Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Moving to WordPress

Hello Friends,

I know that I haven't done much blogging lately, but I am going to try to start doing more again. I am moving to wordpress. The new site is twocentopinions.wordpress.com . You may find some of the posts here edited, reworked and reblogged there. Hopefully there will be some fresh material too. Happy Blogging.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why Didn't I Think of That!?

"Here's a good idea, folks! Let's put a bottle opener on the bottom of our sandals! It'll be great! We can use the shoes to protect our feet from all the nasty stuff we don't want to step in and we can always have a spare bottle opener whenever we need it!"

Honestly, I don't know who in their right mind would buy these shoes. It wouldn't be so bad if they were the same price as a regular pair of sandals or the price of a bottle opener. But they are $46.00. Forty-six dollars! In my opinion, once you wear them one time, you are going to have to invest in another bottle opener. So now you have two pairs of sandals. One that you wear, and one that you leave at home in the kitchen drawer or in the glove box to open bottles. Actually, since both sandals have a bottle opener, you could leave one in the kitchen and one in the car.

For all of you Wal-Mart regulars who still don't understand what all the fuss is about, let me explain. Think of all the stuff you walk through every day. It is very possible that you might step in some -- well, you get the picture. Do you really want all that in close proximity to your bottle?

Still, it appears that these sandals are a very hot item and I have heard that the price is worth the quality and comfort even if you don't use the bottle opener. I guess that most of the beverages served in a bottle that require opening are the kinds of beverages that may cause a person to not care if they have all kinds of "ground matter" on their bottle. Maybe that's what the developers had in mind. They should get Jimmy Buffett to be their spokesperson. He could even modify one of his hits to promote their product!

I pulled of my flip-flop
Popped off a bottle top
Took a sip, now my lips taste like grime.
And there's grass in my dentures
I don't have the answers.
Another swig and I think I'll be fine.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A New Beginning

You may have noticed that this blog has a new name. Or you may not have noticed since no one has been reading this blog lately because there have not been any posts. The reason for that is the writer, editor and quality control administrator have all been very busy lately.

The writer got a night job at FedEx where, after only a couple hours of sleep, he had to rise at the crack of 11:30 pm, go to work, drive back home on deserted highways and fall back into bed at about 4:00 am in order to catch a few winks before rising again at 9:30 am. Fortunately, the editor has satisfied his urge to throw -- oops, I mean place -- boxes onto conveyor belts and turned in his resignation to FedEx recently. Four Under Four has gladly granted him his old position back.

Meanwhile, the editor decided that he wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of going back to school. No one else on staff understood this obsession, but he was very determined. He was busy every evening working on homework or going to class in order to gain his Master's Degree in "Weblog Editing." Thankfully, he graduated with most highest honors last month. He can now devote his attentions to editing this blog (and providing a much higher level quality).

In stark contrast to the hard working members of this organization, the quality control administrator (QCA) has simply been goofing off. He has a full-time day job and four kids at home, but otherwise, he is just plain lazy! Since the other members of the staff are going to be fulfilling their duties once again, the QCA has agreed to buckle down, learn some discipline and get back to work on blogging.

Along with a new beginning comes a new name. The family that this blog features has been growing up and they are not four under four anymore. The staff kicked around several ideas before settling on a simple solution to the problem. Some of the suggestions were:

Four Within Four - Nope, too bland.

Four For Fighting - We definitely don't want to encourage that!

Fortunate Files - Yeah right! That sounds like a '70s detective TV show.

The Weblog Formerly Known as Four Under Four - Ummm, too wordy?

Finally, (Formerly) Four Under Four was decided upon as the best reflection of the family's current state. Besides, now the PR department doesn't have to print up new brochures and golf balls. They can simply add the word "(Formerly)" to the beginning and they won't have to give all their old promotional materials to Goodwill.

The staff sincerely apologizes for any mental distress it may have caused as a result of its long hiatus. It is our sincere hope that we can continue to bring you the latest family news and humor and help to make your day a little brighter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Don't Panic" ... Please?

This blurb was found in the Indianapolis Star today.

Helicopter photo-op today

If you see a low-flying helicopter overhead today in Bloomington or Indianapolis, don't panic. It's only photographers taking pictures of the Indiana University and IUPUI campuses for a university project. A similar type of photo-op caused hysteria in New York City last month, and university officials want to avoid that kind of public reaction.

Indianapolis Star, 20 May 2009, pg. A19

This made me laugh out loud. The "similar type of photo-op" that the article refers to the April 27 incident in which the Obama administration was trying to snap a photo of Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty in the background. Allegedly, no one thought to warn even the mayor of New York that a large jet was going to fly closer to the city than any plane has flown since September 11, 2001. There is a whole story behind that debacle, but that is not why this paragraph caught my attention.

What I found so funny was the fact that the "university officials" and apparently the editors at the Star thought that a helicopter hovering over a metro area may induce the same feelings of panic as the Obama photo-op. If you have ever lived in or around a metro area, you know that TV stations, law enforcement, and even medical facilities are constantly using helicopters to keep the public safe and informed. Seeing a helicopter hovering over a highly populated area is not an event that incites panic.

On the other hand, seeing a Boeing VC-25 (about the same size as a 747) swoop down within stone-skipping distance of Manhattan Island to chat with Lady Liberty could cause some New Yorkers to have some flashbacks. Indeed it did. People ran out of buildings. Evacuation orders were given. Fingers pointed to the sky. Business people bolted from their desks.

If you ask me, a helicopter hovering over a university campus just doesn't have the same effect.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Couple of Roses

Many of FourUnderFour's readers have been becoming more and more anxious about the well being of our family and more importantly of my motivation to sit down and put a few thoughts together for a blog. I have received more than one "panicky" comment about when the next post can be expected. Well, here it is - as well as a few excuses of why I have dropped off the face of the blogging universe for the last six months.

As some of you may have known, I have been pursuing a Master's Degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. My core classes started at the end of September. This was the specialization part of the program and we had no breaks in between classes as we had had in the past. So I began spending a lot more of my time doing homework.

When I started the program, I thought that my employer was going to allow me to participate in their Tuition Reimbursement Program. I won't bore you with the details, but it didn't work out. So, I found myself in a position that I was going to either have to drop out of the program halfway through, or find another source of income to pay for the rest of the tuition.

It was for this reason that on November 3, 2008, I became a part-time employee at FedEx. After taking the job, I was pleased to learn that FedEx also offered a tuition reimbursement program that would essentially pay for almost all of the last three of my classes. So, there I was, working a full time job during the day as well as four nights a week from midnight to 3:00 or 4:00 am, going to class once a week and doing lots of homework besides. I hope that you understand why I haven't been blogging.

The good news is that I finished my last class on March 25! I plan on graduating on April 25, 2009 at the Indiana Wesleyan University Campus in Marion, Indiana. I would like to thank God for helping me through this busy time. He has answered many prayers along the way including bringing just the right job my way to pay for the rest of my classes. There are also a couple of people that I would like to thank - a few roses to pass out, if you will. Without these people, it would have been impossible for me to complete my degree.

The first rose goes to my wonderful wife, Kristen. As you can imagine, most of my time recently has been spent away from home at work or class. The times that I have been home have been spent working on homework. Kristen has been patient and supportive during this time. She has taken care of the children, completed some of the projects around the house that I know she would rather have me do and spent many sleepless nights alone while I was at FedEx. All this she has done without complaining. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty as a wife and mother. For instance, many times while I sat at the computer working on homework she would come in and give me a shoulder rub, even though she had been working around the house all day and probably needed one more than I did. Thank you so much, Kristen, for all your love and support. I would truly be lost without you.

There are two other very important people in my life that have played an important role over the last couple of years. The second rose goes to my mom and dad. They have offered encouragement and support through this very busy time. They convinced me to stick to it when I was considering dropping out. They even sacrificed personally to send me some money to help me pay for classes. Thanks Mom and Dad for everything.

In other news, our house is on the market (again) and we are trying to sell it so that we can move to Florida. Unfortunately, the housing market is very slow right now. I have begun the process of obtaining my Florida Contractor's License for heating and air conditioning. I hope to be able to start an HVAC company this year.
Also, in February, my former employer, Enterprise Electrical and Mechanical, became so slow that I was only getting about 20 hours a week. In another answer to prayer, God brought along another opportunity for full time employment that sufficiently meets our financial needs right now. So, I am now working for a small company called Filtration Engineering and Service.
If you are tired of hearing excuses, you may skip this paragraph, but I do have one more. One of the great advantages of being an employee at FedEx is access to their great insurance benefits. So Kristen and I have taken advantage of this by having several elective medical procedures performed recently (wisdom teeth extractions, varicose vein lasering, etc.).
So that's what I have been doing for the last 5 months instead of blogging. I hope to get back to writing in a few weeks when I quit FedEx. Thank you all for your patience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Four Under Four's Fall Family Fun (Act III)

Act III - The Great Pumpkin
We made our way to the pumpkin patch (about a half of a mile away).

Excitement was high as everyone selected a pumpkin to set on their front porch.

Most of the pumpkin seekers selected a gourd that they (or their daddies) could carry back to the car (another half of a mile).

However, Kyle, being at that tender age where everything turns into a rite of passage, selected the biggest pumpkin in the patch - "The Great Pumpkin."

We all told him that he would never be able to carry it back to the car. But he insisted. (His mother insisted that she was not paying for a pumpkin that size.) As the sun grew hotter and the road grew longer the great pumpkin grew heavier.

Finally, at another pumpkin patch about a third of the way back to the car, Kyle exchanged his great pumpkin for a smaller, more manageable one. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, "Well, don’t take it too hard, Linus. I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life too."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Four Under Four's Fall Family Fun (Act II)

Act II - The "Cool Bus" and the Goats

Cousin Shelby (middle) doesn't think the bus is very cool.

Jordan pet the goats...

And Jennae kissed them!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Four under Four's Fall Family Fun (in three acts)

Four Under Four was recently invited to a home schoolers field trip to an apple orchard in southern Indiana. The following are some pictures of the day. Tune in later on in the week for acts II and III.

Act I - Apple Picking Time

"Who wants to pick apples?"

Jordan chooses a nice Golden Delicious.

Jennae prefers Jonagold.

Joelle doesn't care what kind it is as long as she can sink her five teeth into it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Terminal Lunacy

Recently our family took a trip to Florida for a vacation. My wife and I decided together that it would be easier to fly than to spend 16 hours driving. Our logic was that we would be more rested when we got there and the kids would enjoy it more. We failed to take into consideration several factors, including the task of maintaining our sanity while trying to also preserve the sanity of other travelers.

Our first mistake was booking the earliest flight available. We flew out at 7:05 am which meant we had to be at the airport at 5:30 am which meant we had to get the kids up at 4:30 am. The babies were fine as soon as we gave them bottles. When we tried to wake the older kids, however, they suggested that we go to Florida some other time. The suggestion of packing them in the luggage so they could sleep all the way to Florida finally got them up and in the car.

As soon as we arrived at the airport I noticed a lot of curious stares and raised eyebrows as we made our way to the terminal. I guess we must have looked a little odd. The older two had on their backpacks filled with diapers, Goldfish snacks, stickers, fruit snacks, sippy cups and other various snacks. In the unlikely event of an emergency landing, we would be prepared to tough it out in the wilderness for a couple of days. The babies bounced along happily on Mommy and Daddy's hips. Mommy also carried a small purse and a huge diaper bag containing more diapers. (The last thing you want to do on a crowded airplane is run out of diapers.) Daddy carried a laptop and a saxophone. (The next to the last thing you want to do on an airplane is let those crazy luggage handlers throw something fragile underneath an Embraer 170.)

It was sometime shortly after we arrived that I realized we had made another mistake. We had put sandals on our babies. Our twins hold the first and second place records for the slipperiest feet in the state of Indiana. I think it would be easier to keep marbles between their toes than to keep shoes on their feet. Every 5 yards or so Jordan would stop and yell, "Mommy! Julianne's shoe!" (More curious stares)

Finally, I had had enough. I tightened the strap on the sandals as tight as I could without turning the babies' feet purple. I would have used some silicone caulking but none of the airport shops sold it. I had just decided that the problem was solved when we arrived at the security checkpoint.

"All shoes must come off!" barked one of the TSA agents. "Here," she said, looking at me and pointing to an empty line, "You can go right here."

I saw everyone in the line behind us start to fight their way into other lines.

"Do I have to take the babies' shoes off? I asked pointing at her purple feet.

"All shoes must come off," she said again with a twinge of sympathy in her voice.

After getting undressed and walking through the metal detector and getting dressed again, we made our way to the gate. On our way, we stopped fourteen more times to pick up shoes. (More raised eyebrows) Fortunately, we did have the foresight to see that hurrying through the airport with four children would be disaster and thus had decided to give ourselves lots of extra time. However, we overlooked the fact that since we arrived an hour early, the children had more time to get Cheerios and apple juice on every surface that was near us.

We found our gate and sat down and got comfortable to wait for them to call our boarding zone. The children took off their backpacks, we set down our luggage and the babies started to walk around the airport furniture half bare-footed. Eventually, we were so spread out that we looked like the children of Israel camping in the desert. However, with half of our tribe in diapers, the brume that followed us was not the pillar of cloud by day.

The children had not had breakfast so I spent $4.95 on a poppy seed muffin for all of us to share. We drew more curious stares as we tore off little chunks of muffin to feed to our starving children. It was like manna from heaven to them. Presently our zone was called to board. We gathered up all the shoes and made our way to the line. I looked back at the place where we had been camped out. All those poppy seed muffin crumbs indeed looked like manna covering the terminal floor. With all the extra charges airlines are adding on these days, I was afraid they were going to charge us for the extra janitor they had to hire to clean up after us.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. I was beginning to think that flying wasn't so bad after all. Then, as we hurried to our connecting gate, I looked down and all four of the babies' shoes were missing. I was just about to turn around and look for them when my wife told me she had taken them off and put them in the already bulging diaper bag.

"'Bout time," I thought.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lessons Learned

Since my last blog about weddings, I have twice more been dragged, kicking and screaming to the church to witness the joining of two more happy couples. Two more dates have been stricken off of my list. Two more of my relatives have pledged their lives to a man in a rented tuxedo and tight shoes. Weddings three and four are history. I do not begrudge my time spent in the church for these happy, sweaty occasions, however, because I have learned many things.

1. I will never embarrass my children by showing a huge crowd of people a slide show that includes a picture of them in the bathtub when they were two (or when they were any other age for that matter). I'm not sure who contributes these pictures but sometimes I wonder if it is not an old friend with a long-standing vendetta.

2. It doesn't matter how cool the church is before the wedding, it is always too hot during the wedding. The same goes for the reception hall. I was in the church before the most recent wedding and it was so cold I had to warm my hands over the candles before playing my saxophone. The photographer didn't get any good pictures beforehand because you could see everyone's breath. But as soon as the prelude started, the temperature jumped 30 degrees. Then, while the wedding party was on stage, the lighting technicians turned on their huge spotlights which only served to accentuate everyone's sweat lines. I could feel beads of sweat running down my back as they sang "God Causes All Things to Grow." I imagined everyone else except the bride and groom was as miserable as I. The groom must have been perspiring too but he was too lost in the moment to notice. As you can imagine, a sweaty groom is not a good thing.

3. The bride and groom do a really fine job of making the bridesmaids and groomsmen comfortable the day of the wedding. We had our own little room to change in, all the food we could eat and ice-cold bottled water (I should have taken some to the ceremony with me). We all even received a nice gift for our participation. Maybe being in a wedding isn't so bad after all.

4. Children in a wedding add elements of cuteness and chaos. We had a lot of children in the last wedding and the pianist played "My Favorite Things" as they tromped down the aisle. Indeed, once they got onto the platform, we looked like the Von Trapp Family Singers. We had one child who would not stand but rather laid on her belly until she was sent to sit with the spectators, another who would alternate between sitting, standing and removing the wedgie he got while sitting, and one who had to use the bathroom so badly that he made quite a scene until a sympathic spectator came onto the blazing hot platform (remember the spotlights) and took him to the necessary place. The only thing that could have gone worse would have been if he hadn't made it in time. Two of the above spectacle-makers were from one family. I won't mention their names here, but their last name rhymes with golden.

5. You are not supposed to throw bells at the bride and groom. I actually learned this shortly after my second wedding when I got a bill from Columbus Regional Medical Center for an emergency room visit. It seems the great aunt of the groom was standing right behind him and his bride when I tossed my bell at them. My aim isn't very good. She needed six stitches in the eyebrow. Apparently the bells were just for making noise.

6. It's hard to get rose petals to make noise. At this last wedding, we received neither bells nor birdseed. The attendants handed out little handfuls of rose petals. I was afraid to throw anything after the bell incident so I did my best to make some kind of noise with the petals. The only way I knew to do this was to cup my hands over one another and shake the petals as hard as I could. I could feel the beads of perspiration starting to form again. Unfortunately, the only real noise I heard was giggling, and it wasn't coming from the rose petals.

7. I'm glad summer is almost over.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nameless Creek?

As I was driving through Hancock County on the rather boring I-70 corridor, I saw a sign that I thought was interesting. It a standard highway information sign, green with reflective lettering and it was positioned adjacent to a small overpass. It read, "Nameless Creek." I know that I must have a some sort of short circuit in my brain to even have noticed this, but I thought to myself, "Is it really a nameless creek if everybody calls it 'Nameless Creek'?" I think not. It does have name and its name is "Nameless". If it was truly a nameless creek, it should be referred to as "that creek that doesn't have a name" or "that creek that runs under I-70 at mile marker 110. Maybe the Department of Transportation didn't have a sign that long.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Harleys and Hondas

I saw something recently that caught my attention. As I sat in traffic, I glanced over an saw a fat, shirtless man on a motorcycle waiting at a red light. This, in itself was not all that interesting, at least not to me. However, the tattoo that was on his back was very unique. I do not consider myself a connoisseur of tattoos, nor do I usually make a practice of noticing them. But I had never seen one like this and I paused to take note. It was a large Harley-Davidson logo just below his neck. What was even more interesting was the name on his motorcycle...Honda.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Two Down, Four to Go

Weddings are fine, and I'm glad that people have them, but I'm not glad that I have six to attend this summer. If you are reading this and I am attending your wedding this summer, please understand that I'm not complaining about attending your wedding, I'm complaining about attending your wedding and five others. If you are reading this and I am not attending your wedding this summer, please understand that if you schedule one, I will complain about attending yours.

I think I speak for all men is saying that attending weddings is not their favorite thing to do. They would rather go shopping with their wives or go to a Tupperware party or fix a sink drain than go to a wedding. There is just nothing at a wedding that appeals to manlihood. But that's okay. We go to weddings with our wives to show them how much we love them, right guys? Right.

This past weekend, I attended my second wedding of the summer and I noticed that weddings have changed a lot in the past few years since I got married. One of the first things I noticed was the excessive number of attendants. It seems like each wedding I attend has more and more attendants. In this past wedding, I was among the group of "these witnesses" along with a crowd of others. Besides myself, there were five other groomsmen and a best man. We had so many people coming down the aisle that we all had to run just to keep the wedding from running into two hours. This is an alarming trend that, if it continued, will eventually result in having more people in the wedding party than in the crowd.

The next largest wedding party that I have seen was my own. We had six attendants each and three junior bridesmaids. However, this was partially due to the fact that my wife-to-be had seven sisters. I don't know of very many other families that size, but I know that there are lots of other wedding parties that size. It seems like the criteria of selection for an attendant in a wedding party has changed drastically. You don't have to be a close friend to the bride (who usually has the last say in how many are in the wedding party), you just have to be an acquaintance who will be "hurt" if you are not asked.

Another thing I have noticed about weddings lately is the evolution of the time-honored tradition of throwing rice. Years ago, it became popular to throw birdseed instead of rice. Supposedly this was because birds could choke on rice and die. I never really understood this. In the first place, when is the last time you saw a bird trying to eat dried rice? Secondly, if we continue to encourage the avian menaces to attend weddings just to get a free meal (not unlike some people I know), soon we will be overrun with birds. Alfred Hitchcock will be celebrated as a prophet.

At this latest wedding however, we didn't get rice or birdseed to throw, we got tiny, little bells. My first thought was, "Man, these are going to hurt!" I determined that since the bride and groom had been so nice to me that I would just toss mine gently and aim for some area besides the head. After all, they were providing a free meal after the ceremony and a snack prior.

As the happy couple approached the limousine, I cringed as I envisioned dozens of guests hurling their bells at them. To my surprise, all the guests started to ring their bells. So that was what you were supposed to do with them. I was incensed! After an hour of standing on a very narrow step in the front of the church trying not to lock my knees and sweating through my $134 rental tuxedo, I wanted something to throw. I didn't really want to hurt anyone, I just thought if I could throw something, I could relieve a little bit of my pent up stress. After four more weddings, I'm going to have to throw a real bell of Liberty proportions in order to relieve my stress.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday, Chocolate, Strollers, and Huggies

I just had to laugh...

My two-year-old daughter, Jennae, loves fresh fruit. She has developed this trait in response to my wife's consistency in providing it to her (and her siblings) at mealtimes. Sometimes we even have trouble getting her to eat the other things that are prepared for her.

Such was the case today. The menu consisted of roast beef and cheese sandwiches and cantaloupe. Jennae finished her first serving of cantaloupe in short order and asked for more. She was told that she could have more as soon as she finished her sandwich. After a few minutes of whining and nibbling, she asked again for some more cantaloupe. Again, we told her that she must finish the sandwich first.

As I was engrossed in my newspaper, I wasn't paying attention to my daughter's actions. All at once she came bursting into the family room (which adjoins our kitchen) and said, "I ate my sandwich! I want some more cantaloupe!"

I was suspicious. First of all, she usually asks me for more while she is still chewing whatever it was she had to finish. This was not the case. If it had been, I would have heard something like this, "Au ot mmf sumwish! Au won sum mo canalof!" The other reason I was suspicious, I cannot explain. I only know that it comes from more than four years of parenting. I think God gives parents a sensibility to know when their offspring are trying to pull one over on them.

"Did you eat all your sandwich?" I asked asI walked over to the trash can under the kitchen sink, eager to give her another chance to tell the truth.

"Yes." she said as I pulled the trash can out. I started picking through it searching for the remnant that I knew I would find.

Jennae was still in the family room and I heard her say, "It's not in there, Daddy. It's in the sink!" I looked in the sink and sure enough, there were two small wadded-up crusts of bread. I just had to laugh.

God"s Amazing Creation