Thanksgiving

December 10, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Here are a few shots of our family's kids' activities over the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as a handful of some the views of nature that caught my eye.

The kids got to hang out with the cousins from Canyon, always a highlight of their holiday:

Hanging out on the couch with my cutie:

Making a fruit-kabob turkey at GG's:

The view from behind...because you can never be too careful with Orcs roaming the hillsides:

The finished product:

Later the Orc hunter took to the trees:

Some of my favorite backyard shots:

  

 

When all the snow has melted except one small drift in the shade, and Uncle Dustin makes a snowball and smacks a tree with it, this is what you get:

Finally, the kids had the camera for a few minutes...this was one of the keepers.  And by "the" kids, I mean "Erin's" kids, as you can clearly see:

Thanks for reading!

Damon


Snow Day!

November 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A week before Thanksgiving, we had our first (and let's be honest, possibly our only) snow of this winter season!  As I told a friend this week, our kids are at a fun age when it comes to the snow.  They're young enough that just getting out in the snow is still exciting to them, and yet old enough that a little bit of cold and wet doesn't send them running back in the house in the first five minutes.  It's one of life's great little frustrations when you spend 15 minutes gathering sufficient clothing and then bundling up a little one only to have them in tears three minutes after stepping foot outside because "it's coooooooooold!"  

As you might expect, Cayden's first idea was to have a snowball fight with his sister:

Believe it or not, she quickly resorted to her secret weapon, the Whine of Death:

"Caaaaaydeeeeen, I don't waaaant to have a snowball fight!"

So, with that in mind, what's the worst that could happen here?

But all was well, because Cayden was actually gunning for Lily, and Avery was heading to the safety of the fort:

And speaking of Lily, she was STOKED to have company out in the midst of the cold white stuff, and bounced back and forth between whoever wanted to run or roll in the snow, including the guy with the camera if he whistled at her:

Everybody had to taste some of it:

Straight from the source:

And when I say that everyone wanted to eat the snow, well, everyone means everyone:

The tongue poking out is my favorite. :)

Avery wanted to make a snow angel, and as we all know, the quickest way to ruin a snow angel is to trod through the perfect snow in and all around it with footprints.  With that in mind:

The photo is a little bit like the old joke about a picture of a polar bear blinking in the snow, but you get the idea.  And you'll notice the only footprints are the two size 12s to the left. :)

And what's cooler than a trampoline?  Why, a trampoline covered in snow of course!

Cayden wanted to try a jump from the fence...here's every step of it:

Finally, some other favorites from the day, in no particular order:

Hope you and yours enjoyed the snow as much as we did!  Thanks for reading!

Damon


Avery's Party

November 07, 2013  •  1 Comment

Our daughter turned six this past weekend.  I don't know how birthday parties work around your house, but our children generally begin planning theirs about ten months out.  Nothing good comes from waiting until the last minute, after all.  Now don't misunderstand me here, it's not like we're planning "My Super Sweet 16" here; really it comes down to a question of having a party in the church gym or having it at another facility, renting a bouncer or riding bikes, having a Batman or Lego theme.  In Avery's case, she decided a while back that her party would be a "Tea Party."  She LOVES having tea parties with her mom when Cayden is at school and Daddy is at work (and even more so when Aunt Cindy would come and take them to the Tea Room here in town!), and when she got a super-awesome flower girl dress from Cousin Lorrie, well, that sealed it!  

For a while we planned on inviting boys in and letting them do...something.  That something was always a little vague, and always was made very clear that it would land squarely on my shoulders.  And while there are many things in this world that I can do, and honestly believe I can do well, entertaining a group of five- and six-year-old boys for an hour and keeping them out of the girls' tea party is not on that list.  So, we decided to make it a girls-only party (kind of like the He-Man Woman Haters club, only without the He-Man part...or the Woman Haters part).  

Here's a little bit of the setup:

Craft materials (because what's a Princess Tea Party without Crafts?!) for "make-your-own party favors:"

Photo Booth (Avery wanted a picture of each girl, and then her with each girl, and those would go in the frames you just saw)

And here's a few shots of what came out of the Photo Booth:

And lots and lots of goodies!

 

And the cake (a cupcake princess dress); Respect to Erin for doing this all by herself!

It was later converted to a mini-skirt:

We hung out with the family and opened gifts with them first:

And then the girls began arriving, and the Tea Party began:

I know Erin and Avery had an absolute blast planning this thing, and Avery (and all the girls, it seemed) really enjoyed getting to dress up and have a tea party with friends.  And, to top it all off, Cayden was even able to make the most of his time there as well...

Thanks for reading!


A Short Memory

May 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, it reminds me of how much I enjoy watching sports. The catch for me is that those sports have to matter. An 82-game NBA season is just silly if you're looking for a sport where every game matters (although it seems like a sprint compared to the marathon of the MLB season), but the NBA playoffs are a fantastic mini-season where there are actual consequences to winning and losing a couple of games in a row. And, incidentally, the decision makers of professional athletics are not looking for games that matter, but only for games that people will buy tickets for, eat concessions at, and pick up souvenirs from, so the more the better, right?! I digress...

The mind of the professional athlete is an amazing thing. Specifically those athletes who find themselves in high-pressure situations. And more specifically, those athletes who don't do well (you might say “choke”) in those situations, and yet come back to overcome those struggles to ultimately succeed. You've seen it. The golfer who misses the tournament-winning putt, but is able later on to sink a similar putt to win a different tournament. The receiver in football who drops the pass that would have won the big game, and the next season comes out and proves his critics wrong with critical catches in critical situations. And, in basketball, it's the shooter who misses the big shot (or worse, the layup) and finds his team on the wrong side of the scoreboard. See, for me and my pickup basketball career, if I miss a couple of shots, I run a good chance of being done shooting for that game. And even if I do continue to shoot, I won't be terribly confident about it, and likely won't shoot very well from there on out.

The great shooters (and athletes, for that matter) are known for having short memories. They rely on what they know, not on what they've just seen. If one shot (or two or three) doesn't go in, they fall back on the knowledge that they hit 100 jumpers during warmups, and eventually they'll make it. If they have three strikeouts in a game, they fall back on the knowledge that they're batting around .300 on the season, and so they're due for the next one. If they miss the putt, they think of all the putts they've made, rather than the one they've missed. I could go on.

In life, I often make the mistake of relying on what I see in front of me rather than on what I know. If circumstances seem to turn against me, and nothing that I'm hoping for seems to be working out, I generally assume that things won't ever work out in a positive manner. If I fail at one project or course of action, I attribute that to my inability to successfully accomplish any project or course of action. If one person is negative about me, they represent the opinion of everyone around me.

So what do I know that runs counter to these thoughts? I know that God promises to work through every circumstance to ultimately bring about my good (Romans 8:28).  Not necessarily my comfort, or my wealth, or even my health, but He promises to worth through all things for what is best for me. I know that God calls me his masterpiece (Esphesians 2:10 NLT), and not succeeding in one area simply means I either need to try harder in that area, or move onto an area where I will be more successful. In the same way as a painter's masterpiece wouldn't win a sculpting competition, or a “masterpiece” of a Spades hand isn't going to get very far playing Go Fish with my kids, so I know that just because he calls me a masterpiece doesn't mean that everything will come easily for me. And finally, I know that ultimately the only thing that Jesus promised about others' opinion of me is that it probably wouldn't be very positive (Matthew 10:22). Perhaps instead of expecting everyone to think my every move is wonderful, I should realize that Jesus never intended this life to be a popularity contest. The more often I'm reminded that my first call in life is to please Him (while not intentionally alienating those around me), the more I'm able to adapt, adjust, and move forward rather than feeling defeated when I fail to please someone else.

As I said in the beginning, it's amazing how quickly the greatest of athletes forget their recent history in favor of those things that they know to be true from their practice, training, and repetition. If all they ever focused on were their failures, they wouldn't make it very far in their chosen sport. In the same way, my life simply can't be a constant stream of replays of my failures and shortcomings. Sure, there are plenty to focus on, but when I do that, I shortchange the God who created me and do my best to get in the way of the amazing things He wants to do in and through me in this world. Instead, if I'll let my mind dwell on the truth that I know and shake off those things around me that don't jive with that truth, I'll find myself in a position to follow His calling and leadership, no matter where He may take me.

Image courtesy operationsports.com


Will You Carry Me?

April 09, 2013  •  1 Comment

If you know my wife Erin, you know that she often has a 4-foot-tall, curly-headed shadow wherever she goes. This shadow is our 5-year-old daughter, Avery. And, not too long ago, I would have told you that Avery has a tendency to be a bit whiny much of the time. Now, whether this is attributed to my male-ness (and thus my inability to speak “whinese”) or the fact that Avery actually is a bit whiny I can't say for certain, but she always seemed to be disinterested in whatever the rest of the family had planned. As time has passed and we've dug a little deeper into how her little mind works, I would now daresay that Avery's whining about not wanting to take part in activities actually has less to do with simply being difficult and more to do with the fact that she really does put thought into everything she does.

For instance, as I mentioned before, Avery always wants to be with Mom. However, whenever Erin asks Avery if she'd rather go to the store with her or stay at home with me, Avery always has to know where she's going. And, if the answer is ever WalMart, Avery's immediate response is, “will you carry me?” Now, as I said before, there was a time when I would chalk this up to her simply being whiny. But the more I've talked to her about it and tried to keep an open mind about where she's coming from, the more it actually makes sense. See, when most folks think of going to WalMart, they envision parking far from the door, walking all over a huge store, and waiting in line at the check out for what seems like an eternity. For me, this is simply a fact of life. And for the legs at the bottom of my 6' 3” frame, covering distance isn't really a huge concern.  

For Avery, however, when she thinks about walking across that massive parking lot, she knows she'll be worn out by the time she makes it to the door. And that's before even making the great trek from the grocery aisle, to the clothes, and finally to the pharmacy section of the store. And to make matters worse, those same little legs will be asked to hold her up in the terribly long check-out lines before again transporting her across the vast wasteland that is the parking lot. To put myself in her place is truly the embodiment of “walking a mile in her shoes.” It helps me to realize that my little girl isn't just whining to whine, but is, in fact, being asked to walk what feels like a mile!

I'm just as slow to learn this lesson with folks outside of my family as well. I often assume the short-tempered waitress is just mean, the sarcastic store clerk doesn't have any friends, or the driver who just cut me off on the access road is an idiot. But, just like a glance at the world from my five-year-old's perspective tells me that the distances she has to walk require a lot more steps from her legs than they do mine, so too are the people around me struggling mightily with issues in life much greater than simply serving me food, answering my questions, or using their turn signal and checking their blind spot.

If I'm struggling or having a rough day, I'd hope that those around me would chalk it up as just that, a bad day, rather than an indictment of my character. And yet how quick am I to deny them that same courtesy. Jesus told us in Matthew 7 that the way that we judge others is the way we ourselves will be judged, and if I expect others to show grace to me, I would do well to give it to them first. And more importantly, a critical spirit betrays what's really going on in my heart: while giving lip service to the grace of God that forgives me when I fall short of perfection, I don't truly believe I have a need for it. If I did, I'd be much quicker to forgive the shortfalls of others and chalk them up to our shared human nature rather than holding others' offenses against them as though they were supposed to live up to my supposed perfect standard. It simply doesn't hold up.

So the challenge for me, the next time I expect perfection of someone around me, is to slip on some little pink tennis shoes and start trudging through that WalMart parking lot. Just as that walk would quickly show me how tough it is on a 5-year-old pair of legs, so too would taking on the perspective of those struggling around me. Instead of feeling slighted when a waitress, or store clerk, or another driver don't make me their priority, I can see it as an opportunity to be an encouragement in their lives and a means of shining the light of God's love into what may be a very dark world for them. And, who knows, just as my daughter asks us to “carry me” when she's got that long WalMart walk ahead of her, so too we may find opportunities to carry those around us through their struggles as well.

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