Category Archives: Fun

My Favorite Podcasts

It has been a while since I have written as often as I did when I began this blog. It seems as if I said what I needed to say and now I only write about something that sparks my thoughts. Today’s post isn’t about religion, it isn’t about about work, it isn’t even about my family; it’s just about me.

What do I do to entertain myself? This is the post that will answer part of that question. I intend to do a series of posts explaining what I like. Certainly they can be used as gift ideas for yours truly but these posts are more for memory sake. I want to be able to reread these in the years to come and see how my tastes have changed (or not) and to be able to share memories with Sariah and Sophia as they grow. You know those old people and their stories. We’ll all be there one day, might as well get my stories ready now.

If it’s in my list I would endorse it for you to listen to. Enjoy.

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Dessert For Your Ears

A comedy podcast hosted by Matt Donnelly (@SweetMattyD) and Paul Mattingly (@TheFamousPaul) with Jacob the AudioGuy on the wheels of steel. Matmatt_and_mattingly_by_jon_estrada_WEBt and Paul are godless improv comedians in Las Vegas who chat about life and news, respond to ScoopMail from listeners (aptly called “Scoops”), and compete in Jock vs Nerd quizzes in this twice weekly cast.

I’ve been a listener since episode 1 and it has been a favorite ever since. From legal issues with their first design to their recent weight-loss journey, the show is a must listen. A “Voltron of hilarity” it says on their homepage; as Matt is co-host of Penn’s Sunday School and Paul is co-host of the Ugly Couch Show and Geek Shock.

Tune in for Matt and Jacob’s take on sports or Paul’s feelings about nerd news, either way, tune in and get lost in a world of inside jokes.

Admittedly, this the place (along with Penn’s Sunday School) that sparked my drive for weight-loss currently.

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Preaching the Love

Penn’s Sunday School was one of the first podcasts I downloaded when I became aware of what podcasts were. Honestly, it has slipped down the list of my favorites as of late because he has gotten away from the interviews I so enjoyed, but I keep it on the download list in hopes he’ll hook me once again.

penn-sunday-schoolPenn Jillette (@PennJillette), of Penn and Teller fame, Matt Donnelly (@SweetMattyD), Dustin Knouse (@DustinKnouse), and Michael Goudeau (@DamnedJuggler) host a weekly podcast in which they talk about the week’s news and speak to special guests.

Hopefully it is obvious but I will put the warning out there: the listeners are called the “Congregation” but this show is by atheists for atheists, it is not a sunday school for the church-goers. This does not mean this show is dedicated to religion bashing!

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Bringing Pop Culture and Cult Geekery to the Masses

Geek Shock (or The Ugly Couch Show or The Paul Show) is the epitome of geek culture put into one show. The guys are currently: Master Torgo, The Famous Paul, Kommander K, 80’s Jeff, Maple Leaf Matt, and Fact Check Andy, among others. If you thought the other shows on this list had inside jokes, it’s nothing compared to those associated with the Ugly Couch Show and Geek Shock.

“This Week in Geek” and “News You Don’t Give a Shit About” are major features of the show and you can always count on The Famous Paul to bring out a character (Mumm-Ra the ever living apparently lives in a cellar under the bathroom) or two and bring the entire show to a halt with laughter.

For news and information on movies, games, comics, TV shows, games, and geek culture this is the show for you.

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The Atheist Experience is a show that has been going since the late 90s as part of the Atheist Community of Austin. They produce a weekly show that is on public access tv, streamed live online, uploaded to YouTube, and placed up as an audio podcast for download. The show is dedicated to develop and support the atheist community as well as field questions from theists.

It would be much too long a list to list all the cast and crew here but they are all identified on the Atheist Experience website. I enjoy this show because they not only speak to atheists but to theists and everyone in-between. As it is a public access show,language is censored but not ideas.

The Non Prophets is a live internet radio show airing on the first and third Wednesday of every month. Jeff, Russell, and Denis make their way through atheist news, events, mail and “Shit Internet Apologists Say”.

Both are outreach arms of the Atheist Community of Austin.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me is an advice-cast for the modern era featuring three real-life brothers: Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy. For roughly five-sixths of an hour each week, with new episodes dropping every Monday, the brothers McElroy will answer any query sent our way, each fielding questions falling into our respective areas of expertise. We operate like a streamlined, advice-generating machine. It’s both terrifying and humbling to behold.

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The Dead Authors Podcast is a comedy and faux-historical podcast hosted by Paul F. Tompkins in character as H.G. Wells. In each episode, he welcomes a deceased author via his “time machine” to discuss their lives and their work. The podcast was created in support of 826LA and all proceeds from the show are donated to the organization

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MuggleNet.com’s podcast, appropriately titled “MuggleCast,” is an informative talk show dedicated to everything Harry Potter. This show’s been around for years and years. I remember being a part of the very first few episodes, including my member status in the “Pickle Pack”.

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Assume nothing. Question everything. And start thinking.

The Thinking Atheist is a website, radio podcast and online community which rejects faith as a suitable tool for living.

Far too often, faith (believing something without evidence) is celebrated, reason is distrusted, and people are encouraged not to ask questions, test the waters, demand evidence or think outside the religious box.

Host Seth Andrews wants to make sure everyone knows the Thinking Atheist isn’t himself; isn’t a person. It’s an icon. It’s an idea.

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The Mormon Expositor is a biweekly podcast leveraging a panel discussion format and focusing on Mormon doctrine, practices, culture, and history.

Named after the publication of the same name from the 1800s. If you don’t know the story of the Mormon Expositor, especially if you are LDS, look it up. This podcast routinely has people who were deep into the religion and even those that aren’t entirely out of the belief system yet talking about the church, the beliefs, and personal experiences.

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Keep Looking Up

StarTalk Radio bridges the intersection between Pop Culture and Science with clarity, humor and passion. Captivating subjects—such as space travel, extra-terrestrial life, the Big Bang, the future of our Earth and the environment, and breaking news from the universe—will all be explored. Hilarity ensues as Tyson is joined each week by comedian co-hosts, celebrities, and other special guests.

Favorites of the co-hosts include Eugene Mirman and Chuck Nice. This is a fun, science-filled podcast for all listeners.

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ER Cast is a focused discussion on the questions, quagmires and known unknowns we (they) face everyday in the emergency department. Each episode of Ercast covers a single issue and tries to tease out all the relevant elements that affect your practice without overstuffing your frontal cortex. It’s for physicians and anyone interested in a bare bones look at emergency care.

It’s directed at physicians but I love getting the insight and behind the scenes look at medicine from the eyes of the docs.

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Ardent Atheists Emery Emery and Heather Henderson talk with comedians, actors and friends about atheism, deism and the effects of religion on us all. Guests of the show are a mix of atheists, agnostics, deists, scientists, humanists and the occasional god-loving, scripture-quoting crusader. Discussions are deeply impassioned, mostly respectful and always funny.

Skeptically Yours is really just the same show, another way to make money I suppose but I like having more content to fill my ears.

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A Note to Family and Friends

Family and Friends,

Please read this message, you needn’t read anything else on my blog, I know some past posts haven’t been the most friendly but this is different. This one is from Crystal and I both. With Sariah’s birthday rounding the corner, Crystal and I would like to take this opportunity to share an exciting idea we have had.

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This year gave us a monumental surprise, when, on May 4 our dear Sariah was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It has been a significant change in lifestyle for not only Sariah but also for all of us, including you, as her support system. Please don’t diminish your contribution to the system, we all work together to ensure her safety and wise choices not only in relation to the disease but to growing up and becoming the smart and beautiful young lady we all know she will be. From performing finger-sticks and calculating the required insulin after meals to her classmates at school walking with her to the nurses office; everyone has their role in this.

With Sariah’s consent we would like to ask, that for her upcoming birthday, in lieu of gifts you make a donation to either the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) or to the Monroe Carroll Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Links will be at the bottom of this letter. Please don’t go out of your way to make a larger donation than what a gift would have cost, any amount will help the cause. If you weren’t aware, the JDRF and the Children’s Hospital were the organizations that donated much of the information, supplies, and gifts that we received in the hours and months since diagnosis.

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The mission of JDRF: JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, policy influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. If you would like to donate to JDRF you may do so at JDRF.org, under the “Get Involved” tab, then click “Ways to Donate”. If you choose to do a “Tribute Donation” we ask that you select the Middle Tennessee Chapter in honor of Sariah.

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Who hasn’t heard of Vanderbilt? They are a committed and focused team of medical persons devoted to delivering the highest quality care to children, creating a special environment for children and their families, and to serve as a resource that is responsive to the children, the families, and to the community. If you would like to donate to Vanderbilt you may do so at ChildrensHospital.Vanderbilt.org. Near the bottom of the page is a link called “Giving”, and then on the right side of the page you select “Give Now”.

While we have your attention, we would like to tell you about something more fun. Each of the girls has an email address that they will gain access to when they are older. It seemed like a fun idea to send an email to them as a sort of time capsule from past versions of ourselves. You can send messages to SariahDarks2008@gmail.com and SophiaDarks2014@gmail.com. On our honor, we won’t read your messages, I log in routinely to ensure they aren’t overrun by spam but I don’t read messages, I want the girls to be able to be the first to read those words.

Thank you for your continued support. With love; Matt, Crystal, Sariah, and Sophia.

Halloween 2013

Hope you all had a great Halloween season, we did!

This is the last post of this season starting off with Wednesday’s Trunk or Treat at Springfield High School. The students of SHS decorated their cars and handed out candy and manned some booths with games for all the kids of the community. The Fire Department, Police, SWAT, EMS and other city groups showed up and let the kids see their equipment and handed out candy.

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One of the coolest costumes we saw this season has got to be the transformer at Trunk or Treat.

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But I think the best part of the whole night was being able to see Kylee and Macey again. Its been so long since we’ve been to library but they are both in school so they wouldn’t be there anyways.

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On Thursday, 10/31, we made our way to Little Country School House for their Halloween party. Chelsie, April, and Crystal dressed up as Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather (respectively) but they didn’t get a picture! Can you believe it.

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This was so much fun. Seeing kids from those who can’t walk all the way up to the Pre-K dressed up in their costumes was a treat. As part of the fun each class went to every other class to sing songs and show off their costumes. The songs were cute; Five Little Pumpkins, Ghosts and Goblins, I’m a Jack-O-Lantern, etc.

20131031-153621.jpgThe Pre-K classes made our way to the School-Age room and got ready for the food! While we set up the food Ms. Chelsie got the kids dancing to Just Dance on the Wii to pass the time. The food was pretty good and most of the kids ate up the PB&J sandwiches, the mummies (pigs in a blanket), pizza rolls, and the fruits and veggies too.

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Thursday night we made our way to the Clarksville Mall for their trick-or-treating event.

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I don’t think I need to say this but it was CROWDED! We showed up about 530, it started at 500 and the candy at some/most of the places was gone already. Sariah was having fun so we stayed and I wanted to see the Halloween magic show. A guy from Halloween Express showed the kids the length of the average small intestine, the magic of dry ice, and confused a few with the open/closed circuit experiment. Below is a picture of his dry ice being dumped into a pan of boiling water.

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The very best part about the mall that made up for the crowd was seeing so many different costumes. one of my favorite is pictured below. The girl is Abbey Bominable from Monster High and her mom and dad were both Yetis, so cute.

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I had to work on Friday, Sariah and Crystal got to go to Ben and Bella’s house to trick or treat around their neighborhood. Sariah was Bride Rapunzel, Ben was Darth Maul, and Bella was Ambassador Amidala. From the reports they had a great time and even better time with the sleep over that night.

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Alright last but not least. I must wish my sister a big Happy 27th Birthday. She spent it dressed as a Princess Buzz Lightyear? apparently, good on ya!

20131102-164106.jpg Oh, one more thing….we’re not twins.

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I am going to end this post with a list of some of the costumes we saw this year, there were of course multiples of so many of these but I tried to get the gist of them:

Gypsie, Astronaut, Female captain America, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, Crocodile, Dragon, Bat man and Batgirl and robin, Hula girl, Sub zero, Scooby Doo, NASCAR driver, Doctor, Tiger, Clawdine, Frankie, and Abbey from monsters high, A couple of Witches, Orange m&m, red power rangers, Pink ranger, Wolverine, Cruella deville, Wonder Woman, Peterpan, Superman, Ironman, mermaids, Firefighter Spider, Ghost, Spider-Man, Cleopatra, Sully and mike wazowski, Cheerleader, Raggedy Ann, Cat in the hat, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Leia, Darth Vader, Doc McStuffins, Dog, sheep, Dinosaur, Sock monkey Pirate, Cardinals baseball player, GI joe, Woody, Flora fauna and merriweather, Minecraft Steve, Plankton, Fixit Felix, Katniss everdeen, lalaloopsie, Red angry bird, Green screen man, Rainbowdash, Cindyloo who, Flapper, Ice girl from monster high, Tinkerbell, Flex, Sally from nightmare before Christmas, Minions upon minions, Piglet eyeore Winnie the Pooh, Uncle Si, Sponge bob, Jake never land pirate, Red riding hood, Geo and Milli in a wagon decorated as oomi car, and princess buzz lightyear…. there were so many more but I was taking notes on my phone so I’m sure I missed a few.

A Cool Field Trip…literally

 

 

 

 

Another field trip with Little Country School House, this time to an actual field!

Just kidding but only slightly. This time, Ms. Chelsea, Ms. Elizabeth, and myself took the Shining Stars to Honeysuckle Hill Farm. I had a great time helping out and I’m pretty sure the kids had fun even if they froze their little fingers off. It was a pretty chilly day but when the sun came out it was quite nice.

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The farm is a great place to take the kids around this time of the year. We were able to make our way through a corn maze following along with the story of Spookley the Square Pumpkin (or Squarely as one of the kids kept calling him). Spookley tells the tale of a pumpkin that didn’t fit in with the other pumpkins because he was square and they were round. Through a series of events his differences became a strength and help to save the other pumpkins leading to the farmer planting more of the seeds that produced Spookley. The story ends with the farm containing pumpkins in a myriad of shapes and colors. This story is a great one for the younger kids to teach a lesson about bullying and fitting in. In the picture below Ms. Chelsea reads one of the story blocks to the kids.

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After the Spookley Corn Maze we made our way to the animal pens and were able to see chickens, goats, rabbits, cows, and pigs. In the picture below I captured the parents lining the kids up to take pictures of them. I like pictures like this, those that look behind the scenes. The pictures we take of these kids will be wonderful but I wanted to show what the kids see. Sometimes we don’t think about it but we as parents can be overwhelming especially in groups like this. We had probably 10 parents who, understandably, wanted to get a picture of their kid, but this can be a bit to much sometimes for the kids.

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After the animal pens we made our way to the Learning Barn. A nice lady talked to the kids to teach them a little bit about pumpkins; where they come from, how the farmers grow them, and how the bees help with the pollination. After talking about the pumpkins she made her way to talking about the bees. Explaining that amazingly one bee only produces about 1/20th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime and 1 pound of honey is produced from over 2 million flowers’ nectar! From the learning barn we made our way to the long awaited lunch time.

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After lunch we finally got to get on the hay ride and journey over to the pumpkin patch!

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I have no memory of ever going to a pumpkin patch so I was in the same frame of mind as some of the kids. I must admit that the sight when we turned the corner and exited the wooded trail to the patch was a bit underwhelming but it was fun to see the kids light up and to see all the little pumpkins scattered on the ground. Everyone made their way around the field to find their very own pumpkin. I will admit one more thing. Even though the group was only supposed to make their way out of the farm with one pumpkin each, I was handed a few pumpkins by kids who come to find out also handed a pumpkin to some of the other parents. So, I got home with 4 pumpkins but I don’t think Honeysuckle Hill will mind because I have no doubt that we’ll be going back again in the coming years.

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A Ghastly Night with my Family and Friends

Another first for me this Halloween season, the family and I made our way to Ghouls at Grassmere, the Halloween event for the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

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This was pretty fun even though I do wish we had been able to get there a bit earlier we did miss the majority of the crowd. This event is centered around the under 12 crowd of children and Sariah had a great time.

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On the signs some of the locations or events were labeled with a ghost-meter for the level of scare, but I found out that it really was nothing to think about as even the highest level of 3 ghosts didn’t phase even the youngest of the children who went through.

We were able to meet up with some friends from work and their children; including Nick, Lauren, Addison, Shannon, Chad, and Harper.

Our favorite part of the night was the hay ride. It was very difficult to get a good picture while on the ride with the dark and the constant movement so no picture here. After the hay ride we made our way to the carousel. The workers attempted to put some fun-scaring in the ride by playing some Halloween music and flickering the lights but again the only screams I heard (save those from Harper, sorry Shannon) were screams of enjoyment as the lights turned out. Below I have added a video of the ride, hopefully it is watchable.

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Just down the path from the Carousel was the Monster Mash. The lively music was great to listen to and the sight of all of those kids having so much fun dancing their hearts away was awesome. It was a blast watching Shannon attempt to get Harper to dance in the Monster Mash.

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After the dance party the group split up because Addison and Harper had already gone through the trick-or-treating part and were ready to go home to get warm and snuggle in bed. We made our way down to the trick-or-treating area. Although many people agree that its a good idea to not make every treat actually candy some of the non-potable treats weren’t as fun. The booths were set up around the paths by volunteers who seemed genuinely happy to be there for the kids.

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The trick-or-treating path wound its way through the Jungle Loop, from the meerkats down to the Bamboo Trail and over to Flamingo Lagoon and back . Very few of the animals were visible which in itself was a bit spooky. Think about it, as I did while walking down there, tigers are somewhere over there in the dark and because they are felines they are most likely nocturnal and are most likely awake right now watching us… spooky. We were able to see the new kangaroo exhibit, though we were not able to walk through it, and the flamingos were out and picking at each other.

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Just past the flamingos, nearing the end of the trick-or-treating, a troll stood guard asking us to leave. Well, he was supposed to be standing guard but he was actually asleep for most of the time but awoke just enough to tell us goodbye. Click the picture to see the video of his goodbye message.

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On the way back to the exit through Zoo Central above the Unseen New World was a small museum of oddities, people and things. Along the trail inside was a collector of oddities including shrunken brains, an eye ball from a cyclops, and the invisible man’s brain. Next we came to Dracula’s neice who explained about vampires and asked us to tell her uncle that she had his hat if we saw him around the Zoo. Past her was a jungle explorer who explained about the many creepy crawlies that lie in wait in the darkness of the rain forests.

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After the explorer we came upon a mad scientist who showed us her rat/snake hybrid she had created and the potion she was brewing. Around the corner was a doctor performing an autopsy on an alien corpse that had crash landed nearby. Strangely enough the innards of the alien were made up of worms.

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The next station was a lady showing her cooking skills with her face pizza with insect toppings and a side of eyeballs.

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Overall I had a great time with Sariah and Crystal at the Zoo for Ghouls at Grassmere. If I must have at least one critical remark I will say with all of the sponsors that seemed to be included in this event the price could be better. As members of the Zoo we still paid $12 each to get in. We came out with happy memories, a cold and tired child, a bit of candy, and maybe best of all a cool glow-in-the-dark cup! I’ll leave you with the message that greeted everyone on their way out.

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My Five Year Old

Sariah is five today. I really can’t believe it but its here. The time has gone by so fast and thankfully I have very few regrets. I am going to use this post to blog my thoughts and memories from the past week which has been eventful. Starting off with a field trip with Sariah’s Pre-K class, a dinner with family for her birthday, going to the doctor, and her birthday.

On this birthday, as many do, my thoughts turn to the future. This blog is as much for me now as for the future. I want to urge everyone, but most especially my family and friends, to start a blog or journal for yourself. The release of getting so much out of your head but knowing that it isn’t gone forever is awesome. You don’t have to post it on Facebook, you don’t have to make it public at all, and it doesn’t have to have a reason more than to have a release for the thoughts in your head; it can just be your very own pensieve.

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It is called a Pensieve. I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling,

that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.

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I have just one more suggestion for my friends and family. I am writing Sariah letters that I will give to her when she gets older with advice and memories from her childhood and our growing as a family. I had the idea to write her letters but I think I will also send her birthday cards. I will mail them to her and then keep them in a lock box so they are kept safe and secure until it is time for her to open them. I am going to write DO NOT OPEN UNTIL ______ (either an age, date, or grade) on the back of the envelopes and I am confident that it will be a great experience in the future for her and for us when we open these time capsules of knowledge. If you would like to mail anything to her please do but warn me so I can hide it away if you want me too. Thanks to Grammy and Grampy I have a fire/water proof safe that will be perfect for this. I do wish I had started this from when she was born but I think any effort we put into this will be appreciated someday.

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Field Trip

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I got the chance to go on a field trip with Sariah and her Shining Stars class from Little Country School House to the Customs House Museum here in Clarksville, TN. We had a great time! Myself and another parent rode the LCHS bus with the two teachers and the students and a few other parents met the group at the museum.

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The Customs House is not a regular museum, it has stuff for everyone. The main floor is dedicated to a couple art galleries and a gallery for the memorabilia and recognition of several sports stars from our area. Connected to the museum is the old post office that is currently being renovated to bring it back to its glory days. Downstairs is the big part for the kids, though. On the lower level of the museum they have a a train exhibit, Bubble Cave, McGregor’s Market, some physics demonstrations, and toys for all ages.

We began our trip in the train exhibit. The kids loved it. The scale trains are set up with multiple interactive parts for visitors to play with and going around and around the exhibit pushing the buttons all day would have suited several of the kids just fine. Sariah and Liya had a great time showing each other the buttons and what they did in the exhibit. After leaving the train room we went upstairs to the art exhibits to read a book and look through the art.

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Miss Chelsea read the book Duck In The Truck and then we were to look through the galleries for pictures with parts of the story. This was less successful than I think they wanted it to be; the kids liked the story but weren’t into the ‘scavenger hunt.’ The art galleries were okay, though my tastes don’t like interpretive or ‘fuzzy’ artwork they did have several realistic paintings and great photographs. Of course the children were not very impressed by the art and weren’t entertained until we got into the sports room. Included in the sports room are Pat Summit, Jeff Purvis, and of course Wilma Rudolph. The most exciting part of the trip was when we made it to the kids area.

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The Bubble Cave was lots of fun. It had several rings in differing sizes and shapes to see the bubbles that could be made from each. They even had one large enough and made for someone to stand inside and bring the bubble up and around you. Sariah had a great time in here even after most of the kids were done with it. Next, we visited McGregor’s Market. This store is made for this age group of kids. It has real food containers (minus the real food) with shopping carts, shelves, and a play kitchen. The physics toys were ramps and buckets made for the kids to roll golf balls down differing ramps and see the angles, speeds, and flight distances they achieve. My personal favorite part because the kids are playing and not actually aware they are learning, but I could tell they were. They would not get a ball to go into a hole or make it over a hill and the other kids would say ‘you have to go higher’ or ‘you need to go back more.’ It was awesome. After playing we had lunch time and I was amazed at just how quiet it got in the lunch room after all the noise from playing. My favorite moment from the entire trip has got to be from the picture below. Ella (middle) fell asleep on the ride back to school and leaned over onto Sariah, Sariah leaned over onto me to let her friends be comfortable, and precious little Liya just leaned over to rest onto Ella. I’m glad I got the picture.

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Birthday Dinner

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Wednesday Sariah had a surprise when we arrived at Cracker Barrel in Rivergate. Grammy and Grampy, Austin and Kyra (AKA Snow, AKA Hope), Granna, Diana, and Nanny all showed up for a dinner for Sariah. We had a blast, I know that most of the people reading this were actually there, but she had a great time and loved getting to see everyone. I was excited to have everyone in one place again. The meal was great and the service was even better. A big thank you to Michael and Ben for servicing our table of 10 with more speed and good attitude than I was expecting. Not saying anything against Cracker Barrel, any large group can be daunting and easily turn a mood sour like the guy who refused to sit in the same section as us because of ‘the noisy kids’. Two things to this guy; One, we were leaving when you saw us, and two, there was only ONE kid and she wasn’t noisy!

We made it home with more gifts than she needed but isn’t that always the story with a five year old’s birthday party. A Sophia the First castle, a Princess Scooter, a Doc McRiah jacket and hat, a marble physics toy, a gift card for Build-A-Bear, puzzles, and probably other things I can’t think of.

The Sophia castle was fun to play with and to put together; there are so many little parts! Sariah was so excited that she was able to put the puzzles together mostly by herself, and that the Sophia ones are heart-shaped. The doctor’s coat and hat will be fun when she realizes what they are; she hasn’t really thought about it being for Doc McStuffins and dress up. I think for now her favorite is going to be the scooter. She zooms around on it thinking she’s going ‘real fast’ even if she’s inside on the carpet with the cat walking faster than she is riding. Diana warned me that I might need to take a wrench to it and tighten it up but I don’t think so, its running great. I was excited to put the marble thing together because I remember having one like it when I was a kid. I remember having so much fun trying to get the different ramps to work together to basically make the most noise while the marble is working its way down. Sariah and I had fun attempting to put it together according to the directions but they were flawed so we went our own way even though she made sure to let me know it didn’t look like the one on the box. So with all of the new toys coming in I hope that in the next week or two I can get in her room and get some toys together that I can donate to goodwill.

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The Big Day

Today is the day. I’m at work and Sariah’s at home sick with mama. Had to make a run to Premier on Friday instead of going to school and turns out she had burst an eardrum. She hadn’t mentioned her ear hurting only some stuffy nose and a little cough. Even the last few days she hasn’t seemed to feel too bad, riding her scooter around, but nights are bad with being unable to lay down with out coughing. But this isn’t a post about being sick.

Crystal and I got Sariah a Nabi. Its a great little thing for someone her age in the era we are living in. It is a technology based world and this is perfect for the kids who already know how to use phones and computers before we knew how to count. It is basically a kid’s iPad. It has the ability to download games, books, and most of the apps available to the ipad, it was a great find.

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That’s about it. Its been a great week and I am so filled with awe every time I think about how far Sariah has come since being born at Maury Regional, sent to Vanderbilt NICU, and everything to this point. I love her more than anything I have ever thought possible and I expect a bright and wonderful future for her and our family because of her. I hope you will all join me in the time capsule letters. Thank you all for your help and advice in raising such a wonder little girl and please stick around because I’m sure we’ll need more of both in the future.

Road Trip 2013 Is In The Books

I must regretfully write that our trip has come to its end. We are at Grammy and Grampy’s house for dinner and the night, thanks you guys. Yes, I know I missed my post last night, I will incorporate it in to this one, though, you really didn’t miss much.
Monday morning I posted a great picture of my breakfast at the beach, awesome. After everyone else got up we spent an hour or so before a storm rolled in though we also had to check out by 11. We said our goodbyes to GGMA and GGPA and drove up the eastern coast to fill the gas tank and our bellies in St. Augustine. If you happen to be going through there and need a fill up, Casa Maria’s will do the trick. Before days end we made our way up near Atlanta to be nearer to The Center for Puppetry Arts.
Tuesday morning we checked out of the EconoLodge and made our way to Atlanta. We had a fun time first finding then riding on the MARTA. After a short walk, we made it to the Center. This is a great show for the kids and for the parents. The kids love it because its one of their stories acted out by puppets right in front of them; the parents, at least Crystal and I, like it because they add sounds and extra dialogue to the story from the book. After the show the puppeteers unmask themselves and explain how they move and use the puppets during the show, very good idea for the older kids who understand that it’s not a tv show and something extra is going on. If we were closer wed definitely get a season pass and make it back to some other shows. On our way back home to middle Tennessee I stopped just before the border to get some peaches because you get the best from where it grows best and nothing beats Georgia peaches.
We’re back home to Tennessee and none of us are ready to be back. I have learned that the next time we get a beach vacation we will not spend it driving the whole time. Although driving was fun, it turned out to be more expensive and time consuming than I thought it would be. Choosing a single hotel and staying there and spending our time at the beach or pool will be a much better use of time and money.
Pensacola Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Daytona Beach are the main beaches we visited and I can’t recommend them enough. The EconoLodge at Daytona was great; great price for being directly on the beach and clean, updated rooms. We only visited Pensacola and Clearwater beaches for a short time so no recommends for hotels in those areas, but the beaches themselves deserve to be visited. Hopefully in the future we’ll get the chance to return and I’ll get a recommend for you. Another thing I hope we get another chance to try is Aunt Catfish’s On The River in Daytona Beach. We tried to get dinner there on Sunday night but the wait was an hour and forty five minutes! Recommends on food from the trip include Casa Maria’s which I’ve already mentioned, Earl of Sandwich, and Sloppy Joes.
Sariah says her favorite part was finding shells; she’s come home with a bag full of them and either a tooth or nail.Crystal’s favorite part was Clearwater because the beach was clean and the waves were negligible. My favorite part was staying at a hotel on the beach, not having to get up and drive to and from the beach. Potentially our next trip could be staying at a hotel on the beach at Clearwater and spend the dusk and dawn searching for shells; the best of all three.
This experience has been great, and I am glad to have spent so much good times with my family in the beautiful locations we visited. I hope that you have been entertained reading about our escapades the last week or so and keep up with me for more info on the family. See ya!

Cumulative Punch Bug Leaderboard (last two days)
Crystal……25.5
Daddy…….22.5
Sariah…….11

The .5 wasn’t half a bug, though I’d like to see that, it was a bug that crystal and I got pretty much the same time.

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This morning GGMA and I had a conversation about an article in the paper covering the over usage of the word awesome. The article urged us to think about the true meaning of the word; inspiring awe. I have in my life used the word, like many of us do, to describe my dinner, my experience at a store, or even my day when someone asks ‘how’ve you been?” I didn’t really understand the importance of the correct usage until we arrived here at the beach this afternoon.
Our arrival at the beach has, luckily, coincided with my finishing Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. This book spends a portion of each chapter explaining the myths from around the world concerning natural phenomena. Where rainbows come from, what causes earthquakes, and how we were created are all touched on in this book but I don’t think he touched on the grace and power the ocean.
I have been to the beach many times in my life, but this is the first trip after coming to terms with ‘life, the universe, and everything’. Sitting here I can understand how the ancients attributed the power and majesty of the oceans to Poseidon, or Neptune if you prefer the roman pantheon. Looking up at the wonders of the universe seeing the infinite space stretching out above and around us is awe inspiring. Feeling the power of the water and the ability of the waves to form and calm in mere minutes can lead you believe there is an intelligence behind it, but if we look closely and examine the actual causes we find reason and science far better explain how these things occur.
Crystal, Sariah, and I had fun earlier today playing in the surf and sand. We built a sand castle, as best we could, but it was promptly destroyed by the smallest of waves. After searching for shells and possibly picking up every single one on our stretch of beach, Sariah was ready to head to lunch, cool off in the room for a while, and return later to check out the hotel pool. GGMA and GGPA hung out by the pool with us and GGPA even took a dip and helped Sariah overcome her fear of jumping off the side of the pool. GGPA says he doesn’t like to speak in public because of his stutter but I’ll tell you now, with all the strangers he spoke with today on the boardwalk and at the pool, it’s just an excuse he uses. These two are another set of awe inspiring people in my life.
I vow to restrain my use of the word awesome to those items that are truly awe inspiring and I hope you will too. I know I will still use the word but that is only because my life is, as everyone’s is, full of inspiring events and people; we need only concentrate on the correct ones.

Punch Bug Leaderboard
Sariah…….2
Daddy……..2
Mommy…..1

Here’s To You Captain Bob

Captain Bob thank you for making our trip to Silver Springs worthwhile, well at least close to.
We took a glass bottom boat ride today with Captain Bob. He explained the history and geography of the silver springs area. The park itself was kind of sad. In its hay day it was nice and well worth the entry fee; it has a lush history with famous concerts and more than a few movies, most notably The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The boat ride was fun and I’d advise everyone to go on one, but your chances for the Silver Springs trip is fading. The Silver Springs park is going to be handed over to the state of Florida in September and turned into a state park so, I presume, no more boat rides.
Other than Silver Springs we have had a day at home, the food has been much better than anything we’ve eaten so far on our trip, thank you GGMA!

Punch Bug Leaderboard
Mommy…….1
Daddy…….0
Sariah……..0

A Dry Day

Well it was dry except for the waterpark, underwater mermaids, and all the rain but we didn’t get to swim any today. We’ve finally arrived at GGMA and PA! Ocala, FL it’s good to see ya.
Weeki Wachee was the big item for today and it did not disappoint. The mermaids were pretty good acting out Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. The best part of the show was most likely not planned; a turtle in the water was constantly trying to get close to the performers and actually bumped into them a couple of times. I loved seeing all of the kids using their minds being skeptics, constantly asking if they were real and where their legs were and why they needed air if they were mermaids. Being a skeptic is ingrained in us and we need to keep that in our kids for a better future. The park was cool, walking around with us were peacock and peahens. The waterpark that is connected was closed off and on because of nearby storms, so no pool time today. Lunch was great at Perkins, apparently a local restaurant chain, wish we had some up north; the food was good, service was good, and the baked sweets looked yummy.
A funny thing from last night, we were watching AFV and one of the final movies was a wedding scene with the pastor’s cell phone ringing in the middle of the service, he answers a call from god, haha yeah I know but the best part is that the pastor I recognized the instant he said hello on the phone….Kent Hovind. Another story? Well, ok.
Remember those Heavens Gate folks, yeah Nikes and Kool-aid. Story is that they bought a telescope to look for their spaceship behind Hale-Bop but were unable to find it….what did they do; use that lack of evidence to turn from their beliefs? Nope they returned it stating it didn’t work correctly. Insane right? I think this is a good story for everyone, if you hold a belief and find direct counter evidence for that belief you need to let go of that belief, there is no reason to hold on.

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