Monday, December 28, 2015

Finding Christmas...At This Second

This year I tried to find my Christmas spirit.

I don't really even know what 'Christmas spirit' means, because it's been defined so many times. 

Here's what I'm finding it for me...that it's defined in individual seconds of time.

It's about focusing on the light in the darkness...not only with the decorations my wife so wonderfully creates, but in my own life. I do realize my 'dark' is pretty bright compared to others I know, but it doesn't stop me from not enjoying what I have...

....but as I discover through these photos:  Without darkness, the light around me wouldn't be so cherished

Snow. I love snow with outside lights.

Nothing really deep here, I just feel at peace when I'm out in a gentle snow with Christmas lights on.

I get emotional when I see this one. There's something about the color red in the winter night lit by Christmas lights. Maybe its telling me to focus. That I get so distracted I can't enjoy simple, essential experiences.

Sometimes Christmas time is bleak. Many times I feel how this photo looks. While this photo is just a longer exposure of a gentle snow, it brings a notion of it turns out, it was taken just about the same time I learned of an old high school friend whose husband suddenly died in a work accident. I don't have words for her but all I can do is try to appreciate what I have this second.

...and then there's this dog. This 30 pound animal has found a way to dig a hole so deep in our hearts and settle in there for all time. In one breath I love it and hate it...knowing that she'll be around a couple handfuls of Christmases. 

...again, cherish what I have this second

Cactus bites...a favorite appetizer that our kids make.

My girlies are growing, maturing, and surprising me with their awesomeness. They have the world waiting for them!

All kids...proud of each one...every one has their strengths and while I keep saying "I can't wait to see what unfolds", I should be just saying "So grateful for this second with them". Because while planning is important, cherishing what is happening at this second is most important...and something I've failed to teach them.

...of course, the next second, they are not posed, but reflect their natural state :-)

Our whole family...quite a year, and we are all least for the moment.

Of course the dog wonders why she's not the center of attention :-)

Finally, my oldest finding joy in his 18 year love of legos...

In the end, I found that each second can hold its own expression of Christmas Spirit...from fun, to thoughtful, to sad, to an overwhelming feeling of contentment that I really don't need anything, that everything I long for is right here.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Back In The Game

December 11th was the first gymnastics meet I saw of my 9th grade daughter since she started high school gymnastics (competing varsity level). After a rough previous year at club gymnastics, and a lot of injuries, I was extra excited to see her compete. 

Of course I brought my camera.  It was so fun to capture...

The poise she brings to the floor:

(click photo for larger gallery view)

The way she floats across the vault:

Suspends herself in mid-air:

Focuses on her lines during her routines:

Her team - the support and camaraderie...and smiles!


Now I try to pick the 'best' shots, but as I look at her performance, there are other great shots of her so figured why not show those as well, like...

Running to the vault:

 Leaping up and forward to snap herself off the vault:

 High on the bars:

 Spinning and landing:

 This seemed like too many shots but I couldn't decide which one to cut. each one has its own uniqueness:

 More suspending in air...this time in a pike position:

 Running all-out to get to tumbling speed:

I've always loved this pose:

and her flexibility:

 ...and of course I love capturing my Julia:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Now THAT's a Proper Birthday - 2015 Amy Grant - Michael W Smith Concert

I was a pretty lame husband this last week.

I know my wife and I say we'd rather not succumb to the shallow, "Gimme a great birthday experience" as a measurement of each others's love...


We both feel pretty blue if the other doesn't put some effort into our birthday days.

Well, I didn't do a thing. Although we both knew we had tickets to a great concert the next night, it still didn't help her actual day...not to mention that other events made my wife's birthday pretty darned awful!

So I had a chance to offer her a "Birthday Do-over".
  • Drove to Minnetonka to see her old pottery teacher (who happens to be a world-famous potter) and buy some pot(tery)
  • Went to Outback Steakhouse for early appetizers
  • Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert
  • After-show drinks and dessert at Loon cafe
  • Night in hotel with FREE breakfast after a sleep-in morning
  • Meandering walk around Mall of America
It was quite a fantastic evening. The only glitch was the crazy security screening at Target Center...45 minutes of endless lines to get through metal detectors...horrible organization...and ended up missing 2 opening songs.

But as we rushed in, and it was as if Mike and Amy were looking our way, saying "Welcome. Glad you made it! You're going to love this"

They traded singing favorite Christmas songs, they sang and played together on songs they co-wrote or played on "back then". They both seemed quite emotional as the songs they played brought memories, possible regrets, thoughts of family who are no longer here, and their relationship to their Savior was very much present.

What a fantastic night.

...and it was with a full orchestra!

From what Amy said, the front of stage was the touring band, and the back of stage were local musicians. That was pretty cool, too.

A highlight: When they both sang Christmas carols and had us sing along. We all got out our LED phone flashlights...and it was a magical site...hearing the audience sing along, feeling the love and community...wonderful.

After, we ended up at The Loon continue the great night, and to let the parking traffic die down...and to have a really awesome nachos with top shelf margarita and whisky manhattan. While this is the least in-focus photo, it might be my favorite of the night...a happy wife...

...with a grateful husband.

Here's to life!

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