Daddy Days

This weekend, Kristen is off to Chicago with Erin for a girls getaway. Since I’m traveling a little over 1/5th of 2010, she certainly earned some time to herself.

Kristen’s definition of a girls weekend is Thursday afternoon to midnight on Monday. I like her style.

As we compared notes leading up to this trip we determined that this is the first time Kristen has ever done anything like this. It’s been fun to hear her talk about the trip for the last month or so, all the places she wants to visit, and of course– all of our favorite food places she wants to enjoy. (We lived there for 8 years. She is busy satisfying cravings for Johnnie’s Italian beef and Oatmeal shakes from Irazu. I’m totally jealous.)

The flipside is that I’ve earned some solo time with Megan and Paul!

So far, so good.

I’m not going to lie. I love that I get this time to be with them like this.

Last night, over a healthy dinner of tacos, rice and beans, and chips… we talked about all sorts of drama at school. Apparently, Foursquare provides endless playground theater that I was previously unaware of. There are some kids who like to steal the ball and throw it over the fence. Yeah, straight thugging.

We don’t have overly adventurous plans for the rest of the weekend. Which leaves plenty of time to do what they love to do most. Relax and be kids.

  • Thursday night I was impressed that I could make a healthy, well-balanced meal that they actually ate. Roasted fish, roasted apples, and whole grain rice.
  • Friday was a marathon of driving as we went from school to the San Diego State ticket office back to the YS offices to the house then to dinner at Rubios. I felt like a soccer mom with all of that carting!
  • Today we plan on going to the nursery so we can start seedlings of our winter garden, doing some weeding and cutting of grass, relaxing in the afternoon, then going to the Aztec game a bit early to enjoy some of the tailgate festivities before SDSU plays Colorado State tonight.
  • Sunday, I hope to keep it simple. Church in the morning and then finish painting the dining room while the NFL games are on. At some point, Paul needs to do his homework.
  • Monday, I’m just happy to get them to school. We will spend some time in the early evening making sure the kids rooms are clean(ish) before mom gets home.


  1. Quantity time.
  2. No trips to the ER.
  3. Keep the house clean.
  4. Convince the animals to sleep in tomorrow for daylight savings time.
  5. Create some memories.
Christian Living

3 Reasons to Embrace Halloween

Photo by Patrick Giblin via Flickr (Creative Commons)

3 reasons why I think every Christian should embrace Halloween as a cultural phenomenon beyond personal convictions that you are endorsing evil.

  1. Don’t punish your kids for your convictions. We don’t let our kids dress up as demons or witches… but we do allow them to wear costumes because it’s fun. But to keep them at home, locked in the basement while you watch some cheesy Christian movie instead of getting bucket loads of candy tonight… that’s just mean. We are called to bring light into darkness not hide from darkness. (Ephesians 5:8-14) You can take your kids to your neighbors houses, keep them safe, and show them that being a Christian isn’t about hiding from the world.
  2. Be hospitable. I know plenty of people live in rural areas and don’t get trick-or-treaters. So you folks are exempt… for a night. But if you are like me and hundreds of kids will be walking by your house looking for a few pieces of yummy candy don’t be the jerk on your block. Head out to the store right now and get yourself a couple bags of candy. Titus 1:8 pretty much makes it clear that anyone in leadership at their church must be hospitable. Turn your light on, answer the door, and be hospitable. Even if you can’t be home tonight, leave out a bowl and turn the light on. People know what to do! (Yes, just let people steal your candy!)
  3. Don’t be afraid! I think a lot of this anti-Halloween stuff is based on terrible theology. The Bible tells us to resist the devil. Peter tells us to “resist him” which indicates a struggle. (1 Peter 5:8-9) But the Bible doesn’t tell Christians to hide from evil. Look at the example of Paul as he went to various towns. He encountered evil in all its forms and chose to bring Christ there.

My kids are excited about Halloween. Megan is dressing up like a tiger and Paul is dressing up like a mad scientist. This year, I will be handing out candy and pleasantries with neighbors while Kristen (Baby Tres is in the belly, he is wearing a placenta costume, kind of gross but that’s what he wanted. Weirdo.) take the kids around the neighborhood.

Maybe I’ll get in trouble for saying this? But I think Halloween is my favorite holiday.

ht to Todd and my original post from 2007.


SDSU beats Air Force

When I decided to buy season tickets to San Diego State I have to admit that I did it on a whim. In 2008, they were horrible. But they got a new coach and I figured that for less than $100 per seat, I couldn’t lose.

My hope has always been that my kids would learn to love football the same way I learned to love football… on Saturday’s with dad at the stadium. Last season was a bit rough. The only thing the kids liked about the games was spending some time with me and our trip to Rite Aid to load up on candy to take to the game. This year, with the team noticeably better, they’ve started to get into it a tad more.

Last night was a huge win for the program. But it was also a huge win for Paul becoming a football fan. For a big chunk of the last five minutes of the game Paul stood on the back of the seat in the row in front of us, shoulder to shoulder with me, screaming “Defense! Let’s go Aztecs! Defense! Oooooo!” (And stuff like that.)

When we scored, he joined in the chorus of high fives. When we recovered the onside kick, he shouted YES!

It was a cool bonding time for us.

Here’s a couple of videos I took on my phone from the beginning. (I’ve got kind of a meme going)

National Anthem (Ahem, that’s not me singing, that’s the guys in front of me)

Football team taking the field

The video above is from They are local sports nuts who have created a name for themselves by doing a local sports blog. I had a similar idea to do this in Romeo but never got around to it. Kudos to them for creating something out of nothing.

family Film

Date night with the kids

Kristen hosted a girls night for the ladies of our community group. So Paul, Megan, and I disappeared and went to see Toy Story 3.

One thing I haven’t adjusted to about Southern California living is how expensive the movies are. I still grimace at paying $11.50 for an adult and $8.50 for a child when in Michigan it was a whole lot less. And a lot of the major theaters don’t even have matinees! Seriously, what is up with that?

To express my inner-cheapskate, we went to Rite-Aid in our neighborhood and bought movie snacks to eat on the way to Fashion Valley Mall. By the time we got to the movies we were hopped up on sugar and ready for the flick.

As for the movie– it was great. I don’t know how they managed to keep both the Toy Story (and Shrek) franchises going so strong. The plots and the quality of animation just keeps getting better.

I don’t think the movie was the point of the night any more than loading everyone up on sugar. It was just nice to get a few hours to relax and laugh with my kids.

I relish that.

In other news. A new round of college guys are moving in across the street. With school at SDSU about to kick off another year, people watching is back!


Paul’s Birthday Present


“I don’t have any dreams”

Just a little reminder from my son that the job of passing on from father to son doesn’t happen by osmosis.

Deep exhale.

Of course, I looked at this and watched Dr. King’s speech– yup, Dr. King’s dream was for his kids.


McLane Kid Update

In Fall 2000, when we found out Kristen was pregnant with Megan, we both kind of rolled our eyes when people would say “Enjoy it, it goes by too fast.

How right they were. Our kids are in a fun stage of growing up… but life moves so fast that we don’t pause enough to truly enjoy it.

Megan - Our crazy 8 year old

Megan is almost 9 year old. N-I-N-E! She is our sweetheart. Megan has a deep love for reading, animals, and origami. She never ceases to amaze me with the stories she weaves together or how perceptive she is. She is so quiet that you can sometimes forget that she is capable of outbursts of wild running around. She is in that stage where she plays hard and intense.

She also has an imagination that lives halfway between fiction and reality. She loves pretending to be a cat. She will crawl around her bedroom for hours, she’ll meow at you, and when she gets annoyed she’ll even hiss. (We have a no hissing rule in the house, that’s how common it is!)

Megan got a camera for Christmas and puts it to good use. Check out her photo blog, When she opened this present she carefully examined it. When she saw that it wasn’t a kid camera– it was a really nice adult camera– her face lit up and she instantly started making plans.

One of the highlights of my day is hearing Megan’s laugh. She has a normal giggle. But when she is really pleased she lets out this high pitched squeal that lights up the room.

Megan and I connect through exploration. She loves adventure and I love going on adventures with her. Whether its looking for shells at the beach or looking for the perfect toy at Target– we bound when we’re just checking things out and being quiet.

At school, Megan takes after her mom. She is a quiet achiever. She’s that student in class who doesn’t say much, takes the teacher literally, and is so competitive she has to be the best at everything or she won’t sleep at night.

Paul - 1000% boy at age 6

Paul is six. He is our complicated boy. We probably spend 25% of every day trying to figure him out. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. He is full of dichotomy. He loves to cuddle and be quiet. But he’s always ready to wrestle and try to kick some butt. He is fully engrossed in everything he does. But he is always listening to every noise in the house to see if there is something he can jump in on. Developmentally, his life is all about fairness. As soon as he perceives the slightest slight he pouts, “That’s not fair!”

Paul has a deep hunger. Since the day he was born he has been hungry. And  for as long as I can remember his first words every day are either “What can I eat?” or “What can I do?” Unlike his sister he likes all things spicy.

Paul has fully embraced life in his school. I’m pretty sure he likes spicy things because his latino classmates love spicy things too. “Can I get hot cheetos?” “Can we go to Mexico this weekend?” The kids school is representative of the diverse community we live in. And Paul seems to really enjoy that most of his classmates speak Spanish, Swahili, Vietnamese, or one of the multitude of other languages spoken by students at Darnall.

Like his sister, Paul stands out academically. But he’s also a lot like me in struggling to know how to ask to be challenged. He’d rather get his work done early and mess around than ask his teacher for the next challenge.

Paul’s life is dominated by his loves. He loves his Nintento DS. (It’s the first sound we hear nearly every day in our house. He wakes up about 5 to start playing.) He loves playing hard with dad. (Wrestling, boxing, etc) He loves playing games on the computer and watching Cartoon Network.

Paul and I connect best through quality time. Whether its going to Home Depot or playing a video game or planting tomatoes in the garden– Paul loves 1-1 time with dad and I love 1-1 time with Paul.

Paul is also our family elephant. He never forgets a detail. “Daddy, you promised two days ago to give us our allowance if we cleaned our rooms, we cleaned our rooms and you haven’t given us our allowance yet.” Or “Remember when you said we could go back to Legoland sometime? When? What day?

Our kids fascinate us. They challenge us. They force us to grow. They are the best accountability partners, ever. They are not our gods but we are thankful to God that we get to enjoy them and pour our hearts into them.

And as I look at them I’m left– over and over again– speechless.


Humble: just like dad

hmm... thoughts illustrations

Daddy Wants You to Ask

On Sunday, my 6 year old son Paul, wanted to go to Game Stop to look for a new game for his Nintendo DS. When I was in first grade I got an Atari 2600 and that thing was my life. The same is true of Paul and his DS. We share this heart connection over video games.

All day long he wanted to go. He first asked about it before we went to church. No son, too early. Then he wanted to go right after church. No son, we need to eat lunch. Then he wanted to go right after lunch. No son, I want to rest. Then we went to Yogurtland as a family for a snack. While it was just a couple hundred yards from Game Stop, the timing wasn’t right. Then we got home from Yogurtland. No son, you need to do some homework. Then he did some homework and I ran out of excuses.

Can we go to Game Stop now? Yes.

Paul and Megan had each been saving their allowance and happily stuffed their pockets with every penny they had. Each week they can earn up to $5 if they maintain the family rules and perform some basic chores. The truth is that it’s a pretty easy $5 to earn as I’m a softy of a dad. (Kristen rolls her eyes at me each week as she doesn’t think they’ve really earned $5. I’m a benevolent father, what can I say?) Megan had $25 in her pocket and Paul had $23. As we drove the few blocks over to the video game store Paul was careful, yet firm, to remind me that I had been in Minneapolis last Sunday and mommy hadn’t given them their $5. And that it was also Sunday. So if they would each clean their room and finish their homework they could earn another $5.

Practically speaking, Megan had $35 she could spend and Paul had $33. When you are 6 or 8 years old, like my kids, that’s a lot of cash. It represents 7 weeks of saving every penny you have. They were aware that the money burning a hole in their pocket represented a lot of homework and a lot of room cleaning and a lot of avoiding temptation to buy candy or smaller toys. To earn and save over $30 is an accomplishment! Truth be told, $35 is a lot of money to daddy, too! I rarely, if ever, carry that much cash with me. (Do I need to mention that saving $30 is more than most Americans save in the same amount of time?)

It was a lot of money. I was proud of them.

We parked the car and the kids floated into the store. Paul, who had been to the store with me twice before, instructed his big sister on the game plan. “The DS games are on the wall by the front door… you don’t even need to ask anyone, just start looking as soon as you get in the door and they are right there. The used games are on the lower parts of the shelf. The new games are up high. Used games are cheaper so you can get one for like $10. New games cost more than $20.

The store was full of older kids looking at XBox 360 games so we were completely ignored. The girl at the counter barely acknowledged our entrance and quickly got back to showing the older kids the latest and greatest in the world of gaming. They were boys who play video games and she was a girl. This was the closest thing any of those nerds would come to a date for a long time.

My kids didn’t notice or care about the clerk. They had serious business to do.

Megan, our animal lover, scoured the lower shelves for used games about pets. There are games to take care of dogs, cats, birds, exotic animals… on and on. Some games have a lot of different pets while others specialize in a certain pet. Megan loves cats and within minutes she was trying to decide between one game which was about cats of all ages and another that was just about kittens. 1000 titles and my girl had it narrowed to two in about 3 minutes. I noticed she was happy in the $10-20 range. She carried a certain confidence in knowing that she didn’t have to spend much money to get a fun game to play with. Plus, if she only spent $15, she’d have $20 left over.

Paul scoured the shelves looking for Pokemon games. He found 4-5 games that all looked about the same but had different price points. Confused, I showed him how to find the copyright date on the back of the game. The newer ones were more expensive, the older ones cheaper.

As Megan and I were comparing the two games she had narrowed her choice down to, I saw out of the corner of my eye that Paul had put all of his games back on the lower shelf where he had found them. He took a couple steps back and craned his neck almost to the ceiling. Not quite 4 feet tall it must have been nearly impossible to see games on shelves 8 feet in the air. He was looking at the brand new games. His eyes scanned the best sellers on the top shelf. Then they started looking at the second shelf and stopped cold. The brand new, special edition Bakugan Battle Brawlers game.

He pulled on my waist. “Daddy, look! It’s the brand new Bakugan game… it comes in a big box, too. How much is that one?” I reached up and took it off the shelf, handing it to him. His eyes were huge. His entire disposition had changed. He had gone from hunting for something cheap to discovering something almost mystical and beyond comprehension. As the game box changed hands his eyes devoured the front cover and started to read it all to me. Then he turned it over and realized something horrible. It was $35. His heart sank.

Almost immediately he gave it back to me. In an instant he went from this mystical experience right back to shopper mode. “No one has that game at school yet, daddy. It’s too much, I don’t have $35 I only have $23 and you owe us $10 more, that’s just $33. And that game is more than I have.

I knew he wanted it bad. He didn’t cry but I could feel his disappointment. Within 15 seconds he had gone through a sea of emotions. Searching, finding, holding magic, disappointment, and then back to searching.

This little interaction tugged my heart.

He walked away and went back to the older Pokemon games. He wasn’t unhappy or upset. In earlier years he may have collapsed on the floor. He was just matter of fact. This was a sign of my little boy growing up. He wanted a new game for his DS and the fact that he didn’t have enough money didn’t mean he couldn’t get a new game. It just meant he had to get a game that wasn’t exactly what everything he wanted.

Back by the Pokeman games on the lower shelf, I went over to him and crouched down to his level. You know Paul, you have $33 and that game is $35. You are pretty close. Just $2 away. Next week you would have enough to buy it. “I know, it’s OK. I’ll just get one of these. I really want that game but I don’t have enough right now.

Paul,” I said, “you remember that we have a rule that if you want to borrow next weeks allowance to get something now, that it’s OK. You just have to ask daddy.

I got up and went back over to Megan. But I kept a close eye on my son. I knew that I had put him in a tough spot. He is wired just like me. He doesn’t like to ask anyone for anything. He knew that I would loan him the extra $5 so he could buy what he wanted. But asking dad for the loan was really hard.

As he looked at the lesser games I could see him biting his lip. He really wanted the Bakugan game. The fact that it came with an action figure made those lesser games seem really inferior.

But asking daddy for $5? That was a dilemma.

He looked at the Pokeman games. They now weren’t what he wanted. I watched him wrestling through the McLane stubborn nature. It’s something I know all-too-well.

Megan chose the kitten game and was happy as a lark. She started to wander the store as Paul made his final selection.

Paul came to me empty-handed and sullen. I bent down for a serious father-to-son talk. Biting his lip he explained the whole situation to me. “The Pokemon games do look like fun, daddy. And I do have enough money for them. But I really want that new Bakugan game. It looks really cool and it has a Bokugon that I’ve always wanted.

Uh-huh. So what do you want to do?

Well, I really want to get that Bakugan game but I only have $33 and it costs $35.”

Yeah, son. All you have to do is ask me and I will let you borrow $5 from next weeks allowance.

“I know…”

He was breathing deeply. I could feel his heart pounding. He was biting his lower lip. He really didn’t want to ask me. As much as he wanted to borrow the money, he was really weighing his options. I could tell he wanted me to just cave and offer to loan him the money without his having to ask. But he looked into my eyes and could see that I was going to make him ask.

Finally, after about 30 long seconds of this dance he opened his mouth.

Daddy, can I borrow $5 so I can get the Bakugan game right now?”

I stood up.

Yes son, you bet.” I reached high up on the shelf, grabbed the game, and handed him the box. He confidently pulled it from my hand, found Megan, proudly showed his sister, showed her everything about it that was cool in his eyes, and dragged her to the counter so they could pay.

All he had to do was ask daddy. I wanted to give him the money. But I wanted to be asked. When he asked, both our hearts leapt.

What does this story have to do with our prayer life? As believers, we have a Heavenly Father who is waiting to give us both the things that we need and the things that we want. The Bible says, you just have to ask. That doesn’t mean God will give us everything we want. But it does mean that Daddy wants us to ask.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Photo Video Clip

61 Minutes: The Kitchen

I’m learning to love time lapse videos so I thought I’d start off by making a series of my own.

Here’s an ordinary 61 minutes in my kitchen. A mom makes dinner, cleans up, takes the dog for a walk, a dad sneaks a snack, the kids come and do homework.

There is something extraordinary about the ordinary, isn’t there?