The Journal Approach

I think one thing that has stalled updates on this site is the self-inflicted “pressure” of blogs or articles needing to feel entertaining enough to read. Most bloggers take this approach but what I think I’d like to do instead is…

take the journal approach.

You see, our little 2 year old has been a little slow at learning to talk but he’s been picking up more and more words now quite speedily. He can say the most heartbreaking (and oddly high-voiced) “Buh-bye!!” when you’re leaving and a little “hi” … When he feels like it. He also loves the word “cookie” and often commands “More!… More!More!More!” when one cartoon ends and he wants another to begin.

What Will doesn’t do much of… Is string words together in a sentence or short phrase.

On Thursday, January 10 (2013), my mom was packing up the little man for a visit to her house (from our house) — and for a much needed date night for Amy and I — when I plopped him into his car seat in her car and said goodbye. I kissed his cheek a few times and said bye and he muttered a couple “Buh-bye!’s” before turning away and saying “Buh-bye Daddy!”

My heart melted.

Tonight (the 11th), Amy was picking up his train collection as he ran around the living room, and she told him to “say night night to your trains!”

Will responded “Night night twains!” A couple times before adding “night night daddy!!”

Heart melted again.

It’s a more recent thing that he calls me Daddy–and I love it– and on Christmas Eve, his present to me was another “first” for him.

I was standing in the outer sink room of Amy’s parents’ bathroom, washing my hands, when he simply walked in, said “Hi Daddy” and left.

It floored me.

He has only done that once more to this day and it was the following morning on Christmas Day while I was in my office. So awesome.

It’s so neat to see these little “baby steps”…
– John


To Infirmary… and Beyond!

With every week — and sometimes every day — offering new experiences in the parental role, one unexpected encounter came when I went in to have my blood taken earlier this week on Monday.

The unimportant detail to this story is it was a routine check-up on the levels of my thyroid (fun times!), but it’s something I thankfully only have to endure once or twice a year. And one simple fact remains…

I hate needles.

This time, with Will being 22.5 months old, it was a much different experience than the last time we brought him along. With his recent obsession with Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear, Will had his Buzz figure in-hand (well, it was mine, but I digress) — a 5 or 6-inch plastic figure that is perfect for a little guy like him to run around with.

When it came time for me to be ushered into a little room, curtain drawn, with my blood also about to be drawn, I sat down in the chair nervously, put my right arm out there on display and turned my head in the opposite direction. Amy sat in a chair positioned in a way where she could hold the curtain closed and block Will from darting out at any moment. So with us all trapped in there — nurse armed with a needle included — Will restlessly, but quietly, was bouncing around the room. At one point, he noticed how uncomfortable I was and he noticed his momma was trying to console me. I was quiet, but my mind was not. Needles. *shudder*

With my left arm laying across the little table on the other side of the chair, and with Amy’s hand resting on my forearm, Will came to a realization. Something was wrong. It was then the toddler decided that it was more important for me to have Buzz than him. He walked over, pushed Buzz into my open left hand, and turned around. It was as if he was saying “I have no idea what in the heck is going on, but I have a feeling you need ‘Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!’ more than I do.”

Once the nurse prepped my arm and gave me the warning of the needle’s forthcoming – and unwelcomed – intrusion, Will paused his frenetic wall-bouncing to stop and watch my blood being drawn. That in itself was a little awkward, but he seemed entirely unfazed by…and all too curious (uh-oh) about what was happening. When all was said and done (and I had finished using Buzz Lightyear as a stress ball), I handed the toy back to my son with my heart a little warmer. The little guy is awfully protective of his favorite toys, so I knew that gesture was a big one for him.

Parenthood definitely continues to deliver surprises when you least expect them.

Will with Buzz from a different day, on July 14 2012 (He would do this motion if you said “To infinity… and beyond!”)

Boy Story

Twenty one (and almost a half) months!

While it’s been a few months since my last blog, these weeks in between posts have been anything but dull. Watching Will develop has been quite the site, as he’s a walking, running, toddling babbler. He doesn’t really speak much yet, although he’s starting to mimic certain sounds (“Up” and “Bob” — as in the Tomato — are his most common ones. But it sounds like I might be “Gah-gah” to him 🙂 ). It’s funny to watch him conduct his learning in a manner that’s … very much on his own terms. It’s almost as though he knows how to say certain words… he just doesn’t feellike it!

And that personality development has certainly been an interesting one to experience. Little tantrums are “fun” to endure and try to learn how to subdue. But we know the importance of getting the little booger to calm down and learn that smacking anything within his proximity (from people to objects) is unacceptable.

At an acoustic concert 6.4.12

Almost everyday reveals something new with him. Today, it was watching him grab a Buzz Lightyear figure (which is… *ahem* mine….) and pretend that Buzz was flying! I’d yet to see him play like that. He loves watching the Toy Story trilogy, so it’s great to see him gravitate toward the characters. When he got his mitts on both Buzz and Woody figures, he carried them around for quite a while — like little trophies! Sometimes he still gets into these fits of throwing things — even things he really likes — so he’s still learning what it means to take care of peoples’ things. I know this stuff takes time.

But it’s also just AMAZING how fast he’s growing! It doesn’t seem long ago that he couldn’t roll over… then couldn’t crawl… then couldn’t walk… I’m sure, once he starts really talking, I’ll feel the same way about this season when he couldn’t!

So until the next adventure…

7.12.12 – running around the kitchen with a Firehouse Subs hat on

Author Darlene Brock Opens Up to FamilyLife Today About Latest Book, "Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters"

Author Darlene Brock with daughters Loren (L) and Chelsea (R).

Author Darlene Brock Opens Up to FamilyLife Today

About Latest Book, Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters

SOURCE: The M Collective

Nashville, Tenn., May 3, 2012: With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Darlene Brock–mother of two, music industry trailblazer and celebrated author–will share with popular radio program FamilyLife Today about her latest book Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters. In addition, Brock will discuss her much-read blog, The Grit & Grace Project, and the joys and challenges of motherhood. FamilyLife Today‘s broadcasts with Brock will air in two segments – today May 3 and on May 4 – delving into what she’s learned about motherhood, and especially about raising daughters.

The Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine-hosted FamilyLife Today programs with Brock are also available via podcast and through a stream  hereFamilyLife Today is broadcast on radio stations across the country, and to find a station near you, please visit  their site.

In addition to previous appearances on CNN, Fox News and Daytime TV, critics have praised the honest and humorous stories and compelling creative solutions Brock offers in Help Wanted:

“Reading Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters, the impression of author Darlene Brock comes through loud and clear. She’s a smart, driven, caring, and uncompromising mama. If only I could claim all of those labels.” –

“This is sound advice from a mother who’s been there — twice. And her delivery is funny, sincere, and direct.” –  TLC’s Parentables

Help Wanted is a page turner! I found it to be fun, engaging and one that will make you look at your own mom in a whole different way. I’ve always appreciated my mom and also my wife for what they do on a daily basis, but as a father, this book opened my eyes even further. As I get ready for Mother’s Day I have to say that this book is a must read for any mother or anyone who has a mom. You will definitely appreciate what is shared and will want to share Help Wanted with others!” –  Dad of Divas 

“This book has GREAT tips for anyone who is a parent-she is the mother of two and wanted to share her experience of being a mom with the world.” –  Empowering Mommy

Published in association with OakTara, Help Wanted navigates the various jobs moms must accomplish in the dynamic, yet often challenging mother-daughter relationship to make the maximum difference in their girl’s life. Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters is available in stores nationwide and online at,, and other digital-download retailers.

Darlene and husband Dan R. Brock are legends in the music industry. Co-founders of Forefront Records, home of GRAMMY® Award-winning artist TobyMac, the power couple helm The Grit & Grace Project. The Grit & Grace Project is a company dedicated to helping women reach their full potential, merging two of the primary strengths innate to women, Grit and Grace, calling upon those strengths to find purpose as individuals, wives and mothers.

To read the current issue of The Grit & Grace Project newsletter, click  here.



About Darlene Brock: 
Darlene Brock is a motivated self-starter who, while raising her two daughters, found time to produce award-winning music videos, manage recording artists, promote concerts throughout the US and serve as the Chief Operating Officer of a record label. Yet, when reviewing her varied accomplishments and successful career, she proclaims her most important and fulfilling job is being a mom.  

"Happy Valentine's D—Hey! Come Back Here!"

So it’s been a couple months of adjusting to life with a growing, fully mobile little boy running around. Will is now 16 and a half months, and this two-legged freedom he’s now experiencing has brought new joys AND challenges our way.

I’m definitely enjoying having a walking toddler around instead of a crawling, or immobile little bean. Although the little guy hasn’t spoken a real word just yet, he’s having a blast zipping from room to room in our home, sometimes making the most adorable nonsensical sounds along the way (my favorite is when he sees his reflection, wrinkles his nose and declares, “Yah yah yah!” in a hushed voice. Love it!).

This year was our second Valentine’s Day since Will’s birth and, to be honest, I don’t even remember what we did last year, but we decided it would be cool to go out as the three of us. Will had a pretty chill day earlier, so we figured it’d be safe to take him out.

We were wrong.

When we arrived at our local T.G.I. Friday’s, Will was asleep in his car seat, so we plopped it in his stroller and wheeled him inside. He didn’t last long in there though. The bright lights and noise were enough to wrench him out of any kind of peaceful rest, so I plucked him from the carriage and sat him on my lap for us to feed him. He was good for a while; I’ve found it fun to balance the little fella on one knee and feed us both, but tonight he could only sit for a short time. Soon, he was reaching for his mom and getting into her diaper bags and purse. After some fussy minutes, Amy declared that it was time for me to walk him around. With only one a few other couples left dining nearby, I paced the walkways around our table, following our little wobbler. I tried holding his hand so he could be more controlled (who wants to be eating out and seeing a toddler running around off the leash?? I didn’t want to be THAT parent), but since he’s allowed to roam free at home, he wouldn’t have it. In outdoor situations, I force it — tears and all (usually his, not mine) — but in a less life-threatening environment as a Friday’s, I figured it was OK to just follow him around.

And it was fine, but there seemed to be no end to the constant walking, about-face, walking, about-face, walk… it was endless. And of course, Will kept wanting to go further each time. Before long, I was yanking him by the arm backward away from the kitchen or bar area… again and again. We tried to get him to eat his kids meal that we ordered for him, but he was fussy (over-tired, really) and just wanted to own the floor of Fridays. By the end of our Valentine’s Day evening, I sat in the booth alone, eating dessert, while she tended to his restroom needs. Once we had Mr. Grumpy Pants back in his car seat (in which he went kicking and screaming), we drove home — exhausted and not feeling all that lovey dovey. Still, it’s a snapshot of where this road of adulthood has taken us. He won’t be a little, speedy toddler forever, so we have to take the good with the not-so…

Look Who's Walking Now

Just in time for Christmas, Amy and I got our wish when Will took his first couple daring steps on his own. For weeks leading up to this momentous event, he had enjoyed being lead around by the hands or shimmying himself along counter tops and other edges while standing. However, he hadn’t yet taken those grand steps on his own. Around December 18th (Amy claims she saw a few steps the day before, but her idea of him walking on his own seemed different than mine), Will took a couple cautious steps on his own. Usually it was a couple little steps and then he flopped to all fours or backwards onto his little rump. But as the days went on that week, he seemed relentless — nothing really deterred him from getting up and trying again.

I was shocked by how quickly Will picked up walking, and how determined he seemed to be once he got a taste for it (and I’m sure our enthusiastic responses to his achievement helped).

In just a few days, Will had almost completely converted over from being a full-time crawler to being pretty strong on those two feet. He still reverts to crawling on occasion, but it’s been really awesome to see him trekking around, wobbling to and fro, on those chubby little legs.

And so has begun the next stage of parenthood with a baby — walking! Will’s 15 months now and had started walking at just over 14 and a half months. Here’s to a new year of parenting!

Learning To Walk

It’s been several weeks since I last wrote about our adventures in parenting, but it’s really been just several weeks of a waiting game: when will the little beastie learn to walk?

While we wait for Will to take the leap of faith, so to speak, it’s still pretty amusing to watch him shimmy his way around objects while holding on to walls, corners, rails, and the like. He does enjoy being held by the hand and walked around the room, but he hasn’t mustered up enough courage to really step out on his own.

In some ways, I guess adults are still learning to walk on our own — still learning to take little leaps of faith and trust that God will be there to catch us if we trip up and fall. No matter how many times we try to encourage our little 14.5 month old to take steps in our direction without holding on to something, he has yet to make the jump… and I think that’s a problem that still dogs me to this day as an adult believer.

I guess, in the end, Will’s dad needs to learn to walk just as badly as he does. 🙂

Amy beaming as Will stands on his own for just a moment before sitting down… successfully distracted by some VeggieTales on screen.

Full-Contact Birthday Cake

So, this past Saturday, we celebrated our little guy’s very first birthday! (well….. technically, last year was his “birth day”… but he would have died if we tried to give him birthday cake as soon as he emerged into the world) On his actual day, we gave the little guy his own vanilla cupcake to attack, but he didn’t really know what to do with it… on top of being completely exhausted. Because we waited too late in the day to celebrate, he ended up crying and fussing through almost all of his presents and cake. It was memorable. (Below is one of the few smiles we captured 🙂 )

The next day, we celebrated again with another set of grandparents. This time, he was given a full vanilla cake. Scratch that – he was given a DOUBLE LAYER vanilla cake. Before I knew it, Amy was setting the double-layer vanilla cake in front of the little man and allowing him to have his way with it.

At first, Will dragged his little fingers across the white and blue icing to see what it was. Then he dragged his frosting-covered digits across the high chair tray and discovered what finger paints must be like. Before we knew it, we had a regular Jackson Pollock in our midst. He began by wiping more and more icing across the table and then grabbing chunks of cake. He brought the icing and cake bits up to his mouth, but he didn’t really eat it. I tried then to put a small piece of cake in his mouth and that seemed to make something click. He didn’t exactly shovel handfuls of the stuff into his mouth, but he did taste some of it himself after that.

Before long, the little artist was flinging cake and icing E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. This was when we realized it would have been in our best interest to have put some kind of plastic down on the floor or something, for icing and cake innards were littering our faux-hardwood floor. What resulted was a sight that would have given Adrian Monk a massive heart attack. Once shoes of mine nearby and the carpet that lined the stairs climbing to our second floor were hit with small fragments of cake shrapnel, I knew it was time to pop the proverbial birthday balloon. What ensued was a cleaning session that I don’t want to relive.

So, what do YOU need to throw the proper birthday celebrating for your 1-year-old?

1. 1 one-year old baby (boy or girl)
2. 1 cake (preferably NOT double-layer)
3. 1 birthday candle (preferably in the shape of the number 1)
4. 1 big, wide open room with NO carpet — or, better yet… do this all outdoors!
5. 1 video camera
6. 1 photo camera
7. Clothes you wouldn’t mind never seeing again.

"VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy" Review

VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy Company: Big Idea Entertainment
Release Date: October 1, 2011 / October 4, 2011
Running Time: 50 minutes
Buy It:
Official Site

Plot Summary

VeggieTales: The Little Drummer BoyIn this Veggie-version of a holiday classic, Junior Asparagus stars as The Little Drummer Boy, a lonely child who finds the true meaning of Christmas when he stumbles upon the birth of the baby Jesus. A story of generosity, hope, and love, this timeless tale will warm the hearts of children everywhere! Includes the new Silly Song “The Polish Foods for Christmas” and an all new recording of “The Little Drummer Boy” by Grammy and Dove Award Winning artists BeBe and CeCe Winans! (from

Film Review

As the weather starts getting colder outside, and my mind begins to think on the upcoming holidays, I can’t help but wonder what new Christmas DVD the creators of VeggieTales might have waiting to be released for the 2011 Christmas season. The latest episode is titled Little Drummer Boy and uses the popular seasonal story (and song) to present a unique new tale for families. I was surprised to see that both Pa Grape and Junior Asparagus were chosen to be the focus of the plot, instead of Bob and Larry being the usual hosts and main characters of this new DVD. Through Junior’s story, Big Idea introduces an important lesson to children about how to still trust in God and have faith in him, even when circumstances in life can be difficult and seem unfair. This theme for young children is often challenging to understand, and even invokes older adults to ask the familiar question, “why do bad things happen to good people?”

VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy
I was immediately drawn to the opening segment of the episode, when Junior Asparagus is introduced as a blossoming young drummer, excited to go out caroling with his friends. Maybe it is the catchy sound of Christmas carols playing in the background of the scene, but my 1-year-old son also seems to be captivated by the start of the show every time we watch it together. Unfortunately, the happy mood and anxious anticipation of Junior comes to an abrupt halt when the plans for his night unexpectedly change. Almost as if the Big Idea creators borrowed the format of a grandfather reading a story book to his grandson, I couldn’t help but to think of the movie The Princess Bride as the episode continued. However, in a much different way from the Mel Brooks version’s grandfather/grandson relationship, here Junior finds himself being compared to the Biblical character Aaron by Pa Grape. Also just a little boy in the story, Aaron was learning how to play the drums during the days surrounding the birth of Jesus. This, of course, was the perfect story for Pa Grape to read to Junior, knowing that the similarities between the two boys would really help Junior to identify with Aaron’s challenges as the Little Drummer Boy.

I definitely thought the disclaimer was nicely delivered that, although the story of The Little Drummer Boy is not actually in the Bible, the lessons that can be learned from it are extremely valuable when discussing how hard it can be to deal with people when you have been hurt by them. I believe it goes without question that this is a message that is quite relevant to VeggieTales lovers of all ages. Even though Aaron must go through some painful circumstances throughout the story that might be initially upsetting to younger viewers, it is for this reason that Aaron chooses to travel into the desert where he hopes he will be safe. When he decides to try and rid his life from people entirely and only associate with his animal friends, he thinks that he might be able to protect himself from getting hurt again by people. However, even Aaron cannot escape the fate of a chance meeting with Mr. Lunt, the French peas, and their ringleader, Mr. Nezzer. If you thought that the episode was lacking with its inclusion of musical hits, this is where the first adorable tune makes its debut. Through some convincing and cunning persuasion, Aaron decides to join the group of traveling performers, attempting to give the people in his life another chance.

Little did Aaron realize that he would wind up having drumming performances for more than just crowds of unknown people in the desert. This of course leads to the meeting with Bob and Larry, who are none other than two of the three wise men, or as the story explains, Magi, who are traveling through the desert while following a star. Although it seems like our usual hosts are taking such a minor role in this VeggieTales episode, they do get the opportunity for more center stage screen time with the silly song that has quickly become my new all-time favorite! The story of the Little Drummer Boy takes a brief hiatus for the traditional silly song when Oscar the Polish caterer sings to the audience at a Christmas party about the many Polish dishes of food he has brought for the guests to enjoy. This part of the show definitely has the capabilities of becoming a sing-a-long for Veggie fans, as the silly song borrows the melody from the caroling classic, “12 Days of Christmas.” This colorful number includes many of the familiar VeggieTales characters singing along with Oscar, as he describes the traditional Polish food he brought to the party. I was a huge fan of this silly song because it allowed for many characters to take part in the episode who are not included in the storytelling of Aaron’s adventures in the desert or Junior’s situation with missing the caroling fun.

VeggieTales: The Little Drummer BoyBecause of all the hurt in Aaron’s life, it was going to take a miracle for him to find love in his heart for people again. The idea of forgiveness was so foreign to him, he never thought that he would ever be able to trust anyone after being wronged so many times. He had become so hurt by the actions of other people who directly affected him by causing pain to other people and even animals in his life. It was at this time that I found one scene in particular rather difficult to watch and fear that it has the potential to upset younger viewers. When one of the innocent animals traveling in the desert with Aaron gets hurt during an unforeseen accident, Aaron exclaims, “you must not die!” Perhaps I might be overreacting to the hard reality of this dramatic scene, but if any viewers can relate to having a pet who was hit by a car (or seriously injured in some form), this part of the episode might bring back these painful memories for him or her. In addition, viewers who may be sensitive to seeing an animal get hurt, even if it is only an animated character, might be disturbed by the scene when Aaron desperately seeks help from the Magi to save the life of his beloved animal friend. Knowing that my toddling son (who is already a rabid VeggieTales fanatic) has no concept of death leaves me some time before I have to worry about explaining that reality to him one day. However, I do think that it could be an issue parents should be prepared to discuss with their older children who might ask about what death is and what happens to us when we die. Perhaps this might even give parents an opportunity to talk with their children about salvation, if the whole concept of death is something new to them.

After watching the newest Christmas DVD offering from Big Idea, I can honestly say that this episode is an excellent addition to the collection of VeggieTales episodes that I think could be a favorite in many homes this 2011 holiday season. Those lovable VeggieTales characters have succeeded again with teaching lessons of forgiving others, having faith in Jesus even when life can seem unfair, and learning the importance of treating others how you would like to be treated, while keeping the animation looking great and the songs sounding wonderful with meaningful lyrics. If any viewers find themselves having similar challenges like Aaron, this episode will most definitely speak to them and hopefully also help kids to learn at a young age the importance of forgiving others. Who better to help Aaron and VeggieTales viewers learn the beauty and miracle of forgiveness, than the baby Jesus!

– Review date: 10/5/11; Written by Amy DiBiase