Majestic Creature

I have little compunction about killing invasive bugs. As one of the heads of the household, I simply have bigger fish to fry. So when a spider threatens to crawl into one of my children’s beds, I weigh the total cost of relocating it vs. killing it on the spot.

And honestly, often, killing it on the spot wins.

But the garden is not one of our bedrooms. And there’s a beautiful big garden spider that’s been weaving webs covering over six square feet between the plants besides our front door walkway. (It’s not this one, but it’s the same type.)

spiderweb

Everyday we’ve been admiring it and keeping an eye out for it, too.

It’s a good thing that we’ve been keeping a eye out for it, because this morning it wove a web that crossed the walkway itself. There was no way out or in to the front door without getting caught in its trap!

Bold move, you majestic creature.

That spider earned herself a first-class, comfortable relocation to a bush down by the canal. Good hunting, mate, but watch out for birds.

(Thanks to flickr user nettsu for his beautiful photo of the spider web.)

Kids These Days

I dropped the kids off at home after school. The door was locked and I had to unlock it for them. They were being regular well-behaved kids, but I couldn’t help myself. I pretended to be exasperated and told them:

You kids are so needy. “Give me this. Give me that. Let me in the house.”

They looked at me like I was crazy, but we all laughed. OK, mostly me.

A Teachable Moment

Aaron showed me his new game, Clash of Clans.

As he was playing, he narrated, “You send in the giants first, because they’re hard to kill. Then you send in the barbarians to finish the job while the bad guys attack your giants.”

I said, “You know what that’s called, kid? You’re sending in your tanks to draw aggro.” I had to hold back the tears of pride, watching my kid naturally develop advanced RTS strategies.

When he needs to learn about obscure American football terms like Buttonhook and Dime Coverage, I’ll be no help whatsoever.

Bike Riding with the Kids

I went bike riding with the kids this morning. I took out my smart phone and made a short video of them biking through the neighborhood.

If you’d like to compare that video to a couple of earlier videos I made of the kids biking, you can see one with Maddie and Aaron in 2010, and another with Aaron when he was six.

Time Will Do Nicely

As the holiday season wraps up, I can’t help but realize what good sports the members of my family are.

We each made efforts to show the others that they’re loved and appreciated. And I think it worked. But things haven’t always turned out the way we wanted. Although my wife and I scheme to do something special for the kids, our plans don’t always work out for reasons of scheduling or resources.

I’ve made plans for quality time with the kids that just hasn’t panned out. For example, we haven’t opened up the new board game that I’m so excited about, and I don’t know when we will.

But when I look back on the past few days, I realize what some of my favorite moments have been:

Sitting in the car in the rain with my wife, chatting about nothing, watching TV with my daughter, and reading a book with my son.

And they all seemed to like it too. I was suspicious at first, because I felt like I owed it to them to do something more special for them. Why did my son say “that was a good book” when I knew he wasn’t a Star Wars fan? I thought at first he was just being nice for my sake, but I think some of it is that he just liked the time together, regardless of the book.

I’ll still make plans for quality time with the family. But when those plans fall though, I’ll have to remember that any time we spend together is valuable. It doesn’t have to be some grand event. Any time we spend together will do.

Next time we play Minecraft

I got the following email from my nine-year-old son today:

DAD DAD!

Next time we play Minecraft let’s finish our enchantment room. How? I have 3 eye of ender! (They lead you to a stronghold.)

Remember how in the stronghold is a big library? Let’s harvest the books! Then come back and finish off our enchantment room! You really only need 1 eye of ender but I’ll still bring the 3 in case we lose one. Isn’t that smart?

You toss the eye of ender, I’ll leave a torch trail! (The eye of ender falls back down to you.) That’s all!

–Aaron

I can hear him urgently calling, “Dad Dad,” to get my attention like he just came up with this amazing idea that just can’t wait!

I can’t tell you how happy that message makes me, and what a perfect memento that is of this stage in our lives. I’m so grateful that the kids still want to spend time with their parents, and that Aaron’s scheming up adventures for us to have together.

And how amazing is Minecraft, that over a year since we first got it, Aaron still wants to trek through it on a new expedition with his dad?

Thanks, Notch, Jens, and everyone else at Mojang. You made for another very precious moment for me.

Pictionary

Today, Aaron and I teamed up against Maddie and Lillian for a game of Pictionary. It was Aaron’s turn to draw and my turn to guess. In a few seconds, he drew the following picture:

At first, when he drew the body, I yelled, “crazy person” but as soon as he drew the torch, I yelled, “pyromaniac!” That was the word!

I gotta say, with that picture, Aaron nailed it.

Merry Christmas

We have a tradition every Christmas Eve. The kids read “The Night Before Christmas” before heading to bed. It carries on from a tradition I had with my parents when I was a child. It makes me happy that the tradition is continuing for another generation. (At least this far. I realize the kids are growing!)

There were a lot of milestones this year. Literally and figuratively. This year, our family participated in the Centennial Bay to Breakers. That’s about 7.5 milestones right there! We mostly walked the course, but we still managed a respectable time.

For my father-in-law’s birthday, the whole family went to Las Vegas, and it gave me the opportunity to take the kids to see Hoover Dam, just like my dad did for me when I was a kid. I’d always wanted to be able to do that – share something amazing like that with my own kids.

Otherwise, Vegas isn’t really our style. So we went to our favorite hotel in San Diego, and spent some relaxing time poolside and at the beach.

Maddie continues to play the piano, and performs at our little community recitals. Aaron’s a voracious reader and excels at a sandbox computer game called Minecraft. As a matter of fact, Aaron and I took a father-son excursion to the first ever Minecraft Convention.

A little before Thanksgiving, my father passed away. It was unexpected and sudden, and we all take some comfort in that he didn’t needlessly suffer. We’re going to celebrate this Christmas in his memory, and we’ll live our lives in a way that would make him happy and proud. That’s how he raised me.

We hope you have a happy holiday season, and that you let your loved ones know how special they are to you.

David Allen Blume

My father unexpectedly passed away a week ago. While going through his many books, a newspaper clipping with this poem fell out of one:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

I can’t help but feel that he’d have wanted me to find it.

The newspaper clipping attributed it to “Author Unknown” but it has since been attributed to Mary Elizabeth Frye.

What Makes You Smile

I revisited an old website that asked, “What makes you smile?” This was in March of 2005. I answered,

Lately, watching my 2-year-old son, squat down to pick up his stool that he’d just used to stand on to reach the sink, pick it up, stand up, move it six inches, gently put it down, stand up, climb on it so he could reach the lights to turn them off.

All that work, for such a simple thing. But it makes him so happy to do it himself.

It’s six years later now, and that memory is still easy to bring back. I remember relishing the moment while it was happening, too. Funny how the little things can be the most enduring.