Free Crash Dad Updates! Want to receive the latest musings of Crash Dad sent directly to your email inbox? You know you want to! Sign up and get the latest and greatest Crash Dad Updates for FREE!

Child Like Determination

Posted on May 17, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Child-like Determination

Yesterday was Crash Kid #2’s first piano recital. Luckily there were only 3 people playing at the recital so it was fast and painless. It was exactly the way you’d want a piano recital. Friendly faces in the audience. A chance for your child to perform in front of people and the pressure that goes along with that, but the parents aren’t itching to leave as they heard the 10th child hunting and pecking their way through Yankee Doodle.

I’ll admit that I was a little worried for my daughter. She hadn’t practiced nearly enough and the “Be Our Guest” piece was pretty advanced for 4.5 months of piano lessons. The reality was that she only wanted to practice the songs she knew well. So, she never practiced “Be Our Guest” very much because she was still learning it. I think most of us can relate. We like to take on the things we know we can do and often set aside the hard things for later.

I have to say that in my mind’s eye, I’d already pictured what my daughter would look like if she failed at the song. I could see the despair in her eyes as she looked at me and wondered what she should do if she got off track performing the song. It was heart breaking for me to even think about it.

Much to my surprise and delight, she showed a beautiful determination as she slogged through “Be Our Guest.” From a piano performing perspective it was pretty awful. Her timing was off. She slowly and methodically pecked out the song with only a few parts playing on the right time so you could recognize the song. From a father perspective, it was brilliant.

I was so proud of Crash Kid #2’s determination to pluck her way through the song and do her best. I couldn’t have been more proud. Many kids would have shrunk at the idea of performing that song. She taught me an amazing lesson in determination yesterday. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Fighting the Battle Between Responsibility and Passions

Posted on May 13, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I am not really sure where I am going to go with this, but I am hoping that putting my thoughts on (digital) paper will bring some clarity.

It is likely not a surprise to anyone that military life can be somewhat chaotic and uncertain.  That is sort of the nature of the beast, and something that I understood well before joining.  Even with all of the uncertainty there are still certain times when I get to be a part of the decision making process, like it or not.

The short version of this story is that I am a navigator on the C-130H that is being replaced by the C-130J which has no navigator.  In case you can’t do the math, that means I have to find a new job.  The real problem, as I see it, is that I have a few options and none of them stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I will spare you the specifics of my different options as it is not entirely relevant to my troubled line of thinking.  What is relevant is that my choices can largely be grouped into two categories: responsible rational choices, and choices that get me excited about the future.  The best answer would obviously be something that was a good mix of both, but if it was that simple I wouldn’t be grinding my mind over this.

So how does somebody find that good balance between responsibility and passion?

I was hoping that somehow an answer would appear after typing that, but no such luck.  I did stumble across this video today though which clearly leans towards one side of the debate:

I have seen multiple videos and stories like this recently and maybe that is my answer, but I simply can’t ignore the responsibility side of my life.  Then again, maybe that is just the doubt that the video talked about.

Feel free to share some insights with me.

Slightly Modifying My Responses to My Children

Posted on May 10, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I respond to my children. This is true when they wake up in the morning, when they get home from school, when they ask me to do something, or need help with something. I think the way I react really makes a huge long term impact and I didn’t even realize what I was doing.

My gut reaction is often to overreact or start addressing the task at hand. For example, when they get home from school it’s easy to start by saying, “Start doing your homework.” Yes, I definitely want them to do their homework, but I’d hate if the way I was greeted when I got home was homework. A much nicer greeting would be to ask about how their day went. Of course, I’m unlikely to get long greetings to start, but I think with patience they’ll likely start expecting this and be ready to recount their day when they get home from school.

This really came to light the other night when putting my kids to bed. It took a couple times for this to sink in, but I finally think I got the message. While as a parent I often want the kids to get in bed so I can get to the things that I want to do in peace, I’ve been doing what I can to spend more time talking with my kids at night. Sometimes that includes climbing into bed alongside them so they know I’m there to talk and I’m not going to be running out the door as fast as I can.

After doing this a few times along with what’s possibly a bad habit of giving some short backrubs while we talk at night, I decided not to do it one night because the kids had acted poorly. Crash Kid #1 said in one of the most sincere voices I’ve ever heard him use, “But I like when we talk at night.”

Kind of makes my heart break thinking about it. I like talking with him too, but sometimes at night I’m tired and not that interested in talking about minecraft or modern architecture design. It’s a seriously tough balance. However, it’s amazing how big of a difference a little thing like 5 minutes of chatting at night can make in my relationship with my children.

Going back to the small ways I react to my children, I could do a lot more in the little things to better help my children. Often that means I need to take a step back and not react to their actions or questions and instead I need to take a second to think about the right way I should respond. That’s not an easy thing to do, but the more I think about it the more I realize it’s one of the most important things I can do.

Over versus Under – The Toilet Paper Debate

Posted on May 2, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

It’s time that we take on some serious journalism here and discuss the debate on whether the toilet paper should go over or under. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about, but to be 100% sure, here’s a visual representation of the debate:

Over versus Under - The Toilet Paper Debate

This is an extremely important subject and no doubt has been the fight between many a husband and wife over the years. I’d be surprised if this question isn’t one of Match.com’s algorithmic checks of compatibility between partners. Considering how much time you spend reaching for the toilet paper, this is an important topic which must be discussed. The problem is that too many people take a simplistic over or under stance, but the answer should be much more nuanced. Since nuance is my middle name, let’s dive into the nuance.

Someone recently found this 1891 toilet paper roll patent which many argued “settled” the debate of over versus under. Here’s the image from the patent:

Toilet Paper Patent

I can see why many would argue that this ends the debate of over versus under. However, just because something patents something a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal way to use something. In fact, there are many initial patents that get modified and improved over the years. Plus, if I was getting into the nitty gritty (which I basically am), then it’s worth also noting that the patent doesn’t even have the toilet paper mounted into proper position. How do we know that the inventor didn’t intend it to be mounted the other way, but this was just the best way to illustrate the patent?

As a child, I must admit that I was a strong proponent of the over the top paper roll. I’m not sure if I inherited this view from my parents or siblings or if I came to the conclusion on my own through constant use. Either way, I became a strong advocate for the over the top toilet paper. It provided much easier access to grab the toilet paper.

As I’ve grown older, I still feel the same way about over the top toilet paper, but I’ve grown to understand an important nuance. Upon having children who became mobile I realized the merits of the under methodology. Any parent who has arrived at their toilet seat only to find a pile of unrolled toilet paper will understand why the under methodology is so important with kids (Side Note: I’m also told this is true with animals such as cats, but don’t have first hand experience). Yes, my children’s actions have converted me to the under approach to toilet paper.

I do look forward to the day when my kids are mature enough to appreciate the over the top toilet paper and I can return to my roots. We’re almost there. I can feel it.

The moral of the story is that we shouldn’t judge others if they choose to go over the top or under on their toilet paper. Like in most things in life, there’s always more nuance than we realize.

Funny Cinderella Perspectives from My 12 Year Old Son

Posted on April 30, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

I was driving home with my son (Crash Kid #1) after a church event where we got to hear from a member of the 12 apostles (Elder Holland for those following along at home). It was almost 10 PM as we got home and I told my son that he’d turn into a pumpkin at 10 PM. He corrected me and said that you turned into a pumpkin at midnight, not 10. He then went on to share his feelings about Cinderella. Here’s more or less what he said:

What was Cinderella doing out so late? She had until midnight. She shouldn’t have stayed out so late and the party even went on for 3 more hours or something. (Side Note: My son usually goes to bed around 8 PM)

Glass slippers. Those weren’t very practical. Glass isn’t very strong and can’t hold much weight before it breaks. Plump Cinderella would likely break them. (Side Note: I’m not sure why he thinks Cinderella was plump. I always thought she was skinny.)

They didn’t do a good job on the prince either. He’s wearing overalls or something. Wait…you know those things that hold your pants up. Suspenders! They should have spent more time on him. Those weren’t the right style then. (Side Note: I didn’t realize he knew Cinderella period styling)

Kids can be so awesome. Tonight was awesome with my son. When he said his evening prayers he prayed “I hope we can do a night like this again.” Can you give me an “Amen!”?

I’m Glad My Kids are Patriotic

Posted on April 20, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I just got back from a long couple of weeks in the Philippines for work, and as usual it left me concerned about how my time away from my kids impacts them and our relationship.  It is always heartwarming to come home to their handmade signs and super tight hugs and kisses, which I guess means I am doing something right.

All of my other doubts aside, I know my kids are learning one thing that is incredibly important to me.  They are learning to be patriotic and have respect for the great symbols of our nation.

For those of you unfamiliar with military installations, there is music that plays every morning and every night.  I have seen different variations at the various bases I have lived at in terms of what music they play, but the national anthem is always a part of that music at some point during the day.  A fun addition here in Japan is that they also play the Japanese national anthem.  When the music plays you are supposed to stop walking or driving, and if outside stand with your hand over your heart much like you would at a sporting event.

This is our first time living on base so my kids were not super familiar with this tradition before we lived here, but I am proud to say they have learned quickly.

Just now my youngest was in the living room with my wife and I when the music started playing.  She immediately wanted to run outside, but we stopped her since she isn’t supposed to be running around while the music is playing.  Much to my happy surprise she said, “Fine, I put my hand on my heart.”  Technically she put her hand on her stomach, but we helped her find her heart and she stood there in the living room for a minute while the music played.

She is only almost three years old, but I am super proud of the fact that she is learning that respect already, even though I realize she doesn’t really know why she is doing it.  I am grateful for parents who taught me that respect at a young age as I think respect is one of the most important character traits we can develop.

It’s Easy to Overreact

Posted on March 28, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how my children seem to overreact to the smallest of things. It’s quite frustrating as a parent, because you realize that it’s an overreaction and that whatever they’re overreacting to is not something worth worrying about. Sometimes they overreact so much that they start to get upset and angry and then you have to start punishing them for taking it too far. That starts a vicious cycle.

Maybe my kids are alone in this, but they are extremely determined. Once they get something in their mind, they can’t get it out of their mind and just want to keep fighting until they get what they want (probably reminds my mother of me…Sorry Crash Wife). I believe that tenacity will really pay off when my kids are older, but as a parent it’s extremely frustrating.

Tonight though I was thinking about how I can also overreact to stupid things. As I thought about this, I realized that I likely needed to have a little more compassion for my children when they’re seemingly overreacting to something that is insignificant. No doubt that thing is significant in their minds even if it’s not in the much larger scope of things.

This is going to be a hard change. It’s also a hard balance, because you don’t just always want to give in to children just because they’re being obstinate. Obviously, I don’t have the answers, but this is what I’m thinking about tonight.

Burnt Out and Tired

Posted on March 21, 2016 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

What a great title for a post on my Birthday huh? It’s just the reality and I thought I’d share. As a get a year older today, I realize that life is a challenge. That doesn’t change. Even when you have amazing things and opportunities in your life, there are also things that can really overwhelm as well.

The interesting part is that I have a pretty amazing life. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have so many opportunities and get to do so many amazing things. However, with all that opportunity it’s really easy to get burnt out and tired.

This seems like the moment to remember that my mom told me I can’t do everything. I’d always respond, “You’re right mom, but I’m sure going to try.”

As I’ve gotten a year older, I think I’m going to have to modify that statement. In fact, I’m already doing so in many things. The older I get, the harder I try not to do everything. That’s really hard for someone who enjoys so many things in life. Kind of makes me wish that I only had one skill and interest. Then, I could just focus on it and not worry about all the other things that I wasn’t good at doing.

Of course, even saying that I realize that the grass is always greener on the other side. There are pros and cons to everything in life. That’s a lesson I keep learning over and over again.

I just got off the phone with Crash Uncle. He had some great words of wisdom that talk about enjoying where you’re at and not worrying about a lot of the other stresses in life. Much easier said than done. However, it’s something I’ll be chewing on this week.

Until then, I’m going to knock out a few more things on my to-do list so I don’t have that weight on my shoulders too. There’s something amazingly satisfying when you cross things off your to-do list.

Matsumoto Castle Might be the Coolest Thing I Have Seen in Japan…So Far

Posted on February 1, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

My kids really need to work on their fighting stance.

My kids really need to work on their fighting stance.

It is a good thing that Crash Aunt is such a go getter when it comes to getting out and exploring this amazing country that we are living in.  I am pretty content to hang out and explore the local area, and by local area I mean my bed, my couch, and my backyard.  Fortunately, she really loves doing the research and finding cool places for us to explore.  To be totally honest, sometimes these places are not very exciting, and other times they are super cool.

Matsumoto Castle was definitely one of those super cool things.

The water was so incredibly still it was stunning.

The water was so incredibly still it was stunning.

The castle can be found in the city of Matsumoto which is pretty close to Nagano, where the Olympics were held in 1998 and is also on my list of places to visit.  It is a pretty small city with a number of tasty restaurants, and mostly small buildings that we have come to really enjoy as we travel around Japan.  The castle rises up above the rest of the city like the beacon that it was likely supposed to be with five stories for you to explore.

Young ninja in training.

Young ninja in training.

Even in the winter the grounds have a beautiful simplicity that is very much Japanese.  You can tell that they are meticulously maintained and provide a peaceful beauty that I have not really experienced in the states.  As you can see from the pictures, it is surrounded by a large moat that had a couple of swans swimming in it, and worked wonderfully as a reflection pond.

I love cultural locations that give my kid a better experience.

I love cultural locations that give my kid a better experience.

Inside the grounds of the castle our kids got to meet a ninja, a samurai, and a geisha that walk the grounds and keep it entertaining for the kids.  You are not allowed to wear street shoes in the castle so you have to put on slippers before climbing the stairs and exploring.  I was proud of all of my kids for climbing up the really steep stairs all the way to the top.

This is the "warrior passage" that is extra wide for the Samurai coming through in full battle armor.

This is the “warrior passage” that is extra wide for the Samurai coming through in full battle armor.

On each level of the castle they had plenty of signs explaining all of the different memorabilia they had there which was really nice because oftentimes it is only in Japanese.  The kids loved seeing all of the cool guns and swords and a samurai suit.  It was also really interesting to see how the castle had been adapted from the time when bows and arrows were used to the time when guns and rifles were utilized.

I think the samurai would lose against these three little monsters.

I think the samurai would lose against these three little monsters.

It is also crazy when you consider that the vast majority of the structure was made with wood, granted they are massively huge beams and supports, but it is still wood that kept this structure safe for so long.  As I mentioned before, they even let you climb all the way to the top and look out on what the ruler of the castle would have seen.  It was such an amazing experience to learn more about this fascinating culture.

The most amazing thing about this picture is that I am in pants.  Stay tuned for why in the next post.

The most amazing thing about this picture is that I am in pants. Stay tuned for why in the next post.

This is such a unique opportunity that we have to learn about another culture, and I am glad we are taking advantage of it.  At the same time, it makes me wonder what awesome experiences I was missing out on back in the states because I didn’t look hard enough.  I am convinced that there are fascinating things to expose your kids to if you just look hard enough.

Japanese Zoos are Awesome…and There are a Lot of Them

Posted on January 4, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I love that cheesy grin, and the red panda is cute too.

I love that cheesy grin, and the red panda is cute too.

One of our favorite places to visit no matter where we are in the world are zoos.  Animals are just awesome, and it is a rare opportunity to see them much closer than would normally be possible.  Sometimes you even get to see them do things that you would only ever see them do in a video, like the time CrashDad and I saw a giraffe giving birth at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, UT.  The last time I checked, that giraffe still lived there which I always find special.

Koalas have always been on of my favorite animals, and they let you get real close at Tama Zoo.

Koalas have always been on of my favorite animals, and they let you get real close at Tama Zoo.

In many ways, Japanese zoos aren’t all that different from zoos in the states as they are mostly just animals in cages with some cooler habitats being built to make things a little more realistic.  There are a few animals that are unique to Japan that added a certain amount of special, but it is some of the other unique opportunities that make their zoos so cool.

In this instance we were visiting the Tama Zoo which is located about an hour or so Southwest of Tokyo.  Considering that most of the greater Tokyo area is essentially solid buildings it is incredible how much space this zoo actually included.  It was also a great workout as the zoo sits in a group of hills forcing you to go up and down as you walk through the zoo.  Those hills did provide for some extra views of the animals though, so it was worth it.

No orangutans to be seen, but the zoo had pictures of them climbing over the people.

No orangutans to be seen, but the zoo had pictures of them climbing over the people.

One of the cool things that they have set up is a cool rope bridge for the orangutans to climb across a portion of the zoo.  You can kind of see it from the pictures, but there are two different areas for the orangutans that are maybe quarter to half a mile apart that are connected by this overhead bridge where they can climb over the guests and make for a pretty cool experience.  Much to the dismay of Crash Aunt (orangutans are one of her favorite animals), none of the orangutans were out the day we were there, but I am sure we will be back more than once before we leave Japan.

The other cool experience that they have at the Tama Zoo is a chance to feed the lions.  This was not an opportunity to offload unruly children in support of the zoo, though we did tell the kids that was the plan, but it was a chance to see these majestic animals up close.

You can see the kids' excitement in their reflections.

You can see the kids’ excitement in their reflections.

The way it works is you get into a bus that has hooks on the outside by the windows where they put little pieces of meat.  You then drive out into the lion enclosure where they have platforms set up for the lions to come and eat the meat off the side of the bus.  As you can see this leads to some pretty up close and personal experiences with the lions.  They are amazingly powerful yet gentle looking creatures when you get close.  I’m not saying I want to snuggle with one in the wild, but it would be a little tempting.

One of the cool things I have noticed about Japanese culture is that they are very big on having experiences for their entertainment, not just mindlessly sitting in a venue.  That is why they have so many of these places too.  There are zoos and parks and playgrounds and shrines and various other amusement areas all over the place.  It would be nearly impossible to visit all of them.  They are also quite reasonably priced as it usually only costs us about $10 for the parents total, and the kids are almost always free.

The older I get, the more interested I am in experiences versus just stuff so I guess it is really no wonder that I would find this so enjoyable.  I really look forward to having even more of these experiences while we are here.