September 2013


Apple 1

Saturday was one of those perfect autumn days, so we decided to visit an apple orchard and pick some apples.  It turns out that the girls are pros at this having done so on several field trips.

Apple 2

We took a hay ride out into the orchard where they let us out and told us about the different varieties throughout the orchard.  They also told us to feel free to taste some of the apples to see which we liked best.  The girls interpreted this as an invitation to a buffet – both eating three apples each in about fifteen minutes.

Apple 3

I have to admit, they were probably the best apples I’ve ever eaten.  I’m sure being fresh right off the tree contributed to their delicious combination of crisp, juicy, and sweet, but the setting in which we enjoyed them didn’t hurt either.

When we had finished filling up our basket, we went back to the barn where we enjoyed fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts.  As you can see, this was probably Olivia’s favorite part.

Apple 4

Overall, it was a great experience.  It looks like we’ve added one more experience to the Barr Family’s Autumn Traditions.  Now if we could only get this season to last about two months longer…

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I was at a loss for a subject this week, so I asked Amelia to think of something for me to write about.  She was upstairs in her room so I shouted up, “hey Amelia, what do you want daddy to write about this week?”

Her reply was, “how do you spell ‘I love my Mom and Dad?'”

Aww… how cute, right?  Well actually that wasn’t what she wanted me to write about, she literally wanted to know how to spell those words so she could make a card for Sara and me.  Still pretty cute, right?  Well she gave up on the “d” which means Dad was left out of the card.

photo-4

Also, when I went up to check on her I discovered that she wasn’t wearing any underwear and her bare butt was the first thing I saw when I entered the room.  Maybe not ideal, but still pretty endearing.

Then she declared that since she didn’t put “dad” on the card, she would give me another present.  At this point her exposed rear commenced a rapid fire series of gaseous emissions not unlike fireworks.  When they finally ceased (complete with a grand finale, just like the real fireworks), she smiled and said, “that was for you daddy ’cause I know you can ‘preciate it.”

Lucky me.

I came back down to finish writing this post and just asked her what she’s working on now.

“Just making presents.”

Can’t wait to see what that may be.

Bday

Since our girls’ birthdays are so close together, we usually just have one party for both of them.  This year we decided to host the party at our cabin.  It was a perfect day.  The weather couldn’t have been better, I smoked some bbq (which was experimental but turned out pretty good), and family came in from all around to celebrate with the girls.  Aside from Tennessee suffering its worst loss since 1910, it was a good day.

As I talked to my girls on the way home, I realized how much they are growing up.  My oldest is turning eight – which hardly seems possible.  She’s halfway to a driver’s license already!  When I think of things like that, the paradoxical emotion of being ready for my kids to grow up while still wanting them to remain kids hits me.

I know you grandparents out there are thinking, “they grow up too fast!”  I’m sure I’ll think the same thing one day too, but when you’re still wiping butts, up all night with a fever, dealing with tantrums, and every surface in your home is constantly sticky, you can’t help but look forward to the day when they become more independent.

Of course, that independence comes with a price.  First, there is the realization that they just don’t need you like they used too.  Secondly, there is the fear that they will make poor decisions or lose their innocence as they are exposed to a broken world. 

I don’t know where any of us will be eight years, four years, or even one year from now.  I learned as child that your world can change drastically in an instant.  I guess I would be best served by keeping that thought in mind and doing my best to brighten my girls’ future without forgetting about today.

“The problem is not that there are problems.  The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”

I wish I could take credit for that, but it actually comes from a behavioral psychologist named Theodore Rubin.  It’s a quote that I have been citing frequently at work lately.  I’ve been assigned the task of rolling out an operations strategy to about 70 different facilities in our company.  This operations strategy is based on the premise of creating a work environment where problems are easily identified, having a mechanism by which those problems can be communicated, and teaching associates who routinely engage in the process how to solve those problems at their root cause.

That sounds simple enough, but it is actually quite challenging.  For one thing, it requires that we change the way we see problems.  As indicated in the quote, we often think that having a problem is a problem… but in reality, it’s not.  In fact, it’s normal.  As long as we walk this earth, we will always have problems.  The typical response to a problem is to brush it under a rug if it’s small enough or seek out someone or something to affix the blame if the size of the problem warrants.

Our strategy is quite different.  Not only do we want to address the problems that are currently evident, but we want to make more problems evident by creating a work environment that makes them more visible.  The idea is that by making more problems evident, we can deal with them sooner and address them before they manifest into greater problems.

This is a work philosophy I’ve had for a while, but I started to wonder what would happen if I incorporated it into my personal life.  What would this look like?

First of all, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t practice what I preach here in regard to seeking medical treatment.  I have family members all over the medical field, but when it comes to actually making an appointment and seeing the doctor, I’m a big time procrastinator.  How do we cover up physical issues?  We ignore them (as much as we can), we avoid the activities that make them evident, or (like me) we stubbornly endure them think they’ll eventually go away.  That last strategy served me well for a while, but I’m finding it less effective as the years go by. 

What would this look like from a social standpoint?  Maybe we need someone who can level with us and tell us when they think we have a problem rather than politely looking over it while we ignore the fact that it exists.

The bottom line is that we all have problems.  If we think we don’t, then we’ve got even more problems.  It’s better to acknowledge them and deal with them than to pretend that don’t exist… it’ also quite a relief.

As Labor Day weekend passes, we say goodbye to a summer that never seemed to arrive in the Atlanta area.  This year had some interesting weather stats in my hometown of Flowery Branch.  For example, in the months of July and August combined, we only reached 90 degrees twice… and just barely each time (90 and 91, respectively).  Compare that with a total of 14 days in those same months where the high never made it out of the 70s and two days in August with highs in the 60s and it really seems like the summer that never was.  Isn’t this supposed to be Hotlanta where it is in the upper-90s every day of the summer?

While I’m normally complaining about the heat and ready for a break from it in September, I almost feel cheated this year.  It’s like I was completely robbed of summer.  Add to the cool weather a regular dousing of rain and I feel more like I spent my summer in Seattle.  While rain was needed and put a definitive end our drought, it certainly put a damper on summertime activities.  I didn’t water my yard or a single outdoor plant all year – so there were no kids jumping through the sprinklers…  I can count on two hands how many times we took the boat out this year without even using my thumbs… we never got to go tubing on the river as we had planned… I didn’t even get a respectable sunburn this year (though, Sara is probably happy about that one).

I’m not going anywhere with this; I just wanted to exercise by God-given right to complain about the weather.  It seems to be the appropriate thing to do as we get older.  Hopefully this mild summer will lead to a nice, long autumn.  I can handle missing a summer, but I don’t want to lose my autumn!