Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Field of Mine

My absolute favorite artist, Andrew Peterson (singer, songwriter, author), is releasing a new album "Counting Stars" July 27th. Apparently it's full of personal songs and daily life. I've become a sucker for this type of music especially from AP. He's my age with kids & I'm finding a strange familiarity and comfort from his work.

Purchased thru his website ( they have tiers varying from the CD at release date with a song downloaded now TO coffee with AP and the full album now. I took the min-plunge and bought 2 CD's which was bundled with a song & video download. It's tempting to get the full album now but I shall wait.

The song (The Same Song) has been played about 10 times now, the video only 2x. The video is for "Dancing in the Mine Field". It's a great song & video (top notch AP stuff) about marriage and lasting promises. If I dwell on it too much I'd get weepy which is why there's a limited playing.

"We went dancing in the mine field
we went sailing in the storm
and it was harder than we dreamed
but I believe that's what the promise is for."

A life changing milestone of mine (and I think for my marriage & becky) was us listening to a Tim Keller sermon "cultivating a healthy marriage". A key word in the title says much: cultivating. It's work, and it grows, and it takes time, and it does bear fruit. Not things we didn't know but it was more of a wake up call to get deeper into marriage and get a full deep breathe into it.

This song & video is superb. Very lyrically driven, but if you focus on the video imagery or the music you are pleasantly surprised. It has been a great reminder of taking the plunge of marriage. I like it (the song & the marriage).

Friday, June 25, 2010


We've had some battles lately in getting Cabu, the 5 y/o boy, to bed. Suddenly there are monsters, bathroom trips & other troubles. Our 1st course of action was generally yelling: "You don't need to pee every 5 minutes, all the monsters are in your sister's room, GO TO SLEEP."

We seem to have solved the bathroom issue and are getting back to a new normal.
A few nights ago was more battlesome than usual because the routine was upset. Misbehavior had earned an early bed-time and no story for Cabu. Usually we (me and B-roo, & Cabu) read thru the "Jesus Storybook Bible" (wonderful book). Well 2hrs later I had enough and layed beside him & told him a story.

Figuring he was wise to most of the usuals I racked my brain for something to boil down. Meantime I started talking about a castle with a king & queen, a boy & a girl. Stalling really but ended up piecing together some junk story that softly made the soft point of "be honest" and he was out for the night. I've scrapped together a story a few nights now.

I'm loving this except my brain is failing me on a good story. I picked a character setup that he's relating to; a background he's loving (who doesn't like castley stuff). My stories have sucked. My audience hasn't caught on yet, but believe me - they do. I'm trying to weave in a good point, or some nice theology, maybe be parable-ish. Brain, your lettin me down man.

I've been able to use the same characters and should be able to continue for quite some time.

All that to say 2 things. I like stories and story telling is tough. A third thing too, I love feeding my kids' imaginations.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Whatever works for you

The other night at pickup frisbee a player asked me what I did? (meaning for work from the context). -"Mechanical engineer, I design steel mill equipment."
The reply was promptly "sounds boring."
I like my job .

It seems mankind was built with an ingrained desire to be artistic. Scientifically we're told of the great structure and societies of critters like ants and bees. While ants & bees may have a great society and social structure they are not artistic. There are no statues. No paintings. No odd colored honeycomb cell from the artistic bee.

Also consider music. Wolves howl & birds sing, but it is predominently signals to attract attention, good or bad. American Idol has shown people trying their best and doing both; but before the show existed everyone sang because they enjoyed singing. It's not reserved only for those who are good at it. Will walking be left for professional walkers? many people enjoy and will continue in it regardless of salary concerns.

The intrinsic art-nature pours into nearly every human endeavor.

I look at an old draft page and it is clear that the drafter took pride in their work. It is artistic, it is precise and intentional. The artistic effort has a guide rail of conveying information correctly, but the art is there.

My job is the next level of this. It used to be an engineer laid out concepts and something like 2-10 drafters moved that from sketches to drafts that a shop could use for manufacturing. Computers Aided Drafting (CAD) started as a way of making drafts quicker and possible for those with less artistic nature and patience. CAD moved to 3D and has basically put the engineer directly into the realm of making the drafts. The rough napkin sketches are now done on a screen. Essentially play-dough building models which quickly produce drafts.

Everyday I'm solving problems to make things work. It can be at a concept level - we need to make a widget to do function A, while doing B also. Or whether it's moving the concept to real world and figuring every part of a complex assembly and how the parts are built and fit together; or figuring out how to fit item X into the space that is already packed.

Problem + creativity + implementation = solution.

It wouldn't make good TV but it makes for a busy mind and busy hands. I understand the need for a job to pay the bills, put food on the table and take care of a family. Luckily, presently I enjoy my paying job. Even if circumstances required to do another job that had no enjoyment I would still be solving problems just on a smaller scale. I'd still build things and design widgets.

In our town there is a small mattress store with artwork that covers every wall. Pretty good artwork too. The owner is talkative and quick to discuss his art. He has no interest in selling any of it. He enjoys the art and the artistic effort. The mattress sales is simply a means of supplying his passion.

I find it no wonder that DaVinci excelled at artistic things and had countless sketches of wonderful machines. They are the same creative spirit just bordered by a frame of wood or a frame of physical laws.

Houses to me are a prime example of this. While functional aspects determine much the art seeps into trim work, wall colors, archways, cabinets, fixtures,...

Home is where the art is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Am I alone on this?

Today on the there was a post regarding playing a funny song for some friends and getting nothing as a reaction. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I've been a fan of Weird Al since the days of Eat It. I played the 45 of Like a Surgeon bordering on 1,000 times and also the B-side, Slime Creatures from Outerspace. A touching tribute to the struggles of relationships in a strange land...ish.

I've given up on trying to share Weird Al music. I laugh greatly and then get a sympathetic smile from the person I play it for.

Basically that awkward feeling that whatever you just said was completely missed by everyone. You're the only one who got the joke. You're the only one who caught the point of the story. The words are getting in the way of the point your making.

I find this happens for 2 reasons: ignorance & magnitude. An inside joke or a running gag depends on the audience having a knowledge of the previous events. Everyone else is on the outside. Or if the cultural reference or word play is unknown to the audience - expect the deer in the headlights look or at best a sympathy chuckle. Give the background & you receive an "oh I see now" but the moment is past.

The other side is an idea so big that words fail. The words are darts tossed at the target on the wall. Describing a rainbow or a sunset. Anything that evokes feelings will make it difficult to describe. Explaining why you like church, sports, or your favorite book. It is difficult to do with a few sentences. Big concepts of feelings (joy, anger, frustration) will often fall back to examples. Why you like your house will revert to describing objects or events.

A third option is it's just you. I like Weird Al, Becky doesn't. I love ultimate frisbee and can blather about it greatly (oh, yeah. the last 3 posts). This is beyond personality.

Basically you are knit in the womb with certain preferences, abilities, joys and sadnesses in life. It's how you are made. It becomes humbling to realize God made you & prepared you for certain things. "God made you special, and he loves you very much." Bob the Tomato. It's even more humbling (or especially humbling) because you see how your selfishness gets in the way of your maximum potential for God.

That's in one sense the paradox of the gospel. You can be proud and rejoice in the fact and the knowledge that God made you. He made you special for certain things that his providential love will weave with others for a great good. You are also humbled, beyond humbled wrecked with the knowledge that your sin creates a barrier from being useful. The freeing power of the gospel is that you are washed & ready for use.

So yes I am alone, and no I am not.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Coffee - more revolting than tea

Coffee is a strange substance. I remember trying it once growing up & couldn't imagine anything more disgusting or revolting. Now it fuels my morning revolt from sleep to the world of the awake.

In one sense tea would hold the title of being the most revolting drink with the Boston Tea Party and the ensuing skirmish and country birth. I think coffee has usurped the Earl of Grey by the sheer volume of consumers.

I probably get thru 3/4 of a pot by the close of the day. I've cut back. I was nearing 2 pots when I was a stay-at-home dad. It just kept a good vibe going all day long; after awhile I realized that vibe was my shaking legs and I really needed to cut back.

I enjoy a good cup and would be a coffee snob if it weren't for my basic inability to function without coffee of some kind. Sure I prefer a steak sandwich to pb&j, but when my stomach's grumbling - pass the Jif.

As a kid I remember also sitting at a restaurant on the occassional breakfast and asking to go for the 100th time, always with the same answer - "let me finish my coffee first". Time is aparently relative and I longed for the time a parent, or a relative would finish their last cup so we could get out of their & I could play.

Now I know - time waits for no man, but it will brake for coffee.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teaming with Talent

In my opener about Ulty I wrote that you end up with more styles than positions in playing ultimate. Each player needs a generic ability to play all positions. Flexibility.

This combined with the integrity that is required with Spirit of the Game generally means you meet some quality folks on the fields.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. -Plato

Generally the mentality required to be good at ultimate and to enjoy playing it brings a certain attitude. This attitude breeds a way of relating to people.

In the city moves & relocations we've gone thru I've always managed to find ultimate in the town & quickly makes friends through it. Teams form of like minded players and friendships are forged through practices and tournament. Even if it merely stays at the pickup level, you find yourself dwelling afterwards or stopping somewhere afterwards for a brew to salute the end of the day.

Even after a hat tournament (random teams of players) I find at the end of the day I've been playing all day with my friends, I just didn't know it at first.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spirit of the Game

One of the great aspects of ultimate is a concept called Spirit of the Game (SotG). There is a continual internal debate on what spirit means, and it's impact on the growth of the sport at the grassroots and olympic level.

Straight from USA Ultimate:
"Spirit of the Game. Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions, or other 'win-at-all-costs' behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players."

Fairly simple & nice.
Simpler & nicer: we're all playing to win so don't be a jerk.

So where's the debate?

Different views of the game.
Low view:
At the low end of spirit is everyone having fun. This end is the hippie end that also encourage cheers at the end of the game. Cheers were common when I first started playing. After the game the teams traded songs, parodies, haiku, limrics, etc. Sometimes fruit, bagels, or beers were exchanged also. One of my fondest memories is my "Chia Earth Champions" team belting out "Puttin up a Prayer" a parody that was well adapted by Mike Yanchak.

This view loves playing in bare feet and letting the game go with few travel calls & everyone having fun and secondarily playing hard. Soft marks on new players, teaching the game while playing; minimal heckling, etc. These viewers tend to view the potential of referees as stabbing the heart of the game.

High view:
The high view focused more on respect.
It is to promote respect for the players on your team and the other team. No problem playing with full intesity upto and within the bounds of the rules. That's how I show respect to my opponent is by training hard & playing them hard.

This view can be offputting to new players but it's completely within the established rules; get over it. You moved your foot while throwing, you travelled. My hand was stationary when you threw the disc & hit me, you fouled me - it doesn't matter that my fellow defender was juked out of his socks. These viewers usually like the referee concept; often because the other player is just a jerk.

Referee debate:
Tied to the SotG debate is if the game at high levels should have referees. Currently there are Observers who make line calls and if requested can enter a "foul & contest" call and issue an overrule. The referee debate is if all the calls should move a level of an independent observer. The idea is this will speed game play, neutralize ticky-tacky teams & players, and bring legitimacy to the sport to outside spectators. The downside is clearly losing integrity. I show respect for the other player by knowing the rules and adhering to them. If I foul someone it is a "no-contest"; if the contact was incidental, I don't make a foul call. Respect, for the game and the teams on the field. R-e-s-p-e-c-t find out what it means to me = Integrity.

Most other sports get into seeing how much you can get away with before a ref makes a call, or the other end of a ref costing you the game with a blown call.

Referees are administrators of justice. As is expected people want mercy for their side & justice against the other side.

Ultimate is neat for having SotG and it has been preserved very well over it's history. It has a simple process for raising issues ("foul") and accepting or rebutting said calls ("contest, or no-contest"). This works for 95% of the time until the lack of knowledge of the rules shows up and especially when it gets coupled with the lawyer player.

Basically the game parallels life in that justice works best when the law is known & the lawyers are out of the way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Real Highlight Reel

It's Worldcup time. Every 4 years ESPN stands up and pretends it's been following soccer non-stop and pretends America is interested in the exciting sport of soccer. There is a lie in all of this. I've played soccer from third grade and into college. There is some low-level of interest and it's growing; there is more & more of a following so ESPN isn't completely wrong on pretending it's there. The big lie is that soccer is exciting to watch. You could compress that 90 minute game down to 5 minutes of highlight runs & saves and be complete. The entire world cup could be done in a good 2 hour spectacle. That would be exciting. Would watching a World Cup game live be exciting. Sure. On TV I'm bored after 5 minutes. It competes with watching a wedding ceremony on TV.

Baseball is America's pastime because it's not America's active time. From it's roots it was great for radio with plenty of fill potential for the commentators. On TV it's good to fall asleep to. A close second is NASCAR with the constant motor drone. My grandfather had a knack for watching races & waking up for the crash replays and the final 5 laps. It seems like the proper way to handle watching races.

Attending a game flips the switch. I have not attended a NASCAR race (but a few smaller ones). There's excitement in the air with the sounds & smells. The atmosphere just cannot be duplicated. Baseball carries the same with the vendors and the crowd and the fill-in entertainment between innings. Again like weddings. Boring on TV but it'd be great with a few vendors selling beer & peanuts.

Football seems meant for TV with the frequent pauses that work well for quick commercials. At an NFL game the pauses get in the way; somehow they never bothered me in my living room.

Every second of play of Ultimate has excitement potential. The game flows nearly nonstop between goals similar to hockey. Every pass has the potential for a tremendous diving catch or jumping over your opponent for the grab. And the defense is fighting for the same. The greatest excitement of wide-receivers & corners on every point and every pass. PLUS the skill of the thrower in judging speed and placement for the disc.

I think a good ultimate game would expand in time with highlights. The fake, juke & cut that makes a defender fall down and leaves you wide open running deep to the endzone. The thrower recognizing this and setting up the huck with 2 fakes to shake the mark. A deep defender recognizing the opening and trying to cover for his fallen teammate. All of this happens within 10 seconds and can be shown for 2 minutes in the setup & execution. Same for defense with a well time poached or well played switch that stymies an offense. This isn't even looking at the completion of a swing pass that requires a layout catch because the D is playing that well.

Mostly ultimate has been ignored because sports channels see one clip from the 80's with 5 different shades of blue cut shirts running against 5 different shades of red. The USAU (formerly UPA) has required uniform standards and for good reason; quit looking like a bunch of rag-tag players and start getting some respect. The highlight reels are worth watching because it is a real sport. It's a sport for real people to play and enjoy everywhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ultimate - Jack of all trades

I've dabbled at many hobby/sports in my life - baseball, biking, guitar, gymnastics, juggling, polevault, rollerblading, skateboarding, unicycling, wrestling. As somebody with the initials GKC once said, "anything worth doing is worth doing badly". (If you get into the context of that quote you'll hate this butchered use of it but moving on.)

All this to say the one game that hooked me and pulls me like a dog finding out it's leash got shortened. Ultimate frisbee. It is the game I play with no end in sight. It's the game I've worked hardest at and gotten the most back from. Whamo has the trademark frisbee (& makes a lousy disc still) so the game is shortened in name as Ultimate to the point of snobbery by seasoned players. Outside of the ultimate community "frisbee" is generally understood and I use it because I lack the energy to go through the mental & verbal hurdles to introduce the game while saying "flying disc" the whole time. I understand where the snobbery comes from (frisbees(TM) truly are lousy for playing ultimate) but it gets in the way of spreading the game.

Simply put:
2 teams, catch the frisbee in the endzone to score a point, move the frisbee by throwing & catching (no moving with the frisbee in your hands); defensive team trying to stop you without tackling you or swatting the disc out of your hands. If it's not a completed pass the other team is now the offense driving towards the other endzone; don't stop, just go.

Ultimate is the best sport for a few reasons:
1. Jack of all trades
Most team sports have very defined positions or at the least very defined roles. QB, RB, corner, center; keeper, winger, center, mid, point, defense, sweeper; goalie, defense, centerman, winger; baseball ('nuff said). While there may exist some positional overlap or needed to cover both offense & defense, basically "know your role & shut your mouth" -The Rock.

Ultimate has more of styles than positions. If a player was only a handler (QB-ish) they'd get a moderate defender on them & be of no use to the team. If a shut down defender (cornerback) can't throw or catch a disc he's nearly worthless to the team. Once the D is gotten; you're now the offense and you better be moving. The simplest and most successful offense in Ultimate is to "take what they give you". If a team puts on a zone forcing underneath throws, throw underneath and don't try the long bomb. If a team is playing underneath on the offense by 5yards and won't respect the deep cut, put up the bomb to the squirrely veteran with speed (that's me). As a player you need to on the spot read & react and play into the opening. The defensive squad may have the shut down guy to put on the primary handler, or even the superb mark & deep-deep for a zone set. But the best defense ends up with the disc and is now an offensive unit. If you're offense is going to stink, my squad will punt & play D, and score from 5 yards out because you can't complete 2 passes.

I now see my thoughts are deep & wide on ultimate & this will be blog series. So stay tuned for:
Real Highlight Reel
Spirit of the Game
Teaming with talent

Friday, June 4, 2010

Go-spel it on the mountain

This may be as preachy as I ever get on my blog. I'm sure I'll have drive-by preaching for as long as this blog goes, but this will by the Gatling gun covering the fields in gospel bullets. I Had a fairly recent re-awakening and need to spill it to organize some of the thoughts.

About 6 months ago a flurry of GK Chesterton (primarily Orthodoxy) and Tim Keller merged in my head to give me a much deeper understanding of the gospel. More the power of the gospel.

A quick definition:
The Gospel - God saved you from eternal punishment by the sacrifice of Jesus. You could not do it on your own.

Chesterton laid out a principle of Christianity being unique in that it takes two blazing virtues that seem contradictory and holds them both. Red and white co-existing not as pink; but as red & white side by side.

Christianity is critiqued as too militant in one age (Crusades), too passive in another (Monks), too decadent (large monasteries) and too simple (country church), breaking up families (sisterhoods & chastity) and chaining women to the family. For something to do all of this it must be an odd shape & terrible, or the truth defining & transforming everything.

Tim Keller came in and changed my view of the Prodigal sons. Both are lost. One by trying to get all experiences, the other by trying to give up all experiences. Seeking unrighteousness and seeking righteousness on your own. This also broke down the very common assertion (and it needs continually torn down) that becoming a Christian means acting like the older brother. I can tell you that is the outside world's view looking into the church. T.Keller gets deeper into the holding both sides in much of his other stuff. He frequently sums up a gospel understanding with a believer being "more sinful (guilty) than they can bear to realize and more loved than they will ever know".

Mostly I got an updated world view. I'm now looking for paradoxes and moral arguments are falling away. I used to be stuck seeing a balance (50/50) of everything or even a see-saw effect. Not true.
It's not a matter of focusing on holy living, OR on grace. The gospel will move some towards one and other folks to the other. Hold both and hold them blazingly. It became freeing.

Law & Grace
Law & grace seem like opposing ideas. If you focus on the law (holy living) your somehow denying grace exists, or trying to do it on your own and acknowledging that you need grace. If you focus on the grace aspect you don't worry about holy living and spiritual disciplines even to the extent of being unrepentant of sin because "eh, grace is enough".

Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. (Matt 5:17..)

Basically the answer is "yes, both" not one or the other. It is clear you cannot drop one of the principles, and you can't subscribe entirely to one. In trying to balance both you become lukewarm, mellow & boring. In passionately holding both you are blazing alive. Learn more about the law because it tells you more about God & how he works.

These seem to raise their heads as churches gravitating toward either yelling "you suck, try harder" or patting you on the head and saying "it's okay, you're not that bad".

Trying for the balance is a twisted & paralyzing view. Somewhere between washing the feet of others, and having others wash your feet you get stuck at worst never washing your own feet and at best only washing your own. You should be washing & getting washed. There are times when either is appropriate.

The balance between feast & famine is eating modest meals forever. There are times to feast (weddings) and times to fast. Ecclesiastes 3 takes on new life.
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Hold both and the contradiction. Don't settle for one or the other or for trying to hold 1/2 of each.

Beyond this the gospel isn't powerful in teaching believers a new way of thinking; it also has the providential backing of the creator of the universe. The thinking just helps me understand it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baseball & the waffle house

So we signed up to have a baseball player live in our attic this summer. Slippy Rock has a prospect league team where college kids can play & be evaluated and not burn college eligibility. There was a bulletin insert asking for interested families. We figured to have the furnished attic not doing much and to put some hospitality into action and signed up.

The attic had a TV, empty dresser & closet, a few fans & windows on each side so you can certainly get a good cross breeze. Stuffy from noon-5 but fine in the evening. (radiant foil works pretty well).

Our player showed up around 8:00 sunday night. I helped Vince unload general stuff & left him some time to get aclimated. He never came back down until the next morning. The conversation basically went:
"Morning, how'dja slee?"
"Not so good. I have mild asmtha and I talked to the team owner & will be moving into the apartment."
"Do you want to switch rooms & not be in the attic?"
"Nah, I'll just move out."
He was gone 10 minutes later. He didn't even eat my waffles. We also ended up with a friend's child sleeping over so it was to be a celebration due of waffles. Waffles hold a special place for me.

I'm very torn on this situation.
We were very welcoming & he didn't even really give it a shot. We went thru much for the clearances & getting everything prepped. We had the kids ready & excited about it; plus we were excited about it.

He's 19 and without a doubt; living with fellow players & eating pizza is way cooler than living with us. We're pretty simple folk, & home cooking doesn't hold much weight to a 19 yr old.

I think we'll end up with season tickets out of this. Tonight is fireworks night, but I'm not sure they will sparkle the same. They will not quite boom like they should. The kids will have fun and it'll take me 2 minutes to look past myself and be happy with them. But I cannot deny there still exists disappointment about this. We were rejected without being given a shot.

In refusing to wallow & making all things work out for God's purpose (yes, it's His work & we're tools in it but stop nit-picking) I will soon be calling the State-Wide Adoption Network (SWAN) to kickstart the process of growing our family.

Basically Becky & I have talked very long about adopting some siblings. We've a heart for family, ours and others. We've a house with empty spots. There is an innocence in kids that should be protected as long as possible. It should not be trampled by the fallen world that is ready and waiting to crush them. Kids need to laugh, cry, play, run & learn within the boundaries of a loving home. We want to extend that as big as we can.

From what I gather/read siblings have a harder time being placed due to extra room, space, food, etc. Especially as they get older. I see the love & need beyond the inconvenience (at least to some extent, not sure how much medical stuff we'll dive into). It has remained a heart ache and there seems to be only one remedy.

Maybe a leaving baseball player was the swift kick in the pants I needed to make some calls and get some things moving.

"Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul, but his life."
GK Chesterton

"Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once. Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope. And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception."
The Tick

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday!!

Today is my birthday. Growing up birthdays were celebrated mildly, in about the same manner as you celebrate a $5 winning scratch off ticket; maybe slightly more but not much.
My wonderful wife was raised in a family with birthday parties. It wasn't usually a whole party about you, but more of a party for the whole family. Kinda neat actually.

This has caused some strife for the family mostly in the form of unmet expectations. It took some adjustment that:
A) I'm not naturally inclined to make a party happen to that extent.
B) She's naturally inclined to expect that to happen for everyone in the family.
C) Making meaningful birthdays for our kids.

There's also a twist of within my youth it was all about the specific day. Becky's youth was focused more on the party at some nearby weekend.

Well enough backstory, onto the real point. Frosty the Snowman.

Every time Frosty gets the magic hat, sparkles happen & he joyfully says "Happy Birthday". Everyday is magic & everyday is a given to you.
Chesterton once said(ish) "why is it acceptable & given to be thankful for stuff filled stockings on Christmas & not also be thankful for foot filled stockings everyday of the year."

I'm trying to get more of that view. Everyday is truly a gift. I can easily get suckered into listening to some great book & thinking about it instead of just getting out there & doing something; anything. There are times to rest, relax, recharge & ponder; but it can be a trap to be "shackled by the comforts of your couch" (A.Peterson).

So: thanks for the pajama pants, and thank you God for the legs to fill them.