Two of our three kids have already started school. Those two are Gabe and Owen who will be in separate schools for the first time in 8 years. That breakup with them also means all three will be in different schools for the first time. Ever.
The kids being gone inevitably means that we will have less time with them. They will have less time with each other. School will take up a huge portion of the weekday. Sports and after school activities will fight to absorb its fair portion. Social activities, including even dating in the near future (gasp! ugh), will soon become the black hole of their time.
The reduction of time together may mean the reduction of influence or the increase of influence by others. As I reflected on this, I became proud of who each child is as a person, not just my child. I know this needs to be protected and explicitly called out. For me, it is not worth being subtle with something so critical. The world will enhance their values and character. The world will also test them and test who they are.
With that, I sent them the following before the school year kicked off:
AGO [Avery, Gabe, and Owen] – as the school year approaches, mom and I have less time with you. It means we may also have less influence… or that other people have more influence. We have raised you to know who you are and what you stand for. That can be tested by others who want to influence you.
This makes me think about Anne Frank and how she stood for her ideals.
“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart…I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals.”
In the darkest of humanity, Anne (who is around your ages) still believed in her ideals. I hope we have given you the guidance such that you have built the strength to hold onto yours and our family’s.
Love you all!
It’s not lost on me that Anne Frank was around the same age as our children when she wrote these words. These are words from a peer who dealt with the worst and was able to hold up her ideals – many of which stemmed from her family, her upbringing, and the inner beauty of someone leaving childhood headed to being a young adult.
Perhaps that’s why I was reminded of Anne Frank when contemplating the upcoming school year and its changes…
We have a debt to those before us and an obligation to those that come after us. We maximize life and potential through heart, intelligence, and grit. We focus on our bond. We do all of this together because we are always stronger together. Mostest.
— Porter Family Mission Statement
In August 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to crew and pace a friend in the Leadville Trail 100 Run. It was a life changing experience, and one I previously wrote about with a commitment to return to Leadville in one manner or another. For those who want the short version, this is a 100 mile race on trails starting in Leadville, Colorado at 10,200 ft above sea level with climbs up mountains to 12,600 ft. A racer must complete the 100 miles within 30 hours.
On December 1, 2015, the Leadville race lottery opened up, and I entered to return to Leadville in August 2016 as a racer. Fate was not kind and returned a “thanks, but no thanks” a few weeks later. It also returned an opportunity to attend Leadville Race Camp with an optional guaranteed spot in the race.
It was an opportunity I took. It gave me dedicated time in Leadville 6 weeks before the race and an opportunity to run every section of the course. It also gave me a coveted spot in the race for 2016 or 2017. I opted for 2016, and training began nearly immediately.
So, we will maximize life and potential through heart, intelligence, and grit.
Fast forward to the morning of August 20, 2016, I was in Leadville surrounded by my crew:
My wife – Courtney
The day did not end as I had hoped. Regardless, it does not take away any of the effort by my crew or the support of my family and friends, especially Courtney and kids.
Somewhere around miles 8-10, the hamstring insertion point around my right knee started to bother me. The joint was fine, but the hamstring failed to lift and fire as it should. This occasionally caused a little bit of drag of my right toes and slowed me down.
Fast forward to ~40 miles, I left Twin Lakes and 10 miles later came into Winfield (the midway point) slower than I had planned after crossing Hope Pass which is the highest point of the race at 12,620 ft above sea level. Corky informed me that I needed to negative split the return. I had to get back to Twin Lakes faster than I had previously just done the section. Coming back is more technical and harder. Thankfully, I could now run with a pacer who could also carry all my gear, including food and water.
Jeffrey became my first pacer at this time. We flew into Twin Lakes. We passed dozens of runners climbing UP to Hope Pass (12600′ ft elevation). IIR, it took less than 2 hours. On the way down, we had to go fast. I was clearly favoring my left leg by this time.
Unfortunately, I tripped twice starting around mile 55. This was due to the drag of my right foot. At this point, I believe I pulled the muscles on my left lower back. We still completed the negative split, and I made cutoff! This remains my proudest performance in the race.
It was time for Corky to pace me – from Twin Lakes to Outward Bound. We made amazing time. My left lower back was beginning to become an issue. I was moving with a motion where I was twisting like being pulled left and back even when moving forward.
Noah took the following section – Outward Bound to May Queen. Despite the huge climb, I had enough time banked we could do these 11 in 24 minute miles. This would have been relatively easy in a healthy state. As we climbed Powerline, it became clear my back was done. The 90 degree lean and navigating on my trekking poles became a permanent fixture for the remainder of the race.
I ran for the next 3.5 hours hunched over at 90 degrees. I used my trekking poles to make sure I didn’t fall and to help continue to move forward. It was impossible to stand upright.. The pain of both pulled back muscles wrapped around to my obliques and abs. I stayed this way until it became clear that we would not make cutoff. I would have continued to be full 100 if I had time and would have been able made cutoffs. Yet, it was not fair to my pacer and my crew.
I ran ~86+ miles with most of the last 20 in severe pain and barely being able to stand. My crew had to carry me into the medical tent after I pulled out of the race.
At every step, the crew was there helping me. Hell, they were still helping as my race was over and I struggled to move around. When I said I was doing Leadville, they jumped and offered to help. Two of the crew members were with me rather than celebrating wedding with their respective wives.
This was difficult for me to have people help. I don’t like getting people’s help. It’s not my ego. It’s not because I consider myself better than them. It’s solely because I never want someone thinking I want something from them EXCEPT for the friendship itself.
As I reflect back on that day two weeks later, I barely recognize myself from the actions and from the pictures in some ways. Yet, I think about our family’s mission statement as my desire to run Leadville stemmed from my prior experience and the mission statement.
I didn’t start running until March 2010. While I could not cover the 100 miles, my hope is that someone is inspired to achieve what many consider impossible. I hope I honored the obligation to those around me and those that come after us.
I hope my kids, my wife, and my friends see that I honored the commitment to maximize life. I gave my heart and did it with grit. Even when it hurt and I (literally and figuratively) fell down, I still got back up. All of us did it together because I can attest that I was stronger because of them, their selfless help, and our bond.
When it was time for dinner, Courtney and I sit with our kids and want to know how each of their days was. Sometimes, a child would just utter “Fine”, “ok”, etc. and want to move on. Other times, a child would be so excited that others wouldn’t have a chance to share their day. This was completely non-conversational and awkward!
A few months ago, we started structuring the conversation and came down to five (kinda, six) questions.
These are the questions:
- How was your day?
- What was your favorite thing that happened today? What was your least favorite?
- Who did you have lunch with today?
- Who did you play with at recess today?
- What is one thing you learned today?
Everyone participates, including Courtney, me, and any guest. Each person must answer every question and then gets to pick who goes next. By having the current person randomly pick the next, it helps ensure everyone is paying attention and not mentally preparing for his/her turn if he/she already knew they were next.
A number of family and friends know this story already. It’s time to write it down for posterity’s sake and because I hope Avery will read it one day.
As many people know and talked about in a previous post, I have lost a bit of weight the past 2 years (from 199 lb to 148-150 lb on a 5’9″ medium frame), started running (A LOT!), and maintained a healthy lifestyle, which does include partaking in craft beer. The story is how I got here, why I love children’s honesty truth and view of the world, and how my children inspire me almost every day.
Two years ago, Courtney shared a story with Avery about the days before Courtney and I took our nuptials. She probably even shared the chaos regarding transportation cancellations at the last minute and my flustered commander style in the church during rehearsal dinner. The part that stuck in Avery’s mind was about Courtney spending the night before our wedding back in her old bed in her parents’ house and how grandpa picked up donuts for breakfast with the entire family.
This story warmed Avery’s heart. She loved hearing about this bond between her mom and her grandpa. Even at a young age, she recognized this as special and could see herself in the future as (I have learned) girls imagine their weddings.
As I was tucking Avery into bed that night, she asked me a simple question. “Can I come home and stay with you like mommy did with papaw?” I smiled enthusiastically and replied, “Of course you can. You are always welcome to stay with us and to come home. We are your family and will always be here for you!” Avery then smiled in the way that little girls do that leave a father’s heart no choice but to melt.
Her next statement is where the practical, logical, and goal driven attributes of her shine. She now had agreement on her future to realize her vision. She instantly saw a challenge to her plan – my health. Her next and final statement was “Are you sure you are going to make it? You have a lot of squishy.” as she poked my belly and smiled.
The next morning, I got up for my first run. I only made in a quarter mile. In my heart, I began a commitment to her and her brothers that I am still honoring.
In November 2006, we purchased a high definition Panasonic 42″ plasma television for our family room. Our crappy 22 inch TV was developing dark spots and fading. Courtney wanted a panel television due to the odd layout of our family room. I am far from a videophile or audiophile – hell, I can not even tell you if the system is 720 progressive, 720 interlace, 1020, whatever. For me, I just want a decent picture and TiVo.
We were on of the early adopters of TiVo, having purchased our Series 1 Standalone unit in March 1999. (For reference on the time, I also picked up our first DVD player and the recently released copy of an Oscar-forgotten story detailing a young man overcoming his mental capacity obstacles.) I remember the day I brought the TiVo home. Courtney asked me point blank “Are you insane? This is the dumbest contraption I have ever heard of.” These are words she would live to regret years later watching the promiscuous life details of doctors (here, here, here). We later upgraded to a DirecTiVo and chose DirecTV solely on the TiVo feature. To put it simply, we love our TiVo.
Yet, it was the plasma television purchase led us into the slow slide of ending our 9+ year love affair with TiVo. When the television was first hooked up, the standard definition channels look pixelated but livable. It was better than the black spots and the TV just looked damn sexy. Last week is when everything changed.
On Friday, we began to hear the dreaded hard drive clicking sound. Every geek in the world knows this is not a healthy sign. Furthermore, the click was accompanied with random pauses of 2 to 40 seconds. The pauses were occurring every few seconds. It would take 2 hours to watch a 1 hour show. When I called DirecTV to replace the unit under my protection plan, I was nicely informed that they would be happy to send out a DirecTV-brand DVR. I told them I did not want this. I wanted a TiVo, my old buddy and companion for the past 9 years. The agent’s unauthorized recommendation – eBay. I was pissed as why I have a protection plan where the replacement is inferior. A bald-headed, wack job would call these stages “Shock, denial, and anger”.
Finally, I succumbed to the reality (resolution stage). If I had to get a DirecTV-brand DVR, it was time to upgrade to HD. The technician was out yesterday to perform the installation which was pretty painless despite the obtrusive satellite receiver. The damn thing looks like it could radiate a bald eagle from a hundred yards. I do have to admit that the picture is beautiful. The TV is now displaying image quality for which it was designed. The DVR is clanky and leaves a stark testament to the TiVo UI designers who built a better interface over a decade ago.
The only downside is that some people are not meant to be seen in high def.
SNL did a skit about Maraka and her pet “Mittens”. As a parent who is forced to watch Dora repeatedly and wants that damn fox to steal Dora’s map, this made me laugh until I cried:
It’s a relatively sad day for the Porter family. We have been searching for Ike since January 7th but are losing hope. It started when I let him out early that morning. Since then, Saint Louis has been plagued with exceptionally cold weather. Almost every night, Avery expresses her concerns and tells us how much she misses and loves Ike. It absolutely breaks our hearts.
Personally, I am beginning to believe someone has him and is keeping him. Our flyers and posters are “mysteriously” disappearing around the neighborhood.
Today marked a number of firsts for Christmas.Â It was Owen’s first Christmas ever.Â It was Gabe’s first Christmas where he understood what to do with presents.Â His patent move was to unleash the fists of fury with wrapping paper being thrown over both shoulders.
For Avery, it was the first Christmas where she understood who Santa Claus is and that she gets presents.Â She had prepared the entire family for what she wanted – a robe and Baby Alive.
It was a great time for us and our family.Â Pictures are slowly being uploaded to the gallery.Â Enjoy and Merry Christmas.
I love Saturdays. Saturdays are my time to take a step back and realize what really is important in life. Saturday is the day Courtney heads to work, and I have all three kids from 8 am to 6 pm. Yes, ten hours of (usually) no “work” work. This is my personal private time with the children besides “Little Gym” time.
Today was one of those great Saturdays. Avery and Gabe played hard and had minimal television time. They did take a break to watch The Land Before Time despite Gabe having jammed peanut butter crackers in the VCR.
What about Owen? Well, his first tooth came in last night. It’s hard to believe that we will be celebrating his 6-month birthday on Monday.