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February 21, 2010

What A Pain

Buggs fell from his crib yesterday. He's been climbing out for about a month now. A loud thump brought me to consciousness, followed by the inhalation delay, then the moan. Amy and I were concerned enough to get up and go help him, but barely.

Kids fall and get seriously injured all the time. I'm sure you know some story about the kid who fell horribly off something much lower than a crib. I haven't heard that story, but I should consider it. I definitely do not take it lightly.

Buggs has been warned about falling. He has looked as us and laughed as he jumped down from the railing. He regularly leaps from coaches, stairs, and any thing else that proves merit to his brothers. The only other option for Amy and I is to "hover." That's not an option in this house, even if we thought it was beneficial.

I wonder what kind of parenting is responsible for all the launching and tumbling of Olympians at ridiculous heights. What patterns would emerge if we dug into the upbringing of extreme athletes? I bet mom hovered and dad pushed baseball (or any traditional sport) on them. Some chose to altogether get away from athletics while others became Redbull Winter Olympic people.

"No no, little Johnny. You be careful now."

I don't know. I just doubt that mom and dad said "cool, go ahead and go as big as you want." How do you rebel against wow that was awesome?

Nothing taught me not to run with glass jars like a glass jar full of bumblebees slicing into my elbow. At about eight I remember feeling my spine crack as a huge slam wave violently drove my face into the sand. I saw double for ten minutes after Dan White fell on my head while wrestling during recess. I ran my dads Ford Tempo into a split rail fence and 5 months later shot a huge bottle rocket into my left eye at point plank range. I've dropped weight plates on my big toe and repeatedly split my shins open with mountain bike pedals.

This is relatively nothing. We all fall down. And this has nothing to say on the emotional pain inflicted on me and, even worse, what I've suffered by accidentally or intentionally inflicting it on others.

Considering all this on behalf of the kids scares the hell out of me. I fear the merciless, cold, seemingly random physical forces that fracture bones and minds. I simply cannot accept "oh what are you gonna do" resignations.

For some reason it helps me to weigh my worry against the practical gold standard of risk assessment: getting in a car. Plane rides and bike jumps, sharks and the flu; driving a car gives perspective to all the relative risk, probabilities predicted, and statistics crunched every time we make a move. Every day, at least 2 or 3 times per day, we accept a certain amount of risk, and simply get in the car.

So how do I reconcile being both a worrier and a nonhovering parent who really didn't feel too bad when his son fell from the crib?

Is it not good for the children that I get out of the way of their very own best teacher? Yes-pain is possibly the best teacher, in every way. A little pain now goes a long way for saving it later; the possibility of freak accidents are duly noted. Common sense means that we don't allow Ben to toboggan down the stairs holding a steak knife and cup of scolding hot coffee.

The Scriptures say that God has given us a spirit of courage and not of fear. CS Lewis expands on this and points out that God uses pain to arouse our attention. I believe these truths. Yet honestly, it's still a fear that moves me to act. Or, to not act, whichever it takes to allow the kids to fully live.

What about the risks involved in missing out on age appropriate lessons that only pain can teach? It hurts me to think about it, but it's really the only way. Laying around the living room when they're my age, yelling toward their mom to fetch them another sammich - now that's a scary vision. But isn't the comfortable, safe, "appropriate" life also worse than a broken bone?

If we want to encourage and inspire and teach and love, then we must accept some risk. My job is not to protect the kids from everything at all costs. Still I hope they take in the wisdom of those who go before them. I hope they don't take in cycle cross.

Go ahead Ben. Right now, in this instance, go as big as you want.

- - - - -

Laughin or Cryin

The spaghettis are everywhere. Again. Some even found their way into bellies. Meal times are hairy, especially when doing the mess hall alone. The mom or dad will either be laughin or cryin. Well I don't cry much, but I do get short at times.
Trying to remember perspective. Choosing laughter...
"And in this chair.
Wearing Spiderman shirt, weighing in at 30 lbs...
Having spaghetti and meatballs for dnner.
Iiiiitttssss BUGGIES!!!"
[claps, shouts and chest bumps times 4]

Just posting a few images of long winter days around here. We try to find creative ways to dissipate all the life energy in a way that's good for the kids and doable for the parents. Try...
So we look for fun locally. Like icicles outside are a huge hit. We ordered callepiddars and raised them up to butterflies, culminating in letting them go in the house. Apparently these butterflies know some of the costs of freedom.

Telling them to make a serious crime fighting face. I can't imagine what O is doing under the mask.

Somedays this is how we feel. Put them to bed and breathe and get ready to do it again tomorrow.

February 18, 2010

work stuff

recent writings for the series on pitching, and trying to approach the swear word I often have to address around the office. Shhh. "Chiropractor." I mean, choir practor.

February 14, 2010

Marriage and You

No matter how smooth or terrible the relationship, I imagine that every couple would benefit from a Marriage Conference like the one last weekend. It seems that those who probably "need" it least are there and those who could use it most are not there, but that's another matter. Who knows what happens in private.

What goes on at a marriage conference?

You sit around reciting cheesey sentiment you don't mean while getting put into awkward situations in front of strangers. Men learn tricks to make their wives be submissive. Women get ideas on how to fool men into thinking they are in charge, but they're not. And don't forget the guilt trip unless you $upport the ministry.


Okay. Speakers hone in on practical ways to demonstrate "I love you." They give examples and some hard data on priorities. Like how putting your marriage before work and even before the kids is the best thing you can do for your work and especially for the kids.

They challenge you to examine yourself with an eye on renewed commitment and avoiding the inevitable drift that will occur without serious intent. They speak to you about the anatomy of an affair (doesn't have to be with another person), fighting fair, the myth of the 50/50 partnership, sex, and other good stuff.

During the presentation on focused attention and listening skills, I'm noticing how all 600 spouses resemble each other. Age, stature, and especially style, you really can match them up without knowing them. I imagine this applies equally to Amy and I, as well as to dogs and their owners.

Yeah. Listening, in the moment...

Man, check out the big hair to my left diagonal. She's decked out in 80's blue tiger pattern. Wonder if she cares that her mullet husband wore a faded Westbrook T-shirt? She probably nagged him about not wearing that shirt for the entire hour it took her to get that hair up.

How inviting are the large carpeted lobby floors and the rounded edges on the stage? Mmm-mm, some bike session that would be. Bet I could J-hop that stage without bashing my back tire. Yeah, I could do it. I'd definitely try with Ryan here.

...focused attention, good for the marriage. What was the last workbook fill in the blank?

Rather than asking Amy what the speaker said (again), I usually make up words that seem like they would fit the blank. Speakers roll on while I'm contemplating alternative philosophies. Some say that nobody should have the burden of "completing" another. I'm daydreaming about the postural effects of prolonged sitting and the fluid dynamics of mass bodies moving through crowded lobbies. Yeah, welcome to what Amy has to live with.

They schedule purposeful alone time with your spouse. They make it easy to talk about what the two of you should be talking about. They use enlightening videos and movie cuts, the best being an almost perfect but real version of THIS ONE.

Seriously - you gotta click the link.

They speak from a Christian worldview and manage to pull it all off in a pretty nonconfrontational and entertaining manner. They jerk for tears with true stories of union and divorce and life and death.

The theme of the weekend was Love Like You Mean It, I think because Just Quit Being So Damn Selfish and Prideful would probably not move many seats.

I mean, really, that's what they're constantly talking about. They make it palatable, but the whole thing with a marriage conference and especially with marriage itself is that it's one big reality check. You have one imperfect person who allows another imperfect person to know them; to actually be codependent by Gods design.

We all seek the truth about things. In marriage you actually begin to approach the truth about yourself, and that often hurts. Getting closer to the truth is worth it; closer to that person is absolutely worth it. I understand that marriage is not for everyone (at least not right now), but what I'm saying is that it's worth the work.

Special thanks to the Marriage Conference Miracle Crew that made it possible for us to get out of the house for an entire weekend. Mom, Ellen, and Bill. Wow - what a brave and courageous expression of love and support for our marriage. We don't do it alone.


February 10, 2010

Can We

"I hereby declare today: Snowday." -Mayor Quimby


From inside the igloo. Hold on internet parenting heroes: they know not to go in there without an adult around.

School is IN: The down side of homeschool.

February 09, 2010


Mandatory cute kids in snow pics coming.

Opinion on organic food posted on the "work" blog: