Sunday, June 25, 2017

What a week!

Family Reunion
It's been a long time since we were able to attend the Hazard Family Reunion. I'm not talking about me and my siblings here- I'm talking about the BIG Hazard family- my dad and his parents and siblings and all my cousins and their kids and everything. Some of my greatest memories growing up revolve around these reunions- river trips, beach camps, cabin stays- it was never just a "get together." Nope. With us, it's either "go big, or go home." This year did not disappoint.

My grandparents stayed in a cabin. The rest of us took over a camp site and made ourselves at home.

Marshmallow goodness
Of course, we didn't just stay at the camp site. Rather, we used it as a base to do a bunch of other stuff.



And of course, the annual wiffle ball competition. This year, the game took place in the water, where we also did a lot of Jeeping, beaching, and sand-duning (are those real words?)

When we got home, Maren and Lindsey had day camp every day of the week. We have booked ourselves pretty solid this summer, and the kids are involved in a lot of camps and stuff over the next several months. This is only the first of many. I wish I had pictures of them, but I wasn't there. They made tons of neat crafts though, and both kids were excited to see me at the end of the day and tell me all about their activities. I think they had a good time.

Addy went to a strawberry farm with some friends and brought home a huge box of strawberries. What to do with them? Mom- be expecting a call so I can get the recipe for that amazing freezer jam you make!

Living in this area, it was only a matter of time before we would get a boat. Well, that day finally came. All the pieces fell into place, and we are now the proud new owners of a big boat that neither of us knows how to operate. Now we are outfitting it with all the toys (skis, wake-boards, fishing stuff, etc.). We aren't entirely sure what we are doing, but we're having a good time figuring it out. It should be a fun summer on the water!

Kind of a dark picture by the lake. My car is a beast, by the way. 7400 pounds of towing and seating for 8, all in a package that is smaller than a mini-van. Boom!

Outdoor seating for the whole family

And indoor seating as well. It's actually pretty roomy, if you can get everyone to sit down. It also folds down to a king sized bed for boat camping. Hmm...anyone want to babysit five wonderful children overnight?

This isn't really specific to this week, but I just want to record that I absolutely love our ongoing Wednesday night climbing date. I get home from work and play with the kids- hang out, eat dinner, read books, etc. Then, a babysitter comes right around bedtime and Rachel and I head for the local crags. We can usually get an hour and a half to two hours of climbing before retiring to our favorite local restaurant for appetizers (The Oval Office) where we top of the night. It's a wonderful weekly tradition for this year.

Rachel and Evelyn went to Silverwood theme park and had a wonderful time. Hooray for Summer!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Growing up, I often had the thought that I could live perfectly happily, all on my own, in a cabin up in the mountains somewhere. Books like "My Side of the Mountain," "Walden," "Desert Solitaire," or "Into the Wild" held a special sort of romantic appeal to me, and I could easily picture myself following in the footsteps of their protagonists (except for the part where Chris dies...In my imagination I never die). In short, I have always been fairly comfortable with nothing but a stack of books and my own thoughts to keep me company. Not that I dislike more social interaction...I've just never really gone out of my way to seek it out.

And that's where Rachel enters the picture. Because of her, I now question all these youthful fantasies of solitude. And it's not just because I want her to be there with me (which, of course, I would). More than this though, Rachel has introduced me into a world where friends come easily, and activities are made more enjoyable by the presence of others. From backyard cook-outs to game nights to going out on the town, I find myself more outgoing and social now than my twenty-year-old self would ever have believed. And I like it.

Oh, I still allow myself the occasional daydream of a quiet, lonely life. There is still some romance to the idea that I just can't shake. In the versions now though, we live closer to a big city (where alienation is, perhaps, easier than ever), Rachel is there to help pass the time, and we find ample excuses to escape our self-imposed isolation.


With that introduction, I want to put a plug in for Rachel's new Facebook group that she has started. Everywhere we have gone, she has either joined, or initiated groups like this, and I have to say that they have added a dimension to my own life that I would probably miss. This week we hosted the second meet-up of the group in our own back-yard, and with the beautiful summer weather, it's easy to "let the good times roll."

There were actually a LOT more kids running around than this picture would imply

Later in the weekend, Jackson and I had a fun time hanging out at Silverwood theme park. The three older kids get free passes for reading in school, making it easy for Rachel and I to grapple some one-on-one time away from our busy lives.

I'll tell you what- this kid is a maniac! As soon as we got in the park he sprinted to the biggest, fastest rides that he was allowed to do. Hooray for roller coasters!

Taking a break on the Ferris wheel. Look at the beautiful sky- it was a perfect day

About halfway through the day we changed into our swimming suits and headed for the water park. These slides were by far our favorites, and we raced down them over and over again.

And of course, my favorite part. Dinner and a magic show. It never disappoints.
Have a good week!
He is winking. It looks like he has a bug in his eye though. He's a cool kid.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On Turning Ten
Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. 

I bleed.

This poem has been coming back to me time and time again lately. I'm not sure when I first came across it. Maybe a year a literature class I was in? I'm not sure. But something about it has managed to lodge itself in my mind, like a catchy song almost, and it just won't let go.

Maybe it seems so relevant because I have noticed in recent years that my voice has changed. 

No, not that voice. Those awkward years are far behind me. 

The voice I am thinking of is the one that shows through in my journals, or my blog. It reminds me of the author E.B. White- one of my childhood favorites. And although Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little are fun to read, the story that first comes to mind when I think of this author is "The Door," a short piece I first encountered in 2004. What is so striking about "The Door" is how different it is from his classic children's books. It's more serious. Introspective. Timeworn.

How is it that the same man can, at once, describe a world full of magical talking animals where everyone lives happily ever after, and then turn again to write of animals driven to insanity by the absurdity of life itself? Furthermore, which of these two worlds is a better representation of his reality? Could it be both? What drove him to write one or the other?

I don't know these answers. What I do know is that somehow he was able to write eloquently from both perspectives, and in such articulate terms that he must, somewhere in his being, have been aware of the paradox he presented to his readers.

...And now I am rambling and I don't really know where I'm going with this. I'm going to let it stay though, and maybe sort it all out a few years down the road.

Also, I realize I am no E.B. White or Billy Collins with my writing. I also realize that my tone, as of late, has been more serious. I'm not as playful as I once was. I don't make myself laugh as much. And I'm really not sure why. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing...just an observation.

Maybe I'm in a "ten-year-old" stage of life right now.


Well, that was a somber beginning to a blog, wasn't it? Sorry 'bout that.

Actually, this week I did feel a little bit like a ten-year-old again (a real ten-year-old). On Friday, sort of on a whim, we decided to go camping. I got home from work and Rachel had the car packed and ready. 

"Where are we going?" I asked.
"Any idea where"
"The mountains"

So we drove to the mountains, not really sure of our destination, but confident that things would work out.

We ended up stumbling upon a splendid campground that we hadn't known about before. It was a lot of fun. The best part for me was the early-morning fairy hunt I went on in the forest with the three oldest kids. The second best part was Lindsey falling asleep by herself. It was a great weekend.

Woodland royalty

Maren's "caterpillar plant" 
This thing looks like coral. BTW, Evelyn has taken to calling me "fun guy," because that's what you call a dad who finds cool looking mushrooms with his kids. Get it?

This is what the ground looked like everywhere except for at the camp site- a perfect carpet of moss. It was pretty neat.

Here's a few other notable events from our week:

I went on a date with Lindsey. She's getting so big! Also, she is nearly potty trained. That means that after nine-and-a-half years, we will finally be a diaper-free household. Woo-hoo!

Maren officially "graduated" from Pre-School. She is sad about not being able to go anymore. She's been going here for two years and will be the first to tell you how much she'll miss her friends and teachers. At the same time, she really excited about kindergarten. 
Remember this car? We still have it. At least we did until today. Last night, Rachel and I spent hours cleaning it out, and today Rach worked some sort of magic and sold it at a profit. I promise the transaction was honest.

Evelyn got to sing at church (blue dress, front and center). She did an awesome job.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A brief sketch of our week: Two separate backyard BBQ shindigs hosted at our house, a family bike ride on the Hiawatha trail, and a rock climbing trip with Addy, Jackson, and their friend Lizzy. Meanwhile, the kids are putting the final touches on their school year with field days, presentations, and parties. Rach and I went climbing for our mid-week date, and then had hors d'oeuvres on the patio of one of our favorite little restaurants. I went on some long bike rides and am playing in the band this weekend. Rachel started a new meet-up group and they had their first "event" earlier today. Lindsey is almost potty trained, and her "monster potty" is her new best friend. Summer is definitely here, and we're lovin' it.

Here's some pictures:
Climbing with my best friend

Exploring in the woods

Maren's pre-school. She in in the turquoise shirt, third from the left.

Lindsey's "monster potty"

The potty sometimes ends up places it shouldn' in the middle of our party. How charming.

The beginning of the ride. This is one of my favorite trails ever. It starts out with a tunnel that is a mile and a half long, and then just gets better from their. Do yourselves a favor and look up the Hiawatha Trail on Google- it's pretty spectacular.

One of the many bridges

Notice that she has only one shoe. The other one is 250 feet down at the bottom of the trestle. She's a little too proud of herself. Don't worry- I got it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

(When I am 100 years old, I will have a moter home and a pet snake. I will still be a worker. I hope that I am still alive." (sic)

Jack wrote this as a part of a school project a couple of months ago. He still keeps it hanging in his room. Motivation maybe? It’s clear that he has high expectations out of life.

Rachel had her birthday, so she’s older than me again. For a celebration, we went to Skate Plaza with the kids. Oh, yeah. We know how to party!

Here's Rach before we were married. She's even prettier now.
Here's a picture Rachel and Maren (by Maren). Personally, I think both of them look a little bit better in real life.

Over the weekend we invited a bunch of people over to our house and had backyard BBQ’s on Saturday AND Sunday. Hot dogs and hamburgers the first time- ribs the second. I love spring/summer.

The nice weather has also allowed us to get out a lot on our bikes. On Sunday we did a big ride with our church and ended up at a park where they served root beer floats. It seems like there were probably about a hundred people who showed up and it was a good time for everyone (except, maybe, for the poor people who wanted to pass the never-ending procession of slow-moving families taking up the trail).

Root beer floats for everyone!

Today, Rachel and I went and checked out a new trail called Fish Lake in Spokane. We enjoyed a nice conversation the whole time, and the ride was beautiful. Definitely a place we’ll have to come back to with the kids.

For family night tonight we had our first beach day of the year. From now until about October we’ll probably go at least once/week…and sometimes a whole lot more. The kids all swam and we had a nice picnic dinner and then went out for ice cream cones afterwards. Like I said, I love spring/summer.

Also, this weekend I had a study club with a bunch of other dentists in the area. I was responsible for a lot of stuff for this one and it took up more time than usual, but things went really well. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I love that my job is something that can continually challenge me as I get better and better at what I do. The surgery I did this time was fairly ambitious, but it had a great result and the patient is pretty happy about it. That is fulfilling to me.

On the last blog post I promised pictures of our living room. “Before” pictures were posted last week. Here are some “after” shots.

Still not totally sure what we'll do with this space. Kids want air hockey. I'm thinking foosball. Maybe we'll do both.

It is difficult to see the shelf, but the lettering says 'explore.'

A few other random things from our kids:

This is Evelyn sleeping in the bathtub. On a whim, she decided that May 12th is "weird day" and planned accordingly.

Three oldest kids in the quarterly Kroc Center magazine

Maren at her preschool
Have a good week!