Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Simple Summer Fun . . . Lasting Life Lessons -- Springfield Dad, Kevin Weaver

My grown boys like to tease my wife and I about all of the “free manual labor” we received from so wisely having three, strapping boys, all born within a 4.5-year span. While help around the house and family property certainly did not drive any family planning, I won’t lie to you—those boys were pretty darn helpful. In the fall, they would assist me in raking and bagging what seemed to be endless piles of leaves. Winter would realize each holding their own, bright, red, snow shovel diligently plowing paths (often in racing format) on not only our driveway, but those of nearby neighbors.  Springtime signaled the weeding of the flowerbeds, followed by the spreading of bark chips. And summer? Summer, especially for the years we had acreage with a fairly large body of water—mowing, weed eating and treating the pond took up many a Saturday.

But, here’s the thing: With the work, came the reward. And even the grown-ups know, reward can be quite fun.

Don’t get me wrong. We didn’t just bless our children, when they did things for us. I mean, just typing that feels wrong. Children deserve our unconditional love, regardless. But, the reality of life is that a whole lot of work goes into making way for play, and we just tried to seize every opportunity we could to model both for our boys.

Summer was especially easy to do so, what with the kids out of school, and the weather most often cooperating for activities that could take us outdoors. Oh, we found fun rewards during the winter months, but those could very well require additional drains on the family budget, such as the admission of a movie ticket or renting bowling shoes. The advantage of being able to expand the spaces, in which we can enjoy our fun, makes summer the perfect time to reap the rewards of jobs well done.

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Wow. This guy couldn’t just have fun with his kids, for the sake of having fun?” Of course, I could, did, and still do. But, while we want to make our kids’ childhoods as blissfully happy and memorable as possible, we also want to set them up for even longer, just as blissful happy and productive adult lives. My boys knew that I would rather be at a theme park with them than at my desk at work. But, they also knew that being faithful at my job was what provided the means for us to go have fun at the theme park.

So, how does the thought of an expensive stay at the Magic Kingdom (or your choice of summer activities) tie in to finding ways to have inexpensive, summer, family fun? We can do things on an inexpensive, regular basis to show our young that work and play can happen every day. We just have to be intentional and strategic.

Each family is unique. I had three boys, you may have one daughter. I had children close together in age, you may have four kids spread out over a 15-year span. I mostly worked days, you may work nights. We love history and sporting events; your family may love musicals and art museums. It is not a competition of outward activities. Rather, it is a common goal of inward engagement—connecting with our kids on a deep level that will last a lifetime. Summer fun can help make that happen. It seems the key is to find the right activities that your whole family can enjoy.  I know . . . easier said than done.

So, even though you will have to find your fun that works best for your family’s tastes, I will share just a few things we found to be particularly rewarding and memorable.

  1. After a hot day of yard work, we would often find a swimming pool, a lake, or simply set the sprinkler under the trampoline and “bounce in the water.” Pre-trampoline days, we once even fashioned our own “poor man’s Slip-n-Slide” from large, black, yard trash bags, and you would have thought we had given the boys the best gift, ever.
  2. Sometimes, we created our own ice cream sundaes or, in the case of our middle son, experiment with some of the weirdest (and grossest) smoothie flavors known to man.
  3. Other times, we headed to a local park, or nearby hiking trail.
  4. If the days were particularly scorching, but we were short on cash, my wife would search out the “dollar movie matinee” opportunities in the area.

Find your version of simple, inexpensive, summer fun. But, don’t be afraid to let your kids see the work that paves the way for the “fireworks.”  Bottom line . . . it’s really all about quality time with your kids.  They will treasure that for a lifetime.

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Creative Summer Fun on a Budget -- Nixa Dad, Herb Cody

It’s that time of year when the kids are all out of school and my grocery bill doubles. Instead of them grabbing a pop tart on the way out the door, now they wake up expecting pancakes and eggs each morning. Rather than just trying to come up with an idea for dinner, now I’m tasked with creating a lunch menu as well. 

Besides the three meals plus snacks every couple hours, I’ve also gotta entertain my three children during the summer months. We spend the chilly months inside playing cards and board games, so that’s the last thing they want to do now. Right now, the kids are really into tossing the football around, which I love. We also enjoy getting the ball gloves out and tossing around the softballs and baseballs. 

I absolutely dislike when they sit around on their electronic devices all day, so I’m always trying to think of ways of keeping them entertained, while also not overspending. I think the “Kids Bowl Free” option at many of the local bowling locations is a fantastic thing right now. Many of the movie theaters have great matinee movie deals for the youngsters as well. 

On days when it’s rainy or miserably hot outdoors, I’ve gotta get creative with indoor activities. One of our family favorites is indoor sock golf. We pick a spot in the house to begin, and each sink in a hole to shoot for as we toss our sock balls towards each hole. Another thing we like to do as a family when stuck inside, is set up a Nerf gun shooting gallery with paper cups.

My kids love and expect dessert every night. Sometimes I make them earn it. I will set up a scavenger hunt for them to follow clues as they search for their sweet reward. 

Some of my fondest memories as a kid are of having glow in the dark ping pong gun battles, playing dodge ball and hide-and-go seek with my family. I just hope that I am able to create some memorable moments for my children as well.  

Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver  of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments

You can check out Herb's own blog at,

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"When Can We Go Fishing?"

Baseball. Ice Cream. Apple Pie. Each is part of an all-American summer for many dads and kids, but there’s another activity many dad, granddads and kids enjoy all over the country—fishing. If you talk to Ron Hartman, father of two grown children, you’ll discover it’s an important part of the “retirement research” he’s doing. A retired pharmacist, Ron claims he has worked for 50 years and finally discovered something he is really good at—a retirement that includes fishing and golf.

Over the years, Ron has developed many happy memories with his kids associated with fishing. He says his daughter was only six-months old when she went on her first camping and canoe outing. When his kids were preschoolers, he and his wife got them in a canoe and went down the river.

Not yet a grandfather, these days Ron devotes some of his fishing time to helping other people’s kids and grand-kids learn to love fishing. He has a few pointers for dads who want to encourage this activity in their children.

1.  When you fish with kids, the dad doesn’t fish. You put your attention on the kids, bait the hook, untangle the line, make it easy. Ron suggests using live bait, namely worms.

2.   Don’t overdo it. On a float trip, stop a lot and allow the kids to explore. Ron says that they especially enjoyed catching live bait, like minnows, in the shallows. Crawdads were also a favorite for his family. Lures are more appropriate for older children.

3.  Try to use decent equipment. Ron advised avoiding, “old junky stuff that doesn’t work right” in favor of good, but not expensive equipment.

4.   Rivers, lakes, streams and ponds are all possibilities for fishing with kids. Use the option that works best for you and your child.

5.   Both canoes and kayaks are choices for river fishing. Ron prefers a canoe because, he says, “I take a lot of stuff.” Both water craft may also often be rented at a public river access.

Although it’s clear Ron loves fishing, if you talk with him much you also see how much he loves nature. He appreciates nature and sharing that love with a child. According to Ron, “They can learn a lot, just by being outside.”

Ron emphasizes the importance of listening to a child, not lecturing, when the two are together. He values the quiet time of just being together noticing the wildlife, enjoying the outdoors without the interruption of electronic stimuli. Ron emphasizes, “Fishing is not a video game. It’s the real thing.”

If you want a real-life experience with your child this summer, consider taking them fishing. It’s likely to be a great memory-making experience for both of you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Catch of Catch -- Springfield Dad, Author & Blogger, Ethan Bryant

Inspiration operates on her own timetable. She demands determined faithfulness to one’s craft, whatever that craft may be — writing, art, music, or any other worthwhile activity under the sun. Inspiration also has a mischievous sense of humor whispering late at night and early in the morning and almost always in the middle of my pastor’s sermon.

For Christmas of 2017, my youngest daughter gave me a baseball. On this baseball, carefully handwritten, were the words, “Dad, Wanna play catch?”

I grew up playing catch with my dad. From second grade through age 16, the pop of leather and feeling of the seams beneath my fingertips provided the foundation for our relationship. My skills peaked as a benchwarmer for the junior varsity team of Kickapoo High School, but my love for the game has only increased in the decades since.

I love playing catch. I love everything it represents and teaches about life. Cooperation above competition. Establishing a relationship of trust. Freedom from technology. Focus on life in the present tense. Playing catch engages all the senses and delights the soul and leaves you with sore muscles and funny tan lines. As G. K. Chesterton said, “The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.”

On January 1, with the wind chill at 1 degree, Sophie and I put on a half dozen layers and went to the field to play catch. There were no real rules, although we stayed until each of us threw the ball 30 times. My hand wouldn’t fit inside my favorite glove with a glove underneath, so I felt the full effects of the temperature on my bare hands. That afternoon, just a couple degrees warmer, I stepped into the backyard with my oldest daughter Kaylea for my second game of catch on the first day of the year.   

And then Inspiration whispered. Why not play catch every day for an entire year?

No one ever said anything about inspiration making sense.

Two of my mantras are “Baseball brings people together,” and “Baseball tells the best stories.” Playing catch every day felt like a natural way to truly test those mantras. Ten-year old me couldn’t wait to get started. Forty-three year old me worried about my arm falling off.

Now six months into this ridiculous catch-playing adventure, I am passionate about taking risks to reach out and connect with new friends. My family took one 2,000 mile trek throughout the Midwest playing catch and making friends and are preparing to go on a second one in just a few days. None of this makes much sense and it definitely doesn’t make any cents, but we are creating epic memories in the process. From the beauty of the falls in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to meeting a player from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, this is a year defined by play. 

Ethan Bryan is a storyteller whose narratives explore what it means to live a good story. He is the author of ten books including America at the Seams, a coffee table book that sold more than 2,000 copies in the first month, as well as a couple of children’s picture books. 

His writings earned him an opportunity to speak at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an invitation to the White House for the Royals World Series championship, and endorsements from several former MLB players including Jim “The Rookie” Morris.

Bald since the age of six, Ethan knows about overcoming personal obstacles and being bullied. He also understands the power of hope, persevering through hundreds of manuscript rejections.

A major fan of both Dr Pepper and chocolate donuts, Ethan’s catch-playing stories can be found here:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Some families go somewhere on vacation in the summer. Some prefer a “stay-cation.” And some use the precious months of June, July and August to pack up everything they own and move half-way across the country. 

In last week’s Good Dads Podcast we caught up with Alex and Miriam Green who are preparing to move from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts to a city near Nashville, Tennessee. The Greens have elected to use a moving service where they pack the truck and someone else drives it to the new location where they then unpack it. They’ve lived in the Boston area for about three years and are trying to squeeze in as many visits with friends, birthday celebrations (four of the six of them have birthdays in a one-month period) and trips to the ocean as possible before they head west toward the Midwest.

This week we touch base with Minor and Sarah Baker who are moving from Austin, Texas to Springfield, Missouri. The Bakers chose to pack all their belongings into a pod, which will be delivered to their new home near the end of June. In the interim, they’ve been living first with Sarah’s parents and then Minor’s, waiting for the dust to settle and their new home to become available—not an easy task for a family with four kids and two dogs.

The Bakers’ departure from Austin is bittersweet for them. They’re excited about moving to a new community with new jobs. They like the thought of having both sets of grandparents nearby. Nonetheless, they’ve spent the last twelve years of their lives in Austin where all four of their children were born and they owned their first home. Along with the stress of packing, there’s the emotion of saying good-bye to many happy memories. Sometimes, in the midst of heat, humidity and hot-pod-packing it can all be a bit too much. 

What have they done, we wondered, to get themselves and their kids through this taxing period? Here’s what we learned from Minor and Sarah:

1.  Embrace friends and family while you’re packing—especially if they offer to help. Ask them to keep an eye on your kids. Sarah noted what a godsend this was in the last nerve-wracking days of emptying the house into the pod.

2.  Save room for couple time. Minor and Sarah agree that it may sound a bit odd to be planning a date night in the midst of moving, but they view it as an energizing essential to keep them going and reward them at the end of a long day. They agree that a little bit of fun for the two of you helps keep things in perspective.

3.  Find some local stuff to do as advance preparation. Minor mentioned how much he has enjoyed reading the Springfield News-Leader and listening to podcasts originating in the region as preparation for life in a new context. Both agree it’s helpful and exciting to become familiar with your new community before you leave the previous one. Saying good-bye can be hard, so it’s nice to do something that helps build the anticipation for living in a new location.

4.  Rent first; then buy. Initially the Bakers wanted to move from their home in Austin to a new home in Springfield. They could’ve done it. They sold their house and had a down payment in hand. However, after considerable thought and discussion they determined it might be best to actually live in their new city for a bit before committing to a new home and neighborhood. While moving twice can be a pain, Minor and Sarah decided it was a less stressful decision for them than trying to decide quickly on a new home 600 miles from their new location.

Most people don’t look forward to uprooting from one locale and re-rooting in a new area, but listening to couples like the Greens and the Bakers does help. Taking care of yourself and your couple relationship all go a long way to helping your kids embrace the experience of moving and the adventure of a new community where you'll hopefully be building happy new memories for years to come.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

3 Things Your Children Should See You Do (That You Really May Not Want Them to See) -- Springfield Dad, Kevin Weaver

If you have been parenting for even a minute, your world has been bombarded with all sorts of advice on what you should do. Good dads know that they are to model love, laughter, and good work ethics. Not only do good dads know these are essential, but we strive to show them to the best of our ability. When one or all of these things seem to take hold in one of our kids, we celebrate. We are thrilled, even a little proud that we could play such a positive role in their overall development as a human being.

But, what about the things we should be doing that aren’t so “good looking” on the surface? Sometimes, dads need to be willing to be what the world might deem “unattractively transparent” so that kids can learn some pretty deep life lessons. It is with this mindset that I think of three things in particular that our kids should see us doing, but often some things that make us feel pretty uncomfortable.

1.      STRUGGLE
As parents, especially dads, we can have this innate desire to be seen as “superheroes” in the eyes of our young. Always the one with the great advice, the right answer, the solution to any and all problems. Always the one to swoop in and make things look easy. But, is that real life? And, more importantly, will our kids always be in situations where someone else will save the day? Struggle is part of life…real life…any life. If our kids never see us struggle, they will never have the opportunity to see us persevere. The ability to persevere in spite of challenging circumstances is a much-needed skill in order to be successful, but many young people lack it. It’s okay to let your kids see you struggle, as long as they see you persevere through it.

2.      CRY
Yup. I said it. Kids should see their dads cry. They also should see them laugh. Maybe not every second of every day, but crying and laughing are part of the emotional coping process. Now, you may not be the crying type and I can’t say I have cried that many times in front of my boys over the past almost 30 years, but they have certainly seen the eyes water on a few occasions. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of life. Let the kids know your emotional lights are on, somebody is home, and that somebody knows how to cope with the heartache and joy this life presents.

I will be the first to admit it, before my wife and kids can…I have a hard time saying I am wrong. But, admit I must, for wrong I often am. If you look around, ours is a culture in which many have a hard time conceding fault. Taking responsibility is not something humans tend to want to do. How critical it is for our sons and daughters to witness us not only making mistakes, but also owning up to them. We must exhibit the humility necessary to say, “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me so that we can continue to live and love and work together?” Can you imagine if every person on social media possessed this skill? Our world would forever be changed. And in a good way. Dad’s, this kind of behavior gives our kids an example and experience to be the kind of adult people that will be skilled to develop deep relationships. 

So, as you ponder the things to let your kids see…and not see…remember to let them see you struggle, cry, and apologize. This just might lead to kids who can readily persevere, cope, and humbly get along with everyone else on the planet.

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Why Rough Housing with Dad is Important to Children -- Dr. Jennifer Baker

There's so much good information in The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell PhD and John Gray, PhD that we could devote the contents of the Real Good Dads blog to it for the next six months. At the same time, we do have other topics we want to cover and writer dads we want to hear from. With that in mind, I want to cover one last topic that also coincides with our latest podcast with Dr. Farrell, namely the importance of the roughhousing dads do to their child's development.

I’m a mom, so I’m very familiar with those anxious pangs occurring when my husband went what I considered as “over the top,” wrestling with our children.

“Somebody’s going to get hurt,” I might said. “Keep it down,” I instructed. “Watch what you’re doing. You’ll be sorry when someone starts crying.”

Typically, my instructions and suggestions were ignored. Our kids loved wrestling matches with their dad. In fact, they begged for them. In their minds, the more full-body contact the better. If these episodes also involved a bit of danger and risk, e.g., being thrown in the air and flung over water, so much the better. I see the same sort of behavior with all eight of our grandchildren and their fathers.

According to Dr. Farrell, “Researchers consistently find that fathers who spend time with 
their children give their children the gifts of self-control and social skills” (p. 145). He believes that roughhousing contributes to children, and especially to boys, being less aggressive and having more social skills as an adult.

Dr. Farrell also asserts that it’s challenging for many moms to “get” roughhousing and the importance of ways in which dads challenge kids limits. I know. I used to cringe at some of the competitions and “bets” my husband set up with our children. "Why do you need to do that?" I wondered. "Why does everything need to be a game?"

Dr. Farrell asserts, “A dad’s tendency to turn everything into a game is the way dad makes it palatable to challenge his children’s limits” (p. 147). In other words, it’s the way a father helps his child see he can do more than he believes. She can work harder than she imagined.

I’m not saying I didn’t challenge their limits, too. I’m just admitting my husband did it differently—and sometimes his way was better. Kids need both—mothers and fathers working together to give them what they need. Ideally this occurs with mom and dad living in the same house, but even when it doesn’t children need contact with their dads because they gain things from their father they don’t typically get from their mothers. 

As Father’s Day approaches, I hope we will remember this and thank a good dad we know for his contribution to our life. You can also recognize a special dad in your life on the Good Dads web page. You can help more fathers become the good dad they want to be by contributing to the work of Good Dads. Just go to to give.