Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 22 - Home

A year ago today my family made a heart-wrenching move from the family home to a new home several miles east.  Both my wife and my oldest daughter have posted about their feelings about this move.  (Dulcinea's blog can be read here.)

The experience of getting here was intense.  In fact, it was like going through a fine strainer at high speed.  When we got to the other side of the strainer there was just us left.  And so we picked up and moved on.

I cannot express enough how much we love our new home, the ward we are in and our new neighbors.  We have felt like honored guests here from day one.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be here, however long that may be.

Day 21 - Trains

If we are talking about Christmas gifts, the quintessential gift is an electric train.  I remember getting one for Christmas and thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Yesterday I took my four youngest children to Dennis Sirrine's house (on 24th St. just south of McKellips in Mesa).  He has 4 acres of yard filled with over 2500 feet of garden scale train track.  The landscaping is phenomenal and the train setup is beyond belief.  Tailgunner's jaw dropped.  I could not believe the attention to detail that went into this guy's hobby.  There was a roundhouse, bridges, a lake, observation platforms, several train stations,a hobo sleeping underneath one of the miniature bridges and even a derailed train.  He will be opening it up again this coming weekend (Friday and Saturday) from 5:30pm - 8:30pm.  You gotta see this.

Day 20 - Noel

My sweet Dulcinea is a member of a phenomenal choir.  How that all came about is a story for another time (told by her) but, suffice it to say, it is a tremendous blessing for us.

Friday night the choir visited the home of a sweet lady who is dealing with a debilitating illness, and is not able to leave her house very often.  I got to tag along, and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the music they sang.  To my ears their pitch was perfect, their timing impeccable and their harmony divine.  Their music filled that home with a beautiful spirit that complimented and amplified the sweetness of their sound.

I felt the Christmas Spirit touch me in a way I haven't felt for years.  It wasn't an excitement for Christmas and seeing the kids open their presents.  Rather, it was a calm assurance that He lives.  That He really did come to earth.  Angels did announce His birth.  And His promises are sure.

During their opening number, "The First Noel", I couldn't help but watch their audience - this wonderful lady and her husband who were facing a grim future over the weeks and months ahead.  Their hope and faith in the Savior was radiating from their faces as they listened.

The Christmas Spirit was in that home - because the choir was giving service and because their audience was echoing their song with faith in the Savior.

My heart sang.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 19 - Decorating the Home

The Christmas season is replete with creativity.  People go to incredible lengths to sell their products or to proclaim their enthusiasm for the holidays, and we get to see some pretty cool things as a result.  
At home we are not extravagant but we get into the spirit as well.  This morning I took time to notice some of the decorations my wife has been putting up.  She filled a glass bowl with pine cones from the tree outside with several of the burned out Christmas lights mixed in for a little color.  A new wreath hangs on our door (mostly red - my favorite color), and a poinsettia plant is peaking out of a large vase in the entryway.  Mistletoe hangs from the entryway light, and pine boughs cover the edges of bookshelves and music cabinets.  A small village of Christmas themed objects grace the top of the bookshelf, and a Santa Clause figure joins a menorah and a glass jar of Christmas ornaments on one of the decorative shelves in the living room.  I am sure I will see more things set up as the season progresses.  Why do we do these things?  Well, it seems to me that decorating our homes with Christmas paraphernalia is one of the ways we express the

this season brings to our hearts.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Catch-Up Post

The busyness of the season has hit our household with full force and I am now a week behind in my posts.  (Which my wife pointed out with a subtle - "You need to get back to posting." this morning)

Without further ado -

Day 12 - Christmas Lights
Christmas would not be Christmas without the lights that ring the house.  My wife pulled out and sorted the various strings of lights into "working" and "not working" piles.  We decided on what we were going to do and then I dutifully climbed the ladder and began stringing lights.  My wife handed them to me and gave me great encouragement like: "You look cute while you string Christmas lights."

Day 13 - Mesa Temple Lights
Going to the Temple to see the lights is an annual family tradition.  We went this past Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This year we had some really cool 3D glasses that acted like prisms with each point of light.  It made tens of thousands of lights look like hundreds of thousands of lights.  Way cool.

Day 14 - Ward Party
This is our second Christmas in our ward (we celebrate our first year here on Sunday) but we moved the weekend after the ward party last year and so we missed it.  We thoroughly enjoyed it this year.  The theme was "Christmas Around the World".  Centerpieces were made out of different artifacts from countries around the world and the cultural hall was festooned with flags (my kind of decorations).  Members of the ward who had lived or who were from other countries told stories about their Christmas experiences in those countries.  I told the legend of the Poinsettia from Mexico.  Dulcinea played a flute solo, Teeney Bopper and Sweet G sang in a youth Choir, Dulcinea, Sweet G and I sang in the choir and Dr. D was Joseph in the nativity.  We made centerpieces with stuff from Mexico and Chile and Dulcinea and her friend Naunee made empanadas.  Yum!

Day 15 - December's Testimony Meeting
Our monthly Fast and Testimony meetings are generally inspiring and uplifting, but there is always something special about the one in December.  We come to Church with tender hearts, reviewing the year and remembering the true meaning of Christmas.  Fast and Testimony meeting this past Sunday was a feast.  Each person who stood up bore their simple witness that Jesus is the Christ.  The diversity of experiences and stages of life that were represented during the meeting added to the spirit that was there.  We heard from two members of our ward who have recently lost their spouses, a sister missionary who had just completed her mission three days earlier and a mother who had just sent her only child off on a mission to her home country of Japan.  Each person gave their witness and their perspective on the Atonement of Christ and the great gift of his life.  I was grateful for the testimonies that were shared.

Day 16 - Christmas Concerts
Friday we attended Sweet G's dance recital, Monday night we went to Blondie's orchestra concert and tomorrow we go to Teeney Bopper's ballroom dance recital.  Seeing our children perform is one of the things that warms our hearts in December.  We have fun trying to find parking, then seats and then cheering for our favorite performers (who share our last name and DNA, of course).

Day 17 - Jacket Weather
Although I bragged earlier about the lovely AZ weather in the winter time, we have been going through a cold spell lately that has required jackets to be worn when outside.  I actually had to brush dust off my coat before I put it on.  We even had snow in some parts of the valley this week that stayed on the ground until around noon.  (For those of you who routinely have to shovel the stuff I realize that this is no biggie, but for us it is almost the event of the year.)

Day 18 - Freedom
70 years ago today the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor Hawaii.  In the years that followed, a generation of men and women stood up and faced a determined enemy, ultimately winning the war.  I realize that war is the antithesis of Christmas, but the themes of loving something more than oneself, sacrifice and preserving freedom run through both topics.  And, of course, there is the promise that when He comes again war will end and we will live with real peace on Earth.
I am grateful for the men and women who have stood up against tyranny to defend freedom.  And I am most grateful that, because of their sacrifice, I have the freedom to worship according to the dictates of my own conscience.  Above all I am a grateful for the ultimate freedom that the Savior provides to all of us - freedom from death and sin.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 11 - Time and Reckoning

In just a couple of hours it will be December 1, 2011.  Although I have 11 months to prepare for its coming, December always catches me off guard.  A year that I still consider almost new marches inexorably towards its end.  In a few short days 2011 will be nothing more than a memory and, without skipping a beat, a new year will begin to run its course.

This intersection of old and new naturally invites reflection.  We look back on the changes we experienced during the year and look forward to new changes with anticipation.  December usually finds me in a poignant state of mind as I think back on what the year has brought and ahead to what the future might hold.

At the beginning of 2011 I knew there were two milestones my family would experience:  Little Miss getting baptized and Teeny Bopper's getting her driving permit.  Of course my wife and I would celebrate another year of married life together, and each of us would get a year older during this time.  Other than that, I didn't know what 2011 would hold.  The possibility of losing a close family member each year is always there, but 2011 took two members of the family I was not expecting.  One in an instant and another in a short but intense span of 35 days.  Both losses were keenly felt, and both taught me about forgiveness, personal growth, faithfulness, enduring to the end, and priorities.  I am grateful that a kind Heavenly Father provides comfort, growth and understanding in all of life's experiences - including the most difficult ones.

Although there is still a month to go before 2011 is "in the can" and, obviously, there are still experiences to be had this year, I am already looking forward to 2012.  My oldest daughter will be turning 16, become a Laurel at Church and a Junior in High School and begin dating (oh the horror!).  My second daughter will start High School and become a Mia Maid at Church.  My third daughter will turn 12, become a Beehive in the Young Women's program, go to the Temple for the first time to do baptisms and start Junior High.  Daughter number 4 doesn't have any major milestones this year, but she will be starting a new year in school and will be attending a new school.  Dr. Destructo will start Kindergarten and Tailgunner will be an only child for each day of the week.  I will hit a couple of anniversaries that are significant over the course of the year - 20 years since I went on my mission, 18 since I returned and 18 years of marriage.  Where did that time go?

That is what I know about 2012 - what I don't know is what will make it an adventure.  Just like all of the years before it.

Day 10 - My Bride

My sweet Dulcinea and I were married 17 years ago this month.  We had a reception here in Mesa the day of our wedding and then went down home to Mexico for a second reception right after Thanksgiving.  My Uncle Bob graciously allowed us to hold our reception in his Hacienda (pictured below courtesy of my Prima Camille).  About halfway through the night my wife realized that her wedding dress was not well suited for the energetic dancing typical of Mexican receptions and quietly slipped away for a few minutes.  When she reappeared she was wearing a pair of jeans, one of my button down shirts and her wedding veil.  We danced until 1am and had a blast!
Dulcinea absolutely loves Christmas!  If she hears a Christmas song in the middle of the year she lights up and gets excited. During the season itself, her enthusiasm will not be contained or dampened.  (Believe me - I've tried!)

She loves to sing with her beautiful voice and is anxious to decorate the house.  In fact - I'm pretty sure we are hanging Christmas lights today if she hasn't already done it by the time I get home from work.  As I mentioned on Day 3, she loves to find/bargain for/make presents for the Children.  She has a gift for loving our children, and it shows in her enthusiasm for Christmas.  Some of the many attributes I love about my sweet bride are:

  • Her eyes - I can't get over how beautiful they are
  • Her smile - lights up an entire room
  • Her modesty - both physically and personally.  A very attractive feature in such a beautiful woman
  • Her voice - absolutely beautiful
  • Her love for our children - I knew she would be the kind of mom she is, which is why I married her
  • Her love for me - I am still in awe
Christmas would not be nearly as much fun without my wife.  Love ya Dulcinea!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 9 - Music

Where Christmas music is concerned I find that I am somewhat of a traditionalist.  Although I enjoy the "modern" Christmas songs, it is the old Christmas Carols that move me the most.  They are the essence of Christmas to me.

Some of my favorite songs are:

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  • Silent Night
  • Mary's Lullaby
  • Joy to the World (I know - this is an Advent song - I still like it for Christmas)
Christmas would not be Christmas without music.  I'm grateful to have music in my holiday celebrations.

Day 8 - What I Love About the Temple

One of the many blessings I enjoy is the opportunity to serve as a Temple Ordinance Worker in the Mesa AZ Temple every Saturday morning.  Before the start of our shift all of the workers gather in a preparation meeting where we receive instruction and counsel from our coordinators and a member of the Temple Presidency.  The meeting helps set the tone for our shift.

This past Saturday Brother Palmer, one of the coordinators, shared a few of the things he loves about serving in the Temple.  President Hatch then stood up and invited each of us to go home and write a similar list down in our journal so that our children would have it for future reference.  Here are some of the items from my list:

  • I love seeing small children in the Temple who are being sealed to their parents.  It never fails to bring a smile to my face.
  • I love walking up to the Temple in the early hours of the morning when it is still dark outside and the Temple's lights are brightly lit.  
  • I thoroughly enjoy associating with the other workers on my shift.
  • I enjoy our preparation meetings at 5:45am each Saturday
  • I love putting on the white suit that I wear in the Temple.  It reminds me who's house I am in.
  • I enjoy eating breakfast in the Temple cafeteria with the Camerons.
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about Heavenly Father's Plan for his children
  • I love the Spirit that I feel every Saturday
  • I am thankful for the "softening" effect that Temple work is having on my character.
  • I love working with the four members of my ward who work on the same shift.
  • I love seeing people who I know inside the Temple
  • I love sharing my experiences in the Temple with my wife when I get home.
  • I am grateful for the clarity I experience in the Temple.  This was especially comforting during the past couple of months as our family has dealt with the sudden illness and death of a beloved uncle.
  • I am profoundly grateful for the sacred covenants I have made there with my sweet bride.
  • I appreciate the other members of my ward who serve in the Temple.
  • My testimony of Jesus Christ and His love for each of us is increased when I serve in the Temple.  
  • It is a privilege to officiate in the ordinances of the Temple.
Mesa Arizona Temple - Photo taken by Seth Seaman

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 7 - Family Visits

Yesterday I didn't get a post in, and I have been up since 4am, so this post is going to be short and sweet.
My parents came up from Mexico and brought my baby sister and her husband with them from El Paso.
My two sisters that live on opposite sides of the valley came to visit us twice in the last couple of days.
My brother-in-law came down from Utah for not even 24 hours so he could see us and say "hi".
My wife's dad and his siblings got together for a visit with Grandma Goodman.
I had a very good father-daughter visit with one of my girls last night
Each sentence in this post is smaller than the preceding one.
Visits from family are pretty awesome.
I am really grateful they happen.
This time of year is wonderful.
I really love my family.
This post is done.

Day 6 - Shooting

OK - shooting has nothing to do with Christmas or Thanksgiving, but it is a DeWitt family tradition.  After Thanksgiving we all go out and shoot clay pigeons till the cows come home.  Lots of fun.
This year we didn't go to Snowflake, but I was determined to keep up the tradition here.

Guess what?

It didn't happen.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 5 - Memories of Thanksgiving

One of the things most associated with the holidays are memories of holidays past.  Today we had the blessing of hosting my parents, my sisters and their families as well as an aunt and a cousin and her family.  As Dad offered the prayer before we began eating I thought back to my first Thanksgiving in Col. Juarez - 30 years ago this month.

My uncle John and his family along with our family, the Duncans, the Toscanos and Myrna Salgado all went over to Grandpa and Grandma Whetten's house.  Long tables were set up end-to-end in Grandma's front room with seats all around it.  I don't remember the conversations we had, but I do remember Grandpa Whetten's prayer.  It was a long one for an 8 year old boy to sit through, and I remember thinking "Grandpa sure is thankful for a LOT of stuff!"  I loved hearing Grandpa pray.  I know that he had tremendous faith, and when he prayed I knew that he was actually talking with God.

I felt that way while my Dad was praying in our home today.  He is thankful for a lot of stuff, and I know that he talks to our Heavenly Father when he prays.  I hope my children picked up on that so that it will be a memory they can have of their own Grandpa Whetten when they are adults.

After the dinner was over at Grandpa and Grandma's house all of the neighborhood kids would go out to Grandma's yard and play endless games of hide and seek, werewolf, kick the can and who knows what else.  Grandma's yard was the best place for these games and we could stay there for hours on end playing.

Today after our meal we went out to the greenbelt in front of the house and played Frisbee, threw footballs and had a good time.  When it got dark we came inside and played a card game and then gathered around the piano to sing songs.  It was wonderful!

I am most thankful for my family.  I am grateful they were able to come today and love being around them.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Grandpa and Grandma Whetten with me on my 1st B-Day

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 4 - Employment

Employment is probably not one of the first things you think about when you are contemplating Christmas, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving and this is something I am definitely thankful for.

Until I had been there myself I had no concept of the despair that comes from being unemployed.  I had frequently imagined what it might be like, but until you live it you can't fully grasp it.  Now that I have "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" I have a new found appreciation for employment.

Almost two years ago a wonderful neighbor that I have looked up to for years called and offered me a job working for one of his companies.  At the time I was catatonic with worry and didn't have a clue where I could go to find a job.  The pay wasn't spectacular but it met all of our basic needs and, more importantly, helped me feel like I was contributing once again.  I know that this kind man did not need to fill the position I took, but he knew that I needed a job - both to provide for my family and to get me back in the game of life.  During the course of my employment with him I had the opportunity to work with a very knowledgeable accountant who taught me several principles of accounting that I now use in my current job.  There were so many tender mercies extended to me during my 7 months with that company.  I will be forever grateful for my neighbor's unselfish concern for the welfare of my family and me.

A year ago this week another friend invited me to work for him.  The pay was a significant step up for me and it put into practice the training I had received over the previous 7 months at my other job.  It has also given me the opportunity to collaborate with other individuals as we have worked to build a business.  Being able to provide for my family while working in a stimulating environment has been a huge boost to my confidence.  I love my job and am grateful for my employer.

I am so grateful for my job.  I acknowledge God's hand in inspiring good men to give me a chance and allowing me to stand once again on my own two feet.  During this season of Thanksgiving I express my gratitude for God's tender mercies.  He is ever mindful of me, even when I don't always recognize it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 3 - Children

Christmas would not have nearly the magic it does without children.  They take delight in so many things about the season and see things from a perspective we once had but, in some instances, have long forgotten.  My own children are a constant reminder of the importance of keeping the big picture in mind when dealing with Christmas.

If you know me personally or have read previous posts on this blog you know that my family, like so many others, has had some frightful financial struggles recently.  During this time I frequently allowed my expectations of Christmas to needlessly stress me out.  Several Christmas miracles (one of which I recorded here) helped me regain my perspective, but far and away the greatest miracle to me was my wife and my children.

My wife would somehow come up with presents - trading things with friends, doing pedicures or taking on other projects to earn a little money - and she relished doing it.  She still does.  Although I would frequently retreat into my grinch alter-ego, it is impossible not to feel the excitement my wife has about doing something for her children.  And that is always the focus - the children.  She doesn't spoil them with fancy presents, but she has a talent for making our kids feel loved on Christmas morning.  And it is so fun watching her feel sneaky about the presents she gets for them.  She calls me up the minute she has put a plan into action.

On Christmas morning the children don't disappoint either.  They squeal with delight at every little thing and, oddly enough, it is the little things that seem to make them smile the most.  Last year Tail Gunner would not leave his stocking to open his other presents.  I watched my kids get excited about toothbrushes and their own personal tubes of toothpaste two years ago - and it wasn't a put on, they were genuinely thrilled.  Somehow my children know that it really is the thought that counts, or maybe it is the sheer joy they see in their mom's face as they open their presents, but they just bask in the love on Christmas morning and their smiling happy faces make even an old grinch like me smile.

Children fill a home with the Christmas spirit, because children have a natural ability to detect love.  During this sacred season they instinctively react with joy as we celebrate the greatest love ever manifest to mankind.

I am grateful for my children, and the love they bring into my life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 2 - Arizona Winter Weather

While the rest of the country dreams (or digs out) of a white Christmas, here in AZ we wear shorts.  In fact December weather is one of the great blessings of living in Arizona.  (We won't mention May thru September)
The days are absolutely beautiful!
I love being outside, going for walks, enjoying the winter rye grass lawns and just plain enjoying the freedom of lower temperatures. 
While I do miss the dramatic changes of the seasons I enjoyed growing up in Mexico, the change in temperature is dramatic enough to keep me smilin'.
Yep - Arizona is mighty fine in wintertime.  Just ask half of Canada, 3/4's of Minnesota and all of the Dakota's. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Season of Distraction or of Inspiration?

From the first day of our marriage, my sweet Dulcinea and I have gotten along famously and have had very few serious disagreements.  That being said, we do have pet peeves, and of all the little pet peeves my wife has about me, there is one that really gets her.  Fortunately it only comes out once a year:

My alter ego - November 1 through December 24th

My list of things I don't like about Christmas is very cliche, and boils down to how much the commercialization of Christmas bugs me.  I know - very original (I said it was cliche).

What a self-righteous rant!

The scriptures and God's prophets are constantly counseling us to "be in the world but not of the world."  Certainly this counsel should apply to our attitude towards one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.  If I allow my own self-righteous indignation to crowd out the Spirit of Christmas, don't I trivialize it far more than the retailers whose advertisements drive me nuts?

To help me overcome this fault and fill my heart with the Spirit of Christmas this season I am embarking on a project of personal improvement.  From now until December 25th I will spend time each day writing about Christmas.  It will include memories of Christmases past, Christmas stories, family traditions or simply an expression of gratitude for my Savior and His great gift to me.

Day 1 - Longing for Home
I love how the hearts of so many people grow more tender towards their family during the Christmas Season.  Something about the Christmas Spirit draws us closer together as a family.  We long to be with those we love, and often we long to be with them in our old homes or home towns.  Gifts given or received may briefly cross our minds, but mostly we remember being around our family.

I am thankful for my family, and I have been blessed with a large one.  My wife and children, my parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and cousins are all a joy to be around.  I love each one of them and the promise we have of being a family on into the eternities.

I am thankful for the central role that families play in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Uncle Clifford

On Sunday our family lost a cherished member.  I have tried to write about the feelings I have had as our family has exercised our faith on Uncle Cliff's behalf over the past five weeks, but I feel that perhaps they are too personal and sacred to share here.  
I sure am going to miss Uncle Cliff.  I'm grateful for his example and wish I could be with the family this weekend as we remember him.

Godspeed Tio.

Clifford Leon Whetten
(February 10, 1946 - September 11, 2011) 

Guest Book Sign Guest Book Send Private Condolences
Clifford Leon Whetten

Clifford Leon Whetten
Clifford Leon Whetten left this mortal existence on September 11, 2011 surrounded by his loving family. His passing was sudden yet sweet, due to complications from pancreatic cancer. At the time of his diagnosis, Clifford was serving as the MTC President for the LDS Church in Lima, Peru.
Clifford was born February 10, 1946 in Colonia Chuichupa, Chihuahua, Mexico to Glen and Ada Whetten. He was the seventh of ten children. His siblings were his best friends throughout his life.
After graduating from the Juarez Stake Academy, he served his first mission in Northern Mexico. He married Rosalyn Hatch in the Mesa, AZ temple on December 21, 1968. Together they were blessed with four children.
After earning degrees from BYU and UTEP, Clifford moved his family to College Station, TX. Upon earning his PhD from Texas A&M, he remained at the university as a professor of education administration and multi-cultural studies. They spent many happy years in Texas raising their family. During that time, he served as a branch president, bishop and as a member of the stake presidency.
Clifford retired from teaching early, at the age of 59, when he was called to serve as president of the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission from 2005-2008. Upon completing their mission, Clifford and his wife settled in Utah to be closer to their children and grandchildren. But their love of missionary work was put into action once again when he and his wife went to serve at the MTC in Lima, Peru in January 2010. Clifford received an honorable release from his earthly missionary service on September 7, 2011, four days before his passing.
Clifford is survived by his eternal companion, Rosalyn; their children Diana Windley (Ryan), Carolyn Smith (Jacob), Renee Christensen (Gary), and David (Natalie); their grandchildren Jett, Lauren, Luke, Jenna, Tommy, Carter and Sammy; and his siblings John, Velma, Amanda, Robert, Edward, Earline, and Don.
He is preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Glen and Bert.
Funeral services will be held Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11 a.m. at the Valley View Ward, 2455 North Valley View Drive, Layton. Friends may visit family Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 No. Fairfield Road and Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the church.
Interment, Croydon Cemetery.
The family gives appreciation to Dr. Mark Ott and the many nurses at IMC who provided our husband and dad with compassionate care during the last five weeks.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the LDS General Missionary Fund.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I love you but...

A couple of days ago my oldest son, Dr. Destructo, was tap dancing on my very last nerve.  Someone had come home from Jamba Juice a few minutes earlier and the remnants of a smoothie were being shared between the three youngest members of the family.  (I know, gross, but they didn't care so who was I to insist on hygiene? They're related anyway.)
Inevitably there was a screaming match going on between the youngest one and his two older siblings as they took to the smoothie like a school of piranhas.  I had a massive headache at the time and had watched the two older ones take sip after sip without letting the little guy get his head in there for a chance.  This, of course, set him off.

(Before we go any further you should know, if you don't already, that two-year-olds of both genders have been blessed with the most piercing high-pitched wail known to man.  If you happen to have a headache when the wail goes off it will instantly reduce you to a blubbering pile of goo on the floor.)

Tailgunner was getting his wail worked into a fine crescendo, so I stepped in before he did irreparable harm to my head.  I had just told the two older ones to back off when Dr. Destructo swept in for one more shot of smoothie, setting off Tailgunner like an air raid alarm.  I lost it.

Nailing my oldest boy to the floor with a look of death I began the roaring for which I am known (unfortunately) in my house.  As I looked at him the most interesting thing took place.  I could see from the look on his face that he was about to argue with me that it really was his turn at the smoothie. "Dad..." he began saying, but then he caught the expression on my face.  His eyes widened and then his voice got very small and said:  "Dad, I love you Dad."

His expression (undoubtedly one of self-preservation) took almost all the steam out of my boiler, but I was still too worked up to completely think through my response:

"I love you too son, but you have to be obedient."

I was irritated that he had been disobedient and because his actions were aggravating my headache.  No doubt my son needed correction, however by putting that conditional "but" in the middle of my sentence I'm afraid that I communicated a very damaging message to my son.  It no sooner came out of my mouth than I realized I had failed the test of that moment.

There are no "buts" when it comes to the love a parent has for their child.  It is not conditional on their performance, they do not have to be constantly earning it and they should never feel that they are in danger of losing that love.

Could I re-do this moment I would have said "I love you too son, and because I love you I want you to learn to be obedient."

"Dad, I love you Dad"
In my mind's eye I can see Heavenly Father saying:  "I love you Paul, and because I love you I will give you another opportunity to take this test down the road.  Be sure you don't forget the lessons you learned from failing this test."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stereotypes Rule!

Last night our ward had its annual swim party at a local pool.  In the weeks leading up to the party several of the men commented on the cannonball contest that was held at each party and asked me whether or not I would be competing.  (I guess they were expecting something spectacular due to my rather portly figure)
I really didn't want to compete for a few reasons:

  • Heights terrify me and the contest was to be held off the high dive
  • I always worry that the diving board will snap off when I get out on the end
  • I didn't want to prove the stereotype that the fat guy ALWAYS wins the cannonball contest (it is technique, not size, that wins)

Hats (or crowns) off to the previous holders of the Salt River Ward Splash King title:

2006 - Brian O'Barr
2007 - Jay Coombs
2008 - Tim Green
2009 - Brian O'Barr
2010 - Gregor McHardy
2011 - Yours Truly

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aqui 'toy

For well over a year now I have not posted anything on this blog or my other one.  As much as I enjoy writing, I haven't had the time to do so, and those few times I have sat down to write things I have suffered from pretty serious writer's block.  (In fact, I am having trouble figuring out how to end this post).
I guess the whole point of this post is that - I'm coming back.  I flatter myself that some people who read my blog in the past will take up reading it again but, regardless, I will begin writing again.  If nothing else it will help me "untangle the webs in my head" which is the original reason I created this blog in the first place.