I won the lottery!

Most people remember hitting the lottery: knock on the door, balloons and oversized check, go to CVS to pick up some MoneyPaks for the taxes. Not me. I was so busy I somehow missed it.  I won the life lottery.

I realized it at our Christmas Eve service. We got there early (3 minutes before it started at 6). After 7.5 years of parenting we still haven’t learned that keeping kids in the big service is never a good idea. “But it’s Christmas.” Uh sure. So there we were: Berto and I in our matching ties, Stacy, Lilly and Amanda helping Lilly with her hot chocolate. “If you behave during the service, then you can have some hot chocolate.” But kids are really smart. 30 seconds after that interaction she “went to look at the model train” which meant wander over to said train, run into friends, then we all go get hot chocolate. “Dads wanna be cool. My dad won’t tell you no and your dad won’t tell me no.”


Before he started kicking the sweet grandma next to us repeatedly. Not in a bad temper tantrum way just more like “hey I’m Berto; I’m a restless 2 year old boy; my parents are idiots.”


And during the first song Stacy looked at me and smiled. Next to the virgin birth, this was probably the second miraclest of Christmas miracles. Just a few hours before church we had gone hiking as a family.

All smiles before we head up the hill.

All smiles before we head up the hill. Stacy’s in the restroom or you’d get a better overall feel of everyone’s thoughts. Hence the picture now.

Stacy’s idea of the outdoors is driving with the window halfway down. Well quarter-way. Oh and she’s cold if it’s less than 87 degrees. Which is why we live in Arizona since it’s all desert, saguaro cacti and 103 degrees year ’round.

"If by lucky you mean you wake up tomorrow then yeah it's possible you may get lucky tonight." Maybe not a direct quote but pretty much the gist of it.

“If by lucky you mean you wake up tomorrow then yeah it’s possible you may get lucky tonight.” Maybe not a direct quote but pretty much the gist of it.

We’ve got hotel reservations to hike Rim2Rim next September so we need to start training. I’ve begun walking around with 89 pounds in a backpack since I’m 98% sure I’m going to be carrying her at some point of the 24 miles (she only weighs 79 but we’ll both have small packs with water). I’ll be carrying her because I’m that kinda guy not because she can’t do it. Calm down.


Yeah it’s a blind curve on a downhill mountain bike trail but who cares?


So here we are taking a break. Why? Because we’re on the downhill of course. And the sun went behind some clouds, and now we’re in the shade of the trees so it’s about 43 degrees. But the kids want to make dirt piles that look like dog poop to freak out the next person. We ain’t gonna say no to that. And about twenty minutes later Lilly naturally wanted to wash the “dog poop” off her hands in the stream. “Sure just break through that small layer of ice first.”

"Can't feel your hands? Yep. That means they're clean."

“Can’t feel your hands? Yep. That’s how you know they’re clean.”

And then the next day we went on another hike. Only this time it was 15 degrees colder and we didn’t have trees for a wind break. But it meant no one else was dumb enough to be out there so we had the entire place to ourselves.

That's an "I love you" hug not a "maybe this will stop the shivering" hug

That’s an “I love you” hug not a “maybe this will stop the shivering” hug

After all that awesomeness we decided to continue another Christmas tradition: sleeping under the Christmas tree. This is where we decide to lay on an air mattress for 3 hours laughing, kicking, falling off, giggling, crying and occasionally the kids do some of that too. A nice reprieve from the typical: tuck kids in at 7:30, pray for nightmares to go away at 7:45, explain that monsters in closet only come out if you don’t go to sleep around 8:15. And then welcome at least one kid into our bed around 10.


We’ll probably never learn


Back to the tree sleeping.

  • #1: explain “under Christmas tree” does not mean “under Christmas tree” sometime before 2 hours after two year old’s bed time. Otherwise you might have yet another meltdown.
  • #2: charge the air mattress blower upper more than 4 seconds before wanting to blow up the mattress. Stacy usually lasts the whole night. Me? When I wake up convinced it’s 5:30am and I’m only off by 5 hours, I head to bed.


Where was I? Oh yeah Christmas Eve. I’m usually completely idiotic. And not in a good way. I miss this stuff. I think “that lady makes more than I do” and “that guy gets more time off than I do” and “I wish I could travel more” and “man planning this trip to Cambodia takes months” and “I wish I was taller” followed by “huh. must suck for that guy to not fit in an airplane?” It goes on and on.

Thank God:

  • He sent His son to Earth for me. And you.
  • My family is intact.
  • My intact family is healthy. We wouldn’t have even met a low deductible this year. Especially nice with a deductible higher than the value of all our cars. Combined.
  • Seriously numbnuts (talking to myself here) when you’re reading this in the future. Stop. drop and roll Look around. Life’s pretty awesome.

So Merry Christmas! If we didn’t make it to your house with cookies, then you should move closer.



2014 Recap

Last year I made a smartaleck year in review post. This year I’m more thankful.


–Cambodia trip taking care of over 400 eye care patients including young girls who have been rescued from trafficking. I had to look at my calendar to confirm but it took about 4 months before I really talked to anyone about that experience. Thanks for being a great friend, mentor, and shepherd Pastor John!

–Easter in North Carolina with family. We flew first class US Air PHX-CLT (all that was available with frequent flier miles) with me, wife, 2 kids, and my parents up front. Grandparents aren’t getting younger so seeing them again was special.

–awarded “Arizona Young Optometrist of the Year.” I say I don’t like attention but that was nice to be recognized.

–learned how to fit “scleral” contact lenses. These are rigid lenses about the size of a hubcap that work great for patients with distorted corneas due to disease or surgical disasters. “I haven’t seen like this in literally 20 years” followed by hugs and tears and then another patient: “He (surgeon in California) was amazed at how well you fit those. He only knows of a handful of places around the nation that can do this that well.” I really love what I do.

–paid off student loans! I know it’s uncouth to discuss personal finance but this is a much bigger deal than strictly financial for us. With fewer expenses looming, we’ve decided I’ll work less in 2015 in order to spend more time with Lilly and Berto.


Faith in humanity restored.

I don’t know about y’all but I often get discouraged looking around. It’s the biggest reason we quit watching the evening news: race riots, kids being abducted, robberies, etc. Well in the span of 24 hours my faith in humanity was restored.

11:30am Sunday-ran into one of my patients at the store. She gave me a big hug and said, “Where are my bracelets?” 10 months ago I mentioned getting a bunch of “3 Strands Global” bracelets and selling them to raise money for trafficked victims in Cambodia. She never forgot. I delivered the bracelets to her Tuesday.

6:30pm Sunday-I’m bored at AWANA. It’s the annual Christmas party which means no games. The kids are jumping around because they want their cookies and they them NOW. They don’t want to listen to books being read. And then we have to stall because the cookies aren’t ready. Ms. Ellen jumps up and says “How about Christmas Carols?” My wife is contagious and I’ve started to harness my inner Scrooge of late. Well 40 kids singing their hearts out is a wonderful cure.

8am Monday-I show up to work and there is a large garbage sack in my office with a patient’s name on it. I open it up and there are a half dozen full-sized hand crocheted blankets in it. A few months ago I was chatting with a patient and we somehow got started talking about her crocheting and I mentioned this news story. Well she left me a note saying her health hasn’t been good and next year she’ll have more for Mexico, Cambodia or kids here in our backyard.

11:30am Monday-a 24 year old single mother patient of mine was coming back. I saw her for a disability evaluation a month ago and her eye pressure was 48 (normal 10-20). She’s legally blind so we’re trying to keep the eye from becoming painful. I had the pleasure of telling her that the Prescott Sunrise Lions Club was going to get her Transitions eyeglasses to help with the brutal sensitivity to light she suffers from.


This was all preceded by getting to deliver toys to local school nurses on Friday. Toys were collected from the Prescott Sunrise Lions’ annual Christmas party.sunrise lions santa's sleigh



God bless us, every one.