Shelter From the Storm January 23, 2012Posted by Matt in family, personal stories.
Tags: destruction, drive-by truckers, music, neko case, sirens, Southaven, tornado, warning
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The word itself strikes fear into the heart of men, women, and children across the land. Feet get antsy, ears and eyes go on high alert, and people begin scurrying for protection at the first sound of danger, the blaring tornado siren or the soothing voice of Dave Brown, weatherman extraordinaire. This scourge of the south attacks with reckless abandon, its path of wanton destruction arbitrarily striking here and yon, with no regard for the victims.
Last night was another of those type nights. We knew the meteorological attack was coming, we knew that, if chosen, our chances for saving our worldly possessions were next to nothing and that perhaps even our lives may be in jeopardy.
I kept the television on as long as our satellite worked, watching the ominous red line move closer and closer to our home, listening to reports of the shattering of civilization, the unstoppable bombardment from above, the crushing power of an angry mother nature. Like people in war movies (and presumably in real war situations) crouched in their foxholes awaiting the inevitable firestorm from the skies, hardening themselves against the chance of death and injury, we sat with bated breath, wondering how the die of fate cast in the skies might fall for us.
The sirens finally went off and I walked upstairs, shook the children awake and moved them to the master bathroom downstairs, presumably the safest room in the house. The groggily went along, pushed by fear of the unknown.
The electricity went out and we sat together, the inner bathroom illuminated by a lone flashlight and I tried to placate their fears of what the night may hold, of the unstoppable power from the skies, the vortex of doom indiscriminately destroying towns and lives, leaving behind the wreckage of hopes and dreams.
Minutes later it was over. The sirens stopped and the exhausted children lay in our bed, refusing to troop back to their own rooms upstairs. I acquiesced, kissed them goodnight, and retreated to the living room couch. We made it.
I tried to think of a good soundtrack for a tornado, but I could only come up with two good tornado songs: The Drive-By Truckers’ “Tornadoes,” and Neko Case’s “This Tornado Loves You.” What other tunes would you add to the playlist?
Dude, Where’s My Car? September 20, 2011Posted by Matt in concerts, family, personal stories.
Tags: children, Levitt Shell, lost car, Lucero, Memphis, parking lot
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Over the years since my traumatic brain injury, I’ve had to deal with an assortment of problems and annoyances stemming from having a brain that does not always function at its full capability, but there is probably no side effect more bothersome than trying to find a parked car. Most days this isn’t a problem because I leave my vehicle in the same general area of the parking lot at work, but when I’m not in my normal environment, this deficiency in my brain power becomes far more pronounced.
I say this because it struck again last night. I took my daughters to the Jim Dickinson Memorial Folk Festival held at the Levitt Shell in Memphis. It is one of many free music events that take place on a regular basis in the park when the temperature is conducive to sitting outside and it also happened that this particular performance included one of our favorite bands from Memphis, Lucero. While I’ve seen better Lucero shows over the years, the girls really enjoyed it and we even got to hang out with my good friend Chris, so by all accounts, the night was a success.
It was getting late for a school night, so we left after Lucero’s set and before the North Mississippi All-Stars took the stage, and that was when I realized that I had no idea where the van was parked. We started off walking to one side and we trudged on and on through the dim street lights with the power of the North Mississippi blues blaring from some distance away, but eventually, we realized that our vehicle was not in that direction.
My younger daughter was sick of walking by then and started in on the whining, “Daddy, where’s our car? Daddy, why can’t you find it?” and on and on, until I finally picked her up and placed her on my shoulders, while still holding the blanket we sat on at the show in my hands. So, we then turned and walked the other way and again we walked and walked, moving between the darkness-piercing streetlights and hoping against hope that maybe, just maybe the van would magically appear in front of us.
After several more minutes of walking, my younger daughter again cried out, “I’m tired, I’m cold, I’m wet, and we’re NEVER going to find our car! Daddy it’s gone” and then she broke down in exhausted tears. I patted her leg, which was still draped over my shoulders as her increasingly heavy 6 year old from bore down on me, and we kept moving forward, placing one foot in front of the other in the darkness.
At some point we realized we were beside the golf course and it was like a light was suddenly turned on over my older daughter’s head. “Daddy,” she said excitedly, “There were golfers where we parked! I remember! We’re almost there!”
I assured her that she was right, that we were almost there, but truthfully I had no clue. There was a faint memory of golfers, but I can never be sure if we truly saw them or if I am creating the image in the hope that it is correct. So, we walked and we walked, until finally her finger shot forward in the night air, and I heard her call out, “Daddy, I see it! I see the car!” and she took off running down the street.
Being somewhat encumbered by a little girl who was beginning to make me feel like the mythical Atlas, I was lagging behind her, but we eventually caught up with her and, lo and behold, she was right. We had finally found the object of our hunt, the elusive Siena, nestled in its hiding place in the midst of a multitude of vehicles. And just like that everything was right in the world again.
So, today I downloaded the Find My Car app for the iPhone.
Number 9 August 30, 2011Posted by Matt in family.
Tags: birthday, family
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August 30th. It’s a big day in the Wisdom house for it was on this day, back in 2002, that our oldest child, Rachel, came into this world and changed our lives forever. Have a happy birthday, honey! We love you!
Above is a picture from her blowout, 1980′s-themed party from last weekend. Good times.
It’s, Like, an 80′s Playlist. Totally. August 24, 2011Posted by Matt in family, music.
Tags: 1980's themed birthday party, playlist
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Ever since I announced last week that our daughter’s birthday party would be 1980′s themed, people have asked me time and again, “What is on the playlist?”
Putting together the music for the party was a lot like songs contained within, mindless fun. Fortunately, Diana is a huge fan of 80′s pop music, so we had plenty from which to choose. I sat down, came up with a list, then ran it by our daughter for her approval. After perusing it a bit and listening to several of the tunes, she gave her assent and we were in business.
So, without further ado, below is the list of songs for her party. These are in the order they appear on Diana’s iPod, but they will be played on shuffle.
a-Ha – Take on Me
The Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian
Belinda Carlisle – Heaven is a Place on Earth
Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen
Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy
Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer
Buster Poindexter – Hot Hot Hot
Corey Hart – Sunglasses at Night
Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want to have Fun
Debbie Gibson – Only in my Dreams
Europe – The Final Countdown
George Michael – Faith
Hall & Oates – Maneater
Huey Lewis & the News – The Power of Love
J. Geils Band – Centerfold
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
Journey – Separate Ways (World Apart)
Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine
Kool & the Gang – Celebration
Loverboy – Working for the Weekend
Madonna – Material Girl
Men at Work – Down Under
Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Michael Jackson – Beat It
New Kids on the Block – Hangin’ Tough
Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl
Simple Minds – Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Starship – We Built this City
Survivor – Eye of the Tiger
Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny
Toni Basil – Mickey
Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight
Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
And, one special non-80′s request from the birthday girl:
V.I.C. – Wobble (for those of you at St. Tim’s)
Ok, 80′s fans, what else should be on the list?
The Boy That Kicked the Hornet’s Nest August 22, 2011Posted by Matt in family.
Tags: tough kid, wasp nest, yellow jackets
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There are some lessons everyone needs to learn in life. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess with yellow jacket nests. Yesterday our two year old, JD, learned the last rule the hard way.
At our church I’m on a committee that works with the EYC (Episcopal Youth Community), so I was present for their kickoff meeting for the coming year. Our kids, as well some of the other committee members, are too young for EYC, so they skipped over the playground for some outside activity time.
A short while later, the kids burst back through the doors, with JD sobbing uncontrollably. I grabbed him up and walked out of the room to console him and listened as the others told of what happened. Apparently, he had ducked under a slide and unknowingly disturbed a nest of yellow jackets which then proceeded to attack. At first I thought the only stings were the five or so located on top of his head, but later we found several more on his back and chest. Poor guy.
He was in a lot of pain, but he’s a tough kid. After just a few minutes of being held, he was ready to get down and play again. It’s an interesting difference between him and his sisters. There’s no doubt in mind that there would have been a much longer time of high drama if either of them had been attacked. He went on his way (not back to the playground) and I returned for the remainder of the meeting.
When we got home, I applied some Benadryl to the stings I saw, but he didn’t seem to bothered by them anymore. If anything, he was more mad at the wasps for disrupting his play time than he was upset over the pain. Like I said, he’s a tough kid.
Back to the 80′s… August 15, 2011Posted by Matt in family.
Tags: 1980's themed party, 9 year old birthday, decorations, games, playlist
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Our oldest child turns 9 in just over two weeks, so over the weekend we found ourselves faced with a familiar dilemma – what will we do for a birthday party? She had mentioned a number of ideas for her big shindig – Chuck E. Cheese, the movie theater, and others, but as we sat brainstorming, an idea blasted my mind like a lightning bolt. It seemed perfect for the occasion, fun, and perhaps most importantly, affordable.
A 1980’s themed dance/pool party.
Our daughter latched onto the bad 80’s pop music that Diana treasures long ago, so that’s a definite win. We’ve got the above-ground pool and all kids are down with that. We just need some decorations and the perfect playlist to make this a party to remember.
I’ve looked online for some decoration ideas, but I thought I would bring it to you, my online peers, for your suggestions. What do you think would make a great 80’s party?
Secondly, while I feel pretty confident in my ability to put together a good playlist despite the fact that I long ago dismissed the pop music of the 80′s, I could always use a few pointers. What songs/artists would you include on the night’s soundtrack?
Thanks for your help!
Hemingway for Kids August 8, 2011Posted by Matt in books, family.
Tags: A Farewell to Arms, children, Ernest Hemingway
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I can’t recall exactly how it came up today, but at some point on our ride home from supper with our friends, my oldest daughter and I touched on the subject of one of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway. I mentioned how much I loved his novels and she, being the inquisitive sort, asked, “What did he write?”
“Well,” I answered, “he wrote a lot of books. My favorite is The Sun Also Rises, and some of his others are The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and A Farewell to Arms.
“What are they about?”
The first plot I could remember off the top of my head was A Farewell to Arms, so I launched into a quick summary that would make sense to a fourth grader.
“It’s about a man who gets injured in a war, then sent to the hospital to get better. After a while, he and his nurse fall in love.”
I glance in the rearview mirror and see her nodding along, so I continue.
“He finally gets better and is sent back to the war, but people want to kill him, so he runs away. He meets back with the nurse and they run away together. But she’s pregnant, and when it comes time to have the baby, there are problems and she and the baby die. Then the man walks home in the rain.”
There’s a moment of silence in the car as the description sinks in.
“That’s it?” she asks, incredulous that it could end in that manner. “Are you kidding me? That sounds like the middle of the book, not the end!”
I chuckle a bit, “Yeah, it doesn’t have a happy ending.”
Her mouth is open, aghast that any book could end in such a bleak and, in her view, unsatisfying way. “You got that right!”
Maybe we’ll tackle Faulkner next…
The Little Comedian August 7, 2011Posted by Matt in family.
Tags: knock knock joke, two year old
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Our two year old, JD, never seems to stop talking and that statement was no less true this morning when we were in the car.
JD: Knock Knock
Me: Who’s there?
Me: Banana who?
JD: JINGLE BELLS! (and then he laughed hysterically)
Ah, two year old humor…
Back to School August 4, 2011Posted by Matt in family.
Tags: first day of school, kids
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An air of nervous excitement permeated the room, rippling through the atmosphere with an igneous fervor, coursing through the unseen mystical connections running from person to person. The girls tied their shoes and zipped their backpacks with an agitated fuss, their breakfast sitting untouched on the wooden dining room table, as they no doubt wondered with some degree of apprehension about what the day might bring.
I watched the scene unfold, marveling at the fact that I have two wonderful girls who are growing up so quickly.
After one final check, I kissed them goodbye and we walked them out the door to their awaiting bus stop.
And so it begins. Another year is upon us.
The Pink Purse August 2, 2011Posted by Matt in family.
Tags: boys, Hello Kitty, Mississippi, pink purse, Southaven, Wal-Mart
Our two year old, JD, has found a new object upon which to bequeath his affection, a new item to embrace and hold tight at all times, to guard as if it held the elixir of life. So, what is this newfound source of joy in the young boy’s life?
His sister’s pink Hello Kitty purse.
In the past you might see him carrying around his beloved blue elephant blankie, but now, with the addition of his purse (or man-bag), he can now stuff the blanket into his pink bag and carry it around with him. It’s not that big of a deal to us, and we think little to nothing of him hauling it around at home or at church, but a week or so ago I found myself considering this with thoughts that later bothered me a great deal.
As a rule, I avoid our local Wal-Mart like the plague, preferring anything to the crowded, soulless aisles of the nearby megastore, but for some reason I don’t readily recall, I found myself in a situation where I had to step into the unsavory retail giant. Because of Diana’s work schedule, I was also carting along the kids, another undesirable aspect to our Saturday outing. We parked the car and began to get out when I noticed that my son was gripping the purse, fully intending to carry it in with him. To a Wal-Mart, in Southaven, Mississippi. As you can imagine, it’s not exactly a hotbed of progressive thought. Suddenly thoughts flooded my head. Would we be accosted by hordes of Baptists with crazed eyes, swinging their Bibles like swords? Would I be beaten senseless by camo-wearing, Skoal-dipping, rebel flag-waving Mississippi rednecks?
Granted, none of these attacks would probably take place, but the seed was planted in my brain, so I quickly talked JD out of carrying the purse, and went on with our shopping.
The next morning I was relating this story to some people at church and when I came to end, saying something along the lines of, “I told him, ‘I don’t think it’s in either of our best interests for you to take this into Wal-Mart. In Southaven, Mississippi.’”
One of the ladies looked at me quizzically and asked one simple question, “Why?”
And I had to think about that. Why? I’m not embarrassed. It doesn’t bother me. I guess it’s because I’m anticipating a negative reaction from others and I don’t want to deal with it, but that’s really not a good reason. Not at all.
So, from now on he can carry it anywhere he wants. If other people don’t like it, they need to grow up.