A failed almond milk pudding equals a tasty peanut butter chocolate banana Smoothie!

On Tuesday Bradie and I went on our first backpacking trip together. She was very excited, especially since Troy and Kyle were going to spend the day with us.

Here they are “taking the lead.” They could not be bothered with their slow daddies holding them back. If you notice Bradie is carrying her own backpack. She carried her sleeping pad, clothes, tiny blankie, and some mosquito coils we did not use.

Their “taking the lead” was actually a ploy to hide in front of us and shoot us with their guns. They did this the whole way up–luckily it was only 8/10th of a mile so we only sustained light damage. It is a good thing Troy found those green mushrooms or we would have never made it up alive.

The chivalrous Kyle would not allow the fair maiden to carry that backpack all the way to the top, nor would he allow the scalawags to take the lead.

Once we relented and payed a hefty tribute, all parties were happy.

After setting up camp at Boardman Lake, we all went swimming. It was refeshing! The large rock and deep pool were much appreciated–it is much easier to jump in then slither in from the shore. Soon everyone grew hungry and we snacked on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, butter toffee peanuts, and some red PowerAde. At about 7:00pm Troy and Kyle left and Bradie and I settled down for the night.

We went down to the lake and watched the fish jump. Here is the aforementioned rock and a nice tree.

Soon the sunlight started to fade so we went back up to the forest to explore; we encountered all kinds of strange things:

Like huckleberries and…

a pit toilet. She was not impressed with the pit toilet nor did she want to use it; she preferred the hover in the air as dad holds you technique. We returned to camp after the letdown that was the toilet to start a fire; part way through the lighting of the fire Bradie declared she was nervous about the whole fire starting routine and announced she would be in the tent. As the first few sticks started to crackle and an orange glow filled the campsite she reemerged chipper and demanding we make marshmellows!

That picture was a lot harder to take then I thought!

A very happy customer of Dad’s Mallow Roastery–do you see the PowerAde stained upper lip? Following the closing ceremonies for the fire, we hopped into the tent.

And I prepared to be destroyed by a four year old playing go fish:

The last game was a nail-biter coming down to the last draw card, but she won again! We turned the lights out and Bradie fell asleep instantly. With our bags zipped together, I hugged her one more time and tried to fall asleep. Until that moment I never realized how used to noise I was; where were the neighbors talking/smoking/playing beer pong? It was so quite! Periodically a mouse would scurry on to the tent, even daring a climb to the top. Other than our rodent visitors, it was silent. I tossed and turned and Bradie slept. She woke at about 530am to inform me her tummy hurt but then fell back asleep until 700am. We decided to get up and go look at the lake.

We snacked on some wicked awesome chocolate banana bread (thanks Sara!) and started to break down camp:

Soon camp was packed up and it was time to make sure we did not leave anything behind:

All clean! Time to say good by to our camp and Boardman Lake:

All that Bradie could talk about on the way down was when we could camp again and when we could bring mommy and Beau. She said Beau needs to be older because he still gets out of his bed. What a fun time! I don’t know why I waited so long to do our first trip; next year will be filled with camping trips and I might even convince Troy to sleep outside! One last shot of Bradie and a big tree:

Tonight Bradie and I danced around a bit while Beau was taking a bath; I just put iTunes on a Genius Mix using Ray LaMontagne’s “Three More Days.” After some Brett Dennen, Ben Harper, Iron & Wine, and Damien Rice Ray LaMontagne’s “Let it Be Me” started to play. As we slow danced together the words started to become clear to me as I twirled my little girl:

There may come a time, a time in everyone’s life
where nothing seems to go your way
where nothing seems to turn out right

After this the first verse, the chorus rings out:

thats when you need someone, someone that you can call.
and when all your faith is gone
feels like you can’t go on
let it be me
let it be me
if its a friend that you need
let it be me
let it be me

In the end, I am the one that will teach Bradie discipline and a sense of responsiblity; but I also have to wallow in the mud with her to let her feel the pain of truly living. Yikes! If this is just a little taste of the sacrifice felt with the Incarnation, I could not imagine the full pain of carrying this burden beyond just my family. God bless my daughter and her pure heart.

If you want to hear the song check it out:

It seems that as you get older somehow stories become more important to you. Not only your personal stories–the stories that you tell so people can get a small glimpse of who you are–but also other people’s stories. As I was watching Cars with my daughter, it struck me that the story was more important then the movie with all its action; that is, when Lightning McQueen stops inches from the finish line when The King wrecks after Chick sideswipes him, the weight of that decision was visceral. In a way it is the same decision that haunts everyone; would I do the right thing? Beyond the hero mentality and the sentimental aspects that Pixar is obviously playing on in that scene, it does cut to the quick of humanity. Do we let evil prevail in our hearts or do we choose to do good. Don’t get me wrong, it weirds me out that I am parsing out the nature of humanity from a story about cars, but I guess thus begins my descent into the ramblings of an old man that not many understand.

What gives me hope for the future, at least for my children, is that people still tell stories that have meaning; wading through the dregs of the human condition through story should always remind us of our brokenness, our willingness to bend and contort our actions into rational choices, and our ability to rise above these temptations by making selfless decisions, at least as selfless as we can.

Today in church we looked at the end of Paul’s last known written work, II Timothy. He penned this letter from a prison cell and most likely with the knowledge that his time was short. What impresses me about Paul is his faith and his ability to communicate it in such a deep and precise way. For example, as he explains to Timothy how he is feeling sitting in his cell in II Timothy 4:6:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

The Greek word he used for “my departure” is analusis. This term means to be unloosed or depart, but the metaphor is drawn from the loosing of a ship from its moorings. He is describing the ending of his life, he has been emptied and is spent–poured out as a drink offering–and is preparing to die–the time of my departure has come. There is hope in this description of death, this loosing from the mooring. What a cool word, analusis.

Stories, at least good stories, help us understand the reality of the human condition; whether it is Paul’s last recorded words of despair lined with hope or a children’s story about cars, a story should remind us of the conflict that is inside us all. Evil exists and we are all capable of perpetrating it no matter how strong we think we are. No matter our position, the halls of power will tempt the strong, the halls of the pub will tempt the ordinary to do unspeakable acts in the name of a little bit of good. This is why stories are important to me; they remind me of my own humanity and my own brokenness. Lest I think my decision-making will become better, more sound, with age; stories remind me that I too am human and fallible.

I have not wholly abandoned blogging.  Eleven months have passed since my last post and a lot has happened.  I am now in the thick of my second year coaching girls basketball.  On top of the normal teaching responsibilities I also have a student teacher; he is a doing a great job which leaves me time to work on all kinds of projects.  I am in the middle of planning a Coaches vs. Cancer game for our basketball program.  While this is only a quick update, I am going to try to post a more consistent basis.

Point One: It seems that the rat community in Frontier Heights–my strange little ‘hood–has put out an APB for a missing rat.  There were little rat prints on the deck this morning–I suspect this advance scout was looking for a fellow disease carrying rodent.  Tonight I will capture this advance scout.  Now I understand how Gargamel must have felt about Smurfs–small blue creatures must be caring some kind of disease or radioactive contamination.  

Point Two: Todd you have asked and it has come true; it must be a Christmas Miracle™!  Take a look–

su_dcapI wonder if PETA knows about this?  For those of you looking for something that, and I quote: “…is ideal for dispensing of both rat and mouse subjects…” just head over to Kent Scientific.

With the weather changing, we have been visited by one of the locals from the rodent population.  Sara, being a rat person–it is her desire to own a rat and teach it to speak (sort of a like the rat whisperer or Jane Goodall for rats),–was a little leery about setting traps; she also was concerned our literally retarded dog–he had meningitis, real bad–might try to catch his tongue in a trap.*  Finally it was too much for me so I set my traps with a little peanut butter last night.  I thought to myself, “self, what kind of rat eats during a snow storm?”  Apparently this guy:


Goodbye Rat King

Goodbye Rat King or Queen

While I am not a fan of killing things, it is satisfying to get rid of something that could bring harm to your family–rats, after all, were the species that transmitted the bubonic plague to humans through their proxies fleas.  In fact I think that the Department of Health owes me a medal or ribbon for stemming the tide of a potential plague outbreak.  In a world where everyone gets a trophy or medal simply for existing and having parents that can afford to pay for you to play sports, I do not think it is too much to ask from the DoH;)

My real point to this post, circuitously as it has turned out, was to inform Todd that I have joined the ranks of the rat catchers.  While Lake Stevens rats may not measure up to China rats, you have to start somewhere.

*I was trying to get as many punctuation marks into one sentence that I could; is there an order of operations for punctuation?

Follow the link.  On a side note, I had this saved as a draft for a very long time.

Last month I was shocked to see $35.54 extra on my Verizon phone bill.  It seems somebody signed up for long distance and internet fax services on my number instead of their own.  Instead of informing me of a change in my electronic debt, Verizon took the money out of my account.  When I saw this in my register at my bank, I was very upset–in fact it made me more than ever want to cancel my useless land line.  On the phone with Verizon I talk to Tony and explain that I did not authorize Verizon to increase their EFT and informed him I would appreciate a reversal of these charges that are not mine.  Well, Tony said he could put a block on these charges but could not reverse the fees–I had to call the random companies that can piggyback onto anyone’s phone bill.  To this I informed Tony that in the state of Washington I can contest this charge and put a stop payment on the EFT.  This seems to be a silly way of dealing with this issue and it would make more sense for Verizon to resolve this issue.  Tony goes and takes a leak and finds a “manager” that magically authorizes a credit to be put on my account.  Fair enough, now I will not have a bill for next month.

Enter this month: Verizon charges my account while a credit that is OVER the monthly charge sits on my account.  Should I be surprised?  What happens when the government de facto allows a company to become a monopoly but then to offer the olive branch of competition with these crazy services that can add onto Verizon’s bill.  I am resolved to cancel my land line forever and to demand my money back.  Tomorrow I will waste at least 30 minutes of my life on the phone…to the phone company.  

And one more thing; a company that claims to offer 21st century technology with wireless and internet connectivity cannot figure out a way to have email support for their land lines.  I know there are regional rules, but can they not route emails to the operators that already deal with these issues?  Pfft!  Verizon will see not even a red cent from me…I will let someone else charge me money for things I marginally need.

It has been almost a week since the extraction of my lower wisdom teeth; if you were to ask me beforehand if I would still be taking pain medication, I would have laughed at you and given you a nougy (not only am I a poor speller in formal English, my lack of skill spills over into the colloquial.)  For some reason my right tooth did not want to go quietly into the night.

Let me back up; the sleepy-time medicine did not work for me nor did the laughing gas–I am sure I could still do long division and differential equations if I had a graphing calculator.  Luckily the novacain worked.  The left tooth was no problem, but the right tooth put up a fight; in an act of selfishness, the tooth somehow nicked my artery and made me bleed…real bad.  Did I mention it was about 5:45 pm at this point?  The normal time for dentists and oral surgeons to go home.  After some phone calls, my dentist got me into an oral surgeon.  Sara drove me to Mill Creek–from Everett–to have an oral surgeon’s assistant pull all the gauze out of my mouth and cause it to fill with blood–hmm, this man was sent because the dentist could not stop the bleeding, maybe some care would be part of the protocol.  After vacuuming blood from my mouth, packing the hole with bone wax, and sewing it shut the oral surgeon insisted that I go the the ER to make sure I did not lose too much blood (ETA is about 8:00 pm.)

By the time we arrived at the ER, I felt like I needed some pain medication.  I have a fairly high tolerance for pain–partly because I hate pain medication–but I knew after all of the finagling that happened in my jaw that I needed some medicine.  On arrival my pain level was at a 2.  By 10:40 pm when the nurse finally gave me two Percocet my pain level rose to about a 7.

Had I known that I would be forced into the black hole of medical care, I would have had them put me out to take out my wisdom teeth.  Many people learn something after such a traumatic experience, the only thing that I learned: Percocet does not constipate you like Vicodin.

Good summer to you all; I have been derelict in my blog writing.  My apologies.  Here is a quick rundown of my summer thus far:

  • Summer Basketball (usually 4 days a week 10-1230)
  • An AP World History summer institute
  • Reading Bound Together and Harry Potter
  • Saw Josh Ritter and Andrew Bird
  • Trying to teach Bradie to poop on the potty😦
  • Thinking about teaching again
  • Visiting my parents in Olympia (they just moved)
  • Wondering why my school district gets out so late
  • Polishing my list making skills
There is a quick list; I am sure I will expound soon, but I have a letter to write to my friend first (snail mail!)

Tonight I have finished Gilead; I am not sure that I can properly reflect on this book yet, but I can say it has blessed me to read it.  The picture of fatherhood through the lens of my culture–i.e. the world I inhabit that often times feels shallow and thoughtless–is faded and bleak as if it had been forgotten in the parlor of an old house, the sun beating down on it unrelentingly.  With frequency bordering on the absurd, our culture repeats the stories of detached fathers, inept fathers, absent fathers, or insert-your-own-disheartening-adjective-here fathers.  These stereotypes are so ingrained in the zeitgeist, marketers have latched onto them in advertisements–see the H & R Block TaxCut commercial in which the wife encourages the husband to “talk to the box” to get customer support, chiding him for picking the wrong tax preparation software (my quick interweb search did not turn up a clip.)  

Gilead gives me hope; hope that being a father is much more about relying on God’s Grace than redeeming and restoring the faded painting in the parlor.  Painting a vivid and honest picture of fatherhood, Marilynne Robinson tells the story of a father writing to his son.  The honesty of struggle, thoughtfulness, honor, and trepidation spills onto the pages of Gilead; Robinson reveals the image of fatherhood in the light of total depravity and un-understandable Grace.  It is in that tension that we all must live; without it our picture hangs in the ceaseless sun, faded by the brokenness of a world without hope, without grace, without forgiveness. 

God has given me two children to love.  Although I am still frightened by the world they will inherit, I am not frightened of being a father.  God’s Grace covers me and it is my prayer that my children will allow it to cover them.

Mommy, don’t pee in your panties!

Advice that everyone should follow.

About Me

I enjoy not eating ketchup, trying to remember quotes from Sam the Eagle, and trying to dissuade my daughter from playing soccer–it steals your soul. When I am not pursuing these questionably Sisyphean pursuits, I am a father, husband, and teacher. Should you want to learn more about me I suggest reading my blog–if only you could find it.
October 2016
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