Sunday, November 11, 2012

He's tough.

He's tough. a video by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden would like for you to know how tough he is. He sports his Mohawk fiercely, and speaks a little lower in tone. He tells you he's got game. And then, at the last second, the irresistible force of nature that cries, "I'm six!" bursts from deep within him.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hoops Glory

There are two recreation centers in Spartanburg proper. My last town had none, but I knew in a city this size there had to be a pick-up basketball game at one of them. So, I set out in all of my 42-year old glory, not having played in more than 18-months, sure to quell the boredom I felt with one more shot at hoops stardom. Old Champion basketball shorts with an obvious paint stain on the left leg, a Nike training shirt I got for free a few years back at a photo shoot for Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a pair of Nike Air Dual-D running shoes were the look I had to resort to. At my age it was more about the game than the look. And neither were very promising on this afternoon. God had given me a decent talent for the game back in the day. I wondered if there was any glory left to be found, even in an old industrial town like this one.

The first gym was packed with cars. I figured I had hit the right spot, so I ambled in hoping to see some decent talent on the court to revive my game. I was instantly bemused by the sight of an all-Hispanic girls basketball league at this location. I actually watched for a few moments as a 5’4” speedster drained shot after shot for her team. She’s someone to keep an eye out for, I thought. “A que hora del final juegos?” I asked the lady next to me. She told me they played until the gym closed. We talked for a few moments about how interesting it was for her to see a white man speak her language. I told her my story of Los Angeles, living in “el barrio,” and how much I needed to practice the second language that I love. She smiled and wished me, “buena suerte!” I thanked her and made my way to the door.

I spoke with an older gentleman who was manning the desk and he told me to go to the gym on Saxon Street. With a smirk he let me know I’d probably find a little better competition there, too. I thanked him for both tips and set out to see if there was really a game to be found.

I pulled into the parking lot and saw what I was looking for. Several guys were milling around the door waiting to be let in. They were jovial, talking about a friend who was missed while awaiting trial and another who had blown his knee out. I sat in the car, taking it all in, glad to see four or five guys around my height of 6’7”. I was the only white guy there, which suited me fine. I remember well the days of 14th and Jackson in Winston-Salem where I was always most welcome. I made a lot of friends that way, and miss them still. These were the guys I wanted to hoop with. My boys Flagge Stanfield, Andy Snow, Joe Thomas, and Darrel Schnoes know what it’s like. The best runs in town back in the day. If you had a game, and could back it up on the court, you’d be welcome. And respected. I figured I’d give it a shot. I felt good, track shoes and all. One more shot at hoops glory.

Another older gentleman arrived and stepped out of his pick-up truck with keys in hand. I figured it was time to go in. As I approached the door one tall lanky guy in long dreads gave me a nod. Another shorter athletic guy greeted me. “What’s up, Big Country?” I nodded back, now beginning to feel a bit nervous about my game. I signed in after waiting at the back of the line of twenty guys and stepped onto the court. Some guys stretched. Others began to shoot and make lay ups. The taller guys dunked and yelled. All of them were half my age, maybe a little older. I would have to work to show I still had a little game left.

After about a minute of watching them shoot around a rebound fell out to me. I picked up the ball and dribbled around my back and through my legs a few times, thankful I didn’t bounce it off my feet. At this point I was five feet behind the three-point line. I decided to let it ride.


“Uh, oh! Big Country can shoot!”

I proceeded to drain three more in a row before finally missing. I then dunked one with one hand.


It must have looked easy to them, but it took everything I had to get up there, unlike days gone by.

Two guys were selected as Captains to choose teams. The shorter of the two looked at me with his first pick and said, “I got Big Country. Dude look like he played some semi-pro or something.” A moment later the teams were set. I was the only player over 6’2” on my team. I guess they figured I could handle it down low. The guy guarding me was 6’5” and there was a 6’6” guy, too, but he was an outside player and pretty thin. One of my teammates alerted me that my guy loved to bang down low and played pretty rough. It was like a symphony to my ears. I was thrilled.

We traded baskets the first 3-4 possessions. I had yet to shoot in the game but was posting vigorously and enjoying the shoving match with my friend down low. He was not nearly as tough as advertised and soon let up as he surely recognized I had a good 100 pounds on him. He was quick, though, and I struggled to stay with him. It was a decent match, I suppose. We probably broke even when it was all said and done.

My first possession I spun, drove to the hole, and was fouled hard. I got the message. Our point guard stated he was coming right back to me, but he passed it to his buddy on the wing for a 3-pointer. Swish. The next trip down he found me. Catch. Spin. Ball fake. Hammer it through his arms. And one. I proceed to score the next five baskets in a close game. Playing to 14 I knew it was going to be close and soon found it was tied at 12. I again was given the ball at the free throw line. I turned, spun into the lane, and went up hard.


That was it. That was the moment. My lower back felt like someone had stabbed me with a sharp dagger. The arm that raked across mine had mimicked my picking up what seemed like a half ton pickup truck. It was a "no blood, no foul" type of contest, so I didn’t call it. The other team raced down the court, put up a three, and it was over, just like that. We sat there dejected. I could barely stand up straight, but I didn’t want to show it. “Good game, big man,” was the reply I received from both teams and a few on the sidelines. I had played well, and earned respect. I got a few hugs, a few handshakes, and a few requests to “stick around for one more.” But I knew I was done. I was looking at a few days of pain and rest. “Ol' man gotta jet,” I said. They laughed with me and told me to come back during the week. They play every night. I told them I’d do my best and left feeling good about the game, but bad about my short comeback. I knew it was time to forget all of this foolishness and hang the shoes up for good. Even if they were track shoes.

The doctor this morning said about as much. “Go hiking with your boys,” he recommended. “It’s far safer for a man your age. Get a bicycle, too. One that fits your long legs so your knees don’t ache.” He is 74-years old, and far wiser than his younger peers. A Cortisone shot and a couple of muscle relaxers later I can actually stand up half way straight again, but surely have a few more days to get right. And I’m going to take his advice. There’s adventure to be found, and I think it’s with my children. And there’s glory to be found, but that rests with God, not me.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

6-year old Caden: "Dad, your eyes are cool."

Me: "Oh, thanks buddy."

Caden: "They change colors from blue to green."

Me: "Yep. Crazy, huh?"

Caden: "You're like a Crab Spider."

Me. "Um, OK. Thanks?"

Caden: "You're welcome."

Homeschool rocks.

The Crab Spider.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Little 12-Year Old

My little 12-year old. by Joe Jon!
My little 12-year old., a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

The height rod only goes up to 6'0". His doctor is perplexed.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Caden Hoopin'

Caden Hoopin' by Joe Jon!
Caden Hoopin', a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

I took Caden to the local sporting goods store to spend some of his allowance. He had just one item on his agenda: a headband and wristband set. He found this black Nike set for a bargain price. He knows that he needs to both have a game and look like he has a game. I think he has accomplished both at the young age of six.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ethan and the Red Door

Ethan with Red Door by Joe Jon!
Ethan with Red Door, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

On a hike this weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Homeschool Reading

Homeschool Reading by Joe Jon!
Homeschool Reading, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden picked a winner today, which is the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA "Dr. Seuss."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Led to the Mohawk

photo.JPG by Joe Jon!
photo.JPG, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Exhibit A. Pondering a Mohawk, for sure.

He Brought his Mohawk Back

He brought his mohawk back. by Joe Jon!
He brought his mohawk back., a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden at a recent basketball practice. I think he's trying to keep the girls away.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Caden Getting His Jeremy Lin On

He dropped 8 on the Tarheels in a 16-4 victory, along with 7 steals, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Caden Hoops

Caden Hoops a video by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden is in the red shorts. He recovers the ball, breaks the defenders ankles, then takes him to the hole. Mad game. Much more advanced than when his two big brothers were that age.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Three Boys

My Three Boys by Joe Jon!
My Three Boys, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Sunday afternoon on a long walk on the "back forty."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gabe Hoops

IMG_0050.MOV a video by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

6'3" 12-year old 6th grader (Class of 2018) Gabriel Bryant with a couple of rebounds and a 12-foot jumper in game action.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Eye Exam

First Eye Exam by Joe Jon!
First Eye Exam, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden got his first eye exam today. He has perfect vision, for which we are thankful. He did so well!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guess who finally lost his first tooth?

And the one right next to it will probably go in the next day or two. He's a trooper!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cuban Sandwiches

Cuban Sandwiches by Joe Jon!
Cuban Sandwiches, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

I made the whole family Cuban Sandwiches for lunch today. Experiment #1 in my foray into international recipes. I got 2 thumbs up from everyone.With a few seasonal desserts for good measure.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sick, but still had a family meal on Thanksgiving.

We did not travel to see family on Thanksgiving as I was feeling extremely poorly. My wife managed at the last minute to throw something together for her and the boys (I ate a couple of bites). Deviled eggs, homemade mashed potatoes, pineapple casserole, candied yams, pineapples, ham, bread, and green beans all made for a great last minute feast. She is pretty amazing, and I am thankful for her.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Camping

Fall Camping by Joe Jon!
Fall Camping, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Steaks on the grill by the campfire. A nice Cabernet breathing nearby. Lots of goodies (baked potatoes, olives, salad, grape leaf rolls, mushrooms, etc.) on the side. A couple of Bass Pale Ale already in the tank. A delicious tobacco pipe with some nice Burley tobacco at the ready. The winds have calmed. The stars are shining. God is good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beach Webcam

Beach Webcam by Joe Jon!
Beach Webcam, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Well, the one by the pool, at least. I dropped my wife and kids off this weekend at the beach and headed back home Sunday evening. I'll be joining them again on Wednesday night after I wrap a few things up at work. When she called and said she was headed to the pool I asked her to stop by the webcam with the boys so that I could see them. Pretty fun!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Kindergartner

The Kindergartner by Joe Jon!
The Kindergartner, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden wearing his apple crown. School is in full swing for the little guy as he began his first "officially official" year of homeschool a few weeks ago. He is proud to show me his work each week. He is off to a great start!

Friday, September 9, 2011

While playing my 12-year old in chess this evening he moved a pawn across the board for promotion to Queen. As his pawn reached the final square he yelled out loudly, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" Scared me to death. That boy ain't right.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Good use of time. by Joe Jon!
Good use of time., a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Some kids run for the toys and video games. I love seeing my boys run for the books!

Shopping this morning at BJ's in Cary.

Update: One of our friends at church is a general contractor and all-around handyman. He came today and put in our new water heater for us. Hot showers tonight! Woo hoo!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Water Heater Is Done

Water Heater is done. by Joe Jon!
Water Heater is done., a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

I'm really glad I was here when our water heater caught fire.

I hit the rest button after the hot water disappeared this afternoon and immediately saw sparks and high voltage melting going on. I ran and turned off the outside breaker. I saw a tiny flame on the water heater and smacked it with my hand, putting it out. I then went inside for a flashlight. I came back and looked under the house and saw 8-10" flames rising from the upper thermostat. I had Gabe run for a big cup of water while I screwed the water hose on. Gabe came back and threw the cup of water on the flame. I then hit it with the water hose for a couple of seconds. A wee bit scary.

Looks like we have no hot water for a few days. I guess we'll take our showers in the travel trailer until we get a new unit. This old one has had it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yarborough's Ice Cream with my buddy Caden

We sneaked away from the older two boys, who were at a scouts meeting, and grabbed some ice cream with mommy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Ninja by Joe Jon!
Ninja, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
He sleeked down the hallway, swiftly but silently bounced through the laundry room, and, before I knew it, he was upon me in the office. Caden, the ninja. With help from the folks at Enter the Ninja.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Caden has Chicken Pox!

Caden has Chicken Pox! by Joe Jon!
Caden has Chicken Pox!, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

A bummer for our little guy. We started seeing the bumps on Wednesday evening. It caused us to cancel Plan's B and C for the holiday weekend after our hopes to travel to the mountains for a long weekend were crushed. But, we've been having a little "staycation" and have enjoyed our family time at home!

Don't Scratch, Little Buddy!

Don't Scratch, Little Buddy! by Joe Jon!
Don't Scratch, Little Buddy!, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

It's hard for a 5-year old not to scratch that oppressive itch!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bag of (Free) Candy

Bag of (Free) Candy by Joe Jon!
Bag of (Free) Candy, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Stacie's mastery of "couponing" has gotten to the point that I don't even realize the kind of deals she is getting. It seems all sorts of foods we didn't see much BC (Before Couponing) are always popping up because she got them for free or for next to nothing. Take this bag of candy bars, etc. This bag (along with a dozen or so already eaten the last 2-3 weeks) cost her a grand total of $0.00.

She is feeding our family at the rate of ten cents on the dollar at this point, and it has made a huge difference for the family budget. She is amazing.

Disclaimer: No, dear friends, she is not just feeding us junk food.We eat healthy and nutritious meals, for the most part, but enjoy pizza, hot dogs, burgers, etc. too, throughout the month.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gabe Headed to Boy Scout Camp

Gabe is all packed up and ready to go to his second Boy Scout summer camp. Six nights of fun and adventure at Camp Raven Knob with his friends from Troop 942. As you can see, he has his foot locker, sleeping bag, and plenty of water and Gatorade for what appears to be a hot week coming up for the boys. We'll be missing Gabe, but hoping he has a great time and earns another 2-3 badges toward his Eagle Scout rank. We'll go up Wednesday afternoon to see how he's doing, so we'll see him in a few days.

Boy Scout Troop 942, Sanford, NC

Loaded up and ready for a week of summer camp!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Pretty funny video of two photographers/videographers who got stuck in the DFW airport and decided to do something fun with their time. I'm hoping that as my three boys get a bit older they'll want to do some fun things like this with me.

Read an interview about it all here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Caden & Blackberries

Caden & Blackberries by Joe Jon!
Caden & Blackberries, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Along the wood line by our home we have a good number of Blackberry bushes. The boys find them to be a nice treat. Caden gathered about twice this many this afternoon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gabe's Hair Cut from Dad

Gabe's Hair Cut from Dad by Joe Jon!
Gabe's Hair Cut from Dad, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Before (right) and after (left). The Wahl clippers are officially paid for with Gabe finally relenting and letting me cut his hair. I was even able to layer it up a bit. He is pretty stoked. We cut it while his mom was out, and she came home and was pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saving Money

Caden - Mohawk 2Ethan's Hair CutCaden - Mohawk 1

BP060811, a set on Flickr. Click each pic to enlarge!
Stacie had what we believe is a record in coupon savings the other night when she paid $13 for a whopping $118 in groceries. Her skills in the mastery of "couponing" are growing like a young Padawan evolving into a Jedi Knight.

Speaking of people who wield light sabers - our recent purchase of a Wahl hair clipper is saving us some bucks, too. As you can see by the photos I cut Caden's hair with the #2 guard, leaving his Mohawk untouched, much like a Jedi carving in to a platoon of Storm Troopers. His Mohawk is growing to be pretty long!

I also cut Ethan's hair for the first time using the #8 guard on top and #6 guard on the sides and back. I also trimmed it up with scissors and a comb. "Dad ain't bad!" is the word so far.

Gabe, whose hair is about as thick as a bamboo jungle in East Asia, won't let me touch him. And Stacie's beautiful hair requires the mastery of someone far more proficient than what my humble clipper skills can offer.

So, with these initial cuts we've already paid for half of what it cost for the clippers. 2-3 more cuts and I'll be able to save we saved a few more bucks.

In other news - Gabe and Ethan are taking their End of Grade testing in the homeschool today and tomorrow. They are looking forward to a bit of a break. But we'll be cranking up the homeschool a little earlier this summer while moving toward a more year-round calendar. Caden will officially be in Kindergarten this summer. He has been doing well in his preschool level work, and enjoyed the most recent Homeschool Co-Op group while learning about Dr. Seuss and his array of books. We hope to do some fun, easy-at-home type of science experiments this summer. We're also looking forward to some vacations coming up in September and October.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random Pic for 6/7/11 Ethan & Caden

Waiting outside of JC Penney while mommy shops.

I added a bunch of pics on Flickr including random shots of Gabe's first basketball tournament a few weeks ago (see how tall he is compared to other teams!), Caden break dancing in the street, our 11-year old chocolate Lab and our 15-year old yellow Lab, a huge hawk behind our house, Ethan's horse riding lesson, among others. Click the Flickr badge to the left (below the Twitter badge) and enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Busy, But Not Completely Absent

Life is a whirlwind. I actually have a ton I could be posting about here, I'm sure, but I have sort of been going with the "micro" theme in terms of my use of social media. If you follow my Twitter feed you can get a small glimpse of what's up, such as Gabe's recent USSSA basketball game, which I consider his "breakout" game against one of the best teams in the state. He totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds (his first double-double) along with 5 or 6 blocks. He is probably the equivalent of a 7'0" center out there as a 6'1" 11-year old. He was very aggressive today, and it showed in his performance. So, instead of writing up huge blog posts about it I "tweeted" a few "tweets" while Gabe was playing.

I also have been trying to get more active posting pictures on Flickr, mostly with my cell phone. Stacie and I are horrible about taking pictures of the kids. We should do it more often. So, we're going to try a bit harder in the coming seasons to be more active there.

You can catch the action via the links to the left of the page. There you will see both my Twitter feed and my Flickr feed. You can actually "subscribe" to the Twitter feed and get updates via your cell phone. If you're really that deep in to what is up in the family, that is.

I am hoping things will slow down some, but I don't imagine that happening in the next 15-years as the boys get involved in more and more activities. I guess I just need to settle in and hold on for the long haul!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Black Snake of the Year

Today was a great day for snake hunting. It had been dreary the last day or two, so I knew that when the sun popped out, so would the snakes. My oldest two boys and I headed for the fields behind our home looking for anything fun along the way. We scanned the edges of a small pond and worked our way through some thick brush. Finally I headed straight for a big stump near the pond in a clearing in the field. Bingo. This nearly five-footer was sunning on the edge of the stump. He was an easy catch.

Black Snake 2

Black Snake 2 by Joe Jon!
Black Snake 2, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

When I first caught him he had a good grip on my arm. I don't think he has fed yet this spring as he looked pretty thin. Hopefully he'll catch some mice and yard moles behind our house and keep the rodent population down. I walked the several hundred yards back to our home and set him loose on the edge of our back yard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Mohawk

Mohawk 3 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 3, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
He posed the question concerning a mohawk hair cut only a few weeks ago and his mother and I laughed it off with a simply stated, "No."

But you don't know the persistence of Caden, our 5-year old, third shift, breakdancing, ninja.

Um, long story there. Nevermind that.

So, he persisted. And persisted.

We hemmed. We hawed.

We relented.

And here he is in all of his mohawky glory. Yes, he does look a tad like David Beckham, doesn't he?

The boy named man. I can't wait 'til the folks at church see it on Sunday.

Mohawk 2

Mohawk by Joe Jon!
Mohawk, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Front view of the mohawk. He is loving it. See how happy he is? Big smiles from a little goober.

Mohawk 3

Mohawk 2 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 2, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Side view of the mohawk. He's bad.

Mohawk 4

Mohawk 4 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 4, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Later in the evening after he had rubbed the gel out. Almost looks normal. Where's the gel?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Series of Posts on the US 421 Bypass Behind our Home - Part 1

No one has ever mistaken me for an environmental extremist or, as they say, a “tree hugger.” I do not lament the good use of what God has given us to help us along in this life. But I also understand well that God has placed us humans on this earth to care for His creation. So, whenever I see something that is wasteful when it comes to natural resources, I pity it.

The destruction of the forest behind our home for the extension of US Highway 421 Bypass around downtown Sanford, NC, may or may not be an example of such a waste. When we moved here nearly four years ago we purchased our home knowing all too well that there would be a highway built behind it at some point. Frankly, the bypass is probably needed, or at least wanted by those who consistently get snarled through the business portion of 421, and we use the current portion of it often to skip the traffic lights that cause us to crawl through town. So, no tears are being shed for the necessity of the road, nor for a lack of knowledge. We weren’t overcome by the news like some of our neighbors who were here beforehand and learned of it without being able to do anything about it. We were able to purchase our home for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20% less than the previous owner had wanted as a result of the highway (plus a considerable amount of fixer-upper quality the home held). And we love our house. More than twice as big as our former home in Winston-Salem for only a little more with a large playroom, a fourth bedroom we turned into the homeschool room, an extra full bathroom, and an office. It was a poor man’s dream.

We also felt that the highway was a few more years out and that we actually might be leaving Sanford within a few years, allowing us to completely miss it. But the government stimulus package from last year enabled the project to be moved up, and here we are, huge machines working already with a completion date just a year or two away.

Even though we knew it was inevitable, we are still quite bummed about it. The next ten posts will tell you why.

Scroll down and follow along.

Before its Time - Part 2 of the Series

9 by Joe Jon!
9, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
In the fall of 2010 we read in the local paper that the stimulus funds had been approved and the completion of the bypass would begin in late March or early April. A couple of months ago we started seeing pick-up trucks with surveyors and soil testers out and around the fields near our home and figured it had all begun. Just a few days ago the carnage began with several large vehicles and dozers moving earth and wood, and trees started to fall. This one was among the smaller trees, but had many years on it. It looks to be much older than I am, judging by the rings.

Stacks of Misery - Part 3 of the Series

8 by Joe Jon!
8, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

The tree was one of many that were already stacked in a pile that would triple in size over the next couple of days. Except for the time it took to drag them to the stacking area most of the trees were cut, stripped of their limbs, and stacked in a matter of seconds by the huge machines.

They Begin at 6:30 AM Each Day - Part 4 of the Series

7 by Joe Jon!
7, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

It was actually pretty interesting to watch them working, despite how objectionable the task at hand was to us. They were very efficient in their work. We took our dogs over to the machines so that they would be much less nervous the next day than they were the first day the monstrous machines came to work so close to their dog lot.

A Child's Dream - Part 5 of the Series

6 by Joe Jon!
6, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Only a small lad at five years old, Caden was awestruck by everything that was going on. Who could blame him? The machines were enormous and the path of destruction appealing to a boy bent on taking in as much as he can. He really wanted to drive them.