Sunday, June 21, 2015

Highly Effective Father

Happy Father's Day!

Dan has officially been a father for six years, although based on his love for his daughters, one would think he's been a dad much, much longer. As if to drive this point home, Lana's birthday actually sometimes falls on Father's Day. It seems fitting that the birth of his oldest child should be celebrated at the same time we recognize him.

I read an article recently called 10 Traits of Highly Effective Dads. It's interesting and made me think about how effective Dan is as a father.

Oh, let me count the ways:
(Bold headlines are from the article. Italicized comments are mine.)

1. They keep their lives de-compartmentalizedThey are the same man, husband and father regardless of where and when.  Dan is Dan is Dan. He's the same man at church, at work, out watering the garden, or roughhousing with the children.
2. They realize that their manhood and fatherhood is directly tied to their relationship with God.    I think Dan learned this from his own Dad and it was the most natural thing in the world to continue in his own life.  
3. If married, they uphold their wives as their number one friend and co-worker in life.  I've never not felt that I was Dan's number one friend and co-worker. I'm also his number one fan!
4. They practice the discipline of meekness.  They exemplify the combination of humility and strength.   Dan is strong for our family, not strong at our family. He's a solid disciplinarian, but has never punished out of rage or anger. He's also a great comforter when little hearts are hurting. 
5. They’ve tied their hearts to the hearts of their children.  Dan knows the relationship he has with Lana and Nora is so completely unique and special. He knows he is their first hero and one of their two most important teachers. He doesn't take this responsibility lightly.

6. They honor their child’s gender and unique giftedness.  Dan will be the first to tell you, he's been, um, surprised by having two little girls.  But surprise does not equal disappointment or regret. He's used to the dancing and singing, doesn't mind all the pink, and only mildly freaks out when vacuuming up glitter. He's also been able to effectively bond with the girls over dirt and 4-wheeler rides.
7. They are great listeners and make themselves available for those “by the way” teaching moments and conversations with their children.  Heart-string moments often aren't planned, but just happen, and Dan is there to catch them when they do. Lana will take 20 minutes to tell a 2 minute story, and Dan will listen (or at least pretend to) until she gets to the point and they can de-brief.
8. They make their children feel special and believe in them.  Just as she knows her ABCs, Lana knows her Daddy thinks she's special. He takes her for special milkshake-dates, lets her "help" in the garden, and is told how awesome she is. She knows she's loved, and she knows she'll always have her Daddy in her corner. (Nora likely knows all this too, she just can't verbalize it yet.)
9. Mercy and grace are a part of their households.  There is nothing fake about Dan. When he messes up, just as we all do, he'll apologize and ask for forgiveness, even to his children. I've had to do this a time or two also, and know that's it's humbling and hard, but necessary. He then easily offers the same forgiveness he's been given. 
10. They take care of the fundamentals or basics.  If there's a problem, or a need to be met, Dan is on it. This man works harder than anyone I've ever known. It's part of his DNA, and likely he'd be a hard worker even if he didn't have kids. But I know he works harder because he's got a family depending on him. 
So, according to that list, Dan is an incredibly effective dad. Of course, I would agree!
Happy Father's Day Dan! You are loved, appreciated, and adored by the two little girls and the big one too!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Year 6 kind of ROCKED!

This girl. THIS. GIRL. Oh how I adore THIS GIRL. Lana turns 6 years old today. Cliche to say, I know, but dang, where oh where did the years go? This year was huge for Lana. She started kindergarten, lost some teeth, kept learning what it really means to be a big sister, and really started to think about others.

Lana's independence grew, as well as her shoe size and height.

Kindergarten was definitely this year's highlight. Having an identity separate from Mom and Dad was new and exciting. To many, many small people, I will here and forever be known as "Lana's Mom," and that's just fine with me.

Lana learned to read, mix potions, calm a mad sister, and put away her own laundry.

All while making up silly songs, telling us story after story, figuring out how she can help, and remembering to look fabulous at all times.

Happy birthday, dear one. May this year be better than last and may you keep growing and learning and loving always.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Letter to My Daughter's Kindergarten Teacher, Part 2

Clear back in August, I wrote a letter to Lana's (at that time unknown) kindergarten teacher. You can read it here if you want, but the short version is it's filled with all the worry and excitement typical of a first-time-sending-a-kid-to-school mom. I had lots of feelings and really, really wanted Lana's new teacher to understand her. I shouldn't have worried; Lana's teacher was amazing and our girl blossomed and sparkled under her guidance. 

I didn't send the teacher the first letter. It was really more for me than her anyway, as I had all these feelings to work out. But today, on the last day of school, I did send this letter:

Hi Miss Hood,
A mere 'Thank You' does not begin to do justice to the sheer amount of gratitude you deserve from Lana and her family. Under your tutelage, our excited and imaginative little girl became a confident, empathetic, curious First Grader. You taught her so much more than proper pencil grip and how to clap out syllables; you taught her to love learning, explore, and keep on asking questions. Dan and I enjoyed hearing about how lumber and pressboard are made, as well as who was King or Queen Bee for the day.  You taught her (and then she taught us) what sound stretchers are used for, how counters make addition easier, and to take up the whole space when writing capital letters. 
Lana has appointed herself as your Number One Fan. Days with substitutes were all given low marks, and evening prayers were sent up, asking for your speedy return. During school breaks, Lana counted down the days until she would get to go back to school and see you again. I'm not particularly proud to say it, but we're pretty much bribing her to get through today, this last day of school. Promises of playing at Silverwood, followed by two weeks of camp, just might be enough to temporarily make up for the loss of her lovely and dear Miss Hood. There was some emotion at breakfast this morning, and I'm not sure how much good my follow-up pep-talk did. I think she came to school dry-eyed, but I cannot guarantee Lana doesn't end the day as a weeping puddle at your feet. 

Your impact on Lana has been tremendous. A quick comparison of First Day of School Lana and Last Day of School Lana is all the proof one needs to see that. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You taught, guided, shepherded, and loved on our girl for the past nine months. You brought out her hidden confidence, challenged her to be more responsible, and encouraged her to run wild with her imagination and creativity. We could not have engineered a better, more positive kindergarten experience. A thousand more times, thank you.

Have a wonderful summer break. You deserve weeks and weeks of quiet and rest and relaxation. I hope we're blessed again to have you in five years when Lana's little sister, Nora, is entering kindergarten. (Is it too early to put in a teacher request now? Emoji)

Thank you again,
Shelle Lenssen