I actually meant to do this a while ago, but I figured I would start reviewing my Netflix selections for all of the world to appreciate. I’m far from an expert movie critic, but at least you have an average guy’s analysis.

So Anger Management. When I first saw the trailer for this movie several years ago I figured it was nothing more than another vehicle for Sandle-esque shenanigans. For this reason I wasn’t really motivated to see it in the theater. Now that I have seen the movie I am glad I went with my gut instinct.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Sandler movies. I own a few and can quote most of them. However, when you have Sandler opposite Jack Nicholson, you sort of have expectations. For…how do you say…a good movie?

The plot for this movie is pretty weak. It was pretty obvious where this was going from the start and no real surprises along the way. The only saving grace is the expected one-liners from Sandler and a surprisingly funny Nicholson. It was also interesting seeing Nicholson in a therapy group reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I gave the movie 4 out of 5 stars, but I don’t think I’d want to see it again for at least a year.

Eating Like Hippies

September.28.2006


As I took my fifth piece of homemade beef jerky from a canning jar, it dawned on me: we are eating like hippies.

I guess it all started when Jamie started making our own baby food. I was all for it since it is a ton cheaper and in most cases probably better for Leah. Little did I know that was only the beginning.

This past weekend my mom came to visit to make applesauce. It is a yearly tradition that I can remember since I was a kid. The smell of applesauce being made is hard to beat. There is never a better day to take a nap than when that smell is in the air.

This same weekend, Jamie started using a food dehyrator from her mom at an insane level. She made dehydrated apples, bananas, fruit leather (aka fruit roll-ups), and of course beef jerky. I am personally a huge fan of the fruit leather and beef jerky.

Last night I was getting ready to throw away some grapes that we were clearly not eating, but instead we are dehydrating them in to raisins. At this point we discussed the fact that we should start dehydrating any fruits or vegetables that we are not eating fast enough. For example, if we have onions or green peppers, dehydrate them and later use them in soup or chili.

As practical as this all sounds, it really reminds me how much my mentality has changed since moving here. We really rarely spend money and when we do it is almost a challenge to see how far we can stretch it. It’s kind of nice being frugal and just paying off debt.

Even if it means we turn into tree-hugging hippies.

A Rough Rainy Day

September.23.2006

I’m not sure what that is a photo of, but it captured how I felt today. In addition to the rather depressing rain, I also just did not feel like serving people today. On a typical day, I will bend over backwards to help anyone who stays here to enjoy their time. It’s not only my job, but as a steward of this great place it is also my responsibility.

But today I didn’t want to. I know God never said “well, serve with all your heart when you feel like it.” In fact, he said something much different than that.

In Romans 12 it says just the opposite.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

I read once that the worst part of a living sacrifice is that they keep trying to crawl off the altar. I think that is where I am right now. I want to serve God with all my heart, mind, body, and soul, but today it just wasn’t there.

The crazy thing is that I have a peace about it as well. I think God is aware of how tired I am and how much my soul is just aching for good worship and fellowship. He knows that I (and my family) are in a dry desert right now.

Tomorrow we are trying yet another church. I am hopeful that God is waiting for us there.

Badgers Vs. Funny-Helmets

September.23.2006

Today the undefeated (and underrated) Badgers take on the number 6 team in the nation, the Michigan Funny-Helmets. I don’t have unrealistic hopes for a win, especially after the Notre Dame beating Michigan cranked out last Saturday, but if they can keep it close…

A Disturbing Story Time

September.22.2006

Jamie has gotten in the good habit of reading to Leah. Every day she reads to her before her two daily naps and then before she goes to bed.

On Wednesday we all went to the local library and checked out a stack of books so we had some more variety of books to read to Leah. Some of the classics such as the Bearenstein Bears and Babar made the list along with several we had never heard of. Such as the book pictured above.

Well, yesterday we sat down to read to Leah during my lunch break. The book started out innocent enough. A heart warming story about a dad playing guitar with his two kids. Then the next page talked about how the dad sometimes drank beer and acted funny.

Now, normally this would raise a red flag for me since it is a kids book. However I dismissed it thinking it was probably written by a Wisconsinite who thought this was acceptable for a kid’s book. Fair enough. I can be open minded.

So we turn to the next page. Here it talks about dad and mom fighting and mom accusing dad he is an alcoholic.

Huh. This is an odd book.

We quickly flip through the rest of the pages and see at the end of the story that dad is checking into AA. Apparently this book is meant for a very specifc audience.

While Leah is certianly too young to understand this story, I would probably be okay with rereading this to her later in life. The story really painted an accurate and understandable picture of living with alcohol abuse and I can see why the author wrote it.

It was just kind of surprising to find it mixed in with Richard Scary and Curious George.

Too much TV!!!

September.21.2006

Having a DVR is such a mixed blessing. While I truly enjoy being able to watch the shows I want and skip commercials, it also gives you too much power. With the recent crop of actually good shows (Studio 60, Heroes, Survivor, Biggest Loser, Jericho, The Office, etc.), my wife and I are suddenly buried in TV. And that doesn’t even bring our Netflix into the picture.

As nice as this problem is, it also kind of stresses me out. I never thought I would feel the “need” to watch TV, but I almost feel obligated to watch my recorded shows in a timely fashion. There is no actual expiration or rule that we have to watch shows quickly, but it does feel that way.

So here is my new plan: only watch 1 show a night. While that will put us way behind (see? I treat it like it’s work or something), it is probably for the best of our family and it will help us to appreciate the now dwindling daylight.

So tonight’s show is The Office, with Survivor being recorded. Maybe we can holdout and watch Survivor tomorrow….This is going to be painful.

Jesus Camp

September.18.2006

I was updating our queue on Netflix yesterday and saw a banner that caught my eye. Apparently there is a new movie coming out called “Jesus Camp.” It’s actually more of a documentary, but anyways…

Since I work at what could be labeled a “Jesus Camp” it of course caught my eye. The sad thing is that even before I investigated it I knew what I was going to find. Go check out the trailer here and then come back.

So really I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, yes, Christian camps are meant to strengthen the youth of America in their Christian beliefs. I don’t think that is anything too earth-shattering.

On the other hand, the comparisons to Palestinians and the military-style performance were kind of off-putting. If I were on the outside viewing this film, I could certainly see how Christians could be labeled fanatical and even closer to Islamic extremists than I think we would like.

It’s funny (and sad) how Christians are often portrayed in mainstream media.

Death From Above!!!!!!

September.17.2006

Well, after an enjoyable evening of walking in Westfield (discovering a nice cross country trail and finding that Westfield HS actually has an 18 hole disc golf course), Jamie, Leah and I were on our way home to eat some dinner and watch the Amazing Race. It was a great end to a pretty great night.

And then it happened…well almost.

As we were driving down County Road M, it was really about the same as every other drive. We saw a few deer and I, as always, almost forgot about a rather sharp curve. No big deal.

Then, out of the darkness, this giant flash of white, gray and black comes from the right side of the road. I slam on the brakes and kind of cringed as I figured we were definitely going to hit this “thing.” Time slowed down like the Matrix or one of the other hundered movies and videogames that use the stop-motion. I then realized what was going to end up in my lap: an owl.

I’ve hit raccoons, opossums, rabbits, squirrels and an assortment of birds, but never an owl. And I still haven’t. Some how we missed it by literally inches. It was to the point where we could clearly make out the feather patterns when it pulled away from my side of the windshield.

After the shock wore off, Jamie and I joked about the awkward call to the insurance company we would have had to make.

“Yeah, hi, American Family? This is Nick. We hit an animal with our car last night…no, not a deer…no, not a raccoon…actually…it was an owl.”

Thankfully we all survived. That would have been gross, expensive and time consuming. And it’s a great story either way.

Eating Rocks

September.16.2006


Last night was great. It started with Jamie, Leah and I going down to the beach to enjoy what is probably one of the last nice days of summer/fall. I have this fear that the weather is just going to take a turn to frigid soon. Maybe I should buy a Farmer’s Almanac…

Anyway, Leah has a weird (yet normal) aversion with sticking everything in her mouth. I mean, it’s borderline ridiculous. Even when we go grocery shopping I have to have my hands ready like a hockey goalie to stop her constant pecking at the cart handle. Gross.

But back to the story. As we were sitting on the beach, Leah decided that every stone she could wrap her fingers around looked like food. She literally picked up every stone she could. And being the good dad that I am, I would take it from her and fling it behind me.

After a minute or so of this de-rocking on the beach, I realized I could be proactive and actually remove the rocks before she got to them. As kind as I thought this was, she decided to go above and beyond. She started crawling.

And so we crawled together. We meandered the beach and with each half-crawl, she would grab a rock, lift it to her mouth, and then I would take it from her.

It was at this moment that it God spoke to me. In so many areas of my life I try to eat rocks. Even after I realize they are inedible, dangerous and just plain gross, I do my best to eat rocks. When I became aware of God’s presence in my life, I was able to more clearly see the rocks and in some cases even feel God take them away from me.

So what do I do? I crawl my way to more rocks. More sin. It’s sickening, annoying and it’s my human nature. I am really blown away when God uses fatherhood to teach me lessons like this. It happens pretty regularly, but this one really stuck out to me.

Ropes Course

September.15.2006

Okay, so this isn’t actually our ropes course, but it is very similar. No high-flying harnesses and helmets. Just elements that are about 12″ off the ground. Not too exciting, right?

Well normally it isn’t. During the summer you can get in a groove of doing these elements with kids and you learn what things work and what things don’t. Experience is a great teacher.

However yesterday was a bit different. Instead of the energetic, wild, junior high age youth, I was facilitating for 8 lethargic, tired, middle-aged adults. It was different.

It’s not to say it was a bad experience though. They all went into it with a positive attitude and they tried almost everything I threw at them. Two of the ladies were overweight and they still challenged themselves to laterally traverse the cargo net. A pretty daunting task for someone who was admittedly out of shape. I was very impressed with their determination and at the same time knowing their limits.

I think that is what I learned the most yesterday. While I could sometimes see the fear and apprehension on their faces, they often did their best to try and do the task before them. And it wasn’t an issue of pride really, it was just a matter of challenging themselves.

I hope we get more adult groups to do ropes course here. It was really a different and educational experience for me. Hopefully they felt the same as well.