Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Jimmy was a hard worker.  His mom had a lot of chores for him to do, and he usually did them without complaint.  But lately things seemed to be getting out of hand.

You see, the problem was Jimmy's dad, Carl.  Carl had a lot of chores to do, too, but when Jimmy's mom came calling, Carl could not be found.  One moment, Carl would be sitting there on the couch, watching the hockey game, with a hot plate of nachos perched atop his belly, and then, when Jimmy's mom had a job for him to do, Carl was no where to be found.  This complicated mess meant more chores for Jimmy.

"Carl, can you please come and set the table?"

"Carl, can you please give the dog a haircut?"

"Carl, please go outside, lick your finger, hold it up, and tell me which way the wind is blowing."

Even though some of these requests seemed to convey that Jimmy's mom was perhaps a bit unreasonable with her chore list, the most amazing thing was that when she would say "Carl, can you please..." Carl would be sitting there, as usual, on the green couch.  Yet by the time she finished with one of her requests like "go and water the sidewalk"  or "go out and scream really loudly until the neighbours complain" Carl would be gone.  Like a ghost, he would vanish!


So, inevitably, Jimmy could be seen hosing down the dry sidewalk for some reason, or chasing around ol' Rover the puppy with a pair of scissors and one of those big backwards capes that hair cutters make you wear.  Like a cool Batman cape, only backwards.

One day, as Jimmy was taking the trash to the curb while Carl was off who-knows-where, Jimmy didn't see the giant pile of compost full of rotting turkey bacon sitting near the trash can, and he stepped right in it!


Jimmy had had enough!  Where on earth was his dad?  Where on earth was Carl?

Jimmy had a plan.

The next day Jimmy ate and ate and ate.

He had tomato soup, and chocolate flavoured pudding.  He ate cheese flavoured pizza and pizza flavoured cheese.  He had crackers and snackers, chips and dips.  Sausages and 3 kinds of sticky pickles.  He was stuffed!  And he made a big, big mess of things in the kitchen.

Quickly and sneakily, he hid behind the curtains next to the couch while his dad was watching the game.

"Jimmy!" His mother called, as she surveyed the mess of dishes.  "Get your little legs in here, now!"

Not a sound could be heard but for the noise of the game on the TV and a big, sneer, root beer burp from Carl.

Jimmy's mom shrugged and walked away as she said, "well, Carl.  Looks like this mess is yours to clean."

Jimmy kept a close eye on Carl as a magical thing happened.  His dad reached down for the remote and with his greasy finger pressed a strange looking button located at the bottom.  Slowly, like sand sinking through a funnel, Jimmy's dad began to seep in between the cushions!  Just as he disappeared into the void, Jimmy sprung from behind and dove in after him.

Suddenly Jimmy was sliding deep down into the couch.  It felt like he was sliding deeper down into the earth on a slide a lot like the one at his school playground.  Down, down he went.

After about a minute later, Jimmy fell off the end and landed on a pile of couch cushions.  He was dizzy because that was a really twisty ride.

He shook it off, looked around and realized that he was in a magical place.  

It was a giant field of grass.  Trees were everywhere providing shade to people who were sitting under them.  As far as he could see, in every direction, were beautiful trees and gardens.

Jimmy got up to take a look around.  He saw a man reading a sports magazine while sipping on a root beer.  He saw another man snoozing away under a great big palm tree.  He saw another man  sleeping soundly in a big, comfy hammock hanging between 2 oak trees.  It seemed that all of the people in this world were men.  Men that looked to be relaxing.  Men that looked a lot like the kind of person his dad was.  Men... running away from something.  Men... hiding from chores.

And just then, Jimmy turned to see his dad fishing in a nearby pond.


Startled, Carl dropped the rod, turned around, lost his balance and fell back into the pond.  


The noise startled some nearby dozers.  One of them flashed a grumpy frown, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Carl pulled himself out of the pond.  As he was drying himself off, a fish came swimming up to him and slapped him across the face with his fin.

"Jimmy?!  Hey, how's it going?  Isn't this place great?"

"What is this place?!"

Carl hurried over.  "Shh, kept it down, will ya?  Some people here are trying to sleep.  This is Couchland.  It's a place for dads and, um, people like dads can get a break from chores and stuff."

"But, dad... this is where you go when it's time for chores?!  I've been doing your chores while you've been relaxing?!"

Carl stood there looking at Jimmy.  He smiled and scratched his head, thinking. "Ya, but... um, well, when you put it that way..."  He was stumped.  Only then did he just realize that he was in a tough spot.  That this was not a place he would like Jimmy to know about.

He looked over jimmy's shoulder to see another dad sneaking up with the fishing rod.  Jimmy didn't see that it was his neighbour Phil.  Phil hooked Jimmy's jeans and tugged really hard.

Immediately, Jimmy flew into the air, over the trees, and through the skies high above Couchland.  From up above he could see fields and fields full of lazy, lazy, men.  Men of all shapes and sizes, but mostly big and chubby shapes and sizes.  The kind of sizes that like to eat nachos and watch the game.  The kind of sizes that skip out on chores.

He could see Carl waving as Phil kept flinging the fishing rod up in the air.  "Don't take this personally, Jimbo.  Dad just needs some 'me time'.  Need to reboot the ol' batteries, you know?  Don't tell mom!  Our little secret..."

The blue skies quickly bleed to green, and Jimmy felt himself digging through stuffing and foam until he was coughing on an old cheese-o and climbing out of the crack in the back of the couch.

Jimmy's mom was sitting on the opposite couch, and immediately dropped her hot tea on the floor.

"Jimmy, what on earth?!"

He climbed up and caught his breath.  "It's dad.  He's lost his marbles!  He's gone Cu-Cu clocks!"

"What do you mean?"

Jimmy pressed the button on the remote and dove back towards the back of the couch.  Instead of a slide his head was greeted with the back of the couch.  Bonk!

Jimmy rubbed his head.  Why didn't it work?

"Jimmy, what on earth is going on?!"

"I don't know, mom.  But it's not on earth... It's Couchland!"

To be continued...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

35 thoughts on my life

This is an ongoing list that began on my 25th birthday back in 2006 in China.  Just something to look back on.  It's a bit of a read, but there are some nuggets in there.

(Edits made in May 2011.  More edits made May 2016)

1.) Not really a moment, but I really enjoyed the summer of 2000 when I got to get to know a really great girl. We worked at camp and it was fun working together and going to campfires together and hanging out on the weekend.  At the end of the summer I must have tricked her into being my girlfriend and now I am in the clear as we are married for almost 5 and a half years.

EDIT 2011: We have been married for almost 9 and a half years! Can you believe that?  Barbara is the patient, loving, tender, giving wife and mother of my dreams. And she’s had 2 kids and still looks very good looking.

EDIT 2016:  Still together;)  Planning a nice trip to Quebec for our 15th!  She's had 3 kids, 2 for us and one for her best friends, and she's still a babe.

2.) A moment I really enjoyed is playing street hockey this past Christmas with Bryce, Barry, Jeff, Rob, Mike, Brent, Jesse and Cody. We played until we could literally no longer see anything because it was so dark.

EDIT 2011: We played street hockey in China a couple of times.  Our homemade sticks would break all the time. An old man picked up a stick and tried it once.  A monk picked up a stick and tried it once.  I hope that I can get the hockey going again here.  Street hockey is my favorite sport and I have a lot of fond memories with it.

EDIT 2016:  Jonas is my hockey buddy.  He dreams of playing in the NHL.  His confidence is sky high.  He thinks that Eberle is a better skater than him, but he's convinced that he has a better shot.

3.) Playing poker with the boys in high school after basketball tournament and late on weekends.  One time I almost lost 7 dollars in nickels and dimes! Playing with Robbie, Neilson, Quincy, Kevin, etc...

EDIT 2011: We play poker here in China.  I learned a lot about the craft from local expert Dustin.  No matter who is in or out of town, we always find time to get a few guys together for a fun night of poker and Qing Dao beer.  It is a little sanity in the midst of what sometimes seems like a lot of insanity.

4.) Playing high school basketball in grade 10.  We lost to Spruce Grove in the finals every year of junior high, and then beat them in overtime in grade 10.  That was my favorite basketball team that I have ever been on.

EDIT 2011: Still a great memory. It was sweet justice for all of those losing seasons. Definitely a highlight of tenth grade.

5.) Driving down to Boston from Montreal for a day back in 2000 with Jeff and Gina.  We left Montreal at 8am with a rental car, drove through Vermont and the like, and then came to Boston much later.  We walked around Harvard, drove by Fenway Park and we ate pizza at a place with a bathroom in the kitchen.  I opened the stall door to a man cutting onions.  Jeff got a parking ticket.  Then we left Boston and drove through the night.  Jeff was speeding and we got pulled over by a highway patrol guy.  We prayed, he let us off and Jeff pulled over to sleep a little.  I was uncomfortable in the back seat so I stayed up and just stared out at the rain on the window.  A trucker pulled up, probably to sleep, but I thought he was going to kill us.  He didn’t and we made it back to Montreal with about 20 minutes to spare with our 24 hour rental.

EDIT 2011: Someday I will go to a game at Fenway Park and that will be on this list.

6.) We were little kids and dad would set up an open sleeping bag for Bryce and I to wrestle on.  It was like a wrestling ring and Bryce was always, and always will be, stronger than me.

EDIT 2011: I wrestle with Miles and Jonas now.  I still dominate them but they are only 1 and 3 years old so it’s not really fair.

EDIT 2016:  I can still out wrestle the boys, but Barbara has said more than once that they already "out-sports" her.

7.) One time when we were little, Bryce and I and the neighbor Doug all decided to have a picnic on the back of Doug's dad's cool work truck.  We all went in to get food from our moms.  Doug got something normal, like a luncheon meat pack or something.  But our mom made kool-aid and good sandwiches and other good stuff.  She made it all right away.  We gave her no warning of the picnic.  It took me a few years to be mature enough to realize what a great thing our mom did for us that day.

EDIT 2011: My mom loves me.  She gave me a Valentine in my lunch in high school.  On my 18th birthday so brought Dairy Queen ice cream pizza for everyone in my biology class.

Once again, a few more years of maturity and I learn to appreciate that stuff.  I’ll have to remember that with Miles and Jonas when I drop them off at college and want to kiss and hug them goodbye.  Jonas will probably literally murder me.

EDIT 2016:  Mom posted a baby picture of me on Facebook and gave me a nice card.  So that's still a nice thing.

8.) In high school our football team worked a concession at the Eskimo football games and we did concerts as well.  I signed up for the U2 concert (who wouldn't?).  Craig and I got there early to see the big Lemon being set up and the big "Pop Mart" arch.  All of our food was gone by the time the opening band was finished.  As we were cleaning up I enjoyed watching people slow dancing next to the trash cans outside our booth as Bono lent out his voice to another one of his ballads.  Later we watched the rest of the show from the side and I remember that as being the day that the song "where the street have no name" changed me.

EDIT 2011: No edit actually, that was an amazing night.

9.) Going to former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's funeral by myself in Montreal in 2000.  Thousands of people and no room to move outside of the Church.  There were big screens set up outside and I watched one of his sons cry out a good-bye message to his dad in French, which I still do not understand.  A man my age was climbing up a power box next to me to get a better look at the celebrities coming out after the service.  He said Leonard Cohen was there.  I saw Fidel Castro standing 30 feet away from me across the stage from Jimmy Carter.  Then Castro got into a car and drove away.

EDIT 2011: I have since seen Leonard Cohen again, live in Edmonton. I was once again by myself. It was my favorite concert to be at and probably the only artist I could think of that I wouldn’t mind going to see alone.

EDIT 2016:  Leonard has since put out 2 more amazing records.  He is still my favorite.  You should listen to him.  The son reading the eulogy was Justin.

10.) Last summer I went with Barbara and her family to Manitoba to a reunion at a cabin.  The cabin was one that they went to for many summers.  The water from the lake is pumped directly into the cabin's taps and you can drink it!  The health people tested it and it is THAT CLEAN!  We floated on the lake, read books, and went storm chasing.  Summer nights on the Prairies are good nights to be alive for.

11.) Our wedding was nice.  I liked wearing a suit for the first time in my life and feeling important.  I remember Barbara all smashing and enchanting and I remember Dan Sabo's bow tie.  I thought that the video that Bryce made for us was classy and something to remember.  Later, we drove away and got a sprite slurpee from 7-11 in St. Albert wearing our wedding attire before driving to our apartment for the first time as a Mr. and Mrs.

EDIT 2011: I think our wedding cost $2500.  We cut corners and it still turned out to be quite a unique event.  Since then people have photographers that charge more than $2500.  Barbara wore a veil and people don’t do that anymore.  Things have changed in the wedding department.  I am kind of glad we got hitched before the expensive wedding trend.

12.) The Calgary Folk Fest last summer.  A picnic with 10 thousand of your closest friends!  We ate curry and Naan bread and laughed at Buck 65 and Hawksley.  Seeing my favorite singer Jeff Tweedy up close was a treat.  Dancing to Arrested Development on Saturday night was the best.  I’ve got a good picture of it.  That was the debut of my deer sweater.

EDIT 2011: I wore the deer sweater the other day.  It is still faithful to me.

13.) Driving in the city of Edmonton on a hot, hot summer's day with Bryce, Jeff, Craig S and maybe Brent.  We were at a stoplight thinking about getting ice cream when a truck turning ahead of us had a door fling open on the side.  It was a Haagen Daz ice cream truck and 2 quarts of Chocolate Thunder flew out the door.  Then the door closed.  We pulled over to pick them up.  One got squashed but Jeff grabbed the other one.  Then we went into the closest restaurant (Taco Bell) and ate it.  We had to use forks but it was cold enough to do that.  Someone asked us where we got it from and we told them it flew out of a truck!  I almost peed my pants that day, laughing so hard. That is a TRUE story.

EDIT 2011: This is the miracle that proves that life is meant to be enjoyed.

EDIT 2016:  Still feels like a dream.  I confirmed with Bryce the other day that this did indeed happen to us.

14.) Barbara and I were in the states at a wedding when we heard that her grandmother had died and we needed to go home on a Greyhound bus. Well, the bus driver never told us where to get off and we missed our stop on our way to Canada. We went from Bozman all the way to Spokane, Washington!  We needed to wait there for our bus back to Montana.  It would leave in 9 hours.  So Barbara and I shopped and she bought a hat she would years later forget in a Nepali Taxi.  We went to eat at Red Robbin.  A picture of us there was on one of our Jones Soda wedding favour bottles. It was a nice time to spend together even though the Greyhound people are cranky jerks, that is unless one of you works for them.  If so, then all Greyhound people are nice.

EDIT 2011: Still have not been on a Greyhound since.  China’s buses have better service than Greyhound.

The road shows who you really are, just ask anyone that has been on a missions outreach.  I think that this trip was a serendipitous time where Barbara and I were able to be alone together without people thinking that we were skanky.  We learned that we could keep each other company for long periods of time.  The rest is history.

EDIT 2016:  When speaking of this trip Barbara reminds me that, while on the bus, I elbowed her in the head multiple times.  I was just trying to put on my hoodie and misjudged how close she was.  Since then I have yet to elbow her again.

15.) Working with Grandpa Jack Derman in his backyard last spring. It was nice to hang out and work together and help out the old guy.  Grandma would make us a really good lunch every day and they insisted on paying me.  I joke that they were my grandparents and employers and that my employer made me lunch on dishes that my mother probably came home from school to eat on when she was a kid.  Grandpa Derman is one of the funniest men I know, and if you meet him you will agree.  Grandma is also very much the same. She is very thoughtful and remembers a lot of important things that most people would forget.  I have a picture of her on my office wall of her standing in Sunflowers taller than her.
G & G Derman with Miles

EDIT 2011: Beautiful Grandma Derman passed away last summer.  She was very thoughtful.  I gave her a gift of micro machines when I was little and later on, after I was married, she still proudly displayed them on a shelf in the hallway.  After she passed, Grandpa Derman gave us some Flintstones cars that Grandma had been collecting for the boys.  Where she got them, I do not know, but the fact that this cute, frail little lady thought that the boys would like them is amazing.  The cars are still apart of their vehicle fleet.

EDIT 2016:  Grandpa Derman passed away probably 3 or 4 years ago now.  His love was often hidden in his heart, so often difficult to see.  He cared greatly for his family.  The last time I saw him I kissed him for the first time.  He was surprised by it, but I hope it made his day.  I miss them.

16.) Playing soccer when we were 8 or 9.  I played with Reagan, Craig, and Brent.  We had yellow shirts and we beat everyone that year in the final tournament.  But since we were so young no one got any special medals because it would probably make the other kids cry.  But we beat them all and remember being so happy that we were so good.

EDIT 2016:  Miles and Jonas played a year of soccer last year and are now in baseball.  The circle of life.

Miles first goal ever!

17.) Having BBQ's on our balcony last summer when we lived at Sarah's apartment.  We ate hot dogs and smokies.  Sarah does not eat that kind of food anymore.

Edit: BBQs on the deck in China rival those ones.  I had a birthday party up there once.  I love BBQs.

18.) Christmas's when we were young.  We slept under the tree and by the fire.  We ate food with zero nutritional value.  Barry was so small that he slept between 2 mattresses.  One morning Bryce and I kept opening Atari games as presents and we were getting mad because we did not have an Atari.  Later, when we opened an Atari we felt a lot better and realized that that was dad's plan all along.

19.) So, when I was younger no one would want to play street hockey as much as me. So, I would dress up in goalie gear and go out and flick the ball at myself.  People laugh about it now but I liked it.  I always played hockey or football or basketball by myself.  I think it is because I had seriously convinced myself, for a couple of years, that I was going to be a professional athlete.  Even though I am now not a pro, I still do not regret shooting the ball at myself or kicking the football through the pine trees that looked like goal posts next to the Tober's house.

EDIT 2011: Contrary to popular belief, I am actually very proud of this one.

20.) At Christmas the cousins would go take out the skidoo with tubes attached to the back. That was fun.  Then when the winter's started getting browner and we all started getting busier/moving away.... we stopped.

21.) Working at the skate park with Brian and Becky and getting 10 and 11 year old kids to teach me how to skate while I was 23 years old.  I landed 3 out of 1000 kick flips and I could Ollie over a 2 by 4 once in a while.  But Becky and Brian and good people to work with and be friends with.  We had a lot of laughs.

22.) Football. City Champs in 1997. We were really good, but St. Albert was better and we did not make provincials.  It was fun and we were on TV sometimes.... because we were so freaking good!  Barbara thinks that she watched that final loss to St.Albert.  I think she was watching her boyfriend play.  Little did she know that she was also watching her husband play.  I had a crappy game though.

23.) Barbara and I were in Nepal and we had to get up at 6am to hike up a mountain to teach English in a village.  Barbara actually got to ride with Denny on the back of a motorbike and I had to walk.  It was always cool with frost on the ground.  The Himalayas kept staring at me as I rounded the northern part of the mountain.  A Buddhist monk would greet me sometimes and I got to take a short cut through the monastery.  We played volleyball at the top and once in awhile the ball would go about 100 yards down the mountain.  No problem though as kids would race to see who would would get to it first.

EDIT 2011: The vivid memory is walking along up the mountain, turning the corner, and in the quiet morning be greeted by the sun lit Himalayas.  It was personal.

24.) Going to Central Tibet last year on a bus for 20 hours. It gave me new ideas of what hell might be like. When I say that I am talking about the 20 bus ride.  You don't understand 18 000 feet elevation until you experience it.  I was sick from the altitude for 4 days and did not sleep a wink for 3 nights.  The forth night I slept through a drunken raging party across the hall, but I woke up to my alarm clock ringing.  It was a blessing.

EDIT 2011: It’s more coincidence than purposefully, but I still have not been back down that road.

EDIT 2016:  Never did go back.  

25.) Finally being here. We have our house all fixed up and people always coming over.  It is nice to see this dream come true and to see where it leads us.  Our house is in an area that is 2 blocks from the university yet on the outside of the city.  We walk through old soon to be redeveloped farmer fields to get to class.  It is nice to feel like we live in the country yet still be so close to the city.

EDIT 2011: Things change. Now in our 3rd apartment, we are directly across from the University.  The farmer’s fields are all done and replaced with a giant apartment complex where Barbara and a local are in the process of opening a Kindergarten.

EDIT 2016:  Whoa, man.  Big time changes.  Kindergarten was a success, but it signalled the end of our time in China.  Barbara put her heart into the school, and the stress and day to day dealings took a lot out of her.  She lost weight, she cried a lot.  In all honesty, it felt like someone had died.  It was pretty awful, but also good in a way I have yet to be able to articulate.

26.) A few weeks ago, Barbara and I went with Dustin and Ginny to the little doctors office down the street to buy some pregnancy tests for the girls.  But the “doctors” inside told Barbara that she should just take the test there in their office.  So she did.  The one doctor looked at it and said that Barbara is pregnant.  Barbara says that when the lady told her she had a concerned look on her face and was studying Barbara’s face to try to see what her reaction would be; if she was happy about it or sad about it.  She was happy, of course!  As the girls were inside, Dustin and I were outside tossing the football around, the one he got at Jennifer’s yard sale.  Barbara came out and as she quickly walked over to me I could see some tears and some smiles, so I knew.  So to celebrate, we took a picture of us in front of the doctor’s office and we had the football in our arms to “stand-in” for the baby.

After that we walked to the park.  We had some laughs and took some more pictures with each other and the football.  Now we have pictures of each of us and the “stand-in” for our future child.  That was a really good time, thanks to the football and the pregnancy test.

EDIT 2011: Football, pregnancy test and the Hendersens! They found out a week or so later that they would have Seth.  Soon after we all moved in together for what was to be some of our best times here.

EDIT 2016:  Good times with the Hendersens, Wilsons, Yorks, Lindemans, and the rest.  These people will always have a chunk of my heart.  

27.) Now for something that might be hard to understand.  We were in a dry place in our lives in 2009.  The Christian life was seeming to be an impossible hill to climb.  More like a cliff.  I had the weight of the souls of this entire Province on my introverted shoulders. I felt guilty.  I felt like I was some sort of soldier who just wanted to write poems and put flowers in the barrels of the enemy’s guns. I don’t know; be me.

Then we went to Thailand for a conference.  A man spoke at the conference.  A horrible speaker he was.  I had no idea what he was saying until it clicked on one morning.  That click did a lot for me.

To this day, hundreds of people will tell you that that conference was a waste of time, even detrimental to society as a whole.  Some would say that the man had a skewed view of God.  That may be true in some ways, but once things clicked for me I was on a new journey filled with a revelation of a glimpse of what might possibly be the tip of the iceberg of mercy and love.

All I know is that I was blind but now I see.

EDIT 2016:  Continuing the journey.  We have a great community out at Nakamun and a great Church to learn at Gateway.

28.) We are living with the Hendersens.  Barbara is in the bathroom.  The Hendersens and I are in the living room hanging around.  Suddenly, the bathroom door bursts open and Barbara spills out in a pile of tears and laughter.  She was pregnant.  Thus, Jonas Darrough came into our lives.

My second son was born less than 2 years ago but somehow I feel like he’s been with us all along.  He is the spark that sets our family on fire.  Miles has a good time with his bro, but boy does Jonas ever stir the drink.  I am sure that if he was not around we would be very boring people and Miles would already have skipped ahead into Harvard.

It is an honor for us to name Jonas after or great friend and mentor Kevin Darrough and his lovely wife Kim.  Kevin passed away a little over 2 years ago.  He was the funniest man I know and, right now, I am sure that he must still be pretty funny.

EDIT 2016:  Kim passed away from cancer, too.  Honestly, these guys were given a shitty deal with the C word.  They were the best.  They were so encouraging and challenging.  They were the best thing to happen to us out of YWAM.  I am so happy their name carries on with Jonas.

29.) The blessing of being handed film equipment to be in charge of led me to the manuals and trying to figure out how the stuff works and failing, thus leading eventually to a 3 month film course in Hawaii.  That was a great time and laid a foundation to what I hope will be even bigger things in the future.  It was great to be around 20 other people who love films as much as I do.  Totally worth it in so many ways.

EDIT 2016:  I am in charge of the film stuff at Camp Nakamun.  It's nice to continue to learn and continue to use the skills I learned from the film school.  Though, someday I still want to make a movie.

30.) Jonas is about as affectionate as a cactus.  Miles hands out kisses and hugs to everyone but Jonas is a closed book most of the time.  So today when I was putting him to bed it was nice to catch a little glimpse off his unique method of comradely. 

He insists that we sing the theme to “Little Einsteins” before he goes to bed.  I was singing it and then there is a part with a key change and you make the sound of a rocket going up in the sky.  My throat was sore so my voice kind of cracked.  Now, the whole song until then he was looking to the ceiling, listening to the song.  But when my voice cracked he looked at me like I was crazy.  Then he smiled and laughed at me a little.  Then he imitated my cracked voice to perfection.  I laughed with him and then went on to continue the song.  But he cut me off and made fun of me again, imitating me once again.  He was totally making fun of me. He was kind of bullying me in a way.  But I will take that as comradery and will hope to build on that tomorrow.

In all honesty, the boys are the best things that ever happened to me.  They are also the best things that ever happened to our marriage.  If I am depressed or worried about life, I can always be interrupted by Miles asking me where the Whoopee cushion is.

EDIT 2016:  Jonas loves me, this I know.  He wants to hang out with me all of the time.  He is sports crazy, so I do what I can.  At night, he gives me kisses so all is well.

Jonas out on the lake

New for 2016

It's hard to think of new ones since our time in Canada.  We've been here for almost 4 years.  Life is a lot busier here, so it takes longer to think back.

31.)  One of the reasons we came back to Canada when we did was to say goodbye to Barbara's dad.  He didn't have much time left, and when he went into the hospital one last time his girls took turns taking care of him.  I'd bring the boys in to see him from time to time, as they would take turns pushing him around in his wheelchair.  

I remember bringing in a gingerbread house that the boys had made.  They wanted to show it to him.  He stared at it for a moment, that cracked off a piece and crunched away.

The funeral was a celebration.  The place was packed solid.  He even had the foresight to make a goodbye video that I am sure gave people a lot of good feelings.  It's still a kick in the gut that his grand kids didn't get to spend more time with him, but at least they have a few good memories to look back on.

32.)  Working at Camp Nakamun.  It's been great.  Sharing a office with Luke and working alongside a bunch of great people is the right place for me.  We do a great thing there.  I hope to be able to continue to develop and understanding of just how significant it is to work at a place that's main purpose is to help kids grow and give them break from real life.

32B.)  Little Rosalie being born.  My little niece is so little, has always been, but that doesn't stop her from running around and being little cutie pants.  In fact, I am sure it is the main cause of her cuteness.

Little Rosie thinking of her Uncle Brett

33.)  Another thing that's really helped my life is running.  I've been running consistently since January 1, 2015.  Over 530 miles.  I feel a lot better.  It's fun to set goals.  I've raised a bit of money for a race and hope to do more.  

Seriously, though.  I feel healthier than when I was 30.

34.)  Gateway Alliance Church has been great for us.  I remember going there for the first time because we heard that they were going to show a movie that my teacher from the film course had made.  The movie is called Hellbound?  It's the kind of subject that the church should be encouraged to talk about.  And so I figured that the church would have that same feel.  They sure do.  

The boys love going to church and have invited some of their friends from school.  Barbara's friend has since become a part of the church.  It's a nice place to learn.  I am an introvert, so it will still take a while for me to get to know a few people, but that's okay.

35.)  Élodie Elaine Webb.  Barbara carried our friends' baby for them.  Here is a link to a video celebrating their friendship.  

When we decided to do this for them we agreed that it would be the coolest thing we've ever done, and 2 years later I still feel the same.  She is great.  Her parents are amazing parents.  It is only the beginning!

The boys with little L.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Joe's Loose Tooth

Joe was growing up.  Last year he was 5, now he's 6, and soon (very soon, in fact!) he will be 7.  One way a person could tell that Joe was growing up was looking at the amount of teeth remaining in his smile.  Every few months the number would get smaller.  The smile would still be as big and bright as ever, but there just weren't that many teeth in there to twinkle and sparkle.

"I guess it's a part of growing up," Joe said to himself one day.  With so many teeth missing, Joe decided that eating had become a problem.  He went to his mom and asked her to buy him a blender.

"What do you need a blender for?"

"Well, I don't have enough teeth to enjoy carrots and cauliflower and all of those crunchy things I loved to crunch."  Just the thought of it made him break down.  "I'm afraid I may never get to crunch another crunch again!"  And with that, Joe crawled up into a little ball on the floor next to his mom's feet, and had a little cry.

"Oh, Joe.  Don't you know that you will get bigger and better teeth?"  His mom explained.


"You've lost your baby teeth, and soon your adult teeth will grow in, allowing you to crunch and munch even more.  Even as much as your Dad could crunch!"

Joe's Dad was a master cruncher.  He crunched any vegetable.  Go ahead, name one vegetable.

Onions?  That's too easy!

Carrots?  Not a problem!

Rutabagas?  In his sleep!

Joe's Dad had walked into the room.  Joe didn't know why, but lately his Dad looked different somehow.  He thought about it for a moment and realized that his Dad had a lot of new things to wear.  He noticed his Dad's sparkly new watch that he bought a few months ago, and now he saw a shiny new necklace hanging from his neck.  In fact... New suit, new tie, new hat, new socks, new moustache, new fingernail polish, new glasses, new everything.  Joe's dad was fannnncy!

"Hey Champ!  Any loose teeth today?"

He would always ask him that, and now that he had time think about it, with all of the new clothes and jewellery, Joe became a little suspicious.

"Yeah, this one in the front."  Joe replied as he wiggled said tooth back and forth with his tongue.

"Sweeeet doggie!"  His Dad yelped, as he jumped up in the air and slapped his knee.  "I'll go fetch the string."

Soon enough, Dad was back with a spool of string, and faster than you could say 'Hot sauce on a mean boss' and without even one little ouch, Joe's tooth was yanked out.

His Dad picked up the tooth and held it up to the light.  He pulled out a magnifying glass to examine it with.

"Oh, yeah.  This little number is going to fetch me quite a pretty penny."

"What do ya' mean, Dad?"

He must have forgot that Joe was standing right there, for when he turned to answer Joe he had a look that seemed to indicate that he really didn't want to answer Joe's question.  In fact, the next moment he acted like Joe didn't even ask a question at all.

"Um, uh... I really must be going.  I have an appointment with my fashion consultant."

Joe knew that he himself was the one to profit from this tooth business.  And before his mother told him that he would get new teeth to replace the old ones, Joe didn't think it much of a profit at all to trade all his teeth just for a few bucks.  He was relieved to know that he would be getting adult ones to replace them.

For each pulled tooth, a strange and mysterious creature named Tooth Fairy would come into his room at night and, in exchange for the old tooth, give him a shinny Toonie.  He kept every one in his hockey card box, as he was currently saving up for a new Bob Maplesauce hockey Jersey.  The Jersey cost $40 and so far Joe had $6, so he was going to have to lose a lot more teeth before he would be able to skate around in a Sunland Golden Hammers' #63 jersey.

So all this talk about his Dad getting money was strange.  Very strange indeed.  Joe was going to have to do a little investigative work.  A little bit of night-time investigation.

That evening, Joe rode his bike to the local coffee shop and ordered 4 super strong, super large, super energy coffees.  He chugged 3 of them in the parking lot and sipped on the last one as he rode home.

At home, he played it cool.  He was wide awake, but to trick his parents he yawned a lot, rubbed his eyes at just the right time, and even complained a bit about not wanting to go to bed just to throw them off his track.  He brushed his pee and went teeth... I mean, he brushed his teeth then went pee, and then he was off to bed.  Oh wait; he went pee one more time.  That was a lot of coffee, remember?

Joe lay awake.  He was curious of what he would see.  Maybe his dad had a deal with the Tooth Fairy.  Maybe he did some accounting work for her.  Maybe he was helping her with her taxes.  There was a lot to think about for Joe.  How could his dad possibly be working for the Tooth Fairy?

It got so late that eventually Joe did fall asleep.  But the coffee had worked because around 2 in the morning Joe awoke to a small "click".  Joe stayed perfectly still, like a sleeping statue, only moving his eyes around like little marbles in his head.

The "click" was the bedroom door opening.  A faded light slowly grew brighter and brighter as the door creaked open.  And there she was!  Tooth Fairy floated in with her wings, hovering no more than 2 feet above the floor.

She wasn't graceful, bouncing into the wall and knocking over some stuffed bunnies and a plastic turtle with no face.  She seemed to be disorganized, like she was late for school.  She had a bag that hung around her waist and some sort of magical looking dust seemed to be leaking out and onto the floor.  She stooped down and tried to scoop up what she could, but as she shoved it back into the bag some of it got in her eye.  She scratched it and then some got into her mouth.  She spit it and then some got into her nose.  Then she sneezed and felt down onto the floor.  Out cold.  

‘What on earth is happening?!’ thought Joe.  It must have been some sort of sleepy dust.  She had accidentally put herself to sleep!

Minutes went by until she finally woke up.  She floated back up into the air and dusted herself off, careful to hold her nose while she did.  Then she looked in Joe's direction.  His eyes slammed shut.

He could feel her warmth getting closer.  She was right next to him when he felt the warmth go under his pillow and snatch up the tooth.  Joe peaked to see her examining the tooth with a glass, just like the one his dad had only much, much smaller.

Up close Joe could see that Tooth Fairy was like a grandma.  She must have been working at her job for a long time.  She must be tired, staying up so late, he thought.

Finally, she placed the tooth deep into her pouch and at the same time pulled out a very small change purse.  She clicked open the clasp and pulled out a big, crisp 200 dollar bill!  It looked so big as she attempted to balance herself while holding it, which was like a big piece of drywall for her.  Yet she was able to roll it up and placed it under Joe's pillow.  She scribbled down some notes in a little pad she had hanging from a string dangling from her neck, and dusted off her hands.

Oh no!!!

Down she dropped, floating back like a feather onto the floor.  There must have been some magic dust still on her hands!  She's such a silly and forgetful Tooth Fairy, thought Joe.

Immediately, another sound could be heard from the doorway.  There was Joe's Dad, sneaking into the room dressed all in black!  He tip-toed across the room like a sneaky ninja, picked up the Tooth Fairy by her legs, and started shaking her upside down!  Coins, big and small rained down onto the floor.  His Dad could be heard giggling as he continued to treat poor Tooth Fairy like a salt and pepper shaker.

Once the stream of coin clink sounds died down, he placed the Tooth Fairy on a shelf and scooped up all of the coins on the floor.  He dug through them in his hands until he found a nice, shinny Toonie.  Then he switched it with the 200 dollar bill from under Joe's pillow!

What a Skunky thing, thought Joe.  But he was too tired to say anything.  Some of the dust must have fallen onto his head during the robbery.  Yes, robbery.  That's what it was, as far as Joe was concerned.  His Dad had robbed the Tooth Fairy.  Took everything she had.  And then he stole from Joe, too!

But wait!  What was happening now?  As Joe's Dad was busy giggling and counting money in the middle of the room, Joe could see that the Tooth Fairy had woken up.  And she was not happy!

She got up and fluttered herself above Joe's Dad.  She dusted him good, and he dropped like a pile of crumby bricks.  The money spilled everywhere.  His head hit the toy shelf and toys went everywhere!  Stuffies, race cars, robots, and golden toy stars crashed down onto the floor, and on top of a very unconscious, and a very greedy Dad.

In all of the commotion, the cat walked in and he must have thought that all of the magical dust on top of Joe's Dad was actually litter box sand.  He bounced up on top of him, peed, and then flicked the dust onto Joe's Dad's face!  Then the cat fell asleep!

Meanwhile, the Tooth Fairy had gathered all of the coins up, and returned Joe's $200 under his pillow.  And before you could say 'Strawberry Fodder, A monkey's Got er',' she disappeared!

In all of that commotion, the dog strolled in.  He sniffed Joe's Dad, the sleeping cat, and must have thought that the dust on them was some sort of fancy dog food, because he licked it, and fell asleep!

So Joe's dad had a sleeping cat on his neck, a sleeping dog on his legs, and yucky, sticky magic dust on his face!  Joe thought that that was a pretty good punishment for stealing.  What a bad Dad he was being.

Suddenly, Tooth Fairy had reappeared.  She had brought another Fairy with her.  This Fairy looked like a Doctor Fairy because she had a stethoscope hanging from her neck and she was wearing a lab coat with holes in the back of it so her wings could poke out.  She began taking Joe's Dad's vitals; checking his pulse, processing blood work, and cleaning out the ear wax from his ears.

After writing down her notes, she suddenly swooped down and into Joe's Dad's left ear!  In she crawled until she disappeared!  Joe could see her travel further into his Dad's head because her glow shone through his skin.  When the glow reached the middle of his head, his eyes opened.  Joe couldn't hear anything, but Dr. Fairy must have been speaking to him from inside his head.  His face looked like someone had him in a "stick up".  He didn't dare make any false moves.

"No ma'am."  His dad answered the voice in his head.

"Yes, I am very sorry.  I am most certainly not a good dad.  Stealing from you and from Joe is wrong.  I will never do it again.  I feel so much shame."

Now Joe could see tears in his eyes.

"Yes, I know.  I know.  He is such a good boy.  Yes, I will buy him his very own Sunland Golden Hammers #63 Bob Maplesauce jersey."  He whimpered.

"Ok, yes, I will put the money I stole into an account for Joe's College fund and I will buy him ice cream whenever he asks."

With that, the glow popped out of the left ear.  The 2 Fairy's looked over in Joe's direction, winked at him, and then disappeared.

Joe didn't know what happened next because all he could remember was waking up in his bed the next morning.  He was very tired.  Leaning over he saw that the $200 was still there.  The rest of the room was empty.  No dog, no cat, no fairies... and no Dad.  The shelf was fixed, the toys were in their right place.  All seemed well.

It was the smell of bacon that drew Joe out of the room and into the kitchen.

And there he was; Joe's dad busy making pancakes and bacon, pouring coffee for Joe's mom, and smiling away.

"Hey, little Joe!  Good morning!  Can I get you some pancakes?  How about some crispy bacon?"

Joe smiled big.  "Dad, all I really want is some ice cream."