FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Bird Experts

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 17•17

angry birds

I came home from visiting my mom in the hospital, and after eating a five-minute dinner, D had to serve a time out for breaking a house rule.

It took him fifteen minutes between going to the bathroom and various diversionary tactics before he made it to the time out area.

So I connected with L before sprawling out on the kitchen floor and entering into the world of birds vs. pigs to play angry birds with D.

Big Brother Terrance, Chuck the fastest, Bomb shaped like his name, Red, peace-loving Matilda, Hal the Boomerang Bird, Stella the Pink Bird, the blue birds, Bubbles the Expanding Bird, Mighty Eagle, and probably a few lesser fowl.

Leonard, the big bellied King Pig, Corporal Pig with the steel metal army helmet, Foreman Pig with the mustache, and Dopey and Roz the Minion Pigs.

bird expert

The Angry Birds Movie is D’s current favorite film, and we like to sing the song, “Friends,” by Blake Shelton; that is, until the Wife discovered the soundtrack had a few inappropriate songs and it got confiscated.

I’ve noticed the songs and movies D likes best often have a friendship theme–and the lyrics always make me think about our relationship. And I think the songs make him think the same thing.

Hey, hey you and me
Different as different can be
You like to rock, I like to roll
You take the high, I’ll take the low
Woah, woah-oh, woah-oh

Just some roughed up desperadoes
Hanging tough through thick and thin
Kicking up dust wherever we go

I can see that you and me are gonna be friends
To the end you and me are gonna be friends

So on the kitchen floor, we took turns assembling and knocking down towers, pulling back the slingshot with an angry bird inserted and sending it flying towards the pigs in towers.

Kaboom! The towers collapsed and we celebrated. Honestly, it was the most fun of my day, until I became a bull in a rodeo with D on back, snorting and trying to buck him off my back amid his raucous giggling.

D will turn nine tomorrow, and I hope he doesn’t grow up too fast because I will miss times like these being silly. It may be a passing fad, but I am thankful for the angry birds for giving me a way to connect and have fun with D.

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Star Eco Station

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 15•17

blue bird

This was different than the Pet Store.

Instead of seeing dogs, cats, fish, turtles, crickets, hamsters and guinea pigs, we saw an alligator, two foxes, a 100-pound boa constrictor, and an assortment of reptiles and birds rescued by the U.S. Fish and Game Department from human traffickers.

This was Star Eco Station, an environmental science museum and rescue station for exotic animals that is a haven of last resort for over 200 different types of illegally trafficked animals from around the world.

Hey Boss,” D said, beckoning me to follow him in the middle of our tour. He had wandered one room ahead, and I was torn between staying with the tour or responding to his overture.

It felt like the Bubble Room scene from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Grandpa Joe and Charlie fall behind the group and drink the “Fizzy Lifting” soda and float up toward a giant steel fan.

Rule abiding citizen that I am, I stayed with the group and listened to our tour guide before seeing what D had found so exciting: a frisky grey and brown fox running around in its cage.

eco 2

I knew what D was thinking: Nick Wilde, the fox character from  Zootopia, one of his favorite movies. There was a black fox with a frightened countenance in another cage. Both had bushy tails and were housed behind chain link fences and a glass casing.

Every animal had a back story, but I was missed the names of the foxes (Zeus and Sunny, D told me later) and how they ended up at the rescue station. However, these are a few of the stories I did hear from other animals:

Someone in Texas shipped ten baby alligators in a Fed Ex box to Los Angeles by plane.

eco 3

The 100-pound boa constrictor lived in 20 pounds of his own feces because the owner was too scared of his pet snake to clean it.

An blue parrot plucked out all of its chest feathers due to stress from working on a Hollywood movie.

A two-foot turtle was found in a trash can at the airport.

***

Star Echo Station exists because smuggling exotic animals into the US via LAX is a multi-billion dollar business on a scale with international drug trafficking and thrives from the high demand for exotic pets and accessories from their body parts.

I did not think too much about the cruelty perpetuated by humans against animals and, in retrospect, our tour guide could have driven home that point by talking more about the individual stories of the animals.

turtle

Maybe she mentioned the various ways animals are smuggled into the US (crammed in suitcases, stuffed in cardboard tubes, taped to human bodies, stashed in Fed Ex boxes), and I was not listening to catch the details.

Later, I researched the topic and discover that many of the exotic animals found by custom officials arrive dead on arrival or are so traumatized or injured that officials have no choice but to put them down.

Those who survive the transport conditions often die from inadequate care or are abandoned on rural roads by their owners. Many others get placed at the gates of zoos–who are unable by law to take donated animals–or have difficulty surviving away from their natural habitats.

These would have been great details to share, and it may have made D angry at the mistreatment of exotic animals, and perhaps influenced him to be more compassionate to all animals.

But my listening may have been the problem–not our teenage tour guide–and I left thinking that I would like to go back to the eco station and listen better to the stories of the animals.

eco 5

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Biker Pig

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 06•17

biker pig

This is a Google image of the biker pig motorcycle D and I assembled on his birthday because he smashed ours not long after we completed it.

That’s fine. Really. Okay, he could have let me take a picture of our collaborative efforts before shattering it to pieces.

His mom made a chocolate cake with white frosting and, two days later, a strawberry cake for my birthday. Both were delicious, and neither lasted long, since we all have a sweet tooth.

As for our collaboration, D ripping open the plastic bags, the tiny pieces nearly got mixed together, and a few pieces fell to the floor, and I got anxious, knowing the added difficulty we’d face with lost or missing pieces.

The truth is, D was more excited more to get to the angry bird figurines in the bags than construct the motorcycle, and unlike me, he wasn’t concerned at all about the difficulty of the task ahead.

“Hey, you knocked some pieces on the floor,” D told me a few times after he bumped more Legos on the floor.

It was one of those moments where I could feel myself starting to lose it, but I managed to hold it together. I realized it was only Legos, so we pressed forward on assembling the bike.

We followed the instructions step by step, snapping small pieces together and mostly working together, and 20 minutes later, we had finished and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

It was a Friday night, and following pictorial directions and handling teeny weeny Lego pieces was difficult after a long week of work, especially for someone like myself with limited mechanical skills.

Although I did probably 70 percent of the work, it was still a collaborative effort and I had fun working together with D, even if he shattered our biker pig motorcycle soon after we assembled it.

Afterwards, D and I joined his mom in the living room, and we all took an electronic break. The Wife and I fell asleep, and an hour later, D was still on his I-Pad, celebrating each tower knocked down by an angry bird.

 

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Quiet Time

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 04•17

q times

We started by me reading one of Jesus’ parables from Luke’s gospel. It was about a fig tree and I explained how parables have two meanings, a literal and secret meaning.

I thought I had sold him on searching for the secret meaning after D mentioned–thanks to being a huge Veggie Tales fan–Jesus’ parable on building your house on solid rock.

Then, after reading the parable of the fig tree to him, I reiterated the key point with a dramatic voice. How every time the owner inspected the fig tree for fruit…there was no fruit.

I planned to transition to talking about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness and, my favorite, faithfulness.

I wanted D to inspect the fruit in his life, to think if his actions have been loving and kind, but he had no interest in a story on a fig tree bearing no fruit, even one with a hidden meaning.

“I don’t care,” D said after I emphasized a second time that the tree had borne no fruit.

So I switched to a story with people. A short man who was a rich tax collector and climbed up a tree to see Jesus. Although he knew this story, I hoped to plumb its meaning in depth.

***

In his story, Jesus came to a tree in Jericho and saw a little man. He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today (emphasis mine) I must stay at your house.’

Jesus made eye contact, called Zacchaeus by his name, and invited himself to be a guest at his house. This must have been a surprise not only to Zacchaeus, but also to the Jewish people.

And as Luke tells it, Zacchaeus hurried down and received Jesus gladly. And when the people saw it, they all began to grumble, sneering, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’

Hearing what the people said, Zacchaeus stopped and said to Jesus, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’

Jesus declared, ‘Today (emphasis mine) salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

What made Zacchaeus confess his sins and publicly vow to repay those he cheated? There is only one possible answer: he had a empty void in his heart and knew only Jesus could fill it.

Interestingly, I thought later, it was the same story as Jesus’ parable of the fig tree, a man who was bearing no fruit and had no way for his sins to be forgiven…except by Jesus.

I know we didn’t plumb the depth of this story. Sure, we tried. We discussed details and what they meant. But I know we fell short of this simple truth: Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

 

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Still Smiling

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 30•17

mom

She went through an emergency four-hour surgery to remove part of her colon and spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

She now has a colostomy bag instead of a regularly working digestive system.

Her calcium and potassium were dangerously low one day this week, and with all the iv tubes inserted into her body, she looked more like a Christmas tree.

Her blood pressure has been high most days, she has had trouble putting down liquid food and threw up in a bag several times during one of my visits this week.

During another visit, she vomited out green projectiles.

She had a Styrofoam-looking pad called a wound vac inserted into her open wound in her stomach and, a week later, the wound became infected.

Her body has been pumped with antibiotics and other medications, it is hard to keep track, while she has been lying in bed for the past two weeks.

She ate chicken and rice for lunch the other day. It was her first solid food in two weeks.

She was discouraged by her inability to sit up more than seven minutes, but the next day she sat up for 40 minutes during her physical therapy session.

She has a long road of recovery ahead to regain her strength and, at age 83, she will have to give it all she’s got to recover.

But she’s still smiling, and I’ve seen her do it before when she broke her hip, so I know that she can do it again.

I see her body is becoming more frail, and sometimes she sleeps most of the day, but she has a determined spirit and, yes, she is anxious and afraid at times.

Yet, she is still trusting God in her situation.

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Break Dancing

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 23•17

break dancing

No, D is not break dancing.

Although it looks like it.

We took a night walk to the park on his birthday. The lights were on at the basketball court. So I asked D to “do the snake,” a reference a You Tube clip with a snake who flips around like crazy and kills itself.

The video always sends D into convulsive giggles. So after he flopped around the ground, I poked D to see if it were alive, but the next time, I plan to join the scene by pretending I am a paramedic and give him CRP.

Call it You Tube Improv theatre.

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Sharks vs. Minnows

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 23•17

cub scout

D’s favorite part of a Cub Scout pack meeting is the game and snack time. Anything involving running and a little craziness suits his temperament. It’s the same for pretty much all scouts.

The game at he latest pack meeting was sharks vs. minnows. Blind sharks, that is. And it got crazy.

The sharks in this game were innocent compared to the one in Jaws who eats a swimmer and continuously menaces the innocent in Steven Spielberg’s film. But they were a lot of fun to watch.

There were 30+ scouts, all running in a roughly 15 by 20-foot area, and as the blind sharks tried to tag the minnows, running with their eyes closed, there were a few close calls.

The meeting had a nice random feel because the assistant scoutmaster was a last minute fill in, and I liked how in winging it he gave several scouts public speaking opportunities.

The Pine Wood Derby winner for the past two years gave design tips on how to build a fast car: “You have to make it aerodynamic,” said the ten-year-old.

“What does aerodynamic mean?” the assistant scoutmaster asked. “You know, just in case anyone here does not know what that word means.”

And he gave the definition which means D will be up against stiff competition, and we better get started working to make his car, um, as aerodynamic as possible.

Another scout talked about an upcoming camp out. And then the assistant scoutmaster asked one of the older boys to explain the rules for sharks vs. minnows.

And that’s when it got crazy.

Fun crazy.

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DIY Trifle

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 22•17

trifle

Have you ever bought a book and forgot all about it? That’s what happened to me with Mike Adamick’s Dad’s Book of Awesome recipes. I bought it, and it went into the abyss known as the bookshelf.

But D and I put it to good use during his two week winter break after I found it. We made a five-minute microwave chocolate chip cookie and a rubbery-tasting cake (probably) from using gluten-free flour.

And a yummy DIY trifle.

The trifle tasted the best of our concoctions. We made it on the final day of D’s vacation and, yeah, there was no baking on our part. Our part was to just assemble the layers and to enjoy.

I had planned to surprise D by making him a trifle; that is, before he walked into the kitchen while I was spraying whip cream into a tall glass.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

More accurately, I think he noticed the white foam coming out of the nozzle, and as a lover of all things sweet and sugary, he wanted “in” on the action.

So he sprayed whip cream in a glass, held the nozzle down extra long, I added bits of pound cake, and he sprayed in more whip cream. Extra long. Again.

He skipped the fruit layer because he’s never eaten fruit.

“What are you doing?” the Wife asked, walking in unexpected on our latest concoction.

“We’re making a dessert,” I said. “It’s a do-it-yourself trifle.”

“You already gave him a candy bar.”

(True. I’d made a treasure hunt out of a bible story with a Hershey’s bar as the treasure at the end.)

“He hasn’t even eaten lunch.”

“Oh, I thought he had already eaten lunch.”

It was 1:05, and all three of us were on vacation mode, and not really following much of a schedule.

She made a few reasonable comments, and then after her gentle chastening, we delved into a pre-lunch dessert.

Man, it was delicious.

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Ninja Shepherd

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 23•16

ninja-shepherd

D was a shepherd.

But he looked more like a ninja shepherd.

His staff was a much-needed accessory to defend himself against his fellow choir members during a back stage costume change.

To digress: “Come Messiah King.”

The children’s enthusiasm, voices and bright, shining spirits were a joy to behold. They soldiered through singing in four services, plus an hour and a half evening show with the adult choir.

Call time had been 7 a.m. in the morning. There was also three or dress rehearsals during the week, and they performed the evening show before a packed sanctuary.

I thought it was a great way for D to get in the Christmas spirit. It’s so easy for Jesus to get be replaced by Frosty the Snowman and other mythological characters.

I love watching Christmas movies as a family every year; and it’s a tradition I hope D never grows out of as he gets older, I just want to make sure pop culture isn’t more important to him than God.

I hope being a part of the Christmas show will be an annual event for D. I know listening to the songs helped tune my heart towards Christ, and I think it did the same for D.

 

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A Random Thought

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 05•16

chick-fite

One of my high school students wrote an essay on how he thought people are too sensitive and too thin-skinned to every hurtful comment made by others.

He argued his point very well, but I, politely, have to disagree with him.

“Let’s be honest, the world is a racist, sexist, and just judgmental place,” he wrote, “but it does not mean that we should get so angry or offended by it, because we all do it.”

“I’m not saying,” he went on, “that we are all racist or bad people, it’s just how we are. We all judge people by the way they look, speak or even walk.”

I have to disagree with him, not about the fact we all have a tendency to judge (that’s definitely true), but about his viewpoint that we’re all too sensitive.

I still fundamentally believe it’s wrong when one person hurts another person’s feelings. We’re human and, like it or not, our feelings get hurt.

So, yes, we’re too sensitive because a harsh word or tone hurts. Call me too sensitive or thin-skinned, but I’d rather be too sensitive than insensitive to others.

Sure, I’ve found developing thicker skin helps, but it’s human consideration to take into account how our words and actions affect another person.

chilis

D and I went out for breakfast the other day, and when we came home, he ran across the street to see two friends.

D picked up his friend C’s toy guitar without asking. So C yelled at him. Normally, D will yell back, but this time his friend’s harsh tone hurt.

And he shed some tears away from his friends.

So, as I read my student’s essay, I couldn’t help but wonder how simple human consideration would make the world a much kinder place.

I mean, it’s common sense. A kind word or action make someone feel good, and an unkind word or action can hurt someone’s feelings.

This is how I see it, and I hope D will see it this way, that we should strive to be kind to others, forgiving them even when they hurt us.

So, no, people in the world are not too sensitive, it’s actually the opposite—people are too insensitive to how their words and actions affect others.

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