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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

HGTV Has Yet To Call Me

We're getting ready to kick off a new department at our church for 5th and 6th graders. Thus far the 5th graders have been lumped in with the younger children, and the 6th graders have been chillin' with the 7th and 8th graders.

But no more.

Once school starts, they get their own place in our church. A lot of details are yet to be figured out. After all, when you accept the responsibility of molding young hearts and minds and nurturing within them a love for God and for others, there are a lot of things that need to be considered.

Like, what color shag carpet to put in their classroom, and how could we fit a Volkswagen van in the hallway?

Does your church (or your house) have cool ideas for decorating for a preteen room?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Save The Cheerleader, Save The World

(Spoiler Alert!)

I like to give people a glimpse into my life every once in a while.
(Any more often than that, and people find that they exceed their HMO's mental health allowance.)

Today's glimpse involves the TV series "Heroes" and my wife. Some people watch it while it's actually airing on TV. Some people record it on DVR and watch it later at their convenience.

Some people (like us) rent all 7 discs of Season 1 at Blockbuster and barricade themselves in their home and forego eating, bathing and bodily functions because the discs are due on Tuesday and we must. watch. them. all . NOW. The show is addictive because of all the twists and confusing details like who is good or bad, who is alive or dead and who is going to spontaneously explode in the street (or not?).

So today, Cindy went ahead and watched an episode while I was at work. She gave me the following running commentary in an email so I wouldn't miss out on the latest developments. It's a good thing she wrote the explanations, because otherwise I would be totally lost.

(names have been masked slightly so as not to ruin it for those of you who haven't watched it yet.)

"Running account...I think it is all crystal clear now.

"Petr*lli is a good guy. No wait, he's a bad guy. But he may be a good guy. He loves Cla*re. No wait, he's killing Cla*re. Maybe he's bad after all. No wait, that's actually Syl*r killing Cla*re. So maybe he is good after all. But no, now he wants the Dr. to kill someone. So he must be bad.

"Cla*re is alive. She's brunette. She's hiding. She's found. She's being killed.

"Syl*r is alive. No, he's dead. No, he's alive.

"The other Petr*lli has a scar. He's good. No, maybe he's bad.

"H*ro is good. No, he is bad and is killing people. No, there he's good again. Wait. There are two H*ro's. Oh, cr*p. I have no idea what is going on."

That pretty much sums up the show. If any of you are producing movies and you need someone to write summaries for the backs of the dvd cases, just contact Cindy. She has a gift, really.

Oh, and if any of you were in the middle of watching Season 1, and I've just ruined it for you, just squeeze your eyes shut really hard and quiver a little bit...

and you can travel back in time 2 minutes to before you read this. But be sure to write a note on the back of your hand that tells you not to read this post.
If you don't watch the show, then you won't get those instructions and you'll just look really stupid trying.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Know You're Hoping I'll Send You A Letter

I just saw the neatest innovation in stationery. It's far superior to the homemade "From the Desk of Scott" stuff I made in junior high. It even rivals the set of post cards my Aunt Glenda gave me that had colorful animals with lines on their bellies to write on.

I was as the zoo last week with my family, compliments of my dear father-in-law, and the gift shop was sporting this awesome stationery.

It was thick and sturdy and clearly recycled.
It had chunks of grass and seeds and fruit and who knows what else.
It looked so wholesome and earth-friendly, I almost grew dreadlocks and stopped shaving my legs right then and there.

Then, upon closer examination I saw that it was "PooPooPaper." It is actually made out of elephant dung. I knew from previous research (don't ask) that an elephant can unload almost 100 pounds of poo a day. They've been doing this for centuries, so when you calculate the number of elephants times the number of days in a year times the number of years elephant are likely to keep pooping, the obvious consequences are staggering.

I saw the apocalyptic thriller "Wall-E" a couple weeks ago, and now I'm forced to consider another version of that story in which the world is overrun with elephant dung.

Fortunately for us (and for our great- great- great- great- great- great- great grandchildren), the PooPooPaper company is here to save the day. Instead of sitting idly by watching Africa and India buried under fibrous mountains of elephant poo, they collect it and wash it and make paper and envelopes and such.
And then we can go online and buy a set of 6 sheets and 6 envelopes for only $15.99 plus $6.50 shipping and handling.

I am SO going to try cashing in on this. If people are willing to pay almost $4 per letter/envelope made of stinky elephant poo, imagine how they'd be falling over themselves to get in line to buy cute little MaltiPooPaper. That fictitious new carpet would be paid for in no time.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Preemptive Strike

Over at my wife's blog yesterday, she posted some insanely cute photos of our angelic pup, Cheddar. She didn't write any words other than the title "He Looks Sweet and Innocent, Doesn't He?"

With a teaser like that, she's pretty much implying that perhaps he's not as sweet and innocent as he looks. Pay no attention to her. She'll probably follow up tomorrow with outlandish descriptions of mayhem and horror, trying to gain sympathy from her readers.

Don't believe her if she tries to convince you that cuddly Cheddar is capable of gnawing on sofas and clawing the newly refinished coffee table.

She may make it sound like Cheddar ripped the arm off of our youngest daughter, but really there was very little actual blood at all.

And the whole "mistaking our carpet for his personal latrine" is a slight exaggeration.

As a point of comparison, let's remind ourselves that our own precious human babies

* threw up a huge puddle on my lap on an airplane, which smelled just like Strawberry Quik mixed with baby formula...because it was

* spilled paint on the carpet
* woke us up in the middle of the night, every night, for months
* said "NO!" to our faces, quite willfully
* decorated the sink with fingernail polish
* cried over silly things like hunger, dirty diapers and ear infections

But you don't ever read of her wishing to drop our children off at the animal shelter, do you?

Really, Cheddar is doing great for a puppy his age. He actually does sleep through the night, going down about 10:00 p.m. and getting up about 7:00 a.m. and that's huge to me. Plus, a good 85% of his bodily functions take place out of doors (Cindy can't even say that about herself). He doesn't bark much at all; I expected him to be a yapper, but he's really more of squeaker and only gets loud on rare occasions, much less frequently than the kids fer shur.

So if you ever read of anything negative about Sacred Most Holy Cheddar at her blog, it's most likely propoganda designed to promote the "Let's Buy New Carpet and Furniture" Campaign, so don't get too worked up just yet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

With a Capital T and that Rhymes With P

And that stands for "pool."

For those of you concerned over our pool's temporary lack of a pump/filter, you'll be happy to know that Mr. UPS brought the new one today. Within minutes I had it connected. Admittedly, it's an unprofessional job, seeing as how it's probably the wrong pump for the pool with mismatched hose sizes and all. Fortunately, I used to watch MacGyver, so armed only with a screwdriver, a lemon, some duct tape and a bobby pin, I was able to get it to operate perfectly [almost].

I really had expected the pool to turn green, hazy and slimy by now. After all, even WITH the pump last year, it still managed to get out of control in a matter of days. So why is it that it could go almost a week this year and stay crystal clear? I will not attempt to understand the ways of the pool.

Since the installation involved homemade connections, I fully anticipate that it may implode overnight, so I've instructed the kids to hurry up and get a summer's-worth of swimming in today, just in case.

Also, I read online (which makes it true) that poodles and malteses are natural swimmers. That was all the info I needed to throw Cheddar into the pool and see if he surfaced. He did!

(This isn't really Cheddar, but it looks just like him when wet. Pathetic, emaciated, bedraggled.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

My First YouTube--Brynne's Baptism

In case you want to see some phenomenal baptism action in the Pacific Ocean, here's Brynne at the end of our mission trip:

O.K. So I guess it's like 5 minutes long, which is a bit much. So feel free to skip to the 2:20 marker to get right to the baptism. And a slide show follows.

It might just interest family and friends who know her. The rest of you will just have to kick yourselves for not knowing her.

lefft-handed ppost

Just for fu, I thought I'd try writingan entire post with my left hand using my blackberry.

The main reasaon for this experiment is becase there is a harpoon-sized needle in my right arm here at Jim Bob's Plasma Sales & Bait Shop.

Now that we're done saving plasma income for our mexico mission, the next several gallons of liquid gold are going to pay for such necessities as gas, sugar-coated cereal and hair-detangler...or whatever else ends up on our shopping list.

[Note: I am doing a great job with my left thumb. My right thumb is going to start worrying about being out of a job.]

[Message from right thumb: "not wrried onbe buit."]

Anyway, I keep running into people who also sell their plasma. It's been affirming to learn that I'm not the only one I know who is "whoring out my blood" (as one friend puts it). I just saw a friend when I came in today, and we exchanged a look that said, "I can't believe they're paying us to sit here and read/blog."

Plus, I get to go home knowing that I'm contributing to the ever-growing plasma tv industry. (That what my plasma is used for, right?)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Spokesman For Crocs

[unpaid testimonial]
I had taken a moral stand against Crocs, those fake plasticy rubbery shoe thingies that everyone in the world seemed to be wearing.

They're ugly, cheap-looking (in spite of the large price tag), and ugly enough to use the word a second time.

Generally, I don't buy trendy clothes. I inherit some every once in a while, but I have no style of my own. Instead of feeling cheap and out-of-touch with culture, sometimes it's just easier to make fun of culture and trends and act like you're above it all. So no Crocs for me, thank you.

Then I got my own pair of Crocs for my birthday in March.
And I haven't taken them off since.

When I went to Mexico and California this summer, all I took were my Crocs and my steel-toed workboots for the construction site. (Oh. I also took clothes, for those of you who read things very literally.)
Camping? Crocs for sure.
Yardwork, mowing, pool-maintenance, sleeping on the couch? Crocs.

At the office? I've worn the Crocs there too.
Well, one day last week I'd slipped the Crocs on to take the dog out in the morning and then forgot to take them off because they are so comfortable. I had some explaining to do for each person who asked why I was wearing these blue plastic shoes with my tan dress pants and brown socks.

Sure, I could've driven home and changed shoes, but these things are like walking on foamy bits of heaven, so I suffered through a day's worth of comments on my clothing coordination shortcomings.

I feel so silly for having shunned these shoes for so long. Perhaps I should also give in and consider trying those new-fangled portable phone things or one of those countertop ovens that cook using microwave technology or what-not.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Actually, it's not like I feel obligated to write more. It's not as if the huddled masses are yearning to read my latest prose, and I am standing in the way of their last morsel of joy left on this planet.

No, I simply need to start writing again because my head is about to explode from all of the input without any output. And if you watch any of the twenty-leven varieties of CSI, then you probably know that exploding heads can be messy...even without the blacklights.

However, my fear is that the only things that may come out when I write will be about...



Ever since we brought home little Cheddar, life has come to a grinding halt. It's like having a new baby. I knew that beforehand, but I guess I didn't really know, you know?

Since some of youz peoples don't like to read about other people's pets as much as you like reading about other people's sad lives, I'll find more exciting things to share.

Like today I "finished" setting up our pool. It's one of those vinyl, blow-up kind. It's a decent size, 15-feet across and more than 3-feet deep. It came with a pump and filter and everything. We bought it last year and loved it.

When I went to set it up several weeks ago, lo and behold I discovered that I had thrown away the pump when I cleaned out the garage. This is exactly why I should never ever clean the garage. Evidently, I mistook the pump for an older pump from an older, damaged pool. Makes me wonder what else I threw out. Anybody seen Jenna lately?

So I ordered a new pump online yesterday and went ahead and filled up the pool without a pump/filter. We'll just see how many days our kids can swim in unfiltered/unpumped water before they develop green skin, worms or mange. The new pump should get here by the end of the week, and I fully anticipate that by then it will have its work cut out for it.

(Don't worry. I'll test the water, and if it's unsafe, I'll keep my kids out. The neighbor kids would still be welcome, of course.)

And if you were wanting a little puppy info, here's all you get today: Cheddar's in the habit of sleeping in his crate listening to an instrumental easy-listening music station on our satellite tv until the timer goes off. I'm pretty sure that if John Tesh ever visits our home, I betcha a million dollars Cheddar would absolutely get so excited he'd pee on the floor.
Well, a wind ensemble is playing "The Wind Beneath My Wings," so that's my cue to head to bed so I can get some shut-eye before I am awakened to escort Cheddar out to the urine fields.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Friends In High Places

Our friends Mike and Michelle are AWESOME.
I really should just publish their phone number and address so that you can go see for yourselves. Their home is in a neighborhood perched up on a hill overlooking the Pacific ocean from a short distance. Absolutely gorgeous.

After we crossed the border from Mexico, we were excited to get to spend the next several days with these dear friends whom we hadn't seen for a couple of years. We really think of them more like family. (The good kind of family, not the dysfunctional kind with the guilt trips, mind games and felonious uncles and such.)

Even though we had just come from camping and building houses in Mexico with no running water--and all the personal fragrances that accomany such a lifestyle--they opened their doors to us and allowed our family of six to join their family of five for a few days.

While I'm sure it was an inconvenience in so many senses of the word, they never made us feel like it. In fact, Mike said at least 37 times a day, "I'm SOOOO glad you guys are here!"

We were able to accomplish everything on my California To-Do List with our friends:
* Eat seafood
* Go to the beach
* Get a nap
* Apply too little sunscreen on my blonde girls and cause them to turn bright red, sensitive to touch, and untrusting of their father.

Well, the last item wasn't actually on the list, but if I add it, it gives me one more thing I'm able to say I checked off.

Additionally, we had the pleasure of attending church with them. I ALWAYS love going to friends' churches when I get the chance. Being a minister, I'm pretty committed to attending my own church most Sundays. Go figure. I did find it interesting that there's a policy requiring an adult to inspect the playground before kids come out. Rattlesnakes! I'm picturing Sunday school teachers going through training on Bible curriculum, discipline and sucking venom out of snake-bit children.

We were also introduced to Vietnamese food at a great little restaurant. Believe it or not, all of the kids ate their food without any issues at all. Children who might balk at the wrong kind of chicken nugget breading ate Vietnamese soups of indeterminable ingredients. Well, actually, it was pretty much chicken noodle soup with shrimp instead of chicken, but still they demonstrated how "foodventurous" they are. (I just made up that word this very moment, so maybe I should trademark it or something. If it turns out that the term is already out there, then you are not obligated to pay for rights to us it in your blogs.)

One of the most memorable aspects of this visit was little 5-year-old Marcus refering to me as "That Bald Guy." I was a little concerned he wouldn't connect with me anymore. He's always had a thing for hair. You know, one of those babies who's always stroking mommy's hair for comfort. So I thought he may have little or no use for a smooth head like mine. However, several times a day he just sidled up next to me to slide his hand under my ball cap and just rest it on my dome for a few moments.

He was so cute about it that I didn't mind at all that he never seemed to remember my name.

I won't bore you with more details of the warm fuzziness of being with our great friends that we don't get to see enough of.

There were tears in both families when we left...and excitement starting to plan our next visit!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thank You For Your Prayers

While I appreciate everyone who was thoughtful and caring for praying for us while we were in Mexico, I neglected to ask for specific prayers regarding our health and safety in the States.

I wrote about those crazy Mexican Drug Lords a few posts ago, but lo and behold, there are some shady characters in California as well. Plus a couple in Nevada and one in Duluth.

I've read those same urban myths you have about flashing your brights and getting shot by gang members or having your kidneys removed in a hotel bathtub full of ice. So when I was driving south of L.A., I got a little anxious when an SUV behind me flashed its brights at me a couple of times.

My pulse was racing as I said a half dozen quick prayers in English and Spanish (just in case). I slowed down, allowing the crazed murderer in the SUV to pass. I quickly bobbled my head in various directions thereby making my brain a difficult target for the automatic weapons they doubtlessly had pointed my way. You might think I should have woken up my sleeping wife, but I figured she'd rather die in her sleep rather than in a groggy, dry-mouthed, tongue smacking state.

My entire body froze as their vehicle pulled right in front of me and then tapped its brake lights a few times to flash further death threats at me. I braced for impact and made note of the location of the shoulder as well as the other cars I would need to avoid once I was dead and slumped over the wheel.

I glanced down at the speedometer quickly and realized it was hard to read it now that the sun was setting and it was dark on this 31-lane highway. Didn't this rental car have darkness sensors that automatically turned on the headlights and all the glowing dials?

Evidently not.

And evidently in Californina, even gang members who are weilding grenade launchers have enough courtesy to flash their lights at morons who drive at night with their headlights off.

So someone was still praying for us.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"When Can We Go Back?"

Brief List of Highlights from our Family's Mission Trip:

* Seeing 7-year-old Jenna taking pride in shoveling the prescribed amount of cement mix from a wheelbarrow into each pail.
* Every time I saw Cassie smile which she quickly wiped off anytime anyone noticed.
* Handing the keys to the new house over to Patricia (Patty) and her family. I should note that you would all have been proud of me for not even once making a joke out Patty's name which is pronounced "pOtty."
* Helping Mexican moms dig through a box of new flip-flops and colored cloth strips in order to decorate their own fancy schmancy footwear.
* Working alongside a father and his two children whose wife/mother had made them promise to come back and build more houses even after she died last fall.
* Returning to the comforts of our tent community each evening after laboring all day at the work sites. I truly slept better on my air mattress than I did on the pillow-topped, down-comforter-covered beds at the hotel when we came back.
* Worshiping each night, singing in English AND Spanish. Caution: If you mix around a few letters accidentally, what is meant to be "Build your house on the rock" becomes "Raise your glass to your mouth."
* Baptizing my 8-year-old daughter in the Pacific Ocean. Because of the dangerous undertow, we stayed close to shore, and I baptized her in about a foot of water, waiting for the next big wave to assist us in the actual immersion part. Then we came back to shore and chipped off the icicles and celebrated!

I can't say enough good about the dual outcomes of this trip each year:
1. Mexican families receiving new homes
2. American families with children as young as 5 getting the picture that God has blessed us with money and hands and feet and eyes and ears and hearts to serve and love our neighbors. There is so much need in the world, and our children are experiencing first-hand that there is something they can do about it.