Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Rockstar, on God's Timeline

A lot has happened since I last left something here.  I separated from the active duty Air Force and swore in to the Utah Air National Guard.  I became an airline pilot with SkyWest.  Mackay earned the rank of black belt in Taekwondo.  Brigham is officially a tween, and acting like it.  School is out and the kids have been playing tech and hanging out with their cousins like it is their job.

For the 4th of July we all went up to Idaho and spent the week doing amazing things with amazing people in an amazing place.  We kayaked in the most pure mountain lake you've ever seen, Wade Lake.  It was really quite remarkable.  and then we decided to drive the RZRs over the mountain to West Yellowstone to take in the parade.  (here's a piece of life advice for you: never drive the last vehicle in any off road convoy.)  Somewhere along the way I lost my phone on that 20 mile trail. The plus side is that I knew it was somewhere on that trail.  The down side is that it was 20 miles long.  After the parade we all piled back in and drove looking for it all the way.  Before leaving West, Brett pulled over and asked if we should say a prayer before searching for it.  I asked David to do the honors.  He said the sweetest and most heartfelt prayer you've ever heard. 

"Heavenly Father, please help us find dAddie's phone.  Help us find it before... well just before.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  And he left it open ended like that.

We found the darn thing.  Not a scratch on it.  It fell out of my pocket going 20 mph on the ledge of steep drop on the side of a mountain.  Heaven knows how many people drove right by it and probably noticed it (it is obnoxiously turquoise) and yet there it was 3/4 the way back to the cabin, 18" from tumbling down the side of the mountain where it would have fallen 150' easily and never been seen again.

The cool thing about that happened later that evening.  While we were driving the trail looking for the phone, Meemah Buhpah and Mackay were covering ever inch of Island Park Village to see if it was there.  That reminded Meemah of a phone she had found months earlier just out in the lot and simply forgotten about.  A young woman had lost it in the snow while snow machining last winter and after the melt off Connie just happened upon it.  In the excitement of finding my phone, she showed the phone to Jan and Truman who immediately recognized the girl and her father and the two boys on the front screen wallpaper.  Her dad was the HS baseball coach in Rexburg and a convert to the church, she was a recently returned missionary, one boy was her brother and the other her good friend. 

The good friend had recently committed suicide just as he was set to leave on his mission.  His family was in Jan and Brett's ward and it was a pretty hard thing for everyone, as it had just happened a few months ago.  The thing is, on that phone were some of the last pictures of that young man before he passed.  When Jan contacted the young woman to see if she would like her phone back she was elated to be able to recover those pictures and give them to the boy's mother. 

There was a catch however, she was only in town that weekend for the holiday and off to work in another state the next day, early.  Had we returned that phone a day later she would not have been able to share that tender mercy with the boys mother for quite some time.  "Help us find it before..." indeed David.  The faith of a child is great.

Now let's jump back in our story to just after we found my phone on the trail.

Excited that we found it we decided to enjoy the rest of the trip home and stop in "The Playground"-- a couple of acres that has turned into one heck of a great place to ride atv's.  Brigham drove for the first time and after 30 minutes or so, he actually got to be pretty good at maneuvering a vehicle.  After chasing the hills for a while we pulled up side by side and David shouted to me, "Dad, can Truman drive that RZR and can I go with him?"  How could I say no?  Truman is one heck of a driver.  He's a junior in high school and I'm pretty sure that if he wanted to compete professionally in motocross he could because he is very talented and quite fearless.  There's a reason Dave wanted to ride with him.

Now picture this in you mind's eye.  A six year old, blonde hair flowing in the wind.  Summer vacation in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.  A RZR going all out and all around this dirt wonderland.  That six year-old sitting next to his teenage cousin--whom he idolizes. 

And speed.

When they were all done Dave asked if they could do one more donut before heading home.  "That's fine, just please don't break your Grandpa's machine."

Truman pulled up to the intersection and he blasted out the tightest, fastest and most impressive donuts you've ever seen.  The front left wheel pivoted around a point and the rear wheel practically dug a trench -- sideways.  He only turned four times but the dirt cloud those two built was impenetrable.  After they blasted off down the road a pickup truck happened to be  coming out from the old Mill and they stopped. They waited for 5 minutes, afraid to drive into the cloud because they couldn't see two feet in front of their bumper.  It was ridiculous.  And amazing.

But the most amazing thing actually happened on turn #3. It was already so thick that you could only see Truman and David as they came to the near side of the turn, then they would disappear back into the cloud.  You have to think that something that fast and that violent would scare the average 6 year-old.  But Dave is not your average anything.  As he came into view I feared I would see him gripping the handle bar with anxiety and trepidation--that would have been the appropriate reaction. 

What I saw, however, I will never...ever forget.

David Taft emerged from the pale brown cloud with both hands held high in the air out in front of his face.  Fingers clenched in Ozzy Osborne style rocker horns, head back, eyes almost closed, screaming in the most pure and honest enjoyment of life that a child that age could imagine.  It was amazing.  Like seriously.

I pray that every one gets a chance to feel that at least once in their life.  It really doesn't get any better.  Thank you Truman.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Hell hath frozen over

Grandma Susie has been here for the last three months or so.  It has been wonderful.  She has developed a unique relationship with each of the boys, seen them accomplish their daily achievements and sometimes even do some fantastic things.  Mackay earned his Red Belt level two the other day.  Brigham and David were both featured in the regional art show on the riverwalk in downtown Milton today.  She stayed with them last weekend when Michelle and I drove to Texas to be part of Bob Burton's endowment session; they learned Granny Law and how to work.  And they got to play extra tech.  All three of them have enjoyed many weekend sleepovers in her RV, but David is the one who requests it more than the rest.  It's been wonderful.

Today she gave something to them that I appreciate very much and hope they will remember in their hearts for the rest of their lives.  We went to church and it was her last fast and testimony meeting here in Florida.  About half way through she walked to the pulpit and bore her testimony.  It was very sweet.  Susan loves me very much, she loves these boys very much and she is forever grateful to Michelle for all the hard work she has put in to making all these men better than they were when she found them.  It's not every day that you get the privilege of hearing your mother/grandmother/mother-in-law stand before God and the world and profess her love for you and her conviction of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was very good for all of us to hear and be a part of.  It was sweet.  When she approached her seat, coming down from the front, DTB and CMB both intercepted her in the aisle way with a giant hug.  They have grown to love her, in no small part due to her efforts to just be here and spend this bulk time with them.

I would hope that my boys know that along with Grandma's testimony they can take comfort and refuge in mine and their mother's.  We love them very much, we love our Savior and we look forward to the day that we can all rest in his loving arms again.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Santa Clause

Merry Christmas. 

We lost two this year.  About two weeks ago we were preparing dinner and Brigham pulls his mother aside. "Mom can we talk, alone?"  They went to the bedroom for two minutes and I heard Michelle summarily call me to join them. M: "Tell Dad what you told me Brig." B: "Dad, is Santa Clause real?"  We talked about it for a while and of course it was all the stupid kids on the bus that tipped them off.  He's old enough now that he really ought to be figuring it out but man it sure is tough when all the parts come together.  He cried and it was pretty difficult for the rest of the evening.  That's a rough part of your childhood to lose.

Then just two nights ago we are driving out to Mobile to watch a bowl game we got free tickets to and Mackay makes some statement in the car to the effect of, "David, you know he's not real and that the parents just put out the presents anyway don't you?"  I didn't hear it, but his mother sure did...she almost flew from the front passenger seat into the back row to tackle him and cover his little megaphone mouth.  Ruin it for yourself but don't you dare take that from a newly minted 6-year old!  We talked to him later too, same story and same sad result--but without the tears.

Christmas just isn't the same when little boys don't believe in Santa.  It's a little sadder, kind of more going through the motions.  Not that it was bad, it's just that it lacked a bit of the mad rush that Mackay had when he was willing to chug a bottle of Tabasco sauce just to get into the living room and open his presents. 

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Utah, had a successful interview and the drove home with my mother in her RV.  I've never driven an RV before, much less all the way across country.  It was really a lot of fun and the chance to spend time just talking to her was worth every second and dollar.  Having her around has been pretty cool.  Her purpose in being here was just to have a chance to spend bulk time with the blondies and thereby build a relationship with them individually. David in particularly has been resistant and like a wild horse needs to be broken.  They've already gone on several Grandma Susie dates and it's been a quantifiable good experience for both of them.

Yesterday was Sunday and the missionaries came over for dinner.  There are three of them in our ward now and it was fun to seen them interact together.  We had a huge dinner of ham, green beans and dutch oven artisan bread and afterward pulled out the nativity scene costumes that Marliese made us several years ago, while reading Luke 2.  The missionaries were the three wise men. 

Aaron gave the boys one of his old Xbox 360's, they each got a house banner from Hogwarts and a Harry Potter t-shirt (Brig's said "My patronus is a dementor" and mine said "It's LeviOsa, not LeviosA.) (I went up to some kid at Harry Potter World last month and corrected him as he tried to cast that spell.  He didn't know what to think; his mother died laughing.) David's big present was an RC monster truck, Mackay's a Pokemon pack and Brigham got KyloRen's shuttle.  It was pretty awesome and he had the thing built before noon.  Michelle got a watch and some Chaco shoes and Mom a ruby jewelry set I brought back from Afghanistan.  We had a wonderful time and it was really something else to see these kids become better each day as Christmas approached.  They are wonderful and regardless of what that mean old Grandma Susie says I love them very much.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Grandma Ruth and the Sorcerers Stone

Our boys are Harry Potter freaks.  Last year when I was deployed it was a tender mercy from our Lord that the two oldest became enthralled in the Harry Potter series.  They walked around for months on end with their heads buried in one gigantic book after another.  It helped her maintain control as they occasionally just needed a slight course redirection to avoid walking into a pillar at Walmart or something.

Last week we took them to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios.  It was a pretty amazing thing to see and those boys ate up every inch of it.  They each picked a wand at Olivanders, cast spells to make books in windows open and rode terrible and yet wonderfully adventurous rides through (dare I say) a magical kingdom.  Though I suppose it's technically a 'magical representative democracy'.

We stayed in this great retro hotel called the Cabana Bay Resort where everything was done up in a late 50's early 60's motif.  Right down to the V05 shampoo.  There was a lot of arguing and fighting as 6, 9 and 11 year old boys are wont to do.  There were many more baseless threats as parents of 6, 9 and 11 year old boys are also wont to do.  It was a great trip and one which we will all remember for a very long time.

Coming out of a ride with Mackay we had a conversation that went like this.
M: "Man that was so awesome I think I am going to be a vegetarian!"
I was intrigued and wondered if he knew what that word meant.
A: "So what is a vegetarian?"
M: "You know, it's like a veterinarian, but with a 'G'.  Oh ya, a veterinarian.  You know, like you Dad, someone who fights wars and rides in planes and stuff!"

For the record, he damn well knows what every one of those words means.  He was feeling really silly and started playing on the words and trolling me because he knew that I'd bite and give him a hard time.  It was some second level stuff.

Before that trip we got some crummy news.  My Grandma Ruth finally succumbed to the end of her life and passed away.  We talked about it and Michelle made it possible for me to take Brigham and go to Utah for the funeral.

It was cool experience because it was Brigs first trip on an airplane where he got his own seat and actually understood what was going on.  I got to talk him through the taxi and take off and explain to him the magic and physics of how it all happens.  I thought he wasn't terribly interested because all he kept asking for was my phone but later when we were with his cousin Max I over heard him emphatically talking about the magical feeling he had when the wheels lifted off the ground and he could feel free from earth.  As a pilot dad it was pretty cool.

I'm glad that Brigham got to be there for the funeral.  I wish they all could have been; I really wish Michelle could have as well.  It was an amazing opportunity to see what it means to be a Rasmussen.  I can't think of but a few moments in the entire weekend that were somber.  It was a Rasmussen family get together--we laughed, we joked, we poked fun at each other, we wrestled and I body slammed Felicia at least twice.  The children put together one of the most amazing celebrations of life that I could imagine and as we all met in that little chapel I attended as a child I felt at home surrounded by those people.  I always will.  Brigham did too.  He needed to feel that and know what it means.  I'm glad we could make that happen.  We will always miss our Grandma Ruth but we will never fail to have a part in this very large family that she gave us.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Naughty food diary

One of my favorite things about Mackay: sometimes when he finds a food that he really likes and he is about to eat it, he starts talking trash to it.  Like this, "Oh Marshmallow, you think you so bad but you going doooooown sucka! So soft and squishy and a little bit mooshy you don't even know yet because I'ma swallow you like cake.  Like, I'm gonna crush you and you gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiie!"

Yum yum yum.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Three Stories

#1--We have a trampoline.  One that is not used nearly enough, but when it is, it is an all out brawl in the Octagon of Death.  The other day the boys got into one of these tussles.  There were punches, blonde hair and bodies flying all over the place.  And then there were tears.  Now you might be able to assume, by looking at our boys, who ended up where.  Brigham is the oldest and fastest, Mackay is built to play rugby and David is a mere 5 years old. 

When their mother came out side to break it up Brigham had been 'ejected' from the trampoline cage. He lay huddled on the grass crying from the beat-down he'd just taken.  Mackay was on the far end of the enclosure leaning against the wall so as to be as far away as possible with a look on his face that was pretty analogous to 'wtf? over.'

And then there was David.  all 3'10" of him.  T-shirt pulled crooked, shredded knee jeans, holey socks he'd worn for 3 straight days, one hand defiantly on his hip and the other balled in a fist held menacingly in the air.  "That's what you get for messing with me Brigham!"

Mother mercifully separated them (for the older boys sake anyhow) and then led a sweaty, pissed off little pre-kinder kid by the ear through the living room to the hall way where he would serve out the length of his incarceration in his room.  But much like a defiant felon being drug out of a court room he had to take one last verbal shot.  He stopped and puffed up his chest, raised another fist and yelled plenty loud enough for his brothers outside to hear him, "Next time I won't take it easy on you.  You just think about that!"  He turned in a flourish and slammed his door for an exclamation mark.  It was amazing.

#2--  Last night we had Cub Scouts.  The bishop pulled me from Young Men's to be in scouts due in large part to the fact that my boys make up like 18% of the pack.  It's been a great experience and given us a chance to get to know Paul and Matt better.  We have a campout planned for this weekend so we ran through a few administrative things.  And then we played dodgeball.  Because that's what Mo's do on weekday mutual activities.  It was great fun, leaders v. Cub Scouts.  Brigham kind of just did his thing and occasionally threw a ball.  At the end, during clean up, he seemed to disappear.  I didn't think much of it because they're getting old enough to branch out a bit more.  Michelle couldn't find him and seemed to be getting a bit anxious.  As I was shutting off lights and closing doors I got a phone call from Chelle telling me that she had found Beeg in the car and was going to ride home just the two of them.  When I got home I found out why.

Beeg had been a little wild and knocked a ball out of the hands of a fellow 10 year old, thinking it was a funny trick.  The kid turned to Brigham and said some pretty mean things.  It's life, it happens.  It was one of the first times in Brigham's life that another child had treated him differently or intentionally been mean to him or at least that he had been cognizant of .  And it hurt.  He slunk away, hid in the car and cried until his mother found him. 

She informed me of the situation when I finally made it home.  We got everyone ready for bed and I went to his room to tuck him in.  I coaxed him into telling me the whole story.  It's a hard part of growing up.  I told him about experiences I'd had that were very similar.  I taught him the principle of the water off a ducks back.  I told him he was smart, wicked smart, and some day the control part of his brain would catch up to the impulse/smart part of his brain and he was going to be incredible-amazing.  Just give it time and realize there are going to be people out there that can't understand what you are or what you will be yet.  I compared it to Spider-Man and his superpower.  I started to explain what I meant and he cut me off, "Oh like when his uncle told Peter, 'With great power comes great responsibility.'"  I couldn't have tied the bow any prettier if I'd wanted to. 

We lay there on his bed thinking about his power and all the great things he will do with it someday.  It was the most magical twenty minutes of my life.  We had the most amazing discussion and I'll never forget it.  Ever. 

#3 Today Mackay took his FSA's (Florida Standardized Assessment exams).  He way over stresses for them.  I believe it is similar to Michelle's test anxiety at that age.  He really is very much like his mother in so many ways.  During the math portion they had been working fractions on the computer using pizza pies.  He blew through it all so quickly that he had extra time to fiddle around...a devil's workshop if I've ever seen one.  So he found a way to get the computer to open the Notes app and he typed, "I LOVE pizza!" several hundred times.  When his teacher observed what was going on she about flipped.  Because they are standardized they are also very highly controlled.  Any deviation could be grounds for kicking that child's scores off the spreadsheet.  If there is one thing they didn't want to do, it was to lose Mackay's scores from the classroom average.  You can't blame her.

There were several other little things, nothing bad, just kind of a cumulative bad news event.  So Mackay comes home and tonight just before going to taekwondo to be awarded his third degree blue belt, he pulled his mother aside.  "I think you might get a phone call from Ms. Thompson tonight.  Several boys got in trouble and she wasn't happy when we left."  Michelle shrugged it off.  Though a fortnight of minutes later her phone rang.  And it was Ms. Thompson.

She recounted the story Mackay had already told.  Michelle mentioned that Mackay had warned her and Ms. Thompson replied, "You know, I've already called the other three boy,s parents and you are the first one that knew I was going to call, even though I told all the boys before they went home.  I have to tell you, I think that speaks volumes about who he is as a person."

Indeed it does.  We expect it of him; but man do we ever appreciate it.  He's a dang good kid.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

You put the wrong emphaaaahsis on the wrong sylaaaahble.

David is on the cusp of reading.  I lay down at night with him and go through the level one books reciting the stories in Star Wars and he jumps in at every 2 and 3 letter word my finger points at, sounding it out and reading the word.

Today Michelle was working with him on writing words as they were thinking up a shopping list.  He had some crazy letter combinations come out of his little brain but this was the best: C E R E L.  Say and spell that phonetically with me.  Sear=CER, EEEEE=E, ELLL=L.  Sans the stupid silent A he sounded out and came up with that entire word by himself with a nearly perfect spelling.  That was pretty impressive for a kid not even in kindergarten yet. 

But then when Michelle corrected him gently he blew up, ran to his room and pouted for a good 20 minutes because he wants to be right oh so badly and even a minor set back is devastating.

Michelle called her educator mother and quietly they both held it in their hearts like the Virgin Mary did for her son.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Oh man, don't pull the old "where's the gym" routine ... ah, you did it...

Most every night we gather in the living room and read the scriptures.  The boys completely read the Book of Mormon cover to cover last year (finishing on New Years Eve) and it has been a very nice and awfully painful part of our daily routine. 

Today was funny.  We were reading one of Brigham's favorite scriptures in Mosiah 2 and the discourse of King Benjamin.  We were pretty normally into it when suddenly I realized that there was something askew. 

David had taken off his shirt.  With your shirt off it is much easier to admire your own amazing muscular-skeletal physique.  But you know what makes that even more enjoyable? If you've got a good swole on.  So he goes and grabs Michelle's 5lbs weights from the other room and starts doing a set of overhead presses, followed by 10 or 15 curls for the girls.  That's nice, but no at-home workout is complete without pushups.  ... and yoga poses. 

"Check it out Dad, I'm pretty ripped" he said as I tried to listen to Brigham reading about serving others is serving God.  I squeezed his flexed bicep with my thumb and forefinger.  "No Dad, you need to use your whole big hand to really feel all of my muscles."  Good point.  "That's quite the apricot you've got growing there." "Ya, I workout." 

Yes you do, D, yes you do.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I am Mighty Eagle.

Today was pretty cool.  We went to church in a fantastic downpour and then came home just like normal.  And also just like is becoming normal we had so many missionaries over at our house for dinner and a lesson that our boys were starting to complain we did love them as much we do the missionaries.  Complainers.  There is absolutely very little truth to that statement.

Brigham played the prelude music in Primary today.  The right hand of "Love One Another".  We slipped out of sacrament early to let him practice and he was doing quite well.  But then all of the kids started coming in.  It was kind of like the movie "Up" where the dog kept getting interrupted and yelling "Squirrel" randomly and advertently every few seconds.  I got him to slow down and focus and he did really well.  I never had the guts to try something like that at his age.  I was very proud.

When we came home we practiced piano a bit more.  Both BGB and CMB can play a single note right hand song just sight reading it.  That's like learning the sounds that the letters make, once you know that you can sound out words.  Enough sounding out words and eventually you just know them and if you know enough words you can read.  And once you can read you can understand and interpret everything from a stop sign to a Greek sonnet.  I hope that they will spend great effort in playing an instrument.  It is one of my life's regrets that I lack that ability until now. 

After piano we played a tremendous amount of Skip-Bo Jr. on the kitchen table.  Game after game after game.  Chandler came over and he got in on the action for a while too.  Mackay is a card shark.  The kid just sees numbers and faces and connects them in a way that I will never be able to.  He has something special.  Don't ever play him in memory, you will lose.  And David is remarkably good at that game and all of the complexity of its rules.  He focuses hard and tracks something until he can do it just like his brothers, who are 3 and 5 years older than he is.  I sometimes forget he is such a little man because he is such a big man. 

Our friend Chandler has been coming over for a month or so for the new member lessons with the sisters.  He is becoming a fan favorite.  The boys have absolutely accepted him as one of our own.  They started by calling him the King of the Couch Potatoes because every time he comes over it is for a lesson where he sits on the couch for an hour or so.  They mocked him relentlessly; they slugged him in the side and choked him from behind; they crushed his ego at every chance and they teamed up against him like a pack of ravenous velociraptors in Jurassic Park.  I think it means that they really like him.  It's the only way they know how to show love.

We made another music video.  It was a take on JamesTheMormon's "Tellin You Y" song he made for the last football season.  We had a world premiere for it last Monday where we FaceTime'd with the Bagley's while they watched it and then shared it to all of the Rad Rasmussen's via Facebook.  We already have 44 views (though most of those are admittedly me.)  Friday morning something cool happened.  Michelle woke up, started flipping through her phone and noticed a friend request on Instragram--from JamesTheMormon!  The boys were pretty excited.  They thought it was the coolest thing that he had seen their video and obviously liked it.

At one point one of the sisters was watching the circus play out in front of us all and she said something I really liked.  "I love to come over here, this is just wonderful."  It really is.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.

Merry belated Christmas!  I've started to figure out this federal employee gig finally.  There was Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, a wingmen day, time off at the beginning of December to spend time with Grandma Susie here on vacation and then Christmas break which rolls solidly into New Years.  Then I scheduled my knee surgery for the 3rd of January and that comes with two weeks of convalescent leave.  I'm going to have to go to work some day and it's going to be awkward when I invariably introduce myself to people I've 'known' for 3 years. (again.)

Grandma Susie bought the greatest present, a puppy.  Aaron and G's dog, Belka, had a litter recently and they saved us the very best one of the bunch.  We love this dog very much.  He is a beautiful Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix named Chocolate Thunder.  We've had to shorten it to Chaco to make him more responsive in training sessions. Yes, he is a Cocka-poo named Chocolate Thunder and no, he is not a professional male stripper. 

Michelle and I have been debating whether or not to get a dog for a very long time now.  The algebra changed when Brigham went up to his mother and in exasperation declared, "Mom, having a puppy is a rite of passage for a little boy!"  That's tough logic to argue with. 

We had a low-key Christmas this year.  I enjoyed sitting and watching the boys open their packages in person rather than via Skype.  BGB blasted into our room at 6:38 a.m., completely unable to contain himself another minute.  "Mom! Dad! Get up, it's Christmas!! I've been up since 4:00 and I can't wait any longer!!!!!"  He meant the last part.  We opened our stockings and one present before we had to get ready for church.  The ward put on a fantastic Sacrament meeting program with some wonderful talks and a ton of songs.  We all stood around talking longer than the kids were comfortable with.  We've built some great relationships in this little ward and appreciate having so many good friends.

Then it was back to the presents.  The thing is, our boys cherry picked their presents we opened before church and so there wasn't much surprise left under the tree.  The quote of the day was Brigham's, "Man, I wish I were like 8 or 9 again because then I wouldn't get all these stupid clothes and books."  The boxes of Pok√©mon EX cards at the end were a saving grace. 

Brigham got a U-Wing Star Wars Lego set, Mackay a Ninjago Tower Lego set and David a City Builder HH-60 helicopter and some other Lego set.  The older boys were able to go to the Santa Shoppe at school and bought each other fantastic little trinkets and David gave his brothers their first Yo-yo's.  Their still trying to figure them out.

My big gift from mOmmie was a bike so that I could take my boys on bike rides and today we went out for the first of hopefully many rides.  And boy was this one to remember.  Brigham set the stage and David ran with it.  We were a four-ship of X-wing fighters, zooming through the streets of Hidden Creek.  We would go hyper speed when we went down hill, if you threw on the brakes and rode behind someone you could shoot the tie fighters on their tail and the brick mail boxes look strangely like the defensive turrets that lined the Death Star.  We stopped to refuel and throw stuff in the creek and we drove past David's girlfriend's grandparents house--a surveillance mission if I've ever been on one before.

It was a pretty amazing ride and the imaginations never slowed until we had landed and carefully parked our X-wings back in the garage/hangar. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"I'd kiss you, if I didn't have puke breath."

Florida is the new infection section.  It started with David last week, then it moved on through Brigham and Mackay.  Michelle picked it up this last weekend and today was my turn.  Fever, aches, liquid coming out both ends...terrible terrible things.  I personally don't handle being sick very well.  I fall and I fall hard.  I complain and grump, I get weak and I look for a kind nurse to care for my poor baby self. 

David is sort of like that but mostly with cuddles.  He has spent a grossly inordinate amount of time these last 7 days snuggling with me, cuddled in my arms, watching TV or playing a video game or sometimes just talking.  It's been an awful week and yet because of this it's been one of the best too.  Even today when he could tell that I was not feeling well he found me on the couch, crawled into the bend in knees and nestled in.  I wish I could capture the feeling in his face, the timber of his laugh or the sincerity of his embrace.  Somethings you just don't forget.

He is a special child and will be a great man.

Tonight we all went to a choir concert.  Brigham and his 4th grade school chorus put on a veterans day show that was fairly wonderful.  I suppose that this is the perfect age for teaching them about some of these basic concepts and music is a powerful instrument to do so.  The look on his face as he sang and the appreciation he craved when we met up with him afterward was palpable. 

I couldn't help but look around the cafeteria full of family members, veterans and children on the stage, the myriad red white and blue shirts, hear the words they so heartfully pronounced and then mutter some awful things about Colin Kaepernik following the National Anthem.  I'd apologize but I'm not sorry.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sandestin Resort

I just got back from being away for a week long TDY.  It was a nice break for Michelle from me, though she probably won't admit it.  When I came back I went directly from the airport to the Sandestin resort.  The Air Force has been dealing with a lot of stress after fighting two simultaneous non-stop wars for 15 years and as such they are starting to realize that broken families cause people to get out. AFSOC gave their chaplain corps a literal truck load of money and said, "take care of those folks."

So they rented out a big section of the Bayside at Sandestin as well as the conference rooms and then provided meals, rooms, day care and a bunch of resort activities.  It was a pretty cool experience, one that we many not ever get to do again.  The marriage/family communication counseling was solid and the time together for Friday, Saturday and Sunday was really great.

We rode bikes together, walked around the wharf area and found a thousand butterflies, blue crabs, chrysalis', lizards and unidentified bugs.  We monkey walked until we almost all fell down, teased a macaw that was strictly off limits, threw a football on the golf course, made a bunch of new friends, and swam in a rather chilly outdoor pool.  We had a really nice time.

During a break we went up to the 8th floor to grab the football and I decided to take a moment to hang out with my blondies.  I laid down on the bed and pulled each of them on, one by one.  I told them that I just wanted to cuddle with my boys.  What we really did was make fart noises by blowing on our arms.  ...  for 52 minutes! Like, I'm not kidding.  I wanted a moment and I got one.  Farting. Fart jokes. Fart noises. Answers to questions in astute fart inflections.  It was nuts.

During our bike ride Brigham was doing a pretty solid job of keeping up with me when just sort of out of the blue the kid says, "Dad, when we go on these outings together as a family it makes us grow closer together.  Thank you."  That is the point I suppose.  He wins kid of the day.

When we got home we watched "The Testaments" for the first time since we had just finished reading Helaman and 3rd Nephi as a family.  Mackay told his mother, "I'm not going to cry even in an emotional movie."  Then he cried anyway. "But these aren't sad tears Mom, I'm crying because I'm happy."  He is a sweet young man.

Sunday, October 02, 2016


Busch Gardens, another bucket list item accomplished.  It wasn't as much fun without KK et al. but we still enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.  This weekend was my 20th high school reunion and after several weeks of attempting to get ahold of the three friends that I really was hoping to see, I finally gave up on the idea when they informed me they weren't going to be able to make it.  Ten hours in a car to see people that hardly recognize me and watch a 2A football game just didn't really seem appealing.  So instead we grabbed the boys and took SeaWorld up on their offer of an annual free pass to their parks for military.  It really was cool and we are very grateful to that company for carrying on that gracious offer for so many years.  Btw, amusement parks in early October = great idea.

David is getting big.  He is the sweetest boy you could imagine, and he thinks he is every bit as big as his older brothers (ironic because Mackay tries to act every bit as young as his little brother).  But David is at a point that I vividly remember with all of my children; I can't pick him up and carry him without effort any more.  In Utah I remember pulling Beeg out of the car one night way too late, and he was so heavy I almost considered waking him and having him walk up to bed.  I can see every detail in my minds eye.  Mackay was in Idaho when I came out to visit him while transitioning down here to Florida, I lifted him up a couple five stairs and realized I wouldn't be able to do that much longer.

It happened this weekend with David.  I don't know why this is important to me but it is.  I think it's because they stop being my physical 'babies' and their heft is how I know they have grown to become even more.  On top of that, David is my last (barring unforeseen circumstances) and that realization stings a bit sharper than the first two.  I thoroughly enjoy being a dad and am trying my best to figure out how to be a better one.  It's a pleasure with that child, I really mean that.

On another note: Mackay was stressing pretty heavily about how hard we were pushing him to put his stuff away, brush his teeth, take a bath, put on his clothes, read his scriptures and generally just get ready for bed.  So in the litany of redirection he was constantly receiving he tossed the best hand-grenade he had over his shoulder on the way out of the room. "I might as well go to the Air Force Academy!  They'd treat me just like this any how and I'd get a good meal three times a day."  Let me just tell you son ... you're right.  Good luck.  I'll write you often.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Cole Slaw Sucks

I hate cole slaw.  When I was a 3 year old child my very first memory of life was going to the next door neighbor's house and Ms. Deanna baby sitting me while my mom worked at the hospital.  I can still picture her front room and the kitchen/breakfast area quite vividly.  I used to sneak under the high chair by the sliding glass door and eat the dog food from the bowl kept under there.  Don't tell anyone.  

I remember all of this so well because that is where the I had cole slaw for the first time.  Deanna made me some for lunch and tried the shredded carrots and cabbage very tentatively.  I didn't like it.  Then she insisted, so I choked down a full spoonful.  She was so pushy that to this day I don't feel bad about puking all down her hallway as I ran to the bathroom.  I've never been able to keep the stuff down since then and really I don't care to try anymore.

Fast forward.

We do this thing in our family.  Every night we fight over getting teeth brushed, PJ's on, scriptures read and a family prayers said.  And some time's I really do mean fight.  

So after the prayer, we get up from our knees and do a big family hug.  It's a mess of blonde hair and arms trying to squeeze harder than dad can.  It's always pretty funny, particularly because David always ends up squished in the middle.  He can't read scriptures yet so he tends to float during the reading and stay floating during the prayer.  Usually he ends up in the middle of the circle because that where he can get the most attention.  

I don't know where it started but a while back we started deciding what kind of ingredients to the sandwich we were.  Like, it's a mommy-dAddie sandwich with a slice of provolone cheese, a dill pickle and mustard if they were wearing a white, green and yellow shirt that evening.  They would come up with what ever ingredient they wanted to based on their clothing color.  

So the other day it was particularly difficult to accomplish the bedtime routine and I got a bit "snippy".  I didn't make any friends and pretty much everyone was fed up with my hollering at them. But they also knew not to talk back to me any more.  So any shots had to be subversive.  

As we held close in our tight little family hug, each boy began imagining what they were.  Brigham said he was ketchup.  Mackay said he was cole slaw (despite wearing a purple shirt) and David was a pickle.  

I don't know if you caught that.  Mackay was cole slaw.  The one food that he knows makes dAddie so sick he throws up and won't even touch.  That little shit.  and I say that in the most loving Grandma B way.  He got me.  He got me good and all I could do was smile when he couldn't see my face and squeeze the whole mess of family even harder than my normal Anaconda Squeeze.  Because I really may not be able to wrap my arms around this whole group much longer.  

On a side note.  Grandma Ruth fell last week.  She broke her hip and had a replacement surgery done to try and fix it; though it doesn't look good.  I knew my Great Grandma Hicken very briefly and was as old as Brigham is now when I got the phone call that said she had passed away.  The tears I cried that afternoon in our trailer home in Provo still stick with me.  I hope Grandma Ruth kicks this but I fear for the worst.  It is sweet to hear my boys pray for her without my prodding.  They are good and she is great.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Today I sat in church and noticed that my boys were different.  Brigham's hands are changing.  They are long.  The bones have stretched.  They aren't chubby little boys hands anymore.  They are the extension of long strong arms that are becoming manipulators.  It was weird to look at that and see it for the first time. 

He argues with us a lot.  Sometimes just to argue.  Several years ago we took him in to have him tested and the child neuropsychologist came back saying two things.  "Your kid is dang smart and he has oppositional defiant disorder.  But not bad, just a touch."  The older he gets the more we can see that.  Until it is 'his' idea you can forget about making it happen.  As parents we are learning how to handle that and how to teach him within these constraints.  Really it's not too bad.  If you were just hanging out with him you might think he was a bit wild but nothing excessive.

Today after church we laid down on the couch to watch a movie Bro Burton gave us and to nap for a while.  I ended up with BGB laying on my right arm until it was well asleep; DTB was under feet slithered around both legs like a snake in a cane forest and CMB was on top.  When I say he was on top I mean he was just >plop< on top.  Kid inch-wormed his way from snuggling to laying his head on my belly to positioning himself prostrate perpendicular to my chest but completely on top.  It was all quite a sight, blondies everywhere and wonderful every one. 

The thing I didn't mention is that Mackay squished me to the point that I called 'uncle'.  He weighs more than either of his bean pole brothers and sometimes it's really funny to watch his butt as he runs down the hall.  He might be changing from a tight end to maybe a right guard.

David is kind of unlike any 4 year-old we've had to this point.  BG was the first and could stay in childhood innocence for an extended period of time.  CM was his partner in crime and all but mirrored his experience.  DT on the other hand grew up 4 years older than his is.  He wrestles and rumbles just like the big ones.  Talks back like them too.  Every once in a while though his age betrays him.  He will sing a child song or play with 'baby' toys or snuggle up to his mother and her heart will melt again.  At night he won't go to bed unless mother lays down with him.  He will allow me in the room if I sing him "Have I Done Any Good" in my native tongue.  He calls it The Portuguese Song.  I am summarily dismissed after he is satisfied.

These kids are good.  BG and CM both scored 5/5 on their end of year standardized tests.  Some of the very highest in their school and the cool thing is that they were the top 3 schools in the state, Florida is a big-ass state.  (the other two where specialty schools at Florida State Univ and some private school).  I love them and even if they were dumb as bricks I'd brag up and down a tree.

Daaaaaaaaviiiid <--- DTB typed this.

david  mom haircut
I love my mullet (I just tricked him into typing this too)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Baptizm Story by Mackay Bradbury

Below is a transcript (spelling uncorrected) of Mackay's journal entry he made today chronicling his recent baptism as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"This is my story about me getting baptized.  I was so nervus about getting baptized.  I had the most highly contguis nervous bugs.  I felt more exicted than I felt being super nervous.  I got there and there was very few people there.  By the time we had to start there were about forty five people there.  Most of the popultaion was by the children.  Less adults came then children came to my baptizm.  I was really hoping that the children would be baptized someday.  Some kids were already baptized.  I hope that everyone in my family will be baptized someday.  I am so sure that my baby brother will be baptized like me.  The refreshments were yummy.  I had at least seven mini chocalate doughnuts.  I have had a fun time remebering my baptizum I hope that whoever reads this will aslo be baptized just like me."

It was very cute.  I'm glad he wrote it down.  Two things to note: first that he really cares for and is genuinely always concerned about his little brother's well being.  And second that he likes the doughnuts.  I just wanted to put it in here in case we ever lost that little journal that the Primary gave him.

A couple of days prior we took pictures of him out on the Soundside beach.  There were a ton of shots to try and get 3-4 where I didn't screw it up and he was smiling at the same time.  Even getting that was a friggin Christmas miracle.  His Grandma Susie came for the nearly two weeks before the baptism and his Meema and Buhpa stayed for nearly two weeks afterward.  It has been absolutely wonderful having them here and letting boys experience them.

I was surprised at how many folks did show up to the ceremony.  It was on a Friday night due to the schedules of everyone involved and soccer and taekwondo.  I don't have an exhaustive list-I just thought it notable how many showed up to support this young man whom the ward has grown to love.

I was privileged to both baptize my boy and then confirm him a member.  Michelle and Gene both spoke and the grandmothers bookended the meeting with a prayer apiece.

I love you Mackay.  Thank you for following our Savior's example.  I could not be more proud of you for it.


Cameo--Word Up:

On a much lighter note--the other day 4 year-old David disappears in my bathroom to presumably take care of some business with a man about a horse.  A couple of minutes later I see the boy with his pants down around his ankles in a downward facing dog position and I hear the little man holler out "Dad!! My bum is in the air like I just don't care!!  Could you please wipe my bum for me?"

It was an offer I just couldn't refuse.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Down with Upward

Today was our boys last basketball game at Upward basketball.  It's a program sponsored by the local baptist church.  They do a great job of making it fun by having a light and fog show for the kids to run through before each game.  Cheerleaders form a tunnel and parents make almost as much noise as the booming loudspeaker voice.  They take time to sit down and talk teamwork values with the kids and the refs are more interested in teaching 8 and 9 year-olds the game itself than making sure every call is precisely right.  In short it is a great venue for this age group and a great idea.

But the real purpose is evangelical missionary work.  Their extensive marketing creates a captive audience and at least a portion of this audience does not attend their church, so before each game some one gets up and offers a fairly extensive witness of how they came to Christ.  Because of work lately I've only had the opportunity to come to two games; the first game I enjoyed that part of the spectacle.  Today the guy giving it made me just want to spit.

Earlier this week during practice Michelle noted that during one of their team 'sit-down and preach' sessions Brigham was pulled out into the hall by one of the senior preachers/program directors.  By himself.  Without his mother or even her permission.  She saw it happen because she watches like a hawk.  She told me that she felt very uncomfortable and like she ought to get up and go see what was going on out there.  They weren't doing this with the other kids.  Just mine.  Following the conversation the preacher escorted Brigham back to the gymnasium and gave a sly but very obvious thumbs up to Brigham's coach. This had not been an incidental conversation, it was a targeted hit job.

We don't hide the fact that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Some call us Mormon's after a prophet and author of a book we believe is scripture.  Our boys wear a lot of BYU gear and for heaven's sake #1 is named Brigham.  We are not in your face about it but it certainly not something we are ashamed about.  Evangelicals have a significant problem with us though for the life of me I can't figure out why.  Mitt Romney was vilified by them and yet Donald Trump is nigh unto Christ in their voting block--need I say more?

After practice and on the ride home Michelle spoke carefully with Briggie about the conversation he had been subjected to out in the hallway.  "Beegie-what happened out there?" "We just talked.  It felt kind of weird like I was in trouble or something."  "What did he say to you?"  "He asked me if I believed in Jesus and if I read the bible."  "And what did you tell him?"  "Oh I told him that I love Jesus very much and that I believe that the bible is true!"  

The little shit was being subversively cornered by an adult preacher--without his parents consent--and he had the gumption to bare testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  His only regret was that he didn't remember to bare witness about the Book of Mormon.  He was proud of this encounter.  Possibly his first conscious effort to share the gospel with others.  And I am very proud of him too.

I'm proud of Michelle as well.  I wanted/want to line those two dudes up against a wall and go 4-degree on their asses.  She asked me to slow down, think about it and come to a level response.  Then she forbade me from doing anything.

I'm not sure what sort of venomous seeds they feel they have the right to plant in such a dishonest way but I will tell you that pisses me off more than I can express in words.  I was there.  His mother was there.  During anyone of those games they could have very easily approached and conversed with us in regard to religion.  Invite.  Welcome.  Embrace and love.  Don't go behind my back to a minor in a one on one situation.  Don't subvert our morals and attempt to twist the views of my children without my express and implicit permission.  That is crooked and disingenuous.

We came to the Upward program for the shared christian values that could help our children become men.  But now that I know what they truly value I'm not interested.  They speak of love and they speak of truth but their actions are dishonest and their intentions are stained with dishonor.  I'll have a hard time allowing them to ever step into those churches or participate in Upward basketball ever again.

Though through it all I am very proud of BGB.  I'm glad he's proud of it.  He still doesn't know the evil intentions of that man and he won't for a long time.  Because I'd much rather he felt the goodness of that spirit he felt while baring testimony of Jesus Christ.  Well done Brigham.

And I admit, the fact that the mormon kids were some of the best on the court made me smile in a bit of an unrighteous way too.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Mr. Blondies Goes to Washington

This morning the coolest thing happened.  I slept in and then David climbed into bed with me to sort of get me awake.  We joked and laughed.  I spoke to him in portuguese and he made up a funny language to speak to me in.  We pulled the covers over our head and let the light come through in a funny gingham pattern and we talked about preschool friends and being ticklish.

Then Brigham came in.  He's had troubles sleeping for a while and so sometimes when he sleeps in, Mommie just lets him sleep in.  So there were the three of us.  I mean four of us--Briggie never goes anywhere in the morning without his stuffed animal Tigee (pronounced 'Tie-geeee).  We lay there joking playing giggling and up and out laughing for quite some time.  It was a moment I don't want to forget.  I'll always have those boys and this morning.  

I suppose it would have been nice to have a camera to take a snapshot of that moment but really I think that might have stolen a bit of it's soul.  


I'm home from my last deployment.  Yea.  We spent two weeks just playing and being together, it was nice.  I started a few 'honey-do' jobs, though I was a pretty miserable failure at actually finishing any of them.  And then last week I had to go on a TDY to Washington D.C.  We figured, what better way to hang out as a family?  

So instead of buying a plane ticket we all climbed in the van (the one that breaks down on highways and needs engines replaced all too frequently) and we drove to D.C.  We were in a fancy Hyatt in Arlington which in many ways is worse than being in a lower level hotel just because there aren't any other families and they didn't have a pool or breakfast bar.  But we got along just fine.  

We got there a day early so that I could go to a museum with them, so of course the first day was the Air and Space.  It was pretty much all we could do to keep those crazies in line, and there were two of us.  I had both of the older boys hand in my pocket for about half the day because they were so out of control.  Poor Michelle got to keep taking them out on excursions all week and she was all by herself.  She is brave and kind of a sucker for saying yes to that idea.  

They explored the American History, Natural History, Spy, and American Indian museums as well as the White House, the Lincoln, Vietnam, and Jefferson memorials; and even tried to go to the mint (some grumpy guard turned them away).  And finally they went all the way up to the steps of the capital building.  

It was a fun town to explore though the traffic sucks and it is tremendously expensive.  We ate at a great little Brazilian steak house in Georgetown for my birthday and got a flat tire just outside of Auburn Alabama on the way home.  I hope that it is an experience the Blondies never forget.  I also hope we can do many more things like that with them in the coming years.  They are pretty amazing and we love being with them, even with all the crazy.

Saturday, January 09, 2016


I'm still deployed.  So we talk a lot on the phone and especially Facebook.  Indeed for Christmas I watched the whole thing from a computer monitor set up in the living room.  It was pretty great to still be able to take part in some distant way.  I guess Marty McFly wasn't so far off after all.

Today I called, just like normal.  We didn't talk about anything in particular but these are the things I saw.  Brigham was outside shooting hoops.  He kept coming over to me and asking for challenges.  "Hit three in a row...great, now do two lay ups. Dribble twice and then shoot while running. ... Hit three bank three from behind that line...and now from behind the Jimmer line." (Which is silly if you think about it because there is no line that can contain Jimmer). He was really getting into it.  Brigham has always been a soccer kid but I think this basketball thing may have piqued his interest a bit.

David had an allergic reaction to a friends cat yesterday.  His eyes were all puffy and still kind of red. That didnt stop him from engaging however.  He laid on the bed 'taking s tiny nap' with his mom when Brigham offered to help D clean up the kitchen, a genuine and kind offer no less.  But just to be a contrarian, David flipped out and physically forced Brigham from the work space because it was his job and he was going to do it alone.  We may need to work on common sense with this boy.

I talked to Mackay for about 13 seconds.  The entire rest of the time he was curled up on a soft chair reading another Harry Potter book.  I think it's #7 but I really don't know.  He goes through those things like aunt KK used to go through boyfriends.  Seriously, that's a pretty similar time scale, he's fast.  His reading skills are really remarkable.  This afternoon I went through a bunch of letters I got from kids in the primary back home, and cousins and such and as I read them I noticed that there was a notable difference in CMBs ability to construct sentences, build paragraph structure, develope ideas and use a surprisingly complex vernacular. E.g.: "Signed your one and truly, Mackay". Also of note it was a second draft.  The first stated something to the effect of: 'I really hope you don't crash your airplane or get shot down and die in a fiery ball of gas and explosives.'  So do I Mack, so do I.  His mother kindly asked him to rewrite the opening stanza before sending it to me out here.

Yesterday Michelle met up with a friend whose husband very graciously took all three boys for the evening and they went out for dinner and some light shopping.  I very much appreciated that.  I also said light shopping because Michelle took care of the heavy stuff today when she dropped the boys off at the base's "Give Mom a Break" daycare for deployed spouses.  I suppose that bill is my fault for being gone on her birthday.  ... Oh crap, I really did realize just now that tomorrow is my beautiful brides birthday.  Despite her showing me the shoes she bought (both pair) and the necklace that Connie bought for her in my stead, I forgot to mention Happy Birthday to her tonight.  It's ok, the actual birthday is not until tomorrow and I can probably even use the old, "I'm sorry honey is was just a really hard day of flying" excuse one more time this rotation.  I think, though that one is admittedly probably getting old.  Anybody got any ideas?  Or some flowers I could borrow? I heart you Chelle.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's 'levi-Oh-sah, not levi-o-SAH!'

I'm deployed to the Middle East again.  It's not bad, just far away.  Today Michelle sent me a couple of pictures of boys just because.  They have been playing a lot of YMCA soccer lately and she toted the camera to yesterday's games.  They were all very cute and I enjoyed seeing them very much.  There was one image that I found particularly indicative of my boys.  It was of Mackay.  He was standing alone on the defensive end of the field.  He had obviously just cleared out an attackers attempt at his goal and sent the gaggle of kids chasing the ball to the other end of the field.

He was determined and had just succeeded; it was a great photo.  But as I looked closer at the picture I noticed something else.

In the background were two slightly out of focus figures.  Brigham was seated studiously reading a book. I mean tearing that thing apart.  And David was perched over his oldest brother's shoulder trying to see what so so cool.  They all love reading and for that I am extremely grateful.

Mother and I finally conceded that the boys were old enough and allowed them to start Harry Potter last week and they have absolutely fallen for it.  Mackay finished book one in two days and Brigham finished both one and two in just over nine days.  Ridiculous.

We may have just shifted from Star Wars to Harry Potter--Universal Studios is going to be fun this year.