Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

Black (and blue) Friday

Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving? We certainly did...we had 18 people, family and boyfriend/girlfriends. I did the majority of the cooking, which is fine, because I love doing it...however, if you ask Lisa, I get stressed when I cook for a big event such as Thanksgiving...I must admit that it's true...but I only get stressed because I put alot of pressure on myself in an attempt to make everything perfect. I hadn't thought much about it before this year, but I think I'm subconsciously trying to re-create the Thanksgiving's I remember as a child (where's Dr. Phil when I need him!). Anyway, we survived and everyone stuffed themselves, which left us with very little left-overs, so that MUST say something about the quality of the feast!

Lisa, Donna and Brittany (wife, sister & daughter), decided to keep capitalism alive and well in the USA, by going out and braving the 'Black Friday' experience (them and every other household in America!). They aren't quite as fanatical as some that I know, they got up around 7am, had some breakfast and were out the door before 9am, but I know they had fun!

Thinking about Black Friday, and the hoards of people who trudge out at un-holy hours, to act like barbarians and scratch and fight over the last 'Tickle Me Elmo', got me thinking about all those toys that I JUST had to have...so, in memory of Christmases past, may I present...

Everything on this list is totally insane. Maybe you have fond memories of some of the items on this list, but remember: we were kids, and our logic was impaired. Of course we all thought watching metal roll down steps or spinning on a plastic disk until you threw up was a reasonable way to spend our time. But now that we're parents, let's look at these toys with a little more perspective . . .

10. Jarts

The object of Jarts (or lawn darts), was to place two plastic circles twenty feet or so apart and similar to horseshoes, throw these METAL TIPPED missiles into the air, trying to get them to land in the circle...I personally think if you remained un-punctured by the end of the game, you were a winner! Lawn darts, with their sharp metal projectile-ness, came from a simpler time when only one out of three kids survived childhood and everybody was okay with that. You should never allow your child to play with a toy that you'd be wary to have drunk Uncle Frank play with. Just read the warning label...YA THINK?!!!

9. Skip It

Hey kid, don't have any friends to jump rope with? Do the neighborhood kids choose you to be IT during hide-and-seek and then proceed to run into their prospective homes, leaving you to search for hours on end? Did mom and dad have to tie a steak around your neck to get the dog to play with you? Let me introduce myself — I'm Skip It, the jumping game for outcasts like you! We're going to have a lot of fun together. By the way, if you fail to jump over me, I will slap you hard in the leg...

8. The Hokkaido Poo Poo Bear (Japan)

This is simply a poop-themed bear...Does it poop? Don't know. Does it eat poop? That's not clear and honestly? I don't want to know. The only thing that IS for sure is that this bear is quite enthusiastic about associating itself with fecal matter. Yes, disturbing...Maybe poop means something different in Japan...

7. Airport X-ray Security Machine
What every kid dreams of...pretending to be a TSA agent! Spend hours of fun trying to catch terrorists and smugglers! Make your friends take their shoes off and line up for special pat-downs and wand searches! Coming soon; The Kiddy FAA Cavity Search Kit, and My First Guantanamo Bay Playset with Habeas Corpus Removal Wand!

6. Pet Rock
How about a 'Pet-I'll-Chuck-This-Back-At-Your-Head-You-Cheapo-Dad?' Need I say more??

5. The Rubber Band Gun

Merry Christmas kid - here's a gun, and while we're at it, here's your glass eye! With the potential for ocular injury associated with this toy, couldn't they have just called it The Lil' Cyclops Starter Kit?

4. PRO Thumb Wrestling Playset

ARRRRE YOOOU RRRREADY TO RRRRUMBLE??? 'I had him, I tell ya, I had him! I was bobbin and weavin, bobbin and weavin...I had him up against da ropes when outta da blue I got da woist hangnail...I coulda been a contenda, I tell ya...I coulda been a contenda.'
Hey kids! Check out this Pro Thumb Wrestling Playset. All you do is add thumbs...or maybe you could just thumb wrestle without binding yourself in this sadist's sharp plastic prison!

3. Lightning Reaction Extreme
What is the goal of this game? To not get electrocuted. What do you win? The right to not be electrocuted. Hope your kid doesn't have a weak heart or bladder for that matter. This toy quasi-safely allows your kids to explore their urge to electrocute themselves. As your kid grows older, he or she is naturally going to want to experiment with electrocution...it's perfectly natural...doesn't every kid want to feel the excitement of electrocuting themselves? Wouldn't you feel better providing it for them in the safety of your rumpus room rather than one day finding them attaching jumper cables to their friends in the garage?

2. Shirtless Sunburned Construction Worker Figure
The question is, is this a construction worker who just got hot, or is this a guy who spent too much time waiting on line for Village People reunion show tickets? I think the mustache says it all...The real question is, why is this necessary for a kids toy?

1. Sit and Spin
If you think about it, by giving a kid a toy...ANY toy, you the parent are saying, "Here, now go busy yourself with this and stay outta my hair for a while." And what better way to keep your child busy than with non-stop vomiting? This little wonder comes from the "nausea = entertainment" class of toys. It's like a mini version of the Gravitron ride at the county fair, but without that familiar carny smell. Operation of this toy is simple: the child sits, they spin, they get up and stagger away like a drunken sailor on fleet week, and then they walk directly into a wall.
So...whatever your little cherub has his/her heart set on this year for Christmas, I hope you were able to find it this past Friday...and I hope it doesn't end up on someone's future WORST list!
~ V

Missing the Mark ~ fin

Hello?...Hello?...Anybody there?...Anybody? I wouldn't blame you if you weren't...it's been awhile since I've posted and I left some things hanging. For those of you...those few...who've checked back regularly and have been met with...nothing, please accept my deepest apologies.

I mean to BLOG...I honestly enjoy it and it's very therapeutic, but I find myself either busy with the kids or the house...or mostly just droning out in front of the television while my brain leaks out of my ears...so, I'm going to try to leak less and write more...

OK...so where was I? Hmm, oh yes...we live in a fallen world. I hate to go on a side note here, but I just can't help myself...have you noticed how saying 'we live in a fallen world' has become the 'pet phrase' of many of us Christians?

Another gang related crime? We live in a fallen world...there's nothing we can do about it

Your city counsel has decided not to allow the nativity scene that's been up for the last 75 years to be displayed this year? We live in a fallen world...there's nothing we can do about it

I have to be honest, I know I've used that as an excuse to not get involved and work for positive, God fearing change. I've tossed that phrase out, crossed my arms and have shaken my head...then turned and walked away, doing nothing. Hopefully you're better than me...hopefully you see that when God gave us His two greatest commandments; to love Him and to love others as much as we love ourselves, He didn't say, 'Unless you live in a fallen world.' There's no fine print that gives us the freedom to give less than love if the world we're living in is less than perfect...or if our circumstances are less than perfect...correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a fallen world, a world that needs to be shown love the most? The depths we sink to as a society forces us to love deeper...the darker things get, the stronger the need is for brightness.

The bottom line is this, living in a fallen world isn't an excuse to shutter out the world and give up...it should be our motivation, our battle cry to try even harder. God put me here...put YOU here, in this time and place, under these circumstances because this world...this fallen world needs HIS love more than ever!

Dealing with stress in my life, from the kids...from work...from everyday life is but a chapter in this life that God has given to me...but as I heard yesterday in church...my story isn't finished yet and with God as the author of my life, He will NEVER miss the mark.

~ V

Have yourself a nerdy little Christmas...

...taking a break from my apparent downward spiral (actually, I'm trying to get to a point, but that will have to wait)...

Yes, I know we're a few months out from Christmas and we JUST finished with Halloween, but in case you weren't aware...this past weekend was Hallmark's Holiday Open-house. 'I have been and always shall be...' a collector of Star Trek ornaments made by Hallmark and this year there are two that I am hoping will find their way onto our Christmas tree...

Yes, I know...but you have to admit, there are worse hobbies to have! You'll have to ask Lisa about last year and getting the Communicator...
~ V

Missing the Mark (still continued)

...When times are good we're happy! But what do we do when times aren't so good...when times are right down terrible? Consider this...God is the author of all of our days and He made the one as well as the other. What does this say about the character of God? Doesn't He care? Don't EVER be fooled into thinking that God doesn't care. In spite of our sin and rejection, He gave His son...would you have? I don't think I could have. The fact is this...because of Adam and Eve's original sin, we live in a fallen world.

...More tomorrow

~ V

...To be continued

...Time is something I don't have today...

~ V

Missing the Mark (continued)...

...The weight of their plight lies heavily upon me. I'm not perfect...the Lord knows I have and continue to make mistakes and while I know I've tried my best, I still feel like I've failed them. Despite my prayers and the tears I've shed while on my knees before God, I sit back seemingly helpless and watch as the tapestry of their lives un-fold before me.

I've discovered the hardest thing for a parent is to watch your child grow and turn a blind eye, a deaf ear to the wisdom (wisdom born of a life filled of your own mistakes) you SO desperately want to give them...You sit, eyes wide and knuckles white from gripping the chair, as they fly straight for the side of the mountain, all the while telling you; 'I know what I'm doing', 'I can handle this' and think; 'What do you know, old man',

Blessing and cursing, health and death, good times and bad, wealth and poverty, happiness and sadness...these all fall indiscriminately on the righteous and unrighteous alike. No one is spared...so what's the point?

...More tomorrow

~ V

Missing the Mark...

The past week and a half has been pretty stressful for me...work, kids, the house...sigh. More than once, I've wondered; what am I doing: here, being a parent, working there...Do my opinions matter...Do I matter...For all of my guiding, proding and discipline, I may have changed the outside response of my children, but have I honestly changed their hearts?

...more tomorrow

~ V