a collection of words about God and life and art and baseball and football and hope and my family and my ministry and music and the immense joy in each moment of all of it. it's a record of being human. welcome.
for this week's saturday song, i bring you one of my boys' favorites this year: bob dylan's "must be santa." go ahead, tap your foot. or get up and dance, even. why not? it's almost Christmas. ho ho ho.
yesterday i showed you how we made some Christmas cookies, and today i will show you a couple of pictures from us making Christmas ornaments. we rolled out sculpey clay, and used cookie cutters to cut them out. the kids made lots of trees, as you can see Jackson holding below. then we had them push their fingers into them to create little indentations. after they were baked and dried, they then painted their fingerprint indentations different colors to look like ornaments on a tree. we also made other shapes, including birds and churches and - what else - Christmas dinosaurs, as you can see below.
hit the play button on the video above as the soundtrack to this post. there we go. last night our advent sock told us to make and paint Christmas cookies, so much joy ensued. here you can see caedmon painting away, and quin in the background, fresh from his bath, reaching for some dough. here is jackson cheesing for the camera. he was much more meticulous in painting his cookies, as he was still working long after cade had finished. quin was a little young to help, although he did splash some paint on one. he did, however, provide some entertainment for his, walking around the table saying "HO HO HOOOOOO" continuously. you can see in this picture that he is indeed saying exactly that. here you can see caedmon's hand painting his cookies. here are some of the finished products.... and finally, here are some of the ones shannon made. i sure do love your christmas cookies, babe!
jackson's been working on cursive in school, and he brought home a few of his examples. he is very excited to use his new knowledge, and is so proud to write my name in cursive. one day when i came home from work, the picture at the bottom was taped to the front door for me to see. also, the picture above was some doodling he did at school during some free time. at least that's what he says. i thought it was pretty cool. when i asked him to explain it to me, he told me that the bottom is a bear (on the left) and a moose with a turkey on its head. there is a small mouse on the bottom right, throwing a rock at the moose. also, there is a moose in the middle, wearing a jet-pack. he's not sure why. along the whole left side is a giant sea-horse, "attacking the forest." so you see the baby birds crying for mommy, as the mommy bird is returning just in time to save them. somebody get my kid a therapist.
we've been heading through advent, having so much fun. i've been rockin' out to "run run rudolph" with my danging-fool children, making things on the lite brite and out of legos, and just generally having a great time, and then, as i was doing a little Christmas shopping on my day off, my phone buzzed with its typical regularity. except this time it was something else. it was a newsbreak. it was death. it was murder. it was suicide. it was unthinkable, unspeakable, unimaginable evil in a school full of children. it was horror. and it stopped me in my tracks. as i drove home, the same christmas cd that was playing on my way to the store kept spinning out it's sentimental sounds. but it sounded different. when i got home, the same tree was there, with its hundreds of points of light, but it looked different. that was friday, and today is monday. my kids are at school. and it feels different. everything is different. in some ways, it feels
as is our tradition, we found a terrific tannenbaum, took that thing home, hung all kinds of memories and lights on it, and made it a central part of our home while we prepare the way for our savior this year. like the tree, christ's love - and the love he has given to us to share with others - is evergreen. unlike the tree, there is no death that can stop his love. ever. the whole family loves the process of decorating the tree. i had written a poem about the process some time ago, and posted it here on the blog, but i thought it might be worth reposting, since it's been 6 years. here it is. hung i've hung it on some tree or other twenty-something times. i remember. its rite and ritual. that's right, its more than glass or brass or hallmark sentimentality. its more than the sum of its weight, more than the way it hangs on the tree. its more than it appears to be, this ornament. "each year at this time we come close to Christm
remember our advent socks ? well, we have maintained them as an annual advent tradition for 5 years now, and they continue to bring great joy and excitement to the children for our advent journey. some of the socks (we look inside one each day) have little gifts, but most of them are activities that we do together as a family. some of them are new each year, and others are ones that we have repeated each year. one that falls into that category is making a christmas design on the lite brite. so here you can see Caedmon's star: and here is jackson's santa hat: and here is shannon's design, using these really cool vintage lite brite letters that our friend Mary gave us (thank you!) in case you couldn't tell, we love Christmas at our house. i love the magic and wonder of it all, and it is beyond joy for me to see my children experience that wonder and joy for themselves. their excitement each day to see what is in the advent sock makes all the effo
as you may remember from past years, i absolutely believe in the power of myths as not only valuable for a imaginative childhood, but for a fully-enganged thinking adult. there may be no better tool than myth to help us make sense of the world around us, dark and confusing as it can sometimes be. i don't believe that stories have to be dictated to us by our culture, but that we have the power (and the responsibility) to interpret them and tell them to our children in ways that are faithful and responsible to both the terrible brokenness of life, and the magnificent magic and mystery of it. and i believe that when we rob our children of the power of myth by calling them fantasies and castrating the magic from them, we cut off an important appendage of their growth process. or, to those evangelicals that are struggling with the above paragraph, let me put it in a way that you might understand: i have a better understanding of God because of Aslan. I don't believe Asl
here's me in 1977. notice how i'm rockin' the steelers 'boggan and thinking about doing some sewing. now here's quin last month. notice he's not sitting on a 1970's couch surrounded by an army of afghans. he's also not getting ready to be industrious with a thread and needle. you can see a cultural shift right there. back when i was one, i was already hard at work. i had to. times were tough. not like today, when kids just lie around in piles of soft plush animals, without a care in the world. just look at him. all barefooted and pants-less. i guess you can dress that way when you've got nothing to do but lie around and watch reruns of baby einstein's greatest hits of the baroque era. but what's that say about our world today? i mean, look at me up there. i had obviously just come in the house after being out in the cold, chopping wood or shoveling the walk, or something like that. not a stuffed animal in sight.
nothing says "let's have a wonderful and traditional yuletide" like listening to sufjan steven's new 12-minute epic Christmas song called "christmas unicorn," containing not only a long homage to joy division's "love will tear us apart," but an apparent scathing commentary on the consumerist control of christmas. it's all metaphor and cleverness, but it doesn't take a master's degree in lyricology to figure it out. in fact, all you really need to do is read between the lines, and you'll find it, or maybe feel it. but you'd better watch out, and you'd better not cry; you'd better not pout, i'm telling you why: this song will sink its infectious teeth into your soul and will not let you go. at least if you're anything like me. more than likely, most of you will roll your eyes and wonder what's wrong with me, and flip your mariah carey christmas cd back on. but maybe one of you will join me under th
over the thanksgiving holiday, we were blessed to attend the wedding of my cousin nick and his new bride meg. it was fun to be able to attend a wedding with the whole family, and to see so many cousins and aunts and uncles that i don't get to see too often. as you can see, we were all looking dapper. well, except for shannon; she looked stunning, of course. as you may or may not know, i have a bit of a reputation for being slightly over the top at family weddings. well, i've always had a reputation for being crazy at wedding receptions. any of them. i just can't help it. there's so much joy and music and extremely al dente green beans. so i dance. it just comes over me. well, this has sometimes led to me being the center of attention, and then amped up expectations for the next wedding. so then the idea of wardrobe changes during receptions started entering into the equation. next came props. well, for this wedding i had hoped to come to the rece
if you've never seen pittsburgh dad, now's your chance. it is a weekly little webcom whose main character is a classic pittsburgh dad, who says things that many who grew up in western pennsylvania heard quite often. it is pretty funny at times, although i could do without the canned laughter. in any case, this episode is particularly good, since it has to do with the steelers victory over the ravens the other night. some good stuff in there. pittsburgh dad is talking to his neighbor, tom, who happens to be a ravens fan. enjoy!
oh my goodness, yes. yes, yes, YES! last evening the steelers pulled off an unlikely upset of the baltimore ravens in their own stadium in front of their own purple and black crowd, in a critical game. one of the biggest factors in the upset was that the steelers were playing with their third-string quarterback. and not only that, but a third-string quarterback who didn't look so hot last week against the browns. clearly the competition was stepped up this week, and many in steeler nation were not optimistic about the steelers righting the ship against the ravens in their own home, where they have been very very good (won 15 straight games at home). but the steelers made some changes, too. coach tomlin decided to make some changes at the running back position, after each one fumbled last week, naming jonathan dwyer as the starter. and while he didn't set any records, he ran well against the ravens stout defensive front, held onto the ball, and scored a b
last night shannon and jackson had the opportunity to attend the annual bucknell university christmas candlelight service. they both said that it was extraordinarily beautiful, and they enjoyed the exquisite music. one song that seemed to stick out to them was "still, still, still" so i thought i would share it here for our saturday song as we begin december. have a great day!