Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Unforeseeable Outcomes

    Recently, I had the unique opportunity to take my sons on a tour of replicas of the Nina and Pinta, two of the ships used by Christopher Columbus. It was very interesting, and I highly recommend it if you have a chance. The ships are the most historically accurate replicas to date, and were built using hand tools and traditional techniques. I realized that prior to this tour, I did not have an accurate picture of these ships or some of the hardships the crew faced. The ships were much smaller than you would think, and when you consider that the crew worked, ate, and slept on deck; they seem even smaller.

    As we looked around, the thing I thought of the most was what they actually accomplished. Everyone knows it wasn’t what they set out to do, but they did do something. It is hard to imagine now what the early explorers really faced. If we want to go somewhere today (even in wilderness), all we need to do is plug the coordinates into a GPS, and it takes us there. We always know where we are, and with some technology, help is just the push of a button away. When Columbus and crew set out on their expedition, they literally had no idea what they would ultimately see and do. They had an ultimate goal, but the discoveries they might make along the way were an unknown to them.

    To me, that is one of the best lessons we can take from these explorers. Even though they failed in their ultimate goal of a shorter route to South Asia, they were open to other discoveries. We can use that same attitude today. If we keep our minds open to new things, we might learn something about ourselves, each other, and the world around us. That attitude is one of those things that our children will learn from us naturally.

Live life as an adventure. - Jake

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Way to Live

     Life is an adventure. Sometimes that is easier said than done. My life before I met my husband was interesting. Interesting like the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” But 11 years ago he approached me. It was an act of extreme bravery, for I had worked very hard at making myself unapproachable. And he introduced me to a new way to live.  
     Hiking was a regular date for us. We camped. He even took me to LeConte Lodge, a place that gives new meaning to the word beauty. He proposed to me on Siler’s Bald. And after we were married, the adventures didn’t stop.  More hiking, camping, canoeing, boating, biking. He and his (now my) wonderful family have taught me that it is okay to have fun with life. To play. To adventure. They have awakened a part of me that I thought I had stuffed away for good. The part that likes to try new things, to see new places, have new experiences.  

     Now that we have children, I am learning from them, too. Even the small things in life are new to a child.  Wonders abound. Sweeping the floor with a broom taller than you are? An adventure. Seeing a slimy snail working its way across the sidewalk? An adventure. Driving fast up a dirt road? Definitely an adventure. And of course we are introducing them to some of the bigger adventures life has to offer as well. A sense of adventure is something that kids are born with.  

     One of the marks of a successful parent, in my humble opinion, is bringing up a child who carries that part of himself into adulthood. Because life IS an adventure.  Come and join in.


Sunday, December 5, 2010


by: Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.

     I first read this passage when I was a little kid and my parents decided we should all memorize it as a family. To this day, whenever things aren't going how I think they should, Attitude comes to mind; It helps to change my perspective and try to view things in a better light. There are always different perspectives on any situation, and I've found that most people don't pick the most constructive view. It is far too easy to get mad at the world, or depressed, or just retreat into mind-numbing activities like watching television and surfing the internet. Life brings us a lot of things we can't control, but what we CAN control is our reaction to those things. I believe we should not burden ourselves with our own bad attitudes. I believe we should do as my parents did and show our children the freedom that comes with the ability to control our attitudes.

     Does reading this quote keep bad things from happening to us? Absolutely not. Does realizing the impact of our attitudes help get us through difficult situations. Absolutely!

     It's a rainy day... should we stay inside or go play? It depends on your attitude.

Take charge of your attitude, take charge of your life.  -Jeremy

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


     This weekend, I went mountain biking with my dad and brothers. Any time spent on the trail is a good time for reflection. As we challenged ourselves against the hills, roots, and rocks of the Swayback Bridge Trail, I found my thoughts turning towards my life with my dad from childhood to adulthood.

     My dad is very good at challenging those around him. The challenges aren't always verbalized (although sometimes they are), but are understood. It's funny how my view of these challenges has changed over the years. In childhood my view was that if he was doing something, I wanted to do it as well, to be with him. As a teenager this shifted to be that if he was doing something, I wanted to do it, to prove that I was up to the challenge. And as an adult, it has been that I want to meet these challenges, so I can set the same example of meeting challenges head-on, for my children.

     What I learned from him is that challenges don't always need to be successful. In fact, I would say that a challenge with a guaranteed success, is no challenge at all. Some of the best stories of adventures and challenges either ultimately failed or had some failures along the way. (Bucking horses, falling out of trees, and lassoing hogs are just a few stories that will probably be told in depth later.)

     Parenting is tough today when some people feel that children shouldn't be allowed to fail. We need to remember that in challenging our children, the failures, along with the successes, are what allow them to grow.

Live life as an adventure. - Jake

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Real Job

     The last time Gideon and I were camping, I asked him what was his favorite thing about camping. He had several answers, but in the end he said, "I just love it." When I ask myself the same question, I have the same reaction. Being outside, adventure, testing myself, being with my family. But in the end my answer is the same, I just love it.

     Kristy and I have always led a pretty active lifestyle, but since we have had children, it has become very important to us. Our job as parents is to prepare our children to be successful adults. To us, this means a lot of things, but part of it is teaching them to love the outdoors and an active lifestyle. When you look at the increase in childhood obesity in recent years, it becomes very evident that we as parents need to do something.

     I have been so proud of Kristy over the last couple of years, because she has become a runner. At first it was tough, but she stuck with it and has really enjoyed it. We decided that to teach our children how to live an active lifestyle, we had to lead them. We love all of our adventures, but the best part is that while doing something that we love, we are teaching our children to love something as well.

     In the words of my mother, it "makes my heart sing" to see my children enjoying the adventures we take, because it tells me I am doing my (real)job right.

Live life as an adventure. - Jake

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adventures with Littles.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the same could be said of adventure. Most of us think of adventure to be something grand or out of the ordinary. Climbing Mt. Everest was certainly an adventure for Hillary and Norgay. But. who is to say that a trip to the grocery store is not an adventure. Or, an afternoon of play. I tend to make piles in our household. I am sure most "Mamas of Littles" have lots of piles. I am almost always gathering a "to be put away" pile. Yesterday, I had to stop and smile at my "to be put away" pile. I had one blanket , a knight helmet, and a leather whip. So, why would that make me smile? Those things were used to transform my 4 year old into the best super hero. He wore all of them simultaneously and ran around "saving" all of us yesterday morning. It was quite an adventure for him. Simplicity can be very adventurous. Like a rainy afternoon when there is no rain gear but, there are plenty of pots and bowls to cover little heads while they run outside for a good soaking. I will admit to thinking about having to rewash pots and bowls. But, where is the adventure in worrying about clean pots?? Enjoy your day and your everyday adventures. :)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

(Not Quite) Alone in the Wilderness

As Gideon and I lay in the tent last night, I read to him from The Little House on the Prairie. The chapter we were reading was about Pa building the cabin. It talked about him selecting the timbers for the cabin walls and the rocks for the chimney. This is so foreign to us today, but I often wonder if I have what it takes to accomplish this feat.

    Several years ago, Kristy and I caught part of a documentary on PBS about Dick Proenneke. We enjoyed it so much, we bought the DVD, Alone in the Wilderness, and the book of his journals, One Man’s Wilderness. We have enjoyed these greatly since we bought them, and they have become favorites of the whole family.
    Dick was dropped off in the Alaskan wilderness in 1968 with not much more than simple hand tools. His goal was to build a cabin completely alone, and test himself against the environment of the Twin Lakes area for one year. He accomplished his goal, and more. The cabin was a work of art (in my opinion, anyway), and he eventually stayed there for thirty years. He lived there, completely alone, until he was 82 years old.
    His story has always inspired me. To leave all of the comforts and easiness of modern civilization would be a greater challenge than we can even imagine. I wouldn’t want to be completely alone, but with my family would be (not quite) alone in the wilderness.
    So, I often wonder if I have what it takes to live like that. I like to think that I do. But either way, it would be the adventure of a lifetime.

Live life as an adventure. - Jake