Thanksgiving break

It was fun to have a full house over Thanksgiving week. All of us chose a part of the big Thursday dinner: I made some cranberry bread, Kyra did a green bean casserole, Kaitlyn put together a sweet potato casserole, Julian cooked some amazing mac-n-cheese, Alex chose pie, and Pepper took care of the turkey and dinner rolls. In the end, it was far too much food for a single meal, and felt more like one of those all-you-can-eat buffets where you just choose a little sampling of each food.

The next day, Kyra and Pepper foraged through the leftovers for their lunch.

The week was filled with games of pool…

… and board games like Hexteria, Dominion, Smash Up, and (shown here) Wingspan:

There was relaxing…

… and comic books (also note the tiger-print pants):

And let’s not forget the trip to the Big City, where we had a great dinner and Alex and Kaitlyn were able to catch some Pokemon (there aren’t any Pokemon near our house, since we’re in the middle of a forest).

It’s so quiet and empty around here today, now that everyone is back home. I’m glad we had a crowd, and we’re excited for a Christmas in Utah in a few weeks.

Neck fan

I was today years old when I learned there’s such a thing as a neck fan. I stumbled across one while browsing some Cyber Monday sales online. I guess it’s for those times when your neck is hot and there’s just no other way to cool down. Here’s how it works, complete with little white clouds of cool air:

I couldn’t help but notice the only people wearing these things are gorgeous women. Where are all the overweight sweaty guys who have hot necks? This woman is clearly overheated because she’s… reading a piece of paper?

And this one didn’t get the memo that it’s a neck fan.

As tempting as one of these may be, I don’t think it’s going to make my Christmas list this year.

Remote Thanksgiving

Despite having a full house this week as Alex, Kaitlyn, Kyra, and Julian visited, we definitely missed Zaque and the rest of the family. Fortunately we have the internet, and as a result we were able to join in video calls with my entire family in the early afternoon, and then with our awesome missionary in the evening.

Here’s the whole gang, including Thom, Katie, and Sefton trucking through Snoqualmie Pass while the rest of us relaxed at our various homes:

Later we had a chat with Zaque, and his hair was… something. The way it caught the fluorescent light behind him was magical.

The call included a few times when all of us were roaring with laughter, including his demonstration of how to create “leg hair dreadlocks” (it’s a long story):

He regaled us with stories of driving through a mob, “backing” the car, and narrowly escaping a street thug who was looking to “mess up” some Mormons. He even strummed his ukelele for a bit.

Our two family calls, coupled with an amazing dinner where each of us contributed a favorite dish, made it a grand day. I love these kinds of days.

Next hobby

I’ve continued to scribble on my digital tablet, and I’m having a grand time drawing funny little pictures. When I was first learning how to use it, my technique left something to be desired. Now, almost four whole weeks later, I’m practically Michaelangelo. I’m using colors and shading to better effect, for example.

Take a look at this one, inspired by Thom and entitled Top of the World:

On a whim I drew a guy in a squirrel suit, then added a background and suddenly he looks like a weird superhero. But for some reason I think he’s a load of fun.

Encouraged by Dirk, I’ve also taken to drawing some Star Wars scenes, and it’s led me to my new hobby.


Yep, like Bill Watterson and Gary Larson before me, I’m putting together some little scenes that tickle my funny bone. In keeping with the Star Wars theme, my comic strip is called Far Far Away. Here’s a sampling:

Both of these are sort of “meta” jokes, and you’ll only laugh if you know the movie pretty well. I’m proud to report that Pepper got both right away. She didn’t laugh at them as hard as Dirk and I did, but you can’t win ’em all.

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As I continue to reflect on the things in my life I’m grateful for, it’s not a big surprise that the undeniable top of my list is a whole series of people. It’s the people in my life who have shaped who I am, and who continue to enrich my experience in this mortal coil.

So today, I want to give a shout out to all my friends. Yes, all of you. There have been so many over the years. From back in college…

(Don’t ask about that one. It’s a long story.)

… to the amazing people we met in Colorado …

… to the hundreds of ultimate players who have passed through my life:

And then there’s this guy.

Dirk and I met sometime around fifth grade (that photo is probably eight years later) and we were besties before besties were a thing. I’m thrilled to say that today, some thirty-five years later, we’re still besties. To paraphrase a song, “some last a chapter, some just a page”. Well, Dirk’s a novel.

And let’s not forget the rest of the high-school gang. Back in the day, we were the Magnificent Seven, and we still are, even when there are only five of us who managed to cross the country to get together for a week in the summer:

It’s pretty cool to be friends with people over the span of decades.

The other day, I was talking to the kids about our upcoming Christmas cards, and I mentioned that our mailing list this year will include almost 350 people. They replied, “I don’t think I even know that many people!” And those are just the friends who I can still track down to send a card. To name the thousands of people who have crossed my path would be a blog post of terrifying length.

To all you yahoos reading this, and all you yahoos who don’t even know I have a blog, here’s a huge thank-you for being my friend.

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As Zaque would say, “Like many people, I was born at a very young age”…

No list of things I’m thankful for would be complete without mentioning my parents. Mom and Dad are two of the most amazing people in my life, and I can see so many traits in me that I learned from them. It’s been more than fifty years since they made it official:

My dad taught me to be a hard worker. He was the guy who worked the same job for 40+ years, amassing something like 3 years of sick leave by the time he retired, because he just went and did the job. I love how he just does what needs to be done, without hesitation and without complaint.

He’s also a fantastic grandpa. My kids were talking this morning about how they loved playing games with Grandpa because he would play whatever they asked, and never seemed to mind whether he won or lost. He’s one of the most easygoing people I know.

I’m so proud of my parents for staying healthy and active. All this summer they’ve been biking around the area, often pedaling more than 20 miles a day. At a time when many of my friends’ parents are ailing and shopping for retirement homes, my parents are exercising more than I am!

Speaking of healthy, my mom looks 20 years younger than she is. In every picture of her with siblings or friends, you’d never guess she’s even close to the same age as the rest of the group. I’m grateful for those good genes, because people tell me I look 10 years younger as well…

Mom and Dad inspire me because they simply enjoy life. From their latest toy, an enormous hot tub…

… to trips all over the world …

… they’ve been a great example to me about how to enjoy what I have, and think often about the good things in my life.

They continue to amaze and inspire me, and I’m proud to be their son. Thanks for everything, Mom and Dad.


Kyra and I were playing Unstable Unicorns, and I just kept drawing Neigh cards (which allow me to stop her from playing anything). Here she is, looking all sad because she can’t win…

Three Amigos

We went out for some pizza yesterday, and I noticed the Three Amigos had nicely matching shirts.

In the background is the Mahjongg Club and although I didn’t catch it at this camera angle, one of the women (behind Kyra) was wearing a maroon shirt as well. Nice!

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It took a little convincing to get me to agree to a third child. Okay, it took a lot of convincing. But when I think about kids I’m thankful for, Zaque definitely makes the cut. He’s always been kind of a punk– the kid who defied the rules, blatantly, with a wicked smile on his face. He’s the kid who backed into the garage door while it was still closed, who smashed the car window trying to crack ice on it, who screamed and sang songs while playing video games with friends late at night.

Yet beneath all the craziness, Zaque was somehow always responsible, always staying true to his word. His sense of humor is unparalleled, and I have to admit he’s the one who makes me laugh the most. He’s incredibly clever and has a razor-sharp wit.

It’s been amazing to watch his personal journey while he’s serving a mission, as he’s taken that goofy demeanor and put it to work sharing the gospel with others.

He’s become more thoughtful, more caring, and more wise.

He and I both agree that generally speaking, we always “get” each other’s jokes while people around us are scratching their heads and wondering why the two of us are laughing so hard.

Zaque is amazing, and I couldn’t be more proud of this punk.

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Next in line on my “kids I’m thankful for” list is my one and only daughter. Starting with the moment when I delivered her at home because no one else was around, I knew she would be pretty special.

When I say “special” I don’t mean that kind of “special”. She’s hilarious and clever and smart. She’s the one who will pose with me with our trademark open-mouth smiles.

She’s the one who will agree to a bubble-gum-eating contest just because we’re having a slow day.

She’s my board gaming partner, and she dishes out the smack talk just as much as I do. She’s beautiful and kind and spiritual. It was fun to hang out with her all summer and know I could say “let’s grab some pizza at Rosa’s” and she’d be all in.

Everyone needs a Kyra in their life. Every dad needs a girl who, even though she’s 22, still calls me “daddy”.