Monday, March 31, 2008

Unintentional Entertainment

Emily's vocabulary is still pretty limited, but for some reason last night at dinner she was saying "hi boy" (with boy pronounced more like "buoy"). So Lucas imitated her, then I responded to her next time by saying "hi girl".

Soon, we were all going around the table saying this to each other, when someone (I think it was Lucas) suggested that we all do it at the same time. "One, two, three - HI, BOY!" at the top of our lungs. Then "One, two, three - HI, GIRL!". Emily was laughing. Lucas was laughing. We all were having silly fun.

Next thing you know, adjectives are being inserted. Pretty girl. Then poopy boy. Then "One, two, three - PRETTY POOPY!" as loud as we can. Eruption of laughter from all. Eventually though, we had to settle down and start getting the kids ready for bedtime.

Later that evening, I was locking up the house and turning off the lights before bed when I realized the temperature was unusually cool downstairs. Lo and behold the front window had been left opened (by me, I might add) since the morning.

My stomach dropped a bit and I shook my head and sighed. We had inadvertently been entertaining our whole neighborhood for dinner.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Naturally, I'm a Skeptic

While I was in Florida, my mom tried her best to get me to drink Apple Cider Vinegar, along with a half-dozen other natural cures and preventative herbal remedies.

She has been promoting this cause for a long time now. Usually I just remind her of my skepticism, even if I don't really have a good reason for it. In the end, I usually end up saying "Uh-huh. Ok. Sure." to placate her, although I never actually try any of the numerous cockamamie concoctions that she recommends.

This last time though, after she persuaded me to read a chapter of a book that she was trying to use to convince me, I was finally able to pinpoint why I am so skeptical, and also what it would take to overcome my innate pessimism.

In the book, as in most of what I have read about natural and herbal remedies, there were plenty of explanations given for why oak root should be used to bolster the health of your skin, liver, pancreas, etc. Or how snake oil prevents cancer, cures aids, and gives you a larger erection. But none of the reasons in that book, none of them referenced an actual study or used any conclusive data. They were all vague and unspecific.

Examples of statements are "It has been shown that..." or "Many European countries use this for...". Another popular theme seemed to be the usage of various herbs by American Indians. There were even statements bragging that particular remedies were used decades or even centuries ago, as if that is a good thing. Weren't leeches used as a remedy back then too? Oh, and how we should all long for the days of medicine before antibiotics, penicillin, anesthetics, and all of that newfangled poppycock.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely against seeking alternative medicine, and I don't entirely discount the argument that the pharmaceutical companies are trying to peddle their chemicals and make more profit by convincing people that they need them. But at least prescription drugs have to go through the FDA first, and I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that there are plenty of doctors and scientists who have already either confirmed or criticized their claims of curing.

All I'm saying is this: Everyone is trying to make a buck and sell their products, which includes natural remedies. To convince me that something is worth paying for and risking my health by ingesting it, show me some conclusive proof. A properly performed scientific study (with a control group, a convincing number of subjects, placebos, randomization, etc) would be a good start. If it was performed by a reputable school or organization, then that would be even better.

I don't think that's unreasonable to expect, especially considering it's not only my hard earned dollars that are at risk, but also my health.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Emily's Encouragement

Emily is definitely more spunky/aggressive than Lucas, swinging her arms wildly at things that make her mad, squinting her face up, pushing back at Lucas when he tries to take things from her, etc. But she is also more cuddly than him, and she is definitely daddy's girl.

Last night I got to put Emily to sleep, which for both of our kids includes the following (after brushing teeth and putting on pajamas): Reading a book, saying a prayer, giving a kiss, then singing a song as we make our exit out of their room.

When I held her on the way to her room, she did something interesting. She leaned back and moved her hand over my chest, then moved her other hand over my upper arm/shoulder. Then she lay her head on my shoulder for me to go through the usual bedtime ritual.

This left me feeling a little awkward, a little flattered, and above all wondering what she is thinking. Is she just noticing a difference between me and her mommy (harder muscles, different shape, etc)? I remember when I was little being in awe of my dad's muscles (he used to flex his arms so that my sister and I would be hanging from each one). So is she similarly noticing my muscles?

I'm not really sure what's going through her little mind, but I do know how it makes me feel though. It reminds me that I am her big, strong daddy and it inspires me to do my best to stay that way. It emphasizes the fact that she relies on me for her protection, and will do so until she gets married and hopefully has a big, strong husband to take my place.

Now if only I can cut back my work hours and get my butt back to the gym once in a while.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Puzzling Purpose

I completed my first Sudoku puzzle (pictured above) when I was in Florida this last Christmas. I really enjoyed it, and have completed another 3 since then. But the reason that I'm not really "into it" is because I can't figure out what the point of it is, besides just wasting time and feeling a sense of satisfaction by completing it.

It doesn't use your imagination (like reading). It doesn't increase your vocabulary (like crossword puzzles). Heck, I can even see a benefit to playing some video games, such as role playing or pretending to do something dangerous and adventurous that you wouldn't be able to do in real life (such as a fast driving game or a first person shooter).

Although Sudoku is played with numbers, I don't see how it could improve your math skills, since you're not actually performing any computations with them. Really, the numbers could just as well be random symbols. I even wonder if they use numbers to make you think you're doing something smart. The only brain activity you are performing though is using the process of elimination to determine which numbers go where. So maybe it exercises problem solving skills on some basic remedial level?

So while I do really enjoy it and will probably continue to solve a Sudoku once in a while, the best I can figure is that it's basically a paper version of Pac-Man. Sure it feels good to conquer a level, but all it really accomplishes is letting you get to another one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Print Provides Persuasive (although unpleasant) Proof

I spoke with my brother on the phone for a decent amount of time this evening. Somehow in the conversation, the topic of a web site came up that I go to daily to pray for the people in the stories, and how I find some of these stories (such as this one) good examples of how evil can directly influence people, as they are just too horrible to stem from anything else, in my opinion.

Then I remembered another article. It's one that I read a long time ago, and is the single most convincing story of demonic influence, and of evil transitioning itself from the supernatural into the physical realm, that I have ever read.

Granted, I have heard some freaky stories of both demonic battles from overseas missionaries and from pastors who have seen a direct influence of demons on people or on the physical world that we live in. But hearing stories and reading an article by a legitimate news source are two entirely different things.

So here is the article.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Matt Has Left the Building

Our roommate Matt has moved out and moved on. Three other guys at his church, that are also his age, invited him to live with them and he accepted. I'm actually really happy for him. I think he'll have a much more rewarding and memorable time at this stage of his life by living with other guys his age, especially if they are Christians too.

Now we have to figure out what is next for our living arrangements and our budget. We may look for another tenant, but that's a difficult process at best and a nightmare at worst. With two young children, it has to be someone that we can trust. Matt was referred to us by our missionary friends, we checked his references, met his parents, and even still we were a little precautionary at first. In addition, while Matt was an awesome roommate, it is nice to have the house completely to ourselves again.

Another option is for Amanda to get a part time job a couple nights a week and/or maybe one day of the weekend. But where at, how much will it really pay (after taxes and gas), and will Amanda go completely bat shiat crazy by trying to fit work into her already busy schedule?

Or we can tithe less, cut our budget further, hope for a big raise and/or reduce our contributions to retirement savings. These are completely undesirable though and may take all of the above to make a big enough difference. Things to think and pray about for sure.

As a side note: I will definitely miss having the sport bikes in the garage, especially since he let me ride them.:-)
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