Rooting for the Ultimate Winning Team (and no, it is not the f*&#$g Patriots)

It is my favorite time of the year! We are knee deep in sports season in our house. But  unfortunately I can’t say it is all good news. My Steelers SUCK, the Nats couldn’t win enough games down the stretch to garner a playoff birth, and the Capitals are off to a miserable start. My son’s baseball team has lost more games than they have won. My daughter’s diving team hasn’t even been able to get it together to start training for the season (governmental bureaucracy is GREAT). And one of my fantasy football teams is so bad I think I might need to apologize to everyone for joining the league.

Now before you call the suicide prevention hotline, I will tell you it isn’t all bad. My adopted NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, is doing better than any pundit predicted (though for the record Richard called this in August). My son had a kick-ass game last night. And in my neighborhood FF league I am currently undefeated!

But as I was thinking about my love of all things sports, a question my daughter asked recently came to mind. You see, I wrote this on their bathroom mirror a few weeks ago:

Bathroom Mirror

Shortly after I wrote that my daughter asked, “Mommy, why did you write that in our bathroom?”

And my answer was quick and easy because to me the reason was obvious: I did it because I love you and we are a team all together and I want you to succeed and win in life.

But as I thought about it I realized that my applying the framework of sports to my family was about more than just a surface “Go Fight Win” cheer. It is about teaching our children the values that we have identified (at our 48 Hour Relationship Retreat…sorry, couldn’t help putting in a plug here) – the same ones that we hope they will learn when we encourage them to play sports, only within the safe, supportive, non-threatening confines of our family unit.

“So,” I hope you are asking, “What do you think your kids can learn from your cockamamie application of the team sports approach to your family household?”

So glad you asked! Here are a few of the lessons I hope they learn (DISLAIMER: I wish I applied all of these things all of the time…in reality I do some of them some of the time, and most of them occasionally, and all of them sporadically):

– Celebrate your victories. Sure, easy to do when there is a tough game win, or playoff birth, or even better yet a Super Bowl championship. So what is the family equivalent? Maybe it is the playroom that everyone worked to clean up, the test that you studied really hard for that you got a B on (really – sometimes a B is a huge victory), or the fact that you made it through an evening without getting into a fight with your sibling. There are no trophies for family unity or room cleanliness. But I read somewhere that “we value what we celebrate,” and I think that is true – so we need to celebrate what we want our kids to value. Make up a World Series of Teeth Brushing or a Superbowl of Friendship or whatever silly crap works in your house and celebrate when you make it to the Big Dance.

– Everyone is valued for their contribution. Sure, it is easy to overlook the long snapper because they aren’t the star and they aren’t on the field all that often, but just ask the Redskins what happened this weekend when Nick Sundberg, their starting long snapper, went down with a torn meniscus (hint: it wasn’t good). Sometimes we end up with one child/family member who thinks they are THE STAR and they don’t value their sibling as much as they should. Each person has a role to play in my household, and every role is important. We wouldn’t be complete if my son weren’t his typical Type A self and reminding us all of the rules, nor would we be the same if our daughter weren’t dancing around bringing lightness and joy to the whole room. We all have a purpose and all need to be appreciated for what we contribute to the overall success of the family.

– Set your goals and work hard to get there. This is easy to say, but oh so hard to for kids to embrace. Right?!? They don’t want to work hard, and they don’t have any perspective (heck, for probably ½ of their lives they have been babies or toddlers). But that is where I come in. Where we can help them set goals and plans to get there and monitor their progress and show them how their hard work is paying off. Start small, and build up. But be careful not to blow smoke up their a@@. Kids can spot a faker a mile away. So you have to pick goals that they actually do have to work hard to reach. And you probably have to be the bad guy and make them do the hard work (reference the early statement about how kids don’t actually like to work). But if you are intentional about it and help them monitor their progress and eventual success you will have taught them an amazing lesson that they will be able to use all of their lives.

– When one person on the team screws up you don’t put them down, you pick them up. “You broke the _________”, “You spilled the ______”, “We can’t go to the movie because your room wasn’t clean!” NO, NO, NO!!!!!!! We are a team. When Payton Manning throws an interception (ok, bad example because he has only thrown 2 interceptions this year) his teammates don’t throw rotten tomatoes at him. His defense goes out there and does their best to get the ball back. And his offense works extra hard when they are on the field to help him recover and be his best. To help our children realize that it is better to be positive than negative is a huge gift that will have ripple effects all of their lives.

– Heart is as important as talent. And if you don’t have talent, you need a TON of heart (and by heart I mean desire to meet your goal and commitment to do what it takes to get there). Sure, we all have heard the stories about the kid who comes out of the womb throwing a 95 mph fast ball. But what interests me more, and the stories I tell my kids, are about the athletes that weren’t supposed to make it. About Diana Nyad who at the age of 64 swam from Cuba to Florida. Or Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who survived a shark attack. These are the people I want to be their role models. The people who worked hard to get what they wanted. And the best way I know of doing that is to model it for them. To let them know what my personal goals are, to watch me work hard to achieve them, and then to celebrate when I do reach the goals that I have set. So that they can see that big accomplishments take hard work, but it is possible.

– You might be down, but don’t count yourself out. Yep, I was watching when Tom Brady threw the last second touch-down pass to beat the New Orleans Saints last weekend. And as much as I hate to give any attention to one of my least favorite athletes, I have to say this – that guy never gives up. There will be plenty of times in life when the people around you don’t believe in you or don’t think you can do something. Or when you have been pushed down and kicked around. But learning to have the reserve to believe in yourself will see you through those times and lead you to your own personal victory. But the question is, how do you teach that to your kids? Well, I let my kids see when I fail and when I have set-backs and when I get back up and go forward. It is hard. Because as parents we want to be strong and brave and right (oh yeah, mostly I want to be right). But sometimes I have to say “I was wrong,” or “that sucked,” or “this hurts.” And I have to let my kids see that raw side of life in order for them to see me being strong and overcoming that obstacle. And yes, bad shit happens, but that doesn’t mean we quit…it just means we get back to it and attack it from a different angle.

And to me these “sports” lessons apply to all the areas of our lives. To being a good friend/spouse/parent/sibling. To excelling at school. To worshipping our God. And even to playing a sport.

So be on notice. We are TEAM BARNEY. And we kick ass and we take names. We set goals and we work hard to reach them. We value each “player” for what they bring to our team. We aren’t out when we are down. And we even huddle up and have a family cheer now & then. (Think I’m kidding? Check it out: Team Barney Cheer and yes, we are dorky like this!)


I Want More Hours in My Day!


This past Wednesday was crazy and these days it seems like every day is similar. Up early for boot camp. Off to work. Race to my daughter’s swim meet where I’m timing. Then its home to pack for the next day, chat with the kids, play with the dog, and pack for a Boy Scout Leadership campout.

If most every day is like this, plus weekends filled with baseball games, soccer games, church, etc., when in the heck am I supposed to find time to work on my big life goals?

It seems like most everyone, I find myself asking, “How do I get more done?”

Fear not! I found the solution!

The answer lies in the time-turner necklace that Hermione used in Harry Potter and the Prisonr of Azkaban. She deftly utilized this necklace to take a double class load – to technically be in two places at once. It works great.


What?!? You don’t have a time-turner necklace?

Hmmmm. Then I guess we all need to go at this another way.

During the course of working on our book, we realized that while The 48 Hour Relationship Retreat might be a handbook about a couple’s retreat, the underlying theme is really all about being proactive. Working together to figure out what’s most important and then making those things a priority in your life. Basically, taking control of your life instead of letting it control you.

When it comes to the problem of getting more done, the only solution is prioritizing. We can’t get more hours in our day (I’ve tried, but seems that making a larger sun dial does NOT actually slow the rate at which time advances). The key is to get more of our top priorities done during the hours we do have.

If spending time with Amanda is my top priority (and she informs me that it should be), I need to put it into my schedule and work the rest of my day around that. Time management experts all preach the same basic mantra – determine what is most important (not what is most urgent) and then schedule those items. Let the lower priorities fill in around them.

All time management books stress that it’s crucial to be deliberate. Setting our goals and hoping that the top priorities get done is not enough. We need to take a moment to put those key items into our day ahead of time. And then stick to them like we would a doctor’s appointment.

In fact, my recent doctor’s appointment is a great example. Somehow, when I need to go to the doctor so I can get my medication refilled, I find a way to fit that into my schedule and work our other responsibilities around that. If one of your highest goals is spending more time with your kids or date night or exercise, treat that like a doctor’s appointment. Schedule it, don’t miss it, and the world won’t end.

I might not have a time-turner necklace like Hermione, but what I do have is a daily to do list that I create each day before I leave work. I write down all the things I want to accomplish the next day (it includes the things I want to do and the things other people want me to do). And then I prioritize them. I put “A”s next to the things I absolutely need to get done in the day, and then “B”s and then “C”s for the things that it would be good to get to, but they are at the bottom of my list. Then the next day I tackle the A’s first, and I treat the time on my calendar that I have set aside for those items as sacred…if someone tries to grab that time I get very protective and think twice before impinging upon it.

And yes, before you ask I do the same thing for my weekends. We determine what things we want to get done around the house, or with the kids, or which friends we want to see. And we put them on our to do list. And then the other stuff fills in around that. Does it mean some sacrifice (like I might not watch all of the Nats game, but rather catch just an inning or two)? Yes, it does. But I can stomach that sacrifice when I see the results of pursuing my priorities instead of the stuff that just gets thrown at me.

Scrap the Crap Tip: Stop lamenting your lack of time. Decide what is most important, get that into your schedule, protect that time, and let the rest fill in where it will.

Cliffhanger: Tune in to my next scintillating blog when I will to try to tackle the burning question: “How do I determine what’s most important?”

Why 48 Hours?

We’ve all heard the phrase “let me sleep on it” and haven’t we all said “I’ll get back to you on that”. Well in thinking about big life decisions and activities in my life, I have decided that fortunes can change significantly in 48 hours – just 2 days.

Think about it – a weekend in Vegas can result in a trip to jail or holy matrimony – either way your life future has been changed.

Or when you have been offered a new job or business opportunity you take a few days to think it over because you know the decision is going to affect your career path well into the future.

And how about that fight you had with your best friend. That after you have a few days to think it over it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it did at the time.

The reality is that much can be accomplished in 48 hours.

The Next 48 Hours


(That seems to be a weak way to start this off but we’ve got nothing else right now!)

This blog grew out of the collective beliefs of Amanda & Richard and our experiences gained in 17 years of annual relationship retreats. Plus, working on our own relationship every other day of the year since we met way back in 1994 has contributed to our ideas here.

We believe that each individual is capable of effecting change in their lives if they just have a plan and execute their plan. With two people working together, that change can be (as our son likes to say) epic! And generally all it takes to get started on the right path is 48 hours. Just two days.

And it is simply amazing (though not coincidental in the least) that this blog concept supports the subject of a book that we have written that will be out on the market soon. Our book is about a 48 hour relationship retreat where couples delve into all the aspects of their lives and make plans for success together.

So in addition to random posts about topics that occur to us, we may post about topics in the book and tangent subjects that come up as we finish the book.  Basically, this is all about relationships between two people who are committed to each other. But, we reserve the right to wander off topic occasionally if something strikes our fancy. You’ll just have to deal with it.

The Blog Cocktail Ingredients:

  • 2 parts kick in the pants to make personal change
  • 3 parts helpful advice on how to make those changes
  • Splash of humor
  • 2 dashes of irreverence
  • 1 jigger of sarcasm

Time to wrap this blog post up – all the “experts” suggest that people have the attention span of a gnat these days and long posts will never get read.

So, we hope you’ll drop by again soon.

Maybe we need a “catch phrase” to end all our posts? Let us know if you come up with one!