Child Sex Trafficking is a major problem at the Super Bowl. According to the Dallas Police Department children exploited through sex trafficking have an average life expectancy is just seven years . The average age a child is tricked and trapped in sexual slavery is 13 years old . These children are beaten, brutalized and tortured for the profit and pleasure of others.
Please sign this petition, post this link to your wall, and do anything else in your power to raise awareness of this cruel injustice. People can only do these evil things to children when nobody is watching.
I just received a great text message from my wife:
"Riding in the car, Sawyer was throwing a fit. A Bruce [Springsteen] song came on, he quit and started smiling. No lie. This is a conspiracy."
This made me smile. I have been trying to get Sawyer to become a Springsteen fan ever since the day he was born... literally. You may accuse me of brainwashing or indoctrination, and you would be correct. I don't care what you think. Bruce is the greatest, and Sawyer will grow up in a home where this the case. Before you judge me, ask yourself if you've ever done this with your own kids. Have you ever clothed your child in a tiny football jersey and taught him to cheer for your favorite team? Have you ever tried to get your daughter to watch your favorite movie from childhood? Let's not pretend like we don't all do this at some level or another.
Anyway, I text Caroline back and ask here which Springsteen song had come on the radio. I honestly thought it was probably just a coincidence. You could have started the blender and the noise might have made him stop screaming. The fact that he smiled was a bit interesting, though.
She replies: "The one about the hungry heart."
This made me smile from ear-to-ear. When we were still in the hospital, Caroline had fallen asleep during non-visiting hours. I was determined to allow her to sleep for as long as possible. Sawyer began to fuss from his "bed" (that plastic box-looking contraption that newborns sleep in while they are in the hospital), and we were seconds away from him crying loud enough to wake her. I scooped him up in my arms and held him tentatively. He was less than a day old, and I was still very insecure about holding him. I had no idea what to do if he started to cry. As he began his pre-cry whimper, I started to gently bounce up and down. I had heard that you can sing to a newborn to calm him down. I did not know if this was true, but I was willing to give it a shot. The first song that came into my mind was "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen. I bounced and sang quietly, and he calmed down. I went through the whole song twice, and he fell asleep in my arms. Ever since, this has been the song I sing to make him be calm. It is not 100% effective, but it works about as well as anything else I have tried. I don't know why, but this is always the song I choose. It's the song my son and I share.
So, my wife was riding in the car, and Sawyer was throwing a fit. He hears this song, and he smiles. It could be a coincidence. It could be that he simply likes the sound of music. It could be that something caught his eye and amused him.
Or it could be that he and I share a bond over this song. It could be that, somewhere deep in his subconscious, this song means something to him, as it now means something to me.
I think "Hungry Heart" just became my favorite Bruce Springsteen song.
FUN FACT! Bruce Sprinsteen wrote this song ("Hungry Heart") for The Ramones, at the personal request of the late Joey Ramone. Before giving to Joey, he played it for his manager who insisted that Springsteen keep the song for himself. He followed his manager's advice and released the song on his fifth studio album, The River, and the song became Springsteen's first hit on the Billboard Top 100 list.
It is official. I'm a father. I suppose, technically, I had already been a father for nine months, but I've just recently been able to interact with my son. His name is Sawyer, by the way. The picture above is (obviously) from when he was in the hospital. It looks to me like he's posing for a sculptor who plans to immortalize him in marble and place him in some Venetian Piazza. He's a very serious young man with a lot on his mind.
I should take a moment to brag about my wife who is, without a doubt, the toughest person I know. Her labor began on Monday (February 23) night around 11pm. She managed the pain until about 5:30am, which was when we decided to go the hospital. We checked in around 6am, and she continued to proceed in labor with NO DRUGS until 8:40pm, which was when Sawyer was finally born. He weighed 8 lbs, and he clearly was not happy about the transition into the world. He had swallowed some gunk (that's what I'll call it) during delivery, so he had to spend a few hours in the NICU so they could observe him after they flushed his lungs. At about 1am, they brought him into our hospital room, which was when I learned exactly how loud a newborn baby could actually cry.
We spent the next two days in the hospital recovering, filling out paper, and not sleeping at all. I can say, without a doubt, that I have never been more sleep-deprived than I was at the end of our time in the hospital. I'm not sure why 4am was the appropriate time to have us fill out insurance forms and birth certificate information, but I guess that's just how they do things at the hospital.
I should also say that the whole doula thing turned out to be a huge success (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see earlier post entitled "Doula"). I realize most people don't use a doula, but I honestly don't think we could have done it without them (we actually ended up having two doulas due to an interesting mix of circumstances). With the amount of discomfort and movement that Caroline was subjected throughout the course of the day, it was so great to have someone in the room who could keep us focused, calm, and informed during what would otherwise be an overwhelming experience.
I don't really have any anecdotes or anything, I just felt like this was something I will have wished I had written down later on in my life. Sawyer and I are getting know each other. We've even found some activities that we can enjoy together.
Back in February, Caroline and I moved into our first house. It's a rented house, but we are living in it, so technically, it's our first house. Anyway, I really warmed to the whole idea of living in a neighborhood in the suburbs. In fact, as we were still unpacking our boxes, we heard a recorded jingly noise coming from outside. I looked out the window to see an ice cream truck driving down the street! In February!
I looked at Caroline and yelled, "ICE CREAM MAN!" I dropped the box I had been carrying, and we both sprinted out into the street to meet the truck and purchase an ice cream sandwich. It was euphoric.
A few weeks later, as I was getting used to living in the 'burbs, a high school girl knocked on our door. She was selling magazine subscriptions for her school's student council program, and everyone who raised a specific amount of money would be allowed to go on the end-of-the-year trip to Washington, D.C. I wanted to be a good neighbor (even though I don't think she technically lived in my neighborhood), so I agreed to buy a subscription to Rolling Stone Magazine. I read Rolling Stone anyway, and a subscription would save me from having to buy my magazines on the newsstand. I wrote her a check. That was back in February, and I have yet to find one issue of Rolling Stone in my mailbox.
Okay, so I was a sucker one time. That couldn't happen again, right?
So, a few months ago, some high school-aged soccer players cornered Caroline and me in our driveway as we were leaving. They seemed like really nice guys, and they were selling magazine subscriptions. They said that if they sold enough subscriptions, their team would be given the opportunity to go to Spain and play teams internationally. I'm all about helping youth sports programs (or at least I felt that way at the moment), so Caroline and I both ordered magazine subscriptions from them. Caroline ordered a Rachel Ray magazine (which she has subsequently begun to receive), and I ordered Paste Magazine. Not only have I not received any issues of Paste, but I have begun receiving copies of Elle Magazine instead.
So, ladies and gentlemen, here is my conclusion. I am never again helping another high school aged con artist claiming to sell magazines. If they've got cookies that I can see and touch, I'll buy a box. I may even purchase the occasional coupon book if I feel so inclined. But if you or anyone you know is knocking on my door with a piece of paper boasting a list of magazines, move on. I'm not interested. I've been burned too many times, and I cannot bear the thought of what I may or may not find in my mailbox the next time I try to be nice to some kid who wants to go on a field trip. Modern Bride? O? Southern Living? No thanks, neighbor kids. Take your snake oil elsewhere. I'm wise to your schemes.
Now excuse me. I have to go see if the newest issue of Elle has arrived...
A few years ago, I heard about this thing called "National Novel Writing Month" or "NaNoWriMo" for short. It's exactly what it sounds like. During the month of November, you are supposed to write a complete first draft of a full novel (minimum of 50,000) words. I have been wanting to try this for years, but this year I finally did. I completed my novel in 23 days with a total of 59,609 words. It's a far cry from Catcher in the Rye, but it's really just about the experience.
This month (December), I am embarking on something different. Instead of writing a ton, my goal will be to read an excessive amount (an exercise in hyper-literacy, as it were). At the beginning of the new year, I will be attending a workshop for preachers in which we will discuss the links between literature, poetry, storytelling, and the sermon. One of the requirements for attending said workshop is that I have to read all of the books on the assigned list. Therefore, over the next month, I will attempt to read all of the following books:
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (455 pages) Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen (179 pages) God Stories by C. Michael Curtis (394 pages) Salvation On Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington (249 pages) Silence by Shusaku Endo (201 pages) Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner (320 pages) The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (271 pages) Compass of Affection by Scott Cairns (161 pages) Not the Way It's Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (199 pages)
Total page number: 2,429 Total completed so far: 4
I was standing in line at Starbucks in Waco this morning when one of the Hebrew professors from my seminary stepped in line behind me. He was pushing his 11 month old daughter in her stroller. I could have started a conversation with him regarding any number of topics. For example: "How is your semester going?" or "Any big plans for Thanksgiving?" or even, "How 'bout them Bears?" But no. The first thing I said to the professor was this:
"That's a really nice stroller."
First of all, I should say that I was not trying to be polite. The stroller was amazing. The Hebrew professor immediately agreed with me. "Thanks!" He said. He then pointed to the seat in which his daughter sat and spun his finger around in a circle. "I can make this go all the way around and face any direction."
"Wow," I said, "just like the stage at the U2 concert."
"Exactly!" He said.
This is the time we live in. A new father can have a conversation about his stroller and effortlessly respond to a reference to U2.
"It's even got cup holders!" I said.
"Yeah," he admired his stroller. "It's pretty handy."
"Sir?" the barista said to me. "Are you ready to order?"
I absentmindedly ordered my coffee and returned to our conversation about the stroller. I continued to ask him stroller-related questions until I received my beverage and exited Starbucks. As I walked toward my first class, I thought to myself: "Did I really just have full conversation about nothing but strollers?"
Yes, I did.
There is so much stuff that comes with a baby. Caroline and I went to Babies-R-Us last night to pick up our crib. We ordered it a week and a half ago, but it just arrived yesterday. As I stood at the guest services desk waiting for someone to bring the crib to the front, I stared around the store in awe. There are so many things you can get when you have a baby.
It kind of reminds me of Mr. Potato Head. You can just get the basic Mr. Potato Head set with one pair of eyes, ears, mouth, feet, nose, and hat. However, there are endless accessories for Mr. Potato Head. You can buy stuff to make Mr. Potato Head be a police officer or a fireman or a Star Wars Storm Trooper. You can buy Bath Time Mr. Potato Head gear.
This, in my mind, is what it is to have a baby. If you wanted to keep it simple, you could just have the baby and let it sleep in a box with a soft blanket. But this wouldn't be fun for anybody. So, you buy a crib. Then, of course, you're going to need to take the baby places, so you need a car seat (in observance of safety laws) and a stroller, of which I have already admitted to being an admirer. There are also endless types of toys and safety devices and sanitary equipment and clothes and furniture. And at some point, there may even be another kid, which is the parental version of buying a Mrs. Potato Head.
I'm learning about the baby swag, and I'm realizing how quickly my home and my life are going to be transitioned to total and absolute submission to the needs of this kid. Like Alice discovering all of the intricacies of Wonderland, I am learning all about a world that was completely foreign to me until very recently.
By the way, if you were wondering, the stroller that Truett Seminary's Hebrew professor uses is the Orbit Infant Stroller System. Do not buy us this stroller. Caroline has registered for a very specific stroller, and I don't want this blog to inspire anyone to subvert the registry.