Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hurry home wife

The fascinating nightime creatures of the desert await you!

I only found two tonight, and both were dispatched forthwith. One by crushing, one by conflagration.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tim Kimmel at EVBC

EVBC does something called Hot Summer Nights, where Pastor Tom interviews people on various subjects. Tonight he talked to Tim Kimmel, author of Grace Based Parenting, among other books. Their talk was excellent. Some nuggets I managed to scribble down (may not be exact quotes, but are close, said by Kimmel unless noted.)


I think a compliant child is harder to raise than a strong willed one. A compliant child is a follower. A strong willed child is a leader. The only problem is they want to lead you.


Disciplines: What you wrap around your child's strengths. His analogy: A train. Extremely powerful on the tracks, but it can only go in the direction you have laid the rails. If it ever goes off the rails, it loses its power and becomes a train wreck.


Courage: What you wrap around your child's weaknesses. He pulled out a quote from John Wayne, "Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway."


In a discussion on illegal immigration, he pulled out a quote from Jamie Buckingham, "The problem with Christians today is that no one wants to kill them."


We never asked our kids if they wanted to accept Jesus, because we knew they would say yes, because they loved us. It's not the parent's job to save their kids, it's God's.


He told a story about his daughter, when she was 5 or 6. They were watching football, and he was ranting to the TV about a bad play. His daughter was watching too, and chimed in with "Awwwww, f*** it!" He said after he expelled all the air from his lungs, and called the paramedics to jumpstart his heart, his wife asked "Honey, that is an interesting word. Where did you learn it?"

"Sunday school"

He said when he relays this story, people sometimes say that is exactly the kind of kid who shouldn't be in Sunday School. His response? "Are we running a country club here, or a hospital?"


His point, as it was in much of his talk, was are we trying to make a little enclave where our kids never get exposed to sin because of fear that they might fall, or are we trying to save lost people by showing them Jesus?

As a guy who worries that he will screw up his kids, and who is a big believer of the benefits of living "in the bubble," his talk was challenging. But I was impressed enough to buy his books, and I am not one to buy a lot of "self help" type books. Looks like I have some reading to do...

Has anyone read any of these books? Thoughts?

Johnny and June

As a huge Johnny Cash fan, this is my new favorite song, since I heard it on Friday...

And I can't hardly post about Johnny, without posting some actual footage of him...

Something a little newer...

And finally, Johnny and June...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ha ha... real funny guys...

I thought Paul was just being his usual annoying self by pointing the camera at me. So I made a goofy face for the picture (not all that different from my normal face.) Everyone was laughing so hard that I knew something was up, because my face isn't that funny looking. Only then did I figure out that Paul and Phil had spent the last 10 minutes rounding up these four to line up behind me.

Wigboldy, Kredit, some random bridesmaid, Kraker... and my ugly mug
Buggers... all 6 of you...

Oh yeah... congratulations Zach and Nicole!

Us... and beyond

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This post comes with a soundtrack. I know, I know... the cheese meter just pegged itself at Gouda (Mmmmmmm... Gouda.) You'll have to deal with it...

Paige was student teaching down in Sioux City. Her last day of teaching was March 2nd. I called her teacher, and told her that I wanted to ask Paige to marry me on her last day of teaching. The teacher was already throwing a party, so that worked perfectly. She said she wouldn’t breathe a word to Paige. She did however tell the entire class, the principal, and most of the teachers. Pretty much everyone knew what was happening that day but Paige. How an entire class of first graders kept their mouths shut, I have no idea.

I snagged the ring from the sock drawer, and picked up the prettiest flowers I have ever seen, and made my way down to Sioux City that afternoon. When I showed up, the teacher found me in the hall and said “I hope you don’t mind, but I called the paper and they came to do a story.”


As if I wasn’t nervous enough, now there are reporters there too? The introverted engineer is in way, way over his head.

Paige opened all her gifts from her students. The last one was a white wrapped box, with a blue ribbon. Inside it was another box. Then another. I can’t remember how many boxes I did. But it was a lot. And the final box held her ring. I think Paige only made it into the first box before she figured out what it was and started shaking.

I walked to the front of the class, took a knee, gave her the ring, and asked her to marry me. She said yes, of course. How could she resist a catch like me? ;)

The next day, we discovered that the story wasn’t tucked back in some special interest section. It was on the front page of the Sioux City Journal. Must have been a slow news day. In my 8 AM engineering class, my professor whipped out the paper before class started and showed everyone in class who hadn’t already heard through the grapevine. I think we must have been mailed about 50 copies of that paper.

"The" paper

About a week later, they also did a story in the Sioux Center News, which also was mailed to us by everyone we knew. It’s the most famous I have ever been (or ever hope to be again, unless I win the Nobel prize or something.)

The rest, of course, is history. I dragged her off to Arizona after graduation, we got married in Michigan in December, honeymoon in Manzanillo, and before you know it we are up to our elbows in young'ns.

Writing these posts just reminds me that I love Paige even more today than when that odd, awkward engineering major plopped down at her table and squeaked out "I really like you." Looking back, I can see all the little ways that God was leading me right to her, as improbable as that path might have seemed to me at the time. Both of us going to Dordt when none of our siblings did, tagging along with the Montana clique, getting rooms next door, Paige going out with my roommate in order to drive me so crazy that I actually worked up the cojones to ask her out. Even the fact that I had never been on a date before (half dates don't count.) She is my first real love, my first date, my first kiss... first everything.

God truly did bless the broken road, and lead me straight to her. I couldn’t have asked Him for a better woman…

My lovely bride and me, December '99...

Honeymoon in Mexico...

... and in January '07 (total hottie in this picture! Her... not me.)

I love you hun... come home soon... ;)

Don't leave your turkey breast on the grill...

...when writing blog posts. Unless you like it cajun style.

Once I cut off the carcinogenic exterior, it wasn't half bad.

He didn't learn that from me

Another story from Michigan relayed by Paige...

Grandma had the task of loading all four kids into the van to go over to Lindsey's house. She brought Levi and Noah out first, and instructed them to go back to their seats, and under no circumstances to play in the van. Then she went back inside to get Luke.

Hmmmmm, take a wild guess at what the two little angels did not do...

Grandma arrives back at the van with Luke to find two little boys bouncing around the front seats of the van. The rearview mirror has been removed from its rightful position on the front windshield.

It sounds like Grandma really laid into them (good job G!) She severely chastised them, told them they had disobeyed her. Apparently it was quite the scolding. Grandma even invoked the name of their father... "Your dad will be very angry when he finds out you broke the van. What will your dad say about you breaking the van?"

Says Noah... "You should have been watching the kids!"

Way to step up and take responsibility for your actions kid! Sheesh. It couldn't be their fault... Grandma should have been watching them closer.

When Grandma relayed the story, Paige's sisters made comments about that must be what I say when I get home after work to the federal disaster area known as our playroom. I have no recollection of saying such a thing, none at all. I can't imagine where the kid learned it from... ;]

Friday, July 25, 2008

Us... Senior year

Part 1
Part 2

I am sure that there was much girlish squealing in the room after I left. I wouldn’t know. I was terrified to go back, for fear of what she would say. Eventually I think she came over and found me, and said that the feeling was mutual. It’s all kind of a blur to me, what with the adrenaline and all.

Either that same day, or a couple of days later, the infamous bar night occurred. I already have a post on that evening, so go here if you want to read it again.

We didn't dare to say anything to any of my roommates, for fear that Todd might kill me. All of her roommates knew what was going on though, and I am sure mine had to know as well. It’s not like we were that good at hiding it. We suddenly started hanging out together, just the two of us. We shared a chocolate shake from Dairy Queen (one straw!) on the couch that we had moved to the sidewalk outside our rooms. We spent one week falling madly in love before the school year ended, and then we both left for home. We never even went on a date.

Paige’s sister Lindsey came out to Iowa to visit right at the end of the year. They drove me out to the airport in Sioux Falls. Paige bet me that I couldn’t stop drinking Coke, as I had quite the habit. I haven’t had one since that day. Paige and Lindsey drove my 1970’s Malibu back to my grandparent’s house after dropping me off. A vacuum line had failed, so it stalled every time you came to a stop. They had quite the drive from Sioux Falls to Orange City, then came jerking to a stop in the driveway. I am sure Lindsey was convinced that I was quite the catch after that car ride home!

I still got a B in the class (dang it!) But I had the girl, and I also managed to get a job in Tucson working for my uncle. I stayed at my grandparent’s house all summer. My grandpa told me that his long distance was virtually free, and to use it. I did. We spent hours on the phone getting to know each other long distance. It was probably a good thing that I stayed in Tucson. My little sister tried to listen in on the phone any opportunity she got, so at least I had a little bit of privacy in Tucson. Whenever my family came to visit though, we could hear a 12(ish) year old breathing on another phone.

After the longest summer of my life, I flew to Michigan to drive back to school with Paige. This also meant I got to meet the in-laws. Terrified doesn’t begin to describe me. I don’t recall anything specific about meeting her family. Hopefully I didn’t make too big a fool of myself. We went on our first date, to a pub in Grand Haven and then for a walk down the pier. We stood at the lighthouse at the end of the pier for a long time talking. And apparently, for Paige, waiting for me to kiss her. But remember… social awkward, etc… so I had no idea. So no romantic first kiss... in the sunset... at the end of a picturesque pier... on our very first date. What a maroon! (me, that is.) I'd like to claim I was trying to be an upstanding gentleman... but I was just petrified. I really wanted to kiss her though...

In Michigan, first time meeting the inlaws.

The first kiss didn’t happen for weeks (months?), after we were back at Dordt... on a couch... in my dorm room. Not exactly the most romantic location. And I think Paige actually kissed me first. What a goober! I’m frankly amazed she kept going out with me. We spent pretty much every available minute together senior year. I was smitten. I remember only one major fight. I don’t remember what it was about, only that it was my fault (of course.)

By February, I had purchased a ring, with literally every penny I had. In fact, I actually had to call my dad and ask if I could borrow my tax refund from him advance. He asked what for, and I just said I needed to “make a purchase.” I didn’t really tell him what I was up to, but he knew. He said “Borrow the money, and buy the nicest one you can afford.” Somehow, I managed to get the ring at the single jewelry store in Sioux Center without anyone spotting me. It's a small college town, with one jewelry store. If you were shopping at Pat’s Jewelry, everyone knew what you were up to.

I called her parents one night, from her room while she was at work, so my roommates wouldn’t catch me. Her sister Erin answered the phone. I remember the beginning of the conversation almost verbatim…

Jason: Hi Erin. I need to talk to you parents.
Erin: Both of them?
Jason: Yes.
Erin: Is anything wrong?
Jason: No.
Erin (excitedly): Is this what I think it is?
Jason: Yes.

I don’t remember what her parents said to me, if they asked how I planned to support their baby girl, or anything similar. But they said I could marry her, if she would say yes.
So I put the finishing details on my plan…

Random photo of the lovebirds.

Must have been humid that day. Really humid.

We spent half of Christmas break in Michigan

and the other half in Arizona. Angie, annoying little sister that she was (Hi Ange!), tried to follow us everywhere.

I tried to show her every cool thing I could think of in Arizona, so she would fall in love with the place. It still hasn't worked...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Us... Sophomore & Junior year

Part 1

Sophomore year I lived with Mike and two more Montanans, Kurt and Kevin. I don’t remember much of Paige this year. We both lived in West Hall, and Paige tells me that I often helped her with computer issues. I remember none of this. She roomed with Andra and Maria, which means that we probably did all kinds of things together as adoptees of the Montana clique. But as much as I search my brain, I don’t have any specific memories. Obviously her reputation from freshman year had knocked her completely off my radar. Plus I am pretty sure my radar was more focused back in Arizona at the time. Or at least, that was my excuse for not bothering to even attempt to ask anyone on a date...

Kay, Andra, Paige, and Maria, sophomore roomies.

Maria, Paige, and Andra. (FYI... the overalls, the straw hat... Paige is a total cutie in this picture!)

Andra and Paige, with guns, and a Willy's jeep. It doesn't get any better than that!

Again, not a single picture of me from this year.


Junior year, we moved over to the apartment style dorms on east campus. Mike and I were still roomies, along with Todd, Joel, Eric, and Greg. And the girls across the hall were many of the same ones we had hung out with the past year… Paige, Andra, Jez, Amy, Melissa, and Shanda. They were the “girls next door.” We hung out, ate together occasionally, went to movies, etc. Our doors faced each other, and were frequently open.

Thus far, Paige was like one of the guys. But at some point during the year, and I couldn’t really tell you when, she became THE “girl next door.” I had a huge crush on her. Of course, being a stereotypical engineer, total introvert, terrified of the opposite sex, socially awkward… pathologically shy… I said nothing about this to anyone, least of all Paige. My delay was unfortunate.

My roommate Todd apparently had the same idea, only he actually asked her out! Bugger! Naturally, since the grass is always greener and all… my crush now grew even bigger. Of course, I could no longer tell her, and could hardly tell my roommate I had the hots for his girlfriend. Seriously up a creek. I have a horrible memory for dates, but it seems like they were dating for years, although it was probably only a few months.

I was not a happy camper at the end of junior year. I was falling more and more for Paige. I was having no luck finding a summer summer job. I was getting a B in a class, which I am bitter about to this day. Looking back, this seems pathetic even to me, but at the time that was my whole life in turmoil. I honestly believe I gave myself an ulcer. Really. Paige, the sweet girl that she was, knew I was upset about something. So she kept asking me what was wrong, because she wanted to help. She would pester me endlessly. It was aggravating, because I couldn’t tell her what the problem was, and her concern only increased my affection for her. But I wasn’t about to violate the guy rules and hit on my roommate’s girlfriend. I remember going on late night bike rides through Sioux Center, and walking miles down a dirt road into the cornfields, just to get away from her and be by myself. I was probably (ok, ok… definitely) a total jerk and reacted by being mean. I once told her that cookies she baked tasted like dirt. She hasn’t let me forget it to this day. Guys sometimes show their affection for girls by teasing them. I think my pent up affection, combined with utter social ineptitude, turned that teasing into downright meanness. Or possibly I thought if I was mean enough, she wouldn't like me, and then I would stop pining for her.

During the last few weeks of school, my ulcer must have finally won out against my introversion. I cornered her roommate Melissa, and told her that I had a huge crush on Paige, and that it was driving me nuts, but that I couldn’t say anything to her. Word quickly spread through her other roommates (duh, how could I have thought otherwise?), and I was soon informed that Paige was breaking up with Todd that very day. Total freakish coincidence. She did indeed break up with Todd that day (sorry dude...) I believe there were shots done in our room that night, Todd for obvious reasons, and myself in secret celebration.

The day after the breakup, we were all studying for finals and had our doors open as usual, going in and out of each other’s rooms. Paige was alone at the kitchen table in their room. I figured I didn’t give myself an ulcer for nothing… so I headed over. Now recall… socially awkward and pathologically shy. I had never had a girlfriend, had gone on approximately half of a date in my life (because while I considered it a date, I am not sure the girl realized that.) Yes, I was (am?) that much of a nerd. I could do differential equations and thermodynamics in my sleep (in fact, I probably was, studying for the finals) but telling Paige I liked her… that was something I had absolutely no clue how to do.

I sat down at the table, and told her I had to tell her something. It went something like “The reason I have been upset lately is because I like you. Really like you.” I don't remember if I even gave her a chance to respond. Then I promptly bolted back for the sanctuary of my nerd-cave, and resumed studying for thermodynamics and differential equations. Brilliant interpersonal skills! Sheesh… even I feel like a total dork telling this story…

The girls next door.

Someone finally managed to capture me on film, sort of...

Hey, you can actually see my face in this one. This is everyone from our two rooms, for what appears to be Thanksgiving dinner (Correction: Actually Jez's birthday.)

Todd and I are still good friends to this day. We've worked together, talked often, and were both at each others weddings. He found himself a lovely woman who dragged him off to Wisconsin to make babies. I don't think there are any lingering hard feelings. Guess I will find out when he reads this post...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Us... Freshman year

So I ran across a series of posts on Confessions of a CF Husband about how he and his wife met. I don’t even know them, but it was still fun to read their story. Some of you already know our story, and others of you may not care. But I will write it anyways, because I miss my lovely bride while she is away in Michigan. Plus, being 1900 miles away, she can’t smack me if I embarrass her. My memory for this kind of thing is awful, and what I do remember has likely been clouded by the passage of time. So if I get something wrong, Paige will just have to correct the story in the comments. I think most of our college roommates also check the blog occasionally, so feel free to chime in with some color commentary!

Let’s see, where to start? I was the only child from my family who went to Dordt College. I am not sure why. Maybe because I felt like that is what the “responsible” oldest child should do. Maybe because I am a weee bit anti-social, and wanted to get away from everyone I knew, even though new social situations absolutely terrify me. Probably a combination of both. But off I went to the cornfields of Iowa for an education. When I left, I distinctly recall the friendly harassment of my good friend John: “You’ll go off and find yourself some good Dutch girl to marry!” And he proved to be right…

The first thing I remember about Paige is that she was “the man hater” in the freshman girl’s dorm. She’ll vehemently deny that, but this is my first memory. But first, let’s take a little detour.

I didn’t know anyone at Dordt when I went, so I got assigned a roommate at random. My first room assignment was somehow rigged by three professor’s kids, who managed to get into the sophomore dorm as freshman, and needed a forth roommate. I guess that was me. They were weird guys. Goth, before it was in. I know can be a little odd at times… but apparently not “professor’s kid” odd.

My parents quickly managed to get me paired with another random stranger in the freshman dorm, Mike. Mike is from Montana, and since I didn’t know anyone else at Dordt, I just started hanging out with the other Montana guys as well. Mike is a very cool guy, who I don’t think I have talked to in 5 years, because he never checks email, and I hate talking on phones (Mike… get online more!) Mike’s cousin is Andra, who was also a freshman. Andra somehow became friends with Paige (that part of the story has slipped my mind.) Thus when Mike and I would go say hi to Andra, we would run across Paige.

Paige had a loft in her room that apparently became the graffiti stop for any freshman girl going through a bitter breakup. Scrawled in locations around the loft beams were various messages expressing the antipathy of jilted girls towards their former boyfriends, and by extension men in general. I am sure I will be accused of exaggerating (and I probably am) but this was the impression it left on us guys. Let’s just say the loft didn’t exactly communicate the message that she was looking for a relationship with anyone of the male persuasion. I do believe that I discovered part of the old loft once, up in the top of the Meyer barn, that validated my story of the man-hating sentiments scrawled on the 2x4s. Anyways, I’m not sure I could have even told you her name freshman year, but I do know I was mildly afraid of her.

Paige and Andra are in the back row.

Photographic evidence of the infamous loft. If you look closely on the back post, it says "Love sucks." And that was one of the milder ones...

We literally do not have one picture in our albums of me freshman year. I avoided cameras like the plague.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stories from Michigan

Paige relayed a couple of funny stories. I might not get all the details right, but I will be close.

Story 1: Paige was sitting in the living room, while the kids were in the bathroom coloring. She figured they were fairly safe in there, given that the floor is tile. So any stray markers would be easy to wipe off. She severely "mis-underestimates" their creativity. Levi had a much grander canvas in mind than coloring on the floor.

Ella came wandering out of the bathroom. "Mom... Levi colored his boy parts."

I don't know the extent of his coloring. Frank, beans, surrounding area? But apparently it was an impressive work of art. He chose primarily a shade of blue, although I believe there were other colors involved as well.

I asked Paige if she took a picture. She said she thought about it, but was afraid she would get arrested. It's not like you have to get a digital picture developed though. Oh well, I 'm not sure how I would have posted it here anyways.

Story 2: Ella told Grandma proudly, as she was being tucked into bed, "Grandpa is taking me on a date tomorrow!" Grandma replied, somewhat confused, that Ella could call it a date if she wanted to. Apparently Grandma doesn't know about Daddy Dates.

Ella continued: "Daddy takes me on dates. We go to the pharmacy. I get pancakes and eggs and sausage."

That's right, nothing says "I love my little girl" like a trip to buy some prescription drugs... and breakfast?

As if Grandma wasn't already confused enough, I'll bet that really threw her for a loop.

For those who are just as confused as poor Grandma, we actually go the the Farmhouse.

One ring to rule them

When I got home from Flagstaff, I unpacked and took my duffle bag down to store it back in the garage. When I set the bag down, I heard the ringing of some metal object bouncing on the concrete. Weird, I wonder what I dropped? I looked around and didn't see anything. Then I picked the bag back up to put it away, and underneath it was a gold ring. I picked it up, and it had some weird engraving on it. Weird, this looks just like THE One Ring. Hmmmmmm. I tried it on, but I didn't become invisible. At least, not to my knowledge. I guess there was not actually someone else here to confirm my visibility.

I don't know if it fell out of my duffle bag, or if it has been in the garage the whole time, or if Gollum wandered into our house last night and hid it there. Very weird.

So if you have been at our house, and believe you have lost your magical ring, let me know.

And if I get 8 people trying to claim they lost their ring, just so they can get this one... I am just going to keep it for myself. My precious...

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Summer monsoons

I love monsoon storms in the summer. Unfortunately, I missed two while I was in Michigan, and this one never made it to our house.

It did make for a very nice sunset though.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

New JibJab

I've been anxiously awaiting the first JibJab cartoon of the 2008 election season, and it has now arrived. Unfortunately, it isn't quite as funny as some of the 2004 Bush/Kerry cartoons. But I still got a good chuckle, especially when Obama hops on the unicorn.

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

I love election season! The next four months should be a lot of fun (assuming, of course, that the "right" side wins in the end.) I know, I know... there is something not quite right in my head...

Down from the mountain

I spent the weekend up in Flagstaff visiting my good friend Jonathan and his wife Katie. It was so nice to get out of the heat and just spend a weekend relaxing and lounging around. We headed out Saturday morning and went shooting in the forest. I took my camera intending to take lots of pictures, but only ended up taking these two. I don't manage to go shooting nearly as often as I would like, so this was great.

Saturday afternoon Jonathan had to go to work, so I headed out to the woods and met up with some other friends who were camping outside of Flag. Then back into town that afternoon, and we headed out to see Dark Knight. The movie was excellent, enough that I might have to go see it again. But it is certainly not the feel good movie of the year. As the reviews (here and here) have been saying, it is very dark, and not exactly what one would call uplifting. Sunday we headed to church, then cleaned their house in preparation for an open house that afternoon, then just hung out the rest of the day. Jonathan and I have been friends since kindergarten, so it is always great to see him. Whether it has been a week (rare) or a year (more common) since I have seen him, we always pick right back up like no time has passed at all.

While I was there, Jonathan and Katie were telling me about the lady who lives next door to them, who's sanity is questionable. It rained hard Sunday afternoon, and their neighbor then spent the remaining several hours of the day watering her rain-soaked front yard. The following conversation ensued later in the day...

Jonathan: Sometimes I feel a little sorry for her.
Jason: Well, if she really is crazy, then she probably doesn't even know that she is, and she isn't really that upset about it.
Jonathan: I suppose. The characteristic of being truly crazy is that you don't actually know you are crazy.
Jason: Yup, mad as a hatter, but you think you are normal.
Jonathan: Unlike me. I'm crazy, but I am well aware that I'm crazy.
Jason: So then what does that make you?
Jonathan: Normal!
Jason and Katie (laughing): Soooooo... you are crazy, but think you are normal?
Jonathan: Arghhhh! Buggers!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lost and found

I stopped by Barnes and Noble tonight to pick up a book. While I was waiting at the information desk, the lady there was on the phone, and a customer was standing there with her. She was saying something to him about it having been 20 minutes since she started the call. I figured they were looking for a book at another store, which seemed like an awfully long time to wait on the phone. After about five minutes, she started describing to whoever was on the phone that she was at the information desk at the center of the store. Then she waved to someone behind me, and I turned around to see two cops walking up to the desk.

As the officers walk up, she says "So this is what we have in lost and found," motioning to something behind the counter. I thought maybe a gun, or drugs.

I peeked over the counter. There on the floor was a baby. Smiling away in her carseat.

The customer pointed out to the cops who he thought was the father. The guy was strolling around looking at books, apparently oblivious to the fact that his kid had been sitting under the information desk for at least 20 minutes.

The cops talked to him, and I assume gave him the kid back. I didn't hang around for the final conclusion, since I didn't really know the whole story.

But a baby in lost and found. Not something you see every day.

What I did on my summer vacation

My first day back at home is always dedicated to trying to get the house back in order. It's not that I like cleaning. I don't. It's that I like disorder even less. Three busy little kids, a hyper dog, even nature itself all conspire to constantly prove the truth of the second law of thermodynamics. So I got to work yesterday...

After a couple of monsoon storms, and lots of fertilizer before we left, small children could get lost in the grass...

Then there is always the explosion of the luggage you return with. Plus we didn't even make our bed before we left...

The computer desk was a disaster...

Sorting through the stack of mail, I found this. The US Post Office is apparently the master of understatement...

Four years in Arizona, and not a spot of rust. One week in Michigan, and the thing is covered in it. You think it's a little humid there?

But here is the best part. When I come home from work tomorrow, everything will be right where it was when I left. It's glorious. Don't get me wrong... I love my family. But three mobile kids, one newborn, a very busy wife and the house can sometimes look like a bomb went off when I get home. Cleaning up at night seems like a pointless activity since the kids will undo it all in the first 5 minutes they are awake. It's frustrating, to constantly try to keep everything in it's place, only to have it fall apart around you.

But here is what I learn on my summer vacations, as I struggle just to stay ahead of the chaos. It wasn't supposed to be this way. My quest for order is only a poor imitation of the One who made me. He brought order, light, stars, earth, plants out of the formless void. And it was good, at least until we screwed it up. After that, the very ground is cursed because of Adam's sin, and only "by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread." As I try to bring order to my little corner of the world, to make it good as it were, it all fights against me. The kids throw toys, the grass grows out of control, the steel rusts. And I can almost hear God saying to me "See... now you can start to see how I feel." After all, the entire Old Testament is basically one long history of God's children rebelling against him. Forbidden fruit, murderous brothers, golden calves, grumbling in the wilderness. One story after another. And yet God is always there, restoring order, giving grace. Without Him, the world would go straight to hell in a handbasket, literally.

And it's not just the Old Testament either. So when I start to get frustrated, I try to remember that just as my kids seem to be able to destroy the house in 5 minutes, my rebellion against my Father is even greater. And just as I try to pick up the mess, so He has defeated the chaos and death created by our sin.

The road trip in pictures

On the road trip, we took a picture out the windshield every 50 miles, give or take a few. We also snapped a few of interesting scenery, the rugrats, state border signs, and other miscellany. String them all together in a video, and here is what you get...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Doomed, I tell you...

Over at Testosterhome, Rachel (mother of 5 boys) posted a link to this video. Just as a reminder, Levi and Noah's 3 year birthday present...

13 years from now, we can look forward to this...

That was awesome! If I came home to this, I'm not sure I could bring myself to scold the boys. I might even have to go for a ride. Of course, I've been trying to convince Paige since we moved into our house that we should put in a pool. Because the deep end would be just within range of a good leap off the second floor balcony. So our boys would come by it honestly...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What to call "it"?

This post by Tony Woodlief made me laugh out loud. I don't know him, but I thoroughly enjoy his post about raising his young sons. Follow the link and read it, then head back here.

I read the aforementioned post to Paige when I saw it on my Blackberry. She just shook her head in disbelief. You see, I too loathe calling it by its clinical name, and thus use all kinds of descriptive terms, which Levi and Noah (and their older sister) have picked up. The most common seems to be "winky", or occasionally the full unabbreviated version... "wee willy winky". "Twig and berries" or "the frank and beans" are also perennial favorites.

My wife is also, like Tony's, utterly mortified (even more so after she discovers that I posted this.)

Noah once had to go to the doctor, around the age of 1-1/2, to have some work done on his, umm... parts. Let's just say that things had healed back together which shouldn't have. Since Paige was traumatized by the original procedure, I had to take him in for the repairs. He returned home saying "Mommy... twiggy owwww... twiggy owwww!" His mother was thoroughly unimpressed with his newly expanded vocabulary. I was grinning from ear to ear.

Hey, a father has a duty to teach his boys certain things...

For Cousin Ron...

I know you have days that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired... but all I have ever seen is you just livin' life as much as you can. In fact, I don't think I've heard you once complain about having CF. I'm proud of you and how you have walked that line. Stay strong Ron...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One funny story...

that I forgot. At some point during the second day, Paige was in the back seat feeding Luke. She said to me "It's plenty cold back here. You can kill the kid's AC when you get a chance."

Ella looked at her with very large, very concerned eyes and said "Why are you going to kill the kids?"

After Paige and I stopped laughing, we explained to Ella that no one was going to kill her. She laughed too, although I'm not entirely sure she understood why.

Trip report

The trip went much, much better than last year. We left our driveway at 5:15 AM and after a quick stop for gas were on our way. We took the shortcut through Arizona, and were in New Mexico in no time. A long stop for breakfast in Holbrook, then another for lunch, and we made it to Amarillo the first day. After dinner of peanut butter and honey sandwiches, we had all four kids asleep by roughly 9:00 (AZ time.)

The next day we made it from Amarillo to Missouri by evening. Paige had mentioned early in the morning that maybe we should just go for it and drive all night. We didn't really discuss it much, but kind of ended up doing it by default. Paige drove through most of Missouri, and I took over just outside of St. Louis. I fueled up on Red Bull, coffee, and several hours of Dennis Prager on the Ipod. Without any kids to stop for, we snuck through Illinois under cover of darkness (had to stash all the guns in the trunk... I hate Illinois.) Before I knew it, the sun was coming up in Chicago. It actually went really fast, and I was wide awake (coffee is amazing stuff.) We did have to make an emergency potty break in Chicago (see Red Bull and coffee.) I was almost ready to pull over and take a leak right there on the side of the toll road, and risk the indecent exposure charges.

The last 2 hours were brutal. No amount of caffeine was keeping me a wake. Paige was literally hitting me in the back of the head to keep me awake. But we made it to Michigan at around 6 AM (AZ time). After unpacking the van, we handed the kids over to Grandpa and Grandma and crashed for a few hours sleep. I'm not sure we will try that again, although if Luke hadn't kept Paige awake the whole night, and she could have gotten some sleep, I think it wouldn't have been so bad.

So no exciting stories to tell. The kids did great on the trip, considering they were trapped in a car for 2 days. They went right to sleep in the hotel with no issues. The dog even did a great job, with no disasters in the car (she even got to ride in the front seat several times.)

Now we are enjoying the lovely weather in Michigan (like living inside a pressure cooker!) and the local wildlife (swarms of mosquitos big enough to carry off our last born) and of course time with the in-laws. ;) (For the in-laws reading this, you know I like hanging out with you guys!)

We took pictures out the windshield every 50 miles. I'll try to post the slideshow when I get home.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cabin fever

A mimivan might seem like a large vehicle when tooling around town, but after 1000 miles it starts to feel a little like a small fishbowl.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The lonely goat

I am at home watching the kids. Our van is in the shop for last minute repairs before the road trip, and Paige had to run to a pediatrician appointment with Luke. So I ran home for a little while. As I was sitting there using "the facilities," I noticed a small plastic goat sitting on the floor. This immediately caused me to burst into a rousing rendition of "High on the hill lived a lonely goat yodel-ley yodel-ley yodel-ley-hee-hoo!" The kids looked at me like I was looney (What? Doesn't everyone sit on the john and sing about goats?)

So I decided to show them the masterpiece that is the Sound of Music puppet show...

They were glued. Ella even insisted on dancing with me, "like the goats." We have watched it about four times now, and they are all sitting here waiting for me to finish typing so they can watch it again. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

T Minus... 10... 9... 8...

We've had several people tell us that they will be checking our blog regularly over the next several days. You see, they know that we will be leaving on a 2000 mile road trip to Michigan. With four children. And a dog. And they know what a wonderful experience our last road trip was.

I'd like to think that these people wish us well. That they truly hope our trip is uneventful. That the kids all behave like the angels we know they are. That they sleep in their hotel rooms at night. That the dog doesn't get carsick around Flagstaff and spend the remaining 1900 miles wretching into an empty McDonalds bag. I'd like to think that... but I know better. People are planning to check our blog for the same reason people go to NASCAR races, or slow down to check out an accident on the freeway. Because trainwrecks are interesting, even entertaining... as long as you aren't the poor sap hurtling along in the locomotive.

I hope we have nothing to report, that the trip is so uneventful that it makes for really boring blog reading. Given our track record, this is unlikely.

So check back to see how our trip is going. I might post anecdotes from my phone, in between the screams of the children and dry heaving of the dog. And our blog will have some road trip themed headers to check out while we are traveling. So in the words of Bugs Bunny... "Bon voya-gee!"