Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Deb is teaching World Literature this summer at Calvin. Yesterday was the day they studied the Ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh. One of her students' tasks was to consider the many archetypes found in the tale. When trying to persuade her class of the importance of this project she used two novel arguments. First, she mused, vast riches await the person who makes use of common archetypes in writing (or even filming) a compelling and mythically "true" story. Second, she argued, our culture continues to buy into -- and peddle -- mythic archetypes, and it makes sense to know what it is you're buying. As an example, she showed three contemporary images, each associated with a common feminine archetype...

The Sex Goddess

The Damsel in Distress

The Warrior

Guess which one our own 12-year-old daughter is choosing? (For answer, scroll down).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Mulford Street Yard Competition

Well, it looks as though the horses are out of the gate in this summer's Mulford Street Yard Competition. George and Melissa Patton next door are quick starters with the softest and most well-watered green grass in the front, some nice annuals around back, and a surprising collection of tall perennials around the telephone pole. But that lawn won't last long if the Rienstra kids use it as their summer soccer goal. The Kuhns next to them have made a remarkable recovery from some early gardening missteps from a couple years ago. When they moved in they plowed under everything from the wild english garden look in the front which the previous owner had left. But they forgot about spring bulbs. Their beautiful new lawn appeared in April dotted with scrawny but persistent tulips. It's much better this year, and the newly planted paw-paw trees are a unique and lovely feature. Across the street the Goodmans and Fischers have made huge strides in recent seasons, but large front-yard trees keep grass from growing well under them, and the wood-chip/hosta solution is SO late-90's suburban-chic. They'll need something fresh to get the judge's attention. Meanwhile, the Bakers still haven't found the solution to a dry front lawn (Psst - H20. Look into it.), but the paint job in the front of the house is a good first step. At the front of the pack, in this reporter's estimation, are the Hawkins, whose persistent organic puttering is really paying off. Avoiding the overplanned look, the luscious beds of flowers keep extending their territory - eventually there'll be no more lawn to mow! The Rienstras, a usual contender for the gardening championship, are really not in the same league with these others. The boys living in their place this past year really let things go; And the usual occupants only this weekend trimmed the overgrown shrubbery in the front, and mowed the collection of crabgrass, clover, and spurge that passes for a lawn. While their cherry tree produced a pie's worth of fruit (we notice it was harvested on Saturday) The best they can hope for this year is the "most improved" award: a bag of "Good" Meijer weed & feed.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Home Sweet Home away from Home Sweet Home

We spent the day at my folks' place on Lake Michigan today- walking on the beach, hanging out in the hammock and the hot tub - it's a beautiful, restful, refreshing place. And though we're back in our Grand Rapids house now, we still feel a little discombobulated. But this place on the big lake always feels like a hospitable, centering, loving place - as much home as any place gets. It's one of the best blessings God gives us when we're in Michigan.
61 degrees isn't THAT cold
The sabbath nap in the hammock - one of life's great pleasures

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Road Trip Laughs

We're enroute now between Sun Valley and Grand Rapids. It's been a good road trip so far. The Comfort Inns are comforting, and fighting in the back seat has been minimal, with no serious injuries incurred. But it sure is taking us a while to get all the way across this broad, capacious, enormous, extensive, gigantic, huge, immense, mammoth, massive, monumental, prodigious, spacious, spread-out, sweeping, tremendous, voluminous, whopping, widespread country. (Did I mention it's really big?)

In the car, we keep ourselves occupied with Books on Tape. We've listened to Kenneth Branaugh narrating C.S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew and made our way through an abridged version of Seabiscuit yesterday. We've also listened to lots of Garrison Keillor. In one story, he relates that when he was in fifth grade, he wanted to be a comedian. It didn't take much to make kids laugh at that age. All it took, he said, was one word, properly contextualized: Booger. The proper context? English literature.

Lord of the Boogers. Anne of Green Boogers. The Adventures of Huckleberry Booger. Ten Thousand Boogers Under the Sea. Turns out Garrison was right. (Of course, those of us who are Dave Barry fans know this already.) I nearly had to pull over when as a family we decided that the book we were most looking forward to reading this summer was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Booger.

We'll be home tonight! Hooray!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Dearth of Luck

Mia's last tournament this year- sniff!

Champions on their home turf

It was sweet victory for Burbank Fire at the Cartoon Classic tournament this weekend here in Burbank. What will we do on the weekends now that Mia's tournament season is over??

Note that the championship T-shirts are NOT white--the girls hate the white ones.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Middle Kid Scores Big

Award Boy

Not one to let Mia and her soccer bling-bling eclipse his own accomplishments, Jacob raked in too many awards to count at the fourth-grade assembly, held June 9. It was one of those moments when parents swell with pride but have to act embarrassed at the same time. After Jacob's third trip up front, the parents in front of us turned to ask what our secret was. We were tempted to say "Well, uh... we dropped out of the Love & Logic parenting class the school required us to attend..." But we just smiled and shrugged.

We won't list all the awards, but it was pleasing to see that Jacob is a well-rounded fellow, distinguishing himself in athletic events, academic categories, and even Bible memory. His favorite was the coveted "Crusader of the Year," an all-around award for excellent students who also display good attitudes (at least at school--home behavior is mercifully not taken into account). We're not sure whether it's such a great idea to excel as a crusader (what, are you good at pillaging and making disputed claims on Middle Eastern lands?), but we're pretending not to notice that part.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Earth at Night

This picture tells a sad story about light pollution (and why my kids wouldn't know a constellation if it bit them).

But it's really really beautiful, just the same.

Be forewarned - it's a huge file. Not for the bandwidth-challenged.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blast from the past

Cleaning out an old file, I came across this cartoon. It was drawn for me by a friend from PTS for use in our promotional campaign for the seminary comedy show.

It's the sort of visual joke only a very thin slice of society will truly appreciate.

Sigh. I'm getting old.

Rienstra Family Recital

Jacob brings the Bourree

The fam had its first official recital this evening in the social hall at Bethel church. Some of our good friends were there: Dave Wyma, Kathy Klassen and Katie VenHuizen, and the DeVries family and the Jacobsens. Mia and Jacob each played four pieces, mixing up jazz, showtunes, classical, and pop songs. Mom accompanied, and even Dad got in the show, wailing on his axe to a Lennon & McCartney standard as Mia comped on the piano.

But let's keep things in perspective. The music was wonderful, but it was all really an excuse to eat the chocolate cake Deb made from scratch -- and to thank the kind folks in Sun Valley who have been so hospitable to us this year.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Christian Attitude

Pip's "Christian Attitude" award certificate Posted by Hello

Philip won an award this morning for having the best "Christian Attitude." His teacher said all sorts of things about how kind he was to his fellow students, how he always did his best work in class, how he was filled with the love of Jesus, etc. Debra and I were very proud. At the same time, we wondered what the teachers handing out this award would make of the little boy we see some days at home -- the boy who, when recently (very recently) teased by his older siblings, delcared with great conviction his eternal hatred for them.

We also found it interesting that all the students who won "Christian Attitude" awards were commended for their prompt and cheerful obedience to the teacher's instructions. (E.g. "He always does exactly what I ask him to, the first time I ask him to do it.") Another was commended for his ability to line up his class in alphabetical order by last name.

Hmmm. Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Alphabetization, Conformity, etc. But the greatest of these is...

Bling-Bling on the Blog-Blog

The San Pedro Tournament Champions - Burbank FIRE! Posted by Hello

It was another outstanding weekend for Mia's soccer team. After outshooting the opposing team in their first game 50 to 2, they lost 1-0, and could easily have folded. But they didn't. They came back in the second game for 1-0 win off a last second corner-kick header goal. They didn't look back after that, and won the last game and the championship game 4-2. Mia, as per usual, was spectacular.
I'm coming! - Look out! Posted by Hello
Action Shot Posted by Hello

The Rienstras visit the set of Disney's "Phil of the Future"

The kids and JP Manoux, our gracious host Posted by Hello

We had a great time this past Friday as my super-cool sister Rachel took our whole family to the set of Disney's "Phil of the Future." They were filming the last scenes of the last episode of Season Two - just before the wrap party. It was great to see all the sets, hob-nob with the stars, be in on the action as the sound guy worked the board, and so on. I think they were most impressed, though, with the spread of food the caterers have available for the cast. Mmmm-mmm. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Just like Dad made for lunch.
Mia and Alyson Michalka Posted by Hello
Jacob and the sound guy. Note the similar hair styles. Posted by Hello
Phil of the Future Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 04, 2005


They say AYSO stands for "American Youth Soccer Organization." I think it stands for "All Your Saturdays Occupied."

We're off with Mia and the crew for another soccer tournament - this weekend in San Pedro.


(Yes, I'm living vicariously through my daughter-who's-more-talented-than-I-ever-was).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Blogging and Preaching

Ryan said in class yesterday that there's not much preaching in Alt/Emerging churches-- any teaching/dialogic interaction surrounding scripture happens on community blogs.

So what I wonder is this: in what way can blogging be seen (in both good and bad ways) as a natural outgrowth of the New Homiletic's (perhaps unaware) adaptation to postmodern philosophical and cultural considerations.

Could a paper come of this? "More than a Metaphor: Blogging as PostModern Proclamation."