A future trip…

2794715363_0a65217e29_oSeveral years ago, Deanna and I visited Washington DC. It was an awesome trip. I’d love to take my teenagers there. Obviously, my medical condition, as it now stands, makes it quite a while before I can do it. But you know me, I look far down the road, dream a little, and start planning.

Without my ability to drive, I’ve already been thinking about places to visit, once allowed by my medical team, where I won’t need a car. San Francisco jumps out quick. Public trans rocks, and it’s not far away.

And since y’all know I’ve fallen in love with Amtrak, I may just go that route. It’s more expensive than flying, but I’m sure I’ll be clear for the train before a plane, since I’m already taking the train for clinic visits with approval. So off I go, planning away!

This would be our route, on Amtrak. Why not a straight shot? Well, the northern route, via Chicago, is the “straight” shot. We’d us sleeper cars, the whole back and forth. But, the path back has us stopping for a night in New Orleans, then taking a bus to Shreveport, to spend the weekend with our Texas family, then back on the train, home to Guadalupe, that’s where the Santa Maria station is located.



Family trip to the Grand Canyon

Hey folks! First, I’m writing this post with WordPress for Android. Cool, but not quite the same.

Later this week we’re taking the family to the Grand Canyon. It’s everybody’s first time but me. We’re expecting to have a great time, see God’s awesome creative handiwork, and get some great photos.

We’ll be camping the whole time, and Deanna is frantically building a menu, with the help of her Facebook friends.

Here’s the thing, I too want some help from my ‘net-friends. What tips do you have? Photo opp locations? Any must-visit destinations for the kids?

Comment away!

In the court of the King

My PrincessRecently, the wife and I have become a bit frustrated over some behavior manifesting in The Princess, our 9 year old daughter. She’s our oldest child and our only daughter. Her reactions to her brothers’ sinning against her could make Rosanne Barr take notice.

Of course we love her, and we passionately want to raise her to be loving and respectful. We also want to raise her to know God as the forgiving and sovereign Lord we know Him to be. So, often it’s more difficult to simply get her to respond to us with obedience. A long time back I remember Deanna teaching our kids the idea that they are expected to “obey, right away.” Over time, I know this will pay off, teaching our kids to obey us first, and then seek understanding or context.

Anyway, back to the Princess. She will often respond to her brothers, after one of them has sinned against her, with a “freak out episode” that is sometimes more puzzling than angering.

I’ve recently sought some alternative methods for getting her attention. Of course, there are times when some behavior just merits a consequence that sucks. Sometimes we all just need a swat. (If you desire to debate the merits of spanking, I welcome your thoughts. Just not here. Use the Comment page.)

However, there are also times when the consequence merits a lesson that teaches more than the immediate results of pain.

I was listening to Mark Driscoll recently when he described the methods they use in his home for discipline. Without going into all the details, they simply illustrate the Gospel, and highlight sin and our role in it. I took note.

On a recent afternoon, after I woke up, the Princess exploded on the Sniper. I got her attention and immediately I was reminded of the lesson from Pastor Mark. I took the teachable moment and began explaining that she had sinned against her brother. I exhausted the idea, and a light bulb went off! It hit me that in her daily tasks for homeschooling, she sits and copyrights a Psalm each day. The Word of our Lord is already entering her heart, even if it’s slow.

So I told the Princess to get her notebook, loaded with a third of the Psalms, and instructed her to read through and find at least one verse that she could learn from, based on the conflict she had with her brother. Of course, she returned quickly, insisting that Psalm 3 was it. Well, maybe it was, however I insisted she go back and give it a stronger effort.

She returned much later with a clear change in heart. She read me…

“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” Pslam 5:12

She went on to explain that when we do the right thing, God protects us. His protection isn’t the reward for doing good, it’s the end result of choosing His path, which is righteousness. (Those are my words for her thoughts.)

I was blown away. She had taken the redirected time to spend time in God’s Word, and came back touched by it.

It’s so cool, being a parent.

Loving the Central Coast…

By now, you’ve figured out that we moved up to the Central Coast of California. My job hasn’t changed, I just commute southward bound instead of northward bound.

We’re now genuine Central Coast residents and we’re loving it! There’s so much to do and see and we’re loving every bit of each new discovery. We just got an annual membership the Santa Barbara Zoo, thanks to the in-laws, so we’ll be able to go there as much as we want. We’ve also visited state park, Montana del Oro, twice. It’s a beautiful park, on the coast, just south of Morro Bay.

Without going into a huge post, detailing all the wonderful destinations available to us now, I’ll just share some photos from the last two. Our recent trip to Montana del Oro and the SB Zoo.

Below are a few shots from Montana del Oro:

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Below are a few shots from the SB Zoo:

My 4 kids.Family PhotoHmm, that fat guy looks like two meals...DSC_5982Are you talking to me?DSC_6149DSC_5524DSC_5753

The little sniper…turned into Thomas the teenage Sniper

The Sniper at work


Update: The Sniper has grown quite a bit. He’s the teenage Sniper now.

In recent months, my interest in firearms and the possibility of hunting has been growing and growing. Earlier this year, my grandfather gave loaned me a wonderful Remington .22 bolt action rifle. He had bought it when he was about 14 years old, and had kept it in great working order since then.

Going back a few months before, I had begun looking for a very inexpensive bolt action .22 rifle, to use in instructing my kids about the safety and importance of firearms. My own experience in the Boy Scouts of America had been a good one, and I wanted to pass that off onto my own kids.

Remembering those sweet old bolt action .22’s we used at summer camp, I started looking around. Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with a low priced option.DSC_5284

Fast-forward to my grandfather’s offer for his own, near perfect rifle. This rifle was exactly what I was looking to use with my kids. Its characteristics include; bolt action, .22, single shot, and iron sights. Just what I was looking for! In fact, those sights aren’t just plain old iron sights. They’re aperture sights, which are really nice, and great for learning.

So the first chance I had, I had that rifle cleaned and examined, just because of its age. Then I got my oldest son and we headed out to the firing range. Near my home there is a great club, the San Luis Obispo Sportsman’s Association. My wife’s step-father also went with us. We were shooting during Thanksgiving week. What a wonderful time we had. I took my own handgun, and my father-in-law took a older .32 Colt semi-auto.

I set up my son, commonly referred to as The Padawan, on the sit down bench. He was excited and ready. With his hands properly placed, he is just large enough to use this rifle safely. We went over the important safety information, and I demonstrated a few example shots.

At 25 yards, The Padawan was immediately capable of hitting a standard 14″ x 24″ target. His understanding of “grouping” is still a work in progress, but he was hitting the target with each round.

DSC_5292I started out standing over The Padawan and assisting him with everything but pulling the trigger. I was opening the bolt, placing the next round, and closing the bolt. Then I would cock the gun, when he was ready. Within minutes he wanted to open the bolt, then he wanted to close the bolt. It didn’t take long for him to be doing everything but cocking the rifle. (That takes a bit more strength than his 6 year old hands have.)

I was really impressed with his willingness to try and learn each of the mechanical steps necessary to fire the rifle. But more than that, his patience and attention to detail was clearly paying off in accuracy, from the beginning!

So, with 25 yards clearly a bit easy, I decided to have him try 50 yards. Since the range was still hot, and we couldn’t go down range to change the target’s distance, I quickly had The Padawan switch to a farther target of a short run of steel gongs. These steel targets are about 10 or 12 inches in diameter, and hang from a stand that has 5 or 6 targets. I instructed The Padawan in where to shoot, and where to aim at the painted white target.

His first shot ended with a ping! Then the next. This continued until he slowly began to show that he was accurate about 50% of the time. I was so proud! So, I’d like to take this opportunity to let you all know that The Padawan has been promoted; he will now be known at The Sniper. Those sweet aperture sights seem to work really well for him.

It was a great day and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to head out and push his limits even further. My hope is to have him grow and learn, without discouraging him with too difficult of a distance.

I’ve been shopping for a deer rifle, for myself, and I don’t think it will be too long before a .22 isn’t enough for The Sniper. I’m looking for a .30-06, but we’ll make a few more stops along the ballistic journey before he gets there.

Watch out, Nazis!

Today we picked up the new LEGO Indiana Jones Xbox360 game. Oh yeah, those Nazis had better watch out. I haven’t played enough to review the game, but we’re enjoying it this afternoon.

It plays identical to the LEGO Star Wars games. This isn’t bad. In fact, it’s what makes it fun for the kids to jump right in and start doing well. Even our #3, the four year old Wookie, has been enjoying it.

Zion National Park – family edition

You may already be aware of this, but last week we took the family to Zion National Park, in southern Utah. Man, it was awesome!


We hit the road quite early on Tuesday morning, with the goal of being near Las Vegas by lunchtime. We stayed on schedule all the way to St. George, Utah. That’s where we hit the local Wal-Mart Supercenter, to collect all the groceries we’d need for our short week.


Behind our family mini-van we towed our family’s pop-tent trailer. Once there, it was a bit small for our family of 6, but we made it work. On Wednesday we even got to celebrate The Wookie’s 4th birthday. I spent part of the afternoon baking him a chocolate cake in our dutch oven. It even turned out!

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The gorgeous scenery in Zion National Park is amazing. All around you are the most wonderful red-striped rock mountains. The US Park Service does a fine job keeping the park flowing and active. They have a 5-minutes-apart shuttle service that runs from the early morning hours until 11pm. This makes it quite easy to visit the park without having to deal with parking.

We stayed in a private campground, just outside the gates. Since the shuttle runs in the small town outside the park, Springdale, UT, we were able to catch the shuttle and get to anywhere we needed. The main canyon has multiple hikes for all levels, including our 4 small kids. We were able to spend a nice day walking along the Virgin River, at the north end of Zion Canyon.

Overall, we had a wonderful time, and hope to get back there next year. In fact, we might even hit Bryce Canyon, just up the road, in the early fall.