A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

Search Me!

Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Friday, July 31, 2009

A weekend of longing

Trips are made for coming home.

My wife is gone this weekend. She left yesterday to spend a long weekend with a dear friend. They are celebrating 30 years of friendship (They met as sonograms). They are in Arkansas enjoying the Hot Springs. If this was a Jane Austen novel they would have awayed to Bath.

I think they call it a long weekend because how much I long for her. I am glad that she is able to spend time with a dear friend. They have been planning the trip for almost a year. I really like my Wife. There I said it. She is my best friend, and I miss her when she's gone. She misses me too at least that's what her texts say.

Don't get me wrong the kids and I are not gloomy Eyore's with a perpetual storm cloud lingering above. Today we had a play date with another home school family (Lucy's best friend) and celebrated the last day of National Ice Cream month by having fifty cent cones at Colonial Cafe. The carnival is back in town so we should hit that tomorrow. Still,we all miss Amy and we will all be super glad when she comes home.

I have often heard it said the best thing about going on a trip is coming home. Amy, I am so glad you have a loving family to come home to, and that we have you! Have a great trip and see you Sunday!
To see what other six word sentiment is out there head over to Show My Face dot com.

Next Time: In Which I Say a Bad Word

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trying New Things

Today I am jumping in feet first to a couple of meme's I have been seeing around recently. Merely click on the buttons to see the fine blogs at Half Past Kissing Time and Ordinary and Awesome.

In the spirit of trying these blogs let me tell you about some things me and mine have tried this summer either for the first time or the first time in a long time. I will also throw in a lucyism for good measure.

I am 44 years old, I'll be 45 in September and for the first time in my life I am doing flips off the diving board. I have always been a diving board guy but was always afraid to put the flip in my repertoire. So I'd do a dive, or cannon ball that sort of thing. Now The diving board is basically a 14 and below area at our pool. But for whatever reason kids treat me like a peer at the pool. Three year olds I have never met, star conversations with me without the slightest encouragement by me. K-2nd graders recruit me to assist on their sand crations and tweeners give me dive suggestions. So earlier this year, after I did an especially wicked can opener this kid said "hey, you should do a flip." I was like no way. But the kid would not relent. So I tried one. A flip is ridiculously easy to do, just bend your head down when exiting the board. My flips are not pretty, but I have only back flopped once. I enjoy doing them, and wonder why I didn't take the plunge long ago.

Speaking of which, our pool has an awesome tube slide. All manner of parents take their toddlers and up on double and triple tubes. Amy and I love tubing but one of us has to be with the kids so we don't ever get to go together. cannot get any of my kids to go with me so I usually just have to ride the single tubes. That is until Yesterday. I decided to just go on the body slide with Emma a few times, since that is something she enjoys. We couldn't go down together but we walked up the stairs together and took turns as to who would go down first. After we went up and down a few times Emma decided she wanted to go down the tubes. We went separately a couple times and then we went together. Emma loved it. She went on about 25 more times before we left. The Mom of a 3 year old even asked her to take her daughter with her. On the way home, she was like "I love going on the tubes" and I was like "I thought you would that's why I've been trying to get you on them the past 6 years." She then said something telling, she said she'd spent most of that time trying to get the courage to go on. It was a happy time at the father daughter bonding society, that's for sure.

Charlie and I discovered at a father child camp out that we both love archery. He tried it a few years ago and didn't fair too well. But was a quick study to it, this time around. It had been 23 years since I had done any archery, and I could have shot arrows all day long.

Lucyism: While Emma, Charlie and I were camping on Saturday, Lucy kept on repeating to Amy that when she was done being home schooled she wanted to be gone schooled.

So that's it for my first foray into Fragmented Free writing on Fridays. To see how it's really done click on the buttons above. You may want to try something new and participate.

Next Time: A weekend of longing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

African Tulips

Today's review is Glory Road: The Journey of 10 African Americans into Reformed Christianity. At this time, I do not attend either an African American church nor a church that is based solely on the doctrines of Grace. I would have to say having attended both kinds of churches in the past, I would be very comfortable in either of those institutions.

The basic structure of the book is that each of the ten men pictured on the cover is given one chapter to tell their story. Interwoven through their life story and conversion experience is how reformed theology has impacted their life and ministry.

Sometimes a book with 10 different authors can feel segmented and difficult to follow. Anthony J. Carter the editor and one of the 10 essayists does an excellent job imbuing the book with a cohesive energy.

Many of the authors discuss the acrostic TULIP which explains the 5 points of Calvinism (Calvinism, Reformed Theology and Doctrines of Grace are all used interchangeably through the book,) T stands for Total Depravity , U Unconditional Election, L limited atonement, I Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. The authors do a good job of putting meat on that flower. So I will gladly let them unpack it for you.

I told my wife that the theology in this book was readable. She took that as a slam on the writing, when I meant the exact opposite. Some theology books read like stereo instructions. When Louis Love Jr., for example, uses theological terms like soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) or says regeneration is monergistic (the work of God alone) he defines those terms immediately. Instead of referring to the 5 solas and the TULIP acrostic, Anthony Bradley defines them in easy to follow terms.

The ten authors came from varied backgrounds and came to embrace the doctrines of grace in different ways. Four distinct elements permeate these journeys:

1) Modern day authors and preachers like J.I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, R.C. Sproul, John Piper and others had an influence on these men's theology through books, magazine articles, radio programs and conferences.

2) The historical impact of men such as John Calvin, John Bunyan, John Owen and others (some not even named John) had a steadying influence in their journey.

3) Reformed Theology had a practical and personal application to their lives and was not just some academic discipline.

4) As Anthony Carter implies in the title of the afterward these men are black, reformed but foremost Christian.

When I first heard of Glory Road I was intrigued. Now that I have completed my journey of digging into this excellent tome, my initial curiosity has blossomed into a deep respect for this assemblage of pastors. I really appreciated the fine appendix that will give those interested in pursuing these matters further, books and authors (like those mentioned above) a suitable starting point.

I hope you found this review helpful. This is just one of many fine reviews being featured at the 23rd Book Review Blog Carnival at Bart's Bookshelf. To see all my Library Thing Early Reviewer reviews click here.

Next Time: Trying New Things

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reading Programs

As you can probably tell by our posts about libraries and the many book reviews on these pages, our family loves to read.

Reading in many ways is its own reward. It is also something that our children don't need a lot of motivation to do. Those who read do so with an insatiable voracity, and those not yet reading are constantly wanting to be read to. There are several programs we participate in that reward us for reading and as they say in these parts, that works for us. Here are a few we've used in the past year:

We found out about this through other home schoolers. If your children from K-6th grade read or were read to for 6 hours non school assignment books, they earned a free ticket to Six Flags. I blogged about this particular program earlier. The catch of this program is that pre-school children and 7th grade and above do not qualify. Nor do the adults taking the children. It still is a good reward for what our kids were going to do anyway.

Pizza Hut sponsors a reading program for grades K-6. The teacher sets the monthly goals based on the student's reading ability. Once they meet the goal for the month the teacher gives them a certificate for a free personal pan pizza. The program runs from October through March. Public, Private, Parochial and Home Schooled children can all participate. My kids love this reading program. Our local Pizza Hut has the best waitress in the world who is always great at remembering us and the program.

Local Library Programs.

Summer Book Clubs are a library staple. Our local library always does a great job. They have summer reading programs for all ages. Amy and I are doing the adult program, and our kids are doing, well, the kids program. Each year they get several coupons for free or reduced priced retailers like free ice cream from McDonald's and a free buffet from Old Country Buffet. They also get a free book and several library programs including a special program for all club finishers.

Book Store Programs.

Every few years we participate in the Barnes and Noble program. Borders and Half Priced Books also have Summer reading programs, although we have not participated in them.

Emma liked the B&N program where you read 8 books and get 1 free (No Purchase needed) so much she wrote a song (To the tune of Alouette):

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Barnes & Barnes

Our local Minor League baseball team also has a summer reading program called Ozzie's Reading Club (Ozzie the Cougar is their mascot.) The teacher's determine the amount of books each student needs to read to advance to each base. Students hitting a "home run" earn a free ticket to a home game. We have not participated in the program ourselves, but have heard great things about it. Check to see if your local sports teams have such a program.

Summer Reading Programs definitely work for us. To see what other things are working out there, head over to We Are That Family for this weeks edition of Works For Me Wednesday.
This article is one of many excellent articles included at the Carnival of Homeschooling: We've Got Style edition hosted this week at Home School Bytes.

Next Time: African Tulips

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guest Post by Amy Roller - Book Review

Dave's been promising a garden update. Our home garden is doing fine, tons of tomatoes on the horizon. But the following book review is more pressing at the moment. :)

This all came at me from left field, but now I want to run with it. Last week, we went to Hinsdale, IL for a field trip with some other homeschool families. My dad grew up in Hinsdale, so I was familiar with the area, and knew the location was right near the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I had no idea what we were going to be doing, but I thought it was a farm tour. It ended up being a tour of a lovely woman's garden at her home. It was a two hour tour, that flew by, during which we encountered the most beautiful layout of God's creation that I've ever seen. And the lovely woman, Trudi Temple, was a treasure to behold. I just wanted to stand next to her to absorb her life force. Prior to this field trip, I had never heard of her, and knew nothing about her other than her passion for gardening (i.e., she spends three weeks in the fall/winter uprooting tropical plants to bring them inside for the winter, then another three weeks in the late spring, replanting them into their homes.) When we got home, I re-read the email we received about the field trip, and it mentioned something about the book this woman had written. I didn't even know her last name! My daughter Emma said, "I think it's Temple, because there was a sign on the house with that name." So I went to Amazon and looked her up. Lo, and behold, she has written a book that appeared to be about gardening. From the cover, it looks like it's going to be chock full of gardening tips, secrets, and how-to's. I was in for a surprise. Actually two surprises. If you know me at all, you know I don't buy books, I get them from the library. I ordered this book from the library, and when I got the call that it was in, I was very excited. Dave said he'd stop by the library on the way home from running other errands. When he got home, he presented me with a signed copy of her book, my own copy. I was happy, because I knew it would contain pictures to remind me of her beautiful gardens. However, her book, Trudi's Garden, is hardly about gardening at all. It's a tale of a young girl growing up in war-torn Germany, and the sheer determination it took to survive, thrive, and live an amazing life. And she is the founder of Market Day! I grew up on Market Day that my mom ordered. I couldn't believe it, I had listened to this woman talk about life and her garden (they can't be separated) for two hours, and she never mentioned Market Day. You know, that fundraiser at schools, churches, and park districts? She started it to raise money for missions, to help people, and even though she doesn't do much of the operating of Market Day anymore, she still raises money for solar ovens for Africa by giving tours of her gardens. This woman is amazing, and the book is a precious gift. It even includes some delectable-looking recipes from her childhood, which I will hasten to try! It is co-written by Laurie Bohlke, and I highly recommend that you all order it immediately from your library!! Or even do what Dave did, drive down to Anderson's Bookshops, in Naperville, and get a copy. If you're not in Illinois, go to their website and order a copy! This is a must-read!
Next Time: Reading Programs

Soaking up the Summer

We went camping, we got drenched.

Next Time: Garden Update (I promise)

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Mark Buehrle is my daughter's favorite player on the White Sox. When she was 3 in 2003 we went to a minor league baseball game in Burlington, IA. Emma really enjoyed the game the entire game we cheered "Go Bees Buzz!" The next time we were at a White Sox Game, I mentioned to Emma that Buerhle played for the Bees when he was in the minor leagues. She has been a big fan ever since. Every time he pitches she gets very excited when he wins. In 2004, I went to Sox Fest, and Buerhle was kind enough to sign a baseball card for Emma and wrote Go Bees!

Today Buerhle pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Josh Fields' grand slam was the only offense the Sox needed as they defeated the Rays 5-0. A perfect game is a no hit game without anyone getting on base for any reason. It is possible and common to pitch a no-hitter and walk someone or hit someone with a pitch or have a batter reach base on an error. Before today there have only been 16 perfect games in the regular season and 1 in the post season.

If you are unsure what a perfect game looks like you can view each one of the 27 outs by clicking here and then pressing the play bar on the video.

Buehrle is a fan favorite for the White Sox. Earlier this summer he hit his first home run for the team. (American League pitchers only bat at inter league games in National League Parks.) Last week he pitched a perfect inning for the American League in the All Star Game in St. Louis. It was a homecoming of sorts for Buerhle who grew up in a St. Louis suburb. Buerhle met with President Obama at the All Star Game as he was in town to throw out the first pitch. Today he received a congratulatory phone call from the President.

Congratulations to Mark on his special feat.

Next Time: Garden Update

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A New Way to Cut Pancakes

A few years ago my wife was helping out one of her friends who just had a baby by taking care of the rest of the family. They had 4 or 5 other children at the time. Amy had brought pancakes over and realized that when you have lots of young children, cutting pancakes can be an arduous and time consuming experience.

So about a year ago, here is what she came up with. Use a pizza cutter to cut pancakes. It has revolutionized pancakes at our house. It has even made pancakes a finger food for some of our kids.

So Pizza Cutter Pancakes works for us. To see what works for others go over and see Kristen at We Are That Family.
Next Time: Garden Update

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma

My Grandmother would have turned 101 today. Around these parts, we call that the Dalmatian birthday. She died a few years ago and I still remember one of the last things she said. I wasn't actually there, but Amy was. It sounded to me like she was talking to God and she said, "I can't go yet, I have great grand-children coming." One of those children was my youngest, who we were expecting.

The day before my Grandma's 95th birthday party I wanted to write her something special about how much she meant to me. I went through a couple of dozen drafts just to hone up on my basketball skills (I kept crumpling them up and throwing them away) until I came up with a keeper. I read it at her party and when she passed away two years later I read it again. I share it here in memorial of one of the finest people I have ever known.

1 of 29

I share a grandmother with 28 others

All of their sisters and all of their brothers

And even if we hadn't produced the next generation

She's still be a great grandmother in my estimation

Growing up Grandma could pick us each from the crowd

She knew who was shy and which ones were loud

Her love for our Grandpa was always displayed

He was her Jack, and she was his Babe

While our love and respect she has merited

I'd like to speak of the things we've inherited

Her sense of family and love for games

The memory of a pole with our heights and our names

So Grandma as I wish you a happy birthday

There's one more thing I'd like to say

While I maybe just 1 of 29

You made me feel like you're mine all mine

Next Time: A New Way to Cut Pancakes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Life Sentence

Last week I discovered Six Word Saturday. My words for this week:

Picking berries and preparing for bunnies.

We have a berry bearing tree which we picked this week. We also are going blueberry picking as a family this weekend. Our oldest turns 10 in early September and we have been promising her a pet bunny on her 10th birthday for 1/2 her life. So we have been in full bunny prepmode around here. Hitting the county fair and talking with all manners of people. We have even been offered a free one. We are trying to make a decision in regards to which bunny and when.

To see other people's Six word summations are share your own head on over to Show My Face.

Next Time: Happy Birthday Grandma.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Strawberry Picking With Bunny Girl

Kids grow up quickly, I dig that. What I don't get is how this kid is now almost 10. It seems like yesterday that this picture was taken, and now shes just a month and change away from a second decade.
A few Saturdays ago, I read on my facebook page how a friend of ours had gone strawberry picking. I quickly went on the Internet and found a place that still had strawberries about a half hour from our house. Amy was in the midst of a recipe but I gobbled up Bunny Girl and off we went on an adventure. Much to her joy, they also had sugar snap peas available.  We spent an enjoyable hour picking both.

As we picked I was telling her how much I enjoyed just spending time alone with her. She looked at me and said I am going to remember this day for the rest of my life and when I have kids I will take them strawberry picking.
Now while pictures may be worth thousands of words that one sentiment was worth thousands of pictures, strawberries and sugar snap peas.

Next Time: A Life Sentence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

June, July and August

I don't remember the first time I heard the joke, I have heard many variations through the years. The essence goes like this: Q: What are the best three things of being a teacher? A: June, July and August.

Last summer I lost my job and became the teaching parent in our home school family. My wife went back to her career as a school psychologist. My kid's school year ended the week before Father's Day, my wife's last day was the Friday before Father's Day. We are now in the midst of what amounts to be an 8 week paid vacation provided by our school district.

I would not go as far to say that these three months are the best things to be a teacher. Having this time with my family unencumbered by non-family concerns sure make Summer my favorite season. Before this it was Paprika.

Our main exploits this summer have been gardening, swimming, biking and reading. In addition we've been on a number of outings; some as a full family, some in partial strength.

In addition to our weekly cleaning day we made a list if "bigger jobs" we wanted to accomplish this summer and are knocking them out about one every week. I also am taking one afternoon a week to prepare for the school year and the two classes I will be teaching at the co-op this year.

When I was the "paycheck" parent I enjoyed the summer and tried to get as much time off that we could spend as a family. Having all five of us all home for this extended family time certainly works for me.

To see what works for others go to We Are That Family. Next Time: Strawberry Picking With Emma.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Unbelievable (You want me to do what?).

I love blogging. I would probably blog even if there wasn't such a thing as comments. But I really like getting comments. Every once in a while (okay every other post) I get no comments. I'm cool with that. But I really like getting comments. What I don't like is getting derogatory, mean spirited comments. I haven't told my parents about my blog ,so I thought I could avoid that sort of thing. Just kidding!

The other day I received a horrible comment. I don't remember all of it because it was laced with profanity and I erased it as soon as I was able. The general idea was that I was a horrible person and the commenter wanted me to die a horrible death. So what could have caused so much anger? Did I offend someones religion? Did I make some ethnic slur or stereotype? Did I say that Lost was worse than Gilligan's Island? No. What I did was merely mention that my family and I were embarking on what we called No Junk Food June.

It seemed that the commenter was most upset that I would put my children through that. I was ruining their lives and they would end up hating me forever. Because we didn't eat sugar for a month? Because we didn't go to fast food restaurants for a month? Please!!!

Now two things I'd like to mention. One, if you read the post after the one you commented on, you would have read that my kids had plenty of sugar and junk food in June. We traveled quite a bit that month and I let the kids eat their regular diet when we were on the road. They also went to a major league baseball game, two museums which they all enjoyed and many other fun things in the month of June. Two, on this painful death thing, No Junk Food June is intended to increase my life expectancy not decrease it. I just lost a brother and while his death may not have been painful, it certainly was to those he left behind. My desire to shed some pounds, has something to do with his early demise.

My kids survived their "ordeal" quite nicely. We will probably attempt to do it again next June if I can avoid painful or any other kind of death until then. I wonder what that commenter would say if they knew our family was already in the midst of no television for the summer?

Next Time: June, July and August.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Steal bases not cameras.

Yesterday I took my son and two of his friends to U.S. cellular field for the second Double Duty Classic. This game is a celebration of the negro leagues specifically the east-west all star games played at Comiskey Park, The classic is name after the late negro league star Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, who received his nickname by commonly pitching the first half of a double header and catching the second half.

U.S. Cellular Field opened in 1990 as New Comiskey Park and was built right next to Old Comiskey. The Sox destroyed the old building and constructed parking lots where it had stood. In what I thought was a cool touch, they maintained the old home plate and situated it outside one of the entrances to the new park. I took a picture of all 3 boys standing at home plate on our digital camera. The camera was on it's last legs. Motor problems were causing it to lose power much quicker and often not even open. Fixing the camera, I was told, would cost more than getting a new one. So, I was planning on buying a new one later in the summer.

I took the pictures and I absently put the camera in our lunch bag rather than putting it in my pocket which is where I planned to keep it. The game was free, and we had our choice of sitting anywhere we wanted. So we chose behind the players dugout on third base in the first row. I did not want to lose those seats so we draped jackets bags and gloves on them when we went to the wash room. Now I have left bags at seats countless times in the past and have never had anything stolen before. Until this time.

Instead of just describing to you what happened, I have decided to relate it in a different way. You see just recently I heard the song by Dave Carroll called United breaks guitars. I like how he took what happened to him and turned it into a song. So this morning inspiration hit and I wrote a song about what happened to me. Here is the blog premiere of Steal bases not cameras.

It was raining on the south side, when we got into the park
Put our jackets and our lunch bags in our seats
Off to the boys room our foursome did embark
When we came back we were greeted with a treat.

Some boys from the athletics were handling my glove
I said I'm glad you like it boys that's mine
You can have the front row, I said to them with love
They said "No thanks sir we'll be fine."

Well it just kept on raining and I said to my boys
Grab your stuff will come back when it's dry
I couldn't find my Sox bag and then I made a noise.
"My camera was in there!" was my cry.

Now jumping to conclusions can get you out of shape
So I glanced behind me with an open mind.
I wish they were all eating pizza or maybe just a grape.
They were munching on our peanuts at the time.

Steal bases not cameras my friends
Bases is where thievery should end
Hope you liked our peanuts and our chips
Glad I took your mitts off of our mitts.

Drago from security caught the kids in their lie
How do you buy peanuts at two stores?
The thief he did admit it but would not give me my prize
He said "he dropped and left it on the floor."

Their coach was less than helpful; wouldn't look me in the eye
Seemed to think the whole ting was just a joke
Me I'm not disheartened, a new camera I will buy
Had to anyway, the one they took was broke

Repeat Chorus

Now life can get real stormy, then out will come the sun
As it did, we remembered why we came
We shared the food they left us and we had a lot of fun
Chasing foul balls and watching a good game

I feel more like a fan than a victim of a crime
I'll curb my propensity for lectures
But I'd tell those young Athletics if they'd give me the time
That is not what is meant by taking pictures

Repeat Chorus

If you want to know how the song goes musically. Think Johnny Cash meets Willie Nelsen. As far as Amy is concerned, the real crime is I made her listen to a country song.

Next Time: Unbelievable! You want me to do what?

An Award for Me?

I just found out about a new carnival called: Six Word Saturday

at Show my Face. The button says it all. I decided to incorporate today's post to that format:

Listed in best Christian homeschool blogs.

Next Time: Steal Bases not Cameras

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Free Things This Thursday and Friday

It's Thursday and I am pinch hitting again for Michelle at Psalm 104:24 for her wonderful carnival: Three Things This Thursday. If you read my last post you know Free works for me. For today's post I will tell you of three free things I have done or will do this week.

1. Lincoln Park Zoo/Lake Michigan, Chicago, IL

I love zoos. I have been to zoos in four countries on three continents. The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the few free zoos in the United States. Located off of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago it is just across the street from Lake Michigan. We generally visit the zoo and then spend some time at the beach. This is exactly what we did this Monday. I have been going to that zoo for over 35 years and I still can't get over how I can be looking at a lion, look up and see the Sears Tower.

We packed our own lunch so the total cost of our afternoon at the zoo/beach was money for gas and $4.00 for parking. It did take us around 10 minutes to find a meter, but well worth it.
Now as I have said very few zoos are free, many however, have free days. I have been to free days at zoos in Springfield and Milwaukee in the past year. Check your local zoo's websites to see if they have any free days.

2. Six Flags Great America - Gurnee, IL

Now Six Flags Great America is not technically free. If they were, it might explain their latest financial woes. My two oldest children did earn free tickets to the park in a reading program this past year. I love Great America and was hoping to be able to afford to take the kids there this year. Their free tickets paved the way. I bought a seasons pass which has 4 free ticket vouchers (two are already expired). I will be able to go again twice this year just for the price of parking (twenty five dollars for close to the park, fifteen dollars for far from the park.) Note: you can save much money by bringing food with you and eating in the car. However if you park far from the park, this can be time and energy consuming. Also, Great America will not readmit people after 7 p.m., SO bringing your food will work great for lunch, but make sure you check your watch if you plan to do the same for dinner. We had a late lunch, only going back to the car once.
The water park was also included in the kids' free tickets and my annual pass so we hit that as well. We had a great time on rides like Jester's Wild Ride (sound's an awful lot like a Disney World ride, hmmmm?), Bumper Cars and the Home Town Fun Machine (Video Below). I plan on going at least twice more and using my free vouchers so my next trips should only cost gas and parking. By my math that's 7 people at Great America for the cost of one season's pass ($60.00) and 3 times parking in the cheap seats (45.00) all made possible by kids who love to read!

3. Baseball Game at U.S. Cellular Field. Chicago, IL

I have mentioned in previous posts how I am able to go to take my kids to White Sox games at just the cost of transportation and parking due to their kids club program. The tickets you get are generally on the upper deck and while I firmly believe there are no bad seats at the Cell (The old Comiskey Park had seats directly behind poles), sitting that far away from the action can hinder the ball park experience a little. Especially when your son is keen on catching foul balls.

This Friday, The White Sox are hosting the second annual Double Duty Classic at the Cell. The games are an homage to the old negro leagues and feature an all star game from high school baseball players from inner cities around the U.S. The game is free to the public and free parking is available as well. Charlie and I will be there when gates open at noon and look forward to having a great day and learning more about the negro leagues. Maybe we will even catch a foul ball.

So that's it for me. Those are the free things for this week. Now it's your turn. Blog about three free things (or any three things at all) and click on Mr. Linky. Nobody participated last week, and while we all want Michelle back and running this, we also want her to think that the carnival is in capable hands (she doesn't have to know the truth). If you have any trouble with SeƱor Linky, let me know and He and I will get things squared away!
It is now friday and I am double dipping at Frugal Fridays. If you want to see what other tips are out there go to Life as Mom. Also, if any of your tips are free things (3 or any other amount) feel free to link it here.

Next Time: An Award for me?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Free, I love that word. I like free time. I like shooting free throws. And I'll tell you there is such thing as a free lunch, cause I've eaten my share of them. I even like Frito's, but that might not be the same thing.

I especially like getting things for free. What I don't like is when people try to sell you something giving you the idea that something is free when it's not. So for today's WFMW I wanted to give you some free advice on how to know when free is free and when it's not.

When Free isn't free:

BOGO . I'm not sure when two for the price of one or 3 for the price of two became buy some get others free. I am pretty sure the intent is to appeal to "free" lovers. Now don't get me wrong, 2 for 1 is a good deal. But you are still paying for the first one. I especially don't consider the second one free if you only bought the first one to get the second one. If, however, you were planning on buying two shirts and you got a BOGO offer, it makes some sense to call the second one free.

The same can be said of offers when they give you an item at no cost if you subscribe to a service or publication. Newspapers do this at parades. They state they are giving away chairs. Yet they are only free if you subscribe and generally only free if you pay with a credit card and agree to automatic billing. So the free chair is actually a high (priced) chair. Again if you were planning on getting a newspaper subscription anyway, than the chair seems more free. The way it is marketed though is to sell newspapers to people who really want chairs.

When Free is Free:

Sometimes even when you have to pay more money. If you are given a certificate for a free dinner, but you still have to feed a meter to park, that doesn't mean the dinner wasn't free.

Even if your taxes pay for it. Our Park District and Library District provide our family with a good portion of our free entertainment. While my tax dollars do subsidize these "freebies," they subsidize them even when I don't use them, which is why I'm inclined to still refer to them as free.

So getting stuff free works for me. In my next post I am going to talk specifically about three things I have done or will do this week for free. I want you to participate as well. This week I am hosting Three Things This Thursday for Michelle at Psalm 104:24. Think of 3 things that you have done recently for free and link them to my post. For this week I am going to call it Free Things This Thursday. Join me here at about 6 a.m. central on Thursday or at a more reasonable hour if you like. For more Works for Me Wednesday scoot over to Kristen's at We Are that Family.

Next Time: Free Things This Thursday

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Goalie on the Bench.

Hockey Lessons
Life Lessons from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
Why doesn't life go as planned? The answer to that question often gets back to who is doing the planning. No one ever plans on being born, but once they get here, boy do they want to be in charge of the planning!

People often see the design in their lives in retrospect. Such is the case of Steve Janaszak. By 1979 Steve had already been goalie of two national championship teams at the university of Minnesota. He had just been voted Most Valuable Player of the 1979 squad. His coach, Herb Brooks, had just been selected to helm the U.S. Olympic team. Most pundits figured Herb would choose Jany as his starting goalie for the U.S. No one expected him to be an MVP again, not when going against the vaunted Soviet Union and other hockey powerhouses, but no one expected him to be an asterisk either.

Twelve hockey teams represented their countries in 1980. Twenty players per team, 240 in all. 239 of them played in the Olympics. Only Jany rode the bench the entire event. Coach Brooks had prepared him for this eventuality, that Jim Craig was going to be His only goalie for the Olympics. On the face of it this did not make sense, many of the games were very close, but there were some games that Jany could have easily got some time in.

Janaszak took the entire situation as a pro. Early each morning he took practice shots from his assistant coach, so he would be ready if called upon. Instead of being bitter, aloof and distant from his teammates, he remained positive. Off the ice he bonded with his teammates going to the Olympic Village, hanging out and watching movies together. On one such occasion he encountered an interpreter working in the complex. That interpreter eventually became his wife.

Imagine if it was too much for the NCAA MVP to play the part of back-up. Or if he just went through the motions, and kept to himself at the Olympics hiding in his room, feeling sorry for himself. He might not be the contented husband and father of two daughters that he is now. Janaszak, states in retrospect there is no question what he would rather have the personal glory or the family he has been given. It may have been different if things went as he had planned.

I think there is a little in the Janaszak's story in many how did you meet your spouse stories. I would love to h ear yours. If things went by my plans I would have already been on the mission field by 1990 and not still in college. This means I would have not met my wife in 1990. At least not in the student union of Western Illinois University. Some people call it luck, others a happy accident. I call it the providential hand of God. Just a reminder that life does go as planned. Especially when we're not the ones doing the planning.

Next Time: Free

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wall of Glaze

Krispy Kreme Donuts, like many businesses in this economy, are encountering tumultuous times. In 1995 I encountered my first Krispy Kreme when I was living in South Carolina. It proved to be quite the haunt for the students at the Seminary I attended. Besides the yumalicious donuts, the most amazing thing about visiting a Krispy Kreme is watching the donuts being made. There is a giant assembly line that you watch through a window. The donut is cut and fried before your eyes and then it travels under a waterfall of glaze which I dubbed the "wall of glaze." In fact I began referring to Krispy Kreme itself as The Wall of Glaze (i.e., meet me at The Wall of Glaze at 4:30, k?)

A few months after my first Krispy Kreme experience I was driving around. As I was driving I was singing. When I sing I sometime sing songs I know and sometimes I just make up new ones. The ones I make up are usually "1 use" songs as I generally don't write them down or remember them. Sometimes a song comes to me that I especially like and I remember it. I liked this song because it describes the cycle of a romantic relationship and it centers that relationship at one place: The Wall of Glaze. Now, I don't sing well. The truth is that a song doesn't sound the same to others as it does to me. So when I want my lyrics turned into music, I just give them to music writers and let them come up with a tune. I gave these lyrics to my friend Jeff who gave it a Fifties sound and performed it as such at a seminary talent show. When I sang it that night in my car it had a more Bob Seger 70's a-m ballad feel to it. However you slice it (and most people usually don't slice donuts) here is the blog debut of The Wall of Glaze:

It was our first date
On a Friday night
She got a blueberry donut and a medium Sprite
She looked so good and I stood amazed
That I could lose my heart at the wall of glaze.

At the Krispy Kreme
At the Wall of Glaze
Just a memory of my younger days
Of how she looked so good
And how I stood amazed
That I could lose my heart
At The Wall of Glaze

End of senior year
Going separate ways
I was off to the army
Her to the college days
We promised to write every week
It would be like we never went away
How we cried and cried at The Wall of Glaze

At the Krispy Kreme
At The Wall of Glaze
Just a memory of my younger days
Of how we promised to write every week
Like we never went away
But the tears fell like rain
At The Wall of Glaze

Well you know the story
Left a boy came back a man
And I wrote her in my letters
Things I still don't understand
Oh my love for her just grew and grew
I was longing for that day
When I'd ask for her hand at The Wall of Glaze

So on a Friday night
Got down on my knees
Put a ring on her finger
Said will you marry me please
She said I'm sorry
But you were just a passing phase
And she broke my heart at The Wall of Glaze

At the Krispy Kreme
At The Wall of Glaze
It's the end of the story
Not the starting page
I put a ring on her finger
She said "Boy, you're just a phase"
And she broke my heart at The Wall of Glaze

Now I sit alone
On a Friday night
With a blueberry donut
And it don't feel right
I know I shouldn't be here
But I feel trapped in a cage
Since she broke my heart at The Wall of Glaze

At the Krispy Kreme
Called The Wall of Glaze
Just a memory
Of my younger days
I know I shouldn't be here
I feel trapped in a cage
since I lost my heart, since she broke my heart, now that we're apart
At The Wall of Glaze.

Next Time: The Goalie on the Bench.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Our Last Meal

If you read Michelle's blog you know she's had a lot on her plate lately. So she has asked me to host 3TTT for the next few weeks and I have glady agreed. It's all in my long term goal of taking over the internet.

I thought we'd go into the not so way back machine today and give you some snippets from my No Junk Food June experience: You may first want to look at my post from yesterday to get some context.

1. 5/31/2009

Dropped my friend Marina off at the airport today. She came in from Russia for an Amway convention in Grand Rapids. I got her and some of her travelling companions to the airport so they can catch a bus. I had about a half hour to kill on my way to church, so I punched Taco Bell into the GPS and got a quick bite before service. Yes it was 10:30 in the morning, but this was my last shot at Taco Bell until July.

Tonight I took the kids to CiCis to use a coupon we got in the newspaper. Not sure if a pizza buffet counts as junk food or not. The multiple sugary sodas and desserts sure would qualify though. Indulging myself on this last day of fast food availability may not be the most prudent of decisions, we shall see.

2. 6/9/09

Dropped off Marina at the airport today. After her conference ended in Grand Rapids last week she and some other Russian tourists drove from Illinois to New York to see Niagara Falls. It must have been a National Lampoon's Vacation length stop because by Monday night she was back in Chicago where she stayed with our family. I took her to the airport where she was flying to Charleston, South Carolina to spend a few days.
She wasn't the only one doing any travelling, though. After we dropped her off at the airport, it was off to Springfield to spend a few days with our friend Matthew who is recovering from a minor surgery.
We actually have a bit of travelling we are doing this month. So I told the kids at the onset of No Junk Food that it does not pertain to them while travelling. Had a minor mishap when getting gas on the way to Springfield. I picked up a 20 oz Mountain Dew rather than it's diet equivalent. Didn't notice until I drank from the bottle a few miles down the road. Believe me if you haven't had sugary drinks for a while, you immediately know the difference! Charlie lucked out and I let him drink about 1/2 of it before throwing the rest away at our next stop which was Wendy's. Charlie and Emma had Bacon Cheeseburgers, Lucy had Chicken Nuggets, and I drank water (Amy had to work and was unable to make the trip if I hadn't mentioned this already).
When we got to Springfield, we visited with Matthew and then went swimming at our motel. We then took Matthew out for dinner at Golden Corral. I did get the buffet but drank water and did not get any desserts. Of the three temptations I had today, the temptation to hit the dessert buffet was much stronger than those to drink Mountain Dew or eat at Wendy's.
When we got back to the motel we swam for a while in their outdoor pool even though it was below 70 and raining. Tomorrow it's breakfast at Cracker Barrel then a visit with Matthew to the Lincoln Museum and then back home to the lovely Amy.

3. 6/15/09

Dropped off Marina at the airport today. We actually picked her up at 1 airport and then drove her to another. She had a great time in Charleston and flew from there on Saturday to St. Louis to visit our friends the Hendricks. She flew Southwest on Monday from St. Louis to Chicago, Southwest flies into Midway and she was flying back to Russia from O'Hare. So it was me and the kids picking her up at Midway, eating sandwiches while we waited for her luggage, and then seeing her off at O'hare. She certainly had a jam packed visit to the states and we were glad to spend sometime with her on her travels.
So that's three things for this Thursday. Before I bounce you back to Michelle, What is a trip to the Capitol of the Land of Lincoln without the man himself? The family caught up with him just outside of his Museum . . .
It's your turn now. Do you have three things that you would like to share? Recipes, ideas of what's brewing for Gilligan and company on Lost, or other random thoughts? Use Mr. Linky below and be sure to send Micheele an encouraging word and myself any creative constructive ideas as I host 3TTT for the next few weeks.

Next Time: The Wall of Glaze

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No Junk Food June

As I write this it is May Thirty-first. As you read this it is probably July 1st or beyond. As I write this I am embarking on "No Junk-Food June". As you read this I have just finished it.

What, you may ask, is No Junk Food June? Simply put, I am going to cease eating at fast food resturants and cut all sugary sweets from my diet. I did it before in 2006 mostly as a cost cutting measure, but also as a means of calorie reduction. This year, as I approach my 45th birthday, and as I grieve the loss of a younger brother to ailments not helped by his obesity, I want to lose weight and not feel so out of shape when I recreate with my wife and kids.

I will not be weighing in or out but in the weeks to come you will see a chroncile of my journey. As an added bonus, Amy and I decided to have No Junk Food June as a family this year. We just had the "talk" with the kids.

You may wonder why I am blogging with a one month delay. It's not because I am afraid I will swear and that I will need the network sensors to bleep it out. While I want to share this experience here. I want it to be a completed experience, and not an interactive one.

That said, I certainly welcome your interaction now that our part of the journey has been completed.

Next Time: Our "Last" Meal

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip