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I am amazed sometimes at how fast these kids are growing up.  Last night CavGirl had a tough time going to sleep so we were talking in her room.  I told her how I was happy & sad that she was growing up.  Happy because she is supposed to grow up and become more independent.  Sad because she’ll leave home one day.  She didn’t like that- she wanted to stay with mom & dad.

This morning she asked if people died.  I told her that they do, and proceeded to give her an age appropriate gospel message that fit the context.

Here are some the recent milestones for the kids-

CavGirl

  • She now is able to keep a swing going, but hasn’t learned how to start herself.
  • She is potty trained during the day.  She is no longer holding on to the poop until she’s in a diaper.  Still not ready to ditch the diapers at night.

CavBoy

  • He can now peddle the tricycle.  He no longer does the Fred Flinstone imitation.  He needs his shoes on to reach the peddles properly, and is still figuring out the whole steering with the handle bar not his feet thing.
  • He now makes noises while playing with cars, trucks and trains.  He needed to be near his cousins to hear them play.
  • He was doing better trying to speak, but the last few days he’s been on strike.
  • He’s back to sleeping through the night w/out me having to go in 2-3 times to give him water or soothe him.  Yes!  I was starting to feel like the mother of a newborn.

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After sending our dog off to Spa Breting prior to vacation, my daughter was very sad.  She missed the “old man” with the diminished hearing and energy.

All is Well in Her World

All is Well in Her World

Initially Huck was upset too.  He chewed/licked a big raw patch on his side.  But apparently he grew to like it at Spa Breting over in Jacksonville.

Prior to our return from NY, the daughter was very concerned about Huck.  She was hoping he was going to be there when we got home. “No,” I told her, “I will have to go get him after we get back.  Maybe Friday or Saturday.  She was sad Wednesday night when we returned to a Huck-less home.  I had to console her before she went to sleep.

Friday, after mowing the overgrown lawn, I left to obtain our aging pooch.  I left around lunch, telling the little girl that I should be back with Huck before she wakes up from her nap.  Off I was to Daytona for the big exchange.  I felt like we were meeting to exchange prisoners at the Berlin Wall- though I had nothing to offer.  Or perhaps like far too many former couples exchanging children after “their weekend” with the kids.

Cozy!

Cozy!

I have cared for and loved this dog for 8 years.  I was sure he would be excited to see me, to realize I had not abandoned him.  But Huck did not seem overjoyed to see me.  There was no wagging tail or excited bark.  He actually refused to get out of the car.  My friend had to physically remove him since he’d move to the other side of the car when I drew near.  He did not want his days at Spa Breting to end.  He did not want to return to the rather staid home ours must be, where he is the sole pet and the Lady of the House does not lavish him with love and affection.

He pretty much moped the entired ride home.  Moped for days actually, refusing to eat.  It was as if we were not home.  But as I heard CavGirl stirring from her nap, I ushered him into her room.  Oh, such joy on her face!  At least someone was happy.

He is back to his old self.  She was cuddling up to him as he lounged the other day as evidenced by the pictures.  All is nearly normal in CavHouse.  May she cherish his remaining days with us, I’m not sure how many “the old man” has left.

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Joined at the Hip

Joined at the Hip

The last week seems to be a blur.  We are now back in hot, humid Florida.  The travel day was filled with way too much whining and crying.  Seems to put a damper on a good vacation.  Returning also means a return to my responsibilities- first of which is finding a way to support my family.  Yes, puts a damper on the whole thing.  But let’s ponder more interesting things!

Here are the “highlights”.

Monday night I learned that a church has begun checking references.  This is great news!  The result of the process is not certain, but the process has begun and maybe that will result in something really positive.

Tuesday we missed Tropical Storm Fay.  Our home got plenty of rain, but we did not experience the flooding many other communities in Florida and elsewhere did.  Better than that, CavWife and I stole away for a lunch alone.  A quiet lunch!  No crying, complaining etc.  We enjoyed each other’s company and talked about a few things- including my impressions of Job this time through (2nd time in a year).

CavWife's New Doo

CavWife

(more…)

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It was a different week.  My brothers-in-law were away on a missions trip to Mississippi.  Not as much male interaction.  ESPN and ESPN 2 have not been available on the cable the last 5-6 days, so I’m suffering from the DTs.  I was also slowed down by a summer cold that started with sniffles => sore throat => running nose => cough.  A real pleasure.

I Need a Dentist

I Need a Dentist

On Wednesday and Friday we went to the Word of Life Ranch to visit the petting zoo.  The kids loved it.  They had goats, sheep, llamas (in desperate need of dental work), chickens, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets.  CavGirl’s priceless comment- “They’re stinky.  They need a bath.”  We were also able to spend time in the fort playground.  I pushed the kids on the tire swing, and they enjoyed the slides.  On Wednesday’s trip we had lunch at the WoL campground with some friends of CavWife who still work at Word of Life.  Both trips ended with rain shortening the stay.

Radio station options way up here are limited.  So for both rides to Schroon Lake, we ‘enjoyed’ the worst of the 80’s.  Lots of bad flashbacks, so I’m surprised we didn’t crash the SUV.  I hadn’t heard “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for many years, and heard it 2 times this past week.  Sigh.

CavParents arrived Thursday and stayed until Saturday.  They skipped the petting zoo.  Don’t blame them- smelly animals and poop-covered shoes.  It got pretty noisy around here though with up to 11 cousins running around.  Sometimes they played well together, and other times …. not quite.  The rainy week didn’t help matters.  CavBoy and his youngest cousin here are getting along famously.  Just like Frick & Frack now that she is feeling better.  This is good since CavGirl is able to enjoy her older cousins.  He doesn’t feel as left out now.

Friday night we all got together for dinner at Aunt Jane’s place at the bottom of the hill.  Mom’s lasaugna with meatballs & sausage, and Bernie’s eggplant parmesian (I passed on the eggplant) followed by ice cream.

Saturday I helped my sister-in-law work on their new home near the bottom of the hill.  I spackled over the screws in the drywall, helped move in some furniture, and helped with some staining of the trim.

On Sunday I preached at Calvary Bible Church in Wevertown.  I ended up choosing a shortened version of my sermon on adoption from Ephesians.  It went well.

I’m antsy … I want to become a productive member of society again.  Still no progress on any fronts.  It can eat at you if you have too much time on your hands, which, by definition, you do.

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It is hard to believe it is Saturday.  Life has slowed down tremendously since we hopped on that plane Tues. morning.  The big rush to de-clutter the house was done.  We were packed and gone.

Since then I’ve been doing some reading.  That has been hard for me lately.  I’ve had trouble concentrating.  There were far too many things going on, and I deperately needed a change of scenery- and weather.  I got both.  So my concentration has returned.  As you may have noticed, I read Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian.  Dr. Nicole taught me to read those I don’t agree with (or other ivew points) so I can see their own arguments first hand lest someone mischaracterize them.  Glad I read it, and I still disagree with him.

In addition to starting to read Job, I’m reading Sinclair Ferguson’s book on Ruth, Faithful God.  It is really good.  As someone who is going through a difficult time, I need that reminder that God’s plan is not always evident until it has completely unfolded.  And that might be long after you’re gone.

It’s not all serious- I’m reading a Dean Koontz novel I picked off the bookshelf here.

I’ve been helping my brother-in-law get the website ready for his business.  I’ll also be helping to get their financial system integrated on the software.  My sister-in-law has too much going on the learn the system and get it all integrated herself.  Since the guys at Riedinger & Sons are heading off to Mississippi for a missions trip today, I’ll be able to work on this with no new invoices etc. 

The weather has been quite varied.  Plenty of sun, and plenty of rain too.  The tempuratures are mostly in the 60’s-70’s.  A very nice  change of pace allowing me to sit outside and read.  Sadly, no cigars to enjoy outside.  But my sister-in-law provided me with some Smithwick’s Irish Ale as a treat.  Quite nice.

I helped my other brother-in-law work on his new house today.  I was priming the dry wall in a few closets.  And tonight I’m cooking some Cajun Back Ribs.

I know some of you are more concerned about the kids.  They are having a blast.  CavGirl loves coming here and playing with her cousins.  It is the first time CavBoy has come to the Farm.  He might be feeling a bit left behind as she goes on adventures with her cousins.  But he’s getting more adventurous.  Both are playing long and hard, so naps and night time have been met with quickly nodding off to sleep.  Parenting has required less time and energy.

I got some great pictures of the humming birds.  At one point there were 5 vying for the feeder.  I couldn’t get the beautiful finch.  He was too skittish when I came near with the camera.  That and the territorial battle he was engaged in with another bird.  I don’t have the right software here, so posting any of them will have to wait.

I was disappointed to discover that my capo and picks were not in the guitar case where I thought I left them.  This greatly reduces what I can do with old vacation guitar while I’m up here.

Well, a beautiful sunny afternoon is calling my name.

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The kids have been playing “going to the Farm” and “riding on the airplane.”  I think they are ready to head north, away from the heat and humidity to spend time with grandparents and cousins galore.

I know I need a change of scenery.  I’ll continue my “search for work” while I’m up there.  It would be great to have an offer on the house and a job close to in hand by the time we return.  I should spend some time working for my brother-in-law, so I’m not sure how often I post while we are gone.  Oh, and I do need to spend time with CavWife and CavKids!

I will be preaching at the small church nearby while we’re up there.  The pastor will be taking a trip himself.  I’m undecided as to which sermon to offer.

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I can’t remember what the name of this tree is.  But we bought it because of these beautiful purple flowers.  I’m a sucker for purple flowers.  Perhaps it has to do with that line from The Choir’s Circle Slide album.  These are very beautiful purple flowers.

Sadly we have seen too little of them!  Every time we go away on vacation something happens to the tree.  It comes back around just before we head off again.  Last summer it was a dry August, and we returned to find it nearly dead.  In mid-December it had been revived such that blossoms were beginning to reappear.  We were off for Christmas vacation.  While away there was a frost.  The tree had to be pruned back there was so much damage to it.  It has just been in the last few weeks that the flowers re-emerged.  I decided to take a picture just in case something happened, again.  While in bloom, these flowers could work a spell on any potential buyers!

This is from our mandevilla.  A friend gave it to us years ago.  Not too long ago it was over-run with catapillars.  We haven’t seen any of the beautiful flowers that attract the butterflies who lay those eggs on it.  It has finally bounced back, and these pretty flowers also have a very pleasant smell to them.  The bring great delight to CavWife.  Once again, I’m hoping they catch the nose and eye of a prospective buyer.

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There has been plenty going on to occupy the CavFamily.  For one thing, we have put our home on the market.  We did this to preserve our equity since the prices are only going down, and we probably won’t get this much for at least a few years.  We hope to be moving elsewhere soon.  If I receive a new call, we’ll have a headstart on selling the house.

This means lots of work.  We have been “de-cluttering”, which mostly means packing up unnecessary items to create the perception of more space in the home.  The real estate agent is hopeful; our home is priced competetively and the market for smaller homes is better than for larger homes.  I got plenty of work done Friday and Saturday- to which CavGirl commented “You’re a workhorse, daddy.”  She picked this phrase up from Jon & Kate Plus 8.   The excess stuff is gone and the home is ready for the virtual tour photos.

With a vacation coming up, we also had to “de-dog” the home.  He is a shedding machine.  As a result, the prospect of asking our neighbors to not only let him out, but being able to vacuum the home on a moment’s notice if an agent wants to show it and how he might respond to strangers means he needs to go on vacation.  Just not with us.  Former neighbors agreed to watch him while we are away.  But, they now live a few hours away.  So, on a trip to visit family they stopped by last night to pick him up.  CavGirl was not quite down with that.  Tired and hungry, she had a mini-meltdown because the dog is gone, temporarily.

It was a good thing the dog is gone.  Shortly after putting the kids to bed, CavWife realized it was getting warm in the house.  The A/C was not working, period.  Not even the fan or heat.  I think the lightening storm must of wiped out the thermostat and a nearby fan used to create white noise for sleeping children.  It was a long, warm, sticky night in the house.  We had some doors and windows open.  No telling how the dog would react to the various noises and critters outside.  I didn’t get much sleep, crashing in the living room since it had better airflow.  Thankfully, the forecast says that it is only supposed to get to around 88 today.  Much better than 95+.  But I passed on the shower in the hopes that the A/C guy has it up and running around lunch time.  Then I take CavBoy to his re-evaluation for his hearing.  They wanted to see how the better tubes affected his hearing.

Saturday was a long, tiring day.  We had the joy of going to another wedding.  We sat with a friend and her 3 year-old.  CavGirl, CavBoy and their friend had too much fun.  We should have gotten a babysitter since I got so stressed out at the noise and endless questions.  I found them a huge distraction but the people around us didn’t seem too put off.  At the reception, I was able to spend time with a guy I rented a room from while getting my 2nd degree from RTS.  He also rented a room to the groom.  Like CavSon, he was born with a cleft-plate, so we spent time comparing notes as it were.

We left the reception around 2, after CavBoy’s diaper seems to have sprung a leak.  Too much to drink for that boy.  So we had to slip out the back quietly.  He crashed on the short ride home, but CavGirl was another story.  Her whining was a preview for the evening.  All my parenting tricks failed.  Nothing seemed to get through to her and grew increasingly exasperated.  It was a good prelude to my sermon on Sunday on how God loves us enough to discipline us.

This morning, our speech therapist called to say he wasn’t coming.  We requested a new speech therapist, but wanted the transition to take place when we went on vacation.  He decided “what’s the point”- ah, our son’s well-being…  We don’t want him to go 5 weeks without speech therapy.  This therapist seems to have little experience with cleft-palate kids (though he talked like an expert).  His recommendations were about 180 degrees different from everyone else’s.  He also refused to take his personal history as a recently adopted kid into account and determined his progress in 4 sessions was insignificant.  I’m not sure why he was informed of this change now, but I’m not liking how he bailed on CavSon today.  So now we are looking for a new therapist with experience working cleft-palate kids locally.  As if we didn’t have enough happening.

So, I have now escaped to my ‘office’ for cooler air and a quiet atmosphere.  Much needed for my sanity.  My stay here will be much too short.

Update: The A/C repair cost about $160.  It didn’t look good at first, but it turned out that the transformer and relay had been blown out by a power surge.  Had it taken a direct hit by lightening, the whole shebang would have to be repaired costing about $1,600.  So we are thankful!

CavSon’s hearing exam came back as borderline normal, which is great news.  He’s had a rough day since he didn’t sleep well.  He was crying most of the way home, even when I held his hand he was not comforted.  Not the best thing for my shoulder.

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Braveheart is one of my favorite movies.  Mel Gibson was on a great run there for awhile.  It is a movie about the value and price for freedom, and it is a stirring film (historical inaccuracies aside).

But what is often missed is the important roles fathers (and father figures) play in the lives of the characters.  It may come across to some as simplistic but the men with the bravest hearts were raised by brave men.  The cowardly, self-serving men were raised by overbearing, abusive fathers.  Fathers play an important role in shaping the lives of sons into young men.  That role can’t be overstated.

So let’s take some peeks into this story and see the impact of fathers on sons.

Braveheart opens with a young William Wallace watching his father, Malcolm, preparing to go into battle.  His older brother is also joining his father.

  •  
    • William: I’m going with you?
    • Malcolm: A good help ye be too.
    • William: I can fight.
    • Malcolm: I know you can fight.  (pause) But it’s our wits that make us men.

His father does not mock him, but affirms him.  But in the process teaches him that there is more to being a man than fighting.  And more to fighting than mere strength and skill.  William must still learn to use his wits to be a man.  It appears as though he has the right father to teach him, but tragedy strikes.  I wonder if it was this broken heart that made him so pliable.

Into this void steps his Uncle Argylle.  He isn’t quite sure about Argylle at first, but soon learns that he is in good hands.

“You don’t speak Latin?  Well, that’s something we’ll have to remedy, isn’t it?”

His uncle does not belittle him, but sees this as an indication that young William can and will learn.  Together they will address this lack of knowledge.  William is not alone, but his uncle will stand with him and teach him what he lacks.

“It was the same for me and your father when our daddy died.  First learn to use this (points to his head), then I’ll teach you how to use this.”

Uncle Argylle is one who has trod the path that lies before William.  He and his brother lost their father.  He puts the priority on using his head so that he will not only use his weapons skillfully but wisely.

But Malcom does not disappear from the film.  He shows up in a dream to offer direction  to his son.

“Your heart is free; have the courage to follow it.”

(more…)

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“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  With nothing to lose but a morning in which I had no plans, I decided to give it the ol’ college try.  This time we went to the right theater and saw yesterday’s intended film- The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.

Before I get to the movie, I have a few considerations.  This theater did not have stadium seating.  This made it a bit difficult for CavGirl to see over the seat in front of her.  I later noticed some people had booster seats.  I suppose that also would have helped the seat to stay down.  When you are only 30 lbs, and all of that is at the back of the seat … you will have issues.  This go around, there were far more younger children and babies.  This meant it was noisier, and there were more distractions as well since CavGirl loves to watch babies.  I had to answer the same 2 questions about pacifiers about a dozen times.

From CavGirl’s perspective, this movie was too scary.  She really didn’t like the villain, seen here.  That did prompt a few moments of “Dad-time” as she sat in my lap and hid her face in my chest, blanket covering her face.

It was not a fun as most Veggie Tale shows, and even Jonah.  She asked if we could leave about 3-4 times.  We didn’t.

The story was like the biblical story of Esther in that God was not explicitly mentioned, but worked behind the scenes to accomplish the deliverance of the prince and princess (unless the father, the good King with the evil usurper-wanna-be brother, is the metaphor for God).  I explained to her that life has moments when we are very afraid, but that is when we need to be brave until God saves us.  God will always save us, but sometimes life gets scary.  In the movie they also talked about tests, which reveal what is most important to us.

So, this wasn’t Big Idea’s best effort.  It was, as usual, mostly moralistic.  It was mildly enjoyable for me, and too scary for her.  At least there were no farting & pooping chipmunks, or barely clad dancers.  So, it had that going for it.  In terms of influences:

  1. There was a tip o’ the hat to O, Brother, Where Art Thou? with the blind prophet speaking to 3 friends about to embark on a voyage in which one of them will regain his family’s respect.  This, of course, is one of my favorite movies.
  2. The song and dance at the pirate tavern was quite reminiscent of the Camelot scene in Holy Grail.  Yes, another of my favorite movies, and an old standby for Veggie Tales.
  3. The evil pirate was a pea who had a mechanical body, reminding me of Darth Vader.
  4. The scene when the King gives them medals was a tip to Star Wars: A New Hope.  They just lacked a howling Wookie.  Yes, another one of my favorite movies.
  5. The B-52s, whose cult-fav Rock Lobster was redone as Rock Monster.
  6. Steve Taylor who appeared with the Newsboys for a song (I think that was the song).  I recognized his lyrical style and thought the voice sounded familiar.  He’s listed as a composer and performer on the soundtrack CD, but I’m not 100% certain of the song.

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CavGirl and I had a date this morning.  The local theaters run older kids movies a few mornings each week during the summer.  They are free since they expect you to spend money on concessions.  It works out well for everyone.  We were supposed to see this:

I double-checked the time and theater with my friend.  He was taking his daughter too.  Somehow wires got crossed because The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anythingwas not playing at that movie theater, and my friend was nowhere to be found.  It was at this moment that I was glad I didn’t tell CavGirl she’d see her friend this morning.  I was tempted to go home.

But my mind went back to the night before when I told her we were going on a date.  She was excited about the idea of going to the movie.  She wanted to bring Addison, her favorite doll.  She wanted to bring him in the stroller.  We compromised … ‘yes’ to Addison and ‘no’ to the stroller.  She was already disappointed, I didn’t want to completely disappoint her.

So … we saw this.  Yes, Alvin and the Chipmunks.  It was okay, aside from some words I was not excited about my daughter hearing.  Like “sucks” for instance- even though they used it to mean “awful”.  The scatological humor was something else I could do without.  The singers & dancers who joined them on stage were not exactly kid appropriate either.

But, she enjoyed her first taste of movie theater popcorn.  And she savored the Sprite that came with it in the kids combo.  She did really well for the first time in a movie theater.  She didn’t get restless until the last 10-15 minutes.

This may sound strange to some of you.  We know people who have been bringing their kids to the movies since they were a year old.  You might call us “old fashioned” since she’s 3 1/2 and has never gone to a movie.  Others might call us progressive because we took such a young child to the movies.

I thought she was old enough to enjoy it.  And I thought it was Veggie Tales.  Yes on the first, and no on the second.  But I had a good time watching a movie with my little girl- even if it was Alvin and the Chipmunks.

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While CavWife helped a friend pack for a cross-town move into their new home, I took the kids to the playground.  I hadn’t been there with them since March or April.  I was joyfully amazed at the progress CavGirl has made.  He was climbing the various ladders, without help, and going down the slides alone.  She even had me teach her how to climb the “rock” wall.  She did pretty well for a first timer.

CavSon did okay.  He’s still not excited about slides or swings.  They’ll grow on him.

They both enjoyed the deck that goes over the lake.  We saw plenty of fishes among the junk that had been tossed in.  You can’t swim at the beach anymore.  It is covered over with weeds on land and in the water.  Probably too hard to keep the gators away.  The beach was probably victim of a previous budget crunch.

The victims of the next budget crunch were sitting there the entire time we were there.  There were 3 emplyees from Leisure Services sitting, talking and reading.  Their job would be to play with neighborhood kids.  But there were no kids there.  Which is unfortunate- it was an overcast day so it wasn’t mind-numbingly hot, and we saw a bunch of kids down the street.

CavGirl has experienced a number of falls off her bike lately.  Tumbles in general.  She’s got a cut on her big toe that keeps opening up.  She did a good job banging up a finger.  She rides too fast and tries to turn.  We are still working on actually stopping to look both ways before entering the road.

She is currently engrossed in Jon & Kate Plus 8 while CavWife taught aerobics.  She loves watching all the kids.  She just calls it watching the kids.  We now have a video tape dedicated to the show.

His speech therapy is going okay.  He’s trying.  He can make the ‘p’ sound, but has not yet integrated it into actual words.  But the therapist isn’t happy.  He disagrees with the surgeon regarding the need to repair the fistula.  We have decided: 1. he has little experience with cleft palate kids, 2. he is not taking CavSon’s speech in context (here 6 months, this is his 2nd language, undergoing major surgery…).  So, when we return from vacation, we should have a new speech therapist to work with him.

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It has been a strange few days.  With no response from the local job market, I’m spending too much time at home.  Strange things happen when daddy’s home so much.

Recently CavGirl has decided she wants to poop on the potty.  We had been making no headway on this agenda, and she had previously announced she’d start to do it when we went to the Farm (her grandparents).  She had apparently changed her mind.  This is a good thing in the overall scheme.  But as those who’ve been through it (rather than letting child care take care of it) it has its moments.  She’s only had one accident, usually going prior to naps or bedtime.  She is still using a diaper at night.  Except 2 nights ago… she decided to go her own version of commando.  I don’t know what we were thinking- we probably weren’t since we were stunned by the announcement.  This ended with her crying out in the middle of the night quite wet.

Last night was another go.  We had a plan.  In addition to the plastic undies, we would wake her up periodically to have her go pee.  I was sent off to grab some ice cream, arriving home to her in the potty.  Every few minutes she was going back to the potty, and doing business.  Like 5 times.  No, she was not sick.  I don’t know where it all came from, but we alternated going in to help her wipe.  It was getting downright wearisome.  We couldn’t relax!  And in between she had 500 comments and questions (God has given her 100,000 words a day).  Finally she announces she wants a diaper.  Whew!  No additional wake ups (CavBoy is worth 2-3 per night for water).

Today I mowed our neighbor’s lawn (since they are away) and our own.  It was probably about 90 degrees when all was said and done.  I was dripping wet, hot and not wanting to be bothered.  Our neighbor has a pool and we are free to use it.  But I was hoping CavWife would take the kids shopping.  She, of course, didn’ want to go with the kids.  The compromise … we’d go in the pool now and she’d shop while the kids napped.

At some point, a friend’s pre-teen son seems to have told CavGirl that the pool vacuum will swallow you.  Since our neighbor is away, the vacuum is in the pool.  She is utterly terrified, afraid it will swallow us up.  We show her that it will not hurt us.  Still crying.  Occasionally screaming.  CavBoy is happily puttering around in his little float, grasping CavWife’s hand.  The Girl continues to be traumatized- afraid for all of our lives.  Our relaxing dip in the pool is anything but.  After 45 minutes of evidence that no one has been swallowed by the pool vacuum, she tentatively enters the water.  Who knew raising a child would have such irrational, irritating moments?!  Was I like this?

Then there are the odd conversations I have with her.  He only has 6 words, so there are no conversations.  I asked her the other day about why she was angry.  She’d been having a few rough days.  I let her know that she was teaching her brother to do wrong.  “I want to teach him to do wrong.”  Ah … her depravity rears its cute little head.  We talked some more about that.  I apologized for the times I shouldn’t be angry, that I’ve taught her to do wrong.  Our anger doesn’t help us live in a way that pleases God and helps others.  We need to pray for Jesus’ help when we are angry and shouldn’t be.

Then there was the pool side conversation today after CavWife took CavBoy home to start lunch.  “Do you like me?” she asked.  “I like you, and I love you.  Sometimes I don’t like the things you do.”  “I like you, Daddy.”  Despite the ways we disrupt her life with discipline, she thinks we are “good helpers”.   She told CavWife that “God gave us a great mommy and daddy.”  I guess we are doing something right, even in the midst of our frustration and confusion.

One last conversation.  I was reading some of Dr. Roger Nicole’s Our Sovereign Savior at breakfast.  I pointed to his picture and told her “This was one of my teachers.  He is a very nice man, and very smart.”  Her response, “Do you hug and kiss him?”  Slight pause.  “No, I don’t kiss him.”

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Apparently CavBoy’s eardrums were rejecting his ear tubes.  They were the “old school” kind.  It was time to insert the ‘high tech’ kind (yeah, I have no idea what all that means).  Today was the day, and it started very early.  At 5 am the sounds of Charlie Peacock’s West Coast Diaries Vol. 1 woke me far earlier than I want to be awakened.  But we had to be in Orlando by 6:30, so I had to roll out of bed and stumble into the shower.  Yes, the no-longer-dripping shower.

At 5:30 we were out the door, CavBoy and me.  Early morning did not help me when it came to reading the directions later on.  This meant I went in circles for awhile, growing more frustrated by the moment.  In the hospital complex, they had less than adequate signage.  As a result, I ended up missing the reserved parking (thanks in part to a big truck blocking my view).

Paperwork was sure to follow, and it was.  In the paperwork I brought with me, I did not have all the answers I needed.  But, after a few quick calls home the preliminary round of paperwork was done.  Out to move the car and place the parking permit on the dash.  Since I had to drag CavSon with me … I was irritated.  The fact that I’m not a morning person didn’t help.

Next we went into a minuscule office so I could sign the release forms.  CavBoy has now perked up and it into just about everything in the tiny office.  I’m sure she had heard my “I think you need a bigger office” comment a few times.  Wrongly suspecting he’d made ‘boom-boom’ (as a friend says) I was looking for a bathroom to change him.  No need, I was escorted to his room for pre-op.  He was not happy to see the little heart rate monitor they attach to digits.  He hated having it attached to his thumb for his major surgery.  They put it on his toe this time to change it up.  But it was only on for a few moments.

The anesthesiologist came in to prep me.  They have him a valium-type liquid, turning him into a sloppy-drunk sailor.  He couldn’t stand or walk.  It was mildly amusing to me, but certainly not to him.  Time passed quickly in the private room as the surgeon showed up and soon he was off to have the procedure done.  It took about 15 minutes, of that.  They waited for him to wake up before bringing him back.

They should have kept him longer, but I don’t blame them.  He was like a raging drunk.  He was quite angry- like the return of the terror of the first 6 weeks or so.  He still couldn’t stand, but fought off a diaper change and change of clothes.  He repeatedly pushed me away and, of course, was screaming most of the time.

He seemed to keep the juice down, and totally pounded the second cup.  Still screaming and squirming, they escorted me out the door.  I wish they would have let us stay so he could calm down since it is a one hour drive with a screaming child.  But they wanted this to be a private nightmare.  I tossed him into the car seat and refilled his cup.  Since he then tried to rip it apart, I took it away which prompted more anger.  I think he started to turn green at one point.  This prompted me to call CavWife to ask for prayer.

Back on the highway, still screaming, I soon heard the juice come back up.  Big decision…. pull over and prolong the nightmare or keep going to minimize this visit to Hades.  I took the Bad Parent Award and pressed on.  It was just juice folks.

At the 40-45 minute mark he finally stopped screaming and crying.  When we got him we was nearly himself.  Still wobbly, he was more interested in being comforted.  Then the ‘boom-boom’ came.  I didn’t care, I’d survived my visit to Hades, I mean Orlando, … and CavWife took care of this one.

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Although it has only been just over 5 months since CavWife brought CavBoy home from China, we just had our 6 month post-placement appointment with the social worker. It was a good time to remember how far he has come, and how far we have come as a family.
The first month was incredibly difficult on the whole family as he adjusted to everything and we adjusted to him. As I type, the kids are playing “going to the wedding”, a result of going to “Uncle” Morgan’s wedding last weekend. They packed their bags for the hotel room. The 2 of them usually play very well together as CavGirl revels in being the ring leader, I mean older sister. She has all the makings of a Red Leader 1.
Last night on the short ride home from a friend’s they were serenading us from the back seat. It was mostly nonsense. Last weekend, CavGirl was shouting song lyrics like “your love is better than life” (Newsboys) and “I am a friend of God” (from a worship CD CavWife plays often). CavBoy can’t quite do that yet, so it is interesting to hear them ‘sing’ together like some childish opera in a strange tongue.
CavBoy has grown 2 1/2 inches and gained 4 pounds in his 5+ months with us. This despite his liquid diet post-surgery. This is still a fistula in his palate which the surgeon thinks isn’t a major problem, but the speech therapist thinks is. They can duke it out … the surgeon is one of the most respected surgeons for this in Orlando so what do I know.
Speech therapy is going slowly. But this morning he was doing more of the noises in Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?. That is good news. He’s starting to try, which is a start. It takes him time to start trying something- climbing into his car seat, into his booster seat for meals, etc. I realized the other day that I tended to pull him out of his car seat. I thought, “Dude, the kid can climb out on his own!” and now he does. Now, if he can just start using those expulsive consonants…
That is the main area of improvement- trying things. He still seems overwhelmed with new experiences (he was utterly traumatized by the merry go round at Cypress Gardens) and places. But he’s beginning to try more things like climbing up a playset and going down the slide last night.
Another area of improvement is handling his anger. He had horrible tantrums at first. But his trantrums are now pretty sedate for a 2 year-old. We are so thankful since those tantrums made meal time in particular quite difficult. Now meal time is stressful because it takes forever for him to eat as he plays and procrastinates. At least he isn’t eating us out of house and home anymore (that’s now CavGirl’s job).
We have some concerns about his hearing. He tested with some minor hearing loss, but that might have been related to the fluid in his ear. The ear, throat & nose specialist wants to put in larger tubes. These tubes would not fall out, but would have to be removed. However, they should aid in relieving pressure on his ear drum and preserve his hearing (but probably not his singing).
When I think of all the doctor’s appointments and bills I can become overwhelmed at times. But I wouldn’t trade the time and money back. He’s our son and an important part of our family. The boy stays!

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9 Mark Ministries compiled some ways for pastors to better love their wives (we’re talking a plurality of pastors, not polygamy) and kids.  Some of them are very good.  Some make me wonder “how?”  I’ll put my comments, silly and otherwise in brackets and in red.  Since they are compiled, there are some that sound inconsistent, go with it … they are suggestions.

IN RELATION TO YOUR FAMILY…

  1. Take the initiative and establish a plan for family worship. Then follow the plan! (Don Whitney encourages “brevity, regularity, and flexibility” in family worship.)
  2. Come home at the exact time you say you will be home; and prepare your heart to serve your family, not be served.  [this is very difficult to do regularly, at least for me.  there is that sinful sense of entitlement that plagues me when I return home, I want to rest not parent/husband.  i need grace.]
  3. Take responsibility for your children’s education and discipline—don’t leave it to your wife to figure out.
  4. Share with your wife and kids some of the good things that are going on in the church, and then thank them for helping to make that possible.
  5. Use every hour of your vacation time. And take a vacation that does not involve extended family; restrict it to just your wife and kids.  [All of our vacations have involved extended family.  We can’t afford to go anywhere else- I’m a pastor!]
  6. Take a two week vacation.  [this is wise, i’ve heard it takes about 10 days for you to actually begin to relax.  our 3 week summer vacations, though with extended family, were very relaxing.  if you go  to vacationing spots, it is hard to relax since you are going to theme parks and events.]
  7. Diligently guard your days off.  [lay leaders love this, not!  it can quickly breed a sense of envy on their part, or assuming you think you’re better than them or special.  you have to work had to communicate this priority well.  but if you’re guarding your days off, they should be able to guard theirs from church business, so maybe they really feel convicted of their lack of attentiveness to their families.  who knows, but it can get messy, folks.]
  8. There are times when it seems like you have to choose whether to be a good dad/husband or a good pastor. Good pastors choose to be good dad/husbands.  [What makes this difficult is the success-driven culture of many of our churches.  They want you to be a successful dad, not necessarily a loving & involved dad.  Loving involvement will mean less time to building the empire.  I know building my relationship with my daughter ‘cost’ the church some of my time/energy that might have resulted in a different outcome for the congregation- and my family.]IN RELATION TO YOUR WIFE…
  9. Get up early and have your quiet time, so that you can take the kids in the morning while your wife has her quiet time.  [she’s up way before the rest of us, so this is a moot point for me.]
  10. Give her flowers and a hand written card when she least expects it.

    (more…)

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The family that introduced CavWife and me returned to central Florida for vacation.  While I was in the midst of my battle with the leaky shower, he called to see about getting together Wednesday.  They had extra passes to Disney, so we could go there for the day.

So, Wednesday morning we loaded up the car to go meet them.  At first we lamented having lent out the double stroller to friends on a trip.  But, with the crowds I am very glad we had 2 single strollers.  CavWife and I had completely forgotten about Typhoon Lagoon, so I figured our best bet with a 3 1/2 year-old and a 2 year-old who is still afraid of rides would be the Animal Kingdom.  Fewer rides, and lots of (obviously) animals).

As you can imagine, a group of 16 people moves slowly (they had their 2 kids, 4 foster kids, 2 nieces, a friend and her mom).  By the time we were finally in the park, it was nearly 12.  I’m not really a ‘show guy’, I’m definitely a ride guy.  But we went to the Lion King show first off.  I experienced disassociation regarding the show’s message and focused on the singing, dancing and acrobatics.  CavBoy was on my lap, particularly intrigued by the guys on stilts.  CavGirl enjoyed most of it, except the fire.

While we waited for Pocahauntus to begin, I brought CavGirl to see the otters.  Most of them must have been napping because only one was paddling around.  She was curious about the huge fish in the pond.  Back for the environmentalist propaganda mixed with the animals.  CavGirl thought the racoon was the neatest thing.  She talked about it often on the ride home.

It was now nearing 2 pm and the kids have not had lunch.  I was amazed at how well they were doing.  We grabbed an amazingly affordable lunch ($30 for the 4 of us) in Dino Land.  Some of the others went off to Touch a Bug.  We met up for our Fast Pass ride on the Kali River Rapids.  CavGirl went with us, being just tall enough.  It was fun, and the cool water felt great on a hot Florida day!  It was a bit bumpy for the CavGirl, but she enjoyed it.

Rather than watch the parade, we went on the safari.  Standby was only 5 minutes long!  I’m so glad the kids got to enjoy seeing the animals.  Yet again (okay, I’ve only been there once before) the lions were invisible.  At this point it is well after 4 pm and they have not had a nap.  No meltdowns so far!

Our Everest Expedition Fast Pass was between 5:15 & 6:15.  But as we exited the safari a good downpour began, accompanied by lightening.  They close down the Expedition for lightening.  We were hoping that it would soon pass, but it didn’t.  Trees don’t make the best cover, so we were drenched by 6 pm when we decided we needed to head home.  Yeah, and the rain had nearly stopped.

It was great spending time with our friends, but I think Typhoon Lagoon would have been a better choice, and allowed more time to talk.  The meltdowns began on the ride home.  We got home at 7, fed them leftovers, a quick bath and off to bed.  They were exhausted, and so were we.  We brought the camera, but didn’t take even one picture.  So, no pics for you our fans.

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It was time to face the inevitable.  Our shower head had been dripping for … well … I can’t even tell you how long.  I’d been avoiding it like the plague.  Last week we discovered that the flapper on the toilet was on its annual failure.  So, off to sLowe’s I went seeking replacement parts since 2/3 of my master bath was broken.

I got the contractor’s pack on the flappers since I seem to change them so often.  I think I’m fixing one of our 2 toilets every 6 months.  I feel conspired against by those toilets.  They want to drive me crazy.  It might be working.  Thankfully, that was a quick fix.  The hardest part was figuring out how long the chain had to be.  I could handle that.

At sLowe’s, I got help.  I found a shower faucet like ours and told an employee what my issue was.  Then she brought me to the handy dandy notebook that helps you figure out what you need to replace.  Hmmm, didn’t I feel like a clueless dolt.  But, I was in the plumbing department and I should be legal prohibited from entering that department.  Springs and seats was all I needed.  I think they were less than $2.  Better than dropping $15 on a whole new faucet, right?  Especially since replacing that would require a whole weekend for me.

This morning CavWife brought CavBoy to a doctor’s appointment, so I thought it was a great time to shut off the water and fix the ol’ shower.  Oh, yeah, I’ve got to stick my hand down into that whole in the lawn with the water meter filled with spider webs to turn the water off.  I’m thinking about black/brown widow spiders and brown recluses the entire time.  I’d be playing beat the clock to get to the ER with CavGirl in tow (yeah, that’ll happen quickly).  I managed to get the water off without being savaged by a poisonous arachnid.  Yes!

I opened the package for the seats and springs to see the instructions.  There was no diagram.  In tiny print there was the following:

Shut off water supply; cover drain opening.

  1. Remove handle
  2. Partially unscrew adjusting ring, remove cap assembly.
  3. Pull up on ball stem to remove cam and ball assemblies.
  4. Lift rubber seats and springs out of body.
  5. Place new seats down over springs.
  6. Reinstall ball assembly with cam and packing.
  7. Install cap assembly hand tight, then tighten adjusting ring.

Remember, there was no diagram.  So what is the adjusting ring?  Which part is the cam and ball assemblies?  I’m flying blind here because I’m an ignorant, broke homeowner!  I’ve taken off what I can, and can’t go any further.  The night before a friend said this should take me 15 minutes.  I thought 30.  I’m 15 minutes in and can’t go further.  But, the house needs that little thing called “running water” to function.  I need to find help.

A trip around the neighborhood stirs up a neighbor willing to help.  He’s a former auto mechanic, but that’s much better than a pastor when it comes to indoor plumbing!  Together with pry what I think are the cam and ball assemblies out of the faucet, with some help from WD-40.  I think it has been an hour now.

I replace the seats and springs.  Now it is time to get the thing back together.  But the same seals that kept it together now keep it apart.  We are having issues.  I’m sweating, picturing a call to a real plumber and fearing the monstrous bill I’ll have for such a simple thing as this.  I begin to doubt the goodness of God.  I offer up desperate prayers….. please help me get this back together!!!!!

Somehow we do manage to get the thing back together with more wrenches and WD-40.  I stick my hand back into the nasty hole in my front lawn to turn the water back on.  No spider bites.  No leaks!  We are back in business!

I put the last few things together and discover this 15 minute job has taken me 90 minutes.  But, I can now shower away the fear and frustration.  Why is this water so cool?  Yeah, I’d somehow reversed something so hot is cold and cold is hot.  That’s me … Mr. Handy.

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This weekend I had the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of a great friend who was marrying a great woman.  They are … a great couple.

Since it was nearly 2 hours away drive-time, and CavGirl was the flower girl, we ended up staying in a Residence Inn about 30 minutes away from the wedding site.  We packed up the car and headed out Friday morning, hoping to enjoy some time at the hotel before naps.  Alas, that was not to be so since it took longer to get there than I had anticipated.  It was farther north than I thought, which was advantageous when it came to going back and forth for rehearsal & the wedding with 2 toddlers.

The front desk informed us that due to a lightning strike, they would have to test the alarm system that afternoon.  But they checked our room before we even got settled in.

After I unloaded the car, I set out to iron my clothes for that evening.  I wouldn’t be able to do it with the kids down for a nap.  At that point CavWife asked about the dresses for CavGirl, and her own clothing for the festivities that night and the next.  “Huh?  What clothes?  I thought you got them?”  I was informed that I actually had to move them off my suit to load it into the car.  She was without appropriate clothing for the rehearsal and dinner to follow.   Neither of us was happy.

Now I’m checking out the LG HD LCD TVs in the rooms.  I have TV envy- the picture is so incredibly sharp.  After the kids enjoy their lunch it is off to bed for them.  I wonder, what are we eating?  Apparently I’m off to hunt up some grub for 2 starving adults.  After splitting a McDonald’s Asian salad and some McTenders we settle in for the afternoon.  All was going fabulously until I started to get ready for the rehearsal.  Suddenly the alarms for the whole building are blaring- the kids are screaming (well, they had to get up anyway).  It is so ear-piercing we take them out by the pool to calm them down.  I couldn’t even think in there.  This is the effect they wanted them to have.  But I had flashbacks to 3 am fire alarms in college.

(more…)

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The last few weeks have been just that.  It has been good that I am not working because I feel like I’ve been all around central Florida.  I have taken CavSon for doctor’s appointments and testing in Lakeland and Orlando.  I’ve gone to meetings about job openings in Tampa.  Lunch with pastors in Avon Park, preaching in Avon Park.  I brought the laptop to the Geek Squad in Lakeland (reason for the decrease in the number of posts, and lack of pics of the family).  Gas is $4/gallon and I’m driving more than ever.  This weekend we all head up to Brooksville for a wedding.

CavSon may have some mild hearing loss associated with the frequent ear infections experienced by children with cleft palates.  Next week I bring him back to Orlando to make sure his left ear is healthy.  Our surgeon expressed some concern about that ear.  He has begun speech therapy (no driving, the guy comes to our home).  We are trying to work on the expulsive consonants (b, p and so forth).  He has to learn how to use the muscles in his mouth.  Much of what he says is a slur of vowels right now.

CavDaughter is going everywhere on her new bike.  A friend down the street got a new bike for her birthday, and decided to give her old, smaller bike to our daughter.  She is excited to be riding it, though she has not yet learned how to use the brakes.  This makes for some interesting moments.

She’s trying to “sow her oats” as only a 3 1/2 year-old can.  We are having to address an increase in disrespect and demandingness.    This can make for a long day.

While I’m in my borrowed office, I try to look for work on-line.  Not terribly exciting.  It confirms my internal call as I await a new external call.  I’m trying to keep up with what is going on in the world (theological, political, sports etc.) but am falling way behind since I can’t surf at night.  Perhaps this is good for me.  I’m not reading as much as I’d like, either.

The return of rain also means the return of mowing season here in Florida.  My brown desert hath bloomed all green.  I will need to put in increased lawn time now.

Put it all together and I feel quite harried and pressured as the future intrudes on my present.  I’m looking forward to a few days away from it all for the wedding.  Perhaps it will clear my head and heart.  But until then, I’ve got to work on a homily.

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