This morning I asked Jack “So how’s school going?” as I drove him to school to drop him off.

“Really good, ” he replied.

I then said “You seem to be really enjoying school now”

He said “Yeah, I love going to school.”

I was surprised, so I asked “What’s different this year that you like so much?”

… it was quiet for a minute …

The Jack said: “My teacher. Mrs. Knorr is really good for me.”

A few minutes went by.

Jack then told me that he was “…really excited to read tonight, because Mommy told him he can stay up as long as he wants to read on Friday nights!”

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On Sunday night, Jack went to bed, and as I was closing his bedroom door while I was leaving his room, he asked for something. I responded with “as long as X, Y or Z were done.” (doesn’t matter what X, Y, and Z are, or what he asked for, by the way. And honestly, I can’t remember).

He replied “yes, they’re done”.

I said, “Okay, you can do that, as long as you aren’t lying to me.”

Dead silence for 10 seconds… then a whimper of a “okay”.

To which I responded “Jack, are you lying to me?” in a slightly harsh Daddyvoice™.

He croaked out a “Yes. Daddy. I lied.”

It was pretty dark in his room, and I couldn’t read his expression, so I said “Jack, are you okay? Your voice sounds a little sad.”

Jack said “I’m a little sad that I lied to you.”

At which point, I turned around and walked back into his room and sat on the bed next to him, and said “Jack, do you need a hug?” He leaned into me, and threw his arms around me and buried his head in my chest.

I just hugged him for a minute, and once he was ready to pull away, I held his arms with both hands, and put his face right in front of mine (remember it was dark in his room, this whole time) and said “Jack, I love you, no matter what, and I’m really proud of you that you just ‘fessed up to your lie so quickly.”

I explained that we’re human, and we’re going to make mistakes. The important part to dwell on isn’t the mistakes, but how we deal with and handle those mistakes. Fessing up to our mistakes quickly, is the mark of a real man… it’s a very adult thing to do, and that I was very very proud of him for doing that.

I told him that he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, because of the lie, but because he ‘fessed up so quickly, I’d reward him with a big hug and some extra time playing outside the next day.

I hugged him again, and this time he hugged me even longer than the first. We just sat there, sharing a moment that I hope will become a pivotal moment for him in his development from a little boy, into a strong honest man with integrity. That’s my hope. I also don’t want him to grow up yet… he’s such a sweet boy…

Right before I left, Jack then asked me what “fessing up” meant. I explained to him that “fessing” is slang for the word “confession” and he said “Oh… riiight! I get it. It’s like telling the truth, even when you don’t want to.”

I gave him a kiss on the cheek while I tucked him back into bed and replied “Exactly! Keep your word, and tell the truth all the time, and you’ll never have to feel sad that you lied. And if you do, just clean it up with the person you told the lie to quickly, and you’ll feel much better, right away.”

He then said “you’re right, Daddy. I already feel better. Love you.”

And I left.

Love that boy. And loving watching him become a young man.

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This past weekend, after Mary and Frank and Michael left, I decided that the boys needed to get out of the house. So, I asked Christine if she wanted to drive out to Enchanted Rock. She said “yeah!” … so we asked the kids if they wanted to go… and of course, they wanted to go…

Then I mentioned it to our neighbors, and offered to take their kids with us, if they wanted to go, so we picked up Jackson around 2:00, and headed out to Enchanted Rock.

The drive to the park is about 100 miles from Austin, so I drove… and drove some more. The boys watched Bionicles on the way.

As we got closer, I turned off the movie, and told the boys to look out the windoes, and tell me what they saw. And that whoever saw the big mountain without any trees on it first was to yell as loud as they could… because that’s when we’d know we were there!

We arrived around 4:00, paid the entrance fee ($6 for adults, kids get in free = score).

After parking, we got ready to hike up the hill. Grayson insisted that he carry the supplies backpack, because it was his backpack. So, I let him. A 40 lb. kid carrying a 10 lb. backpack up Enchanted Rock – I couldn’t believe it. And he did pretty well, btw.

Here are some photos from the hike:

At the top, we sat down and had a snack, and played around a little:

Then we hiked back down, got in the car, and drove home. Got home around 8:30. Next time we’ll leave the house earlier 😉

Oh, and Grayson’s so funny. For some reason he started calling it “Parrot Rock”, so that’s what we’re calling it until he gets it right!

All of the photos are here, if you want to see them all (there’s about 150).

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Last night, we joined some friends of ours for the Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Austin State Supported Living Center.

The SSLC serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are medically fragile or who have behavioral problems. State supported living centers provide 24-hour residential services, comprehensive behavioral treatment services and health care services, including physician services, nursing services and dental services. Other services include skills training; occupational, physical and speech therapies; vocational programs; and services to maintain connections between residents and their families and natural support systems.

Jack, Grayson and Grayson’s friend Roman all made gifts to donate to the residents of the SSLC before the event. Christine picked me up from work, and we arrived around 6:30 p.m.

When we got to the area where the event was being held, we were treated to some music from Sarah Hickman (who also happens to go to our church and is a wonderful artist).

The kids wrote letters to Santa with help from the residents and volunteers.

Jack told the volunteer “I’m a little nervous, so I can’t think of anything I want. How ’bout we just tell him Merry Christmas, and to drive safely, and I’ll draw him a picture?” and then proceeded to draw a reindeer for Santa.

Grayson on the other hand knew exactly what he wanted. He asked the lady helping him to write “Dear Santa, I would like a soft stuffed animal, and another pillow pet, and a toy baby Jesus.” I chuckled at that point… and Grayson then told me and his volunteer that baby Jesus was born on Christmas, and he wants a baby Jesus to play with this year. Too cute.

After letters to Santa, the kids all decorated their own ornament and got Christmas themed tattoos on their hands.

We were treated to 5 or 6 songs from the “Austin SSLC Choir” which was made up of residents. Two of them had guitars and a few had bells, and they all sang their hearts out. It was special to see them bringing so much joy to the 100 or 150 residents and community members that turned out for the event.

We found the donation area for the gifts, had some hot apple cider, and then found our group of friends and sat down for the rest of the music.

Then, they lit the tree. You should have seen Grayson’s face. When the tree was lit, his chin hit the floor. He was so much in awe… it was awesome.

So, be in awe, this Christmas season… of the immense love and joy that God has for each of us, and if you can, try to put a little bit of that love and joy into everything you do. That’s what I took away from last night…

So precious.

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Jack’s school is having a “Week of Caring and Sharing” this week… part of the celebration is that the school is having a food drive, coat drive, and pet food drive all week. The drop-off location is right in the front of the school…

Jack told Christine that he really wanted to participate, so this morning, we left for school early, and Jack and I spent five minutes putting the donations we’d brought into the right bins.

When we were done, I asked Jack if he felt good giving people something that they needed, that we had that was “extra” for us. He grinned and said “Yes sir.”

I high-fived him, and then squeezed his hand. He leaned in and hugged me, and then went to assembly with the rest of his class.

Sometimes, its the unspoken love and pride that evokes the most emotion. Tonight I’ll tell him again how proud I am of him for participating in the week of caring and sharing.

Oh, and if you want to know what’s going on at Jack’s school, I’ve found the PTA’s website to be pretty useful:

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This summer, on our Vegas trip, we took the boys to the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Las Vegas Mirage. Had a blast taking the tour, and taking these photos with the boys:

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Jack started Tae Kwon Do last year, and he’s loving it. Here’s the “professional” shot that we got last year from the studio:

Follow that up with this year, where Jack AND Grayson are taking the class:

We’re in trouble!

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Just got this email from Jack’s teacher… Can’t wait to congratulate Jack on his GREAT report card (no matter what it actually says, it’ll be great… I want him to learn to enjoy getting report cards and learning how to use them as a source of power and fulfillment):

From: Jill Brumley
Subject: Report Cards
Date: October 22, 2010 12:34:29 PM CDT


Report cards are coming home today! The children did a great job- Please sign the envelope and return next week.

Explanation of Kindergarten Academic Grades
– 4 means ADVANCED. The student is working a year above grade level on a consistent basis.
– 3 means SKILLED. The student is working at grade level and has a deep and thorough understanding of the concept/skill.
– 2 means BASIC UNDERSTANDING. The student is working AT GRADE LEVEL and has a BASIC UNDERSTANDING of the concept/skill.
– 1 means NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. The student is working BELOW grade level.

Jill Brumley
Kindergarten Teacher
Hill Elementary

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Today, Jack was crying a little in the TV room, so I walked in and asked him what was wrong.

He said “Grayson hit me in the eye” and he whimpered a little.

I turned to Grayson and asked “What did you hit him with?”

Grayson pivoted his torso just a little, tilted his head, and with one crazy evil eye he whispered “with my magic powers”.

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Last year Jack got to dress up for the 2009 Pow Wow. It was a pretty darn cool event.

I kind of can’t wait until Grayson’s turn at it this year!

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Found this photo today. Thought it was too cute, and realized I never posted it.

Christmas in September anyone?

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I should have posted this a year ago:

From: Christine Engler
Subject: Conference with Jack’s Teacher
Date: October 23, 2009 10:50:57 PM CDT

We had a conference with Jack’s teacher today, and I wanted to share with you her statement describing Jack on the school’s “Progress and Development Report.”

“It is such a PLEASURE to have Jack in my class this year. I can ALWAYS count on him to add ‘his two cents worth’ to my story or lesson.”

She described him as exceptional, very sweet, super intelligent and academically advanced. I teared up a little when she said “he is the model student.” She said she often calls on him when the class doesn’t seem to be ‘getting it’ because she knows he will always have the right answer.

Needless to say, we are very proud!

We miss Ms. Flores.

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So, we went to Bull Creek Park the other day, to get out of the heat, and into the creek, for a little cooling off.

After a little while, I noticed Steven was skipping rocks. I told the boys to go learn from him. Jack was super interested.

After a few tries, Steven leaned down to give Jack some pointers. He was showing him how to throw the rocks, so they’d skip.

After a few more tries, Steven leaned down to show Jack how to pick which rocks to skip:

“See this rock? This rock is good and flat, but it’s not perfectly flat. This side bulges out a little, and this other side is caved in a little. See this side? It’s convex. And this side is concave. We want to throw it with this side down. Got that, Jack?”

And Jack looked up at Steven with these “I completely understand you, but I have no idea what you said” look in his eyes. He then proceeded to throw the rock, and it skipped a little.

That is how Jack learned the difference between convex and concave. Now to get him into a 10th grade geometry class, so he retains it.

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I love taking photos. Really, I do. The photos I love taking the most, are photos of kids… because they’re just perfect, every time… kids can be dirty, stinky, frowning, smiling, jumping, running, falling, or just sitting there, and they’ll still be just perfect.

Here are some photos I took on my brother’s birthday at his house in Bellville:

And here are some non-kid photos from the day that turned out pretty good:

Happy Birthday Bro.

The rest of the photos can be seen here.

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A week ago, or so, Jack and Grayson grabbed their guitars and a harmonica and sang songs to Christine and I, so I set the experience to some Jack Johnson, and edited the clips a little. Here’s the result:

Boy Band Movie

After watching it, Jack asked me “Daddy, did you name me after Jack Johnson?” so I got to tell him a little about his Uncle Jack, who he is really named after… which was a nice memory.

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