A Flashback at the LA County Fair

Yesterday, when I mentioned the fact that I was going to be going to the LA County fair, one of my friends not in this area said, “LA has their own fair?  What I wouldn’t give to see that!”  That pretty much sums it up.  As one who was practically raised at New England fairs, you definitely see a different picture when you enter the LA Fair.  When you enter the gate we go in, you see a large section dedicated to Hispanic culture, then large convention buildings full of expo displays.  Unless you want something to polish your silverware or want new insurance, those buildings are largely useless.

You have some displays that celebrate California culture and history, a large building for interactive displays for small children.  Micah had a blast in that area, playing in sand, pushing trains, and looking in a big magnifying window at his dad’s huge head made even bigger.  There is a large animal barn where you can see new borns with their mom’s, whether they are pigs, sheep, goats, or chickens.  We took Micah into a big petting zoo and the small goats converged upon him sniffing him for food.  He laughed one second and nervously raised his hands up to get picked up the next.  We gave him some food and the goats licked it out of his hand.  He wasn’t sure what to think about this.

The highlight of the trip came when we were looking at the big sheep in a pen in the middle of the petting zoo.  Some animals hang out in there to avoid the kids running around, so I took Micah to the fence so he could pet an animal that wasn’t going to freak him out.  That’s when I heard something I haven’t heard in awhile.  I heard the ewe make a deep moaning noise and looked behind it only to see two little feet coming out of the sheep.  The poor thing was well into labor and no one that worked there had noticed.

Someone went over to tell the girl in charge of the zoo that there was a sheep lambing.  I started thinking back to my days raising sheep and thinking of the things that I needed to look for.  I was first of all, concerned that it was lambing in early September.  Normally, sheep of this breed lamb in the winter, Nov-Dec time of the year, but not this early.  Once in awhile you get a fall born sheep, but it isn’t normal because sheep have a certain time of the year where they go into heat.

Anyways, I’m sure my sister or mother could provide more info if you are interested.  The lamb seemed to positioned right.  I checked to see if the front feet and nose were coming out first and they were.  once I saw that, I knew it was good just to let things happen.  I called my mom to get any last minute advice should I need it, as no one had come yet.  Soon, the head started to poke out, and finally someone who knew what they were doing showed up.  He asked everyone to be quiet and the lamb popped out in a couple of minutes.  He cleared the mucus and such out of the lamb’s mouth and nose and the mother came over and started to lick the lamb.

All of this in the petting zoo.  Certainly not what we expected when we entered the pen, and the city folk saw much more than they ever imagined.  Here are some pics of the time!

A happy moment with the goats.

All they had was John Deere tractors.  Micah was clearly disappointed.

You may recognize this from last year’s picture.

Micah is interestingly still a horse…

Notice the David Ortiz jersey in the background!

Micah had a blast shaking the maraca along with the Spanish music.

Tuckered out after a long afternoon.

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Graduating Seniors

Here’s a video/slide show I made for our graduating seniors.  It goes back to their first year in Jr High through being seniors.  You’ll see some pics of a much thinner me, too.

This weekend I’ll be heading to Palm Springs with some college students for the Resolved conference.  The speakers are John MacArthur, John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Randy Alcorn, Steve Lawson, and Rick Holland.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to post some thoughts from the conference for those that aren’t able to be there.

High School Winter Camp 2008: Part 3

Sunday morning began nice and early, with Leah waking me up to let me know that Micah had a fever. Just another wrench in the plans. Today was the day that we were going to head to Disneyland for the first time since we were dating, but now we had to pack up things quickly and get them home before getting the kids off.

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We left the church in a caravan of fun at 7:45, headed for DISNEYLAND! We wanted to do something that the kids would remember for the rest of their lives, and would make this camp worth it. On our way to Disney, it was raining pretty hard. Some may see this as a negative, but we saw it as a negative, because it would scare people away from Disney on a Sunday. By the time we got there, there was just a cold mist in the air.

The people at the ticket office were very kind and helpful. There are cheaper prices that youth groups can get, but you have to reserve them at least a week ahead of time, which we didn’t. But I explained the situation to them, and they were totally helpful. We got tickets about 1/3 off, got two adult tickets at $22 cheaper, and they gave me one ticket for free!

By the time we headed into Disneyland, the sun was trying to break through. We made our way right to Space Mountain, which I had not been to since it was remodeled. We walked almost all the way right up to the front of the line. We cruised through Space Mountain, then made our way to Space Tours, which is a Star Wars themed ride. When we got to the front, they asked how many were in our party, and I said 24. She said, “No, really. How many in your group?”

We had decided to stay in one group the whole day, and made a rule that you couldn’t sit next to the same person twice. This ended up creating quite a bit of excitement, as we had to find new partners for each ride. We acted like screaming fools on all the rides (example provided later), and laughed through every line. All in all, we made it on 12-13 rides in about 6 hours, with a long lunch break and numerous bathroom stops mixed in. The lines were short and we were motivated.

We hit up Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster (which I scored amazingly high on on my first time), Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain (where I got absolutely soaked and we bought a picture of us doing ‘YMCA’), Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan, Snow White, The Matterhorn, and Big Thunder Mountain. The Teacups and Jungle Cruise were closed, so we missed out on those.

Here are some pics from the day:

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Merely Odds and Ends

You’ll notice that I haven’t written anything really substantive in quite awhile, and that isn’t necessarily for lack of time.  I have been making a better effort at helping Micah update his blog, since he needs to be speaking with the rest of his family.  I’ve been trying to do some more things with the family, which means learning to schedule my job better.  My job presents an interesting situation when it comes to office hours.  My days off are Saturdays and Mondays, but since so many of the events land on Saturdays, I have to try to find time earlier in the week to get time off.  So its all a part of learning to do the job.

Ministry

I have also been busy with some philosophical issues when it comes to the ministry.
We’re changing the way we do small groups.  We’re moving to a system that doesn’t break them down by age, which is pretty unpopular with the juniors and seniors who have really grown together as a group.  We’re moving to smaller, mixed groups, purely focused on discipleship, rather than an entry level system that it had become.  My prayer is that this will help kids get to know other students not in their grade and will help them to know how to use their gifts and talents to serve the church as a whole.  So you can be praying for that.

That, and today a group is coming from The Master’s College for their Outreach Week.  That will climax on Saturday with our Battle of the Bands.  This is an event that usually brings in 200+, most of whom wouldn’t normally come to church.  This year we’re adding a promenade outside first.  This will feature some acoustic acts of kids that don’t have bands, but still want to play.  There will be a coffee bar outside, where each ticket that gets you in also gets you a free coffee drink.  And in addition, Lord willing, will be an art gallery displaying some of the high school and college student’s artwork.  Its all in an effort to get more kids there and give them the ability to show their artistic gifts.  But the gallery isn’t going too well.  We have some kids bringing stuff, but not much.  If its not enough, I’m not going to set it up, and we’ll try again next year.

Along with this is also the loss of an office mate of mine, Paul Hoover.  He’s gone to take a position at a church plant.  If you’d like to keep in touch with whats going on with him, I linked his new blog to the right.  You might even be able to see a couple pics of me and Micah there!   To add to new websites, check out our church’s new website!

Dodger Game

Last week, the family did a few things together.  We went to our first baseball game as a family, and while it wasn’t a Red Sox game, it was still fun.  We saw the dodgers play the Rockies, then saw another game later in the week against the Giants (sans Barry Bonds).   Leah and I were again marveling at the stark contrasts between games at Dodger Stadium, (which is only 15 minutes from our place, which is nice) and games at Fenway Park.  Obviously we’re both a little biased, and there is a difference between a team that has the best record in baseball and one that is wallowing in another disappointing season and have had one big win in about 20 years.

I’ve always thought that so much could be done with Dodger Stadium.  In the top levels at least, they still have troughs in the men’s rooms, instead of urinals, but I hear they are sinking millions of dollars to outfit the whole stadium with urinals.  But besides that, the stadium is just odd.  It seems like a big concrete block with no personality.  The sound system is bad, the scoreboard is outdated and not even quaint.  The stadium has the same colors as Dolphin Stadium, and looks like it hasn’t had much money put into it since the 1970’s.

When we pulled in, they make you park in a certain place near the entrance, instead of being able to drive around to the gate to the park you are entering (you used to be able to do this).  So the gate that we come in is on the complete opposite side than the place where we’re sitting.  Dodger Stadium is kind of built on a hill and if you are on the upper deck, you just walk into it, while you can do the same on the opposite side with the field level.  So that means that we had to walk around the stadium, and up too many stairs to count. Its a good workout, but annoying when you get up there and see the spots you should be able to park in.

Besides that, the only environment outside are giant sized pictures of players, regardless of their talent level.  For example, Brett Tomko is up there, but he got traded for a pile of baseballs to the Padres.  Then there are players like Jason Repko, who hasn’t played at all because of injury.  It seems like they could do a mix of good players, like Russel Martin, along with Dodgers of the past.  There is a lot of history to work with, and they should do more to push the Dodger brand, rather than individuals that are fairly poor ball players.

We walked past an empty game program stand.  At Fenway you’d have a guy yelling out to buy the program, saying who is pitching and other things.  There is little to nothing going on before the game to encourage fans to come early.  Souther California fans are notorious for showing up in the third inning, but they don’t really encourage them to come early.  Leah and I got there about twenty minutes early and got to watch 3 ‘first’ pitches.   The last being Emeril Lagasse.  There was a free gift, but they didn’t even bother handing them out to the first 20,000 fans, but handed them out when you left.

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LA County Fair

One thing I miss about not being in New England is the fair season.  It was such a huge part of my life growing up, and hasn’t been something I’ve done in awhile.  So we went out to the LA County fair, which I hear is the largest county fair in the country.  the grounds are six times bigger than Disneyland.  The thing I was most excited about was seeing the animals and I even brought my old 4H sweatshirt to represent.  But the animals were largely boring.  There was no 4H, which makes sense, due to the fact that this isn’t prime farm territory.  There was a large pen with goats and sheep that we brought Micah in, and you will be able to see those pics on Micah’s blog soon.

Most of the animals were mutts, crosses between Dorsetts and Hampshires.  There was one that I couldn’t tell if it was a goat or a Cheviot.  We eventually found the Hampshire sheep, and they were way off by themselves, in a concrete floor pen with metal bars.  it was like they were in jail.  I missed the 4H-ness of it all.  There were no signs on the breeds, wool breeds vs. meat breeds, yarn, or sheep shows.  This may sound odd to a lot of people, but there was nothing very personable about it all.  Disappointing.

There are some other differences between the LA County fair and fairs back in New England.  One is the food.  There aren’t any fried dough places, but funnel cakes.  We actually bought a Mexican Funnel Cake, which was basically strips the size of churros. Check out the link if you don’t know what those are.  They’re good stuff.  There weren’t Italian Sausage booths or any chowders, but plenty of burritos, tacos, tortas, and the like.  And about 14 Hot Dog on a Stick places.  Another interesting addition was their ability to deep fry anything.  We dined on deep fried oreos, while they also had Snicker’s bars, Twinkies, and even deep fried Coke.  I don’t know how they did that.  Here’s a couple pics of the oreos.

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Another difference was in the shopping areas.  There weren’t really many quaint mom and pop places, but mostly infomercial stuff.  We saw insurance booths, miracle mop booths, back rub places, polishing booths, vacations to wine country, wine of the month, and a mattress dealer.  They had about five huge buildings filled with these things.  We walked through, but nothing to really look at.  One thing we did see was a Ken Crane’s tent, which is a dealer that sells TVs and other electronics.  They had the 103″ plasma tv, which is the worlds largest plasma TV.  It costs a mere $69,990.  Impressive TV.  I told the man working that if he wanted to donate one to a church youth group, I would gladly take it.  He didn’t.

Here’s one last pic to enjoy:

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Bananarama: Hollywood Edition

This past Saturday we went out to Hollywood for our Bananarama, which is a scavenger hunt organized around the banana. The kids broke up into teams and had to try to get all 66 items on their list. They had to measure things, have people sign the banana, and even get someone to give something up for a banana. And as was bound to happen, it ended up being my group that got a condom for their banana. The lady just threw it at us, while the boyfriend ran off, humiliated. I gave it to Geoff, whose getting married in a month.

Here are some pics of Hollywood and the characters around there. I think my favorite one is “Middle Aged Man” dressed up as Superman. He’s a fat, short, white, blond guy with a fanny pack. Very high on the unintentional comedy scale. Unfortunately, Elmo was no where to be found.

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Disco Bowling!

On Saturday, we took some of our high schoolers to the bowling alley for some Disco Bowling! The hope was that people would dress up in 70’s attire, but it really only turned out to be myself, and two high schoolers. I was expecting to be the only one prior to getting there, and was relieved to at least see a couple others dressed up.

We bowled a couple days, and gave awards out for the best game bowled, the worst game (won with a score of 16!), and the best dressed. We had a ton of fun, laughs were shared, and memories were made. Everyone had to pick an alias, and we had some interesting names. There was “Anna Montana”, “That’s So Raven”, “Looney Luna”, “Fender Bender” (which unfortunately became “Gender Bender”), “The Matterhorn”, “Tall Fool”, “J Snizzle” (supposed to be “J Shnizzle”), and “Meat Head”.

Here are some pics from the event.

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Here are the winners
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Opening Day!

I’m not going to be posting a lot of pics of Micah on my blog, but I thought these were appropriate. For those of you who don’t know, and curse you if you don’t, today is Red Sox Opening Day. Apparently someone decided that the first game of the season should be the AAAA league (that’s from Bill Simmons, so I can’t take credit for it). So even though there was a game last night, the league hasn’t really started until the REAL league, the American League, starts.

So in honor of opening day, here are a few pics of the #1 Red Sox Family:

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We’re really looking forward to this season. The starting rotation is great, and there is even an open spot for Clemens. That’s right! i’m calling it now, Clemens returns to the Sox! The line-up is balanced, not as good as a couple years ago, but still very solid. I love having J.D. Drew in the five spot. Say “Hello R.B.I.’s!” And Papelbon is back in the closer spot. They just have to limit his load so as not to overwork his shoulder. But that should be too hard, because we got four work horses in the rotation. Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Wakefield can all go late in a game. Then you have Lester coming up, and even Cla Buchholz coming up.

It really looks like we have a better rotation than the Yanks, who still have the better lineup. I like that Sheffield. To me, he was the most feared bat in that lineup. I hated seeing him come up. And I LOVE that Pavano is their opening starter. But while their staff took a step back, I think they’re better off, having gotten a couple great arms from Detroit for Sheffield. They’re getting back to their original game plan, by storing up young talent. Maybe they’ll use them in a trade, or hold on to them and let them play it out.

Whatever happens, this will be a great season, because it’s our first with a new little fan. Go Sox!