank You points, or $460 to spend on gifts for Christmas next year.  The card doesn’t have a fee and if you pay off your balance each month it will cost you nothing in interest.

I also wrote a followup article in our weekly church bulletin to help our church members consider some things they could do to put our preacher’s lesson on ‘debtly sins’ into action.  Here it is:

Spending Next to Nothing at Christmas
One of the blogs I follow, MoneySavingMom.com (yes, I follow a mom blog) recently did a post about enjoying a reach holiday season with no money.  Crystal Paine, founder of the blog, recalled the Christmas of 2004 when her husband was in law school and she was nine months pregnant.  They had committed to getting through law school with no school debt, so things were really tight.  They couldn’t afford gifts for each other or for relatives but instead gave what truly is the most precious gift anyone can give, their time.  They visited relatives, enjoying time together playing games and doing low to no cost activities.  You can read her full post which was featured on DaveRamsey.com by clicking here.

It’s time to refinance!
If you haven’t been watching, mortgage rates have gone even lower than they were in 2011.  Rates on a 30 year note are below 3% and a 15 year note is right around 3%.  This is a great time to take a look at refinancing your home!  The savings in interest can be staggering when the interest rate on your mortgage is reduced by only 1 or 2%.  In some cases you can reduce the time it takes to pay off your mortgage by 5 to 10 years.  I would highly recommend dealing with someone in person at a local financial institution, especially if you have a unique income situation.  This could be one of the single largest reductions in spending that you can make.

Read, read, read
I’ll admit…I love to read blogs about finances and savings.  In my Google Reader feed I have blogs about couponing, personal finances and investing.  Here are some of my favorites that you might enjoy too:

GetRichSlowly.org – We all know that get rich quick schemes, or any method of making money with little to no work are scams.  GRS focuses on making daily decisions that are financially savvy.  This is one of my favorite sites regarding financial matters.

MyMoneyBlog.com – This is the personal blog of a guy who is about my age.  His blog posts usually include detailed information about investment comparisons and other financial choices he is making.

WiseBread.com – A big financial blog with multiple writers that covers a variety of topics. Their staff posts several excellent articles a day.

I find that reading about things that are important to you keeps you thinking about them and keeps your drive alive.  If you want to be a child of God you read the Bible and books about the Bible.  If you want to be a good steward of His blessings you read inspiring, encouraging and informative articles about doing just that.

 

Elf on the Shelf Ideas and Observations

 

This is the third year that Pete the Elf, our ElfElf on the Shelf blocks on the Shelf, has come to visit.  It has been interesting to see how Avery reacts to Pete each year.  When she was 3 he was just a novelty, last year she grasped the concept that he was there watching her behavior, and this year it has gone to an entirely different level.

The other day I found Avery underneath the kitchen table changing clothes.  This is not typical behavior for our child.  She said she was changing under there because she didn’t want Pete to see.  I appreciated her modesty but told her that Pete was a good elf and closed his little elf eyes while she changed.  I guess all those talks about not running through the house naked are finally catching on.

It has been interesting to see how serious Avery is about Pete this year.  She wants to make sure Elf on the Shelf dinnerhe doesn’t see her doing anything she shouldn’t be doing..which is great.  Brianne and I have talked about how we could reinforce the same idea about God but haven’t come up with a good answer for that yet.

We do have a fun time with Pete while he is here.  He usually comes a day or two after Thanksgiving.  It takes him a while to get comfortable at the house and by early December he is making himself at home.  So far he has enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal of his own while we celebrated our 2nd Thanksgiving on December 1.  Pete invited the turkey to join him as he made some green bean casserole.  We have also found Pete reading a Bible Sunday morning as Elf on the Shelf Biblewe were getting ready for church.  Everyone can use some time in the Good Book.  Pete also used some blocks to spell out a special message for Avery.  He might be doing this several times since we are working on phonics and reading.

Several of the blogs I follow have been sharing some great and creative ideas for posing your Elf on the Shelf.  Passion for Savings had a great post filled with 15 creative ideas for the Elf on the Shelf.

Have you found any great ideas for your elf on the shelf? Or have you come up with any of your own?

Update: The Elf on the Shelf photos have been very popular with Google Image Search so I thought I would add a few more photos of Pete’s adventures in our house this December.

Elf on the Shelf in a remote control car

Pete the Elf in a My Little Pony remote control car.

Elf on the Shelf nap

Pete taking a nap on a drawing that hangs on our wall.

Elf on the Shelf gingerbread house

What elf wouldn’t want to hang out by this gingerbread house?!?

Elf on the Shelf playing Xbox

Pete getting in a bit of time with the Xbox.

Elf on the Shelf Cook

Pete heard we were going to be cooking one day.

Another update: I have been getting so much response and so many hits on the Elf on the Shelf post that I thought I would post up a few more photos of Pete in action.  It should be noted that our elf is a good elf, not a naughty one.

elf on the shelf coffee

Even elves need some coffee to get going.

elf on the shelf flowers

Pete hiding in a bunch of flowers. Careful not to get your toes wet Pete.

elf on the shelf snoopy

Pete hangs out with some of his pals – Snoopy and Woodstock.

elf on the shelf welcome

Pete heard we had some company coming and wrote a welcome sign for them.

Dad is Learning: A New Adventure

I recently told my wife that I had this idea in the back of my mind, it was rattling around but I couldn’t quite put it into words.  Through conversations with her and with friends, I have been able to solidify what I am hoping to do.  I have been thinking about this first post for a while now and have finally been able to get a few thoughts written out…at 1am of course.  Come join the adventure of life-long learning at Dad is Learning.

Let me introduce myself, I’m Dad.  I have many titles in life – Jon, husband, father, minister, friend, photo nut, tech guy, chicken ‘farmer’ and emptier of the diaper pail, among many others.  I have been an avid reader of blogs for several years now and have gotten to the point where I feel I need to unleash some of these experiences I am enjoying and some of the lessons I have learned along the way.  Life is about learning and one of the best ways to learn is through sharing experiences, thoughts and observations.

Dad is Learning is all about my life-long learning adventure.  My wife would be the first to tell you that I have a diverse field of knowledge, interests and hobbies.  I have an undergrad degree in communications, an MBA, and I have never worked in a career field that has anything to do with my degrees.  Since graduating college I have thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, lived in the Northeast, worked as an RF engineer, started a photography business, worked as a youth and family minister, gotten married, built a house, started a family and a whole host of other big things.  I have a wonderful wife who is my best friend and have two wonderful daughters.  I never pictured myself living in a house full of women but God has a great way of knowing what’s best for you before you have figured it out.  A lot of things in my life were not planned but have come together to get me to this point as a very content, happy and blessed man.

In this blog I plan to write weekly updates on some of my favorite topics – family, faith and finances to name a few.  I hope to have a monthly project too.  I will kick off my full blogging schedule in January.  Many people who will read this know me in real life, but it is my hope that many people who don’t know me will read some of my writings and be encouraged by them and share some of their experiences.  I appreciate you stopping by and encourage you to subscribe via email or RSS and follow along as ‘Dad is Learning.’