Monday, June 25, 2012


From the house, I went for a run over a bridge, straight up a cobblestone road, past a line of tamale salesmen and women, past a line of workers buying tamales, down into town, onto the boardwalk, past sipping coffee guy, wave to the friendly homeless man with the crystal clear eyes, high five to the  runner man straight out of Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, onto the Malecon, past the alien statues, jump over the puddles from the street washers, when I saw them...

Folks balancing rocks on the beach. It was so incredibly cool I had to stop and watch them work, no matter how caliente it was. They piled rocks, some of them over twenty pounds, balancing them one on top of another, stacked them three/four high. It was amazing. 

Back at the casa while the kiddos were playing in the sand I decided to give it a try. It's harder than it looks. But trust me, it's also ten times more fun than it looks. At one point, I think I entered some kind of zen state. I was no longer inside myself. I became one with the world. I in the rocks, the rocks in me, the waves crashing behind me, the sun on my back, finding balance...not only in my fingers...not only in these stones...but in me...I can't overstate it. It was matter how caliente it was. 

The next morning, I brought some dollars with me on my run over the bridge, up the hill, past the tamales, but alas the rock balancers were not there. Nor were they there the next day, or the next. They must only balance on the weekends. 

So may this short blog be their tribute. Thank you rock balancers. And if you readers ever make it down to Puerto Villarta and see them, please extend to them my full appreciation as well as a few pesos on my behalf. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Free of Fear

My favorite word is FREE. I love it. I love to say it. I love to see it. I love to experience it. I don't know how universal that is. I think it's pretty universal. For those of us that carry around a lot of fear, I think it's pretty universal. We want to be free. To look at something dangerous (and often it's only something a teenie-weenie bit dangerous) and to not be afraid of it - that's freeing. To stare down the unknown with a twinkle of daring in my eye instead of gaping at it with terror - that is what I long for. 

And it's what I long to see in my children. 

And when I do, I get chills. It thrills me to the bone. It ignites a bonfire of joy in my heart. And when it's not there, I get angry. I want to take fear by the shoulders and shake it out of me, out of my children. I want to rid myself of it the way I rid my house of mosquitos. Get out! Get out! Even if I destroy the lampshade in the process!

This week Dave Dave decided he was terrified of water. If he wasn't touching the ground he was having nothing of it. Oh how it frustrated me. But there was nothing I could do or say to free him from it. In fact, for the sake of my sanity and our relationship, I had to let fear with the round. 

Anna Rose, on the other hand, has lost her fear of water. What a thrill! But she had her moments too. For instance, when we took a boat ride and she screamed bloody terror because she was certain the boat was going to flip. I said, "Listen Anna Rose, this boat has never flipped over and it will definitely not flip over today. But say, just pretending, it did flip over today - what's the worst thing that could happen?" "We'd fall into the water," she screamed. "But you love the water!" I said." And you know what she did - she just screamed at me for not understanding! You can't out logic fear. That's what that conversation taught me. 

In fact, and I've been pondering this for a couple weeks now, I think there are only two ways to free ourselves and our children from fear. The first is prayer. The second is role modeling. When it comes down to it, my fear rubs off on my children. Sometimes it rubs off directly, i.e. if I'm afraid of wasps, there is a chance my child will be afraid of wasps as well. But it doesn't always correspondingly translate. My fear of my uncertain future at work, may look like a fear of shadows in my children. (In a way, fear of the future is just fear of shadows, isn't it?) 

All that to say: If I want my children to be free from fear - I need to demonstrate a life free of fear. I wish there was an easier antidote - and for many of us who do not have great role models in this area - we may need to buck up and face those fears whether we have been shown how to or not. (My dad, I should note, especially on this Father's Day, was a great role model at fear facing - thanks dad.)

It's for this very reason I'm a Christian. As Paul told the Galatians: "It's for freedom that Christ has set us free." Which is only another way of saying what Jesus once told his disciples: "If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed." So be free my friends. It's my wish for you. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Who's that Girl?

Ok. What do I do now? In my quest to gently steer my daughter through the rough and craggy channel between Nature and Nurture, I'm afraid I created a monster. 

A-Ro has entered a reptile and amphibian fetish phase. 

It started when Mommy found "Nemo 2" in our backyard. To see Nemo 1, check out this post from last summer: Nemo 1

This Nemo was not an Eastern Painted Turtle like our first Nemo but your good old fashioned American Box Turtle. He hung around awhile until we finally convinced A-Ro that he was "sad." What do you think?

Well, there was peace at Ericksons until a Gray Tree Frog took up residence in our pool. Guess who caught it.

We convinced her to set "Squirmie" the Gray Tree Frog free. However, in the process, A-Ro discovered that Little Miss Tree Frog had blessed us with a few hundred progeny. A-Ro scooped up a hundred or so. We now have a tadpole farm on our porch. 

She then found"Scaredy-Cat" the Warty Toad

She decided to put it with the tadpoles and trick Mommy by telling her that one of the tadpoles must have "growed up."

Mommy knew better. But A-Ro did manage to sufficiently scare the willies out of her. 

Then, it was on to salamanders. 

Notice she's the only one holding them. 

The last three weekends have been spent "creekin" (guess where you do that), and we've caught more salamanders and crawdads (which are less photogenic it seems) than you can shake a net at. 

The question all this reptilian/amphibian-lovin leaves me with is this: what does it all mean? Is my daughter following in the footsteps of her Beautiful Biology Major Mother? Or is she turning into a Dirt Loving Dudette like her dad? Or, and this is the scariest of them all, is she becoming herself?

Why does the thought make me shiver and quiver with excitement and anticipation?

I love who you are Anna Rose. I can't wait to see who you become. 

Friday, June 01, 2012


Ok, starting at the top left and reading like a book, that's: Barnes Jr., Jac, Hunt, Murf, Henry, Barnes Sr., Daisy, Anna Rose, Lindsay, Ned, Dave Dave, Sam, Tim, Reid, Anna, Elizabeth, Stef, Will, Allison, Sam, Paul, and Hannah 
That's right, we were outmanned 14 kids to 9 adults on our first annual Spring Campout. Lia was the 10th adult but got out of camping because she was "on call", which she usually gets out of when we have weekend plans, but for some reason she "forgot" to find someone to "cover her" this time...hmmm...could she might have "forgotten" because had she not "forgotten" she would have had to sleep in a tent with our two children (Dave Dave having never camped before) and next to four other families with children who have never camped before? I guess we'll never know. 

Sam looking tough. Allison actually being tough. And Lia who is always tough.
To her credit, she did come for the afternoon and stay through dinner. (And really I'm just giving her a hard time...there wasn't room for her in our tent anyway. )

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We arrived at Pilot Mountain on Saturday afternoon. Anna Rose wore her brand new headlamp the entire day. You know, just in case. After we set up camp (You were permitted two tents per campsite. However, I don't think they planned on those tent sites inhabiting 11 people the way one of ours did!), anyway, after we set up camp, we went for a hike up the Grindstone Trail.

Here's Tim and Sam. However, instead of "dropping a load" as it appears in this picture he is doing with his son, Tim carried the load of his son on his back.

The kids were a bit excited...

Wait up guys!

After dinner, we made S'mores. Will really liked his. (Yes, that's Will, not Dave Dave, I know they look alike.) 

Dave Dave and I partook of our S'mores fireside. Dave Dave finished his in three bites and started eyeing mine. He wore his new headlamp the entire day, too. You know, just in case. 

I am pleased to announce that fun was had by all. 

I believe I can confidently say that a new tradition has been established.  Plans are already in the works for a fall jamboree!