Got ’em (PG 13 Image)

So last week Eliza had to take a shower before school. She decided to use the one in the master bathroom. She told Chrissy there was mouse on the floor.

We believed her. We live in the country.

Later that week I got up early and saw the mouse running around behind some photos we still haven’t hung up yet.

Now Chrissy and I have been talking about getting a cat for outside and the kids and I went to the dollar store to get some mouse traps.

Yes, I prefer doing things the old-fashioned way. I bait my traps with peanut butter (chunky) and sunflower seeds. It worked well in Iraq, and now it works in Oklahoma.

Yes, we got ’em.

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Long Distance is a Myth

There’s more that happens in a week than can be summed up during the week. Each weekend there’s a few minutes spent reflecting upon what has gone on before. This Saturday is no different. Chrissy’s at work. The kids are procrastinating going to bed–and I’m letting them get away with it (for a few minutes).

Rainey’s had an interesting day. He seems to be bumping into everything, falling down from everything, and generally just being uncoordinated. This has happened with the previous kids when their sick with a cold (stuffy nose/ears) or their going through a growth spurt. Chrissy and I have both had a bit of a cold and so we’ll see how much of this is related to health and how much is related growing up.

Grandma Hill went in for surgery this week. We were told from the doctors that things were going well. We were also told that when she’s coming out of the anesthesia she’s rather funny to listen to. That’s the only word we’ve gotten so far. It gives us hope that all the prayers said are being answered. The kids have a real sweep spirit when you ask them to pray for “GG Hill.”

Well, our various projects seem to be providing us some hope for the future as well. Our “Bug Board” is getting a lot of attention. It’s mounted above the piano in the living room (my mother would not approve in her house). Chrissy’s helped to contribute several of the creatures. I’ve been impressed at how much she participates. This story should help illustrate:

Earlier in the week we found two really cool looking bugs. Chrissy donated a cotton ball soaked in her facial cleaner. We didn’t have any other strong smelling stuff to kill it with. After a while it did the job and we had two good specimens to add. It’s one thing when you get someone’s reluctant help. It’s another when you get their creative energy flowing to help.

Creative juices started flowing earlier this week when I noticed a pile of scrap wood being created from the four houses going up in the neighborhood. Those framers are good about using the wood, but what they don’t use helps me in my projects. So what sort of project did I create this time?

Well, let’s start off with a review: First we got used to making things by creating a bird feeder. Although no birds have been sighted using it the project went off without any injuries and is safely mounted to the house.

The next project was and still is a big hit. It’s a see-saw that accommodates different size folks. Last week Matt Hargrave helped me adjust it for Daniel and Rainey sized people. The see-saw looked too cool for him to leave alone. So we put it on the adult setting and he and I had a go at it.

I’m not the only one who’s been feeling a bit creative this week. Chrissy has finished the quilt she was working on, and managed to make quite a few barrettes as well. She’s been really quite busy getting all of this done, fighting off a cold, not sleeping well at night, and raising three children. Not to mention she’s been working.

While she’s been working on these projects I’ve been trying to be supportive. So I “hired” a couple of models to show off her barrettes. The models are actually a neighborhood teenager and her friend. I think they manage to do a good job showing off Chrissy’s work. The girl on the left is Kyla, and her friend is Megan. Both of them have great smiles (makes it a lot easier). They’re a delightful bunch to have around. Wouldn’t you buy some barrettes if you saw these faces online?

When they were through taking photos, and telling me which ones I had to delete. The walked out the front door. To my surprise they had taken the liberty of adjusting the see-saw to “adult size” and were having a go at it. I’m used to my projects failing and I can’t tell you how much I love seeing other people just randomly use them. So I had to take a photo.

I guess we’re a family that does projects. We’ve already started teaching the next generation. Tonight Eliza made a ‘wood floor’ for her playscape. I didn’t take photos, and it’s going to kill the grass. But she thought it through and did a good job. This week her father (me!) has also taught her to use the internet. Our 6 year old sent her first email!!! I was listening to her read with Chrissy and realized that she’s got enough reading words to carry on a basic conversation over email.

She’s been emailing my mom (with a bit of help) and really doing well with learning the words she wants to say. She’s also using a linux computer running Ubuntu. Her email program is Thunderbird.

Well, now that I’ve written on just about every project that we’ve done this week it’s time to share today’s project with you all. Using only scrap lumber from down the street I created a table for our back porch.

In Germany we used to eat outside nearly every day (when the weather was good). It’s one of those times in our family’s life that we look back on with romantic memories. I’m trying to get some of those memories to come back. We’ll see how breakfast goes tomorrow. I’ve got good memories from putting it together.

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I’d prefer theocracy

Around here we’ve been getting our news from the internet. It’s been a bit of a transition from the TV. Sure when I eat breakfast at the dinning facility I generally watch a bit of the news. With the politics alive and active I’m finding the news very entertaining these days.

This leads me to the topic of discussion for this blog. I will now delve its readers into the taboo subject at family reunions and discuss POLITICS as I see them.

One of my favorite things about politics is how they completely ignore contexts. One thing the press likes to do is take unflattering photos and make them the primary ones used during a piece. It doesn’t matter what the news source is, if the editors think that their audience wont like what he’s saying they use an unflattering photo.

Getting a good photo is hard. I’ve been trying to take pictures of Chrissy for a while now. She’s looking great! (always has). Even though our camera doesn’t have any shutter lag something will happen when I try to click the button and instead of ending up with a photo that captures how awesome she is I get something that’s blurry, and usually cuts off a part of her head or something. It’s one thing when I do that at home. It’s another thing when a professional photographer does it and gets paid for it.

Now this has made politics something worth looking at. I love the self described moose hunting hockey mom. Gov. Palin’s got spunk. She’s one of those rare individuals who does a good job hiding having bad days. My favorite thing so far is that she’s been using her “mom” look with the press. Take a look at this section of the interview between her and Charles Gibson. (Watch Here).

Remember growing up when you did something knowingly bad and mom had to pull you aside and talk with you? You remember that look right before she took a wooden spoon to your butt? You remember that look when you were a teenager doing something totally wrong? It’s the I love you and I hate to do this, but I’m-a-mom-and-it’s-my-job-to-set-you-straight-look. She pulls that look on Charles Gibson when pressed about earmarks in the state of Alaska.

I’d also like to publicly express that I’m more likely to consider her a worthy candidate because her family seems to have real problems. Her oldest daughter being pregnant is a reality of today’s society. It’s got to have been something very difficult for them to deal with as a family. Life will be even more difficult when the baby comes. Could you imagine being pregnant at 17 and the person you want to go through for baby advice (mom) being busy with her political office? Women are the original multi-taskers in society. I don’t doubt that their family can do it, but what a load it is! They are a modern American family.

Politics are for me entertaining. I’ve realized that no one running can do so without being hungry for power. Sure we hear talk about the candidates championing some righteous cause on both sides of the aisle. I disagree with public health care–but that doesn’t make the idea any less important. In order to be in an office you have to want the power of the office. It doesn’t come to you–despite what the Disneyish movies say–you have to desperately go out and seek it.

Sometimes I think our best choice for candidate isn’t someone with the greatest campaigning skills, because campaigning takes so much energy, effort, and time the best person might be the one who can shift gears the quickest. I need someone to stop campaigning while they’re president and get some work done. Our election process doesn’t fit the responsibilities of the office. It’s like being interviewed for a job that has nothing to do with what you’re going to be doing. All senators involved, while on the trail, can’t effectively do their jobs. What good are they to their state? If we prepped high school students for the SATs this way no one would pass.

I’d prefer theocracy. Let’s think about it. You know who’s going to be in charge. Moses did a great job with some rather stubborn people. It’s also going to be the government during the millennium. So I don’t mind getting ready for it now.

Let’s think about this. Each year our politics get more and more vicious, and more of it is presented as “normal.” I think they get worse. The mudslinging goes both ways, shows up earlier, and is more vile then it ever has been. Where’s it going? When will it end? Whatever it evolves to over the next few years it will be something that our society considers ‘business as normal.’ Across the world all of the political processes (even dictatorship) that appear ‘business as normal.’ will need to get wiped away. That process will not be a pleasant one. It’s described in the book of revelation as the greatest calamities our world societies will face. At the end of it, the Savior comes and issues in the millennium. If you noticed how Hurricane Gustav nearly changed the republican national convention–imagine stuff like that to the point where no one even considers having a political party.

Well, that’s my opinion and it’s worth what it is. Who am I voting for? I don’t know yet. I don’t make that decisions until right before the election. Chrissy isn’t a citizen and so the blood of patriots that has given me the right to vote rests on my shoulders. My vote represents my family. I have to make sure that I do right by them. That’s why when it’s my turn to vote I’ll lay out a sigh, because I’ prefer theocracy.


I’ve got a playlist that shuffles through a lot of my favorite songs. Most of them are about 10 years old–if not more. It seems I’m still musically stuck in high school. One of the songs that comes on is Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis.

Chrissy, being a military spouse has stayed home a lot while I’ve had to go away for one reason or another. This summer it was her turn. Chrissy finally took a girls trip. Destination: Nashville.

While there she toured a lot of the sites that are mentioned in the song. She had a blast. She got to see the Gibson guitar factory and Graceland among other sites. I wasn’t there. Tom and I survived taking care of the kids, and had a blast. Every once in a while Chrissy will hear a part of the song that stands out to her. Something she didn’t hear before. She’ll turn to me and start, “Remember when we were…”

It usually takes her a few sentences before she realizes that I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invited. I wasn’t allowed.

Quite frankly, I’m flattered. It seems my wife has a wonderful psychological condition: She associates her good memories with ME. Whether I was there or not. I’m not sure when it this phenomenon became a permanent member of our our marriage, but in any case it’s a part of who she is.

Odd thing is, come to think about it, I do the exact same thing. Does anyone else magically associate their good memories to their spouses? Or is this just something for me and Chrissy?.

Afternoon Narration

It’s 4:35pm. Chrissy leaves to be early for work. She says good-bye to us for the night and kisses her boys goodbye. Eliza is already come, done her homework, and gone. She’s old enough to go to her friends house without being escorted. Every chance she gets, she takes. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve gotten considerably less cooler, or if I just haven’t been putting the effort into having a better relationship with her. Maybe the relationship is fine; it’s just one of those stages where you wonder. In any case there’s no time to think about it.

Daniel is hammering a nail into a piece of wood nearby. The more he pounds, the more it bends. The nail and hammer are both small, but his 3 year old frame isn’t quite ready for this test of coordination. Rainey is wandering around ‘helping’ as well. He’s actually pretty good when he’s around, but the moment he’s not: you have to worry. While contemplating my relationship with my daughter, saying goodbye to Chrissy, and wondering about Rainey I’m constructing a bird feeder out of wood lying around the house.
It’s not going so well.

Chrissy can’t quite see the finished product in her mind, and I’m too embarrassed to share the details. I’m wondering if it’s the fact that I’m totally winging it. I’m wondering if working with tools is a genetic thing and somehow I misplaced my skills. After all we grew up with three boys at home–there was a lot of testosterone. Growing up I thought the A-Team was the way life really worked in the real world. Now I wonder why you would ever throw down your gun so you could punch someone instead. I wonder with as many montages on building a ‘tank’ that I saw I didn’t get more out of it. Maybe a birdhouse isn’t a ‘tank.’

Maybe I’m just not good as solving problems that involve wood and a barely used table saw. I considered myself technically smart until this morning when I realized that I wasn’t good at manually gunnery and failed. One more thing to think about. Now I’ve got to re-study and spend Saturday morning in uniform taking the test over again. What were those mistakes again? I wasn’t allowed to take notes during the test review this afternoon.

What’s Rainey getting into in the van?

Oh, he’s got those hot-sauce covered pistachio nuts. How the heck can my kids eat those things and like them? What’s this cut supposed to be? I hope this thing doesn’t look too ugly when it’s finished. I’m putting effort into it, but it all goes down the drain if Chrissy doesn’t like the way it looks. She’ll never let me put it up in the yard.

Done with the bird feeder.

Where’s Rainey? He’s moved from the nuts to a bag of honey roasted peanuts he found in the door. Hey, those were in Chrissy’s door, and I was really hungry the other day when I was driving. How come I didn’t get to snack on those on the way home?
It looks like it might rain. The garage is still covered in stuff from the move. My workshop is outdoors and needs to get packed inside.

Daniel’s tired. It’s that time of the afternoon. Tired or not he’s the only consultant I’ve got on where to put this thing up. First we talk about hanging it. He wants to put it where you can’t see it unless your outside. I want to be able to stay inside and watch the birds eat. Hanging it means that you end up with weeds in the grass near the house. That’s the only good grass we’ve got in spots. Wait a second! We got a picket and I can put it on that. Daniel doesn’t like the idea. He let’s me know. I wander around the yard holding a picket and a hammer. Rainey’s out of sight and Daniel is protesting in pure 3-year-old fashion. I’m wondering where I want the weeds to grow.
Do I really want one more thing in the yard I have to mow around?

Bird seed is nothing more than weed/wildflower seed mixed together no matter where I put it I’ll end up with weeds. Maybe here near this pipe sticking out of the yard. Yeah, that might be good ’cause then I’ll only have one thing to work around. Wait, that pipe marks a sprinkler for the septic. How far down were the piped dug again? Do I really want to be watering weeds?

“Daniel, we’re done.” Best to wait and ask Chrissy. Let’s go in and eat. Bad idea. Eliza showed up with her friends. They’re leaving someplace and Daniel wants to go. He runs into to get his shoes. The leave while he’s inside. I’m the only adult left and so it’s my fault. Where’d Rainey go again? He’s crying outside ’cause I left him. It’s a good thing it doesn’t take too hands for any one kid. I can carry Daniel upside down with one hand and Rainey upside down in the other. Grab tight just above the ankles. Daniel’s pants are sliding off–gotta hurry. Dropped them both on the couch.

Two growly children. Ok, outdated church video said distract not discipline. Today I’m doing good. I thought of a distraction on my way home. Paper bag costumes are not a good enough distraction–but since they were so keen on the costumes in Wal-mart (curses and blessings be upon it) the idea seemed to have some merit. Discipline’s still not an option–what’s next?

LIFE: This is the egg-beater on “low.” Eliza comes home and it’s time to clean house and the setting gets changed to “high.” Sure Chrissy does it all day. Lots of moms do it all day, but when it’s my turn it’s not just “not mom’s,” it’s mine. It’s me on the wrong end of the three-to-one ratio. I’ve never been able to compete in an argument about how it’s ‘tougher’ for dads. Most times I can’t finish a significant sentence. The reply is generally: “No evidence will be considered in the case of mom’s vs. dad’s watching kids. We’d appreciate if you didn’t try to bring this up at all.” They should have a warning on conversations like that: “Please deposit 5 happy relationship points for every 30 seconds you try to have your opinion on this subject heard.”

It’s now 9:00pm. Rainey’s lying next to me. He’s being quiet so I don’t mind. Chrissy told me this afternoon that he’s done with his bottle. I discovered the last two hours before bed that he’s also managed to loose both of his pacifiers. She’s not answering my text messages. I’m really hoping she’s got a spare stashed away somewhere. She was supposed to be home a half hour ago.

This kids going to be unruly tomorrow. He pooped in the toilet tonight before bath time. He pooped in the bathtub tonight during bath time as well. If Chrissy reads this before looking at the birdhouse I’ll get to put it up out of sympathy instead of success. This spring I want to build a chicken coop for my birthday. The idea has shifted from fun present, to an ominous project.
When it’s all done I wouldn’t trade today for anything. Some stupid inkling of faith tells me I’m going to miss days like this one. I still need to put my mind at ease–there’s poop residue in the bathtub I need to take care of still. Although the memories of today will be nice in the future, the memories of yesterday ring a bit sweeter for now. I wonder what Matt Lammie is doing?

I miss hiking in Utah.

Notes From The Underbelly

Let me tell you a story about a TV show that is a must see for any married couple that’s had kids. It’s called “Notes From the Underbelly.” It’s definitely adult enough that you’re not going to watch it with the kids, but it’s not something you’ll feel guilty for watching.

Chrissy and I fell in love with the show by a fluke one night. That season only four episodes were released–we laughed our heads off. The next season we were treated to a writer’s strike and didn’t get to watch any. Now, by some odd coincidence there’s several episodes of this very clever TV show online!


The writing is terrific. It’s about the same quality as another one of my favorite shows: Arrested Development. AD was so complicated and so complex that it got canceled after a few seasons because the show was difficult for audiences to follow with a week between each show. Now that it’s online and on DVD it’s great to watch one episode after another–it’s easy to get hooked. Although Notes From the Underbelly is complex and well developed it’s easy to follow the characters with a bit of a brief bit of background information.

There’s really only six characters to follow: On the right side of the screen you’ve got the two single friends. Each are rather selfish and play out a rather promiscuous single lifestyle. In the middle you have the main couple (couple) who are dealing with the ‘joys’ of pregnancy and child rearing. On the left you’ve got the wife’s best friend and her husband. This photo is old so it shows them as pregnant. In the show they’ve had their kid and are the more established of all the folks in the series.

I can’t tell too much without doing the writers a great injustice. It’s one of those shows where you’re watching it and seeing the characters say things that I know I’ve said to Chrissy when Eliza was born. That’s when I knew it was good! The pace is quick and there’s generally three separate stories going on at one time. There’s also enough packed into the show so that you can watch a few episodes more than once.

You’ll need to watch this online using internet explorer, firefox, or safari with Adobe Flash 8+ installed. Thank you ABC for putting this online!!! One less reason to have a cable bill!