"The Muffled Cries For Help From a Daddy of Four Beautiful Little Girls"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the Arms of The Angel

Goodness gracious!
I’m not even going to look back and see when the last time was that I posted. (I really don’t have to. I can see that my current banner at the top is laden with leprechauns and shamrocks, so clearly the last time this blog received any attention from me was during the Great Leprechaun Uprising of 1872. Tsk. Tsk. I’ll just leave that up for another month, I guess, and look like I’m a month early for St. Patty’s Day instead of 139 years late for what is generally considered the bloodiest little people war of the modern era.)

So since my last post:
- an ice age has ended
- electricity was discovered and
- New Kids On The Block have gone on tour

It HAS been a long time indeed, and I’ve missed writing and interacting in this way with friends around the country. Writing for me is such a healthy exercise; it’s a kind of proactive way to stave off mental constipation. I can just pour out thoughts, ideas and experiences right here and force you to read it and like it while I go on to think and do other things. So thank you for the role you play in my therapy.

And therapy is what I need because in just a month or so, I’ll be turning 40.
AND my youngest is hitting double digits about the same time.
AND my oldest will be going to high school this year.
AND I have dry, itchy skin.
When will the madness end?

To help celebrate my apparent return, I’m posting a video of a commercial I wrote and which stars my wife. I honestly laugh out loud each time I watch it (tears even, a few times). It’s from last fall at our church, and it was made to inspire people to “adopt” college students and make them feel at home even though they are miles away from their lesser, absent, biological parents. We’ve adopted 5 students so far, and it’s been a blessing to us (and hopefully them as well). But before you get too excited, we should tell you that the IRS has informed us that we should stop claiming them as dependents.

(on my computer at least, this video has the right edge cut off the way it's embedded here, so you might have to click this link to in on Youtube to see it in all its original glory. Sorry.)

Well, it sure feels nice to be on the interweb again. See you again soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

AI: Top 12 Sing Rolling Stones

OK. I'm live-blogging right now while watching American Idol.
It's not the easiest thing. Especially since I'm doing twelve other things at the same time, one of which is watching my daughters playing volleyball with a balloon over a net made out of a Twister mat.

And to top it off, we're not using DVR so I can't rewind to see or hear anything I've missed, like people's names and the titles of songs. I do know that it's Rolling Stones night, but I don't know their music. In fact the only thing I know about the Rolling Stones is that Mick Jagger is one of them, and I was told my senior year of high school that I LOOKED LIKE MICK JAGGER! Seriously, my history teacher walked into class the first day and stared at me and then ran to get the teacher from the class next door to come gawk at me as well.

"Who does he LOOK like?!" he demanded.
Of course, the other teacher guessed things like "Tom Cruise," "Brad Pitt" and so forth. (I made that part up, but after enough times of repeating that, I'm hoping it will become one of those false memories people rave about these days.)

Anyway, Michael did a fine job. I'm evidently too busy typing and reliving my false memories to pay much attention to the actual singing, but he's good and safe for at least three more weeks or longer. He just had a baby, people. You have to like new daddies.

Didi Benihana sang a song about playing with fire and may have done the best job she's done so far. I hope she doesn't mind me saying she looks a lot like Taylor Swift. Sure beats being told she looks like Mick Jagger. Who DOES that?!
Casey James is from Cool, Texas. That's so cool. Plus he has really pretty hair. That hair will carry him to the final four at least. Mark my words! Again, I don't know the Rolling Stones from Stonehenge, so when he sang the words "I used to love her," I was guessing that it would be followed by "but I had to kill her." So I'm a little disappointed.

Lacey Brown is a preacher's kid! Hallelujah! She and I are kindred spirits, and that's worth something. I don't know what, but it's something. I think she's singing "Ruby Tuesday," and that's a great restaurant so that's something too. And--get this--her name is the same as my sister-in-law's maiden name. So that's THREE SOMETHINGS going for her. The only downsides are I didn't like the song and I didn't care for the pirate shirt under the cut-off top of a zombie's wedding dress.

Andrew Garcia with his big ol' glasses is just begging for me to call him Uncle Vito or something. Randy thought he was pitchy. But Ellen who knows nothing about music thought it was his best yet. I'd be disturbed if I were him. And seriously, folks, does anyone else expect fish to swim behind those glasses? Why am I so hung up on those glasses? I'm probably just jealous.

Katie's fans have her head on sticks. You know you've arrived when your head is on a stick. She's singing about wild horses not dragging her away. I know it's a common phrase, but do wild horses really drag things away? Is this something they're known for? I know wild wolves tear victims apart and drag chunks of them away, but wild horses? I thought her voice was weak and shaky, but I assumed it was intentional to sound like she's surrounded by a pack of wild horses about to drag her away.

Tim Urban is singing "Under My Thumb." I don't know the original song, but knowing that it's a Rolling Stones song, I'm going to assume that it probably didn't originally sound as Ukulele-ish as he's doing it tonight. Curious to see what the judge's think...OK, they didn't dig it. But you should know that Cindy was totally grooving with it and it put her in the mood for a fruity drink on the beach.

Siobhan is singing that song about things painted black. The whole prom dress and combat boots look is sure to be replicated at every high school dance this spring. Very cool arrangement and look. Very entertaining. Absolutely awesome scream. All it was missing was biting the head off a bat.

Lee Dewyze is singing "Beast of Burden" which totally conjures up images of burros carrying bags of coffee beans down steep hills in Colombia. The lyrics don't appear to support this idea, so it's probably not a good idea to put me in charge of creating the music video. Lee's sound reminds me of Danny Gokey from last season. And I think if he borrowed any of Danny's 378 pairs of glasses, he'd probably look like him too.

Paige Miles is rocking what looks like a shorts jumper like my girlfriends used to wear in 2nd grade. Are they back? Cindy says they are. She's a gorgeous girl, and pretty girls can wear whatever they want, evidently. "Honkytonk Woman" worked for her too. She's safe.

Aaron Kelly is singing "Angie" or is it "Anjay"? He did a fine job. Randy nailed the description using the word "tender." And Ellen nailed his hair: "Are you trying to look like me?"

Last up, Crystal Bowersox. She's singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Isn't this the song with the choir of children singing? She really needed to bring out a bunch of kids in dreadlocks to back her up. But it was still fine as it was.

To wrap up, most everyone did fine. If I had to pick who to send home, I think it would be Aaron and Katie. I think they're both so young, and you can tell in their voices. But we know they'll get the votes, so I might say Andrew, Didi or Tim might be in danger instead.

For those of you who are judging me for
A) watching American Idol, and
B) writing about it,
I apologize for letting you all down.

Don't worry.
I'll make up for it tomorrow by writing summaries of soap operas and expressing support for the current health care bill.

Monday, March 8, 2010

CH_ _CH. What's Missing? SPELLCHECK!

I really don't like to complain.
It's not a big deal.

I should be able to overlook it.

But put yourself in MY shoes.

I drive by FOUR churches on my way to drop my daughter off at school each morning. And not just any four churches, but four churches with CHURCH SIGNS out front where they can put up messages and announcements.

You're probably thinking I'm going to mock the cutesy trite sayings that many churches put on their signs. Really, I would rather see that than what I've been subjected to for that last several weeks.

Keep in mind that I was an English major. But I'm guessing even some of you Ceramics majors may also cringe when you read the following signs.

CHURCH A: "Be an organ doner. Give God your heart." It's "DONOR," folks. But that's not too bad. I actually suspect that most people won't even notice that misspelling.

CHURCH B: "Jesus Was God's Valintine To Us." Valuntime's with mispeelings are only cyoot win ritten by chidlrun.

CHURCH C: "WENSDAY 6:30" OK. At this point in my morning when I'd already passed two churches with misspellings, I've only got so much grace left to give. And it's not enough to even come close to covering over the multitude of sins that reside in "WENSDAY."

So by the time I see CHURCH D with the word "IMBEDDED" instead of "EMBEDDED," I'm so clouded by my fury, ire and shame that it takes every ounce of strength to keep from plowing my car directly into that sign.

Actually, I exaggerate slightly. I give churches at least a two-day grace period for them to recognize the error of their ways, but some of these still have their misspelling almost a month later.

Is it tacky to call them and tell them? Or should I just take a can of red spray paint and correct them?

(NOTE: I'm sure I have multiple misspellings and grammatical errors in this post. Isn't that iconic? And for the record, "imbedded" is an acceptable alternate spelling of "embedded" but still rubs me wrong.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Too Bad I Don't Have A Podcast

Hi, my name is Barry White.

At least I'm pretending to be Barry White today. There's some serious drainage going on in my throat right now. In addition to irritating me, it's altered my voice and taken it down a couple octave. It also causes the lights to dim and perhaps a lava lamp or two to come on. If only I had a podcast so you could hear this rich, buttery voice of mine.

But mainly it's just irritating. Don't worry, though; it's nowhere NEAR as serious as the throat blisters of death from my college days. I presume my current condition is a direct result of the Olympics. I've been up way too late catching up on all the most important events in the world of curling, biathaloning and cross-country figure-bobsledding. Then last night, my father-in-law took the whole family to the musical "Beauty and the Beast." (I still think Belle and Gaston would've made a good pair if we didn't have to worry about sending the wrong message to our children.)

Anyway, when I get too little sleep, my body responds by producing phlegm in a volume that seems mathematically impossible.

So Barry White will be leading a class at church tonight, then coming straight home to get some sleep...or watch tv until 2 am. It's a toss-up.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Swabbing The Poop Deck

In the arctic regions of Indiana where we live, we've had a fair amount of snow.

And while I've done a decent amount of shoveling snow to clear a place for our dog Cheddar to do his business, he evidently hasn't realized that underneath several inches of snow is our deck, not the yard. So he's simply stepped out onto our deck and peed right then and there. (Once he even left one leg inside in the kitchen and leaned out to urinate. Good grief.)

Then I'd watch him run down the steps to go do #2 on the grass I cleared.

However, as the snow on the deck has melted we've learned that the entire deck was littered with tootsie rolls, for lack of a better term.

I'm guessing I'll need to shovel the entire deck next time it snows. And I guess right now too.

You probably didn't care to know about any of that, right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Forgive Me, Readers, For I Have Sinned

I’m not even going to look at my previous post to see how long ago it was.

It’s possible that some of you have thought I’d moved, died, been kidnapped, abducted by aliens, elected to congress or other such horrifying scenario.

The fact of the matter is this:
I hadn’t been able to get my Blackberry to work right on the post-writing page. Today, I finally modified some settings and it’s working again. I can’t say I know what I did other than check some boxes and uncheck some other ones, but the good news is that I can post again from my Blackberry.

I know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t this guy have access to a computer? Couldn’t he have posted even withOUT a cell phone?”

You would THINK so. But please take into consideration the fact that I have 4 daughters and a wife. So having a desktop computer and two laptops is still three computers too few for me to have much access, much less the quality and quantity of access necessary to write the caliber of blog posts to which you have become accustomed.

To catch you up on our lives, I’m just going to summarily list things from our lives. And then starting with my next post, we'll just go on like we were never apart at all.

* I’m letting my hair grow out. (By “grow out,” I mean that I haven’t shaved my head since last week. It’s winter and longer hair is less likely to retain lint and fuzz from my stocking caps.)

*Three of my daughters just found out yesterday that they made the cuts for the elementary school talent/variety show. I’ll post pictures of their Tootsie Roll costumes later in the week.

* My other daughter is coming out of her shy-shell more and more; last night I dropped her off at an FCA event at a home and she walked all the way up the driveway by herself. No friend. No me. ALL. BY. HERSELF. If you know her, this is indeed a milestone.

* Speaking of milestones, my wife has discovered that I’m not actually turning 40 next month. It’s next YEAR. So if she’d invited you to my surprise 40th party, it’s postponed until at least within 11 months of my actual 40th birthday.

* Cheddar the cheese-loving helldog has only chewed up one antique piece of furniture in recent months, so we’re feeling really good about his maturing process.

* On a related note, we’ve reinstituted the shock collar with the remote control button.

* And finally, we only have two more Christmas decorations left to put away, but as long as we don’t actually turn on the lights on the Christmas topiaries flanking our front door, they look pretty normal…other than the fact that one is leaning at 45-degree angle.
But hey, that’s how we roll. Deal with it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long-Awaited Christmas Letter

Family Investigated For Potentially Attempting to Crash White House Pot-Luck Dinner

Official charges have not yet been brought against the Newland family of Bloomington, Indiana.
By Scott Newland, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 at 9:43AM EST
Scott and Cindy Newland, along with their four beautiful daughters, are coming under close scrutiny after word leaked recently alleging that they had attempted to crash the White House Christmas state dinner last week.

“For the record,” said their attorney, “the Newlands haven’t even been in the D.C. area since 2007. The party that everyone is referring to was not at the White House but at the Whites’ house… Norm and Phyllis White. And they didn’t ‘crash’ the party. They were invited, and Cindy’s mistletoe toilet seat cover was the hit of their gift exchange.”
Nevertheless, the Secret Service has run extensive background checks into the various members of the Newland family.

It appears that Jenna Newland, third grader, is being monitored for potential misdealings in the art world. Her parents acknowledge that she is frequently working on art projects that she gives as gifts, but it is still uncertain whether they are originals or detailed forgeries. They seem to be far too impressive to truly be the work of an eight year old. There is also evidence of her involvement in local soccer and basketball gangs. Jenna appears innocent and happy-go-lucky 99.9% of the time, but it is the other 0.1% which is suspect.

According to an anonymous Secret Service spokesperson named Dwayne, 4th grade Brynne Newland may have political aspirations that make her an especially questionable subject. She is indeed part of her school’s student council, but it is unclear whether rumors of her plans to take over the world are exaggerated. Her interest in jewelry and fashion indicate that her sights are set on something high profile. Brynne also recently has been spied taking piano lessons and seems to be doing physical training through sports to prepare her for some upcoming mission.

Informants report that Shelby Newland is impersonating a fifth grader, but her height-- as tall as her mom-- could blow her cover. Monitors report that her time is split between sports such as softball, soccer and basketball, and voraciously reading every book series she can get her (literally) filthy paws on. Investigators are currently reading through her abnormally large volumes of writing. It could take another year to finish.

Of particular interest to investigators is seventh grade Cassie Newland. Previously, she had presented herself as a shy, unassuming girl, but now in middle school she continues to change her M.O. She has debated and even given a speech running for- and winning- a place in student council. To help determine her potential involvement with seedy characters, her 6,892,043 text messages a month are being monitored. Cassie, now a teenager, claims to love playing the violin. Investigators find this highly suspicious.

Cindy completed coursework and renewed her teaching license and has spent the last year and a half infiltrating the local school system impersonating teachers, primarily at Lakeview Elementary, where the three youngest Newland children attend. Informants say that she appears to be enjoying herself, especially during an 8-week stint in once class while the original teacher was allegedly on maternity leave. Her claims that she was formerly a Redskins cheerleader will be put to the test as she cheers on her daughters at basketball this winter.

Scott, the head of the family, is still posing as a minister, just completing his tenth year at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church. This provides the perfect alibi for the rest of his shady dealings. He continues to direct community youth sports programs with the church amid accusations of betting on preschool soccer.

Perhaps the most suspicious character is Cheddar the Maltipoo. Reports claim he has destroyed nearly 2000 pencils in the past year, but nobody is quite sure why or what the pencils ever did to him.

Inquiries into the family’s earlier whereabouts this year have revealed that they had been spotted in Florida in March gate-crashing a space shuttle launch, in Mexico in June crashing a building project for a home for a needy family, at Niagara Falls in July crashing a boat tour and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in October crashing a humongous pancake fest.

The Secret Service anticipates completing their investigations by next Christmas. For now, the Newlands have issued the following statement:

“We know that we’ve been greatly blessed this year even if we weren’t invited to the White House. We’re thankful for you, our family and friends, and pray that you see God’s blessings in 2010!”