These Are My People

Claire and I took a trip this past weekend, and I do mean a trip! We drove into the heart of downtown Dallas, Texas to attend the celebrated “Comic Con,” a convention devoted to fans of everything from Star Wars to Superman and X-Men to Back to the Future and every “cool and geeky” thing in between. Claire even dressed up as Wonder Woman!

At one point while we were enjoying the festivities and buying more than a few collector comic books in the grand marketplace, Claire turned to me with the biggest grin and with the most satisfied sound in her voice said, “Dad, look around! These are our people!”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It was an epiphany of sorts that was bubbling around in my teenage daughter’s mind, this sense that different might not be so bad after all, that quirkiness and passion and fun can make for quite a fascinating world.

I remember years ago my wife and I met an older couple who were sharing their life story with us. When he proposed marriage to her, he said, “Darling, would you be buried with my people?”

It was his way of inviting her to join his tribe, his culture, his home, his world. And it clearly worked!

In this massive, crowded world of the 21st century, there is nothing quite like finding “your people”…even if they’re dressed as a hobbit with a long grey beard or are sporting a large red “s” across their chest.

There’s just nothing quite like it.


It Takes Two

In my work teaching at our local university, I have enjoyed a unique spectator-style view into the lives of people who are working on degrees to become teachers. Every semester I am given the amazing opportunity to introduce myself to more than fifty people who are planning to work in any number of grades and subjects somewhere among the classrooms of the 21st century.

There are many hundreds of very good students whom I have known over the past decade, and then there are a handful who are truly inspired and inspiring.

This semester I think I have finally realized what sets them apart. They have the mind AND they have the heart, in equal measure. There is no doubt that many have one or the other and all of them have the mind and heart for something….but this handful have it for teaching.

They leave neither heart nor mind behind and every idea and lesson plan and motivation is better for it. When I tell them that students and their families are just waiting for them out there in this wide world of ours, their countenances brighten even more.

Together, they make an aspiring teacher a force to be reckoned with…mind and heart. It takes two.

Father Knows 5-16-14

*Every Friday we serve you an “a la carte” 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!

Claire and I are headed out to the Dallas Comic Con this weekend, so let’s celebrate some comics today…

1.  Marvel Kids – the OFFICIAL site – With everything from making your own comics to playing a game of Hangman with the Hulk, we like this stuff!

Comic 1

2.  How Did Comic Books Regain Popularity?

3.  Create a Father’s Day Card with your favorite dad-like Superhero!

Comic 2

4.  Official Home of the Lego Marvel Super Heroes – need I say more!









5.  I was a big fan of “The Incredible Hulk” television show of my childhood.  Here is a pic from a scene that stars Eric Allan Kramer, the great dad on Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie!”, as Thor.

hulk_thor_0 (1)



Baby Frederico Reviews! – ‘Inch by Inch’


*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story (or book review) from our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…books about insects.  Here is something new:

May 16, 2014

Hi everyone,

Here is another of my favorite books by one of the greatest children’s authors and illustrators ever- Leo Lionni.  My Papa Frita has read this book to me so many times I have it memorized!

So today, let’s make a list of some of the great things I love about Inch by Inch (1960, Alfred Knopf).

1.  There is nothing like a good book of words AND drawings, all in the same place. This book does that on EVERY page.

2.  There’s a very “green as an emerald” inchworm in this book, and you know how much I love small green animals.

3.  The book is written from the point of view of a very smart inchworm. He can outwit all kinds of inchworm-hungry birds.

4. The most important part of the book is that it explains how a clever solution exists for most any problem.

There all kinds of fascinating birds in this book and the illustrations were all made using collage, colored pencil and crayon! I love all three of those things!

Reading is it,

Baby Frederico

Entering the Grade


Here at the end of another semester I am settling into the moment that I have sometimes come to dread. Entering the final, permanent grades on behalf of a group of hopeful college students is not easy. And, to be honest, it comes with a handful of emotions that I have never really been able to reconcile.

I have many students for whom it is very easy for me to type in an A for outstanding work, but it is never easy to give others an F for unacceptable work.  I have a friend who has always reminded me, “We teachers are just the calculators.  The students are the final grade makers.”  That is certainly true and it does help to remember it, but it does not make it any less difficult.  I thought it would get easier as the years in the classroom passed, but after more than a decade of it, I can tell you, if anything, it has become, not really more difficult, but certainly more painful.

In one respect it is all about points.  Every project has a set number of points that are equal to an A, B, C, D, and F; and the student entering my courses embark upon this quest to fulfill as many of those points as possible by the end of the semester.  Simple enough – you generate enough points and you generate a good course grade for yourself.  I am just a calculator, and in the final analysis those points are all that really counts.

But then, the “messiness” of getting to know these people comes into play.  Every single person who enters my classroom is, well, a person with a name.  They have their good days and bad, their trials and tribulations, their families and jobs and dreams, their strengths and weaknesses…their lives.  I have had students who are moms and employees and wives; those who have struggled with addictions and abuse and anxiety; happy people and grieving people; quiet ones and hilarious ones.

No student is a robot, but this is the time that I in some ways wish they were.  It is the time where I have to grade them, these people I have come to know and admire; many of them just like me, who want to become the best teachers in the world, who want to make an eternal difference, and who want their students to learn so much that they become outstanding in their field. Whether they end my courses with an A or something far less than that, I know their names and very often know their stories.

Teaching is not for the faint of heart and entering the grade, it’s the toughest part.



Tuesday’s Look at this Book! – ‘It’s Mine’


* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

Today’s great book: It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni (1985, Scholastic)

Interesting Facts about the Author:

Time to Read: we read it just before bed

Summary:  from Scholastic…”It’s Mine! is the Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Leo Lionni’s classic about three lovable frogs who learn a valuable lesson.”

Best Quote from the Book:  “Worms are for everybody!” they cried. But Milton croaked defiantly, “Not this one. It’s mine!”

Our View:  As it is with so many of the great fables of our own childhoods, this short story conveys a wonderful moral with the help of colorfully illustrated animals and a world of perspective.  Lionni uses words and illustrations as only a few of the great children’s authors of the past century have to bring to life an idea that is faced by every human being, large or small – being selfish or being selfless.  It is not always an easy choice, but it is a choice we all must make.  When we find that we can make the selfless choice, it is amazing how many times others will follow and do the same.  It’s Mine goes right to the heart of it without sounding preachy or moralistic, while all the time remaining grounded in goodness and grace, always with the child’s perspective as its balance.  This is not one to miss!

Favorite Illustration from the Book:


Julia Speaks – ‘I Wish Books Could Come True’


When we came home from church yesterday morning, Julia wanted to talk about books and her love for them.  Something about all of these words among all of these pages are settling deep within her and it seems that, out of the clear blue, she suddenly has something to say about it all.  She asked, “How about I write your blog for tomorrow, dad?”  Music to my ears!  Here’s her story:

Today, I was telling my dad that sometimes I just wish books would just come true. I wish the people in the book were my friends, the places they went in the book, I could go visit! And if I could go to the places they went in the book, I wish the things that happened in the place would happen to me! It would be AMAZING!!! I wish all of the mystery books I read would come true.

Now just think about it, what book or books do you wish would come true?