Monday, June 18, 2018

My daughter, the porg

Image result for porg star wars

Porg: the other, other white meat

Image result for porg star wars posterAs part of our Father's Day tradition (three years and counting!) Joy got me a Star Wars movie - the Last Jedi. The kids eagerly snatched it from my hands to study the front cover picture. John-Thomas spied with his eagle eye something ... CUTE! I showed them a couple clips of the porgs, most importantly of Chewie not eating one.

So now my two youngest are baby porgs. Every day they enjoy being "baby X..." - Baby kittens, baby mice, baby hamsters, baby crocodiles, baby horseys ... and now they are baby porgs.

So my little girl is curled up in a ball on the giant, pink, plush beanbag chair. "This is my egg. Baby porg hatched from this egg."

I informed her that porgs are most likely mammals, and therefore were born from their mommies' tummies, not in an egg.

She adroitly responded, "Daddy, sometimes the things in Star Wars aren't real life."

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fun things we did in May - bouncing, horsey riding, and murder

Beginning of May was a Tarleton party with this bouncy-house game I hadn't seen before. Four contestants are bungee-tethered to the outside. They run the center pit, pull out a little ball, and put it in the bags on their side to score a point. Whoever has the most wins.

The fun of course is watching your kids springing backwards as the tether yanks them around.

Then we had dinner with some friends of ours and the kids got to play with chickens and baby kittens and ride a horse.

... which apparently you can do with two broken arms

To celebrate our 13th anniversary, Joy and I went to a dinner theater, Mein Shaft. It's a comedy murder mystery performed in between and among the tables.

While we ate, the stars wandered around talking to some of the tables. Our favorite moment was when the Scotsman, played that night by Stephen Eyre, was chatting with us in character about how they don't let him join the celebrations anymore. I responded in one of my weirder moods, "Not since the incident with the goat, anyway."

Then during the play, we could tell he ad-libbed a few lines about how "A hundred noble Highland laddies lost their lives, and all fer a goat!" Our table erupted in laughter, to the confusion of the rest of the house (and probably the cast). He explained to everyone "it was an inside joke," and off they went for the rest of the play.

Joy particularly enjoyed his cheer. Several of the characters encouraged some audience participation, and he encouraged everyone to shout "Freedom!" with our fists in the air anytime he called out, "Will ye fight!?" Joy gave the most enthusiastic shouts of freedom, sometimes even without a cue! When he swore he would kill the card shark (who was standing immediately behind my wife), Joy cried out for freedom! Married 13 years, and I had no idea she was so bloodthirsty! He handed her his sword so she could do the deed, but she politely declined the privilege. That's the moment I most wanted on video.

Sadly we did not guess the murderer. They have four different endings (one for each of the suspects). A very fun evening. 

Glad to be a Dad

Disproportionate Value

I read a post this week about what a special moment it is when a speaker, teacher, or other performer focuses their attention on just one person in the audience:
The guy he called on stage experienced a moment of transformation and profound personal development and courage. And the benefit wasn’t just for him. Everyone in the audience shared in that moment and shared in his victory. There’s no way we could all have gotten up to that podium in the time available, but somehow, by just touching one person, the speaker touched all of us. ... Whether or not we are the ones being called on stage, we share in the same transformative moment when a speaker or performer chooses to bring disproportionate value to just one of us.
I thought of that idea in gospel terms. The prophets and apostles are some of those whom God calls on stage before all of us. They receive particular and especial tutelage and training, "disproportionate value" - in part because of their preparation and work before, but also because of what God then wants them to do for us.

Image result for god speaks to mosesGod spoke to Moses in the burning bush before he had done much of significance. He called Samuel as a boy. Samson and Gideon, Isaiah and Ezekiel, Peter and Paul, Joseph of Egypt and Joseph Smith and many others have been called up onstage to experience moments of "transformation and profound personal development." In many of these cases, God called them very much just out of the audience - He knew who they could become, but they were called well before they had done anything that would mark them out as special before that moment. I think particularly of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon, who saw first the finger and then spirit body of Jesus Christ before He came to earth, "and all this, that this man might know that He was God" (Ether 3:18). I thrill to reread these accounts of regular people, with whom "God spoke face to face as one speaketh unto his friend" (Exo 33:11).
Image result for brother of jared

Because God gives them this extra training, they in turn bring a great deal of value to others. Everyone in the audience shares in that moment, and somehow, by just touching one person, God touches all of us. The children of Israel may not have been ready for the promised land or to enter into God's presence the way Moses was, but all the people were blessed because God reached down and touched him. Seeing that God speaks to people of different nations, including Deborah and Samuel the Lamanite and Gerrit W. Gong, helps people of diverse backgrounds see that "all are alike unto God" (2nd Nephi 26:33) and He "is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34).

Image result for jesus calls fishermenBecause of seeing His interactions with a few, we can have hope and faith in His dealings with us that are less public and less visible. We trust that we too can receive revelation for our lives and callings, even in our weakness. While there is a temptation to say, "Yes, but that Stephen the martyr, and I'm just Steve" we remember that each of these people were called up onstage not because of anything they had previously done. Moses was an outcast shepherd and Peter a fisherman. There is no limit to what God can do through and make of a pliable and humble heart.
Image result for joseph first vision

One of my favorite teachings of Joseph Smith is this: "God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him … from the least to the greatest [see Jeremiah 31:34]" (emphasis added).

What blessing and privilege, hope and faith, are ours because of the disproportionate value God bestows on a few publicly!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Welcome to Nigeria. Have a nice day. 2

Last year the electricity went out on campus. There was no announcement of classes being canceled, and if I had taught evening classes powerless in Nigeria I could certainly manage here in Texas. So I had started my lecture when we all got text messages canceling all classes. Sad.

The power going out is the #1 thing that reminds me of Nigeria. Any time there is a short power outage or fluctuation, Joy and I turn to each other and say, "Welcome to Nigeria. Have a nice day."

Well, turns out that isn't the only thing that gives us flashbacks. Tuesday the house's central air died. I noticed it was getting a little warm, but thought it was just me. By dinner it felt much hotter, so I checked the thermostat. Why was the house at 80 (normally 75) when the AC was clearly running non-stop? I cleaned the air filter, gave the machine a rest, checked the outside to make sure the unit was weed-free... nope. Nothing helped. We slept in 82 degrees.

Yesterday the AC guy came over and found out our outdoor unit had fried completely. It'll have to be replaced, or maybe the entire system. That's gonna be a pretty penny! The house crept up to 85. We were on to feed the missionaries and I really didn't feel like cooking the spaghetti squash or the bacon-wrapped chicken in the oven. So we spent an air conditioned hour at a pizza place.

I have no place to complain, really, since Joy is working with the cub scouts all week (afternoons and evenings) outside in the 96 degrees and humid. As we lay in bed last night, we talked about Nigeria and how the AC only sometimes worked to get the house down to the 80s, sleeping with two fans on us (one overhead and another pointed at us).

With most of the windows open and fans on during the night, we got it back down to 81. I was really rather hoping to get it down to the 70s since the low was 71ish last night. It's climbing up relentlessly again. Hopefully the AC people will have some options they can put in place before by parents come to visit next week.

Meanwhile, Princess is loving it. She wears warm pajamas, a hat, socks, and at least 3 blankets every night and complains the house is just freezing cold. Last night she was happy and comfortable for the first time in forever. Glad someone is. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Fun things we did in April: rodeo, court of honor, and chicken coops

Even before the Brethren counseled the high priests and elders quorums to combine, ours were busy working at a friend's house to expand and reinforce his chicken coop against a bobcat (of some kind) that broke through the last one. Hopefully if it holds up under big, strong elders with power staple guns, it'll hold up under a 40-pound critter. The kids helped hold the screws for me to drill into the wood.

I took the kids to a program thrown by the Tarleton outdoor and wildlife clubs. (I forget what Joy was doing at the time - maybe visiting the temple.)

JT was nervous about Smokey the Bear at first, but his love of teddy bears eventually won out. He enjoyed the ring toss while Princess painted a paper-plate snake, and all the kids enjoyed fishing. (Though fishing was rather difficult for Superstar, what with two arms being in a cast and all. Hard to cast in casts, y'know?)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tears for the Teacher

My tender-hearted daughter was deeply sorrowful the last two nights. With the school year ending, she would never again see her beloved teacher or one of the retiring staff. She wept and sighed for what was lost.

It occurred to me that, while I'm very glad I teach college students rather than elementary students, I doubt any of my students have ever lain in their beds weeping the last day of school because they will miss me. I know I've witnessed many crocodile tears about how they never *ever* plagiarized before and can't understand *how* this could *possibly* have happened. It's not nearly the same thing.

Then again, the elementary teachers don't get to hear the tears of gratitude and love I get to wipe away from their students' eyes either. So, Mrs. Segura, if you happen to stumble across this post someday - you are deeply loved by one adorable little girl.

Thank you. From both of us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Someone had a birthday last month - JT

Last month, little JT turned 4!

He's big into teddy bears, so he had a teddy bear cake, decorations, and a teddy or two in his gifts.

We spent a little less on gifts this time around so we could do some more activities. He really wanted to ride the horse at WalMart, play on the Nintendo Switch at GameStop, and do a handful of other, store-related activities. We went to the beach at Granbury where he opened up a few beach presents. And of course, many games were played.

A couple weeks ago we finished the celebration. We drove out to Fort Worth - watching movies in the car all the way - where we went (Mario) Go Karting. (That's one reason this post is so late.) Unfortunately, JT decided it was too fast and was just a little too scary for my adventurous 4-yr old. So the rest of us went around the track enough times for me to feel sick to my stomach and a good time was had by n-1 people.

At Cici's pizza, we played arcade games and I helped him win a few games of air hockey.

He was so eager to play Mario games on the Wii U that it was hard to convince him to go with us to the beach. Joy had to convince him that we could do both.

He got a lot of books, and paused opening presents every time he got a book to read it a bit.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Things my kids say - I don't want to get married

Trying on his daddy's hat
We had a lovely time last night attending the 25th anniversary of some dear friends. There was a slide show of happy memories. When they got to some wedding pictures, little John-Thomas pointed out that "She looks like a princess!"

Joy explained that every bride looks like a princess on her wedding day.

JT didn't have to think about that one much. "Then I don't want to get married."

What? Why?

"I don't like princesses!"

But, JT, it'll be your princess!

"I don't like princess! All girls look like princesses when they get married, so I will never get married!"

File under: things to mention in my wedding toast ~20 years from now.