Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not Mr. Mom

Rhonda worked again last night. I failed at being Mr. Mom today. I completely forgot about Bethany's basketball game. Didn't get there until the end of the 3rd quarter. Oops.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mr. Mom

This post is dedicated to all you moms and dads out there who do this everyday...

Rhonda works two nights a week at the hospital. On the days following I'm responsible for getting the kids dressed and transport them to and from school. Usually it's pretty straightforward. However, today we had the dreaded 2-hour inconvenience - er, uh - delay. Sometimes these are caused by natural phenomena like snow, ice, or fog. But every once in awhile the school administration PLANS them. Today was such a day - a planned interruption to a parent's day.

Now, I'm my own boss. I'm guessing my schedule is more flexible than those who work for "the Man". I'm wondering what those with "real" jobs do with their kids. I didn't punch the handyman clock until 3:30PM, simply because I was running kids around all day.

8:45 - Drop Meke off at preschool
9:15 - Take Kailey and the neighbor girl to the bus stop
9:40 - Haul Bethany and friend to school
10:40 - Drop Neti off at school
11:30 - Pick Meke up from preschool
2:15 - Bethany home from school
2:45 - Kailey home from school
3:20 - Meet Neti at the bus stop

3:30-5:30 - Handymanning work...FINALLY!!! (I was so excited that I backed my truck into a fence. Broken tail light.)

5:30 - Make diner for everyone
6:00 - Rhonda off to her next 12-hour shift
7:00 - Pick Bethany up from basketball

Hats off to all of you who do this everyday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sharing, Gratitude, and Generosity

I'm finding that kids are kids, regardless of background. They need to learn the same lessons. I was hoping that a few of the things Rhonda and I instilled in our older girls would automatically be part of Neti and Meke's DNA because of their background and experience. At the orphanage, everything was shared. According to Neti, no one owned any clothes. Outfits were rotated among the kids. They had almost no toys. There was only one ball that all 70 kids shared...etc. I expected Neti and Meke, therefore, to be more grateful, more sharing, and more generous, simply because of this background.

My expectations were unrealistic. I found out at Christmas, that Neti had to be taught how to give to others. It's not automatic.

The lessons continued today - this time with Meke. We were preparing to take a trip to WalMart to spend the $5 Valentine's Day money they receieved in the mail from Grandma. Our family practices giving a minimum of 10% of all earnings to those less fortunate. Our kids have a special bank with a slot for "others".

I decided today would be as good as any to introduce the concept to Neti and Meke. I anticipated a little bit of pushback from Neti, but to my surprise she counted out 50 pennies and dropped them into the appropriate slot.

I could tell from the body language that this wasn't sitting well with Meke.

"What's wrong Meke?"

"I don't want to give money. I want to buy something."

"You can buy something, but we want you to share the good things God has given us with others. Don't you want to share with others?"

"I want to buy something."

"But you need to share too. It's just like your toys. You share your toys, right? We want you to share your money too - with people who don't have very much - like kids in the orphanage in Ethiopia - you know, like your old friends..."

"I don't like to share."

"You don't like to share? Yes, you do! You're a good sharer, Meke. You share your toys. You share your bed. You share..."

"I don't like to be sharing money."

"You don't like sharing money?"


I was a bit stunned. It took several seconds of silence to ponder my next move.

"So people shouldn't share money?"

"No. People shouldn't share money."

Her response to my question set me up even better than I had anticipated. I quietly picked up the Meke's new $5 bill and put it in the "out" mail slot on our refrigerator, leaving her with a handful of random coins. I could see the wheels turning in her head. When she finally realized she had forfeited the bill, the tears started flowing. She was only able to communicate between sobs.

"Daddy (sob) I (sob, sob) want (sob) my (sob) mo- (sob, sob) mo- (sob) money!"

"But people shouldn't share money. So we need to send that money back to Grandma."

"No. We should share."

"Even money?"

She didn't answer. Regaining her composure, she began dropping coins into the "others" slot without even counting. I helped her count as Neti began telling me of the good she hoped her money would do for someone without food.


This is post #200 to twomorewaals.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's Not a Real Worm

I'll probably get in trouble from Rhonda for this post.

Oh well.

When we came home from Ethiopia we brought home an unwelcome guest. Someone who has never been to our house before. He's overstayed his welcome. We're tired of him - ready for him to leave.

We have no idea whose body served as the initial host, but every one of us has had a personal visit (or two...or more) from him. (Some visits have been more personal than others.)

Mr. Ringworm has invaded.

Now, if you're like I was, you're probably thinking, "Ewww. A worm. Gross."

But your reaction would be based in ignorance. He's not a worm. He's a fungus that "survives by eating plant or animal material". Translation: THERE'S A MICROSCOPIC THING EATING YOU FOR BREAKFAST! The nice thing is that he's very symmetrical. He eats it in a circle or ring.

I've read up on him many times. He doesn't seem to play by the rules. At least not in our house. You're supposed to be able to get rid of him with an antifungal cream (just like his cousin, athlete's foot). I've religiously smothered him with the white stuff 3-4 times per day. In most cases it takes 6-8 weeks for him to leave a particular spot. Then, a few days after I've stopped treating him (because he's "gone"), he comes back in the exact same place.

And he's supposed to "thrive in places that are moist, hot, and hidden from the light". Now, if you were to read that in a description, where would you think he was found most often?

Exactly. Like you I immediately think ARMPIT! (What? That's not what you were thinking?)

Did any of you think, "Hmmm. Dark and moist? Of course, your CHIN!"

Evidently I must slobber a lot in the dark because he's paid a visit there at least three times.

Meke and I seem to be the hosts of choice. More than once we've been the final hope for getting rid of him once and for all. Such pressure! It's akin to being on the free throw line in a tie game with no time left. More than once we've failed the team.

So the game goes on...and on...

Six months and counting...

He's still here...

If we could only stop hugging each other maybe we'd stand a chance.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I've spent 14 years working with teens (nine as a paid youth pastor). Nothing got my goat more than cheating. It wasn't uncommon for teens (yes, even those good "church kids") to come to youth group and spend the first 15 minutes of free time "sharing" their homework answers.

I confronted cheating every time I saw it. The excuses they gave rang hollow.

"Everyone else does it."
"It's just homework. It's only 10% of my final grade. It's not a big deal."
"The teacher knows we do it and he doesn't say anything."
"I just have way too much homework every night. This is the only way I can get it all done and still get decent grades."

Is it any wonder kids graduate high school without knowing how to read?

We believe our kids should succeed OR FAIL based on their own merits, not on how sneaky they can be. Honesty isn't something that can (or should) be turned off and on based on circumstances. Dishonesty is cancer. It always starts small.

When I got home from work tonight Neti, Meke, and Kailey were playing Dutch Blitz, a high-speed and sometimes rowdy card game. The game starts with each player having four of their forty cards face up. ONES are good to have face up at the beginning. TWOS are also good.

I was in the room next door and heard the some arguing between Neti and Kailey (go figure). Neti and Meke had "shuffled" their cards and came up with more ONES than normal.

It looked suspicious. I proposed the solution: "Just shuffle again and start over." I left.

Once again the arguing started. I went to investigate. In front of Neti sat the best hand I'd ever seen: ONE, ONE, ONE, TWO. Meke had ONE, ONE, TWO, FOUR. (FYI: Each player only has four ones in their entire deck!)

"Neti, did you shuffle?"

"Yes, Daddy. We shuffled three times."

I had my doubts. I've played Dutch Blitz hundreds of times without ever having one hand that good, let alone two in a row. Either I have the luckiest two little girls in the world or there's something deceptive going on in their little hearts.

I reshuffled Neti's and Meke's hands for them and they continued playing.

Later, on the way to Bethany's basketball game I had a chance to talk with the girls alone in the van (Rhonda and Kailey rode in a separate vehicle).

"Neti and Meke. I want you to tell Daddy the truth. Did you cheat at Dutch Blitz?"


"Did you put the cards to come up with all ONES?"

(long silence)

"You know it's really cool to come up with all ONES because you can win faster. But that doesn't hardly ever happen. It never happens every time. If it happens every time then people think that you're cheating."

(still silent)

"Cheating isn't a good thing. It's fun because it helps you win, but it's really like like lying or stealing. And if you cheat, you really didn't win anyway, because the game wasn't fair. The person who cheats makes the game not fair for everyone else. Mommy and I don't want anyone in our family to learn how to cheat."

The van was completely silent the rest of the way to the game. I didn't say another word.

I didn't need to.