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May 28 2012

Memorial Day 2012


Even Wikipedia gets this one right: "Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces." Today is not Veterans Day, nor Armed Forces Day. It is not a day to remember our lost loved ones. Today is a national holiday with a very specific and narrow focus, remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy freedom and liberty--though dwindling--that is still the envy of the world.

God bless our brave soldiers who never came home to their families and their grateful country. You are not forgotten.

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May 26 2012

Oklahoma Rodeo


Our three little cowboys and a horse friend they met at our second rodeo tonight in Sand Springs. This time we all went together to enjoy an evening at the rodeo and to see Will mutton bust.


I love the start of the rodeo, nothing like the American Flag being ridden in on horseback.


American and Oklahoma Flags lined up for the National Anthem which was belted out awesomely by the young girl on the third horse from the left.


Will, top left, in the chutes checking things out as he gets ready to do some mutton busting.


And he's off! Will doing an awesome job riding his sheep!!!

A video of Will getting in the chute, getting on his sheep and mutton busting. Special thanks to John, a good friend of ours, who helped Will both last time and tonight get on his sheep so that Daddy could take pictures/video. John is also a great calf roper or, at least, so we've heard since we haven't been able to see him rope because he keeps drawing slots that are around midnight.


This young man did a terrific job of saddle bronc riding and he was kind enough to ride right by the stands in front of us so that I could get some amazing pictures.


I'm not too sure that horse wants him on his back.


The bronc added a twist to this kick.


Catching some air off the saddle.


Look at all the gear fly out, that is some serous hanging on he is doing.


That bronc could not shake this rider. It was a terrific ride!


A calf roper at the start of his ride.


This calf ain't waiting around for nobody.


He just got the rope around the calf and is slamming the brakes on his horse.


Before the rope even gets taught, the cowboy is flying off his horse. The horse knows to keep the rope taught and will pull back on the rope. Notice that it stays taught in the following pictures even though he's no longer being told what to do by his rider.


Time to pick up the calf...


...and get him on his side.


Now to tie up the feet...



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Three brothers right after their haircut. Those are some good looking boys, if I do say so myself. Will is bending over with this hands on his knees. Landon is standing. And, Drew is on his knees.

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Drew had an awesome game tonight with perfect fielding and going three for three at the plate including a long triple his first at bat that should have been a home run.


Drew was easily safe at third with a triple, meanwhile the other team was still working on getting the ball in from the outfield. Drew could have gone home and almost certainly not been thrown out. The third base coach is the head coach's son...really great kid, but perhaps a little too cautious. Drew wound up stranded at third. The head coach and I both razzed his son about not sending Drew home.


Drew at third, just a little proud of his triple.


The team was just a little bit off their game tonight, but Drew was always on the ball backing up first, second, and center field. There was never a play at first that Drew wasn't there behind it.


Drew's second hit of the night.


Safe at first.


One of the many balls Drew snagged backing up first base. Most of the time, being right there stopped the runner from ever going to second. His hard work stopped a bunch of extra base hits and prevented a couple of runs.


Drew's third hit of the night.


Drew's gotten faster at running this past year...he doesn't even bother touching the ground anymore.

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May 24 2012

Boys Cowboy Boots


With our new found interest in rodeos, Aunt Donelda sprung for some cowboy boots for the boys. Here they are lined up next to Daddy's new boots.


No more wearing sneakers to the rodeo for these city boys.


[UPDATE:] I took this photo with my iPhone which turned out really good since it nicely distorted the size of the smaller boots and, so, I'm adding it after the fact.

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May 23 2012

Boys Sneakers


The boys showing off their new relatively new sneakers. They sure do wear out quick. And, I don't remember having nearly as cool shoes when I was a kid.

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Will had his twelfth and last baseball game of the season tonight. The team really played great. Will put on a hitting clinic going 4 for 4 for the night.


It was Will's turn to play left center tonight. Here he is throwing one in from the out field.


Another solid hit for Will.


Perhaps because it was the end of the season and the kids' attention spans were at their limits, but there were some serious sillies going on. In response, the coach pulled the third baseman (who I must say was making some nice spin moves) and replaced him with Will.


Will's third hit of the night.


Will watching his fourth hit of the game and the final hit of his first year of baseball.


Will was on first and the next batter up hit it right to the second baseman.


The second baseman fields the ball. Will he try and tag the runner? Will he throw Will out at second? Will just turns on the speed.


Will's quick speed left the second baseman with only one choice, try and throw the runner out at first.


Will scoring the last run of the season. The boys really improved a lot this year going from not knowing how to get a runner out to winning their last four games of the year. Great job boys!

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May 22 2012

Baseball Brothers


Both Will and Drew had games tonight so we got the boys together for a baseball brothers picture. Not shown is the fact that both boys wore the same number 3 this year.

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I was very fortunate to be asked to review the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide, the latest and greatest electric toothbrush from Oral-B. Oddly, the name of the product neither mentions electric or teeth. Oral-B uses both "electric" and "power" to refer to this toothbrush but I've never used the latter, so I'm going with "electric toothbrush." (Google backs me up on the more common nomenclature: "electric toothbrush" 2,910,000 results, "power toothbrush" 670,000 results.)

We have always emphasized to our children the importance of bushing and flossing. Personally, my own oral hygiene was always about average until the invention of the floss pick, after which I have always shown up at the dentist with healthy teeth and gums.

510-oral-b-smartseries-5000.jpgFirst impressions of the Oral-B electric tooth brush is that it is very solidly built and runs surprisingly smoothly. I have vague memories of using an electric toothbrush a few times a couple of decades ago, but there are no positive feelings associated with the memory. This electric toothbrush is different. It is a pleasure to use and after bushing, my teeth felt at least as clean, if not cleaner than after manually brushing. It's hard to quantify...until I flossed afterward.

Normally, i can pull a small family of badgers out from between my teeth when flossing, even when flossing after brushing. This always amazes me since I brush from every imaginable angle with the very purpose of getting the bristles between my teeth and while applying more force than any two dentists combined would recommend. When I flossed after brushing with the Oral-B electric toothbrush, my floss was the cleanest I've ever seen it. This thing really does work and, first impressions, appears to handily beat out manual brushing.

This Oral-B electric toothbrush is their top of the line model. As I said, it is very well built including a modern induction charging system that allows the brushing handle to remain fully sealed. The technical specs state that the brush "provides 40,000 pulsations and 8,800 oscillations per minute." That translates into 667 pulsations and 147 oscillations a second, although I'm not quite sure what a "pulsation" is. The oscillations are the back and forth movement of the brush head since it does not "spin" around like I think the first generation of electric toothbrushes did many years ago. (Just checked my kids electric toothbrushes and they oscillate too...must have been a LONG time ago that I tried electric.)

The system comes with a wireless "SmartGuide," the LCD display unit, which communicates with the brush handle and tells you how long you are brushing as well indicating the various brushing modes. When brushing too hard, something I am very prone to do, the SmartGuide shows a frowning face and the brush handle lights up red. Also, included are the base stand with compartments for other brush heads so that more than one person can use the electric brush handle and a travel container. Oral-B says the brush will keep a charge for 10 days of twice a day 2 minute brushing.


This is a close up of the Oral-B FlossAction electric toothbrush head. There are nine different heads to accommodate every preference and need. Given how well this one cleans between teeth, I'll be sticking with it. In a week or two, I'll have a follow-up post to see how things go and whether I plan on making the change to electric.

There is a $10 mail in rebate offered by Oral-B on select electric toothbrushes until June 16, 2012. For more information check out Oral-B's website, or its Facebook or Twitter pages.

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate."

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After Drew's two baseball games, Landon's soccer practice and Will and Drew's piano recital, Will, Drew and Daddy went to the Loose Rowel Rodeo in Skiatook.


They started the rodeo in true all American fashion with uplifting words, the National Anthem and a prayer.


Will was the star of the night, taking part in the Mutton Bustin'. He is the very first Danz ever to take part in this particular sport. In fact, it was Daddy's first ever rodeo.


Will is on his sheep in the chute.


The chute opens and Will's sheep takes off.


Will had such a spirited sheep who accelerated so fast, that his mutton bustin' came to a quick end.


Will headed for a landing on his padded parts.


With an official time of 1.2 seconds, Will set an all time Danz family record in Mutton Bustin'! Given that we're just a bunch of city-slickers, Will did a terrific job and was incredibly brave taking on such a new and unfamiliar activity. Way to go Will!


The first adult event was saddle bronc riding and the very first horse was the wildest, craziest, son-of-a-gun of the whole rodeo. He was leaping for the sky before his gate was barely open.


This bronc got more air than any other horse I've ever seen. I've got one picture with his legs fully extended and he's still a foot in the air.


How you stay on when your horse is near vertical, I don't know. The very next thing the bronc did was put his head all the way down to the dirt...the rider didn't have a chance. After the riders are off, all the other animals during the night soon calmed down. Not this horse, he continued to buck crazily...all the way down the arena. The announcer who was nothing but business with no extra commentary the whole night announced the understatement: "That horse just ain't right."


Another saddle bronc rider with a more normal but still tough horse.


This saddle bronc rider was just thrown but is going down in style.


This bareback bronc rider is showing his horse who's the boss.


I didn't take any pictures of the barrel racing. But, here is calf roper getting after his calf.


The calf roper with his lasso just about to go over the calf's head.


Another calf roper with his eyes on his target.


Finally, the last event of the night, bull riding. It was dark so the picture quality is somewhat deteriorated as I had to max out both the ISO and aperture while slowing the shutter speed. While the bulls were no doubt tough, none of them seemed as crazy as that first horse. And, if you ask Will, that first horse was nothing compared to his sheep...and with that I'd have to agree.

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May 19 2012

Piano Recital 2012


Will, age 5, just started playing piano this past January and today was his very first recital. He played "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Old MacDonald." Notice his big smile in the video below when he bows!


Drew, age 8, is an old pro having played piano for 2 1/2 years now. This is his third recital and he played "Hymn Medley" (O Worship the King, Crown Him with many Crowns) and "Joyful Bells." Drew also won a Piano Excellence Award trophy given out to the top 3 students (he was #2). Drew's 2010 recital and 2011 recital.

Will and Drew performing at the Hope Worship Center conveniently near our house.


The boys and their terrific piano teacher Miss Sara. We couldn't be more pleased with all the work she has done with the boys. Thank you Miss Sara and congratulations Will and Drew on your wonderful recitals.

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Today was a ridiculously busy day for the Danz family. Drew had two baseball games, Landon had soccer class, Will and Drew had piano recital and some of us went to a rodeo tonight (spoiler alert...one of us was in the rodeo!).


Drew just about to smack a hard one into the outfield.


The next batter up hit one right to the shortstop who threw Drew out at second.


I love this photo. Drew hit one down the first base line...and the race was on!


Drew is racing as fast as he can while the first baseman is about the field the ball. It's going to be close.


Out at first by literally inches.


The other team hit a long one between Drew and another outfielder. Drew is throwing the ball in with all his might.


Drew about to get another hit.


It's another close one at first, but this time thanks to a throw that drew the first baseman off the bag, Drew was safe.


Drew had to hold up at first on a fly ball, but it was dropped and he sprinted to second where he was safe and eventually wound up scoring. The boys lost this one but won their next against a really good team. No pics from the second game since I was with Landon at soccer.

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Both Will and Drew had games tonight and since I'll be photographing Drew in his tournament tomorrow, I got to watch Will tonight. The game promised to have a lot of action since Will was playing shortstop. Here he is getting his first grounder of the night.


Sometimes the best play is no play. Will wisely decided the best thing to do was stare down the runner and keep everyone from advancing rather than trying for the runner at first. It was a good thinking no-play.


Despite playing shortstop, this was the only other ball that made it to Will the whole game. Just as happened before a few games ago, the team's Ossie Smith/Omar Vizquel was playing pitcher tonight and kept almost everything from reaching either Will at shortstop or the second baseman.


Will was 4 for 4 tonight hitting off the tee. (I made movies of the three others.)


Will used his super speed to beat out this grounder that was scooped up by the pitcher.


Will is too serious during games to turn and give me a smile, but tonight he made my day when he acknowledged my cheers with a thumbs up!

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May 15 2012

Chess Champion


Drew had his last chess club meeting of the year today and he finished with a 24-5 record. That is 24 wins and only 5 losses competing against other second graders along with third, fourth and fifth graders. If a game is unfinished they count up the total value of the pieces each player has left on the board with the highest scoring player getting the win. Draws or ties are counted as a win for each player. The kids kept track of their scores in a notebook throughout the year but they only know their own scores. So, while we have no idea if another kid had a better record, in our eyes, Drew is a chess champion!

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May 12 2012

Star Wars Battle


The boys set up an epic Star Wars battle today with all of their Star Wars Galactic Heroes figures.


Good guys, bad guys and everything in between. Not sure if team effort was involved or if it was just an all out every-man-for-himself battle.


In the end there can be only one. This time it was the duel-wielding Commander Fox.

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Will had his ninth baseball game of the season tonight and it was his turn to play second base. As the picture shows, Will really enjoys playing baseball.


Will had another great night hitting including this one about to be walloped off the tee.


Stepping on home plate for the first of many runs for the team.


Will and his team had a great night fielding with two innings where they got 3 outs before the other team scored the maximum allowed 7 runs.


Slugging another hit.


Getting down low to field a grounder. Thanks to the boys' terrific defense efforts, they won the game 28-24.


Will's wind up before he hits a long one.


Stepping on home plate for another run.


Will getting in front of another grounder at second base.


Will's last at bat resulting in another hit.


Finally, a rare glimpse from Will towards the camera. Drew, the serious boy, will flash me and the camera a smile once in a while but Will, the smiley boy, is always too serous to give me a smile during a game.

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Will had his eighth baseball game tonight. It was his turn to play left field.


Despite the game being an offensive battle, Will never got the ball in left field. Instead, a 5 year-old phenom at shortstop vacuumed up everything. Ossie Smith and Omar Vizquel couldn't have put on the performance that this little guy did at shortstop.


As the result of no baseballs making it to left field, all the action photos from this game were of Will hitting and running the bases like Will, here, smacking one hard.


A missed play at first and the coach sends Will off to second base.


Another hit for Will.


Easily safe at first.


It's important to always take a big lead off from the base.


Getting the green light to go home.


Will about to step on home plate for another run.


Will hitting a long one off the tee.


If you can't get the runner out, you can always slow him up.


Finally, Will on third base just before he scored the tying run in this 21-21 battle.

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Drew had his first communion today. This is father Joe and the first communicants along with their religious education teachers.


Drew in front of the Saint Benedict's alter.


Drew proudly showing off his banner that he and Mama made together.


Drew's wonderful religious education teachers.


The Danz family.


The Youngmans joining in.


Since we didn't get a picture of Aunt Catherine together with Ma and Pa yesterday at Catherine's graduation, we got them to pose together today.


Finally, after church, everyone came over to our house to celebrate with lunch and a first communion cake that Mary made. God Bless Drew!

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In the first inning, a line drive was hit down the first base line past the first baseman so quick that this was my first picture of the play. Drew perfectly played the grounder which allowed him the opportunity to try again what he had tried in a prior game (last picture).


Drew sprang up and in one motion made a rocket throw to first base.


My camera takes 8 frames/second. This was the ninth frame I captured of this play. That means Drew only had the ball in his possession for just 1.0 second. His speed, skill and quick thinking allowed Drew to accomplish what he just missed doing last game...he threw out a runner at first base from right field. Way to go Drew!


Drew's batting stance...looks pretty good to me.


In a rare occurrence, maybe the first of the year, Drew struck out. Looking at his eyes it is clear why. It's hard to hit a ball you're not looking at.


Drew did a terrific job in right field. Every time there was a play at first, he was there to back up the throw. A thankless job when everything goes right.


This time Drew clearly kept his eye on the ball and the result was a powerful hit up the middle.


Drew on the way to first with an RBI in the background.


Drew on first base.


Drew getting a lead off of second base.


Drew once again backing up first base but this time the throw to first base gets past the first baseman.


Not to worry, Drew was there to stop the runners from getting extra bases.


Drew's last at bat ended in the most incredible play by the other team's first baseman. He made a true major league stretch to catch the ball and get Drew out. If the first baseman looks like he might only come up to Drew's stomach, you are right. But, when you can stretch like a Soviet gymnast you don't need height to play first. The incredible defense by both teams resulted in the game being one of the lowest scoring games of the, so far, eighty-six game season. In the end, Drew's team squeaked out a 6-5 victory.

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Tonight it was Will's turn to play first base. Here he is at the start of the game in his ready position.

416-first-base fielding.jpg

It was a busy night for Will. Kindergartners don't hit the ball out of the infield much and almost every play is at first one way or another.


In this series of photos, a grounder was hit to Will's right, he immediately went after it, somehow while keeping an eye on the runner he bare-handed the ball (not one of the photos in the series shows him looking at the ball when picking it up), raced to first and just got the runner out--an unassisted out!


Fielding another grounder at first.


What looks like a grounder is actually a throw to first that got this runner out.


Will missed this grounder but that happens in baseball. What is awesome is that he has his glove on the ground and stopped the ball with his body. You can't ask for much more than that. Will did everything perfectly right!


Will fielding another grounder.


Will got three hits tonight. Check out his rippling forearm muscles as he powers through his swing!


Will smacking his second hit.


Will about to whack his third hit of the evening.


Will making a long Danz-style stride before stepping on home plate.

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