Joseph at 6
Joseph, 6, likes mud, baseball, mud, soccer and, well, more mud. We're actually convinced Joseph could find a muddle puddle in the middle of the Mohave Desert -- in mid-July.
Joseph also likes Legos. With just a few blocks, and a whole lot of imagination, Joseph has constructed earth moving equipment, a helicopter, boats, planes...
Joseph's most prominent features: red hair and freckles. His most prominent trait: childlike compassion. During the prayer intentions today at Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church in North Augusta, South Carolina, Joseph prayed: "For all the people who have been killed in war." What a better world it would be, if we were all six-years-old again, huh?
Joseph at 11
"My name is Joseph David Schriner. I'm eleven.
I really like touring America with my family as my Dad runs for president. I get to meet a lot of new friends. And I have several "pen friends."
I formed an "Animal Fact Club" with these pen friends. And in our letters to each other, we exchange interesting animal (or insect) facts or drawings.
Here's one of those facts: Stinkbugs are also known as shield bugs. Some use their flat bodies to 'shield' their young from hungry insects and birds.
One of my favorite traveling stops has been the "Field of Dreams" baseball field, which is cut out of a cornfield in Iowa. I got to play baseball there. I also liked the Lewis & Clark Center in Great Falls, Montana. I had a great time at "Shoots & Ladders Park" at Houghton in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And I really liked sledding in the Tehachapi Mountains of California.
On the road I help Dad with map reading and engine work. (And sometimes there's a lot of engine work!) I also like campaigning in parades.
Back home in Cleveland, we volunteer at a drop-in center for the homeless. Last year a homeless man named Ray taught me how to play chess. He used to be a professional chess player and still carries a chess case with him now.
We should make room for the homeless in our houses. In Bluffton, Ohio, we took in a homeless man. We still pray for him a lot.
I have a t-shirt my sister Sarah gave me (I'm wearing it in the picture above!) that says: "Life begins when the season starts." I put it on the wall by my bed. I play all kinds of sports, including baseball, basketball and soccer.
When we travel, we try to go to daily Mass and I get to be an altar boy sometimes. When I grow up I'm thinking about being a priest."
Joseph at 13
At the time I write this (12/1/10), our Joseph is 13-years-old. He loves outdoor nature things, tolerates school, is quite an artist, and, like our other kids, loves sports.
As we travel, Joseph seems most at home on the farms we stop at. He likes practically any chores involving animals. He also enjoys chopping wood, digging in the garden and driving any type of motorized farm stuff he can get away with (dirt bikes, four-wheelers).
Joseph is the kind of kid who would do well with an apprenticeship type of tract, especially one involving working with his hands. Besides the farm work, Joseph helps regularly with mechanical work on our campaign vehicles. And at the outreach places we volunteer at, Joseph likes helping the resident handyman with various tasks. He also enjoys various aspects of cooking in the kitchens of these places.
In sports, Joseph often plays quarterback (he's got a good arm) in the sandlot football games we come across as we travel. He's currently a starting guard on an eighth grade home schooling basketball team. (He's a good ball handler, decent shooter, but needs work on his passing. That is, he needs to pass more.) And in soccer, Joseph particularly likes playing goalie although he's also quite skilled in the field.
Joseph spends hours on the road (and just hours in general) drawing. He primarily uses pencils and the drawings have been tremendously varied. Hes been working, for instance, on a book about the 50 states and various things he's seen along the way. He also just watched the movie Hoosiers, and Joseph was inspired to draw a picture of some black, high top Converse basketball shoes. Staying with the basketball theme, Joseph recently drew a picture of a prison basketball court. (Some of the outreaches we've been involved with have included ministries to those in prison).
Some of these outreaches also revolve around helping the homeless. And for Christmas this year, Joseph did a variation of the famous Christ in the Breadline 1950's drawing.
While Joseph, and our kids in general, are full of life and are sensitive to the needs of others (admittedly some days more than others); looming over them is a strong sense that they may not have a world to inherit. With the threats of catastrophic things like global warming, nuclear proliferation its not looking good.
Author Henri Nouwen once wrote: Children know the world could end in nuclear Holocaust. Thus, the nuclear threat can not only bring untold destruction in the future, but is tremendously troubling to their hearts and minds today.
What sane parent would want that for their kids? But here we are.
Now, we've tried people out of Yale as president. We've tried people out of Harvard as president. Maybe its time we try an average concerned Midwestern parent. One who is not tied to lobbyists, but one who is desperately tied to: Joseph having a world he can continue to draw.
Joseph visits orphanage in Juarez, Mexico.
North Augusta, SC mud.
Joseph, Jonathan and friend.
Put-in-bay, Ohio carousel.
Basketball buddies, South Bend, Indiana.
Cleveland, Ohio soccer pose.
Photo by Stephen Piscura.