Monthly Archives: April 2012

Kissing the TV?

This morning I put on the latest episode of the TV show “Wild Justice” to watch with the twins. They love to see animals on TV and this show has plenty of animals to see. So today’s show had footage of bears, dogs, deer, fowl, livestock, etc. At one point there was a scene showing three bear cubs stuck in a large dumpster/trailer. I pointed out the bears to the twins and they were excited to see the bears. They excitedly repeated the word, ‘bears’, in their own way, several times. Then, unprovoked by me, they approached the TV and gave the flat screen some big, fake, kisses. Each kiss was accompanied by a loud, exaggerated, “Mmmmmmuuuuuaaaa”! It was so very cute to see them wanting to kiss the adorable bear cubs.

Just a few minutes later, I paused the show so they could see a beautiful deer that was captured on camera. Immediately, both twins ran to the TV to give the deer a big kiss. They appear to know when something is cute to them. Today, when they saw cute, they wanted to kiss it, even if it was on TV. Just another moment among thousands that I am privileged to experience with the twins.

Look at what the cat dragged in

This morning we had our sliding glass doors open so the twins could play inside and out. We do this often, when it’s mild enough, allowing the twins to play outside on the deck, and run in and out. This time of year there’s no real bug problem even with the screen doors open. Today, however, presented a different problem though.

While I was focused on Theodore and Jacqueline, playing with them, I hadn’t noticed the cat coming and going through the open doors. Our two-year old twins were playing in one corner of the play area. We were laughing and carrying on when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. We all know how quickly the mind can shoot a series of thoughts through our brains in an instant. Well my first thought was that something doesn’t look quite right. Then as I took an instant subconscious inventory of our toys, I knew we didn’t have anything that fit the fleeting image I had seen out of the corner of my eye. So, as I did a double-take, the object at the edge of my sight came into clear view. There on the floor, right near Theodore’s bare feet, was a Common Garter Snake. Our cat, Demetrius, had brought the snake into the house.

I yanked Theodore out of the play area. As a man shouldn’t, I didn’t scream. I made sure the snake wasn’t going anywhere. It stayed pretty still as the cat batted at it a few times. Our cat has no front claws so this was a game of ‘bat the snake’. The snake didn’t seem overly impressed by the whole thing. I quickly put on some gloves, grabbed the snake by the tail, and put it back out in the yard. The snake seemed a bit traumatized, but it slowly slithered away.

I closed the sliding doors after coming back inside. The twins were excited by the events that had just happened. For the next hour, every crumb, every hair, every little thing that didn’t look quite right around the house, was a snake. They were yelling, “Snake! Snake! Snake!” at everything. It was pretty funny. Even after their naps, they were talking about the snake, and looking for the snake on the deck and out back. All in all, it was just another twin adventure. I am glad this was nothing serious.

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No animals were harmed in the writing of this piece.

Happy Birthday Erin!

Happy 16th Birthday to my beautiful daughter Erin. I love you very much sweetheart. You are a wonderful, smart, beautiful young woman. I didn’t always know this, but I know it now; my life wouldn’t be full without you in it.

Like this morning, Easter Sunday, represents, a fresh start, a new life awaits. I look forward to your next 16 years, and beyond. Remember that the easy path, the easy things in life are usually wrong, or worthless. The hard work, pursuing the path less traveled, making the right decisions that are the toughest ones to make, brings the rewards worth accumulating. I trust there will be rewards aplenty for you as you grow, mature, and make proper choices with God’s help, our prayers, and your family’s continual support.

I love you so much. Your family loves you every moment, no matter what. We look forward to spending your birthday with you today. It’s going to be a great day Erin, and it’ll be an even better year. Happy Birthday Erin!

Gallery

Dressed for the Sox

This gallery contains 12 photos.

     

Expectations

Expectations. I would expect that everyone has an idea on the meaning of the word expectation(s). I mean, we all use the word. We all have expectations. Expectations are attached to us all, by ourselves, and by others. Expectation is everywhere really.

Here are some meanings of the word expectations:

  • a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen
  • a mental image of something expected, often compared to its reality
  • a standard of conduct or performance expected by or of somebody

I would even go so far as to say that in many cases we expect based on our own judgement. We see, we think (maybe less than we should), we judge, we expect. Maybe the word judge is wrong. But I don’t think it is. I will use the word, assess, for now. We assess things/people based on all we have ever seen and heard prior to now and we instantly set an expectation on what we see now, in front of us based on the prior accumulation of information. Something like that anyways. Maybe we have tremendous experience in an area or a subject, maybe we are even proficient in the area, and perhaps the foremost authority on the subject matter, which means that if anyone is qualified to make an assessment, or to set an expectation, maybe it’s you or me. Assuming all of that was true, isn’t it great how many times we get something we don’t expect? Or better yet, our expectations are exceeded.

Who teaches us to expect? Who teaches us what to expect? Why do we feel limited as to what we can expect from ourselves? Why do so many people feel like they aren’t living, or haven’t lived up to expectations? Well this could get pretty deep and I don’t know that I am the one to lead this blog piece into the depths it probably requires, but I am going to take a run at some things here.

From the time we are born we are taught. We learn about everything in life from someone else or from what we are allowed to gather on our own. Nearly everything is taken at face value. It’s similar to the dog who is happy to see you come home everyday. Little seems to matter as to what has happened in the last 24 hours, as long as you come home today. The dog will be happy to see you.

As we grow and hear more and more yes’s and no’s, we start to shape thoughts for ourselves. We explore. We find limitations and curtail our actions based on the knowledge we accumulate as we go. Face value becomes more like reading the stock market and some things are valued too high while others are devalued, all based on the knowledge (or in some cases, the lack of knowledge) we have at the time.

Many, many times we replace our own experience or first-hand knowledge with information that has been told or taught to us. Now depending on the source of those telling or teaching us, this information may be fact, but it also may just be opinion. This is where experience can come in real handy. Because the further down life’s road we venture basing expectations on information we haven’t experienced first-hand or information based on someone else’s opinions, the more likely our chances of accurately assessing anything at face value will decrease. You may say big deal, so our expectations will be off, so we will always be surprised. Well it is a big deal. Think of what life would be like if your expectations were constantly not close to what happens in reality. You wouldn’t know what to expect of yourself in given situations because of how many times your expectations of anything else were off-base. It’s important to have a clue on this for sanity sake and to limit the number of emotional roller-coaster rides anyone of us has to deal with. Speaking of roller-coasters, let’s see if I can get back on track here.

Okay, I love to coach kids in sports. Sports offer an opportunity to teach many valuable life lessons while kids enjoy the fun and competition of sport. I am not the world’s best coach, any of you who know me would probably beat me to that statement. One of the things I have enjoyed, and still enjoy about coaching, is the belief in the kids. The expectation that they will succeed. For some, succeeding is being better than others. For some, succeeding is being better than you thought you were. For some, succeeding is participating in the sport and putting yourself on the line that you are working to improve. To me they’re all success stories, but each individual has their own expectation of one’s performance, just as I do. If you never give the kids a chance to succeed because your brain or ego get in the way, you’ll never experience the joy of kids coming through more times than they don’t.

Here are some examples of people defying expectations. Some are more dramatic or more memorable than others. But the size and scope of this aren’t what is important here, the lesson is in each of these. Big or small. Important or barely noticeable. They all matter. Every day we face some form of this. Every day we expect of others or we are expected of …

There was a skinny little kid who looked like he didn’t belong in a men’s game. He didn’t dress the part. He didn’t look the part. He sure could play the part though. He wore floppy socks and had sleepy eyes, but he left college basketball as the all-time leading scorer in just 3 seasons of play. Imagine what his numbers would be were freshmen allowed to play varsity sports back then. He was “Pistol” Pete Maravich and face value would not have told us what was in store for the world of basketball had we not seen it for ourselves.

There was a dumpy dressed shy kid with long hair. He was overweight and quite self-conscious about his size. He showed up on stage only because his kid partner gave him just enough confidence to go for it. When the glitz and glamour of the world they pursued laughed at the sight of these two misfits on stage they could have packed it in right there. The judges held back their own laughter and almost in an underhanded way, wished them luck as they hoped this joke would soon be over. Then they started to sing. And within seconds, the crowd went crazy. The judges couldn’t contain their wide-eyed surprise of their own error in assessment of face value. It’s a fun clip to watch. It’s The Opera duet of Charlotte and Jonathan. I love Jonathan’s closing line before the judges vote.

There was a team of college kids who weren’t expected to even compete with the best teams in the world. These guys were a collection of some good college hockey players, but in a communist dominated sport at the time, they weren’t even on the same map. They played a tough 61-game exhibition schedule to get ready for the Olympics. They were dominated by the Soviet Union in the last of those exhibition games in a contest that wasn’t even as close as the lopsided 10-3 score would indicate. Yet, the seventh seeded Team USA went undefeated in the 1980 Winter Games and won the Gold Medal. This will be forever known as the Miracle on Ice.

She was born prematurely. She was constantly sick as a child. She had extreme difficulties with her legs and had to wear a brace. Doctors even told her she would never walk again. Face value would tell us this is a sad story of a poor sick kid who doesn’t even warrant this much of a story. Reality told the story of a superstar. Wilma Rudolph went on to win 3 Gold Medals in the 1960 Summer Games. She was known as the fastest woman in history in the early 60’s. She is an American Legend.

This young man showed up on stage as a lonely, homeless Korean boy. The judges didn’t know what to expect as they asked him questions about his life leading to this moment. It’s fun to watch when the people ‘in the know’ don’t expect much of anything from someone who has overcome so much more than what’s being asked of them in that moment. Their guard goes up, they brace for the worst, but they have to participate because this person is there in front of them. Then they hear Sung Bong Choi sing. The voice brings raw emotion out of people expecting the worst. No matter the language, the human ear tells the human mind, this is beautiful, and expect to enjoy it. Maybe it’s just another popular clip that has circled through social networks. I like it for the fact that beauty arises from something not beautiful, and exceptional happens where sub par was expected.

There are countless examples of expectations falling short of what unfolded next. There are also just as many times when expectations were higher than what reality would bear.

… All I can say is this. Give your best effort, no one should expect more than that. If expectations are greater than that of your best effort, so be it. You can’t do more than your best. Likewise, when faced with opportunities to expect of others, remember what you have learned, but understand that you’ll never know it all or see it all. Maybe err on the side of compassion, allowing the story, you assume you already know based on what you see, to be told by actual performance or by the individual who lived it.

Three deer in a row

The sky was blue. Pure, deep blue. To the east the sun brightened the blue to a glow so bright I had to look away. As I brought my gaze down toward the horizon the perfect blue was interrupted by the varying height of trees near and far. The greens of the fir trees locked in shadows while the sun took its time to reach its morning path across the sky. The brush and growth on the knoll were covered with last night’s frost, and glistened magically as each twig and leaf reflected the suns’ low rays. It was the sparkle that first caught my eye. Then, from behind the brush, now releasing thin strands of steam as the sun warmed the icy mix on every inch of the plants, I noticed something else. There was a gentle curl of warm moisture in the air, a proof of some other living, breathing thing in the brush. I looked closely and saw the familiar sight of a white-tailed deer standing in the midst of brush none of us would want to wade through. Just a young deer out foraging for some morning nourishment.

Since I was downstairs early, with our 2-yr old twins, I picked them up to show them the deer. The light was bright, and we had to look toward the east, probably more of a east-northeasterly direction to see the deer. So the glare and reflections off of the glass of windows made it tough for the twins to pick out the deer. We waited patiently and the deer moved slightly, and then a little bit more. With the movement, the twins were able to see the deer. The twins were excited. As we watched, we saw another deer appear in the background, then another. The twins were louder and showing more excitement with the sight of more deer. The deer, ever wary, had stopped, raised their heads to look back to our window. They were checking us out just as much as we were them. The line of vision working for us was also working for the deer. For a moment or two the three of them were lined up, all looking at us. Three heads appearing in a row through the line of breaks in the landscape.

Theodore was thinking of a way he could get outside and get closer to the deer. He just wanted to go outside. Jacqueline, meanwhile, clearly could see the deer looking our way and she reacted a bit differently. She covered her eyes with her hands, but she could not cover the huge grin on her face. Then she threw her hands to her sides and said, “Peek-a-boo!” She could see the deer looking at her and thought a game of peek-a-boo was in order. It was pretty funny. They were both so excited about seeing the deer, and especially seeing the deer looking back at them. Three deer in a row. Soon enough the deer abandoned their unofficial staring contest and sent the twins into a near frenzy with their loping, graceful, high-tailed exit from the knoll and back into the woods. Just as the deer were moving on to something else, the twins, too, were off to the next event of the morning. For a couple of minutes though, it was fun to watch the beautiful clear morning, our amazing twins, and three beautiful deer come together for a moment.