Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kid Quote: Roosters

"Did you know that it is illegal to have roosters in the city?" I asked a 3rd grader early one morning.

"Why?" she asked me.

"Because they wake people up if they crow in the morning."

"Oh, really? I don't think a rooster would wake me up," she said.

"Are you sure? They're really loud," I advised her.

"Hmm," she responded. "Well in that case, maybe I should keep one in my room."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Joseph Wood Hill Park (Rocky Butte)

Our recent visit to a Portland park included a steep climb (in the car) to Joseph Wood Hill Park, located on the top of Rocky Butte. One of our college friends proposed to his wife atop this spectacular rock.

Rocky Butte is one of the three extinct volcanoes within Portland's city limits (others are Mt. Tabor and Powell Butte). It has a wonderful 360 degree view of the Portland area. You can see the west hills, downtown, a huge stretch of the Columbia River, multiple mountains in the distance, and even Ikea! We went right before sunset. Boy was that a great time to go! The sun slowly disappeared behind the west hills as we were in awe of the view.

This is a great park to go for an expansive view of the surrounding area. Wonderful for a date night, picnic on the grass, or fun with binoculars.

More photos here.

Related Posts:
Westmoreland Park

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Jesus Storybook Bible

Ever wonder how to teach the Bible to young kids? Think they will just get bored with Jesus and rather watch something like Spongebob? Well, look no further! The Jesus Storybook Bible is just the book for you!

Our church's kids ministry recommended this book to us for use in the Sunday School classrooms. The main idea is this: A picture book that summarizes the main stories in the Bible while highlighting the importance of Jesus woven into each and every page. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one.

Jen bought one with a gift card we were saving for something special, and this sure was worth it! For the past month and a half, I read through the whole book with my wife right before we went to bed: One short story each night (of the 44 total stories). I guess you could say that I am excited to read this to my own kids some day, and I decided to practice on my wife. The pictures are so funny and the reading is perfect for kids. I use it at church with teaching my kids on Sunday too.

Come to think of it, it would actually be a great read for adults as well. Many adults haven't read through the entire Bible and often lose sight of the thread of Jesus throughout the entire Word. This is a great summarized look at how God purposefully made history to align with His Son humbly sacrificing Himself for us. Many adults miss the simplicity of the Gospel that this book displays.

I love this book. Avoid teaching the massive amounts of text, theology, and tedium to your kids. Instead, fill their story time with wonderful pictures, God-breathed stories, and Jesus-centered fun!

Image from Google Book Search

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Westmoreland Park

Jen loves to travel and I love to explore. Thankfully, we have a great city for us to do both whenever we want! Portland is well known for its parks. Here are a few fun facts about Portland's parks within city limits:
  • 3 parks have extinct volcanoes (Mt. Tabor, Powell Butte, and Rocky Butte)
  • Forest Park is one of the largest wilderness parks in the US
  • Mill Ends Park is the world's smallest park
We have lived in the city for a year now. And like most people, we know our own neighborhood pretty well, but not the other areas of Portland. We plan to venture out to the other communities to see what we can find. We'll take pictures so that you can tag along for the ride.

Any suggestions? Park recommendations? Please comment to us and let us know!

This past weekend we visited Westmoreland Park, in the Sellwood neighborhood. There is a small lake and stream that run through, with foot bridges and paths to bike or walk along. Since moving from Seattle, we've noticed that there are few parks next to bodies of water. This park is great for watching . Great area for kids since there are lots of grassy fields and playground structures. Animals to observe are ducks and geese...there are tons of them. So, unfortunately, lots of bird poop all over the place. Overall, it is a very cute park that we'd love to visit again.

More photos here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Crappy Parenting

Aaron has been bugging me and bugging me to write a blog. So, here I go. :)

I teach pre-kindergarten. I have been doing it for a little over two years. Some days are fun and others are very difficult. I love my kids, but I cannot stand crappy parenting--especially because it usually makes kids' behavior crappy too.

I have a very difficult child in my class, let's call him "Caleb." He refuses to listen, makes death threats to teachers, and talks all the time
about how strong he is and how he can defend himself if we try to do anything to him. So today on the playground Caleb decided that he was going to throw sand at another kid because the kid wouldn't stop chasing him. I walked toward Caleb, calling out for him to stop so that he wouldn't get it in the other kid's eyes, and when he saw me coming he took off running. I told him that if he didn't come talk to me that he was going to lose his play time and sit out until his dad came. So he continued running and I followed him, cornering him on the playground, as I have become so skilled at doing, and grabbed his hand. I told him that if he was not going to listen to me that he could come and sit, and began my spiel about playing safely in the sand and using his words to tell a teacher when someone is bothering him, etc. And he reached over and scratched me. (It didn't hurt--I actually got it worse last week from another kid.) I walked him across the playground, had him sit in a chair, and told him that now I had to write a note to his dad about his behavior. I proceeded to fill out an incident report form and then guess who showed up?! His dad! I quickly handed the incident report to the director to be signed while I gave the dad another incident report to look over and sign from this morning when Caleb was wrestling with another kid and didn't stop when he was asked and got kicked in the face.

So Caleb's dad took him and walked out of the room without saying a word to me. I started to follow him out into the lobby to let him know about what had just happened but saw the director catch him and let her handle it. She came in to tell me after he left that the dad had asked her what he should do about Caleb running away from me and scratching me. She told him that he should bring him back in the classroom, tell him that what he did was not ok, and have him apologize. The dad simply said no and left. Gee, I wonder where the kid gets the idea that he can do whatever he wants and get away with it.

This is the worst part of my job. Kids have so much potential when they are only 4. Discipline should come out of love--you discipline so that they grow up to be responsible adults. Four-year-olds have no idea what is best for them, and parents need to step up and take the opportunity (and responsibility) to teach them. I don't think that parents realize that what they teach their children when they are young is going to affect them for the rest of their lives.

I hope my parenting is better than this. Sometimes when people ask me if I have kids, I say, "Not yet, I'm just practicing on other people's." :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Like A Child

This morning as I was sitting at a gas station, filling up my tank, I watched as a mother and her daughter used the pay phone outside the little station store. The mother was smoking a cigarette while dialing the number, occasionally turning her head to see where her daughter was. She kept reminding the little girl (who looked about 5 years old) to stay next to her and to not go wandering away.

The little girl decided not to listen to her mother. She went in, then came out. Went around the corner, then came back. Went back into the store, then came back. Skipping, singing, and having fun while mom was on the phone.

The mother kept an eye on her, which I appreciated. However, she looked agitated. She looked stressed. About the phone call...not about her daughter. Which is certainly understandable. We all have crap in our lives that we need to deal with.

But I would have been so happy if I saw that mother hang up the phone, start skipping, singing, and having fun with her daughter. Instead of chirping orders to her over her shoulder, she could've turned that downer gas station phone call into a super-fun imagination adventure time with her little girl.

Have we forgotten how to be like children? Are we too wrapped up into our adult responsibilities? Wouldn't it be fun to run into the wind and scream at the top of our lungs?

Photo is of me and my dad a long time ago. I love this picture.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sinning Against Your Spouse

I get so frustrated at myself when I sin against Jen. What's even worse is that she interprets my frustration against myself as anger towards her.

I sinned against her this morning. Of course we were arguing about money. After all, it is one of the most common topics that couples fight about. We have made history this week. This is the first time since we've been married that our bank account has dipped below 100 dollars. I'm not ashamed to say it because I believe that we have been spending money wisely. We rarely eat out at restaurants, we only buy clothes if we need them, and we budget every dollar we spend. Recently Jen and I were both sick. She had trouble breathing, so she needed to visit the doctor a few times. Thankfully, we have insurance and only needed to pay for the co-pay. But add up three or four visits, prescriptions, and no paid time off sets us back quite a bit. All our hard work of spending money wisely is down the drain just because Jen gets a little virus.

But I don't want to debate the issue of health care right now. I am thinking about my marriage. It wasn't even that big of a deal this morning. She reminded me of something and I reacted by being defensive and rude. I have a real problem with my tone. And I never realized I had that problem until we got married.

Thankfully, she forgave me this morning like she always does. Thankfully, we are able to trust that the other person will forgive us if we screw up. Thankfully, we depend on Christ in our marriage which spawns a desire to consistently do our best to grow in our love (verb) for each other.

Growing is hard. God is pruning us when we are convicted of sin. Right now I feel like God is getting some extra help to prune my tree as fast as possible. I keep making the same mistakes when trying to communicate with my wife. So what can I do? Well, I really have two choices. 1) To give up and separate myself from my wife, or 2) To believe God's Word and follow it.

God's Word says to fight the good fight and to love my wife. I just need to keep at it. If I truly believe what Jesus says is truth, then I had better do my best to show it in my marriage.

Some practical things that I want to do differently in my marriage:
  • Write love notes in the morning while I read my Bible. Leave them for her on the coffee pot or the door knob so she sees them before she leaves for work.
  • Turn off the radio in the car on my drive home. Instead, focus on ways to serve my wife before I get home.
  • Hold my lips shut with my fingers until she's done talking. Listen to her words and try to understand her point of view instead of making her see mine.

My marriage is more important to me than my own personal desires. Jesus calls us to serve one another and that's exactly what I'm trying to do. I am trusting that this is the right path.

Image from

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kid Quote: Divorce

"I hate that my mom and dad are divorced. I just wish they still loved each other like a husband and wife should." --10 year old 4th grader, during a game of wall ball.

Kid Quote: Online Shopping

"Where did you get that hat?" a 6-year old boy asked me, noticing the hat on my head that I rarely wear.

"I bought it on the internet," I responded. "Have you ever bought anything on the internet?"

"Nope. But my mom buys lots of stuff on there."

"Like what?" I wondered out loud.

"Shoes, lip gloss, and wax cream."

Laughing out loud, I replied, "Wax cream? You mean so she can wax her legs?"

"Yep. And shoes and lip gloss too!" He said with the biggest grin on his face.

"All the essentials, huh?" I added.