Posts Tagged ‘Aaron’

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Fireworks and Action Figure Martyrs

July 3, 2009
Now I call this patriotic

Now I call this patriotic

July 4th is always a fun time for our family, because it falls right in the midst of forty-eleven family birthdays, which means we are all in a celebratory mood already. Since our home state allows small-scale fireworks, Mom always buys one of those big Wal-Mart fireworks sets. I recall getting scared out of my wits on a couple of occasions when Dad managed to sneak up and pop some of those little snaps right at my feet. Snaps are definitely the most fun Dad has on Independence Day.

You may be surprised to read that the most important and memorable tradition for our family on July 4th is actually not the fireworks. As exciting as the green smoke bombs and unpredictable fountains of sparks truly are, they do not come close to the thrill of watching Ben set up and destroy a random action figure each year. He started out with G.I. Joes that he didn’t need any longer, but as the years progressed, he moved on to bigger and better targets. My personal favorite was the year of the Incredible Hulk destruction. If my memory is correct, we had to use a shovel to remove the green mess from our driveway.

Significant planning and concentration goes into each action figure kill. Ben selects the necessary fireworks early in the evening but waits until all of the other fireworks are gone before preparing his annual masterpiece. There is often some sort of harness involved to keep the action figure steady while sparkling rockets and sprays of fire melt him away. Ben is also the director of the most intricate step of the process, which consists of lighting all of the separate wicks simultaneously. Our store of lighters gets maxed out as three to four family members assume stations and begin lighting at the count of three.

Inevitably, however, one person’s fuse is quicker to light than anyone else’s, and the moment something catches a light and begins to burn, we all desert our posts and scatter faster than roaches at the switch of a light. In reality, this setback is a benefit, because it draws out the process and allows us to take stock of the damage after each blast.

Reader, if you are beginning to suspect that we are savages with rather sadistic tendencies, please give us the benefit of the doubt. I promise we are harmless. Mom, Shannon and I can’t even watch the torture scene in The Princess Bride, which means that somehow we are able to compartmentalize this tradition and keep it from influencing any other part of our lives or time of year.

At the risk of turning this post into a glorified photo album, I will post some photos from one of our more memorable Independence Day Debacles Celebrations. I really cannot help myself. Enjoy!

Action Figure Setup

Its going to be a bad day for this green beret.

It's going to be a bad day for this green beret.

The bike is in for it just as much as the army guy. Notice the thoughtful placement of all of the fireworks.

The bike is in for it just as much as the army guy. Notice the thoughtful placement of all of the fireworks.

Bombs away! We really hoped this guy would fly up high, then land conveniently close by so that we could see the effects of his firy trip.

Bombs away! We really hoped this guy would fly up high, then land conveniently close by so that we could see the effects of his firy trip.

I am reasonably certain that there could not be any more fireworks attached to this guy.

I am reasonably certain that there could not be any more fireworks attached to this guy.

The duct tape you see in this photo stretched all the way up to the rim of our basketball goal. This gives new meaning to the phrase, My brain is fried.

The duct tape you see in this photo stretched all the way up to the rim of our basketball goal. This gives new meaning to the phrase, "My brain is fried."

The Carnage

Getting it from all sides

Getting it from all sides

Motorcycle man is toast.

Motorcycle man is toast.

Another angle, for your viewing pleasure.

Another angle, for your viewing pleasure.

The Shower.

The Shower.

The combustion has turned the soldier a lovely shade of gray...

The combustion has turned the soldier a lovely shade of gray...

A Family of Patriots

If there were an award for Most Patriotic Family Member, Uncle Mike would get it. He brought his own CD player this year with a CD of patriotic favorites.
If there were an award for Most Patriotic Family Member, Uncle Mike would get it. He brought his own CD player this year with a compilation of patriotic favorites.

Need proof, you say?

Note: If you have trouble viewing this video, try following this link directly to YouTube.

Mike and Tom, taking a brief break from discussing politics and religion.

Mike and Tom, taking a brief break from discussing politics and religion.

Aaron and Mike, both with some of their best facial expressions

Aaron and Mike, both with some of their best facial expressions. I know I never leave home without my copy of Cornerstones of American Democracy, which I believe contains reprints of some of our nation's foundational documents.

Pat, Colleen, and Tenille - I have no idea what was funny here, but I love to see my family laughing.

Pat, Colleen, and Tenille - I have no idea what was funny here, but I love to see my family laughing.

Misha will probably never experience another American holiday quite like this one. Love you, Mish!

Misha will probably never experience another American holiday quite like this one. Love you, Mish!

Gram may be experiencing some disbelief at her grandchildrens antics.

Gram may be experiencing some disbelief at her grandchildren's antics.

Thug life...

Thug life...

Happy Independence Day!

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Wisdom Search

November 30, 2008

Character Sketches

Character Sketches

When I was in early grade school, Mom and Dad decided to enroll the family in the Institute in Basic Life Principles, an organization dedicated to strengthening families and spreading the gospel. One of the requirements of being an IBLP family was to have a daily family devotional time, called Wisdom Search.

Now that I think back on it, the name strikes me as very cheesy, but at the time, it was simply a normative part of life. We would generally read a chapter of Scripture, often Proverbs, and then a chapter from the Character Sketches books or Dad’s latest favorite treatise on Wesleyan holiness. At the end of our devotional time, we would all kneel down at Mom’s big white couch in the living room and pray.

The problem with Wisdom Search was that it had to take place before Dad left for work, and he left for work around 7:00 AM! On top of this, Mom and Dad were very committed to keeping us all healthy and wanted to start the day off by going to the downtown YMCA as often as possible. Many weekday mornings, our parents would rouse us before 5:00 a.m., crowd us into our seven-passenger van, and force us to work bleary-eyed through a workout at the Y. Then it was back home to get dressed and meet for Wisdom Search in ten minutes.

By the time we sat down to search for wisdom together, Shannon was usually mad as hops, and Ben was perfecting his ability to sleep without looking like he was asleep. That left me, the pleaser, to try to jump in and answer all Dad’s many, many questions throughout Wisdom Search until I became resentful of my siblings’ cop-outs. Then we would all get quiet. Fortunately, that was about the time to finish off with prayer anyway. We all secretly hoped for Dad to volunteer to do all the praying at the end.

After we grew up and our schedules changed, we began to refer to that white couch as the family altar. Several confessions, encouraging words, and heartfelt petitions emerged while we knelt there. Even though we now say “Wisdom Search” with a bit of a tone, we are grateful to have the memory of it (unless you ask Aaron, who joined us for many of them but, to my knowledge, does not consider that to be a happy memory!)

I do not know whether IBLP still requires family Wisdom Searches or not, and I do not know whether my family will participate in them some day, but I did want to jot this part of my family development. At least we know that if any of us kids do institute Wisdom Searches for our families in the future, Mom and Dad still have the Character Sketches for us to use.