Sunday, February 10, 2013

Surely You Jest(er) About all the Disc Golf Stuff!

Two weeks ago marked a year since my first (PDGA sanctioned) disc golf tournament, so to celebrate I played in the very same tourney I played in a year ago!  On the up side, I improved my score compared to last year, but ended up placing about the same.  I went into the tourney thinking I would be able to perform significantly better than I did, and left feeling a bit humbled, and ultimately realizing that if I focus on results and not on enjoying the game, things don't work out so well.  When I first started playing in events like an Ace Race and a CTP event (see previous entries), I was excited to play and for the success I was stumbling into...  I had intended to record my experiences from each event and report them here.  However, it is pretty apparent that I have failed to make these intentions a reality (yes, yes, as the old saying goes: intentions pave the road to hell).  So, instead I'll give a timeline report on my various disc golf adventures:
  • Surely You Jester (March 31, 2012 -7th Place (of 12))
  • Northside Christian Church 21 (April 21, 2012 - 7th Place (of 9)) - Played while sick with the flu, thought I had shaken it, turns out heat and exertion taught me otherwise!
  • Higher Power Open III (May 5, 2012 - T-9th Place (of 16)) - My second round score was the best score for that round in my division!
  • Jack Brooks 2.0 (July 7, 2012 - 10th Place (of 11)) - Possibly one of my worst tourneys to date, felt off the whole day.
  • Thomas Bertrand Memorial VI at Klein Park (July 28, 2012 - T-16th (of 26)) - Longest I traveled for a tourney, almost 100 miles.  
  • Spring Valley Spectacular VI (September 8, 2012 - 5th (of 12)) - First tourney I finished in the top half of the field, and thus received payout to use at the disc golf store!  Also, the most expensive disc golf tourney to date as I got a severe case of poison ivy and had to see a doctor to get treatment.
  • Return to Never Never Land (October 13, 2012 - 4th (of 14)) - The only three to beat me play this course all the time, so I felt pretty good about staying up with them!
  • Greater Houston Disc Golf Championship at Windwood (October 27, 2012 - 8th (of 14)) - I was in 3rd place after the first round, but some costly mistakes allowed me to slip 5 places and just miss a payout.
  • Double Barrel Brooks Finale II (November 3, 2012 - 5th (of 19)) - One of my best finishes of the 2012 season, and a whole lot of fun.  By this point I had been playing enough in the Houston area that I know a lot of the people I played with and that makes the day that much more fun!
  • Surely You Jester Too (January 5, 2013 - 2nd (of 11)) - I was 4th going into the second round and had a hot round to jump to second.  I had a relatively terrible first round, and thought about leaving before the second round, but that is just not into my nature to give into such feelings.  However the day was challenging as it was pouring rain the first round and I was wearing the wrong sweatshirt and shoes, I was wet and miserable.  But with a change of both for the second round, I had one of the most enjoyable rounds to date and one of my best finishes!
  • Sugarland Showdown II (January 26, 2013 - 16th (of 24)) - Positive side of this tourney was that I got a disc as part of playing, so I didn't go home empty handed.  On the other side, I played terrible, and not only that but multiple shots that should have easily gone in the basket jumped out, so not only was my playing off, but luck was against me as well.  It was a fun day, but humbling as well as I had been progressing so nicely.
  • Busch and Miller at Brooks (February 9, 2013 - 1st (of 15)) - FIRST PLACE!!! Woo!!  After shooting a quadruple bogey on my fifth hole of the day, I didn't think it was going to be a great round, but I relaxed and had fun, and did not worry about my overall score, just each hole.  I ended up in 3rd place after the first round, 1 stroke out of 2nd and 5 strokes out of first.  The second round was on a different course, but I had a great round and gained back the 5 strokes on the leader.  We had to play a playoff for the tie breaker and I won on the first hole.  I met some new people and had fun with those I already knew.  It was a very fun day and my first win at a sanctioned PDGA tourney! (The Saturday before I played a one round mini tournament at the same course as the second round and also took first place, against a very different field.
Competing in the manner has been a blast!  I have met new people and am involved in community activities outside of church and school activities.  By far, the most significant and joyful disc golf event of the year was the Discraft Ace Race Against Cancer event Ashley and I organized and ran in Utah over the Summer.  We raised money for a friend of Ashley's who is fighting cancer.  It was wonderful to see members of the community come together to support a great cause and also to introduce many people to the game.  This was a brief rundown of the official events this year, but to come is the story of my first ace at the year end doubles tourney.  Thanks for reading, see you next time!

Friday, September 28, 2012

14 inches

When I was 5 or 6 year old my m om cut my long black hair off.  People couldn't believe she would cut off my beautiful long hair!  She got so much flack about it that she never cut my hair short again.  It wasn't until I was a Senior in high school that I decided to cut it off and donate it to Locks of Love. I donated the minimum of 9 inches that time.  I grew it out again.  When I got home from my mission I donated it again to locks of love. 

That was 3 years ago.  My hair has gotten REALLY long.  It's pretty, but I had gotten sick of braids and ponytails because even those got in the way and bothered me in the humidity.  Most of the summer my hair has been in a bun at the nape of my neck.  Talk about nun style.  I have been waiting for it to cook off a little bit so I could cut it off again. 

I finally did it Wednesday night!!!  My hair was  longer than it has ever been.  We cut 14 inches off to donate and it still is just above my shoulders!  I love my new hair cut.  It is similar to my cuts in the past, but it is easy and fun.

 I may be going back in a couple of weeks to add subtle auburn highlights.....eeeek!  I have virgin hair and highlights kind of freak me out.  But they look so good.  I'm debating.  Let me know what you think.  My beautician, who thinks I should definitely do it, kept reminding me, "It's always reversible if you hate it!"

Here are the before and after pictures:

Brown w/ Auburn Highlights 
This is what I mean by Auburn highlights...

just so you're not picturing this:
Black Hair with Auburn highlights

Friday, July 27, 2012

April Fools, Whose the Fool Now?

April 1, 2012

April Fool's day, turns out, is a very important day for me, but not for the reason you might think.  Many who know me, know I have a good (to great) sense of humor and like to play jokes on those I love and care about.  However, for some reason, April Fool's day has historically not been a day for me to indulge in playing those jokes.  Perhaps its for the same reason Friday the 13th is considered a good luck day to me.  Anyway, April 1 has a spiritual significance to me, it was the day I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Also, the first weekend of April every year is the annual General Conference of the Church (5 - 2 hour sessions of music and sermons by the leaders of the Church, including our Prophet), which is always a spiritual rejuvenation for me.  Needless to say (although I have already said it) April 1 is a special and important day for me. 

However, this post is about what happened on this April 1, a Sunday, and also the second day of General Conference.  Due to the improvement of technology over the last two decades, I can now watch General Conference from the comfort of my home instead of traveling to the nearby church.  So, Ashley and I were getting ready for the first session when I walked into the bathroom and saw IT.  That's right, a pregnancy test.  I have been studying reproduction since my Junior year at BYU, so I should be able to read a simple pregnancy test, but I didn't, looked at it and read it as "not pregnant".  This of course should get some laughs about how men never read the instructions.  But alas, I digress.  I asked Ashley about it and she said, "Is that what it says?"  She left it there, for about 10 minutes.  After finishing getting ready Ashley calls me over and says, I think this test is positive, and she showed me in the directions how to figure out it was indeed positive.  The second band was so faint, I was a little dubious.  But, seeing that this was one of those pivotal moments in life, how I would react to finding out I would become a father, well... I got excited.  True or not, it did not matter, what mattered was that Ashley believed it and I had to believe it and I had to make her believe that I believed it and that I was excited, ready and thrilled at the news.  Now, when you find out for the first time that you will be a parent, more especially a father, life gets more real than ever before and in that one instant the world rested on my shoulders.  The clock was ticking, less than nine months to put the final training on being a father!

General conference now takes on new meaning as I sit and watch and ponder on how I can better spiritually prepare (which includes temporal preparation as well) to be a father and a better husband.  Once General conference is over, and all this news weighs on me, Ashley has a brilliant idea.  Ashley wants to video tape our reactions to finding out we are pregnant, so that when it is time to share with family we can simply email the video out for all to see.  She gets the camera out ready to go, when I bring a grinding halt to the process.  "What is the vision you have for this video," I asked.  Ashley gave a quick answer about telling people the good news.  I kept asking questions about how we wanted to do it, what should we say, when do we reveal we are pregnant, I kept that discussion going at least 15 minutes.  Nothing is simple with me, well, not when it comes to story telling.  Finally we agree to a format, Ashley video tapes me, asks me how I feel about becoming a father, and more such questions.  Then comes the big question, Ashley asks, "How would you feel if I told you this was an April Fool's joke?"  BLANK STARE!  I am shocked, my mind is reeling, trying to get hold of sanity for a moment.  Then it hits me, this is really a joke.  I am instantly angry, I mean livid, and incredibly impressed for my wife's trickery.  Both feelings well up inside and linger for the rest of the day.  I tried to express both, but I think my anger won out, I told Ashley how I felt and especially how that last part with the video recording was the worst.  Give me a few hours and I would think it all so hilarious, but in the moment you can't help feel the semi-betrayal.  So, needless to say, the video no longer exists, Ashley felt so bad she deleted it.  It wouldn't have mattered because the sound didn't record anyway, so it was simply me being really animated, lots of smiles, then a heart stopping blank face, nothing.

In the end, it was hilarious!  I give major props to Ashley for one of the best April Fool's jokes ever played on me.  It was played out with poise and sneakiness I had no idea my wife had the capability of pulling off.  For those who like to know how this was pulled off, well part of General Conference there is a session for the men only on Saturday night, so Ashley went out with some friends whose husbands were also at the meeting.  One of them was pregnant.  You can figure out the rest from there. April Fools!  Whose the Fool Now? ME! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Birth Story

Most of you have heard about the unique photo opportunity that I had in March.  I decided to do a Birth Story for a couple here in the Houston area.  Birth Stories are a photo documentary that follows a couple from the moment the wife begins labor until after the baby is safely there and in the mother's arms.  Yes, this means that I photographed the actual delivery of the baby.

I was a little nervous, having never had a baby myself and having never been present for a live birth.  I contacted a photographer in New York that has done various Birth Stories and who I got the idea from. She was helpful and gave me lot's of advice.  One of which was to read AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about the birthing process, specifically natural births since these are most often the ones that want such an event documented.  I read and read, and asked mommies lots of questions.

I was lined up to do 2 different Birth Stories.  The first couple it didn't work out because it was an emergency situation but the second couple worked out perfectly.  The baby was 2 weeks late in coming but was a normal labor and delivery.  The couple let me know that she was having labor pains about 10 pm on March 27th.  They said they would call when they were headed to the hospital.

I could hardly sleep!  By 2:30 I was in my car headed to the hospital.  It was a long wait but even with the anticipation it went by fairly fast (that's what I say but if you ask the mother I'm sure she would have a whole other story!). 

By 2:13pm, the next afternoon, Baby Asher was born.  This was not my baby.  I was familiar with the couple but they weren't family.  Despite that, I was amazed at the overwhelming presence of the spirit in the room when that little one arrived.  I was in the background, behind my camera, holding back the tears.  Birth is such a miracle!  Our bodies can do amazing things.  I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who has given us this power to bring His children to earth.  *sigh*  It was such a neat experience.  I am thankful for the Paul family in being so open and willing to let me do this. 

I am excited to be doing another Birth Story in August.  I have not advertised for doing Birth Stories here in Houston (atleast not yet...), but I am doing one for a friend of mine her.  I am excited to experience it all again.  If you want to see more pictures click here

I am enjoying taking a "break" from my photography business and just trying new things and having fun with it all over again!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The BIG 3-0

The last few months have been incredibly busy for Ashley and I as we have had family in town, gone out of town, and embarked on a new chapter of our life together... no, we are not planning the arrival of a new member of our family.  I hope to share some of those experiences through the lens of my experience, but first the BIG 3-0!!!

Birthdays represent a jumbled bad of emotions, for some it invokes fear, the fear of aging while for others it represents hope, hope for the future, for progression, for a better life.  Whatever you may feel about birthdays, I hope that it is a day that you can feel special and appreciated.  My birthday did invoke feelings, feelings of gratitude as I felt an outpouring of love and caring by those closest to me, both near and far.  But what this birthday really showed me more than anything else is that the woman I married is absolutely incredible, amazing, and loves me, probably more than I love myself!

To start, Ashley planned a spectacular surprise birthday party for me.  Which stayed a secret right up until the day of the party when I used my deductive powers to figure out what was going on.  That being said, I was pretty impressed with the powers of deception, I mean misdirection, that Ashley employed to prepare for the party right beneath my nose!  She basically baked the entire cake with me in the same room as her and I had no idea it was for me!  Ashley told me it was for the Relief Society's birthday activity at church, which was indeed the same day as my surprise birthday party.  Sneaky I tell you. 

Aside from the incredible effort to plan a surprise birthday party and invite all the guests, the execution of the party blew me away!  First off, Ashley arranged to have my party at Dave and Busters.  For those unfamiliar with the franchise, it is a restaurant and an ARCADE!  Ashley knows how much I loved going to arcades growing up and nailed it when she set up my BIG 3-0 party at the arcade!  It was good friends, good food, and good times.  As my former bishop, Bishop Klein used to say its a DBRU day. (Dead Bloated Rhino Underfoot... just imagine you are a vulture flying around with your pals when you scout out a dead bloated rhino underfoot... there you are enjoying nice weather, with good food and good friends... not too much better than that.)  The part that truly blew me away was the cake!  I mean look at that thing!  Spider-man saving the day in the Big Apple and taking the time to celebrate my birthday!  One of the most awesome birthday cakes ever!

If this was where my birthday celebration ended, it would have been memorable... but it became even more memorable!  On my birthday Ashley blew up tons of balloons in which she had put little love messages in so that I would have to pop them to get them out.  I had a blast doing that over the next week or so... stomping, stabbing some, accidentally moving objects into them, and probably my favorite was flying my RC helicopter Phil got me into them to pop them... a lot harder than you would think!  And then came my birthday gift from Ashley... disc golf shoes!  If you had no idea that actual disc golf shoes exist, they do... check them out here.  (My actual shoes are no longer produced, but you can get the idea.)  I was so ecstatic!  I have been using them for three months now and they have kept my feet dry and give great grip! 

And my birthday did not end there... perhaps the older we get the longer we extend the celebrations... if I make it to 100 I'm pretty sure I'm going to celebrate every day as if it my birthday! Anyhow, Ashley and I traveled to San Antonio to visit Mark Schwendiman and his family for Mark's BIG 3-0 just 17 days after mine.  We tried to just show up and surprise him, but in the end he knew we were coming.  Mark got a lot of board games for his birthday and his family also got me a great game too!  So, it was the weekend of games!  We had a lot of fun and celebrated my birthday once again with the Schwendimans. 

In closing, I am so grateful to those who I count as friends.  Many people wished me happy birthday by phone, mail, email, and even facebook.  Each message made that day great!  I am so grateful to my parents for making the decision to have children, and then to make the effort to raise me and provide for me.  Now for my next 30 years!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Black & White

A couple of years ago my grandpa gave me his old film camera.  I was thrilled!  It was around the same time the I was busy with school, work, finding a husband, etc.  I had a roll of film in the camera and used it occasionally.  A few months ago I pulled it out and decided that I wanted to 1) finish the roll of film that had been in there for almost 2 years! 2) load it, go to Galveston, shoot Derek and everything around him.  It sounds so much more exciting when I say it that way.

It was a lot of fun to just wander around with Derek down there and to take the ferry.  We didn't see any dolphins I guess we'll have to go again!  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Disc Golf gets in the way of Birthday and Valentines Day

January 22 is an extremely special day for me, it is the day that my amazing, wonderful, sweet wife was born.  Growing up January 21 and 25th were important because they are the birthdays of my Dad and my brother Kyle respectively, so now Ashley's birthday joins the ranks of important days from January 21-25th.  Perhaps we can have a child on the 23 or 24th to compact the celebrations even more!  As Christmas was the first one as a married couple, this was our first time celebrating Ashley's birthday together and as a married couple.  Again, no pressure!  You would think with all this positive pressure that I wouldn't mess up... well... growing up our birthday was special.  Mom would make us a special dinner that we picked out and would make us our favorite cakes (that means January is Angel Food Cake time!) and we would celebrate with just our immediate family.  Usually the nearest Sunday would be reserved for time with the extended family and then the Friday or Saturday would be a day for friends.  So, with all this importance on birthdays growing up, what did I do?  I took Ashley to play disc golf in the local Ice Bowl charity tournament ( on January 21st!  That is right on the day I could have taken my wife out to eat, or to an event she would have loved, we played disc golf!  (not really helping me in getting Ashley to love the sport, don't you think?!?)  We had a good time though!  It was a gorgeous day, a cool 60 F and overcast.  Not a whole lot of "ice" for us in the ice bowl, which is good because this tournament would not be cancelled for anything... the tagline is "No whimps! No Whiners!"  We registered in the novice division  and at the end of the 21 hole round I tied for 1st place!  Then I played a CTP playoff to determine first place and won!  I got a sweet disc for winning with the logo of the Ice Bowl printed in color on the disc.  Before you think that this was how I celebrated my wife's birthday, let me tell you how that went.  First off, Ashley had visits to make to some of the sisters in the church nearby, so during that absence I took the time to secretly prepare for her birthday.  I picked up a bouquet of flowers, a card, and the ingredients to make sweet and sour pork from scratch, as well as two slices of pie from my favorite pie place: House of Pies.  Then I dropped the pie and flowers off at a friends house for safe and SECRET keeping until after church on Sunday.  I then went about my business as if the 22nd was just going to be a normal day... mwahahahaha!  So, on Sunday after getting home from church Ashley was again scheduled to make some more church related visits, so I then retrieved all my surprises and prepared to celebrate her birthday in style!  The flowers were ready with her card and gift and I was making dinner when she got home... and then it hit her!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASHLEY!!!!  She was shocked, amazed, and relieved that she could tell all those asking her that I did indeed do something special and that she did indeed not marry a dead beat!  We had a wonderful afternoon and evening celebrating my wife for the fantastic woman she is!  And since I didn't learn my lesson I signed up for a disc golf tournament the very next Saturday as well!  It was my first PDGA (Professional Disc Gold Association) sanctioned tournament.  I entered in the Recreational division (one step above Novice, and also known as the MA3 division) and played in a group of 19.  It was a load of fun!  We played on 9 holes that were permanently part of the course and 9 temporary holes.  These holes were fun as we had to throw over soft ball fields or between two adjoining fields (a narrow fairway) without throwing into the field.  I was definitely the most green of any of the players in my division, most had played multiple tournaments, some having played for years already!  I ended up in 15th, however I did improve my first round score by 4 strokes in the second round (Check it out here).  Shortly thereafter Ashley made a trip back home, it was a special trip home so that Ashley could surprise her sister Megan who had spent the last 18 months serving a mission for our church to the wonderful people of Peru!  I really missed her while she was gone, (so to cope and because I could I took a trip to San Antonio to spend time with Mark and his family, and of course play in a disc golf tournament with him.  It was cold and windy day, we didn't end up getting to play together, and a lot of other things went wrong but Mark and I toughed it out and came out the better, but we learned some important lessons!) but luckily she arrived back on Valentines day (where I once again was able to surprise her at 10:30PM when we finally got home)!  However Ashley wanted to make it a Valentines Day celebration over the weekend since she had been gone and we didn't really get to celebrate Valentines day very long on the day.  So, what did I do?  Yep, I signed up to play in a disc golf tournament all day Saturday! Ashley is such a wonderful wife and was going to come cheer me on all day!  Then the day came and perhaps karma kicked in because it was pouring rain.  I almost didn't go but decided to tough it out!  I also got to try out my new Keen boots!  I purchased these particular boots at an REI garage sale for $6.50, so worth it!  They kept my feet dry and warm even though I had to stand in puddles that covered my feet! This particular tournament is called a day-of-course, meaning there is no disc golf park here but people bring their portable disc golf baskets and set up 18 hole in the park.  Major modifications to the park were made due to the rain, most of the planned baskets would have been underwater because the water run off/ drainage ditch expanded from 10 ft wide and 20 ft deep to over 100 ft wide and over 6o ft deep.  Being a day of course, well the organizers just designed a new set up and off we played!  It was a fun day and I met new people and got wet (but not my feet!).  At the end of the day I went home and spent the rest of the night with Ashley so she would not hate disc golf or rather my involvement in the sport!