35mm Amusement – 1st Roll

I am slow.  So slow that I am just now starting to catch up with all of the media I generated during the Christmas holiday.  I was recently inspired to pick up my sister’s old Nikon FE 35mm SLR and shoot a few rolls of film.  I loved getting back to the basics of photography.  My wife and I both have nice digital SLRs with snappy auto-focus, auto white balance, super accurate digital light meters, and many other bells and whistles that take all of the thinking out of the exposure.

Taking a picture without that high-speed processing power makes you really think about what you’re shooting, what kind of light you’re shooting in, and whether or not you really need a picture of it.  Especially when you realize that you only have 24 exposures per roll.  Add to that the increasing price of film developing and you start to get nervous every time you press that shutter release.  I think it’s that nervous excitement that I crave, hoping that the picture turns out exactly the way you see it in your head.  Film photography has become a novelty rather than a standard (at least I think it’s novel).  I love the “film look”, and I can’t wait to shoot some more with that camera.

Pictures taken with a Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm 1.8

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‘Tis [Always] the Season

The second I step into the house, my son’s bare feet are pitter-pattering to the door. He flings his arms wide and yells, “Da…!” or “Dat!” or “Daddtheee”, or some combination of those. My beautiful wife is usually right after him with a sweet kiss and a hug. I love coming home to my family and I want it to be pleasant for them when I come home.

Even in the hot Summer months, or the dreary winter months (post-Christmas), a dad should always be willing to get on the floor with his kid, make a few funny faces, and play. Play on your kid’s terms, not on yours. Shrug off the worries of work and let your family know that you are now completely there for them.

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The Elephant in the Womb

The following story is not light-hearted.  I don’t have a fun video to watch, and I can’t expect most people to understand.  It will also be wordy, so don’t feel guilty if you don’t read it all.

Most of all, I am not writing this for pity.  You don’t need to feel sorry for us.  It’s okay if you cry, or if you pray for us, but God heals all wounds and if we are broken, it is to draw us closer to him.  We are strongly grounded in our hope in Christ Jesus.  I truly believe that everything that happens on this earth leads to glorifying our God, the creator of the universe.  I hope this story helps someone.  I know it helps me to write it.

I was almost a father… again

On November 30th, my wife texted me while I was at work.  The text simply said, “Call me please”.  Of course, I obliged to call as quickly as possible and when I did, she floored me with the news that we were pregnant for the second time.  She had taken a pregnancy test on a whim.  There had been no indication that she was pregnant, she just got curious I guess.  A new baby wasn’t even on our radar, except through adoption/fostering.

Nothing could have made me happier.  I was both floating on clouds and getting crushed by the weight of a completely different reality simultaneously. We have been avoiding pregnancy for a while because we are training to be foster parents, so this changed everything.  I immediately started thinking about maternity gifts for Christmas. I started rearranging the house in my head to make room for the new love of our life.  I even started thinking about names.

It might be a girl;  A little sister for Caleb to look after and protect.  It might be a little boy; a little brother for Caleb to play with and share with.  Either way, I was ready.  You know my motto:

Bring it on.

I don’t pretend to understand how a woman’s body works, but I have learned a few things after being married for 3+ years.  For one, there is a huge difference between bleeding and “spotting”.  My sweet wife patiently told me as much when I made that mistake last week.  It started on December 7th, just 1 short week after finding out we were pregnant.  We were already emotional, having to switch gears from fostering to having a bio-kid.  Now, we were trying to ready ourselves for the worst.

Spotting doesn’t have to bee a bad sign during pregnancy, but it can be.  In my mind, my wife was bleeding profusely and needed to be rushed to the ER.  My wife, sister, brother-in-law, and our good friend Kelley calmed me down and said we just needed to wait a little while.

First, there was a chance that it was just normal spotting.  Nothing to worry about.  The doctor still needed to check it out, but there are good reasons for that process that are a mystery to us, and a glory to God.  Second, if this really was a sign of a miscarriage, there isn’t much anyone can do at that point.

There was nothing we could do…

You mean I can’t fix it?

I stood in our house, helpless, wanting to cry.  And then an amazing thing happened.  Joel–my brother-in-law–decided to pray for us.  We all circled up, heads together, and just prayed.  I think there was a puddle of tears in the middle of our little group by the end.  Like I said, God works everything to his glory.  Even though praying didn’t make the situation less painful or sad, it helped us shed the worry, knowing that God was and is in control.

The next day, Shari went to the doctor with my sister and they did a sonogram to make sure there really was something to worry about.  Of course, there was something there but they couldn’t determine whether she was having a miscarriage or not.  At this point, they say that it was only the size of a small orange seed.  It might as well have been Caleb in there, and I felt like I was losing him.

The weekend dragged by with a lot of sorrow and comforting.  By the end of it, we knew without a doubt that we had lost our second baby.  Shari and I felt at a loss of words, but only for a short while.

As I said before, we put our hope in the saving grace of our Lord.  There is no use mourning for something that has gone away.  We can’t do anything about it, but strive to glorify God until we meet Him again.  I really feel like this has been a blessing because it has made our little family closer and more away of the fragility of our lives.  We are so blessed to be where we are today and I am so blessed to have such a strong a courageous wife.

For the other half of the story (which is a bit more light-hearted), you should read the latest post of i have mom brain.

Thanks for listening.

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Fort Worth Train Show

Please enjoy this video of our trip to the Fort Worth Model Train Show. It was a Saturday morning, I grabbed the paper and started reading through a few articles when I stumbled across this event happening that weekend. I said, “I know what we’re doing today!” and we hopped in the car and went. Those are the best kinds of trips. Not planned, not expected, but greatly enjoyed.

You’ll notice in this video that when Caleb is playing with the “Thomas and Friends” train set, he is making motor sounds with his lips. He must have done that for at least 30 minutes straight while he ran around the table and played with the other kids. This is one of those qualities that Shari designates as “all boy”.

Grandparents take note, the “Thomas and Friends” train track was the most fun he has had in a long time and I plan on building him a table for the Oval track we bought him that day. Expansion sets are welcome.

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Blood and Guts

Sometimes, I forget what it was like to be a boy.  I mostly remember the best pieces of my past.  I remember times when my dad told me he was proud of me, and when my mom told me she loved me.  I remember when dad took the training wheels off of my bike, and when I had my first crush.  In my mind, growing up was fun and full of good feelings.

The things I don’t think about frequently are the times when I had blood streaming down my knee because I took a corner too fast or wasn’t watching where I was going.  I don’t like to think about the time I split my chin open trying to slide across the kitchen floor with a pillow clutched to my stomach.  Losing a tooth was painful and bloody.  Climbing a fence and nearly breaking your arm on the way back down is scary.

This is the business of being alive.  We are fragile, soft, squishy human-beings.

Boys know this best, and disregard it with utter abandon.

Lately, I have been a nervous wreck around Caleb.  Since his recent discovery of running, he has been prancing around on his toes and dashing about the house with the same recklessness we saw when he was walking.  The difference being the speed at which his body parts collide with objects.  Unfortunately, he didn’t take his cues from his friend Levi, who has a wide, stable stance when he walks/runs.  No, Caleb’s gait is chaotic.  It’s only a matter of time before he learns the consequences, and that is not something I can easily teach to an 18 month old.

Last night, we came back home from our bible study about three hours past Caleb’s normal bed time.  I pulled him out of the car seat and set him on the ground so that he could walk to the door, an event that we are all very accustomed to.  I managed to catch up to him just as he was about to scale the concrete steps and I used my super-dad lightning reflexes to keep him from flailing backwards.  Shoes and stairs are hard to work with at that age.

Recognizing that he was probably too tired to scale the adult-sized stairs, I lifted him onto the stoop and urged him to go inside.  As soon as Caleb was through the door, the ground must have disappeared from beneath him.  Both of his feet swept out behind him almost simultaneously and he face planted on the hardwood floor.  When I say he face planted, I mean only his knees hit before his face did.  His hands were probably already thinking about that soft mattress and were too bothered to worry about anything but sleep.

Tragedy

Before you could say “bloody lip,” Caleb was scooped up, rushed to the kitchen, wiped off, and examined.  He barely had time to cry.  As a matter of fact, I think he was more shocked at the new taste of blood in his mouth than anything.  He really only cried for about a minute before he went to sucking his thumb and watching us curiously while we consulted our phones.  It took at least 20 minutes before Caleb let us examine his tongue, and even then we only got quick glances.  The damage: A small cut on the upper lip and a small cut on the tip of his tongue.

This morning, Caleb is perfectly fine and Shari tells me that he doesn’t even act like it hurts.  Once again, boys just don’t seem to care.  I’m going to have to get used to it I suppose.  Even now, I’m starting to see some of the humor in the situation, while last night I was a bundle of nerves.

One of the things I couldn’t stop thinking about last night was how different it will be when we are fostering.  They say that even a small cut on the lip like that would warrant a trip to the hospital for documentation.  Last night, our conversations were about whether we should go to the emergency room, whether we should let him sleep with us, and what can we do to stop the bleeding.  If it was a foster kid, our conversations would be whether we will get any sleep, who should fill out the paper work, and whether Covenant Kids would ever trust us with their kids again.  I can see how that might seem scary, or inconvenient, but I say bring it on.  God, be with us.

If you have made it this far in the post, maybe you have something to say.  Do you have a blood and guts story worth sharing?  I would love to hear about it in the comments section.

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Defiance

Our son is showing signs of defiance.  We have all seen it.  There are the classic cases of the kid throwing a fit in Wal-Mart over a toy he can’t have.  Usually, they’re flat out sprawled on the floor or limp in the basked bawling their eyes out and screaming about something.  I pray that we never get there.  I don’t think I could handle the embarrassment.  Actually, compared to those cases, Caleb is a complete angel.  Here is an example:

Making dinner each night is quite the ordeal for our little guy.  He is okay to play by himself for a little while when we are just sitting on the couch, but all the movement in the kitchen seems to stimulate him and he joins in on the hustle-and-bustle.  One night, I was grilling some chicken in the backyard so I was going in and out of the back door constantly.  As I was stepping outside to put the chicken on, Caleb thought it would be fun to come outside with me.  With my hands full and the grill waiting, all I could do was repeatedly ask him to close the door.  He didn’t have shoes on and he still hasn’t mastered the use of porch steps.  Of course, he wasn’t too excited about the idea, but he finally complied.

I only wish you could have seen the look on his face as he pushed the door closed.  One would think that we had told him Elmo had died and Sesame Street was canceled.  As the door finally shut (he pushed it shut and made sure it latched like we taught him), he clapped.  He was still very upset, but managed to eek out a “yay!” between his sniffles and sobs.

That was not an isolated incident either.  It has become the norm as Caleb learns the balance between obedience and pleasure.  My wife and I have learned so much from him about our own relationship to our heavenly father.  We have learned to trust Him, but we still scream and cry as we carry out His plan.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Ephesians 6:1 (ESV)

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Foster Training

History

When Shari and I first met, there was an immediate flood of information that flowed between us easily and freely.  As with most couples, it’s a good sign that you’re compatible when you can’t stop chatting about anything and everything.  One of those things we talked about was kids: how many, boys or girls, and adoption.  We both agreed that we wanted at least two kids.  We also agreed that adoption wasn’t a bad idea, but we were too young–and too unmarried–to make a definite decision about it.

Money-To-Mouth

Here we are about 7 years later, and we have decided that talk is cheap.  Enough people talk about how great it would be to love an unwanted child, but not enough people actually go through with it.  Shari and I had some long conversations with each other and with some friend’s from church who are already foster parents.  We landed on the idea that our best course of action would be to foster with the goal of adoption.  God has totally changed our hearts from being lukewarm about adoption to being red-hot passionate about fostering.

Foster vs. Adoption

Shari and I just finished the first week of training with our chosen organization (Covenant Kids), and we are still ruminating on the loads of information they dumped on us.  One thing we learned before we even started the process was the difference between fostering and adoption.

When you foster, the goal is to reunify the child/sibling set with the parents.  That can be a hard line to walk if all you want is to play the loving, protective parent.  If you’re not prepared (and Covenant Kids is preparing us for this in a big way), you start to look at the parents as the enemy.  They are drug addicts, abusive, neglectful, and careless with their kid’s lives.  However, they are not all bad.  As a matter of fact, most of them are trying to do good, they are just damaged people like the rest of us.

There comes a time when the state decides that the parents are not fit to parent their child.  At that time, the child becomes available for adoption and the foster parents are given the opportunity to keep that kid forever.  Shari and I are driving for this goal, but God is changing our hearts towards fostering.  The opportunity to show these kids love and give their parents a chance to turn their life around is one that we just can’t turn down.

Some Promises Should Never Be Broken

We are not sure when we will “go active” and start fostering, but we know that we will request babies Caleb’s age and younger.  Now that we have started the process, we are not turning back.  The state of Texas is in need of foster parents and we feel that God calls all Christians to lay down their life for others.  We appreciate any and all prayers on our behalf.  We have a long road ahead of us.

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