2014: The Year of Fun Numbers

happy-birthday-girls

We are rounding out the two weeks on the calendar that we call “Birthday Season” here. All three of our girls were born within two weeks of each other. (Two weeks and a day during leap years.) Strangely, they also fall chronologically in age order: Kirstie’s first, then Julia, then Emma.

It’s a fun, full, frenetic two weeks!

Do you remember as a kid looking forward to “big” birthdays? Every birthday is fun when you’re very young, but certain ones, like, turning ten were fun, because your age took up two places—double digits!—and of course it was fun to reach thirteen, then being able to claim the title “teenager”. Special years followed quickly with sixteen meaning you can drive (fifteen in some places!), seventeen and eighteen, twenty, twenty-one… they’re all fun!

Of course, strangely enough, as the birthdays keep coming, usually, rather than looking forward to and celebrating the “big” birthdays, most tend to begin downplaying (or completely ignoring) them. You know, the ones that end in “oh”.

This year in the Campbell home, five of the eight people will be celebrating “big” birthdays! Somehow, 2014 is a magic year for us. Perhaps it’s because the year ends in four, Jen’s favorite number? 🙂

The first to celebrate was our oldest daughter, Kirsten, who recently joined the double-digit club. Ten years old! She’s quite glad to be the elder statesmen of the female children in the Campbell home.

Next up will be Alex. He will be a teenager this coming October. Teenager?! Crazy. Alex is such a fun person, it’s hard to believe that he’ll be thirteen. He’s much more of a “kid” than his older brother when he entered his teens. But who knows what the next seven months will do to our second son. Deeper voice? Bigger muscles? OR… just the same, fun-loving, fun-making Alex, with a ‘teen’ at the end of his age?

After Alex, the next “big” days belong to Mom & Dad. Both of us being born in a year that ends in four will be celebrating an age that ends in zero this calendar year—40! I think I can recall, perhaps as a teenager myself, looking ahead to the year I would turn forty. It seemed quite distant. Silly, even. Now that time has slowly brought me here, with all that has been part of those decades, I actually embrace the official entry into my fourth decade. (In some ways I already feel like I’m there!) Jen may feel slightly differently, but we’ll both begin checking the 40s demographic boxes by this fall!

Rounding out the “big” year celebrations in 2014 is our oldest son, Ian. Born in 1998, this boy will be giddy on Christmas morning as he’ll wake up a sixteen-year-old! He can’t wait to be a driver, but he’ll have to wait until the 26th, since I’m sure the DMV will not be open on the 25th. 🙂 I’m excited for Ian. He’s a good kid, and we’ll be celebrating this fun milestone marker in his life for that day and probably the week or so after. (AND, we’ll see what it’s like to RIDE in the car that your son is driving. Yikes? Or, Awesome! … we’ll see!)

So, twenty-fourteen has the markings of a banner year for the Campbell family. Who knows what life will bring along the way, but if God gives us breath through all of these days ahead, we’ll be celebrating the passing of time on all these “big” days.

Do you have big days coming up this year? Enjoy! And celebrate the life God gives you. Each day is definitely special, and worth celebration.

Some numbers are just more fun than others. 🙂

[ThisDay] Christianity, or Jesus? (Aren’t They the Same?)

January 22nd in GregsHead history was slightly more difficult to whittle down than some of the other days. It was not due to volume, though—only five posts. Four of the five posts are worth reading (the other is worth it if you are using WordPress for blogging…) but of the six options, I selected the article below for today’s re-reading. Please enjoy this little anecdote from a dinner conversation just last January. Good theological discussion!

Christianity, or Jesus? (Aren’t They the Same?)

January 22nd, 2013

Our family is currently making our way through the book of Luke together. We’re taking our time, but I do enjoy reading in larger chunks, so we will often read what might be the subject of an entire series of sermons in one sitting.

Tonight, we read through the fifteenth chapter: the three stories of lost and found.

Though we’d often read more than that, it’s such a good three-part story—with the most famous, the Prodigal Son story at the end—that I thought it would be nice to stop and discuss.

The kids are reading and learning about “unreached people groups” with Mom during the school days, and both of the older boys picked up on the “lost” theme that Jesus’ stories held.

When I asked what everyone heard in Jesus’ stories, Ian replied first, “I think it shows that God cares about every single person: if even one in a thousand is lost, there’s a celebration when he realizes he’s wrong and returns to God.”

“Yep. So right, Ian.” I affirmed.

Alex chimed in next, “Or, like if one person in the 10 million in Japan who are buddhists or other things turn to Christianity. It’s like that, even.”

I smiled and affirmed Alex’s insightful answer, too. But something didn’t sit right with me, the way he had phrased that answer.

Ian and Mom both explained what they had been studying—unreached people groups—and I realized what it was that bothered me: the lost returning home story is not about conversions to Christianity, it’s about the Good News that Jesus is life and nothing else.

I tried to lovingly expand on that thought to Alex, but I guess maybe it didn’t come out quite right. Jen didn’t think I was saying it correctly, and by offering further instruction at that time, kinda squashed Alex.

jesus-christ-in-stained-glassAnd, honestly, she doesn’t really agree with my instruction, that Christianity is not the same as Jesus.

I told Alex that the somewhat subtle distinction between someone “turning to Christianity” and someone meeting Jesus (The One true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent) are often, even usually very different things.

One is a religion. Plain and simple, Christianity is not in the Bible. (Really! It’s true!) In this sense, Christianity is no different than Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, and so on. Jesus never talked about establishing a religion (though he did mention building the Church) and I can’t think of anywhere that the word “Christianity” or “Christendom” can be found on the pages of Scripture. (Though other people called the Church, “Christians”—Acts 11, and Acts 26—the only other occurrence of the word is in 1 Peter 4:16.)

Returning to a loving Father is a different story. Realizing our need to be connected to the Vine; understanding the limitless, boundless love that God has for us, wanting from before the foundation of the world to adopt us as his own children; understanding how the cross restores our friendship with God by destroying sin and death and shame once and for all…

That’s a different story. (And doesn’t “sign you up” for anything.)

Now, I’m certainly painting with too broad a brush right now. Firstly, only a chapter or two before, Jesus addressed his disciples and the crowds following him, making sure they understood the cost of being his disciple. The cost is… everything. He said we need to be willing to give up everything (even family, wealth/possessions, a home), even our own life.

But the key is, nothing else matters outside of his Life. Nothing.

And that’s the point. Converting to a religion often satisfies our own accomplishable goals and benchmarks. There are “measurables” with Christianity. You can check things off like, reading your Bible, or having quiet time, joining a prayer group, or some other “small group”, going to services, volunteering for a ministry… or five ministries. All of those things can become “feathers” in our caps.

Jesus asks us to volunteer to be last, though. To not be noticed. To give up our dreams, turn the other cheek… all of that. And all because there is nothing we need or could ever want more than to know him.

Paul knew that, and wrote:

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. —Phil 3:8

Honestly, I could be convinced that I’m straining out gnats here. OR, I could be convinced that this is the pivotal, most important, fundamental part of the Gospel: Jesus matters.

It’s him. And nothing else. Not a religion (Christianity), not a building or an organization (First Christian Church of Wherever), and not even a set of benchmarks that you set up for yourself to take your spiritual temperature.

Do you trust him? Then you’re in. And your life will never be the same. If you believe that Jesus is Immanuel, God made flesh, the Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life… buckle up!

That might be the same to you as “Christianity”, and if that’s the case, I’m really glad. My experience has been different. We people are good at maintaining control, and I think Jesus wants—longs for—us to relinquish that. Most often systems with fancy names—Christianity—don’t allow any room for that to happen, and even worse, they keep us in the “performance” mindset, where we’re always trying to “do better… for God, of course…

But Jesus’ words were always simply, “Follow me.”

I think it might really be that simple.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 22nd

  1. I’d really recommend reading this post, too, if you’ve got the time. It was a very close second!

Special Moments [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we’ll be taking a trip down Memory Lane! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here, part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts are taken from books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll read stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

This recent stop on Memory Lane is a reminder that life is so much more in the moments along the way than most of the other stuff we spend ourselves on, day after day, running into years. And just like last week’s post, Loss, I’m also reminded that the moments don’t even have to be “good”—or, what we’d usually call “good”—to be a special moment; a moment worth enjoying and remembering.

One of the greatest things about parenting is how much your own kids can teach (or remind) you about life.

Special Moments

November 2nd, 2012

Some days just have those moments.

Today has had plenty. (And not all good ones, mind you.)

Jen had a super-frustrating day with (she said) every one of the kids, who just wouldn’t listen to her at all. They only wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. Eventually, she just couldn’t take it anymore and walked away from what she was trying to do, attempting to clear her head.

(It was during this time that Jen decided to make soup, which is something she wouldn’t usually do, and without a recipe, which is something she definitely wouldn’t do! The best part? It turned out great! Was a nice “moment” for Jen to enjoy a great (tasty) bit of success in an otherwise hard day.)

At dinner, we came to another moment where I erupted into a very intense monologue full of very direct, clear reminders of things we’ve taught the kids since they came into this world. Very direct. Pretty loud. And I meant every word of it.

That was a moment.

Then Mom went out for the evening to do some shopping, but mainly to “clear her head”. Much needed, and hopefully she is being refreshed. (I’ll find out when she gets home!)

As the clean-up team took care of the kitchen (and the other two took care of the other rooms) I bathed the youngest two. They really needed it.

(Note: I am quite sick. Nasty head cold, stuffy, bad cough, just keep saying, “My head feels weird…” So… that makes for a more interesting bath time. Oh, and Cam is just as sick as me!)

That was a moment. (But not too bad, actually.)

The girls got their baths, and I got everyone dressed for bed and hair brushed and all that must be done. Then Alex got his quick shower and we were ready for the evening activity.

Tonight, it was singing.

I got my guitar, and a box of chord charts for worship songs, and we just started playing through them. Some the kids knew, most they didn’t. But that didn’t stop them from singing. And dancing. And smiling. And really LOUD singing!

That was a moment. A different sort of moment. (A heart-smile kind of moment.)

I encouraged Ian to get his bass guitar out, and Alex converted a plastic pumpkin trick-or-treat bucket into a percussive instrument, and suddenly we had a band. And even though we didn’t know the song to begin with, by the end of one song Julia had a huge smile on her face… and tears on her cheeks.

“I’m crying!” says little Julia Gayle. “Why are you crying, Julia?” I asked gently. “It’s just because of the singing!” She almost couldn’t believe that music could do that to you, but at the same time, she knew deep within her that it did do that to her.

That was a moment.

Then came bedtime. We usually play with a Dad-animated stuffed friend at some point. Tonight it was the stuffed friend, Baboo. (Cam’s name for his little red-white-and-blue doggie.) We laughed, we had fun, we hugged (Cam wanted two hugs..) and we prayed together for our family.

That was another moment. (After which Cam wanted another hug…)

Days are full of moments. Some are good, some are “eh”, and some are pretty bad (or really bad). I feel like today kinda had all of those for us. Maybe most days do. Sometimes we get tricked into focusing on the bad moments though and we miss the little good ones that are still there, or can be there if and when we look for them.

They’re there. They were for us tonight.

Keep your heart and mind and eyes fixed on Jesus, and he’ll show you the moments. He’s in the moments, actually. All of them.

And if we know that—and live that—that is what makes them special.

The Monday Night Flag Football League

ROCHESTER, NY – The MNFFL is a flag football league comprised mostly of home-schooled children (though not exclusively so) that plays its six-game season on Monday nights under the approaching-autumn skies of western New York State.

Begun by the enterprising youngster, Alex Campbell (then aged ten), it is entering its second season, and boasting nearly fifty percent more players.

MNFFL 2013 Season Begins

“We’re so excited for this season,” says the now eleven-year-old Campbell. “We have a new team, some new logos, and plenty of new players. I think we learned a lot from that first season, too, so we’re much more prepared for all the details that need to be taken care of as we start this year.”

The details include securing a field big enough for two flag football fields, which are a little smaller than a full-sized football field, and this year, room for the younger siblings to play their own game on the side during game nights. The fields are measured out at thirty-five yards wide, by seventy yards long. (Twenty of those yards being the two ten-yard end zones.) The “Youngers” field (as it is being called) will be a bit smaller, using whatever space is available.

Flag football is a bit tougher than you might think. In tackle football, the object is simple: get the man with the ball down on the ground. In touch, it’s in some ways easier, but there are all sorts of qualms and squabbles over whether or not the player was touched, and/or if it was one hand or two. It can get ugly.

The difficult part of flag football is that, in order to end the play and get the player “down”, you have to grab the flag. If you have not done this before for yourself, you might find it is much more difficult—that the flag is much more elusive—than you might think!

MNFFL Inaugural Season, 2012

The players range in age from ten to seventeen, both boys and girls, and many levels of skill—but one level of competition: competitive! The six-game season culminates with a Championship Day—the first Saturday in October—with the teams playing as they are seeded: 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3, based on the regular season records.

The champions take home individual trophies with their name, their team name, and the 2013 MNFFL Champions inscribed on their plaque.

Last year the Heat Lightning were the champions in a fiercely-fought championship game. Tempers flared during the contest, but there were genuine congratulatory remarks and high fives after the game was over. True sportsmanship.

With a fairly small roster of players, this league is still in its infancy, but there is much promise for the future. The league plans to expand to at least six teams next year, anticipating another fifty percent growth in membership. If the growth is larger, there is room for four more teams, which would necessitate two conferences.

“It’s really exciting,” Campbell admits, “This league was just something I sort of dreamed up in my head. I started creating the logos, and thinking of who I’d put on what team. My Dad helped me out a bit, and here we are, playing our second season. It’s really almost unbelievable!”

Indeed it is. Amazing what you can do when you aren’t limited by thinking about what you can’t do.

This little flag football league in Upstate New York is one more proof of that.

MNFFL - Good, competitive flag football

Alex’s Fish Story [Memory Lane]

This week we’re going to take a trip down Memory Lane! Each day this week I’ll be posting one of five of my favorite stories ever published here. Some are taken from books (like today’s) and others have only been published online thus far. These are some funny, some sad, some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. I invite you to enjoy them with me, too.

Alex's Fish Story

Alex’s Fish Story

July 3rd, 2005

“I was waiting for Dad to come get me,” Alex calmly explained to his mother. Stifling back a laugh at first, she finally came to realize the amazing depth of trust in that statement.

You see, there’s a bit more to the story.

On a hot, muggy Virginia morning, the three Campbell boys headed out to a small private pond to do some fishing. One day prior, the eldest and his father had enjoyed a leisurely hour or two catching a dozen or more little fishies with the owner of the pond. It was so great, we wanted to do it again, and this time with younger brother, Alex.

We drove down in the golf cart, which was a bit of an adventure of its own, and got ready to do some fishin! We had even brought some fish food to entice the big catfish up to the surface. It worked! They were amazing! Really big fish with big mouths that they opened up wide and swished across the top of the water from side to side, catching as much of the floating food as they could with one gulp.

Once we had gotten a bunch of fish around the dock, we loaded up the hooks with worms and tossed in a couple lines. One for Ian, and one that Alex & Dad shared. I was thinking as we did, “What if we actually catch one of those catfish?!” I didn’t really want to try and take them off the pole! And, I was warily watching Ian, as I was not sure he could reel one of those suckers in!

We had a few nibbles, even a few times the bobber went completely under the water… but no luck for a while. Alex was having enough fun just feeding the fish the food we had brought, so he did that and Ian and Dad fished.

We were on a little twelve-foot by eight-foot dock at the edge of the pond, so we had a nice spot to fish from, but a bit dangerous as the boys like to get close to the edge to see the fishies, which Dad was none too comfortable with! So, with the occasional warning, we had no problem.

Not long into the hot afternoon, there was finally some action! After all those nibbles, we finally had something! I started reeling in something larger than a little brim and told the boys to come look! Ian was getting excited too, but had to pay attention to his own bobber out on the water. I finally caught a glimpse of it. It was a bass! About twelve inches long or so. Nice!!!

As I reeled it in and brought it up on the dock I called to the boys to get them to come see it up close. I was reaching for the fish to pull it off the hook when it happened.

SPLASH!

I couldn’t really believe I had just heard it. I thought for a second that I hadn’t. But, I had. I turned toward the sound to find Alex was gone! Just… gone! So as Ian continued fishing, not really knowing what was happening, I hurried over to the edge of the dock, and I don’t remember if I put my pole down first or after I got there, but it still had the bass on it when I did! As I reached the edge, I looked over the side and there was Alex’s orange hat… UNDER the water! The water was quite murky, so that’s mostly all I could see—his hat and his slightly raised arms floating under the water, appearing to be heading down.

I just froze. I looked down, incredulous, and I was sort of waiting for him to at least try to come back up. Then I would reach down and get him. It was only about two and a half or three feet to the water surface, so I could probably do it. But… nothing. Not any movement at all!

So I jumped.

I couldn’t see the bottom, but it sure did look like he was sinking, and he wasn’t moving! So, I jumped in with visions of other frantic parents you see in the movies searching to no avail through murky, child-stealing waters. I was not sure what I would find, or what I would do, but love for my son just made me jump!

(I hate even the idea of swimming in ponds, by the way.)

Thankfully, I hit the bottom not long after the surface. The water level was about half-way up my chest. I immediately grabbed Alex and pulled him out of the water. He gasped quickly, and I set him up on the bench on the dock to catch his breath. He coughed a bit, and I asked repeatedly—but calmly—“Alex, are you OK?” His first response was a very shaky, “No…” But, I could tell he was breathing mostly normally, and all was going to get better soon.

It was at this point, Alex being out of danger, that I noticed that the bass was still on my line. Not only that, he was swimming right next to me! For some reason, he had not tried to escape, and drag the pole with him. He ended up in the water, and just stayed there during my rescue efforts. So I removed him from the hook, and let him go.

I got out of the water, and tried to reflect on what had just happened in that five to seven seconds that felt so much longer. I sat next to Alex, who was still shaking, and put my hand on his back. We just sat there in silence for a few moments. Perhaps he was soaking it in as well. (No pun intended…)

Ian broke the silence with a classic Ianism. “This is a day I will never, EVER forget.” (You have to actually say it out loud the way Ian would for it to be an Ianism.) Ian continued to make sense of it in his own way by saying a few more things, but I don’t remember exactly what they were.

Within a few short seconds or minutes, I am not sure, I noticed Ian’s pole dip way down. He had something!!! And as Ian struggled to hold on and reel in the beast, I thought, “Oh no! Ian’s going to get dragged in too!!!” So I jumped to my feet and grabbed on to his pole too! Even with me helping, that fish was putting up quite a fight! We figured we had caught one of those giant catfish, or maybe a whale. That was my second guess. We shall never know as the fish broke the line just as I was trying to figure out what in the world to do with a 2-foot catfish caught by a not quite 4-foot little boy.

Lucky break.

“I think it’s time to go back inside, boys,” I said in my fatherly wisdom. They concurred.

We packed everything up and went for a therapeutic ride through the woods on the golf cart. We approached the house, and found that Mom and sister had just headed down to the pond to visit with the boys, unaware of all that had transpired. We met up with the girls and began to explain the whole sequence of events, finally heading inside to clean up.

Still processing everything by recounting the story to Mom, Alex came up with a line that just stunned me upon hearing it. I actually heard it through Jen’s retelling.

“I was waiting for Dad to come get me.”

He was submerged under water quickly and unexpectedly, and he does not usually find himself in such a predicament anyway! No struggle. No attempt to swim. Nothing. He was just “waiting for Dad to come get him.”

What kind of trust does it take to do that? Perhaps a bit of ignorance of the danger he was in? Perhaps. But just the fact that he would say that was so incredible. How many times do we fight and struggle and kick and flail—and it gets us no where—because we aren’t waiting for our Dad to come get us?

He can, and He will.

It was quite a day. I will not ever forget that image of my son floating to the bottom of a pond, looking already quite dead and lost. I am sure Alex will not forget the experience either, as Ian has already declared for himself.

But I hope I never forget the lesson in trust either.

“I was waiting for Dad to come get me.”

Life in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg CampbellThis post is a chapter in the book Life In The Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg Campbell, available through Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase the book, please click the book title in the previous sentence. Thanks for reading, sharing, and feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below, or wherever else you can reach me.

Ian The Goalie

Ian The Goalie - Canandaigua Knights

We have a hockey player in the house.

Actually, we have two—or more—but only one who plays “professionally”.

Ian participated in a 3-on-3 tournament this past weekend. Generally, hockey is 5-on-5 with a goalie, so with fewer skaters, I was actually a bit concerned for Ian. As the goalie for one of the four teams, he was likely to face far more shots than in a normal game, and as the backup goalie for his regular team this season, he is a bit “green” still.

However, Ian ended up with perhaps the best performance of all four of the goalies in the tournament!

He was teamed with several players from the travel teams. Travel teams often are comprised of the more skilled players (but not necessarily so) and in general would be favored to out-perform the house-league players (who are Ian’s regular teammates). There was good-natured competition brewing between these house-league teammates and their goalie understudy. And he bested them all!

Ian’s first game was probably his best, actually. He started the tournament against a team that was stacked with some of the better players from his regular team—who was also the early favorite to win this 3-on-3 tournament. It was a hard-fought game by both teams, but Ian’s team had a somewhat comfortable 5-3 lead up to the final minute. It was then that one of his regular teammates put a puck past Ian to make the score 5-4. Tense moments followed—including some clutch saves by Ian Campbell—until the final buzzer sounded with Ian’s team the victors!

That set the tone for the whole tournament, I think.

Many folks were telling me that Ian not only played a great game, but everyone was saying so. (Including the players from the other teams.)

Not wanting it to go too much to his head (and see him “flop” in Game Two) I kept such comments to myself, but did compliment him on a very well-played game.

(Really! I was very impressed!)

Well, Game Two was played, and Ian’s team was able to sort of “coast” to a 5-2 win. Not bad! There was a break then for the afternoon, followed by two more games for each team in the evening.

Back on the ice for Game Three, Ian actually completed 25 minutes of ice time without allowing a single goal, including a save on a penalty shot against a fairly good scorer from his regular team. (Again… impressed!) His team triumphed 7-0, and was to face the pre-tournament “best” team for their final game—right after they finished the third game!

To my (great) surprise, Ian’s team was skating harder and faster than the rested team, and built up a 5-2 lead going into the last third of the game or so.

But then they felt the tired.

One goal, then two, then THREE goals scored in the final minutes—I can’t recall now, but it might have been the final minute—produced a tie, and also solidified Ian’s team as the top seed in the tournament the following day with a final record of 3-0-1.

Ian was undefeated! Wow! Who’d-a thunk it?!

The tournament began at 8:30am the next morning, and Ian continued his very solid play, posting a 2-1 victory in the opening game against the fourth seed. The only goal he allowed was on a penalty shot! (Are you kidding me???)

The second game to determine their opponent in the Championship Game started very surprisingly with the pre-tournament “favorite” finding themselves down 3-0 very early in the game. It turned out to be a fantastic match, however, as that team came back and scored with literally one second remaining to avoid overtime and steal the victory by one goal.

After the Consolation Game, Ian’s team took the ice, ready to try to best the pre-tournament “favorites” one more time. He was already 1-0-1 against this team, and hoped to keep his perfect record going!

The game was really back and forth, but it didn’t start well! Ian’s team were down early, 2-1. They were able to fight back and gain a 4-2 advantage late in the contest—but favorites are favorites for a reason.

Tough play netted the “favorites” a goal to get them within one. Four to three was the score until just a couple minutes remained. The pressure was on… shot after shot… Ian’s team couldn’t get the puck. A shot from right in front of the net was saved by a swift motion of Ian’s leg pad…

But then it was just as swiftly tapped into the net by the same player who scored the fourth goal in the first game (Ian’s regular teammate) … and we had a tie game!

We’re headed to oooooooverrrrtime!

Overtime was tense, with chances for both teams, until finally Ian’s teammate was able to find the net with about a minute left in the 5-minute, non-sudden-death OT. Ian stopped the rest of the shots and his team left the ice with a well-earned 5-4 OT victory—and the Championship!

How fun for Ian! He’s been working really hard this year—and enjoying every minute of it!—as a backup goalie for the last-place team in his league. His only ice time has been in “mop-up” time: when his team was either up by a lot, or more likely, losing by a lot. He did get to play in one game near the end of the year, and helped his team to a victory! Again, fun!

They finish up this weekend with another tournament out of town. Ian will play in at least one game. He certainly has the support of his teammates (perhaps even more now?) and it will be fun to root him and all of them on to (hopefully) another tournament championship!

What a way to finish the season!

Great job, Ian The Goalie!

Backyard Ice Rink: Update 2013

Backyard ice rinkIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Well, actually, this year it has not been the worst of times. Sure, we’ve had our travails, but nothing like last year.

This year’s version of the backyard ice rink has been much more successful thanks to wisdom gained from past experience (read: failures) and thanks in larger part to the weather actually cooperating this winter!

(Ice rinks will always fail when the temperature is rarely below freezing.)

In that we’ve had a much more normal winter, temperature-wise, we’ve been able to actually use our rink, and I think learn a bit more for next year, too. For example, we’ve been able to experiment with resurfacing the ice, keeping it cleaned off, and even learned that snow blowers are NOT an ice rink’s friend.

If you’ll recall, last year we (meaning, I) forgot to re-measure the rink dimensions after we extended it… leaving us very short with the pre-measured plastic! Oh boy! Then there was the 14-inch plus difference from one end of the rink to the other, leaving us with no water in one end of the rink.

Wow. We had plenty of issues last year.

There were some things we learned and improved this year, though.

hockey02

What Worked Well

We had plenty of lumber, a three-year supply of good quality plastic liner, and we moved the rink to a flatter section of our back yard. (Unfortunately that flatter section is a little smaller, so the rink measures roughly 20′ x 34′ this year. Last year it was more like 30′ x 42′, I believe.)

We were able to fill the flatter, smaller rink in less than a day (much shorter than last time) and we got it filled just before a string of sub-freezing days. And so, as you can see, we’ve been able to use our back yard ice rink this year! Fantastic!

ice

What Has NOT Worked…

Like last year, we’ve had our share of failures—though thankfully smaller. Failures are of course the best way to learn, so we’re reminding ourselves of the proverbial silver lining. In this case, I do believe it’s working. (Already looking forward to version 3.0 next winter!)

One thing we’ve learned is that, thought the flatter ground was great, it also happens to be under several trees. This is not a good idea. Throughout the winter so far, leaves and branches have regularly fallen down into the rink. The leaves are certainly unattractive; they are also trouble when they freeze into the ice near the surface. That leaves rough spots at least, and even cracked spots or bumps. Not good.

Also, when the rink was initally freezing, we got nearly two feet of snow dumped on us, all at once. This was good, except that the snow blower had to throw the snow somewhere …

You don’t want to throw it on your rink!!!

We had bumpy ice there for a month! Couldn’t get the ice smoothed out on the side where the snowblower had blown its snow. Definitely be careful with your snow blowing!

Lastly, when first setting up the rink, we have been using the plastic as a sort of “binding” for all the boards. This works fine once the water is in, but then you just have a strange, shallow pool in your backyard until the temperature gets below freezing. (And this allows for more leaves and sticks to collect on the bottom of your strange, shallow pool.) For some reason, I never considered not putting the plastic liner down until it was time to fill the rink! (Which can be done even after the temperature drops below freezing. (Might even be better that way?)

We have been able to use the hose to add layers of water, smoothing out the used and/or bumpy ice surface. That part is good… the bad part is when the hose gets left outside in sub-zero temperatures! Oops! We recovered the hose at the next thaw, but it was lost for a few weeks there.

girls-ice-skating

Live (Do) and Learn

That’s a funny phrase, “Live and learn” … it’s not actually true unless your “living” includes doing. So, we’ve been “doing” for a couple years now, and we have a fun winter of ice-capades to show for it, and several noggins full of backyard-ice-rink knowledge to put to good use next winter. We should have a fantastic rink in year three! Look out!

A quick check of the 10-day forecast shows plenty of lows in the 20s, so there should be some more ice rink fun in our near future. Nice!

If you like ice sports … we Campbells highly recommend you try this project in your own back yard!

hockey01