Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Need Help

Me and Mrs. BigKat get a certain amount of personal spending money each month. It's our own monthly allowance. This is money that we use to buy whatever we want. But sometimes we make big purchases and we end up with negative money.

Last year, I was pretty bad. At one point, I ended up at -$700. It wasn't all stuff for me though! A lot of it was because I bought some extra things for Mrs. BigKat on Mother's Day and Christmas! There were also a bunch of things for the kids. But a lot of it was boardgames.

I did a pretty good job about not buying stuff this year, though, and as of yesterday, I had it whittled down to a mere -$200.

Then Cardhaus had a boardgame clearance sale.

I just spent about $200 on a huge pile of boardgames.

I need help...

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Long Night

I don't know what happened, but for some reason, LilKat1 was having some crazy dreams last night. He woke up several times calling for me. But when I'd go see him, he was clearly still half asleep. Here are snippets from some of our conversations...

"Dad! Me and LilKat2 were playing soccer and these mean kids took our ball!"

"My leg is sticking out and I don't like it!"

"There's a 13 year old in a hot air balloon, but it went up to this pointy thing and popped."

"The kids have to get back to the atom-sucker before it blows up" (I think this has something to do with an audio book that Mrs. BigKat and the boys are listening to in the car)

"It's too high up, and the seat is too bouncy, and that's why I don't want to go to the zoo!"

The last time I went to see him, he was a little more awake. He told me he wanted us to put our heads together so that we could share a dream. Cute idea! To make it work, he said that 'it helps when your eyes are closed...and you're very quiet.'

Didn't work though. Too bad...I was really curious to see what kind of a crazy elevator car was taking him to the zoo.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Soccer Clinic

Soccer season is starting up again. Once again, I am going to be coaching LilKat1's team. But this year, I will also be coaching LilKat2's team as well. LilKat2 is going to be playing on a Kindergarten team, even though he is not yet in Kindergarten. The soccer organization needed some coaches and I volunteered to be one on the condition that LilKat1 be able to play as well.

But this year, LilKat1 will be on a 1st grade team. Last year, I went to this great soccer clinic where I learned all about how to coach Kindergarteners. Well, yesterday, I went to the clinic for coaching kids under 8 years old. I was quite excited about this. There was a lot of helpful information at the clinic last year that I was able to put into use in my practices, and I was looking forward to being able to find out some new helpful insights for my 1st grade team.

So how'd it go? Well, pretty much like last year...except the exact opposite.

Oh my goodness, this clinic was horrible. The guy that ran it used to play for the Irish national team as well as the local professional team apparently. But judging from the clinic, I don't know if he's ever taught little kids to play soccer in his life. At first, we were just doing some basic drills to warm up. Just dribbling the ball around and using different parts of our feet. Then he had us doing drills where we had to lift the ball off of the ground with our foot and then kick it from one foot to the other without letting it touch the ground. He told us to count how many times we could kick the ball. Immediately, I calculate the score that I think my kids will be able to get for this drill, either zero or one, with a very outside possibility of two.

Then he has us get in groups of 3 and pass the ball from one person to the other using only our heads. Again, not a drill that I see 1st grade kids performing very well.

After this, he has us start working 2 v 2. Now, we work drills like this sometimes, but we have to put them into a game form. When you're running 2 v 2, that means that everyone else is doing nothing. And for a 1st grade practice, having half the team doing nothing is usually not a good thing.

Anyhow, apparently, we weren't running the 2 v 2 drill how he wanted it to be run. He wanted the person with the ball to perform more 1 on 1 moves to beat the defender that was on him. Why? Because that's the problem with our National Team, you see. They can't beat their defenders one on one. If we're going to compete with teams like Argentina, then we really need to get our players developing better skills for attacking 1 on 1.

You see that confused look on your face that you have right now? That's the look that all 20 of us coaches had as he was telling us this.

My son is 6 years old. He's going into first grade. I have several goals as his coach, but preparing him for the National Team is not really anywhere on the list.

It's really too bad that this clinic was so horrible. Last year's clinic got me excited to start coaching. It gave me all sorts of great ideas that I wanted to try out. This year's was just a waste of time. I know that there were some first time coaches at this year's clinic that really could have benefited from the kind of helpful ideas that they talked about last year.

Actually, there was one good thing about the clinic. I found out that I can kick a ball in the air back and forth from foot to foot 9 times without letting it hit the ground. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baptism Day!

A couple weekends ago, we celebrated Mrs. BigKat, LilKat1, and PrincessKat's Baptism Day. Baptism Day is a special day when we celebrate the anniversaries of the baptisms in our family. Mrs. BigKat and LilKat1 were baptized on the same day when LilKat1 was 3 months old. PrincessKat was baptized last year when she was 9 months old. We actually planned out the Baptism Days to be close together on the calendar(mine and LilKat2's are right next to each other also, but in January), so that we could celebrate everyone's baptism at the same time.

For Baptism Day this year, I got Mrs. BigKat 2 Bible study guides as well as a new ESV (English Standard Version, it's the version used by her study guides and her current Bible is the NIV) Bible. LilKat1 received an activity Bible, a comic book style illustrated Bible (actually quite cool because it has the entire New Testament text in it, with chapter and verse numbers, but in comic book form). PrincessKat got a small prayer book and a stuffed lamb. We all had chocolate cupcakes with turquois frosting (LilKat1's choice) and sprinkles.

We've been celebrating Baptism Day ever since LilKat1's first Baptism anniversary. Mrs. BigKat and I are firm believers in infant baptism, so all of our children were baptised when they were tiny. I first heard about the idea of celebrating Baptism anniversaries in a book written by Tim Stafford, Knowing the Face of God. In a way, it's kind of like a birthday. Your birthday is the anniversary of when you were introduced into the world. Similarly, a Baptism Day is the anniversayr of the day you were introduced to the church. On birthdays, we celebrate the person and honor them. We let them know that they're a very special part of our lives. On Baptism Days, we celebrate the gift of faith that God has given us. It's very much a family celebration, and we use the time to recognize that our household is one that serves the Lord.

Mrs. BigKat and I were both baptized as adults. So we remember our baptisms and have very fond memories of them. Our kids, on the other hand have no memories of their own baptisms. This is one of the great things about Baptism Day. No one remembers their own birthday, but birthday celebrations are always very special. In the same way, even though our children don't actually remember their baptism, the day we celebrate it will always be special to them as well.

I don't think any of the other families that we know celebrate Baptism Day like we do. But I think it's a great idea. It highlights the importance of our baptism, and gives us a time to appreciate the gift of faith that God has given to our household.

And, we get to eat cupcakes!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Carniceria

Not too far from our house, there's a carniceria that I've been wanting to check out for some time now. I always wonder what kind of meats the sell there. Well, today was my day to find out. Mrs. BigKat was out with PrincessKat, so I took the boys with me.

We walked up to the front of the store and could see the tortilla machine cranking out fresh tortillas. That was a good sign. Once we got inside, it was easy to find the butcher, just walk straight to the back of the store. As we headed to the back, I heard something that I didn't quite expect:

Loud rap music with really bad words!

I was a bit surprised. I think that's officially the worst language that my children have ever been exposed to. Lots of N-'s and S-'s and other things. Much different than Safeway music. Fortunately, it didn't seem like the boys really noticed. They were too busy holding their noses because of the 'bad smell'. You know what the 'bad smell' was? It was the tortillas that they were making up front. How they could convert fresh tortillas into a 'bad smell', I have no idea. It smelled pretty good to me! I started browsing the meats while my boys looked around with one hand on their noses.

There were a lot of pounded flat beef cuts. Not a lot of pork, though. I asked the guy if there was any pork shoulder, and he said no. They had a big pile of carnitas in the cooked meat section, so I asked for some of that. He walked over and gave me a sample. And when I say sample, I mean a hunk of pork the size of my fist. Now how come they can't give out servings like that at Costco! I tried it and thought it was pretty good, so I ordered a pound. The guy puts the meat into a box. Then he says 'Hey! I have something else for you!' and puts this fried object into the box with the carnitas. He pulls another one out and hands it to me. I take a bite out of it. It tastes like a humongous pork rind. I ask him what it was that I just ate. He tells me it's a pork belly. That's right, I basically just took a bite out of a piece of 1 inch thick, deep fried bacon. I had a couple more bites of it, but couldn't finish it. I honestly can't imagine how anyone could eat a whole piece of fried bacon the size of a spare rib.

Well, I went to go pay for my stuff and found the boys at the candy display (without their hand on their noses. I guess they'd become accustomed to the smell). They were looking for something that they could buy. I decided that I'd be nice and get them something. But it seemed like 90% of the candy display (which wasn't very big) was gum.


'Dad! Can I get this?'

'No, it's gum'

'How about this?'

'No, it's gum'

'Dad! What's this?'


'How about this?'



I finally found some little chocolate bars at the top, so I got one for each boy. We also picked up a stack of tortillas and went home.

Mrs. BigKat and I ate the carnitas and tortillas for lunch. The carnitas were pretty good. Not great, I think I can make better pork on my barbecue, but still pretty good. But the tortillas were fantastic! I kept eating the meat just so I'd have something to put on the tortilla (which I really shouldn't have done. I ate way too much for lunch). And the stack we got was huge! It costed $1.50, and I think there were probably at least 60 of them. Definitely going to have to go there next time we make any kind of mexican food.

Anyhow, I guess there's not really much of a point to this story, other than it's kind of fun to be able to find such interesting places right near our home. Makes me wonder if there's anything else in our town that I'm missing out on.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

50 Questions

My friend Tara posted this yesterday. It looked fun, so I thought I'd try it out to. Here you go...

  1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:45am. I was able to fit some reading and a jog in before getting to work.
  2. Diamonds or Pearls? Hmmm…sounds like a girl question…maybe I need the boy version of this list. I’ll make up my own substitute boy question: The Great Escape or the Dirty Dozen? The Great Escape
  3. What was the last film you saw at a theater? Get Smart. Before that, I think you have to go back to X-Men 2 (we don't get to theatres very often).
  4. What are your favorite websites? for game info., Fast Break (Warriors Fan Weblog), True Hoop for sports. All my friends weblogs. Boards and Bits and Fairplay Games for buying stuff.
  5. What did you have for breakfast? My 'Breakfast Drink'. Fruit blended with milk and juice. Same thing I have every day for breakfast. 
  6. What is your middle name? Same as my dad's dad.
  7. Favorite cuisine? hmmmm...tough one...I'd say anything done really well (that doesn't have fish in it)
  8. What food do you dislike? Seafood
  9. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Well, the song that I start with every time I go running is the 2007-8 GS Warriors introduction song (it's called 'Game Time'). But several of its lyrics are quickly becoming outdated (or have a very good chance of being outdated in the near future):
    • 'We got Matt Barnes, the dude with the tatoos. You wanna score on him? I think it's bad news.'
    • 'We're playing fearless, like Mikael Pietrus. And it's time for the whole league to hear us.'
    • 'Let's take it to the paint with Al Harrington, 4 quarters of play until the game is won.'
    • 'We're the Warriors, that's what the jerseys do say. We stay above the rim like Azibuike'
    • And of course...'We got Baron Davis, my girlfriend's favorite. And when he shoots you better believe he makes it'
    • This song also has a line that goes 'We got Monta Ellis with the no-look pass to Andris Biedrins shooting off the glass.' But whenever I hear that line, my brain automatically thinks 'We got Monta Ellis on the mean guitar. And a rap by little ole' me Lamar.
  10. Favorite scripture verse? Matthew 6:28-30 -

    And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

    And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

    Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

    I normally don't read the King James version, but that's what Sidney Portier used when he read this in 'Lillies of the Field'

  11. Favorite lunch?  Not sure...something with chips probably. Actually, a really good hamburger with fries. Leftover pizza is also good (as long as you heat it up this way!)
  12. What is your biggest pet peeve? Probably when people take games too seriously. It's a game! Have fun with it! Applies to sports games as well as boardgames.
  13. Favorite past-time? Boardgames, basketball, cooking, orienteering
  14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Rome
  15. Who is your favorite worship singer(s)? I don't know if I can actually name any. I don't listen to music a whole lot. I guess I'll go with whoever's on the radio singing any of my favorite hymns. Actually, I take that back. I'm going to go with Jana Alayra. We do her songs a lot in Sunday School.
  16. When and how did you begin your relationship with Christ? New Year's Day 1998. Kind of the culmination of a year's worth of questioning, searching, studying, praying.
  17. What is your favorite color? Blue
  18. To where would you retire? I don't plan on ever moving again, so I'll say 'right here'.
  19. What was your most memorable birthday? 18th. It was in high school and my birthday was on the same day as the state qualifier track meet. The week before, I had performed badly at the sectionals, so I didn't make the state qualifier. I was pretty mad about it the whole day. That night, a bunch of my friends threw a surprise party for me that really cheered me up.
  20. Favorite sports to watch? Football, Warriors basketball, NCAA basketball tournament, Summer Olympics, Major golf tournaments when Tiger's playing.
  21. Favorite book of the Bible? Probably whatever I'm currently studying (which would be Acts right now).
  22. If you could witness any Old Testament story, what would it be? In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...
  23. Favorite Gospel? Mark, I guess. Just because I've studied it the most. 
  24. Goal you have for yourself? Finish my Sunday School planning for the Fall!
  25. When is your birthday? May
  26. How many weddings have you been in, including your own? 4, I think.
  27. Are you a morning person or a night person? Night. I keep telling myself I should go to sleep sooner, but it never works out.
  28. What is your shoe size? 12
  29. Pets? 5 cats. 2 fish. And another cat outside that isn't our cat but just likes to think he is.
  30. What did you want to be when you were little? NFL player. 
  31. Who do you think prayed for you to accept Christ? I have no idea. Maybe even a bunch of people that I don't even know. Before I became a Christian, I was looking at a bunch of different religions. I wanted to find out more about Christianity, so I looked through the yellow pages and picked a church. I called them and made an appointment with the pastor so I could ask him a bunch of questions. We did this for many weeks in a row. I didn't know it, but he ended up talking about our conversations in a few of his sermons.
  32. What is your favorite candy? Interesting Japanese candies.
  33. What is your favorite plant or flower? Probably the shogetsu flowering cherry tree in our back yard. Although I really like our apple trees because we get to eat stuff from them.
  34. What day on the calendar are you looking forward to? Beginning of August - Soccer season starts! I'm looking forward to it in a 'Woo-Hoo! Soccer!' kind of way, but also a 'I'm coaching 2 soccer teams?!?! Am I crazy?!?!' kind of way as well.
  35. Where is the furthest you have been from home? Hong Kong, I think.
  36. A small thing you really enjoy? Going to the driving range at lunch time, drinking Kool-Aid, hearing the UPS guy drive up to the house when I'm expecting a shipment of boardgames, coloring with my Sunday School kids and finding out how their week was, when I hear my boys talk about how much they love each other.
  37. What is your favorite book? The Bible, 'He is There and He is not Silent' by Francis Schaeffer, The 'Clementine' series by Sara Pennypacker (great books to read with your kids. You'll be laughing out loud while reading them), the Matthias Media Interactive Bible Study series, Boundaries with Kids,  'Church History in Plain Language' by Bruce L. Shelley. I could probably find a few more if I looked at my book shelf. Oh, I know one more: The Jesus Storybook Bible I'm not a big fan of storybook Bibles, but this one does a good job of relating all parts of the Bible back to God's plan of salvation. If you're going to get a storybook Bible, this is the one to get.
  38. What are you most proud of?  My kids. They're great.
  39. What is your biggest surprise in parenting? How much I enjoy it. I always knew I'd enjoy being a parent, but I didn't know exactly how much I'd like it. Even when they're being super-duper difficult, I love being a parent.
  40. What makes you cringe? A roomfull of kids at a birthday party rubbing their hands on the balloons to make sqeaky noises.
  41. If you could do anything, what would you do? Dunk a basketball. Or pole vault. I miss pole vaulting.
  42. Where have you been that you will visit again? Hopefully Washington DC.
  43. Where have you been that you will never visit again? In all likelihood, Val's Burgers. I went there a lot growing up, but we know so few people in the Bay Area, that I don't see any reason for us to go down there again. Maybe when the kids are in college, me and Mrs. BigKat will take a road trip and stop by. So I guess I shouldn't say never. I change my answer to New Jersey.
  44. What is your favorite movie? Lord of the Rings
  45. Favorite female Bible character? I don't know if I have one. I'll go with the one that we named PrincessKat after.
  46. Favorite male Bible character? Jesus.
  47. When you look at the world, what do you see? My backyard. It's coming along quite nicely!
  48. Cats or dogs? My cats, other people's dogs.
  49. Other than seeing Christ, what excites you the most about Heaven? One of my Sunday School kids was killed in a car accident a couple of years ago. I still miss her quite a bit, and I look forward to seeing her again.
  50. Something people probably don’t know about you? I use one of those foofy sponge things when I take a shower. Yeah, yeah, I know, they're foofy and they're for girls. But I've been using shower gel and was noticing that I was using a lot of it. The foofy sponge thing dramatically reduces the amount of soap use per shower. It was actually a very agonizing decision for me. I'm a pretty frugal person so seeing all that wasted soap was not easy. But at the same time, I really did not want to buy foofy sponge thing. In the end, my cheapness won out and I bought the foofy sponge. I bought it in the boys section in a boy color (dark grey). But it didn't really help me feel better at all about the whole thing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Every jam we play, we break two needles...

I know what I'm getting the boys for Christmas!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bike Parade!

We live in a pretty fun neighborhood. On the 4th of July, one of our neighbors organized a Bike Parade. A bunch of kids decorated their bikes and they marched around the neighborhood led by a lady dressed like the Statue of Liberty. The boys and I had been playing at the park that afternoon. We knew that the Bike Parade started at 4:30, so we wanted to make it back in time to check it out. But due to circumstances beyond our control (i.e. kids covered in wet sand), we were a little late getting back. The parade had just passed our house as we drove up. LilKat2 immediately ran from the truck and grabbed his bike. We hustled ourselves down the street and caught up with the parade (LilKat1 stayed at home, since is often quite averse to hustling). It was quite fun. Afterwards, the Statue of Liberty lady judged the bike decorations and handed out prizes. And all the kids got some candy.
A little later, there was a dog parade. I was curious to see if people were actually going to decorate their dogs. 5:30 rolled around and sure enough, there was a pack of red, white, and blue dogs walking in front of our house.
Isn't our neighborhood cool?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Shining Eyes

My friend Tara linked to a couple of interesting videos today. One of them was a guy who did some very cool stuff with a Wii remote control. But the other video was the one that really got me thinking.

In this video, a guy, Benjamin Zander, talks about classical music. His thought is that, although not everyone is a fan of classical music, everyone can appreciate it. The trick is to get people to understand what it is that they're listening to. Appreciation comes when the listener can experience what it is that the composer is trying to do with his music. He illustrates this by walking the audience through a piece by Chopin, helping them to not concentrate on the individual notes, but on the journey as a whole from the first note to the last. And he does a great job of it. Check it out (kind of a longer video, roughly 20 minutes or so, so grab some popcorn...)

Now here's the part that got me thinking...While watching the video, I kept thinking about how this presentation could easily be applied to the Bible. As a Sunday School teacher, I have been frustrated by the various curriculums that are out there. I have found that they just take tiny pieces and parts of Scripture and form them into a lesson about some sort of moral issue. Maybe it's helping others or obeying your parents or remembering to pray.

Here's an example from last week. I'm not teaching my normal class over the summer (I'll resume in the Fall). Instead, they're doing a video based curriculum that focuses on missions. The lesson last week was about helping your friends. It told the story from Luke 5 about when Jesus heals the paralytic. The point of the story (according to the lesson) was that the paralytic's friends helped him to see Jesus. They brought him to the house and lowered him down the roof. So we should be like the paralytic's friends and help people who are sick.

This lesson bothered me for a few reasons. First of all, there was very little Bible related material in the lesson. I felt that, with a little modification (or perhaps none), this same lesson could have been taught at some non-Christian churches and would have still fit in. Second, helping out sick people is fine, but I don't see how watching this video is going to make any of these kids more likely to help out sick people than if they had not seen the video. But most importantly, at the end of the lesson, the kids have really not learned anything about the Bible.

My goals as a Sunday School teacher is to help kids learn about the Bible, to share God's love with them, and to help them develop their relationship with Christ. When I teach a Bible story, I want the kids to really learn the Bible story! I want them to know why this story was SO important, that God felt it was necessary to put it in His Word. It seems like many Sunday School lessons teach the Bible as a collection of stories or as a rulebook for life. The emphasis is put on the various characters in the Bible. Be like Joseph because he forgave his brothers! Be like Noah because he listened to God! Be like the paralytic's friends because they helped their sick buddy!

But the Bible is not a story about these people. It's a book about God! It's a story of God's love for us and His plan of salvation! And focusing on the details that may or may not be that important makes us miss the big picture of what the Bible is all about. Just as Mr. Zander helps his audience to understand Chopin from the first note to the last, I want to be able to help kids understand the Bible as a whole from beginning to end. Just as Mr. Zander explains the context of the various notes in relationship to the whole composition, I want to be able to help kids understand the place of the various Bible stories in relation to Christ's redeeming work on the Cross.

But this is all stuff that I've thought of before. The interesting part came near the end of the video when he talks about how he knows if he's doing his job or not. He says that his job is to 'awaken possibility in other people'. And the way that he tells if he's doing this or not is to look into their eyes. If their eyes are shining, then he's doing his job. If they're not shining, then he needs to figure out why.

I realized that this is what my focus in Sunday School needs to be. It's important to help the kids learn about Scripture. But I want to be help kids develop an appreciation for Scripture. I want to be able to help kids develop an appreciation for God's great love for them. I want to be able to help kids to understand that the Bible is more than a storybook or a rulebook. And most importantly, I want to help them develop a desire to learn more about God and His Word.

And do you know how I'm going to go about doing this? No? Me neither!

Well, I have a little idea. I need to think of ways that make the Bible really accessible to kids. To be able to take their experiences with family and friends and school and sports and whatever and use them to somehow relate to the things that God is sharing with us in His Word. To take things from their lives that will bring about that 'Ah-a!' moment where their eyes will start shining.

Now I'm not saying that I'm expecting to have a class full of joyful, Spirit-filled, shining-eyed kids just because of what I'm teaching. I'm just saying that I think that my kids will have a better chance to appreciate the Bible if I'm able to present its true meaning in a simple, yet complete way that's meaningful to them. I'm hoping that by helping them to really understand what the Bible is all about and by helping them find ways that they can experience God's love, they'll have a nice foundation for exploring their faith as they grow up and develop.

I'm not sure what that's going to look like or how much work it's going to take, but I've got most of the summer left to think, study, and pray about it.