Posted by: multicrazy | August 29, 2011

Summer 2011

Summer 2011 was a busy one for us, with lots of great travel opportunities, from our annual Tybee trip…to a few days for the two of us in San Francisco…followed by a family trip to the North American Christian Convention in Cincinnati…then a trip for the kids and me to Tennessee so that I could speak at a conference and they could hang out with Grandma and Grandpa…then a family reunion in Indianapolis…and ending with a trip to Ohio for the amazing Josh Boone’s wedding.  (Tiring just to type it all.)

And somewhere in there, Lisa FINALLY got her freedom when all four of our kids started going to full-day school together!!!  Who would have ever thought that day would come?

Posted by: multicrazy | May 31, 2011

No Ordinary Disney Trip

Last fall, we were blessed to win a contest from ABC-TV promoting their new show No Ordinary Family.  The prize was a trip to Disney that included a night’s stay in a special suite within Cinderella’s Castle, which was originally designed for Walt’s family to stay in, but which wasn’t completed until a few years ago, when it was opened exclusively to contest winners and only celebrities who have a special invite from ABC or Disney (i.e. no amount of money or celebrity status can gain you access into it).  We were able to arrange our stay there during the night before Ashley’s 7th birthday, so that she woke up as a 7-year-old princess inside Cinderella’s castle.  What we didn’t really realize or fully understand until we got there was that part of the package (a HUGE part of the package) was our own 8-hour-a-day tour guide for each of the 5 days that we were there.  David, a super-nice tour guide who had previously shown Jenna Elfman’s family around for a week, picked us up every morning in a big white van, transported us on back roads from park to park, to back entrances in which he walked us right to the front of the line to every ride that we wanted to ride.  (Essentially, it ruined every future trip that would undoubtedly include the normal lines, waits, and regular people’s transportation [okay, actually, we would never turn down even an extremely low-budget trip to Disney, but this was truly unbelievably extravagant from start to finish].)  When it was all said and done, we had an unforgettable and memorable trip, and celebrated in style our little princess turning 7!!!

A couple of weeks after returning, Benjamin, Casey and Danielle reached their own milestone by graduating from pre-school!!!

2011 started out nicely, with a cold enough winter and even a bout of pinkeye and strep for me that took me out of work for a week.  In March, to celebrate our 12th anniversary, my parents came up to watch the kids while Lisa and I got to visit Hawaii–the Big Island and Maui–compliments of Ladies’ Home Journal and OPI Nail Polish.

In April during Spring Break week, compliments of Porch Step Media and the book 5 Simple Things by John Tolsma (which is quite excellent, by the way), we had a chance to take the whole family for a quick trip out to Phoenix, a long-awaited reunion trip that we had hoped to do when the little guys were five years old (which they are!).  While there, we got to stay in the same Mission House that we stayed in during 2005-6, compliments of the amazing folks at First Christian Church in Phoenix.  We had the chance to visit the hospital where the kids were born and visit many of the nurses and specialists in the very awesomely renovated NICU there; then we had a special reunion with about a dozen of the very special folks from First Christian Church who had helped us so much then (and of course they went overboard once again and threw a really great potluck dinner for us at Kenyon and Teresa Ackeberg’s home, where we had spent Christmas Day in 2005); and then we had breakfast with three of the kids’ primary nurses the next day before heading up to see the Grand Canyon together.  It was cold and wet the first day, and on the second day just cool, but clear.  Very beautiful work of God–we’re not sure why people sometimes say it’s just a ‘big hole in the ground.’  Truly amazing, and the kids loved getting their Junior Ranger badges there.

Enjoy the pictures.  We know that we are very very very blessed to do the kind of traveling that we’ve done, and we have never taken it for granted.

Posted by: multicrazy | December 31, 2010

2010 Comes to a Quiet End

October 2010 held an element of sadness, as Lisa’s aunt Anne Hair from Texas passed away during heart valve surgery at the Mayo Clinic, where we hoped and prayed that her heart and livelihood would be restored to her.  Anne had visited us and helped with Ashley when we were in Phoenix before the babies came, and then she also came to Georgia to see us the following Christmas, and Lisa and the kids were able to see her at Lisa’s mom’s house during a visit in the last couple of years.

In October, Lisa and the kids went down to Tennessee during the kids’ fall break, then the whole family went to Tennessee for Milligan’s homecoming weekend, from which I drove directly to Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, where I preached a four-day revival at our friends Dave and Cindy Chapman’s church East Tenth Street Church of Christ.  East Tenth Street had prayed for us during our trials with the little ones, and had previously given Project Seahorse a sizable donation when my Dad preached a revival there in 2006.  While there, I had a chance to give the testimony of our experiences with the kids, and they again gave a sizable donation to Project Seahorse.  Great week!

In November, the little guys turned 5 :) and I turned 40 :( on the same day–a day which, ironically, had been chosen for Lisa’s Aunt Anne’s memorial service out in New Braunfels, Texas.  So Lisa flew out there and got back in time to celebrate the birthday, which we did fairly quietly.  My cousin Dennis, his wife Amy, and their kids came over for a little celebration (we also celebrated Thanksgiving with them) and we had a nice quiet November.

December brought the inauguration of a new indoor-outdoor outreach drama at our church called, simply, Bethlehem.  The timing of it–on the weekend that school let out–coincided with the worst December weather in memory.  Schools were closed most of the last week of school before Christmas (our pre-schoolers never even got to have their big Christmas party and program), and the ice and temperatures were unbelievable.  So we pressed on, with very small crowds, but it still went very well.  Christmas Eve service went well, and so did Sunday service the day after Christmas, after which we departed on a whirlwind post-Christmas tour of Georgia with Lisa’s mom and family, and then Tennessee with my parents and family.  The New Year was ushered in for us in Tennessee, and we BARELY stayed awake to see the ball drop.

Another blessed year.

Posted by: multicrazy | September 30, 2010

School in Kentucky and Vacation in French Polynesia

In August and September 2010 Ashley started the first grade and Benjamin, Casey and Danielle began their ‘senior year’ at Little Elks Preschool.  Very exciting stuff…and no tears shed on either first day. 

Compliments of Land o’ Frost lunchmeat company, I got to leave town for a couple days in August to attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio with three friends of mine.  (Funny that I never visited the Hall during my seven years of living within an hour.)  While there, we got to visit my two Ohio places of employment/ministry, the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio in Wooster and Northside Christian Church in Wadsworth.  Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice were inducted into the Hall, causing some to declare it the best group to ever be inducted.

Cool.

But September held for Lisa and me (and maybe the kids too?) the highlight of our year.  My parents came up and watched our kids for nine days while Lisa and I spent a week in Tahiti.  AMAZING in every way.  God has done beautiful things in French Polynesia, and we believe there is no more amazing vacation.  The trip was a contest sponsored by the Tahiti Department of Tourism, and so we really had the best of everything in terms of amenities and excursions.  We stayed in two overwater bungalows on two different islands, both of which allowed us to walk out onto the back patio and go snorkeling in the reef.  On our final full day there, we had scheduled a “wedding ceremony on the beach,” which we assumed would be a 5-minute renewal of vows by a local clergyperson.  Instead, it was a full-blown Tahitian wedding ceremony, in which we dressed in Tahitian costumes, had Tahitian singers and dancers, coconuts, paparazzi, and exotic drinks (which we turned in for the virgin versions, thank you).  Because it was rainy, it was moved indoors to the main lobby area of the hotel, which attracted even more attention to us in our craziness.  Wild, great week with my beautiful bride (no matter what culture it is).

We are still coming down to earth.

 

Posted by: multicrazy | September 17, 2010

A MANLY glimpse into SPA-WORLD

I love my wife.

Very much.

…which is the only reason that I allowed myself to experience a three-hour ‘couples massage’ at a spa in French Polynesia.  Really.

Ironically, it took place just a few hours after a three-and-a-half hour ATV ride, which was pretty much one of the manliest couples things I’ve ever done.  Rugged mountain riding.  Through creeks.  Peering over the edge of mountains.  In some pouring rain too.  The closest thing to being in a biker gang that my ‘biker chick’ and I will likely ever experience.

 

After such an experience, it would only figure that I’d do what I’ve previously done during two free ‘couples massage’ opportunities in the past.  Which is to go to the spa people, explain to them that a man like me doesn’t allow people to touch him in strange places, and then wheel and deal for a double-time experience for my wife…while I go back to the room and watch ESPN.

But not this time.  Call it love.  Call it curiosity.  Call it whatever you want.  But I decided I’d enter the dark underbelly of the spa world and see if I could live to tell about it.

Before I get into this expose piece, let me first just explain that I’m the anti-massage guy:  the one who bolts out of his seat, ready to fight, whenever any kind soul comes up behind me and starts to rub my back/neck/shoulders.  (Usually this ends our friendship.  But that’s a price I’m willing to pay.  I just absolutely don’t like people touching my back and shoulders.)

And so we entered the spa at the Hilton Resort in Moorea, French Polynesia, the hotel where we were staying.  There we met two kind French-speaking, barely-English-speaking young ladies who would be our massage therapists/masseuses/hygienists/torturers.  We filled out forms that asked us to circle the places where we were tight (for me, pretty much my whole body) and where we would not like to be touched (for me, pretty much my whole body).  I explained to Laly, my person, that I was extremely sensitive around my neck/back/shoulders and my thighs.

In hindsight, I would have said, “Laly, if you ever touch the back of my calves in a high-pressure way, you will never get a Christmas card from me.”  But my foresight was not as good as my hindsight.

I also checked on my sheet that I understood that my massage could end prematurely due to any “inappropriate guest behavior.”  I wasn’t sure what that meant, but figured that—in a pinch—I could get myself kicked out if I just yelled out ‘OW—QUIT IT!’ enough times.

I was taken to a dressing room (for masculinity purposes, I’ll call it ‘the locker room’), where I was allowed a few last requests, and then shown the towel that I would wrap around myself over my shorts.  This was a very lonely few minutes for me, wondering if I’d ever be able to re-enter the world with my head held high as a post-massage veteran.

After my pre-game ritual was over, I emerged from the locker room, where Laly showed me to our dark candlelit funeralesque spa room (which probably has a fancier name that I pride myself in not knowing), where Lisa was already lying facedown on her examining table.  Soft music played, something along the lines of Sade with a drum machine.

Oh, so I should mention that part of my agreement to do this deal was that Lisa would always be right next to me, ready to defend me and my honor in the event of any kind of abuse or maltreatment.  (In a streetfight with two French Polynesian massage therapists, my money would be on Lisa every time.)

I was invited to lie facedown on my table, putting my head into the head-holder, which had a hole in it to breathe and to stare at the floor.  (A TV on the floor, I think, would have made the time go faster.)  At this point, Laly began to rub down my body with papaya stuff, which had a real sandpapery quality to it (except that no sandpaper I’ve used has ever smelled like papaya), and apparently Laly got extra points for rubbing it in extra hard.  At this point, I realized that on my pre-game form I also should have mentioned that ‘my toes are ticklish,’ but didn’t feel like it was appropriate to lift my head out of my head-holder to say so.  Surely Laly must have noticed that my toes squirmed a whole lot during this point.  I noticed from a few feet away from me that Lisa didn’t seem to be squirming, wincing, or generally uncomfortable.  Interesting.

After turning over onto my back and getting the front of my arms and legs and belly rubbed down, I was pretty much a giant human papaya.

I’m not sure what the papaya scrubdown is officially called.  But I like to refer to it as an embalming.  If I should die in the next few days, I think that the funeral home would say, “Wow, that’s convenient.  He’s already ready to go.  And papaya-scented too.”  And hopefully I would not squirm quite so much.

So after the papaya scrubdown, I was allowed to “shower off…before the massage” (wait a minute, I thought that whole papaya deal was the massage.  How long is this thing again?).  And so after de-papayaing, I put my shorts and towel back on and went back onto the playing field, suddenly realizing that the whole papaya thing was only like the pre-game warm-ups.

Soon enough, my head was back in the head-holder again.  Staring at the floor.

Before I tell you about the massage, let me mention that I’m not much of a stretcher.  I have been a runner for quite some time now—even a distance runner—and know the value of stretching out before and after a good workout.  And yet my pre- and post-workout stretches usually totally about 30 seconds combined.  I’m just not that much into stretching out my muscles.

Which should have been another clue that what was to come was not going to be as much ‘fun’ as everyone else seems to think it is.

Immediately upon my facedown re-entrance onto the examining table, Laly began to rub the back of my calves.  Hard.  It seems that there is some kind of pressure point on the back of my calves—which apparently no one else has—that is similar to a second funny bone.  If you push it (and no one else really has occasion to, I guess), it hurts like crazy.  Bad nerve pain.  Ouch.  Never knew.

I don’t speak French—at all—but have determined that wincing in pain, even fairly loudly, doesn’t mean anything in that language…because the more I did it, the more Laly seemed to think that she should rub these nerves down even harder.

I suppose that it’s just the general massage philosophy that tight muscles are supposed to be loosened up.  No matter the cost.  And so all of my wincing was most likely communicating to Laly, “I want the back of my calves to be rubbed even harder.  Oui.”  I should have tried, “OW—QUIT IT!!!” but didn’t want to face the consequences at home of getting kicked out of a couples massage.

Unfortunately, the same dynamic was in play that occurs whenever I brush my daughter Danielle’s hair, which I’m admittedly not good at.  A standoff, essentially, in which I say, “I can’t get these painful tangles out of your hair until you hold your head still and stop crying,” and in which Danielle says (in not so many words), “I’ll hold my head still and stop crying when you quit painfully brushing through the tangles in my hair, thank you.”

At the end of the day, Laly was simply going to keep torturing the back of my calves until they quit being so tight, and I was simply going to tighten up even harder as long as she kept torturing me.

I don’t like to think of myself as a wimpy guy who couldn’t tolerate a couples’ massage at the spa.  Rather, I like to think of myself as Jack Bauer—able to endure hours of extreme torture at the hands of foreign assailants…without cracking.

Let’s just say that there were no winners in this hostage situation.

The rest of the back massage was surprisingly non-painful, even at my neck/back/shoulders area, and after flipping over I was good too.

And then came the surprise payoff.

For the life of me, I would never ever have predicted this—because no one has ever done it to me before—but for some reason I really, really liked…having my face rubbed.  Honestly, it was so doggone relaxing that I fell asleep during it.  (The soft music, low lights and general lack of sleep from the night before also contributed to this, I think.)  My only thought on this is that I guess I smile so much, thanks to our kids, that I just do not have any problematic tight face muscles in my life.

Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong.  But I’m just declaring to the whole world that the green light is on:  anyone is free to just walk up and rub my face at any timeWithout warning.  (Just don’t touch my back/neck/shoulders please.  Ever.)

After the face rubdown was over, basically we were told, “Your massage experience is finished.”  Followed by some words of thanks, and then back to the locker room, and then filling out our post-game survey.  I gave Laly high marks, except at the place where it said, “I disliked…” and I wrote “…having the back of my calf muscles rubbed (but I think it’s just me; it’s not you).”

To show that I was not bitter, and to avoid war between the U.S. and French Polynesia, we gave Laly a callback for a picture (Lisa’s masseuse Blandine, not so traumatized, was already with another customer.)

Lisa loved her massage.  I survived mine.  We walked out together, hand in hand, with the grease that had been underneath the skin on our faces now on top of the skin on our faces for the world to see.  And yet we were too relaxed to care.

“How was it?” she asked me.

“It was not too bad,” I lied.

But the truth is that my calves felt fine before my massage.

Now they hurt when I walk.  Hmm.

I love my wife.

VERY MUCH.

 

Posted by: multicrazy | July 31, 2010

Craziest Travel Month Ever?

We’re in the last few hours of July 2010, and we are exhausted…and traveled out.

(Actually, this is August 2011 as I write this, and I’m continuing in my shameless attempt to catch back up on this outdated blog.  BUT…if it really WERE the last day of July 2010, I would be extremely exhausted and traveled out…probably too much so to write a blog entry…which may be part of the reason that I didn’t.)

July began with a work-related trip for me.  I was asked to speak at the National Bible Bowl Tournament/Conference in Denver, Colorado, which to me was a huge honor.  I asked if I could receive a reduced honorarium so that I could bring a special guest with me, who was…Ashley, 6 years old.  We had an awesome time, getting to see my cousin Katherine and her husband J.C. and baby Ava, as well as Pike’s Peak and a July 4th Rockies game with fireworks afterward!

The day after returning, the whole family went on another work-related trip…to Indianapolis, for the North American Christian Convention.  The kids had a great time at the kids’ convention, the grown-ups had a great time at the adult sessions and workshops and booths, and we got to see lots of friends and some family too.

With a few days’ rest, I got to take a unique trip with three other kids in my family.  We had entered a Sears Father’s Day contest, actually hoping to get one of the four runner’s-up prize of a $2500 Sears gift card.  We were ‘not so fortunate,’ and ended up winning the grand prize, which was a trip for four to the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Anaheim, California.  (We asked if we could trade the prize with one of the runners-up, but they sounded offended, so we accepted the trip rather than risk getting nothing at all.)  So I got to take Benjamin, Casey and Danielle across the country on a very early Monday morning, arriving in L.A. and getting to see our friend Karen Hood (from Ohio days), and then getting to see our friend Jane Derry (from Tennessee days) and then got to go to the All-Star Game.  Our car company called and said that their SUV’s were booked up for the game, and wanted to know if it would be okay if they sent a stretch limo instead.  I had no choice but to take the stretch limo!  The game was historic, in that George Steinbrenner died on the same day and that the National League won for the first time in over a dozen years.  We had nosebleed seats (nevertheless all valued at $300) and lasted until after the 7th inning (when all the scoring had already happened).  We got about four hours of sleep before having to get up at about 2 a.m. to drive to an airport that could get us an early enough flight back to Kentucky to catch the 3rd night of VBS.  Exhausting–yet memorable–trip.  (And I was able to say not just that I had taken four-year-old triplets to California and back by myself, but that all of them got a special long-distance trip with their Daddy in July 2010.)

And then our last family hurrah before school started was a scheduled trip to San Diego, compliments of Splenda (yes, a week’s rest, and then right back to California).  While there, we got to dip our feet into the Pacific, visit LegoLand (very cool), DisneyLand (very cool) and SeaWorld (very cool).  All very cool, and very exhausting.  But some great family memories, and got the amusement park bug out of our system.

Somewhere in there, I worked a little bit too (the only Sunday I missed in July 2010 was the Bible Bowl trip to Denver, where I preached three times during the weekend instead of one :)).

Enjoy the pictures and videos!