Category Archives: parenting

On Digital Photography and Other Things

Lately, I’ve been taking a cue from the tenants at the property I manage.  After a long day of working in the fields they come home and sit outside.  Sometimes they visit with others, and sometimes they just sit there by themselves. 

 I started doing this more often as a way to just relax and have some quiet time.  I call it “the art of sitting outside,” and think this art is something we all need to practice on a regular basis.  I just came inside from some time at the patio table on this wonderful Southern Idaho evening, and my time outside was delightful.

 As some of you know, and may have grown tired of me saying it, I’ve been writing a book on and off for the last fourteen years or so.  Since this project has spanned over fourteen years, I would strongly argue more off than on has happened in the writing practice.  For a variety of reasons one of my current goals is to finish the book soon and self-publish it.  So, in about 10 years I should have it done!

 Last night I spent a couple of hours doing some good work on this project and realized over the years I have written way too many musings for one book, and some essays that just aren’t book worthy … not yet anyway.  In an effort to thin and improve I thought I would tweak some of them and use them for my podcast I’m planning on starting back up or adapt them for this blog/web-page.

 Here are some thoughts I first wrote in 2006 and have modified over the years.

 Honestly, in some situations, I would love to return to simpler times.  The advances in camera and phone technology are truly amazing, but every now and them I prefer the simplicity of loading a roll of 35 mm film into a camera and talking on a rotary phone.  With photography, I use to love finishing up a roll of film, taking the film to be developed into photographs, and then taking those photographs home and looking through them to remember good and maybe not so good times.

 Shortly after the year 2000 (sing “in the year 2000” from the old Conon O’Brian show), we could have even received the gift in the year 2000, Heidi and I were given a digital camera for Christmas, our first, and we were so excited about our new Fuji and being able to take and store photographs digitally.  As you already know, since we are already 18 years removed from the year 2000 (again Conon O’ Brian), one of the great features, among many, of digital cameras is how many pictures you can take and store.  Storing a countless number of pictures on the camera, on a smart phone, on a computer, somewhere in a cloud, or some other option I haven’t mentioned.  The digital pictures, like any other pictures are fun to look at and because of the technology we now possess we are able to post them on-line in a matter of seconds and share our lives in pictures with friends and family through e-mail, and social media sites.

 One of the problems with digital photography and digital cameras and smart phones, at least when the people owning them are poor, is the pictures stay in digital form and are rarely printed off.  I know digital pictures can be printed off and made to look like a regular old photography by when there isn’t a lot of extra money in the budget, like when Heidi and I first got our camera, the 1000’s of pictures you take stay on the computer and are soon forgotten about and only occasionally viewed.  (I realize some of these thoughts might be outdated in a world of Snap-Face when the goal is for the picture to disappear, or Insta-Crap where the goal of making sure everyone knows how you look 100 times a day from an arm length away, but they are still a reality for me, and they make the story flow.)

 I sat down at my desk at work one morning 14 or so years ago and I pushed the power button on my computer only to have nothing happen.  My computer, like my dad van most of the time, wouldn’t turn on and our technology support person confirmed my worst fear, the computer’s hard drive was friend and none of the files on it could be retrieved.  Immediately I thought about all of the files that had been lost because I failed to back them up and was devastated as I remembered all of our family pictures I had been storing on the computer until we got a computer at home to transfer them to.  I felt especially horrible because there were a lot of pictures on the computer from when our middle son Jacob was born, and now we didn’t have them anymore. No Bueno.

 After this incident I attempted to be more diligent in backing up files to avoid this disaster again.  Unfortunately, I fell back into my lazy habits and as life got busy I had backed up some files but not all of them when we had one of our computers crash again.  Luckily, some of the files were able to be saved but we were not able to salvage all of them.  Unfortunately, once again most of the pictures we lost were of Jacob our middle son and some of his major life moments. 

 Again, as before, I was devastated and felt horrible for a few days until I was reminded I got to see my son every day and could probably scrounge up some pictures from family members.  I also figured when he got older I could just tell him like some conservative Anabaptist groups there were a few years we didn’t believe in taking photos for religious reasons. 

 The funny thing is, now all of our digital photos are backed up, either on a jump drive or a cloud-based storage space, and I hardly ever look at them.  I look at the pictures we have taken and printed off and have around the house, but rarely do I go and look at pictures taken years ago.  Kind of like how I treat the old videos we recorded with the boys where little.

 While the moral of this story was supposed to encourage you to make sure you back up your digital photographs, there are some other lessons we can learn here. 

 1) Enjoy the moment.  We don’t have to capture everything with our phones or cameras, sometimes it is just good to soak everything in and really experience the moment.  I’m afraid we miss out on a whole bunch when we are trying to capture everything for later or to post online, instead of living in the moment.

2) I hardly ever look at the pictures we have captured over the years, the ones we still have, but I have so many great memories and pictures in my head that I can relive.  I know for me remembering is a good way to connect with the past, while am living in the future.

 3) Don’t just take pictures, look at them too.  When you look at them, tell the stories of what was going on.  I have a picture of my first-grade birthday to remind me of who was there that day to help me celebrate but looking at that photograph also reminds me of all the fun I had.  The cool thing is I see some of those same guys every once and awhile in person or on social media.

4) Be grateful for what we do have, instead of lamenting about what we don’t have.

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My Old Man Taught Me How to Trap Gophers

gopher-moundTo be clear, I never refer to my dad as “my old man,” opting instead for the more commonly used “my dad” when referencing my father.  I chose to go with “my old man” for the title of this post only because I thought these three simple words would garner more attention in title form than “my dad” would have.  I have nothing against people who refer to their father as “my old man,” or any other title for that matter.  To each, his or her own.

 I apologize for getting a bit side tracked there.  Getting side tracked happens often when I am speaking to someone as a random thought that loosely connects to what I am talking about enters my brain, and my filter doesn’t work fast enough to stop the random thought from exiting my mouth.  I guess the same thing can happen when I am writing, must be a communication issue. 

 We just moved into a rental home that rests half a mile down a dirt lane on the banks of the Snake River.  The property the house sits on belongs to a farmer, and while we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of crops we only get to help maintain five of them.  At this point those 5 acres include the house, lawn, more trees than I can count, and several acres of over grown pasture.  This property is a quiet and restful place, and it is just what are family needs at this moment in time.  (More on that in future posts and podcasts.)

 We also inherited several resident gophers which leads me back to the title and my dad.  When I was a child, growing up on our 40-acre farm, I learned how to trap gophers.  My dad taught me how.  I learned how to kick down the older gopher mounds we wouldn’t be needing after locating the freshest mound.  I learned how to read the fresh gopher mound to decipher where the hole might be so I would know where to start digging.  Once I dug I learned how to fill around the earth to find the hole, if it wasn’t already visible, and I learned how to clean out the hole to prepare it for a trap.

 Once the digging and hole preparation was done I would set the box trap, my preferred trap of choice, and move on from there waiting, and returning daily to see if a gopher had been caught.  We used other methods of gopher trapping, such as gassing them or flooding them out of their holes, but I always appreciated the box trap.

 After being on our new property a few days and noticing there were gophers we needed to take care of Samuel, my oldest son, and I went to Tolmie’s, the local Ace hardware store and purchased two Bower’s Gopher Traps made in Marsing, Idaho.  After getting the traps home I taught my boys how to flatten the gopher mounds we weren’t going to use by kicking them, and to look for where the hole might be on the freshest mound.  As I dug into the ground and deposited a spade full of earth next the mound I got down and showed them how to feel for and find the gopher hole.  Our next step was of course to clean out the hole, set the trap, and put the trap in the hole.

 So far, we have set three traps, and we have caught three gophers.  Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t set a gopher trap in over 20 years.  We even found a post to put the dead gophers on for the resident birds of prey to enjoy. 

 As I was putting an empty trap away one evening after another successful kill and disposal I started thinking about how and when I learned to trap gophers with my dad.  Then I started thinking about how as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children useful skills they will be able to use in the present and well into the future.  When I learned how to trap gophers I wasn’t thinking about how I might someday pass that skill on to my own children, I was just excited to learn a new skill.  Today, I am glad I paid attention so I could pass a new skill on to my sons. 

 Perhaps my recent gopher killing spree is a good reminder for all of us to take the time we need to pass on skills and other useful things to our children.  I’m reminded that so much of what our children need to know in life comes from us, their caretakers, their guardians, their parents.  Let’s make sure and remember to do our best in passing useful skills along, as we seek to enhance our children’s learning and knowledge and in the process make the world a better place.


Stepping Up

Several times I’ve shared a sentiment that I worry about societies who don’t pay attention to their elderly and young people.  At times I feel like those are two overlooked age groups in the United States, and while I’m not up to speed on the happenings in other countries I wonder if this trend might be the same in places that are foreign to me but not to the people who live there.

Last week I went to a dinner at a restaurant operated as a place for seniors, disabled, and veterans to get a decent meal for a donation, including operating Meals-On-Wheels out of the restaurant kitchen, and  everyone else to pay full price.  I don’t mind paying full price, knowing the place is not for profit, and the income goes towards helping others eat.  It is good to know there are other people willing to do the same.  Check out “The Sandbar Restaurant with a Cause” in Marsing, Idaho to get a good meal and to help a good cause.

When adults get to involved in their own “stuff” I worry about the children and youth in their direct influence.  I worry because I’ve seen what happens to the young people.  I guess on the bright side those young people tend to seek out people to give them attention.  Sometimes those people are adults, and other times they are their peers.

My encouragement is for all of us adults who have some type of influence in the lives of young people because we are parents, or because we have opportunities through calling, work, and life to interact with young people, is to continue to step up and pay attention to what is going on in their lives.  Build relationships.  Let them know you are their for them, and then show it.  Even correct their grammar if necessary and teach them when to correctly use there instead of their.  We can’t always rely on English teachers.

Our young people need us.  They need guidance.  They need wisdom.  They need boundaries.  They need good examples.  They need adults in their life who care about them.  They need to be loved.  They need adults to be adults.  They need role models they can spend time with and learn from.  They need us to be honest.  They need us to be ourselves.  They need us to be healthy.

Our young people need us.

Are you willing to be present in the lives of the young people in your direct sphere of influence?718070ec-bd3c-47a7-9fe3-cd0ef9e976cf

 


9.10.17 ~ A Post on Sharing Faith

My faith is important to me and naturally, is something I want to share with others, including my sons.  I am careful and prayerful in my approach, and trust in God’s love for and pursuit of my sons.

As a follower of Christ and as a minister my desire is for my sons to have an intimate relationship with Jesus.  Their own faith, not mine.  My other desire is that I won’t mess them up too much in my endeavors.

During a conversation today, the topic of pastor’s kids who struggle in life or walk away from the faith came up.  I’m aware of this reality and because I am aware of this reality I have made some decisions, right or wrong, for my family.  I also understand full well that I cannot force my faith on to my children, but I can do my best at following Christ, journey with my sons, and point them to God.

Here are some of the decisions I have made that may or may not help guide the faith of my children.

1) While some “church” activities are optional, worship is not.  We attend worship together as a family, and my prayer is that in this setting they will commune with Christ and experience the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I hope this time will deepen their interest and relationship in Christ.  In worship my sons have always participated as members of the congregation.  No technology to entertain them.  We have always had the expectation that they needed to experience worship in their own way, within their ability, and with their giftedness.

2) Some other “church” activities are optional.

3) We pray together as a family.  We pray at meals.  We pray at bedtime.  We pray at other times as prayer is needed.

4) We have lots of conversations about faith and following Jesus.  In these conversations Heidi, my wife and I, try to be as real, open, and authentic as we can be.  We share what we believe, we share why, we share our struggles, we include Scripture, we share our experiences, and we share our hopes and dreams.

5) We make Bible’s available to our sons.  They all have one.  They all know how to read.

6) I pray for my sons.  I haven’t read a lot of parenting books, but one of them I read had to do with the importance of parent’s praying for their children.  Praying for your children is important.

7) The other parenting book I read had something to do with the importance of and ways to worship at home.  This is important as well and we have done this by singing songs, reading stories, reading the Bible, praying, and having conversations.

8) We involve them in opportunities to reach out and minister to others.  One of the best ways to teach our children to love and follow our faith, in my case a relationship with Jesus Christ, is to engage them in reaching out to others.  When we do this, with our sons engaged in the ministry endeavor with us, we have opportunity share our reasons for helping others as followers of Jesus.

There might be other things, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.  Some of the rest may just happen during the normal routine of life.

Speaking of routine, my oldest son Samuel likes routine.  The label is “Autism Spectrum,” and like all of us Samuel is a unique child of God who has a story to live out and important things to share with the rest of us.  Anyway, Samuel likes routine.  After worship on Sunday, Samuel rides home with me.  Heidi, and the other two boys head home, and Samuel helps me lock up the church building.  He gets the lights, I lock the doors, and then we head out to my SUV (Semi-Useful Van) for the ride home.  Sometimes, like today, we have other jobs to do, and he helps me with those as well.  Today we changed the church sign before we went home.

Once we get in the SUV our routine continues.  We get in and buckle up, I turn the car on and back up into the main section of the parking lot, and Samuel turns on the radio and adjusts the setting to his favorite Country Music station 92.3 FM.  Then I put the gas pedal through the floor and we make the gravel and dust fly as we leave the parking lot of the church building.  I don’t know if he feels the same way, but this ritual is one of the highlights of my week.

At the moment, these things work for us.  Some have been in existence for a while and some have changed over time.  As parents, raising the children God entrusted to our care, we trust that God is helping us along the way, and will guide us to make changes in our approach when change is necessary.  For now, we carry on, and I encourage you to do the same.


6.27.16 ~ Simple Fun

I think sometimes we try too hard to make fun for our children, when some of the simpler things in life are the most pleasurable and entertaining.

I’ve been trying to do a better job enjoying the simple rhythms of life and teaching my sons to do the same.  Perhaps, we learn to appreciate life a little more, and that we don’t have to search very hard or far for a good time.

I’ve spoken of family bike rides in a recent post, and they continue to be enjoyable.  Family bike rides have proved to be a simple fun thing to do in the rhythms of life.  Why not take 15-30 minutes for a short cruise around your community?

There are other things we have been enjoying this summer: playing the card game UNO, going to the lake, learning card tricks, camping in the back yard, fires in the fire pit, and jumping on the trampoline.

The other day we had a yard sale at our house, and will have another one this Saturday at my parent’s house, because they have a better location and we still have some things to get rid of.  We had fun as a family, collecting our un-used and un-needed items, preparing the sale, and being together during the sale.

One of the items in the sale was an AB Lounge Sport my folks had dropped off for us to try to unload for them.  We didn’t sell it, but at the end of the day we had fun using it as our prop for making spoof advertisements for the AB Lounge Sport.  One of the videos even got posted to You Tube, although I currently have it set to private. I am still trying to decide if I want others to view my attempts at sketch comedy, probably not.  Regardless, making the videos was a fun and simple thing to do with my sons.

During and after the yard sale my youngest son and I also had fun together implementing an idea he had on how to make a seat and foot rest for his scooter.  He did the bulk of the work and then I helped him fasten it to the scooter.  As soon as we were finished he went for a ride, and he has been riding it around the patio and roads ever since.  A simple thing, with hours of fun attached to it.

Let’s not try too hard to make life fun, but let’s remember there are fun things that can and do happen in the normal rhythms of life.  We just have to remember to stop and take time to see them, and experience them.  There our several advantages, laughter being one of them, but I think the quality time spent with our children and as a family is the most important.  Relationship time is always good time.


6.21.2016 – Bike Rides

4 out of the 5 people in our family are able to ride bikes, and the one who can’t is trying to learn again.  More on learning to ride later.

A year and a half ago I had a quest to outfit everyone in the family with a bicycle and that dream finally came to fruition a little over a month ago.  Saying that we might still have one more bicycle to purchase, but for the moment we are good.

As a result of having the bikes, nice weather, long summer days, and not coaching an in season sport we have been taking bike rides around town.  These rides have been enjoyable to say the least and provide a way for us to get exercise, spend some time together, explore the neighborhoods of our town, and have fun.

We have different routes that we take and one of them includes a hill that we have a “coast” challenge on.  I usually win the “coast” challenge presumably because I weigh more and can get going faster during the acceleration phase, but my boys say that it is just because “I’m fat!”  Which isn’t true, not anymore, but the commentary and trash talk just make the rides that much more fun.

Sometimes after a stressful day going on a bike ride with family is just what I need.  I’m learning that the simple things in life, help me enjoy life more.

Often we see people we know and we stop and visit.  Sometimes we get chased by Chihuahuas!  We like to visit with people but don’t like getting chased by the Chihuahuas.

My oldest son Samuel, the one you may know about from previous posts or because you know him personally, is on the Autism Spectrum and hasn’t quite been able to grasp riding a bike yet.  After a failed attempt a few years when he swore off of bikes for awhile he hadn’t pushed the idea until he brought it up this year.

As part of Jon Acuff’s Do Summer Challenge #dosummer2016 we are all spending time developing or improving a skill for at least 15 minutes a day.  I chose writing.  Samuel chose riding a bike, or learning how to ride a bike.  The challenge started yesterday, and so far we have accumulated 30 minutes of practice.

He will get it.

He has motivation.

He wants to be able to ride to the library.  He loves books and most weeks walks there with a red wagon full of books.  He thinks a bike and a trailer will be more efficient, or we have even thought about getting him and adult tricycle.  We saw a little girl ride by our house on one a couple of weeks ago, and we thought hmmmmmm, maybe Samuel could ride one of those.

He was agreeable because of the big basket that comes on the back of most of them.  For hauling books of course.

Riding bikes is a good skill to have, and is a solid mode of transportation that will be useful when the oil runs out, or when my kids go to college.

I commute to work on my bike every once and awhile and have found that doing so helps me slow down and observe life.  Then I realize how much more life I could observe by walking, and start walking more.  Then I get tired of walking and get back in the habit of driving my dad van, before remembering that I really should be taking the bike.

Well my fifteen minutes is up, and I have to head out and sleep in the back yard again.

#3nightcampout

 


6.20.16

I woke up this morning in the backyard.

Last night my oldest son, Samuel, made it known that he wanted to camp out in the back yard again sometime this summer.  He thought sometime after we were done with the GAPS INTRO, or after we get back from vacation.  I said, “How about tonight?”

We got the 3 person tent out and set it up quickly and without any swear words being muttered under my breath.

We loaded up with the essentials, including of course flash lights and books, bid good night to the rest of the family, and retired for the evening.

Fortunately the temperature is still cooling down at night, and with the tent windows unzipped, the cool air was relaxing and nice.

We read for awhile, said good night to each other, turned the flash lights off … and dozed off to sleep.

Zoe, our 8 year old black lab, was in the tent with us, sleeping on Samuel’s bag.  She doesn’t like to go inside when we are sleeping out there.  At least not at first.  In the middle of the night, when I had to get up to relieve myself, she made it known that she wanted in the house.  I obliged, grateful the tent wouldn’t smell like dog any more.

I woke early to first light, and the sounds of the neighborhood and nature.  I was refreshed, and except for a little soreness in my back my body felt good.  I laid there in the stillness, resting, listening, praying, thinking, and enjoying every bit of the moment.

The simple things in life are good.

When my son inquires about sleeping out in the back yard it is hard for me to say no, except for when my body is to sore from sleeping on the ground.  Lately, it is has been hard to say no when any of my boys ask me to do something with them.  They might get a “not now, in a little bit,” but I have been doing a better job of following through and spending time with them doing what they want to do.

Trampoline.  Bike rides.  Basketball. Game night. Back yard camping.

We all need to spend time doing fun things with our children.  Especially in the summer.

Makes life more fun, at least it has been for me.

Now I have to go … evidently the camp out is going to last at least 2 nights.

 

 

 


2.23.16~ Engaging

My oldest son lives life from the high functioning side of the Autism Spectrum.  To be exact the official terminology is Asperger’s, even though we are not into labels.

Like with our other children we see him as a unique child of God with strengths, gifts, and talents.  Part of our job as parents is to help each of our sons discern God’s calling on their lives, and to journey with them in the process.  Somewhere along the line we believe this means using all that God has given them to be contributing and productive members of society.

Last night I had the opportunity to be engaged by my son as we talked about theology, Star Wars, and life calling.  Evidently, he has a better grasp on the book of Revelation, and other parts of the Bible, than I do.  He talked, I talked.  He listened, I listened.  He laughed, I laughed. He cried, I almost cried.  We had a good time.

I don’t know about all autistic children, and I say this because the spectrum is so wide and varied, but I do know with my son that engaging him on topics he is interested in is very important.  This is of course is true for almost all of us.  We engage more, and talk more on those things we are interested in.

If I talk to my son about basketball he wants nothing to do with it.  If I engage him in conversation about Star Wars, the Bible, World War 2, airplanes, farming, eating healthy, or what he wants to do and be when he grows up I get 60 minute, in depth, conversations. My job is to listen and engage him in the conversation.  Ask questions.  Give feed back.  Give him love, support, and care.  (That’s how we ought to be in all of our conversations.)

Part of this process includes helping him with some of the social skills that are hard for him.  As I engage him in conversation we make eye contact, we allow each other space in the midst of our word exchange, and I try to model the way a conversation is supposed to happen.

I suppose the reminder for me is I need to engage him and my other sons in this manner on a regular basis.  Having conversations like this with them will definitely allow us to connect, and will help them along the path of becoming who the are supposed to be in responses to God’s call on their lives.

 


Not Winner Winner

When I got home yesterday one of my sons met me at the door of my mini-van (#dadvan).

As he began sharing with me about our sick chicken he became a little bit emotional. And I was met by more emotion when I got inside.

Having talked with Heidi, my wife, on the phone while I was at work I had already been made aware of the chicken’s worsening condition, and had made the decision to put the chicken out of her misery when I came home. After I got home we talked with the boys about it and we all agreed this was the best course of action.

We have our chickens for the purpose of having fresh eggs, and while we don’t necessarily identify with them as pets all of our hens do have names, and you kind of get used to having them around. We also, as lovers of animals, don’t want our animals to suffer, and that was hard for some of us to see. You might identify with this and see where a little emotion might come in.

Having pets and raising animals is good for kids because among other things they are able to learn responsibility and companionship. Children who are fortunate enough to be around animals also learn about the circle of life. Some lessons are best learned through life experience with lots of hugs and conversations.

So yesterday I had to ring the neck of the leader of our hen house so she wouldn’t suffer anymore. Her name was Goldie. Her full name was Goldie Hawn. (My apologies to the real Goldie Hawn.)

As parents we often will have to do things that are the right thing to do, while at the same time being hard or uncomfortable. This comes from being the adults in the family, and may have something to do with maturity. Putting a chicken down wasn’t that hard for me, but it just reminds of some of the other things we might have to do as parents that are.

R.I.P. Goldie. Thanks for the eggs!


Meridian Speedway

I just came home from watching the races at Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho.

There were eight of us all together; my boys and I, my brother and his kids, and my dad.

We had a great time, and I am a new fan of the Legend Cars.

My dad has been going to the races since he was a kid, with his first trip taking place sometime in the mid 1950’s.  He started going with his dad. When I was younger I can remember going to the races with my dad.  Before tonight though it had been a good 20 years since I had visited a track, and tonight was a first for my boys. (Disclaimer: It was my oldest sons first trip to a small track, he has been to a NASCAR race.)

While some of the young drivers we saw tonight will continue to have fun and advance in their racing career, most of the drivers were simply their because the love cars, they love racing, and they have fun doing it.  For most of them, this is as good as racing is going to get for them and they are completely happy with that reality.

Afterwards we walked around the pits and met and talked with the drivers.  The kids got autographed pictures, and sat in a few of the different cars.  But looking beyond the could be your neighbor drivers, the few up and coming stars of tomorrow, and the 4-cyclinder buckets of bolts the youngsters and newbies race, I saw the specialness of the evening.  Three generations going to the races together, continuing a tradition started by my grandfather.

I suppose the activity doesn’t really matter, and that the real tradition or practice here is simply parents and children spending time together.  Spending time doing anything together is go but perhaps we can spice it up every once and awhile and go watch cars turn left around a circle, catch a game, or attend the rodeo which is already on the docket for next week.