If Nautical Nonsense …

5/31/08 at 6:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

… is something you wish,
then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!

Once again, the Tater crew was treated to nearly non-stop SpongeBob during our stay at the beach. I had the first part of the SpongeBob song down, but it was not until this week that I got the second part down. Actually it’s one of the few shows that will entertain all of the kids and there’s not anything objectionable besides some potty humor. I was reminded of why we don’t have cable channels at home when I see some of the trash that passes for “kid shows” on Disney and Nick.

Otherwise the trip was OK for a short (Sat-Wed) stay. The temperature was in the upper 70’s and sunny, cool enough so that the sand did not get too hot to walk on but warm enough for swimming. Unfortunately the surf got more choppy as the week went on, rough enought to slam the 5 y.o. boy into the beach. He got a little cut/scrape on his back but took it well. He also had the misfortune of a bug (probably mosquito) bite just under his eye, causing it to swell up.

We actually had some cash left over when we got back home AND we didn’t use our credit cards, which is a good thing. I could tell the price of gas was causing a significant drop in visitors, as places that were crowded last year turned out to be sparsely attended this year. The NC beaches rely on out-of-state visitors, and with travel costs so high the resorts are going to feel some economic pain this summer.

Speaking of pain, I will have to make a decision in a few weeks that will cause pain no matter which way I go. This recent beach trip was a “dry run” for a trip to Chicago in July we have been planning. Since the two younger kids came to live with us a year and a half ago, we have only made short (a few hours) trips in the van. My loyal reader may remember the plan to fly to Chicago this summer, but that was quashed when Skybus went belly up (we finally did get a full refund – yeah!).

While I love her to death, the 4 y.o.girl makes traveling very burdensome. She has a difficult time of sitting still/quiet in one place, and ends up getting in trouble either on her own or antagonizing her brother. When things do not go her way her typical response is to scream loudly, usually followed by crying. While the +13 hr. trip itself will be difficult at best, I’m also concerned that the houses we will be visiting/staying at are not equipped for preschoolers.

I have not visited Chicago in a couple of years, so I guess I’m “due” to see both of my parents. I keep coming back to the important factors for this decision: what is best for my immediate family, what is best for the girl, how do I spend my vacation time/money. The dry run this week confirmed some of my fears about extended travelling. I do not want to spend a week of yelling at the girl, yelling at the boys as they react to the girl’s misbehavior (or misbehave all on their own), having to worry about the kids breaking things or getting into stuff when we visit another house, and always feeling the stress of finding things for the kids to keep them occupied. Unfortunately there are no cousins their age to play with, as we seem to have hit the “between generations” period.

My parents don’t have much of a relationship with them now, as they may visit us about once a year (less for my dad), so building relationships should not be an overriding factor. They are also relatively young (66) and in good health, so we should have at least a few more years to visit. I could bring up expenses too (at least $300 just for gas @$4/gal) though we’re counting on Uncle Sam to cough up some $$ due to us.

Given more time I could come up with more justification for not going, but in the end it comes down to disappointing my folks vs. dealing with the needs of a smart, energetic and stubborn 4 y.o. girl. I can’t think of a friend she could travel with to help occupy her time. Her younger brother tends to stick to older brother. They (4 and 5 y.o.’s) will occasionally play well together, but more often than not it devolves into physical confrontations. She is about as big as he is, so there’s equal give-and-take. While we encourage the older brother (10 y.o.) to be the good big brother, he’s just not at the point where he can rein in both kids as well as himself.

There’s also this nagging feeling that I choose not to travel out of selfishness (laziness). Other parents faced the same challenges and managed to get through it, so I should too. Driving at night could alleviate some of the travelling problems, but I have a hard enough time staying awake during the day. At 70 mph one slip up can be deadly.

Should I stay or should I go?




Christian Heavy Metal

5/06/08 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Yes, Spudlets soldiers on.  The combination of not posting from work along with the recent upgrade (and having to do a reinstall) of the home computer to WinXP has crimped the flow of ponderous posts.  Time marches on, for lack of a more tritely phrase, as do the thoughts worthy enough to make a Spudlets posting.

Oldest boy turned 10 on April 8.  One of his presents was tickets to a Skillet concert.  They are wrapping up the “Comatose” tour, and after having to sit through it I’m still shaking off some of the comatosity myself.  Yes, I volunteered to take him to Charlotte for the show.  On Sunday after church we loaded up at the local Taco Bell and then headed down the road to Cricket Arena.

It was a 7:30 pm show.  We thought we needed to be there a few hours early to beat the crowds for a good seat as it was general admission seating.  When we got there at 2 pm, there were a few dozen people in line, so we dinked around town (since it was an hour and a half drive back home).  After about an hour we returned and things had not really changed.  I found a shady spot to sit down and read the paper while the boy explored around the outside of the auditorium.

By 3:30 we decided to stand in line, hoping they’d open the doors at 5:30.  They did not open until 6:30, making it a solid three hours of standing on a concrete walk.  We were able to get 4th row seats, and the total attendance may have reached a thousand.  Maybe.  I suppose that’s why they were in no hurry to open up the doors any earlier.

The first band, Decypher Down, had a lead and rhythym guitarist as well as a bass player, but you could not pick out anything “musical” beyond the crunch chords and pounding beat.  While these bands were billed as Christian, you could not discern that from the lyrics as they were unintelligible.  They did give a brief witness/praise at the end, so that was something.

Oh yeah … thank God for earplugs!!  The next band, Thousand Foot Krutch, was slightly better musically with one less guitarist, and you could make out a few more words, but otherwise it was more of the same.  I got to the point where I almost nodded off a few times in spite of the high volume, as the sound waves were numbing me to sleep.  Since I was looking forward to a long drive at night after the show, I decided to gut it out.

The youngster owns the recent Skillet CD (Comatose), and we naturally had to play it on the way to the show – it’s tradition.  I was familiar with some of the songs, and even got up out of my chair for a few of them.  They were fairly accomplished musicians, and I was able to pick up more (but not much) of the lyrics.  A few of the songs featured a cello player, something you usually don’t see at a “rock” show.

The boy enjoyed all of the bands, particularly Skillet.  He slept most of the way back, and by the grace of God I was able to make it without any nodding-off on the drive home.  We got back at 12:30, giving me a total of 16 hours wearing the same clothes/shoes.  I was the only one dressed there (in khakis and polo shirt) who looked like they came from church, but that’s OK as I was playing the “Dad chaperone” mode.

What struck me the most at the show were the “yutes”, as I don’t normally spend much time with teenagers.  Some had a “worldly” appearance, tattoes and piercings, and most wore black t-shirts and jeans or shorts.  Many of the t-shirts were ones with clever Christian messages, or ones from other Christian concerts.  I shouldn’t have been, but I was a little surprised to see the girls rocking along with the guys.  While some may call it Christian rock (and roll?), it was heavy metal.  I’ve been to enough of those shows (30 years ago – yikes!) to know it when I see it.

It’s the age-old question of how far do you go in the world and not be of the world.  The yutes have a tough time trying to fit in yet (hopefully) honoring the Lord, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.  It didn’t look like the mosh pit was out-of control, so that was good.  I still wrestle with the concept of Christian heavy metal as it doesn’t seem to be a “joyful noise”, but the kids seemed pretty happy during the show.  Chalk it up to old-fartness.

[And the boy did say thank you when we got home – without prompting!  There is hope …]

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