This is a guest post by Ave Mulhern, NFI's Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity Building Initiative. She shares her memories of exploring the great outdoors with her dad as a child as part of NFI's campaign to help Dads "Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer."
Being in the great outdoors was not a big part of my upbringing. I tend to be more comfortable in the great indoors.
That being said, I do remember some wonderful times being out and about with my father who had a love of books and trees. I am the sixth child of a family of eight. Five boys first, then three girls - I am the first girl. In a way, we were like two separate families. The wild, older boys were all car fanatics and they worked in my fathers business, a service station. When we girls came along, my dad was obviously an older, kinder and gentler version of a father. Dont get me wrong, he was always a bit of a grump and in his later years, he was called (to his face) Grumps. This probably was due to a disappointing life for a bright and scholarly man on his way to becoming an attorney who ended up owning a service station fixing peoples cars. Life happens, but with this latter, gentler, girl family he was able to leave the grease behind, for a bit, and have an attentive audience of three to spend time with and share his love of learning - and we believed he knew just about everything.
My father Cornelius (aka Connie) was an avid reader. I can barely muster up a mental image of him not reading a book. He loved history books, business and real estate books, biographies, and nature books. In the summer, he literally took us to the library every single week and if we didn't bicker in the car, we might get an ice cream at Chernoffs Pharmacy. He took us to quirky old used bookstores and he owned a lot of books. One collection was the little Golden Field Guides - you know, those little pocket sized nature books titled Birds of North America
, Rocks and Minerals
, and SeaShells of North America
? I suppose they have versions for other areas than North America? But the one I remember most is Trees of North America
. I still have it around here somewhere.
Dad would drive to nearby Morris Arboretum armed with the little tree book and he would send us off to identify certain trees. I once successfully spotted a Beech tree based on his vivid description of how the enormous and magnificent branches grow out and down to touch the ground like a giant 70-foot-wide shrub - but underneath, those low branches create a sort of house or fort that you could play in. He reminded us that these trees must be planted with enough foresight to ensure the proper setting and enough room to mature into their magnificence. Dad drove us around town showing us where the township built the sidewalk around a 200-year-old oak tree preserving it for the future. We saw distinctive Horse Chestnut trees with spring flowers and fall conkers (nuts), the toxic but valuable Black Walnut trees, the beautiful star-shaped leaves of the Sweet Gum tree and the really wretched smelling fruit of the prehistoric female Gingko tree. (The male version doesnt stink!)
To this day, there are two specimens of those magnificent beech trees, properly placed mind you, on the front lawn of a beautiful estate home nearby. I never pass by them without thinking fondly of my dad and our somewhat-outdoor adventures. My own children were not as interested as my sisters and I but right now I am looking for that little Trees of North America
field guidebook so I can take it with me to Wisconsin to share with our grandchildren. Hey, is Wisconsin considered North America?
This is a guest post from daddy blogger Chris Singer, a stay-at-home dad in Lansing, MI. You can find him on twitter @tessasdad and at http://sahdinlansing.com/
As a stay-at-home dad to a precocious 19-month-old toddler, I spend a good amount of time during the day fixing and tending...to my own screw-ups. Whether it's forgetting to keep doors closed and gates up (especially to the bathroom, or risk finding my toothbrush in the toilet), or it's letting my daughter play with something she probably shouldn't (like the house keys, which can easily end up in my daughter's favorite hiding spot: the garbage can), I swear I've made enough mistakes to get fired from most jobs.
Seriously though, as much as I might screw up during the day, one of the things I've been successful at has been helping my daughter develop a love of books. As a child I loved being read to and really had a passion for books. It's been amazing for me to see Tessa enjoy books so much already at such a young age. Reading books and visiting the library twice a week has become a big part of our daily and weekly routines.
Reading is also an excellent way to bond with your child. I've been reading to Tessa since she was born, and I'm convinced that this has been a key component to the strong bond we have formed. Here are some things I've figured out over time which I think played a huge role in Tessa developing a love for books:Don't force it
- One of the early frustrations I had as a dad was that I really felt it was important to read to Tessa but I could hardly ever get her to sit still for a book. I don't know how I was able to do it, but I never forced her to sit for a story. When she wanted to be done with a book, we were done with that book. At times, we might try another one, but if she wasn't into it, I didn't force the issue.Small books for small hands
- I had all these lists of the best children's books I would take with me to the library. I would sign out three or four at a time and bring them home only to find that Tessa wasn't interested in any of them. I decided to stop taking the list with me and see what books Tessa would grab for herself. She kept going over to the baby board books and picking them off the shelf. At first I thought they were just easier to pull off the shelf until I saw her sitting there and holding the book in her hand and flipping through the pages. At home Tessa does the same thing and will pick up books and flip through them. We've even given her the small board books to keep her busy in the car and they've worked like a charm.
Let her ask or tell you she wants to read
- This is similar to my first tip in that I don't make any demands of Tessa when it comes to books. When she's interested in reading I know she'll either bring books over to me or will ask me to read to her. I will occasionally ask her if she wants to read books and she will usually respond by saying yes, but I want her to develop the initiative to read and look at books on her own.
Make reading fun
- When I read books out loud to Tessa, I make up voices for the different characters and try to make the stories fun. I do a pretty good Grover voice actually, so this could be why her favorite book right now is "The Monster At The End of This Book."
Daddy Chris and daughter Tessa reading togetherThe views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.
Since I do a fair amount of speaking on fatherhood in churches these days, I was delighted to come across a book called, 12,000 Religious Quotations. To make things even better, it was on sale for $14.95, nearly ½ off the list price.
I was especially pleased when I read the back cover, which boasted:
- An indispensable reference work that puts expressive statements on religion at your finger tips.
- Nearly 12,000 quotes on 200 subjects from 2,500 different sources.
- These quotationssome inspiring, a few controversial, many humorous, others penetratingreflect a diversity of opinions, Christian and non-Christian.
- Thought-provoking quotes that will enliven sermons, speeches, or reports.
Well, I got the book home and quickly flipped to the section that was sure to be bursting with some inspiring quotes about fathers or fatherhood. I found the word fate and turn the page and found fear
Wait a minute. (I quickly said my ABCs
) Shouldn't father or a least fatherhood be listed? But its not. Maybe there is something listed under Dad, Daddy, or
Papa. Nope, nope and nope. Nothing. 12,000 quotes and not a single one on fathers.
So, then I looked up mothers. Yep, about 30 quotes with gems like:
The sweetest sound to mortal given
Are heard in Mother, Home and Heaven.
-William Goldsmith Brown
Now, I love mothers. I have one. I am married to one. And, some of my best friends are mothers. But, it seems that this author has forgotten biology 101. Without fathers, there are no mothers. (You can quote me on that one
I did find one quote in the error section that captured my sentiments.
Shall error in the round of time
Still father Truth?
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Lets hope so
Now, where did I put that darn receipt? To err is human, to return is divine.
Frank Cottrell Boyce's latest book, Cosmic, is a must-read for dads and kids. One of NFI's board members, Chip Flaherty, sent it to me. He is with Walden Media, whose publishing house, Walden Pond Press, released the book here in the states on January 19 (it was first released in the UK about a year ago).
When I first scanned the book, I was not sure what the heck the connection was to NFI and fatherhood. I left it sitting on my desk for a month or so. But once I finally started it, I could not put it down. It was funny, touching, imaginative, and one of the best celebrations of fatherhood I have seen in a long time.
It is the story of an 11-year-old boy who is often mistaken for an adult. His unusual size and appearance lead him to many wild adventures, not the least of which is a trip to the moon as a chaperon to a group of tweens. During this flight in space, he learns a lot about what being a dad means, and how important his own dad is to him.
All I can say is JUST READ IT! You will not regret it, nor will your kids. A great book to read together.
You can purchase it on Amazon.com here