Two Years of The Joy Machine

Jackson McLane - 2 Years Old Today
JT in his favorite spot doing his favorite thing, eating!

Jackson Turns Two Today

Here’s 10 things about our toddler that I wish I could bottle up and save forever.


We laughed when you were born

In the book of Genesis there are a lot of footnotes about people’s names. Some names refer to a character attribute while others refer to a physical attribute.

If we were to name Paul by such an attribute, one name might be: We laughed when you were born.

9 years ago today, Kristen checked into a hospital in Mt. Clemens (MI) to give birth to our second child. Since Megan was a big baby and her pregnancy with Paul had tracked pretty large all the way along Paul’s delivery was scheduled for induction on his due date. As the day progressed everyone kept bringing up the fact that Paul was a big baby.

When I think back to my son being born I just remember the joy in the room. Obviously, Kristen was very uncomfortable. But thanks to the drugs her pain didn’t sour her mood. Kristen and I were excited to meet Paul and the nurses and doctor picked up on our sense of humor/willingness to laugh. As labor progressed there were a lot of jokes told and laughing. Just like on a middle school camping trip… the mood had become slap happy! At a key time, just moments before Paul was born, a tiny heart monitor slipped off of his scalp and whacked the doctor right between the eyes! It was so gross, weird, and unexpected that it just sent us all over the edge. The room echoed with laughter as we all giggled at what happened.

And then Paul was born. We smiled, we wiped tears from our eyes, and we all just stared at this beautiful baby. And at 9 pounds 2 ounces— a big baby, too!

Paul turns 9 today. I’m positive he doesn’t want me to dwell on the moment he was born. (“Um, that’s weird dad! And kind of gross if you think about it.“) Yet, that sense of joy and fun that brought Paul into the world continues. Paul loves to have fun. He loves to giggle. He loves to tell jokes. In every way his birth was a precursor to his personality.

The past year has been one of tremendous growth for Paul. He’s overcome a lot of fears and dealt with a lot of things holding him back. I know it’s the right thing to say… “I’m excited for Paul for the next year.” But I really mean it. The past year was one of such tremendous growth and he’s in such a healthy place… his 9th year is set up to be truly fantastic.

So, I can’t wait to celebrate with him this week. On Saturday, we’re hosting a bunch of his friends for an afternoon of Laser Tag and lunch at In-N-Out. Dang, I want to be 9 again!

hmm... thoughts

5 Birthday Quotes That Made Me Giggle

Today, I officially got my “Middle-Aged Man Card” in the mail. I knew I was getting close to middle-age when conversations shifted amongst my friends from ambition, early married life, and comparing/contrasting theological themes in movies to longevity in ministry, vasectomies, and how much the movie rating system has changed since we were in high school.

Seriously– These are the things 35 year old men talk about over a cup of coffee with friends. I shudder to know what I’ll be talking about in 15 years.

Rather than fill today’s post with sentimentalities of what I’ve done and/or hoped to do with my first 35 years, I thought it’d be more fun to share 5 quotes about birthday’s that made me giggle. (Or think. But not too hard since I haven’t had my coffee yet.)

  1. May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine. ~ Frank Sinatra
  2. You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.  ~ Ogden Nash
  3. I am sixty years of age. That’s 16 Celsius. ~ George Carlin
  4. I’ve never looked forward to a birthday like I’m looking forward to my new daughter’s birthday, because two days after that is when I can apply for reinstatement. ~ Pete Rose
  5. Youth is a wonderful thing.  What a crime to waste it on children.  ~ George Bernard Shaw

3 Ways to Celebrate My Birthday

Erin & I celebrate our shared birthday last year at Lucha Libre Taco Shop, June 2nd 2009

So, today I  turn 34. Dang I am old. Here’s how long I’m going to lament about getting older. (One mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi.)

That’s enough self-pity. I feel better now.

Now back to being bossy.

I’m not much of a birthday guy. I like other people’s birthdays. I love my children’s birthdays. But I don’t really get into my birthday. Maybe I have daddy issues? Maybe I am not over getting a Grover birthday cake when I was 5 when I really wanted a Cookie Monster cake? Or maybe I’m just socially awkward? Who cares… let’s talk about what you can do for me on my birthday.

Three ways that you can celebrate my birthday which will make me smile.

  1. Do something, anything, to impact your community for Jesus. Bring a can to your church. Here are 10 more ideas.
  2. Give to my Haiti fund. $5, $10, $20. If you aren’t able to go please make it a bit easier for Kristen, Erin, and I to be Good News in Port-au-Prince this July. We’ve raised about $750 of the $2500 we need.
  3. Meet me at Triple Crown Pub tonight at 7. A dive bar is a weird place to ask you to show up, I know. Here’s the fun bit. Every penny of profit for whatever you order will go to the Haiti Fund. That’s right boys-n-girls. The Triple Crown by be a dive bar– but the owner has a big heart and is willing to make it easy for you to give.

9 Things I Love About Megan

Megan, last Saturday in a tide pool at dog beach
Megan, last Saturday in a tide pool at dog beach

Today Megan, my oldest child, turns nine. To celebrate I thought it would be appropriate to share nine things that are awesome about Megan.

  1. She is beautiful but not in a girly, make-up, gotta have the best of everything kind of way.
  2. She has a crazy fun friendship with her cat, Lovely Gorgeous. She is the only one in the family who can run and grab Lovely at any time. For some reason the cat will even hold still as Megan tries to teach her tricks.
  3. Imagination flows out of every pour of her body. Megan creates elaborate story lines and transforms her bedroom into all sorts of things. Right now her bedroom is a magic wand shop. Complete with homemade wands for $.05, used wands for $.02, and wand repairs for $.01.
  4. Speaking of money, she is crazy entrepreneurial. She is constantly creating ways to create businesses.
  5. She loves origami. Her ability to make the most complex things with paper astounds me.
  6. Like her mom, she is a reader. We have every gadget a kid could want– and yet a trip to the library is the best adventure we can offer.
  7. She is brave. Megan might not be the most outgoing kid on the block, but she is eager to try hard things and to explore. Living near the ocean has really brought this out.
  8. She is nice to her little brother. I don’t know how she does it as Paul does his best to bug her. She will be the first to volunteer for time away from him, but she has found a way to love and include him that I adore.
  9. Her face is hilariously expressive. Her mom is the queen of dirty looks. I am pretty good at making funny faces. But Megan is insanely good at making all sorts of faces and expressions.
Funny Stuff

Happy Birthday to Me

That’s right. 33 years baby. 32 was so nice I am reluctant to give it up. But alas the planet went all the way around the sun… and since it worked so hard to do that I’ll leave 32 behind and just plan on making 33 feel better by accepting its label for the next 365 days.

Crazy fact: While I hit the 1/3 century mark this year. My mom is only 39. Go figure.

Party with me: That’s right. You can see me live and in person [better than dead and on TV] at Lucha Libre in San Diego tonight. We are joining up with another Great American, Erin from our community group, and together we will dine in the Champions Booth… enjoying its amazing gold pleather boothiness while eating our tacos on fine china. Starting at 6:30 we will enjoy tacos, TJ hotdogs, and soda pop.


Megan Turns 8

Megan McLaneEight years. Two thousand nine hundred and twenty-two days. Seventy thousand one hundred and twenty eight minutes. Four million two hundred and seven thousand six hundred and eighty seconds.

Our daughter turns eight today. Unlike last year, there were no tears as she welcomed eight into her life. She has been counting down the days and finally it is here.

Seven has been a big year for her. A year ago she proclaimed that one day her and Paul would move back to Romeo and buy back 449 N. Bailey Street. A year ago she was almost done with first grade. A year ago she hadn’t driven across the United States with me. A year ago she hadn’t even been to San Diego.

The last year has been one adventure after another. She has become our wave hopping beach lover. She has learned to swim. She has started to learn to ride a boogey board. She has become infatuated with nature, wildlife, and learning all about animals. She has mastered addition and subtraction and begun multiplication and division. She has learned how to save $50 of her allowance. She has learned how to stay up super late reading big thick books.

As a seven year old Megan survived six months of sharing a bedroom with her little brother.

Much has changed for Megan in the last 12 months. But some things haven’t. She is still loving and kind. She still loves to trick us. She still loves stories. She still lives in a pretend world, in a good way. She has tried new things like hip hop class. She has been very brave in making new friends at Darnall. She doesn’t even notice/care that she is a minority. She can still out-fart 90% of men in the world. She is still a picky eater.

When we asked Megan how she wanted to celebrate we kind of hoped we could talk her into celebrating over the weekend. She wouldn’t have that. So rather than have much of a party she opted for a family trip to Sea World after school. Last night we shared some Shamu birthday cake with our community group, today she is taking cupcakes to school… and then at noon we are grabbing the kids from school [they have a half day each Tuesday] and spending the rest of the day watching the dolphins, dogs/cats, penguins, and Shamu at our new favorite place on earth.


4 Gift Ideas for Big Sister

whale-cakeMy five year old son is a pretty funny little guy. Somehow I don’t think he gets that birthday presents are about the recipient more than the giver.

This morning, we were asking Paul for some gift ideas for his big sister. Here were a few ideas:

#1 A goat.

#2 A donut with a bite out of it.

#3 A clip-on fan for her bed.

#4 A knuckle-sandwich machine.

Now, I do have to say that while the knuckle-sandwich machine isn’t the best birthday present for your big sister… it is clever. You unwrap the present, open the box, and a hand flies out and punches you in the face.

It seems like we have some work left to do. Wait until I tell him he has to buy the present with his own money.


Happy Birthday Paul

Happy Birthday PaulDespite Paul’s preference to believe that he was never a baby, today is his 5th birthday.

On August 8th, 2003 Kristen and I drove to Mount Clemens General for Paul’s scheduled birth. Since his sister was a big baby our doctor felt no need to make Kristen wait the typical 2 weeks after the due date. And for good reason. Several hours later baby Paul was born at 9 lbs 2 oz.

If you’ve not spent time with Paul you are missing out. Paul is a blast. He is full of energy, creativity, stories, ideas, and spunk. Paul has some of the best faces you’ve ever seen. Seriously, he can roll his eyes in a way that just cracks me up.

Paul is also a very physical kid. One of our favorite things to do is “wrestle.” Wrestling at our house essentially means that I get on the floor and throw them around for a while. Then Megan and Paul do some massive WWE moves to try to break me.  They’ll jump off furniture or get a running start to dive onto my back. This is also a way I teach them to work together as the only way I’ll allow them to knock me down or pin me (they count to 4 and say, “We win!”) is to work together. While Megan and I always played together, Paul craves this physical contact. You’ll often see him run up and punch me in the stomach or pull my arm or push me or smack me on the butt. Those are all invitations to “fight.”

Here are a few more of Paul’s favorite things.

1. Karate. Paul has earned his first belt and can’t wait to start at his new school in San Diego.

2. Chicks. Paul’s man squeeze is Autumn. It doesn’t matter that she’s babysat him since he was about a week old, he’s madly in love with her. But she’s not his only girlfriend. At one point he claimed he had 100 girlfriends. Play on player.

3. Food. Seriously, the first thing he says when he wakes up is “What can I eat?” Sometimes he’s non-verbal in the morning and he just points to his mouth!

4. The computer. As I’ve talked about before, you’ve not lived until you see this little boy navigate his computer.

5. Superheros. Right now he’s into Pokemon. But he’s also into Power Rangers, Webkinz, and Scooby Doo.

Like his dad, Paul is very sensitive. As much as he likes the spotlight he also gets embarrassed easily. When he is confident about what he’s doing he is very confident. But when he is doing something he’s unsure about and he suddenly realizes other people are watching him, he bolts and hides.

I could go on writing about my son, but all of this is to say… Happy birthday Paul!

family news item

Happy Birthday Megan

Happy Birthday MeganIt’s hard to believe but my oldest child turns 7 today. Six was a good year to her. She has finished most of first grade. She is learning like crazy. She just got baptized. She has a lot of friends. She is in love with Webkinz.

Megan loves animals, especially her cat Lovely. While Lovely is a pretty grumpy cat to me, she is super gentle with Megan… who is a bit rough with the feline.

Turning seven is a big deal. As I look forward to the next 12 months for her I can foresee a lot of changes, a lot of exploration, and a lot more learning. Megan is just about the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet. Gosh, I love that kid.

A couple of Megan tidbits from a daddy perspective—

  1. Megan was born on the ideal day. Kristen and I were meticulous in planning the pregnancy. In our family, it’s against the rules to have a June baby as nearly every day is taken. And I didn’t want to have a baby while I was in school, so I needed to make sure she was born after finals and before mid-August. And Kristen didn’t want to be pregnant for a sweaty Chicago summer, so that left a window of May 12 to May 30th. In fact, we circled May 12th on the calender and did some math to.. um… time everything out. Yes, I’ve been known to make a plan and stick to it! So while Megan was technically “late” according to the doctor, she was born on the date we planned out many months before.
  2. On November 20th, 2000 I journaled this about getting started with a family: We finally made an agreement to get started the first time we met your cousin Ryan. I instantly fell in love with his “McLane-ness” and I absolutely had to have one, my very own McLane. For some reason I was convinced that any children I had were going to look just like mommy’s family. (Jacob in particular.) But as soon as I saw little Ryan crawling around his grandparents yard I knew I was ready. He was just too cute and way too stubborn! Let’s just say that prophesy has come true. Megan is all McLane and she is slightly stubborn.
  3. Megan was a boy. At least she was a boy 3 times in ultrasounds. (Friends of ours ran an ultrasound school and used Kristen’s belly as a lab rat. It wasn’t until Megan was about 5 minutes old that I made the observation and went over to Kristen… “Our boy doesn’t have a piece.” [direct quote!] In fact, on the video taken immediately after she was born you can hear us calling her Paul. (We’ve had our kids names picked out since we were dating!)