Monday, August 08, 2016

Steelers Training Camp 2016



on friday i had the opportunity to lead a group of 10 of us to latrobe for the annual friday night lights steelers practice at latrobe memorial high school stadium, along with 12,000 of our closest friends. we drove out there, did the steelers experience with the kids (including bounce house races, rock wall, face painting, spinning the prize wheel, football toss, and a photo op with the steelers' 6 lombardi trophies, among other things). then we waited in line to get in, so that we could get our position around the autograph fence, and then there was a significant amount of waiting.  but at least the weather was beautiful!  we enjoyed good conversation and laughter along with homemade steelers cookies.  finally the team and coaches arrived on school busses and the autograph session began.  you never know who might come your direction, so we were pretty surprised when ben roethlisberger came near us and started signing.  sure enough, he came our way, and i got his autograph on his rookie card!  I also got markus wheaton's on a card. after that we got a little steelers swag at the merch tent, then walked over to the espn tent where scott van pelt, herm edwards, and merrill hoge were filming a live sportscenter.  we got to see james harrison (what a specimen of a human being), and mike tomlin being interviewed. then we sat down and watched practice, including a spirited backs-on-backers drill which occurred right in front of us. there were some great moments in practice, including a long td pass to antonio brown who then played the crowd into a frenzy. finally practice concluded and they ended the evening with a great fireworks show. we had a fantastic day, and here is photographic evidence of me with big ben directly from the espn broadcast!


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

i want to jump more



this morning for my quiet time i was reading acts chapter 3, about peter healing the crippled beggar at the temple gate (acts 3:1-10).  i was struck by a particular word which is repeated in this short story.  after peter heals the man, we are told that he jumped to his feet...then went into the temple courts, walking and jumping. 

i guess i never thought much about this before, but today i began to wonder why he was jumping.  there was no practical need to jump.  this was not a utilitarian action.  he wasn't jumping over anything.  he was just walking and jumping, one presumes, with great joy for the way his life has been changed.  jumping for joy. 

you know what isn't very dignified?  jumping for no apparent reason.  let's be honest, you look sort of silly.  if someone was walking into church on sunday and starting just started randomly jumping up in the air, we would think something was wrong with them, and would probably assume that they need some kind of medication.  we don't do a great deal of jumping in our lives, unless we are forced to.  and I'm thinking that that's a real shame.

i jump.  occasionally.  when the steelers intercept joe flacco, i jump up off my couch and leap around like a lunatic.  i can remember back a few months when the first few chords of "born to run" came through the speakers, and bruce springsteen started growling, "baby, we were born to run," i jumped and jumped and jumped.  i didn't care what i looked like; i was simply swept up in the joy of the moment, wanting to leave the ground, even if just for a second (i don't get much hangtime these days...). 

so, i do jump.  and i think those are pretty good reasons to jump.  but maybe i'm missing some even better reasons for jumping.  haven't i, like the beggar at the gate called beautiful, been given a reason to jump for joy?  hasn't my broken down life been given new hope?  don't i have the chance to enter into the presence of Almighty God who loves even me?  what does it mean, then, to enter God's gates with thanksgiving, and go into God's courts with praise?  doesn't it mean that i am so filled with joy about the way my life has been changed?  doesn't it mean that i am so swept up in the overwhelmingly good news, that i just want to leave the ground, even if just for a second? 

i want to jump more.  not for any practical reason. but just because i am so filled with joy that walking seems far too mundane.  i don't want to care what it looks like, limbs flailing and joints cracking.  i just want to jump.  what about you?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MILINO-NUT



last week we had the opportunity to visit the turkey hill experience near Lancaster, pa, and part of the fun of that experience is designing your own imaginary ice cream flavor, packaging, and commercial.  they boys and I worked together to come up with a  brand new flavor called "MILINO-NUT," and it is a coconut ice cream with coconut chips, pretzel bits, and fudge swirl.  I know, right?  you want some in your belly right now.  well, perhaps you could call or write to turkey hill and demand that they start production of MILINO-NUT right away.  look for it on the shelves of your local grocery store soon. 


here is the commercial we made...we were trying to hypnotize you into buying our ice cream.  let us know if it worked....

video

Monday, July 25, 2016

happy birthday, Quin

 
this little ninja turned 5 years old today, and it marks an anniversary of five years of exuberance, vibrancy, and belly laughs.  this kid has a galaxy-sized imagination, and the heart of an entertainer.  he is constantly singing and dancing, telling jokes and doing impressions and making us double over with laughter.  he loves an audience, and since we are his primary one, he seems to enjoy us, at least as long as we give him attention.  he likes us less when we talk to one another, or look in a different direction, but he gets over it.  to be sure, it is a five years that we can't imagine any other way, than loving and laughing and living so abundantly because of him.  we love you, Quinton.  happy 5th birthday!
 

his lego ninjago cake


i think he likes it. 


Monday, July 11, 2016

summer bucket list, 2016

okay, okay, so its been nearly three weeks since i last posted, but i've been kind of busy and i have a bonafide, legitimate excuse:  WE MOVED!!!

we are now residents of happy valley, in the state college area, and we are loving our new home, neighborhood, and church and community, but all these changes take some time for adjustment!  so we are getting there, and really just enjoying the process and all the new-ness.

however, in the meantime, summer marches on, and i realized that i never got to share our annual summer bucket list, so here it is.  it is a bit smaller than usual this year, because we knew we wouldn't be able to do as much with a major move and all the packing/unpacking involved.  still, we want to make sure we live as fully and vibrantly as possible as a family this summer, taking advantage of the extra time with the kids, and enjoying the adventure together.



as you can see, we went with a "constitution" theme for our list this year, since we knew that one of the highlights of our summer would be our trip to washington d.c.  it may be a bit difficult to read, but it includes some of our annual standards, like ice cream for dinner (which we did last night), make a summer mix cd (done...awesome), and do an art project; as well as some items particular to this particular summer, like go to music camp, join a new library, and unpack all our earthly possessions, just to name a few.  so far we have done 7 out of 21, so we'd better get busy!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

washington d.c. vacation day 6




this was our final day of vacation, and really a travel day home, but we weren't in any hurry, so we decided to make one final stop, since we were so close.  but before we went there, we had to go somewhere else.  everyday as we traveled to the metro station, we passed krispy kreme donuts, and since the boys had never been there, dad just had to make a stop to get some fresh warm donuts.  the kids loved watching them come down the "assembly line" and "get saucy" as quinton called it (the icing is poured all over them to glaze them).  a delicious start to the day!



then we went to mount vernon, since we were staying literally a few miles from it.  and boy were we so glad we did!  it was a little bit of a shock to the system to pay for entry after doing so much free stuff through the week, but you can tell that they put the admission price to good use, as the home and grounds and museum were in incredible condition, and truly made for a great experience.

they have mount vernon set up as it might have been after george washington's presidency, when he had returned to his home along the patomac river.  as a visitor you get to tour the home, as well as many of the outbuildings, with a working blacksmith and so much more.

they also do a great job of explaining washington's relationship with slavery as an institution and with his slaves in particular, demonstrating that he wasn't without his significant faults.  the grounds are full of folks in clothing from the time period, and acting as if it were 1799, engaging visitors in conversation, and sharing interesting historical information and stories from the life of washington.







 the gardens are also fabulous, and worth taking the time to check out.  furthermore, we were able to visit washington's tomb.



we learned about the boy, the general, the president, and the man who was george washington, perhaps the greatest american of all time.  but what impressed my children, more than anything, was the case containing george washington's dentures.




then we headed home on roads which were also being traveled, apparently, by half of the eastern seaboard, and we sat in traffic for the better portion of the day.  we finally made it home, exhausted, but blessed by a rich week, full of learning, discovery, awe, inspiration, adventure, and love.


Friday, June 24, 2016

washington d.c. vacation day 5



for our last day in the city, we had some time to kill before our appointment in the national archives, so we began in the east building of the national gallery of art.  while the boys thought this might be boring at first, they ended up loving the art museum, and were amazed at the size of some of the paintings, the realism in others, and the incredible color, creativity, and diversity throughout.  the museum really captivated their attention.  we didn't see the whole museum, by any means, but the impressionist rooms won my heart, as always.  i am always stopped in my tracks by van gogh, and i just can't stop gawking.  we were very glad we took the time to go to the art museum.



when the time for our appointment arrived, we headed over to the national archives so that we could get a look at several important documents.



first, we saw an original copy of the magna carta (700 years old!) in beautiful latin script.  then we made it to the rotunda where we were able to see the declaration of independence, the constitution, and the bill of rights.  for me, it was sacred space.  even as a gen x-er who is not a patriot in the traditional nation-worship, "my-country-can-do-no-wrong" kind of way, the moment was awe-inspiring.  even as citizen who is so tired of politics as we know it; who is fed up with the games of government, and who is less-than-hopeful about the charlatan who would be president and make our nation hate again, i was still overwhelmed with a sense of both history and hope.  i don't know if we can see our way through this mess with things remaining as they are, but the american experiment has been so wildly successful, that nothing in the future will exist except as a progeny of it.  the declaration, as an act of courage and defiance; the constitution as a philosophical document of equality and dignity; and the bill of rights, as an expression of personal liberties are the holy trinity of the american experience, and whatever shape our government grows into, will always be formed by the documents in that rotunda.  it was awe-inspiring to be there; to see them with my own eyes; to think about the lives of the men who dared to write and sign them; to consider how i am living my life with conviction, and with a clarity about the dignity and rights of every person, regardless of religion, color, creed, sexuality, or political opinions.




speaking of politics, this might be a good time to mention that everywhere you turn in washington you see numerous flags.  there are flags everywhere!  and so we couldn't help but be constantly confronted with the fact that every flag we saw (all 50 around the washington monument, just to give you an example), were flying at half-mast.  it was a brutal reminder of the terrible attack in orlando florida earlier in the week, and the way that personal liberties can be abused when we don't use them to benefit one another, and when we are scared of people who aren't like us.  this is not the america the founding fathers had in mind.  they were carving out a space that was open to differences, open to all.  they believed in this radical idea that all people are created equal, and had the God-given right to life.  not the right to be scared for their lives because they are different.  the right to live.  the right to freedom.  and the right to pursue happiness.  that is america.  i couldn't help but wonder that if jefferson and franklin and madison and monroe and others somehow showed up today, we would have some 'splainin' to do.



the archives is more than just the rotunda: they have a great museum section about the three main documents, but they also have all kinds of other archives stored there, and some interesting exhibits detailing how they do the storage, not just of paper media, but audio and digital and so forth, and the way it has all changed through the years. fascinating stuff.  we ate lunch at the cafe there, then walked across the mall to the air and space museum.  now to be fair, we were starting to come down with a case of "museum overload," and our feet were feeling the effects of walking so many miles, but i will confess that this was my least favorite museum by far.  anyone who knows me knows that i'm not particularly interested in motors and engines and things that go vroom, and so forth, so this museum was never going to be my favorite.  but the kids enjoyed it, and we all were impressed with the wright brothers' original airplane.







from there we took the metro north to the national portrait gallery, because caedmon wanted to see the hall of presidential portraits.  we thought this might be a quick stop, but we were wrong...this place was awesome!  this gorgeous historical building (lincoln held one of his inaugural balls here!), houses both a portrait museum, and an art gallery (with folk art, contemporary art, and more).  this place held the kids' attention as much as anything had all week, even though we were all tired.  by the end of this day, we had walked 40 miles in 4 days!



we took the metro back to virginia (we loved the metro!  it was so easy to use, and both employees and washington residents were always kind and quick to help when we looked confused!).




we ate dinner at noodles company, then went to bed for the last night of our vacation, with one more place to visit in the morning before heading home.