Friday, January 30, 2009


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Were you hit by a natural disaster in 2008?

TurboTax just asked me the above.

"You may be eligible for some tax relief if you were affected by severe storms, hurricanes, tornadoes or flooding in 2008."
Hmmmmmm. If our house usually looks like the above, do twin boys count as a "natural disaster?"

Mars Hill on ABC Nightline

Last night Nightline ran a short feature on Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. Nice to see a pastor who is blunt about Jesus (as well as a lot of other topics) get some airtime on a network.

A little extra protection

After the Great Filing Cabinet Incident of 2009, we thought maybe Levi and Noah could use a little extra protection around the house. We also discovered a way to put a costly household commodity into double "doody."

Levi, with the Spartan warrior helmet look...

Noah, workin' it ninja style...

Luke got in on the action too...
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Close call

Levi wanted to get out some markers and color this afternoon. So he proceeded to open every drawer in the filing cabinet, even though he knows all the markers are in the top drawer. Ever opened all the drawers in a filing cabinet at the same time? Paige was downstairs and heard a huge crash, and then Ella screaming. She barrelled upstairs and found Levi on his belly with the entire filing cabinet on top of his back. Paige lifted the cabinet up enough to get him loose, but couldn't pull him out at the same time. So Ella, crying the whole time, dragged Levi out by his legs. Luckily he must have seen it coming, and tried to dive out of the way, because he managed to get his head out of the path of the falling cabinet. He's got some big red marks on his back, and one on his head, but otherwise no permanent damage.

This is how I found the file cabinet when I got home. My guess it that it weighs around 200 pounds.

Luke was upstairs too, but thankfully on the other side of the room. That thing would have squashed him flat.
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Orange juice time!

The oranges are finally ripe, so we ground half of them up on Sunday for juice. By today, the entire pitcher was already gone. Mmmmmmm...

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Barry Asmus - Cold Winter Night

EVBC for the last couple of summers has done a thing called Hot Summer Nights. Pastor Tom invites various people to come on a weekday night and talk about whatever their area of expertise is. The last two summers he has had Barry Asmus come out to talk about economics. Both times have been great events, as Barry is energetic, optimistic, funny, and really smart.

Last night EVBC had Barry out again to talk about the current state of the economy. Barry was his usual self. But I've got to say... I left pretty discouraged. He described how the last 25 years or so (that would be my entire conscious life) had the best economic growth ever recorded, outlined the reasons that it all came to a screeching halt (failure of government systems), and then outlined what he would recommend we should NOT do to attempt to fix it (pretty much an outline of Obama's current economic "recovery" plan.) Barry had hope that Obama's economic advisors would be able to change his mind and steer him away from disasterous policy decisions. Let's just say that I rank on the opposite side of the optimism scale from Mr. Asmus.

That being said, the guy is really smart, entertaining to listen to, and can explain economic concepts in a way that even I understand them. Well worth listening to, but be warned that it is 2 hours and 43 minutes long. So grab a nice big cup of joe and sit back.

For now, the audio is up on the EVBC website. I'm not sure how long it will be there though...
Barry Asmus - Cold Winter Night
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Future plumbers

The boys are suddenly fascinated with plumbing of all types, or "tubes" as they call them. Every single drain, pipe, or manhole cover that they discover, we need to stop for a full explanation of its purpose, and a description of where the contents of the pipe eventually end up.

I found Noah in the bathroom twice today, intently studying the shower and tub drains like a scientist over a microscope full of Ebola. He wanted to know exactly where that shower drain ended up.

I took them to run errands today. At Paige's suggestion, we stopped by church while no one was there to practice being dropped off at Sunday school. Drop offs at Sunday school lately have been traumatic... for all of us. You know it is bad when you have to practice when no one is around to try to avoid a scene on Sunday. And bribe them with donut holes. Whatever works, I guess.

Anyways, you don't quite realize exactly how many pipes there are on a 100 yard walk until you go with these two. I think we discovered exactly 43 "tubes" between the car and the classroom door. Here they are peering down some random drain, all of 6 inches deep, wondering aloud if it goes all the way to the ocean (where all drains go, of course.)

We then made a trip to Lowes. Which is sort of like heaven for little boys obsessed with pipes. They spent a good 20 minutes tearing up and down the plumbing aisle, screeching in delight at each new pipe discovery.




And for ironclad proof that Noah is apparently destined to become a plumber, he demonstrated that he has mastered the intricacies of the most essential plumber skill, the first one they teach you in plumber school... plumber's crack.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thanks Uncle Julio!

For Christmas, Uncle Julio made our kids some shelves to hang by their beds to store their books in. They often want to take some books to bed to read with them (just like their dad.) But when they fall asleep, the books end up all over the floor (just like their dad.) So Julio made some lovely shelves to try to keep them organized. We brought them back in our suitcases, I sprayed a few coats of white paint on them, and hung them up tonight.

Ella and shelf one...

Levi and shelf two...
Levi and shelf three...

No Noah, you say? Here's the story. Noah pitched a fit at bedtime, and refused to take a picture for Uncle Julio. Paige dealt with them while I was doing some work, and ended up moving Noah to our room to fall asleep. So once he fell asleep, I gently moved him up to the top bunk, snapped a picture of him sleeping by his bookcase, sneaky-like. Levi was still awake on his bed, chattering quietly to himself. He piped up and said he wanted to see the picture of Levi. I told him "No, I just took a picture of Noah up in his bed." Levi then said "No, that is Levi!" You can imagine I was completely confused, until I realized that it was Levi, and Noah was the one who was still awake and had never been moved into our bed. So I ended up with two pictures of Levi, and still none of Noah.

In my defense... it was dark in both of the rooms...
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope and Change baby...

... Hope and Change

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I love the AZ

It is the middle of January, and I am sitting outside in short sleeves, 70 degrees, enjoying a book and a triple venti mocha (yes, I just said that) and waiting to meet my mom for coffee.  AZ rocks!

Of course, not so comfortable in July though...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It won't be like this for long

Yeah, I am reposting this, because I added a story:

Whizzy tagged me with this 6th picture thing. I'll play along. Here are the instructions:

1. Go to your sixth picture file.
2. Go to the sixth picture in that file
3. Post it and blog about it.
4. Tag six people

So from March 19, 2005...

That would make Ella almost exactly 1-1/2 years old. Playing in her princess tent at Grandma's house.

And our only munchkin at the time. My, how times have changed in 4 short years. This picture already seems like a lifetime ago. At the time of this picture, Paige had two boys in the oven, who arrived 4 months later. Followed by one more. Poor Ella had no idea that she would soon be severely outnumbered by three little brothers.


A bunny trail to tell a story, that I am only marginally embarrassed to relay:

Monday Ella had a fever. Tuesday she had a fever, and her teeth hurt. Wednesday she had a fever, and started throwing up. After I got home from work, she was saying things hurt. Like her ears. A lot. We actually thought her eardrum might be bursting, as much as she was flopping about and crying. So bundled her up and carried her out to the car, for a late night trip to the pediatric urgent care.

As we are making our way to the car, she says "Do I have to get a shot Daddy?"

"No honey," I say. "I don't think they give shots for ear infections." (You can see where this is going already, right?)

We get to urgent care, I cuddle her in the waiting room and try to calm her down. The doc sees us without too much of a wait. Listens, looks, asks about symptoms. Eardrums look fine. Doc nearly causes more vomiting getting a throat swab.

Comes back positive for strep throat. Doc says there are two options. One is oral antibiotics. But there is a good chance she will not keep them down, given the vomiting. And then we would have to come back for option two... an injection of antibiotics. The injection will make her feel better faster, and then she can keep the oral meds down. And considering that there are three brothers we don't want to infect, and that Ella is dehydrated and looks like a little bag of bones, faster is better. I decide on the injection.

I try to break the news gently. But there is no gentle for "You have to get that shot that Dad said you wouldn't get." She recovers quickly though, and says that she will be brave. And then giggle nervously, telling me about how when Levi got his flu shot, he cried the whole way home.

Then she asks, "How many shots do I have to get Dad?"

"Just one kiddo." (You would think I would have learned my lesson the first time.)

The nurse comes in and says "The dose is too big, so we have to give her one in each leg."

Ella immediately goes boneless and wails "Twoooooooo shots!?!?"

You can just give me that "Dad of the year" award now. She took them like... well, a little girl. Had to hold her down on the table, poor kid. But 10 minutes later, and she was telling mom on the phone how she was brave for her shots.

We snag a sucker on the way out, and drive over to the pharmacy to pick up her oral antibiotics. As we are waiting in the drivethru, this song comes on the radio:

(Yes, that is Hootie. Of the Blowfish. Now Darius Rucker, a country singer)

Just as I am getting completely choked up, pharmacy girl comes to the window. "Can I help you?"

"Yeah" I squeak, in my best Kermit the Frog impersonation.

I got a new contact prescription a week ago. It is awful. Something is wrong. At night, the entire world is blurry through my left eye.

Now, exiting the drive through, the combination of the my lousy contacts, a night patching up my baby girl, a darn Hootie song, and apparently me turning into a total softy in my old age... I can't see a dang thing. Somehow made it home though, and tucked my little princess in bed.

I told Paige the story. She just laughed, and I think called me a "wimp."

I am so dancing with Ella at her wedding to that song...


As for tagging six other people... sheesh, I am not even sure I know six people who have blogs and read ours. How about Kempiaks, Botmas, Van Den Brinks, and Winns?
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Kids say the darndest things, part 34

Levi, after disobeying me, about 1/2 second before my hand hit his rear at high velocity:

"Oh no! Here we go!"

I had to hold him facedown on my lap for minute to hide the deep belly chuckles.


The next day, same kid, same imminent impact, only with his mother's hand instead:

"This is gonna hurt!"

Again, me chuckling, this time hiding out of sight in the kitchen.


Noah, tonight, as Paige was tucking them into bed, and I was working in the garage:

"I wish there was a hole in the carpet so I could see Daddy in the garage"


At the grocery store, Levi and Noah, as we pass the bakery:

"That is the nursery, where they pass out the cookies"

I asked if that was where they take care of baby cookies...

"No Dad! You are a silly Daddy!"

Uh huh. I'm not the one who thinks there is a nursery in the grocery store.


Noah, while trying to set up a Matchbox track on the stairs, and apparently thinking he had succeeded beyond his wildest imagination:

"Genius! I'm GENIUS!"


Neither Paige or I can recall exactly what we were discussing at dinner the other night. It obviously was not important. Because it was, as Noah suddenly exclaimed, in the middle of our sentence:

"Oh no no no no no. Nonsense! Nonsense!"

Where on earth do they learn these things?

Apparently there was gum up there

At least that was the justification they gave for building this tower in an effort to get to the top of the bookshelf. Not sure how they came up with the idea that we store gum on the bookshelf.

I think Paige caught them before anyone actually attempted to scale the makeshift ladder.
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The sippy fairy

Noah especially is overly attached to his sippy cup. He often wants it with him in bed. Filled with water. Ice water. Sometimes with a refill at 3 AM.

So Paige came up with a plan. The sippy fairy was going to visit, and take all the sippies away to other baby boys and girls who needed them. This is, according to legend, what happens when little boys turn 3-1/2. Last night we boxed up all the sippies and left them on the back porch (we didn't want her coming in the house.)

We also left a note for the sippy fairy, and Ella drew her a picture. That would be the fairy at the top, Ella in the middle carrying a sippy, and Banjo at the bottom.

This morning, an amazing thing had happened! The sippies were gone, and a stack of cups was there in their place (apparently the sippy fairy shops at Ikea.) And a little trail of glittery pink footprints across our porch!

The plan seems to have worked, since there have been no protests yet about the lack of spill proof cups in the house, and they all enjoyed their cups at breakfast this morning.
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They ran around like crazy people the other night, taking pictures of everthing in sight.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Our kids are creepy...

Especially that youngest one...

Yup, Luke managed to go mobile today. He's been making attempts for a while now, but today he finally succeeded. He is especially motivated when you taunt him with his favorite snuggly blanket.

Now we get to set up the baby barricades all over the house again, to prevent him from gaining access to the stairs, the toilets, or the multiple choking hazards. And I get to spend the next several months tripping over said barricades, swearing under my breath (usually), and trying not to break an ankle. Why my short little wife navigates them with no problem, but I seem to be unable to cross one without ending up flat on my face, I am not exactly sure...

In totally unrelated news... Ella had a nice high fever today. We went out for a date tonight (thanks Angie and Jena) and returned to find her in bed, puke bucket and blankie close by. Also note the feet of a very small princess poking out from under her head, like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Too cute.

PS Aunt Ruth: She loves her princess pillow, and sleeps with it every night, in whichever bed she ends up in.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas in the Holy Land

Warning: This post is heavy on the pictures. We only took 807. So narrowing it down to 52 is pretty good...

We started out trip by winging our way out of the Phoenix, on our way to Grand Rapids, via a flight to Flint, with a layover in Cleveland.

Levi dutifully read the instructions for what to do in the event of a water "landing"

The Benadryl worked wonders, and the boys were out cold after watching some Looney Tunes.

Once in the Cleveland airport, we hung out in the terminal with this craaaazy little girl, while waiting for our flight to get canceled. Her poor mother was nasty sick with some sinus infection, and was totally overwhelmed. So we let the kid watch movies with us, and got her some frozen yogurt.

We got stuck in Cleveland due to freezing rain, and couldn't get on another flight until Christmas afternoon (2 days away.) My wonderful in-laws had driven to Flint to pick us up. When they found out we were stuck, they started heading back to Grand Rapids. Paige told her dad that if he didn't come to "rescue" us, we would be stuck in Cleveland. Well, if your little girl said you needed to rescue her, what would you do? They drove all night through freezing rain down to Cleveland to pick us up, and after attempting to sleep in the freezing van, joined us in the hotel room at about 4 AM. Ella had a huge smile when she woke up in the morning and saw that Grandpa and Grandma had come to rescue her (and they brought donuts!) So we loaded up into the 15 passenger van for an uneventful drive to GR.

Prior to opening presents that evening, we attempted a PJ picture with all the grandkids. Remember the commercial about herding cats?

Luke rolled himself under the Christmas tree.

Our kids wanted to spend every minute outside. Sub-zero temperatures didn't even phase them.

On Sunday, Erin and Julio had little Max baptized.

Monday, Paige and I left the kids behind and headed to the upper peninsula for a little getaway. Of course, the weather was just perfect for traveling...

We crossed the bridge in high winds, snow, ice, with warnings on the radio. Fun!

Once we got to the bed and breakfast, I crawled into the bed to try to warm back up, and watched Deadliest Catch on cable. Paige found this sight funny enough that she had to take a picture.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Grandpa took Levi and Noah out for a picnic in the woods.

Then Levi and Noah lead Grandpa on a walk through the woods. Maneuverability and low overhead occasionally have their advantages. Grandpa said they lead him right through the brush and thorns.

And Luke beat up on his cousin Max.

We headed out through some more lovely driving weather (thank goodness for 4WD...)

for a hike through the woods...

to see the fabled Taquamenon Falls. Paige has mentioned this since we were dating, that I should see it because I would like it. So I finally took her up to see them. I'm not sure she envisioned the dead of winter as the best time to visit. But they were very pretty in winter.

On the way back to the B&B, we stopped by a dairy and captured a rare cell phone pic of this elusive UP creature...

My college roommate Eric gave us a tour of his family's dairy operation, as well as a scenic driving tour of the sprawling metropolis of Rudyard, MI (population 1,315.) It was good to see the old goat again, and see where he grew up.

Then back to the B&B, where I snuck off to take some pictures of the bridge before dinner.

In the meantime, Grandpa was apparently fed up with Levi and Noah and was trying to lock them into a box...

while Luke attacked the camera.

After we returned, we busted out the kids monster Christmas present.

It comes with this warning.

Yeah, good luck with that...

I only made it out for one night to go deer hunting. Didn't see a thing...

We headed out one afternoon for sled rides behind the tractor...

Feeding Grandpa's horses...

A picnic in the cabin...

Roasting marshmallows...

Or in Levi's case, sneaking off with the entire bag and stuffing them four at a time into your mouth...

Again, not phased by the bitter cold...

We headed to a indoor playground, just so they could get out of the house and play somewhere that didn't involve numb fingers and toes...

Of course, they were not always on their best behavior, and Noah did not enjoy sitting in timeout...

Finally, after all the fun at Grandpa and Grandma's, we drove to Flint and loaded back onto a plane.

I had the best seat ever on a plane. Unlimited leg room!

Got them all cleaned up once we got home, and tucked into their own cozy beds...

And just for kicks and giggles... pictures of a poor rabbit hung in effigy by one of our disturbed children.

All things considered... a great Christmas vacation!