Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Warning: Indulgent brag-post ahead!

Everyone knows that athletes get all the glory. Even on this blog, we spend a disproportional number of column inches on the family's soccer exploits. Fortunately, those who love other fields of endeavor have their ways of shining, too.

Jacob, for instance, has become quite the Mathlete. Now, I don't entirely understand the allure of this extra-curricular activity. For me, doing math problems under time constraints in competition with others sounds like a hot little corner of hell. But Jacob loves it. And the good teachers at his school happily give extra time and energy to help their students excel.

So last Friday while Deb and I were driving to Chicago, Jacob was doing slide-rule calisthenics in the city-wide "Math Counts" competition. And of all the kids from the 23 competing schools, Jake snagged a 5th place individual score and an invitation to the state competition next week. We were pretty proud when the "Home Bulletin" from GRCMS arrived yesterday and we saw the write up on Jacob's achievement. Especially since last week's Home Bulletin also included a top-left write-up on another area of Jacob's scholastic achievement.

So here's to the normally unsung exploits of math and English lovers, the decathaletes of the calculator and the word processor.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Weekend Snapshot

This past weekend, Deb and I temporarily experienced an alternative universe. We handed over our usual life to my good friend, one-time student and mentee, and present Teaching Assistant, Rachel Klompmaker. Rachel climbed in the mini-van and took over. Here's what her weekend looked like:

Friday night involved two soccer practices, two trips to the mall, and a late dinner of frozen pizza. Saturday began bright and early with a soccer game for Pip at 8:40, then a brief break before the afternoon madness: Jacob's game at 2:50, Mia's first game at 4:00 and her second at 7:30. Then Mia went to a high school dance with some friends. Sunday morning meant getting everyone to church, working around Rachel's early morning rehearsal for her own role in the service.

All in all, a pretty normal weekend at our house. Rachel found it pretty exhausting, although it must be said that she was doing this as a single, hardcore soccer mom, whereas we usually (but not always!) have two parental units to spread the love/load around.

Meanwhile, Deb and I lived the life of carefree, big-city, no-kids adults. Friday afternoon, we jumped into our hot little sports car (well, it's a GEO Prizm, but hey, we can pretend) and took off for the Windy City. Car wash: $4.00. Full tank of gas: $33.74. Three hours in the car with just the two of us actually able to sustain an adult conversation for the first time in weeks: priceless.

Once in the city, we met up with my brother and sister and their respective spouses in downtown Chicago where three of them work at Double-click/Performics, soon to be part of the Google Empire. We toured that particular iteration of Cubicle World and then went to a fabulous Chinese dinner. We aspired to big city night life: lingering over dinner talking about politics, Lost, careers, etc. We did, of course, discuss our children and their many exploits and accomplishments. One can't leave it all behind...

The next day I had a meeting of the Liturgical Conference Board (the ostensible purpose of our visit). Meanwhile Deb... well, Deb pretty much slept in, had breakfast, worked out, and read a little bit. No responsibilities, no logistics, no schedule: nice.

That evening and the next morning involved even more eating out, at a Greek restaurant (opa!) and a classic diner. And then,

it was back to our regular lives. Sigh. Still, it's good to visit another universe once in a while.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Caption This Photo

Inspired by an offhand comment made at Calvin's Symposium on Worship, some friends of mine persuaded me to pose for this picture.

You may guess the phrase which prompted it, or make up your own. A few options to get you started:
  • Ron is Riding his Homiletical Hobby Horse
  • The world Meijer is my parish
  • The Word straight from the Horse's...
  • Penny for your Thoughts

Monday, February 04, 2008

Embrace Your Inner Geek

A normal Saturday night around here most weekends involves one or more of the following elements:
  1. Driving back and forth to an indoor soccer game. Or two. Or more. At different fields.
  2. Scrounging around in the cupboard and the back of the 'fridge to find something random for supper.
  3. Contenting ourselves with whatever crapola happens to be on TV 'cause we're too tired to do anything creative and soul-nourishing.
  4. Laundry--always the laundry.
I'm proud to announce, however, that last Saturday, we did something utterly wild and crazy: we had a party. Yup, it's true. With friends and party food and the whole bit.

Admittedly, this was a party with a geek quotient that was off the charts, but this will surprise no one. The occasion was the news that Ron passed his Ph.D. comprehensive exams, as described in the previous post. So naturally we invited people who would appreciate such a geeky occasion and who would consent to play games fitting to the day.

For instance, we had a "name that dissertation" contest. We divided into four groups and handed out a list of theological and academic buzzwords. Each group worked the jargon, and now Ron has four excellent dissertation titles to choose from. See the poll on the sidebar and cast your vote for your favorite!

Personally, I prefer the one about "post-post-post emergent nuhomiletic," but that's because my group, which included Jenny "Slash" Williams and Laura "Orthoparadox" Keeley, lovingly crafted it.

We also played "Liturgical Balderdash" -- a worship-wonk version of the game "dictionary," wherein Ron gave us obscure liturgical terms and we came up with proposed definitions.

Never mind what these words really mean (look 'em up if you must know). Here are some highlights culled from the group's suggestions.

Thurible -- adj. When the Maundy Thursday service goes south (speak with a lisp to get the full effect).

Synaxis -- noun. The mathematical calculation of snacks needed per person during fellowship time, taking into account hunger, need for energy (in terms of sugar), mood of hungry people, length or sermon, bitterness of communion wine, etc.

Insufflation --noun. The heavy sigh made by long-suffering congregants when the sermon is insufferable (this never happens at our church, Jack. No worries). It could also mean the sharp short inhale when the pastor makes an unexpected reference to sex (this -- maybe).

So all in all, the party was a success. The kids were having their own geeky fun downstairs playing "Settlers of Cataan"(the apples don't fall far...), but let the record show that Miriam and Lynnae hung around with the grown-ups, and they also gave every indication of enjoying themselves.

Let the record also show that while I refrained from switching loads during the actual party, I nevertheless still managed to get some laundry done on Saturday night.