Father Knows Five 12-20-13

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” style list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week…

This week we continue the Father Knows Five Christmas Celebration with quotes by five of our favorite children’s authors regarding this holiday season:

1.  “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

A LH Christmas Volume II

2.  “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

3.  “I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


4.  “Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.” – Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Match Girl

5.  “Always winter but never Christmas.” – C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


‘The Old Red Truck Part 2’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico


To read Part One, click here.

As Baby Frederico stepped to the edge of the driveway, he squinted into the raging snowstorm that was now overtaking the area around his house.  Everything around him began to buck and sway as though it were all coming to life.  The little white pickets along the fenceline to Baby Frederico’s right flipped and flopped as though they were preparing to march themselves into the blizzard before them.   The mailbox at his left lifted from its post and fell backward,scattering itself somewhere onto the stubbled wheat field behind him.  The road that stretched itself before Baby Frederico and beyond the old red truck seemed to curl and roll like a long red carpet unfurling itself before them.

Suddenly, and with a rumbling that seemed to come from somewhere far above it, the old red truck sprang to life.  Its headlights glowed brightly and its rusted frame quaked.  The wind and the weather began a furious wrestling match with the temperature; it was as though they were fighting to freeze the air itself.

Baby Frederico watched it all as if someone had pressed a slow-motion button on the action taking place before him.  He tried to move, but his feet were cemented to the mixture of gravel and snow beneath him.  He braced for…what was it…something that he instinctively knew was about to happen.   He wasn’t afraid.  He wasn’t even cold. He was thinking more clearly than he had ever thought before.  He was…ready.

The old red truck lurched forward and then stopped with a quick jerk right in front of Baby Frederico.  The engine sputtered and died before a thick puff of black smoke bellowed from somewhere below it.  The passenger side window opened and a blast of hot air hit Baby Frederico squarely in the face.  Music was coming from inside the cab and the black bear of a dog that Baby Frederico had noticed earlier now bounded from the window and raced past him.

The driver laughed and said, “Don’t worry about him.  He knows what’s he doing.  You Baby Frederico?  Sorry for the delay, but that’s to be expected when weather like this follows me to every stinkin’ stop.  They don’t like these types of deliveries you know.  Doesn’t bother me though.  Nothing unusual there.”

Baby Frederico stood in surprised silence.

The driver paused and looked around, “You ARE Baby Frederico?”

Baby Frederico finally stammered, “Yes sir I am.”

As he said the words, Baby Frederico felt the cold rush of air course its way down his throat and into his lungs.  Had he been holding his breath all this time?  He couldn’t remember.  He didn’t know what to say or do next.  He waited.

The driver laughed again, “Well, are you ready?”

“Ready?” Baby Frederico said.

The driver was only mildly surprised by Baby Frederico’s question.  “Nothing unusual at all,” he thought to himself, “Nothing unusual at all.”

The red truck rumbled to life once again and turned onto the snow-covered driveway of the Frederico’s home.  The black bear of a dog had found a warm bail of hay on the front porch and snuggled into it.  Nearby, a gold and silver ornament rolled to a stop.

More to come next Thursday.  Merry, merry Christmas!






Reading with Jacob

“All I have is a voice.” – W.H. Auden

Jacob Reads 2013

For the past several years, I have had the wonderful experience of teaching a Christian Education class on Sunday mornings at our church.  I enjoy it even more because of my friend Jacob.  Jacob is 32 years-old, smiles often and loves to sing and reads from his heart.  He also has Down Syndrome.

A few years ago, I was putting together our Christmas study series for the month of December and decided to ask Jacob if he would read a particular passage from the Bible that told of the story of Christmas.

As the students and their families settled into the chairs around the classroom, I quieted the group and made a few announcements before asking Jacob to come to the front to read the scripture.  He asked if I would stand beside him while he read, “just in case I get nervous,” he said.

The magic commenced the moment he began to read.  His voice was shaky and quiet, reserved and somehow piercing as he read from the gospel of Luke.  As I looked around, the students were leaning forward, some literally on the edge of their seats, completely silent and completely enthralled by this young man’s reading of one of the most familiar passages in the entire Bible.

After the class ended, I stepped outside the room and into the hall to shake hands and talk with guests.  One particular friend in class had been through an especially difficult year in his home and work and I noticed that he lingered behind as everyone left the room.  “I need to tell you something,” he said as he diverted his eyes to the floor and put his hands in his pockets.  “What’s up?” I said.

“It has not felt like Christmas at all to me this year.  Nothing has proved fulfilling or entertaining or worthwhile at all in my life these past few months.”

He stopped and drew in a deep breath, lost in thought for the moment before he continued.

“I felt nothing at all…until Jacob read.  Something about his voice, about the quiet way in which he related such a familiar passage.  Something about it has brought me peace.  Something about reading with Jacob this morning has brought Christmas back to me.  Tell him thanks for me?”

Reading with Jacob.  If you ever have the opportunity to do such a thing, don’t pass it up.  It could even change your life.

‘Gingerbread Baby’ – Look at this Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page.  To celebrate the holiday season, we are reviewing a great Christmas book every Tuesday this month!

 Ginger Blog

Today’s great book:  Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (1999, Scholastic)

The Author’s Website:  www.janbrett.com/index.html

Time to Read:  short and sweet; great for naptime or anytime

Summary:  from the publisher…”A young boy and his mother bake a gingerbread baby that escapes from their oven and leads a crowd on a chase similar to the one in the familiar tale of the not-so-clever gingerbread man.”

Best Quote:  “They measured and mixed.  Matti rolled the dough into the shape of a gingerbread boy and they popped him in the oven.  Bake a full eight minutes.  No more.  No less.  DO NOT peek, the recipe read.”

Our View:  If you are at all familiar with the wonderful variety of Jan Brett’s masterful children’s books, you know that one of the most special aspects of her books are the intricately detailed artwork that frames each and every page of her stories.  In this particular work, the Gingerbread Boy actually ends up in a surprising place as he is chased through the forest by a wonderful group of interesting characters.  This is a story that nearly tells itself through the illustrations and is great fun to read with your children.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe – “Gingerbread Babies” – created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

The Rise of Responsibility

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.”  – Abigail Van Buren


  I am the father of three children, so whenever I can learn just about anything from other fathers – sign me up.  Two brief occurrences this past week helped me and reminded me of the good things that we can do for our kids, things that will last.  Here’s what I saw:

  We were at my wife’s office Christmas party over the weekend and, being in my early 40’s this still surprises me, I was the oldest guy there.  Some who were they were newly married while others had several small children of toddler or early preschool age and I happened to be standing next to a young man I had not yet met.  His name was Mario and we struck up a friendly conversation about food and Christmas and the weather…and then he began to tell him about his children.  And not only did he have children,but all three were daughters, and all three under the age of six.  He shared some pictures from his phone and then shared some funny stories about them, but then he shared his love for them.  He told me about the daddy/daughter dates that he enjoyed him and said, “I do these because I want them to know what a date should be like, what to expect and the great responsibility of the boy who is taking them on a date.”  This is a father who is teaching his daughters the art of caring for them and loving them and honoring them.

  The second great father lesson occurred in a short Facebook post by the Erways, friends of ours who were celebrating their only daughter’s debut in The Nutcracker ballet in Lawton.  It was a simple picture of the bouquet of roses (above) that were delivered to her that evening, but the picture was profound in that those flowers came from the heart of a dad to his daughter.  This is a father who is teaching his daughter the art of caring for her and loving her and honoring her.

  As the father of three daughters, I know one thing for certain.  Like these great dads that I observed this week, I want my girls to understand the responsibility they have to be respected and honored by the boys who cross their paths.

  As fathers, we are the first example and we are rising to the responsibility.

Father Knows Five 12-13-13

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” style list of 5 unique videos, articles, ideas, etc. from all kinds of locations. (If you are viewing this blog through your email subscription, please follow the link to our website to view all videos.)  See you next week…

This week we continue the Father Knows Five Christmas Celebration with five outstanding “stocking-stuffer-size” books to consider for young children this holiday season:

1. Cozy Classics Board Books – This is our new favorite series:  so far, we have Les Miserables and Moby Dick.  The artistic style of these wonderful books, each with one word on each page that captures the essence of these famed classics, is so good.

Cozy-Classics-Les-Miserables2                         Cozy-Classics-Moby-Dick2

2.  Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library (Caldecott Collection) Box Set – this wonderful collection includes Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny, and our favorite Sendak classic, Pierre.  


3.  The Snowy Day, an Ezra Jack Keats classic in board book form – This is a book for every child’s library, especially during this wintry season.

Snowy Day

4. Bill Martin, Jr. made me the happiest reading dad around when he published Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  This book is more fun to read than just about any other book out there.  If you don’t have it, stop by your favorite local independent bookshop and take a look.  You’ll be hooked from page one.  This is the ultimate great example of a read-aloud “dad” book.


5.  Jamberry by Bruce Degan – this is among the first books our first daughter ever received.  I can still see it setting in the corner of her crib.  She loved it when we read this book together.


‘The Old Red Truck’ Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico


The old red truck stopped just beyond the mailbox that sat precariously atop the white post at the end of the Frederico’s long driveway. The large snowflakes that had only been falling from the sparkling gray sky for a short time now covered the vehicle’s rusty, faded hood and was gradually transforming the surrounding countryside into a deep, frosted world.The driver was restless and idled the truck as it popped and sputtered a hazy exhaust onto the spongy road.

Baby Frederico had been daydreaming in his bedroom when he thought he heard the noisy vehicle settle somewhere outside the house. He looked through the mist-covered windowpane and caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a giant box with a large pyramid strapped to it launching itself onto the road outside. There was a twinkle of brightly colored lights that seemed to hover around it, and then just as suddenly everything was quiet and gray once again.

Baby Frederico was confused. It wasn’t often that a large something landed outside his window like a rocketship and mysterious lights whirled near his mailbox. He knew only one thing for certain – it was time to investigate.

As he stepped out the front door and onto the porch, Baby Frederico was struck by the frigid wind that whipped all around him.  A flurry of cotton-white snow swirled across his boots as he slowly stepped into its deepening blanket.  He peered out and across the lawn and beyond the white picket fence that stood at attention near the roadside to the place where the sputtering sounds and mysterious light display had first caught his attention.

And there the object of his intrigue sat – an old red truck with an even older driver whose arm was draped around something resembling a black bear sitting in the passenger seat next to him.  As Baby Frederico took a few steps closer, he was better able to distinguish the details of these mysterious visitors – there was a large black dog (not a bear after all) wearing a bright red collar and his owner was wearing a brown baseball cap, blue overalls, and a shirt that perfectly matched the dog’s collar.

Baby Frederico moved closer and realized that the little truck was also carrying something in its bed.  It looked a bit like a tree, but the snow was blowing across the road again with such force that he could only guess at what it might really be.

What happened next can only be described as extraordinary.  As Baby Frederico recounted the incident in the days to come, his friends and his family could only marvel that it had all happened so close to home…and among them.

More to come next Thursday!  Merry Christmas to you.