You know the cable show, right?  An almost maniacally fearless and unshaven guy soils himself while wrestling a grizzly over a wild salmon and then makes himself a fresh set of shorts out of supple birch bark parchement?  Well, today's the last day of school for Toe and Roo, so that's kind of what going on over here for the next 12 weeks. And we don't even have cable.

We do, however, have a preparedness box. But before you get all What a great and creative idea! and Holy fantastic mother, Batman!, remember that Pandora had a box too, and opening didn't turn out to be near as fun for any of us as she had maybe planned. I'm not 100% sure. You'd probably have to know the whole story, like the number and ages of the kids Pandy had, and how dead she had become inside.

Anyway, "The Summer Sanity Challenge" (as Hub likes to call the endless yawning void between school years) really starts long before we open the box.  Actually it began back in April when we found Toe standing before the big school calendar and singing (to the tune of 100 bottles of Beer on the Wall):

49 days of school on the wall
49 days left of school
when they're done
it's time to have fun
that's the vacation ruuuuuule!

while wearing only a pink "Cancun" tee with tropical flip-flops on it, underpants and pink plastic kittykat sunglasses. That's about the same time Roo dug out his fishing pole and started sleeping with his arms wrapped around it like a lover.

Good thing we're not rookies, and are wise to the fact that as parents you really have to "test the waters" of summer vacation early on in the spring, You have to introduce "fun" and "adventure" and "lawless disregard for the established schedule and the power of authority" in small, gradual doses, kind of like the rabies vaccine.
We did our "day trip" trial run to the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead and Museum in Walnut Grove, and the worst that came out of that was misdirected urination and some of the banks of Plum Creek being flung downriver.  Hub lost his forearm hair and a little eyebrown in our backyard bbq trial, and there was only a little trespassing and illegal destruction of a protective native plant in our "bonding with nature" exercise.  Our "festivals and events" practice was a little dicier when Roo tried to take home a life-size animatronic baby Trodon from the MN Zoo Dinosaur Trail, but I think we're ready.  Go ahead and pray for us anyway.

15 tons



"You load 16 tons and what do you get?
Another year older and deeper in debt.
St. Peter wont't call me 'cause I can't go.
I owe my sould to the company store."

Wednesday marks 15 years of wedded bliss for Hub and me. The above isn't really "our song," but we often pretend it is.  You should see the expressions on friends' faces when they ask us if we have a "song" and we start singing this and mime shovelling.  The uncomfortable grimaces are so worth the lie.

And, okay, I took some poetic license and it's actually titled "16" tons and not "15," but give me a break.  Merle Travis stole credit for the whole dang song in 1947 from a poor Kentucky coal miner who actually wrote in the 1930s as "9 to 10 tons."  A story of long-term debt bondage is universally understood, give or take a ton.

If you want to know the truth, our actual "song" as a couple isn't that much more upbeat.  We heard Nancy Griffith singing Trouble in the Fields at an outdoor concert when we were dating and loved it.  Apparently Hub decided then and there that if he were ever to face the sort of trouble the farmers in the song were suffering, he'd want me to be his plow...or mule. Thus, a marriage--and perhaps a bad omen--were born.

So, Happy Anniversary, my man.  We're still just a couple of union-affiliated, pro-labor, anti-poverty b-siders breaking rocks and sod toward the future.  Who knew it would be so much fun?
Toe with his most recent accolade and an enormous "Sonic Dollar" (real world value about equivalent to unsolicited advice)
Toe's about to kick the first grade to the curb and he's done well there. He has as many awards as Mark Zuckerberg has lawsuits against him, although both these young men have gotten equally big for their britches if you ask me. Large brains and alotta lip in fancypants sneakers: that's what Toe and Mark have in common.

Of course Toe had a whole team of people who helped him stretch his legs in the rat race of grammar school. They put the "battle" in "Battle Creek" and we heart them all:

Ms. Alissa runs the show and always goes that extra mile for her students. Her classroom luncheon dates with Toe, $94 bills and ability to bounce are legendary, she knows just how to control a beast with a snuggly hug or a stern teachery frown, and according to Toe she always "keeps the growl of the hungry bear quiet" in his belly. Thanks to her and Ms. Annie, Ms. Vi, Mr. Ty, Ms. Shannon, Ms. Laura, Ms. Woods, Mr. JT, Ms. Erickson and Dr. Wilson (who posseses a  genteel English voice and magical ability to quiet 300 kids with the ballet-like raising of a single finger)...just to name a few of Toe's BCE BFFs.

Well done! Second grade, here we come!
Toe, the shortest, palest, pinkest honoree of the day, walks with a rockin' step toward the future
So just in the last few months "science" news has said that autism is caused by a gene, an anti-depressant, a plastic, a vitamin deficiency, fever, electronic devices, heavy metals, older parents, vaccines (again--thank you, stripper mom for autism Jenny McCarthy, this one will never die), gluten, antibiotics, cow milk protein, and prematurity (to name a scant few theories). Yes, basically the same old group of people talking the same old nonsense and still in need of a beating with the cluestick.

Science now also wants us to know they now believe austism makes a person highly unlikely to believe in God.

And all God's people said, "Hmmmmph!" (and some other things which are mostly swears and don't really reflect well on God's people, so I will omit them here).

Listen. I have 2 (T-W-O) autistic children and I can tell you this: I never ingested any of the suspected autism culprits while my buns were in the oven, I didn't suck on heavy metals or BPA plastics (well not any more than the average pregger) or have a cell phone strapped to my head 24/7, 34 ain't old and there isn't an autistic kid or neurological birth defect in my genepool all the way back to the Laplanders. If there is a scientific reason my kids have ASDs, well you haven't found it yet. Keep looking. I'd start with Pepsi products, though I can't say why.

And as for God. There's not a study in the world that can measure the purity in the heart of a child, nor see the tiny little ember within it that burns only to love and grow up in the great truth of Christ.

Toe, 7, (who as autistic is also believed by scientists to likely "not understand abstract concepts") said the following on Easter 2012 while sitting in a swing alone and talking to his chocolate bunny:

Hey, Easter Bunny, do you know what Easter is really about? It's about God who made the world and everything in it--like people and animals and stuff--and how he made the darkness and the light, and he separated the darkness from the light, and he said the light was good. And Jesus was the light, the best part of everything, and he's the King of Easter. so that's about it, but I still like you.

Science, sometimes you"re really wrong and you really suck. But I still like you.