Monday, December 29, 2008

South Carolina Days Two and Three

Sunday morning we woke up and got ready to go to church. The Rentzes church is Saluda Baptist Church. Alexander went to Sunday School, Ford to the Nursery and Meredith and I to their parent's respective classes. The topic of the day was being called to mission and was backed by the story of Saul/Paul and his trips to Damascus and Antioch along with Barnabas.

Saluda Baptist Church is in the middle of a change in pastor. They had a guest preacher in who I really enjoyed listening to. He will be soon planting new churches in Calgary, Alberta. His most recent trip to Canada he witnessed -20°F. A bit cold no doubt.

After church we drove on to Greenwood SC, Meredith's mother's hometown and where her grandparents and great-grandparents lived. We had a quick lunch at a local buffet and then went to go see Meredith's Granddaddy, and our kid's only remaining great-grandparent who resides in a nursing home there. John Christopher Young (whose photos from the late 1940s you can see in my account) was doing better than he has been doing in the previous several months. He is a bit hard of hearing, but he is still really with it and if you can get over the communication issues - you can have a good conversation with him. He and I talked about baseball and the kids. We gave him a digital photo frame with about 200 photos from us, the Holders, Brooksie's sister's family and some older Young family photos. He sat through the slide show of all the photos and commented on many of them. He didn't want us leaving the photo frame with him because of his concern that it may be stolen. So our compromise was to leave it with Meredith's mother who will take it with her on occasion to him and update the photos as well.

Afterwards we travelled to Columbia to see the Mewbourns including the new grandbaby Helena. We had a fantastic dinner, Meredith got lots of time playing with baby, and the guys roughhoused with Uncle Jerry.
Today has been a rest day. Tomorrow we're off to Beaufort and several days with Charles' family and the annual new year's oyster roast.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

South Carolina Day One

I started this blog writing about our trip to South Carolina over Thanksgiving in 2006. We haven't been back to the state to see Meredith's family since then for the simple reason that Ford was a little too small to travel last year. This year's trip almost didn't look like it was going to happen because of the job changeover. However, due to the way more relaxed attitude and employee-focused atmosphere of my new job, I'm able to take the week off and be here for the New Year.

I was stressing a little the past couple of days because I was worried about the crowds at the airport, the amount of time it would take for us to check-in, getting on the plane, and handling the boredom level of the two guys for a two and a half hour plane ride.

We left the house at 6:30am this morning, picked up by my gracious father, and arrived at DFW. We had a long line that went fairly quickly - and only had to pay $15 for one checked bag, the carseat bag got a free ride! We were able to go through security easily enough and then found plenty of seating at the gate.

Our seats were towards the rear of the plane and we had a precocious seven year old named Michael sitting in the row behind us who was instantly enthralled with Alexander's Leapster. Alex offered Michael a chance to play the Star Wars game for a while without even being asked.

The real bummer of the morning was after we had pushed back from the gate, taxiied to the end of the eastern runway...and then waited for the thunderstorm squall line to pass through the the northern and eastern edges of the airport. This took two and a half hours. We were stuck on the ground with two bored kiddos for that amount of time. Fortunately, Meredith and I had enough snacks and entertainment, (books, DVD player, Leapster) for the guys to remain fairly calm during the wait.

After the flight we had another lengthy wait getting off of the plane after arrivial to Charlotte NC.

Alexander and Ford were really happy to see Grandmama and Papa and were really good on the drive to their home in South Carolina. The only further bummer was that SC is completely covered in dense fog this evening making the trip in the van nerve-wracking for Papa.

We had a lovely Christmas leftover dinner and I have spent the past hour or two fixing their computer and getting photos put onto a digital photo frame that we have bought Meredith's Grandfather for his room. Church, Granddaddy Young and dinner at the Mewbornes tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Photos

Christmas pageant at St. Barnabas. Alexander obviously was a shepherd and Ford a sheep. We have had a good Christmas. We will be travelling to South Carolina for the new year. 

We won a Leapster2 from Megan's Blog. Thanks Megan!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Arpeggios of chaos.

An arpeggio is a chord of notes played singularly. They act as individuals alone with the corresponding note close, but still separate. Never in an arpeggio will they coincide. Without strong leadership that brings the harmonies into close ties, the running of individual notes will be come more strained, less in tune and finally dischordant into true bedlam. 

I see the strain. The looks on the faces of those in the grocery store. The running of the cars in the parking lot with tape holding the windows shut from the cold. There's always the slightly mistrustful and paranoid glance, the look of guilt, of defense, of defeat. Where does one turn to? Our success is now our shame - our isolation, once prized is now our burden as those willing to help have left to save themselves.

Are we a lost society? Are we doomed to be trapped within sticks and brick facades and homeowner's associations? Is the life only a lie? You can see it from here. The past, no longer envisoned in sepia - now the polaroid of fading colors into red hues.  The softness in tone, the bent corner, and the faded pen markings on the back. Our past in faux wood grain and car hoods reaching for the horizon beyond the tempered glass. We've been here before. We've stayed in line, flown our flag and burned the fuel.

It is time to change. To look into the face of chaos and say no. I will stand. I will walk. I will be different. We cannot afford any less of ourselves and of our children or of each other. 

"Art in the universe? None. Because art is the holding up of a mirror to the universe and there just isn't one big enough." - Paraphrased from Douglas Adams

Thursday, December 11, 2008


My parents were always the ones who got technology last. I remember going to Sears with my best friend Chris and his Dad to purchase Space Invaders for the Atari 2600. He bought it for the astronomical amount of $50 in the late 1970s. We eventually got an Atari, but it took a while (at least in my prepubescent memory) to get cable and then FINALLY a VCR. These slow steps in technology were made by my parents in order for us to know the value of patience - of not purchasing things until you can really afford them - It was hard to take at the time, but was beneficial to my ability to evaulate needs vs wants.

My first computer at home was a Commodore 64 with a 300 baud modem that I saved up and bought myself. I used it to play games, write some work for school, but mostly I went online - tying up the one phone line in the house talking to people on some guy's personal BBS (Bulletin Board System) about time travel and Doctor Who.

I became somewhat of a luddite during my collegiate years as I did my undergraduate work on a Smith Corona typewriter/word processor. It worked. It wasn't until grad school that I went back to Macintosh, learned what Windows was, and started my first forays into the web through usenet groups and email. 

Now, of course as I sit here on my Dell XPS with an (albeit Gen 3) ipod, palm zire 72, and numerous video game systems, dvd players and HDTV in the house...I wonder: Does my use of technology help my family or harm them eventually? I personally strive to research not the most expensive, or highest standard or most bells and whistle type of technology to purchase. I do my research and try to find the best value for the money I'm investing in. I keep technology around (well organized of course) and keep it working for multiple years and purposes. My 20G ipod is still very much in use. I just bought a new battery for it and installed it myself to keep it going for much longer. My desktop computer bought in 2001 is still the home computer and is working rather smoothly, even though the fan is a bit loud. And video games? I've got several copies of that Space Invaders game...although I purchased them for about a quarter a piece. 

Technology to me is the social campfire in which we now gather as a society. Communal experiences occuring over wireless networks and down fiberoptic cable. 

"Did you see that final drive for the touchdown?"

Yeah I did. I'm part of the group. I'm able to experience things that others experience and be able to be part of the conversation - of the greater tribe.

But, my life isn't exclusively about technology, nor do I wish my kids to participate solely within its confines. We go and play outside. Meredith is terrific at taking them to the park. Alexander has expressed an interest in doing sports next spring and summer. Meredith has him taking nature classes and art classes. His classroom doesn't have a computer. 

The right balance for me is to let he and his brother know the fun of watching science fiction - to zap the alien invaders - to talk to their uncle living halfway across the continent, live and personal with video and everything but to also let them know that it's ok to turn off the tv and read A Wrinkle in Time or to play with Legos. It is technology that has increased our ability to live together through a wider communication. It is definitely with its dangers and pitfalls, but it can bring joy, creativity, escape from the responsibilities you know that you have to do when you turn off the machine. 

One of the most important things I've tried to tell my son about technology, is that it is only as smart as what humans tell them to do. Otherwise, they're just metal and plastic. If we take care of them and repair them occaisionally, you can get the best value out of the technology you purchase. 

Oh, by the way, I have that first VCR my parents bought. 

It still works like a champ. 

If you would like to read more about other parents and their view on technology and their kids, please check out and their blogging contest about this subject.