FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

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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Wilderness Park

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 05•16

into-woods

Sure, I would have preferred to be hiking in Yosemite, but I know what the Wife would say about that, so despite my thoughts of Yosemite, the nature preserve near our home was a good second option.

D took a fondness to a couple of toddlers, and so we followed them around for awhile, and then we found an abandoned fort made of logs piled horizontally against a massive tree.

Two boys and their dad appeared from nowhere, and D told them it was a “boys only” clubhouse. One of the boys got the idea to add more logs and the five of us hauled several logs together back to the fort.

I hammed it up by pretending the logs were extra heavy, but it was great fun in an old school kind of way. It reminded me of the kind of thing kids did when I was growing up that they don’t do as much anymore.

It was a beautiful time to be out in nature, maybe not as awe-inspiring as Yosemite (so I’ve been told), but at least I didn’t have to worry that D would walk off the edge of a cliff, like he might at Yosemite.

That was the Wife’s reasoning for not wanting to go to Yosemite when I suggested it at the end of summer. It’s frustrating, yes, since four hours away is one of the most amazing national parks.

But one day, I know we’ll make it there. I know we will. It’s on the bucket list, and we will do it.

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The Ultimate Ecosystem

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 03•16

fish

Every now and then, D is in museum and he is just stopped.

Cold.

The fish aquarium at the California Science Center did it to him this time. We had just exited the new “The Science behind Pixar” exhibit, learning about the math and science involved in movie making, and his mom asked D what he wanted to see next.

D’s favorite thing at the Science Center has always been the fish aquarium, so we made our way on the day after Thanksgiving through a maze of people, and D stood and stared at the fish swimming by, being lulled into a calm zen-like serenity.

I believe every person has their own ecosystem in which they thrive best. Mine, for example, is quiet solitude, which as a parent and teacher I seldom get. D’s ecosystem is having a schedule to follow, although he likes a free day to do as he pleases.

After a while, D laid down on his back on a concrete slab, captivated by the variety of sea creatures and the school of fish circling the tank, the horn sharks and moray eels, spiny lobsters and rays, and the sheer beauty of it seeming to overwhelm his senses.

news-desk

It was all pretty amazing, and it had a calming effect, even on the entire family. My favorite part of the science center is always hamming it up at the news desk, which we visited on the way out.

“Pluto is now back to being classified as a planet…” D said, ignoring the news on the teleprompter.

“What, Pluto is too tiny to be planet,” I retorted.

“I am a scientist and have decided to make Pluto a planet again.”

“What, Pluto is too tiny to be a planet,” I repeated.

And then we fake argued back and forth, “no, it’s not,” and “yes, it is” like the two dogs in a car accident from Dr. Seuss’ Go, Dog. Go! book, before starting an on-air, funniest noise contest.

Burp. Fart sound. Hey-you-wah. The Mighty Eagle call from the Angry Birds movie.

We giggled and laughed. The Wife turned her head and pretended she didn’t know us. Then we let two serious kids take over the news desk and read about a tsunami in Japan.

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Big Brother

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 03•16

big-brother

I got to see what D would be like if he had a brother when we discovered a play area at the mall, and D found a younger buddy to jump off a log over and over again while I chatted with the boy’s mom.

They were a perfect match. Two active boys who rarely stopped moving. Many eight-year-olds might grow tired of a three-year-old sidekick, but D loved playing with his new buddy for a long time.

Like he was a younger brother.

A few days later, his Sunday School class at church created a Hope Christmas Tree, a mix of prayers and wishes each child wrote on a paper ornament. His teacher showed me D’s wish, “I hope to get a younger brother.”

When D made his Christmas list, it had “baby brother” right below “bb gun” and “tnt.” The explosives came from the Angry Birds movie. I love these unexpected glimpses into his brain, and the unusual juxtaposition of his thoughts.

 

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Lumberjack

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 03•16

lumber-jack

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Finding His Voice

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 03•16

sing
I told D that I would be listening to hear him singing in his school’s annual Christmas program. It is a two-song affair that causes parents to arrive early and hastily scramble to get front-row seats.

Last year, as second-graders, they sang the classics “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” and this year as third-graders, D and his classmates belted out joyful renditions of “Home for the Holidays” and “Believe” by Josh Groban.

I was excited to see if D was actually going to sing. He loves to sing and dance to songs from movies in front of the tv and to sing about the planets from You Tube videos.

This summer, he learned the “Lava” song, a Pixar short before the movie Inside Out, in six or, maybe, seven different languages, hitting pause and rewinding the songs until he learned them.

That was truly amazing. D also likes singing songs by the Jackson Five, and he has taken to calling them “his brothers,” so singing is something he enjoys and iappears to be one of his talents.

But I suppose it’s different singing in front of a packed auditorium. There are so many staring faces, and so many other distractions, besides just remembering the words to the songs.

fern

D barely moved his lips during the first song. This was basically what I did as a kid (I was the tall, skinny kid in the back row), so I wasn’t bothered by his not singing.

But during the second song, it happened. D began singing, just a little at first and then more consistently, clapping his hands to the beat. His shoulders even began to sway to the music.

He was feeling the music, finding his voice, and then the second song ended, and the parents rushed (myself included) to get closer to the stage and freeze the moment by taking pictures.

Last year, D joined two boys when their mom was taking a picture of them, and this year D gave bunny ears to the girls in front of him, and then I watched as he started talking to a girl next to him.

I loved seeing him in a social moment. It reminded me of a Peanuts movie. A red-faced Linus or Charlie Brown bashfully talking to Peppermint Patty or Marci, caught at the beautiful, wonderful, fantastic age of eight.

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Talking About Jonah

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 03•16

jonah

D and I have been reading through the book of Jonah during our quiet times on the weekends, and it’s amazing how much the story of Jonah relates to D’s life and to mine, too.

One of the commentaries I read called Jonah the world’s worst missionary ever because of his disobedience to God and his hate for the people God sent him to preach to the Ninevites.

I think most everyone knows the story of Jonah. But in case you are unfamiliar with the story, God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah, but he boards a ship in the opposite direction to Tarshish.

But Jonah’s plan fails. God sends a great storm, and Jonah tells the crew to throw him overboard to stop the storm, because he knows his disobedience has caused the raging storm.

So the crew tosses Jonah overboard, and the sea suddenly becomes calm (as Jonah begins to sink to the bottom of the ocean), and this is where God intervenes and steps in to save Jonah’s life.

God sends a great fish to swallow him and preserve his life. The fish spits him back onto dry land three days later, giving Jonah a second chance to deliver God’s message to the people of Ninevah.

As crazy as Jonah’s story is, and as preposterous as it sounds, it has a lot of parallels to D’s and to my life. First, we both sometimes disobey God, just like Jonah and every person on the planet.

It’s simple everyday stuff like being rude to his mother (we’re both guilty of this) or D harboring a grudge against a classmate, which we’ve discussed frequently during our quiet times.

We’ve also talked about how Jonah was angry that God forgave the Ninevites for their wickedness, even though God had just spared his life despite his disobedience. Ridiculous, right?

jonah-2

The thing is, Jonah wanted God to destroy the Ninevites all along, and as I listen to D talk about the wrongs sometimes done to him by peers, he frequently has the same vengeful mentality.

I like to look for applications from bible stories to D’s life, so I asked him, “Do you ever feel hate toward anyone?” It was a leading question since D had just told me about a classmate he hated.

“Yes, I hate…” he said, rattling off how he hated a girl who told him not to put bunny ears behind her friend’s head and then mentioned a couple of boys.

So I asked him what he’d do if a classmate did something to him he didn’t like and explained that the girl was just telling him what she didn’t like.

I think D got the point and, maybe, talking about Jonah’s hate for the Ninevites will teach him to show mercy to others instead of harboring hate and resentment.

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Shooting Hoops

Written By: Scot Butwell - Nov• 27•16

hoops

A basketball hoop was always in the driveway. Our family moved every three or four years in my childhood, and the hoop in the driveway always provided a sense of continuity.

I found solace in dribbling and shooting hoops, and I could spend hours taking shot after shot. I was Picasso with a paintbrush.

Basketball was my passion. I played every day, and it was the activity I excelled at the most growing up. And it was the one sport I played year round.

We used to switch from playing one sport to the next with the seasons. Baseball in spring, football in fall, amd basketball in winter. However, basketball was always my first love.

So you’d think I’d be the one teaching D to shoot a basketball. I hate to admit it, but L is a much better basketball teacher, even though she had to google “how to shoot a basketball.”

She demands D hold the ball with his hands in the correct position while D likes to flings the ball in a wild underhand style with me despite me showing him the right way.

L wants him to learn a skill-something he can do on the playground at school–and I have been bringing a basketball with us every time we go to the park.

coach

D gets mad when he sees me with the basketball and wants me to leave it at home. Sometimes, I comply (I don’t want him to hate basketball), but I usually bring the ball with me.

I can tell he does not have a passion for basketball, and while a couple of dads have encouraged me by saying, “if you like it, they will like it,” this hasn’t proven to be the case with D.

So I join him in the things he likes to do and, maybe, if I don’t forcibly push sports on him, it’s possible he may take an interest in sports at a later time. Or maybe not. And that’s ok.

bball

D likes acting out scenes involving situations with his friend C. I came up with this idea one day after D tried to sell C’s toys at the park, a rock was thrown, and we ended up back home.

So we storyboarded six scenes on a marker board–it felt like we were making a movie–and my hope was that acting it out might develop empathy in D for how C was feeling.

“Toys for sale,” D bellowed while running around the kitchen and living room as I chased after him wailing. “Who wants to buy Sheriff Woody? Batteries not included.”

We got so into acting it out that I doubt D felt any empathy for C. “Let’s do it again,” D said after each scene, and I would chase him yelling “You can’t sell my toys…those are my toys!”

So we repeated each scene three or four times, and it reminded me of playing basketball as a kid, when I would shoot hoops for hours in our driveway, until the sun went down.

 

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