Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

March 28, 2009

Hobo Frogs Teaching Kids To Read And Make Decisions….That’s Silly

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 12:16 am

 

Hobo Frogs Teach Kids To Read..That's Silly

Hobo Frogs Teaching Kids To Read..That's Silly

 

 

The conquest did not take place over night. It was a gradual descent into kiddy chaos hell. Buying a baby doll here or a puzzle there for the girls seemed harmless enough. After all, like any good parent we were trying to buy our children’s love. I kid, I kid. We actually shelled out the cash for yet another pretty princess just to get a moment of peace and quiet and avoid a meltdown in the middle of Target. Once again, just joking….well, for the most part.

Slowly over time the kid’s stuff took over control of our house. The exact date of when the changing of the guards occurred is up for debate, but I’m guessing it was shortly after having to rent a U-Haul to bring home all the girl’s spoils from a trip to see Granny and Pop-Pop. You want it, we’ve got it: books, blocks, Barbies, ballerinas, beauty products and Blue’s Clues. Without us any the wiser, our house has become a Toys R’ Us franchise.

On second thought, we are closer in style to castoff stores like Ross, Marshall’s or TJMaxx because very few toys have all their pieces intact or are in good working order. This is the result of random quick cleans that take place when we have company coming over or the doorbell rings unexpectedly. My frantic cleaning gene I received from my mother kicks in and I start tossing everything in the corner of the living room, the place where toys go to get lost, broken or misplaced.

The only thing that brings me joy in the midst of cleaning up toys is putting away the Alphabet Pal Caterpillar. When the toy is in Phonics Mode, it is capable of sounding-out short words like DAD. Even though I know the little worm will giggle and say “that tickles,” I try to get it to say random four letter naughty words. Other dads of toddlers please do not shake your head in disgust. You know when your wife isn’t looking you do the same thing.

The problem with our wealth of toys arises during Paige’s naptime. Instead of sleeping, she tries to be stealth and sneak quietly out of bed. More often than not, Paige eventually tires herself out and falls asleep on the rug in the middle of her room. We thought this was the case the other day until we heard “Oh No! We’re Off The Track!” not once, but over and over again. When Jenn went upstairs to check on the commotion, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Paige was sprawled out across the train tracks of her Leapfrog Phonic Train set. In her slumber, she was blocking the pathway for the alphabet coal car causing the frogs to freak out. On a side note, does anyone else find it odd that a company feels tadpole hobo’s who spend their days riding the rails are the ideal candidates to teach toddlers their ABC’s?

Anyway, with naptime being a precious commodity, we decided to leave Paige alone and let her sleep.  After all, she was not fazed in the least bit by the noise or the toy train tapping her repeatedly on her shoulder. The last thing we wanted to do was press our luck by waking the little giant as we attempted to turn off the toy and place her back in bed.

Ten minutes afterwards we were regretting our decision. There are just so many times you can hear “Oh No! We’re Off The Track!” repeated before you begin to envy Helen Keller for being deaf. The phrase gets stuck in your head and it paralyzes you.  You cannot concentrate on anything else because you are waiting for that silly hobo frog to utter those words again.

I am not 100% sure, but I think another reason the frog’s phrase haunted me is due to my tendency to waver. While trying to cure this nasty habit of mine, I came across a few definitions of the word indecisiveness through my research for the month. Not only does indecisiveness involve having the trait of irresolution, but it also means one has a “lack of firmness of character or purpose.”

Ouch, that’s going to leave a mark, especially when you feel the impact of the word in a sentence like “the king’s incurable indecisiveness caused turmoil in his court.” If this statement is true then the chaos that defines my life from time to time is a result of my own doing. The king of this household is leading his family around in circles leaving everyone confused and disoriented.

Character drives direction. In essences, it serves as a compass for your life. Without character you are lost and the decisions you make are based on feelings and circumstances. Considering feelings are fickle and circumstances can change at a drop of a hat, this leaves you on shaky ground. Regardless of the external factors thrown your way, purpose keeps one on the tracks heading towards a goal. On the other hand, indecisiveness only leads to trying to learn how to pronounce “T-R-A-I-N W-R-E-C-K” from a hobo frog. 

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March 22, 2009

Swiping Travel Size Maple Syrup Causes Me To Get Roasted By The Gambler

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:26 pm

 

The Gambler Is The King Of Cracker Barrel

The Gambler Is The King Of Cracker Barrel

A normal visit to go see my family in Maryland should take approximately 6 hours and 45 minutes. Silly MapQuest with your “estimated” time and distance. You’ve obviously never taken a car ride with the Ripa clan. Haven’t you heard of potty breaks, switching of DVD’s and the numerous stops we make to stretch our legs?

This is not even taking into consideration the “I’m so tired of being stuck in my car seat that even watching the last installment of the Shrek trilogy will not suffice” freak out that takes place every trip somewhere around the city limits of Tyson’s Corner, VA. Experiencing a double helping of the meltdown to end all meltdowns always serves as a great first memory of our vacation.

The long trek up north not only leads to cramped legs, but clogged arteries as well. The dining options on I-95 are less than stellar. The majority of places right off the highway are fast food joints where the focus of feeding the masses doesn’t lend itself to achieving anything better than the remedial level of sanitary scores. It gives a new dimension to the saying of stopping for a ‘quick fill up for gas.’  If you are feeling extremely daring and venture a few miles into an actual town, you normally come across a greasy spoon where the local yokels don’t take kindly to Yankees who order un-sweet ice tea.

This means when you need an extended break from the ‘are we there yet?’ chants coming from the peanut gallery in the back row, your only option is to head to the place where Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers are king and queen. The restaurant I speak of is Cracker Barrel and there are no fewer than 8 locations scattered throughout our trip. For those unfortunate souls who have never experienced this hallmark of the south, you go for the Chicken Fried Steak, but come back for the Old Country Store. While waiting to be seated, you have the opportunity to peruse rooster lamps, Mork & Mindy DVD packs and inspirational salt & peppershakers. 

Each store also has a giant checkers board set out on display for those who have already purchased their John Deere Neon Wall Clock. Unfortunately, after the typical spanking I receive from Jenn at checkers, my Sawmill Gravy often does not taste as hearty as I imagined it. Look out Scrabble, there seems to be a new addition to the list of games Jenn beats me like a rented mule at every time we play.

How can this possibly be? In order to excel at checkers, a person needs to possess the ability to examine every possible move before they make it.  A plan and forethought is needed to be successful because every move you make creates numerous other possibilities. If this is the case then checkers should be right in my wheelhouse.

As odd as it might sound, it is a game tailor made for those with indecisive tendencies like myself. Worry and stress would appear to be attributes a checker grand wizard should posses. Indecisive people are known to make the simplest of choices larger than life. We fret over every decision that needs to be made.  If you think we are a little obsessive over silly choices like pepperoni or cheese and The Office of Grey’s Anatomy, you have no idea what grief is caused by the big time decisions of purchasing a home, having kids and the grand purpose of your life. The fear of the worst-case scenario often causes me not to act.

Even though I know there can only be one outcome to every choice I make, it does not stop me from stressing about a thousand different scenarios that I “believe” could take place. Not wanting to be caught off guard, I try to prepare myself for how the cards will fall if I chose what is behind door number 1,2, or 3. The longer I sit on making a decision the more outrageous and extravagant the possible outcomes become.

In my indecisive mind, something as simple as deciding to swipe the travel size maple syrup containers off the table at Cracker Barrel causes my mind to race about the possible results of my actions. Needing a sugar shot of adrenaline to keep me awake behind the wheel, my sticky fingers would lead to a slower reaction time and the possibility of a fender bender on the highway. I could become addicted to syrup leading to high blood sugar and an early death. Years later I could get a call from the cops saying Maddie or Paige were caught shoplifting and when I begin to lecture them they say, “Dad, the thought that crime was a viable career option started that one trip up to Granny and Pop-Pop’s house when you said you had a hankering for pancakes.”  Not being so stealth, the waitress could catch me slipping the syrup into Jenn’s purse. She grabs me by the arm and takes me back to the stock room where none other than Kenny Rogers interrogates me. Luckily, after roasting me for quite a while, he decides to take it easy on me. He says he always has a soft spot in his heart for a gambler. 

March 19, 2009

The Magician Of The Mundane Has Fooled You All…

Filed under: indecisiveness — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 9:34 pm

 

Don't Let The Boredom Fool You...

Don't Let The Boredom Fool You...

From the outside, I appear to be a set in my ways and highly structured. Every Tuesday night you will find our family dining at Atlanta Bread and afterwards letting our girls run wild at Barnes & Noble. Like clockwork, Saturday mornings means pulling the trifecta of bagels, Target and Costco. Sadly, or should I say pathetically, numerous evenings are centered on when the television shows I can’t miss are playing. If heaven forbid there is a rerun, I am beside myself as to what to do.

The insanity of being a man who ‘likes what he likes.’ even trickles down to what I eat. My drink of choice is caffeine free Diet Coke. Only one flavor of ice cream will do: chocolate chip cookie dough. I might get a bad case of the Outback’s after every time I dine there, but the fact remains I don’t have to open my menu knowing I’ll get the Outback Special with Aussie Cheese Fries every time.

Since I was 14 years old, Santa has always left Hot Tamales and Slim Jim’s in my stockings, along with gym socks for some odd reason. There will be some who think I am taking creative liberties and stretching the truth to serve my own purpose of making a point. However, I invite those individuals to join me for lunch at the Subway in downtown Wilmington, NC and watch what happens when I walk in the door. I can guarantee you that the lady behind the counter will instinctively prepare the ‘usual’, which is a turkey and pepper jack cheese on honey oat bread.

The predictability of my life shows up in other ways. Turn on my ‘in town’ car and sports talk will be playing on the radio. When I hop behind the wheel you could blindfold me and not be scared to ride shotgun. I’ll take the routes I know without ever veering off course. After work I’ll drive by Auto Wholesale and lust after cars that are way out of my price range.

The madness of the mundane continues even further. Some believe the information you can find off websites goes on forever, but after checking Facebook, Twitter, ESPN and my fantasy sports team, I feel like I have finally reached the end of the Internet. Ask me to help with a task at work and you can be guaranteed your typical “yes” man will oblige.

When I’ve mentioned to family and friends that for the month of March I am focusing on dealing with my indecisiveness, almost always a puzzled look comes across their face. You indecisive they say as they scratch their heads. I have to fight the urge not to crack a smile. It looks like my diabolical scheme has worked flawlessly. My routine life has masked my indecisiveness. I am a magician of the mundane. In a way, I’ve distracted them through sure boredom. 

March 13, 2009

Yo Dawg, Is That Randy Jackson Doing The Truffle Shuffle Or Me Shaking Off My Indecisiveness?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:21 pm
Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture Chunk...
 

If I had to describe my dancing ability I’d say it’s borderline smooth and graceful. Jenn, on the other hand, uses words like spastic and convulsive to explain the movements that take place once my feet hit the dance floor. Having watched myself moonwalk in my bedroom mirror since I was 10 years old, I dismiss what she says as silly talk. I know there is soul somewhere deep down inside me.

Granted, it has yet to show up when I bust out the Running Man, Funky Chicken or Robot, but I know all of the time I have spent watching and studying Randy Jackson’s Presents America’s Best Dance Crew will eventually pay off. Even after tuning in to numerous episodes, there is one thing that still leaves me puzzled: why is the big guy’s name attached to show anyway? Mr. Dog Pound doesn’t strike me as being someone who is nimble on their feet. I believe the only dance move that wouldn’t cause me to test my gag reflex is if Randy were to ever reenact Chunk doing the “Truffle Shuffle” from the movie Goonies. I am pretty sure I would actually pay to see that take place. I realize those are some pretty harsh words considering they are coming from a man who has two left feet.

Part of me has embraced my lack of rhythm. My skills, or lack thereof, always causes my two little girls to chuckle when we have our weekly family dance party and that is good enough for me. Paige will point to the “I-Poo” and request the “Yeah-Yeah-Yeah” song. Knowing this might cause some of you to question my parenting skills, the tune she is requesting is actually Duffy’s “Mercy.” Considering I just divulged that little nugget of information, I guess I should feel comfortable enough to let you know that some of her other favorites include Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai. Don’t worry neither girl is really listening to lyrics of the songs, they are completely mesmerized by their daddy’s arms and legs thrashing to and fro wondering if he is dancing or having an epileptic seizure.

The moments where I regret not knowing how to two-step or waltz is when Jenn and I go to a wedding. Sitting on the sidelines eating my weight in free filet mignon while others cut a rug on the dance floor is not Jenn’s idea of a fun evening out. On numerous occasions, she has brought up the idea of taking a dance class together. The closest I’ve come to lessons is freshmen year of college when I filled one of my physical education credit requirements through square dancing, but I am pretty sure this doesn’t count.

I could use the excuse that lessons would be another expense for our shoestring budget or yet another activity to fit into our busy schedule, but those are not the source of my hesitation. The reluctance stems from knowing I might misstep, trip over my own feet or cause Jenn to ice her feet after every class due to my clumsiness. One way you can tell a professional dancer from an awkward and uncoordinated novice like myself is where their eyes go when they misstep. It is inevitable to find yourself offbeat at one time or another, no matter how many times you’ve taken to the dance floor. While the pro looks towards their partner to find their rhythm together, the inexperienced dancer tends to look down at his or her feet. When this happens, moves become choppy, forced and the center of the dancer’s attention.

Many of my movements over the last 7 years have been more than choppy. They have felt down right unnatural. I find myself wondering if this is the step I should be taking. Almost every decision I’ve made has been second-guessed and plagued with doubt. The funny thing is there was a time in my life when I was confident in the choices I made regardless if they were wise or completely off course.

However, after the experience I had with my first job after college, everything seemed to change. A little background information for newcomers to this blog to get you caught up to speed. With my college diploma in Christian Ministries in hand, this idealist dreamer was ready to transform a younger generation for God as a youth pastor. I had no doubt in my mind that this is what I was called to do with my life. Yet, no textbook or lecture prepared me for what I encountered at the church. Things that were thrown my way seemed to set me up for automatic failure. I felt hopeless and alone. Coming home almost every evening defeated put a strain on my relationship with my beautiful new bride, Jenn, as we were fulfilling roles no spouse should.

For the sanity of our marriage, and ourselves, we knew I had to hand in my resignation and move on. The problem was neither of us had an answer to the important question of: move on to what? My state of mind at the time was cynical, bitter and confused. I did not know how to rectify the fact that I had told God I would go anywhere for Him and the first place He sent me seemed to be the dark wilderness. It made me doubt if I had completely mistaken God’s calling on my life and if that was the case wondering where that left me. Was it the situation or myself that caused my first experience into ministry to be unsuccessful?

Not wanting to venture into another youth ministry position, have it fail and ultimately realize it was me all along; I gave myself a year to figure things out. Instead of going forward, I decided to remain in neutral. Having no children or responsibilities at the time, Jenn and I decided to move down to Wilmington, NC. I could over spiritualize it and say ‘we felt this was where the Lord was leading us,’ but that would be a bold face lie. We packed our bags and headed south towards the beach based off a survey we filled out on a website called FindYourSpot.com. Jenn got a job working retail while I got my dream job (note the sarcasm) filling out spreadsheets for corporate America.

Sitting in my cubicle filling out TPS reports is where my tendency towards indecisiveness originated. Day after day I wrestled with contentment and questioning every decision that came my way. As odd as it might sound to some, being unsure of my abilities, passion and vision as it related to my job left me paralyzed with the fear of making another wrong decision not only in regards to employment, but in every aspect of my life.  

Eventually, I grew tired of living life staring at my feet and not focusing on what was ahead of me. This shift in perspective took place only when I became willing to take the diffciult, yet necessary steps, in examining my time at Ashton as a youth pastor. It wasn’t until I could see how my character was shaped and formed during the process that I realized there was a purpose for going through what I did. In the midst of everything I perceived as a failure, God still moved in the lives of young people I influenced. While journaling all my thoughts down on paper, something else interesting happened. I began to fall in love with writing all over again. I guess it wasn’t Randy Jackson doing the Truffle Shuffle after all, but me who found a way to shake off my indecisiveness. Hopefully, once these 30 days are over I’ll samba my way out of second-guessing for good.

March 10, 2009

Welcome To Moe’s Has Me Welcoming Indigestion…..And Regret

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:14 pm

 

Indigestion Often Leads To Regret

Indigestion Often Leads To Regret

Why o why do I continue to go Moe’s Southwest Grill? Is it because I secretly have it out for my stomach and want to punish my bowels at all cost? Tonight, Jenn and I had the perfect escape clause when we realized Kid’s night was on Monday and not Tuesday night. Our attempts to leave nonchalantly were thwarted after Maddie pleaded (parent speak for completely freaked out) for a Moo Moo Mr. Cow.

She won this round and we decide to order our food. I choose my usual, a Joey Bag of Donuts. The poor burrito did not stand a chance. I devour it in a matter of minutes without coming up for breath. This was not a smart move on my part. As I now struggle with a bad case of indigestion, I begin to ponder other choices in my life I regret making.

 

Here is just a sampling of the many regretful decisions I’ve made over time:

 

Deciding to waste two hours of my life watching Swing Vote.  Who knew that Kevin Costner still had it in him to make a movie worst than Waterworld? Granted, the film did have one bright spot. It is the only movie ever to create bipartisanship among political rivals. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and even most Communist were willing to cross party lines and create an amendment demanding Hollywood refund every moviegoer who purchased a ticket to this political “satire.”

Deciding to dye my hair while my parents were on vacation in 1997. I was trying to look like Billy Joe Armstrong, the lead singer from Green Day, by saying good riddance to my Mr. Straight Lace look. Instead of coming out Billy Joe blonde, it turned my scalp into Big Bird bright yellow. Let’s just say that people had the time of their life making fun of this nimrod.

Deciding to take for granted how quickly Maddie would grow up.  Don’t get me wrong there are moments upon moments with her that I will cherish forever. Late night bottles, dirty diapers, tea parties, movie nights and cuddling on the couch are just a few. Yet, registering Maddie for kindergarten, I am now realizing how my priorities have been of whack and my push for “me” time seems silly now.

Deciding my body could handle eating an entire Watermelon after being dared to do so at a summer picnic with family friends (are you noticing a trend here?). It appeared the first few hours afterwards that my belly would reign victorious. That was until about 2 in the morning when watermelon seeds rained from the sky in the bathroom. The walls, once white, now have a permanent pink sorbet tint to them.

Deciding to not listen to Jenn’s advice to put on sunscreen while at a water park. After all, it was a sunny, but cool day and I was an Italian who had never been sunburned before. Well, like the saying goes there is a first time for everything, even sun poisoning. I spent the next week soaking in a white vinegar bath while my skin peeled like a shell off a hard boiled Easter egg.

Deciding to not attend a large university with a strong athletic program, not because I was an athlete, but because I am a big sports fan. This regret showed up every time I’d go to a Penn State football or Maryland basketball game. Instead of being a Cameron Crazy, Orange Crush or a part of the Nittany Nation, I was one of about 20 fans nicknamed the Messiah Mutes who cheered on the Division III powerhouse women’s basketball program.

Deciding to pass a car on a double yellow line while in a 16-passenger van filled with kids. We were late coming home from a youth ski trip and I didn’t want to look irresponsible as the fresh faced youth pastor so I just went for it. Pulling into the parking lot, all the parents were there waiting for me as well as the off duty cop who was behind the church van and watched the entire incident go down. She was none to pleased with my behavior and slapped me with a driving ticket.

 

This last one touches upon a section of my life that had numerous regrets: my time as a youth pastor. Some of these regrets came from my own doing and others as a result of my reactions to things that happened to me. As I try to pinpoint where my indecisiveness originates, I keep coming back to those three years spent in Ashton where an idealistic dreamer somehow turned into a bitter cynic who was now worried about taking another incorrect step. Going into greater detail as to why this is the case will have to wait till my next blog post. I know this could appear to be a cheap teaser forcing you to come back to hear the rest of the story. However, I am pressing pause on delving into this regret mainly because this topic demands more attention, but also due to my bad indigestion. Welcome to Moe’s is about to welcome in the stinky stink into my bathroom. 

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