First, please understand something:  This post is going to make it look like our lives are just full of travel and wonderment and rainbows (there's more than one picture of a rainbow) and sunshine and play and unlimited spending and absolutely nothing difficult.  It is not my intent to blur or distort the reality of our lives that way.  The truth is, 2015 has been one of the most challenging, confusing, upheaval-filled, painful and regret-possible years of either Elyse's or my lives.  There is some merit to sharing those things, but the hard truth is that people get off on reading about hardship and drama endured by others.  I don't want to add to that.  I want to, as George Lucas said before the first Star Wars movie was released in the late 70's (to a culture obsessed with gritty violence and heartbreak) ,"Give them adventure and hope.  People need that. People would like to watch that."  So, instead of taking the gratification of dragging you through some of the gutters we've crawled through this year, I'm going to give you the "hope & adventure" version.  The stuff we choose to hold on to.  My hope is that you will be inspired to do more and do better with your short life, as our struggles have inspired us to do.
 

Ok, here's the most simple answer for why I haven't blogged since June:

It was summer.  I was busy all summer.


STOP.

From what my site's analytics tell me, most of you are here for one thing:

What you all come here to see.

So, for those of you in the majority, scroll past the words until you get to pictures.  They'll be in order of what we've been up to since June until today.


I could tell you about how I was busy with work, I guess.

This is just a rundown off the top of my tired head:  I built out 4 new responsive sites, took on 4 really good new clients (including a multinational), fired 2 really bad ones, developed some new programs with some non-profits, and continued to work 40hrs a week on the family business while working up to 20hrs/week on the rest.  Working 50-60 hours a week leaves you with little recreation time, and absolutely no down time.  But, there's not a whole lot wrong with that, as long as you are doing what you love and keeping your priorities on the right things.  I did not work those hours to "make more money" for the sake of money, but for freedom.  Freedom to use the recreation time to it's fullest.  Freedom to rest when not working.  Future freedom for my kids to choose their own path.

The truth is, we have been ACTIVE.

From the moment we got home from our big road trip, until the moments before I wrote this, we have been doing one of these things:

  • Working 
  • Exploring (>6,000 mi in exploration/family travel since June)
  • Hosting at our home (>30 house guests this summer)
  • Playing together and with friends

I honestly cannot remember the last time that I thought, "What should we do this evening?"  We've kept ourselves so active, that's not been a discussion.

However, namely because of some work changes, I no longer feel like I am behind either.

What deserves priority, we now give priority.  No exceptions for anyone/thing.  No fear of anyone/thing.  No apologies.

Life is AMAZING when you live without fear of people.


Ok, so, for those of you who are really only here for the pictures of what we've been up to and of the kids and Elyse...here you go.

The day after we got home, we ran to the closest mountains.  This WindowsXP desktop background looking pic was taken 20 min from our house.

Montana could keep you busy exploring it for the rest of our life.

Tap the pictures to enlarge them or read descriptions.

Beehive Basin - an epic camping location.

I got to schedule in weekly one-on-one time with each kid, which is time that I will treasure forever and will not give up for anything.

Hannah prefers coffee shops for daddy-daughter dates.

Hannah prefers coffee shops for daddy-daughter dates.

Ewan prefers quiet places with adults and a masculine look.

Ewan prefers quiet places with adults and a masculine look.

Thanks to some awesome kid-watching by Scott & Bri, I got to take Elyse camping for our 5th Anniversary.  This happened:

As I mentioned, we had a lot of company visiting over the summer.  Some, we got to take on adventures...

We hung out with friends for the 4th of July.  Come to MT for that holiday - it's special here.

'Murica!

'Murica!

In late June/early July, I started running every night and working out while at my desk to get ready for hunting season.  Armed with the knowledge that every pound I lost meant a pound I didn't have to carry into the backcountry this fall, I lost 24lbs between June 28th and August 28th.  The scenery helped.

The fires made for great sunsets on my evening runs, but I've had a cough ever since.

The fires made for great sunsets on my evening runs, but I've had a cough ever since.

What the picture of MT's Big Sky doesn't show is that I had just spent 20 minutes running without cover from the rain & hail.  I looked as stupid as I felt.

What the picture of MT's Big Sky doesn't show is that I had just spent 20 minutes running without cover from the rain & hail.  I looked as stupid as I felt.

Speaking of hunting season, that took a lot of preparation as well.

We took a trip to South Dakota to help my folks with the Lodge that they use for Fellowship Adventures.

I had the opportunity to teach a Wilderness Survival class for FBC's Legacy Project.

This kid built a fortress.

This kid built a fortress.

We had a great hops harvest and I'm working on some fun beer right now.

Being here in Bozeman meant that we could go things like the Full Draw Film Tour.  

Ewan loves hunting films.

Ewan loves hunting films.

The foxy one turned 30 this summer.

We almost needed a fire extinguisher...

We almost needed a fire extinguisher...

For Elyse's birthday, we made a quick trip to one of our favorite places to visit and to see some of our favorite people: Seattle & the Philips family.  

It was also my first "official" vacation time in nearly 4 years.  Typically, on a trip, I'm at the beckon call of work during the day and work until the early AM hours at the hotel, tent, or home during the night.  This time, Elyse had one request, "NO. WORK. PLEASE."  The family business and clients were gracious enough to give us that, and it was amazing to recharge with the phone off.

We hung out in Tacoma with our great friends; enjoying the beaches, islands, conversation, and really really good food.  We wrapped up the trip with our first visit to Olympic National Park - the most diverse park in (dare I say it) the world.  If you have never been there, start making plans to go.

So, that's it.  That's what we've been up to.  The coming weeks will include more hunting as we're serious about filling our freezer to keep up with the kids and we also have a few big projects we're working on that I'll reveal at a later date.  I've settled into something of a groove with work, and it's meant that Elyse and I can make better plans with greater certainty together.  
 

  • This week, Elyse starts teaching Cubbies for AWANA at FBC.  If you have kids in the Bozeman area, you should bring them her way on Wednesdays.  
  • We're also doing a study at our house together on C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" that you are more than welcome to attend on Thursday nights.  
  • We're taking Spanish together so that we can start teaching our kids (because adapting to change in the world is better than headbutting it... like a certain kind of stubborn farm animal) and prepare them better for a multilingual future.
  • I'm taking music theory, as well as updating my Java & taking a few more design classes to help with work.  Not so much the music for work, because you will never catch me writing a jingle.  Jingles are marketing's cruelest gift to the world.
  • Ewan and Hannah start school this year.  They really want to read and know more about "the numbers."
  • Elyse is joining a few women's clubs/classes in the BZN area with some good friends.
  • I'm building a smoker so that we can preserve more of the meat we harvest for more uses than just burger.

And that's it.  Until next time...

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