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6:00AM
Like every other day, today started at 6am. I’m just that disciplined. And, that’s what time Erika’s alarm goes off. It was right then that I said my first prayer of the day, “Thank God I don’t have to get up right now.” Then, I fell back to sleep. It’s kinda like praying the hours.

7:00AM
At 7, I got out of bed and put on the clothes that I wore the day before. I hate making decisions, especially before coffee. I get out of bed at 7 because that is when my kids’ alarms go off. This gives me precisely enough time to grab a cup of coffee (thanks for making that, Erika) before going downstairs to get them out of bed. Today, as I stepped out of my room, Thelonious was in the bathroom, brushing his teeth. “I got up at 6:47. All I have to do is put on my shoes and then I can play computer games!” I reminded him that he needed to eat breakfast, too. “Already did! I got up at 6:47 so I could play computer games. I had yogurt, now I can play computer games.” If I let my kids do something one time, they consider it a binding contract. One time, he got ready early and I let him play on the computer. Now, I have no choice. He fulfilled his obligations and I am required by family law to allow him to play computer games. He gets it from his mom, I don’t try to fight it.

7:06AM
From down the hall, I can hear the alarms going off in stereo. One from Thelonious’ room, the other from Ione’s – where she is still sound asleep. “Good morning, sweetieeeeeee.” “Hi, daddy. I don’t want to go to school.” I go to her closet to find as many different shades of pink as I can. I turn back around and she is back asleep. I have to carry her upstairs – and, give her a sip of coffee. OK, maybe it was more like a cup, but she is really tall for a kindergartner, so I don’t think it will have any negative impact.

7:23AM
Ione is still not dressed – but, the lunches are made. I packed yogurt for Ione because she informed me that she no longer likes sandwiches and if I give her a sandwich she will not eat it. Apparently, she’s not being stubborn, she’s just telling me how it is. She gets it from her mom, so I don’t try to fight it.

7:38AM
Ione needs help finding her panties so she can get dressed.

7:42AM
Ione and I stand in the kitchen, arguing about the nutritional value of “sausage & syrup.”

8:03AM
We’re in the van and Thelonious asks to listen to Norvanah (not a typo). At least it’s not the Dead Kennedys, yet. Ione says, “This music doesn’t sound good. I like Obama.”

8:11AM
The kids are getting out of the van. Thelonious hasn’t allowed me to hug or kiss him at school since kindergarten. We’ve settled on the high five. “High five! I love you, buddy!” “DaaaaAAAAaaaddddd.” Ione informs me I can no longer hug or kiss her, either, and I will have to settle for a simple high five. I told her to shut up and then smothered her with kisses all over her giggly little face.

8:22AM
Drinking coffee. Listening to Undercover. Cuddling Momo. Blogging. All in an attempt to avoid the remaining 376 pages of “The Substance Abuse Handbook.”

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I heard a story on NPR this morning about “scraper bikes” that really got me thinking (and feeling). Scraper bikes are all the rage in Oakland amongst kids that don’t have enough money for cars. No, scraper bikes haven’t saved anyone’s soul or paid anyone’s way through Harvard. But, they do represent these kids taking control of their own lives and their own destinies through creative expressions and solutions.

The thing I love most in this (homemade, mind you) video is the shot of them all riding through their town in a giant pack, taking over the streets. I think these kids would scare the hell out of most of the people reading this blog (even me). But, that’s why I like it so much. These kids didn’t suddenly stop being African American teens in Oakland. They didn’t magically become white, middle class kids. They are what they are, and they are finding the inherent positivity in order to keep themselves out of trouble – doing it the way they want, looking the way they want, on their own initiative. In my day, we called that “being punk”. Now that I am old, I just think it is damn cool – and, it represents a hopeful future for America.

You can also check out their myspace pages.

I know I am being reactionary (and even over-reactionary if that is a word), but Sarah Palin creeps me out. I don’t know what’s worse…
A. Considering the war in Iraq “God’s plan”
B. Not being honest about considering a war part of God’s plan
C. Claiming it is “a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words” to say something darn near contradictory to what Lincoln said except for the use of the word “God”

Fromboston.com

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP nominee for governor, tonight offered an explanation for her widely circulated remarks, videotaped at the Wasilla Bible Church, in which she urged the assembly to pray ”that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them (American soliders) out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that that plan is God’s plan.” The comments have been widely attacked — and abridged — by critics (including Dan Payne in this morning’s Globe) who argue that Palin was describing the Iraq War as God’s plan. She contests that interpretation.

Here’s Palin’s exchange exchange on the subject, with Charlie Gibson of ABC News:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words. But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side. That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie.

Killing moose, holy wars, lipstick on dogs, neo-con political fundamentalism masqueraded as religion… oh yes, I am afraid.

9/13/08 UPDATE
That liberal rag, the LA Times (I hate liberals) has reported that Gibson mischaracterized Palin’s words from church. Once I read that, I wanted to include this link in order to be fair. It just goes to show you, the only people you can trust less than politicians is journalists – that’s just not right.

Apparently, I have a deadly infection of dog butt and slobber coursing through my veins at this very moment. I just wanna warn you, this is going to be a long post. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote and a lot has happened. I’ve got enough material for a week’s worth of blogs, but why tease? I’ll just give you everything I’ve got and let you sort it out.

On Saturday, I inadvertently stepped on Momo’s giant plastic chew bone. The plastic (sharpened by his constant gnawing) punctured my skin. Today, my foot is red and swollen and I can barely stand on it. Why? Dog licks butt. Dog slobbers on toy. Toy breaks skin. Dog butt slobber enters blood stream. Thanks, Momo. I love you, too.

For the second time during his brief life, my son has decided to “grow his hair out.” Through long hours of observation and experimentation, I have been able to determine that adolescent attitude in males of the species is directly related to the length of the hair. After snottily declaring that reading is “soooo lame!” and hurling a book across the room, I told him that if he didn’t change his attitude I would shave his head in his sleep. Last year he cut his hair once he discovered that after a certain length, frequent hair washing is required. Having long “stoner” bangs isn’t worth three showers a week, I guess.

It took me 13 minutes this morning to convince Ione that she really wasn’t allowed to wear a plastic dog nose at school. We compromised and she simply wore it from the car into her classroom so she could show her friend Skye. On the way in, a little boy sidled up next to Ione. “Hey, Donut.” “Hey, Dustin.” In her classroom, papers and art projects by the kids line the walls. Each one has a sloppily printed name in kindergartner style. Emma. Kate. Isaac. Donut. Her teacher actually said to me the other day, “I’m a little worried. She signs everything Donut. The kids are starting to call her Donut. I am calling her Donut. I’m afraid it’s going to stick!” I looked her in the eye and said, “Lady… nothing would make her happier.” I think her great grandfather, the carnival high dive artist, would be proud: “Come see Donut, the dog faced girl.”

I planned my first retreat – the 2008 VCC Men’s Retreat featuring David Ruis. It was a ton of fun and a huge success. We had meatballs, cheese ball, and beer. Joel Bratt did all the work and I got all the credit. I think I might be a natural at this pastor gig.

I don’t know what Erika has been doing lately; but, she is severely bruised. I worry about her.