Saturday, June 14, 2014

Seriously, Funnest Party I Ever Threw

Our youngest wanted an ‘end of year’ party for his 4th grade classmates. We invited 20 and ended up with 13. The goal was to have a great time, have lots of things to do outside, and privately, to help my son feel loved by his fails-too-often dad.

First, we needed great weather. 

It was absolutely perfect!

Then, we needed some fun things to do, starting with "Water fun". I used a huge tarp, buckets of water for squirt-gun fights, and the lady of the house harvested water guns from the Dollar store.

Of course, water balloons are always a hit, so what better party event than a custom-HINTER built water balloon launcher! Thanks to Fleet Farm and their ‘horse care’ department, I was able to get 2 10’ latex tubes (don't ask. I have no idea...but poor, poor horses!). As for the launcher? They worked great! (some balloons traveled over 100 feet)

And then we brought the BIG ballistics out. However, those didn’t travel as well so we ran water balloon tosses. I announced the contest and some said “Don’t keep track or some may lose”. I instinctively channeled my inner robot and pronounced, “Life is filled with winning and losing…get use to it”. Then, when a team dropped a balloon and it popped, I yelled, “OK. Losers down here while we watch the winners!” (You’re welcome…just trying to prepare these kids for reality.)

Of course, a party isn’t all about water fun. I set up badminton, croquet, horse-shoe toss, bocce ball, and provided footballs and frisbees. There were hours of “free form” fun.

Then, these 10 year-olds turned into future IBMers and started an endless debate on the nuances of how to play “Capture the Football”. I eventually yelled, “ON MY MARK, TEAM ONE ATTACK TEAM TWO….ONE, TWO, THREE:  CHAAAAARGE!!!!” 

...and much fun was had by all.

I also fixed up our park: Mowed, fixed fort, slide, and made the path good for bare feet. It was awesome to see all the kids explore like pirates searching the jungle for treasure.

After dinner on the grill, the games, and the water, we started our evening with a fire. Thanks to my WWJD bracelet (What Would Jack Do), the height of the fire exceeded all expectations.

Not to lose an opportunity, the classic “end of school year” burning of the homework commenced and was enjoyed by all

The day ended with s’mores, s'moritos (a HINTER creation….they’re awesome!) and night games. Three separate times during the evening a classmate pronounced, “This was the best party I’ve ever been to!" That felt good. Then later I heard my son quietly whisper, "Thanks Dad". That, I'll never forget.

After the guests left, and the kids were in bed, I sat by the embers of the fire with my wife. I felt such contentment. We agreed to etch this day into our memories so that on hard days we don’t forget how blessed we are living here, able to host parties, and raise the kids we have. In a very real sense this was the best Father’s Day gift I’ve ever received…a reminder at the impact I have on my kids lives if I work hard, apply creativity, and work to serve them rather than focus on my own wants.

What a day…what a party

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Art Of War and Fetch - View From A Pup

Hello. I am the Hinter pup: Orchid (Princess Orchid Jane Isabelle Mary The Rut Killer according to my official pedigree documents). 

I love this family, and I'm pretty sure they love me, too because not only do they feed me, pet me and let me lay on the back of the couch like a cat, they do fun things with me like play fetch. 

However, while my family understands the depth of my joy in fetch, casual passers-by often just pass it off as "burning off energy" or make uninformed comments like, "it's cute when she growls when she catches it".

Therefore, as a PSA, I feel I need to walk you through the Art of Fetch to fully appreciate how deeply  impactful this activity is.

The Art of War Fetch

Anticipate The Moment
I am most happy in this position. You can't see the quivering in the picture but my mouth anticipates sinking into the object of my a-fetch-tion (don't groan...I'm a dog...puns are our love language). My paws are so stinking excited that they ever so slightly twitch waiting for Fetch to begin.
(click for larger, and more awesome pics)

Trust Your Companion
When he says "Go", I run...knowing that the ball or frisbee is on its way. We trust each other like that. It's like a dance...he knows my strengths, weaknesses, and skills. He lets me get a head start so I can catch it mid-air.

Fun and Serious Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Now, while I love playing, fetch is serious business! I don't have time to joke around. I've got 10-12 summers of fetch in me, and I can't take even one single session for granted. Every throw, every grab, every "Good Girl!" deepens my joy in life.

That's why I go from fun-loving "Princess Orchid Jane" you see here...

To "Wild-eyed-Orchid-Jane-The-Rut-Killer" here.

As you see, this is serious business, but in a crazy-fun "I freaking love this life!" kind of way.

Follow Your Instincts
In these moments I am "All In". Focused. Unwavering. Not to scare the children, but something from my ancient past boils up from my recessed DNA and I swear I can hear the pack lead howling "Take it down! Take it down!". Nothing can get in my way...

Go For The Kill
It's at this point I can nearly taste the fuzz...and hear the li'l green warrior scream for mercy as it bounces away quickly...but not quickly enough. Although, as evidence below, maybe the ball loves fetch just as much as I do? The ball is fulfilling its purpose and you can actually see it smile as it finishes its job (which is, of course, to be captured by a slobbery, wet-nosed opponent).

It seems we have something in common...the more we are being productive doing what we love, the happier we are.

It's in this moment that I wrap my jaws around my opponent, and with deep satisfaction, capture my prey. Those around me hear an intense growl...a guttural homage to my ancient ancestors (You should have heard me growl fetching at 3 months old...while my goal was sinister awe and an echo of past warriors, my family laughed. I first got back at them by peeing in a corner, but then I realized what all princess warriors realize in the Art of Fetch: I can use my cuteness to my advantage and now I am trusted, loved, well petted, and have companions for life. Hoo-Rah!)

In the end I show respect that it was a good-fought battle and even in victory I must be humble.  I wag my floofy tail as a victor waves a flag.

Live to Fetch Another Day
As I bound across the horizon,  another fetch session comes to a close. I am exhausted, full of joy, and feel closer to this human than ever. We walk together, hang it up for the day, and enjoy a long, cold drink.

Some day will be my last day of fetch. I know that. He knows that. That's just how it works. That's why we cherish each throw.

Until then, if you see me in the act of fetch, know that while I'm fiercely zoning in on my prey, and fiercely growling when I catch it, inside I'm feeling quite different. Inside I'm shouting...


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