Perhaps no 6 characters have been harder to type than the 6 characters of the title of this blog post.

Earlier today, Kristen and I took our much beloved dog, Stoney, to the vet to be put to sleep.

We were a mess.

I couldn’t even speak. It was completely the right thing to do, to end his suffering, but it hurt too much for words to come out of our mouths.

They quickly ushered the bawling couple with the barely-able-to-walk dog out of the waiting room and into an examination room. Prepared for our arrival they’d laid a nice blanket down on the floor. After a couple sniffs Stoney laid down one last time.

We were a mess.

An absolute proper mess. The lady asked me something about money and I just handed her my debit card.

Truth be told, it’s after 2 AM and I’m still a snotty mess. I keep expecting him to bump against my feet under my desk or let out a deep sigh or push open the living room door to remind me to go to bed.

Stoney has been constantly at our side for the past ten years. It’s hard to even know what to do without him, he’s such a part of our daily lives.

I grew up hearing the phrase, “Man’s best friend.” And you know what? I am feeling the loss of a best friend right now.

The past few weeks have been gut wrenching. At our last trip to the vet she let me know that Stoney was in very bad health. He had a heart murmur and at his age that likely meant he had heart disease. We could run some tests but at nearly 13 years old there wasn’t much we could do.

Leaving that day I had no concept of how fast the disease would take over. Over the past few weeks he went from being short of breath and a little bit slower to taking 20 minutes just to go one block.

By Sunday, he couldn’t get up the stairs into the house after going potty and he stopped eating. These were both our agreed upon indicators that it’d be time to let him go.

The older kids were already aware of what was going on… that the time was getting near. We didn’t want it to be a shock to them. When I made the appointment on Monday I let each of them know. We explained it to Jackson, but he’s 4 and it’s really hard to understand. I’m 39 and sometimes death doesn’t make sense to me either.

Then, after school, we all got on the floor with Stoney and spent some time giving him love and sharing stories about him… I’m so glad we did that.

Tonight, not really sure what else to do with myself, I made this video. It means a lot to me.

This dog has been so much more than a dog to our family.

We will, eventually, be fine.

But for today we are experiencing the loss.


Summer’s Last Stand

It’s hard to believe…

  • Paul starts 7th grade next week.
  • Megan has orientation in a couple weeks for high school.
  • Jackson starts pre-school at the same time.
  • And in a lot of the country people are already starting school, football practice, marching band, all of that.

Summer flew by leaving a contrail of good memories.

But I’m still holding onto summer… 

  • In San Diego our warmest months are still ahead. The ocean water will continue to get warmer until late October.
  • I’ve not been to a football game yet so it’s still summer.
  • My fall travel stuff doesn’t start until mid-September.
  • We have countless evening dog walks, morning surf fishing sessions, and afternoons at the bay left before the weather turns. (As if it every really turns here…)

And we’ve done summer right!

  • We had a great family vacation.
  • We’ve played in the bay.
  • We’ve played a ton of board games.
  • We’ve shared dinner nearly every night around the table.
  • Kristen and I have been good about sneaking away for an evening walk in the neighborhood or along the waterfront more nights than not.
  • We’ve hiked and biked and kayaked and swam and seen a lot of sunsets.

Summer’s Last Stand

All this to say that before fall stuff cranks up I’ve got a lot of summer left to take in. Here’s what my next few days entails:

  • Thursday morning – Kayak fishing in La Jolla for calico and maybe get lucky on a yellowtail, home by noon.
  • Saturday – Sunday – Overnight offshore fishing trip with Paul, celebrating his birthday by hopefully catching our first tuna! Leave Saturday night and return home Sunday night.
  • Monday – Inshore fishing trip with a bunch of guys from church, hoping to get a group of teenagers on their first big fish.

All of those fishing dates schmooshed together accidentally– but I’m not complaining. It’s as if this summer has dug in, putting up it’s defenses against the onslaught of Fall and all the busyness that comes with it.

Summer will be defeated. It’s inevitable. But the last stand will be epic. 




Returning from McLandia

In more than 10 years of blogging I’ve never taken 15 days off from writing. But that’s what I’ve just done, a little self-directed exile and forced break.

So where have I been? McLandia.

McLandia is the mythical creation of Paul (11). It’s a place where imagination, play, discovery, and creation meld together. It’s our own personal imaginary fiefdom existing within our hearts that expresses what it means to be a McLane.

Over the past few weeks or so we’ve seen mom and Megan go on a girls only trip to St Thomas, celebrating Megan’s graduation from 8th grade and continuing on a tradition of the McLane girls spending solo time together while exploring a new place. We’ve ended a 7 year run at Darnall Charter School as Paul finished 6th grade– including ceremonially burning Paul’s school jacket– I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him so giddy. We thought about doing something on the Fourth of July… but like every year we just went to bed early and didn’t see any fireworks. We’ve camped in Yosemite, eaten way too many s’mores and drank way too many cans of soda, we survived a torrential downpour where our tent floor turned into a waterbed, watched a bear steal someones food, watched sunrises and sunsets at Half Dome and the Minarets, talked mega-crap while competing at Bananagrams and Uno, hiked to waterfalls, camped and resorted, and a whole lot more.

And so, today, we return from our annual pilgrimage to Imaginary McLandia to our lives in Real McLandia.

We step away, to rest and play and rejuvenate and reconnect with who we are. And now we head back home to live out who we are over the next several months.

The kids have weeks and weeks of summer vacation left to go. But mom and dad got what they needed during their short time off– a trip to McLandia where we have space to dream again.

family Throwback Thursday

Fast and Slow at the Same Time

May 20th, 2004.

Eleven years ago. A long time ago and just like yesterday.

When your kids are born people say, “Blink, and they’ll be grown.” It’s easy to look back and say that. But sometimes each moment, hour, day, week, month grinds on into oblivion.

Time is a funny thing, kids can’t grow up fast enough and parents just want to hold on.

family Photo

Kristen and the LA Marathon

On Sunday, I had the chance to witness Kristen in run the LA Marathon.

It. was. awesome. 

The Road to LA

After completing her 5th Half Marathon last spring she started thinking about LA.

A marathon is intimidating. A 5k or half had become pretty manageable for her. One builds on the next, you know what to expect, and lots of people are happy there… just improve on the last one to better your time.

She spent a month or so toying with the idea. When you consider the length of time it takes to prepare for the marathon– in her case about 6 months of training– and all the things that have to go just right– a few runs during the week, a long run on the weekend, three kids, a husband who travels for work, nutrition, injuries, illnesses, and all the normal stuff– it’s a huge undertaking just to train.

The last several weeks has been a series of longer and longer training runs. We’d wake up early on a Saturday and I’d drop her off, track her for 3-4 hours using Find My Phone, drop off water every few miles, then pick her up at the end.

One week she circumnavigated most of San Diego Bay from the Coronado Bridge all the way down to Imperial Beach then up through Chula Vista and National City to San Diego.

Another Saturday we drove up to Oceanside and she ran all the way to Solana Beach along the Pacific Ocean

Marathon Day

In the week leading up to the race all of the talk was about the heat. An early Spring heat wave pushed temperatures to the mid-90s with 15% humidity on Saturday. That kind of heat and 27,000 runners going 26 miles just don’t mix. The last 24 hours of wondering about the impact of the heat were no good. You wanted to get it out of your mind, but dang– that’s too hot to run that far.

Kristen barely slept on Saturday night. Nerves and excitement and all of that. When my alarm went off at 3:45 am, she was already up and just about ready to go.

I dropped her off at her Santa Monica shuttle at 4:30 am and went back to bed. Our friend April crashed at the beach house, too… I took her over to the same shuttle stop at a pedestrian 6:30 am before heading back to the house one more time to check on our kids. When the race started at 7, I packed up my stuff– a cooler full of frozen towels, my camera, and my phone to meet her along the way.

11 Miles In

My first stopping point was about 11 miles into the race in the business district of Hollywood. My experience in LA is so limited (Despite living just 2 hours south, we avoid LA like new moms avoid sleep.)

A legacy runner, someone who has competed in each of the past 30 years in the background and a high school student, part of a “Students Run LA” initiative, in the foreground. And some dude carrying a cross for 26 miles. This is the LA Marathon.

The first thing you need to know about the LA Marathon is it’s very diverse. Usually, the races Kristen has run in have been predominately 30-something year old white people. But that just wasn’t the case in LA. There were people of every walk of life, every age… middle schoolers and elderly… every ethnicity, and every cause.

But, more importantly, Kristen was in great spirits.

In LA, you get to run with all kinds of people... even guys who run in full Native American head dress for 26.2 miles.
In LA, you get to run with all kinds of people… even guys who run in full Native American head dress for 26.2 miles.

I asked her how she was doing… GREAT!

From here, I made my way south from the race course to start navigating through the side streets, grabbed some coffee at Starbucks, and made my way to West Hollywood to try to see her 45 minutes to an hour later.

15 Miles

When I found the race course at exactly the 15 mile marker, Kristen was still a mile or so down the course, so I took a while to stand there, people watch, and cheer folks on.

Here’s something awesome about big races. Everyone comes out to cheer people on, even if they don’t know a single runner in the race. They show up, they cheer, they encourage, and lots of people even bring things to give to runners out of their own pockets… fruit, water bottles, and er– hot dogs and pizza slices, too.

Marathons are full of interesting things... like men with hip length dreadlocks peaking at TV motorbikes.
Marathons are full of interesting things… like men with hip length dreadlocks peaking at TV motorbikes.

And when I finally spotted Kristen, she was still having a blast FIFTEEN MILES into her day.

22 Miles

From West Hollywood, I went back to our minivan and started to work my way across town more to get to the next spot on the course, 22 miles, in Brentwood– most famous for being the home of O.J. Simpson. To get there… I had to wind my way through neighborhoods like Beverly Hills… where my minivan made me feel like I was on the cast of Beverly Hillbillies.

From there parking was a real problem. I ended up finally finding a spot about 5 blocks from the race course. And in my rush, I forgot to take notes on where I parked… more on that later.

By this time the heat had kicked in. Racers were super fortunate that an unexpected, un-forcasted cloud base made it pretty pleasant most of the morning, high temperatures in the mid-80s. But that started to burn off late in the race. And it started to get really, really hot. 

In this last set of pictures I want to point out some of the lasting impressions I had on the marathon.

The marathon is a community effort. Tons of official and unofficial volunteers make it a GIANT 26 mile long celebration.
The marathon is a community effort. Tons of official and unofficial volunteers make it a GIANT 26 mile long celebration. The family to my right knew a couple runners, but their endless supply of orange slices and ice made hundreds of runners smile.

And don’t forget about causes. I’d say a quarter of the runners were running to raise money for something.

Team World Vision had more than 600 runners, raising money for clean water in Africa.
Team World Vision had more than 600 runners, raising money for clean water in Africa.

And– oh yeah– this smiling lady.

At 22 miles, Kristen had never run this far. Notice that she's smiling and having a great time while runners around her aren't quite looking so fabulous.
At 22 miles, Kristen had never run this far. Notice that she’s smiling and having a great time while runners around her aren’t quite looking so fabulous.

By this time, she was starting to get tired and hot, so she accepted my invitation to take 2 minutes off to cool down… bring on the frozen towels!

Having just come through a non-shady part of the race with 4 miles left in the blazing sun, 2 minutes of cooling off really seemed to help.

And at this point… it’s just a victory lap. Six months of training and it was abundantly clear she’d finish her first marathon!

26.2 Miles

After this pit stop I got a text from April, she was at the finish line and looking for a ride back to the beach house.

The problem was that I was 4 miles away… cell service was jacked up with so many people trying to post selfies… and I HAD NO IDEA WHERE I’D PARKED!!!

Seriously. I was so pumped to go see Kristen at 22 miles that I forgot where I parked. 15 minutes later I finally found my way and was back in the car.

From there, I got lucky and guessed a side street that went all the way to Santa Monica, Colorado Street. And I took that all the way to where I could see the finish line… but then got stuck in traffic. I picked up a very tired April and then we spent the next two hours trying to find Kristen and make our way back to Venice Beach.


Huge congratulations to Kristen. She made it look easy… if 26.2 miles can be easy.

And I don’t know what her next challenge will be. But I think it’ll involve a bike and swimming. 


Saturday Soccer


Tammy is REAL!

In case you didn’t know, Tammy, is our first daughter. She was born a few years before Megan was born. She was a rotten apple and one day, while on a road trip, she was kicking the back of Kristen’s seat and wouldn’t stop… so I pulled over the car and left her on the side of the highway.

That’s the story we told our kids, anyway. 

Read the original Tammy story here

I’m not going to claim Tammy’s story was a great parenting moment. But I do think there’s value in a strong family fable… even if it’s a cautionary tale. So while a fictional daughter who we left on the side of the road might be a tad bit psychological damaging to our children: She’s still part of our family and we’re excited that Hollywood is telling her story.

Now. Where’s my book deal? Where’s my residuals? 

She’s my fictional daughter and I have the right to exploit her story for my personal gain however I’d like. 

[All jokes aside. Does anyone know where this story came from? It’s crazy coincidental. My real kids would greatly benefit if I could prove that Hollywood ripped off my story.]



Jackson’s Favorite Things

JT is a little over three years old. Early this morning we had a conversation about favorite things… here are some of his current favorites.

  • Favorite color: Red
  • Favorite animal: Giraffe
  • Favorite animal noise: Daddy’s elephant
  • Favorite number: 10
  • Favorite food: Baby chicks, aka peeps
  • Favorite fruit: Apples
  • Favorite TV show: Paw Patrol
  • Favorite toy: Car

“Daddy, are you sleeping?”


“Here’s my foot. Are you awake?”

“Yes, Jackson. I’m awake again. What’s your favorite day of the week?”



Photo Essay of Jackson Painting

same pics are in this photo set on Flickr


I need my kids in worship with me

First he glared at me. Then he puffed, “I hate church. I don’t want to go.

When we told Paul, my 10 year old, that the regular parts of kids ministry were taking the day off and church would have family worship on Sunday, Paul protested.

Stupid. Boring. I hate this, I hate you, I hate church, I hate…