You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘my kids’ tag.

During the course of the past seven years, my wife, Erika, and I (along with our kids) have made certain sacrifices in order that I might pursue full time ministry in a local church setting. As we have counted the cost of this life change, we have been, for the most part, happy – and, we are incredibly grateful. I work from home and take care of the kids and dogs, while Erika excels at her work as a Process Improvement Consultant at Group Health. I stay at home and my wife has a career outside of the house (where she makes way more money than the current zero dollars an hour I get paid for planting a church). There, I said it. That took some guts – cuz, I’m actually more than a little afraid that Mark Driscoll and his wife are going to storm my front door and Mark will scream “Infidel!!!” at me as his wife kicks my ass. But, I digress.

This familial arrangement of ours has one incredible drawback: I am in charge of dinner. The problem? I hate to cook. This problem is compounded by the facts that my wife loves to cook and my kids hate all food. Plus, I have the nutritional intelligence of a public school lunch lady (insert comment about pizza being a vegetable here). But, alas, Erika loves her work and she is incredibly gifted for this specific type of work and there is no way in hell she is going to quit. So, for the foreseeable future, I am in charge of dinner. And, I hate to cook.

that burger is bigger than his mouth!

Last night, I outdid my self. Feeling incredibly ambitious and energetic, I attempted to make a “complete” meal. By “complete,” I mean it consists of at least three items and one or more of them is a vegetable-like substance. Not only did I pursue the ever allusive “complete” meal, but I also tried to make it healthy. I passed on the frozen burger patties from Costco and made my own turkey burgers – complete with oats, raw egg, and seasoning. And, ya know, what? That meat tasted DAMN good. However…

My kids have gotten into that Food Network show Chopped! with Ted Allen. Andddd, cue Ione!

Ione: “Chef Jim. What have you made for us tonight?”

Me: “Turkey burgers, french fries, and corn.”

Erika: “Judges, what do you think of Chef Jim’s dish?”

Thelonious: “Chef Jim, I can feel the oats in my burger. And, it’s way too big. I can’t get my mouth around it.”

Ione: “Chef Jim, the french fries are nice in the middle, but the ends are a bit too… crispy. My burger is over done on the bottom. The “carmelization” is gross.”

Erika: “Judges, what do you like about Chef Jim’s dish?”

Ione: “Chef Jim, the burger is seasoned very well! It’s delicious!”

Thelonious: “Chef Jim, the burger is very moist and seasoned very well. But, I can feel the oats in my mouth.”

At this point, Ione took a commercial break. Then, Thelonious covered his plate with a napkin and asked rhetorically, “Who’s dish is on the chopping block?!?!… Chef Jim, you have been chopped!”

Always the optimist, Erika asked me what I learned from tonight’s meal.

  1. It is not possible to have all items in a complete meal be the same temperature at the same time. (Personally, I don’t mind cold corn, lukewarm fries, and scalding hot burgers)
  2. Johnny’s Seasoning Salt contains no MSG and kids love it.
  3. 1/2 pound burgers are way too big for most humans, especially children (unless you are Ione who ate the whole thing).
  4. I hate to cook.
Advertisements

Last week, I was lucky enough to take Thelonious to his very first live NFL game. I surprised him with a pair of tickets after school on Thursday. He’s been begging for me to take him to a pro sports game for a couple of years now and when he saw those tickets, I thought he was going to wet himself, have an aneurism, or both. I was a little nervous, though. Sometimes with things like these, the expectations can outweigh the actual experience (like the time he fell asleep during the Weezer concert). But, that Thursday night game was nothing but pure gold. Seattle Seahawks: 31 Philadelphia Somebodies: a lot less than 31. It was tons of fun – we won, there was lots of scoring, and Marshawn Lynch hit beast mode (more than once).

Of course, all pro sporting events are a cultural mixed bag. Something happens to humans when they are sitting with 60,000 other people dressed identically to them. Or, maybe it’s just that after you’ve spent $97 on a ticket, $12 on nachos, and $16 on a pair of beers, you figure you’ve actually paid for the privilege of abandoning all social norms, etiquette, and decent human behavior.

Let’s be honest: the 300 level of an NFL game is no place for small children.

Luckily, I had the wherewithal to warn T before we went in to the stadium. “Son, you’re going to hear a lot of things tonight. Yes. Many of them you have heard from your mom. But, many of these words, and their contexts, are going to be brand new. Be prepared.” And the guy sitting directly behind us surely did not disappoint. I don’t believe he was actually capable of expressing a thought or emotion without using the f word. If his sentence consisted of more than a single noun and single verb, it included the f word. Me hungry… Me effing hungry for some big a** effing nachos! Constantly. For three hours. It got old pretty quickly, but, ya know, what are you gonna do?

The game ended and we started walking the six miles back to our car. Thelonious and I were basking in the afterglow of a truly great evening and debriefing everything that had happened. I asked him how he felt about the guy behind us and all of us his annoying chatter. At that point, Thelonious turned to me and said, “after about 15 minutes, I really wanted to turn around and tell that guy to shut the fuck up.”

My mind was instantly filled with questions. How do I parent in this situation? Is there any soap in this alleyway that I can wash his mouth out with? Is it more important for me to reassure Thelonious that I am a safe place where he can experiment with expressing his emotions and thoughts – or that I correct his every misstep? If I don’t make him pay for that f bomb, do I “lose”? When I die, do I want my child to say “I was always safe with him. He could handle and accept anything that I threw at him. I never worried that he didn’t love me totally and completely”? Or, would I prefer that he say “that man could really discipline” ? And on and on and on. Finally, I just chuckled and said let’s not use that word anymore, mmmm k?

I know not everyone agrees with my parenting style. But, I don’t really care.

I completed the conversation with this: “I won’t tell mom you used the f word if you don’t tell her I urinated in an alley.”

Yesterday I received an email from my son’s teacher. It said something to the affect of:

“Thelonious asked a very good question during our Bible lesson yesterday that takes a higher level of questioning than I usually see in a 5th grader. He asked how we know God is real. And, how do we know the Bible is real and not just some thing the authors made up. These questions are a little beyond what the other 5th graders are asking, so I couldn’t get into it with him very much. I thought you might like to give it a go.”

Well, as a matter of fact, it just so happens that I do hold a masters degree in theology. So, I guess I’m actually fairly qualified to broach this topic.

As Thelonious and I lounged around last night, wasting a few minutes before bed, I laid down on his bed and we had a little conversation. “Your teacher says you’re asking annoying questions in Bible class. Stop it.” I kid. “I hear you’re having some pretty serious questions in Bible class. Want to talk about them?” See, sometimes, my kids bring up life altering issues at school but they don’t really care about the answers all that much. Questions of existence can simply be a passing fancy in the Fox household. But, he remembered the questions. How do we know God is real? And, how do we know the Bible just isn’t made up?

So, like any properly trained pastor, I asked him, “what makes you think that God isn’t real?” His answer was simple: if God is real, bad things wouldn’t happen. Great. 10 years old and I have to deal with issues of theodicy (the first of many vocab words he learned during this conversation). So, like any properly trained pastor, I asked probing questions that steered the conversation towards issues of choice. But, apparently, free will isn’t very important to Thelonious.” Why doesn’t God stop me from doing bad things?”  “Why doesn’t God stop me from being mean to Ione?” Pretty soon the conversation degraded into “why don’t you stop me? why doesn’t mom stop me? why doesn’t the playground monitor stop me?” Apparently, there is only one person who is not responsible for Thelonious’ personal choices – and, that person is Thelonious.

Our conversation went on and on. It was pretty fun to get inside his head and mess it all up and see how he thinks. The dialogue was far reaching and bounced back and forth from one corner of his cynical little mind to the other corner of his agnostic little mind. Every time I looked over at him, his little face was all twisted up and distorted. It was (literally) a look of pain. A look of deep, deep thought. His brain was working so hard that it actually couldn’t send messages to his face telling it to keep it looking the way it is supposed to look. I won’t bore you with all the details, just the conclusion…

“Dude, let me tell you about the only philosopher that really matters: Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard said that when it is all said and done, we just don’t know for sure. You can’t know for sure. And, nothing anyone says can make you know for sure. Kierkegaard called it “the leap of faith.” Sooner or later, you’re just gonna have to take a leap of faith.”

I may have been a little too esoteric (another vocab word he learned last night). I may have been a little too ambiguous and non-committal. I may have been lacking in anything that could actually be called an answer. I may have been way too comfortable in the grey world of “I dunno.” But one thing is for sure. I kissed him good night and said, “I love you.” And, for the first time in a year and a half, he replied with, “I love you.” See, he gave up that little kid gesture of verbally communicated affection long ago. But, apparently, a parent who will sit with you in the unknown (and introduce you to the depressed Dane) is irresistibly lovable.

As I got up from his bed and started to leave the room, Thelonious wanted to ask me one final question… After the conversation at school, the teacher asked the rest of class: “class, what do you think of these questions?” One little girl raised her hand and said that she knew the Bible was true because what it contained was so amazing and wonderful that it was beyond human ability to imagine or make up any of  it. (Anselm… that line of reasoning is so 5th grade.) Thelonious continued: “but, ya know what? I think that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, the stories in the Bible really aren’t  all that amazing.” Letting him read comic books was a very bad idea.

This morning, I did the unthinkable: I downgraded my cable television package. My children watch too much television and I can’t really be bothered with parenting them and keeping track of all that. So, good bye Disney Channel! Goodbye, Nickelodeon! Good bye, Cartoon Network! I’ll miss you most of all. And, good bye, Comedy Central – I’ll enjoy your streaming episodes of the Daily Show.

I suppose this is just proof of Calvin’s total depravity.

Really, this was all too easy. I grabbed my laptop, hit “live chat” and let the destruction ensue. I even did the dishes and wrote a blog post while chatting with Rey Carlo. He was even so polite as to type, “That’s good to know. I’m happy you feel that way.” And, he finished the conversation with, “have a blessed weekend.”

This represents a large change around the Fox household. On Monday, the kids go back to school. Three weeks later, I go back to school. Time to buckle down and do some learning. One other reason for the change – I am a patriot and socialism is sin.

P.S. Here is a picture of Jake handling snakes at the men’s retreat. I would have taken more photos but I was busy drinking poison.

jake models true religion

jake models true religion

I’ve lost my creative edge. First, there was that damned election and, quite seriously, that thing sucked all the energy out of my life. I just wanted to die when it was over. Instead, we got a new puppy. Then the snow came and vacation and winter malaise. I don’t wanna blog anymore, but I know how disappointed you will be if I don’t. SO! I’ve made a short list of things that I was going to write about during the past two months if I had had enough energy.

1. In high school, I was surrounded by hessians. They were everywhere. We got along but I hated their music and they hated mine. I really hate metal. But, due to lunchtime ghetto blaster wars and riding in Bobby Randles’ Duster, I know at least one line to every heavy metal song written between 1982 and 1988. Something took over my decision making faculties on November 7th and I downloaded 19 songs by Stryper and their nemeses: Maiden, Crüe, and Priest. For over a week I listened to those songs over and over and over again. I listened to nothing else. And, I hated every second of it.

2. I had an extremely profound thought about “core values.”

3. Thelonious, Ione and I were driving in the car. Thelonious said, “Hey dad, I learned some new words to a Christmas carol: Deck the hall with balls of money, fa lala la lalalala, tis the season to be greedy, fa lala la lalalala.” Ione immediately interrupted him and scolded, “Stop singing that! Your Lord would not appreciate it!”

4. A quote from The Shaping of Things to Come
“An incarnational ministry draws not-yet-Christians toward God by exciting curiosity through storytelling, by provoking a sense of wonder and awe, by showing extraordinary love, by exploring how God has touched our lives, and by focusing on Jesus.”

5. My facial hair has grown into an homage to Castro’s Revolution

6. I called our new puppy “the pooper.” Ione asked why I called her that and I said it was because she (the puppy, not Ione) looked like poop. Ione thought that was ridiculous because the puppy is black and white. I asked her, “Haven’t you ever pooped black and white?” She looked incredulous and answered, “No! You only poop black and white in Canada!”

7. I made Thelonious sit at the dinner table for an hour and fifteen minutes and then go straight to bed because he wouldn’t eat three green beans. I think Erika was more angry at me than he was.

Now that I have all that out of my system, I might start writing more.

64253

In honor of the oppressed who gained some level of voice and empowerment in last night’s election, I decided to wear my Clash “Know Your Rights” t-shirt today. Ione and I were brushing our teeth (actually, I was brushing my teeth and she was just hanging out on the toilet) when she saw my shirt and asked, “Daddy, does your shirt say ‘now your rights’?”

“No, sweetie, it says Know. Know your rights.”

“But, daddy, you’re a left.”

Speaking of rights, this morning I came to the realization that I don’t have to be friends with anyone – on facebook that is. See, I’ve been getting riled up about what some people have entered as their “status.” I rile easy, and I de-rile with much work over a long period of time. So, avoiding the initial riling is important for my spiritual health and well being (not to mention the class project due tomorrow). After my blood boiled over one particularly shameful jingoistic “status” I read this morning, I was prepared to explode – figuratively and literally. And then, it occurred to me. I do not have to be facebook friends with individuals who express their vitriolic fear through jackassery. So, I deleted them and feel much better.

Speaking of jackassery, for many years I thought that word had been invented by my friend, Bill Power. Just a few years ago, I discovered it is a real word! I read it in a scholarly theological work on sin by Cornelius Plantinga. Who knew?

Speaking of Plantinga, he understands sin as the lack or absence of shalom (or, “the way things God intended them to be”). I think in last night’s election, a little bit of shalom was restored and the kingdom of God was made visible.

Erika left early this morning to go to her sister’s baby shower in Southern California. That means it’s the Saturday after Halloween alone with dad – this can not turn out well.

Ione cried for 27 minutes because she wanted me to go get her donuts for breakfast. I finally convinced them both to eat some waffles and sausages. The difficult part was convincing them that they did not need chocolate chips on the waffles or powdered sugar to dip the sausage in.

After breakfast, the kids were counting their candy and Thelonious said, “Hey, Dad, I got a joke book while trick or treating. Check it out… Why do gorillas have big noses?”

“I dunno.”

“Because they have big fingers. ha ha ha. What is the laziest mountain in the world?”

“Hmmm, I dunno.” 

“Mount Ever-rest!!! ha ha hee hee ha. Dad, dad, listen to this one… Who will everyone meet someday?”

(this is a weird set up for a joke) “I dunno, Thelonious. Who?”

“God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Hey, here’s another… Will everyone go to heaven?”

“Wellllll…different people believe different things. Some people think everyone will go to heaven. Ya see, Jesus loves everyone –

“Nope! Says here: The Bible, God’s book says, ‘those who don’t believe and obey him shall never see heaven!'”

Ione laughs hysterically.

Thelonious continues, “Will the bad things I have done (sins) keep me from going to heaven?”

“Well, geez, son, these are kinda complex -”

“It says here: ‘YES! God hates sin! He will not allow sin into heaven! That means I’m in a lot of trouble!'”

Now I know why people think Halloween is evil.

Thelonious finishes with, “I’ve been wearing the same underwear since Wednesday.”

Why am I wasting all this time and money on grad school? Apparently, all truth can be learned by trick or treating.

Erika: Thelonious, you’re so smart, funny, handsome, creative, and fun. Who do you think you get that from – me or daddy?

Thelonious: (pause) Neither. I got them from that cool dude who’s name is spelled G – O – D.

“No, Ione. Eggos do not have crusts. Ione, please keep your Eggo crusts on your plate.”

“My name is donut!

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.”