Sunday, October 25, 2015

SHE was right... SHE is ALWAYS right :)

Yep – she was right… again…
So I do a little umpiring in the local high school (field) hockey competition.  I also wear glasses and being a man of a certain age, my most recent prescription are bifocals.  In general, I don’t rate them.  But for officiating a fast moving sporting event – they flat out don’t work.  I don’t have a current contact lens prescription – to be fair – I don’t rate them either.  But I do have a pair of prescription sunnies.  So although it is not recommended – people can’t see your eyes and know a) what you are looking at, and b) are missing some part of the whole nonverbal communication thing if you have to address one of them sternly – I don’t have much choice.  But Colorado being where it in on the globe, come late in the season, the low light levels kind of create yet another obvious problem. 
Serendipitously, it seems an old pair of glasses is at least as good as my current prescription – frankly this does not surprise me much – and any of you reading this know what I mean from those infrequent visits to the optometrist.

{click click click}  Is this better or {click click click} this.  {click click click} This, or {click click click] this…

Heck I don’t know – it all looks the same after 10-12 clicks…  You can either see or not see – the fine tuning I think is some sort of trickery designed to make you buy a new pair of glasses because there is now a slight adjustment to the last prescription.  So it seems hardly surprising that I’ve done a circle or something and ended up back where I was… TWENTY years ago.
But wait – there’s more!  When I got these older pair of glasses in 1996, I was an operations manager at a mine – so they are Safety Glasses – yeah baby – we are talking high fashion and style here!!!

But hey – problem solved – I now have a pair of glasses I can change to when the light dims – with no annoying bifocal element that makes your vision change in an out as you move suddenly to follow the play on the hockey pitch.

Problem is, they are actually better than my most recent prescription – there are no little halos around brighter objects and such.  So as my 51st birthday looms we decide to do a couple of fun things.  Last night we went to an intimate acoustic performance with Jennifer Knapp – the halo effect was driving me nuts.  So this morning umpiring glasses no more – we are watching our little one playing hockey out in Tennessee via the magic of the internet and I try the old safety glasses – yeah – much better.  Tonight we had opted for a movie – the Steve Jobs movie .  We are heading out the door and there it was…

“You’re not wearing those are you???”
I used the flawed approach of a logical argument…

“I can see better in these?”
I answer with a question because you know there is an answer coming…

Sparing the lengthy conversation – suffice to say apparently they make me look old – and if I’m old, then…

But an important point here – Joy says the look like they are from the 1980’s. NO I say – I know exactly the vintage – they were 1996.  Yeah says she… but safety glasses back then were probably a decade behind in style.
Anyway – under protest – we go to the movie theater with me wearing my 1996 issue safety glasses.  Winning???

Here’s the rub… somewhere in the 1980’s segments of the movie, I’m looking at Steve Wozniak and realize I’m looking at him in pretty much the same style of glasses he is wearing.  Here's your sign...

(image credit - USA Today)
That’s really all I have to say about this – well that and I may be making an appointment at the wretched optometrist after I get back from Texas later this week.

{click click click}

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Last night under my roof

I’ve largely avoided the emotions surrounding this day by not thinking deeply about it.  But now it is here and all those emotions that have been surprisingly well suppressed are erupting at the most inconvenient of times.

My roof was a somewhat expansive concept – it was in fact a very comfortable suite at a Memphis hotel which allowed me to start this while Jilly slept in the adjacent bedroom.  For nearly eighteen years the roof over her head has been my roof – or to be more complete, our roof – the home Joy and I have made for our family.  But today Jilly moves on and becomes a college student, and will spend her first night in her new home – her first and very sweetly decorated (and of course impeccably organized) dorm room at college in Memphis.  Oh she will come home again of course – but nothing will ever be quite the same, and not should it be.

Life is full of circles.  Last week, I had the delight of spending a night at Mallory’s first apartment.  Three years ago under equally strained emotions I wrote about her departure for college.  { I set all my regrets on fire }  Jilly actually got to spend a couple of nights with Mallory a week earlier, road tripping down to Albuquerque with one of her best friends from high school.  They had breakfast on last morning of the visit – just the two of them.  I asked Mallory while enjoying breakfast with her at a quaint little café downtown on Gold Street a few days later what advice she offered her little sister.  Apparently it mostly revolved around clothes and shoes needed for enjoying college – well of course it did… 

Mallory’s apartment by the way is artfully decorated – and surprisingly organized – necessity it seems is the mother of reinvention :)

The weekend in Memphis was busy, which was probably for the best.  Shopping, carrying all sorts of good and chattels up to a remarkably transformed dorm room, unpacking and arranging, more shopping, dining – oh my – the dining, rearranging.  And then Sunday night came and Joy had to return home to her first day of class for the year.  We got through that – it was rough – and Jilly and I continued on with the shopping, more delightful eating and more rearranging.  And finally back to our hotel room – my roof – for one last night.


Jilly awoke fairly early – we still a lot to do.  We had a few moments to get through – momma was gone.  But then the business of the day engulfed us.  And perhaps that was a good thing.  Packing up our room, then lunch at another great spot – The Beauty Shop – just like it sounds – a former beauty parlor transformed into a quaint little restaurant in a part of town that still holds fond memories of my first visit to Memphis.  More room arranging, a welcome event with the field hockey team who have already made us feel so much a part of a new family, changing out the rental car, dinner at another interesting find – Hog and Hominy, dessert (a huge slice of homemade pecan pie) back at One and Only, the great BBQ joint we all ate at earlier in the weekend, and then finally because there was really no longer any avoiding it – one last trip back to the dorm together.

How do you wrap almost eighteen years of love, laughter, tears, joy, silly moments, disappointments, incredible accomplishments, fun, and just being a father and a daughter into a fifteen minute trip?  The simple truth is you can’t.  And while we will get to experience all of these things again, this is a watershed moment (in more ways that one).  I was going to leave and she was going to spend her first night away from our home in a place that is going to become her new home for the next several years.  There were a few moments in the car as the inevitability of the few plays left us that evening started to hit home to Jilly.  I was able to head that off by joking that if I was going to be able to drive this was not going to work at all and she laughed a little.  Time is relentless…

Her dorm room was now quite a contrast – her part of the room as I mentioned was sweetly decorated softening somehow the fierce need for order.  But her roommate would not be arriving for another three days along with the rest of the freshman class.  That area was kind of sterile and uninviting - empty shelves, an untouched desk and perhaps worst of all, a bare mattress.  Being a fall sport athlete gives you the benefit of checking in early and avoiding the chaos we experienced at a much larger university on Mallory’s first day as thousands of others all try and find a close park and flood the stairs and footpaths with endless trips carrying your life for the next year. But as a freshman, that earlier serenity was now transformed into almost eerie silence in the sparsely populated dorms.  We had met the RA for her floor as we walked to her room.  She seemed nice. 

We hung out a little more – I had put off taking care of some important matters – posting my beer explorations in Memphis.  Jilly let me read cards from her momma and big sister.  Recent experience of college life yielded some great pearls of wisdom…

shots are nasty

beer is nasty

perhaps more importantly – people change a lot in college – don’t judge them too soon

and her closing advice – wine is yummy

And then it was time to go.  It was late and I still had a three hour drive ahead of me to an unknown hotel in which I had yet to make a reservation – the late departure meant that it would be in Nashville as I journeyed up to Lexington for meetings the next day.  We held each other for what seemed like an eternity and yet still not long enough.  And of course there were tears – those hot burning tears that come from a deep place within. 

I walked down the stairs alone, fished a box of tissues liberated from the hotel from my bag, and drove away.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get it together pretty much right away.  I don’t know what part of me wanted to believe that doing this a second time around was going to be easier – but finally past experience was paying off!  The rental car had as most do now a blue tooth phone setup and I had various conversations – with momma, with Mallory, and with Jilly.  I was glad she seemed OK – it made the gulf between us expanding at a mile a minute more bearable.  She had updated her calendar with as much of her fall schedule as she knew (of course she did) and taken care of a few other things.  Hockey pre-season activity started early the next morning.  I was glad – perhaps not as glad as Jilly was that she would have plenty to do in the coming days.

Wrapping this up after a few days, and as expected, things settle down and life goes on.  There are good days, and some days are still hard.  As I said earlier, nothing will ever be quite the same, and not should it be – new patterns emerge. 

Mallory writes.  She writes both powerfully and beautifully.  Her words convey great depths of feeling and emotion and impact people intensely.  I don’t know if Jilly writes.  If she does, she does not share it in the same way.  Our girls are so amazingly different, and that is amongst other things, refreshing.  Jilly as her momma says is an incredibly private person.  Jilly takes emotive photographs.  Mallory wrote – posted I think the evening before her last night under my roof something mashed together from the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song (of course she did)…

In this moment now, capture it, remember it. You pull me in and I'm a little more brave, you take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless.

Last night in Colorado

Mallory was also insightful in her words to her little sister – people change a lot in college. I think for me this is the hard part.  And it not that the changes will be substantial, although I suppose that is not out of the question – both girls are well grounded.  It is more that unlike the past eighteen years we will not get to see it happening day by day.  But that makes the catching up when we do come together again all the more fun.  We’ve given them roots – and now we’ve given them wings.  We hope they will soar, but now it is so much more up to them.

I’ve probably said more than I should and of the few people who may read this, even fewer may make it to this point.  I’ll use the words of another to look forward to whatever it is that lays ahead as Jilly expands her horizons under her new roof.

The rules break like a thermometer,

quicksilver spills across the charted systems,

we’re out in a country that has no language

no laws, we’re chasing the raven and the wren

through gorges unexplored since dawn

whatever we do together is pure invention

the maps they gave us were out of date

by years…
~Adrienne Rich

Friday, June 5, 2015

The End and the Beginning

This morning I took Jilly to school – for the last time.  This was something I had done so many times, but not so much recently as with growing up comes independence in the form of a drivers license.  But today – graduation day – with Mallory home and guests staying for the celebrations – we needed all available cars.  So I drove her to school.  I pulled up at the best spot – she hopped out and away she went.

It is late and we have had a wonderful evening of immediate family and a few of our closest friends.  A small intimate gathering of 40 or so – 40 is intimate in our family.  But that is how Jilly has always been – private, quiet, deeply connected with a small circle of friends.  So while there is so much I could say – it seems that what I shared with her earlier on a card should suffice to set out my thoughts on the matter.

Mallory asked before the ceremonies started this morning if I would cry.  I said I didn’t know, but I did not.  It was a delightful ceremony and full of joy, happiness and no small amount of pride in your achievements and success.

Writing this is a little harder!

Suffice to say, you are and always will be our baby girl.  Yet you have blossomed into a young lady and are also now a high school graduate. You have earned and deserve all the accolades that come along with that.  Dr. Davis used a word as you received your diploma that I think sums you up perfectly – TENACIOUS!  I don’t think he used that word in his descriptions of any other. 

You seize the opportunities provided and make the most of them.  You are an incredibly hard worker, but are also a loyal friend.  Your organizational abilities to balance all you do in your scholastic endeavors, your social time with your friends, your beloved hockey, and your other activities including choir and helping others less fortunate constantly amaze me.

We have been truly fortunate to raise two beautiful, talented, hardworking and strong daughters.  YOU have found your voice and you are looking forward to the path YOU are charting.  We look forward to so many more great things ahead of you.
A thought as you go on…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~Marianne Williamson

Monday, March 9, 2015

From a Father of Girls - International Women’s Day 2015

A good friend of mine who writes both better and more than I do to a much wider audience decided that something she said a few years ago on this subject was worth recycling.  And she was right – you should read it now – even if you happened to have read it two years ago.
So I figured if recycling is good enough for Kathy, well it certainly works for me.  I’ve written from time to time about the struggles and triumphs of my daughters in various ways, but two posts came to mind that seemed fitting in some way to mark International Women’s Day..
The first was written some three years ago now:
A couple of points I’d like to emphasize with reflection after the passing of some years.
"I am proud of the young women my daughters are becoming.  They are largely confident in who they are and generally are not afraid to be who they are.  Their strength of character humbles me.  This has been true of my eldest for a good many years, but the younger quieter one is starting to blossom and the same strength of character is evident.  And of course I am biased but they are not just beautiful people in who they are; they are attractively beautiful as well."

Too right I’m proud – they continue to amaze me with their drive, their strength and poise, and their positive impact on others, to mention just a few of their quality character traits.  Our little one especially continues to grow in confidence and strength and indeed has found her own voice – something we hoped for and are glad of.  What a difference three years has made!  But more than that…

"At the end of the day, my daughters have to be responsible for their own choices and I want them to feel like they are free to make whatever choices seem right to them.  I can’t lock them away and guard the door with a gun – and I won’t.  Nor can I hover over them physically at all times to protect them from harm.  I want them to be women of integrity and character.  I want them to be strong enough in them own beliefs and convictions to stand up, make a difference in this world, and be noticed and valued for who they are and what they do, not just what they look like."

This to me – at least as the father of girls in part embodies what a day commemorating women is about – that they, just like men, that all of us really – would be noticed and valued for who they are and what they do, not just what they look like.
Somewhere around this same commemoration last year I somewhat coincidentally wrote a post:
I think looking back at the evolution of that post, it started our almost coming from the quote in my much older post above – the continuing saga of girls needing to be something other than they are because boys and men can’t control themselves if they don’t cover themselves up.  And the worst of some of this nonsense comes from the church.  To borrow from Kathy’s post linked above as to why she is pro-woman, pro-equality, pro-liberation-of-half-the-population: 
“i think Jesus was.  every interaction Jesus had with women was to set them free and lift their burdens of bondage.  and he said we were supposed to be like him.  i don’t know why the church built on his name has done the exact opposite; it still baffles me.”
Yep – I really don’t know why either – and all I can say is I’m sorry – if we as a church put half the effort into looking after those who need help - the hungry, the poor, the abused, the enslaved, the marginalized – as we do into worrying about nonsense like leggings and swimsuits – what a wonderful world it could be.
But I’d like to circle back on a couple of quotes in that post from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an amazing woman I heard speaking on the radio – I can’t add much to them but I think they are worth reflecting on and in a way, they kind of build from some of my thoughts in the older post.
“We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs, or for accomplishments — which I think can be a good thing — but for the attention of men.”, and
“Now, marriage can be a good thing. It can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?”
I still wonder as I did a year ago, whether if this were not the case, and it very much is that we do not teach boys to aspire to marriage, whether the failure rate of marriage would be much lower?  Perhaps more than that – would the value that comes with that lead to less violence against women and less abusive relationships, whether marriage is involved or not.
So circling back to my little one in particular as she has become an accomplished athlete and may choose to go on to play at college level yet has the maturity to not let that define her.  Really the spirit of this quote from Mia Hamm can apply so much more broadly to successful endeavor in any area of passion, and so to both my girls I close with

“Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back... play for her.”
~ Mia Hamm

Friday, February 27, 2015

Children of a Lesser God

Increasingly I find that more and more of my friends are not like me.  This I think is a good thing.  I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve learned to let go of the certainty of my own opinions.  More simply – I’ve learned to listen.  I could say perhaps that listening leads to understanding… not so.  I mean – not listening obviously will benefit you not one bit when it comes to understanding where others are coming from, but to be honest, the more I really listen – the more I realize I have absolutely no idea what other people go through, or as a result, how they feel in response to certain situations and events.

Take the news one morning this week.  A tech piece covered Apple I think it was who will be providing an expanded and more inclusive (presumably) range of either Avatars or Emoji’s – or maybe both – I couldn’t tell you the difference.  Anyway, Apple apparently is updating something on their devices or such (again – I wouldn’t know – I don’t really own an iAnything) to allow you to use an Emoji that is more like you – various shades of color skin and presumably hair (or even no hair perhaps), no doubt other distinguishing features.  Never occurred to me this would be important to some people – why would it – I’m a straight white male, married, two kids, two dogs and a house in the burbs.  Well – that and as I said – I don’t have an iAnything…

A little superficial perhaps?  How about this then.  A friend, more specifically and to use a label (and I’m not big on those), a transgender friend shared something this week that really rocked me.  The article he shared was not that surprising, not anymore, which is sad in itself.  But it was his introduction to the article from the Huffington Post that really got to me…

“My name could be on this list.  One misstep, one person poorly trusted, one really bad day and…”

Stop Letting Trans People Die

This is messed up – I mean living with that shadow always kind of there – trying to get on with life like it isn’t – and yet it is.  I have absolutely no idea what that could possibly feel like – and I’m sorry – no amount of listening will get you there – not all the way.  This is not abstract to him – it is very real.  But listening does do something he pleaded for – it increases my awareness – and perhaps by my sharing this, yours also.

And then last week, there was a similar gut-wrenching story, again – the story itself, sadly – no longer surprising.  This sort of inhumanity – this appalling notion that we can treat other humans like they are somehow less than – that they perhaps are some sort of cosmic mistake – to use the title of this post, children of a lesser god.

Call it what you will – but hatred – whether it be based on race or ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, your incapacity to be anything but a homeless person begging to get by, your so called immigrant status, whether that be here in a country we stole much of from those we dare to call illegals – or the inhumane internment and other treatment of refugees in my native Australia - basically hatred of someone for not being like you is NOT ACCEPTABLE.  It cannot and should not be tolerated!  And I’m not sorry if this offends you – but if that sort of hatred is part of your nature – you better think twice before judging the guys in black outfits performing all sorts of atrocities driven by the same sort of twisted hatred in the Middle East right now – you are in my eyes, not so different to them.

Last weeks story concerned the refusal of a pediatrician to treat a newborn because the parents were a same sex couple.  I don’t swear all that much, but really – how F***ed up is that???  And yet, especially in America – not that surprising.  I mean – when wearing leggings is questionable moral behavior and certainly a call to judgment should you be the self-righteous and judgmental type – then we should of course be nor surprised to see discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation different to our own… 

What got me deep down however was that my friend Kimberly has to deal with this sort of fear in a lot of day to day situations.  Not surprisingly, one of the most agonizing being the question of whether her being transparent and open about her own sexual orientation could result in denial of care to her children in a moment of need.  That fear that I could not help my children – now that I can relate to – but not because I might tell a doctor for example, I was a follower of Jesus.  Get me lost somewhere in Syria and maybe that would be a problem – maybe – no screw maybe – probably for sure I would then like Kimberly deal with some amount of self-loathing for denying who I am to protect the welfare and wellbeing of my children - even if my denial was only to the extent I was not fully open and fully honest – you know – just hiding it a little.  But that situation is so far from any reality I can imagine – I just can’t fully comprehend how that must feel for so many people I know.  And again – before last week – the fear of such discrimination – not the discrimination itself, was something I would never have even imagined, much less comprehended.

The article Kimberly shared was from a local Fox station.
Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple's baby

This is not some apology or epiphany on white male privilege.  Far from it – it is someone with that privilege saying this is not OK.  I don’t really know what it feels like for my friend who is transgender, or my many friends who are gay, or any other number of friends who fall into categories subject to hatred and discrimination.  But I can continue to listen to their stories – and I can say as I stand with them - this is NOT OK.

"To the Lakota, to the Indian, when you listen, you're praying. That's a form of prayer, when you listen."
- Russell Means

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Does god have favorites when it comes to football?

So a good friend of mine posts this meme this morning – not just any friend mind you, but a pastor and a really – a good Christian man. 

Now I know he is only getting on board with team spirit, and of course, there are similar memes for the local team, the Broncos – stuff like god and the color of sunsets and such, but I was oddly disquieted by the whole idea as I headed off to fellowship.  And once there, surrounded by a sea of orange – I began to ponder – what exactly does god think about all this.  There were only two people I saw in something else – both Dallas cowboys fans so clearly god was unimpressed by their low attendance in church as they lost.  However I suppose in Texas there were churches full of white and bluish colors if like us they don’t have formal dress codes. 

And then there’s the whole praying thing on the fields, extra prayers after touchdowns and such – and I’m not offended by that – people should have the freedom to honor who they want – but what are they praying for in such a public way – I don’t ever remember praying before a hockey or cricket match in Australia – either as a player or a spectator.  Does the team with the best prayers get a leg up somehow?  I doubt it would intimidate me if I was an opponent of less or no faith.  You want intimidating – the All Blacks famous Haka – now that’s intimidating.

However what really troubled me as I pondered the sea of orange in the church assembly this morning was how do we disconnect the ever present reality of a significant part of what football “culture” is and what they believe?  How do you reconcile a business (call it a sport if you must) that tacitly endorses (is two faced about at best) rape, general violence against women and children, misogynistic behavior in general, violence in general (both on and off the field), the bullying, and then of course you have the general failings we all struggle with more commonly – greed, arrogance and so on. 

Now I’m not saying ALL people involved in football have these failings.  Nor am I saying NFL football is the only sport or that US major league sports are the only ones that have these problems.  Clearly there are some really standup guys in the staff and playing the game throughout the sport and often singled out for their good example at the professional level.  But there is no shortage of evidence than many of these problems start at high school level, and with a wink and a nod, just become more entrenched for those who are so inclined as they move through the levels.  And move through the levels they will.  Very rarely will the college system and especially the NFL uniformly pass on a player with great on-field potential because of his poor off-field behavior.  And in the rare instances where a team washes their hands of a problem player, more often than not, if he is good enough, someone else will pick him up.

How do we separate the knowledge of the reality through the week and what we sing and pray about on Sunday morning and then revel in on Sunday afternoon?  I really don’t know – I have no answers.  I know I mostly pay attention and are happy to see the Broncos do well because it affects the whole mood of the town I live in – but other than that if I’m being really honest – I couldn’t care less.  As I’ve said before – I don’t even rate NFL football as a sport.  I think of it more as war games dressed up as a sport at best – which might explain a lot of the behavioral issues.  But I had to wonder – and have no idea how this works out in the minds of those so affected…  if I were a woman who had been the victim of rape or something similar at the hands of a football player or players, or if I were gay and the victim of collective harassment and bullying to the point of violence and assault – how would I feel walking into church to a sea of football jerseys…

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Christmas 2014

So I haven't written much of late - at least not on paper - it is what it is.  As has been my tradition however, I generally share my efforts at keeping friends and family informed with our annual Christmas missive.  Which this year was actually more of a New Years letter - it is what it is.

So some will have already received this in the mail.  Others may still be on the way - and the rest - well - this is your brief look into my one page look back at the year that was - 2014.

And then there were three…  Reflections on 2014 from the Christensen family in Colorado

SO… our year was busy – so busy in fact especially toward the end we decided early in December that we would be getting caught up with you all in early January.

For us 2014 seems to have been the start of a profound shift as a family.  The girls are growing up so fast – too fast it feels someday, and we are looking over the horizon at the next phase of our lives, with today being the start of the year we become empty nesters.  This brings an intense spectrum of emotions.  But all in all, we are ready – we are ALL ready – and so it’s OK.

Mallory is now in her junior year at the University of New Mexico and still making the most of her college experience.  Always blazing a path less travelled, this past semester saw her take on an internship with Plant with Purpose, a nonprofit she first encountered on a summer service trip to the Dominican Republic a few years back.  The internship was in San Diego, and she set it all up herself.  I drove out with her, and we had a great time over the Labor Day weekend at the end of August.  Both Jilly and Joy also got to spend weekends there, and her experience was fantastic, with Mal taking several online classes to maintain her full time status and scholarships.  It all came to an end in early December with her boyfriend Cole flying to San Diego to bring her home – to Albuquerque.  That sounds kind of odd – but it feels like home for her for now.  So we make the most of the visits home, which this Christmas was for a short but joy filled week.  Mallory headed back to Albuquerque this past Sunday – and then there were three…

Jilly has entered her senior year of high school.  Her year has included of course lots of hockey, with her high school teammates completing a remarkable third straight undefeated season culminating again in a state championship.  Other extracurricular activities have included choir and mock trial which she seemed to really enjoy.  Choir has featured several special events featuring a wedding at the famous Stanley hotel (The Shining) in Estes Park.  The focus is now firmly on the next phase – COLLEGE!  Most of the applications are in, one school has already accepted her and another offered her a spot on the field hockey team.  With three other applications pending and perhaps two more in the works, this girl who sometimes dislikes making decisions has some big ones coming!!!

Joy and I sometimes just sit back, breathe, and take it all in – sometimes with a calming adult beverage.  We celebrated our 21st anniversary in July with a fun day exploring various parts of Denver.  I, of course, was making the most of celebrating the whole year as my 50th year, which culminated in a fabulous surprise gathering with family and friends at “our local” – Jake’s.  We have enjoyed travels with both of our girls, little getaways together, and still date as often as we can.  Our travels this year were mostly extensions of something the girls were doing – trips to San Diego, Memphis extending to Myrtle Beach, Boston and finally Las Vegas tacked on to Palm Desert for Thanksgiving.  We also enjoyed getaways into the mountains with day trips and a week in Breckenridge.  Although Jilly’s choir performances are impressive, our entertainment highlight of the year had to be seeing Fleetwood Mac!

So from us to you, our friends and family, we have loved being a part of your 2014, and we look forward to what 2015 has in store - sharing in both the good times and the hard times and growing closer together.
"I said to the man, who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'  And he replied, 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'" - Minnie Louise Haskins
Love always Peter, Joy, Mallory & Jillian
Oh - and there were an assortment of happy snaps some online service graciously (and inexpensively) assembled into a card.  Joy does that artsy stuff and who knows if we even have an image of the final product so this will have to do - it is what it is :)