boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.


the "big news"...

So, it finally happened...

About 13 months ago, Suzanne and I began taking our classes to become licensed as foster parents. In the meantime, we've had changes in career paths and future plans, and we looked for, bought, and moved into a new house--all of which caused some delay in actually getting our license. In July, we finally had all of our i's dotted and t's crossed and received our license and let our social worker know we were ready (as ready as we were going to be) to receive a placement of a child into our home for foster care.

Last Thursday, it finally happened. Actually, we got a call on Tuesday of last week that there was a newborn girl they wanted to place in our home. We quickly accepted, only to be disappointed when we received another call later on in the day that the doctors in the hospital wanted to keep the baby in care for a little while longer. So, we bided our time and we were happy to hear on Thursday that we could pick up "our" girl that evening.

I want to be careful here because there are some rules regarding privacy that I don't want to break. (That's why I'm not posting a picture here, though I intend to get an e-mail out to friends and family with some pictures.) She was born on September 15. We call her Grace (or Gracie), which is her middle name. She is a tiny little thing, though she was born at a healthy 6 lbs. Alhough she was born at full term, there were issues with her prenatal environment that caused her to come into state custody and our care. But for now, she seems to not be exhibiting as many symptoms as she might. She takes care of the three jobs children her age have: sleeping, eating, pooping. Oh yeah--she is absolutely beautiful.

We're following through with the plan for me to be stay-at-home dad. I'll tell you: being a parent, and maybe especially a first-time parent, is tough, and stressful. Gracie keeps me on my toes preparing bottles, changing diapers, replacing pacifiers, holding, rocking, and cuddling. And I'm never 100% sure that I'm doing things just right or giving her what she wants/needs. As tiring as it is, though, I'm glad I'm doing it. It's definitely worth it. Thankfully, since Suzanne doesn't work until this afternoon, she has let me take some time to get out of the house, so I'm at a coffee shop right now. And honestly, Suzanne does a LOT of the work whenever she's home from work.

We're not sure how long we'll have Gracie. The stated goal at the beginning of almost any foster care placement is reunification of the child with the parent. Mom has a lot of work to do in order to get her life settled, but if she does what she's supposed to do, it is very possible--even probable--that she could get her daughter back. Also, there is a potential "kinship placement" for Gracie, which means there is someone either in the family or a friend of the mom who would be willing to be a foster parent for her. If that happens, Gracie could be moved within a few weeks. If she eventually goes back with mom, that could happen within 6 months to a year and a half. If neither of those happen, we would hope and plan to adopt her, and she would be ours forever.

If you are a person who prays, I'd love for you to pray for Gracie. Pray that she would grow healthy physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Pray that God would always take special care of her and would eventually bring her to Himself in Christ. Although we are not allowed to baptize her, I believe it is not a theological stretch to hold out the hope that children in the care of Christian parents have a special place in God's economy of salvation (Acts 2:39, 1 Corinthians 7:14). I'd love for you to pray for Gracie's mom. Pray that she would find a way to develop the discipline and skills necessary to become a responsible citizen and parent. Pray that she would have the best interests of her children in the forefront of her mind. Pray that God would draw her to Himself in Christ, for she truly needs a change of her heart and not just her habits. And I'd love for you to pray for us. Pray that we would develop wisdom as parents, nurturing Gracie in all those ways I mentioned above. Pray that we would be instruments of grace in the foster care system as we interact with the team and mom. Pray that we would not get so busy in the process of parenting that we forget to rely on and turn to our Father in heaven for the strength and guidance we desperately need. And pray that in the midst of much uncertainty, we would remain ever thankful for the blessing that each moment with Gracie is.


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!


the Simpsons...

There's no way this site will make it very long, but I had to get this out to people. Click on the link for every episode of 18 seasons of the Simpsons. How cool is that!


SNL mid-week update...

I foresee rough waters ahead for Saturday Night Live this season. I've written before that SNL is a cyclical phenomenon. It invariably works its way through good seasons and bad as the casts and writers are changed and get used to each other and eventually gel. Well, last year was already one of the lowest points on the show for a while. And we all knew that it was losing head writer and Weekend Update anchor Tina Fey (to work on her sitcom for NBC, which I'm looking forward to). That was already going to be a big loss. Now, according to this report, SNL is letting go of Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz who were two of the reasons to watch the show in my view. They're also letting Finesse Mitchell go, but I never really got on board with him so I'm not too broken up about it. But Parnell was one of the most versatile players. And not only was Sanz outright hilarious, he was also an important sketch writer. Apparently this means that Darrell Hammond is still in the mix. I'd just as soon let him go with Mitchell and keep the rest. Hammon has pretty much worn out his welcome for me (he's the longest running player ever) and most of his impressions and other appearances on the show feel like they're just mailed in. Oh well, I guess it's going to be another year or two before SNL hits the high side of the cycle.


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun!

p.s. big, BIG news, coming soon


Jim Gaffigan: funny dude...

This show starts off a little slow, but it's worth it. Suzanne and I saw him do a stand-up bit on Conan that we still use as our standard to judge all other stand-up comedy.


reality television...

I admit it: we watch too much t.v. It's been even worse than usual the last month or so since we got cable t.v. along with our cable internet. I think the novelty of dozens of channels will wear off eventually. But even still, we'll probably have to start setting some limits, marking out which shows we want to watch and shutting the t.v. off when they're not on. Especially when we have a foster child placed with us, that will be necessary. I was raised by television, but that was back in the good ol' days when there was quality programming like Thundercats and Transformers, not the smut you see on t.v. today like Pokemon and That's So Raven.

Anyway, I'm not into that much reality t.v. I've never watched a full episode of Survivor. I can't stand the shows where people swap wives or lives or whatever, or the shows where an uber-babysitter fixes a family's problems in two days. None of the dancing, ice skating, or plate-spinning shows are for me. I like the first few episodes of American Idol every year. You know--when they show the really really bad singers. After that though, I usually lose interest. There are some reality shows, however, that I really dig.

I discovered Hogan Knows Best the second day we had cable. It is awesome, and yes it is "that" Hogan. It records the lives of Terry "Hulk" Hogan and his family, including his wife, daughter, and son. Aside from the fact that the Hulkster was one of my childhood heroes (I cried when he lost the championship), the Hogan family always finds themselves in really interesting situations. But what is really cool, is that the family really cares about each other. You can tell that Hulk and his wife really care for each other and want to be good parents. The kids are almost as down to earth as you could hope for--though they are still in the stratosphere--and they respect and love their parents. I kind of compare Hogan Knows Best to The Cosby Show, except they're white, super-rich instead of kind-of rich, with 1/3 the kids, and the dad is a former pro wrestler instead of obstetrician. Other than that, very similar.

For both Suzanne and I, our new obsession is Miami Ink, which is a show on The Learning Channel. It follows the goings-on in a Miami tatoo parlor. We like it because the characters are very much characters. They are real artists too, and in every episode you get to see a bunch of people get cool tatoos and find out why they are getting them. Long before seeing this show, I've really wanted to get a tatoo, and I only want one worse now. Unfortunately, I don't do so good with pain and I'm afraid I'd chicken out after the first needle prick. Maybe some day.

The other show I've really been into is Rockstar. That is the CBS show where a "famous" band picks a new lead singer from a bunch of unknowns. Overall (i.e., except for the first few episodes), it is a way better show than American Idol. The singers are very, very good, and usually good musicians too. That is, they can usually play an instrument or two and write music as well, and most of them have good to very good stage presence. Last year, they picked a new singer for the '80s and '90s group INXS. I used to love INXS and I think they made the right choice. This year, there was a new group formed from various members of former great bands: Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, Gilbey Clarke of Guns 'n' Roses, and Jason Newstead of Metallica. They were supposed to be called "Supernova", but yesterday morning before the final episode of the season aired a judge ruled in favor of another group with the same name that the new band could not use that name. It was pretty embarrassing and chicken when the name fiasco wasn't even mentioned in the broadcast, but whatever. What was really embarrassing was that during the second to last commercial break there was an advertisement for the new Survivor that is starting soon, and the advertisement featured the music of the new "Supernova" group with the eventual winner singing with them, even though the winner hadn't officially been announced yet. Thus the indication is that the winner was decided beforehand, and the show was rigged. There had been rumors of this for weeks, and that faux pas only confirmed such suspicions. Besides all that, the last episode featured really weak performances (which may indicate that everyone knew the jig was up) and the worst singer (in my and many others' view) won the job.

The possible "fixing" of Rockstar just confirms what we all know about about reality t.v.: it ain't real. It's marketed, edited, and sometimes scripted, just like all other t.v. Even a show like Miami Ink where you can tell the characters are very authentic is still edited so that it has an episode arc that can fit into 47 minutes of airtime. Take it from a reality t.v. watcher: if you want to find out how people interact and respond in reality, it's better to just go get involved with people in reality. That's really the only way to learn and grow.


Surprise random link of the week...

Here's this week's link: Have fun! (hint: it's not a broken link)

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."