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Monday, August 24, 2009

Chase on Two Wheels!

Here's Chase riding a bike without training wheels. Ava, Sammie, Kristin and I were on the wings, so this was an exciting moment for all of us. Grandaddy had told me earlier in the evening that Chase was on the verge of riding. I didn't believe him at first because the last few times we had worked with Chase he seemed to be months away. I learned later that our Chaser had practiced quite a bit while I was at work today. I'm so glad I got to see him as he really started to hit his stride this evening. 

By the way, I love having a phone that can also take pictures, shoot video and then email the pictures or video to my computer.  The picture quality is horrible, as you can see, but it's sure a lot better than not capturing the moment at all, wouldn't you say? I was able to capture this experience with our digital Canon camcorder, too. I'll get around to transferring the stack of Mini-DVs in my room to our computer one of these days. I'm looking forward to the day that I'll be able to do away with Mini-DV tapes all together.

I can play the video clip on my computer and hear Chase and Kristin talking. Still can't figure out how to get the audio to play right on the blog. Anyone have any ideas?

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chase's "Just Because" Party

Some people have big birthday parties. Some people have big costume parties or Christmas parties. A few years ago, we started a fun tradition in our house: a party for no reason at all. No one needs to find special clothes or bring gifts or anything. We make up the theme, the decorations and games as the whim strikes. 

A couple of weeks ago, Chase invited our buddy Darian, whom we've known since HE was about Chase's age, to a "Just Because" party. I was convinced he was saying the wrong name, thinking he was getting all the brothers in that family mixed up, but he pointed to his picture and said, "That one!" Darian is 17-years old and found time out of his busy life to come hang with Chaser for a while.

Chase chose the decorations, the craft, the snack and the games. And, they had a ball. I'm not sure Chase took his eyes off Darian for more than a few seconds at a time.

A little icing, then a little coaching.

It was hard for the girls to stay away from the action.

Real men wear party hats.

The kids were so excited to ride down the street in his new car.

A party is not complete without a craft and a little wrestling.

Storytime with Dare.

Turns out the party was "Just Because We Love Darian."  


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Apple's Business Model

It's well known that Steve Jobs is a devoted fan of The Beatles. He's referenced them during several keynote speeches and in a 60 Minutes interview. When asked about his business model during the interview, he replied...

"My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people."

I've referenced this quote during presentations and in several meetings at work. I also intend on talking to the kiddos about the quote when they get older because I believe it sums up nicely several time-tested, universal principles that are as applicable at home as they are in the workplace. 

To be continued...

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Only You, In The Entire Universe

My brother shot himself when he was 15 years old.  I was 14.

If you've experienced such a tragedy or read much about it, you know there is a lot of guilt to pass around.  Lots of people, particularly those in the closest circle, wonder, "Should I have known?" "Were there signs and I missed them?"  They wonder, "Is it my fault?"

Probably the one who took it the hardest was my dad.  He was the Sheriff in our town.  A rule-follower from way back.  Follow the rules and you'll get ahead in life. Break the rules and suffer the consequences.  He was fair, but always thorough.  Few crimes went unpunished.  That's the job when you're the Sheriff and the Dad. 

If you remember, there are a lot of rules to be tested when you're 15 and Jody had been testing a lot of them.  How do I know?  Because, being the dutiful baby sister that I am, I told on him. A lot. For instance,  just the week before he killed himself, I came home and he'd been backing the pick up truck in and out of its parking space in our driveway.  I told on him.  He got in trouble.

My sister thinks she remembers him saying not long before, "I should just kill myself" and she never said anything or did anything about it. Though she admits she's not so sure and wonders if the guilt just put that memory there.  

That morning, Jody had a quiz in French class and he was caught cheating.  That sweet teacher did what she was supposed to do and told our folks.  We all knew he was going to get it.  I remember Mrs. M.'s eyes being red and puffy for weeks after.

That evening at Wednesday night church, he'd been behind the building experimenting with stuff he shouldn't have.  He was with someone else and I didn't find out until a couple of months ago who it was.  That guy has never mentioned a word of it and I can't help but wonder if he's felt guilty over the years.  

The premise of "The Shack" is about a father coming to terms with a tragedy that happened to his daughter.  Eventually the father breaks down admitting that he feels like it was his fault. Like he should've been able to save her, to protect her and feels the guilt so heavily.  He feels the turmoil of the final moments of his daughter's life wondering if SHE was saying, "Where is Daddy?" And, he even feels the shame when he's with the rest of his family just knowing that they feel the same way. That he should have protected her.

It seems so simple, but this line the Holy Spirit-figure speaks hit me like a ton of bricks: 

"Only you, in the entire universe, believe that somehow you are to blame."

I always dismissed the guilt that all those in my brother's close circle might have felt, thinking that was so silly to think they should've or could've done something differently, yet the guilt that I felt was so real and painful and smothering.

In reality:
Only my dad, in the entire universe, believed that somehow he was to blame.
Only my sister, in the entire universe, believed that somehow she was to blame.
Only the French teacher, in the entire universe, believed that somehow she was to blame.
And, only I, in the entire universe, believed that somehow I was to blame.

So, where does all that guilt come from?

"A thief is there only to steal and kill and destroy. I came so that they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."  John 10:10

The enemy has stolen a lot from my family over the years, but I'm learning to recognize it for what it is.  I want that better life Jesus talked about, don't you? Are there any lies you've been believing? 


Monday, August 3, 2009

"Why" by Rascal Flatts

If you've ever lost someone to suicide, the new Rascal Flatts' album, Unstoppable, has a song that will touch your heart.  It's called Why and it's worth the $1.29 download from itunes.  

You must have been in a place so dark 
You couldn't feel the light
Reaching for you through that stormy cloud 
Now here we are gathered in our little home town
This can't be the way you meant to draw a crowd

Oh, why? That's what I keep asking 
Was there anything I could have said or done?
Oh, I had no clue you were masking a troubled soul 
God only knows what went wrong 
and why you'd leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now in my mind I'll keep you frozen as a 17 year old
Rounding third to score the winning run
You always played with passion no matter what the game
When you took the stage you shined just like the sun 

Oh why? That's what I keep asking 
Was there anything I could have said or done?
Oh, I had no clue you were masking a troubled soul 
Oh God only knows what went wrong 
and why you would leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now the oak trees are swaying in the early autumn breeze 
The golden sun is shining on my face
In tangled thoughts I hear the mocking bird sing 
"this old world really ain't that bad a place"

Oh, why? There's no comprehending and who am I to try judge or explain?
But I do have one burning question 
Who told you life wasn't worth the fight? 
They were wrong 
They lied 
Now your gone and we cry 

It's just not like you to walk away in the middle of a song 
Your beautiful song 
Your absolutely beautiful song


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Make Each Day Your Masterpiece

I have so many stories to tell, so many pictures to share and I'm so far behind I don't know where to start. Pics of Spain, the beach, Little Rock, Chase's "Just Because" party, swim lessons, a date with Grandaddy, "box day", 20th reunion, and a few deep thoughts about marriage, forgiveness and first loves.

I'll just be lame and show the new wall I created in the basement. Believe it or not, the new bedding necessitated rearranging some furniture from downstairs, which left a giant wall empty. For a brief moment, I thought about using chalk paint on the bottom half, but I swore off painting after I primed and painted all the trim, including baseboards, in the entire basement when I was six months pregnant with Ava. (Count 'em, we have no fewer than 8 doors down there, three of them double, sliding doors!) Besides, the super cool train table that their Grandpa built has a flip-top that turns into a chalk table. And, I wanted something I could easily change to suit the season of our lives.

Here's how it turned out:

The black circles are Chalk Dots from Target.  (Does anyone else get excited about this stuff?) I used the excess trim on the square as a little visual interest and added each of the kids' initials, so there'd be no arguing over whose is whose.  The best part is they are repositionable!  The wording above is not, but it is removable without hurting the paint.  There's a whole slew of different sayings at Hobby Lobby.

Having kids has sparked more creativity than I ever would've given myself credit for.  They are my inspiration.  What's yours?


Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Playground and Taco Bell...A Near Perfect Friday Night

Friday nights are always full of possibilities. So many possibilities, in fact, that we sometimes default to doing absolutely nothing. Not so last night. Kristin decided to take Grandaddy and Sam to Chili's for some barbecued ribs and one of her favorite desserts – molten lava cake. For the rest of us, Bryan Park seemed like a wise choice. 

I had just finished watching Pool Hall Junkies, a movie that my friend Rocky loaned me, the night before, and I wanted to drop it off first. His place is a little closer to the Templeton school playground than Bryan Park, and we hadn't played at the school before, so I decided to give it a shot. 

It's really exciting to be on the scene when one of the kids steps way out of their comfort zone. In this case, it was Chase on the monkey rings (like monkey bars, but with chains and handles instead of static bars). 

At first, he'd climb onto the platform, and I'd help him lean forward far enough to grab the first set of rings. Then, he'd hang there by himself for a second or two before asking me for help getting down. We did that a few times and then I suggested that he let go and drop 2 to 3 feet to the ground on his own. After that, he did that whole process on his own a few more times. Then, finally, with me off to the side talking to Rocky, I saw him swing off the platform while holding the first set of rings before reaching out to grab the second set of rings. He hung on the second set for a few seconds before dropping to the ground.

I'm wondering how much Sam's recent progress on the monkey rings attached to our wooden playset at home influenced him. She actually made it all the way across on her own this week...
6 rings!!

We decided to the head to the library to grab some movies next. Unfortunately, the Bloomington library closes at 6p.m. on Friday. We drove around a bit showing Rocky the sites because he's new to town. I started feeling hungry and suggested Taco Bell. The highlight of the taco feast? There were three: (1) Chase eating 3 whole tacos and half an order of cinnamon twists by himself, (2) me getting 3 free tacos because Rocky didn't order sour creme on his and (3) seeing Ava and Chase dancing around to the 50's music in between bites of taco.

What a great Friday night (and I didn't even get into whipping Rocky on my Playstation 3).

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