Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gospel centered parenting

I am listening to a seminar by C.J. Mahaney entitled "Gospel Centered Parenting." Download it here. Today I also read a very interesting article on parenting from a 1978 issue of Christianity Today entitled Parents and Prodigles. My favorite quote from this article was "It is only God to whom true parenthood belongs. The rest of us are imposters, shocked and dazed by the whole experience." That is exactly how I feel from time to time and that is why Gospel centered parenting is so important. I have to recognize how sinful I am and how in need of God's grace I am in order for me to teach my children and lead them into relationship with God. If you're interested in some of these thoughts or if you've had them yourself, check out the resources linked above.

My hope and prayer for my kids is that God gives them the grace and faith to overcome my shortcomings and my sinfulness in parenting them. As He has for me though, He will also need to overcome their own shortcomings and sinfulness as He draws them unto Himself.

Lunch time!

Almost every day I go home for lunch. Most days this is a wonderful reminder of why I go to work and a divine respite. Today was just such a day. As I came into the garage I heard the boys playing in the back yard. Coming out of the door, this is what I saw.Caleb was sliding down the slide into the very cold pool. Matt was doing "dolphin dives." Molly was running around without any pants on too. Amanda is a great mom and has lots of fun with the kids. It is so nice to come home and see our house happy, running well and the kids being cared for. Lunch of cheese sandwiches (with the tomato from the previous post) was served on the lawn. What a lot for which to be thankful to God!

How does your garden grow?

I have been wanting to answer Allison's post about her garden for some time. I just haven't gotten the chance to get out and take some pictures. Yesterday was the perfect opportunity though with the picking of our first real tomato (pictured above). We are also getting some really sweet grape tomatoes. The basil is growing really well. I can't wait to have some mozzarella, basil and tomato salad.
The rabbits have completely ravaged the lettuce but have left almost everything else. As you can see, the tomatoes are the real stars. We are going to have a ton of them when things really start going. I staked a few of the plant this week using torn up rags. I felt like a depression-era gardener.
Finally, our sweet peppers are also coming along well. I am going to leave these on the vine and let them get red. For our first real garden at this house, it seems to be quite a success.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Earl the boilmaster

As promised in the previous post, here is Earl the boilmaster's comedy routine. You'll also see a video of the boil over. It was sure a great evening in a great vacation.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A beautiful Door County vacation

This week we joined Amanda's mom's family in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. Twenty-five people in all got together for this biennial tradition. We have spent a lot of time outdoors, walking, swimming and seeing the sites. This evening we took part in a Door County fish boil at the Old Post Office restaurant in Ephraim. This is Shirley's favorite meal of all time and we all enjoyed it too. One of our favorite parts of the fish boil is Earl the "boil master". He is a real character and tells some great jokes. I'll post the video tomorrow.

We've enjoyed the last of our summer vacations, especially seeing people that we haven't seen in a long time. You can see all of the pictures here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pretty Amazing Grace

On my most recent trip to Starbucks to finish off the rest of my Father's Day gift from Shube with a venti iced mocha, I found all of the CD's were on sale for $7.95. I'm not sure why, maybe our Starbucks is closing. (Alex, according to this map your store is okay. Shube the one near your work is out.) I couldn't help but pick up Neil Diamond's latest CD "Home After Dark". It is his second recording with Johnny Cash's former producer Rick Rubin. I'm not sure that Neil has had the same success with Rubin that Cash did, but I really enjoyed his first outing "12 Songs". If you're looking for some good music, check your local Starbucks.

I must admit that whenever I think of Neil Diamond and even when I saw him on American Idol I couldn't help but think of the Saturday Night Live sketch. I don't think he's really like that though.

They grow up so fast

We spent this weekend with Amanda's family. We hadn't seen them in a few weeks. One of the things that was different was how much James had changed. He has really thinned out and looks a lot older. Both he and Molly are changing a lot these days. See all of last weekend's pictures here.

The bulls and the blood, the stears and the mud

They call the thing RODEO! Last Saturday we joined Shirley at the Hamel Rodeo near her house. It was all of our first rodeo. We saw bareback riding, bronc riding, steer wrestling, and the kids stick horse race (see Ben's picture below). It was an interesting mix of Dodge trucks, beer, patriotism and crass humor. It was a beautiful day to be outside and lot of fun for everyone.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Ben is our firstborn son. He is inquisitive, always thinking. Yesterday Amanda told me this story. She and the kids were talking after breakfast. Ben loves to pick at his scabs. I know it's a little gross. When the boys were with my mom, she got them in the habit of using hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer was laying on the counter next to some chap stick. Ben said, "When I'm an adult, every night before I go to bed, I am going to use hand sanitizer, put on chap stick and then check my scabs." He likes a routine.

A healthy breakfast?

When I was little we would go to my grandparents in Grand Rapids. I knew that when I woke up on Saturday morning we would either have fruit loops or my favorite (and my dad's) pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. I have done this a few times before, but this morning was our best yet. Amanda and Joni went and picked berries on Monday and they were great. They made jam and I used the left-overs for pancakes this morning. I also whipped up some fresh whipped cream. It was a great breakfast. Healthy? Probably not.

Molly's berry happy birthday

While at my mom's we began to celebrate Molly Pearl's first birthday. The official date is not until Saturday the 12th, but when she's as sweet as she is, we couldn't help but start a little early. We went with a bit of a Strawberry Shortcake theme. Our present to her was a very fun Strawberry Shortcake tank top. She looked super cute. Gigi got her the "birthday princess" hat pictured above. It is amazing that Molly has been with us for a whole year. But in other ways it is hard to imagine what life was like before she arrived. You can see all of the other pictures here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Embed music on your blog

I was reading an article today about the Top 10 Hottest Music Sites and the mention the site imeem. They said that you could embed music into your blog posts. This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time. I have written about artists and wanted to give people a taste of their music. Now I think I'll be able to do this.

I have written about Kathleen Edwards before here. Here's a song off of her latest album Asking for Flowers. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

As promised yesterday here are a couple of samples of our fireworks from last night. We lit off a bunch of little stuff and then we got out "The Excalibur". This was the big deal that Alex brought from Indiana. It had two PVC launchers and 24 artillery shells. I was a little nervous that they wouldn't be that great, but when we lit the first one off I was pretty pumped. It was a lot of fun. I think Alex and I enjoyed it more than the kids. And we still have all of our appendages.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Caleb's future?

We went down to the river and saw some tall ships today. There was also a Naval Cadet boat. My mom asked if Caleb wanted to get his picture taken with the cadet that was explaining the boat to us. As you can see above, Caleb thought that was a good idea.

A Hometown 4th of July

What has your 4th of July been like? Well our Independence Day began early this morning when Molly woke up at 4:30 AM. Amanda, Tricia and my mom went into town and walked part of a 5k. They didn't quite finish it which was a pretty funny story.

Around 11:00 we all went into town for our traditional Alpena 4th of July parade. This parade is a great example of small town America. One of my favorite parts every year is when Hal Neiman leads the Neiman's Family Market (formerly Alpena IGA) employees in their shopping cart routines. Alpena IGA was my first job when I was 16. I never got to be in the parade. The video below is a short example. It doesn't capture them in their shopping cart glory though. Another highlight of this year's parade that I hadn't noticed before was the many beauty queens in the back of pickup trucks. A highlight for the boys was the Wildcat Jugglers. The best one was the above pictured unicycle fire juggler. He was awesome. See all of today's photos here.

Tomorrow's post will include highlights from tonight's fireworks. I hope you all are enjoying your Independence Day.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Al Man Cometh

We (especially Tricia) have been anticipating Alex's arrival all week. He had to work this week and so was not able to come up when everyone else did. One thing I am especially looking forward to about his arrival is that he is bringing the fireworks. When I thought about getting some fireworks for our time in Alpena, I knew that Alex was the man for the job. Alex is the kind of guy that always goes top shelf. If there is a $2 __________ and a $20 ___________, then Alex is going with the $20 __________. This is a fun person to be around. It always makes you feel like you're important. "Why would we spare the $18 when we can celebrate with you." That is how I feel Alex is thinking when he makes these decisions. There's no pretension or showing off. He really thinks that the $20 ________ will be more fun. More often than not, I think he's right!

So, Alex called a few days ago after going to get the fireworks. I won't throw out any dollar figures, but I will say that I think we are going to have quite a bit of fun tomorrow night. Being that we are half way to the North Pole, it doesn't get dark until 10:00 PM. The boys are going to stay up late and we'll put on quite a show. I'll post some pictures of our good times tomorrow.