An Unofficial Revival of Boys Club

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Wyatt wasn’t having the best of days yesterday. A combo of East Texas allergies and a knee injury at homeschool co-op had him snuffling/limping about. Tab ended up going to church alone to teach the kids (normally I tag along and help her). This Wednesday night though, I got to stay home with Wyatt and have a bit of an unofficial Boys Club revival. Two guys. All alone. What are we to do?

First, we kind of geeked out over a Star Wars trailer breakdown:

Second, we watched the Untitled Goose Game Gameplay Trailer. Wyatt just laughed. “We need this, dad.” I love listening to him laugh his deep belly laugh.

And then third, we played some Fortnite. I am still not a huge fan of the game. But recent changes have made the Chapter 2 update revolutionary for me (which means I’ll actually play with Wyatt now). The shooting, which always felt off/not good, feels dialed in now. I can shoot with the best of them and actually rack up a kill streak. Wyatt and I have consistently placed in the top ten playing duos. We even achieved our first Victory Royale over the weekend. Oh yeah!

Victory Royale!

Playing with Wyatt last night, I realized that we haven’t had a lot of one-on-one time lately. As we played Fornite, he talked. I learned about the video games kids at church are playing:

“Dad, so-and-so and so-and-so play Halo, but they aren’t allowed to play Fornite, isn’t Halo more violent?”

I smiled.

There is something about getting to hang out with him, one-on-one, that is super special. Tabitha is probably smiling as she reads this. At one point in my life, when she would leave, I’d put Wyatt to bed as quick as I could so that I could have some “me” time. God and the passage of time have worked to change me.

Was reading an article the other day that got me thinking about setting aside time to just spend with Wyatt. I liked this point:

Taking them out for breakfast. One much-loved tradition in our family is taking my children out for breakfast on Saturday mornings—one of them each week. It’s a tradition I have lost and revived and lost again and revived again. It is a tradition worth maintaining. The $10 or $20 expense and the time it takes pales in comparison to the investment in their lives. I will never regret our breakfast daddy dates.

Daddy dates. Going to think more on this one.

How do you make time to connect with your kids?

How did your parents make time to connect with you as a kid?

Let me know in the comments below.

For the Love of Strategy Games

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I blame my Grandpa Ayers for my love of strategy games. How he taught my siblings and I how to move Chess pieces around the board. Which then translated to late night Chess matches while on camping trips with him. There is something nostalgic about playing Chess while eating prunes, graham crackers, and M&M’s. It is no wonder my stomach was usually so upset on those trips into the mountains.

Note: I’m the kid in the far back with the mop hair.

I have tried to share my love of strategy games with my son Wyatt. Teaching him how to move the knight, the rook, and the bishop in Chess. Also sharing with him the other game my Grandpa loved, Stratego. All the while branching out into Hall family favorites Carcassonne and Catan Jr. (I’ll note here: Never play Catan Jr. with Wyatt. He will win. Kid quickly figured out how to game the game.)

This past December, I decided to go deeper into the strategy game depths. Having read reviews, I intentionally asked for My Little Scythe for Christmas.

My Little Scythe

My Little Scythe has been perfect at teaching us how to see the bigger game picture amidst all the smaller moving pieces. I love it.

Wyatt recently came home from a homeschool park day with a deck of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) cards. He said that the other homeschool kids had been playing and had taught him how to play. Now I know that MTG can be an expensive hobby, due to having to buy new cards blindly in order to build powerful decks. I wanted to push past the expense AND further our strategy horizons, so I picked up a box of Dice Throne: Season 2 – Gunslinger v. Samurai.

Dice Throne: Season 2

My wife, Tabitha, is amazing at analyzing instructions and then teaching them to a group. (I think this has something to do with her teaching third grade for eight years. 🙂 ) But after looking over the Dice Throne instructions, she proclaimed, “This is a rule book, not an instruction book that describes how to play the game.”

A few hours of mowing the backyard later…

We decided to consult Watch It Played with Rodney Smith:

Which we found more helpful than the official Dice Throne video. But we still wanted to see the game played out. So we watched a bit of a Game the Game episode:

That was all on Sunday. Due to how crazy our week has been, we have yet to play ourselves. But I wanted to ask you…

Have you ever bought a game and thought, this is overwhelming!

Tell me about it in the comments below.

I Wanna Grow Old With You

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Saturday afternoon, Wyatt was dropped off to spend quality time with Tabitha’s parents. We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary. Eating all the good foods (burgers in our case, we love them!), watching all the movies (Crazy Rich Asians), and just enjoying time alone together.

I love Tabitha. It’s amazing to look back and see how God has written our story:

  • How we met by bumping into each other, in the dark, at a “scare-em into Heaven” evangelistic haunted house (we were playing brother and sister in the play).
  • The extra year we spent dating, after Tabitha’s parents told me that they didn’t have peace in me marrying their daughter (the relationship I have now, with her parents, because I respected them, is amazing).
  • Wyatt arriving a month early and all that that entailed.
  • Buying a house. Escaping the duplex that was quickly growing too small for our family.
  • Tabitha retiring from 8 years of teaching public school to become a stay-at-home mom (something she had always wanted).
  • Our decision to homeschool Wyatt. This was a big one, a choice that came about due to our local public school failing him.

God has allowed us to do so many things and has blessed our family in many different ways. I’m thankful for a God who doesn’t always answer with a quick yes. He has taught me that being told no or even told to wait has led to some of the best outcomes (this continues to be a hard lesson).

A picture of Tab and I with the guys from my dorm floor.

If we were reminded of anything this weekend it’s that we NEED time alone together. Going to start working on that in 2019.

To my wife, I love you. Thank you for your guidance, support, and growing older with me. Our story is still being written, even when we don’t completely understand what the Author is doing (He is still in control and is good). I love you, baby. Here is to another 12 years. – Bryan

Innocence Doesn’t Have To Be Lost

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A few days after ordering curriculum for homeschooling–yes, we are doing it!–, the boy came home from school:

“I learned the word for the middle finger today.”

“What word is that?”

He proceeded to utter the f-bomb, which actually sounded funny coming from his mouth. After I finished laughing, I reminded myself that I am the parent. Time to put the serious face on.

We talked about how cuss words have no power of their own; about how our American culture gives them power. How there are some words we do not say in our house. This is one of those words.

Relaying this story to friends and family, I heard, “I’m surprised that he did not learn this word sooner.”

As if children learning cuss words, at a young age, is a natural occurrence. A sort of twisted cultural rite of passage.

Loss of innocence will happen, is that what we are saying?

My own childhood, as a homeschooled student, taught me that we do not have to accept what is “normal”. There is always another way.

Yes, childhood innocence will fade away. Growing up does that. Yet, we do not have to accept the norm. We can dodge, we can roll, we can allow kids to be kids.

Our job, as parents, is to help our children process and navigate the world. That world does not have to be dirty nor uncouth.

What has happened does not have to be what happens. Innocence doesn’t have to be lost.

Should We Homeschool?

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Homeschooling is not for everyone. I was homeschooled from the fourth grade all the way through high school. I had been falling behind both academically and socially. Public school was failing me by passing me on from one teacher to the next. I had trouble with reading, math, etc. My parents realized what was going on and brought me home. I’m thankful.

Tabitha and I have always said that our children would attend public school. As long as the teachers and the overall district were willing to work with us, we’d stick with it. Our children would be good examples for others to follow. Salt and light.

Enter our son:

  • Helped teach his fellow students in kindergarten
  • Excelled through first grade
  • Has continued in second grade to consistently earn high grades
  • Reads on a middle school grade level

(I can brag as a dad, right?)

The boy wants to be pushed. He wants to learn multiplication and how to write in cursive. Our fear is that his enthusiasm for learning is going to be snuffed out unless he is challenged. We realize that public school can only do so much for him. A teacher has to teach so that all students are on the same middle ground. That means that the higher students in the class are often ignored. Not the teacher’s fault at all. Teaching is hard.

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So how do you make the decision to homeschool?

Throw some dice?

Spin a bottle?

What?

I know the challenges that are involved with it. I have seen them firsthand. I know the impact it has on a family and on a marriage.

Social outlets are essential. Support in the form of a homeschool group help a bunch. The kids never leave the house… ever. Mental fortitude is a requirement.

But how does one pull the trigger?

Trying to figure that out.