Monday, December 31, 2007

New year's resolutions...

Since some of my friends are doing resolutions (see here and here), I thought I'd jump in. Even though my record at following through on them is not great (I still can't ride one of these, and I never made the opening-day roster of this team.)

Here's a few off the top of my head:
  1. Stop using cliches, like"off the top of my head,"
  2. Have fewer expectations of myself and my kids, and embrace even our mistakes,
  3. Spend less money on me, and more on people who really have needs,
  4. Take God seriously, but not too seriously,
  5. Keep regular contact with good friends,
  6. Take better care of myself, since I have kids now who'd like me to stick around,
  7. Be thankful every second for the girl who had the bad judgement to marry me,
  8. Spend less time griping and more time being thankful,
  9. Use the internet for important things, like keeping in touch with people I care about,
  10. Not use the internet for less important things, like this,
  11. To live out this phrase: man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. Heavy on the glorifying, heavy on the enjoying.
  12. Make sure no one who ever lived in the Arkansas governor's mansion is elected president...

Why yes, my kids are adorable...

I might be a tad biased when I say this, but my family is the most awesomest ever. If you need visual proof, check out this post at my wife's seldom-updated blog...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas at the J house!

Well , the internet has slowed to a crawl, no doubt waiting for pictures of my family opening gifts on Christmas morning. The anticipation, it is palpable. ("Palpable" means "so intense as to be almost able to be felt physically," for those of you who went to Brethren High.) Since I don't want to let my legion of internet fans down, here are some pics.

This is actually Christmas eve, and the girls are ready to go over to Grandma and Papa's house.

This is Christmas morning. The kids are exhausted because we got them up at 5:30 in the morning to go to Julotta. But they can't wait to open presents...

Here's Santa with his favorite elf. If you're wondering, my hat says Feliz Navidad! (That means Merry Christmas for those of you who learned Spanish in Mrs. Worchester's class.)

Here's DisneyGirl with one of her precious gifts. Personally, I think SHE'S the precious gift, but I might be biased...

Here's the traditional candy free-for-all, that comes after we open all the presents. It's usually followed by the traditional Christmas sugar rush...

Then comes the traditional Christmas sugar-induced stupor. ("Stupor" means "
an acute lack of mental alertness brought on, e.g. by shock or lack of sleep," for those of you that went to BCHS.")

What did I get for Christmas? Well, here are my four favorite gifts. And I couldn't be happier...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The best part about Christmas...

My family went to a Julotta service early this morning. It's a great tradition that the Mighty Mrs. J and I have developed over lo these many years of marriage. We get the kids up in their pajamas, and we all pile into the van and drive to the church house. Singing starts at 6 am, and it's a great time of worship.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I was really moved by one Christmas carol, Angels from the Realms of Glory. Especially this verse:
Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

What a great picture of how Jesus is the fulfillment of all we look for--our hope, our deliverance, our life. That is the best part of the Christmas story for me.

Except maybe for this. thanks, Mighty Mrs. J!

Oscar Peterson, R.I.P.

One of my favorite musicians died 2 days ago. Oscar Peterson was an amazing pianist who always blew me away with his technical ability and his passion for music. He really was one of the best of the last century.

I could try to describe how great he was, but here's a little bit of the man himself from 1977:

He'll be missed, but we have tons of recordings from every part of his career to remind us of his genius.

Thanks, Oscar!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas at the in-laws!

tonight we are celebrating Christmas eve at the Mighty Mrs. J's parents' house. Here's a pic of Little MacGyver and his PaPa...

Happy birthday, Little MacGyver...

Today is Little MacGyver's 6th birthday! Yes, he's a Christmas Eve baby. His birthday can be overshadowed a bit by this guy. But we usually have a party for him the week before or the week after, to separate his special day from Jesus' special day.

But we did have a special birthday breakfast this morning. And of course, I took pictures!

Here he is, waiting for his favorite breakfast (bacon and johnny cakes). Notice he has the family celebration plate that we use on birthday days.

The girls are less concerned with birthdays and more worried about getting breakfast served soon!

Here he is with one gift--a set of books called The Magic Treehouse. He has the first book in the series as an audiobook, and he loves it. He listens to it every night while he goes to sleep.

This was his big gift--his very own, kid-sized guitar! He's been playing it all day. I've got to say, teaching your son some simple guitar chords is a great feeling!

I assume that at some point Little MacGyver will read this, just to check up on what his old man is doing.

So here's a note to you, son. You are the best son a father could ever have. I am so proud of the boy you've become, and I look forward to seeing the man you'll be. You are one of God's great blessings to your mom and me. I know you'll be a great blessing to all the people you touch through your life. Two things I want you to be sure of in this crazy life: 1) God loves you more than you'll ever imagine, and 2) your dad is totally proud of you, always.

Happy birthday, my crazy boy!

One reason why Christmas in LA is cool

I am now officially filled to the brim with Christmas cheer. One reason is that last night we went to see the holiday light display that the city of Los Angeles puts on every year at Griffith Park. It's set up on the side of a street in the park (next to the zoo), and you can drive through the display. But the best fun is walking along the opposite side of the street, soaking it in.

This is the beginning of the display. It's 3 or 4 cars lengths long, and you can see how tall it is relative to the cars inside it.

It's put together by the city's Department of Water and Power. So of course they get some free advertising.

They depict various parts of life in Los Angeles. Here's the Hollywood Bowl.

Here's a blurry LAX...

This was one of my favorites, the Griffith Observatory...

And LA City Hall, the home of the esteemed Mayor Villagairosa and his elves in the city council...

Of course, my favorite part is being able to share it with the Mighty Mrs. J and the kids. We go pretty much every year. And we went this year with a family we've become friends with during the last year. Knowing them has made this year better...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fun facts from Cap's list...

My former friend Cap recently posted 20 fun facts about himself. I ended up being mentioned in a couple of them, and I think I need to set the record straight:

About #16--"
RichardJ was the 'mother' of our friend Darren. (He should explain that)" There was a rumor circulating our beloved high school that I wrote some of Darren's notes excusing him from class. And that I signed the notes as Darren's mother. I only have this to say: I am offended by these accusations, which go to the very core of my character as a high school student. And each of those notes, to my knowledge, was authentic.

About #1--"RichardJ is not buoyant" That is absolutely true. Was true then, is true now. I am forever indebted to Cap for saving my life. I have, however, repaid him countless times with my my charm, brilliant banter, and unsurpassed friendship.

I think we're about even...

Is George W. bush an accessory to a rape?

Recently I posted about something GW Bush had done during his presidency--namely, his stance on embryonic stem cells. But I also need to point out what I believe to be the biggest of GW's many failures as president.

At a time when national security is supposed to be the number one priority for his administration, GWB has refused to guard our nation's borders on all four sides. I can't imagine why he won't enforce the country's laws. He takes great pride in saying we're fighting terror oversees. Yet we know that every year thousands of people from terror-sponsoring countries (like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.) come into the country illegally. Where are they? Who are they? Why are they here? We don't know, because we have no way to track them.

Some people think that illegal immigration is just an economic problem. And we do spend billions of dollars every year on social services for illegal aliens. But there is also a real human toll associated with the problem, and it usually goes unreported (or underreported) by the media.

This story is a telling example of what I mean. It tells of a woman whose car broke down on the freeway recently. She was viciously raped by a guy who was arrested several days later. He's here illegally, and has apparently been arrested before. Every year, thousands of violent crimes are committed in the US by people who shouldn't be here in the first place. (This congressional report lays out the facts pretty clearly. Look especially at the section entitled "Illegal Alien Crimes Against US citizens.")

To me, every time an illegal immigrant commits a crime in this country, GWB is responsible. He let them in the country, and he's responsible for what they do. Including the rapes, murders, and molestations.

Now, is every illegal immigrant a violent criminal? Of course not! Only a moron would suggest that. But, how many violent criminals should we be bringing on from other countries? Don't we have enough American criminals?

I don't know GWB's reasons for not securing the borders of this country. I suspect they have to do with providing cheap labor for his manufacturing buddies, and a desire to ease in a globalist agenda. But he needs to know that there is a human cost for what he's done. And GWB's bad decisions have resulted in one more shattered life...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

So George W. Bush got one right...

People who know me know that I think G W Bush has been mostly a disaster as a president. From immigration, to spending, to national security, to the conduct of the war in Iraq, to prescription drug coverage, to education, to our energy policy, to reforming social security, to pushing his globalist agenda, I've little use for him.

But I've got to give the man credit for one thing he did right. And, it's something he took all kinds of heat for when it happened. He has been a staunch opponent of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. And rightly so. The hoopla over embryonic stem cells has been largely without merit. There haven't been any major medical cures using embryonic cells. But, there this huge push to pour all kinds of money into research using these cells. (Personally, I think this has more to do with legitimizing abortion, but that's for a different post.)

Well, scientists have announced the discovery of some amazing new treatments using stem cells. What's most amazing is that scientists found these by experimenting with adult stem cells. Apparently, they've found a way to use these adult stem cells to cure sickle cell anemia in mice. They believe this is going to lead to new treatments for all sorts of diseases.

What does this have to do with GWB? If he hadn't limited federal funding on embryonic stem cells, there would have been a flood of government money poured into that area of research. And scientists would have had no incentive to work with other types of stem cells. There would have been a growing need to destroy more embryos. Not to mention the temptation to go into really nasty ethical areas, like creating embryos for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells.

But GWB's policy forced researchers to find a different way. And they have. Now this area of research can continue without the ethical questions raised by embryonic stem cell research.

Good job, GWB! If you had done as well with all the other stuff I mentioned, you would've been a pretty good president...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A tough time at the J house!

It is true that I have been mostly absent since the beginning of December. The biggest reason is that National Blog Posting Month exhausted me. (Yes, I am easily drained of energy. Thanks for noticing!)

The other reason is that we've been going through a great, but hard transition in the J family. As of this past Sunday, Toddler Houdini decided that she was no longer sleeping in her crib. She's learned to climb out of it! So she is getting used to sleeping in an actual bed.

By "sleeping," I really mean, "Running throughout the house as soon as Daddy turns around." This is not going smoothly for any of us. I see this face a lot:

Usually while she's making this face, she's saying something like, "No, daddy, no want it dark!" Then she runs away laughing. (And if you're wondering, I do rule my house with an iron fist, as you can tell.)

She is really asserting her independence, which is cool. But it's frustrating. And when you add in the fact that I'm tired at the end of the day, it's not a pretty picture.

But we're working it out, figuring out what works best to help her transition to her Big Girl Bed. Then we'll go back to the good old days when we looked more like this:

NFTW #010--I can hardly stand the excitement!

The long-awaited 10th episode of Notes from the Way is finally here! It's enough to make grown men cry for joy. You can listen and subscribe to it right here.

In this episode, I bug you one more time NOT to buy Christmas stuff from China. And, I have some great news--God is hard at work on us, and He won't quit until He's done!

You can also listen here:


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The internet is a very serious instrument of education and information...

Some of you may think that I spend all my time posting pictures of my kids and checking out my friends' blogs. But that's only about 98% true. The rest of my valuable internet time is spent in the serious pursuit of learning and edification. Take a look here at one of my proudest achievements.

No wonder Al Gore is so proud of inventing the internet! And yes, The Mighty Mrs. J does really sound like that. Except her actual voice isn't quite as low and mellifluous...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Something I'm thinking about...

This post is mostly to remind me, but feel free to join in.

"I have as much ability to teach myself how to love God as Toddler Houdini has the capacity to teach herself how to love me. God has to teach me what it means to love and be loved by Him, just like it's my job to teach Toddler Houdini."