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So last weekend I was in a long line at Subway and I heard the guy 5 ahead of me say not-loudly but fairly urgently: Please, please, please, please!

He was trying to keep the guy from taking his sandwich out of the quick roaster oven. He said “Please finish his order and then take off your gloves before taking out mine.”

The ‘sandwich artist’ was confused and the customer noted that the other customer’s sandwich had pork.

The employee said “This isn’t pork” and his coworker whispered something to him, most likely pointing out that the pepperoni footlong sandwich he was creating did, in fact, contain pork. This second employee took off his gloves and took the sandwich out the oven himself and the first customer was satisfied.

This all took place in under 10 seconds and appeared to leave no one bothered.

A part of me wanted to think thoughts about the touchy customer – thoughts like ‘that’s goofy!”

But this line of thought made me nervous, given the odd religion-based specifications that I have for how I want to live. So I tried to refrain from prideful thoughts, mostly due to a line of thinking best described as ‘judge not that you be not judged’.

Thoughts?

The Jamison’s spent the week in Arkansas. Here’s what I learned:

1. Kids can be so interested in seeing their cousins that they don’t want to stop and eat meals.

2. Kids who have been in recording sessions several times (over 3 years) get the hang of it and make quick work of a long complex song – especially if you have a talented sound guy.

3. 15 people can sit in a small trailer pulled by a tractor and really enjoy it.

4. Petit Jean State Park (Arkansas – just west of Little Rock) is the nicest state park I’ve been to (south of Minnesota).

5. It’s nice to be a 4 year old girl’s favorite uncle, even if it’s only for a week.

6. 2 boys (aged 9) can almost single handedly make pancakes for two large families.

7. Two large families can in one day polish off a 9 cup-of-flour recipe of pancakes and 6 Pizza Hut pizzas.

8. Kids can get sick of fast food.

9. A 6 year old boy can go from being afraid to jump into the pool to not wanting to stop jumping into the pool in about 3 minutes.

10. It is possible for a family of 9 to sleep in a hotel suite for 9 hours straight, especially after several late nights, 8 hours of travel and swimming.

11. One of the covered “Bridges of Madison County” is only about ¾ miles from Interstate 35. It’s cool to walk through.

I would have said “Our family is blessed by God in many many ways”, but I already knew that.

I’ve mentioned here before that we purposefully have not converted over to digital, so we haven’t watched any TV in our house since June. We have not experience regret over this decision, but I must admit that when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to watch the Vikings, it made me feel a little loss. But I’ve handled it.

This afternoon, however, we were at my Mom’s place for about ten minutes between Sunday afternoon events and in the 3 minutes that I watched the football game I just happened to see the endzone to endzone Harvin kickoff return touchdown.

Nice.

Remember Trivial Pursuit? One of the cards has this question: What is unique about “The Case Of The Deadly Verdict”?

And the answer: Perry Mason Lost.

If there were a Jamsco/Jamfam edition of Trivial Pursuit, one question would be – What is unique about  Sept 19, 2009?

The Answer: On that date our family tried and failed at our attempt to Picnic.

We have had fried chicken on picnics, and pizza, and sandwiches and chicken pot pie, but we have never brought charcoal to grill.  This we did on Saturday and it didn’t light. We ran out of lighter fluid. We waited a half hour. It was getting dark.

So we threw some water on it, hopped into our van and used the gas grill. We ate steak and hamburger at 8:30. It tasted very good.

But I have been remiss. I have neglectedto mention that last weekend we beat last years picnic record (81) as we went on picnics 80, 81, 82 and 83. And it’s only the middle of September!

So on Saturday my kids threw snowballs and my fingers experienced a slight case of frost bite.

How?

Answer in the comments.

Not the whole weekend, just one moment and the aftermath of the realization.

We regularly get food in bulk from farms and co-ops and drop-offs and Thursday evening I brought home a frozen quarter cow (a fourth of the meat from one cow) and we took it from my trunk and put it in our big freezer.

And Saturday at 10:00 I discovered that I had neglected to remember that I’d put two large boxes in the back seat of the car (i.e. not the trunk). It was no longer frozen when I discovered it. About $200 worth. Gone, just like that.  Ahhh!

Now 200 isn’t killer but it’s a big amount. And I wouldn’t mind so much losing it to accident or theft. But losing it due to my own foolishness it a tough pill to swallow.

I had to remind myself that it’s not as bad as, say, having a kid in the hospital or many other really bad things that could be happening today. 

A side bummer about it is that quite a bit of meat juice dripped onto (and into) our back seat. I have no idea how much but it could be a significant amount. And now the car smells.  For how long, we wonder?

I was proud of my kids as the six oldest sat very nicely in the second row while Debbie and I sang in church choir for 35 minutes.

Even though it was rainy, my wife cheerfully agreed to a State Park Geocache search (O’Brien).  It was a tricky multi cache search, but of course Anna found it with no problem.

We had an experience which I have wished for.  We watched a storm from the shelter of overhanging rocks as we stood at the base of a cliff over looking the St. Croix river.  It made my kids nervous, but I loved the serenity of watching it from natural shelter.

For those of you who are North Shore Fans, did you know there’s a Betty’s Pies in Mahtomedi? There is.

Picnics so far: 34.  Picnics this time last year: 30.

Picnics required to beat last years record: 82.

This weekend (Sunday Evening) I competed against 6 worthy opponents and emerged victorious.

My kids and I have a wrestling game (I’ve mentioned this before) where I get on the floor and the six older kids (Foster, at six months, I deem too small) get on me and try to keep me from getting away.

The spoken rules are: no tickling or hitting (on the kids part as well as mine)

The spoken warning: They will probably feel pain when a brother jumps on top of them trying to position themselves to better entangle me.

The unspoken rule: I work to see to it that they don’t get injured.

I give them a minute to position themselves. One on each arm, one on each leg and two on my chest. And they say ‘go’ and I work to stand up. It is hard work.

This weekend it took me 8 minutes and 20 seconds to get them all off me. Daniel timed it.

The two youngest cried (at different points) for a half minute or so after getting pummeled in some way that hurt, but both soon joined back in.

Did I mention that it’s hard work? I was tired.

Someday my kids will be able to prevent me from escaping their loving clutches. But today is not that day.

Maybe when Foster is old enough to join in.

Picnics So Far:: 28 — Picnics at this point last year ::22 — Picnics to beat last years total :: 82

This evening,  for the first time ever, all 9 JamFam members went on a bike ride together. You may be wondering about 6 Month Old Foster. We strapped him into the carseat, and then strapped that into the Bike trailer and then put that behind the bike ‘chaser’, which his youngest brother rode on, and put that behind my bike.  Foster did great.

Every new experience we put him in, I imagine him thinking “I don’t pretend to have a clue about anything that happens to me. I’m just along for the ride”.   In this case it was literal.

On the way back, we stopped by good neighbor friends of ours (The A’s) and it happened to be Mr. A’s birthday, so they invited us in for dessert. Very nice.

So a very pleasant end of the weekend for us.

Picnics so far: 25 — Picnics at this time last year: 18 — Picnics required to beat last year’s record:82

By the numbers -

Homes graciously willing to host the JamFam: 2

We felt loved by Debbie’s side of the family and then my side of the family. We are grateful

States stayed in: 2
Attempts required to see the baby foxes on the bike trail: 2
Geocaches found: 2
Excellent Memorial day picnics: 2 (BBQ (Sunday) and Fried chicken (Monday))

Picnics: 4

Debbie and I weren’t sure what to do for supper this evening, and we were debating going on the forth picnic. I never want to force this on our kids, so I asked them what they wanted to do. I was pleased that they all wanted to go on another picnic. And it turned out very nice.
 
Total picnics so far this year: 22
Total Picnic at this time last year: 17
Total picnics required to beat last year’s record: 82

Chapters read out of Children’s Pilgrim’s Progress to our kids before bedtime tonight: 2

Foster is 6 months old today.  Woo hoo!

We rented and watched “Slumdog Millionaire” A pretty good movie, where evil is shown to be evil and loyalty is honored. But it is quite dark in places and has some scenes I’d rather not have seen.

We started it last Sunday and didn’t finish it until last night.  We don’t have a lot of freetime.

JamFam Picnic Update:  Picnics so far – 16 ***  Picnics last year at this time – 14 ***  Picnics required to beat last year’s record – 82

Debbie had a great idea about how to get some significant storage space out of a previously unused area in our laundry room. We put up shelving along an 8 foot wall and got 40+ cubic feet to put boxes. It will also help with homeschooling.

In addition, we found out that our son Barrett can seriously clean up a room if he has the motivation. I was impressed with the transformation in the room after he went through it.

And one cute kid story: Debbie was giving me a hug before I left for work earlier this week and Erik (6) walked up and gave us a big embrace, saying “Hug Group!” 

JamFam Picnic Update:  Picnics so far – 13 ***  Picnics last year at this time – 8 ***  Picnics required to beat last year’s record – 82

This was a three picnic weekend. I take this weird irrational satisfaction at how much my kids can eat.  We plowed through 4 1/2 feet of subway sandwiches (Thursday), and 28 hotdogs (Yesterday) and the kids could have eaten more.

The good news is that kids in the age range of 6-11 are about at their peak with how much they eat.  It’s a good thing that appetites drop off when kids get into their teen years or we might start having financial difficulties. 

Picnic Update:  Picnics so far – 11 ***  Picnics last year at this time – 8 ***  Picnics required to beat last year’s record – 82

By the Numbers:

 

There was 88.88 percent representation from the JamFam in the Palm Sunday services this weekend. Only Foster didn’t enter in. Jamsco was the Palm Branch Hander-outer.

 

Time we were supposed to be there:: 8:00 (an hour early)

 

Time we were all sitting at the breakfast table :: 7:00

 

Hours spent in church: 5 (All enjoyable)

 

Kids who got to play in the percussion band: 1 (Carl – he was lead)

 

Three choirs sang, Debbie led the youngest choir. Joy on many faces. Jesus was praised.

 

By the way, our church didn’t want to have a Palm Branch Sunday processional, but we were required to by state and federal mandate. As you know, our American governments generally don’t tell churches what they must do, but this is one of the almost completely unknown exceptions. I blame the overly powerful Palm Branch lobby.

So what Father, who had a free weekend evening, wouldn’t take his kids out in the lovely 52 degree weather on their bikes?

Not this one!

Notable*:

- My wife stayed at home with our youngest for a little peace and quiet.

- I found out when we got to our desitination that the funny noise coming from our newest biker’s bike was due to very low tires. She was really having to work.

- Our destination was the nearby elementary school playground (at the school where our kids would attend if we didn’t homeschool.) It appeared that they weren’t sobered by this, as I might have thought. In any case, it’s a pretty nice playground.

- 7:45 on the first weekend of spring is perhaps too late to finish a bike trip. A Passer-by suggested we get some lights. 

- While we are flagrant in our injury prevention avoidance when it comes with trampolines, not so when it comes to bike helmets.

 

* Depending on your definition of this word, obviously.

Well,  it finally got into the upper 50’s and were able to finally enjoy Subway sandwiches in a large picnic shelter (in spacious and wooded Snail Lake Regional Park) and a walk through rivers of snowmelt.  It was beautiful and it’s only going to get beautifuller.

By the way our earliest picnic was March 6, in 2005. We are now on our way on our attempt to beat last year’s picnic count record of 81. We’ll see.

JamFam, as guided by the inspired mind of my wife, turned our clocks forward on Friday night right before going to bed. Our whole Saturday was spent as if we were an hour ahead.  So going to bed early wasn’t a problem and didn’t feel strange and Sunday morning wasn’t a problem at all.

I recommend it.

I am on jury duty this week, but I can’t talk about it . . .

By Court Order.

Yesterday (yes, on Feb 7th) we finally got all of our Christmas decorations put away.

I don’t know – does that count as interesting?

A freind of mine from church is in the Accapella group Cantus, which we have seen in concert before – we love men’s accapella music.

On Friday we went to the impressive (and sold out) Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis to see them with Bobby Mcferrin.  I’ve heard a couple of his albums but it is a different kind of experience seeing him live.  He did several sing-a-longs including Wizard of Oz and Beverly Hillbillies. But the sweetest one was this (filmed earlier).

The only thing that would have made it cooler is if I would have known how to sing along.

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