Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Coworker? Tom Petty.

I think this qualifies as "live blogging" an event.  We are SO cutting edge.

So Jack enjoys hard work.  Especially when it includes YouTube of a Tom Petty concert.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There Is Another... Skywalker

I flipped on the color teevee set this weekend.  If you keep up with CJMP on an annual basis, this is sort of rare.  Jack was/is pretty sick, and so I was pulling guard duty for the afternoon while Majesty tried to rest, or something.

There was some golf on, and probably some football games I have zero interest in.  But hey, what's this, The Empire Strikes Back is on.  I flipped it over there for a second.  Because, y'know, why not.  One of my favorites.

After maybe a quarter hour (this "parenting" thing is really hard), I look over to my left.  Jack has been standing there, stock still, eyes locked in on the screen.  "They're in outer space!" he declares as Star Destroyers drift across the screen.  "Daddy, what are those called?" (Those are AT-ATs, Jack.)  He's a pilot! (Yes Jack, Luke's a pilot.)  "Awwtoo!  Where's Awwtoo?" he asks as R2 disappears into the swamp.

It floored me.  We acclimated long ago to Jack's ignoring of whatever we're doing.  He fixates on microphones and guitars and destroying Christmas ornaments and doggedly pulling umpteen pairs of shoes out of our closets.  Darn near killed himself on the stairs while flopping around in my captoe bankers the other day.

But this time, he watched.  And he watched.  And he got in his little squashy chair and watched.  And he didn't move a finger when I put the infamous plaid blanket over him.

He erupted in laughter when kooky old Yoda showed up.  He cackled and belly laughed.  He kept on laughing.  The next overloud advert came on, and I heard him muttering Luke's "Hey!  Get out of there!" cracking himself up all over again.

Then there was a swordfight.  A.  SWORD.  FIGHT.  With SWORDS.  SWORDS THAT GLOW IN THE DARK.  The DARK.  He's kind of a connoisseur of sword fighting.  Considers himself a real expert.  Again, he was transfixed.  I actually caught the moment when those big liquid eyes and brain comprised of mushy bananas took it all in.  There was this slight smile, the kind with a bit of wonder in it, when the blue and red lightsabers started humming and zapping and popping.  He was hooked.  He was hooked just like I was - like almost every little boy of a certain age was - in 1980.

An interesting side note, and one that Majestad pointed out, was that the Dude was completely unfazed by Darth freaking Vader.  When Vader stepped out of that white smoke in the original, a very, very young El Commodoro got right outta town.  I mean, it was abandon ship, every man for himself.  There was no way I was sticking around for whatever the 6-foot-6 guy in total black with a toaster oven on his chest had planned.  That was sixty-five kinds of scary.

Jack isn't the big chicken his dad is, apparently.

All this does cause me to reevaluate this year's decision to keep the (talking!) Vader ornament off the fauxenbaum.  I'm breaking that sucker out, stat.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mr. Photogenic Strikes Again

My favorite random conversation of the week (compliments of my Cajunette dentista):

E.C.:  "So how're things?"
Cajunette Dentista:  "Ah, y'know, good.  The fight against decay never ends."

Boy, isn't that the truth.  I guess one of my presents this year is a nice new shiny white back tooth.  The Cajunette yanked the 25 year old filling, which had enough mercury in it to, well, actually be Mercury.  Looked like the bumper off a '59 Chrysler Imperial.

The most enjoyable development from past few weeks has been Jack's willingness to sing.  I know, I know, he always does that.  But now he's singing with us.  And with the radio.  And with CDs.  Like, loud.  In public.  We hear him pipe up in church and I usually crack up laughing.  It's so awesome.  And I mean that not making fun, but in a celebratory sense.  It just flips my pancake when he joins in.  Gets most of the words right, too.  Fake it 'til you make it, dude.

I'm staying busy ordering a frightening assortment of trum-tookers, sloo-slunkers, blum-blookers and hoo-whunkers and all sorts of other Christmas paraphernalia that arrives at our doorstep in a steady stream.  I keep saying this every year, but the very super bestest part of Christmas is experiencing it alongside a child.  Inexplicably, Christmas fell off my radar for several years.  Yeah it was fun, but I enjoyed it primarily for the time off from my sweatshop of a former job.  And that's not quite the point.

Enough.  Let's look at more pictures.  These are hot off the press, so enjoy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry

They tell you whenever you can't write to just start typing.  So here we go.  I had a complete post done, entitled Naming Your Child For Dummies.  Scrapped it.  Wasn't worth outraging the relatively few strangers that read CJMP, people that will still talk to me or, friends and family I have.  Discretion is indeed the better part of valor.  Or something.  And now I'm stuck.

So how 'bout that weather?!  Right.

I'm reading a tremendous amount lately, at least for me.  I'm trying to deliver on the oft-broken read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year pledge.  I should finally make it this time.  Taking January, February, August, September, and most of October off didn't help.  Normally I wouldn't recommend the sort of procrastination/cramming routine I perfected in college.  But with the Bible, there's been a surprising side effect:  Greater perspective.

I can't overstate how helpful reading the Gospels through in a few days has been.  It's changed my view of them.  And more broadly, there's a huge benefit to arriving at Matthew right after slogging neck deep through the Prophets, wondering what it all means.  The folks in every Gospel account were wondering the same thing.  What are these amazing signs and new teachings all about?  Is this the one we're waiting for?  After John, my favorite, you blow right into Acts, swept up in the logistics and immense danger faced by those who helped build the church.  Romans comes, and it gives you an intense look at the doctrine and theology that was being laid out.  I have more to say on all of that, but no room here.  Anyway, the point being, try reading more than a verse here and there.  It'll change things.

Jack.  You remember Jack.  He's pretty pumped up for this Christmas thing.  He runs around, periodically yelling "MEWWY CWISTMAS, DADDY!" and "MEWWY CWISTMAS, MOMMY!" and "MEWWY CWISTMAS, MR. JACK!"  I think I've bought every legitimate* Christmas song on iTunes.   There's a slight problem with that, too:  The King (no, the other one) plainly sings, "Santa Claus is comin' tonight."  Jack tends to take that literally.  It's become kind of a nightly disappointment for him.

The Girliest Girly Girl is kicking and somersaulting, making herself heard however she can from the Occupy Majesty movement.  Darn little deadbeat hippie.  Majesty gets bigger by the quarter hour.  It's almost imperceptible, like watching the shadows move across your patio.  Wow.  I will probably never live that sentence down.  There it went, right there, hundreds of thousands of marital capital points.  Ah well, easy come, easy go.

I've been Christmas Decoration and Elf Management Czar this year, and did fearsome battle with the lights on the bottom part of our venerable old fauxenbaum one afternoon.  I ravaged that thing with a box cutter and strangled it into submission with strands of fresh lights.  Live porcupines must be easier to wrestle.  The tree looks (mostly) normal now, but stands there stark nekkid, still undecorated.  To this day I'm convinced it was a single, evil, tiny little bulb causing the dang problem.  I then put up Christmas lights on the front porch only to discover that my Lite-Brite of a fuse box that doles out the juice decided my GFCI outlets should die.  All of them.

So things are normal.  Like, pretty much.

One quick story.  My boss gave Jack this way cool interactive globe.  So you tap a country with a pen and it calls out "MONGOLIA" in a know-it-all voice.  You can play games and all sorts of things that geo-nerds do.  It's really, really neat, and Jack has been playing with it a ton.  So at 7am this morning, we hear The Dude screaming and crying.  He's kind of past the screaming/crying for no obvious reason stage, so I run up there expecting to see the place slathered in blood and carnage.  Jack is standing there, big old bottom lip poked out about 14 inches, with the (kinda heavy) globe suspended from his waist.  He had tied the pen's plastic tether cord around himself like a belt and had coiled it around about 10 times.  The thing was just mercilessly cutting into him, and he's got nowhere to go.  Can't walk, can't sit, can't untie it, and has to just wait for reinforcements.  (And no, I will not be sharing this story with El Jefe.)  Okay, so that really didn't go anywhere.  The Waist of the World?  Wide World of Shorts?  Atlas Whimpered?  No?  Alrighty.

Oh, we got Jack's picture made here at the house a few weeks back.  I'll upload a few of those in an upcoming post.  Probably.   But in the meantime, you know you love Lite Brite Elvis.  You KNOW you do.

Worst post ever.  I'm out.

*Any Mariah/Miley sort of ridiculousness is OUT.  Bing, Frank, and Springsteen are IN.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Knickknacks

I should do a proper Thanksgiving post, but here I am, a week out, and I find myself with precious little Thanksgivingy type stuff in my head.  My tummy?  Yeah, there's plenty of Thanksgiving stuff(ing) down there, sure.  But I've kind of moved on from the holiday.  Just imagine I did a mind-altering, comprehensive, tell-all Thanksgiving post.  There.  It's almost like I REALLY DID.  But I think you're going to get Quick Hits today.  Sorry.

Issue No. 1:  How does the Ittybitty Girl know precisely when Jack gets up in the mornings?  At 6:19 AM she is rolling around and muay thai kicking H.M.  Jack's already bumping around upstairs.  They're not (uh like, as far as we know) twins or anything...  But have they forged some sort of weird, unexplainable telepathic bond that they'll eventually use to defeat and control us?  Anyway, that's worrisome.  The very last thing children need is a secret weapon to triumph over the old folks.

Issue No. 2:  Jack had a cold last week.  "My neck hurts" is how he described his "throat" hurting.  Semantics.

Issue No. 3:  Majesty co-hosted a friend's baby shower one Saturday back.  Jack and I bolted out of there before the estradiol reached lethal levels.  We sauntered over to the Children's Museum and built the largest Lego structure I've ever been personally responsible for (I was structural engineer/design consultant on the project).  Jack could easily become a Lego real estate magnate.  The mom and her son next to us kept glancing over worriedly.

Issue No. 3 1/4:  We sat in a stripped-down Chevy S-10 on display, which was way cooler than it sounds.  We looked like two cops on a stakeout.  Jack also learned the names for all the buttons.  I worry now that I've given him the information he needs to break into and hotwire my car.  Anyway, we finished up our day with a trip to Coldstone for ice-cream, something that I'm not sure he's ever done, at least with me around.  The little turkey obliterated his cup of strawberry and then demanded some of mine.  Of course.  Sure, I'll do anything for my kid(s).  But giving up a whole quarter ounce of Sweet Cream and Snickers did give me some pause.

Issue No. 3 1/2:  The folks at the house (for the baby shower) included 2 extraordinarily well trained music teachers.  Jack had the time of his life siphoning off all the superdupersecret music knowledge they would share with him.

Issue No. 4:  Majesty's been teaching the sprog all about outer space this month.  (I'm trying to get Pigs In Space into the curriculum.  No dice yet.)  He's already naming the planets on his fingers, which was sort of cool to watch.  Hilarious, too:  JUPITUW... SATUWN... MOOKUWY... UWHF.... He pretends to be an astronaut and we blast off, from in front of the fridge, sitting in his little white chairs (the ones that nail my spine right on the T12 - it's like flying coach on Continental Express).  I provide blastoff sound effects, and was pretty pleased with my ability to rumble.  Just to bring it all home to him, I was taking the trash out one night, and noticed what I'm about 67% sure was Jupiter in the eastern sky.  He really dug looking at the bright spot in the black sky and declaring, "JUPITUW!  It's BIIIIDH [big]!!"  Sure is, big guy.  Sure is.

Issue No. 4:  Just finished up a semi-big deal remodeling project at the house.  After a brief explanation that Mr. Tylor is not an electrician but rather a contractor, Jack logically wanted to know:
"Does he drive a tractor?!"
Issue No. 5:  Jack's obsession with soap is bordering on mental illness.  He decides that dumping an entire bottle of hand soap in and around the toilet and on the wall an hour before friends arrive for the weekend would be a swell idea.  Another time, he dumped an entire bottle of vaporizing baby shampoo into a clay cup Majestad made in grade school.  Jack then set the cup on his book case.  Gravity ensued.  I could NOT for the life of me figure out where the unmistakable, elementary school janitor's cat litter vomit soaker-upper smell was coming from.  Soap oozed from the cup all morning before we discovered the mess.   Thanks to another of my very favorite physical forces - capillary action - the soap crept halfway up pages of just about every one of his books, ruining some for good.  Curious George Rides a Bike, we hardly knew ye!  Good riddance, you daft monkey!  You can't stay out of mischief for like, 7 seconds?

Issue No. 5 1/2:  Some questions, here:  Why exactly do we have so many bottles of soap?  Why are we so afraid of dirt?  It seems to me that cleanliness is overrated.  And who is responsible for buying baby soap in Old Lady Menthol-Cigarette flavor?  This person should be reprimanded.

Issue No. 6:  One weekend we went to the annual Children's Festival they have here.  Pure genius, that was.    Jack ran down a steep hill with a small parachute strapped to him.  Think NFL training camp.  He saw Thomas the Tank Engine.  He had his face painted.  He tried to brush a bald spot onto the side of a live pony.  He looked for "gold" (really just U.S. coinage) in a monstrously large sandbox.  He made bracelets - and this was the real focal point - with high school girls' help.  He had newspaper and masking tape hats made directly on his head.  And bestest of all, he got to make a kaht.  I mean kite.  Flew it pretty deftly, too.  I'll leave it up to you as to who had more fun doing that.

Issue No. 7:  Thanksgiving.... we stayed put at home, had excellent food, and my parents came down to visit for a day or so.  Was really great to see them, as always.  I ate so much that I almost fell asleep right in my gravy.

Quote of the Week
A Sleepy Jack One Morning:  "I want to watch Sesame Street... scratch that... I want to watch Bob the Builder."
Where does he get this stuff?

Short Conversation of the Week
(Upon seeing some old friends from our former church this weekend)
Gal That Naively Offered to Babysit Jack:  I'd love to!
E.C.:  Great.  Better bring a Clif Bar.
Gal That Naively Offered to Babysit Jack:  You're kidding.  He eats those things?!
E.C.:  No, no.  It's for you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Grocery Store Frequent Flyer Program

I propose a complete reordering of society.  A revolution, if you will.  Nah, not a political one, but for grocery shopping.  I'll get to all that in a minute.

As some of you know, I was drafted as the family grocery shopper dude during that dark period when the thought of food made Majesty turn pale and retch her cute little guts out.  And I've learned a few things.

The grocery store can be an intimidating place for men.  I've no idea what a good comparative metaphor would be, here.  Maybe a gym?  Let's use the gym.  Many women would walk into the freeweight/dumbbell section of a gym with at least a little unease.  It's (mainly) the Other Side's turf.  Same goes for grocery stores.  The people that really know what they're doing in there, the consummate professionals, are those fee-mail type people.  Guys are generally just sent on bumbling, one-off sorties to retrieve cold cuts and tubs of Cool Whip.

Of course, we men know roughly where our subsistence foods are (there are about five, and I'll leave those to your imagination) but that's it.  We have no clue where dried porcini mushrooms, applesauce and pita bread are.  None.  And we're not going to ask.  Because, y'know, we're men.

But I stand before you, the exception.  I now know (most) grocery shopping secrets.  I know where canned beans live.  I know how to acquire fresh catbah filets.  I know where they park the Desitin.  I have gathered this hard-won knowledge in the sub-zero corridors of the frozen food section.  I learned it by braving the 125 degree parking lot with single-bagged half-gallons of ice cream in August.  I've cheated certain death with moms in Audi Q7s trying to run me down out there.

And I bring a certain ruthlessness to grocery shopping.  I will cut off old ladies in the produce section.  I will look the other way, pretending not to see you as we both speed toward the same free cashier (I'll 'accidentally' get there first).  I will shamelessly step in front of any obliviot chatting aimlessly on a cellphone.  I will bump you (not too hard) if you're texting in the dead middle of the grocery aisle.  I will take the last one, without apology.

Because I'm on a mission, dang it.

And that brings me to my revolution.  We have to streamline the grocery shopping experience for the benefit of all humanity.  We must separate the professionals from the hoi palloi.  We need... a frequent flyer program.  For grocery stores.  You heard me.

When you shop, you get points.  Those points accrue.  But here's the kicker:  During peak shopping times like Saturdays and holidays, we only admit folks with a certain level of points.  So at 5pm the Tuesday before Thanksgiving?  No amateurs allowed.  Only the grown folks are in there, bro.  If you're like the two men I actually observed looking for cloves of fresh garlic on the spice aisle, you're gone.  We'll let you in at midnight.  Wanna shop at 3am?  Great.  Knock yourself out.

Who's with me?!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Say What? Accentuating the Negative

When I'm relaxed, tired, or not paying particular attention, you'll hear it.  It's worse in my own home.  Much worse.  The accent.  It's beyond drawl, that's not entirely it.  It's the quirky vowel swap that gets people.  If you're from roughly where I am, your long "I" sound turns into sort of a short "A" sound, more "AH" than "EYE."  Oh, that's not too bad, you say.  Barely noticeable, I'm sure.  Uh, no.  Huge problem.

An excerpt of an actual conversation I had Saturday:
E.C.:  That Children's Festival thing was great!  We took Jack over there and made kahts.  They were so cool!
Nice Neighbor Lady:  I'm sorry, cots?  They let you make cots?
E.C.:  Uh, no no, the ones you flah.  Kahts.
Nice Neighbor Lady:  *Glances at H.M. with puzzled look*
E.C.:  String.  Paper. Yah flah 'em.
H.M.:  *Interjecting, annoyed*  KITES.  He means KITES.
Nice Neighbor Lady:   Ohhhhh, kites.  Um, neat.
And lahk - sorry, like - everyone, I've got the typical southern habit of incessantly dropping 'G's, which at one point in my life was an issue so pronounced that I couldn't correctly say the name of my university.
Circa 1995 Neighbor:  Whereya goin'ta college, boy?
18 Year Old E.C.:  Hardin'.
Circa 1995 Neighbor:  Ah!  Hardin Simmons.  Great.  Daddy went there.  Baptist.
18 Year Old E.C.:  Nosir, Hardin'.  HarDING.
Circa 1995 Neighbor:  Neverheardovit.
Generally you try to clean this mess up when you're talking on the telephone with foreigners (i.e. native New Yorkers) or when you're reading Scripture aloud in church.  You concentrate hard then, trying to knock off the edges.  Or maybe Scotch-tape them back on.

At HarDING, it helped immeasurably that (1) I'm somewhat of a mimic and (2) had a Midwesterner roommate that spoke cleaner English than Tom Brokaw.  By the end of sophomore year, after bunking with a fantastic dude from Worcester, Massachusetts (!), folks back home believed I had suffered a stroke, having only partially regained the ability to speak.

Accents are funny things.  They conjure up preconceptions that may or may not be true.  They tip people off about your upbringing, social status, education... and can even comment on your level of real intelligence.  It's a common belief in the U.S (especially in politics) that a southern accent magically lops off 30 I.Q. points as soon as your mouth opens.

We know a few other things about accents.  One is that strong regional dialects (ones lahk mahn)  are disappearing.  Our speech is becoming more and more homogenous all the time.  (So THAT'S why our grandparents sound like Flannery O'Connor characters!)  Another interesting thing is that as income increases, dialects generally flatten out.  So as we grow wealthier, and watch the same TV shows, speech distinctions begin to vanish.

So how much of a big deal is it for Jack to screw up his vowel sounds me to screw up Jack's vowel sounds?  Does it (materially) limit him in an increasingly competitive world, where small advantages - heck, any advantages - are ruthlessly exploited?

In other words, should ah watch mah mouth?

Majesty is having a small, controlled fit over this.  (KAHTS, huh?!  Really?!  She couldn't even understand you!)  And ah finally found out whah:
Others monophthongize /aɪ/ in all contexts, as in the stereotyped pronunciation "nahs whaht rahs" for nice white rice; these speakers are mostly found in an Appalachian area that includes eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and Northern Alabama (the "Inland South"), as well as in Central Texas.  Elsewhere in the South, this pronunciation is stigmatized as a working class feature.
 Oh dear.  Of all the things that could've done us in, who could have predicted accent bigotry?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Firefighters, Dogs, and Madrugadores

Yes Virginia, There Are Talking Cars
As you can figure out from the picture, Jack went as a firefighter this year.  Majestad found him this rock solid outfit, complete with huge metal clasps on the jacket and coverall bibs with knee patches.  The lid looked pretty good, too, albeit more 1970s fire dude than present day.  No oxygen tanks, though.  Bummer.

We did Trunk or Treat at church this year, which is kind of the logistical next step in Halloween laziness.  (I'm a huge fan.)  Jack's favorite attraction wasn't the candy; it was the car our friends fixed up to look just like Lightning McQueen from Cars.  Jack just stared, in complete shock, like he was thinking, "I KNEW HE WAS REAL!  I KNEW IT!"  He spent the rest of the night demanding to see Lightning's motor.

Speaking of Pixar, each car/family in the lot kind of did their own thing, and my absolute personal favorite was the guy dressed up like Steve Jobs.  The dude is a dead ringer (sorry, couldn't help that) for Jobs.  It's freaky.  I go to shake his hand, and I get the Namaste greeting, his palms together, the whole thing.  Said he was unveiling his newest product:  iApples.  They were, of course, real apples lined up on the shelf behind him.  You have to respect the guy that goes all-in on the sight-gag.

The next night, we slowly toured our neighborhood, trying to lure folks to their doors to give me Jack candy.  Turns out that Halloween is an official dog holiday as well, because all the pooches hit the doors running, barking and swarming all over Jack as he nervously declared, "I'm okay.  I'M OKAY!"  The pups probably were hopped up on candy.  Hey, who wasn't?  Anyway, the rest of the night, he forgot his lines and began asking people about their current pet situation.

Conversation of the Week (Tie)
Think classifying people as either adults or chillrun is easy?  Think again.
Jack:  "Daddy's a child."
H.M.:  "No, Daddy's an adult."
Jack:  "I'm an adult."
H.M.:  "No, you are a child."  (To me as I leave to go back to work) "Bye, babe.  See you tonight."
Jack:  "Daddy's a babe."
Er, um, thanks.
Jack:  (Walking into the grocery store) "That signs says H-E-B.  That spells H-E-B, Mommy."
He just said that because he can't say "redundancy."

The Very Latest In Unexpected Parenting Dilemmas
Each morning, Jack used to (mercifully) stay in his room until somebody went and collected him.  But after our vacation (in eastern time) and then with the time change itself, he busts into our room at painfully early hours.  So you'll hear a door slam, and 4.7 seconds of thundering footfalls later, he arrives yelling "Mommy!" or "Daddy!" at the top of his lungs, talking incessantly.  It's my pet theory that the body wakes in sections.  In his case, his legs and mouth are working several minutes before the brain strolls in.

This needs to be solved well before February.  We'll now be taking your suggestions.  The phone lines are now open.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Theological Trick or Treat

A little palate cleanser for you.  I'll try to post on family Halloween antics and shenanigans and all that stuff later on, but I came across this little video and was compelled to share.

I would guess that the majority of people that bother with our blog are Christian, as we ourselves are.  I'd also guess that most if not every one of you, have at least heard of Lewis's Trilemma.  It was popularized by theologian and writer C. S. Lewis and goes something like this:  Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.  It means simply that Jesus of Nazareth made claims about himself so unheard of, so profound, so magnificent, that he was either (a) completely crazy (b) perpetrating an incredible hoax, or that (c) he is precisely who he says he is.

Now, you can believe that or not.  The trilemma's Wikipedia entry falls all over itself to present reasons why the idea's absurd.

And what about a fourth option added by some modern scholars?  Legend.  How do we know that followers of Jesus didn't simply make everything up?  Did Christians add dubious stories over the centuries since Jesus lived?  How can we know the Gospels are reliable at all?

Majestad and I have been trying to finalize the girly-girl's name.  You dig through books, you look at lists of popular names by decade, by country or language of origin.  The names are usually ranked by popularity.  You even wander through your family trees looking for particularly slick family names.  (I've quit pointing out to H.M. that the new name would by definition become a family name, but whatever.  I just work here.) 

Choosing names is the prerogative of every parent.  Some do it carefully and well.  Some give out painfully boring handles.  Others saddle their kids with ridiculous, acid-trippy ones with superfluous "Y"s or unintentionally hilarious initials.  Similarly, fiction writers get to pick their character names.  And that's where this video comes in.

If you yourself were to cook up characters for a new novel about a certain place and time and culture, would you get the names just right?  I mean, would they be used in correct proportion?  Would your geography be accurate?  The food?  The law of the land and its subtle politics?  Dr. Peter Williams would like to let you in on some powerful new evidence, especially about the proper names in the New Testament.

The clip is just under an hour long.  Okay, DO NOT sissy out because of the length.  It's extremely engaging and understandable, and you've likely never heard anything on the reliability of the Gospels quite like this.  So that's the 'treat' I have for you... and if you're a believer, it's required viewing.  (Yes, I went there.)  Enjoy.

Not convinced, are you?  Most of you won't be.  The overwhelming majority of folks won't bother.  Because most of you have things that you rate as more important, as more urgent.  Places to go.  Appointments.  Kids filling bathrooms 3 inches deep with water.  I completely understand.  And I'm certainly not here to nag, or to be the village scold.  I'm just some fool dad blogger, after all.

But not bothering...  not taking the time to know, truly, for yourself alone, as a layperson (i.e. non-'clergy'), is why we're losing the knowledge war in churches today, and losing it badly.

And that's the 'trick,' isn't it?

(UPDATE:  I've added the Q&A, which comments on another important question or two.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Mountain Yak, Part II

Continued from Part I:

(Special thanks to my wifey wife for letting me cheat off her notes.  Straight up, I didn't remember doing half this stuff.)
Okay, to review:  We started out nice and bumpy, with chilrun covered in dried yakkity-yak and nauseous pregnant girls picking assorted er, stuff out of hair in the bathtub at 5:45 am.  We burned the two hours before the rescheduled flights by watching The Little Mermaid.

Majesty was good enough to point out that Jack pretended to be a puppy dog for the entire two hours of wait time (his "Jack the DAHWG" alter ego).   It was like we'd released a psyched shih tzu loose in a movie theater.  The kid did great on the flights and passed clean out in mid-takeoff during our second leg flight.  H.M. says The New Kid apparently loved flying, and that she was dancing and doing flips the whole trip.  Maybe we've got another good traveler on our hands.

On the first official family hike since circa 2009, Jack did very well.  We hiked methodically about 4 1/2 miles and he was a real pro.  Keep in  mind, 4 1/2 miles in 3 year old mileage is like hiking from L.A. to New York.  Roughly.  Uncle Jesse, NaFANiel and Elijah saw a BEAWH!  He was booking it through the forest and across our trail so fast that none of the rest of us oblivious tourists saw it.  Good thing, too; would've been my 3rd sighting in about 2 years.  I don't want to fool around with math that will eventually go against me, bigtime.  Oh, and Jack really bonded with his big boy cousins.  Had a blast hanging out with them on the trail and otherwise.

We hit a little snag on the the 2nd family hike.  Jack yanked his own card and said he was done virtually the moment we stepped onto the trail.  Snacks didn't work.  The allure of chocolate didn't faze him.  He cried and fussed and issued typewritten threats via his attorney (he couldn't get cell service to CPS).  As a last resort, I let him ride the elephant until the elephant's neck and shoulders were screaming.  Then, in a stroke of pure, Wile E. Coyote genius, I emptied the venerable blue backpack and we strapped him in there like a 36.5 lb iron dumbbell (the luggage scale at the check-in desk isn't just for looks).


Lessons:  You'll allow your wife to convince you convince yourself that child carrier backpack thingy from years past needs to stay down in storage after your sprog hits 3.  Because y'know, they're too big to ride in there.  They'll get bored.  They won't like it.  You.  Are.  Mistaken.  GRAVELY mistaken.  Take that sucker.  Pay the airline the extra 827 clams to check it.  Do whatever you have to do, but get it on the silly plane. Personally, I'm taking that pack along until the chilrun are about 19.  Because let's face it dads, you never really know who'll need to be carried up the mountain.  And down it.  And back to the car.  And over to the potty.  And back to the cabin.

I'm expecting to strap Majestad into that thing someday.  Heck, if things go my way, a hulking, 6'6" Jack will carry me up trails in it.  That's where this whole thing is headed.

Anyway, even if I wasn't, H.M. was pleased Jack was up in the makeshift carrier.  There were ahem, allegedly some pretty steep drop offs that perked up her motherly Spidey-sense.  The hike itself was worth it, and ended with a really neat waterfall.  Poppa egged Jack on to get in the water... accompanied by guess who.  I'm usually not a squish about cold water, but let me just say, about 2.9 seconds in that water and it felt like several ice picks were being driven through my feet.  Jack made absolutely no indication of pain.  Showoff.

He clambered up the big boulders at the falls while we gave him as much supervision as was possible.  And H.M., at 5 1/2 months pregnant, didn't hike fast, but kept up really well.  The hike back, and the interminable hill I carted Jack up on the way back just about ended me.  You wanna induce a heart attack get in instant shape?  Strap your kid to your back and hit the stair climber.  Sheeshkabob.

We stayed in and played in the cabin the next few days as it rained and some cooler weather pushed through the area.  Jack collected neon colored leaves, and threw rocks in the pond.

I'm told he thoroughly enjoyed playing in the hot tub with Poppa, reading with Bebe and spinning quarters (?) with Aunt Gena.  I think I was out one of these days trying to kill myself on a hike.

We went to Cade's Cove one day, which is very touristy, but still a must-see.  Most of the original white settlers to the region lived in the Cove.  Jack loved this and didn't mind temps in the low 40s in the slightest.  We had a picnic out in one of the deserted meadows down the hill and behind the old white Primitive Baptist church building.  Afterward, Jack got in there and lead our group (and some passing strangers) in singing, prayer and he even preached a brief sermon.  Majesty says she used to go there in the summers with Bebe and Poppa so its sort of fun to see Jack there now.  Continuity is an amazing thing.

We visited quite a few old home-places with (very old) original log cabins and barns.  Jack had a supreme blast going in them and climbing the old handmade ladders.  He especially liked the corn cribs, probably because we couldn't easily get him out of those.  Wildlife was everywhere, with lots of deer and turkeys and even a couple of bear cubs.  Some idiots were about 30 feet from the cubs getting pictures.  They seemed not to worry about where mama bear might be lurking.  It's one thing to ignore danger, but these folks acted as if they were at the zoo.  We skipped the Darwin Award(s) waiting to happen and got outta there.
The morning we left for home, it was 35 degrees near the GSM.  The moment I got out of the car in Houston, three mosquitoes swarmed me and bit the fire out of my forearms.  It was 82 and sunny.

It's a weird way to say welcome back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Mountain Yak, Part I

Yeah, yeah, so I missed a week.  I was busy.  I was actually busy in an entirely different state, one with legitimate, discernible seasons.  And (live) trees that were red, orange, shocking yellow and this deep purple, winey color.  And mountains.  Real deal mountainous mountains.

I let some of the more adventurous (and sadistic) in-laws talk me into hiking to the top of a few of them, too.  My knee wasn't too happy about that, but peer pressure says you gotta go up, and up I went.  In so doing, I burned up most of the marital capital I had accrued over the summer to hike up to the AT and nap on a Thermarest in (melting) snow with my bare feet in the sun.  But dude, there was a mighty steep toll to get there.

Like say, a yakstravaganza:

We packed up and prepared to skip town bright and early one Saturday.  Everything was ready.  I mean everything.  We were going to walk out the door in 5 minutes, and had planned on eating a proper breakfast during our layover in Dallas.  The bags were in the truck, and I was waiting downstairs with a tremendous caffeine buzz.  Great Smoky Mountains, here we come.

Then I hear Majesty yell, "Jack is sick!" from his room and I rush up there.  In the darkness, all I can see are spatters of red all over the bed (and uh, Jack).  It looks just like blood.  I mean, just like it.  Great.  An axe murderer has chopped up my son into carpaccio.  Really great.  Or he's been juggling with my carving knives.  But no, thankfully (?!) we've got yak everywhere.  It has to be what, 1,000 to 1 odds that he'd get sick the morning of the big family vacation, right?

Lessons:  Grape tomatoes look all innocent and cute sitting there in the produce section, twittering at you in little voices that they may not be as big as a regular tomato, but their flavor sure is, buster.  Know this:  those shiny red little suckers have a sinister side.  And apparently that side is unmasked when you eat about 6 pounds of them along with your breakfast-for-dinner.

Thanks to my double super secret weapon flight app, I'm on the phone to American in minutes.  They gleefully extract an easy $150 for rearranging our flights and I was glad to pay it.  So we sit there watching The Little Mermaid with a (now generally clean) Jack sitting on a beachtowel on the sofa.  Y'know, just in case this ain't "over" over.  The disgusting load of bedclothes in the laundry room spins and hums.

But hey, watching TLM with a caffeine high is delightful.  Sebastian?  Pretty darn talented.  It does bug me that King Triton is that ripped at his age.  Does he pump weights with the bullion that falls to the sea floor?  And the Sea Witch reminds me of my fourth grade math teacher, no kidding. 

I've lost all notion of what I was talking about.

Oh yeah, we did make it to the mountains, with no more er, projections from Jack.  He was in great spirits on the flights up there.  To celebrate, we stopped for some authentic, local, mountain-type food.  The kind the Indians and first settlers to the area would have enjoyed...

Homemade fudge.

(Going native is delicious.  Don't let any fool tell you otherwise.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Tinkerjack Strikes Back

Only have time for a short note this week.

Jack keeps on developing new nicknames for himself.  Naturally, he wants to remain anonymous to protect himself from reprisals from the folks that run this joint.  Like, well, us.  This week's noms de guerre were inspired by Peter Pan:  "Jack Pan," "Captain Jack" (knew that one might show itself someday) and my personal favorite... Tinkerjack.

The swordfighting schtick from Pan is pretty funny these days - Jack er, Jack Pan shrieks out "Dis time you've gone too fahwh!" as we duel furiously with red and blue plastic golf clubs (note club pic below).  Luke and Vader, eat your hearts out.  If it means anything to you, The Sprog insists on wielding the red lightsaber golf club sword.  Coincidence?  Methinks not.

 This one demands a little explanation.  The babyproofing in the house is now almost totally compromised.  Even the single cylinder deadbolt I put in a week or two back probably won't withstand the Named Storm and his drill.  And yes, that is my three year old using fake powertools to gain access to dangerous chemicals.

Beatles.  Seatbelts.

Coming soon to an alphabet near you.
Oh yeah.  Majesty heard Jack calling "Julio" on the phone this week.  The "phone" these days is usually the hose sprayer on the kitchen faucet that looks surprisingly like a early 20th century phone earpiece.  Thank you for that, Mary Poppins.  Anyway, H.M. wasn't able to hear much of the conversation.  "It sounded big," she said.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I promised Majesty a more serious post this week.  I said my thoughts were still very scattered and unorganized about this whole new baby DURL thing.  They still are, to the point of being unintelligible.  But I have this week's post to er, post and you people evidently have some spare time to burn.  So we're stuck in this thing together, aren't we?

The events of the past few months have made me realize a few things.  For instance, that I enjoy the slow surprise of it all.  You never know all at one time how your life will turn out.  You get glimpses, clues, and sometimes, like last week, definitive information that colors and changes your understanding of what your future can be.  I very much like how life unfolds one square at a time, like a great big topographical map.  We see a bit more of what's ahead of us on each sunlit square.  Some places you've been to already, but most you can only imagine.

And that's the really jarring part of finding out you're going to be a parent again.  And of being told what flavor the kid is, or any really big news you hear.  I'm suddenly (G0d willing) not going to be the parent of an only child.  We're going to have a few, now (again, G0d willing).  And that's a very different future image to project in one's mind.

Is any of this making sense?

Let's have another try.  Leonardo da Vinci is said to have toted the Mona Lisa around with him for years.  He reportedly tinkered with the portrait off and on, and lamented in later life that he never finished it (or really any of his other works, for that matter).

We all have an image of ourselves.  And the 'big' events of life (and sometimes even the small ones) shape that image.  It's being updated and adjusted continually.  Maybe it's just a brushstroke here or there.  But there's really no way to predict exactly what will change over time, or how the portrait might look afterwards.  Furthermore, I believe that different artists can be at work on that image concurrently:  we ourselves, our friends and family, our circumstances, our enemies, and even - hopefully - God, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  As you might imagine, some artists do a better job than others.

Anyway, I'm delighted by the reshaping of that image of ourselves.

Another obvious point this brings up is that it's a very good thing that life reveals itself slowly because we generally have time to cope with the changes, good or bad.

So I turn now to coping with a tiny little girl that doesn't kick too much, seems to sleep all the time, and loves classical music to an inordinate degree.  Really.  Isn't fazed by sugary stuff, very cold things her mother might drink, or my voice.  She kicks for classical.

The chiquitita is refined.  Dude, that bodes ill for all us yokels.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bahs, Catbah and The Big Reveal

"Pardon Me, But Would You Have Any Catbah?"
My child has forever ruined the English language for us. Pop quiz:  Identify the following objects from actual household conversations:
E.C.  "Babe, have you seen my bah?  I heard it just a minute ago.
H.M.  "No, but I've got mine.  Let's go."

H.M.  "What do you want for dinner this week?"
E.C.  "Ahdunno.  Catbah?
H.M. "Yeah, catbah sounds good.  Get about a pound and a half."
E.C. "Done."
"But of course!"
For some reason, Jack substituted BAH in for any sort of "F" sound, so "phone" became BAH (and later BONE).  Same for "fish," hence "CATBAH."  Linguistics be some wacky stuff, yo.

And we litter our daily language with all sorts of other weird words and nonsensical phrases, cooked up by somebody that (1) doesn't read, (2) can't write or spell, and (3) is supposed to be learning our particular brand of the Queen's English from his elders (that'd be us).  We flap our arms and yell, "YANNIT" when we really like something.  We can't bear to correct him on "peenano" yet because it's charming.  And hilarious.  And charming.  But rest assured, 20 years from now, we'll be attending that peenano concerto and charging up our bahs.

Oh, and forgive me, but the best of all was him calling pomegranate juice...

POMMADAMMIT.  I kid you not.

I'm tired of toying with you.  Julio is a....


That's right, friends and neighbors, it looks like we'll be completing our set with one of those crazy and wildly irrational fee-mails.  Jack was pretty pumped, and is now referring to himself as BWUVAH BEAWH [Brother Bear (a'la Berenstain)] and the new kid in town as SISTUW BEAWH [Sister Bear].  Daddy Bear thinks that's awesome.

The anatomy scan showed little hearts and livers and brains and stuff.  So that's good.  I'm told the 'fluid levels' looked good, as well.  I've no idea what that means.  I chose to interpret that as transmission, washer, brake, and power steering.  Sue me.

The Melvin Udall School of Blogging
This is a big one - I'm gearing up for writing blog posts in pink, frilly font (on an unreadable, headache-inducing hot pink background), ruthlessly sprinkling sentences with the words "precious" and "sweet" and "adorable."  This should be really insane to watch.  And precious.  Dare I say sweet?  Adorable, even.  Sounds precious, doesn't it?  See, I'm already getting the adorable hang of this sweet and precious preciousness.

Precious.  Wow.  It really is unsettling in this pink, isn't it?  Holy moly.  I'm getting queasy just writing this.

Bullet Points
  • Jack strips down at the drop of a hat, now.  You'll turn your back on him, and he's instantaneously nude.  Happens all the time.  I'm trying to explain to him that there's a point in his life where this becomes, uh... legally actionable.  And awkward in social situations.  Anyway, H.M. tells me that quiet time inevitably ends with someone getting nekkid.  I hope The New Kid skips all this.  You girl-people generally show more restraint on that point, I think.
  • We rode the Water Taxi the other day.  So there's this meaningless public transportation that kind of putters around the artificial canal that runs nearby.  My boss presciently told me "Yeah, you'll do that once." I now know why:  Hot.  Boring.  Jack did okay, but was somewhat less than enthused.  No fooling, it got stimulus money from the gubbmint.  Natch.
  • Majestad took The Dude (and I guess by extension, Julio) to the Natural Science Museum this week.  There were 1,000 butterflies and Jack...  just wanted to jump in puddles.  Missing the point is what childhood is all about.  I'm told The Mommy enjoyed it, and that's all that counts sometimes.
(Extremely Brief) Conversation of the Week:
H.M.:  Jack, what's in your shorts?  (Obviously asking if there were any, er, accidents lurking in there.)
J.M.W.:  Legs!
You know what that is?  Precious.

This will get ugly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Man About Town

This looks like the movie poster from The Big Chill
Let's discuss The Dude's new ride.  I get this text at work from Majesty that says, "I don't think I'm getting out of Wal-Mart without this."  Attached to the text was a picture of a cheeseball smile (attached to my son), atop a Radio Flyer scooter looking thing.  "Just do it," was my canned Nike slogan  reply.

As I've observed before, success in parenting sometimes hinges on picking your battles.  And there was absolutely nothing to be gained by Majestad dying on this particular hill.  Who wants to be buried on "Scooter Hill," anyway?  That sounds lame.  You wait for a "Fire Breathing Dragon Hill" or "Extremely Unwise But Principled Stand Hill."  That's where you dig your foxhole and go down in a blaze of glory.  But Scooter Hill?  Not so much.

H.M. is still pretty green around the gills, but out of the nausea and the haze of pregnesia came a whopper of a great idea.  We drove over to that Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Thingy for a free concert one night.  The Houston Symphony folks were performing a Brahms violin concerto paired with a selection from Dvořák.  We scored some Chipotle and took it up to the huge ribbon of lawn above the 'spensive seats and had a nice picnic.  It was great.  The heat had broken a bit, and a breeze made it just abominably enjoyable.  It occurred to me that there's no more beautiful music than classical.  You can certainly prefer other music, but it's just not as beautiful in the er, classical sense, if you read me.

I don't know what Jack liked best:  the quesadilla, the phenom soloist just sawing away mercilessly on his violin, or running at the edge of control down the steep grade of the lawn.  I think it was the running.  He finished up the night by crashing spectacularly, smashing his mouth into his sippycup as he hit the ground like a meteorite.  He was unhurt.  At least, he was laughing before, during and afterward, so we didn't ask questions.

Norah's birthday party was this week.  She got a pink Flintstone car.  Guess who rode in it?  Everyone but Norah (sorry about that, Norah - owe you one).  She took on a massive cupcake to the delight of the adults present, but she didn't really want much of it herself.  But my son was there close by to vulture what she fed him.  Yeah, so Jack co-opted that intensely personal family moment...  again, sorry 'bout that, Norah.

And once again, I am "that guy."  The irresponsible parent guy.  Thanks a bunch, Jack.

I guess the most consequential thing about this week was telling Jack about Julio.  Have I mentioned that our codename for this baby is Julio?  Even though Majesty is sure it's a girl?  I don't even ask anymore.  And yes, it's in honor of Julio Jones.  Hey, it was better than using his real name:  "Quintorris Lopez Jones" just didn't have the right ring to it.  I've been further confusing things by calling her(?) HOOL-ee-ya.

Whatever.  We'll know what flavor we're getting next week,  the Lord willing.  If I'm sweating and pale, you'll know I'm trying to work out the financing behind a ridiculously huge wedding.  If I'm looking awfully relaxed, then I'm just springing for barbeque in our back yard or something.

Oh, back to telling Jack.  We do have this on video (which I don't have with me, natch).  Jack kept asking, "Where is it?" as he looked down H.M.'s shirt for the baby.


He is now busy with listing off stuff the baby would need:  toys, a bed, a blanket.  He also thinks the baby is a girl, but I'm not entirely sure Majestad didn't coach him into supporting her position.

What does the baby need?  Right now I'd say a heap of good luck.  Can you imagine crash landing into this family?  The kid has zero chance at a normal life.  Zero.