Author Archives: Tom Dressler

Fifteen Minutes

Mommy Guilt is a very real thing.  We moms feel guilty about everything when it comes to our kids:  how much TV they watch, what they ate, how they were disciplined, and my least favorite, did I spend enough quality time with them that day?  At the end of some days I think back to the day and wonder if I even played with the kids at all.  I know that I was in the same house or on the same playground with them, but did I actually spend any time with each child?  Did I look them in the eye and do an activity that meant something to each child? Did each child feel loved or special at some point during the day?  It is amazing that I can spend twelve hours with the same three people, but not actually spend any “quality time” with them.  It seems like this would be such an absurd thing to wonder, but it is not.  If there was only one child each day, I don’t think that I would even contemplate this question.  Having three means that they entertain themselves most of the time.  I am there to make sure that no one gets hurt and that nothing gets broken.  Having three also means that I clean more, cook more, do more dishes, and referee more.  While the kids are playing and tearing up the house, I typically do my chores and if we are at the playground then I get to chat with a girlfriend while the kids play.  I am still with the kids, but not WITH the kids.  Make sense?

I have finally found a way to assuage some of my guilt about not spending quality time with each kid each day.   I have come to the realization that what each child really needs, and I need, is fifteen minutes of time together.  I get to spend fifteen minutes of one-on-one time with each child doing whatever it is that they choose to do.  The kids don’t know that I am doing this, but I think that it makes me feel better and it gives them some special time during the day with mom.  It may sound kind of weak that I am only spending a total of 45 minutes of quality time with my kids each day, but I can’t even start feeling guilty about that!  Some days are better, some days are worse and somedays I am a rockstar mom that can have fun with all three at the same time and be fully engaged in whatever it is that we are doing.  However, if I am not having a “rockstar mom” day, then fifteen minutes is just what we all need.

Here are some examples 15 minutes of fun with mom:

-I played the Ladybug Game with Wilson on Saturday.

-I played the “rainstorm” game with Miller this morning.

-I let Faith braid my hair over and over again the other night before bed.

-I played on the playground with Miller on Saturday.

-I read with Wilson before bed last night and then told him stories.

Those are all of the examples that I can come up with right now, but it is a work in progress.  I don’t beat myself up when it doesn’t happen each and every day, but I think that it is something to be aware of and aim for.  I love my children and think that they are fun and sweet individuals.  I want to enjoy my time with them collectively and individually.  Collectively is what happens during the twelve hours a day that we are together.  Individually is what we get in fifteen minute intervals throughout the day.  Honestly, I think that this is an accomplishable goal and something that will go a long way in the life of our family.



A White Pennsylvania Christmas


Each year we travel up to Mechanicsburg, PA to stay at Tom’s mom and Will’s house.  We usually go up the day after Christmas and stay about three days.  While we are there we have a “Christmas morning”.  This means that we wake up early, unwrap presents together, have brunch, play and nap, and then have a nice Christmas dinner.  The kids love having two Christmas’.





When I was growing up we did the same thing in Georgia, but we did it at Thanksgiving.  It is always more fun to see everyone open their gifts rather than mailing them and hearing about it over the phone.  I am glad that we carried on this fond childhood tradition for my kids.

This year we had a special surprise…..snow!  It snowed a little before we got there, but when we woke up on “Christmas morning” (Saturday) it was snowing.  It has been coming down all day and we should get about 5 inches.  the kids went out into the snow to play.  We all lasted about 15 minutes.  It was cold!  They did snow angels, tried to build a snowman, and then just ran around in the snow.

Wilson in snowFaith in snowAlexis IMG_1080


Of course we didn’t come prepared with snowsuits, mittens, snowboots, etc.  Everyone had on rubber rain boots, mittens that were too big, and jeans….not exactly snow clothing!  It did the job though:  it let the kids play in the snow.

Christmas Day

The kids went to bed fairly early, woke up not insanely early, and were somewhat ready to open presents. I was amazed at how casual they were about starting to open the gifts.  They wanted some food and to wake up more before they began asking.  Once they did start, however, they tore through the presents quickly.

Wilson and grandpaIMG_1036

Then Wilson began asking if there were more. I have tried to prevent this greediness by instituting the rule: “The wise men brought Jesus three gifts and so you will get three gifts….plus a stocking”. Some years I have done better than others. Faith got three, Wilson got five, and Miller got two. They get many other gifts from grandparents and cousins so they don’t need more from us. As they get older I am sure the rule will be adjusted to include a dollar amount as well.


My parents came over after we had opened our gifts and brought more. Wilson got a fireman costume and Faith got a beautiful red dress.  My dad even took Wilson outside so that he could spray the trashcans like a real fireman.


After presents we went to Lisa’s house for brunch, which has been a tradition for years. We have brunch, eat ourselves silly (while still in our pjs), and go home to play with the new toys. I even got a nap.

I have also started making Jesus a birthday cake. We make a cake, light candles and sing the Birthday song. I try to keep Jesus the focus of Christmas above all else. It is difficult to do.




Faith asked me if Santa was real. I can’t lie. I have always been a terrible liar. I told her “No. He was a real person a long time ago, but now he is make believe like Cinderella.” She asked me, “Can I believe it if I want to?” “Yes, of course.” And she did. She lit up when she heard that Santa would be coming up to PA….I guess she really wants to believe…who wouldn’t. :)

All in all a very successful Christmas.

Christmas Eve

I am terribly late getting my Christmas blog posts written. Having three kids running around, a father-in-law at our house, Christmas services and breakfasts to attend, and driving to Pennsylvania the day after have made it virtually impossible to write anything….and, I obviously haven’t made it a priority.

So here it goes…

Christmas Eve is always crazy in our house and at our church. We have four services on Christmas Eve and our family attends the first one at 2:00 pm, the kids’ service.

Before the service the kids all dress up as shepherds, angels, and wise men.  Faith was an angel and Wilson was a wiseman.  Wilson was so short and quick that we weren’t able to get his pictures, but here is Faith as an angel.


This year Faith sang Morning Star, which she also sang at the congregational love feast. She is by far, the shortest and youngest singer this year. It was adorable watching her up there. I was very proud.

Faith singing at Love Feast


We always take some of our best pictures at the service.  Here are Faith and I with our candles and Tom with the boys.



We always take our family photo next to the tree at church.  We have done this three years in a row now.

We take the normal picture first….

Family photo in front of tree at Little Church

Family photo in front of tree at Little Church


And then we take a silly picture…..




My dad with the “little people”…



Tom’s dad has spent the last few Christmas’ with us.  He finally got his own picture taking event at the church….



After Tom worked three of the services, he came home and we went to pick up Faith’s new Barbie house from my parents house. Thankfully, they put the house together for us. It took them 2.5 hours to do it. I was soooooo thankful that they did!! The thing is huge! It is almost five feet tall and four feet wide. I always wanted a Barbie house like this one….which is why my daughter got one. I am, obviously, living vicariously through her.





Amazement Square

I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to do something fun. I knew that there was a children’s museum around Roanoke somewhere so I looked it up and found out that it was in Lynchburg, VA which is about an hour from Roanoke. We are always up by 7:00 am so I had plenty of time to get myself and three kids ready for the hour drive. We were out the door and on the road by 9:00 am with lunches packed, kids dressed and ipad charged.

We made it to Amazement Square by 10:15 am. I didn’t know anything about it and was amazed at how large it was. It was four stories high and had an endless number of rooms and exhibits. One of the coolest parts was that it had a Chicfila-like play area that was in the center of the place that was also four stories high. There was a zipline in the climbing thing that Faith did over and over again.

The kids favorite part was the farm area for kids under 5. There was corn to be picked, a hen house with eggs, a tractor, horses to sit on, an underground tunnel, and a cow that you could pull on the utters and water would come out. Faith and Wilson picked the corn over and over again and then would go milk the cow. Faith pretended that she was Princes Poppyseed from the Veggie Tales movie. Miller could even play safely in that area and began to take more than one step at a time. He can walk!! I kept trying to get it on video but I wasn’t quick enough.








There was an Egypt exhibit that had costumes for the kids to dress up in.  There was even a fake mummy for them to learn about mummification.  Here is Faith in her costume.



There was an exhibit on speed and velocity, a puppet stage, a recording studio with instruments and headphones, an exhibit on building things, one about health/organs/doctors, and a really cool water table that you could send a boat down, fill up the lock, and then send it the rest of the way. It even rained on the table.

Wilson also painted in the room that they let you paint on the walls and then they wash the walls half way through the day.


Believe it or not, we stayed in Amazement Square for over five hours. We didn’t leave until after 3:30pm. We were the only people there for a while and go personalized service from one of the workers. It was great! We finally got in the car, found a Starbucks, and drove back to Roanoke.

We had promised the older two that they could go swimming at the Y with Tom after work so I got their suits and dropped them off at the Y for a little while. They love going swimming with Tom. He is a fun dad. He teaches them how to swim and plays around with them. I am glad that he likes to do things like that. They had a blast!

Overall, it was a very fun and successful day. We did something new, spent some quality time together, and never once was there a problem between us. I loved it and so did they.

Strasburg Railroad Company Train Ride

Last night we arrived in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania at Tom’s mom’s house. We will be here visiting his family until Monday afternoon. We left yesterday from Roanoke which was fabulous because it was three hours closer than Charlotte. Three hours make a huge difference when you are traveling with three small children.

Today we went to Strausburg to ride the open air, passenger train that is pulled by an old steam engine. The kids had never been on a train before and they loved it. The train ride took us about 20 minutes in one direction and then turned around and took us back. We rode through corn field after corn field of Amish farms. There were Amish families picking the corn, airing out their laundry on clothes lines, plowing their fields with a plow being pulled by an ox, and an Amish woman mowing her grass while the kids played on the swing set. It was surreal. It made me want to become Amish: less bills to pay, no TV, more family time, to bed at dark, no $4 gallon gasoline to worry about, etc. However, I am not a big fan of washing my clothes on a rock, cooking on a wood stove, or gardening. After considering this, I decided that being Amish may not be for me.

The kids loved the train ride. They could hang out the windows of the train and see things that they had never seen before. Faith sat in MaMaw’s lap the whole time and listened to her teach Faith about the things that she saw. It was very cute. Even Miller liked to hang out the window and take it all in. It was a fun, family day.

After the train ride we sat at a picnic table and had lunch. It is always fun to come here to do things that we don’t have in NC. Tomorrow we are going to a farm and Sunday we may go to City Island to play.


Wilson and Tom


MaMaw, Faith, Pa and Wilson


MaMaw and Faith looking out the window

Family Trip to Asheville

Yesterday afternoon we all met in Asheville, NC for the weekend. Tom is racing in the Asheville Triathlon on Sunday morning so we decided to make a weekend out of it. I drove up with the kids from Charlotte and Tom drove down from Roanoke. We met at the Western NC Nature Center in Asheville. The center had black bears, wolves, otters, foxes, bobcats, cougars, raccoons and birds. I have to say that the enclosures for the animals were large and the animals were the healthiest I think I have ever seen in a zoo setting. I was impressed. We could also see the animals very close up. Of course, with small children we still didn’t stay very long. As with any small nature center, we were in and out within an hour, but it was worth the trip.

Coincidentally, it was my good friend, Sidney Youngs’ birthday yesterday. Tom gave me the ok to go out with her, Bobby, and other friends last night. It seems that I have made many of Sidney’s birthday celebrations over the last six years. Last night we ate at Salsas and hopped around town. Asheville is so full of culture and hippies. I love it. Sidney is a great friend and I am glad that I was able to share another birthday with her. She turned 36.

This is the first time that the kids have ever stayed in a hotel. Faith keeps calling the room “the apartment” and I feel sorry for the people that are next to us and under us. We had to make the rule very quickly of “no jumping off the bed”. There is a great outdoor pool here. We swam in it yesterday and will go there again today.

Sunday morning is the big race! Tom has been training for months and is very excited. I am proud of the progress he has made and am excited to see how he does. I did a triathlon ten years ago and my goal was just to finish. His goal is to place as high in the rankings as possible. He has already gone to the course to scope it out. We will be up at 6:00am tomorrow morning to go help him set up and cheer him on. Go Tom!