Saturday, February 25, 2012

Birthday

Speaking in terms of days past, there were two brothers. 10 years separated them nearly to the month and day; the sign they shared of Pisces was a bond in both word and temperament.

The older brother was all the younger brother could ask for. Patient and kind, always willing to share time with him. On far too many occasions, the younger would find his way downstairs and into the older's room. He was never once dismissed. Instead, he was welcomed and encouraged to come back.

Once, the older brother gave the younger a quarter to use for a candy dispenser at Robintino's; the young brother did not forget this. The young brother hopes the older remembers the look on the hiss face. He hopes it contained gratitude.

Another time, he took the young brother with him to downtown Salt Lake. The young brother remembers this trip fondly, his older brother had a broken leg. They bought magic tricks at a shop at the Crossroads. The young brother was cold at the bus stop, so the older brother gave him his sweater. The young brother was warm, and knew his older brother was likely cold. But the older brother never let on. They also missed the bus.

Countless memories continue; using the older brother's paint, listening to his music, spending time in his room when he had no real business there. He remembers the Sunkist clock on the wall, the replica cars and models in his room. There were pencil drawings on the wall above the door. It smelled of incense and cologne.

The older brother baptized the younger, helped him feel encouraged when times were less than certain, and always made him feel like he was on to something big.

The younger brother remembers the swim meets, concerts (especially singing Goodnight Saigon...killer), football games, date nights, and family dinners. Big events and small, it shows that the young brother was always watching.

The younger brother remembers the Vespa. He remembers the trouble he caused when he brought it home, but remembers it only feeling like excitement. This was the vehicle that would carry his hero forth on his journeys. The younger brother pretended his bike was a Vespa. The younger brother pretended he was his older brother.

Sharing a close birthday, yet being separated by 10 years gave the young brother perspective. It allowed him to see into the future.

Happy birthday to an older brother who has always exemplified the role he was thrust into, the role that so many fail miserably at, that many are still trying to master. Happy birthday to the older brother that teaches his children to be the best siblings they can be, whether brothers or sisters, older or young.

Happy birthday to you, Adam.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Camping II


Every good story deserves a sequel.  Five years ago, I wrote what some consider to be a good story about a star-crossed camping trip.  I described it as “...not a long story, ...filled with happiness, embarrassment, laughter, disappointment, steak, and 150 miles of driving.”
If that story was Home Alone, this is Home Alone 2.  Except with less steak.  So sit back and cast your thoughts aside for a few moments while I entertain you with another adventure.
We had planned this trip for a long time.  When I say, “plan”, you might conjure up in your mind such descriptors as “outline”, “schedule”, “purpose”, or even “call ahead to see if they allow overnight camping”.  No.  
When I say we planned it, I mean Daniel Dawson and I desired to go camping.  Greatly desired.  We simply wanted to drive to the desert, light a fire, grill some steak, get some rest, and shoot some photos.  You know, camping. 
After finally setting a date, Daniel and I split some basic responsibilities and necessities and met on a Friday afternoon.  We piled everything up in the trusty van, and set off northward toward the Needle Rock area, which was the spot of many camping adventures in the past, including the ill-fated camping trip of 2006.
We thought we were so well prepared.  We had our tent, steak, our “trundle” of wood (as christened by me, it being three bundles of wood) and plenty of daylight.  We should have realized our night’s true destiny then, when we pulled up to the Needle Rock entrance and saw pavement instead of a dirt trail.  Yes, the forest service had taken hold of this land, paved it, and blessed it with bathrooms.  And wanted money for the experience.  Permits required.
No matter!  Onward and forward we thought, pulling into the well-manicured campground, loveingly named “Needle Rock Campground”.  Our first stop was a parking lot, where we found our second revelatory hindrance; a “No Overnight Camping” sign.
Allow me a brief diversion; does not the word “camping” denote the overnight variety?  Forgive me if I lack the intellectual fortitude to fully grasp the mountain man’s vision of camping, but when I say, “I’m going camping” to someone, you better believe they’re thinking I’m not coming back until at least the next day.  Hmm.
So, thus disenchanted but never discouraged by our discovery, we decided to take the first unpaved road we saw and forage our way ahead to see what else we could find.  Not even 100 yards on this path we met our third hiccup in the night’s affairs by nearly getting my front-wheel drive family mini-van stuck in some nasty sand.  Luckily, it lasted only a moment, and we turned back, proverbial tail between our legs, a nasty taste of deja vu in our mouths.
As I had AT&T and had ventured outside of my 25-foot grace period of the city limits, my phone would do us no good as we turned to the Internet for help in our search for suitable camping arrangements for the evening.  Luckily, Daniel had Verizon and was somehow pulling down about 5mbps out in the boonies, so we quickly confirmed our fate at the current campground and headed south.  
After several unanswered phone calls to family members resulted in a quick Google search.  As good fortune would have it, there was another campground only three miles to shy of us called McDowell Mountain.  It seemed a literal utopian paradise for us; we were wrong.
A few hundred yards from the entrance to the park, I noticed something awry.  Another snag in the fibers of the night.  There was a line of cars, campers, and trucks waiting to get in.  Yes, it was a holiday weekend, but still...a line of near 50 vehicles seemed hardly warranted at this point.  When you’re faced with this unfortunate set of circumstances, you have very little choice.  You pull in and mark your spot in line, noticing that no one is being turned away.  Faithfully, you dig in, and wait.
I turned to Daniel about 20 minutes into our queue and revealed to him what only I could see past the careening sequence of autos; a “Campground Full” sign.  I was flabbergasted.  How could this be?  We were still 10 cars back at least, and no one was driving the opposite direction from us.  There had to be a mistake.  Fate could not possibly hold such unmitigated sway over our endeavors.  
The sun setting before our very eyes, we had little options.  After a few more excruciating minutes in line, we pulled up to a very congenial looking gentleman.  Pleasantly, he glanced in the car at us and said, “You running?”
I was perplexed.  Did he think us fugitives, evading the law at the nearest 45 minutes line of cars we could find?
“Are you running?”
“Ex..excuse me?”, I stammered.  I could no longer hide my utter confusion at this curveball of a conversation.
“Are you racing this weekend?”, he blustered back.  Consternation knit my brow.
“No..no..We’re camping.  Camping.  We want to camp.”  I could only muster the vocabulary of an eight year old at that point.  There was a lump in my throat.  Tunnel vision clouded my processes.  Daniel laughed and guffawed at my side.
“Oh, you’re serious,” he said, looking very sympathetic.  “I’m sorry.  You’ve waited for nothing.  We’re full."  He stammered a bit; shuffling his feet for stability.  "We don’t have anything for you.  We’re holding the Ironman Triathlon here this weekend.  I’m so sorry.”
I don’t recall very well what I said next. For all I know, it was probably a few hesitated inflections about how I really just wanted a place to grill some steak.  Nonplussed, the gentleman carried on.
“You know, if you drive not four miles to the North, there’s a campground there you can stay at.”
“We know”, we said nearly in unison.  “We just came from there.  There’s no overnight camping allowed anymore.”  
“Well, that’s unfortunate.  I just sent a few others there this evening.  Look, do you know where the Bush Highway is?”
I said I did not know where that was, when clearly, I knew where it was.  My thoughts were with those other poor souls who were sent to Needlerock.  Our eyes glazed over with disillusion. 
He pushed on.  “You just gotta drive south through Fountain Hills, get to the Beeline and take that north to the Bush Highway.  It’s the Saguaro Del Norte recreation area.  You drive down that road and you’ll be damned sure to find a place to camp there.”
We looked at each other for a brief moment to communicate our thoughts, turned back toward the man and issued our gratitude for his help.  Flummoxed, we took our adventure southward again, toward the Fountain Hills area and ultimately the Bush Highway.
Hysteria and delirium clobbered the van at that point.  How could we be afflicted yet again with such a destiny? Did the fates hold anything for us?  Would we be able to grill any steak?  Read on, dear readers.  
We faced a decision.  With our allotment of daylight dwindling rapidly, and no clear destination in mind, did we push forth and try to find a suitable spot?  Careening through the rolling streets of Fountain Hills gave us plenty of time to both decide and complain.  By the time we reached Shea Blvd, we had made up our minds.  We knew our destiny, and it smelled like steak seasoning.  
Peeling out while turning to the East on Shea, the fearless Odyssey minivan showing its true colors and passion to its occupants, we headed toward the Bush Highway.  Headlights on, we kept our eyes peeled for any clues that might show us the way.  Turning left on what seemed like a good location, we discovered only a pier that led to the lake.  
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the small Lakeshore Restaurant.  Daniel bade me to ask someone for directions.  Spotting a woman on a golf cart, I drove up to her and sheepishly asked her whether there was a place to camp nearby.
She said there wasn’t, and we both lowered our heads in disbelief.  Quickly she corrected herself however, remembering that it was in fact November, and the Park Service allowed camping along the shore of the Salt River until March.  We simply needed to keep following the road until we found the Water Users Camping area, and hike on down to the shore.  We finally felt a brief moment of relief and hope.  Thanking the woman, we left her and made our trek back to the highway.  
Light had all but left us at that point.  Following the woman’s precise directions, we located the parking lot that would allow us passage to the shores of the Salt River.  Letting the headlights be our guide, we passed back and forth while deciding which spot would bring us closer to the campsite.  
Unexpectedly, a small animal darted in front of the van, eyes ablaze as its tapetum lucidum reflected our headlights back at us.  Daniel freaked; he screamed and beckoned me to stop.  After discovering it to be a lost kitten, we discarded our man-cards and parked on the North end of the lot.  

It was time to investigate this campsite.
It should be mentioned that we had stocked immensely for the night.  Tents, sleeping bags, chairs, wood, a grill, a cooler, and other odds and ends that would prove difficult to carry down to the river in one trip.  We decided that we had better take a trip sans supplies, just to see if we could even find a suitable location.  After all, the sky had darkened and time was a luxury we did not have. 
Once down at the shore, we realized the last damning fact that sealed our fate.  Every square inch of the area was covered in broken glass.  There was no chance of camping here.  While our tetanus shots were both up to date, the thought of dealing with those shards helped speed our decision to simply make a fire, grill the steak, and get home.
Home.  We remembered at this point that Daniel’s car was 50 miles away, parked in the lot of an AJ’s Fine Foods.  Our nightly adventure had taken us quite a few miles out of our original path.  
I digress.  After a few runs to the car, we placed our “trundle” of wood inside a hastily crafted fire ring, and begun the process of heating the coals for the grill.  With our chairs set up, Daniel and I had a few minutes to ruminate on the night’s transpiring.  We could hardly believe that we fell victim to another night of gallivanting about the Valley in search of a place to camp.  
With the steak cooking on the grill, Daniel took out the potatoes that his dear wife had carefully wrapped in aluminum foil for us to cook.  He dug a couple small holes a few inches deep, set in each a hot coal, placed the wrapped potato on top of the coal, and placed three more; one on top, and one on each side.
Quizzically, I inquired with Daniel whether he thought that would cook the potatoes.  “Just set a timer”, he said.  He was quite sure that in less than an hour, we would have wonderfully cooked steamy fresh potatoes for our culinary enjoyment.  So we set the timer, and carried on.
A few minutes later, Daniel whisked around in his chair, alarmed, aiming his flashlight into the distance.  
“Did you hear something?” he asked.  I responded to him nonchalantly, stating that I hadn’t heard a thing, and for him to stop scaring me.  This was the second time that night that he was roused by something, and his predilection for theatre was quite amusing.
“I swear I heard something.  Right behind me.”  
After a few minutes of swinging the lights to and fro, we concluded that we were not being harassed by coyotes, javelina, bobcats, mountain lions, or raccoons.  A few times we did hear some fish jumping out of the water, which as time went on became the tidings of mer-people during their nightly dalliance.  
The steak was delicious, if not a bit over-seasoned by yours truly.  The conversation shifted from the serious to the insane, from intense to jocular, and we hardly remembered the potatoes that were surely ready to eat.
Carefully, Daniel dusted the coals from on top of the wrappings, and carefully peeled back the aluminum bundling.  I did the same.  
We looked at each other.  
“Is your potato stone-cold?”
“Yeah.  Yours too?”
For some reason, common sense so intensely illuminated our minds at the same time, that we almost fell out of our chairs for the pain of it.  How did we ever expect a huge potato to cook with four coals?  We could hardly stop laughing, when suddenly, Daniel whipped around again like on a swivel chair.  
“There!  Over there.  Do you see it?”
“I don’t”, I replied.  “What did you see?”

“Eyes.  Something’s hunting us.  I saw its eyes over there.  You can’t hear it?”
I paused, shuffled my feet for stability, and perked my ears to the scene.  It took a moment, but then I heard it.  Rustling in the branches, small footsteps on the underbrush.  Something was hunting us.
“What was it?  Did you get a good look at it?  Should we leave?”, I asked, hesitantly.  I realized at that moment that neither of us could make a quick getaway.  Besides, what could really be stalking us at that moment?  Were we in peril?
We listened further, but no further auditory revelations were offered. After tossing a few rocks of humane warning into the trees and nearby foliage, we assured ourselves that we were safe, and that the night could go on.
Tossing the potatoes inside of the smoldering fire proved much more effective than our previous effort, and within 15 minutes, we had us some taters to eat.  More light conversation ensued, and we hardly remembered our previous dance with the unknown adversary.  
An adversary which was, my friends, quite real.
Daniel again caught him with eager senses afire, shooting around in his seat so quick that his red hair was a blur.  Our flashlights found the target immediately; a pair of eyes in the distance, flickering and reflecting the light back at us, piercing, foraging, waiting.  It disappeared for only a moment, and was back in a flash, nearly 10 feet from its previous position.  
“It’s the kitten again”, I said.  
“No, it’s not”, Daniel replied.  He seemed much more sure of himself than I was.  
With his certainty placing the seed of doubt so firmly in my mind, my flashlight shifted from left to right, sweeping for its target.   It only took a few more moments before we found our antagonist again.  
“It’s a raccoon!”, bellowed Daniel. Indeed it was, and it had given us quite the scare.  But enough was enough, and we tossed a few well-aimed rocks in his direction to give him a final send off.  With Mr. Procyon lotor gone on his merry way, we returned to normal, but with a heightened sense of our surroundings.  And I certainly listened to Daniel when he thought he heard something.  
The rest of the evening was spent taking pictures and telling stories, until the hour grew late and we broke camp and put out the fire.

Oh, and a note about putting out the fire; it’s never a good idea to urinate on top of a flaming hot 45 LB rock.  Cast your mind if you will, and imagine the stench of a locker room.  Now, make it 1000x worse.  That’s the smell of instantly vaporized urine.  It’s horrifying.

In my last ill-fated story about camping, I concluded by tale by stating that I would do it all again in a heartbeat.  That’s why we went, really.  Even if you had told us going in that we would be beset on every turn by every imagination of obstruction, we would have sallied forth with dogged determination.  
Like before, this lengthy travelogue certainly does not do the evening enough justice.  As they say, you just had to be there.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

Rather than create a new entry today, I would like to share a post I wrote exactly one year after 9/11 occurred.

To me, it more fully explains what was lost and found that day. It seems more focused in its intent and spirit; certainly more so than what I could write today.

The past 10 years have filtered through my soul like the cascading flow of a waterfall. What's below the tumult and chaos of the surface remains unchanged and steadfast. Reposting this essay on my thoughts that anniversary allows me to peek below to the experiences that made me who I am today.

I repost without changes, everything intact.

--------------

9/11/2002

God grant that I can say the right words here…

I’ve been debating this for weeks now. Whether to mark this day with my own words or not. Every time I caught a glimpse of today’s date I would get a little uneasy in my seat, uncomfortable in my own body. Maybe it was that I myself had forgotten. Maybe, it was the uncertainty that still laid hold of my mind at times.

It’s a somber day. It’s a day of quiet reflection, as it should be for all Americans, for the whole world. I can never forget how naked I felt that day, even in the midst of the strongest mountains of the Rockies, I felt strangely exposed. The connections that held me to each person that I knew were shattered; at once, I felt alone.

I couldn’t convince myself to drive down the canyon after work. I couldn’t pull myself away from the news. My soul was numb; my hands felt like they weren’t my own. I walked outside to the south side of the resort. Looking up at the great mountains beside me, I
said a silent prayer for those who were lost. I called my mother and heard her trembling voice as she kept saying “no, it’s not possible”. My mother realized it, the world had changed.

I had to listen to my sister cry as I told her to turn the TV on. I should have let her sleep. I wanted her to be a world away from me, in a different time where she wouldn’t have to see the flames and the blood. But she too, lived in this world on the morning of
September 11th, 2001.

I could hear Allie in the background, she was up, and she was playing. My niece had no idea how the world was changing. All she knew was she was safe; she had her mother there beside her to take care of her. She was feeling what I wish I could. I believe now, upon silent recollection, that it was my young niece that pulled me away from that scene. She was the thing that could bring me back to the world I knew.

And I called my brother Adam, whose voice had always been one of reason and calming for me in my life. As expected, nothing had changed there, he could still comfort me but I could sense a strange transition in his demeanor. I asked how his class was handling the day, he said they were scared, confused, angry, all of the emotions which we were all feeling in the aftermath of the attack on our country.

Slowly, I felt the connections to my family and friends come back to me, I felt a little more whole. Maybe it was hearing their voices that brought harmony to my soul. And as I sit here, one full year later, I am thankful that I feel not only like myself again, but more of a man than I was before that day. I was given the chance to grow
up in the world, not to let it shape me but to refine; I take the greatest elements of what life is and incorporate them. I see how the world has done just that, I see the attitudes of a million
Americans standing in solidarity, proclaiming with one voice, “we will never forget”

And may God grant that we never will, one way or another.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

27

My sweet wife knows my memory just isn't what it used to be. She'll often speak of things in our past with color and description when all I can muster is a vague remembrance or hint.

Nevertheless, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of memories in this gray matter of mine that are indelibly etched because they're associated with that sweet, perfect girl.

And on this, her 27th birthday, I want to mark the day with just a few of those memories, in no particular order.

1. New York City. Landing in the city of my mission meant something entirely different to me when she was by my side.

2. Walking along the beach on our honeymoon, after we took public transportation.

3. Baby #1. Walking around the hospital with her dressed in a yellow robe.

4. I remember when she got her job at Ottawa. She didn't even need an interview.

5. I used to have a scooter, and it was pouring rain. She picked me up from work.

6. Our first visit to Lake Arrowhead. It was so fun to see where she visited when she was little.

7. Our engagement pictures with her best friend. Her friend took them with a disposable camera and developed them in black and white. They were great.

8. A kiss on the cheek under the basketball hoop on New Year's Eve.

9. Our wedding day. She looked like a barbie doll and I still don't know how I'm so lucky.

10. Rock climbing before we were married. In fact, we should go back.

11. Disneyland. I think every trip was amazing. We tend to forget the outside world when we're there.

12. Bagel date. Enough said.

13. Baby # 2. She was so tough and decided that natural was the way to go from there on out.

14. David Gray concert. I'd never really sung in front of her until that night.

15. Lagoon! She didn't even get to go on a ride because our first baby was so young. But she loved it there, and it was fun to have her with me.

16. A surprise visit to Snowbird. I arranged to have our son watched by my sister and drove up the mountain after lunch at Olive Garden. I told her it was just a quick trip but surprised her when I checked into the same room we had for our honeymoon in Utah.

17. Driving home from Utah when I decided I needed Benadryl. Poor thing drove home the whole way.

18. Billy Joel concert. We originally had expensive tickets to see his show, when he got into a car accident and went into rehab. The show was cancelled. A year later, he came back, but we had only enough money for the crappiest seats there. It was still a great show, because she was there.

19. Proposing to her. Still glad she said yes, yes, yes.

20. Baby # 3. It was such a blur! But my goodness, she was tough. No meds, 10 minute labor. And then there were five of us.

21. Moving into our first apartment. Building new furniture, hanging pictures, decorating for Christmas, we loved that little 725 square foot apartment. She cried when we moved out.

22. OT school. 4am study sessions, cadaver labs, rotations, and finals. Summa Cum Laude.

23. One day shortly after our first was born, Jenna was hit in a parking lot. She called me, crying. It was her first and only accident Ever since then, my worry rises when she calls me crying!

24. Her first marathon. 26.2 miles and a broken foot. She smiled when she crossed the finish line. I offered to get the car and pick her up, but she wanted to walk. Another mile.

25. Our San Diego trip. It was supposed to be the cabin, but we drove south instead and used priceline everyday. Actually one of my favorite memories.

26. Every walk we've ever been on.

27. Before our first was born, she watched every Star Trek movie with me. Every. Single. One.

Again, just a few of those wonderful memories. I hope I didn't miss anything major.

I love this girl with all my heart.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Brand New Day

Just thinking back to the year 2000; things seemed to be happening and disappearing at the same stroke of the master's brush.  I leaned heavily on music to create a mood around me.  Moving from the 1900's to 2000's seemed so momentous back then.  In Sting's words, regarding the song Brand New Day:


"I wanted to write an optimistic song about love that began in one place and ended up in another... I used the symbol of Y2K as a symbol of beginning again. Turn the clock to zero is an interesting symbol. A symbol of rebirth." 


I'm wondering; ought I to pine for a time far gone?  Can rebirth occur at any time?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A poem, at last

I find that distractions are at times avoided
By diving deep into their static maw
Focusing on a single point
And drinking from the cup of time

Dance; dream and reduce your sleepy eyes
To a vapor-like ember of a memory
Coalesce all that you know into your burning cells
And grant honor to years.

Lines down glass is all that I know
Best described by noise, humor and filler
And the world could be still, could be still...
But by choice, I amble full-bore down the path.

Tap, glance and blow; repeat
Find the pattern in my synapses
It's there, all there, surrounded by light and dark
Amazed by resiliency, posted to my constitution.

Words, yes. All words
But an ending to a diluted prematurity
Patterns in the fabric of stylized grammar
Fool hearty and stout all the same for lack of time

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Something fun to remember

I was cleaning up old, unused files on the computer when I came across this jewel. I remember making it, thinking at the time how absolutely clever I was.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Riding a bike

Riding a bike at night is an experience. Especially if you explore like I did tonight.

When I was younger and living in Utah, I used to ride a lot at night. Starting at the freeway, I would wind up the hills, careening around every side street and parking lot I could find. There was something peaceful and relieving about the starkness of it all; there was not a person to be found and all was quiet. I would end most of the rides in the canyon above the city, stopping to rest on a park bench before beginning the speedy decent down the mountain.

Fast forward 15 years and it all feels brand new again.

I've lived in my town now for nearly five years, and never got to know the streets like I have in the past week since getting my bike. In a way, it makes me a little embarrassed. Yet, there really isn't any other way to explore a city and it's plentiful alleys without stepping outside of your car and slowing down a bit.  With no one around, it's possible to stick your nose where otherwise impossible during the day.

Normal settings become locations of interest and value; gas stations, furniture stores, restaurants, cathedrals, and bus stops all shed their natural responsibilities and simply exist.  It's possible to see the city for what it is, almost what it wants to be.  During the day, a thousand people can cross another thousand people's path without notice or care.  At night, the opportunity is expanded yet minimized in the same stroke, as inhibitions kick in and you become wary and cognizant of everything around.

In related news, I posted a picture from my travels this evening.  It's over at the Photo Project site, so make sure to wander on over.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's back, I guess?

Ditched Wordpress.
Imported to Blogger.
Changed the theme.
Screwed up my DNS settings.
Blew up the site.
Fixed it.
Hummed and hawed.
Going to bed now.

Welcome back.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New shoes

Someday, I'd like a pair of shoes with those wheels on the bottom.

That'd be the stuff.

At lunch

Sitting here, minding my own business. Simply reading news articles on my iPad, when I notice two "gentlemen" laughing in my general direction. I notice a windows based net book on their table. I shoot them a look that quite possibly corrupted their registry.

They leave without giving me another look.

I smile.

I have no issues with other peoples' technology choices. Really, I don't. But give me a break. Don't knock it till you try it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hello, world

After discussing blog options with my elder brother Adam, i felt encouraged to sit down and update the site. Progress was made, with Wordpress being upgraded and the appropriate app being configured on the new iPad.

I won't talk about work too much on this or any other blog, but I'll use it to bang out other weird and random thoughts again. I've started shooting more photography, so what little free time i have I'd like to spend doing that. If circumstances allow, I'll finally get around to updating the main web site via iWeb.

That's it for now. A brief, but motivating entry.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

25 reasons I love Jenna

photoI've been thinking about this post for a while now, and not just because Jenna did the same thing for me on my birthday.  When you're truly in love with a girl, you can't help it; thinking about her is comparable to breathing.

So, happy birthday, Jenna.  Here's my short list for you.  Even when you're 100, the list will be far too brief.

1.  She is totally and completely kind, generous, and patient. (Ok, so that's three.) An example?  How about her taking care of me?  Surgeries, ER visits, you name it.  Infinite capacity for kindness.

2.  She spends every lunch of hers at home.  Even if it's for 20 minutes, she drives home to see the family.

3.   She is the best mommy in the world.  Every action of hers speaks love.

4.  She's the only girl I have ever known who can get ready for a date in 15 minutes and look completely, unreasonably, and insanely drop-dead gorgeous.  I don't mean to be superficial, but honestly...have you seen her?  She's beautiful.

5.  She has opened herself up to everything that I've found to be beautiful in my life, and has made them 100 times sweeter.

6.  She has the most beautiful long, blonde hair.  And she hasn't cut it!

7.  She never makes fun of the stupid things I do, like eat a package of Chips Ahoy in one sitting.  That must take restraint.

8.  She puts up with me.  Every man who has ever loved a woman should nod in agreement, because we're very despicable creatures sometimes.

9.  She's a geek like me.

10.  We like the same shows.  TV, movies, anything.  She even likes Star Trek.

11.  She loves my family.  She loves my mom and my dad, my brothers and sister, and everyone else.  She was excited to meet them, and is always excited to see them again.

12.  She's the most accepting person I know.  She'll take you into her heart and trust you as long as you let her.  She understands the miracle of forgiveness, and forgives regularly.

13.  Hard worker?  That's her.  Earned her bachelors when she was 19.  Her masters was at 23.  Could have been earlier, but she met me and, eventually, Sumner.

14.  You should see the way she plays with Sumner.  That boy is so smart because his mom teaches him everyday.  She encourages him and loves him and makes him feel safe.

15.  She and SaraJane are two peas in a pod.  They are kindred spirits, and well suited for each other.  I love when Jenna comes home; watching my baby girl run to the door to get her mama is the best part of my day.  I have that to look forward to, and I am grateful.

16.  She's a morning person.  What does that mean?  That means I get a happy girl to wake up to, every morning of my life.

17. She bought me a computer for Christmas, using her money that she earned from work.  She's totally selfless.

18.  She lets me sleep in like 99% of the time, even when she's tired.

19.  She still has friends from when she was a kid.  It's fun to watch her get together with them.

20.  She'll always make you smile.  When I'm sad, she can figure out a way to make me feel better.  She's insightful like that.

21.  I know I give her a hard time about this, but she's fun to teach Primary with.  She takes the edge off and makes the kids very comfortable with tough topics.  And while I'm on that subject...

22.  She's amazing with kids.  Every kind of kid.  Kids that bite.  Kids that hit.  Kids that have no one to love, and no one to love them.  She'll look at them and see the good in them and help them progress.  She's infinitely patient with them.

23.  She was born to be an Occupational Therapist.  It's one of her callings in life.  I love her for this reason because it takes a special girl to figure out such a great calling so very young in life.

24.  And because of her selfless attitude in working so hard for our family, it allows me to continue my journey in life to find out who I really am.  Currently, it has brought me to a retail job in a mall, which I love.  And I'm figuring out a lot about myself because of it.  But it would not be possible without her sacrifice and ability to take care of our family with her job.  I love, love, love her for this.

25.  She is my wife, and she chose me.  I chose her.  We're better together.

I tried to be sneaky and post a few extra reasons in there.  25 just isn't enough.  I know I'll post this tonight and think of 10,000 more within a few hours.  But she knows I love her.

Happy birthday again, sweetie.