Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Realistic Christmas Letter 2020

 Realistic Christmas Letter of 2020

We are just living the dream.  It’s a fever dream, but it’s still a dream.  I have to admit there is a certain amount of schadenfreude with me this year for only this reason:  If you get a Christmas letter from someone this year, and they tell you how great it was, and all the international travel they did, and how epic it all was, you know right then, they are liars.  LIARS, I TELL YA!  (and never to be trusted again.)  My guess, they just won’t write a letter.  Conversely, I haven’t written a Realistic Christmas letter in recent years….and what time could be better than to pen such treatise in a year like 2020.

In short, this was what was planned this year:  I (Dave) was invited to the Magic History Conference in Vegas.  This was to be epic as the 150 members were going to get a personal tour of David Copperfield’s crazy awesome museum….by David himself.  The family would meet up with me in Vegas at the end of the conference to do a family trip to the Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Sedona, and a  Diamondback Baseball game.  CANCELLED!  This year we celebrated 25 of blissful years of marriage…if you don’t believe it’s blissful, just ask Bren…she’ll tell you it is so.  We were going to spend 7 days in Maui, Hawaii. CANCELLED!

I don’t have to give you the details of what this year looked like…. zoom calls, online school, revised or cancelled plans…If you feel the need for me to give details…. you are a special one, aren’t you?!?

But since this is the first Realistic Christmas Letter in a while…let me give you the “cliff notes version.” (if you are under 30 years old… google ‘Cliff Notes’ and bless your little heart.)

Luke is in his 2nd year at the University of Arkansas majoring in Political Science – Honors College.  He is doing extremely well. He technically is a junior in his hours and plans on going to Law School. (No one is perfect…I kid, of course. We are very proud of him.)  He is currently an RA and is teaching freshman how to operate vacuum cleaners…. I kid you not.  There is a lot I had written about how to keep your precious little angel from becoming entitled and how to instill some fundamental life skills into the pre-addressed little angel… Bren in her wisdom edited that part of the letter.  

Macy is in her senior year of high school.  She closed out  4 years of an epic marching band career this past week.  A type “A” overachiever, her list of accomplishments is far and wide, and if I were to list them all, it would seem precocious.  Just let me say that she could run a Fortune 500 company.   She has been accepted to all 6 of the Universities she applied to and is being heavily recruited by an Ivy League institution.  She is still in the decision-making process.  She is active in her church youth group, tutors students for pay, and is a birthday party coordinator at a local bowling alley.  She can operate a vacuum cleaner.

Hope is beginning her Freshman year of high school.  She has the unbelievable ability to dance every…and I do mean every single one…Tik Tok Dances known to the general public.  She keeps us laughing.  She is quick witted, a little edgy and works at shooting out comments that get Bren and I to turn our heads…mainly in shock.   She participated in high school marching band with her sister…yes there was peer pressure.  She is also a wrestler for the high school girls team…yes, there was some peer pressure from her older brother (Luke was a State Qualified wrestler).  She tells me that the wrestling thing is her jam.  She is also enjoying the broadcast classes.  It looks like film/movies is her main love.  Even though she is still 4 years away from needing those aforementioned fundamental life skills…she, too, can operate a vacuum cleaner.

Kyle is in 3rd grade.  He loves his brother and sisters…gets upset when Luke heads off to college and likes to speak in a British accent…. a lot.  He makes us laugh.  He still loves the magic of Elf on the Shelf, and he makes friends wherever… and I do mean wherever... he goes.  He is playing soccer…both indoor and outdoor.  He began his baseball career this year before the Covid thing shut it down. He will play baseball next spring.  (btw….Baseball is a fundamental life skill in the Elliott Tribe.)  If you need to know anything about Fortnite, I have your source…. he is the 3rd grader that lives in our house and eats his weight in chicken nuggets.  He is also able to operate a vacuum cleaner.

Bren, runs this circus.  I have to say that having 2 other drivers in the house simplifies the logistics, but it still needs a coordinator.  It also requires a sense of humor…she makes me laugh…mainly with stories from her part time job.  She started working part time as a CPA for Turbo Tax.  I have learned that if you sell a business for 7 figures, don’t wait 2 days before they’re due before you decided to start the tax return.  I have also learned that you can’t claim your brother who is in jail as your dependent.  Did you know you can claim self-employment expenses when you work as a “webcam model?”  Me neither.     Bren’s mantra this year has been, “God has given me so many days on this earth…and I’m not wasting them.”  True words people.  We have been cautious but we haven’t lived in fear.    In July, we loaded up the SUV and took a road trip to Moab, UT.  We went white water river rafting in Durango, CO, 4 wheel drived the desert of Moab Arches, slid down the sand dunes of Sand Dunes National Park in CO and hiked to Zapata Falls.  It was an epic trip, and we plan on going back to Moab to do some canyoneering.    This great family vacation would not have happened without my adventurous, hot wife. She is our vacuum cleaner operation instructor. 

Down to me.  I still work for the same company I have for the past 19 years.  In August 2019, our ownership group (4 of us) completed the buyout of the company.  We are now having the great pleasure of navigating uncharted waters of a global pandemic.  I still love reading.  I have gotten into leatherworking, and I still love performing magic.  In 2019, I was awarded ‘Best Close-Up Magician’ by Texas Association of Magicians.   I have also been reworking some of my one man show and look forward to performing for real people again when this all clears.   Between work, and chasing the kids around in their activities and hobbies…my waking hours are filled. I’m still learning how to operate a vacuum cleaner. 

4 years ago, my Dad was diagnosed with melanoma in the sinus cavity.  He was given 6 months to live.  Oh…and this was the second time he was diagnosed with cancer.  The first time was colon cancer when I was a junior in high school.    Over the past year, his mind began to slip and dementia began to take over.  Cancer also took his sight in both eyes.  He loved to read and write, and this only became a part of his past.  Despite all of this, the part of the brain that keeps the ‘sense of humor,’ remained firing on all cylinders.  In February of this year, in a rare moment of poignant clarity, he said to my mom, “I can’t see, I can’t remember, It’s time to go home.” Mom asked where home was.  Dad responded, ‘Heaven.”  They had celebrated almost 52 years of marriage this year.  On June 3rd, Bren and I celebrated our 25th anniversary, and Dad went Home. 

I know that most of this letter is snarky, and I also know that this year has provided a lifetime of challenges.  These are not the best of times for many.  But I know this; there is Hope!  That is the essence of human survival…Hope.  Hope in something.  If anything, this year has taught us, hope in the temporal things are as King Solomon said, “dust in the wind.” Hope in money, retirement portfolios and education fall woefully short.  Hope in our job and a well-planned future…well, we know that can be ripped away from our tightly closed fist.  All of life’s problems will not be solved by the hope of having a vaccine.  But there still is Hope.  This is the season of Hope.  This year, with my Dad’s death, it becomes ever more evident, that hope needs to be in something more everlasting.  In this season, I am reminded that over 2000 years ago, Hope came to earth wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manager.  Hope became humanity, and then paid the ultimate sacrifice on a cross firmly planted on Golgotha.  And Hope can become a realization in all of our lives.  And may the Joy of Christmas, become real in the Hope we have in Christ.  For one day, it will be time to go Home. 

Dave Elliott and family

P.S.  May you also know how to use a vacuum cleaner.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What Is Your Story?

“Kid’s, with your Dad, it’s all about the story,” my wife told our army of 4 as we were passing through Lancaster, Pennsylvania. …better known as Amish Country.   We had just taking a horse and buggy ride to an Amish farm, and I had told my wife that I wanted our new kitchen table to be made by the Amish.  Only a week earlier we had moved to a new house and both Bren and I had decided to get a new kitchen table…and retiring the current oak table to the upstairs game room to serve as Macy’s Arts and Crafts Table.  There were already remnants of different paint colors from the previous 11 years of Macy’s art career.  “Bren, the work ethic of the Amish….their steadfastness to their beliefs…I want the table we gather around at night to be made by Amish Hands.”  The symbolism in that and the story it tells is what it is all about.  

The story…the adventures we go on…getting out of the shallow end of the pool and moving to the deeper end…where it’s less safe…but a whole lot more exciting…why?…because of the story.

Bren comes to me this May…in the midst of getting ready to move and says, “I love Pine Cove, but I can’t go back there for the third year in a row.”  “The world is a big place and we need show the kids more than just East Texas,” she continued.  Then she said,”let’s do something big…like East Coast Big…Like maybe even New York Big.”   So she started planning…and purchasing airline tickets…all on top of moving to a new house.  When it was all said and done…oh what and Adventure did our family have…all 6 of us…even with Kyle our 2 year old.  A lot of people…and I mean a lot…said we were crazy for taking 4 kids on such an outing.   But then again…those people probably don’t have much of a story to tell…who wants to hear about living life safely in the kiddie pool?

We take off from DFW and land in Phillie.  The plane ride alone was epic for Kyle (age 2).  For 3 hours he sat wide eyed…watching out the plane…watching a movie.  We land…get our luggage…like a team…everyone grabs an assigned bag….Bren knocks open  the stroller…Kyle jumps in…and literally 15 seconds after our bags hit we are on the curb and Macy age11) has already hailed the courtesy van to pick up the rental car.  I had a stranger come up to me and say, “Sir, you have one incredible family and a well oiled machine.”  I thanked him…and we moved on.  I check out the Rental Family van…gave the rally sign to Bren and the kids waiting inside…and within 2 minutes Luke had the van loaded and ready to go while I was getting last minute details from the rental place.  The gentleman looked at me, grinned…and said,  “wow, you haven’t said a word and your kids are loaded and ready to go!” 

For the next 8 days my kids experienced some incredible things…fun things like Hershey Park….different things like Amish Country…historic things like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross’ house.  Things just for the sake of telling the story…of Running up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum like Rock Balboa did.  We ate in an Irish Pub after a day a Jersey beach …because we heard that it was a well kept secret of great food and service…and it was.  We knocked out another 2 MLB ball parks…the Phillies and the Mets.    NYNY was all inspiring for Macy and Hope…Times Square with all the lights and people and energy.  The first night,  I told Bren I wanted to go back to the hotel…so did Luke and we needed to get Kyle to bed…after all it was a 14 hour day…and his eyes had been as big as saucers the entire day.  Bren said great…we will have a girl’s night out…Bren, Macy and Hope (age 8).  They told me they went till midnight in the Big Apple.  The next morning Macy tells me the story of going to Juniors and ordering NY style Pizza…and leaving the restaurant with lots more than they could eat.  They asked to have it boxed up to take back to our hotel and while meandering around times square my girls decided to give what was left to a homeless man.  I bet that is a story they will tell for the rest of their lives…because it was the first story Macy told me the next morning.  

Let me tell what I would love.  15 years from now…Team Elliott is sitting around  the table and someone pops up, “Remember how we took the subway from Ground Zero to Macy’s and there were so many people packed on the train…and Luke was separated from all of us…that Dad yelled out in his Texas Accent ,”LUKE ELLIOTT! NEXT STOP!” …and everyone got real quiet.  Or remember the time Kyle made friends with the NYPD mounted police…and they gave Kyle one of his patches.  Or what about the time where Buddy the Cake Boss’ mom came out to meet us and we had our picture with her and she just loved Kyle’s Cowboy boots.  There was so much we did…so many things we saw…and the stories…oh the stories.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, Bren looks at me and said, “I just learned Robin Williams has died.”  I look dumbfounded….I cannot believe it…because I know he wasn’t that old.  Then the details came out…suicide…fighting depression.  I begin to tell my kids about my favorite movie that He starred in…”Dead Poets Society”  How he turned the Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” into a pop culture cliché….but that is so much more to me…”Seize the Day!”  I tell them of how he was brilliant funny…fast…hard to keep up with …and downright hilarious.  Robin Williams had demons that we may never know…but I know that his time was cut too short…because I know he still had stories to tell…many of them ROFL funny.  And I also know that part of his Life’s story was all about that movie I saw in High School…where he tells the New England Prep school students to take hold of the day…grab it and live…because we are not promised tomorrow…because we have a story to tell…and have stories of our lives…because it really it about our story!

** After the death of Robin, it reminded me how precious life is…and how uncertain things are.  I also was reminded that sometime the funniest people are fighting battles that we will never know.  I plead with you…I beg you…if you are struggling with depression…or any other unmentionable demons, please find help…seek it out.   And if you know someone fighting such battles….walk through hell to make sure they do not isolate themselves.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I couldn't write it much just watch this...and Press On!

Post by Jöanie Tabasso.

Monday, June 2, 2014

19 Things I learned in 19 Years of Marriage.

1.  His and her walk in closest are much cheaper than marriage counseling.   (same goes for master bathroom vanities.)

2. Going on an annual family vacation has made some of our best memories.

3. Although Bren will never understand my endurance stuff…she supports me in the most incredible way.

4. How my wife can run 4 kid’s crazy schedules and still get all the family stuff done would amaze the CEO of any Fortune 500 company.

5. Me washing the dishes really is foreplay!  

6. IF Bren gets rattled…things have really gone south in a hurry.

7. Having both Bren and I being Fighting Texas Aggies, really has made a great foundation for our marriage.

8. Running an Ultramarathon is a lot like being married…there will be good times and bad…but the good time are always better then the bad.

9. Traveling together with only Bren and I and no kids are some of the most awesome times together.

10. Spending all day Saturday on a sports field will one day be missed and looked back on with affection.

11. Watching my wife comfort one of our children, allows me to catch a glimpse of what God is like.

12. When negotiating a deal…especially buying a car, LET BREN DO THE TALKING!  She is a pit bull.

13. Listen to Bren’s intuition…it is usually dead on!

14. Four kids are the perfect number of children for us…so much laughter, so much joy.

15. Bren has gotten better looking with each passing year…and looks hottest in an outfit encompassing boots.

16. There will be arguments and disagreements…work through them…never never never give up. (ps. It usually takes Bren longer to get over a fight. ..just give her time….go for a run or something.)

17. I read Proverbs 31 over a 100 times before I met Bren…and have come to realize not only does she nearly have all those attributes…she has characteristics I wasn’t looking for but am now so glad she has!

18. One of my greatest joys in life is to get Bren laughing so hard she starts crying.

19. The only thing prettier than Texas is a smile on that blond hair blue eyed Texas Beauty. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bandera 100K - 2014

The profile...Run it Twice...

I haven’t run an ultra in two years…it had been all about the bike…and after a sub 5 hour Hotter N Hell  Cycled 100 miles…Amber, my cycling teammate, turns to me and ask, “What’s Next?”  “I don’t know.” I replied.  In truth I had toyed with the idea all summer long to go back to Bandera…for the 100K (62 miles).  A week later I had decided that Bandera it was and started lacing up trail running shoes.  A month later I was up to over a 20 mile long trail run.  I still was in the weight room 5 days a week and one intense leg work out a week. (I had come to love the weight room.)  What I had seemed to have forgotten was the time it takes to train for a long Ultra…nearly all of it alone.  Training was going well, till early November.   On a cold day where I was going to run 25 miles at Northshore trail, I pulled my hamstring…and found myself struggling to determine what would happen with the race..and not being able to run for over 3 weeks.  By mid December I was getting back on track…but the weekly miles just were not there…at least for my liking.  Regardless…I had signed up…I had my crew together….Amber and  Don the Sherpa…and on Friday January 10 we find ourselves headed to South Central Texas….Bandera!

Early on Saturday morning I felt fine…I saw many old friends…made some new ones.  I had told my crew I would dial it way back…painfully slow the first loop. I prayed with my crew and the race was started.

The first loop 31 miles went very well…at mile 17 there were some old friends that had fallen into my pace..Monica, Orlando and Sonia… and for the next 5 miles I told stories and made everyone laugh….all was going well.  At mile 26 I go up Cairns Climb and Boyles Bump….and back into the Lodge to complete the first 31 mile loop.  Despite the warmer afternoon temperatures (73 F), I felt fine…well…as fine as you can feel after 31 miles.  

After the first 31 miles, Amber was going to pace me out the next 11 miles to Chapa Aid Station…I wanted some company and the sun would go down this stretch of the race.  When it was said and done, Amber had paced me 17 miles, most in the dark over the most treacherous rocks and climbs and with the biggest smile and encouragement. 

 We make it to Chapas.  I was shivering and pre-hypothermia...I was kinda in bad shape and the very thought of going another 20 miles was overwhelming.  I told Amber I was done.  She looked at me… and told m e that I wasn’t done yet.  Don the Sherpa got some calories into me.  I changed clothes, put on gloves and hat…Two minutes later we were in the dark with only a headlight on the trail again and hearing the coyotes howling.  

Mile 46 we come into the Crossroads Aid station…again…I tell Amber I am done…she massaged the spasms out of my back…Don worked on my legs…rolling out  the calf muscles…and  two minutes later I am on the trail again…to climb 3 sisters…alone in the dark…and things fall apart…in short…I come into the Aid station at mile 53 barely... nearly crawling.  It had taken nearly 3 hours to go only five miles.  Amber and Don start taking care of me…and then they look in my eyes…see I have nothing left in my body…Amber knows I am done…totally done…she tries…but there was nothing.  I sit there a few minutes…and finally they help carry me to the car.  After 16 hours of being on my feet for 53 miles….I have to say those dreaded words…I DNF…It’s horrible…the 1000 deaths in just 3 letters.  I wake up the next morning thinking I could have…I know it…then when I get out of bed I remember as I can’t walk and stumble and fall…”you can’t walk dude!”

I have now had 2 days…still hobbling…and now my mind goes back to think what I could have done…how could I fix my ITB and left knee to will myself those last 9 miles.  To my wife who encourages along the way even though she doesn't  understand why….I love you.  For friends Lynn Ballard, Paul Tidmore and Kari Kennedy and Jennifer Kimble…you are some really good people in my life.  For Joe and Joyce Prusaitis, the race directors…they are  A CLASS ACT all the way…and so are the events they put on.  For the volunteers that took care of me at the aid stations and fellow runners…the world is a better place with you in it. For Don the Sherpa and Amber…you two have no idea what you did for me…your unselfish acts. 

and for Amy Gould for whom I dedicate the day are a can beat this...your are strong!

 ( pics courtesy of Don Westbrook...aka..."The Sherpa")

Bandera...Where Rocks go to Die!
Chapas Aid Station mile 11...right on time.

First 31 mile Loop...feeling fine

Lodge...mile 31...About to go out for the second loop with Amber the pacer

Chapas Aid Station...mile 42.  I look Angry...I really am not...Amber it telling me she expects from me.