Monday, June 25, 2012

The Cross In The Dark (Author's Notes)

I know it's kinda odd to be sharing my thoughts on what were essentially my thoughts to begin with although I really tried to tell is as if it were almost a short story. The canoe trip took place weeks ago and that cross has practically haunted me ever since I saw it. I just can't shake that image of what it must look like standing out along that creek bank at midnight with those solar lights shining on that cross.

For weeks the words and phrases were churning around inside, yet I put off writing about it until everything fit nice together. When it was finally time to put word to page, it really came to gather with very little editing. I have to say it's one of the most special posts I've ever written and I hope it shows how much effort I put into it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Cross In The Dark

Quite honestly I didn't even know what I was looking at the first five minutes as I stood standing there in the waste deep water. It had been a beautiful day at the creek, not too hot with a cool breeze. Honestly I only had one thing on my mind, how long until I reeled in the next big fish. The current was strong in some places so as I started making out the shape, I had to be careful as to not slip on the well worn rocks below. What first caught my attention was light bouncing off silver along the bank. After I got a little closer I realized I was staring out at a cross that had been planted just beyond the edge of the water and surrounding it were a half dozen solar lights.

I couldn't make out the names scratched across it, but my imagination quickly pieced together the story of a swimmer, possible a kayaker, who was caught after a rain storm which caused the levels of the creek to rise much higher than I was currently fishing in. Gripped by the raging waters the worst case scenario was the very thing that happened on that sad day. Distraught and looking for a way to remember their friend, their brother in Christ, their son; the family erected the cross and placed it at the very site of the place where every one's life changed.

It's been three weeks since I saw that cross along the banks of Cypress creek and still the image is burned into my mind. Miles from the nearest person. Barely noticeable by anyone who is not looking for it, that cross stands for months, years, decades as a silent reminder of that great loss of someone so many held so dear to their hearts. When I think about that cross I think about what it must be like to be standing there at just the right time. The sun going down over the horizon. The breeze swaying the trees back and forth. The endless sound of the creek passing by as if time itself were making noise as it slipped away. As darkness slowly creeps up all around that cross and nighttime covers the forest, I imagine what must be a truly miraculous sight as those half dozen solar lights switch on glorifying that lost life and reminding the heavens "We will never forget that great and powerful sacrifice!"

Parading Around Town

I don't know how it happened but we are a family that loves parades. We have been known in the past to stand outside for hours in below freezing temps just to see Scooby Doo walk past us and wave. It's seems like there is a parade a month around where we live.

There's the Handy Festival parade. The street strut the next morning. The Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Florence, and Muscle Shoals homecoming parades. Plus the nearby university has one. Each city also has a Christmas parade. This week the Helen Keller festival kicked off with a parade. We've been to them all and stayed to the very last horse and buggy past by.

When taking the kids to a parade there are two important things to consider. Where you stand and who you stand by. The last place you want to be is at the end of the route holding a spiderman Halloween bucket only to discover all the candy had been thrown out long before the final turn. The best place to stand for maximum candy collection is about a block from the start. The people in the parade try to conserve the candy at the start so they don't run out, but after a few minutes they get into it themselves and the snickers start raining down fast and furious.

Picking who you stand by is almost important if not more than where you stand. There are basically three types of people to avoid being by:

The Greedy Grabber- Kids are there to get candy and apparently for some it's the only chance they have all year of doing so. The Greedy Grabber throws all rules of society out the window and will push, shove, kick, and run you down for a cracked piece of peppermint. If you want candy of your own avoid this person at all costs.

The Narrator- " Coming up here is a two tone, six horse power, diesel, twin turbine hemy driven by the best friend of the second cousin of the guy sitting three rows behind Lincoln when Booth snuck up behind him" Kinda like this post The Narrator goes on and on about nothing. Thankfully the sirens from an endless string of fire trucks drowns him out for two seconds. If you find yourself next to a combo Greedy Narrator just pack up and move on down the line.

Granny- This last type is everyones Granny and just came to see smiling faces. Granny is an agent for all that is good in America and will give you every piece of candy that falls in front of her.

Parades are made for good times and nobody likes good times more than we do judging by the number we go to. If you have a parade within driving distance message and I'm sure we will come running

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Only The Best Day Ever

That's what Adam said on the way back from fishing in Cypress creek tonight. "This was only the best day ever dad!!!". It started with him going out for Cracker Barrel first thing this morning. After a ton of food, he went with Mandy to the grocery store where he got a couple toys. He hadn't been home an hour when cousin Shane came over to play Operation and go swimming. Then last but not certainly least a quick fishing trip which had him catching seven blue gill and small mouth bass.

Up until today he'd never had any luck so last week I bought a second top water cricket which I did real well with a few weeks back on our canoe trip. I put one on his rod and within two casts he was bringing one home.

I play a little golf now and then, but fishing is something I was doing with my grandfather since I was his age. It really made me proud to see him standing there waist deep in water saying he didn't care if it was getting dark, he was about to land a monster fish. These are exactly my thoughts when it comes time to leave every single trip I take. Just one more cast. Just one more fish. Just one more minute with my little buddy.

It was only the best day ever for too.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Touch The Feel Of Cotton (Candy)

If you'd asked me earlier today I would have been convinced that Alex had tasted the melt in your mouth goodness of cotton candy before. I mean the kid is 2 years old! What kind of dad would I be if I didn't give my baby some cotton candy! Yet there we were offering him some tonight at the Helen Keller parade and he just kept staring at it that got me wondering what he was staring at it like and here's the best I can figure:

1) He thought is was a piece of cloth. He was sorta looking at it all confused and I'm thinking he thought it was basically a pink t-shirt wrapped around a stick. I can understand this because after all they do call it COTTON candy. It looks like pink cotton. It looks like pink couch cushion foam on a stick.

2) In some ways it looks like a spider web yet it melts the moment it gets wet and is very sticky. I wonder if he thought we were trying to feed him pink spider web on a stick?

Either way he wasn't having any part of it and unfortunately so as not to waste I had to finish it for him. So this still leaves me wondering; did he think it was literally a piece of cotton on a stick or were we trying to feed him spider webs?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why Don't You Like Mike?

My favorite type of humor is that which comes from miscommunication. This past weekend Adam showed a fondness for this as well. We were walking through the Walmart parking lot when Mandy said "Some people need to get a life."

Immediately Adam started giggling "Mommy said she wants a wife!"

"I said get a life"

"We are going to fly kites?"

"You want to ride a bike?"

"Some people you don't like? Who do you not like mommy?"

"You saw Mike? Who's Mike?"

He just went on and on and on about it and I love him so much for it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Little Ribbing Goes A Long Way

As I may have mentioned yesterday, all I asked for on Father's Day was to go out to eat ribs and come back in time to watch the back nine of the golf tournament. Thanks to my awesome family I got just that.

For lunch we went to Ricks and immediately I dug into a full slab. As a bonus I discovered my favorite new drink, the fruit tea. So I'm sitting there and things start to get a little tricky mainly because the ribs were a little fatter than I like, but super tasty none the less. I'm twisting them a bit. Pulling them a bit. Suddenly out of no where I lose my grip and literally fling a rib halfway across the room. Sometimes embarrassing things happen to you and nobody ever sees. This was not one of those times.

The rib goes flying across the room and immediately Mandy busts out laughing. While giving thanks that it didn't hit a passing waitress, I then have make the walk of shame to pick it up off the floor. Trying to keep as much of what little dignity I had left all the while.

On the way home Mandy starts giving me looks and at a stop sign says I have something in my hair. As I glanced up into the rearview mirror , I realize the ribs were so good I apparently decided to store some in my hair until later.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh Father

I could write a post about how Mother's Day and the week long ramp up to it is ridiculous compared to Father's Day. I could tell tales of dads I know who didn't even get a $4 Hallmark card. This isn't that kind of post though.

This is post to say thank you to Mandy and the boys for my new wallet. For paying attention when I said I dropped the old one in the creek last weekend. For painting me a picture of an owl to hang on my wall. For a day filled with grilled ribs, the best fruit tea I've had in a while, and letting me watch golf all evening.

This is a post to say thank you to the Angry Man for taking a deep breath every now and then to show us he had a sense of humor. To let my Dad know how much I enjoy our weekly chats which always leave me feeling better about life. To pray for both my Grandpa Hamm and PawPaw Beck; neither of whom I see that often but I think about on a daily basis. It is because of these men that I am able to be a good father to my children.

This is also a post to say thank you to my father in heaven who sacrificed his only son so we may live. Through him all things are possible and because of him no situation is ever as hopeless as it seems. Happy Father's Day.

Hero Up VBS!

As a family one of our favorite times of the year is the week of Vacation Bible School. This year things were a bit different in that we decided to do the whole thing in one day. When I first heard this I wasn't sure how it would work out in terms of the kids hanging in there from 9-2, but the thought of spending an entire day playing with my boys was enticing too.

This year's theme was Hero Up! and featured all types of comic book super heroes telling their favorite stories about heros of the Bible. The church was decorated in Avengers themed sets and posters. There was the Avenger's HQ and the main stage was set up to look the city skyline. Serving as a break in between lessons two the largest bouncing castles I've ever seen were placed in the gym. This of course for many stole the show. When asked this morning Adam could remember bits and pieces of the lessons taught, but without a doubt could tell you every flip and flop taken on those giant inflatable slides. We even stuck around for two hours after VBS had ended just so we could soak up every last bit of fun before the slides were taken down.

I think Ben Hayes said it best this morning when he said that the kids that attended this year's VBS may not remember the stories of Esther or Samson, but they will remember a day filled with laughter surrounded by their friends at church. I have to agree that nothing sounds sweeter.

Friday, June 15, 2012

In The Eye Of The Storm

With boys you just never know what you are going to get when you walk in that door after a long day. It's really just a coin flip as to if they will acknowledge your existence, run to you with open arms, or kill your ears with a bunch of crying.

As a person who thrives on routine, the threat of chaos breaking out at a moments notice took some getting used to. You just never realize how much noise and disorder comes with having a child (let alone two) until you find yourself in the eye of the hurricane.

People that live by themselves never have to deal with kids screaming they have to go potty and then never going after 20 minutes of staring at him sitting on the pot. Single people never have the pleasure of hearing two kids duke it out for a spot on a couch that was made to sit three people twice their age. They never have to fight for the remote or hear how it's no fair you get to watch the news before going to work every morning. Single people don't have to deal with crying over too much ice in their cup, too few chips on their plate, and not liking something they just ate last week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Whole Bunch Of Nothing

Not much going on just enjoying a peaceful night hanging around the house. Alex acted like he was getting sick but the doc couldn't find anything wrong with him. Asia took the boys to CiCi's Pizza today and Adam fell even more in love with her.

The most exciting thing to happen around the office was the introduction of two new vending machines. Rumor has it we are getting a couch and television set in the new break room, but I'll believe it when I see it.

We are in the full heat of summer even though it doesn't officially start for another week. The weeds have long taken over the garden which we all promised to work in yet never did. From the casual observer it would appear we have stalks of corn and cucumber vines growing in the middle of the backyard.

Most of the night was spent with music playing in the background. The boys are like me in that they never get tired of hearing tunes. Some days it's the only thing that gets me to the end. I suppose it's possible we all have ADD and a song in the background keeps our feet tapping just enough to focus on the tasks in front of us.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Open Mouth Insert Sock

Some may remember Socks our outside cat that disappeared a couple years back shortly after having three of the meanest kittens ever. To help Adam get through it we told him that she found an inside family and still loves him very much. Just off the cuff on the way home I blurted out that I thought I saw her. Suddenly Adam starts bawling like no tomorrow.

The crying lasted all the way home, the whole time he was getting ready for bed, and was still going on after lights out. Nothing Mandy or I said could make it better....but I know what may have made it worse.

Gigi asked me to walk him down to her place so she could try and calm him down. Noticing his feet and suffering from my typical lack of filter, I blurted out "Aren't you hot? Why don't you get rid of those socks"

As I was saying it I was literally trying to pick up the words as they dripped out. He of course cried out "We got rid of Socks!!!". That's why I'm a blockhead.

Double Dish Duty

Lately Adam has been attempting to help out more around the house. I haven't quite figured out if this is an attempt to make up for the trouble he typically finds himself in or if he wants money. Regardless of which reason the end result is kinda nice. While I must shed a tear or two lamenting over how old he is getting, I'm also proud of the person he is becoming.

With increasing frequency he has started making his bed, cleaning his room, and routinely makes sure everyone gets cold water whenever they start breaking a sweat. Monday night he caught us all off guard by sneaking into the kitchen and washing dishes. This was a complete surprise and so was what we found an hour later after he went to bed. While we def gotta give the guy an A for effort apparently he didn't use hot water or soap as they all had to be re-washed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Feeling Froggy

We are still trying to decide if the leak in the pool will be fixed this year and three frogs have taken up residence. At night it's as if we live in the country. The sound of the croaking frogs filling the night air.

The boys love checking on them and mention them at least once every couple of days. Yesterday Adam noticed something especially fascinating.

"Dad guess what!!! The frogs are sleeping and guess what!!! The baby frog is sleeping on the mommy frogs back. Isn't that awesome?"

Not ready to have the birds, bees, frogs, and trees talk with my 6 yr old I simply said "Well isn't that nice. Hey what's for lunch I'm thinking cheese burgers!!"

Thankfully he took the bait and ran inside eager to help make lunch.

Row Row Row Your Boat

Went canoeing down Cypress creek this past Saturday. We took my buddy Mitch's canoe and learned a valuable lesson: A 10 minute drive in a car equals about an hour & 1/2 of paddling. We unfortunately learned this the hard way.

There we were having the time of our life. The water was nice, a good breeze was in the air, the sun managing to stay behind the clouds just a bit, and more importantly the fish were biting. We figured the halfway point and that the finish line would be about 30 minutes away from there. We were wrong.

Now I didn't hear what his wife said and he didn't hear mine, but both conversations sounded similar:

"I'm good!! Catching a ton of fish"
"Where are we? Cypress creek."
"Yeah I know what time it is"
"Yes I know when I said I would be home"
"I know there are things that have to be done....but...but um...well we've been paddling for an hour and still have not made it to the car."
"No we are not lost! We just don't know where we are compared to where the car is. Honestly it HAS to be up here somewhere."
"Love you Sweetie"

I have never caught that much fish in one day in my life, however I have also never tried that hard to get out of the water in my life either. Next time we park closer!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

TRON: Up Rising Over His Head

To my knowledge here is what I believe to be the story of TRON. This guy named Flynn was a scientist who also created a video game. What he doesn't know is there is a world inside of all computers which is being taken over by the Master Program (red people are bad). The Master Program zaps Flynn into a game he (Flynn) created in which the hero Tron is trying to keep the other programs (the blue guys) free.

With the help of Flynn, Tron saves the day. Flynn then creates Clu so he (Flynn) can keep peace and manage his life outside the computer. Clu gets power crazy traps Flynn inside the computer where he goes into hiding, Tron is defeated...until the end of the second movie in which Flynn's son finds his father 15 years later and with the help of Tron, Clu is defeated.

Disney's new series TRON: Uprising takes place in between the two movies and features an injured Tron mentoring a guy named Beck who poses as Tron to spark a revolution against Clu.

Here is what Adam understands: Red is bad and Blue is good. Sure it's basic but he loves it and I love it so what's not to love about that.

Crabby Contact

This used to be the picture that came up when Mandy called my cell phone. I lovingly refer to her as my Lucy and this remake if the JAWS poster was classic. The sight of tiny Snoopy unaware that he is about to be eaten alive was so funny to me.

Last weekend Mandy's phone died and she asked to use mine. Looking for Mo's number she hit hers by mistake and the picture popped up. Needless to say she was not happy and I made sure I stayed on the couch watching movies a little later than normal just so I'd not face any resistance coming to bed.

Once we were all able to laugh about it the next day I did change the picture to something less controversial. I am still using the picture though. The new person just may never know.

A Show Of Anger

Alex is a little over 2 and we are just starting to swat him on the back if the leg with our hands. Yes we are parents that spank get over it. We only save such severe punishments for when the child simply refuses to obey. Yesterday Alex reached this level of no return.

The new inflatable pool came with a pump and two valves. Water goes in, is filtered, then goes out the other tube. Alex would not quit standing on the in flow tube. We told and told. We begged and pleaded. Finally we spanked.

The moment my hand met his back side Alex cried out in pain. The crying only lasted a moment though and was very quickly replaced by anger. Almost immediately Alex crossed his arms and stomped to the back door. Lips sticking out all the way. With a look of disgust and his face red with rage our little sweet 2 year old walked inside, slammed the back door, and stood there in the window with his arms crossed and smoke coming out of his ears.

Now had he been 6 this little trick would have required a further attitude adjustment. For the moment however his cuteness saved him from further punishment. That being said the cute routine is starting to wear thin.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Falling Off The Wagon

I accidentally slept late. Missed my morning walk. Neck is killing me from where I tried unsuccessfully to get the pressure washer started. Almost fell asleep in the morning meeting. Nobody at the office was in a good mood. Mandy and I went a round or two. I sank my sorrows into a giant roast beef sandwich from Arbys. I just felt even more guilty afterward for swan diving off my diet.

I was sure by three that time had stopped and I was doomed to be chained to my desk forever. By the end of it I was fed up and determined to do something drastic like eat a whole box of Little Debbie zebra cakes washed down with a gallon of whole milk....then I pull into the driveway to find Adam pulling Alex in his wagon. Both laughing as if they were touring the streets of Disney. All I could think about was how great life is and how blessed I am.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Game Of Thrones

From what I can remember (and I suppose that if I really needed to know I could look through the Charlie archives) Adam was not that difficult to potty train. Sure it didn't happen overnight, but once we learned the trick of giving him a handful of Reese's Pieces with every successful attempt the training was just about accomplished. Like everything else Alex seems determined to clear his own path.

It's like a circus act without the guy being shot out of the cannon. He says he has to go, gets you all geared up to take him, sits down on the potty, and then....then he...he..he makes a hissing noise with his mouth. Like I said tons of build up with no reward.

A-Mish Upon A Star

As I mentioned last night Saturday we went to the Amish Country. Just inside Eldridge Tn. you can pick up a map at the local gas station which gives a list of all the local families, directions on how to find them, and what they sell.

To say that it's a different world there in the sprawling fields that lie between Highway 242 & 43 would be an understatement. It was my first introduction to true Amish culture and I was amazed. There are of course the obvious things that pop into your mind; no electricity, no air conditioning, no Internet, television, or radio. As you make your way from family to family though it really starts to sink in.

Handmade soap, blankets, furniture all made on the family land. Cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, and onions grown just a few feet from the front porch. Children that do not speak unless spoken too and little in response at that. In some ways it's a simple lifestyle in others it seems at least from the outside to be a harsh existence filled with toiling away in the hot sun from sun up to sun down with little in the way of luxury. Still though I can help but view the Amish countryside with a bit of whimsy similar to that of the beach. A place where the world has never been more quiet, the sky more clear, and the people more full of life

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Mish You When You're Not Around

Last month Mo, Mandy, & The Gigi got up and went to the Good-will in Lawrenceburg. This past week they decided to go back for 1/2 off Saturday. There is a large Amish population just outside the town and each house sells the various things they produce. Mandy invited me & the boys to tag along and we gladly accepted. Normally I drive where ever we go, but this time around I decided to sit in the back with the kids.

Initially I brought a book thinking I could get caught up on my reading, thankfully I realized right away that if I had stuck my nose in between those pages I would have missed out on all the fun. Back there just the two of us sharing the same seat, Adam and I really had a chance to connect. We learned about the Amish and how they lived. We shared headphones while listening to our favorite songs on the iPod. I know it sounds sorta simple but my favorite thing we did....something I hope we do again is we talked. No yelling at him to stop this or that. No threatening to beat him for acting like a crazy person. We just talked about stuff...I wish the trip had been longer.