The Dude Family Tackles “Secrets of Happy Families”

A little known Dude fact: I once attended law school.

Yep, a full year of law school – they say the first is the hardest.

Then I left.

Flunked? Au contraire mon fraire.

Killed it. Dean’s list. Law Review.

But the life of a big city attorney paying off six digit school loans was not very appealing.

Definitely the right decision.

Although I walked, I did retain some benefits. I still dig the law. I have a much better understanding of legal matters. And I can consume a book while highlighting, underlining, and taking notes in the margins.

A skill and a curse. But my legal reading skills came in handy as I soaked up Bruce Feiler’s The Secrets of Happy Families.

I love the idea of “hacking” the family. Finding tips, tricks and secrets to create a happy, fun, organized, always-learning family.

Efficiency? Simplicity? Count me in. 

Here’s a great TED talk from Bruce about the Agile Family. Pretty awesome.


I just finished Secrets, and I’m ready send the Dude Family through a test run making the most of the “low hanging fruit.”

Awesome, right?

Mr. Feiler, you are officially on notice. The Dudes are putting your Secrets to the test.

There are 13 chapters. All with good thoughts.

Love the closing lesson: What’s the secret to being a happy family? Try.

But 13 chapters is a lot. And each family is unique. Every secret will not work for every family.

Be creative. Be flexible. And see what works.

We’re choosing a few of our favs and making a run at it.

I definitely recommend the book. However, the proof is in the living. I’ll let ya know how the living goes.

Dude Family Secrets

  1. Family Meeting (Easy to implement, start right away)
    1. Wednesday evening 
    2. Under 20 minutes 
    3. Q’s  
      1. What worked well in our family this week? 
      2. What went wrong in our family this week? 
      3. What will we work on this coming week? 
  2. Self-directed checklists (Easy to implement, start right away)
    1. Morning routine, chores, etc.
    2. Put checklists on whiteboard on the fridge for kids to read and check off 
      1. Add weekly “goals” to whiteboard 
      2. Choosing own punishments and rewards
  3. Family meals (Easy, already doing…continue to have meals together)
  4. Family rituals important (Mid-term, start working on rituals with Mrs. Dude)
    1. Rituals have to be created. We can’t sit back and hope they’ll just happen. We have to go out and make them happen.
    2. Fun, hokey, memorable.
    3. Seasons, holidays, vacation/bonding?
  5. Branding our Family (Mid-term, start working on branding with Mrs. Dude) 
    1. Belief Board – p. 52 
    2. Family mission statement – p. 56 
    3. Puts onto one piece of paper all the words that matter to us – ex. p. 60 
    4. Check Bruce’s “toolkit”
    5. Keep it short?
    6. Make drafting it a special occasion.
    7. Post in a prominent place
    8. 80 example values – p. 65
    9. Value Q’s – p. 67
      1. What words best describe our family?
      2. What is most important to our family?
      3. What are our strengths as a family?
      4. What sayings best capture our family?
  6. The Buck Starts Here
    2. $ penalties?
    3. Allowance = $1 per week, per year of age?
    4. Chores separate from allowance?
    5. Loans from parents?
      1. Write essays for major purchases?
    6. About understanding constraints
      1. Constraints force creativity
    7. Pay for passions
      1. Accept passions 
      2. Great people are great because they find their passion. 
      3. The goal is not equality; the goal is fairness. 
      4. Focus on what they really need, not how much you’re spending. 
    8. Put them to work 
    9. Part-time jobs are great for kids

A Sweet Dude Family Vaca Highlights My Varied Geographic Past: Y’all vs. You Guys!

The Dudes have just returned from an awesome family vaca at the beach. Eight adults, three kids, and four bedrooms. Yikes!

Awesome family time…

Photo: Even people that live at the beach take a beach vacation. @caseybradshaw #topsailvaca2013

Gorgeous sunrises…

Here comes the sun. #topsailvaca2013

A couple too many margaritas…

Photo: Margarita day...  @alexbradshaw @caseybradshaw #topsailvaca2013

Boat times

Photo: Boat times with Rex. @bradshawtk #topsailvaca2013

And lots of xoxoxo’s…

Photo: Me and my biggest babies. Waaaaahhhhh I want to go back to vacation!!! Best Christmas present ever! #topsailvaca2013

But one of the things I learned on this awesome excursion is that my varied geographic background is still evident in my linguistics. Huh?

Despite that fact that the Dude is a whole-hearted southerner who is not afraid to muscle “y’all” into a conversation or two, my northern roots are still evident when I’m not paying attention.

Mrs. Dude’s “Mimi” asked about my origin based on my natural use of “you guys” as we conversated. Dang, y’all!

Oh well, I’m actually pretty fond of my unique northern linguistic roots…jimmies, bubbler, packie! Heck yeah.

Here’s a pretty awesome review of 22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Different from Each Other.

My favs…

  • Y’all vs. You guys
  • It’s a rotary, gosh darn it!
  • Water fountain = bubbler
  • Sneakers, not tennis shoes (although, I do like “go fasters” as a quick hijack from the military)
  • Brew Thrus are my jam!
Let's ignore the East Coast/West Coast split and notice that Wisconsin and Rhode Island call a water fountain a "bubbler."

Hat tip to Fast Company for sharing the love.


The Most Important Journey: Dude to Dad

Little Dude - Before THE Haircut

Little Dude – Before THE Haircut

Seriously? Almost a month without a post. Geesh. Get with it, Dude!

All I can say is: 3 kids. Enough.

So, I missed a Father’s Day post. That’s a home run post for the Dude!

Dang kids! (shaking my fist like an ole’ timer!)

But the good news I’ve stockpiled a few thoughts, links, etc.

A bit belated, but happy Dad’s Day dudes. Now, consider how important you are. For real.

I mentioned this super rad Dude’s online magazine, Bearings,  in my New Year’s post. If you haven’t subscribed, chop, chop. Hop to it. It won’t disappoint…”A Southern Lifestyle Guide for Men,” enough said.

The brilliance that is Bearings shared some nice Papa’s Day thoughts, and here’s a few of my favs…

  • Dads teach us lessons about fatherhood through their successes and their failures.
    • They teach us to show up when it’s easier to run. 
    • They teach us to persevere when it’s easier to quit. 
    • They teach us to get back up when we fall down. 
    • They teach us to spend time with those who matter most, because life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. 
    • Most of all, they teach us that legends aren’t always made in the public eye – they are made in the eyes of sons whose eyes are on their fathers. 

In addition to those awesome words of wisdom, the Bearings dudes also shared a sweet documentary that I was unaware of – The Other F Word. Punk rocker dudes that are now dads! Sweetness.

I feel like I grew up with these dudes, and to see them fumble through fatherhood is awesome. A whole new respect.


I also hung on to a post from Zen Habits that boils that whole Dad thing down to one simple lesson…

Appreciate your child’s love for you.

Whoa. That stops you for a minute. So easy. So profound. But so hard.

Do we even realize how much those little people love us? How much they watch our every move? Listen to our every word…even when they back-talk and seem to be ignoring?

Our kids are learning from us every second of every day. We may not realize it. They may not realize it. But those little sponges are sucking up each and every action we take…good and bad.

Understand how much you’re loved. And love them back. It’s that simple.

How about some stats to back up the importance of us dudes? Right on.

Click through for a variety of dad stats, but here’s one that sums it up well…

Children whose fathers are highly involved with them in a positive way do better in school, demonstrate better psychological well-being and lower levels of delinquency, and ultimately attain higher levels of education and economic self-sufficiency. One of the most important factors in girls’ academic achievement is their father’s belief in them.

Sorry it’s a bit late, but I hope it’s as clear to you as it is to me that the most important – and rewarding – journey we’ll take is from Dude to Dad.

The best part is, we’re Dads; the expectations are already set low. If we remember to shower and a put on a shirt without stains, we’re already ahead of the game.

All we need to do is show up and have a good time. Smile. Laugh. Have fun. And love those kids. It’s as simple as that. 

PS – Just to keep it real, dads you’re market value is $23, 344. While moms are worth $59,862. Dang!

Catching Up with the Dude’s: Big Boy Undies, Getting Published & Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…

Happy Summer y’all! It’s official. Get out there and soak up that vitamin D.

But first, a quick Dude Family update.

Big Boy Undies

I guess Little Dude likes to wait until his birthday to cross milestones off his to-do list. He took his first steps on numero uno. And he mastered the art of potty training almost to the day of #3.

He showed no interest in potty training. Zero. Until he did. And now he’s a peeing machine. He prefers to pee in the bathtub…especially in his boat. But he doesn’t discriminate much…rocks, tennis balls, dogs, and especially Daddy’s feet.

It’s pretty cool to watch it click. Ah, pee and poop are such proud moments for Mommy & Daddy’s everywhere. 🙂

Rockin’ Big Boy Undies

Getting Published

In the off chance that I haven’t chirped enough about how amazingly rad Mrs. Dude is, we now have published proof.

Mrs. Dude is a super cool photographer with an amazing eye. Oh, you want proof from someone other than her husband?!

Ok, how about The Knot! Yep, the super popular wedding mag just published Mrs. Dude online and in print. Pretty awesome. Check ‘er out…

The Knot: A Vintage Destination Wedding

Although, her specialty tends to be newborns. Makes sense, right? Amazing Mom = great with newborns. Here’s a pic she snapped this morning…oh, no biggie, just a sunrise treasure washing up on the beach. 🙂

Mrs. Dude Rocks

 Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…

The theme for the Dude Family summer seems to be Rolling. The Princess and Little Dude celebrated their B-days with dueling parties last week.

The Princess scored a bike, skateboard AND roller skates. The Little Dude scored a skateboard he’s been dreaming about.

And The Littlest is now a rolling machine.

Our gorgeous summer days are filled with hours of rolling.

Thumbs Up!

Takin’ Care of Business



And the Dude? I’m just kick’in it. Lovin’ the kiddos. Lovin’ the Mrs. Soakin’ up the NOW.

Enjoy the summer y’all! Wake up early to catch that sunrise, stay up too late kickin’ it around the campfire, enjoy some cerveza watching the waves crash with sand between your toes. Life is short.

PS – In addition to rolling around the world, The Princess is now sharing her art with the world. As one of her summer projects, the 8 year old aspiring artist has setup an Etsy shop to share her view of the world. Starting with a few pieces of nature photography, but much more art to come. Let’s get creative!

The Beard, a Dude’s Best Friend: Young, Healthy, Handsome, Sunblock & Delicious Beer

Don't Worry My Dad Has a Beard

Don’t Worry My Dad Has a Beard

I’ve often professed my love for facial hair. The Dude is a card carrying member of Beard Team USA, and I even have a blog category dedicated to fun with facial hair.

It seems the beard really is a dude’s best friend…

Long live the beard.

PS – I scored some sweet beard oil for Father’s Day. Never used beard oil before, but I’m sold. The Dude is a smitten kitten. Smells great. Keeps the beardiness healthy, handsome, and shining. Color me impressed.

Happy 4th Anniversary Mrs. Dude – Love The Dude…and Old Gregg

The Mrs. and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary yesterday. Amazing. How does time move so quickly?

Remember when a school day seemed long? And a school year?! Insanely long.

Now, life is moving at a lightning pace. 4 years! Awesome.

Thanks for being you.

And thanks for introducing me to Old Gregg.

When the Mrs. and I began our courtship (You like that old-timey choice of words? I’m retro.), she introduced me to the most amazingly bizarre, creepy, and hilariously funny video – Old Gregg.

Old Gregg is one of the creepiest, yet amazingly funny videos I’ve come across. It’s an instant classic.

To celebrate our 4th anniversary, I give you the scaly man fish – Old Gregg…


Dude’s Handcrafted Tree House – A Fortress of the Mind

Yesterday, we visited Nina & Rex – aka Mrs. Dude’s parental units. After adding the finishing touches, Rex surprised the kiddos by rolling this beauty out to the water…

As we admired Rex’s fine craftsmanship, Granny reminisced about when Pop – aka Mrs. Dude’s Grandfather – built the original Summer Slide…the inspiration for Rex’s new slide.

Granny recalled how proud Pop was of the plastic and wooden structure. And how he HAD to roll it out to the water as soon as it was complete. Even though it was dark. How Pop would stand back and admire the slide. As if it was the finest piece of craftsmanship he ever laid eyes on.

We admired Rex’s slide in a similar fashion.

There’s something great about building things with your hands. And then admiring what you’ve done.

I was happy to hear I’m part of a lineage of men (stretching back to the dawn of time?) who take the time to admire a job well done.

Because I’ve been admiring this beauty for a couple weeks now…

While Mrs. Dude was flying across the country to photograph Top Gun pilots, I was recruiting my 65 year old dad to lift heavy lumber. And surprise the fam with a tree house.

We crafted the platform in a few hours, and over the last couple weeks I’ve added the extras.

  • Rope ladder
  • Slide – slide’s are expensive, get the Home Depot or Lowe’s version
  • Firemen’s pole – 10 foot electrical conduit from Lowe’s…sweet!
  • Cargo net – Military surplus cargo net for trucks…way cheaper than rope versions and has tie-downs that can go around the tree.

It is pretty much as I envisioned it. Which is to say that like Pop’s slide, this could be the most impressive structure I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Long live handcrafted awesomeness. Even if the mental version is slightly more grandiose than the real thing.

Happy Mom’s Day from the Dude, The President & Mr. T – Treat Your Mother Right…Fool!

Mr. T. - Treat Your Mother Right

Mr. T. – Treat Your Mother Right

Well, what do ya know?! The Dude has returned.

It’s been almost four months, but the Dude is back. More on my hiatus later. For now, I’d like to wish all the Mama Bears a happy Mother’s Day.

Moms, we couldn’t be here without you. Literally. Without your ovaries, placenta, and the rest of your female bits and pieces, we would ALL be lacking a key part of existence…existence.

So, thank you very much for giving us life and putting up with all of our shiat (figuratively & literally)  for oh so long.

We LOVE you.

But don’t just take my word for it. The Dude has recruited two of his fav compadres – Mr. T & Kid President – to spread the Mother’s Day love.

Kick your feet up, smell the flowers, and relax. You deserve it.

And while your at it, soak in the sage advice of Mr. T and Kid President…

Mr. T – Treat Your Mother Right: Classic 80’s right here. Love it! Mr. T, you will always hold a special spot in the Dude’s heart.


An Open Letter to Moms from Kid President: The Kid does IT again. El Nino Presidente rocks. Always a hit in the Dude’s book, and this is some great lovin’ for the Moms in the audience.



Space is Super Cool

The Dude has always been a lover of space. The infinite, unknown is very cool. Limitless opportunity.

A quick glance up, and you realize quickly how small we are and how little we know.

Mi padre was a stargazer and took the time to share constellations and rad stellar events as we were growing up. NASA was also a big deal for a long time (what happened to that?!), so space was a regular topic of discussion.

It seems the allure of space has faded a bit these days. Perhaps because our heads are stuck looking down at technology so much.

But space still dazzles the Dude. I love to gaze up at the stars and point out constellations to the kiddos. It doesn’t get much better than a fire-pit  a few brews, and some gazing towards the heavens.

With that in mind, let’s take a few minutos to enjoy some space…

Google Presents an Interactive Visualization of 100,000 Stars: Google may be spying on our every move, but they sure do offer some cool tricks. 

 One Hundred Thousand Stars  is an interactive map of space including the locations of—you guessed it—more than 100,000 stars. (Note: Before you experience the map, you will need to download the Chrome browser.)

Read the full description at It’s worth the read…space is crazy cool!


An Astronaut Self-portrait: How cool is this?!

This awe-inspiring self portrait brings into one frame “the Sun, the Earth, two portions of a robotic arm, an astronaut’s spacesuit, the deep darkness of space, and the unusual camera taking the picture.” – Hat tip to

Astronaut Self-portrait

Astronaut Self-portrait

The Universe & a Brain: And if that wasn’t enough space radness, it seems the Universe is growing like a giant brain. Nature is awesome.

A team of scientists from University of California San Diego recently published a study in Nature Scientific Reports suggesting that the bioelectrical firings between brain cells mirror the shape of expanding galaxies. – Gracias

Dude Nesting?

We are days away from adding a new mouth to the Dude Clan. We will officially be out numbered any day!

Mrs. Dude has gone from, “we better make it passed Christmas,” to “this baby is coming soon!”

I’m not really sure what that means, but my guess is the baby will be coming soon.

We all prepare for life’s milestones differently. The Dude? He packs up Little Dude and hits Walmart to torture himself purchase a bunch of unnecessary crapola and organize under the bathroom sink.

Seems logical. Organization under the bathroom sink = ready for baby? Ok.

I guess the Dude has been bitten by a bit of pre-bambino nesting.

Seriously. I Googled it. Dudes nest too.

See you soon baby. 🙂

Dude Nesting - Part 1 #walmartisthedevil

Dude Nesting – Part 1 #walmartisthedevil

Dude Nesting - Part 2 #underbathroomsinkorganized=readyforbaby?

Dude Nesting – Part 2 #underbathroomsinkorganized=readyforbaby?