"I asked for a car; I got a computer."

Looking for a commentary that uses big words and ponders the deeper meanings of various topics? Well...you've come to the wrong place. This blog is all about extolling the greatness of Christ, the joy of marriage, the rollercoaster ride called parenthood, the supremacy of the 1980's...and doing all of it at a fifth grade reading level!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

So What Do You Wanna Talk About?

Getting old stinks!

Granted, the alternative to growing old isn't so great...and I much prefer the aging process to the dying process...but there are things about growing old that really ruin the moment.

Case in point.

When I was five-years old, there was no politics, there was no 24-hour news channel, there was no global warming, there was no Muslim vs Christian, Muslim vs Jew, Muslims vs The Gypsies, or any other issues that seem important to our adult minds. Only two things mattered: (1) Cartoons, and (2) What's for dinner? And that's what we talked about. We debated which of the Superfriends was the most powerful. We racked our brains to figure out exactly what kind of creature H.R. Puff'n'Stuff was. We pondered why Weird Harold wore a pink lampshade on his head on "Fat Albert." We anxiously awaited the next perilous excursion that Wyle E. Coyote would take in pursuit of the Roadrunner. And we wondered what kind of casseroles our mothers would whip up for dinner...and how we could sneak it to the dog.

By the time I turned 10, my focus switched to sports. The Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys occupied my every thought. I practiced batting like Mike Hargrove (a.k.a., The Human Rain Delay). I dreamed of being Roger Staubach or Danny White, throwing a winning touchdown pass in the waning moments to Drew Pearson or Tony Hill. I would defend the Fearsome Foursome against any Steel Curtain discussion that anyone could dream up. And I begged people to quiz me about who the starting infield was for the Rangers in 1977 (Mike Hargrove (1b); Bump Wills (2b); Toby Harrah (3b); Bert Campaneris (ss))

By the middle of my teenage years, I was still into sports...but then I began to recognize why God made woman and said that it was VERY good. I also began listening to a brand of music that my parents didn't understand. So in between discussions of who was the epitome of "fine": Beth Sullivan or Kathy Jo McAteer (the best that Southwest High School had to offer!), my friends and I would discuss the newest offering from U2, R.E.M., INXS, or any of the other once-known-as-Alternative-Rock bands of the '80s.

By college we had become MUCH more mature. Our conversations turned to our careers and our future. "What do you wanna do with your life?" or "What should I major in?" followed quickly by, "WHOA, who's that blonde over there?!?!?!"

Once college is over you start talking about family. About money. About that next promotion. About becoming successful. About goals. You talk about dreams and aspirations with the one you love. And you talk about growing old together.

And then one night, you're 36-years old, and you're sitting on a couch in your home watching your bride's eyes well up with tears as she learns of another friend's shattered marriage. And your discussions turn to exclamations of despair on how a woman could leave a husband and four children.

Earlier you made a trip to the other side of town to purchase prescription medication for a clinically depressed college student that can't seem to make wise decisions. And your conversation centers around a slew of "I promise to do better" and "Why don't you or my parents trust me?"

That morning you went to the hospital with some friends who came to town for the birth of their daughter's first baby...only there was no father there to share in the joy. Instead of rejoicing over the baby you contemplate aloud with half-excited, half-sorrowful parents on how a single mom can be a full-time student and care for an infant.

You talk about your parents getting older, your kids getting wilder, your back getting sorer, and the bald spot on your head getting bigger.

Thank God that tomb was empty!

Anyone for being five again???

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What a day!!!

Well...the highly-anticipated first day of Kindergarten for Elijah came and went...and what a special day it was. It got off to a bit of a rocky start. Seeing as this was my first time to ever take a Kindergarten student to his first day of school, I was a little underprepared for the stress and strain this causes on a family...and, specifically, on a Daddy!

I had forgotten to read the Official Parenting Handbook which clearly outlines the number of pictures to be taken on this first special day. Elijah...Elijah and Noah...Elijah, Noah, and Jacob...Elijah and his backpack...Elijah and his lunch...Elijah's first step out of the car...Elijah's SECOND step out of the car...Elijah's first step onto school grounds...Elijah and Mommy...Elijah and Daddy...Elijah and the random student who runs through the viewfinder at an inopportune time.

You get the idea. And even though it was a painstaking process, Robin did get this sweet picture which I think is priceless.

Secondly...there are a lot of kids that go to Taylor Elementary! And all of them brought their extended family for the first day of school. You could tell who the veteran parents were. They were the ones who stood at a distance, made sure their kid made it to the sidewalk, then headed back to the car. They're smart. They've been through the carnage...through the hand-to-hand combat involved in getting a picture taken of a student's first step into this new world. They carry the scars - both physical and emotional - and they want no part of the melee. When Noah heads off to Kindergarten, I may just ask him if he feels comfortable walking himself up there.

Thirdly...public education brings out all kinds. While I saw lots of folks I knew, I also saw many people I had never seen before. Interesting people who I share a community with. I saw at least one Mommy-Mommy couple...thank God that kid isn't in Elijah's class. I'm not quite ready for that discussion yet. I also saw more ink than one would find in a Bic factory. Is it just me, or does EVERYONE have a tattoo now? I know I'm out of style...but I didn't realize how popular the tattoo had become. I asked Robin if I could get her picture tattooed on my forearm...but she didn't respond.

Fourthly...I had forgotten how exhilarating lunch time could be. Elijah saw some pudding cups in the pantry last night and asked us what they were for. "They're for your lunch," Robin exclaimed. Elijah got a horrified look on his face. "I'm not taking my lunch to school - they have a cafeteria!" So he insisted on buying his lunch...and you would think that was the coolest thing in the whole world. Elijah's commentary: "They give you your own tray...AND chocolate milk!!!"

Lastly...HOMEWORK! My son had homework! Granted, it was just a simple review of his day...but I actually had to help with homework!!! It was a sheet with simple, fill in the blank questions. For instance, "When I got to school today I was _____." One question asked, "What was your favorite part of the day?" I just knew his answer would be "lunch." Instead, he said, "Getting to see my friend Alan again." Alan is the child of a single parent who we thought had moved to Galveston...and we were pleasantly surprised to see him in Elijah's class this morning.

So it was a special day indeed. Elijah was ready for us to leave, though. Mommy was taking too many pictures and crowding his space. So as we turned to leave, I thought I saw a tear in Robin's eye. Meanwhile, I remained stoic as usual...until I heard, "Daddy!" I turned, and Elijah came running out of the classroom and wrapped his arms around me and said, "I love you," then dashed back into class.

So yeah - I cried.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kindergarten Memories

August 15, 2006, will go down as a landmark date in the Campbell family...as Robin and I trot our oldest son off to school. Monday evening Elijah, Robin, and I went to "Meet The Teacher" night at Taylor Elementary. We found his room and anxiously bounded in to see what Kindergarten looks like.

It didn't take long to figure out who the teachers were. They were the young ladies with the big, genuine smiles reaching from ear to ear sweetly greeting each little boy and girl as they entered the room. Elijah actually has two teachers - they alternate days in order to spend more time at home with their families. Pretty cool, I thought.

While Elijah and his mommy began the Scavenger Hunt to get acclimated to the room, I began reading some of the material left for the parents. I was ecstatic to see that both teachers remarked that they had been praying for each of their students.

It's going to be a great year!

As I watched Elijah move around the room, finding his seat, checking out the different centers to learn and play in, I rushed back 30-something years ago to my days in Kindergarten. What an exciting time. I felt all grown up...and it's amazing how much I remember from so long ago. Some of the things I remember...

- Sadly, I don't remember much about my first day of school. I DO remember mom wanting to walk me into the room and trying to hang around for a long time...and I remember turning around and telling her she needed to leave.

-Carla Beggs was a 5th grader who went to the same church I did. She was a "Courtesy Girl" - a group of girls that would hold the doors open for students in the morning. My mom always dropped me off at her door...and when I would walk into school she would hold the door open for me and kiss me on the cheek. Technically, I guess that was my first crush.

-At nap time, me and a kid named Chris Johnson used to thump spitwads at each other instead of sleeping. One day, we were evidently causing too much commotion...and our teacher came over and smacked Chris on the bottom. I instantly squeezed my eyes shut and played possum...fully expecting to get whacked as well. But it never happened.

-My teacher was Ms LaGrone. Not exactly the name you expect from a Kindergarten teacher. She was about 130 years old and retired after that school year. I guess I was enough to make any teacher quit.

-I got carted off to the office one day with Ross Bonnett and Sam Gandee. I can't remember why we were there...but I remember Ross crying and crying because he just new we were going to get a whoopin'. About the time Ms LaGrone corralled us all in there, the Principal, Mr Bryant, was taking two fifth graders into his office. They had been in a fight and looked pretty rough. About the time Ms LaGrone turned to leave, you could hear four sharp WHACKS come from the office followed by some sniffling and muffled crying. Mr Bryant, who seemed like he was 8-ft tall, came waltzing out of his office, crouched down to eye-level with all three of us, and said, "Am I gonna have to do that to one of you...or can I expect you to behave." Ross just kept crying while Sam and I vigorously shook our heads and said, "Yes sir" in unison.

There were a bunch of other things I remember...but I won't bog you down with those now.

I just check the Vegas odds on how Tuesday morning will go. Here they are:

2-1: Only Mommy will cry when dropping off Elijah
30-1: Only Elijah will cry when being dropped off
100-1: Only Daddy will cry when dropping off Elijah
150-1: Mommy and Daddy will both cry when dropping off Elijah
18-1: Elijah and Mommy will cry
33-1: Elijah and Daddy will cry
488-1: Elijah, Mommy and Daddy all will cry
1-1: Daddy will remain the rock of the family...until he gets to a nice, quiet place where no one is watching...and then he might just get a little misty-eyed.

Place your bets!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary

I've submitted the argument on more than one occasion that I have the greatest wife in the entire world. The reasons for this are many...and I'll expound further on some of them another time.

Today, however, I'd like to extol the greatness of my wife when it comes to our anniversary. On August 8th, Robin and I celebrated 14 years of wedded bliss. The fact that she has hung around a dork like me for fourteen years qualifies her for sainthood...but that's not the only reason I think she's the greatest.

When I ask Robin what she wants for her anniversary (or for ANY occasion) she gives me an honest answer...and that answer is usually, "Nothing." Granted, I know "nothing" doesn't mean "absolutely nothing"...but it does mean, "Please don't burst a blood vessel trying to come up with something fancy."

So I was driving back from Austin the day of my anniversary...and on my way out of town I passed an Einstein's Bagels. Now when Robin and I lived in Plano, we went to Einstein's every Saturday morning. We would get a bagel and coffee, read the paper, and visit for hours. So while I was thrown back in time ten years, I swung off the highway and dove into Einstein's. Seeing that we were celebrating our 14-year anniversary, I selected 14 bagels. When I told the lady behind the counter why I wanted 14, she shot me a quizzical, almost disgusted look. She was not impressed with my anniversary gift.

I made the 3-1/2 hour drive home, hit the back door, and proudly proclaimed "Happy Anniversary" and delivered my gift. Robin was thrilled, promptly digging around to make sure I got her at least one Chocolate Chip bagel (which I did!).

Now...ANOTHER reason I have the greatest wife in the world is she is also a clever gift giver. That morning, she happened to be school supply shopping for Elijah. They were in a section that had folders as far as the eye could see...and while Elijah was digging for a Superman folder, Robin happened upon the perfect gift for me.

So after securing the Chocolate Chip bagel, Robin promptly handed me the sack with my gift in it. I removed the gift from the sack and was thrilled to see my new AC/DC folder (if either of you don't remember, I'm very much an 80's metal head, and AC/DC is one of my favorites).

I looked at the folder and recognized that it was the cover of AC/DC album with...shall we say...and uncomfortable title. And sure enough, there at the bottom of the folder was the title of the album.


Two thoughts shot through my head:
(1) What exactly is she trying to say? (she claims she didn't see the title until after she left the store).
(2) What the heck was this folder doing in the school supply section of Wal-Mart?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


First of all, I apologize to both of you who have been anxiously awaiting my next post. Since I work in the world of Academia, I'd like to say I've been on a "sabbatical." However...since I'm not on faculty, nor do I have a Masters or a PhD, that excuse doesn't hold much consistency.

So let's just say I've been immensely lazy.

Now that that's out of the way, allow me to extol the greatness of August 1st in the annals of history. No, there were no great mysteries solved on this date, nor did scientists find a cure for a devastating disease. No great battles were fought, and no holidays were created.

But 25 years ago today, MTV hit the airways!

Now for those of you who don't remember, MTV used to play a thing called "music videos." I think you can still see a music video every once in a while...but to be honest, I haven't seen one in years!

Anyhow, my family didn't have cable television...so I was forced to wander down the street to Gray Bullis' house to get my MTV fix. In between games of "horse" and a variety of Atari-related video games, we would drift into the living room and take in a little MTV. Admittedly, there would've been much healthier ways for me to spend a Saturday afternoon...but a young boy in the midst of the mystery of pubescence just seems drawn to things like that.

So...in honor of MTV's 25th birthday, I'd like to pay homage to my 10 favorite videos of all time:

10. "Take On Me" (A-ha) -- One of the greatest one-hit wonders in history also made one of the coolest videos in history, dragging an unwitting lady into the lead singer's getaway saga in a comic book. Neat...but the end was a little weird.
9. "Hot For Teacher" (Van Halen) -- In the mid-80s, ANYTHING containing David Lee Roth was cool...and EVERY Van Halen video had something interesting. For obvious reasons, Gray always found this to be an entertaining video. I insisted on going to the other room to pray for him when this was on.
8. "Magic" (The Cars) -- The creepiest lookin' dude in rock'n'roll (Ric Ocasek) outdoes himself in this one. I can best describe this video as the way one of the gospel writers would have told the story of Jesus walking on the water...had the gospel writer been tripping on acid!!!
7. "Walk This Way" (Run D.M.C. w/Aerosmith) -- I guess this was the original crossover of rap into rock'n'roll (and no, Blondie's "Rapture" doesn't count!). The song is okay...but the video is especially entertaining...specifically because all of the participants look so uncomfortable with each other. I'm sure he made good money on it, but Steven Tyler and Joe Perry just don't look happy about having three guys from Hollis, Queens, giving their song an urban sound. Conversely, Run D.M.C. doesn't seem all-too comfortable being around these two long-haired old men...especially at the end of the song, when Steven Tyler starts some spastic looking dance and tries to rap his arms around DJ Run and D.M.C. Funny!
6. "Shiny Happy People" (R.E.M.) -- The boys from Athens, GA, don't look like your average rock band. There isn't one of them that is especially sexy or even attractive...and so they capitalize on that by being goofy. To film "Shiny Happy People," they stood out on a street corner and asked random passers-by if they wanted to be in a video. Then they taught them this quirky dance, filmed it...and VOILA! A great video. And don't overlook the great Kate Pierson of the B-52's lending her beautiful voice and face to the performance as well.
5. "I've Got My Mind Set On You" (George Harrison) -- My favorite Beatle uses a wide array of inanimate objects to help him sing this great song. I especially enjoy the bobbing parakeet.
4. "You Might Think" (The Cars) -- Yet another creepy offering from the Jeff Goldblum of 80s rock. Rick Ocasek goes so far as to become a fly just to be around this poor, tortured female soul...eventually running over her in a car.
3. "Like A Virgin" (Madonna) -- I guess this means I'll need to respond to the invitation on Sunday.
2. "We're Not Gonna Take It" (Twisted Sister") - The annoying ROTC Patton-wannabe from "Animal House" takes all out abuse from the cross-dressing metal heads in this anthem advising kids to listen to their music as loud as they want.

And number one...

1. "Oh Sherry" (Steve Perry) -- I know what you're thinking...but I loved this video. More than that....I was in love with Sherry. I have no idea who the girl was...all I knew was that she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen....and she was hanging out with Steve Perry?!?!?!? It just goes to show you that if you can sing, beautiful women fall all over you!

Honorable mention goes out to "Money For Nothing" (Dire Straits); "Too Young To Fall In Love" (Motley Crue); "Raspberry Beret" (Prince...or whatever he's calling himself these days); and "Metro" (Berlin).

That's all I got. Yes, I'm well aware that I listed no Michael Jackson songs on my countdown...but you may feel free to list him on yours.

It's good to be back...