Thursday, July 28, 2011

v2, d388: Hasta Lasagna

About to head out to church camp with the preteens.  Would appreciate your prayers for endurance, wisdom, and good temperament.  Also that we will stay safe in the 100+ temperatures that are forecasted all weekend.   And for spiritual growth for each of our campers.

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all.  I'll see you on Monday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

v2, d387: Unfinished

I have a lot of blog posts started in my head, but none of them have come to a conclusion yet.  Which, if the past is any indicator, means many of them will never come to be, especially after a weekend at preteen camp. 

I will finish vacation write-ups after I get back. 

Mostly, I'd like to reflect on how basically everything about my life is so radically different now that I haven't had a full-time job in the past three weeks.  I know I've touched on it, but the whole situation has got my mind turning over the idea of Change.  I'm talking Big-C Change, major Change.  Paradigm-shift Change.  Moving away from home, having kids, amputating a leg, buying a goldfish.  You know.  That sorta stuff.  Because really, since I left the players, everything has changed.  My schedule, my priorities, my friendships, my energy level, my financial health.  Everything.  Some of it has hurt.  Some of it has caused others to hurt.  Some has healed.  Some has helped others.  Some has neither hurt nor healed yet, but believe me it's going to before too long.  And a lot of it is just different. 

It's a wacky thing, Big-C Change, and I don't think you can really wrap your mind around it sufficiently until after the Change has become the new norm.  Which, I guess, is why I can't come to a tidy conclusion the more I think about it. 

So for now, we'll leave this blog post unfinished.  Maybe I'll have something more definitive around time for my Year-In-Review.

Monday, July 25, 2011

v2, d386: A) and B)

Hello friends.  I didn't blog all weekend.  That is because A) Saturday, Tarvis the Awesome set up a night out to see Captain America, which was pretty good and featured an Avengers teaser after the credits, and B) I accidentally went to sleep at about 9:30 on Sunday.  Woke at five this morning and had a pretty good day. 

I also won't be blogging the back half of this week, because I'm leaving on Thursday morning with eight preteens and two other adults to go to church camp.  Thursday through Monday.  Starting at 7:00 a.m. every day and going till lights out at 11:00 p.m.  Pray for me. 

So you'd think I'd have lots of good blogging for you today to make up for it, but I don't because A) I've spent a good amount of time working on my book blog already today (still haven't finished the entry) and I'm getting 'over' blogging for today, and B) what I have to share is far better than anything I could say anyway. 

This is on my heart tonight.  It's Colossians 3: 12-17. 

"12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

So much good stuff packed in there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

v2, d385: 1996

Hi everyone.  Welcome to 1996.  Home of Joe Sakic and the Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche.  (Tricky to find some music videos from 1996, by the way)

Thank you good night. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

v2, d384: FeverGate

Putting "Gate" after anything makes it sound more exciting.

Can't type long tonight, because I'm working on putting together a "professional" web site, but I thought I ought to check in and let everybody know that Robbie's fever went down this morning and stayed down, so we didn't have to go back to the doctor.  So, praise the Lord for that. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

v2, d383: Disappointment!

Well, the news from here is still pretty bad, as Robbie's temperature finally dipped below 100 right around dinner only to shoot back up to 102 in time for bed.  Back to the doctor we go.

So to lighten up the mood around here, I made y'all another crossword puzzle!!!  But, I'm having trouble getting it posted onto here in a way that you can actually read the numbers...I'll keep trying.  It's been a long while since we've had some good clean crossword fun around here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

v2, d382: Not a high point

Today was a rough day.  Robbie still has a pretty intense fever (it was 102.8 as of about 4:30 this afternoon) and Isaac is still just as demanding as when he's the only kid around.  Also, they tag-teamed it so that one would wake up moments after I'd get the other to settle down for a rest.  As a result, the dishes and laundry I hoped to get at today didn't necessarily get done.  Also also, as I finally settled down to bed at about three this morning (because that is, it appears, just the way I roll these days), Robbie suddenly woke, screaming that there were bugs in his room and asking me to squish them, so I didn't get to sleep until about four. 

Kim was, of course, awesome today, going into work late so I wouldn't have to wake up at seven-thirty like I usually do, and giving me a brief rest period after she got home from work, but the day, on the whole, was just pretty rough. 

That said, it wasn't bad. Just hard.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit easier. 

Signs your 4-year-old may be watching a little too much Wall-E:

--You're playing airplane with him, and you get to be the pilot.  You're awfully tired, though, so you tell him you're just going to turn on the auto-pilot and close your eyes for a bit.  "Don't do that!" he says.  "Why not?" you ask.  "Because I don't WANT you to do that," he replies.  "Why don't you WANT me to do that?" you ask, reasonably enough.  "Well," he says as though it should be obvious, "I did watch that one movie."

--You ask him to pick up some papers from the floor in his bedroom and throw them away.  He scrambles down the hallway.  A minute later, he returns with a bulge under his shirt.  He goes to the trash can, opens his shirt, and dumps the trash in before going to get some more.

--You are sitting in the doctor's office, waiting (of course).  You've been waiting for quite a while.  "I don't want to wait any more," he whines.  "We have to," you say.  "The doctor will be here as soon as she can."  "But I don't want to just sit here," he complains. "I wanna live!"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

v2, d381: Shortie

Just gonna ask for prayers tonight. Robbie had a 101 degree temp tonight and has complained off and on about stomach aches the past couple days.  Also says it hurts when he goes to the restroom sometimes.  So I'm taking him to the doctor tomorrow. 

Also, Isaac is overdue for his four month immunization shots, so we'll go ahead and get that out of the way while we're there.

It's gonna be a hap-hap-happy day at my place tomorrow, let me tell you.

Here: why not watch Joe Sakic win $500,000 for charity by hitting a hole-in-one at a celebrity golf tournament? 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

v2, d380: This 'N That

Sorry about no posting yesterday.  I accidentally fell asleep.  I slept for about 10 hours.  Trust me, it was needed.  I think I caught a few winks in my office at church during the last day of VBS. 


As we've discussed on this blog a couple of times, I have the privilege of telling my older son a bedtime story every single night.  Well, every night that I'm home at bedtime, that is.  For about a year, these stories featured some characters I had made up, Harry Bear and Scary Bear.  Within the last few months, however, Robbie has almost exclusively asked for stories about Thomas the Train and his friends.  Folks, Thomas the Train is a train.  There's only so much you can do with that.  So I usually end up saying, more or less, the first thing that comes to mind, and I speak very slowly until I come up with something I haven't used before.  And of course, once I've said something, I really can't take it back, so we occasionally end up with some very un-Thomas like stories.

Where is all of this going?  Last night, Thomas met a cyclops. 


VBS seemed to go very well once it got started.  Everybody really seemed to be having a great time just about all week.  It was a long week, especially since we wouldn't get home until after 9 p.m.  (Robbie's bed time is usually 9 at the latest)  And for some reason, I still can't sleep until about 3 a.m., but I have to get up to run Kim and Robbie to work and school, respectively.   A good week, but man were we exhausted.  I definitely learned a LOT of things I'll do better/differently next year.  (I also learned exactly how much money you could spend on VBS if you wanted to.  Sure, I'll pay $15 for a chart to write the kids' names on!  What a great deal!) 

Anyway, thanks to everyone who prayed I'd make it through the week.  Really, after Monday, there wasn't much left for me to do.  I walked around all Tuesday trying to figure out if I needed to be stressing about anything. 


Apparently, MSN messenger is just DONE with me.  Sorry, Sherri.


Lunchtime conversation today:

Keep in mind, we've been sitting and quietly eating our frozen pizzas.  Suddenly, between bites, Robbie asks, "Why does a cyclops only have one eye?"
Me: Excuse me?
Robbie: How come cyclops only have one eye?
Me: Well...I don't really know, actually.
Robbie: Because that's the way God made them?
Me: Well, no...actually, a cyclops is from another, really old story.  They're not real.
Robbie: Why?
Me: A loooong time ago, somebody made up stories, and they had cyclopes in them, and in those stories they only had one eye.  So it's not real.
Robbie: Why?

I'm not sure what I said next, but I believe it was roughly akin to, "Eat your pizza." 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Isaac and I watched the USA's Women's World Cup match this afternoon.  It was pretty fun.  Imagine the mental toughness it takes to play on that stage!  I saw one American player blow a scoring opportunity, and you could tell how frustrated she was.  And really, it's no wonder, because the game plays out like team chess.  It takes so much hustle and strategy just to get a single scoring opportunity.  In 90 minutes of play, there really aren't that many legitimate chances to get a goal.  You shoot it wide once, you might not get another decent look all day.  Crazy.  I can't...I can't feel my...OH THE HUMANITY!   Tell my family I love them!  I...I...nah, I'm fine, I'll keep playing." 

(That's an exaggeration.  A little) 

Really, though, I don't think soccer players flop because they're "sissies" who can't take a little contact (Hello, NBA!).  Rather, when you consider how much freaking running they're doing in a sport that doesn't take commercial time-outs, I think I'd take every opportunity to stretch out on the grass for ten seconds or so, too. 

One of my facebook friends pointed out how nobody actually cares about women's soccer, and most of the people cheering for the US right now are just bandwagon fans.  Well, maybe.  I probably won't get to know much about these players or follow their careers all that closely after this event (though "Hope Solo" is up there among Kevin Youkilis and Cal Clutterbuck and a few others for my favorite current sports names).  But I'm an American, and I like to see American teams do well.  And I can tell from watching this one game and doing the quick recap on the rest of the tournament that this is a great team, and I like to see great teams do well (as long as I don't hate them).  So yes, I'm stoked for the Gold Medal Match, and no, I don't claim to be what many would consider a "legitimate" women's soccer fan, but I don't think that gives me any less right than to cheer on the ladies of USA Soccer and be excited when they beat Japan for the championship.  Just like I didn't begrudge the thousands of Lightning fans who weren't around when we thought Jason Wiemer would be the cornerstone around which we were going to build our franchise or Art Williams said Vinny L was "the Michael Jordan of Hockey".  Sports should be fun.  And winning is fun.  Sometimes, it's okay to let others share the celebration :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

v2, d378: VBS

A sad reality: every post I write puts the Walrus Dance-Break one post closer to being off the front page forever.  Suddenly my usual blog fodder seems so inadequate...

Incidentally, I lost one of my followers overnight.  Sorry, whoever was severely turned off by Walrus Dance-Break.

When I did the search that ended up yielding that particular .gif, all i was really looking for was this guy:
Anywho, I'm pretty beat.  My first ever VBS is now up and running. On the whole, I'd say it's going well enough.  I see things that I want to do better next year, and a lot of it comes with earlier planning.  That's sort of been the theme of this year.  It's fun to be a part of, though.  Makes me remember why I always loved VBS when I was a kid.  Was one heck of a stress-fest getting everything set up in time for the first night, and then we had some road bumps along the way to getting all of our stations situated once we'd started, but now things all seem to be functioning just fine.  I spent all yesterday morning, early afternoon, and evening getting things where they needed to be.  Once we sent the kids on their way to their crafts, Bible studies, and games tonight, there wasn't really much left for me to do.  It was such an abrupt shift from the night before that I wondered if I was missing something really important.  Anyway, it's up, and kids and adults seem to be having fun, so I'm at least happy on that front :-)

I'm actually pretty excited about this next year.  Now that I've spent the past year learning the ropes on all of our big events, I feel like I finally know what I'm doing.  Looking forward to adding and enhancing some of our kids ministries as the year unfolds. 

VBS, by the way, is why you've heard so little of me these past few days.  That, and I've been getting to sleep between 2 and 3 a.m. pretty consistently now for several weeks.  The past few days, my head ached and my muscles were sore despite the fact I hadn't really done much physical activity in a week (too exhausted), so that's probably not healthy.  Maybe that'll get better now that VBS is up. 

Here's hoping. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

v2, d377: *ahem*

That is all. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

v2, d376: Vacation Part 3: The Stanley Cup

Robbie slept in the car from Legoland to the airport.  After a fairly miserable experience with San Diego traffic the day before (the company wasn't miserable, the traffic was), I overshot for my estimated return time and we got to the airport a little early.  (I tend to overshoot travel times anyway because, let's face it, who knows what could happen between Point A and Point B?)  I'd planned on looking for a spot to eat dinner on the way home, but because California doesn't believe in telling you what's coming up at the next exit and because Robbie was sleeping anyway, we ended up going straight to the airport. 

Now, I obviously knew that Game Seven between the Bruins and the Canucks was going on that night (hard to believe both of those teams were a Game Seven OT goal away from being ousted in the first round, eh?), so I may have subconsciously hoped we wouldn't find anywhere to eat before the airport in the hopes that I'd find a sit-down restaurant at the terminal with a TV tuned to the game.  I may also have consciously hoped for that.  At any rate, SAN delivered.  There was a Chili's just a hundred yards or so from the baggage claim.  Perfect.  Robbie likes Chili's, I like Chili's, Chili's always has sports on, my chances were pretty good.  The hostess asked how many. I said that we were two, and if possible we'd like to sit someplace where we could see the hockey game.  I need not have made the extra request, though.  Every TV in Chili's was showing the B's and the 'Nucks.  (For a complete list of places I can remember ringing in the Stanley Cup Champions, see the end of this post)  What made the evening even more fun was the fact that there were about four Boston fans sitting at the bar. 

While I had been driving from Legoland, I got a phone call.  In California, it's illegal to talk on the phone while driving, so I didn't check my message until we sat down at Chili's.  It was from Kim, and her flight had been delayed.  I looked up at the TV.  Just about two full periods to go.  Unless the game went overtime, we had a shot to catch the whole thing.  What was left of it, of course.  It was a pretty good game.  Boston was up 1-0 when we arrived.  When they scored again to go up two-nil, Chili's actually rang with applause.  I'd never been to a restaurant where there were more than two other people watching the hockey game with me.  It was kind of cool.  (I do plan to make it out to the Maple Leaf Pub at some point next year, because that place just sounds awesome)  The only damper on the evening was that the service was atrociously slow.  I, of course, can grant some grace for that sort of thing, but a drowsy, hungry three-year-old has a little more trouble comprehending why he can't just get a glass of water when we've been sitting at the table for twenty minutes (or, in three-year-old time, "so so long").  When Patrice Bergeron scored to make it 3-0, you could tell the game was over.  The final period would be played as formality only. 

With about four minutes to go in the game, I get a call from Kim.  Her flight has just landed, she says.  I tell her we're just around the corner from the baggage claim, so could she call me once they'd gotten off the plane and to the baggage carousel?  She said sure, and I hoped this would buy me enough time to get to the celebration.  I love the moment when the Cup is won and sticks and gloves fly into the air and goalies get mobbed. It's a beautiful moment.  Even with an empty-net goal and the subsequent celebration, I still got to catch the final buzzer.  As teammates swarmed around Official FOMW Favorite Tim Thomas, the phone rang again.  Kim and Isaac were at the baggage claim.  Perfect. 

As Robbie and I left the Chili's, I realized that we were the last ones there.  In fact, they'd even closed the pull-down grate halfway.  They were ready to shut down, but rather than ask me to leave they'd let me finish out the end of the game.  Slow service or not, that's classy.  We'd  had a fun day at Legoland and a good dinner, I'd got to watch the Stanley Cup, and now my family was together again for the rest of vacation.  Not bad at all.


Incidentally, every year, the CBC puts together a montage of the entire playoffs that airs as they sign off from their coverage of the last Cup Final game.  It's always awesome.  Last year's is still my favorite (by far), but here's this year's montage anyway:

2011: Game 7, Boston over Vancouver: Chili's restaurant, San Diego International Airport w/ Robbie
2010: Game 6, Chicago over Phildelphia: At home with Tarvis and Deb (Kim was around but not watching)
2009: Game 7, Pittsburgh over Detroit: At home, watching the closing moments w/ Dave on the phone and planning our Victory Party at Denny's
2008: Game 6, Detroit over Pittsburgh: At Dav's Holly Hall apt with Dave as Hossa put the puck just wide of the far post as time expired
2007: Game 5, Anaheim over Ottawa: Texas Woman's Hospital, Kim's room, with Kim and Christa.
2006: Game 7, Carolina over Edmonton: The Braesmont apartment with Jason B
2005: No Stanley Cup due to stupidity
2004: Game 7, Tampa Bay over Calgary: I actually missed this game because I was in rehearsal for Oklahoma! at Horsefeathers and Applesauce Professional Dinner Theater.  Our TD's girlfriend was a big TB fan, tho, so she was texting him updates to send along to me. Got the final score right before the final time running through The Farmer and the Cowman for the last time that night
2003: Game 7, New Jersey over Anaheim: At The Quality In in Bowling Green, Ohio, the day before loading into The Huron Playhouse.  Roommate A.J. was sleeping at the time
2002: Game 5, Detroit over Carolina: In my apartment at Horsefeathers and Applesauce, throwing my empty water bottle at Dominik Hasek.  Friend Tony was in the room at the time
2001: Game 7, Colorado over New Jersey: Listening to the scrambled, fuzzy picture on the black-and-white TV I lugged up the hill at H&A to the scene shop so I could listen to the game while weaving those #*@& giant potholders we used for the South Pacific set.
2000: Game 6: New Jersey over Dallas: Was driving home for the weekend during my first H&A summer; walked in the door just as New Jersey scored the OT winner
1999: Game 6, Dallas over Buffalo: Had a dress rehearsal for My Fair Lady with Wellington Community Theater. My dad was recording the game and I hoped to watch it when I got home.  Instead, the game went three overtimes, so I watched those live instead (with my Dad)
1998: Game 4, Detroit over Washington: Was vacationing in California and missed this one.  Really didn't feel like watching Detroit win another Stanley Cup, not after...
1997: Game 4, Detroit over Philadelphia: At home in Wellington, watching with my dad. 
1996: Game 4, Colorado over Florida: At home, watching with Mom, Dad, and Christa.  Triple-overtime was a huge deal back then, because at this point I rarely stayed up till midnight, let alone till one a.m.
1995: Game 4, New Jersey over Detroit: The first of four straight sweeps; an afternoon game while I was in California, watching with Dad, Uncle Jim, and Gramps. 
1994: Game 7, New York (R) over Vancouver: At home, watching with whole family.  Vancouver rioted after losing that one, too.  (First time I ever watched the Stanley Cup awarded)

Friday, July 8, 2011

v2, d375: Opening

I'm just going to say that I enjoyed tonight's performance.  I think everyone has put together a pretty solid production of Emma, overcoming what were (in my opinion) obstacles within the script itself to put up an enjoyable 2.5 hours of theatre and some charming summer entertainment fare.

Also: Jane Austen adaptations always, without fail, make me think, Wow, parties really sucked back then.

Also also: Man, they have really cut back on the post-show receptions in the past few years, haven't they?  (That said, man that fruit was good)

And that's enough for public consumption :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

v2, d374: Legoland

The second day (first full day) of our vacation was pretty much Robbie and Daddy's Day Out.  We rented a car and drove about an hour to Legoland, the theme park where pretty much everything is Legos.  I was actually not a huge Lego kid growing up for some reason, but Robbie has some Duplo blocks that he absolutely loves sometimes, so he was pretty excited to be going to a place called "Legoland," even if he didn't really know what it was. 

It was overcast and chilly pretty much the entire day, which is actually pretty close to perfect theme park weather unless you planned on getting terribly wet.  Robbie was really excited to go on his first roller coaster. He's loved watching Youtube videos of roller coasters because they're like trains.  I thought he was adequately prepared for the fact that they go pretty fast...well, Robbie's first coaster was an outright disaster.  He didn't like waiting in line for thirty minutes, and then as soon as the mighty Coastersaurus (the tamest coaster in the park) took that first hill, he bawled the entire rest of the ride.  He was actually ready to go home at that point, and I was afraid our day was going to go down in family history as one of the biggest bummers in summer vacationdom.  Just next to Coastersaurus was a small sand pit that kids could dig in, so I let Robbie play in the sand for about fifteen minutes.  That took some of the edge off the coaster fiasco, but he was pretty apprehensive about going on any more rides.  In fact, any time I'd ask if he wanted to go on one, he'd ask, "Is it a slow ride?"  Our next ride was the Safari Trek, where an electric miniature jeep carries you down a winding path with a bunch of safari animals (and one panda?), all made entirely out of Lego.  (By the way, if you grow tired of the "It's made of Lego!" shtick, the park is going to get really old really fast)  After our safari, we went to find some pizza and instead Robbie found some water cannons he could play with for about twenty minutes.  The pizza place was also next to a playground.  The playground had a small train ride. 

We were pretty good for the rest of the day from that point.  ;-)

One high point of our Legoland trip was the 3-to-5-year-old go kart track.  (For 3-to-5-year-olds, that is.  I don't believe the track was between three and five years old)  The cars were electric, but they weren't on a fixed track, so the kids were actually driving them.  They had to push down on a gas pedal and steer at the same time.  There were two guys working this ride, and their job was to get kids un-stuck when they'd crash into the corner or the guard rail or each other.  Meanwhile, the parents stood around the track and got pictures.  Robbie had so much fun driving these little electric race cars.  And he was, bar none, the worst driver on the track. Once he finally got the pedal down, it generally took all of his concentration to keep his foot pressed on top of it, so he wouldn't steer.  Then they'd free his car, and he wouldn't be able to go.  I'd shout for him to push the pedal, and he would, but only for a second, and just long enough to get in the middle of the road and cause a traffic jam.  I mentioned they had two guys keeping the thing running?  Yeah, one of them was almost permanently assigned to keeping Robbie from causing major traffic jams and every turn. 

At the end of each "race," the two ride operators hand each kid a Legoland Drivers License--basically a small card with the Legoland logo and a space for a picture and their name. Robbie got his and ran all the way to the exit to meet me.  "Daddy!" he said, "I got a ticket because I was the winner!" 

You sure were, kid.  You sure were.

Toward the end of our day (cut a bit short because we had to get back to the airport to get Kim and because Robbie was now on his second day with no nap), Robbie was starting to get frustrated.  All through the park there were these awesome displays of Lego.  Motorized vehicles, entire cities created in miniature, animatronic farms, train systems--and Robbie saw all of these Legos that he couldn't play with!  After awhile, I asked if he wanted to do another ride, and he said, "I want to find Legos that I can play with!"  So we finally found the part of the park set aside for Lego fanatics to build to their hearts content.  After a few trips down the race track with the car he and I had built, it was just about time to go.  As we were about to grab one last snack, however, I heard a very familiar tune playing somewhere nearby. 

"...Can we build it?  Yeah!  Can we fix it? Yeah!!"  

Yes, I'd know that Bob the Builder song anywhere.  I'd known there was a Bob the Builder "4-D" show somewhere in the park, and I'd tried all day to find it on the map and hadn't been able to.  Yet here we were, suddenly in the presence of Bob himself.  Robbie got a picture taken with the big guy as I checked the show schedule.  It was ten minute until the last Bob show of the day.  So we closed out our day at Legoland with a 4-D Bob the Builder movie, and then Robbie slept in the car all the way to the airport.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

v2, d373: Amazingly Awesome

So today, on Twitter, Kristi Yamaguchi (What?  You guys don't follow Kristi Yamaguchi on Twitter?) posted a link to this list of 101 fun--sorry, "Amazingly Awesome Things" to do with your preschooler.  I thought, I have a preschooler.  I will check that out. And it was a fine list.  However, I noticed that a few of them started like good tips for a creative date.  Going to a park without a playground, for example.  That could make for a nice, romantic evening out.  Then I started reading all of them as Amazingly Awesome things to do with your spouse instead of your preschooler.  Then, I somehow got a movie in my mind of my friends Jason and Kat, and in the movie Jason is trying out all of the things on this list to surprise Kat, a la "Here's something fun we could do for a change" and then he lets her help him cook spaghetti, making sure to let her pour in the sauce and break the noodles and complementing her for what a great job she does of following directions. 

It was one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.  In my head, of course. 

Anyway, you need to check out that list and plug your own married friends.  Feel free to use Kim and I if you like. 

Incidentally, Kristi Yamaguchi pretty much always posts toddler-related things.  During hockey season, she also tweets about the San Jose Sharks quite a bit.  (She's married to former NHLer Bret Hedican, but you already knew that)  When I was a kid, I used to think she'd be the one who could break the gender barrier and become the first woman to star in the NHL. From what I understand, that never actually happened. 

Hey, did anybody catch how Five Iron was officially playing a reunion tour for about twelve hours the other day?  Also how there was unofficially going to be a pre-season NHL game played in September? 

Yeah, you can't blink when the Internet's involved or you'll miss all the good stuff. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

v2, d372: Home With Isaac: Day 1

We'll take a vote.  Who would rather read a post about Robbie and I's trip to Legoland?  Okay, now who is more interested in knowing how my first day as a stay-at-home dad went?

Sorry, everyone, but my mom's vote trumps all.  ;-)

Actually, there's not a ton to report.  Dropped off Robbie and Kim then took Isaac to the mechanic with me.  He took his first bottle without incident and then they brought us home while they worked on our car.  He napped, I did dishes and folded laundry, and then they called back and said the car was ready.  I accidentally left Isaac's bag in the car, but it was okay because we had a fallback plan to make sure he still got his second bottle.  I got him to eat and sleep with pretty much no problem.  Overall fairly successful on the Daddy front. 

Bad news: car repair was about $700.00.  So basically, what we would have saved from keeping Isaac home from day care, we pretty nearly spent today.  Not cool. 

I have an interview for some part-time work with the Astros tomorrow afternoon.  I'd appreciate prayers on my behalf, as obviously this little bit of supplemental income would be huge right now. 

Also: I'm tired, and I believe I may go to bed.  It's 9 p.m.  That, too, is bizarre.

Monday, July 4, 2011

v2, d371: "Nice weather for eels."

Robbie has this book called Diving for Shapes in Hawaii.  It's pretty good.  Each page has a rhyming couplet that describes a creature with a specific shape on it.  Exampe: "I went diving and what did I see?  A triangle fish tail flapping at me!"  "I saw coral with all kinds of rectangle holes where bubbles rose out in bubbly poles."  (I don't remember if these are actual pages from the book, but they're close)  At the back of the book, there's a picture guide to help you identify which Hawaiian sea creatures were in the book.  As I said, it's a decent little piece of pre-K literature. 

Except for this page:  "Scratching my nose and blinking an eye, an eel with square spots wriggled on by."

I hate this page every time I read it. 

Dear kids: never get close enough to an eel that it can scratch your nose, no matter what your Diving in Hawaii book says.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

v2, d370: Vacation!

Hey, now I can finally write about my vacation!  Exciting, no? 

Two weeks ago this Tuesday, Robbie and I boarded a Southwestern flight out of Houston to beautiful San Diego, California, for my sister's wedding, my grandmother's birthday, and some general family Good Times.  (Kim and Isaac came, too, but they didn't fly out until the next day)  It wasn't Robbie's first flight, but the other ones have already faded into that realm of the Lost Memories of Early Childhood.  He did really well.  The flight itself wasn't so hard on him; it was the sitting still that got to him.  Even with that, though, he didn't complain for most of the flight, and he complained quietly when he did.  The flight was smooth and we arrived in San Diego right around lunch time.  My sister picked us up from the airport, which is only a stone's throw away from the harbor.

San Diego is perfect. Next summer, all my Houston people and I are going to open a summer theater in SD and spend the whole summer there.  The temperature got into the eighties maybe once while we were there and there was a constant refreshing breeze coming in off the ocean.  Just perfect.  By contrast, when I got off the plane back in Houston at 10 p.m., it was warmer and more miserable than it had been at any point during my stay in San Diego.

I'm going to come right out and confess it: I coveted San Diego summers as soon as I stepped out into the outdoor air.

 We spent a few hours on the harbor, eating pizza, watching the boats come in and go out.  Robbie loved the harbor.  In fact, "harbor" became the new vocab word for the vacation.  Not long after Kim stepped off the plane Tuesday, Robbie said, "Mommy, do you know what a harbor is?  A harbor is a place where the boats go when they are not working to rest."  We also caught sight of a military aircraft carrier (are there commercial aircraft carriers?) sailing in.  That can only mean that our navy is mobilizing.  So we're probably about to go to a war at sea in southern California.  Regardless, it was cool to watch the ship, you know, move (as opposed to the "on display" aircraft carrier that you had to pay eleven  bucks to go on). 

After the harbor, I got ready for Brad's bachelor party while Christa got Robbie ready to go to a friend of hers' church block party.  It had an inflatable water slide, so it was almost as cool as Kansas to Robbie.  Unfortunately, due to traffic they didn't make it until it was late evening and thus not warm at all.  (Apparently, in non-Houston places, it actually cools off at night, even in the summer.  I think this is called El Nino, but I'm not sure)  However, a three-year-old's body apparently doesn't register things like "hypothermia," and so he asked to play in the water again and again, even when his teeth were chattering and his limbs were shivering.  (Don't worry, "hypothermia" was an exaggeration in this instance) 

As for the bachelor party--well, you know.  What happens at the bachelor party stays at the bachelor party. 

Also: what happens at the bachelor party full of fairly stable thirty-somethings is really not all that incriminating anyway.

v2, d369: 25 memories (finale)

For those who thought/assumed that I didn't post yesterday because I was too entrenched emotionally in the finality of my last day, you were wrong.  I was actually just hanging out at Dave's house until late and didn't get back in time to blog.  Plus, I got a surprise visit from Kim and Isaac at the office and then I watched the musical theatre camp's showcase during the afternoon (my usual blogging time).  Then we had s'mores, and people prayed for me, and that was about it.  All in all, a pretty good day.

21. December, 2007.  Man, this one was just a bad idea to begin with. 

The Downtown Aquarium restaurant has an annual Christmas festival-type thing in the small amusement park-ish area outside the restaurant.  They set up a stage out a little way from the rides and carnival games and have different acts (generally musical acts) perform.  I was encouraged by our development department and our company manager to get a piece of this action for our touring company, so I did.  They gave us a twenty or so minute slot, and we trimmed our Halos and Holly program to fit the allotted time.  This was a freebie performance, but we were going to make up for the lack of income in spades from the exposure.

We arrived and searched for a good twenty minutes trying to find our contact.  After an epic search on the part of the restaurant hostess, it was eventually determined that  the person who'd said they'd be our contact wasn't actually going to be there that day.  Fortunately, nobody else seemed to know what we should do, so we just moved all our stuff to the general vicinity of the stage.  A show choir of eight-to-twelve-year-old-girls was on stage at the time wearing what I can only describe as festive velour leotards with white fuzzy trim.  The music was ear-splittingly loud.  And at one point, there was a fourth-grade girl singing "Santa Baby."  Nothing about this was right.  There were about fifteen people gathered to watch the girls, and as soon as the girls were done the crowd dispersed.  Like, completely.  About six people sat at a table nearly a hundred feet away, eating, and that was it.  Well, we set up anyway, since we were there, and since we said we'd do it, and since, who knew, maybe folks would show up once we started performing.

I should probably mention that "we" is not a terribly accurate term at this point.  I wasn't actually performing. I just went along to help things go smoothly.

The sound guy had our performers change and store their belongings in an empty temporary structure painted to look like Santa's workshop.  By the time our group started performing, nobody had come to see what was coming up next.  The six people in the back corner looked up through about half of the "Christmas Bells" song, then went back to eating and talking.  A couple of times I saw one of them look over their shoulder and grimace as if we were interrupting their nice quiet meal with all of our holiday cheer.  Meanwhile, the wind was blowing pretty hard, wreaking havoc on our props and hair.  Traffic sped by about thirty feet behind the stage.  And the train that takes visitors through the shark tunnel circled almost completely around the stage every four minutes, bell ringing and whistle shrieking.  You couldn't even hear the actors, mics and all, when that train was nearby.

But again, there was nobody to hear anyway.

Despite the fact that this hadn't been my idea, I still apologized to everyone once we got back in the van.  While nobody seemed too cross about the entire absurd adventure, I still felt bad for wasting their afternoon.  Then again, how often do you get to say you performed after a ten-year-old singing Santa baby in front of downtown traffic while competing with a train for absolutely nobody?

Wait, that's not true.  The sound tech who helped us with the mics and had us change in Santa's workshop said that we were pretty good.  I think it'd be awesome if he somehow ends up becoming saved after a chain of events that can trace their origin back to that December afternoon in downtown Houston.

22. September 2005.  My entire first year with the company was spent in our scene shop.  I hurt my back about once every four or five months, though, so we decided it would be best if I went elsewhere.  Still, I enjoyed the work.  I'm pretty out of practice now, but before 2006 I spent far more time in shops than I ever did on stage.  After about a week and a half at the Players, we took our production of Driving Miss Daisy to Miller Outdoor Theater, the big free amphitheater in Herman Park.  It was the only time I've been here that we did a full-scale load-in at Miller, and it was really fun.  (Kind of bummed that I'll be missing the next one, when we take our latest production of Daisy to the same venue)  Also a good chance to get to know a lot of the other interns and tech staff better.

After we loaded out, the technical director and managing director were driving in the company's big ole' box truck, which we used for loading and unloading all our sets.  (Oh yeah, I haven't mentioned that our scene shop was a half hour's drive from the theater)  As they drove away from the loading dock, they heard a really loud crack, followed by the sound of ripping metal and a huge BANG just behind the truck's cab.  Obviously, they stopped and got outside to check it out.  A tree that hadn't been trimmed quite to regulation had caught the front top corner of the truck's box and snapped off the tree.  More remarkable was that, in the act of falling, this massive branch had peeled back the roof of the truck's cargo area like the top of a sardine can.  Just like that, the truck was irreparably destroyed! 

A few years later, our scene shop burned down.  Our production department and disaster are inexorably linked. 

23. March, 2007?  This is actually my favorite memory of my boss.  One day, two of our lovely box office ladies were on their phones at the same time.  Neither was talking to a customer; one was on the line with a fellow employee and the other was on her cell.  I stood at the counter, watching with interest as my boss was passing by.  She stopped and stood next to me, not saying a word.  "I'm just watching to see which one will hang up first," I told her.  "Ah," she replied, and we stood silently, staring, for another few seconds.

"Well?" she said.  "Who do you think it's going to be?"

I listened to the to girls on the phones for a moment, then said it sounded to me like the redhead was wrapping up.  "I think so, too," the boss said. 

Now, because I'm trying to avoid using actual names since most people I'm talking about don't know about this blog, I'm having to find interesting ways to identify folks other than "the girl" and "the other girl."  In this case, I guess it's the redhead and the Italian.  But to make it really sound like the set-up to a bad joke, our resident Jew was also in the room at the time.  She'd heard the boss and I talking, and when the boss had agreed with my conclusion, she grinned and said, "Okay, I'm going to go with her," meaning the Italian, "just to be different!"

Suddenly, it was no longer an observational experiment.  Now it was a race.

At this point, the two young ladies on the phone had noticed that they were being studied, and the Italian girl suddenly looked troubled.  "I'm sorry," she said into the phone, "I think I probably have to go..."

"No!  No!" the boss and I whispered earnestly.  "Keep talking, keep talking!"  Suddenly, the Jew joined the fray, "Yeah!" she said, not whispering.  "Hang up!  Hang up!"  This caught the attention of the redhead, who was so puzzled she pulled the phone from her ear.  "No!"  I said to her, and my boss was gesticulating wildly at her.  "Wrap it up!"  I ordered, and then to the other girl, "you keep talking!"

Soon, both girls were wavering between continuing their conversations and cutting them short, while the three of us were cheering them on, though they couldn't make out what in the world for.  Finally, after a very frenzied minute and a half, the two hung up their phones with the redhead just a stitch ahead of the Italian.  My fist shot in the air in victory.  "Yes!" the boss and I cried, high-fiving one another.  "You were so close!" the Jewish girl lamented.  We three were all laughing.

To this day, I'm not sure either of the other women have any idea what exactly happened that afternoon, if they remember it at all. 

24. March, 2009.  There was no particular moment in this rehearsal that was all that fantastic, but I'll probably always remember it anyway.  You have to understand that I came to this place pretty convinced I couldn't actually do anything well.  I'd never written, I'd never directed, I'd never been particularly confident that, in a professional environment, I'd be able to handle either assignment.  It took a great deal of encouragement before I was willing to say the words "I'm a writer" or "I'm a director."  Quite honestly, I didn't think of myself as anything, aside from a "theatre person," when I got here.  I'd seen enough kids come out of college the exact opposite, so sure of themselves as actors or directors when, really, they were green at best, that I placed myself in the exact opposite position: I just wouldn't believe I was actually good or competent enough to do anything.  One of many things I've learned in my time here: having a false opinion of yourself in one direction is no more healthy than having a false estimation of yourself to the opposite end of the spectrum.

Now, the event in question was a Phoenix Too Frequent rehearsal.  I was the assistant director.  The boss was the director.  That meant I didn't really do a whole lot within most rehearsals, though I did still interject thoughts and questions occasionally when we were around the table.  One day, the boss wasn't there, and she told me to run the rehearsal.  I really didn't want to, though.  Or rather, I didn't feel I really had liberty to.  I was afraid of working scenes (we were at a part of the play we hadn't done yet) and she'd come back and say, "This is terrible.  Why did you do this?  We wasted an entire rehearsal.  We have to do this all over."  (Some of this was lack of confidence; however, with the way things often went at the Players, it also wasn't a terribly unrealistic expectation)  For the first half of the rehearsal, therefore, I sat back and let the actors do their thing.  If they had blocking questions, I'd make some suggestions, but for the most part I wasn't an entity.

We were at what was probably the most important scene in the play.  The two lovers do everything in their power to keep from giving in to their passion, but ultimately they can't help it, and they kiss.  It's really an amazing scene.  And a delicate one.  As I watched it, I saw what it was missing.  I knew what needed to happen.  I saw, in the script, subtleties that the actors were missing, and I knew they were the key to unlocking the depth that was missing in the scene.

In short, I knew I could help.  And I distinctly remember a point where I was leaning back in my chair, my foot resting on the back of the chair in front of me, when I said to myself, "You know what?  Screw this!  I know how to help this scene, and I'm not going to waste this time."  And I stood up.  You can always tell, when I'm directing, when I'm really into what's going on when a scene is on its feet, because I never sit down.  So we worked the scene, the two talented, hard-working actors and I.  I asked questions.  They asked questions.  I made suggestions.  We tried them.  And by the end of the rehearsal, it worked.  I mean, it really worked.  And there was never the sense of awkward that you might anticipate when you're telling two of your best friends how they should kiss.  Especially when one of them has a spouse on stage "asleep" right behind them the whole time.  That was the day I was bold enough to say, at least to myself, "I'm a director.  And I'm not going to doubt it any more."

Ultimately, the boss came back to the next rehearsal, and with the exception of one minor blocking change at the beginning of the scene, she pretty much left what we'd done alone. 

25. September 2008.  And then there was that one time we had a hurricane.  Everybody remember that?

Hurricane Ike pretty much wiped out our tech week for Miss Nelson is Missing! at the children's theater.  (Also wreaked havoc on our mainstage show's schedule, of course)  Fortunately, power returned to the church that houses our children's theater pretty quickly, and we were still able to open pretty close to on schedule.  First of all, that was probably my favorite show to perform in my six years with the company.  I could have played it another two months, easily.  Opening performances are always exciting, especially when it's a performance you love anyway.  The music was fun, the choreography was fun, the tech was all fun, I flicked a girl with a lizard every day, there were paper airplanes involved, it was just awesome.

Our first performance was probably my favorite day of working at the Players.  I don't even have a very vivid memory of the audience--whether it was big or small, or who was in it.  However, I do remember the heartfelt thanks we received from virtually everybody who came.  In the kids it was subtle, but it was in the smiles and the millions of questions they asked just so they could keep talking to you.  In the adults, it was much plainer.  We were the first bit of fun some of those families had had in a week.  A few parents asked if we had another show for them to stay for rather than going home to houses that still had no electricity.  Some people had come simply for the A.C.  Whatever the reason, we transported child and parent alike away from a world that had been turned upside down and into our zany world of oversized desks, bright yellow tights, spitwad shooters, and random 1950's musical references.  Sure, Miss Nelson was fluff, probably more than anything else we've done since I've been here.  But sometimes, fluff is exactly what's needed. There's nothing more profound than a joyful silly romp when everything else is gloom and doom.  That day, I profoundly felt what it is that entertainment can do.

And I thanked God that I could be a part of it.


Done.  This hasn't been a "Top 25" or anything.  These aren't necessarily my favorite stories or most cherished memories.  A lot of them were pretty insignificant, actually.  And there's so much that I left out. I wish I had time to reminisce about the incredible stacking sheep.  Or the shop fire.  Or the time the memory voice-overs came from the baptistry because there were no speakers.  Or the time I ran out to the van to turn off the lights in the middle of a show.  The time I comforted the little girl whose bus left without her because I'd hurt my back too much to help with load-out.  The little boy who was going to tell his friend about Jesus after seeing Do You Hear What I Hear?  Staying on-site in the nation's biggest prison for violent offenders.  Choreographing an entire chase scene by myself in my living room while waiting for Kim to get ready for a date.  Being offered an opportunity to play Jesus (in lieu of Santa) for a church Christmas party (I said no).  The guy who quit in the middle of a show to go be a lab rat for NASA.  Tackling the stage manager in front of the new interns.  The weddings.  The babies.  The "workshop readings" for new scripts.  The kids who cheered for us every time we brought another piece of equipment out to the van.  The time we forgot half of our props and had to improvise with what we had ("I'm trapped in this...sticky...Coat of Doom!")  That one time I actually thought I led a really good Bible study.  "Austin's still throwing up!  John, get out there and say his line for him!"  The scientific debate with the ten-year-old about whether or not Ta-Daa was a real bug or a person in a costume. 

Clearly, there just isn't time to fit it all in.  I'm amazed we fit it all in in the little time we've had these past years.  

I chose these twenty-five in an attempt to cast as wide a net as possible to try to share the breadth of my experience over these past six years.  Times were good.  Times were terrible.  We triumphed.  We bombed.  I loved shows.  I hated shows.  I had fun on stage.  I had fun backstage.  I was the consummate professional.  I was an immature twenty-something.  I learned.  I taught.  I loved.  And when the time came, I left.  You just can't do it all justice. 

I'd like to have the perfect words to wrap this one up.  I'm pretty sure I don't.  It's hard to say "goodbye" to a season of your life.  It's hard to grasp that I won't be seeing these beloved people every day any more.  It's actually kind of tough knowing they'll go on making memories together without me.  I feel left out, but that's because I am out.  I'm really glad I took this trip over the past week of blogging.  It's really helped soften the blow.  Plus, everyone else was so busy with tech week and season renewals there wasn't much time for a prolonged farewell.  I've always hated those anyway. In college, I would always sneak out during the end-of-the-year lunches.  This time, however, I didn't want to sneak away.  I want to make sure I don't close this door without everyone on the other side know how much I'll miss them.

So much to say, foolish to try, it's time for saying goodbye...

Man, you got that right, Scooter...