Mango Kale, More Junk, Normal

DAY 17 -- I did it. I have officially arrived at the promised land. I've heard the angels singing, seen the streets of gold, and slept until 8:30 this morning.

Summer break is officially here.

After finishing up some end-of-the-year type stuff at work this morning, I set out for an afternoon of errands and, of course, stops at several of my favorite junk stores. As you may recall, I've toasted the start of summer break for the past few years with something unique from the beer wall at Friar Tuck -- last year a bottle of Phucket and two years a go a bottle of Yeastie Boys. Not this year though. After shifting gears a bit earlier this year and continuing my no-booze streak (four months today), I opted for a beverage a little more in line with my current frame of mind.

Smoothie King, son! Mango Kale!

. . .

The afternoon couldn't have been a more perfect start to my summer break as blue skies provided the backdrop for my afternoon shopping.

As always, here's a round-up of the junk I hauled home.

Remember Weebles? You know, the toys that wobble but don't fall down. Here's the haunted house my brother and I had when we were kids. Only two bucks at Goodwill and, in this condition, resellable for probably 15-20. Mason has turned it into a Paw Patrol haunted house so it's likely not going anywhere.

A book about moonshiners that looked interesting.

A set of three book racks that were part of a late-70s Disney book club. I paid a buck for all three and the cheapest one I'm seeing anywhere online right now is just one rack for ten bucks. These'll definitely be hitting eBay sometime soon.

A few of my friends love playing Settlers of Catan but I know nothing about the game beyond its name and its popularity. That's how I knew I'd be able to make a decent profit off this unplayed game when the price tag was only fifty cents.

Of course, I'm always a sucker for those dollar CDs.

. . .

On my way home, I made my annual call to my pal Derek to make sure he knew what time I had to be at work tomorrow. Of course, "August 3rd" is the correct answer.

. . .

I saw a lady dancing with a hula hoop in the park today. She had on headphones that looked like they were connected to an old-school walkman. Spinning the hula hoop on her arms, she danced around that vacant basketball court like she was the only person on the planet.

Well, she and the nine cars waiting at the stoplight.

Sometimes I wish I could be that carefree and oblivious to the world around me.

. . .

I got a new book in the mail today -- one which I supported through a crowd-funding effort. As I was opening the package, I heard Charlotte say, "Let me guess. More Mister Rogers stuff."

Yep. More Mister Rogers stuff.

. . .

Remember the Alanis Morrissette video for her song Ironic?

Well, check out this new video from The Homeless Gospel Choir. It's pretty amazing.

Don't Poop on the Floor

DAY 16 -- Be warned. This is pretty disgusting.

Mason needed to take a bathroom break during his tee-ball game this evening so he and I hurried to the public restroom behind the concession stand. Stepping into the lone stall, I immediately noticed that someone had left their mark on the toilet -- the seat, the side of the bowl, in the space where the seat opens.

And I’m not talking about a mark left in liquid form, if you catch my drift.

If there is the possibility of a #1 mark and a #2 mark, this was a number two mark.

I think you get it.

Anyway, it was enough of a mess that I asked Mason if he could wait until after the game to go to the bathroom so we didn't have to come close to this nastiness. Unfortunately, he needed to go right then and there.

I helped him avoid the mess on the toilet and he did his business without any issue. But as we were washing up, I couldn’t get past the overwhelming smell that had permeated my nose -- even from several feet away as we stood at the sink. It was simply overwhelming.

And then I saw it. The smears on the ground starting in the stall and ending near my feet.

I think you can fill in the rest.

So here’s my humble request for the day: The next time you consider pooping on the floor in a public restroom, please don’t.

Backyard Baseball

DAY 15 -- Memorial Day was pretty simple.

Food. Swimming. Nap.

And backyard baseball at the in-law's.

Strive to Be Happy

DAY 14 -- Back in the days when I used to go to church camp every chance I could, I'd often find myself ending each week of camp as part of a large circle in the camp's chapel. The adults would talk about the week and they'd close the week in prayer. Meanwhile, the kids in the place were teary-eyed after exchanging mailing address with their new friends to write letters that would often never be written.

Amplify that by more than a dozen years and this morning's final service with our departing pastor was quite reminiscent of those Saturday mornings at camp. Having had the chance to celebrate Andy and his family on Friday night, I thought the hard part was over and this morning would be a good time of transition.

Yeah. No.

Admittedly, I found a strange and unfamiliar liquid coming from my eyes a few times.

Andy's final message to us was on point. A challenge to continue the mission of our church. Continue the quest.

I found this reminding me of the Desiderata -- a work by Max Ehrmann that I've mentioned here several times before. In high school, we were required to memorize the Desiderata in my junior English class. Not long after that, I bought a small print of the Desiderata which has gone with me to every place I've lived since then. It currently hangs inside the cabinet in my office and I continue to read it daily.

Take a minute. Indulge me. Read the Desiderata and absorb the words a bit.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story. 
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. 
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

A Nothing Day

DAY 13 -- I love lazy summer days. But there's a big difference between a lazy day and a nothing day.

 Today was a nothing day.

 Naps. Laundry.

 That's about it.

 A nothing day.

Field Day, Mental Floss, Pastor Andy

DAY 12 -- Three more Lybargers head into summer break leaving only one left longing to reach the final goal -- me. Amy and the girls wrapped up today -- the girls much in the same fashion as last year with a field day at the high school (for Anna) and a water gun fight at a local park after school.

Mason tagged along for this year's water gun fight although at times he was a little outmatched by the big kids who kept squirting him in the face.

The water gun battle has become an annual event organized by two of our district's bus drivers who bus their kids to the park for a good soaking to start the summer. The girls have been lucky to have Ms. Linda as their bus driver. It's not often you find a bus driver caring enough to make phone calls when kids forget their library books at home (or need to remind their parents to show up to a park with water guns).

. . .

With the Mister Rogers marathon continuing on Twitch, I've made another mark on the Mental Floss landscape with a new article that showed up today.

. . .

Tonight we joined together with our church family for a Friday night farewell to Andy Adams, our beloved pastor and friend. With Andy's recent reassignment to a church near St. Louis, we will be saying goodbye to one of the most humble and authentically caring families I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

[Photo credit: Melinda Miller]

Looking back over my 40+ years, there are countless people who have had a positive impact on the growth of my personal faith. That said, while I appreciate each and every one of those people, there are maybe a half-dozen who come to mind as having had a significant and direct influence. Along with names like Keith Graham, Bruce Hough, and the Roberts family, after fourteen years of friendship, leadership, and example, Andy easily finds himself added to this list. I'll never find the words to thank him enough for the influence he's had on my family.

We'll miss you greatly, friends.

Toy Surprise 2, Graceland

DAY 11 -- He did it again. My friend from work brought me more toys! This time a healthy dose of Fisher Price Adventure People...

. . .

Friday is the release day for the new Justin Townes Earle album but I have to admit I was more excited for the 7" single I got in the mail today.

The B-side is an amazing cover of Graceland -- one of my favorite Paul Simon songs.

Listen for yourself...

Kindergarten Tour, Mr. C, Toy Surprise

DAY 10 -- As I mentioned a few days ago, we’ll finally have all three of our kids in school next year. I had the pleasure of taking Mason for an introductory look at his new school today. I know he’s more than ready for kindergarten … but I’m not sure that kindergarten is ready for him!

. . .

The principal at the elementary school in town -- affectionately known to the kids and the community as Mr. C -- is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. Mr. C is like no other educator I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I’ve often said that it’s impossible to leave a conversation with him -- no matter how short or long -- not feeling as though you are the most important person in the world to him in that moment.

I’d love to know how he does it.

The students -- including Anna -- celebrated their beloved principal today with “Dress Like Mr. C Day.”

. . .

Walking into my office this morning, I was surprised to find that my friend and coworker Neal had keyed in and left me a gift on my table.

Neal is a much more seasoned junk collector than I’ll ever be and he knows my love for these old toys. He’s been cleaning out some of his own stuff and apparently thought this stuff was better in my collection than his own.

I didn’t argue.

. . .

I guess Amy had a pretty busy day at work today. Maybe that explains her lack of appreciation for the picture I texted her from my office this afternoon.

Flip-Flops, Maria Tallchief

DAY 9 -- I'm so ready for summer. I feel like I'm running a race that I'm clearly going to win, the finish line is in sight, but I can't do anything to speed my victory along.

I won't officially win until next Wednesday when I take off my socks for the last time until August. But the end is in sight.

Okay. Full disclosure. I've been wearing shorts and flip-flops to work for the past week.

. . .

I visited Charlotte's class today for their "wax museum" presentations. I got to hear from famous individuals like Usain Bolt, Helen Keller, Julie Andrews, Kris Bryant, and (Charlotte's choice) Maria Tallchief.

. . .

Seven. More. Days.

Field Trip, Poetry, Iron Man

DAY 8 -- Field trip veteran.

. . .

Third grade poet.

. . .

Iron Man

. . .

"Whenever my foot is asleep, I think of unicorns for some reason." -- Anna

. . .

That is all.

Cheesy Enchilada, Earrings, Gravy-Covered Waylon

DAY 7 -- We did some grocery shopping today after church and Mason took a ride on Sandy the horse while we waited in line to check out. I'm pretty sure he knew I was taking his picture.

. . .

While we were shopping, I considered buying an old favorite for the first time in ages.

My pal Derek and I used to put this down like nobody's business. I remember a time when he and I made a pot of this stuff -- two boxes of Cheesy Enchilada Hamburger Helper, at least a pound of ground beef, sour cream, a package of shredded cheese, and a healthy dose of Frank's RedHot. We mixed it all together and ate it on tortillas.

All of it.

In one sitting.

. . .

I had another crazy dream last night. This one took me one step deeper into weirdness beyond my experience drinking with Joe Maddon. A majority of the dream was spent finding my way around a random amusement park, but by the end, the park was starting to close and most people headed for the parking lot. Not me. I was allowed to re-enter and go into a small room packed with about 30 people.

It was dark and hot.

There was a bluegrass jam going on.

Everyone was into the music something crazy.

In the corner, I recognized him. Hair spiked up on the side for some reason and wearing a pair of badly broken sunglasses.

It was 1970s Waylon Jennings.

He, along with everyone else in the room, was covered with creamy country gravy.

End of dream. I swear...absolutely none of that is made up.

. . .

At dinner tonight, the kids started talking about how I used to have my ears pierced. I got them pierced when I was 18 and wore a small silver hoop in both ears for a few years. I'd say it's been close to twenty years since I've worn earrings and the kids wondered if the holes were still there.

Only one way to find out. A trip to Amy's jewelry box answered that question.

Obviously, hilarity ensued.

Milk Puzzle, A55, Lazy Day Camping

DAY 6 -- I woke up early today. A Saturday. The Mister Rogers marathon isn't going to watch itself, you know.

The rain and clouds outside told me that it was going to be a pretty lazy day around our house. In an effort to not be completely unproductive this weekend, I headed to Lowe's to pick up some salt for the water softener. Of course, while I was out I stopped at Goodwill, the library sale, and the video game store, too. Despite the fact that used puzzles are rarely complete, I found one at Goodwill that I couldn't pass up.

Yes. Your eyes are working just fine. That a 350 piece puzzle and every last piece is the same shade of solid brown. Stupid, huh? Why was this so unique aside from the fact that it'd obviously be a giant pain in the butt to put together.

Packaging is everything.

And, yes, the completed puzzle looks like a puddle of spilled milk.

I tried to put it together but quit after five minutes and just counted the pieces instead.

There are three missing.

. . .

I found a few Hardy Boys books...

...and some other books you'd expect to be brought home by a 40-year-old man.

I justify my collections of children's books to Amy by explaining that I love the artwork -- that late 70s / early 80s style. I realize this is a weird equivalent to a guy telling his wife that he reads Playboy for the articles.

And, as I've said before, when CDs are a buck, I lack self control.

I'd forgotten how good Beck is.

. . .

Occasionally I see cars with license plates that starts with A55. They always make me laugh.


. . .

I've talked before about my search for the old yellow cups from Mazzio's Pizza -- a restaurant we went to often when I was a kid. Of course, I'm counting on eBay to come through for me at some point and in my search, I recently came across this guy.

I didn't buy it, but something tells me that if the price had been right and I was still drinking beer, I'd be sipping out of this thing all summer.


What an amazingly stupid idea.

. . .

As expected, this turned into a super lazy day around our house. I think Amy squeezed as many episodes of Gilmore Girls as possible out of the day while Mason is clearly grasping the concept of rainy days on summer break, as well.

Note to self: Put away laundry.

I found the girls under Charlotte's bed. I didn't ask questions. I just took their picture.

. . .

There's a campout going on in Charlotte's room tonight. Girls only.

Except for Mason's buddy, Alex. He was allowed to join the girls' dolls who are sleeping in the tent -- but only as long as he's willing to brave the elements.

. . .

I heard today that May is National Strawberry Month. With that, here's a look at my favorite item I've ever found while junk shopping.

To this day, I regret not buying it.

Pre-School Rich, Chris Cornell, Neighborhood Widow

DAY 5 -- Mason's the first out of the gate into legit summer break. Yesterday was his last day of pre-school which means that in less than three months, we'll have all three of our kids in school.

This also means we'll be rich since we're not paying for pre-school anymore.

Seriously though, a huge thanks goes to the teachers our kids have had in this pre-school over the past six years. We've been very hashtag-blessed.

. . .

Chris Cornell died yesterday and there's been a ton of Soundgarden stuff shared online. Some Audioslave and Temple of the Dog stuff, too.

But what about Cornell's biggest and most influential project as a pal of Citizen Dick?

You may remember the fictional band Citizen Dick from the movie Singles. I stood in line at Record Store Day a few years ago to get my hands on their first and only official release.


. . .

I've been watching a lot of the Mister Rogers marathon on Twitch these past few days as it's getting into some of the episodes I don't have (or at least ones I don't have decent quality copies).

You've heard of football widows, right? Wives who all but lose their husbands during football season?

Over the coming week, my wife will likely feel like a Neighborhood widow.

I'm apologizing in advance.