Thursday, December 10, 2009

A tribute to Art Linkletter

The english language is a difficult language to master. Even the best of us gets a little tongue tied now and again. Recently our kids have made a few slips that we thought warranted a blog entry.

Apparently, Nathan has been studying the rise the size of the average american. He came in an announce to Kerri and I that over 75% of Americans are "obtuse!" While he may have gotten the word wrong, the statement is probably true.

Later after reading about Johann Sebastian Bach and his rather impressive family which consisted of twenty children, he informed us that of his twenty kids, only thirteen survived to "adultery."

Lastly, I came home while Ruthie was in the shower singing something at the top of her lungs. It sounded something like this... "augh! aughaughaugh augh aughaughaugh augh!" I couldn't quite make out the tune, so I waited for the sopping little girl to emerge before I asked her to sing the tune to me. Turns out the song was "Glory in a Chelea's stable." She had no idea what the words were, she just love the song. Now at long last, we know who let Joseph and Mary stay in their stables... it was Chelsea.

This Christmas take sum thyme to find the joy in the smell thinks. A little lofter make the day a little happierer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reasons to be thankful

Tonight is the last night of Thanksgiving break. This year, for the first time in recorded history, the schools decided to let the kids off for the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving. After our hectic semester, all five of the Christensen clan were looking forward to a break from the hectic schedule. This week, however, would not turn out to be the week that we had planned. To begin, Kerri's Grandmother had been hospitalized some weeks before and is not doing well. During this break, Memaw's condition would continue to deteriorate to the point that homecare was no longer an option and Ann (Kerri's mom) would be force to make the painful decision to put Memaw into a nursing home. Both Kerri and Ann, along with a wonderful handful of ladies from the Church exhausted themselves helping Memaw around the clock while she was in the hospital. Being blind and very frail, the stay was particularly frightening for Memaw.

In addition, over the weekend, Nathan's normal winter cough took a turn for the worse and on Monday afternoon, the doctor decided to admit Nathan to the hospital for low oxygen levels caused by an aggravated Asthma attack. And so, instead of a few relaxing days at home before heading up to my Mom's for a Thanksgiving with family, we all settled in for what we hoped would not be a "long winters rest".

If you have never spent time in a hospital, count your blessings. Aside from the illness and worry that accompany your stay, most hospitals are equipped with time altering fields at the doors. When you enter, minutes turn into days and hours turn into weeks. Add to that a friendly little oxygen tent and the seconds turn into months. Nathan spent two full days under a clear plastic tent not much larger than the top half of a twin bed. All in all it was a pretty traumatic experience for Nathan and the rest of us as well.

We were fully expecting and even began making plans for a hospital picnic of Turkey sandwiches and  tupperware servings of stuffing and mashed potatoes. but Wednesday morning Nathan's oxygen levels were up and within two hours of waking, we were walking out of the hospital!

Playing it safe, we spent Thanksgiving in Carlsbad with Kerri's parents. It turned out to be a blessing because they were both also very worn out from weeks in the hospital with Memaw. Friday morning we shot up to Los Lunas and enjoyed Thanksgiving leftovers, time with Grandma and while the girls went to town to see the ballet, Nathan and I spent a good evening with Uncle Bob: eating pizza, cleaning guns and watching TV. Without the aide of the hospital's time altering device, the later part of the week flew by and here we are at 9PM on the Sunday before school resumes.

Sometimes, it takes an emotional roller coaster to remind you of just how blessed you are. We like so many others this fall are feeling the pinch of time and money that don't seem to last as long as they used to. That can be stressful, but this week we were reminded that even if the job dries up and moves away and the house and all our possessions are gone in a puff, as long as we have our loved ones, we are more blessed than we will ever know.

Come to think of it, even if our Lord were to take our loved ones from us, we will someday be reunited with them and the pain of loss that we feel now will be gone in a flash. That is of course contingent on our knowing our Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, but then, having Baptized all three of the kids myself, I  have that confidence.

As bitter sweet as life can be, it is nice to know that in the end, the bitter will vanish and all that will be left is the sweet... for ever and ever.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Actually... this was our first Rodeo.

This has by far been the busiest semester of our lives. What with soccer practice and games, Ruthie's piano lessons, Kerri's student teaching, Sarah's Song and Drama club at school and her new jump rope club, we have been a little busy running from activity to activity.

This weekend we decided to take a break. Get away from the house and make a fun family date out of our Friday night.

It is amazing how having a fun event to look forward to can bring you through a long week. Or even a short week that seems unusually long as the case may be. The kids were all brimming with anticipation as the weekend drew near. This was the first rodeo for both Kerri and the kids. Growing up, my next door neighbor was Mr. Silva, and his back yard was an arena where they held rodeos on Saturdays in the summer, that and a few times in Wyoming in the summer of '92 allow me to honestly say that this "was not my first rodeo". But then, the rodeo never does seem to get old. The only thing missing was a can of Shasta Cola, the smell of hamburgers grilling at the concession stand and an old wooden fence to sit on and watch the rodeo. Those and the aromatic smell of "processed alfalfa", are my recollections of the rodeo as a child.

After work we had a quick bite at Chili's, and then the five of us loaded up and headed out to the Eddy County Sheriff's Posse Colosseum to see the PRCA rodeo. From the opening ceremonies to the trick riders and even the calf roping and steer tying, the evening was a ball. Ruthie did not like how roughly they treated the "baby bulls" as she called then, when they roped and flipped them, and Kerri was not really impressed with the bull riding.

But I think that had more to do with the intelligence of any man who would willingly straddle an angry 2,000 pound animal with points growing out of it's head. Unlike going to see that latest blockbuster at the local movie theater, the evening was filled with pleasant banter about riders and horses, calves and bulls and how they score such and such for an event. We came away a closer family with more in common than we would have after two hours of staring at a screen.

The evening was not without disappointments however, and the mean guy at the pony rides told me I was too big to ride. Phooey! But he let the girls pick their favorite pony and ride for a good long time, (maybe I could Photoshop™ myself riding one.) During the rodeo, Ruthie even got to run in the "calf scramble". The calf scramble is an event where 50-100 kids under age eight line up in the arena and chase four or five very frightened calves. The calves have ribbons tied to their tails and the kids who catch the ribbon get free pony rides and other sundry prizes. Ruthie did not win, but I don't think that mattered much to her. Her face was still glowing on Sunday as she recalled the event in a letter to her Grandma. I have posted a few videos and pictures below, Ruthie is usually in the center of the screen wearing a purple shirt and blue jeans.

The highlight of the evening came during the bareback bronc riding. The second horse left the gate bucking like all get out and headed straight towards Nathan's seat. The looks on the kids faces was hilarious as the rider and horse steamed straight for our box. The girls zipped their chairs to the back of the rails while Nathan's eye's grew to the size of saucers. At the last minute, the horse turned and threw the rider, who grazed the railing in front of our booth. Unfortunately I didn't get that on film, but a few of the other events are linked below, including an unlucky rodeo clown who lost a race with a bull.

I know that our family is no different than any other who might happen across this page (a little better looking perhaps), but the moral of this story is that families need to remember to take time out of our day to slow down. To enjoy a meal together, to laugh at the rodeo clowns jokes, to stop and smell the manure. Remember that it won't be too long before the kids will ride off into the horizon and we will long to be back in these busy days.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Big scary Middle School

August is upon us and as may be the case in your household, the Christensen clan has been busy hunting and gathering backpacks, notebooks, pencils and sundry school supplies for the offspring that have taken up residence in our house.

This year, the normal migration back to school has been a little more stressful as Kerri has decided to re-enter the fourth grade, this time as a student teacher. This year some of the responsibility for shuttling papers, changing schedules and attending meetings fell to me.

Kerri and Nathan started back to school on Wednesday and Sarah, Ruth and I zipped up to Artesia to have our yearly spectacle adjustment.

However, before we left town, we had to take a few signed papers to Nathan's school. Did I mention that Nathan entered the big scary Middle School this year. Now, Nathan doesn't seem to think that Middle School is all that big or particularly scary. But for the two little girls who accompanied me into those halls, that place was as big and scary as any haunted Transilvanian chateau.

They seemed fine as we pulled into our parking spot, as they eagerly hopped out of the Jeep. But as we ran the gauntlet of teachers that lead up to the front steps, I noticed two hands gripping mine with increasing intensity.

Ruthie refused to speak as we entered the building, while Sarah mustered just enough courage to whisper to those who inquired that she was going into fourth grade. I am sure that you are aware of the size difference between elementary school teachers and those giants one finds in the halls of Middle Schools. One can only imagine how scary they must have looked to the wide eyed little girls that clung to my side. It must have seemed like an eternity before we made it to the relative safety of the Nurses office. I say relative, because according to Ruthie, Middle School has a "HUGE" nurses office.

We made it out alive and ran the gauntlet again before returning to the car. You could feel the tension dissipate as the doors closed and seat belts clicked, securing us inside. After a moment of silence, Ruthie remarked, "Daddy, those teachers look just like the ones at my school, 'cept those ones have different faces." Wouldn't it be interesting to see life through the eyes of a kid again?

Having said that, the high school kids who came into my Introduction to Print class this morning looked pretty intimidating. Much more so than the ones that I went to high school with.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Were arranged marriages really that bad?

Recently we attended the wedding of our pastor's son, Michael Prell. It was a beautiful wedding and the girls both took the opportunity to get all gussied up for the occasion. Afterwards, being the wise and diligent parents that we are, Kerri and I thought it best to seize the opportunity to talk to the girls about qualities they should seek in a man as they look towards marriage (in the far and long distant future).

Being the father, and a man myself, we felt it best that I undertake this important task during a little father/daughter date.

And so, with two giggly girls in tow, we piled into the Jeep and proceeded to the local Pizza Hut to discuss matters of matrimonial discernment.

Having chosen a secluded booth, I sat across from the girls and began with simple chit chat about the wedding and what they thought of the ceremony, etc. Everything was proceeding as planned...

That is, until I asked what traits these two wedding enamored girls thought that they should look for in a potential husband or boyfriend.

I feel that it is important at this point in the story to point out that girls begin planning their wedding day much sooner than boys. For example, Kerri began around the age of two to envision her wedding, I however started much later in life... at our rehearsal dinner, or shortly there after. My girls have taken after their mother in this respect and on any given day can be found sitting on the floor of their room, going over the details of a wedding with Barbie and Ken, or discussing Barbie boyfriends and such.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I imagined that all their attention to weddings and marriages might produce deep and profound answers to my questions about the character of a man who was worthy of their hand. It seems however that I was mistaken, very mistaken.

Our list of traits to search for in a suitable man began well enough. Topping the list was the issue of salvation. The man had to be a Christian, and not just a Church goer, but one who actually lived what he believed. Then a hard worker was added to the list, someone who could provide for the family. From there the standard dropped a bit to exclude murderers and stealers or robbers. And while I feel that those two traits should indeed disqualify a person, I had more hoped that they would be givens, not even needing to be mentioned.

From there though, our grasp of reality slipped further and to the list was added: kidnappers. "Because!" Ruthie pipped up, "If you marry a kidnapper, then you will be making dinner and go to the closet to get some food and you will find a kid there, holding a plate and asking to be fed." Ruthie explained "and you will have to tell your husband that he cannot keep bringing kids home because we don't have enough food to feed them all!"

The rest of the meal went well. The pizza was delicious and I think we brought things back on track a little. But I am quickly becoming a proponent of arranged marriages, shotguns and background checks. And definitely, No Kidnappers Allowed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Hard Day

Life has been hard for the Christensen family over the last few days.

To begin with, we piled into the van and had to drive halfway across the country.  We ended up just north of San Diego in Camp Pendleton, where our good friends the Cooks have kept us up late and run us ragged by dragging us to the beach and forcing us to play in the cool waters of the Pacific until our bodies ache from running repeatedly into the waves and our skin stung from sunburn.

Yesterday, we spent the day in downtown San Diego Maritime museum. through old world sailing ships including the ship used in the Movie Master and Commander, a Russian submarine with two foot circular hatchways.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Sad Day for Daddy

As a father, I enjoy a certain aura of invincibility in the eyes of my children. A few years back Ruthie was terribly offended when Sarah suggested that God was even bigger than daddy! I got a kick out of it and knowing that such misconceptions would come abruptly to an end as they grew up, I made no great effort to correct them.

Lately however, the board game portion of Friday Family Fun Night has been quickly eroding my image at an alarming rate. So far we have had five FFFN's and I have summarily been trounced each and every night regardless of the game. My tigers performed something terrible during Parchesse (SP?). In the Game of LIFE, I was an accountant who earned a few cents less than pocket lint and had a knack for landing on the "pay through the nose" spaces. Three times we have played Spinner and three times I have been honored with the high score. (Spinner scores a lot like Golf).

Here is the result of our last nights round of Spinner: Nathan 63, Kerri 68, Roo 82, Me 128 and Sarah 133.

The moral of the story is that it is not whether you win or lose but that you can still send everyone to bed without desert if you lose.

On that note, I will sign off and enjoy a large bowl of ice cream... alone... in the sweet silence of defeat.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Family Fun NIght

Tonight was Ruthie's turn to choose the game, menu and movie for family fun night. She chose corn dogs, chips and lemonade (big surprise). The game was LIFE and the movie was the remake of HERBIE with Lindsey Lohan.

At the end of the movie, Herbie and a cute yellow VW bug are getting a lecture from the dad before they head out on a date. After the lecture the Bugs back out without drivers and head out on the date. At which point, Ruthie turns to Kerri and asks if those are really cars or are they just pretend?

After nearly laughing myself silly, I was able to reflect on the amazing trust that God gave little kids. Funny days.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Random Photos of the kids

Just down the street and through the alley is a little city park that has recently been upgraded with a wonderful playground. A few days ago, the girls and I walked down and played. Here are the photos. 

The last photo is of Nathan's Saturday Basketball game. This is his fourth year playing Upward Basketball through First Baptist Church. He has a great coach and shows real talent out there.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Family Fun Night

Sometimes I think the biggest threat to marriages today is our schedule. With all of the modern conveniences, we don't really have time to be a family. Well, our schedule this semester is a bear and, if we are not careful, we could go an entire week without sitting down and being a family.

Tonight though, as we did two weeks ago (we were out of town last week on a mini vacation) we are going to celebrate "Family Fun Night"! Each week one member of the fam will choose a board game, the dinner menu and if they would like, a movie that the whole family will enjoy. That is a tall order when tastes range from Jane Austin to Tom and Jerry all the way over to We Were Soldiers.

Tonight is Nathan's night and so I have just kicked the last student out and said goodbye to all of my computers and am on my way home to be a part of the "Greatest family on God's green (brown in Carlsbad) earth". (stolen quote from Michael Medved). 

Isn't God great?