Saturday, February 20, 2010

Birthday Party!

We had a small birthday celebration for Owen with my family about a week before his actual birthday - just right for a little one-year old. Cupcakes and tacos made it feel warm and cozy on a cold January day.

Describe (who else!) was on hand to capture some sweet moments with all the kids. We're planning on doing a big photo shoot with the whole family (once the newest arrives) and wanted to use this as a dry run for handling the logistics for a big group. This is just a handful from the afternoon but they all came out wonderfully.

Life really is this much fun.

Happy Birthday Owen!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Gina and I go to yoga on Wednesday nights.  Jon plays hockey - I practice yoga.  He bashes people into walls going 20+ miles an hour - I center myself in quiet contemplation.  And we are soul mates, go figure.

During one particular pose we were all splayed out on the floor, legs and arms pointing in all directions, resembling something like a sad, rejected pretzel that didn't make it all the way through the machine.   Right after our instructor warned that we may experience leg cramps at this point she also said...

Some poses are not meant as much for the stretch as they are for you to practice your response to the discomfort.

Apparently true yoga starts the moment you want it to stop.

And oh boy - did I want it to stop.  Especially when later we were left squatting in an imaginary chair with our arms up over our heads and my legs burning and screaming to me that if I don't stop it RIGHT THIS MINUTE that they'll never walk for me again. Ever.

It's tough to argue with such a major part of your body.

Endurance is 99% mental, right?  At least every endurance experience I've had has been:  running a marathon, childbirth, sitting in chair pose for 15 breaths, high school.  If you can get yourself in the right frame of mind your body will follow suit.  

And you know - because I endured - those experiences make some of the best of my life.  Even high school.

Paul calls life a race and it is.  It's not a 10 second sprint either.  It's an ultra-marathon.  It's a yoga pose with your leg wrapped twice around your head while you balance on two fingers upside down.  True life requires serious endurance.  Serious faith and serious grounded-ness to keep pressing despite everything that happens.

So the response to discomfort isn't giving up.  It just can't be because I aim to finish with a 'well done'.  

So let's go, Utkatasana pose.  You're not winning this battle - regardless of how much my thighs complain...I'm going to 20 breaths next time.  

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Gina has her own theme song around here.  Life of Brian - final song (I'll's the only part of the movie I know or have seen and that's just because Jon sings it ALL THE TIME).

Always look on the bright side of life.  Dodo...dodobedobedo. That's actually supposed to be a whistle - but how do you type a whistling sound?

We sing the song whenever Gina finds the silver lining to some extra ugly grey cloud.  She has a gift for that - for finding the positive in almost every situation - for rising above pettiness and grumpiness and those little irritating things that people do.  Like when people are too lazy to shovel their own parking space out right so that they have to park their giant SUV in half of OUR spot so that we have to do even more shoveling (of the now packed down ice-snow) to squeeze in.

It just doesn't sway her positive attitude.

She finds the positive in bad weather, sickness, traffic, broken computers, bad meals...the list just goes on.  Which is why it's so funny that she has a death wish for Chihuahuas.  I guess they are like her kryptonite.  But anyway.

It's extremely admirable - something I notice (the positivity - not the Chihuahua thing).  She can look at the exact same situation I am grumbling about and see it from a completely different angle.  It's almost like she picks it up and turns it over and around in her hand until she gets a better perspective on it.  

In the past, being that cynicism and sarcasm tend to skip around together holding hands, I've tended to only check out the yucky underbelly of problems and comment on the parts with no redeeming value.  But all of that is changing. 

Here's a thanks to all the optimists out there.  All those people who help the rest of us see beyond the immediate complaint to the point of thankfulness.  You are making a difference...

...but you probably already knew that.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thoughts on Fatherhood: Year One

One year old.

Man, how time flies. This has been a momentous year of change for all of us.

The labor... the birth... watching him like a hawk as they gave him his first bath... holding him in my arms while we slept that first night in the hospital... taking him home - eager to get out of the hospital but not knowing what waited for us once we got there... family coming, family going... a tumult of emotions that we never expected... and always so much joy, over-flowing.

Those first days stretched into weeks and the difficult experience of having to return to work. Emails, deadlines and team meetings were met with a growing indifference... I just wanted to be home holding my son, and hugging my wife. Unfortunately life only pauses a however brief moment while you catch your breath, and the grind quickly returns with a new vengeance.

Time passed and so did the helpless feeling of new fatherhood. Those first few months when all you're good for is to change a diaper, make some food, and rock a crying baby to sleep. Thinking, when does fatherhood kick in? Then one magical day, he looks up and there's that glimmer of recognition... and you're hooked.

Then time sped up at an almost unfathomable rate. Soon we were feeding him more and more foods, next thing he was sitting up, blowing bubbles, making sounds, the suddenly walking... where did the time go. It seemed like more and more time was spent at work with less and less time to see his moments of development.

And yet, I was changing as well. I would look at my son late at night and see my only short-comings, my weaknesses. And I knew I had to fight my battles with renewed vigor... for him... for my family... for my wife. There's something about seeing your child that makes you ask yourself, "Who am I?" And sometimes that answer is not what you'd hope it would be.

So we've both changed... grown... matured.

There's no magical point where you wake up one day and suddenly you're a man... it happens over time, and is judged by each passing moment and your personal choices. All those things are the sum of who you are. So you get up each day and vow to become a better man, husband, father, knowing that the grace is there for you to do it. And you do it. Day after day, week after week, year after year.

There are wrinkles starting to form around my eyes now. I'm sure the grey hairs will follow. I look forward to them. It's all about growing up, maturing, and becoming the man I'm supposed to be... becoming so I have something to show him.

The joy of seeing his little face light up when I walk into the room is indescribable. And so is the responsibility of knowing he'll look to me to understand life, understand God, to understand how you deal with the difficulties in life... and constantly rise above them.

What an awesome journey we have ahead of us.

He's my son and I'm dang proud of him.

Happy 1 year, Owen

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Proverbs 17:22 "A cheerful heart is good medicine..."  

I may or may not have woken up on the wrong-ish side of the bed this morning.  To be safe maybe I'd better go back to sleep and try again.  But I guess it's appropriate to be thinking about happiness now.   Maybe I'll talk some sense into myself.

I want to have a joyful heart.  It's always been relatively easy to make me laugh - maybe too easy at times - but that doesn't always translate to having a cheerful heart.  

Over the last few years I've been more conscious of my internal attitude.  Sarcasm, a downfall of mine, (seriously?) (ok, that was the last time, I promise) has got to go for good.  It just isn't beneficial.  Funny - but mostly to me and not the type of funny that creates a long lasting cheerful heart.   Grumpiness, worrying, self-pity all need to leave too.  Those blah attributes are WAY reduced in my life now but I'd like there to be zero trace of them.
Babies are drama experts.  Ever noticed that they laugh with abandon?  Like nothing in the world is funnier?  I'm talking real laughs - not the fake ones (which are still cute but I digress).  But about 3 seconds later little mr. giggles is screaming with every ounce of his being.  

There's not a lot of middle ground with these kids.

I'm pretty convinced that one of my main jobs as mother is to teach our kids how to live toward the lighter side of that spectrum.   Life doesn't have to be perfect but living with joy is still essential.  Even more so as things seem to crumble around us.  

Jon and I have talked at length about the atmosphere we want to build in our home.  Aside from exuding warmth and welcome we want it to be a place of joy - somewhere that lets people relax.  Where people leave feeling a greater sense of wholeness then when they came.  
I've always had this desire to help heal people.  Deep jungle medicine in Zaire (back when there was a Zaire), art therapy, substance abuse rehabilitation for the homeless on a working farm - so maybe none of these jobs were meant for me but I still believe there is something I can do.  And I'm fine if it's just helping to ease someone's burdens by providing a light sanctuary of rest in a warm, cheerful home.   

So, to start things off right I'll leave you with a laugh.  Call me corny - but I love Readers Digest jokes.  Classic.

The 16th tee featured a fairway that ran along a road. 
The first golfer in a foursome teed off and hooked the ball. 
It soared over the fence and bounced onto the street, where it hit the tire of a moving bus and ricocheted back onto the fairway. 
As they all stood in amazement, one of the golfer's friends asked, "How did you do that?" 
The golfer shrugged.  "You have to know the bus schedule." 

Feel better?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear Sister

Dear Sister,

Thanks for re-gifting us with the gingerbread house we gave your kids.  What's extra nice is that you guys took the time to slather it with candy before giving it back.  

Now we have to eat it (because we all know that if you throw out a gingerbread house, somewhere, a Christmas elf loses it's wings - or something)

Thanks.  Did I say that before?  Well this time it's from the bottom of my heart.  Actually my bottom and my hips - my heart was too out of breath from all the extra work it is doing pumping an overload of sugar through my veins. 

Not to be picky or anything - but next time we give you guys something like that maybe you should think about using less of the grape twizzlers and gummy swirls and more of the spree and m&m's.  I find the gummy texture doesn't hold so well.  And I like the sprees.  

And more icing.   

But it's your house and all.
:)  love you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

12 Happy Months!

One year later.

I feel pressure to come up with some flowing prose or meaningful verse to express this last year.  

But how could I possibly do that.  Not when my heart is this full.

I have been crying a lot this week.  Happy tears.  I feel like they are spilling over from a very full heart.  A very full grateful heart.  So grateful.  

Thank you God for Owen.  Thank you for exploding my life one year ago today - for the expanding, the filling, the creating, the joy - absolute joy.

I can call up that first moment I saw you.  I can hear the prayer that escaped from my lips - "Oh,  my God.  Oh, my God."  That's as far as I could get - but He knew the rest.  He knew the rest was thank you thank you thank you thank you.  And a bunch of other stuff all swirling in my brain.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

I love you.