Monday, September 28, 2009


We traveled to Evanston, Wyo this morning for a reunion, of sorts. Kyra played an original piece in church and we were invited to attend. We got more than we bargained for though, family was present from all around. We were even asked to stand in sacrament meeting for size recognition, we were a large crowd.
After the meeting we went back to Nate's new pad, which is very cool, and BBQ'd.Have I mentioned that my kids are in heaven right now, they are. Shane might be too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

a rocket ride

Cannon doesn't remember having ever flown on an airplane. Truth is, his first boarding pass was issued at about 21 days of age. Since then he has caught several flights, but his memory serves him false. It's okay, he's only 3. So today, when we boarded the plane to Utah, it felt like a brand new experience. I had to capture it. His most popular question was "when are we going to blast off?"
The flights were uneventful, which equates to easy and safe. An uneventful flight is always a friend of mine.
We made it to SLC around 4:30pm, picked up the rental and set forth to Pleasant Grove. We stopped for some necessities and arrived at the Eric Sharp's residence around 6:30pm. Tad (Talmage, 3), greeted us at the garage door with a sneak peek at his super fast running skills. Then the kids disappeared for hours, they were in heaven.

Ryli was dressed up by Madison. Tyler was in non-stop Bakugan battle mode with Boston, and Cannon and Talmage found mischief in every hiding place. The adults gathered around the table and caught up. It's great to see family...old friends.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

d90 playtime

I really do enjoy this fine piece of machinery. I don't have a clue how to speak it's language, but we're warming up to each other. Here is a little taste of some fun we've been having...

an overcast day at the park

a school night

a beastly raincoat
and Etsy treats...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


goodbye little guy...hello big poppa!
We are going to have so much fun together.

Monday, September 21, 2009

them: recently

Dance is here! My tiny dancer started at a new studio this year. New to us and new to Little Rock. She gets to dance with a special friend, Caroline, who she went to pre-school with and hasn't gotten to see much since.
Have I mentioned she is the absolute hardest child to get out of bed in the morning, I can't do it. Mornings do not shine brightly on our relationship, her dad on the other hand, is much more tolerant of her flailing. She is also posing as a well trained Kung Fu master. We aren't sure where this came from, but she insists she knows what she's talking about.
Cannon has named his baby. Back story: As Bubba has watched Ryli love her Liliana, he has decided he needs a baby of his own to love. He has asked repeatedly for an American Boy doll. Fortunately Ry came to his rescue with this. I bet no one can guess his chosen name (Becca's guess doesn't count)....Long Legged Viper. Apparently that is Cannon's spin on making his babydoll love tough. I don't know, I can't really say it with a straight face. Even at night when are searching desperately through the house so Cannon can go to sleep, we still snicker...he gets a little defensive. He is loving Gymboree, his most favorite days of the week are Tuesday and Thursday. He has a tendency to ask for something to eat (usually a snack of some sort) by complaining of a stomach ache. I try to explain to him that there is a short cut by just simply asking for something to eat, instead of prefacing the process with whining.Ty:
Tyler has found his way out of the daily troubles at school. We have put all cartoons, video games, and internet on hold, until we were certain they were no longer influencing him to make bad choices. We also asked his teacher to give him a little more of a challenge at school. She did, and he has risen to the occasion. He is slowly reclaiming his privileges . He has even been asking to come to the track with me on my morning jaunts. I'm enjoying our time together, even if we only chat en route.

Love those green eyes, they often save him from the wrath of an angry mom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

peculiar hand

Tonight we spent some time searching our room for the remote. Finally we gave up, until...Shane looked over while laying on his pillow and saw this...Tyler's doing, no doubt. After a day full eye-rolling and "uh-uh's" we have to document these strange little acts. I guess we'll keep him.
(Nevermind the weird hand. It's a prize Ty got from Larry's and we were sure it would end up in a scenario such as this. Do you like how he arranged the iPod too?)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

grand folks

Yesterday was

Ty and Ry were lucky enough to have two special guests, Gram and Sue-wee, grand and great-grand.

Ryli's class celebrated first by creating self portraits with bagels, cream cheese, and candy. They had a special song and then got to run their special guests through the book fair to ask for surprises. She was indulged by her Gram. I can tell Ryli feels special when she shrugs her shoulders up to her cheeks and gives a little close-mouthed grin. We saw several of those.

Tyler's class celebrated after lunch. The guests were treated to cookies and juice. While enjoying refreshments, we listened to each child stand and read a special memory they had with their grandparents followed by a drawing of that memory. Tyler's narrative was about his birthday dinner at Olive Garden. His drawing included a building with the initials OG at the top. They also got to run through the book fair where Ty was indulged, as well.
A special thanks to our specials guests. You made a difference, on anything other than ordinary Friday.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


9 years of wedded, um, roller coaster.
I have the best partner to travel this journey with doubt. We have lived, laughed, cried, and argued...and agreed. We started out together as Airman. Next we were long distance loves. Then we became husband and wife. Next a baby carriage. Now a family of 5, can I say that again, FAMILY of 5! Hard to believe.

I spent the day on the edge of my seat. Shane kept insisting on attending Young Mens tonight, even when I gave him my most hurt of faces. I was surprised to come home around 5:30 to see Sue-wee's car in my spot. I walked in to the smell of pizza baking in the oven, which really gave it away, there would be no Young Men's for Shane tonight.

Instead, we would dine at Ferneau. A fancy spot on Kavanaugh. A bouquet of 9 red roses awaited our arrival with a sweet card attached just for me. We narrowed our choice of appetizer to brie on toast with fresh strawberries, my entree was shrimp and grits with grilled asparagus and Shane chose the Ribeye with potatoes and heirloom tomatoes. We couldn't muster up any room for dessert, which was just fine because Sue-wee surprised us with Tiramisu from Sylvek's.

We ended early, it is a school night and I like to do the tucking in. The babes are never far from our thoughts, even on anniversary night. Tonight was pretty close to perfect, I appreciate simplicity. Tonight is a celebration of unity, and two becoming five. Sometimes I can't believe it's really all ours.

Over bliss, I choose roller coaster.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Never Give Up

Today was an important day in history. President Obama offered his thoughts and advice on education.
e-Stem wasn't able to tune this morning, they will catch it tomorrow. We however, watched and the kids. The boys lasted a few minutes, Ryli camped by my side for the entire event.
It was special.
When the President wrapped up his speech I asked Ry what she thought President Obama was trying to tell her, she said, "to never give up".
She gave me hope, and validated my vote.
I'm borrowing an idea from a friend, it was a good one. She posted his speech on her blog, in an effort, I'm sure, to preserve for her children. I feel compelled to do the same.
* * * * * * *
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

i heart the natural state

After weeks of searching, we agreed that staycationing was the call for Labor Day.
The Griffins have an aunt that lives in Sims, AR. She has land, horses, and a canoe. She lives a few minutes from the Ouachita. We were invited to spend the day exploring with them, the Tobler's and most of the Hartzell's.

I decided to ignore my head cold and try to be a good sport. I'm always in much better spirits when the car is pulling away from the house. Preparing for a road trip of any sort is extremely stressful for me...somehow all of the planning seems to fall on the mother. Sigh...

So off we went, to Sims. On the way Ty complained of a headache, within minutes his eyes were glassy and skin was on fire. Another bump in the road, another fever. We administered the Motrin. After 2 hours we arrived.

Aunt Terry's country reminded us all of the mountain west, a place we hold near and dear. We emerged from the car, with the road trip daze, to clean air and curious horses. Aunt Terry and Aunt Betty were waiting with smiles. Tyler managed to break his fever and we were able to stay for lunch and fun. The kids wanted little to do with the picnic portion of the afternoon, so we quickly moved on to the horse riding portion. All the kids got to ride "Jack"at least twice, they loved exploring the barn and feeding the horses cookies and apples.

Ryli kept wandering off to have private discussions with the horses. Teriney labeled her a hippie, which proved to be even more true later in the day. After quality time on the farm we decided to hit the water.Before even getting our canoe in the river Ryli was neck her clothes, in the water. She is one feisty little girl. We loaded up the gang and caravan-ed 3 canoes down the Ouachita. The weather was perfect, the water a little chilly. Shane and I were a bit rusty on the paddling and steering but managed our little family from point A to point B. It took us about 40 minutes, and we paddled pretty much the whole way. Ty often complained of getting splashed, Ryli complained about not being able to swim, Cannon just sat and offered to muscle the oars, sweet boy.

The mood on the river was so peaceful, and to sit and enjoy the silence did wonders for my soul. I loved being on vacation from reality, with only my family.

At the pull-out point Ryli was finally free to swim. Which she did...only this time she stripped down to her panties. Tyler chose not to swim, but to brush up on his rock skipping skills. Cannon swam with his friends and practiced picking up the largest rocks and throwing them in the water. While we waited for Aunt Terry to come get us, I sunbathed and contemplated where I could purchase a canoe of my own that late in the day. I have discovered a new hobby.

We loaded up and drove home. Bubba crashed, Ty and Ry enjoyed a dinner drive-thru treat and watched the rest of Star Wars. I made good on my promise for Shane's birthday gift, an X-Box360. Lucky for him Target was right on the way.

Mother Nature held in her moisture and gifted us a lovely day to bask in her beauty. There aren't very many places on this earth that tug at my heartstrings like this Natural State. I am so proud of my children for appreciating it's beauty like I do.