Tag Archives: friends

One Bird Temporarily Leaves the Nest

Chase and my older son in their usual videogame-playing positions.

Chase and my older son in their usual videogame-playing positions in our game room.

This will be a bittersweet summer for our family. Chase, my “third son,” just moved to the Boston area until mid-August for his computer internship with TripAdvisor.

The boys played Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

The boys played Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

Of course, we’re thrilled that Chase earned such a wonderful opportunity. We know how important the experience will be to his career once he graduates from Rice University.

But, oh, how we will miss seeing him most evenings, as he pals around with my sons. The three of them are like brothers.

We miss those sparkling green eyes already!

We miss that mischievous smile already!

Our family will be incomplete for awhile. Keep in touch, Chase!

Baby Boy Basketball

Zach focuses on tough defense.

Zach defends.

With my focus these days squarely upon my high school senior and his final-year activities, I must admit that I’ve totally forgotten about his school’s underclassmen.

Specifically, my friends’ baby and almost-baby boys.

So when my pal Beth told me that her middle son, Zach, was playing his last home basketball game last Saturday morning, I decided to put my Nikon 85mm lens on my Nikon D700 and head to our high school’s gym to catch some freshmen action.

Matt shoots.

Matt shoots.

When I walked in, I saw my long-time friend Donna. I checked out the court and, sure enough, her baby boy, Matt, also was playing. Cool beans! Two for the price of . . . well, none, because there’s no charge to watch subvarsity teams.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

Not having shot indoor sports since volleyball last October, it took me awhile to adjust to the fast-paced flow of the game. Fortunately, the lighting was pretty good (ISO 1000), and the company (Beth at first and then Donna and her two daughters) was great.

Carter tries for two points.

Carter tries for two points.

After the game, I walked into the hall, where I saw more parental friends: Diana and Charles (our very own royalty!). Sure enough, their baby boy, Carter, would be playing in the B game. So I figured I might as well stay and continue to snap away.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

As I did, who should I see but yet another bud, Mary S. Her #1 son is Jared #1, one of the kid’s besties. She was there to watch her baby boy, Clayton. Once again, I could shoot two birds with one camera, while sitting between Diana and Mary.

Carter contests the layup.

Carter contests the layup.

Of course, for me the best part of the morning was the gabfest rather than the (rebound) grabfest. It’s nice to share some time and thoughts with a great group of gals. Getting decent photos of their handsome, young men? Icing on the proverbial cake!

Double-Glen Bowling

Glive smiles at his mom.

Glive smiles at his mom.

While it was wonderful that my older son’s friends joined him for bowling last Saturday, another special guest really made the Mister and I smile: Little Glen.

The Glens bowl . . . and ended up with a spare!

The Glens bowl . . . and end up with a spare!

My younger son’s best high school buds all were busy, so he invited his adult bestie, Glen, to join us. I was thrilled, because his wife Kelly and Glen V (aka Glive) tagged along. We always enjoy our times together (we just can’t help but love that tiny cutie!).

This was no exception.

High five!

High five!

Little Glen, who turns two next week, preferred checking out the lane action with his dad rather than chatting with us. So big Glen helped him roll the ball down the lane a time or two.

That's my boy!

That’s my boy!

It was so exciting when that slow-roller finally knocked down a pin, resulting in a spare!

Bowling for two

Bowling for two

Other times, IV balanced V as he played. It didn’t seem to affect his game at all. In fact, it added to a precious memory that made my son’s 21st birthday even more special.

It figures that little Glen would continue to bowl us over!

One-Word Wednesday

Making an indoor totem pole are my two sons and my “third son,” Chase.

My older son and my “third son,” Chase, pile on my younger son last Sunday.

Totem (pole)!

Wii U, Bowling, Thomas, and Pokémon

Chase and my older son laugh while playing the Wii U.

Chase and my older son laugh while playing the Wii U.

So what does a kid do when he’s on the cusp of turning 21?

If you’re my kid, you party with your besties. And by “party,” I mean go bowling.

Just like when you were seven years old.

Celebrating with us last Saturday were Josh and my “third son,” Chase, who both drove home from Houston (where they attend the University of Houston and Rice, respectively), and Tanner, who is on a sabbatical from Texas State. Because the guys were going to warm up with some Wii U videogames, my older son informed me that it’s best to only have five people (which included his little but bigger bro) to man the four Wii-motes and one Game Pad.

Who doesn’t know that? (Yes, I am raising my hand!)

The brothers show their different bowling styles.

The brothers show their different bowling styles.

After that we moved on to our local bowling alley for two hours of fun (the Mister and I watched, of course). The guys laughed, groaned, cheered, and kidded each other. Josh decided to experiment and try to throw a perfect curve down the alley for one game. He sadly found out what happens when bowling balls don’t turn.

Such unusual names!

Such unusual names!

As befitting the day before his big birthday, my older son bowled his two best games ever: A 142 and a 165. He throws the ball so hard that I always fear the pins will break in two. Thankfully, the pins stayed intact, and my sweet boy was rewarded, much to the chagrin of little bro (aka Beowulf), who usually is the better bowler. Unfortunately, he struggled but still tried to be a good sport . . . when he wasn’t complaining about it.

Tanner gives my boy a high five after a strike.

Tanner gives my boy a high five after a strike.

Having worked up an appetite, the boys were ready for dinner, which was at one of my son’s favorite local restaurants, Willie’s. Then we went back to our house for more gaming and Ultimate Uno.

Ah, sweet nostalgia!

Ah, sweet nostalgia!

Finally, it was time for dessert, which was a cookie cake. I pulled out some ancient paper plates from the cabinet, featuring two of the birthday boy’s childhood favorites: Pokémon and Thomas the tank engine.

“How long have you had these?” he asked.

Probably 13 or 14 years. I knew they’d come in handy one day!

Blowing out his 21.

Blowing out his 21

Once the guys polished off the cake (precisely cut by Chase), the Mister and I bade the boys good night. Although it was getting late for us (11 p.m.), we knew the gang had more videogames to play, plus a midnight stop at iHop to ring in my older son’s special day.

Tanner, Josh, Chase, and my two boys pose after bowling.

Tanner, Josh, Chase, and my two boys pose after bowling.

The next afternoon I asked my now 21-year-old if he had enjoyed his celebration, and he said he definitely did. Is there anything better than having a good time with friends and family who know you best? He’s been pals with Chase since kindergarten, Tanner since third grade, and Josh since fourth, and they still have fun getting together and acting like they still are in elementary school.

Good thing he’s not heavy!

Good thing he’s not heavy!

There’s nothing like being 21 going on 7, as long as you’re surrounded by friends and your little bubba!

Social 4/4 Time

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

That little tremor in the world’s equilibrium yesterday was merely me leaving the 10-mile radius of my comfort zone . . . at night. For several hours.

Shocking, right? I cherish all the time I spend comfortably ensconced in my community’s little bubble. Usually everything I could ever need or want . . . including two Chipotles! . . . is right around the corner.

However, last night it was time for the Mister and I to pull on our social pants and mingle with the masses in Houston (where only 18th Street could magically become 20th Street). We met at the Corkscrew wine bar—the Mister zipped over from work, while I actually took on the mean streets and spine-tingling traffic of the big city with a few nerves left still intact.

Wonder where the yellow went?

Wonder where the yellow went?

Luring me to Houston was our disc golf pal Billy. He’s been featured in my blog before, famously wearing a blue dress, as well as wrongly advising me that chickens are harmless. Now that Billy has retired, he’s pursuing his dream of pop stardom. Too bad he’s too old for “American Idol”—this white-haired cat definitely can sing and strum!

Billy took to the Corkscrew’s horribly lit stage with his 12-string guitar and an eclectic song list that included tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, assorted artists I’ve never heard of, plus several that he wrote (the Mister and I liked those the best). We were joined at our table by the Mister’s brother Mike and his wife Paula. Several other disc golfers also attended.

Naturally, I toted my beloved Nikon D700 for documenting the event. The Nikon 85mm (f/1.4) was the perfect lens for the job: It lets in a lot of light, plus it gets me close to the action without being intrusive. I just wish that there had been a lot of light. Talk about your dim bulbs!

Billy gives it his all.

Billy gives it his all.

As you can see from the top photo, the white balance was totally wonky. I put mine on bulb after taking pics on every setting and seeing that it was the “best” and hoped that I could wash away the yellow in Photoshop. My ISO was 4000; Noise Ninja helped tame the grain, which really wasn’t too bad.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening filled with great singing, wonderful family and friends, and Diet Coke and delicious thin-crust pizza.

I might have to shake up the globe a little more often!

Ruff But Ready

My younger son sends the disc flying towards Eric.

My younger son sends the disc flying towards Eric.

With the temperatures being so mild in the Houston area right now (the high will be 80 degrees today!), it’s nice spending time outdoors. For our family, when that scenario presents itself, usually there’s a disc thrown into the mix.

Come to papa!

Come to papa!

Which is why last Saturday the Mister, the kid, and I were at our local disc golf course soaking up some Vitamin D rays. Our friend Eric was working on the setup for a tournament taking place this Saturday, plus he wanted to check if his right elbow would hold up to the rigors of throwing discs long distances.

Looking it in.

Looking it in.

Eric had a marble-sized chunk of junk removed from that joint last month. After physical therapy and the okay from his doctor, he was ready to see how far and how accurately he could toss a disc.

So far so good.

So far so good.

Naturally, my younger son was his partner in crime. They’ve played a lot of rounds together, as well as teaming up to win a world doubles championship a few years ago (if you consider that the “world” is Texas . . . which a lot of Texans do!). First they warmed up by flinging a disc back and forth.

Nice scar!

Nice scar!

Then it was time to hit the course and play some holes.

Will the putt go in the basket?

Will the putt go in the basket?

The kid also needed to see how prepared he was for the upcoming competition. He’s practiced sporadically for several months. So this was a great time to knock off the rust and clang some chains.

As for Eric, did this little exercise show he’s ready for the tournament?

Everyone’s a critic.

Everyone’s a critic!

You’re doggone right he is! Good luck to both guys!!

Football Fun

My younger son launches a throw.

The kid launches the football.

There are few things in life that my younger son likes better than football . . . well, except sitting and watching it on TV. When a game is on, he’ll be running around the family room, football in hand (he got a new one from the Mister for Christmas), quarterbacking his imaginary team.

It always makes me smile . . . except when he won’t pass me the ball (put me in, coach!).

Ricky about to make the catch.

Ricky about to make the catch.

One of the kid’s favorite activities is to play football with his pals. Usually he meets a group of fellow high school seniors on the Club field near our house. However, a few weeks ago, he and his buddy Ricky decided to throw the faux pigskin around in our cul-de-sac as they waited for their friend Jared to come over and play a videogame.

What goes up, must come down!

What goes up, must come down!

I really enjoyed watching them burn off some energy. Plus they didn’t mind showing off for my Nikon dSLR (always a plus!).

Ricky finds his inner lefty.

Ricky finds his inner lefty.

Despite being a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, Ricky is one of my favorites among my younger son’s friends. He’s well-spoken and polite and is never afraid to speak his mind . . . especially when it comes to trashing (good-naturedly, of course) my beloved Cubbies. I forgive him his trespasses.

Jared finally arrives!

Jared finally arrives!

Our association with Jared goes back about five years to the kid’s Little League baseball days. Little did we know way back then that the two would become such good pals in high school. Hopefully, Jared will join my son at Sam Houston State this fall.

Jared hauls in a pass from my son.

Jared hauls in a pass from my son.

Speaking of which, I know that every time I snap pics of the kid and his friends that before long they’ll be off to college. Many, many miles away from my Nikon dSLR and my oft-full tear ducts.

The kid actually hung on to the ball!

The kid actually hung on to the ball!

Which makes me appreciate all the more these little athletic sessions in front of our house among the parked cars. I’m sure I’ll miss them almost as much as I’ll miss my beloved baby boy.

Film at 11 Once Again

Karan and my older son prepare to act out their scene for Chase to tape.

Oh, how I miss my older son . . . and his friends! Our house just isn’t the same when they’re away at their respective colleges (or overseas, as is the case with his former roommate Ben). When I think of all of them, I can’t help but remember the hours of work they used to do for those wacky videos that my son and my “third son,” Chase, produced.

Making the films—which involved filling the house and yard with laughter and purpose—was as much fun as viewing the finished product.

My younger son takes a turn behind the camcorder.

So you can well imagine how thrilled I was when the kid said he wanted to produce a short video for his U.S. Government project at our house. Bring out the camcorder!

Ricky and my #2 son spy on sleeping Cody.

My younger son and his partner in crime, Ricky, reported on U.S. privacy laws. After whipping up a PowerPoint (with classmate Austin B.), they gathered ideas and looked for willing actors. Fortunately, the kid’s lifelong pal Cody was available, as was Katherine, another friend from his elementary school days.

Katherine chats on her cellphone, as two goofs listen in.

Everyone looked like they were having waaaaaay too much fun as they videoed, considering that the question of whether or not our government has the right to listen in on our conversations and nose around in our everyday life is a serious one.

The kid and Ricky creep up on the Fuze (Cody is inside it).

Ah, the carefree world of high school seniors! Do they know how lucky they are?

Ricky is the spy who came in from the pool!

Watching these teens’ antics made me smile. The video, set to the apropos song “Somebody’s Watching Me,” was cute and helped present their point of view.

But then it hit me that these four young adults will be moving on to college in less than a year, and that saddened me. Good thing I’ll have this video to watch when I miss them, too.

Not Ready for Prime Time Players

My younger son shows off his mad skills for Bobby and the camera.

We’re pretty much down-to-earth people in our household. We don’t seek out the spotlight. Some might even call us humdrum, even if they’ve never heard us hum or drum (which is a shame, because we’re all pretty good at both of them).

Marcus’ pretty putt is captured digitally.

But when our pal Marcus told the Mister and the kid that they could help him hype their favorite sport of disc golf on TV, they started singing a different tune. One called “Celebrity.”

Bobby gets up close with the disc and basket.

We took the limo Honda Odyssey to Missouri City’s Community Park disc golf course, ready, willing, and able to help. I came along to document the event, using two Nikon lenses with my Nikon D700: My 24-70mm for wide-angle shots and my 105 for close-ups. This photo scout was well-prepared for a change!

Steve sails a putter towards the basket.

As the guys played and I snapped away on a beautiful Saturday, Bobby, the big-shot TV producer, videoed the action. It was a fun nine-hole round filled with the usual friendship, teasing, and awesome play by Marcus.

Marcus sinks a putt.

Bobby made a great decision in using Marcus and Eric to explain how disc golf works and to describe the play during the round. The former is a witty, brainy Rice University grad who can make the complicated seem easy, and the easy seem complicated.

Bobby films one of Eric’s short putts.

Eric, another funny and smart guy, brings an engineering bent to his conversational approach. He also might have a future in disc golf play-by-play commentary . . . assuming he likes not making any money. I’ll bet Bobby had fun editing the video.

The Mister shows off his style.

Speaking of which, we all can’t wait to watch the Disc Golfers Gone Wild in Mo City (or whatever it’ll be called) on TV. Should you be looking for it on ESPN (or ESPN–DG)?

Actually, online public access in the form of Missouri City TV is its final destination. But major channel or YouTube, it’ll be fun to watch local disc golf.

I’m just glad that my guys were there to help drum up support!