Father’s Day gifts

June 21st, 2013  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

Didn't get hurt, didn't DNF, didn't DFL

Last Sunday I entered a mountain bike race (my first), and Andrea took the three kids out to see the end of my race and most of their Uncle Ben’s race, which was after mine. It was very hot1 and the kids were surprisingly cooperative, although they probably spent more time looking at tiny screens and snacking than watching people zoom by on fat tires.

Shortly after I finished racing and found the kids, I asked Thomas to go help me wash off my bike. He groused a little at having to abandon his tiny screen, but perked up a little bit when he realized he’d get to spray a high-pressure hose around in public. As we walked back to my car to return the bike, he had a suggestion:

“Hey, Dad, I think you should get a folder to keep all of your bib numbers in, and then you can also write down how you did in each race next to each number.”

At this point, I should clarify something about my bicycle racing habit. I am able to enter a few races a year. I really enjoy racing bicycles, but I am not particularly good at it. By “not particularly good,” I mean that I have identified a bug in USA Cycling’s iPhone app whereby if you were ranked, say 11th out of 11 in a given discipline and demographic, the site would tell you you were “first.” Although I’ve never formally reported the bug, my rankings could provide them with a large corpus of test cases: in multiple cycling disciplines and when grouped by zip code, state, racing age, or age range. My goals for a given race invariably have more to do with not getting dropped, lapped, or hurt than they do with a competitive or even above-average finish.

So I was charmed that WT wanted me to track my mediocrity over time, but such a record seemed like a good idea for him (he is an amazing bike handler and has been pretty successful at kids’ triathlons), and I told him so:

“That’s a great idea, but maybe we should start keeping track of your bibs and your results!”

“And Dad? When you get a rainbow jersey, you can put it in the folder, too.”

I smiled. “Thanks, buddy. But really, I almost certainly won’t ever get a rainbow jersey.”

WT thought about it for a few seconds. “Well, Dad, here’s what you’ll do. At the end of the race, you might be in fourth or something, and you’ll just have to go as fast as you can to beat the person who’s winning. See?”

Of course, I’m usually right around fourth from last rather than fourth overall, but it doesn’t matter. What more could one want for Father’s Day than a wife who loves you enough to drag your kids across the county to watch your ridiculous hobby on a sweltering Wisconsin afternoon, three children who love you enough to cheer when they finally see you, and an oldest son who thinks highly enough of you that he assumes you might be awfully close to best in the world at anything?

1 Thanks to some Dropouts for taking pity on Andrea and the kids and letting them evade the sun in their tent!

Meet Rolf Joseph

November 8th, 2012  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment

I’m pleased to introduce you to Rolf Joseph Benton, who is one week old tonight! He arrived at 7:17 PM on All Saints’ Day, weighing 8.25 pounds and measuring in at 20 inches. Mom, baby, dad, and siblings are all doing well and thoroughly delighted. I’ve posted some newborn photos below; more are available in this Flickr set from the hospital.

The kids meet their baby brother
Happy dad

Now WT is six

June 28th, 2012  |  Tags: , ,  |  3 Comments


Yesterday you ran down to my home office, excited about a stop-motion Lego movie you were making upstairs, and blurted out that when “we put it on YouTube,” people would see it and say “that’s pretty cool, because the guy who made it is still kind of little.” I hope to shield you from YouTube commenters for as long as possible, Thomas, even though you’re slightly less little today than you were yesterday.

Happy birthday, buddy. It’s been a great year, and you’re not just “pretty cool” in your age group; you’re a strong contender overall. Here are just a few of my favorite memories from your time as a five-year-old.

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VeggieTales, Christianity, and morality

June 6th, 2012  |  Tags: ,  |  1 Comment

Via Gene Veith, VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer has recognized the biggest problem with the cartoon series:

I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.

Our kids have enjoyed watching a few of the VeggieTales cartoons on Netflix, and they are basically inoffensive. But Andrea and I have both noticed the (lack of) theological grounding therein: the absence of an explicit Christian message in many of the stories renders them pretty hollow. Our goal as parents is not to raise followers of moralistic therapeutic deism with generic American Protestant cultural and aesthetic preferences; it is to raise Christians. There are plenty of places to get the generic “be nice to each other” message (and probably even more places to get the “here are the Bible’s secret investment strategies” message), but that’s neither law nor gospel.

I imagine this was a very difficult realization for Vischer, and am thankful that he is talking about his change of heart. (I have had similar realizations, but never after building a multimedia empire on a premise that I have later felt compelled to repent from!)

(Speaking of Veith, he also recently linked to an outstanding argument about the aesthetic and theology — such as they were — of late pop painter Thomas Kinkade.)

Parenting successes: real-food edition

April 16th, 2012  |  Tags: ,  |  5 Comments

Andrea was out of the house at suppertime today, so I ate with the kids by myself. I made them grilled cheese sandwiches and steamed carrots, but I made myself a spinach salad with avocado and salmon. They ate all of their carrots and most of their sandwiches before taking about a third of my salad. WT was pretty polite about it (“Dad, could I please have some more salmon with spinach and salad dressing on it?”), but Maggie was content to serve herself from my plate, one handful at a time.

Next time, I’m just making one big salad.

Anyway, here’s the dressing my kids loved so much; it’s pretty simple, but I consider that a point in its favor.

Avocado and citrus salad dressing

Blend together the following until smooth:

  • juice of one large orange or 4 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 5 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/3 large, ripe avocado
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is probably enough for four salads unless you’re in the habit of really drowning your greens. It’s also great on sweet potato fries.

Our little Christmas present turns two

December 25th, 2011  |  Tags: ,  |  1 Comment

Birthday Girl

Happy birthday, sweetheart! Dad loves you. It was an exciting Christmas Day when we got to meet you1, and you’ve sure kept it interesting since. You were so excited about your second birthday (we’d ask you whose birthday we were going to celebrate on Sunday and you’d gleefully shout “The baby Jesus! and Maggie!”), and we had a lot of fun celebrating with you. Here are some of my favorite memories of you from the last year:

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Merry Christmas from the lad

December 25th, 2011  |  Tags: ,  |  Leave a comment

(Fear not, readers who can’t get enough of my kids — I’ll have a post about the other birthday we celebrate in my house today later!)

Parenting highlights (and other lights)

January 5th, 2011  |  Tags: , ,  |  2 Comments

Merry Christmas

The other night, my son (age ~4.5) said this completely out of the blue:

Dad, when I’m grown up and have kids, I will buy the house next door to yours so that I can visit you whenever I want without driving, and so you can visit me and my kids without driving!

That absolutely made up for the time he broke the garage window and, while wearing mittens, hid the shards in the snow, later telling me that he was playing “hide and seek glass.” What a great kid.