Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Joe! We love you.

We love you today. We are glad that we have had you for 34 years. (Well, actually I've only had you for 30 years. I haven't actually known anything else except having you.) We hope that you have had a great day. Blessings on you this year.
Gabcast! bcm #8 - Happy Birthday Joe

A Happy Birthday from all of us

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

I am sitting at Mom's new iMac, looking out over the lake and enjoying the quiet of a fairly slow Christmas. Whenever I am in the north woods, things seem to slow down. It is a good feeling.

We got here on Saturday afternoon. It always takes me a few days to decompress. We went to church yesterday morning, which is always a struggle with the boys. We spent most of the service in the narthex with Matty. This morning we opened our stockings with Mom and the boys. We will wait to open the rest of our gifts until Tricia, Alex and Davy arriver later this afternoon.

We all took a walk along the beach. It is so pretty here, mild temperatures and beautiful views. Then we came back and built a fire on the beach. Caleb and I sat out by it for quite a long time. We hope that God is slowing each of you down today. We hope that you are spending time with family and friends. We hope that all of you encounter Jesus today. Merry Christmas.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Pray for us, Saint Christopher

Whether you are Catholic or not, sometimes you need a little help from your friends. Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and hopefully he is praying for us (and Tricia and Alex and everyone else who is traveling) this weekend. Tonight we begin the 11 hour trek to Alpena. We are super excited to be with Mom and eventually Tricia, Alex and Davy. The boys have been counting down the days for this trip since Thanksgiving. We'll drive about three hours tonight to Wausau, Wisconsin. We have a room at a hotel with a pool. Remember all of the fun memories of your family sleeping all together in the hotel room on trips. I always got to sleep with Joe. He said that I farted in my sleep, a fact that I still dispute (and one that Amanda could varify.) We are looking forward to making some memories. We have Joni's laptop and are going to fire up some movies along the way. Can't wait. Safe travels to all

The Prayer to Saint Christopher
Dear Saint, you have inherited a beautiful name - Christbearer - as a result of a wonderful legend that while carrying people across a raging stream you also carried the Child Jesus. Teach us to be true Christbearers to those who do not know him. Protect all drivers who often transports those who bear Christ within them. Amen.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gammons Family Reunion

Since we won't all be together this Christmas, I have taken some artistic liberties with this picture. It is not my best Gimp (an open soure photo shop program) work. You'll have to imagine that Ben is Matty in this picture. Its not a big stretch. I hope you all like it though. We will definitely miss the FL Gammons in Alpena. I am looking very forward to seeing the PA Falders and mom. It is snowing in MN right now. I hope that the roads will be somewhat clear for our trip. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Ryan Adams--Heartbreaker

What a great Christmas so far! We have been celebrating all week: Sunday at Shirley's, Monday at Dave and Joni's and last night with a box from Gregg and Allison. We draw names with Amanda's family and this year Allison got me. She got me some of my favorite candy and an iTunes card--both HUGE scores. Thanks again Allison. Strangely enough, these will be some of my first purchases from iTunes. I have almost my whole 30G iPod full and I have only purchased a few tracks on-line. All of my music and video is either from CDs or for free from the Internet (legally.)

The first thing I bought when I got to work this morning was Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker. It is Adam's debut album, produced with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Many of his other albums are more alt country, maybe even alternative. This one is a great bluesy, twangy, album. He even duets with Emmylou Harris on a beautiful "Oh, My Sweet Carolina." Another one of my favorite tracks is "To be young (Is to be sad, Is to be high)." If that isn't the lament of a 20-something, I don't know. If you're looking for a great album to pick up with your Amazon gift certificate, your new iTunes card, or the extra cash you have from Christmas (yeah, right), this should definitely be on your list.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Away in a Manger

Every night before the boys go to bed we do some sort of devotions. Lately we have been reading this book about Christmas carols. (This would be a great book to buy for kids or grandkids.) It tells the story of the Christmas carol, has a verse of scripture, and then we sing the song. Of course the boys don't know the songs yet, so it is usually a solo. We finished the book the other night though. So last night we just went through and sang some that they knew. They have learned a lot of them from listening to Christmas music on the radio.

This morning I had the boys sing one of their favorites. Caleb is kind of leading on this one, but you can hear Ben here and there. Enjoy and thanks for reading and listening.

Gabcast! bcm #0 - Away in a Manger

Ben and Caleb sing

Monday, December 18, 2006


Who do you want to be? Who is it that when you look at him or her you think, I would like to be more like that? These are telling questions. As I watch our little boys begin to answer them, it affects who I am, how I seek to love them and how I work to shape them.

As with most little boys, their answer to these questions is often "my dad." This is a lot of fun for me. It is also at times very scary. If my little boys want to be like me, I better make sure that I am being the type of person that I would want them to be like. More often than not I fall way short of this.

Back to the boys, for Christmas Shube (Amanda's mom) got them each a robe. They had asked her for these, in part because every morning they see me in by bath robe and in part because all of the Star Wars jedis wear "bath robes" too. Ben was very excited about this. He kept talking about wanting to put it on first thing in the morning. When we went downstairs to check on him before we bedded down ourselves, he had taken off his pj's and was sleeping in just his robe and undies. Every day is an adventure with these three crazies. We thank God for them often.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Joe

So, I tried to get the boys to sing a song last night so that I could put it up here. I started recording and they started singing Happy Birthday. I don't think they had decided to whom they were singing. You'll here that when they get to that spot. Knowing somehow though that Joey was the next person in our family to have a birthday, they went with him. Happy Birthday, Joe. Even if it is 12 days early. Maybe we'll celebrate the 12 days of Joe! We love you. Enjoy!

Gabcast! bcm #5 - Happy Birthday Joe

A great rendition of a classic, especially for Uncle Joe

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Audio Blog Test

Gabcast! bcm #3 - Audio Blog Test

This is only a test.

Spiderman, Darth Vader and Captain Poop-in-his-pants

Last night we were playing in the basement. Caleb had donned his Darth Vader suit and light saber (red plastic spatula), Ben was climbing the stairs playing Spiderman. Then I smelled a terrible smell. Sure enough, it was the infamous Captain Poop-in-his-pants. When Matty does it, he really does it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Things that should be on your Christmas list this year

I thought I would give out some unsolicited opinions on things that I think should be on everyone's Christmas list this year.

1) iPod
I received my iPod in February as a very welcome Valentine's gift from Amanda. It has been a HUGE addition to my life. The question you might have is, "Which iPod do I get?" A good question, but the answer is pretty obvious. Unless you are looking to use it only for running or working out, the 30G iPod with video is your choice. At $250 its a lot, but I think it is worth it. Another option might be the new iPod shuffle. For only $79 you can get an iPod that holds around 240 songs. Its so small though and no screen. It sure looks cool though.

2) Paste magazine
Paste has been coming to my door now for a few years. I first found out about it at Calvin College. It is a great periodical about music, film and culture. They look into areas that many other publications don't. My favorite part about it is that every issue comes with a sampler CD with about 20 new tracks of music. They even did a sampler DVD for a while. Its a great way to stay up on what's happening in the world of the arts.

3) The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass
Check out Tricia's post about one of our favorite authors.

4) Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry
This is the newest book in a series about the fictitious town of Port William and its "membership". These are the books that make me want to move back to Alpena, buy a farm, live near family and love people. Berry will challenge your thinking about God, America, technology, and "making something of yourself."

5) Stormy Kromer cap
Straight from the UP, this is the cap that keeps my evermore balding head warm in the north woods of Minnesota. I first saw it on "Made in America" on the Travel Channel. It is a great choice to stay warm, while still being cool. There's also an Ida Kromer cap for women. Don't tell Amanda, but she will be joining the crowd this Christmas.

6) Time with people you love
The most important gift that you can give yourself this Christmas is to spend time with people that you love. That is what I am planning on doing. We start our Christmas off next week. I'm looking forward to giving a little love--and possibly receiving some too.

Thursday, December 7, 2006


What are some of your best Christmas memories? What are the times that when you think of them they warm your heart?

For me, most of these center around two things: family and church. Christmas at the Gammons' house always meant being at our house for Christmas day. I remember the time that the Christmas light got to close to the couch and burned a large hole (Tricia reference this a few days ago.) I remember going over to Dad's terminal to start up all of the trucks and use the blowtorch to deice something or other. I remember going to Grandma and Grandpa's. I remember their porcelain Christmas tree with mini presents on it. I remember this always being a happy time at our house.

I remember going over to Shorty (that was really a dude's name) and Doris Turnbull's house for their annual Christmas party. Joe and I would be banished to the den while the adults talked. I remember singing Christmas carols at Church. I remember the candle light services at Ripley Blvd. Baptist Church, holding hands in a circle around the church. I remember singing in cantatas with Dad in his white shirt and tie.

I hope that our boys will grow up with memories like these. Christmas is hard though. It feels so busy and less than holy. I long for days of quiet and times of contemplation. Thanks for reading.

I think that this will be one of the pictures that Ben and Caleb look back on in the photo album when their my age. They both look so funny. Caleb looks like he's 16 with his long hair.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Domestic Goddess

I brought Bill, my friend from work, a bunch of cookies this morning that Amanda had made yesterday. They are my favorite: oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chip. When he saw them he exclaimed, "Your wife is a goddess." He's right on that one.

Every night when I get home from work, after Amanda has spent all day "crazy wrangling", she has dinner on the stove ready to roll. And after her four month apprenticeship at Chateau Shube (her mom's house), she turns out some real winners. Last night she had one of my favorites-kielbasa and potatoes, mmmmm! Amanda is a very smart, employable woman. She could definitely double my money making potential. Instead, she chooses to stay home with the three most important people in our lives. Most days she loves it and wouldn't want to be doing anything else. I love her for choosing that over a new sweater from the Gap every month and a Carribou every other day. Thank you, Amanda. We love you.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Drewski Magrewski


Today we celebrate with the FL Gammonses our favorite nephew, Andrew Donald. I still smile when I think of the fun that we had at Tante Tricia's house. We love you and hope that you have an awesome birthday. We wish we could see you today and wrestle you to the ground and kiss your sweet face. For Joe and Carrie, what would the last two years have been like without him? Thanks for bringing this sweet little boy into our lives. We love all three of you.
Love, aabcm


Lately, I have done a lot of thinking about my dad. He died more than eleven years ago. I don't think about how much I miss him or even about memories that I have of him. Lately, my thoughts are about how much I am becoming him. As I look down at myself this morning and see a pair of brown shoes, khaki pants, a button down shirt, and a stomach that is beginning to protrude, I see him. Often, when I am getting dressed in the morning or when I think about my clothes, I think of him. I think of how we would go to Hudson's to shop for school clothes. Mom would take Joe to the Genera section and Dad and I would head off to the Boundary Waters department. We would buy khakis, jeans, sweaters and button-down shirts. I think I probably just wanted to be like my dad.

I think about dad too when I love my boys and and sometimes when I don't love them very well. I think about how difficult it must have been to be away from us as much as he was. I think about what he felt when he made the decisions he made. I think about the decisions that I am making. I think about what it means to provide for my family. I think about what it means to discipline my boys and how to love them best. Sometimes I think about what he must have felt as he held me or my brother and sister in his arms; what it must have been like to watch us grow up.

Mom always said very cliché things about how I wouldn't understand my parents until I was a parent myself. I don't think this is completely true but there is some perspective that having four people in my life that I am accountable for and that need me brings.

As I grow and work at being a better father and husband, I keep the success and failures of my father at the forefront of my mind. I also try and believe that life is not graded on a curve. The goal of my life is not to simply not make the mistakes my father did or to achieve the successes my father did. There is a higher standard: one of which I always fall short.

Friday, December 1, 2006

I Love MWS

It was my junior year at Taylor. We were sleeping in the entry way to the student union. Just for fun, we decided we would be first in line for tickets to Michael W. Smith's concert at TU. Its not that we listened to him (all of us had grown up listening to him) it was more a mockery. At 4:30 am we were joined by a serious fan with similar thoughts. The night of the show, we lined the front row in the chapel to watch MWS croon through such hits as Rockettown, Love Crusade, and of course we all cried through A Friend's a Friend Forever.

All this as an intro to our plans for tomorrow night. Amanda and I were very generously given some free tickets to MWS's Christmas show. Amanda is really looking forward to it. I think it will also be fun too. We don't get too many nights out alone and I really do love Christmas music. I think he is going to have a choir and the whole works. This is what happens when you can no longer sing songs about teenage themes. You hit the road for the Christmas tour.