Why I Ditched the Dishwasher and Why I’m Not Going Back

photo credit: Dead Maytag via photopin (license)
photo credit: Dead Maytag via photopin (license)
A few months ago, our dishwasher gave up the ghost. It had been making some awful noises for several months, and then just quit working. It was out of warranty and as we had recently updated some of our other appliances, we went ahead and got a new dishwasher.

Per usual, I spent a good bit of time researching online to find the right matrix of quality, brand, appearance and price and found a great deal on a very nice dishwasher. We had it installed a few days later and it’s been great – washes the dishes quietly and looks great.

But recently, I decided I wanted to try something different.

It always seemed like we couldn’t get on the right cycle of loading, washing, and unloading the thing. We always needed more forks or kids cups or whatever and someone was always asking, “Is the dishwasher clean?” I reasoned that by the time we rinsed and loaded the dishwasher, they were 90% clean anyway, why not just finish the job and move on?

So, I stopped using the thing. Instead I started rotating the kids through a cycle as my helper and washing the dishes after each meal. It was great. No stacked up dishes waiting to be loaded. Everything put away after washing. No wondering if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean. Everything was just clean.

So, hooray for productivity, but that’s not why I’m not going back to the dishwasher.

As I stood there and washed and my kids took turns drying, I found that I had their absolute attention. Drying and putting away dishes is boring work. They were dying to talk just to get past the boredom of it. And I started to find out new things about them – what they like about our homeschool co-op, who they’re best friend is, where they would like to live someday, goofy jokes they’ve heard or made up – all of this information. Not all of it is transformative or life changing, but it’s all part of their story. It’s like a little snapshot of where they are right now. And the funny thing is, they enjoy it, too. They’ll hem and haw a bit when it’s time to get started, but every time we wash the dishes, they end it by telling me how much they liked it. Who knew?

This parenting thing is difficult. Truth be told, I’m not all that great at it much of the time. But every once in a while I stumble into something good and this was one of those.

Have you stumbled onto something helpful as a parent recently? If so, leave a comment.

What the Toad Whisperer Taught Me

This post originally appeared on my personal blog . I’ve made a few revisions and updates and posted it here because I think it fits the purpose of Big Family Dad well.


[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y daughter is 8 years old. It’s hard for me to believe, but that precious girl is already 8. As the oldest, she learns a lot of lessons first, which isn’t easy. She also gets to teach Mom and Dad a few things as well. Also not easy.

After returning from Pine Cove family camp a few weeks ago, she popped into the kitchen one day and asked if we had any frog food. Knowing that we had some somewhere from a failed attempt to raise tadpoles last year, I tried to brush her off.

“I think so, but I don’t know where. Why?”

“No reason.”

And she skipped off to her room. I thought I’d dodged a bullet for sure. No way did I want another pet to take care of. Superwife and I have plenty to do already and the thought of getting another cage, aquarium, tank, etc. to clean or another mouth to feed made me crazy. “No More Pets!” has been my mantra for a while now and the Incredikids know it.

A couple of days later, our eldest, quite casually asked, “Whatever happened to our little aquarium?” Not connecting the dots or even noticing that there were dots around to connect, I responded, “I’m not sure baby. Probably in the garage. Why?”

“No reason.”

I’m so off of my game. “No reason,” should stick out like a Las Vegas casino marquis on fire. There’s always a reason. Always.

And of course there was a reason. SweetGirl came clean a few days later. She told her mom first. Smart. She had found two frogs (toads actually) at Pine Cove and kept them in a water bottle in our cabin. She poked holes in the bottle and put water and food (bugs) inside. She managed to smuggle them home in her stuff and then secreted them away to her room. We had absolutely no clue. She took care of them in her room for at least a week before telling us.

When Superwife told me, I had one thought and one thought only – punishment. What is the correct punishment for this? We don’t have a specific rule about this, but it is a deception. No doubt about it. She has tricked us. She has DECEIVED us. And we can not stand for that. My internal punishment rolodex was spinning out of control when SW stopped me.

“She did come clean about it. I didn’t have to ask her. And she has taken really great care of them. I don’t want to punish her when she comes to us and confesses.”

Good point.

Now, you can quibble with us over the choice to let her keep the frogs toads. And I’d be willing to hear the argument, but that’s not the point of this post. Here’s the point…

The toads are actually kind of awesome. The kids are loving it. A neighbor friend gave them an old tank she wasn’t going to use anymore. They’ve been reading up on toad care. There’s now some organic soil in the tank along with a little bowl of water and some rocks. The toads are happily burrowing into the dirt and eating pill bugs like crazy. And the Incredikids are learning a ton. Eldest is taking responsibility for these things in a way that I haven’t seen her before with anything else. It’s really great. And there’s no way I would have ever said “yes” if she’d asked me. She knew that. And that’s the point. She shouldn’t have done this without asking. Especially if she knew what my response would be. We’ve had that conversation and we’ll have it again. But I need to learn something in this process, too. My little girl is growing up. She needs the benefit of learning from taking responsibility for things. I need to say “yes” more. Even when I’m pretty sure that I will be the one taking care of the toads at some point, I still need to say “yes” more. She needs these opportunities. All of them do. They won’t ever get them if the answer is always “no.”

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Welcome to Big Family Dad

IMG_0893fWelcome to Big Family Dad

Hey, my name is Les Brown and I’m the author of Big Family Dad. I’m a regular guy who married an amazing woman (aka SuperWife, aka @desibrown) and with her produced six IncrediKids. We’ve been on this journey together for 10 years and I must say these have been the most rewarding and most difficult years of my life. Nothing else has pushed my growth curve like marriage and parenting has. The mountain tops have been higher and the valleys lower in this season of life than any other, but through it all, God has faithfully chipped away at broken areas of my life and made me a better man.

As our family has grown, it’s become important to me to connect with other guys in a similar life stage – a big family with younger kids – for community and mutual learning. I’ve had some success in doing so and now have a great group of guys around me, but in the process I’ve realized that it isnt’ always easy to find the community I was looking for. A few months ago, I began to wonder if there were other guys like me out there who wanted to find that same type of community, but who hadn’t been able to put it together yet, and Big Family Dad was born.

At this point Big Family Dad is in the ideation phase, but in the next few months, I will be rolling out some great tools to help other Big Family Dad’s like me to connect, learn, and lead in ways that will bless their families. For now, I’ll be writing blog posts and articles, but other tools will come online in the future. So stay tuned. To make things easy, you can subscribe to my newsletter and stay on top of everything going on with Big Family Dad via email. If that works for you, take a moment and sign up in the box on the right of this page. And, as you see content that resonates with you, please get the word out. Let’s make this a great community hub for Big Family Dads everywhere!


These pictures aren’t going to win a prize for great photography but that was never the point of them. They reflex one of the many qualities I love and adore about Les Brown. My husband is adventurous and his childlike wonder fans the flame of love. Love for this wonderful and amazing gift of a man and love for a God who creates wonderful things like snow for us to enjoy. There is a side of Les that goes against the grain of the everyday doldrums. He has the ability to see things through the lens of dangerous wonder. The kind of wonder that as adults we often take for granted and completely miss. Life is a gift to enjoy and embrace, not just something to slug it out. Watching Les take full advantage of these small wonders helps create a heart in me that wants to embrace every moment with this same dangerous wonder. I might not be as old as my husband :), but he’s the one keeping me young and this is one of the many reasons why I’m wild about Les! What is one of the qualities of your spouse that makes you wild about them?

BrownTown Digs The Franz Family

This doesn’t have much to do with the stuff we typically write about here, but I wanted to share it regardless because I’m so impressed with these folks. Here are three things I know about the Franz Family band:

  1. They are a family from Branson, Missouri.
  2. They are amazingly talented.
  3. BrownTown loves their music.

The kids watched video after video last night and were totally digging it. It definitely inspired me to pick up my guitar around the house a little more. Would love to see our kids get interested in playing music.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. Check out more of their music here and let me know what you think.

Naptime Chronicles

This might be a complete shock to some of you but Brown Kids are notorious for fighting sleep despite extreme exhaustion. I had complete confidence that Abbie and Paul could beat any child’s ability to dodge sleep till Luke became a toddler. That kid could be falling asleep while standing up and he will still resist rest at all costs.

This afternoon I could tell by the darkening circles under Luke’s eyes that if another day went by without adequate sleep it would be physically harmful to him. On days when I know he’s beyond exhausted and refuses to respond to his body’s desperate need to rest I hold him till he sleeps. He resists this embrace at all costs knowing that if he’d just lean in and enjoy this time together he would be asleep in a matter of seconds. Instead he screams and wails and punches and kicks. The more he flails around, the closer I draw him next me. This afternoon as Luke shouted “I don’t like it” I couldn’t help but see my relationship with God.

Sometimes God will draw me to situations I do not like. I wrestle, scream and kick. I don’t see how my circumstances could possibly lead to anything good. In the midst of all the fighting and angst God draws me closer to Him. Caught in His loving embrace I continue to squirm and push back. It never stops God from drawing me even closer no matter how hard I kick. God loves me enough to be in the fight with me. It does not phase Him or change His love or His desire to be with me. God doesn’t need me to trust Him. One day as I continue to grow and mature like Luke, I’ll learn to sit back and just enjoy the embrace and trust that God is working out something good.