Tag Archives: Birthday

Christian’s 22nd Birthday

Christian's 22nd BirthdayThe painting (print) beside Christian has a story behind it and it is not just that he got to see the original as done by Renoir. You can read about that here. I wanted to get him the painting, but did not realize how big it was. I guess it is not as big as the original, but it is still really too big for his small apartment. He is working on getting something a little more manageable.

It is painful to not be able to be with Christian on his birthday. Lorena and I have reminisced and talked about it maybe a little more than in years past. Christian has lead a somewhat unusual life until now. I suppose most kids his age feel very much misunderstood, but he has more reason than most. I call him a kid, but he has been way past the kid stage for several years now–running his own household and paying his own bills since he left for college more than three years ago.

The things Lorena and I identify as qualities we appreciate the most are his work ethic, his kindness, and his focus on doing what is right. That first quality is the one that causes him the most outward pain. Some have assumed he got where he is through some ability given to him that others do not possess when, in reality, he got there through sustained hard work over a very large percentage of the short time he has been on this earth.

We are grateful for him and hope he continues to invest some time in playing his guitar and traveling to visit us and others in the coming year.

Kelly’s last Easter birthday

Kelly visits us before her birthday 2016Our daughter, Kelly’s birthday lands on Easter today. She checked it out the last time that happened when she was eleven and this will never happen again in her lifetime. So this is a special birthday. She came to visit us for a week, but had to leave after a small, early celebration. She is in a very good place right now. She has very good friends in Seattle. She struggled early in her PhD program, but just finished her best term ever. The picture with this post shows her sitting at her computer working through some of her research. More important than all that and above all, she considers God and her place in this world relative to his will. We are so thankful God lent her to us even it is just for a little while.

Kelly was a beautiful baby. One of the first things we noticed about her when she was born, after the full head of black hair and the blue eyes, was that she had a little butterfly birthmark on her left forearm. You can see it close to her elbow in the picture. It beats the monster Rorschach test birthmark I have on my back all hollow (even though I am quite fond of my birthmark).

It is fitting that today I used up the last Betty Blonde comic Kelly drew as part of her homeschool education. I think there are a few that I lost, because there are some missing dates and we never missed a date (five times per week) in the five years she drew them. Still, 501 is a good number of comics. She drew them from when she was 14 until she was 16 for an absolutely stellar run. The quality of the comics improved greatly over that time. She really hopes she can get back to that one day–maybe not to draw Betty Blonde, but something new.

Happy Birthday Kelly. We love you.

Betty Blonde #501 – 07/19/2010
Betty Blonde #501
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A remarkable mother-in-law

Grandma Conchita turns 70.
This is a photo of Grandma Conchita after church with her two oldest grandchildren the last time she visited Raleigh before we moved to Oregon. She turns 70 today. It is hard for me to express what an incredible gift it is to have her as a mother-in-law. Both Conchita and Grandpa Lauro treated me as one of their own before Lorena and I considered getting married. I know of no one who knows her who is not grateful that Grandma Conchita is in their life, too. Everything bad you have heard about how mothers-in-law treat their sons-in-law is the exact opposite of how I have ever been treated by Grandma Conchita. Thank you for everything Conchita and Happy, Happy Birthday to a great and kind lady.

Betty Blonde #478 – 06/06/2010
Betty Blonde #478
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Birthday 60 celebration

Lorena buys me a bell for my birthdaySixty is a great age. I plan to enjoy my sixties greatly. Being older is such a good deal, I might have been enticed to wish I was seventy if I were not enjoying sixty so much. Lorena and I are going to celebrate a little more tonight, but she got me a few little gifts yesterday (a wallet, a bell to ring when I want her to bring me something to drink–like that is going to work and a few more little things). Tomorrow, we look for houses. We think we know what we want, but we have been wrong before. Many times.

Betty Blonde #406 – 02/04/2010
Betty Blonde #406
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Rubix is gone, but it makes for a more thoughtful birthday

Rubix studies with ChristianWe had to put Rubix down last night. Christian picked Rubix’s name and she was his cat. She was truly an amazing cat, totally devoted to Christian. In that way, she seemed almost like a dog. I wrote a post about how she used to lay across Christian’s arms while he typed on his computer at the bar in the kitchen in Raleigh. Here is a post about the cat tower Christian and I built for Rubix and Kiwi (the other of the twin cat sisters) as a homeschool project with a picture of Rubix on the top shelf. This is probably my favorite post on the subject a year or two after we had moved to Raleigh. We are not one of those families that anthropomorphizes animals–well, not too much anyway, but we have had a great discussion about life, death and and the greatness of the gift of God’s creation.Rubix and Christian at the computerSometimes we get so rapped up in our own issues we forget the bigger picture.

Rubix sleeps with Christian

I turned sixty today. Rubix’s passing has been a gift in that it has put the whole aging thing in a good context. I love being this age. I am really not one of those people who laments getting a year older. It is a choice and a gift to love the age you are and realize your place in the whole scheme of things. Lorena and I looked at some old pictures of me when I was a boy and a you man that she dug out of a box she brought along with us in the car on our drive to Portland from Raleigh. I made the comment that those pictures, even if they are well preserved, are not going to be too meaningful to anyone in not too many years. If/when Kelly and Christian have kids, they might get a kick out of looking at them a time or two during their life, but the pictures will be pretty meaningless to the generations after that. It just made me cognizant of the importance of embracing the opportunities we have to do the right thing in the here and now.

P.S. Rubix loved Kelly, too.
Kelly and Rubix

Betty Blonde #406 – 02/04/2010
Betty Blonde #406
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Elephant ears at the tulip farm

Eating elephant ears at the tulip farm - Kelly's 21st birthday
Her twenty-first birthday. Another rite of passage. What better way to spend it than with Mom eating elephant ears at the tulip farm. It doesn’t get much more Oregonian than that. I have had my complaints about the whole “do hard things” meme that is prevalent amongst the youth in certain parts of our society. My beef will all that is that it is mostly just lip service. All of us fail at this. I am not talking about people how fall of the wagon every now in then in their efforts at self improvement. What I am talking about is people who talk about doing hard things and then go get a liberal arts degree with no rigor nor future path to gainful employment. We are proud of Kelly in that regard. She is a lot like me in that staying focused on something that is not always fun, but is always hard work is difficult for us. She is doing that. This is her spring break and she has been working the whole time. There is just too much to do, it has been constantly like that for a long time now and she has four or five years left to go. We feel so fortunate she is daughter and it is an amazing thing that she is now “of age.”

Betty Blonde #286 – 08/21/2009
Betty Blonde #286
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here or on the image to see full size strip.

Kelly turns 21

Kelly's last day as a twenty year old
Kelly spends most of her time studying these days. Today is her last day as a twenty year old. It is spring break at University of Washington, but the reality is that PhD students do not get spring breaks. We are very thankful she was able to take time to spend a couple of days with us her in Oregon to celebrate her 21st birthday. It seems like just yesterday that she started homeschool.

Betty Blonde #285 – 08/20/2009
Betty Blonde #285
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here or on the image to see full size strip.

Kelly is no longer a teenager

Day 947 of 1000

Kelly as a toddlerIt is hard to believe Kelly is no longer a teenager. Lorena and I always remember the beautiful South Florida Sunday morning drive to the hospital in 1994 and the joy of her birth after a long, hard day of labor. She has been a source of great joy ever since. It is hard to believe she will no longer be living with us in just a few short months as she starts a new era in her education, career, and life.

Lorena called and told me Kelly made cookies to take to her friends at NCSU today.  And, of course, she dressed in pink.

Happy Birthday Kelly.  We love you.

Betty Blonde #94 – 11/25/2008
Betty Blonde #94
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Life at 58 years old

Day 765 of 1000

Dad in 1988Yesterday was my birthday.  I turned 58.  For some reason, I had more time to reflect on life this year than in years past.  Lorena and Kelly dug through a bunch of old photos and found one from almost exactly 25 years ago and put it up on Lorena’s Facebook account.  I think the picture might have gotten me into a reflective mood.  My father-in-law says that, for boys, the blood does not really start getting to their brain until they are about 25.  I think it was just about when this picture was taken that the blood started to get to my brain.  I was 32 or 33.  My buddy Curt in Tigard said it very well in a comment that went with the picture on Facebook.

He said, “Ken – those were the good old days; when we weren’t good and we weren’t old.”

Well said.  Those were the days when we knew what was right, but struggled mightily to do it.  It gave us joy to do what was right, but there were lots of temptations.  I awakened to the fact that this life and death struggle between right and following my own path would not end until I died, but it was worth it.  The temptations were still the temptations, but they were not worth it.  It was really quite a slow and gradual awakening for me and I started later than most.  It all started to occur at about the time I started my Masters degree.  After my Masters degree, I got married, we had two kids, and went through a pretty rough patch of career challenges.

By the grace of God, literally, these life circumstances kept me considering the difference between what was right and taking my own path.  I knew I was a different person when I walked into one of our church’s Gospel meetings in a new town when I was a little over 40 years old. I saw an old friend from my high school days who also knew what was right, but struggled with the implementation.  It dawned on me that we were both in the right place, trying to do the right thing.  I was filled with an overwhelming joy knowing that it was way more important to me now to do the right thing than to do what I wanted.  It was true for my friend, too. I actually wept.

Life is much better at age 58 than it was at age 33.  I do not think it does any good to say stuff like, “if I knew then what I know now, things would have been different.”  I did not know that stuff then, but I was on the path to learning it.  That is a good thing.  I cannot say there was not joy in my life back in those days.  There was.  Still I got hurt because of my own wantonness and other people did, too.  It could be said that my wantonness was not as bad as that of many others, but really, that is bogus.  It is also true that my wantonness was worse than that of many others.  Those are all things to regret and try to make amends, but they are also important to put behind you and not let it have control of your life.

I guess the upshot is that I am really glad to be 58 years old.  Life has never been better.  There is still temptation, but the benefits of not taking my own path are right in front of me and impossible to deny.  I can hardly wait for 59.