Featured

Meet the Smalls!

Hello there! 

So excited to get to know each of you better as we connect through this post! I’ve borrowed this content from Chapter 2 of my book, so you’ll have a head start reading it, if you haven’t already!

Because my book and this blog will share so much about my favorite people in the whole world (my family), I wanted to share with you a little tidbit about each person in my family. 

From oldest to youngest, we have:

Moses

Moses is 15 months old. He is almost always a very happy guy. Moses is always moving. He loves to make eye contact and climb over his siblings while they’re lying down. He doesn’t talk yet. He does make adorable little sounds. He also walks. He walks all over our house exploring and chewing on everything he can get his hands on. 

Because of this, we have rubber bands around all of our lower cupboard doors. He loves to climb up and down the stairs, over the couches, and on anything else he can find. He loves to be tickled and to play peekaboo. He loves to have fun and to go outside, especially in the mountains. Moses was born with an extraordinary grip and can hang from his hands (holding his own weight) for over eight seconds. 

My favorite thing about Moses is the way he gives his spectacular hugs. His hugs are full of warm, loving goodness! When Moses gives you a hug, you feel peace flowing out of him into you. It’s as if he is communicating pure, innocent, perfect love from his soul to yours. It feels so wonderful!

Miriam

Miriam is a fireball. She is three and very active. Like Moses (who she calls “moe-dis”), she loves doing whatever her older siblings are doing, including climbing and going down the three-story slides at the local kids’ museum. She often leads the group in her enthusiasm to go hiking or climbing outside. “I wanna go kai-ming ou-tide!” she says. 

Miriam is very independent, preferring to do tasks “with my own self,” as she says. She gets herself dressed and eats food independently. Currently, she is having an identity crisis as she decides whether she is a baby, a little girl, or a big girl. If you tell her she is cute, she may tell you: “I’m not cute! I’m a baby!” Or she may say: “I’m not cute, I’m three!” She keeps us smiling and we try not to laugh at her cuteness, because she takes herself seriously.

John E

E is John’s middle initial, so we pronounce his name “Johnny.” He is five. John E is a very even-keeled little man. He’s somewhat serious about building towers, trucks, and spaceships with his legos, and creating adventure sagas with his astronaut toys. 

John E does not enjoy being tickled or kissed, although he does love a good laugh and is sometimes silly. He also defends us against imagined bad guys with his improvised swords and shields. Mostly, he plays in his own imagined worlds and is quite introverted. 

Periodically he spouts off a long, thoughtful opinion. Besides that, he typically provides one-word answers to our questions. John E enjoys having space from other people, and he is quieter and less in my face than his siblings (the opposite of baby Moses, who commands my attention with his copious eye contact, loud noises, and grabbing hands).

Eli

At eight years old and measuring three-and-a-half feet tall, Eli is old for his size. He could play legos all day long, every day. He builds cities. He builds robots. He builds spaceships and trucks of all sorts. Eli is a soft-natured little man, although he has a bold side. His mind is extremely logical, and he loves to be silly. If you ever meet him, ask him to do his silly dance. Eli often teams up to help his younger brother, John E to get ready for bed, go out, or even just cross the street. He also helps Miriam. 

One time I took all the kids to Costco on a Saturday (oops!) and Miriam wandered off into a fast-flowing crowd. Spontaneously and without hesitation, Eli darted after her. It took him a minute to catch up with her. When he did, Miriam wasn’t interested in returning to where I was with the rest of the kids. He persuaded her to come back. In a few minutes I saw them, Eli leading Miriam by the hand. Eli was confident, kind, persuasive, and determined. He is a good man to know. He is working on exhibiting these traits in more and more situations.

Evie

Nine-year-old Evie is also our bouncy ball. She enjoys building fairy gardens, cuddling with stuffed unicorns, climbing trees and cliffs, and having fun with friends. Her favorite colors are pink, purple, blue, and red. Evie is very crafty and spontaneously creates art projects around the house. She also enjoys drawing and using her makeup. Evie is a wonderful big sister and is working to balance her needs and wants with those of the people around her. She sometimes watches the other kids while my wife and I go for a walk around the block.

Mom (Peesh)

Peesh is my best friend and my better half. She is an introverted, intelligent, selfless, kind, caring, thoughtful, studious, ambitious, hard-working woman. She is beautiful and she loves beautiful things. She loves creating and organizing details. She is full of light. She loves to learn and is always improving. Peesh is the best person I could ever hope to be with forever, and I feel lucky for every single day I get to spend with her. Being married to Peesh is a 5-star experience. 

Note

If you have the opportunity to team up with a significant other, co-parent, grandparent, nanny, babysitter, child care provider, or anyone who plays a role in the caregiving of your kids, it is highly recommended to recruit their support and request them to read this book in order to support your efforts. You can even use The 5-Star Approach to request their help. You can make it a 5-star experience for them.

Dad (Tyler)

Me? I love my family and would spend every day all day long with them if I could. Sometimes I find myself being a workaholic in an effort to improve our financial stability and I struggle to find a balance. 

I do enjoy taking my kids out on the weekends to give Peesh a break. I love to take them hiking and backpacking year-round and rock climbing as soon as the snow melts off the rocks. I’m constantly entertained by my kids. I have my down days and I have a long way to go as a parent. I am very grateful for the rapid progress I’ve made since I discovered, adopted, and documented The 5-Star Approach to Parenting. 

Because I spent most of the last decade professionally researching and designing leadership experiences for the business world, much of the research and science behind my book and this blog are based on cutting edge corporate leadership practices. For this reason, I’m confident that by using this book, you and your children will become better leaders and influencers in every aspect of your lives. 

Talk to me!

What similarities and differences do you see between my family and yours?

Peesh and Tyler’s Love Story – How It Began

Peesh is my best and favorite friend and my beautiful queen.

Alright, you got me. I don’t have a romantic bone in my body. I did want to share the beginning of Peesh and I’s love story.

You can read about my awkward dating life later in my soon to be released book: The 5-Star Approach to Thriving as a Couple. For now, you should know that this chapter has nothing to do with The 5-Star Approach. I didn’t know about it back then. So if you’re a tough dude and you need to skip it, I totally understand.

On the other hand, if you like a good Hallmark movie, you’ve come to the right place.

I first saw Peesh in a biology class at Brigham Young University. It was most definitely love at first sight. During the first week of class she caught my attention. Peesh and I were both several years older than most of the students in the class, which was composed mostly of 18 year old freshmen. We were both transfer students, making up some credits, each of starting a new major.

When I saw her the first time, I was overwhelmed with her astonishing beauty, her aura or intense interest in learning, and a genuine sense of sweetness. 

Honestly, I revel in the memory.

Peesh was wearing a green blouse with three-quarter length sleeves, brown corduroy pants, and dark brown boots with medium height heels. Her hair had blond highlights and was blowed dried with mousse to a wavy perfection. Her deep eyes sparkled with every color of the rainbow as she leaned forward, taking notes on the lecture in her spiral bound notebook. 

I had a flash of inspiration. It said: She could be yours. 

I admit, that sounds pretty chauvinist. Come to find out, she had a very similar flash of inspiration when she first saw me. So, I suppose it was a two way street.

I melted in my chair and immediately discounted the inspiration. “That’s crazy talk,” I said. Besides, Peesh was wearing a wedding ring. On top of that complexity, I was somewhat interested in a girl named Janna (Janna is not her real name). 

Janna and I had developed some degree of mutual romantic affection, however at the time, Janna had formally cut off all communication with me (for the third time) and I was waiting for her to come around (like she had before).

So I did the only thing I could: nothing.

By some twist of fate, Peesh and I also had a physics course together the same semester. 

One day I was in the physics tutor lab when Peesh walked in with a classmate named Becca. They sat down on one side of a table just before I sat down. As Peesh locked eyes with me I recognized both of them from class and I felt compelled to sit down on the other side of their table. Until this day, Peesh and I hadn’t really communicated. I thought we might as well collaborate; we were preparing for the same test.

We had a normal study session, until Becca left. Then something came to my attention. What was this? Peesh’s left hand no longer had a ring on it. I assumed she had forgotten it. Or maybe she had called off an engagement? 

A strange curiosity gripped me and I asked a nosey question: “I noticed you were wearing a wedding ring before and you don’t have it on today. Did you forget it today?” 

“I was married for 4 years. I just filed for divorce. It will go through in a week or two.” 

Hard swallow. “Oh.” I didn’t know how to handle that. 

She went on: “I’m new on campus. I haven’t been in college in years. I’m a transfer student. I missed orientation because I was busy moving out.” She gave me a brief life history. I wasn’t sure why. Later, I asked her why she did that. She told me she wanted to lay the foundation for a life long relationship with pure honesty. She was putting all her cards on the table. 

Her life story didn’t scare me. The fact that she was sharing her life story terrified me. And when she asked for a tour of campus and help with her classes, I was frozen in fear. Intimidated, I said yes. I thought I could help Peesh adjust to single life until she met her next husband and things took off. I would be the bridge.

A week later, Peesh received notice that her divorce was finalized. What does a new friend do with such news? 

I took her out to Black Jack’s pizza to celebrate. And since Black Jack’s didn’t have any chairs, we sat on the curb and stared at the greasy parking lot while we quietly ate our pizzas.

The next semester, Janna started allowing me to see her again – just as friends. She made an interesting rule that she could spend time with me until 9pm, and then she had to go home. I was happy to spend any time with Janna so this worked for me.

After Janna went home, I would call Peesh and debrief. Peesh tried to help me understand Janna. Janna had my heart and Peesh was a supportive friend. 

For some reason, Peesh and I would talk for hours on the phone each night. We talked about everything and grew close. Of course I was attracted to Peesh (and come to find out – much later – she was attracted to me), I just didn’t act on my attraction for her because I was pursuing Janna. 

Then Janna gave me a very exciting invitation. She asked me to come meet her family in her home state over a holiday break. I thought this was a solid indication she wanted to start dating officially.

Janna and I traveled to her home town and spent time visiting her family members. She took me around her hometown to walk around some of her favorite places. We even kissed a few times at a park that’s name was almost exactly the same as her first and last name. She seemed to enjoy spending time with me.

At this point, I felt strangely about being so close to Peesh – being so attracted to her as I was – while having an official relationship with Janna. I didn’t want to betray Janna in any way, and I didn’t want to string Peesh along. So, I let Peesh know that while I was enormously attracted to her, and found her to be an amazing friend, I needed to choose Janna and have some space. 

So I dated Janna. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much from her about how to treat a woman with respect. 

Then, two months later, Janna suddenly cut off all communication (for the fourth time). There was no explanation. She only asked me not to reach out to her, indefinitely. I was demolished emotionally. 

And, by this time I was familiar with the routine. I decided to hold out for Janna until she recovered and came around again.

My roommates were furious with Janna. They asked how long I was going to pursue her, with all these ups and downs. While I told them each up had been higher than the last, I started to realize each down was also lower than the last. I think they liked Peesh (and how she treated me) much better than Janna. 

To make matters worse, that night (of the day Janna cut me off), I had a date planned for us. It included an elaborate scavenger hunt involving several clues around campus, and a visit to a retirement facility across the street, where I volunteered. I had asked one of my friends there to hold one of the clues until we arrived and disclosed a secret passphrase. 

Now I had no date, and I didn’t want to leave my friend hanging without the promised visit. I needed a replacement date. Last minute.

I tried to avoid calling Peesh because she was intoxicatingly beautiful and I wanted to be true to Janna even though Janna refused to speak to me. I really loved Janna. So, I called three other girls. No one could come at the last minute. Finally, I called Peesh and she agreed to be my date. 

We went on that date and had a great time. I think Peesh continued to like me because I didn’t seem as desperate as I probably was with Janna. I wasn’t trying to get a ring on her finger. 

We did open our friendship again, which was refreshing. Peesh is such a kind, supportive, whole hearted companion. She had my roommates and I over for a party and she had me over for lunch. I was impressed with her fancy plates, napkins, silverware, and middle class food. I was used to eating oatmeal, peanut butter, and bananas from the local ghetto-mart. 

That semester we studied organic chemistry together. Peesh was always so warm and open. Gradually my feelings for Janna began to fade and my feelings for Peesh became very strong. 

Peesh and I decided to date “officially” starting the day after Valentine’s day. You’re probably wondering why we didn’t start dating on Valentine’s day. Peesh is such a committed person. On Valentine’s day she opted to keep a casual date with another guy (named Tyler) to the monster truck rally. 

Despite the casual date she had committed to that night (with the other Tyler), I wanted to visit Peesh on Valentine’s day. 

I had driven over to her house with my best friend, David Richardson. I told him the plan and he came for emotional support (and to hang out with Peesh’s roommates). Peesh had an office in the house where we went “to clean it up.” 

It was in that office that Peesh and I decided to become a couple. And of course we sealed the deal with a kiss. And I’m sure we cleaned up a few things. We’re both pretty good at organizing. 

Of course, David was the first to know about it because we had the drive home. That was a fun drive.

Two days later, Peesh sent me a song called “If I fell in love with you” from the movie Across the Universe (originally sung by the Beatles). 

The song was written from the perspective of a woman who is pleading with her new love to be true to her and for him not to fall back to a recent love interest. 

It even talks about how her heart was broken before, how she couldn’t bare the pain of being rejected again, and how the other girl will probably cry when she finds out about the new couple. 

The song couldn’t have been more descriptive of our situation. Peesh had recently been divorced. We were a new couple. She wanted to see if I would be true to her and not be tempted if Janna ever came back into the picture. 

“Come visit me tonight,” she said, “if you’ll be true.” 

Admittedly, this required some real soul searching on my part. 

I had been pursuing Janna for about 18 months before Peesh and I started dating and I still had some residual feelings for her (I had gone so far as to propose at one point). 

I realized that part of me was still holding out for Janna as I had several times before. Despite all this, I loved Peesh and saw a happier future with her. A more stable future. I decided to commit to Peesh no matter what. 

As I walked down the steps from my apartment to go visit Peesh, I wondered if I was making the right decision. It was the best I could do. And at the moment, it really was my only option.

So I got in my car, turned on the headlights, and backed out of my parking spot. 

However, before I could leave my parking lot – completely out of the blue – I received a text from Janna. I pulled over. Janna wanted to meet and talk. She was in a campus building only one block away. 

I thought this would be a good opportunity for closure. So I agreed to meet and talk. 

When I showed up, Janna asked me about an email I had sent months earlier. At first she perceived something I wrote to be sarcasm. Now she saw that I may have intended to be sincere. She asked me about it and I confirmed my original intent.

Looking back, it was probably my fault for ever allowing myself to be sarcastic. I know the way I speak to people has an effect on how they play my voice in their minds. Even though I didn’t intend to be sarcastic in that email, I had obviously been sarcastic at other times, which caused the confusion.

Janna led me outside to an empty sidewalk and opened up like I had never seen before. 

She told me she was very sorry. She told me she loved me (this was new). She told me how special our experiences were to her (a few experiences in particular). She told me she was ready to have a significant, lasting relationship with me. To start over.

What could I say to that? She was giving me everything for which I had been hoping and waiting. For so long, I had wanted her forgiveness, to hug her, to hold her tightly, to kiss her again, to be united with her.

I stood there in the dark a few steps away, listening, my hands limp in my coat pockets. 

She paused. I didn’t feel strong enough to go near her. I didn’t feel like I had the strength to give her the traditional goodbye kiss (or even a hug for that matter) without changing my mind. I knew what I had to do. 

“Sorry. I’ve made my choice,” I said. It was perhaps the most difficult and best decision I’ve ever made. I walked past her without another word, got in my car, and drove to Peesh’s house… without looking back. 

Note: Although I’ve never questioned my decision, I do wish I had been more kind and compassionate with Janna that night. She is an amazing person and she absolutely deserved a better experience. I just didn’t know how to give it without giving in. So I left. Awkwardly.

Peesh and I dated for two whole weeks. 

Then, on March 1st, we went for a purposeful walk at the foot of the mountains. It was a dark, cloudy day. We had agreed that we would make a good married couple and I still wasn’t 100% positive I wanted to make that commitment. 

We walked, mostly in silence… for a long time. It was such a big deal. I wanted to be sure about spending forever with Peesh. 

I definitely loved her and loved spending time with her, no matter what we were doing. She definitely loved me and brought stability to my life. We shared similar values. She was a kind person. I wanted to serve her. I could see no reason not to marry her. And let’s not forget how her beauty made me weak in the knees (as it still does today). I had a general good feeling about it.

As we walked, I prayed to God to know if I should go for it. 

I think Peesh knew I was trying to gather my courage. I had probably never been speechless for so long.

Finally, I had a flash of inspiration that I needed to stop in the clearing, just ten steps ahead, and pop the big question.

When we arrived at that spot, the clouds immediately broke and a narrow sunbeam shot down and lit up the tiny patch of ground where we stood. I knelt and proposed. 

And she said yes. It was a happy moment. Again, we sealed the deal with a kiss.

Shortly after, I sold my Volkswagen Jetta and bought a ring. Because it was an intricate custom design, the jeweler actually broke the first two rings he tried to make (perhaps symbolic of both our previous failed relationships). 

The ring wasn’t done until late the night before our wedding. So early in the morning of our wedding day, my roommates, Doug, Bryce, and John picked it up from the jeweler’s mailbox on their way to the wedding. Random, right?

We chose to be married in a temple in Logan, Utah. It was the best location for all the family and friends coming from different states, and there was something about that town and that temple we really loved. 

Peesh’s ex mother-in-law (who still adored her) also lived in Logan. She was kind enough to host a wedding day luncheon in her backyard. We worked all day the Saturday before, pulling weeds and putting down new mulch. The many water features, trees and flowers were gorgeous. 

Then, on August 14th, 2009, we were married. It was a beautiful sunny day. And of course, we sealed the deal with a kiss.

Close members of Peesh’s ex family attended. She was so loved by that family. My sister, Serena, made a beautiful triple-layer cake. We spent $250 on the whole event (because that’s all we had). It was the best day, ever. I finally felt like a whole person, because I was united with my other half (my better half), for eternity.

My wedding day was the best day of my life up to that point, by a wide margin.

Fast forward. Eleven years and five kids later, here we are, happy as can be. In fact, we have agreed that every year has been a little happier than the last. Peesh is training me well.

You could say we’re well on our way to happy ever after.

11th Year Anniversary trip: Peesh and Tyler rock climbing in the City of Rocks, Idaho