Family Madness and the Tale of Mabes the Babe's Ability to Prognosticate

March is known for a few things nationally.  Spring break, St. Patty's Day, and snow disappearing in some parts of the country.  For the religion business, it's the drudge of Lent.  With the exception of feast days, March is the time when religious Americans renew their failed diet plans from January under the guise of religious commitment (except for the people I know whom are all sincere).  The garden club moves seedlings from window sills into the real life dirt ... at least around the Mason Dixon line and north of that.  We hear in Texas, are currently strutting our meteorological utopia pretending like August isn't real, and have had gardens revived since January.  The motto here is "summer is coming."

There is another way to mark the month of March and that is by observing the calendar of the sports fan.  March is madness.  The time  when we fill out brackets and wager $5, $10 and sometimes even $100 on 67 games.  Or if you are like us, the stakes are smaller.  A candy bar.  In this case a giant Kit-Kat. 

I fill out about 5 brackets.  Without fail, I pick Wisconsin to go way too far, bet against the SEC because i'm still bitter about football, and pick someone beside Duke, Kentucky, NC and Kansas to win it all, because those teams are the proverbial Yankees of college basketball.  

The Sibling Revivalry has twelves active members and becomes a bakers dozen when Nana seasons here.  We all make contributions both emotional and otherwise.  Those contributions range from dry wit (LeBAM : Mabel) to compliance (Wookie : Calla).  T-Rex : Trevor has a knack for extravaganzas.  Here's what I mean.  After the last second ticked off the conference tournament, I received a text from him on our group feed (affectionally named "The Lord's Army") asking "family bracket ... who's in?"  

The next evening we came home to our table filled with six brackets ready to be filled out.  I was tied up in church meetings that evening so Lindsay led the kids through the discerning process.  She explained the concept, the rankings and the point of filling out the bracket.  After an hour and 1,702 questions, the kids were finished.  As much as I'd love to share with you everyone's thought process, I'll fill you in on Mabel's.  


Lindsay reports that Mabel was meticulous, asking detailed questions about the teams records and where they were from for each game.  She took note of rankings and responded almost mechanically.  With a few exceptions (3 seeded UCLA over 2 seeded Kentucky) Mabel picked the smaller seed to win.  It turns out that was a decent strategy this year.  The more mysterious picks were made in the final four when the advantage of smaller seed disappeared.  Forced to make her decisions another way, Mabel opted for a strategy popular among five year olds every where, she picked the name she liked best.  


Probably because we drive through Kansas every summer and it's a form of mild torture, Mabel correctly selected North Carolina to advance to the final four.  This pitted Villanova against Gonzaga.  Interestingly, I used this same strategy as a kid.  This led me develop a passion for both Villanova, which sounded oh so close to vanilla to me and Syracuse because I loved orange flavored candy and the color.  To make things more interesting, sports fans will remember that the 1990's Villanova Wildcats featured the likes of Kerry Kittles who's last name was strangely close to Skittles, another big win for me.  But how great is the name Gonzaga!  So Mabel picked them to win it all, which was enough to win it all.  

After she was informed of the victory Mabel made one request.  She asked if in addition to the candy bar, the prize package could include a lottery ticket (yeah, we're real proud of our kids).  So T-Rex, being the pushover he is, expanded the prize package to include a $5 Lucky 7 scratch off.  Unfortunately, Mabel's luck is limited to sports betting.  

That's all for tonight. 



Hello & Goodbye

When my sister and I dreamed up this website and podcast a few months ago we planned to post our first episode yesterday, September 5th.  A few things kept us from doing that.  

First, about three weeks ago I rediscovered that my luddite instincts still burn strong.  My technological incompetence knows no boundaries.  It turns out I wasn’t quite sure how to use all the recording equipment I purchased.  Luckily, I have a few friends who I would describe as more technologically sophisticated and likely just plain better people.  Hopefully we can remove the barriers that now stand between me and podcast success.  

Secondly, my father passed away on July 23rd.  My dad fought an eleven year battle with cancer.  A cancer that claims most of its victim’s lives in five years.  That staggering difference was likely due to his resilience, courageous resolve to fight, and the grace of God.  The culmination of that fight reached a kind of end on Sunday.   In the church he pastored for the last 27 years of his vocational life, we gathered to say goodbye.  

Many of you who loved my dad were not able to attend the funeral.  So in lieu of a first episode, I’d like to offer you a few pieces of the liturgy from that service as well as a few other artifacts.   Below you’ll find the opening comments I made at the service on Sunday.  It is directed at those who attended the funeral.  But let’s substitute “presence” or “attendance” with your reading/watching/listening.  Those digital responses are also acts of love.  So thank you.  

Beneath the comments you’ll find an interview Noel conducted with my dad this last Memorial Day weekend for StoryCorps, a video that is a kind of obituary,  and lastly, another video that is your standard funeral slideshow (yes, Noel and I are big Parenthood fans and stole that one right out of their playbook).


Opening Remarks

Good afternoon.
NPR runs a special program called This I believe.  It is a collection of submitted essays open to everyone.  Each essay begins with the same three words, “this i believe.”  The essays continue by exploring the confessions of the brave souls who submit them.  
In the month between when we buried my father at Fort Snelling and this moment, I saw an essay that caught my eye.  Deidra Sullivan wrote, “this i believe … always go to the funeral.”  
Sullivan explains that her father coached her to always go the funeral.  She never understood why.  As a child funerals confussed her.  As an adolescent they were awkward.  She confesses that she hated most of those moments.  And then a few years ago, she lost her own father--to cancer.  I’d like to read her concluding paragraph.  
“On a cold April night three years ago, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful and humbling thing I've ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.”

I guess I wanted to tell all of you this.  I see you.  I see you here and it takes my breath away.  My family has spent this last month drenched in grief, but that grief has been matched by an unprecedented love.  
So thank you for being here today.  Thank you for listening patiently to every word as we work through our grief, and know that you being here matters deeply to us.  

Noel's StoryCorps Interview

Which can be found here




Obituary Video


What to do with eight kids?

100 of things of summer is almost over.

The whiskey is almost gone. 

Noel and Lindsay made a trip south to IKEA because that's what you do at the end of the summer when you have four kids.  You find reasons to go to a store that specializes in dorm furniture so that you can spend three hours in a minivan without kids and experience the peace of God which transcends understanding.  

Trevor is doing something important for an important job in an important city.  I'm not sure where.  All i know is that my assignment today was to keep all eight kids alive.  To make the challenge more interesting i was given instructions not to let them have too much time on screens.  That's like telling Mike Jordan to play left handed.  He can do it.  He did it, but it's more challenging.  

To make matters more exciting today was Pork's birthday.  She wanted a hamster, so now we have a hamster named "Hammy."  Tiny is still recovering from the death of his previous mouse Clarewin, but was inspired by Pork's birthday choice and so he is now the proud owner of "Diana" a grey mouse. 

Still the question remains.  What do you with eight kids when you live in Death Valley and don't have a vehicle that can transport everyone? 

One additional note seems important.  Today marked the beginning of the Olympic Games.  So ...

We began with a flag drawing ceremony.  


We then turned our attention to opening ceremonies.  We looked suspiciously like the third reich, but it was festive nonetheless.  

Participants competed in five main events: tower building, ball tossing, memory, trivia and the one leg stand.  Wookie put on a clinic snagging three gold medals, followed up by Bubba Chuck and Wids who each took home a gold as well. 

Tower building was the first event.  Participants were required to stack all ten blocks on top of each other, show the tower hands free for one full second and then deconstruct their project returning the blocks to their original position.  The winning time was 31.3 seconds, just 4 tenths of a second off a WR.  


Next we did the ball toss.  The Carlsons ran away with this one finishing first, second, third (and fourth).  To make matters more interesting for the Carney kids, Lloyd finished fifth.  

Because our olympic committee appreciates the whole athlete, we decided to move beyond physical advantages and reward those with epistemic ability.  The memory event included 8 pairs of cards that were laid facedown.  Participants were given a time limit based on their age.  Should a participant match all eight pairs within their time limit, they also had their time recorded.  The best time and most matches won.  

You might find it curious that the three events took us nearly two hours.  So Lloyd peaced out with a nap and the rest of us rewarded ourselves with a bucket of popcorn and a movie rental (The Mighty Ducks (Minnesota Movie (nothing like 1992))).  But the extravaganza resumed at 5:18 PM CST with a trivia round.  To everyone's amazement gold hopeful Wookie was the first one to get out failing to answer the question "this marine mammal consistently looks like it's smiling at humans."  Even more puzzling is that fact that Bubba Chuck won.  He cruised the animal section and then crushed the food and Harry Potter categories as well.  

We concluded the olympics with a challenge of both mind and body.  An act of perseverance.  The one leg stand.  It was a dramatic event.  Participants dwindled from 6 to 4 to 3 until the final 2, Tiny and Wookie, pushed themselves nearly 25 minutes in an epic battle of the oldest children.    Wookie's experience proved to be too much in the end.  But Tiny had plenty to be proud of with a few trips to the medal stand including this silver.