Small Victories

Nicole is still mulling over her wedding blog post, which will contain more pictures of the glowing bride, so I won’t steal her thunder. Instead I’ll write a quick update on the Wise boys.
Benjamin is putting the “terrible” in terrible twos lately. He recently developed a vomit-on-demand trick that he would employ against food he objected to eating — eg: potato-based foods that weren’t fried and, preferably, smothered in ketchup.
In the past couple days, however, he’s taken to using the trick against food that he actually likes. I read up on it, and its strictly a control thing. He wants to assert his will on his environment, and food seems like a good way to do it. And let me tell you, I haven’t seen such a strong will since… well, since I last looked in a mirror.
Spanks, time-outs, go-to-your-rooms, and unpleasant baths where we wash the vomit off him and don’t let him play with any bath toys, all do nothing against a red-faced toddler screaming about the injustice of being asked to eat yogurt (which both yesterday and tomorrow, he will love to eat.)
Honestly it was both confusing an extremely frustrating until I read that its not that unusual. If we try to make him eat, he’ll gag and cough until he pukes, or jam his hand in his mouth, pull the food out, and then jam it back in until he pukes. If we try to negotiate with him, he’ll wail and scream bloody murder. And he’d rather be punished by being in his room than eat something he doesn’t want to.
Turns out the only solution, at this point where he’s too young for much more than action/reaction type conditioning, is to let him have a choice. If he can choose between two things, he’s usually pretty happy.
We won’t raise a kid who only eats peanut butter and toast sandwiches three meals a day, but there’s only so much screaming and fighting a parent can take. So we’ll let him have some little victories, and rejoice in the little victories he lets us have…
Speaking of little victories, this Wise boy had one yesterday. My back pain this year is definitely chronic. Its always been bad, but this year its been escalating.
I tried a chiropractor for two months, and didn’t have a pleasant experience. I don’t necessarily think that what he was doing was wrong — it was just wrong for me right now. My muscles were terrified by the adjustments and changes in my back, and over the past month they’d contracted into a permanent defensive posture, freaking out every time I’d bend, or stand, or sneeze. Sneezing has been really scary — sometimes dropping me to my knees. My range of motion was shot, and the pain has been constant, changing to spasms rocking my back at the slightest sign of unusual movement.
So at the advice of a friend from church, I tried IMS acupuncture. I don’t normally go in for the pseudo-medical stuff like acupuncture, but this is a bit different. They don’t just stick a bunch of needles in you and hope your body heals itself. No, instead they jam needles strategically into the coiled up muscles, and wiggle them around. It hurts like heck.
The effect is amazing though. The muscle clenches ferociously around the needle, but then as soon as its pulled out, it relaxes. The tiny hole in the muscle triggers a healing reaction in your body, and the whole area kind of just… chills.
I’ve only had one treatment. Its done with a physiotherapist, as part of a recovery routine, along with exercises and identifying weak muscles that might cause other muscles to over-work. On the whole it seems a lot more scientific than the witch doctor chiropractor approach. Today is the day-after, and its the most pain-free day I’ve had in months.
There may be other stuff going on in there. Disk problems are a likelihood. But at this point, we’re looking at 3 months yet before we get off the waiting list for a local family doctor, so if I can get some relief for the summer, I’m willing to try… almost anything.
But its warm out, grandma and grandpa are coming tomorrow to visit with the kids, and summer is stretching out over the horizon, past the sunset and on into morning. Life is good.

3 Generations of iPods too

iPod Photo 30GB, 1st Gen iPhone 4GB, 3rd Gen iPhone (3GS) 32GB…

My new iPhone 3GS is amazing — this is close to being a perfect device. I used almost every feature of it this weekend.
– GPS, even using only Google Maps, is leaps and bounds better than the original iPhone’s A-GPS. The location dot followed me almost to the foot. It saved my butt more than once while I was dashing around town doing things that needed to be done before the big day.
– Tethering is incredible. American iPhone users are (for once) the unlucky ones, cause they don’t have this yet. I tethered my iPhone to my MacBook both over USB and Bluetooth and its really, really fast and really easy too.
– The camera is a big improvement too. It still works best in well-lit situations, but the improved resolution and faster shutter time make it much more useful. The video camera takes smoother video clips than our full-sized digicam.
– The “S is for Speed” may sound cheesy, but its true. Everything you do is almost 50% faster on the new iPhone. I’m going to have to eBay a bunch of gadgets to make up the money I blew on this one, but it’ll be worth it.
If you’ve been considering an iPhone, or a smart phone in general, get the 3GS — you won’t be disappointed!
Update: Here’s an incredible true story about “Find My iPhone” — a killer feature available on the new iPhone OS.

The Wises

There’s a ton of pictures in the sidebar, in Flickr and on Facebook to check out from the wedding this weekend. We’ll post more of the bride and her family, but I wanted to post a few of the Wises — its not very often that 3 generations of Wises are in the same country, much less the same city.
Thanks very much to Mom and Dad Wise for flying home from Asia just to help us all be involved in Pammy’s special day. I’m sure there were other reasons they came home, but that was the most important one this weekend!
Dad and Abi
My dad and Abi
Mom and Ben
My mom and Ben
Gorgeous Nicole
My gorgeous wife!
Jon and Nicole
8 years and still happy!
Our Family
My little Wise family

Its Upgrade Season

iPhoneI have the dubious privilege of being an original iPhone user. This means that I am more elite than most iPhone users — I stood in line, I paid a small fortune, and for maybe 3 months, I had the best phone in the world before most anyone else I knew.
I also have the dubious privilege of having an unlocked iPhone. This also means that I am more elite than most iPhone users — I can use my iPhone anywhere in the world, on any GSM network, and run software that Apple hasn’t approved.
However, both of these things have their disadvantages. I can’t upgrade my phone when a new OS comes out — I have to wait for that OS to get cracked. And everyone else has an iPhone with real GPS, while we suffer with A-GPS. Otherwise, I’m happy I skipped the 3G iPhone.
But now the 3GS is about to come out, and while I was able to talk myself into skipping one generation of iPhone, opting for the first time in ages to not upgrade my cell phone annually, I don’t think I can skip another. The 3GS is faster, has real GPS, and a wayy better camera. We’ve been intending to buy a GPS, and we’ve been intending to get a slim camera for quick shots, so we could replace our digicam with a DSLR (some day.)
So… I think Nicole is about to become the elite owner of an original, unlocked iPhone, while I become just a normal consumer with a brand new iPhone 3GS. I must admit, it’ll be nice not having to share my iPhone with her — it was frustrating seeing her name at the top of my Field Runners‘ high score list!
In other news, we have a Blackberry 7290, locked to Rogers, and a Kodak EasyShare Z740 for sale if anyone’s interested…

Blackberry 7290 and Kodak EasyShare Z740

A "Family Week" to kick off the summer!

Shortly after we moved to New York, the rest of my family scattered. Dave and Liz, my younger brother and sister, are out west somewhere (near Calgary, I gather — I’ve never been) and my parents sold their house, bought a condo, then promptly rented it out to some missionaries on home assignment and left the country themselves. Since then they’ve been in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My dad teaches at an international school, and my mom works with Trans World Radio’s Project Hannah. They’re what’s called “tent maker” missionaries — meaning that, so far, they’ve funded their own missionary efforts out of their career/pockets.
Once a year, my dad’s school pays for a trip home to Canada, so we get a little visit with them. This year they’re going to find themselves stuck with a lot of babysitting — which I’m sure they won’t complain about. They arrive in Ontario, after a short visit with Dave and Liz, late this week. Just in time to get the kids familiar with them again for the weekend.
Nic’s sister, Pam, is getting hitched, and although she’s stressing the details right now (because that’s what she does) its shaping up to be a very nice wedding. Nic and I are both in the wedding party, and Benjamin will be the ring bearer. He and I have matching tuxes, and Abi has an adorable little summer dress. And as soon as dinner is over, both kids will be off to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Wise while the grown-ups celebrate the nuptials.
So this week there are cars to clean, CDs to burn, table dressings to make, rooms to decorate, and parties to attend. As is par for the course, I hurt my back yesterday. Muscle pain only, fortunately, so I’ll hopefully be in decent shape for all the gatherings within a couple days… until then wondering if the cure for these problems isn’t worse than the ailment itself.
There likely won’t be much posting this week, but we’ll get pictures up as soon as we can. We hope the sun is shining and the birds are singing where ever you are — isn’t summer the best?!

Heroes

Today I met an amazing woman. Her name is Velma, she’s 73, and she is one of my heroes.
In 1961 at the age of 25, Velma boarded a boat bound for Australia. It was a 3 week trip, at the end of which, she got on a smaller boat, and set sail for the untamed island of Papua New Guinea.
Then she lived there, among the tribal people, for 42 years — minus the occasional furlough home.
Velma was a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and she gave her entire adult life to translating the New Testament into 2 obscure languages, spoken by no more than 1000 people each. When she arrived, fresh from University and jungle training, she and an American woman, a year older than her, set up their home with the help of friendly tribespeople, where they lived off rain water collected in a barrel, and food cooked over a little propane stove.
For the next 19 years they devoted themselves to creating a written language for these people — mapping the sounds of their words into an alphabet, and then, since they’d never seen such a thing before, teaching them how to read it. Their first New Testament, in a language who’s name I can’t pronounce, was produced in the 80s — the product of painstaking, hand-written then manually re-typed labor.
The next language, she said, came a lot easier. By then they had a foundation to work from, and computers were just starting to become available to their organization.
Velma, and her partner, meanwhile, accepted positions as directors of their region with Wycliffe and took on the additional responsibilities that came with that. All while facing 5-month stretches in the bush with barely any contact from another English-speaking person. They kept emergency supplies of a treatment for malaria — Velma says she lost count of how many times she fell ill with the horrible disease.
In 2003, at the age of 67, she returned to Canada. Velma has never driven a car — but she has carved her own canoe out of the trunk of a tree. For 5 decades the world changed: wars were fought, politicians came and went, and churches were built and some of them closed their doors. But Velma stood, umoved and unwavering in her mission to bring God’s message of hope and redemption to a people group who might never hear it otherwise. One life, lived all-out so that 2000 others might know the Truth that sets us free.
Velma’s a little lady. She grew up in a single parent home with 4 other sisters. She went to our church as a child, until one day a pastor challenged her to go to Bible College. She is not stronger, or smarter, or more capable than anyone else. She was simply obedient — putting her life in God’s hands, and trusting Him to do the rest. And for that, she is a hero.
Today, on our church’s 75th anniversary, they asked those in the generations who have come before us, and who served in ministry, to come up to the front and tell us what God done with their willingness to follow Him. Velma was among many with gray hair and lines on their faces, who got up and spoke with joy about the decades across which they had worked, and the places that God had taken them.
People who had no way to know are with Jesus today because of Velma’s life of obedience. When I’m 73, will anyone be able to say the same about me? How about you?

Pretty sure I could listen to Live's Throwing Copper album all weekend

Thankfully this weekend will be nothing like last!
Tonite, what’s left of our Life Group (that would be Nicole and I) are meeting another Life Group to throw a Wii party at a local youth drop-in center, at the end of which we’re donating a Wii. Its part of an annual initiative our church does to be a blessing to the community we’re in, and demonstrate Christ-like love. I couldn’t be more proud of our congregation for doing it.
We had big hopes when things we’re starting up for the year, but our Life Group has been the casualty of conflicting schedules and general complacency, so that’s been a bit discouraging. Other groups have fared better (and have been going longer) and did things like painting and refurbishing a pregnancy support center, cleaning and gardening at a home for dying cancer patients, and lending a hand at the food bank.
If all churches who claimed Christ did something like this once a year (or even better, did it all year) I imagine Christianity in general would have a better reputation.
Tomorrow we’re connecting with family for various activities. I’m playing golf — normally that would sound like fun, but I’m actually frightened of it. The past 2 weeks my back has been even worse than usual, and just imagining the after-effects of swinging a club have me cringing. But its for my future brother-in-law’s bachelor party, and how can I say no to that — or to a few hours outside in the sun?
Sunday we’re having an old-fashioned Baptist church picnic in celebration of our church’s 75th anniversary.
One of the most impressive things about our church is that they’ve fairly successfully found a balance between being respectful and honoring to the older generation, while being relevant and inviting to younger folk. Sunday morning services lean a little bit more traditional than I’m used to, but we usually enjoy them, and even if we don’t, the speaking is generally relevant and impactful. Sunday evening’s there are activities geared toward every age group imaginable.
No one’s forced to be uncomfortable or feel that they way they grew up worshiping is being disrespected. Everyone’s simply asked to think about others, and sacrifice just a little bit on their personal preferences some of the time so God’s word can be communicated to a broader audience than just themselves.
There’s a lot to be said for the wisdom and experience that those who were here before us have to share, and to alienate that demographic is to cripple a congregation. We don’t always understand each other, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have things to teach each other.
In other news, we think we’ve settled on a summer activity. Its not terribly original, but it came highly recommended by other folks with young kids. So by the end of this weekend we’ll hopefully have a little cottage up north booked for a week of vacation this summer. Hopefully we’ll be able to find enough activities to keep us from getting bored by the end of the week…
New pics in the sidebar. Have a great weekend everyone!

Stir Crazy

When in New York, we briefly toyed with the idea of buying a house. Ultimately, buying real estate in the about-to-crumble U.S. market would have been a bad idea, and property taxes in the town where we lived were insane, but it was a thought. While we were tossing the idea around, someone advised us “you pretty much have to live in a house 5 years before you can make any money on it.” That about closed the book on the discussion, because, I replied “there’s no way we can stay in one place for 5 years!”
So last summer we decided to break that pattern, and bought a house in a growing market, where property taxes were low, and committed to living there at least 5 years. Its been almost a year, and with our only potential summer adventure now clearly a no-go, I’ve got to admit that some of that restlessness that we used to feel every 12 months or so that compelled us to get up and move almost annually, is beginning to boil under the surface…
Saturday was a very nice day off, where we intentionally cleared our schedules to unwind a bit from a month of abnormally disciplined living, and just be spontaneous. Sunday, unfortunately, was another day off. Two in a row is way too much for me. And its looking like this summer is going to be full of them.
Maybe for some people that sounds like a good thing, but not for me. This is probably our first summer ever where we’re not going somewhere, looking forward to something, or working toward some big goal. We have a couple weddings, some gardening to do, some visits with family, and maybe a couple little projects around the house. Other than that there are no goals, no objectives, no adventures, no trips, no crazy stunts to try and pull off. Just 3 months of normal adult life. Of being parents, employees (ok, just employee), home owners, casual volunteers and tax payers — and I still have 2.5 weeks of vacation left to use!
This is not living.
There has to be more than this.
Some friends of ours leave to go back to Africa on Friday. Africa.
My mom is off to Chiang Mai tomorrow. I don’t know where that is, but it sounds a lot more interesting than where we are.
I read an article about an elderly couple building a boat in a back yard so they can cruise the high seas until they drop. That sounds like an idea, maybe I’ll build a boat…
Anyone have any other suggestions?