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Dads (or anyone), are you hosting holiday gatherings sometime in the month of December? Do you have more clutter to remove (prior to guest arrival) than you’d care to admit? Why then, perhaps a sign like one we recently put up might prove helpful – check it out!



SAM_5179Now you’ve got a handy place to put all of your extra items and your guests will be none the wiser!

Here’s the text – which you can easily copy into any word processing software and print out:

Hello Guest – We’re glad you’re – What?

You’re interested in what’s behind this shut door?

Oh, It’s just … you know … it’s a room.

Oh, wait …. Are you thinking that as we cleaned up and decluttered our house for this gathering we put all of the extra stuff in this room? You’re thinking if you opened this door you’d find a big giant mess?

Hahahaha … that’s … really, really funny!

No, no, no, no, no.   No. Why would we do that? We don’t actually have clutter or … really any mess at all on a regular basis. It’s fine. You’d probably be bored if you opened this door. Or envious at the completeness of its non-messy-ness. And I don’t want to be a part of causing you to be envious.

So, how about let’s go look at other parts of the house? Maybe the den? Oh, that’s right, we don’t have a den. Maybe the entryway?



8 Years ago today, driving down Silver Lake Road, we heard this conversation. Barrett was 3 and Daniel was 5.

Barrett: I saw a train track.

Daniel: Did you see a train?

Barrett: No, I saw a train track.

Daniel: But did you see a train?

Barrett: No, I saw a TRAIN TRACK.

Daniel: No, A Train is what rides on a track.

Barrett: Yes, A train track is the thing that I saw.

Daniel: No, I don’t think you understand –

At this point I interrupted and explained to Daniel that Barrett probably did in fact understand.

So one day on our big Christmas trip to Arkansas to see my wife’s sister’s family, my brother-in-law Phil and I let our wives go shopping while we took the kids to a nice big park overlooking the Arkansas River (right there in Little Rock, real close to the Clinton Presidential Library).

As we were eating our picnic lunch

. . . on top of the interestingly landscaped hill

. . . we saw what seemed (to our Minnesota eyes) to be odd

: families were sledding

. . . down the brown grass, on real sleds and big pieces of cardboard.

. . . so of course we (with our Minnesota sensibilities) chuckled. How can you call it sledding when there’s no snow?

And then we went on a walk. We visited the Arkansas River Nature Center. We found a couple geocaches. And then on the way back to our car . . .

. . our kids found some of the big pieces of cardboard that a family had left . . .

. . . and they did the obvious thing. They sledded down the hill.

. . . and they, of course, had a lot of fun. And then as must happen, and as the sun was going down. . .

I, the Responsible Father, had to try it. It goes without saying that, on my way down, I turned sideways, turned over and got fairly grassy and dirty. But it was fun.

The End

I now leave you . . .

. . . with two artistic photos from that day.

. . . using my definition of ‘artistic’, of course.

Disclaimer 1: For those of you with no interest in Vox – please feel free to skip. But you might find it interesting – from the angle of hearing a little of what it was like to grow up Baptist.

Disclaimer 2: I have found that my memories of the distant past are often lacking in their accuracy.

Disclaimer 3: For those of you considering going to Vox’s blog, know that he is often wrong. And he’s coarse in his wrongness. That’s why I put him “At Your Own Risk”. There are those who think I shouldn’t even have the link to him (one in particular really, really doesn’t think I should). I don’t want to take down the link – So I’ll simply warn you in this way: Sometimes I don’t know if he’s sexist and racist or if he’s crazy.

(See First Vox Day and Me Post)

In any case – here is –

Vox Day and Me, Part 2: The Teen Years

Ah, Junior High. The Golden Years. The Transition Years. Yes, Vox was a geek. Or maybe geek-ish. (Actually those words don’t really fit. How about ‘Not the pinacle of coolness’?) Now, obviously he didn’t rise near the level of awkwardness that Jamsco flew to. Here’s an illustrative story:

Okay, I hesitate to mention this story, (mostly because it will delight Nate), but I could bring you to the spot in the Narthex (or Foyer? again I get them mixed up) where I mentioned to Vox (say, in eighth grade) that I showered every day. I then stated that it hadn’t been that long since I only showered once a week. His grim reply: “I know.”

But as far as I can recall, he wasn’t yet a part of the cool crowd at our church (Yes, we had one – they were mostly pretty nice.) That was to come later.

Vox and I were in Scouts. As I have previously mentioned, his Dad was the Scoutmaster.

I recall a conversation on the way home from a winter camping trip about evolution and Vox asked his dad if he could bring the Creation-focused ideas they were discussing to his science teacher at school. His dad said yes. I don’t know how that went.

I also remember the night before the 1980 Presidential election, we scouts held a mock election. I voted for Carter (it was, I think, the only time I voted for Democratic presidential candidate), Vox voted for Reagan. I asked him why he liked Reagan and my fuzzy memory is that he said that Reagan would print a greater amount of money – and that that would help the economy. More recent statements from Vox make me think that this memory might be wrong. Maybe he can shed some light into this.

It was on a week-long scouting trip to the Boundary Waters that I first heard about the Lord of the Rings – from Vox, who had a LOTR comic book. I remember thinking out loud how cool it would be to have a ring that would make you invisible only to be disappointed by Vox’s dark response that it didn’t turn out so well for the people who used it. I didn’t actually read that book until after college. It’s now my favorite.

. . . Okay, I can hear your voices collectively calling out to me “Jamsco! When was Vox a chicken when you weren’t? You promised!”

Oh yes. I did say that I was going to tell a story along those lines in my previous Vox Day and Me post. *

Alright, alright! Our youth group leaders were crazy and they brought us (a bunch of young teens) on a weekend trip to Wisconsin (no, that’s not the crazy part) where we all went cliff jumping**. From hundreds of feet up (again – remember when I mentioned that my memory of decades old details was hazy?). Into the St. Croix River. But they only allowed us to do this (obviously) after swimming around in the jump zone to make sure there were no branches or other kinds of pointy objects just under the surface. To do otherwise might have been dangerous.

In any case, when I say ‘we all went’ I should clarify: Jamsco and several others jumped off the cliff. But not Vox. Now he’ll tell you (if he hasn’t blocked this out of his mind) that the reason he didn’t jump off the cliff was because he was too sun-burnt from an afternoon of tubing down the Apple River. At least that’s what he told me that day. I nodded, in seeming acceptance of his explanation.

Also, I should say in fairness that he might have jumped off a lower cliff. But I think that was only like eight feet up or something. There, are you satisfied?

For a short time in high school, I was in a small Bible study with Vox. A youth leader came and picked us up at our homes and brought us to a Macdonalds and we talked about the Bible. We met on Tuesdays. I remember this only because one time Vox got into the car and said, “It’s KQ92s day!”***

I didn’t know what this was. I learned later. For those of you non-Twin-Citians, suffice to say that KQRS is not a radio station that Mr. W would appreciate [see post #1].

Vox may have done the Put-the-ketchup-packet’s-under-the-car-wheel prank on this youth leader on one occasion. He also may have borrowed a Superman novel that I hadn’t yet read, and never returned it. But I’m not bitter.

Years later, after reading the fourth paragraph of the first chapter of “The World In Shadow” I because nervous that at one point in this Bible study I may have stated that a particular passage in the bible was “really neat.” It might have happened.

And then, as sometimes happens with families, I became aware that Vox’s tribe was no longer going to our church. It would be sometime before I’d see Vox again. But that’s for next time.

In conclusion, it is my fervent hope that Vox doesn’t post every embarrassing “Yes, Jamsco was incredibly awkward” story he can think of. I’m sure he has some. But, really, I think he’s above that kind of thing.

* By the way, there was a complaint in the comments of the last Vox post along the lines of “you mean all you’re going to do is tell anecdotes?” I’m not entirely sure what else he was expecting.

** Again, I predict here Nate will say something like: “You call cliff jumping crazy? Our youth groups used to have pellet gun shoot-outs with first Baptist from the next town over! And no eye protection!”

*** Not sure how to spell this.

I’ve created my first Youtube video.

What do you think, Daniel? Should I take it down?

Full disclosure: This was not really an accidental video.

I work with the Kindergartners and First Graders on Wednesday nights and one of the small group leaders, Vicki brought in some stickers for the other small group leaders to use.

She explained that she had ordered them and instead of getting 3 or 4 sets like she expected, she had received a tall stack of them. She wasn’t sure why they had sent so many, but the good news was she had plenty to share.

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that one of the first graders noticed something that explained why she received so many so cheap.

He actually looked up the verse at the bottom of the sticker (Psalm 38.5) and discovered that it was mislabeled. So what is the real Psalm 38.5?

“My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness”

. . which, although it is the inspired word of God, may be slightly less appropriate on a sticker meant to encourage a child, don’t you think?

If you’d like to purchase these stickers, they are still available here.

I thought I’d let you know that Jon Acuff, over at Stuff Christians Like, posted my article submission today.

Go read it!

I just realized that it’s more than three months since Christmas and more than a month since I posted the front of our families Christmas Card.

So here’s the back. It is comprised of entries from my kids’ journals.

I loved to see your comments on your favorite story here.


(Jan 10) Adelyn worked quite awhile making a penny based artwork drawing of a girl on the floor. It was pretty impressive. Her comment about it was: “If you make she (her) holding a penny, it would be hard to notice”

(Jan 20) Carl created a power point presentation with no help from us, having just discovered power point on his own.

(Jan 22) Foster laughed while Anna was helping to change his diaper. It was a very happy sound.

(Feb 22) Today he was dedicated at church and he did well until Pastor David started praying and then he cried hard.

(Mar 5) The kids discovered that parts of the walls are magnetic, so the kids went through the trying to find those spots and putting magnets there. (When Carl saw this journal entry he said “Actually ‘Magnetic’ is the wrong word. You can see what it’s supposed to mean, but technically it’s wrong”)

(Mar 7) Carl is taking it upon himself to multiple times a day collect sap from the maple trees. He created an excel file (with formulas) to keep track of it.

(Mar 8 ) Adelyn going downstairs to watch a movie said “Can we watch the left-overs?” (She meant ‘extras’)

(Apr 5) Today on the way to church, Barrett said “It looks like spring . . . . sort of … except everything’s white.”

(Apr 9) Today I was trying to recite Psalm 34 to Daniel and I got stuck at a part. Anna continued it for me. I was impressed.

(Apr 30) Debbie was giving me a hug before I left for work this morning and Erik walked up and gave us a big embrace, saying “Hug Group!”

(May 16) Carl, Daniel and Barrett worked together to mow the lawn (I was the manager), Carl rode the rider, and Daniel and Barrett switched off between the push-motor and the push-non-motor. I’m pleased.

(July 12) Today we were talking about the meaning of the word “Premium” and we were wondering what it’s history was. Daniel said “I think the word ‘Premium’ is based on the Latin word ‘premium’.”

(July 28) Anna continues to be our best geocache finder. Today she found one before 8 other kids and 2 adults.

(July 30) While doing spelling with Debbie, Barrett (after having difficulty with first four words) asked, “Can I just tell you the letters, but not in the right order?”

(Aug 1) While they were waiting for Barrett’s prescription to be filled, Barrett sat on a chair while Debbie went to get a couple things. Barrett asked – “Will you be within eyeshot?”

(Aug 6) Today Foster was sitting in his highchair while we were eating supper and he spit up significantly all over the tray. Adelyn said “He’s losing my appetite.”

(Aug 20)Adelyn asked Debbie, “So the [dental] fillings they made “back then” weren’t as good?”. And Debbie asked “Why?”  “You said they were made out of Mars.” She meant mercury.

(Sept 4) Today we were all eating caramels and Carl suddenly said “Hey, someone’s tooth is in this! Wait, it’s mine.”

(Sept 11) We officially adopted Foster today in Ramsey County court.

(Sept 19) Today I went on a bike trip with Carl, Daniel and Barrett and Barrett did quite well, usually way ahead of us. When this happened on a pretty steep hill, I pointed it out to the other boys. Daniel said “That’s not going to make me go faster.” He’s on to me.

(Sept 19) Today Adelyn was pushing Foster (who was buckled in his carseat, on the umbrella stroller) up a steep bikepath. Suddenly Foster’s carseat fell forward and upside down.  Gasping, we rushed to help him. But he was smiling and amused, hanging there upside down.

(Oct 4) Today I wanted to go outside with them and try out the new arrows and BB gun. I said “Let’s go shoot stuff.” They all cheered and followed me and Erik said, “What shoe stuff?”

(Nov 22) Barrett said something like this today: “You can tell boys from girls because girls don’t have anything on them and boys have hats.”

Last weekend, very graciously, Debbie’s dad (Keith) came and we worked hard to take out the interior wall of our kitchen for more kitchen space and to open it up to the rest of our upstairs.

First pictures, then explanations.



A. This is where the wall used to meet the ceiling. There’s still about two 2X4s of thickness sticking out.

B. Note the light fixture switches. We’re thinking about keeping them up there but fear that having light switches eight feet high might hurt the resale value of our home.

C. Debbie has never been fond of this wallpaper trim and was happy to see half of it be taken out of the home. The remainder will be gone at some point. She’s thinking about steaming it off.

D. This is an outlet that used to be in the wall. It’s handy to have it moveable, but, again, we fear that inspectors might not find this to be up to code.

E. These are the cabinets and counter that used to be in the kitchen.

F. One bad thing about the great room feel is we lose space for hanging photos. This is about all we have in the entire kitchen dining area.

G. Yea! We can see out to the south from our living room!

H. Yes, that is subflooring where the cabinet used to be.

I. We cut off most of this wall, but left some in case we want to put an outlet or light switch there later. PhilTheCarl, any ideas?

J. Yes, that is cut up plastic bags keeping attic insulation from falling into our kitchen.

K This is our temporary island – we’re hoping to use it to help us figure out where to put the real thing.

L. Who wouldn’t want halogen lights in the kitchen? It gives a cool glow reminiscent of lighting used by astronauts while they were on the moon.

M. The microwave. It hasn’t worked since about a month after we moved into the house.

So yes, we have much work to do on pretty much every aspect of the project (any suggestions or tips?). But phase one is done.

We are grateful to Keith for all his help and to God for safety.

Dads, if any of your children are choosing a musical instrument to learn, and they are leaning towards saxophone, encourage them against this.  Saxophone is the only band instrument that is not an orchestra instrument. For Good Reason.

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