The Power of Story

Anders is our sensitive boy. Don't get me wrong--he's a definite male. He loves Star Wars, cars, lightsabers & guns, rescue vehicles, climbing and nature. But we've been getting movies from our library, and a couple have touched him. A week or so ago we watched Ice Age. When the animals have to give the baby back to the humans, he started crying. Last night it was The Iron Giant. When the Giant sacrifices himself to save all the people, he was sobbing. I'll admit, the fact that he was crying brought some tears to my eyes (I guess we know where he gets it from). We connected the Giant's death with that of Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Which naturally led into talking about how Jesus died for us.

Nils, meanwhile, busied himself with playing with toys--handing me toy dinosaurs. But he's getting into stories. He usually enjoys reading books with us at naptime and bedtime. There's a couple books he keeps pulling out, so those are pretty well memoriezed. In addition to The Big Red Barn, he likes books with trucks--especially fire trucks. Right now he's walking around with a bucket on his head saying he's a firefighter.


Anders' Revelation

Today, Nils and I made a quick run into the post office. Anders wanted to stay in the car (don't worry, I left the windows open a little). When we got back, Anders said that there were two green lights that came. And one of them was Jesus. And He said that He would be telling everyone that He wasn't dead, but that He rose back to life. (The other light was God the Father, he told me later). I'm not sure what to make of that. I guess it's his own little Road to Damascus experience.


Bullfrogs & Butterflies

Okay, that's not really a bullfrog, but I had to use the title from that old song from childhood.

The boys and I ran to the Nature Center this morning. They have this cool thing where you can check out a back pack with some theme (Anders chose birds over insects, wildflowers, mammals or trees). The bird back pack was full of bird books, a CD player with a couple discs (one on bird calls, another was a reading of one of the kids books), a cool bird call identifier (Anders thinks the earphone is cool--I guess it's the first one he's used), a couple bird plushes that make noise, binoculars, and a bunch of other things. We get it for a week. Anders spent his whole rest time playing with stuff from the backpack.

After we did a short hike looking at butterflies, birds and frogs, the boys played for a little bit. Then Anders fell through the ladder opening in the middle of the eight foot high platform. He's got a good bonk on the back of his head, but amazingly nothing else is bad. Beth has said it before in her blogs (usually about Nils), but angels are definitely on full-time duty with those boys. We've been spared from many a hospital visit.


Faith-based Politicians

This weekend we were in Wisconsin for my mother-in-law's birthday and a couple nephew's graduation celebrations. I stumbled across the Obama-McCain debate at Saddleback Church on C-SPAN on Saturday night, so we taped it and watched it later. I usually don't put much time into politics, but I was drawn in by a debate hosted by Rick Warren, looking at the candidates faith.

I appreciated how Pastor Warren started by saying that faith is a worldview that, just like any other worldview, people live their lives by--if it's real faith, it's not something that people can separate from their political life. I also appreciated that the candidates were willing to address their faith in a deeper manner.

Personally, I felt Obama answered the questions more personally and conversationally, while McCain tended to give short, unelaborated platform answers drawn out with POW stories. I heard Obama speak a bit more about humility, which is rare in a politician. Neither gave answers that I approved of fully, of course, but I appreciated hearing what both had to say. And I appreciated that they were willing to meet together as candidates for the first time with Rick Warren who was able to probe into their faith and how they live that out in their lives and in their political careers.

I also saw some hope of not just attacking all the symptoms of moral and political problems, but of addressing what the cause of some of those problems is.



The park is finished. It looks cool. However, we're a bit disappointed. It's all made for ages 5-12. There's very little that Nils can do. Even Anders isn't as excited about it anymore.

I'm also not a fan of wood chips for the ground cover. They're just a lot dirtier and not fun to walk on barefoot.

We've found ourselves (as well as almost everyone we encounter at the park) complaining a lot the last few days. But we are thankful to have the park right next door. It's a blessing.


A Galaxy Far, Far Away

I love my boys. As much as they can be frustrating at times, they bring me much joy. Beth has been encouraging me to take Anders to the Star Wars exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota for a while (I was dragging my feet because of the cost). Gavin & Lisa & Bronte from Albert City visited today, so Gavin went with us. Anders was so fun to watch--he was so excited during everything. He does have this trouble with having a photographic face when looking at the camera--which is part of his charm.

The exhibit was Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination. They had displays on how modern science is advancing, mimicking things from the movies; there were also hands-on stations where you could do things like build a hovering landspeeder (using maglev technology with legos and magnets) and build & program a robot to move where you wanted it.

We saw a lot of models from the movies (Beth & I had seen some when we were in Chicago at an exhibit at the Field Museum, but there were a lot of new things). It was fun to look at some of the odd little things on the ships, many of which were build from model parts (the Millennium Falcon has a sticker on the outside saying that it is Cummins Powered, for instance).

Anders loved seeing the costumes from the movies, too. He was awed at how big Chewbacca & the other Wookiees are. And he thought it was cool that he was the size of a Jawa. After we got through the exhibit, we checked to see if Anders wanted to see anything again before we left it (you had to have a separate ticket for the displays), so Anders wanted to go back and get his picture taken with almost everything there (you're only seeing a small part of things here).

A highlight was a short film where the 3 of us got to sit in a replica of the Millennium Falcon's cockpit. He was pretty excited by that.

We had an hour left after we finished our lunch to see a few of the other exhibits in the museum. The first stop was the dinosaurs and fossils. That was cool, of course (especially to a 4 year old). I think he'll have a few lasting memories from the trip. For me it was the wide eyes and smile on his face.


Pictures from the Week

My parents were up this weekend. We had some time with them at my sister's house on Sunday.

Anders enjoyed using Uncle Wilder on the slip & slide. Otherwise they weren't too into slipping & sliding--just getting wet.

The boys "fishing" at April & Wilder's house: FarMor helped get their rods ready. Anders shows off his catch (a gummi-fish).

Nils enjoys spending some quality time with FarFar.

We were going to let Anders climb the rock wall at REI while Beth looked at shoes this morning, but today's one of the days when the wall isn't open. So instead we headed over to the Mall of America for our first time since we've been here. Our destination was the Lego store (we didn't even go in any other store other than Sears to get to our parking ramp). Anders was in awe.


The World Unites

My parents are in town, so they took us out for supper. Afterward, we went home and caught some of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. The Olympics is one of the few sporting events that I try to always catch. I love the lessons in culture and world history that you get through the games (especially the opening ceremonies). I love how all cultures come together. It was great to see the Chinese cheering for Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Japan and France--political histories and feelings are put aside for the games. And for the most part the players aren't there for money or marketing; they're there for the games and for there team. I also love to cheer for the underdog--the little island nation or African country that can't afford all the special gear or training that US athletes receive--especially the nations that have never won a medal before.


Playground Progress

Even if we're still not sure what was wrong with the old playground, at least the city is quick about putting the new one in.


Goodbye Playground

The boys heading to the old playground; the playground as of noon today.

This morning (after a long, sleepless night where Nils was up until around 2am, but that's another rant), the boys and I walked to the park next to our apartment to watch the big trucks tearing down the play equipment.

My information only comes through others in the neighborhood, but the rumor is that the city replaces playgrounds every 10 years (which, though ambitious in my mind, is good that there's an upgrade plan in place). The sad things is that they just demolish the old playground equipment. Sure, there was a little wear in places (again, the rumor is that there were some rusty bolts), but it really didn't need to be wrecked. I know a lot of smaller communities and county parks that would have been thrilled to have the equipment that our park had.

Now, I'm sure the city will recycle the scrap metal and plastics, but the destruction seemed kind of pointless. Just another instance of our throw-away mentality in this world. It was quite noticeable when I was in Ecuador several years ago. Traveling through the mountains, you would see a stream of garbage flowing down the hillsides beneath homes. As North American packaging of products found its way to the small mountain villages & homes, the people didn't know what to do with the wrappers, boxes, etc. So it just got tossed out in hopes it would go away. The worst part is that we've learned to do that to people, too.

I need to start looking at the value of everything and everyone around me--including myself. God created it all, He will redeem it all, and He died for us all. And that's where our value lies.

Meanwhile, we'll be waiting for the new playground to be installed.