Saturday, April 28, 2007

Soccer, bopper, romper boo.

After three weeks of waiting we finally had our first soccer practice with Titus last night. We have been delayed by Mother Nature who has been throwing hissy fits for over a month. It seems that she doesn't like Tuesday's as she is most upset with the universe on Tuesday's. Titus was not deterred from his euphoria and determination that he would play soccer and donned his "gear' every Tuesday. First week, bitter cold--polar bear mothers wouldn't let their cubs out to play. Second week, rain the likes of which would even concern Noah. Third week, rain again. We didn't want to just tell Titus that it was cancelled without actually having someone call, so we would get him ready and be on the way, only to turn around when they called at the ninth hour.

We have decided that if weather permits, we will all go to support "bubba" in his sport. Kendra had been the designated parent to take Titus to the sporting things because she is the most athletic in our house. Which is like looking at a snail and a frog and saying, "most endoskeletal." It is no contest. I have absolutely no athletic ability whatsoever and find myself completely baffled by sports all together. Kendra gets it, she actually likes it, again with the baffling. I can remember my Dad playing basketball when I was like four or five and coming home from the games with bloody noses. I never went to a game or knew anything else about it other than Dad wore shockingly short shorts, freaky sneakers (Chuck Taylor's when there were ONLY Chuck Taylor's) and muscle shirts with a number on it. That's the extent of my basketball knowledge. And that was the extent of our family's entrance into sports. Lucy did play some games, but I'm not sure what she did--maybe softball and basketball.

There was one time when we went to my Mom's hospital as a family because they had just built this exercise track. you walked around this track and would stop at stations to do these exercises designed to bring you to the peak of physical health. My Mom though it would be great to get us all fit as a fiddle. We were all rather unsettled as it was a really good night on TV and my Dad had planned a full evening of smoking alone outside wandering around doing Dad stuff. At any rate we went through these things and did what they said until the jumping jacks station. It was about two or three away from the end, and we were ready for it to be over--forever! Mom came to the conclusion that we were all wrong in our execution of the jumping jack and it was up to her to show us. Lucy and I usually had trouble containing our laughter when Mom went into education mode. If you have trouble containing your laughter when you Mom is standing still lecturing you about how things should be, you can imagine how hard it was when she was in full jumping jack action. We were so far away from the bathroom--and we had to pee so bad from the laughter. That was until she twisted her knee. Twisted knee=six weeks of crutches; Never going around that blasted track again because the twisted knee sealed the deal=priceless.

Now that I'm the parent of a child in sports I'm not so sure how that will be. I have practiced, very hard, not looking confused or uninterested and think I have it down. To see my boy do anything is thrilling and I could do that all day long, but the whole genre of sports just evade me. At any rate here we were. There were a dozen or so other parents out their with their babies, all convinced that their child was channeling Pele (I googled soccer players he was a very popular fella apparently). Some Dad were running around with their children trying to get them to be warmed up or something, others were talking them up and trying to get them all pumped up and ready for the "big practice." I was standing on the side (there are these white chalky lines that provide a boundary for those playing and those there to watch) and just knew that I was supposed be doing something other than standing. "Is there something that a Dad is supposed to be doing that I don't know about?" "Honey, you are fine, go talk to Titus." "Got it." "Hey bub, you look great in your soccer suit." "Dad look at this great bug!" "Awesome!" "CAN WE ALL GATHER OVER HERE--PRESCHOOL SOCCER CAMP OVER HERE." The coach began with, "Let me tell you a little about my background.." "I could care less about the background--willingness was all he needed." There would be three stations that the kiddos would go through and then we would go home. Every parent was focused on their child no failing. I got tickled watching the other parents freaking out because their child could not perform with perfection from the get go. Many parents were already getting their schedules ready for practice, practice, practice so they could get their soccer game perfect.

I'm not sure how much Titus will love soccer. Baseball is next, he really has a baseball player's body (well, according to Mildred). As long as he learns how to respect others, play with friends, and be a good sport, I don't really care what he does as long as learns to be a good man. I get a huge kick out of forecasting his sporting career around my father-in-law and brother-in-law, "I can't wait to get Titus in cheer leading, I think he'll really love it, he loves gymnastics and tumbling." They are the reddest of rednecks and shutter to think that anyone male and in the family would do such a thing. It's great, almost as great as saying I'm going to vote Democrat and!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Sandman meets the Lord of that fly

Spring has certainly begun to energize our boys, they are really enjoying getting outside and playing together better than ever. I met everyone at our new playground which we discovered just a few days ago as we explored our neighborhood's development. They are opening up the last phase which includes a beach/pool structure which we are excited about. the new playground has a really great rock climbing wall, slide, stepping stones and monkey bar things. It's amazing. Chubbers likes to climb the stairs and slide down repeatedly without exploring any other area. Bub prefers to go to the sand volleyball pit area and dig, dig, dig. He's certain that the digging will take him to china or another world hiding from view.

I hate sand. It sticks to you like Velcro and no matter how much you try to dust off the stuff it stick to you in a thin layer that only water can remove. Chubbers saw Titus grabbing handfuls of sand and tossing them into the air. He promptly made his way toward the pit and started tossing sand too. Chubbers, of course, had to taste the sand! GROSS! He passed on the ingestion of sand. By the time Chubbers made his way over to the benches where Kendra and I were making over Teensy, he was completely covered in a thin layer of sand. He had been eating gummy fruits and his sticky face and hands were coated in sand which really hung onto the Chubbers. He had become the sandman and boy was he gross. I can't really stand dirty kids and was grabbing the wipes. A good friend of our and her girls were at the park too and really got a kick out of my jump to clean up Chubbers. Kendra had alerted them to my incessant cleanliness kick. Guilty as charged.

The rally cry to get all of our duke and head to the house was met with resistance from Titus. He wasn't ready to give up on the digging and had buried a water bottle in the sand. "Dad I buried a treasure in the sand. Your water bottle! It's buried treasure, Dad! Isn't that cool!" "Titus...yes, it's cool...please go get the water bottle back we need to get home." Titus discovered what Pirates learned centuries ago--if you go out burying treasure you better make a map or you lose your treasure! We left without the water bottle. When he got in the car one of his shoes dumped about 10 pounds of sand into the car, "look at all of this sand, Dad!" I tried to maintain my composure and be as excited as he was at his souvenir brought into our clean car from the great outdoors. The great out of doors isn't' all it's cracked up to be you know, it's rather dirty.

When we got home it was straight to the tub. I put pizza dough together to get it working while we bathed Teensy and the boys.. She started smiling and grinning and cooing--just awesome. While I was getting the pizza put together and in the oven, Kendra was reading to the boys. A huge fly, the size of a Volkswagen Beetle was trapped in the window behind the reading chair. Titus had suddenly found a new mission in life--he was going to be the Lord of that fly! For the next hour he set out to get that fly trapped, he had no idea what he was going to do with that fly once it was caught. The fly proved to be a little more illusive than Titus thought. As we ate dinner we heard him attempting to catch that fly.

"Dad, why is that fly doing that." "What do you mean..why is he trapped? he's trying to get out of the house and thinks that the window will let him out so once he hits the glass he doesn't' know to turn around." "Why?" "I have no idea why, I guess they are dumb." "Fly...Fly...over here you can get out over here." I've never in my life heard a boy try so hard to coach a fly from certain death.

I stepped in to help the fly's capture so we could bring and end to the fly hunt. He's a free fly this morning spreading it's disgusting germ ridden, self around the world.

I'll have another story about our snake laboratory, but that's for another day.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Start your engines

All this week I have been working on summer. For a Children's or Youth Minister, summer is your bread and butter. Those two months are what make or break you. I've always been a huge over achiever in the area of planning duke to do. I usually fill everyday with some kind of activity and have at least one if not two huge blowout parties. There are the usual and typical things like VBS that take up a whole week, and take three months of hard planning to pull off. I'm always trying to do it bigger and better. I'm hoping that someday I'll just stick to the better part and throw bigger out the window.

Summer, for me, is no time to relax or kick back, at least it hasn't been since the early ninety's when I start working with youth. Summer is pedal to the medal: go! Early mornings and late nights six days a week. On top of the activities I still pull off the normal year round stuff on Sunday and Wednesday. One good thing about summer is that I get to wear shorts without excuse. I do love watching the cherubs love having fun at stuff that I plan. It's one of the best parts of my job and why I do what I do. It's great fun, but there will be days this summer as there have always been since starting that I just stop and look inside myself and say, "What in the Sam Hill are you doing? For Pete's sake just give this up you will never be any good at this, stop trying." But then some cherub will come up and give me a hug, or a parent will come to me with that look in their eye and say, "my kid can't stop talking about you, they woke me up at 5 am this morning wanting to come see you." That's when this old vessel hits fresh water and the albatrosses fall off, giving me a reprieve for yet one more summer.

There are some very memorable VBS experiences that stand at the top of the list in my years of doing VBS. The first was the VBS of 1995. That was the year that our Youth Minister and a mother of the church decided we needed to have a better VBS than we have ever had. They proposed a night time VBS marketplace. We had been doing daytime VBS with a cute little program and cake, like always. I would have embraced that idea had it not been my senior year and had I not had he most incredibly tense semester of my life. I tried to say no, not this year. Please let me get through this semester and graduate, get married and then we can talk. Nothing doin--it's happening. I was smoking hot mad, but went along with it because that's just what I do--internalize and move on.

It did turn out to be one of the most amazing times of my life, to see all the people come out of the woodwork to help create a market place was amazing. I learned to sow a bag, and sew a snake. I did a lot of things I had never done before. We had an architect in the congregation who built wooden framed houses and every year we would just cover them with cardboard and paint them. We had a sweet lady make homemade bread and hand them out, potters, beggars, you name it we had it. It was a great market place. They are still doing marketplace VBS like the one I reluctantly started so long ago.

The next most memorable VBS programs were the ones at Deer Creek. We did a marketplace VBS with six or seven structures. I think the first year we did Noah's Ark. We had this crazy idea to make a huge ark and put it on stage for the kids to love. We built this thing and it was about 8 or nine feet tall and at least 10 feet wide. We covered it in chicken wire and stuffed every hole of that bugger with tissue paper. Mildred, Brian, and her number one son were there as much as Kendra and I, making this thing come off and work. It was awesome and the kids had an amazing time. I think everyone at Deer Creek was blown away by our VBS and the number of kids we had show up. We also did a VBS that showcased the "Hall of Faith" from Hebrews 11. My idea was to get statues and put them on the stage as our, "Hall of Faith" then have each statue come to life, on different nights, and tell their stories. The funniest thing about that was our statue construction. We bought foam heads from Sally Beauty and tried to make each one of those heads look like a different person. Do you know how hard it is to make a woman's head look like a man? We had this whole stage of transsexuals, it was the best we could do, but we all got a kick out of it.
It's amazing how people's talents come out and shine. At Deer Creek we had some really, really talented people, then there were people who really took instruction well and did exactly what we said. It was during those Deer Creek VBS days that Kendra, Mildred, Brian, and I became so close. We had the best time and laughed a lot! So much fun, so many memories. I think those VBS success at Deer Creek are what made the evil man hate me and feel the most threatened by me. I've blogged about that before, so you can look that one up and read about him.
There will be memories made this year, and I look forward to those. I look forward to it being over and I've just made the calendar! Sad, isn't it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

When tragedy taps you on the shoulder.

When tragedy reaches out and taps your shoulder you never get away from it. As much as you hope life separates you from "that date" you need only to be reminded of "that date" to be right back in the thralls of agony and every emotion packed in tragedies trunk. Today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and I remember that day oh so well. April 19th's for the rest of my life will be reminders of that day that I first came in direct contact with a nation seized by intense and horrific emotional trauma.

1995 was my senior year at Oklahoma Christian University. I had an absolutely crazy schedule because I was carrying 19 hours as well as working full-time for my church which had just recently hired me. When I wasn't at work, studying, or sleeping, I was supervising the Phase IV student apartments as an RA. Kendra and I were dating and would be married that following March. Wednesday, April 19th was test day for me. I had a test in Marriage and Family, my nine o'clock class, a test in New Testament Epistles, and a baptism test in my Seminar of Christian Ministry class. Baptism test? Yes a baptism test. Church of Christ believe that the New Testament examples of complete immersion upon the confession of one's sins is the way to become a christian. As such my professor thought it best to indoctrinate us with what he felt was the end all way to get baptised. We were to meet at a nearby church of Christ to practice our baptism's with one of my fellow students being the "dunked." Can you imagine being baptized 32 times? Ghesh!

I was living off campus by this time in a condominium that was built for the super rich oil Barron's before the bottom fell out of the Oklahoma oil boom and it became a horrendous bust! These condos had been scooped up by many investors for a song and rented out. It was a nice place, gated with a pool and thick concrete walls that kept every one's business to themselves. I loved it there. My place was small with a tiny kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bath room. I would say my total space was maybe 30x30 at best. Tiny. I loved it and miss it yet today. One of my worst habits back then was hitting the snooze bar--too many times. Such was the case on the 19th.

I found a parking spot right at 9:00 and was rushing into the Bible building hurrying to my class. As the door to the building closed it was 9:02-BOOM! I turned thinking I had broken the door or something. Everyone else in the hallway that was late had thought the same thing. "I didn't do it, must be a jet or something." Oklahoma Christian is in Edmond, maybe 15 or so miles from downtown OKC. I'm guessing, it was a good ways away though. I rushed to class, made it through that class and rushed out to get to the church for my baptism test.

"Did you hear about the explosion?" "No, what explosion?" "A gas mane exploded downtown about an hour ago, there are at on of people hurt." "Holy cow that must have been the sound I heard as I went to class." "People...People...let's get started with class, you can catch up on your own time." Our professor was a curmudgeon to say the least. As he explained the right and wrong way to put on waders, accept a confession, hold hands with the dunkee, blah, blah, blah, my mind was racing through the whole gas explosion thing. That couldn't possibly be a gas mane, it was so loud. How big was the gas mane? As I put my waders on and stepped into the water to dunk my very baptized friend, I sailed through with flying colors. I had passed my test. Now, it was off to work until 3:30 when I rushed back to class until 6:00 only to rush back to church for services.

My church was located at 50th and Penn, the Murrah building was located at 9th street downtown. As I drove into the city from Edmond, I remember seeing a huge plume of grey smoke rising from the sky, near down town. That gas mane did cause a lot of damage. When I walked into the church building I met the secretary in the hallway-"Have you heard?" "Yeah, the gas mane, is everyone ok?" "Will, it wasn't a gas mane.. it was a bomb.. a terrorist has blown up the Murrah building downtown." "WHAT!?" From then on time stood still for me because I was glued to the TV watching every second roll by as if it were an hour. "Pam, do we have members in that building?" "No, but there are some across the street." One member had been on the phone with her mother as she sat in her office chair looking out the window at the Murrah building when she turned in her chair to write something down. At the exact second that she turned her chair the blast occurred. That is what saved her life, seven others perished on her floor. The YMCA, Journal Record, and Murrah building had the most casualties. The YMCA lost children, the most devastating thing of all. The children lost in those daycare's. I heard from several reliable sources that the children in the daycare at the Murrah building were obliterated, disintegrated, and that the babies in the Y were the ones' we saw on TV. I'll never for as long as I live forget seeing the fireman carry Baylee Almon's lifeless body. What horror.

The block the church was on was locked down for three hours because the FBI had an office building just up the street in the Penn Tower. My Mom was hysterical. "William we are are all on alert here. What is going on?" Mom lives in Joplin, a good four hours away. Her hospital was on alert to send help and also to receive less critical patients. Apparently there is a wave effect. The patients are pushed out in a wave to make room for the casualties. I couldn't believe it.

I felt numb and helpless. It was as if there were a twenty second delay in everything I did. The first time I drove down town was three days later, I was taking coffee to the workers. The air was thick and quiet, solemn was a party in that place. The air smelled like gunpowder or firecrackers after they have been popped. A strange odor. The building was illuminated and a c-shape. As they excavated the floors a flag was placed on that floor to show that it had been searched and that nothing was left to claim. It was so sad, so lonely, so painful. I didn't feel as though I could do enough to relieve this city of it's pain.

I found out about six months after the bombing that Kendra had been given a job at the YMCA downtown and her first day would have been the 19th of April. She turned the job down, thank God, otherwise I would have been reliving this horrible day in a very different day. It's one thing to say, "this happened in MY city" and an all together different story to say, "this happened to ME." I don't know how people continue to live their lives in the face of such tragedy but know that the power of the American spirit and individuals is strong and resilient and beautiful to see. You cannot go without being impressed when you witness amazing character and strength in the face of tragedy.

I hoped I would never feel that way again, for as long as I lived and did pretty good until 9/11/01 when that wound was reopened and cut deeper with an even more devastating tragedy than the Murrah building bombing.

I don't have the capacity to get in touch with people who feel mass casualties are a way to send a message. It just doesn't make sense to me at all. War doesn't make sense to me, but I am so totally against confrontation it isn't funny at all. I'll never forget talking with those sweet children at my church and trying to help them get back to a sense of safety and security. "God is on our side and we are going to be fine. Heaven is our home and we have a place prepared for us, we'll be fine."

The Virginia Tech massacre drug up those feelings and are now dragging me down memory lane, I try to keep that "road closed" as much as I can, but there just isn't a way to avoid it when tragedy taps you on the shoulder. I am thankful that I have faith in a God that is so much bigger than any problem this world creates. I have faith that God is on the other side of tragedy and there waiting to help me through. I rely on this, count on it, bank on it, however you say it. I can't really get in touch with those who don't have a faith in God, "what do they do to get through?" I just can't get in touch with how a person copes through a tragedy with there is nothing to believe in that is bigger than the problem you are faced with.

I hate to think about the next time tragedy taps me on the shoulder, but know that it's coming someday, I just hope it isn't tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Welcome to the Galaxy of Hubbub

I have been busier than a long tail cat in a room full of rockers. I rose early today to get in to work to get some things done before getting the boys to school and taking Kendra and Teensy to a brunch meeting for VBS when it dawned on me that I had not posted in a while. It's not because there isn't a lot to dump into cyberspace, it's just that I've been busy, distracted, and out of routine. I do not like to be out of routine--AT ALL. I have always been a very routine person, you could set your clock by the stuff I did. I have a plain vanilla life and like it that way, not big changes, no surprises, just routine, expected, ordinary...mmmm comfort. Teensy coming into the world unannounced was just about all I could take--talk about out of routine. That experience took me to another galaxy--out of the routine galaxy into the galaxy of Hubbub. I just quite haven't fallen back into that comfortable groove that keeps me steady. I am almost used to the idea that I have children...--I HAVE THREE CHILDREN? That at times is more than I can process.

I have realized that some things will have to change now that I live in the galaxy of Hubbub chief among them is learning a new language. The fundamental tenants of this language are very familiar to my mother tongue, but there is this one peculiar, odd sounding word that I'm not familiar with, "nnnnooohh...nnohoh...No." That's it, "No." I've not used that word ever before and will have to begin using it. I don't say no because I'm very much a helper person. I love to help people in anyway that I can at anytime that I can. I will go to great lengths to help someone just because I can and want to, sacrificing my own happiness and convenience in the process. I've always been like that. I can remember in grade school, maybe 1st or 2nd grade sitting at my desk trying to wade through my work while all of the other children were playing around me, and stopping to allow kids to make impressions of my really cool pewter Superman belt buckle. If I had that thing today it would still have trace remnants of Playdoh on there. I did it so I could help someone. It's just what I do. I help.

When I moved to Oklahoma to go to college at Oklahoma Christian I remember going on my first retreat with the college group. I should have never gone because I am so very uncomfortable surrounded by similar-aged people I don't know. It's the most intimidating thing I think I ever have to do, I just hate it. Now, put me in a room with children I don't know or 60 and older I don't know and there is no problem. It's just same age thing. Anyway, it was my first semester and I was drowning my Greek, literally. I do not have my own language mastered let alone trying to master a language no longer spoken! I had flashcards of the alphabet and first declension and was studying them feverishly every waking minute of every day.--YES I TOOK HOMEWORK ON A RETREAT--GET OVER IT! I also slept in front of the grandfather clock at this retreat and would not advise EVER sleeping in front of a grandfather clock. Did you know that blasted thing ticks all the time! Round the clock! It nearly drove me crazy! One of the guys on this retreat was a really nice guy and had just moved to school with his girlfriend and was having trouble making friends. I had a connection to him right from the get go. He fell into the pool and got his watch wet which could not be wet. He came in to change clothes and laid his watch down to dry. I took a break from my studies to get my hair dryer out (I really don't have time to go into the many, many layers of my convoluted life) and blew his watch dry. I took it to him and acted as if it was no big deal when it actually took me over thirty minutes of precious soak up the Greek time. We were friends from then on.

When someone asks me to do something I love to do, I have the hardest time saying, "No." But, I will have to start saying that word if I ever hope to get away from this galaxy and back home to the place that I love. Just the thought, just typing this is making me get all mournful and full of anxiety. I can not hardly stand the thought of saying, "No" to someone. I think it all boils down to the fact that I don't want people to think less of me. I have struggled with what people thought of me or about me my whole life and go to great lengths to ensure that people like me, one of those things is never saying, "no." I'm insecure and freely admit that, but that's just one hole in the Swiss cheese of my bizarre hang-up's.

So much to dump out of my brain, but so little time. I have to be going to get started doing what I came to do. I'll be back and we'll get caught up. Star date: 041507, Kirk, Out!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Customer Service is an oxymoron

Today I took my lunch hour to go out into the concrete jungle and find cleats for Titus. He starts soccer tomorrow and is so excited! I found the cutest shorts and shirt for him to play in, but didn't know he needed the special shoes. I was a little shocked that 4 year old soccer camp needs special soccer shoes, but they are the professionals and all I know about soccer is the ball is black and white and you cant use your hands--that's all I'm done after that. I know nothing of sports--period. Actually I know I'm not going to do them at all not my bag. That Titus wants to play every spoort around is testimony to me that he is definitely from another gene pool. I think he'll be really good at sports though. And I will watch him play in the bliss of confusion not knowing what in the world is goign on.

I wasn't sure exactly where one would purchase soccer cleats. I don't know of any soccer boutiques in the city and the mall shoe stores provided no help whatsoever. As a matter of fact the people who work in there were almost rude. I was getting customer service. "...Sir...sir...excuse me sir? could you help me?" The referee clad employee feet permanently planted in this, i dare you to knock me down position, just turned his head toward me, "yeah...what'cha need?" "Soccer cleats for my son, he's a--" "No cleats. we don't carry cleats here. No one in the mall has them." I was relieved that he had met his sales quota to the point that he could totally blow me off and not even care that, had my laser vision been working, he would have been dust.

The next store was a huge store dedicated to nothing but shoes. I was one of two people shopping. Mind you it's lunch time on Monday so there isn't a mad rush of people out to look at shoes. People who are there are going to spend money. I couldn't distract any of the employees from their business to get their attention to just ask if they had cleats. I finally managed to make my way to the back of the store and found a wall with cleats. Lot's of cleats--none that said "soccer" cleats. Ok...which ones look like a soccer cleat? I found three pair that I thought would work but needed to confirm. "Ma'am...excuse me I need some help. My son is playing soccer, tomorrow and I need some cleats. Which of these are for soccer?" "this one...this one...this one... not this one...that's it." Off she went. I was somewhat stunned at her flippant reply and quick departure. I had engaged her, the paid employee, in a customary, "I'm going to drop some cash in your store and need your help to get directed toward the right purchase." That is when it hit me--customer service is an oxymoron. People who work in these stores could care less about the customer or servicing them. After another twenty minutes of confused staring at shoes, I just left. As I was walking out the door, "Thank you sir, have a nice day and come back." "Not likely." I should not have taken my frustrations out on the clerk, but someone has to pay.

My car was parked by a Bellaire, one of the oldest cars i had ever seen in my life. This car had lived a hard, long life. I'm sure it was used by an elderly single lady who wore wool suits and had twenty cats all of which she talked to like her children. Then she died in her sleep, surrounded by all of her years of collections and the kitties. Following the auction it went to some naredo well who was in love with the thought of a "big trunk' and used it as a pick-up for the next ten years until he sold it for a real rig--the 78 El Camino! Rusted and worn to a slick this poor car was mustering all of it's energy to serve it's owner. I think the tattooed hippie girl who was working at the store drove that thing. The front left tire had a brick stopping it from rolling. I laughed at that sight and wished I had my camera to capture that moment. Can you imagine, "sure hop in I'm headed in that direction. hey before you get in grab the brick?"

I did find some shoes at Target and avoided the dreaded clerk whom I will NEVER EVER go to as long as I live. My blood boiled as I saw him standing there...waiting in his empty lane to torture another hapless customer. Target is a good place, the workers there leave you alone unless you hit the panic button. You can be left alone, you are a guest in their store. They won't bother you unless you ask. When you do ask they spring into action. They actually HAVE things in the back! You never get this, "I'm sorry what's out is out." What in the sam hill is the 10,000 square foot warehouse for, if not to house goods? They have these guns at Target that you can use (well the guest services employee) to scan the bar code and then whiffenpoof the location of that item not just in the store but in the whole Target Universe. "Sir we are out, but should be getting a truck in on the 12th and it looks like we'll have on on there." Love Target.

When I rule the world we'll try to get back to the good old days of customers and service going hand in hand. Employees will be glad you are shopping in their stores and will stop what they are doing to genuinely care about you and your needs. if you say no then they will kindly walk away and carry on. No longer will we allow this blow off the guy who looks helpless attitude. No Sirybob.

For the love of Pete put on a happy face, help the helpless. If people or helping people is not in your blood then please leave the public service sector--go work for the post office!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Fat Lady has Sung

Today was the BIG day for the Eggstravaganza. I am fundamentally against getting up on Saturday before the sun, but have on many occasions ALL for work-mind you. I rose hoping and praying that we had a turn out and that some children had a good time. I was also hoping for my Southwestern friend, Santa Ana wind, to blow in some warm gulf air. Nothing doing!

Lucy had to get up and take me to the church to load the duke to make it to the YMCA in time to set everything up. We were out the door by 7:15. She and I stopped at Starbucks and each had a little heaven, she had the whip I skipped the whip. People were already at the church when I got there loading up. That was fine with me, I just started telling them what to do. Kendra and Mildred marvel at my ability to look very busy and not do a dang thing the whole time. I'm usually answering questions or solving problems and not actually "working" with physical exertion.

The skies were clear, crystal blue, and wind was blowing through the 31 degree atmosphere with razor sharp fierceness. I was ready to be cold and had dressed accordingly. I had on sweats, then jeans. I wore the standard issue white t-shirt (which I wear always even under t-shirts) then a long sleeve t-shirt and another long sleeve pique shirt over which I wore my leather coat. I didn't have gloves or any ear things.

I was only outside 45 minutes before my hands were stinging and my ears were burning. It was freezing! That's when the fires started burning. "Will the generator for the inflatables won't start the oil is frozen, it's like corn syrup. What do we do?" "Go get another generator?.." "Ok, I'll be right back." "Where do we put the eggs?" "On the ground. Here's the map of each section and just lay out the eggs that are in the boxes by the section." "Oh...those boxes. Got it." "We don't' have power to the popcorn machine, what do we do?" "Go get an extension cord and plug it in by the pool."

The green lawn peppered with different colored Easter eggs was really stunning. I had 12,000 eggs on the lawn in three different hunting areas. One area for the babies (0-2) another for the Preschool (3-6 years old) and then another for the Elementary. The plan was to begin with the babies, which took all of ten minutes, then wait ten minutes and let the Preschoolers go at it, wait ten minutes and let the Elementary go at it. After that we were done! I was announcing all of the countdown times so everyone could hear and be informed. That didn't keep people from asking questions however, but none the less I did it any way. We had a ton of eggs. Each one was assured a great bounty of eggs. On top of the eggs I had also bought several prize baskets, full-size candies, and two bikes. The YMCA kicked in a truck load of free stuff and we were set.

People started showing up. I am constantly stunned that people don't really think. I can't tell you how many people showed up late for their child's hunt and were mad that we didn't have eggs. What the heck? It's not like the hunt will take three hours to complete. We are talking seconds not minutes, those kids go after those eggs with a purple passion. Five minutes was going to make or break it. Why is it that when someone is late, and I didn't make them late, they expect me to make concessions for their tardiness? I can't really tolerate that. If you are going to be late then accept that your child will miss out on their egg hunt, hate you for the rest of your life and pick a really bad nursing home for you where all of the nurses smell like stale cigarette smoke and alcohol. It's up to you, don't drag me into the fray I have enough trouble.

Working with and around people is really challenging. Most people feel like they are owed something even when there is not cost to them. That's amazing to me. I was also amazed at how many children came to an outdoor event with no coat. One girl had on her night gown! What are these parents thinking? There were some who showed up with no an egg basket at an egg hunt. Give me a flippin break, bring your grocery sack (unless you are in San Fransisco then bring the canvas bag) you might want to reference the last comment in the previous paragraph if you are one of those parents.

One lady, a granny, came with her two grandchildren. I knew the grand kids from church and was happy to see them. This granny was missing a couple connections up stairs. "I've lost my grandson...have you seen my grandson? I don't' know where he is. Where is he?" "Ma'am let's start with who is your grandson? What does he look like, where were you when you last had his hand?" "Oh he is name is "___" and we were right over here. Where is he, I can't find him." "He's probably playing on one of those inflatables. We'll find him." "No he's not on there he's lost, where is he?" About that time he slid down the slide of an inflatable and ran to his granny unaware that I had been zapping her with my pretend laser vision. About thirty minutes later the same granny came up, "Where is my camera? I've lost my camera. What do I do with that?" "Well we haven't had a camera turned in so I guess you will have to retrace your steps and look for it." "It looks just like that that my camera." The lady who had the wherewithal to actually hold onto her children and camera just looked and granny cookie britches and walked away..slowly. "If I find it I'll let you know." "It's lost..where is my camera?"

I would guess that we had around 1,500 attend. Not bad for a blistering cold Saturday before Easter. Chubbers was out on picking up eggs--I think it seemed too much like work. Nonny was gathering up his eggs for him as he stood and looked at all the other cherubs doing their job like, "you should get you one of these they do everything for you." Titus had it down and had a plan. As soon as we said, "go" he was off to the very middle. As he was passing by the others he saw a huge blob of eggs and literally dove in the air into the blob with a swift scooping motion. He gathered up about 20 eggs right there on the spot. He was pleased with his, "energy." After the hunt, we spent the rest of the day looking for new outfits for Easter because Teensy and the boys were outfitted for warm weather not Arctic conditions.

Next year we will for sure be doing another Eggstravaganza and it will be awesome. People will rave, people will gripe complain moan and groan, and be late.

If you are a parent and ever plan to go to an Egg hunt for the first time. Please do your child a favor and show up at least 10 minutes early. For Pete's sake it's not that hard.

Oh I almost forgot. The balloon lady I hired was...interesting to say the least. First she wore this Pink, Pamela Anderson Cat in the Hat mangy dog thing on her head. I am not sure what that was all about. What was even more amazing was the shirt she had on. I was cut down to her naval and exposing every mystery North of the Mason Dixon line. She was, large boned, and revealing more skin than I cared to see. She was very talented at making balloon things, no one knew how she did it because they spent all of their time staring at her hoo ha's. I made a note to ask her to please wear clothes that don't reveal any mysteries. You are at a church event making balloon animals for children you don't need to look like someone who people would say, "how much for two hours?"

Finally...Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

April Fools!

Well that's just great! Just fantastic. For about the last two weeks we have had the most gorgeous weather, such a welcome relief from the arctic conditions of our winter this year. This coming Saturday is our 2nd annual Easter Egg Hunt. Last year we had around 1,000 show up to hunt eggs. It really was a phenomenal turn out since we had never done an egg hunt before and only started planning, organizing and advertising a month before the event. All in all it was awesome.

I expected as much, if not more this year. Of course I couldn't just let what happened last year go by without upping the ante. You know you have to make it bigger and better each year. This year was going to be no exception. We had inflatable games planned, balloon artists, popcorn, Easter bunny, the Bunny Hop for Pete's sake. It is going to be awesome. That is unless the weather continues to tank like it is right now. As I'm typing we are getting light snow flurries and mixed with rain. Mother Nature can be a really hussy some time.

I obsess over small details and more over the opinions of those who attend events I plan. I want no stone to go unturned and really work hard to make sure that everything is done just right. How in the Sam Hill can I control the weather? What the heck am I going to do? Other than deal with it, I want it to STOP!

We have tomorrow for Mother Nature to get her act together and get some good weather to come our way. I'm ok with it being chilly, the chocolate won't melt, the fire ants will be dug down deep to stay warm, the Easter Bunny won't sweat in the costume, cold is not a problem. Cold, rain, and snow is the problem. Geeze Louise!

last year to save money I worked with a realtor in our congregation who had access to mailing addresses based on tax records. Apparently it is public domain. We printed up the database for the zip codes we wanted to target and mailed out a postcard. I thought I had really done something fancy and about to pat my self on the back when my pants go kicked.

We were about three days away from the event and I was coming into the church building from lunch when this huge old Cadillac pulled into our parking lot and honked. Horns on old Cadillac's could signal fog to ships at sea, they are loud and obnoxious things. The gentleman driving the car was obviously allowing himself to slowly decay. He was unshaven, several days unshaven. His white hair had a permanent couch pillow cow lick, and his clothes gave away every single thing he had eaten for the three days he had been wearing that same shirt. "Where's the pastor of this place?" "...I'm a minister here, can I help you?" "You can start by telling me how you got into my trust fund?" Trust fund? Who was this guy and why would he think a church was getting into anything of his? "Sir I can assure you we are not getting into your trust fund." "Liar, what do you call this?" He showed me a postcard that was addressed to: Grumpy Old Man Trust, blah blah address, blah blah city, OK. The tax records we used listed the home owners which meant that his trust owned the house not him and that his Trust name would appear. "Sir, this is who owns the house I can assure you we are not getting into your trust, we don't need your money." That is when he started cussing and telling me that I was a thief and trying to steal his money. I knew I was getting nowhere with him so I just smiled and told him how sorry I was.

"You are all thieves. You want my" That is when he threw a dollar bill out the window at me and speed off. No, I did not pick up the dollar I just let it blow into the wind. I'm sure it was put toward the purchase of cheap wine for the homeless folks that frequent our street.

I'm hoping nothing like that happens this year but would hope even more that the weather cooperates and clears up just long enough to make our day awesome and fun. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Artsy Fartsy Preschool

We have a great Preschool at our church. Our boys love to go to preschool and have had such a great time. Year after year our Preschool comes in at or near the top Preschoolers in our city.
One of the things I especially like about our Preschool is their emphasis on culture. Each month every student studies an author, composer, and artist. They learn all about those individuals in their respective genre's and then respond in their own interpretations of that person.

Number one son painted this picture after learning about VanGoh (Oleander in a Vase). The teacher's had not "hand" in Titus' painting this picture. I am very impressed that he did this and can't wait to put it in a frame.

Here's one of Titus' long necks. He is somewhat into dinosaurs, but not in total love with them. He does have some toys that are dinosaur related but hasn't really embraced the total fascination with dino's. I love that his tail is huge and then the huge grin on his tiny face--too cute.

Titus Preschool teacher, Ms. Myrna loves Clifford the Big Red Dog and has a huge Clifford house and read stories. Titus has begun watching Clifford on PBS and now loves it as well. He wanted to paint a Clifford picture. The long red stick from the mouth is one of his ears. I think that has to be one of my all time favorite things to watch in looking at Preschool art. A child will have to have every "fing" on there. Two ears, two eyes, a mouth, four legs, tail, etc. Because it's just not the same without all of those parts.

Chubbers, not to be outdone, painted this picture. I am not sure exactly how much help he had, but I still love that it is his art. This is a tribute to the flag. I think his teacher just gave him a brush with red paint let him go to town, then a blue brush with paint and let him go to town. I for the life of me cannot imagine handing Chubbers a brush loaded with paint! Just thinking about what his work area or neighbor looked like all dolled up in Chubber graffiti gets me all twitchy.

Here is another Chubber. This one is Starry Night, a Van Gohh. You really can't see the detail of this well, but it looks really cool IRL. I think this one involved fingers and paint. Again, sticking my Chubbers hand in paint is unthinkable. My mind is immediately taken to, "How much paint did he eat?" Chubbers, as I have blogged several times before, is a licker. He licks anything. Being germ a phobes we have hand sterilizer in every corner of our house and use it frequently especially when dealing with Teensy. Chubbers is always right there ready for his squirt. First thing, schleeep, licks it right off. I think he could just drink a shot glass of that stuff. He loves it.

I'm so glad our boys go to an artsy fartsy preschool. I want them to know about culture and be exposed to art, good music, and fascinating books. The work our preschool teachers are doing today with our boys will spill over into every aspect of their life. I just know someday this work will come in handy and I'm so thrilled that they are in a school that focuses on this kind of stuff.

I always joke and tell Kendra to save this or that for the Presidential library. You never know, though, he might just make it and be our next president. Right now he's leaning toward Doctor in the Army on a Boat. He's been stuck on being a doctor for several months and hasn't' changed. That means I will be able to help him in school until, maybe, Kindergarten then have to see professional help from higher educators.

Oh, yes. I almost forgot to mention that the Preschool hosts an Art Show each year in which the artwork of these kiddos is displayed. Classical music is played and the pictures are mounted so well on the partitions. Parents come early and pick up their kiddos then go to the art show. This year we hosted a refreshments area for our guests. It was well attended.,