Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Years Ago

Today marks the end of the decade of 2000's....the "aughts" as my grandfathers might have called it (at least that's what they called the first decade of the previous century).

Things have changed for us in the past ten years.

Ten years ago, Sue and I celebrated New Year's Eve as guests at an officer's club at an Air Force base...a base that today is regularly sending troops into combat.

Ten years ago, our three boys were quite small...4, 1 and our third only a few weeks old. Now the oldest is taller than Sue and the "little guys" are not so little any more.

Here's how I described life ten years ago...

December 4, 1999

"Dooby, doo doop doo wop bop deeda da. Dooby doo doop doo wop bop deeda da."

"Grant." I yell to him in the kitchen. "Pipe down."

I am sitting on our couch feeding Wilster (our new guy) having just turned off the TV news, resigning myself to the fact that I will know nothing about the world while parenting three children under the age of five.

Our one and a half year old, Zackie, is in the middle of the living room playing with Matchbox cars and a small red wagon. He puts a few cars into the wagon then drags the wagon across the living room floor. The top of his shirt is wet (he's getting more teeth and has been drooling all day).

Suddenly he stops and looks at the baby.

"Ah oh." He says.

Zach has a three phrase vocabulary right now. His words are "Hi", "Da" (meaning uncertain) and "Ah oh" (which means I need to kiss the baby right now and you better get out of my way).

He interrupts his play to kiss the seven week old baby sometimes as often as every three to five minutes.

He quickly moves from the wagon to the couch. Then, he opens his mouth as wide as he can and puts it on the baby's head.

"Ah." He says and moves back to the wagon.

I wipe the spit off of the baby's bald head.

"Dooby doo doop doo wop bop deeda da." I hear again from the kitchen.

Zackie, meanwhile decides to stand on the wagon with one foot.

"Hey be careful." I say while still feeding the baby.

"Jingle bells, jingle bells." Grant sings as he comes into the living room and goes to the toy box.

He grabs a plastic golf club.

"Hey Dad, hey Dad."

"Yeah, guy?"

"You know what this is?" he asks.

"A golf club." I reply.

"No, it's what Indians use, it's a homatawk."

"Oh really?" I say not correcting him. "A what?"

It's a homatawk Dad, and I'm an Indian."

Grant starts making whooping noises while patting him mouth.

Zackie then does the same from the red wagon.

Grant then starts running around the room and Zack begins chasing him. When Grant turns to chase Zack, Zackie runs quickly to me in order to get away.

After a few laps around the living room, dining room and kitchen, Grant returns to the toy box and pulls out a super soaker gun.

"Hey Dad, hey Dad."

"Yeah guy?"

"You know who I am?"


"I'm Luke Skywalker."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah, and I'm after Stormtroopers. Bam, bam." He says as he blasts away at the fictitious people.

"Hey Dad."

"What guy?"

"Zack can be Han Solo, and Will can be Chewbacca."

"Sounds good."

He blasts away some more.

Meanwhile, Zackie has found the book "Yertle the Turtle" and brings it to me. With the baby on my left arm, I pull Zack up on the couch with my right and open the book.

I've learned that you can't really read a book slowly to Zack...he turns the pages too quickly.

I read the book, but the story has a few "holes" in it without reading every page.

Zackie then moves to the side of the couch and stands up. He's our resident daredevil.

"Take a seat." I say with a smile and push him down.

He laughs as he tumbles down on the pillows and the cushions on the couch.

In the process of reading and playing with Zackie I notice that the bottle of milk is not in Will's mouth anymore but instead is now running down his cheek and into his ear.

I grab a paper towel and wipe it off.

Sue has come down from our bedroom.

She's beautiful.

"Who wants a horsey ride?" she asks.

"I do. I do." Grant yells.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Passing of a Friend

I was saddened to learn this week of the recent death of Tricia Lyn Salerno Elson, a friend of mine from my college years.

Trish was my supervisor at a waterpark in New Jersey, and when I first met her I was amazed at her energy, spunk and confidence. She would dance around the pools, spend hours talking to me and my fellow lifeguards, play Billy Joel and James Taylor music over the loudspeakers and greet others with a "Yo baby!"

She and her family were very gracious and helpful to me during a difficult time in my life, and to this day, I am grateful for their help.

Trish was a person who was full of faith in Jesus Christ. She encouraged me on a number of occasions to remember Paul's words in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

She was a person who modeled Christ's forgiveness as well. A number of years ago I called her to ask her for forgiveness, and like the Father to his Prodigal Son, she quickly said, "Oh my gosh, I've forgiven you of that years ago!" and she proceeded to update me on her life.

I know that her great faith and joy, humor and love have influenced the lives of many people. Our prayers and condolences go out to her family and many friends.

Tricia's obituary can be found here:


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Helpful Advent Resource

Last Sunday began the season of Advent (which is celebrated by the Church during the four weeks prior to Christmas).

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means "arrival" or "coming". During this time, the Church focuses on waiting on the Lord and preparing ones' hearts for Christ. We remember those who waited for Jesus' arrival 2000 years ago and we're encouraged to prepare our hearts and wait upon the Lord during this season.

I've attached a link to a really helpful Advent Devotional Guide from All Saints Church in Chapel Hill/Durham, NC. This free booklet contains daily scripture reading, prayers and questions for reflection. I think you'll find it a really helpful resource during this time of spiritual reflection and preparation. Here's the link: