Friday, October 31, 2008

an update on my life

Wow, it is really, really hard to keep up with blogging now that I am back in school. By the time I get home at night, hang out with my family, get the boys to bed ,and do my homework, I've got nothing left. I am now enjoying a nice quiet Halloween night (we went to our church's Harvest Carnival but the boys are now asleep). So here's a quick update on my life.

1. I am on the homestretch with my masters degree. Five weeks to go in this term and then a sweet month of Christmas break.

2. J has moved on from pirates (see previous post) to dinosaurs. This is fun, but dinosaur books contain a little more carnage and mayhem than I am used to in kid's book. I don't know how many times I have said in the last two weeks, "Yes, j, those dinosaurs are eating that other dinosaur because they're hungry."

3. I went on a coffee fast for about a week and a half. That was a kick. I'm back on the wagon now in a major way.

4. I am getting ready to read William Least Heat-Moon's new book Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey. Thanks to the fact that my wife b is an established book blogger, I landed a free copy. I just have to review it on her blog when I'm done.

5. God is doing major stuff in my life. I'm praying more than I ever have, and I have so much more peace than I've had in a long time. Peace is good.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

a proud dad

For a long time, I have placed a great deal of focus on my kids being smart and successful. I have wanted so badly for them to be extremely well educated, to lay the foundation for brilliant careers and incredible achievements. There's nothing wrong with this of course. Everyone wants the best for their kids. Everyone wants their kids to reach their full potential.

Over the last year, however, God has shown me that there is so much more to be proud of in my two sons than just how quickly they learn to read, how well their logic develops, how much musical promise they show.

My wife b recently posted a story about j, our 4.5-year-old, deciding that he wanted to give all the pennies in his piggy bank to help provide clean water to people in developing countries. He, of course, did not come up with that little idea on his own. He had plenty of help from mom. But she only told him about the problem and about how Jesus wants us to help people. He came up with the idea to donate all of vast wealth (about $.09, I believe) all by himself.

I think I am getting to the place where I would take a j who wants to do anything he can to help suffering people over a j who is incredibly smart and accomplished any day. Hopefully both will develop. But I want to start giving emphasis and focus to the former.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I love dead grass

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. And not because of football (although that is fun to watch). And not because of the brilliantly colored leaves (although they are beautiful). I love fall because it marks the beginning of that wonderful stretch of time during which I have to pay almost no attention to my lawn.

I love dead grass. Because I don't have to mow it. Or trim it. Or weed it. I don't have to do anything to it. Which means I can spend my time doing things that I do want to do - like sitting on my rear and reading.

It's a joy to watch the summer sun slowly strangle my lawn (helped along by my refusal to supply any water whatsoever) until it is just a gasping patch of brown in the simmering heat. That last mow in the mid-summer is great - you mow your entire lawn only to turn around and say, "Hmm. It doesn't look any different." That's when you know it's good and dead.

As the late summer rains come, the lawn usually tries to make a comeback. But like most comebacks (a la the Backstreet Boys and Michael Richards) the results are weak and sporadic at best. A few ugly flashes of crabgrass. One random weed that suddenly sprouts six feet in the air. Usually one good mow or even some hacking with a machete will put this effort to rest.

And then, minus an hour or two of raking leaves, it's smooth, sweet sailing until March. That cold Oregon air will take care of the rest, leaving me plenty of time to plan my assault on the new lawn once it starts rearing its ugly head. Someday when I am old and gray, I am most definitely going to be one of those guys with a big patch of rocks instead of a lawn. I also plan to wear tiny blue shorts and knee-high white socks, but that's for another post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

in defense of the daddy tax

This is a brief treatise in defense of a small, overlooked, but nonetheless important aspect of fatherhood: the daddy tax.

The daddy tax works like this: any treats that your kids get, you get a little piece first. Snow cones at the park? Dad gets a little bite of each one first. Milkshakes at Dairy Queen? The big guy gets a nice long sip before anyone else. A bag of delicious Skittles? You get the point.

I am thinking about the daddy tax because I just finished invoking it. I was giving o an Otter Pop (which is a very popular treat in our family), when I decided to take a little nibble off the top. O gave me a look that look could've won him a part in Oliver Twist.

I looked at the wee sweet lad and thought, "Oh son. All the toys. The Bob the Builder DVDs. The college tuition. All I have is the daddy tax."

The daddy tax is my way of saying, "I might be a weary, slightly disheveled, uncool working stiff, but I am still the head honcho around this joint, by gum."

So dads everywhere - when the going gets tough, when the diapers get stinky, when the tantrums gets loud - just remember that you have the daddy tax. Take that bite of brownie and be proud of it. And when they shoot you dirty looks, just say, "Be happy I didn't eat the whole thing."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I had an awesome weekend

It's not all that often that I write a post that focuses heavily on something spiritual, but this is going to be one of those posts. Consider thyself warned.

I just returned from the weekend men's retreat for my church. About 60 of us spent two days at the Mountain Top Retreat in southern Oregon. The retreat center itself is unbelievable. As the name would imply, it is on top of a mountain. You can see for miles and miles around. The view is breathtaking. The center is built in a way that makes it very enclosed, quiet and peaceful. Being there just naturally made me want to relax and focus on God.

But here is the interesting part. Two of my old friends from high school came to the retreat with me. These two guys have just recently started coming to our church, Calvary Chapel of Corvallis. They are the most normal, down-to-earth guys you could ever meet. One owns a construction business, the other is training to be a police officer. In case you can't tell, I am framing the story to show you that these guys are not weirdos, because they are going to look a little weird in about two paragraphs.

Both of my friends have been through some very hard times. The stuff of life - marriage problems, financial troubles - things that all of us experience from time to time. They have both had reasons to be angry and confused and disillusioned with God and the whole "church scene." And yes, I agree, the whole "church scene" can be pretty disillusioning sometimes.

But something amazing happened to my friends this weekend on top of the mountain. On Saturday night, these two normal, average-Joe working guys were on their knees, hands raised in the air, worshipping God with everything they had. These are the last two guys in the world that you would ever expect to see doing this. They are the type of guys you would normally expect to make fun of weirdo Christian types.

It truly amazes me that they did this. I expected them to stay in the corner of the room and draw as little attention to themselves as possible during the retreat. After all, that would have been the easier thing to do. To drop to your knees in the middle a room, lift your hands and start singing to God - when the most emotion you normally show is a hand shake or maybe a pat on the back - that takes some guts. Something has to be happening to you. Either you are losing your mind or God is touching you.

They were both so excited to go home and tell their families what happened to them, to see God work in their lives.

To quote one of them directly: "Everything is going to be different now."

I was so privileged to see this happen. Yes, I am little bit of a weirdo Christian type. But on weekends like this I wouldn't want to be anything else.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

of poo and clever schemes

This is a story about poo. But it's also a story about the fascinating if somewhat bizarre cleverness of little boys.

For the last couple of weeks, our little two-year-old, o, has started showing interest in using the potty. Hurray! So we got out the little plastic kid potty and set it up in the boy's bathroom for him.

It works like this: anytime o will sit on the potty and try to make something happen, he gets a little bit of candy. So far, trying is all he's done. But on that very special day when he stands up and there is actually something inside said potty, there will be a massive celebration. There will not be a little bit of candy involved - there will be a lot of candy involved. And so joyous will the moment be that our four-year-old, j, will be included in the dispensation of candy.

Needless to say, j has done some thinking on this. He would really like the potty celebration to happen as soon as possible.

So the other night I am reading on the couch when I hear little j get out of bed, walk into the bathroom, flush the toilet, wash his hands (good boy), and go back to bed.

Perhaps an hour later, I walk into the bathroom and notice something rather odd. There is poo in the little plastic kid potty. I can't believe my eyes.

I go into j's room and find him sitting up in his bed with his hands folded in his lap, almost as if he's been expecting me.

"J," I begin, "there is poo in the little kid potty. Is that your poo?"

"Yes dad."

"Why exactly did you go poo in the little potty when you are supposed to use the big-person potty?"

"Because I wanted you to think that o did it."

He just came right out and said it. It was a bold plan. It failed. And he knew it. So at least he fessed up right away. Here's the part I can't get over - he was smart enough to flush the big toilet, thus adding to the illusion that he was just following the routine as usual. Unbelievable.

While I had to give j a mild lecture on honesty, I could do nothing but shake my head and smile as I shut the door to his room. I have the feeling this will be only the first if many clever little schemes. I just hope it is the last that involves poo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

tagged: six random things

Alright. Time for some tagging fun. Raging Dad tagged me with the following Internet meme called Six Random Things.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag some more people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he/she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

And now for six random things about me:

1. I have a cat named Max who weighs 22 pounds. He is officially classified as morbidly obese. We have had him on a strict diet for several years and still be continues to expand like the national debt.

2. Once, while walking in the park, I saw a squirrel using a little twig as a walking stick. It was walking on its hind legs and holding the stick in its left front paw. I am not making this up. I saw it with my own eyes.

3. I played Hamlet in high school. Holding the skull was the funnest part.

4. My original career plan was to become a high school English teacher.

5. I am trying to learn how to speak Spanish.

6. I still have a comic book collection.

These lucky bloggers are next:

b at the good. the bad. the ugly.
jeremy at unhook me and set me free
angel at The Jackson Life