27 June 2016

Quick hello

Today's post-haircut sneer - the Vein of
Approval on his forehead liked it - I
gotta tell ya, I love this kid!
We are, as of today, just shy of seven weeks away from TMFKATB's return from his two-year missionary service. If he's counting down the weeks and days, his letters do not really reflect that. Today's letter still shows a young man focused on the work to be done, particularly in the face of more than a little change.

At the end of this week, a new mission president begins his three year service in TMFKATB's mission. This, people, is no small task and not for the faint of heart. The men and women that lead these missions across the world are a special breed and we are grateful for them. With any large change that impact a bunch of 18 - 20 year olds, the rumor mill is running at DefCon 5 about what's coming. TMFKATB's take on it? "Excited" was the word he used. Because the LDS community is the definition of a small world, we have some Kevin Bacon-esque 'Six Degrees of Separation' to his new mission president and it's nothing but good. So excited is a good place for him to be.

In his pearl of wisdom today, I was counseled to get my haircut in, and I quote, "the ghetto" because they know how to cut hair there. So a couple of things...he got his haircut today by a lady from Puebla, Mexico. She is living in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. They are behind the Zion Curtain. Doesn't that just scream "ghetto?" Yeah, I didn't think so. But then again, he still thinks that growing up on the mean streets of the Dirty 630, Naperville, IL, was a rough go.

Like his father, he's not right. But I'm so good with that.

25 June 2016

"He's just not right. Now it's bridges." It's another installment in the "Man, I'm glad I'm not him" series!

The Sunshine Skyway - Tampa / St. Pete
 For any of you that have read more than one post here in the Den, there's a lot you can learn. This is not because I'm a fount of wisdom or a member of MENSA. I am neither. Read here and learn from my mistakes. I've even dedicated a series here to those key learning opportunities (you're welcome).

The Jamestown Verrazano near Newport, RI
In my zeal to let you learn from my mistakes, I've also let you know how I think and what makes me tick or ticks me off. So not only do you get to learn from my mistakes, you get to say, "Man, I'm glad I'm not him!" After reading what follows, I suspect you'll be saying exactly that.

The Claiborn Pell near Newport, RI
Let me tell you about my mild case of, wait for it, gephyrophobia. That's fear of bridges, people. Now, as I said, mine's a mild one and I blame it squarely on 1970's disaster films (Earthquake! I'm calling you out!) and the I15 flyover to Satan's Favorite Freeway, the westbound I91 in Corona, CA. For five years, I was on that overpass every weekday morning. I typically was sitting on its highest point for 10 - 15 minutes depending on how backed up things were at 530AM (because SoCal traffic is awesome!). As a result, I had my earthquake escape plan because there was no way I was pancaking to the earth during the Big One. No way was I going out in my beater commuter Camry car either. In my head, each of my myriad escape plans was more perfect than the next. Let me assure you, each one was doomed to failure had the Big One ever gone down. I was never at ease on those mornings on that stupid bridge and it was there where the seeds of gephyrophobia were set.

Fast forward to my trip to America's penal colony, Florida, recently to see CAL. Our trek from Tampa to Miami took us over the Sunshine Skyway. This did not please me one bit. If you are not familiar with its history, spoiler alert - it's not pleasant. In 1980, a cargo ship hit it, causing a partial collapse sending 35 people to their deaths. Seeing it in the distance that Friday afternoon was disconcerting. As I recall I went into hyperdrive talking mode as we crossed the span. I really hope CAL didn't notice me rubbing my thumb and forefinger like there was no tomorrow (Hello, coping mechanism!).

Then there was a twofer today. The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I decided to go down to Newport, RI for the day. So did every other person from Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey based on the sweaty hordes assembled there. But I digress. Traveling from our part of Connecticutistan into Newport allows us the joy of crossing the Jamestown Verrazano and Claibon Pell (on another note, why does that name make me think of Foghorn Leghorn?) bridges in fairly quick succession. As we approached the first, I uttered my mantra, 'I hate bridges' and began the rubbing of my thumb and forefinger and I didn't stop until we were across both.

With that over, we had a great time in Newport, except for the parking. Don't get me started. We wound up walking the Cliff Walk and it was spectacular. We saw a few little summer getaway houses like this:

Short sale, anyone? Let's go halfsies!
And we soaked up scenery like this:

We walked close to nine miles throughout the course of the day there, which ended at a burger dive populated by, I kid you not, Johnny Depp impersonators channeling Captain Jack Sparrow. Sufficiently sated and with my arches screaming, we headed home. This of course meant traversing my two new favorite bridges. The first was the Foghorn, I mean Claiborn Pell. As we proceeded up the span in the inside lane, we noticed the jagweed in a car several lengths ahead of us was weaving precariously into the other lane. The car ahead of us in our lane was forced to lay on the brakes and the horn simultaneously. Already just a little anxious (thumb and forefinger rubbing), this tool was not going to make things any easier. As we got closer, it became obvious why. This joker was filming his drive across the bridge, left arm out the open window with his phone out, capturing it all. He was veering into our lane because, well, he was an idiot. I should point out that we were in my rather large and environmentally deleterious Yukon. He was in a tiny, nondescript Korean car. Sure enough, he veered into our lane. At that point, it was game on and hasta luego, gephyrophobia! I laid on the horn and because of the size of my Yukon, I blocked his view. He had the testicular fortitude to start screaming that his view was blocked - all at 40 plus miles an hour, mind you. While we had not reached the bridge's peak height of 215 feet, we were close. I'd be lying if I did not quickly think how with one quick jab of my steering wheel to the right, he and his tiny sedan would be sailing into the water and there'd not be a scratch on my Yukon. Suffice to say, I decided to linger and block his view a little more before speeding away. As I glanced in my rear view mirror, he did the same thing to the driver behind me. She laid into him with her horn, and since she was in a convertible, gave him a visual sign of her displeasure with his utter obnoxiousness. Good for her.

If nothing else, that little encounter helped me forget about the whole bridge issue. Like I said, my case, based wholly on a diagnosis provided by Wikipedia, is mild if anything at all. So what have we learned today? Well, clearly, if your take away is 'Man, I'm not glad I'm not him with this whole bridge thing,' then my work here is done. More importantly, if your take away is 'Man, I'm not using Wikipedia to self-diagnose anything,' then I've really done something good today. You're welcome.

20 June 2016

Time is flying

TMFKATB atop a big tree stump
As I get older, the well worn adage about time flying by is all kinds of true. Mondays roll around with frightening speed and when TMFKATB's letter arrives, I think to myself, 'Wait, didn't we just correspond a day ago?' No, Copernicus, it was seven days ago. Time, my friend, is truly flying by.

It appears to be doing the same for TMFKATB. In this week's letter, he lamented the passing of time. With just under two months to go (like eight weeks), he is an old man in the mission and he's feeling it. Here's how he summed up how he's feeling about the march, or stampeding, of time:

I can't believe it, time is beginning to go even faster just to annoy me!

I just feel like there's no time to breathe! I love it though. This is the pace I love to work at it.

He's taking it in stride. I marvel in the maturity that he has gained over the course of his service in both Mexico and behind the Zion Curtain. He was always a pretty even-keeled kid, in that he wasn't one for raging outbursts or dramatics, but he's taken it to new level in these two years. He found out today that they will be taking in another missionary, making their companionship a trio. Things happen. Missionaries are not perfect (Looking for evidence? I give you my two years of missionary service) and sometimes companionships need to be changed STAT. So sometimes that means a trio. Trios are not easy to manage. But here's how TMFKATB perspective on it: It will be a fun couple of weeks of hard work.

Once again, the teacher becomes the student. My son is teaching me, reminding me of the importance of perspective and making the best of a challenging situation. I suppose it's on each of us to do exactly that in whatever life, or our own choices, deal us. Make the best of it, my friends.

19 June 2016

On Fathers Day

One of my favorite pictures of my three
(I know I've posted this oldie but goodie
before, but as I said, it's one of my favorites!)
It is a wise father that knows his own child.
~ William Shakespeare

My adventure in fatherhood began twenty six years ago with the arrival of Our Lady of Awesome. In fairly short order (not Irish Twin short, but short enough), CAL and TMFKATB joined the mix and it truly has been an adventure ever since.

As with any adventure, there have been tremendous highs (seeing any of your children finding their happy), some challenging lows (heartbreak, daughters right before they turn 13), some moments of panic when you might have gotten lost ("Hi kids, you're in the middle of your critical formative years and guess what? We're moving. Again!"), and even some moments of wondering will this ever end (How many times can we go to the ER in a year with TMFKATB? How long does college last again?). This is an adventure I wouldn't trade for anything, because along the way, I've gotten to know my three children. I've not reached the enlightened wise state that the honorable Mr Shakespeare refers to, but that's the beauty of fatherhood; it is an ongoing thing. As long as they'll let me, I can still be their Dad. You can call me a lot of things (a lot of which are unsuitable for printing here, I know), but the best thing I've been called is Dad. Getting to know my children has been the greatest joy of my life. I strive to be better because of them. My life is better because of them and I hope they've picked up a thing or two from me along the way.

I said my fatherhood adventure began twenty six years ago but I misspoke. It started long before that. It began when I became my late father's first born. Placed into the arms of my mother and father when I was just two days old, I was introduced then and there to the unconditional love of a father.  Just as his love was unending, so was his patience. Trust me when I tell you that we, his three children, worked hard to try it, but he won. His love and patience won. There's a huge lesson there. For me, though, the biggest lesson from my father taught me was his love for my mother. I cannot adequately put into words that love, so my hope is that my children have learned a similar lesson from me - that to love their mother is the greatest gift I could have given them. 

I am in no way a perfect father or husband. "Epically flawed" (not Homer J. Simpson-level flawed, but you get my drift) is probably a more apt description but I've tried and continue to try each day. Being Dad to my three children is a role I relish each day, even though none of three are under our roof anymore. I look forward to trying each and every day to being their Dad. I couldn't ask for anything more.

13 June 2016

Because food

Because a boat of sushi is good for the soul
After what I can safely say has been the most intense (#TheStanfordRapist, the slaughter of 49 innocent people because assault rifles are meant for target practice) weekend of blogging here in the Den, I think we're ready for a bit of a pivot. And what better way to pivot than news from TMFKATB? This week's update was a brief celebration of the good he encountered this past week. While given Sunday's vicious hate-fueled slaughter in Orlando, it may be hard to believe there's much good left in the world, there still is.

TMFKATB saw it as they were dealing with their own broken down car. Someone was willing to help them and get it going again. He saw it in the face of someone who was willing to let them in and hear what they had to say. Those are little things but I needed to hear that today. There's still some good out there.

He also, proving yet again he is so my son, celebrated the food they encountered this week. How can you go wrong when you celebrate your lone day off as a missionary with sushi for lunch? Or when you get to dive into stuff like this:

Shrimp cocktail - he called it the best he'd
had in a long time

God bless my Cuban soul! Arroz, frijoles negros,
ropa vieja y plátanos
These meals that he had were given to him by people as acts of kindness. Again, there's still good out there. And what better way to celebrate that goodness than over a good meal. Because food is awesome and a welcome relief from the Hellscape of this past weekend.

Editorial Note - Saturday's post on #TheStanfordRapist has quickly become the most read post in the Den. Mine is but one voice but I can only hope that it has sparked a conversation in your sphere of influence about turning away from the rape culture that is so pervasive in our country. Sunday's post, while raw in the wake of the slaughter in Orlando, has also garnered a lot reads and has sparked some discussion on the Facebook. Conversation time is over. Our elected officials need to stop genuflecting at the blood-soaked feet of the NRA and do something to stop this madness. Now.

12 June 2016

50 Dead

Photo Credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel
50 Dead

50 People Killed

50 lives snuffed out by the cold brutal efficiency of an AR-15 rifle and a handgun in the hands of, and no, I do not think it's too soon to assign a label, a madman. Only a madman could perpetrate such a crime.

The slaughter of those 50 people was not the only crime committed last night. Perhaps the greater crime has been our nation's inability to take any action whatsoever to prevent these crimes from happening again. This ongoing macabre parade of mass death at the hands of gunmen happens nowhere else in the world, except for the gang at ISIS. Ironically, we are trying to exterminate them. But, hey, take action here at home? Don't be silly.

What is it going to take for these mass killings to end? In considering the history of just a few of these, because they are too numerous to count or sadly even remember, it seems like they have touched all corners of our American life. For your consideration:

Where people go to scarf down fast food: McDonalds, San Ysidro, California
Where people send their little ones to elementary school: Sandy Hook Elementary
Where people send their teens to school: Columbine High School
Where people send their kids for higher learning: Virginia Tech
Where people go for some movie escapism: Century 16 Theaters, Aurora, CO
Where people go to study scripture and to pray: Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC
Where people go for a night out: Pulse, Orlando, Florida

Notice that not one of those places was an active war zone where one knowingly understands the risks of what lies ahead. The only danger that the people eating at McDonalds that day in 1984 was from the fat in the fries, not from a crazed killer. Not one child at Sandy Hook expected to be slaughtered that morning by a madman with an assault rifle. Not one person seeing that "Batman" movie that night in Aurora knew they were at risk of being killed by yet another madman armed with an assault rifle.

The assault rifle, in all its forms, has played an outsized role in these killings. But according to the NRA and their ominously named Institute for Legislative Action, assault rifles are harmless. Because target practice. Read for yourselves:

The AR-15, the firearm that gun control supporters most often call an “assault weapon,” is the most popular rifle on the market today, accounting for one-fourth of all rifles manufactured in the United States. AR-15s are commonly kept for protection, they’re the most widely used rifle in marksmanship competitions and formal training, they’re widely used for recreational shooting, and they’re commonly used for hunting. Americans acquire roughly a million new AR-15s every year, in addition to large numbers of comparable semi-automatic rifles.

I could maybe get on board with that statement if it read with a little bit more of reality in it. Something like this:

The AR-15, the firearm that gun control supporters most often call an “assault weapon,” is the most popular rifle on the market today, accounting for one-fourth of all rifles manufactured in the United States. AR-15s are commonly kept for protection from imagined threats, they’re the most widely used rifle in marksmanship competitions and formal training, they’re widely used for recreational shooting of humans, and they’re commonly used for hunting innocent people. Americans acquire roughly a million new AR-15s every year, in addition to large numbers of comparable semi-automatic rifles.

Chris Murphy, Democratic Senator - Connecticut, unloaded this morning on his Congressional cohorts, rightfully calling them out for their complicity in this latest assault:

"This phenomenon of near constant mass shootings happens only in America - nowhere else.
Congress has become complicit in these murders by its total, unconscionable deafening 
silence. This doesn't have to happen, but this epidemic will continue without end - if
Congress continues to sit on its hands and do nothing - again."

He's right. 100% right. These mass murders will continue to happen until our elected representatives actually do something to bring an end to the madness. But I'm not going to hold my breath. Their record of intransigence and epic 'do-nothingness' is unmatched. 

In the meantime, what's happened to our humanity? We have completely lost sight of our humanity. Once you've lost respect for humanity, I would imagine that it's very easy to no longer see the child at the end of that gunsight as child but a target. Or the gay man as nothing more than something that needs to be eliminated. Or the black woman grasping her Bible as nothing more than an enemy.

Yes, guns are a huge problem and an ugly issue to even try and solve. But how are we going to solve for this issue of humanity? 

We've got to figure out how to save ourselves. Fast.

11 June 2016

This has to stop.

When is it enough already?

When will NO finally mean NO?

When will we, men in particular, finally stand up and say, "This has got to stop."

These are just some of the questions I've been pondering in the wake of the horrific Stanford rape case. This case has drawn, and rightfully so, a harsh and unforgiving light on just how far we have gone off the rails in terms of our humanity. It has lain bare the hideous rape culture that exists in our nation. It has further exposed a pulsating vein of racism and misogyny that has existed in our country for far too long. It has to stop.

Our rape culture has got to stop. #TheStanfordRapist took no responsibility for his crime, blaming it instead on alcohol and promiscuity. I'm curious to know who put the gun to his head and forced him to drink that night. I'm curious to know who put the gun to his head and forced him to rape that unconscious woman. But the culture of rape allowed him to take no responsibility. His father, in defending his son, talked about the crime his son committed as an "action" which would have lifelong consequences for his son. Again, thanks to the culture of rape, the father never mentioned the victim nor what she will deal with for the rest of her lie. As Pastor John Pavlovitz wrote in his brilliant response to the father of #TheStanfordRapist, "There is no scenario where your son should be the sympathetic figure here. He is the assailant. He is the rapist." When are we going to stop with this foolishness of the accused being the sympathetic one?

The one for whom sympathy should have been abundant, the victim, was instead blamed for what happened to her. Much like Pavolovitz' statement that there is no scenario where the rapist is the sympathetic one, there is not.one.single.scenario where a woman is to blame for being raped. Not one. Yet, victims of rape are forced time and again to justify why they shouldn't have been raped. A woman should never fear that reporting a rape will get her tossed out of her university. My own alma mater has a long way to go to repair the damage done there. Is it any wonder why this heinous crime is so underreported? Who would want to sit in front of a jury and have to explain why your actions, like walking to your car alone, weren't the reason why a man was compelled to rape you? It is insanity. How is it that we have accepted for far too long that woman is not always the victim?

The judge in this miscarriage of justice clearly forgot that #TheStanfordRapist was not the victim. He saw a privileged white young man who got carried away after an evening of drinking. Had it been a man of color, it would have been a far different outcome. Across our country, young men of color accused of similar crimes are doing life sentences. #TheStanford Rapist will do six months prison time. He should be doing years. When will we stop ignoring the blatant racism that infects our judicial system?

Our judicial system failed the victim of #TheStanfordRapist in epic ways. That failure is a reflection of the misogyny that is rife in our country. When the Republican nominee for President, who in addition to his unbridled bigotry, racism, and incessant lying, is an open misogynist, with inexplicable support from some women, can verbally assault women without recrimination, our tolerance of misogyny is an irrefutable, disgusting fact.

If nothing else, the horror of #TheStanfordRapist may be the turning point for us as a nation. It may be a slow pivot, but it feels like it's finally enough. NO meant NO yesterday, today, and forever. I have so many women in my life - starting with my wife, my two daughters, and an eight month old granddaughter. What an amazing thing it would be if she could grow up knowing rape culture was not a thing and that misogyny was a thing of the past.

If that's going to happen, it's time to put an end to it - the culture of rape, the misogyny. It is time that we stand up and say, "This has got to stop." We just can't say it. There's got to be action. Take action in your family, your community, your sphere of influence. Make it stop. Women deserve it. Humanity deserves it. Make it stop.

08 June 2016

The crazy cat lady among other things

Much like Lisa, TMFKATB and his companion went
running from the crazy cat lady too
Due to a slew of meetings earlier this week, Preparation Day, or this week's day off, for TMFKATB did not fall until today. I will tell you right now that it was worth the wait. This week's letter was one of the best we've gotten from him in his nearly two years of service in Mexico and behind the Zion Curtain.

For one, and this made my English major's heart, dare I say it, swell, it was full of detail around what he was feeling during the week. As I read his letter, I felt the emotion he must have felt as he wrote it. I felt especially close to my son today and that was a tremendous feeling. Secondly, he talked a great deal about the love he has for the things he has been taught. His gratitude and love for his Savior was abundantly evident. Those are beautiful things to read.

At the same time, he's still The Boy. I laughed out loud as he briefly recounted their run-in meeting with the crazy cat lady in, wait for it, the trailer park (didn't see that coming, did you?).  He wrote:

We have met some interesting people. We met some psycho lady who
ran us off her porch. She had no teeth and a thousand cats.
I think she tried to cast a spell on us.

'Been there, done that,' I thought as I read this. The run-in with the crazy cat lady is a rite of passage for any Mormon missionary, I think. It doesn't matter where you serve, you're going to run into the local version of the crazy cat lady. My first run-in, because there were many (because Florida), happened in my first area in Hialeah, Dade County's capitol of all that is not right. We didn't run into her knocking doors. She literally ran into us. As my companion and I rode our bikes toward our apartment, we passed a series of two-story apartment buildings with six or eight units that dot much of the landscape of Hialeah. In the mid-80's, they were Ground Zero for the Marielitos. So working those buildings was like playing a supremely twisted version of "Let's Make A Deal." You really did not want to know what was behind Door #3. Trust me. As we passed one of those fun houses, she burst out of nowhere, bolting at us screaming and flailing in a way that in any other neighborhood would have brought multiple calls to 9-1-1. Not Hialeah. Convinced her ravings were curses (because Santeria), we did all we could to veer around her. The old men sitting in front of the building, chain smoking their cigars, just kept yelling, "Ay la loca!" and laughing. They weren't paying her much attention. We'd continue to run into her. She liked to surprise us, often bursting out of nowhere like she did the first time. She once hollered at us from her balcony but even in my limited knowledge of Spanish at that point, I knew she wasn't inviting us over for dinner. Suffice to say, we never worked her building.

It's probably been thirty one years since I last saw her. TMFAKTB's letter and the memory it triggered make it seem like yesterday. Given what I saw during my last two trips to Hialeah, one just last month, methinks she may still be there, bursting out of nowhere and surprising / scaring pretty much anybody. Good for her.

02 June 2016

Though the eyes of a child

From 'The Present' @jacobfrey.de
The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I spent the last several days with our grandchildren behind the Zion Curtain. Would you believe me if I told you we didn't enjoy our time with them? I didn't think so. We loved every minute of it. It was tough to leave last night, especially when we were staring down the barrel of a heinous delay on what was already a heinous red-eye flight but that's a rant for another time.

It was a busy trip, especially since we were celebrating our grandson's third birthday. There was some time to relax though. At one point during some downtime, my grandson and I were sprawled on the couch, pondering our next move. I, frankly, was waiting for the start of a Cubs game but channel surfing in his house really isn't an option. Apparently, reruns of Top Gear (let me be perfectly clear - I mean reruns with the Three Idiots, not the rebooted travesty that premiered last Monday - I lasted less than seven minutes through that dreck - my annual prostate exam is more pleasant - The Grand Tour cannot get here soon enough) and Ridiculousness are verboten for a three year old. I'm not sure I understand that one - what better way, other than Jackass is there to teach an adventurous kid what might go horribly wrong for him if he gets a little too crazy? I know, #grandfatheroftheyear

I then remembered a short film I had seen a few weeks ago that had hit my Facebook feed. I thought it might be a good one for him to watch. You may have seen it. It's called "The Present" and it is four minutes of perfection. It, for me, is akin to the opening 10 minutes of "Up." If that opening sequence doesn't move you, we can all agree that you have no soul. I wondered how my grandson might react to the film and how he did taught me a lesson. Here's the video:

As the boy and his puppy went outside to play at the end of the film, my grandson asked me the following question:

Grandpa, what are they going to go play?

At that moment, it struck me hard how he did not see what I dare say all us adults saw in both the puppy and the boy. We saw what was missing. We saw the boy's frustration at a gift he saw as flawed. We saw what was wrong. My grandson saw a puppy having fun with a red ball. He saw a boy and his puppy going outside to play and it was important to him to know what game they might be playing next. Through the eyes of a three year old, there was nothing missing. There were no flaws. He saw that these two were going to do something fun.

What if we all saw the world the way three year olds do? From what I've seen, they don't see the things that make us different, like skin color or a disability. They don't see what's wrong. They have an uncanny ability to make things work. Toss a few snacks their way and they are all good. What if things worked that way in your place of work?

Look, I get it. Life gets complex mighty fast. There are significant challenges in our world (#NeverTrump) and it's going to take a little more than the wisdom of three year olds to solve for those. But what if we took a step back from time to time and looked at things through the eyes of a child. Instead of seeing what's wrong, take time to see what's time. Take time to wonder what you would do if you could go play for a little while. The answers may surprise you.


As is what is now a long-standing tradition here in the Den, today we honor a Denizen on his birthday. By all accounts, it's a big one. So big that, thanks to a wicked good fare sale (so good that it was totally appropriate to burst into a rousing rendition of 'Let my people go'!) from the revenue management gods at JetBlue, we were able to celebrate our grandson's third birthday with him.

Turning three is not for the faint of heart. It's a big deal, especially for our grandson, B. You're potty-trained. You are genetically programmed to ask "why" every 1.7 seconds. You say "what the" and then pause dramatically whenever you encounter something that befuddles you. You really love your little sister and your hugs prove that, although her occasional bulging eyes would suggest you might want to turn it down on the strength of said hugs. You love your friends and it looked like you had so much fun with playing with them at your party today.

Your mom, Our Lady of Awesome, and your grandma, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, made a great sports-themed party. Because sports are your life. The baseball cake was a big hit (cheesy pun intended)! It was hard to stay focused because there was so much going on, but you made turning three look really easy. And more than a little fun.

It was so good to be here with B on his birthday. Every moment is a joy. Even the one this afternoon where he fell going up the stairs at the Wilk at BYU and I failed to notice he'd cut his lip. #grandpaoftheyear

Happy birthday, B!


On this Memorial Day, we find ourselves firmly entrenched behind the Zion Curtain. On more than one occasion since TMFKATB began serving in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission, we have found ourselves a mere minutes away from him. Today we are less than 30 minutes away from where he currently serves but even being this close, our communication with him was limited to our usual emails. Them's the rules, people.

In today's letter, he filled us in on his first week working with one his favorite companions again. He's training him again, this time in Zone Leader (a leadership position) role. He is really excited about this opportunity. It's not been without its challenges as he talked about some of the challenges their zone faces. It's not always easy for nineteen and twenty year olds to be 100% obedient all the time, even in the best of circumstances and a mission is no different. So he's had to learn how to, as he put it, 'correct' in a spirit of ministry, rather than throwing the hammer. That's not easy to do when your just twenty years old yourself. From the sounds of it, he's getting there.

He did use the time to remind us he's going to need a car when he gets home. He included this not so subtle reminder:

We'll see how that turns out for him.

As he closed his letter, he said it was fun to know that we were as close to him as we are today. I have to agree. It really is good to be this close to him.