Friday, March 30, 2007


We're headed out to Chicago this afternoon for Amanda's cousin's wedding. We are looking most forward to seeing Gregg and Allison and Shube. Shube has been in Champaign, Illinois for work. Usually we see her at least once a week, so it will be good to reconnect. We haven't seen G&A since Thanksgiving. The only bad part is that we are leaving Matty with Amanda's dad and Joni. We'll miss him. We just didn't think that he could make the six hour car ride there and back. Ben and Caleb will be fine as long as they can watch some videos on the way down, but Matty would make it hard for everyone. I am sure we'll have some fun stories when we get back. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Last night I spent almost three hours putting together the five crates of bunk bed parts that Roadway Express dropped off at our house yesterday. We put the boys in front of the babysitter, I mean TV and I went to work. Benjamin could not wipe the grin off his face when we surprised them around 9:45 pm. He has been talking about a bunk bed since he saw the one at the Arendt's house.

As we went to bed, I said to Amanda, "Now we are pretty much set up for five kids. If we had another boy, we'd just throw him in the bottom bunk. If we had another girl, we could put her in the other room." I think we're probably done after this one, but I like to goad Amanda.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is there room for discourse?

I have considered myself a Republican for a long time? I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with labels though. My aforementioned friend Jared Friesen recently sent me a couple of articles. I would normally push things like this to the back burner, but they were by two of my favorite authors, David James Duncan and Rick Bass. I finished the DJD article today. It was all about the right-wing's sequestering of the Christian faith. In other words, if you are a Christian in America, you have to be a republican who believes in whatever James Dobson (he doesn't use his name at all) and everyone else in Colorado Springs tells you to.

When I was an RD at Calvin College we had many long talks about politics. It is where I first began to think that Christian didn't necessarily equal Republican. I met people there who loved Jesus and voted for other parties. They were great talks. We have continued these talks over e-mail.

For discussion starters, here are some of the questions that roll through my mind after reading a great article like this.
  1. If you're a Democrat what do you do with the abortion issue? Can you vote for a part that supports the killing of babies?
  2. Okay, so abortion is not the only "life" issue. What do Republicans do with "the least of these"? The poor, the alien, the outcast?
  3. If you're a Democrat, obviously the government is not going to solve social problems, right? I guess at least Dems are addressing them, even if it might seem misguided. Is error better than indifference?
  4. What about things like the environment, health care, affordable housing, education, war, peace, religious freedom?
  5. Its cool to be a Democrat. I want to stay pretty clear of things that are cool.
  6. Is there room for discourse in either party? People like Joe Lieberman are almost shot by the Dems and people with differing views are branded "unpatriotic" or "liberal" by the right.
What do you think?

What am I dreaming about?

Most of my dreams are pretty tame (again self-protection). I dream about things like going home to Amanda's pot roast that I smelled at lunch, someday going back on lala, watching my kids grow up, not disappointing my family, having a job that I like to go to every morning. Sometimes though, often on my way to or from work, my mind wanders to an unsafe place: a place of BIG dreams.

Yesterday I was home sick. In the morning Amanda took Matthew for a walk and I played Legos with the boys. We had lunch together. During nap time, Benjamin and I went to the hardware store and to Toys R Us to get sand for the sand box. It was a great day. It was hard too. I lost my temper a few times, but I felt very present with my family. Amanda and I have often talked about what it would take for me to have more days like this-for me to be home with the family more. This is what my dream would be.
  • Move to the country. We love being outside. Our souls are more comfortable when we are out in the sun or the cold. I feel more myself when I am doing work outside-gardening, shoveling, mowing, building. We feel like it would be a good thing for the boys to have some room to grow and run and learn outside.
  • Find some means of support. I'm not thinking of sending out letters to you to ask for money. Don't worry. I would like to find a job where I could work four 10 hour days or work part-time or something like that. This would allow us to have a huge garden, cut our own wood for heat, maybe even have some animals (chickens, maybe a goat.) We wouldn't need to make much money. Amanda figures if we had a house that was paid for (that's the clincher) we would need to make about $10,000-20,000 a year.
We have gone so far as to checking books out of the library upon such subjects as self-sustainability, homesteading, and gardening. The thing that I love about this dream is that it would be one of the hardest things that I would have ever done. For it to be a good and realistic dream, it must take a lot of work. This one fits the bill. My friend Jared Friesen, who lives in a shack in Belize, has challenged us to follow this dream. I love him and his wife and their willingness to follow a dream.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for allowing me to share my dreams. I'll keep writing about them. I'd love to read any comments that you might have.

Dreams--A new blog topic

In my never ending pursuit of interesting blog fodder, I have been thinking lately about sharing some of my dreams. Not the dreams that I have at night, rather the dreams I have at midday, wide awake. This is scary, because as Springsteen says, "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse?" How many of use have shared something that we are thinking about, a job we'd like to have, a life-change that we'd like to make, a goal we'd like to reach, just to have it not happen. We feel foolish, ashamed, thwarted.

When I was 18-26 or 27, I was full of dreams (see picture at right.) All I could do was dream. Now that I am 30, I have entered the slough of reality. I have been turned down for more jobs than I've gotten; I've disappointed myself at every turn and those that I love even more; I've lost people that I love . . . All of this has led to an aversion to dreams and dreaming. Self-protection? Of course.

I am blessed though. My dreams have not all come true. God has granted me dreams that I never had. I always dreamed of being married to my best friend. God gave me Amanda. I vaguely had dreams of being a father, but they weren't paramount. God has shown me that this is where dreams come true. The three boys that He has given me daily challenge me, shape me, bowl me over and make me grateful.

As I begin to share some of my dreams (I will do another post after this introduction), please post comments about your dreams. It is a risk. Yes, but maybe we can love each other more as we come to celebrate the dreams come true and lament the ones dashed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Do you have Showtime?

Most of you probably don't have Showtime. I mean, why would you? Who wants to spend more money on the "idiot box". Well, if you do for some reason have Showtime or if you are thinking of getting it, now is the time.

Starting tomorrow night my favorite radio show of all time This American Life (see earlier post) is beginning a TV show. It is Thursday, 10:30 pm ET on Showtime. I would love to see this. Brad and Gregg both sent me this video link to one of the stories that they are going to be doing. You should definitely check it out. This is quintessential TAL. Whenever they do a radio show there are always these great moments in the show that are so dramatic. It will be very interesting to see how they do this on TV. I heard a few weeks ago a great interview that Terri Gross did with Ira Glass the show's host. You can listen to it here. You could also download the Fresh Air podcast. It was the February 26 episode.

If you can watch, do. If you can't watch, listen.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"The War" by Ken Burns

This morning before work I was listening to the NPR show Fresh Air on podcast. This morning they were talking to the documentarian Ken Burns. He is famous for his such works as JAZZ, Baseball and most notably, The Civil War. (You probably watched at least parts of The Civil War in your American history course in high school.) He is also famous for his visual effects. If you have a Mac you're familiar with his zooming and panning of a still photo. He has recently completed a new documentary on World War II entitled The War. The PBS series will not premier until September, but they had him on Fresh Air this morning because of the somewhat controversial nature of the series.

I'll touch on the controversy, but first I think this will definitely be a "must see" for any history buff. Burns focuses on four American towns and how the towns dealt with the war. The towns include Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif.; Waterbury, Conn.; and Luverne, Minn. He said they tried to get an eastern town, a Southern town and a western town. Then they needed a small town in middle America. This is the most interesting thing about the documentary. Instead of focusing on a generalist view of World War II, which Burns admits, has been overdone, he decided to look into how the war affected individual people in individual towns across America. It will be a seven part, 14 hour series on PBS. Look for it. You can listen to the interview here.

On to the controversy. The controversy, as I understood it, was twofold.
1) There are no scholarly historians involved in the film. The film focuses on real people who had experiences during the war, either on the front lines or here at home. This seems very paltry to me. Burns said that he wanted to know how it felt to be involved in the war. He didn't care about the leaders or the strategies.

2) The film contains 3 obscene words. (Yes, that one.) All three of these expletives comes in context. They played the clips on the show today. In one, a soldier gives a first person account of a battle and in his emotion, lets out an F-word. The other two are references by the narrator to ways that GI's described messed up bureaucracies. FUBAR was one of these references.

Both of these seem like paltry items. Burns idea was not to make a scholarly work. It was to make a feel piece. Second, war is hell. You don't have to watch the news from Iraq long to have that cemented. If the F-word is used in its description, then it seems well placed. I can't wait to see at least a little of this documentary.

Matty joins in

One of the funnest things about the boys lately is how Matthew has become part of the gang. Caleb has gone from just wanting to sit on him and beat him up to actually welcoming him into the play. It will be fun to watch to see the part that he will play in our family. So far he is playing the part of jester. He loves to make his brothers laugh and they seem to think just about whatever he does is hilarious. Check out the video below to see Matthew's first entrance into the ongoing Jedi lightsaber battle.

Ben and his two wheeler

When we were in Grand Rapids at the Arendt's house for Christmas Benjamin was very impressed with Addison's two wheeler. Ben Arendt offered us Addison's old bike to have. The boys were very impressed, especially with the fact that it was a Star Wars Jar Jar Binks bike. It has been sitting in our garage just waiting for the snow to melt. We have tried it a couple of times. I have told Ben that the only rule is "When you fall down, you get back on." He likes it, but wants me to stick pretty close. He said yesterday when we were riding that he liked his Trek bike (tricycle) better because it was easier. I told him that he will get better the more he works at it. It will be fun to have him cruising around this summer.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A sampling of survey responses

The AAbcm survey was really something that I just stumbled across on one of my favorite blogs, Lifehacker, but it has been interesting and fun to see people's responses. Here are a sampling of one of the questions and its responses. See if you can guess who responded how. Some are embarrassingly obvious.

5. I'd like to hear Andy's thoughts on

1how great his sister is
2How much I own -- there will never be enough of that!
3What a great mother in law he has :)
4How awesome our Michigan vacation is going to be.
5his family
6how come brad is so friggin cool. haha. we laugh, but its true.
7Arranged marriages in India

Ben, Caleb and Matty

One of the favorite things listed in the AAbcm survey has been stories about our family. Here is a sampling of the latest.

Yesterday Amanda was listening to Mozart's "Queen of the Night's Aria" from The Magic Flute. She really likes this piece and must have been enjoying it, because Ben asked her, "Mom, is this your favorite song?" She said that it was one of her favorites. He said, "My favorite is 'Rockin' in the Free World'." I am not sure that Neil Young is on the same level as Mozart, but apparently Ben thinks so.

Today at lunch, Ben and Caleb were doing the wishbone from last night's chicken dinner. Amanda coached them on how to do it and Caleb came away with the longest piece. Amanda said, "What's your wish? What do you really want?" Caleb's reply: "A gun."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Amanda update

Thanks to all of you who have taken a few minutes and filled out the AAbcm survey. (There's still time to fill it out if you haven't yet.) There was a recent comment in the survey saying that someone would like to hear more about Amanda. Presuming that Amandadidn't make the comment, I thought I would give an Amanda update.

Amanda has been feeling well. Her back has been bothering her though. We have tried just about everything with our bed. We are thinking of adding a pieced of plywood in between the mattress and box spring. We'll see. She is tired often, but that may be the result of the three other babies she has and not the result of the one in her womb.

Amanda went for another doctor's appointment yesterday. During our ultrasound they said that it looked like her placenta was a bit too close to her cervix. So they have scheduled another ultrasound for a next month. This is frustrating because it is always a hassle to get to these appointments. It is good though that they keep up on this type of thing. Better that than experiencing problems. The other things keeping her busy are looking for a bunk bed for the boys room (She wants a single over double one.), reading a book by the founder of Compassion International, keeping up after the four boys in her life and thinking further about what to do about school for Benjamin and the other boys. As far as school goes, she has kicked around the idea of homeschooling. We're not sure on that though. The elementary school at the end of our street looks great some days and not so great others. She is desperately looking forward to the warmer weather when she and the boys can get outside. We all love her and thank God for her every day. I hope that scratches all of your Amanda itches.
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Friday, March 9, 2007

Survey says . . .

Have a few minutes? Please take the following survey. It won't take long and the information gathered about AAbcm will be very helpful.

Tim Herrmann

I have always loved my mom and dad. They have been the most important people in my life. But ever since I was young, God has brought other people into my life to act as guides, supports, cheer leaders. Joel Walker taking Joey and I out for frosties at Wendy's. Tim Pollard on winter retreats to Spring Hill. Tim Powell letting me ride in the front seat on countless van trips. Jay Kesler eating pizza with me and eventually marrying Amanda and me.

One person stands out among these many gifts. I met Tim Herrmann the day my dad died. He came into Pastor Chuck's office to pray with and support me right after I found out the news. I know now (after following him into the same profession) that this was part of his job. It was maybe even part of his job to offer for me to come and see him when I got back to campus. The part that definitely was beyond his job were the many, many lunches that we had in the DC, the trips to Ivanhoe's, the dinners at his home with his family, praying for Amanda and me at our wedding, his walking with me even today.

This all comes up because as usual, I have recently sent out some resumes. Tim is a constant at the top of my reference list. I usually end up calling him and letting him know that the cycle has begun again. I just got off the phone with a potential supervisor and he said, "Tim Herrmann is an important person in our world. If Tim Herrmann has good things to say about you that is a good thing for your candidacy." Once again God (through Tim) has gone before me. In my work life, Tim has always been the person that I call before I apply for a job and then the person that I call when I need an "'At a boy" after I don't get the job. When we lived n Indiana, I was able to see Tim and his wife Kathy more often. Now, I am looking forward to their trip to Minnesota this summer.

Thank you Tim for being an agent of God's love, grace and wisdom in my life. This is a public recognition of your place in my life.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mr. Rogers

Every day after lunch, the boys and Amanda sit down and watch our favorite TV neighbor, Fred Rogers. I remember watching Mr. Rogers from time to time growing up. I didn't watch it very much, but I remember it fondly. Now, I enjoy Mr. Rogers even more. The thing I love most about him is his music. All of his songs are creative and have an amazing message to kids. They are unusual musically as well (I'll defer to Shube and Brad on how they are different musically.) My favorite songs of his are "You Are Special" and "It's You I Like". I get a frog in my throat each time I listen to them.

You are my friend
You are special
You are my friend
You're special to me.
You are the only one like you.
Like you, my friend, I like you.

In the daytime
In the nighttime
Any time that you feel's the right time
For a friendship with me, you see
F-R-I-E-N-D special
You are my friend
You're special to me.
There's only one in this wonderful world
You are special.

For about six months I have been looking for the music of Mr. Rogers. He doesn't have a CD in print and they are no where on the web to download. There is one place on the web that you can listen to them, but no download. You enjoy it though. Click here. You'll need real player to listen, which is kind of a pain. Through some sweet work arounds, I was able to record some of these today to bring home to the boys. As soon as Mr. Rogers (or his people) put these on a CD, I'll be the first one to pick it up.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Do you like music, like I like music?

How often do you buy CD's or music downloads? One every month? One every two or three months? If you buy music this regularly or you would like to, then eMusic is the site for you. The majority of the music on this site is on the indie/alternative side, but there is some great mainstream music as well. The best part about eMusic is there are no DRM limitations. In other words, you can burn as many CD's as you want; you can play it on any mp3 player; you can move it from computer to computer. It is the future of music.

If you're interested, send me an e-mail and I'll e-mail you an invitation to try it for free with 25 free downloads.

Here is suggestion of the first ten albums you should download on eMusic.
1. Patty Griffin--Children Running Through (her new one)
2. David Wilcox--Vista (his newest)
3. Ryan Adams--Heartbreaker
4. Gillian Welch--Revival
5. Josh Rouse--Subtitulo
6. Josh Ritter--The Animal Years
7. Johnny Cash--Sun Recordings
8. Michael Card--The Hidden Face of God
9. The Decemberists--Picaresque
10. Any other album by Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch or Josh Ritter.

Picasa Web Album

In my latest step in embracing all things Google, I have recently uploaded my photos to a new web album. Check it out! It will be listed on the right side of my blog. Come here often for all the Gammons family that you could ever want.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Little Molly Enejoors

When Amanda was a little girl she decided that she wanted to be named Molly Enejoors (I'm not sure if that is how you spell it or not.) She told her family that is what she wanted to be called. Apparently this took for a while, her dad even started calling her "Moll Doll".

It looks like Amanda will finally have her chance to get her own little Moll Doll. We just got back from the her ultrasound appointment and found out that we are having a little girl. Very fun! Before Amanda left to pick me up, they were all talking about whether they thought it was going to be a boy or a girl. Everyone said boy, except Benjamin. He said that Matthew also thought it was going to be a girl. He's funny. Shube said that she was excited to be able to shop on the other side of Baby Gap now.

I'm excited that so far God has gifted us with a healthy pregnancy. This is a huge blessing. As you think of us, continue to pray to this end.

Monday, March 5, 2007

This American Life

I am on a complete blogging tear today. That's what I get after a long weekend and some time before that of inaction.

It always seemed like we picked it up when we were driving through Chicago or when we just happened to be listening on the weekend to NPR. In Fort Wayne, we began to make it a ritual every Sunday night. This American Life has been a highlight whenever we have listened to it since we were newly married.

This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass, is an NPR program about the stories of normal Americans. Each week they pick a theme and then do a number of acts, or stories, around that theme. The themes range from "Screaming Across the Divide", stories about Muslims and non-Muslims attempts at dialogue, to "The Prom" (Amanda's and my all-time favorite episode). There are moments in every show that make me laugh out loud. There are moments in many shows that make me cry. My only complaint with the show up until about a month ago was that it was not available except through Then last month they began to make each episode available via podcast. Now every Monday morning, Sunday's episode is delivered to my iTunes. I LOVE IT.

Starting March 22nd, This American Life will become a TV show on Showtime. Although we don't have Showtime, we are hoping to get to see some of these. Whether you have the chance to catch the TV show or not, definitely check out the radio show/podcast. You won't be sorry.

Y-O-D-A, Yoda

While they were in FL, the boys heard this great Wierd Al Yankovic song about Yoda on the radio. What could be better for our boys than a silly song about their favorite topic in the world, Star Wars. I downloaded the other day from iTunes. It is now top on their playlist. Enjoy.

Blog updates

In the last week I made two updates that I would point out. The first is the widget on the right hand side of the screen. It is titled "What I'm Listening To." I have been looking for something like this for a while. It tells you what I am listening to on my iTunes. Not that you were that interested, but I think its cool.

The other is a small update to my template. I was thinking of a big change, but with the super cool banner image that Gregg made for us, only goes with certain things. The main difference in this template is that the posts are stretched out. No more scrolling thirty miles down the page to read the whole post. I hope you like the new changes. Give me an suggestions or comments.

Benny's heart

As I read Tricia's post about her trip back from FL today I teared up as she wrote so eloquently about her new friend Patricia. I cry like that a lot. Lately Benjamin has been following suit. There are times when I look at him and he is tearing up over something and it is so sweet.

A few weeks ago I got home from work and Amanda said that he was not doing very well. I took him into the bedroom to talk to him. I asked him what was wrong and he started to tear up and said, "I'm just having a hard day." I asked him if I could pray for him. He said yes and I as I began to pray he really began to break down. How many times has this kind of emotion overwhelmed me? Many.

Yesterday we went out for dinner at Cafe Latte in St. Paul (one of Amanda's favorite restaurants). There was a woman and her daughter sitting just across the room from us. The daughter, early college aged, was crying and Benjamin was watching her. He started to get the tender hearted look on his face. Amanda pointed it out to me. I said to him, "Are you watching that girl cry?" He shook his head. "Its kind of sad to see other people be sad." He shook his head again. I gave him a kiss and hug. I told Amanda that I loved so much this side of him. I want to do whatever I can to continue to foster his tender heart.

When most men (I struggle with this) are confronted with emotion, they work so hard to stuff it away. I long for my boys to become emotionally aware men who can laugh well, care much, righteously anger and cry when life is not the way it should be.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Snow Day

I would wake up in my little twin bed. Run out to the kitchen, turn on the tv or radio and hope beyond hope that we would have what every northern Michigan kid longs for, a SNOW DAY!!! It is blizzard conditions here in MN and the college president has just sent out an e-mail closing school for the day at 1:00 and closing the college tomorrow. Here's to a long weekend. No long weekend for all of you suckas in FL (with the exception of Mom, whose life has become a long weekend.)