Monday, July 23, 2007

36th Birthday

Saturday was my 36th birthday. I don't know if that officially qualifies as being old yet, but I do know that it most definitely isn't young. Well, I've heard it said that getting older is certainly better than the alternative.

Highlights of the weekend included:
  • Getting to go out for coffee and a movie with Amanda on Friday night. We watched (and I really enjoyed) the latest Harry Potter movie.
  • Spending Saturday morning with my best friend Brian and his family, which included:
    • Eating cinnamon crunch bagels from Panera (they're mouth-gasmic I tell you!) along with a fruit salad that Brian prepared, at a picnic table near the American River.
    • Watching athletes transition from the biking stage to the paddling (mostly kayaks) stage of an untraditional triathlon called 'Eppie's Great Race'.
  • In the evening, we had a few friends over for pizza, games (foosball, darts, etc), and a dessert consisting of 7-layer bars and rumcake (my sister's phenomenal recipe). It was a great time and my only regret was not taking any pictures of it.
Special thanks to Bill, Michael, and Heath for helping me move the treadmill upstairs, to Brian and his family (with us in the above picture) for the morning idea and for helping me feel appreciated, and to my wife Amanda for her hard work preparing for and during the party. I only wish I could/would have made her feel as special for her birthday last month.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The (somewhat surprising) Response to Discipline

I was cleaning Emily up after a meal last weekend, and during this process she was fussing and trying to pull her hands and face away from the washcloth that I was using. Since there was no discernible reason for this and since I definitely needed to get her clean, I sternly (with a firm voice and slightly elevated tone, but definitely not yelling) said "Hey! No fussing! I don't want to hear it!" She looked up at me with big eyes, not really frightened as much as surprised.

And then a couple of things happened. First of all she cooperated and stopped fussing. More surprisingly though, was when Amanda held her afterward, she looked over and reached out for me. Then when I was holding her, she seemed happier to be in my arms than she ever had before. She was smiling away and repeatedly burrowing her head into my shoulder.

But why? First of all, Emily has yet to even speak her first word, so I can be relatively certain that she didn't understand anything I said. So maybe I just scared her. But if my sternness inspired only fear, then I would think she wouldn't want to be near me, but would instead prefer to keep her distance.

The only answer that I can come up with is that I honestly think she has more respect for me because I was fulfilling my role as her parental authority. I haven't really exercised it much with her yet because she is still very young. But kids want us, no need us to be in control and in command. I kinda knew this already, but this was more of an obvious demonstration of it than I have seen before. Especially since a) she didn't understand my words, just my sternness and b) she reacted so undeniably positive, even affectionate to it.

Another question now surfaces though. Why do children want/need us to demonstrate and maintain our authority? Even though I'm not a child psychologist, I can still think of a couple reasons.

1) They depend on us completely (see the previous post about Lucas) for their protection and provision. And protecting them and providing for them both require us to be in control of the outside world, at least to some extent. I think children actually feel more secure seeing that we are capable and willing to be in control of them, because it demonstrates that we are capable of being in control of the outside influences that are required for their very survival.

Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control. -Tom Landry

2) Children know that we are far more knowledgeable about the world than they are and they also know that they need us to show them the ropes. So while the molding process is difficult, they still know that they need it. If we as parents are so weak as to let our kids mold us to their own will, then perhaps deep inside (subconsciously?) they know that they are never going to learn about and become all that we could otherwise teach them and mold them into.

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve. -Tom Landry

Since I'm quoting Tom Landry (a former Dallas Cowboys football coach) I'm going to continue using sports as an example. If you are a younger athlete on a sports team, then you may have a substantial amount of natural speed, strength, and skills. But despite your abundance of natural talent, you know that under your own direction (or under the direction of a weak coach) that you are never going to reach your full potential. It takes a strong leader to instruct, train, mold, encourage, and teach you the meaning of discipline, sometimes using discipline to persuade you.

I guess Emily, even at only 9 months, is old enough to start understanding this now.

Feeling Lucky at Lowes

This weekend I was walking around Lowe's with my 2-year old son in tow. I looked back at this little person following close behind me and realized for a moment what an incredible responsibility that I have as a parent. This little person would have absolutely nothing without me. No shelter, no food, no protection, none of the many things I'm teaching him, no life even.

This realization wasn't a source of pride or boastfulness in any way though. I just feel honestly and incredibly blessed to have this opportunity and joy. To look at this little boy and realize that he depends on me so heavily, and to see him happy and not scared or worried about these things that I am supposed to be providing for him. I guess I'm just very grateful a) for having children to take care of, b) for having the means to take care of and provide for them (material and otherwise), and c) for the joy of watching and participating in their growing and learning.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Before I Die...

...there are a few things that I would like to do, and just today I added a new one.
  1. Travel overseas (I have never been outside the continental U.S.) - preferably Italy.
  2. Attend a live Ultimate Fighting Championship event.
  3. Hang glide.
  4. Obtain a pilot's license.
  5. Obtain a black belt in martial arts (not sure which style yet).
  6. Participate in a Dream Car Tour (just added today).

Things on my list that I have already accomplished:
  1. Bungee jumped.
  2. Sky dove.
  3. Obtained a Master's degree.
  4. Read the whole Bible.
  5. Got married.
  6. Have children.
  7. Living somewhere other than where I grew up (OK, this wasn't on my list before I moved, but now that I'm elsewhere I think that it should have been on the list).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Are Combat Sports and Chrstianity a Contradiction?

Well, I finally finished writing a response to a comment from i eat dentists that was made to my blog on June 8th about UFC stuff. Specifically, the part where he said "as a Christian, I can no longer support this type of violence". As usual for a controversial topic, my response is just too long to make a comment out of. In this case it's too long for a blog too, so I posted a web page about it in the Thoughts section of our family website.

Let me know what you think (if anyone is brave enough to read the whole thing).

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More Random Stuff

I realized a couple of new things yesterday about where we live.
  1. Independence day is much more celebrated as a community here compared to Orlando. It's really neat to see so many people out and celebrating the holiday together as a neighborhood.
  2. A large percentage of the population here are from one of the larger neighboring cities (San Jose, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe) and/or they visit them regularly. So when one of those cities, or their resident(s) are in the news for some reason, there seems to be an unusually large emotional attachment to it by association. For example, the recent fires in Lake Tahoe, accomplishments of nearby sports teams (Sharks, 49ers, Raiders) and even the victory of Joey Chestnut (from San Jose) as the new hot dog eating champion.
These are yet another couple of reasons why this big town, and the other nearby bigger towns, still somehow have a smaller town feel to it.

FARK, one of my favorite web sites, actually linked to this story on the 700 club, about a man who first embraced Satanism, then ended up becoming a Christian. I thought it was pretty interesting, but FARK labeled it with a "Stupid" tag. So do they think the guy was stupid for heading down such a dark path, starting with using a Ouija board? Or are they saying that the article is stupid, perhaps because they think it's too unbelievable and just a bunch of B.S.? What do you readers think about the article and/or why FARK chose to label it as stupid?

I read a great quote from Thomas Jefferson today: "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." How very true that is. The statement would have been really interesting if Jefferson would have accompanied it with some predicted numbers for the increase of government's size, like Gordon Moore (Moore's Law) did for transistors.

A recent study discovered that contrary to the popular notion of women talking significantly more than men, the two genders are actually equally talkative. This really doesn't surprise me though, since in almost all of my dating relationships before Amanda, I was usually the more talkative one. So my life experiences had already taught me the article's revelation that "Some men are more talkative than others, and some women are more talkative than others."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Random Stuff

I was able to edge, weed-eat, and mow my lawn this weekend in 30 minutes. What a great contrast to our old house where the yard took about 1/2 of a day to complete. Sure, we have less yard to play in and look at, but we still have all that we really need, at least for now.

It's been really great having a couple of normal weekends to make some progress on home projects. Now that an extended weekend and holiday are coming up, I'll have to seriously resist the temptation to spend the majority of it getting more accomplished around the house (or should I?).

Last week I participated in VBS (vacation Bible school) for the first time. As the team leader for four kids, it was both fun and tiring. The songs, Bible points (God is: real, with us, strong, awesome, and in charge), and the "YA-HOOO!" response will be stuck in my head probably for weeks, especially since we bought the DVD for Lucas to enjoy.

Our church worship has recently included a song called Bless His Name (link is to mp3), written by Tony Sanchez. I LOVE IT! It's loud and rockin', yet still beautiful and singable (that's an actual word) as worship. It sticks in your head and melts your brain toward God!

Our pastor mentioned in a sermon that all of the members of a men's prayer group that he is a part of are trying to spend 15 minutes each day with God. It was only a side note in the sermon, but it really stuck with me. That sounds so easy, but why is it so difficult? How many little things in my day take up 15 minutes? I'm planning on being part of a similar men's group starting up in August, so I guess I'll find out.

Amanda and I were blessed to have our friends Aaron and Eun (and their two boys) over for dinner on Sunday evening. I can't remember when we last had dinner guests, but it's been too long and I really enjoyed their company.

Here is a website that makes me cringe and pray every time I read it.
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