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Almost A Good Picture December 17, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.

When we were at Walmart the other day, someone was passing out Shrek ears as a promotion for the new movie.  We got a set and in my head, I had these images of cute pictures around the Christmas tree together.  Here’s what I got instead.

Better luck next time.



Resting In The Hospital? Hahahaha! September 6, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.
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As Laura and I walked the halls of hospital in an attempt to usher on delivery of David in Friday night, we passed by the Post Partum area several times. Oh, how she longed to already be there rather than having to go back to Labor & Delivery. At 12:47 am Saturday, she got her wish and David joined us in this world. We’ve been in Post Partum ever since.

Post Partum is the area of the hospital set aside for new mothers to recover. Notice that I didn’t say to rest. There’s very little resting that happens in Post Partum. Maybe it’s that way in other areas of the hospital, too. Fortunately, I don’t really know.

Post Partum is a little like a summer camp or a slumber party. Every hour or so, someone wakes you up for some reason. At summer camp, it’s to hide your shoes or put your underwear in the freezer. In Post Partum it’s to check your vital signs or to make sure you’re resting comfortably and ask if you need anything. They are very attentive here. Actually now that I think about it, I haven’t seen my shoes in a while….hey!

Anyway, I’ve been staying in the room with Laura. There’s a chair beside her bed that pulls out into an apparatus for sleeping. I’ve nicknamed it the original transformer. Remember those crude toys of yesteryear that were supposed to be a motorcycle one minute and a robot the next? It only took 37 short reconfiguration movements and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering to make the transition. Actually the PhD was only required if you were over 12. Kids could easily change the toy from one to the other. As an adult, I think it’d be easier to broker peace in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, I’ve been sleeping on the original transformer beside Laura’s bed. And apart from the regular attention from the hospital staff, we’ve had a good and uneventful stay. Everyone is recovering nicely.

We’re preparing to go home now. We expect to be discharged before lunch. And we’re looking forward to it; there’s no place like home.

A Real Labor Day Weekend! Welcoming David To Our Family September 5, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.

Laura called me Friday afternoon to tell me that she had been having contractions most of the day. This didn’t alarm her since all of her pregnancies have included weeks of contractions before the big event. But since these seemed to be growing in intensity, she was going to head toward the hospital just in case. We live about 45 minutes from the hospital, and since this is our sixth pregnancy every minute counts.

She called again a little while later. The contractions were subsiding and we decided to meet at a restaurant for dinner instead. We’d still be closer to the hospital just in case.

After a nice leisurely dinner of Mexican food, we decided to walk to a nearby Dollar General store to buy the kids some candy for dessert. The contractions started back in the store. Mexican food and contractions: coincidence? I don’t know.

We weren’t in there long before I heard Laura call to me from another isle “Joe, we need to go.” When I got to her, she told me that her water had broken. That was at 7:15 pm.

We headed to the hospital, calling friends and family along the way.

When we arrived at the hospital, Laura’s mid-wife met us there. She was with us the whole time. She did a great job helping to comfort Laura and ease the baby into the world. I’d highly recommend using a mid-wife.

At 12:47 am, David Edward Webb was born. He had the cord wrapped around his neck, not once, but twice. At first he was very lethargic and that gave the attending staff cause for concern. They called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) personnel; they arrived within 60 seconds. After giving David some oxygen and fluids, they declared that everything was fine.

We’re still in the hospital; we’ll be released tomorrow morning.

We’re very thankful for the blessings we’ve received from the Lord and from our friends and family.

As soon as Bro. Jon heard about our admittance to the hospital on Friday, he came to see and pray with us. He also brought a gift bag of snacks and other things we may need during our stay. Guess he knows what hospital food is like.

We’ve also heard from friends from near and far who have lifted us up in prayer and have sent their well-wishes. We feel very blessed.

May The Feline Be With You August 15, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.

We’ve finally decided on a name for our new kitten. It will now be known as Darth Kitty.  There were just too many good one liners to pass up.

  • “May the Feline be with you.”
  • “Luke, I’m your kitten.”
  • “Come and feel the power of the kitty side.”

And of course instead of the heavy breathing, we hear a deep breath followed by a long purr.

Rachel has decided that she’ll call him DK for short.

Do Hard Things August 14, 2010

Posted by Joe in Faith, Family.

I took Benjamin to an all day conference called The Rebelution: Do Hard Things today. What is a Rebelution? It’s a teenage rebellion against low expectations.

Here’s are some notes I took during the conference.

Setting Expectations

An elephant can pull trees out of the ground; it can win a tug-a-war contest against 100 men. Yet a simple piece of twine and a wooden stake in the ground can keep it from leaving in the night. Why? It’s not the twine around its leg that’s holding it back; it’s the shackles around it’s mind. It’s a matter of expectations. The elephant is trained from a very early age that it cannot pull free if something is tied around it back right leg. And it never challenges that expectation as an adult.

Young people of the past did incredible things. There were high expectations for them. That’s not so today; we have, as a society, have told young people that we expect them to be lazy, to goof off, and to be unreliable. And they are living up to our expectations.

When you look in the Bible, there is no mention of adolescence, of looking like an adult yet behaving like a child. God’s Word doesn’t have the concept of teenager. Paul counsels us to put away childish things. He doesn’t say that as young adults we should hold on to childish things.

Set high expectations. Actions follow expectations.

Do Hard Things

The complexity of our challenges have grown as we have grown, yet so has our capacity. What’s the difference in a four year old lifting 10 pounds and an eighteen year old lifting 100 pounds? Think about it this way. What’s the difference in a little Dixie cup and a huge super-sized cup when each is half full? Which is more full? One has more capacity, sure, but they are both still half full.

Our culture expects more from babies than from teenagers. Babies learn to talk, to walk, to go to the potty. We don’t give them a pass. Yet as our kids get older, our expectations for them goes down. We give ourselves and our kids a pass. “I’m not a math person.”, they say. Yet we don’t let our three year say “Mommy, I’m just not a toilet person.” when they are potty training.

Growth comes when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. And we need to grow to be the person that God wants us to be. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t quit. Moses tried to quit; Jeremiah had an excuse. But God wouldn’t give up on them. So don’t give up on yourself.

Expect great things of yourself and strive to reach the potential that God has given you to do the work He has prepared for you. Do hard things. Reach your full potential. Remember, worthwhile things are not easy. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first. Just keep trying.

Much More

Although this has been a long post, there was much more great information presented in the conference. This post doesn’t come close to capturing many of the great points the Harris brothers made. It wasn’t a name-it-and-claim-it conference either. It was full of solid and boldly spoken truth.

For example, Alex gave an incredibly powerful testimony as he shared the Gospel. He challenged all of us to carefully consider our relationship with God, to examine our lives to see if there is evidence of God’s grace. It was moving. And it was a tremendous call to actions for each of us to live out our purpose. Then the oldest brother, Joshua, talked of the importance of building our life on a solid foundation, the rock that only Christ can be.

The conference was a great time of worship and bonding with Benjamin. We had a wonderful time together. He’s already asking to go back next time the conference comes around. If you have kids, I’d definitely recommend attending one. If you can’t make it to a Rebelution conference, buy the Harris’ best selling book Do Hard Things and read it with them. The conference is based on the book.

Recommended Resources

During the course of the conferences, many books were recommended and even given away. Here’s a list of some of them. We bought the first two. Benjamin’s looking forward to reading them.

This Week’s Ultrasound August 13, 2010

Posted by Joe in Faith, Family.

Laura had another ultrasound yesterday to look for breathing motions, amount of amniotic fluid, heart rate and so on.  Every thing looked good. We will probably receive the official report later today.

David Edward weighs in at nearly 6 1/2 lbs which puts him in the 98th percentile for growth.  In other words, he’s full-term size already but he’s supposed to stay put for another 5 1/2 weeks.  Laura says that he has been busy renovating her interior, pushing her liver over here and her bladder over there to make room for his continued growth.

We’re thankful that everything has gone well with this pregnancy. Thanks for continued prayer.

Our Kitten Has Arrived August 12, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.

Laura picked up our new outdoor kitten this afternoon. It got a very warm welcome from everyone except for the existing outdoor cat, Coco.

We still haven’t decided on a name for it. Right now the family is evenly split. The choices are:

  • Darth Kitty
  • Dexter
  • Thin Mint
  • Meow
  • Chubbs

With one abstention.

An Exhilarating Sunday Afternoon August 8, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family, Farm.

Remember Easy Like Sunday Morning from Lionel Richie? Well Sunday mornings may be easy, but this Sunday afternoon was full of adrenaline for me.

I needed to take several items down to the toolshed where we store off-season clothes, camping equipment, and of course some tools. When I got down there, I noticed a couple of wasps flying around near the door.

Generally, I don’t mind all of God’s creatures being around. They’re part of nature. They exist for a reason. In His omnipotence He created them. I don’t pretend to understand why He created some of them, like the horsefly, but I know He had a reason.

So I live and let live for the most part. There’s an exception for me, though. If the animals are causing problems for us, they’ve got to go. For example, I don’t mind chicken snakes, unless they are eating our eggs. In this case though, the wasps were in a very inconvenient place. I didn’t want Benjamin or Rachel to get stung while getting something from the toolshed for me. So the wasps had to go.

I sent Benjamin back up to the house to get the fly swatter. As he walked back up to the house to get it, I began unloading the totes and items from the bed of my truck and taking them into the toolshed. I’d gotten about half of the items into the shed when he returned with a fly swatter and a very old can of Raid. In fact, I believe both the Raid and the flyswatter were purchased when we moved into the house 5 and 1/2 years ago.

I decided to go ahead and take care of the wasps before unloading the rest of the items in the truck. As I approached the door armed with just the flyswatter, I noticed that another wasp came out of a baseball-sized hole in the side of the toolshed. I carefully peaked into the hole. And there, inside the hole, was a whole swarm of bright red wasps busily doing whatever it is that wasps do.

Wow! I immediately retreated, nearly falling over myself, and grabbed the can of Raid that Benjamin had brought for me. Since it was  a very old can, I tested it out before approaching my newfound Sunday afternoon nemesis. I’m glad I did. A fine mist came shooting out of my secret weapon. Well, shooting is not exactly the right word for it. It was more like a mist from can of spray starch. Then I remembered. A couple of years ago, the nozzle of the can somehow broke. I replaced it with the only other nozzle I could find, one from an old can of spray starch. So the can of Raid that boasted of a being able to hit bugs at 25 feet now couldn’t shoot 12 inches.

Undeterred, I approached the hole in the wall, aimed the spray starch nozzle at the home of the little stingers with wings and let it rip. Mist!

And did the wasps come flying out! It seems a fine mist of Raid is very effective at getting a swarm of wasps very agitated. As I turned to run, I nearly knocked over into my 20 month old son, Timothy, who was standing right behind me. A picked him up, holding a can of spray in one hand and a flyswatter in the other and awkwardly ran toward the truck. Benjamin was under the truck.

I ordered Benjamin to take Timothy to the house. He didn’t object.

Then I approached the clearly annoyed wasps again. There’s something very exhilarating about doing battle with a swarm of wasps. Your adrenaline starts pumping was you swat one out of the air, mid-flight. The only thing more electrifying is swatting at one, missing, and then losing sight of it as it flies right by your head. That’ll really start your cardiovascular system to pumping.

In the end, I did battle with the wasps for 20 minutes. I’d get two or three of them, and then have a couple of close calls that sent me running back to the perceived safety of my truck. I’d slowly approach again, score another couple of points and then hurriedly retreat again.

I’m glad Laura didn’t have a video camera on me. I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty sight. Me swinging wildly left and right with a bent flyswatter then high-stepping it out of there with my elbows pumping.

But I’ve got to say it was as fun; fun like going to a haunted house and roller coaster all rolled into one. If you do well, you win. But there’s always the threat of intense pain when one of them gets through your line of defense.

Fortunately, I bested the wasps this day. And I didn’t get stung.

After it was all done I still had to enter the toolshed and finish putting away the remaining items. I was a bit nervous about it. I was still on high alert. But I finished my task without getting stung.

Who says you can’t get a cardiovascular workout while doing farm chores?

What about you? Got any stories bug stories you’d like to share?

We’re Back! The 2010 School Year Begins August 3, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family, Homeschooling.

Working in the recliner just like his old man.

Yesterday marked the passing of yet another era for the kids. The short-lived summer break that they enjoyed came to an abrupt end and school started. Since we homeschool, it’s really our choice when the school year begins. We’ve found that starting the first week in August works well for us.

As I mentioned in a prior post, we’ve made some changes to this school year. More of their daily activities will be driven by a homeschooling software called Switched-On Schoolhouse.

Although the kids weren’t excited about the end of summer, they were eager to try out their new software. The demonstration lessons that they asked to go through on Sunday night were entertaining and engaging. So it wasn’t a chore getting them started on Monday morning.

Their enthusiasm soon wained as the reality of the start of a new school year set in. Although the software is interactive and even fun for them at times, they soon became a frustrated with the way it asks certain questions. They were unclear how to respond to the prompts, how to answer the questions, and how to manipulate the software. It became stumbling block for them.

In a way, their experience parallels what many users, regardless of age, go through. Initially, there’s new excitement and the promise of something new. There is optimism about how it will make the normal routine better. The optimism soon subsides and is replaced by questions and uncertainty. “How does this software work? It’s not doing what I thought it’d do.” Soon that gives way to annoyance and frustration. At that point the software is actually inhibiting them from actually doing work.  That’s where my kids left off yesterday.

Fortunately the life cycle of adopting new software doesn’t end there. Eventually, the software will become another tool to get the job done. In this case, the job is imparting knowledge to the sponge-like grey matter of my kids.

Today has been a better experience for them. They are beginning to understand how to respond to the types of questions. Hopefully this will continue for them and by the end of the week, they’ll be able to navigate through it without problems.

Then they’ll be back to just be disliking The Three R’s rather than the software that presents it to them.

A Cat by Any Other Name… August 2, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family, Farm.

As you may imagine, living in an old farm means being surrounded by a lot of history. It’s fun to imagine all of the births, lives, and events that must have taken place over course of this house’s 110 year history. We love living in the country and being the next chapter in the story of this house and land.

But living in an old farmhouse also means being surrounded by fields full of mice just looking for their opportunity to join us inside. That’s one of the reasons we got two outdoor cats a couple of years ago. After getting Patch and Coco, we noticed an immediate and dramatic drop in the number of mice we saw in and around the house. The cats often leave remnants from their hunting excursions on the back porch; I think they’re paying tribute to us for providing them food and shelter.

Our kids have learned at an early age about life. They’ve learned about the circle of life and where our food comes from. It doesn’t bother them to know that what we have on the dinner table may have once walked in our fields. That’s the natural order of things, the way it’s supposed to be.

But what did bother them a bit was the disappearance of Patch a couple of months ago. One day she was here, the next day she was gone. Patch would often hunt at night. We surmise that one night she met with an owl and the predator became the prey.

So over this past weekend, we went to pick out a new kitten from some friends who suddenly found themselves with many more felines than they cared to manage. We are now the proud owners of a new, solid black, male kitten.

We haven’t actually taken possession of this newest resident of Blessed Acres Farm; he still needs a week or so with his mother. But when he does arrive, he’ll need a name. We’ve been talking about names almost nonstop since he was selected on Saturday. Personally I like the name Chubbs. But Rachel, who somehow feels the most ownership in the cat, is dead-set against that name. She prefers Miko or Thin Mint. She is willing to compromise a bit and go with Tubbs.

So, we’re looking for suggestions for a name for our new outdoor kitten. Got any?