Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's been a while...

I haven't written a post for waaaaaaay too long.  Today's post, though, is a little more serious than the others.  (I know, lame, right?)

So, for those of you who know me, you know I'm a pretty religious guy.  I usually pray throughout the day: just little things here and there as stuff comes to me.  Sometimes I'm not patient enough with my kids, so I'll try and sneak in a little prayer in my mind asking for help to be more patient.  Or, sometimes if I'm just driving somewhere, I'll think about things I want to improve in, so I pray for help and try to think of ways that I can improve in those areas.

Anyway, something that's been on my mind a lot recently has been service.  I've been analyzing my life and I realize that I haven't been as selfless as I should be.  So, I've been praying for ways I can be more selfless: you know, like doing some community service, feeding the homeless, saving whales, that kind of stuff.

The problem is, all these house chores keep getting in the way. The other morning I was having a great prayer--on my knees no less--asking God for more opportunities to be selfless and chisel away at all my selfish tendencies, when I realized it was time to get the kids up, make them breakfast, and then make their lunches.  Then, after that, they were off to school, so I had some free time, and so I thought, "Okay, now's a perfect time to go and do something for someone other than myself."  The only problem was, I had to do the laundry and the dishes, make the bed, pick up the kids' room (which they usually do themselves but in this case I had to get it done before they would be home from school) and then run some food up to my wife who had forgotten to make herself a lunch.  Then, to make matters worse, Keenin had forgotten his homework folder at home and it had a ton of homework in it that he had to turn in that day.  So, I had to drive all the way out to his school just to drop it off (which is not the same school down the street that Reese goes to: Keenin now goes to a private school out by the airport, which is only about 15 miles away, but with Honolulu traffic it might as well be located in Guam).

Then, that afternoon, all my time was eaten up by helping the kids with their homework, piano lessons, make dinner, and then they were allowed to have some of the neighbor kids come over and play.  Of course, 4-5 small children running around in a confined area is worse than a college frat house during Homecoming.  By the time the night was over and I was getting the kids in the bath, our place looked like it had been redecorated by Genghis Khan.  I rolled my eyes and bemoaned my travails as a "housewife" to Emaley, earning myself a sympathetic look along with a couple platitudes.

The next morning, when I woke up, once again praying to have more opportunities to be more selfless, I looked at the house--still in disarray--and groaned.  I complained to Emaley how I'm spending all my time cleaning and cooking and cleaning some more and then after the cleaning I get to do some more cleaning cleaning cleaning cleaning cleaning cooking cleaning cleaning...


On an unrelated note: I give a lot of lip service to "God answers prayers in mysterious ways" when I'm at church.  It makes you sound sage and deep and balanced to say stuff like that, and everyone else in Sunday School says, "Ooh, Doug is so wise and spiritual.  Scripture seems to tumble from his lips like honey from one of those little plastic bear-shaped bottles."  Of course, when the rubber hits the road, and God answers my prayer in a way that's not only mysterious but, let's face it, a little inglorious, I tend to moan and whine and throw my hands up in some faux righteous indignation.

No wonder my mom is such a saint.  By the time she was done raising me, she had earned enough "community service" hours to cash in on a beachfront mansion in heaven, complete with a hot tub and tennis court.  I mean, here I am presented DAILY opportunities to give service to--not strangers, not acquaintances--but the most important people in my life, and I drag my feet like I'm on death row.

I've always been told house chores are circular--kind of like the "Circle of Life" in the Lion King: eternal, perpetual, never-ending, obnoxious (I feel like Bill Murray in "Ground Hog Day")--and that knowledge has never done anything to assuage my frustration with constant cleaning and cooking.  However, when I finally looked at it from the perspective of, "Wow, I get to do these things today for the people I love," it changed everything.  I still hate cleaning, I still hate cooking, but I love my sweaty, smelly, muddy kids and my patient, understanding wife who puts up with all my whining (but who can't put clothes on hangers to save her life and always leaves her pajamas laying on the floor and doesn't load the washing machine correctly and always leaves little bits of food on the dishes when she washes them and... )

Anyway, I never realized homemaking could be such an internship for Sainthood.  By no means do I claim to have achieved any sort of super spiritual transcendental status, but this one little "click" in my paradigm has definitely opened my eyes up to a lot of what it means to live everyday for other people.  I think I understand the kind of service Jesus gave--not to elevate himself, but to elevate others.  Now, when I do finally go out and save a whale, or help out at a soup kitchen, I hope I'll think more about the service itself, and less about myself.

Reese just spilled her juice.  I get to "serve" her...again...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's all coming back to haunt me

Keenin and Reese have a tendency to mumble sometimes, or just speak really quietly, and I often have to prompt them to speak up.  Conversely, they also have the attention span of a gnat, and so whether I may be speaking too quietly myself, or yelling at the top of my lungs, they will often still not hear what I have to say.  So, in those cases where I have to repeat myself several times, I'll sometimes tease them and say, "Geez, do I need to buy you a hearing aid?"

Today, Reese came up with her own zing.  She asked me a question and I said, "What?"  She asked it again, just as quietly as before, and I had to say, "What?" again.  Finally, she asked it a third time and I heard her and was able to answer it.  Afterwards, however, she proceeded to roll her eyes and say, "Geez, do I need to buy you elephant ears?"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Family vs. Dinosaurs

It's pretty funny hearing the debates that rage between Keenin and Reese.  Though Emaley and I haven't gone out of our way to promote "girly" things for Reese and "boy" things for Keenin (which, brings up another point: why isn't there a male counterpart to the term "girly"?  I guess you could say "boyly," but that just sounds stupid), each of them has nevertheless posted their gender flags and they subsequently defend their territory with zeal.  There are moments when compromises are reached and they are able to temporarily join forces for the common cause of having fun.  However, it inevitably dissolves into the clash of the sexes once again with Reese demanding they play "girl" games, and Keenin stating unequivocally that it is only "boy" games he will condone.  The battle lines are redrawn as they return to their trenches, with mermaids, ponies, and unicorns in one, and Spider-Man, Batman, and dinosaurs in the other.

Today, in particular, Keenin has been playing almost exclusively with his new toy dinosaur he received from a friend of the family's for his birthday.  Reese has been playing with her dollhouse, which opens up to show the inside, and which came with an entire family (daddy, mommy, brother, sister, and baby).  They were playing separately until somehow the realms of play overlapped and soon they were trying to play together.  However, it quickly fell apart into an argument, with Reese begging Keenin to have the dinosaur come eat dinner with the family, and Keenin insisting that the family is the dinosaur's dinner.  Reese insisted that the dinosaur should not eat the family, but that rather it should be their pet.  Keenin insisted that the family should "go to war against the dinosaur" (his words exactly), which, in Keenin's mind, was the greatest compromise ever: Reese got to play house while still partaking in the epic struggle against giant carnivores.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get them ready for church, so I asked Reese to go get her socks on.  She glared at Keenin and told him not to eat the family while she was away.  She stalked off into her room with Keenin watching her go, at which point he took his dinosaur, latched its jaws onto the mom's head, and started intermittently growling and screaming in a high-pitched voice as the mommy was devoured.  Then he grabbed the dad, who punched the dinosaur, rescuing his wife from the clutches of the evil monster.

Reese came back into the room with her socks on only to see, to her horror, Family vs. Dinosaurs!

Everything came apart, of course, with them arguing over what to play until they came to me, whom they view as the great mediator.  With Solomon-like wisdom, I told them they should take turns and play girl stuff for one minute, then boy stuff for one minute, switching off.  This idea seemed to be the best compromise they could come up with.  Keenin demanded that I set a timer so that they wouldn't play girl stuff for one second longer than a minute.  Reese seconded the motion and it became policy: the timer has been going off every minute for about ten minutes now.

The result has been a sort of bipolar pretend play: one minute they're having tea, with the Tyrannosaurus Rex politely asking for "two sugars, please," after which he suddenly attacks and the family must fight back with their magic (not sure when the magic came into the whole scenario).  Soon thereafter, they are back to tea, until the dinosaur loses interest once more and decides he wants more of a snack than a hot drink and a cookie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

musical review

I just got my first musical review last night.  I had a piece for solo flute premier in Boston, thanks to the efforts of my good friend Masaki Hasebe.  You can check out the review here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Longest Story in the Universe

I recently found a story written by Keenin for this past Easter.  I re-read it and was reminded how funny it is, so I thought I'd post it.  (Please note: I'm typing it exactly as he has written it, so the grammar's a little off and he has a tendency to capitalize random letters).

The longest Story in the UNIVERSE, by Keenin McCulloch

A Long time ago There lived a country LOTS of people live there because there was a very old man older than anybody in the planet and his name was JESUS he was a power full man he cannot he helped lots of People love him so did did him and he loved better than they love him some people call him the mosaia (a.k.a. "Messiah").  But one day he got killed he was nailed on a cross and put him in a cave with gaurds ("guards") so no one could not save him an angle (or, rather, "angel") came killed the guards wait wait wait wait he got resarected ("resurrected") then the angle came and killed the gaurds opened the gaurds door Jesus came out.  people thought he was a ghost wait wait wait wait again they were scared then they thought he was a ghost then they relized ("realized") that he's alive so they got happy.  And thats the story of ESTER ("EASTER").


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Keenin's keychain

Apparently, Keenin unearthed a Father's Day present he had made for me last year.  For roughly eleven months now it has sat in some hidden corner of his Spider-Man backpack, only coming to light because we had to get him a new backpack and were thus forced to clean out the old to transfer everything to the new.

During the excavation process, amidst old homework assignments that do not appear to have ever been turned in, along with Cheetos crumbs and President Obama's birth certificate (we called the Donald immediately, knowing how much more important this find was than any other issue going on in our nation today) we came across a small, laminated cut-out of an "Aloha" shirt, with a picture of Keenin's mugshot across the front of it and a little chain attached to it.

As the title to this post explains, it was a keychain.  He had made it for me at school.

That's not the best part, though.  Keenin triumphantly handed me the long-lost present, to which I smiled and said, "Thank you."  He immediately prompted me to look at the back.  I turned it over.  There he had written a little note to me which says, "Love, Keenin, June 2010.  Wolverine says Aloha."

I about died laughing--the kid's got the most random imagination on the planet.  "I put Wolverine because I know you like him," was all Keenin said after I read it.  What kills me more is he spelled Wolverine, "Wolvering."  Didn't know the famous super hero was also a present-tense verb, did you?

Anyway, it killed me.  I also thought it was sweet that he didn't just make me a generic Father's Day gift, though.  He stopped to put enough thought into it to make it personal and try and make it something that he knew I like.

Thank you Keenin, and "Aloha" back at ya...bub.

Monday, May 2, 2011

[fun]nel clouds

Hawaii's in the middle of a ridiculous rainstorm right now with thunder and lightning literally shaking the house.  There are funnel clouds gathering out in the ocean just a few miles from us.  Emaley was able to pull up some pictures on her iPhone that a pilot had posted of the funnel clouds.  She asked the kids if they wanted to see some funnel clouds and Reese asked, "Are they fun?"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog Opus no. 1

So, I don't read blogs.  To be honest, I generally avoid social media like the plague.  But I decided it's about time someone started to chronicle the exploits of the McCulloch kids, so here we are.  I like to think of myself as one of the great historians thrust into the middle of Earth-altering events: on the front-lines of history.  Like Polybius following the Roman army around, recording their battles with Hannibal and the Carthaginians, or like Anderson Cooper at the camps in Haiti and sporting the radiation detector on his jacket in Japan--I'll even take to imagining myself like Geraldo wandering around Libya looking for crossfire.  But, the dream is broken every time I capitulate to cutting the crust off the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or accept the role of the prince who needs to be rescued from the ogre by the scientist-princess; and don't get me started on the tea parties with the one-eyed Fancy Nancy...

So, I'm not a historian on the epic scale of Livy, Josephus, or even the guy who broke the story on "Bat Boy." But, amidst Keenin's space battles between Spider-Man and a face he drew on his hand, or Reese's safaris hunting for geckos while wearing a tutu and a tiara, I find myself a witness to some pretty big adventures.  I may be more excited about a new vacuum cleaner than a widescreen TV these days, and my own great battles are getting the vegetables eaten before the dessert, but, for me, I'll take the stick figures and "M" birds hung by an alphabet magnet on the fridge door over the Louvre any day; scraped knees and the consumption of candy of unknown origin from off of the ground are triage enough for me;  getting the "rock star" welcome every time I come home (even if the "fans" have runny noses and Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease) is way cooler than that stupid little gold dude from the Oscars; and I'm pretty sure becoming inured to the torture of Barney and Caillou makes me capable of handling anything Jack Bauer or Guantanamo Bay can hand out.  

So, the title for my blog comes from a time at the zoo when Reese saw the baboons and became completely enthralled with them.  We didn't understand it at first.  Reese likes all things "princess."  There's nothing "princessy" about a baboon.  We didn't understand it, that is, until she said, "I wish I was a baboon.  I wish I had a pink butt."

So, Reese, here's to your pink butt...