Photo shoot

Jason shared his photos from our Steamboat trip, and I found this one that just cracks me up:


I didn’t know he was taking a picture of me. I look like something out of an REI catalog. Or maybe a JC Penney model for Wrangler cargo shorts.

There was also this one, which I like:



Zack was hiking the Continental Divide on his birthday, as part of a Boy Scout High Adventure trip into the Indian Peaks wilderness. He had a great time, but was pretty happy to get back home and take a shower and eat “real food” after six days in the backcountry.

Once he was clean and fed, he wanted to open his birthday gifts. Instead of tearing off wrapping paper, he asked if he could wear a blindfold and guess what they were. Sure! So he cracked open the Amazon boxes and felt each gift:




He was pretty thrilled to get a “practice” butterfly knife, a set of arrows, an archery target, and a USB game controller. He joked that most of his presents were weapons. That’s probably how most teenage boys want it to be.

Happy birthday to the coolest, funniest, zaniest fifteen-year-old I know!

We skydove

Kyra has wanted to go skydiving since she was ten years old. Well, now that she’s eighteen, she can officially do it. We headed across town to the local airport for the big event.


This being our first time, we had to do a tandem jump, which means we’re strapped to the front of an expert jumper. Kyra’s buddy for the day was a guy named Cody. According to her and Laralee, Cody was very cute. Here he is, getting Kyra into her gear:


My tandem partner was Shawn, who was a nice guy.


Ready to jump!


Laralee kept asking both of us if we were nervous. Nope. It really didn’t seem scary or anything. In fact, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so Kyra’s 18th birthday just gave me a good excuse to finally take the plunge, so to speak.

And away we go! We squeezed a dozen people into a little twin turboprop.


When we hit a little over 12,000 feet, they opened the door on the plane and we made the jump. It was actually really easy– you sort of roll forward out the doorway, and then after a few seconds you spread your arms to level out. We were in free-fall for almost a minute. I asked my partner how long it takes to hit terminal velocity, and he said around ten seconds. At this altitude, terminal velocity is around 120 miles per hour. It was amazing to spin slowly and take in the surrounding landscape, plummeting down at that speed. Although the wind was howling in my ears, it was strangely calm up there.

Shawn pulled the chute, which was a pretty hard jolt, and we floated easily to the drop zone. We missed the “target” in the center by about two feet. Nice!


Kyra came down after me. Apparently Cody gave her the lines and let her steer for part of the trip down. I wondered aloud why I didn’t get to do that, and Laralee quipped that I’m not a cute 18-year-old girl. True, that.


Mission accomplished!


Oh, and Kyra reminded me that we had to take an obligatory selfie at the end of the journey.


Alex emailed Kyra from Peru and told her to punch me because I didn’t wait for him to go skydiving. I suspect he’ll want to do it in a couple of years when he’s back. And Zack is already planning it for his 18th birthday as well. I’m looking forward to it! (The big question is whether Laralee will take the jump… stay tuned.)

Zaque’s Dating Tips

It’s a long story, but Zack (who writes his name “Zaque” now) wrote a series of dating tips. They’re hilarious. Here’s a sample:

Q: How should you start your date?
A: Using cheesy pick-up lines.

Q: What should you do to keep your date’s attention?
A: Constantly switch accents as you talk.

Q: What’s a good way to ask someone out?
A: Hide a chicken wing in her shoe with your phone number on it.

Q: What should you give your date as a gift?
A: A rock that says “From my first date with _____”.

Q: What is the ultimate girl magnet?
A: A horse mask.

He insists that he is actually planning to (1) ask out a girl with a chicken wing in her shoe, (2) give her a rock, and (3) wear a horse mask. Fortunately we’re still a few years away from this… I’m interested to see how it plays out.


I think both Mom and I take secret pleasure in finding grammatical errors in one another’s blog posts, so I couldn’t help but grin when I caught one in her latest post, about her European tour. She said this:

The four paired wines (none with the bellini) were perfectly matched to each course and complimented the flavors of the food.

(emphasis mine)

It would be impressive to see wine speak kindly about the food; I suspect Mom really meant the wine complemented the food, meaning it went well alongside it.

It’s pretty rare to catch Mom like this, so I have to revel in my moment. (Sorry, Mom!)

Worth it

Today at Walmart, Laralee and I were wandering and bumped into a friend. We exchanged a few pleasantries, and then she mentioned that she’d been thinking a lot about the upcoming seminary year. Seminary runs concurrently with the school year– for every day of high school, the kids attend seminary beforehand. Now that we’re a few weeks away from the start of the school year, things are gearing up for seminary as well.

Anyway, she’s been thinking about her daughter, who’s been struggling with a few things of late. She told me that she’s really been hoping her daughter will be in my class. (I don’t have any control over my class– the students are assigned more or less randomly, with some minor adjustments by the people overseeing the seminary program.) Well, the class list had just been released a few days ago, and although it’s not official yet, I knew that her daughter was on my roster. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell her, so I did.

She almost broke down. After giving me a huge hug, she explained that she was so grateful for this, and excited that I could teach her daughter. I was completely taken aback, since I don’t think I’m all that great a teacher, and moreover the two other seminary teachers with whom I share a building are both better teachers than me. Still, it was pretty cool for a friend to trust me with her daughter and feel like I could somehow reach her in a way that the other awesome teachers perhaps couldn’t.

Teaching seminary is an amazing privilege, and little unexpected things like this remind me that all those long hours and early mornings are absolutely worth it.

Wearin’ the smock

Kyra was working another shift as a Walmart cashier, and it happened that Laralee and I needed to pick up a few things. So we headed over and found her lane.

Here’s a shot of her hard at work:


Notice the woman on the far right– she seemed a little suspicious of Laralee taking a picture of a cashier. She leaned in close to Kyra and whispered, “Do you know them?” Kyra laughed. “They’re my parents.” Because of course that explains the weirdness of taking a picture of a cashier.

Walmart is so much fun!


It’s funny to think that I also worked at Walmart, as did Alex. The question: will Zack carry on the family tradition?

Dig Dug

Last week Zack and I headed over to Lyons Pinball, which is a little house up the road in Lyons where a guy has a collection of classic pinball and video games which he lets people play (for 50 cents a game, of course). They’re a lot of fun, and Zack’s been wanting to go for a while.

He found a video game cabinet that had a collection of classic arcade games: things like Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders, and so on. For some reason he went straight to Dig Dug. Of course I remember it from my younger days, but I always thought it was kind of lame… you run around digging through the dirt and inflating weird bad guys until they explode. But hey, it’s not like many video games have a deep plot or something.


After a handful of games he proudly entered his initials in the leaderboard. It looks like he needed to do a bit better to hit the high score, though…


Sad car

This afternoon I was in the parking lot of Jimmy John’s after grabbing a sandwich, and a guy backed right into the side of my car. I saw him coming, and my window was down, so I shouted “Hey, whoa!” but he didn’t hear me. Luckily the damage was pretty minor:


The rear bumper of his SUV was barely scratched, so he asked two or three times, “Are you sure you didn’t already have damage there?” As if I had a big dent exactly where his bumper hit me or something, and was lying about the damage.

So begins the drudgery of working with his insurance company to get this fixed. Whee!