FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

When the Birds Come

Written By: Scot Butwell - Oct• 16•17

Yep, that’s me launching an angry Bird. It was Big Brother Terrence. He connected with a pig, and the rest of birds came. Bomb. Chuck. Red. Hal. The Blue Birds. The Mighty Eagle.

The Mighty Eagle swooped down and crashed into the pigs’ towers. Hal boomeranged in and activated a button on the side of a monkey’s truck.

The truck started up, rammed into the towers–or at least what was left–and the monkey screamed ,”Ewwww! EEEEEEE! Ewweee! !EEEEEEEE!”

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Table Assembly

Written By: Scot Butwell - Sep• 05•17

Labor Day. D and I went to our usual destinations. Chic Fila, Barnes and Noble, and Toysrus before L and I assembled an adjustable table for my mom that L ordered a month ago.

D bought two Roblox figures at Toysrus, but he really loves Freddy, Foxy, Springtrap, Bonny, and the Five Nights (FNAF) at Freddy villains. His friend C collects Roblox figures—that’s why he bought the two Roblex guys.

“Who is your favorite, Nightmare Freddy?” D likes to ask me, already knowing what my answer will be.

“I like regular Freddy because of his  lack hat,” I usually say.

“Not Nightmare Freddy?”

“No, just regular Freddy.”

D’s favorite villain is Springtrap, and he likes to sit on the floor and to create videos with the FNAF characters (L would have a big fit if she saw D with the FNAF guys on the floor), and he was ecstatic to see Nightmare Bonny.

“Oh, my gosh, it’s aNightmare Bonny plush,” D exclaimed.  “I’ve never seen a Nightmare Bonny in any store. This  is absolutely AMAZING. Boss, look, it’s a Nightmare Bonny plush.”

“Nightmare Bonny, yikes,” I said, not quite as excited as he was. Then,not knowing what to say next, I lifted the patch on Nightmare Foxy’s left eye.  Nothing was beneath the black patch.

Later, at Barnes and Nobles, D read  the latest Dog Man book by Dave Pilkey, the author of the Captain Underpants series. I was fascinated by how engrossed he was in the book.

L’s birthday is two days away and hinted in a text about buying her a book. She texted me later, “You better not have bought me a book.”

Well, all I can say is, I hope…she likes the book I bought her.  I got her text after I had purchased the book. I guess the old saying about it’s the thought that matters…isn’t true after all.

Eventually, it was table sssembly time. After a month of procrastination, it was time to follow the step-by-step directions, face my inadequacies and put together the table for my mom.

I am mechanically challenged, so I was grateful that L volunteered to help. Following directions to assemble anything usually takes me twice as long as it would for a regular person.

That’s just how God made me, and I accept that He has gifted me with strengths and liabilities. And let’s just say assembling products isn’t one of the strengths God has gifted me with.

But L read the directions, checked to see if I followed them correctly, and this arrangement worked fine; she even pointed out my mistakes in a calm, neutral tone—to my surprise.

Of course, I made a few mistakes, and I appreciated whenever L caught one. What do they say about failure? The path to success is paved with failure, and it is part of the journey to success.

Then, after the table was upright, our smooth collaborative-working relationship was shattered by an unexpected outburst of emotion by L, prompted by one simple direction:

Remove a black screw below the table and insert a smaller screw. This direction seemed hard to screw up, but pardon the pun, we (and I use “we” loosely) bungled this final direction.

When my hand gently touched the bottom of the table, it moved the tray up five inches. This is when my eardrums began to rattle, and L changed from calm to hysterical.

L believed there was something wrong with the table–something based on what I had done wrong–before she agreed it was designed to be this way and apologized for her outburst.

She added a hug, and once my nerves had recovered, I realized D had witnessed it all–from our working together and L’s outburst to her apology and my tepid, “I forgive you.”

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Homework Mariachi Style

Written By: Scot Butwell - Sep• 04•17

I had just finished reading about Robert Rodriguez’s “mariachi style” of low-budget movie making by using only the props, actors, costumes locations and music available to him.

Also, I listened to an interview where he talked about “doing one thing well” to be creative. Though they spoke to my creative soul, both were prep for my English class reading his book on making his first movie for $7,000.

Rodriguez’s film El Mariachi turned into a three-picture deal with Columbia Studio. And his book about the making of the film, the one my English class will soon be reading, is titled, Rebel Without a Crew.

I was inspired by Rodriguez’s statement to try to “do everything creatively,” so when it came time for him to film a scene, it would not seem not all that different than other tasks.

If he had been creative in cooking breakfast or cleaning the living room, then editing a film scene would be just a continuation of his creative output.

I know it sounds weird, but I started to wonder if Rodriguez’s philosophy of creativity might apply to helping D to complete the last four pages of his monthly homework; and I figured it was worth a shot to test out his theory.

I knew I could do it L’s way. D sitting at the kitchen table while I fought the urge to assist him in staying focused. This usually results in L getting upset at me for not letting D do it by himself.

Ultimately, I chose to try Rodriguez’s “do-everything creative” approach. D had crashed my Sunday afternoon lesson planning, and L did not reply when I called her in the living room.

She fell asleep on the sofa, and since she wouldn’t be able supervis D’s homework—or be aware of my homework experiment—and if Willie Wonka can call a wasp a wangdoodle, I thought I can make homework fun.

D and I kneeled on the floor with his homework on the bed blanke. That was violation number one of L’s homework protocol. Number two was I bantered the way through a page of math by talking in an animated tone.

Like I was excited about the math problem—which I really wasn’t.

I made funny noises, assumed various personas of movie characters, and turned into a “savage” Nick Wilde from Zootopia after being shot in the next by a dart filled with serum.

This obviously provided a much needed break between math problems. We also wrested between math and grammar problems, and at one point, D climbed on my back and I turned into a bucking, snorting rodeo bull.

We hissed at each other like two cats in a fight, bearing our teeth and our claws, to reboot our brains before the fourth—or was it the fifth?—page of his monthly homework assignment.

We stretched out on the bed for the last page, and if L would have walked in, she would have criticized me, and my “do everything creative” approach jettisoned like balloon on a windy day.

My arm looped over D’s shoulder as we alternated reading Mauona, and when Chief Tui said,  “no one goes beyond the reef,” D went off the script and called me (Cheif Tui) an idiot.

I looked at him and furrowed my brow, not sure if I should get upset at him since I was acting out Chief Tui’s voice, and D said, “I’m sorry.” And so I unfurrowed my brow, letting it pass.

We finished his homework in an hour, and even with all the silly gibber and playing, we beat the time D normally takes to finish homework when sitting iat the kitchen table in tbecause proper way.

So I am not being critical of L’s method, but I am giving two thumbs up to Rodriguez’s do everyone creative and  use whatever resources are available to create art. That’s what we did with D’s homework, and it worked.

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Meet the flock

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 11•17

angry birds

From D:

It’s bird time in the house. Terence, Blue, Chuck, Hal, Bomb, Might Eagle, Red and Bubbles are D ‘s wild flock. They battle gains eggstealing pigs: General Frank, Dopey, Ross, General Steve, Grandpa Pig and King Pig, who try to eat the eggs before the birds always come to rescue them.

 

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The Two Worst Sons

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 11•17

A couple days ago, I took my mom to her ear doctor appointment, and after the hearing test and her examination was over, the septuagenarian doctor told us a story about his two nephews.

It went something like this:

His sister married and had two sons. She got divorced and remarried. The oldest son liked jumping off the roof onto a mattress. He was into World Wrestling Entertaining moves.

He was 12, I think, at the time.

“His mom didn’t know what to do with him,” the doctor said. “What do you do with a kid who jumps off the roof?”

The younger brother was rude to his step dad, calling his toupee a rug, but when he got laid off from his accounting job, the toupee made him look younger and land another job.

“Ageism is still alive,” said the doctor. “It is very much alive.”

The brothers went to college and graduated. The older brother now travels the world as a WWE wrestler; he also dabbles in stand-up comedy and does voice over work on the side.

The younger brother loved to draw, and he worked his way up the ladder in the entertainment industry from entry level positions to become an animation director for Family Guy.

“That’s a big deal,” the doctor said.  “It’s a very big deal. A very big deal.”

“My brother-in-law used to pick at the younger son all the time, and even now that he has become a director for Family Guy, he watches his son’s show and calls to tell me, “I don’t get it.”

“I don’t get it half the time,” the doctor confided. “But it’s a very big deal to be a director for the Family Guy show.

I have no idea why the doctor told us this story, of an accountant step dad who never “got”his creative sons, but I’m glad he shared the story. My mom is 83, and my brother and I are grown up, so it likely wasn’t meant for her.

D is nine, and I plan to support him in whatever vocational path he chooses as he gets older. He fills notebooks with drawings of animation characters, so, maybe, he will become an artist.

I think his love for drawing may be a sign, just like the older brother’s jumping off the roof or the younger brother’s love for drawing and rude behavior foreshadowed their careers.

My two take always from the story: 1) the step dad never learned to embrace his sons for who there are, and 2) the sons’ vocations were wired into their DNA, just as the step dad’s was too.

I told the doctor’s story to L, hoping it will help her to understand our son, that he is a boy and sometimes boys will act rowdy and leave their clothes strewn all over their bedroom floor.

Sometimes, they will act sassy and be ornery to their mothers, but then sweet and loving the next moment. They can be rash and unpredictable, and a houghtful and weighty thinkers.

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25 Things About Myself

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jun• 29•17
  1. I am a sugar addict.
  2. My favorite is chocolate hostess cupcakes with the cream filling.
  3. I wait until the last minute to tell the wife about stuff.
  4. I rarely go to see the doctor.
  5. I never floss.
  6. I lost my left cornerstone tooth while eating pizza.
  7. I need time by myself to refuel.
  8. I have a paunch from eating pizza, hamburgers and soda.
  9. I don’t drink alcohol or smoke.
  10. I am reading Silence of the Lambs.
  11. I loved playing basketball as a kid.
  12. My favorite drink is coffee, preferably from McDonald’s.
  13. I like to bing watch Netflix series in bed on my phone.
  14. Breaking Bad is my favorite Netflix series.
  15. I like to wear noise reducing headphones
  16. I have one brother.
  17. I once was the director of a faith-based crisis hotline.
  18. My wife say I used to be a good listener.
  19. I like to faint when she gives me a compliment.
  20. Chips and guacamole sounds good right now
  21. My wife thinks I have autism.
  22. I like to lose myself in art.
  23. I have been blogging for five years.
  24. I am a Christian.
  25. I recently volunteered to be cubmaster of D’s Cub Scout Pack.

 

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Malibu Wine Safari

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 26•17

stanley_kimberlylucas

Last year, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, D and I boarded a former World War II navy vessel (USS Iowa), walking around to former warship to burn off excess calories from eating too much food during the holidays.

This year, on a picturesque ranch in the rolling hills of Malibu, we hopped aboard a custom-built, open-air jeep with tiered seats to see and feed exotic animals, including yaks, llamas, alpacas, zebras, bulls, and more.

Between the USS Iowa and Malibu Wine Safari, it was interesting walking aboard history on a retired World War II ship, but we loved seeing the exotic animals and being amid the peaceful serenity on a working wine ranch.

We discovered the yaks, alpacas and the llamas were the friendliest and also the hungriest. They jockeyed for position, sticking their long necks over a fence to eat lettuce and carrots straight out of our hands.

malibu-wine

The bulls and zebras, at least the day we visited, were not so hungry. It was fun, but nerve jostling, to be two feet away from a large bull, even separated as we were by a white-picket fence.

The Ferdinand size bull, standing beside a smaller one (likely his son or daughter), grunted when I offered him some lettuce. Maybe, it was a goodwill grunt or, I couldn’t tell if it was his way to say,  “thanks, but no thanks.”

The llamas had funny names like Dali Lama and Michelle O’Lama, and two Tibetan Yaks went by Yakkity Yak and Don’t Talk Back, and the most famous animal of all, Stanley the giraffe, was in the movie The Hangover III.

Flash forward to few days after our visit. D and I were reading the story of Daniel and the lions den in the bible, and when I asked him a question, he suddenly started talking about the animals we’d seen from the safari.

“Have you ever seen Stanley on tv?” D asked. “The giraffe with the giant neck. He’s seven years old, but he’s pretty big.”

bull

“No, I haven’t seen him on tv. Did you like him?”

“He’s nice.”

D went on: “The bull snorted and made grunting noises. I was like ‘oh, my gosh’….he was scary. I was trying not to be afraid, but I lost my grip.”

“I was a little scared myself. He was kind of scary.”

“Bulls are strong…I wish I was a bull. There was a zebra. JC said to be careful because they might bite… You remember JC?”

“Yeah, he was our tour guide.”

“Mike was our driver. Yaks are sort of like alpacas. They spit.”

alpaca

“Remember when the alpaca in Evan Almighty spit on Congressmen Long.”

“Yeah, that was so funny.”

Sometimes, I feel like prying information from a crime suspect when I ask D about his day at school. And I often get nothing. So our conversation about the safari was a like a downpour of conversation.

JC told us about tv shows (The Bachelor and The Biggest Loser) that have shot episodes on the ranch, celebrity visitors (Kobe Bryant, Kim Kardashian), as well as the history of the ranch and family-owned winery.

tour guide

Twenty years ago, the patriarch of Malibu Family Wines, Ron Semler, 74, toured South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe with his extended family–wife Lisa, nine children, five grandchildren, and their spouses, and their extended families.

He had already purchased several exotic animals to educate his children on wildlife, and inspired by safaris his family went on in Africa, it dawned on him that a safari could pair well with wine tastings.

His oldest daughter was skeptical of his idea, so Semler tabled it. But in 2013, his son, Dakota, then a 20-year-old college student, decided to give his dad’s wine safari idea a go, and he is now the CEO

Malibu Family Wines offers wine safari tours seven days a week. The family wine safari is available only on weekdays (kids must be seven), and you must book the Giraffe tour to meet Stanley.

For two city guys, D and I enjoyed the winding tour through picturesque hillsides covered with rows of grapevines, unusual rock formations, gorgeous look-outs, and funky art installations.

malibu

One rock formation is the shape of a horse saddle. Hence, the name Saddlerock Ranch and Vineyard for Malibu Family Wines’ 1,000 acre property which includes 800 acres of grape vines.

Our tour ended in a grassy area surrounded by vintage trailers for a wine tasting (two wines + lemonade for kids), coupled with crackers and cheese, with a beautiful view of the Conejo Valley.

wine

Our group didn’t talk much to each other. One family was from Korea, and another from Massachusetts, but I think we were blown away by the peaceful serenity of Saddlerock Ranch to want to talk.

Afterwards, D and I drove up Mullholland Highway to Malibu Creek Park. We went on a short hike and ate lunch by a stream. It was a beautiful extension of our trip to Malibu Wines Safari.

MALIBU WINE SAFARI:

Family Safari- Available weekdays–$55 per person, includes two different wines for adults 21+ and lemonade for little ones, who must be at least 7 years old.

Explorer Safari-Offered 7 days a week–$65 per person, includes 6 different wines on scenic spots on the ranch and feeding and interacting with exotic animals.

Giraffe Lunch Safari-Available by appointment, exclusively on weekdays. $155 per person, includes 6 different wines and a catered lunch.  Feeding and interacting with exotic animals and Stanley the Giraffe.

hike

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Teaching Responsibilty

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 13•17

messy roomThree hours later, and after dressing up as Stymie from the Little Rascals and making a video to send to his cousins (along with a second one on Jumaji the spider), D finished cleaning his room. I taught D responsibility (per L’s request) by not helping him.

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Pine Wood Derby

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 13•17

p derby 2

I listened to an interview with a mother on a Radiolab podcast (“The Ghosts of Football“) who said her eight-year-old son’s favorite part of playing football was the pizza party and trophy following the season.

The focus of the story was that 13 members of the family played in the NFL, and despite her son’s ability to make opponents “eat dirt,” he decided he no longer wanted play football.

“That kind of stuff is messing up the history in my life,” the boy said after he hit one boy so hard that he cried.

Listening to the podcast, I thought of D and the Pine Wood Derby, and if I were to ask him his favorite part, he would likely say it was eating French Fries afterwards at the Habit Grill.

(In fact, I asked him after writing this post, and that’s exactly what he said.)

bear den

I know my son. Seriously, though, we pulled it off: a mechanically challenged dad and his son designed a functional car, and we did most of it the night before and morning of the race.

We painted his car and used a fan to dry it in the morning, and the paint was still wet when we arrived at the check-in table, where his car failed to meet the weight requirement.

This was D’s first Pine Wood Derby (D’s birthday party was the same day the Pine Wood Derby last year), and I must have missed the announcement in pack meetings that cars must weigh six ounces to meet race regulations.

p derby 1

Fortunately, there was a table with glue guns next to the weigh-in station, and other scouts were glueing coins to the top and bottom of their cars. We had ten minutes to pass inspection.

So we ran to the car for coins, and I solicited a few extra nickels and dimes from moms, so D’s car could pass the weight requirements–and we finished with thirty-eight seconds to spare.

D welded thirteen coins to his car the Saturn V–maybe I glued a few myself–and while his car didn’t look as visually appealing, I thought the coins might at least make his car go faster.

A confession: D drew his car design on paper, and I traced it onto the wood block, although I made a few slight alterations to his design, in the hope it would be a more aerodynamic car.

But next year, I plan to take a more hands-off approach, discuss the design factors with him and let him do it all, and let the chips–literally and figuratively–fall wherever they may.

This year, his car was more of a team effort, and I’m sure that’s probably pretty normal. I was glad D took pride in his car, running up to me to tell me his car took first place in one heat.

pine derby 4

The race itself was anti-climatic to watch. D’s car finished second in the seven other heats. Most were against the same cars–but I was relieved we avoided any type of catastrophe.

The wheels of his car didn’t come off  like I feared might happen (which a happened to a scout last year).Or his car didn’t finish last eight times  in a row (which happened to a few kids).

D’s car clocked at a high of 181 mph and the actual difference between first, second, third and fourth was fractions of a second, so the worst car was not that bad and the fastest not so great.

I’m not sure what D took away from the whole experience, but I felt glad we had accomplished a task together, and D can use what we learned to him build a car more on his own next year.

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Beach Bum

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 01•17

beach fun

I need to have one of these days again…to sit and look at the ocean and study the different hues in the sky.

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