Prayer Time At The Thrice Home

by Mark Thrice 25. May 2014 23:39

The other night I started a small family controversy. I was laying in bed reading as Ben, my 11-year-old had just finished his last Stall Technique and was finally in bed as well. Traditionally we like to pray with our kids before they fall asleep (unless we're in bed and really tired ourselves)

My wife (from the living room): "Ben, has anyone prayed with you yet?"

Ben: "No, I'm just laying here."

My wife: "Ask Dad if he'll pray with you."

Ben: "Dad..."

Me: "I'm in bed."

My wife: "Ask Dad if he'll get out of bed and pray with you."

Ben: "Dad..."

Me: "Honey, we don't have to pray with them every night."

My wife: "Tell Dad that I think it's important that we pray with you."

Ben: "Dad..."

Me: "Honey, I'm in bed already. What are YOU doing?"

Duncan (the seventeen-year-old) (also from the living room): "I'll pray with you Ben. I don't mind."

My wife: "Thanks Duncan."

Ben: "I love to pray with others!"

Duncan: "I just think it's so important to get these kids in the habit of praying all the time."

My wife: "I agree. I appreciate the fact that you are putting your things aside to pray with your brother. You'll make an excellent father  some day."

Duncan: "Spiritual mentoring may be a gift of mine. I feel like I'm more than just your brother, Ben."

Me: "Are you kidding me?"

Duncan: "Prayer is not a joke, good sir."

Ben: "Can we pray for Dad too?"

Duncan: "Ben, that's a very wise request. My mentoring has already paid off!"

Ben: "Duncan, do you think a son can mentor an adult?"

Me: "You're both going to need some prayer if you don't drop it."




Snowboarding. Great Exercise (?)

by Mark Thrice 15. March 2014 03:57

A lot of people are amazed at how extremely fit we Canadians are. Much of it has to do with winter. Shoveling aside, there are quite a few sports available that allow us to build and strengthen ourselves.

Take snowboarding for example. This is a sport that places a long piece of polished plywood under an adult at the top of a hill and allows him to enjoy the journey...

Step One: Attaching Your Snowboard To Your Foot

Foot as in one (1) foot. To begin with, you only attach the plywood to one foot. At the bottom of the hill. Then you "walk" yourself over to the ski lift and hitch a ride to the top. While this sounds easy ("just walk on over!"), it's pretty much impossible to do because you have a piece of plywood attached to your foot and sticking out at a ninety degree angle (conveniently, in front of your other foot). Your "walk" consists of your back foot pushing your plywood foot ahead, 6 inches at a time. Across the entire bottom of the hill (about 6 miles). 

Step Two: Getting To The Top Of The Hill

Somewhere in Nazi Germany rest the plans for the device called "The Ski Lift". This is not an implement of convenience. This is the only thing that provides entertainment for ski hill staff that are stuck working all day in the cold. You wait in line for an hour and when it is finally your turn, you have twelve seconds to push your plywood foot up to the "pick up spot". You don't care that you barreled over two honeymooners and a tween to get there. Then, out of nowhere, this huge metal bench will come up behind you and scoop you up! "Careful!" the ski staff will say. They don't mean it. Then, as you see the top of the hill approaching, you realize that you are going to have to jump off, as the bench is moving and get out of the way but you can only walk 6 inches at a time. To ski staff, this is called a non-taxable benefit. No snowboarder in history has ever launched himself off of a ski lift and not ended up shooting down the other side of the mountain.

Step Three: Attaching Your Other Foot

Once you get to the top of the hill, you have to secure your other foot to the same piece of plywood. You would think your body would be happy about that, but it is not. You will try to shove your foot into the stirrup but as soon as you lift it up, your other foot will slide to the left. Then you will hop. Then you will try again. Then you will hop. You may hop all the way down the hill. You won't be alone.

If you are lucky enough to get your foot in the stirrup, you will need to strap it in because you don't trust it. This means you have to bend over and you have forgotten that you are wearing eighteen different layers. When you try to reach your feet, your fingers will make it to your shins and you will make this sound: "Hhhuuuhh". This will alert the ski patrol to possible danger and make younger skiers beside you think you are about to throw up.

So you (gracefully) throw yourself backwards and land on your butt which you used to think was too big and fluffy. Turns out, it's not. Now both boots are firmly attached to your plywood but you have a problem: you have to get back up. You lean forward and lift your butt off the ground and as soon as you do, you start to slide sideways, into a tree. You sit down again and wait for the ski patrol to help you up.

Step Four: Moving

Now that you are actually standing up, your body realizes that you are serious and decides to take evasive action. Even though you've spent 60 minutes in an intensive training session, you can't remember what to do because all the blood has drained from your head and is pooling in your knees, which have locked up. You are basically a frozen block of meat being delivered to the bottom of the hill on a plywood serving tray. Quickly. Because somehow you are actually moving, and dangerously fast. Your body sees this and takes evasive action part two: "Wave your arms". This does nothing to slow you down but serves as a warning to everyone at the chalet that they should move their children.

Step Five: Recovery

Once you have completed this exercise three times, your body will be soaked in sweat. Not the glorious sweat of your athletic, teenaged life, but the stinky, mildewy sweat of an old man whose body hates him. But you have exercised. A lot. Head for the chalet and consume massive quantities of calories--but please, leave your coat on. No one else needs to smell that...


Harsh Workouts

by Mark Thrice 12. August 2013 03:14

As a dad, there are many struggles that you will go through.

At least I hope so. It wouldn't be fair if I was the only guy to suffer...

Let's start with our bodies. We started with smooth bumps and ripples all over ourselves, somewhere in our twenties. We had "pecs", "biceps" and flat stomachs. We could play any sport for hours. Our sweat was sweet like honey. We were never "winded" or tired.

Fast forward to our thirties. Nature has not been kind. We're pretty sure our original muscles are still there,  but they are carefully hidden beneath a layer of blubber and a mat of fur. In fact, fur is sprouting on places that would never accommodate it at any time in our youth, including across our feet. Our bellies are round and our backs are starting to slump as we shrink.

We have become hobbits.

So we try to work out. My first foray back into the world of fitness was to do pushup. Not a good idea with kids present who believe they are Cowboy Woody and you are the pony.

My son: "Daddy! (sound of footsteps quickly approaching)"

Me: "(grunt) Four."

My son: "I'M WOODY! I'M WOODY!"

Me: "(grunt) Fiiiive."

My son (launching himself): "GO BULLSEYE! GO BULLSEYE!!"

Me (having a 50 lb kid land on my back while in the 'up' position): "GNGNGNRRNNN"

Me (as my spine pops in two different spots): "Where's mommy?"

Now we are in our forties. The kids have grown up and developed intimate relationships with their iPods and generally leave me alone until the wifi quits. However, now we have a puppy.

Lulu is a tiny ball of fur that demands attention--usually from me, the alpha male. She will go to any lengths to get what she wants.

Yesterday I was attempting the pushups once again. As I lay on the floor, Lulu saw an opportunity for some lovin'. I had actually accomplished four perfect reps ( a record in any home with children) when on the 'down' position the black ball belly-crawled directly under my neck and lay there without moving. No matter how I huffed or growled (at forty there was lots of both), this dog was immovable.

No problem. This will teach me how to focus.

On rep number ten, things took a turn for the worse. Lulu decided that she was unhappy with my sporadic love. As soon as I lifted myself to the height my wobbly arms would take me, Lulu rolled from her belly to her back and opened her legs directly below my face.

I defy any man to focus beyond that.




How To Camp With Boys

by Mark Thrice 19. May 2013 23:43

Last weekend my 10 year old son had a "Boys' Extreme Team" camp out that we both attended. The following is an accurate description of our itinerary:

6pm- Arrival. Dads and their boys scramble for a bunk in one of the many cabins to avoid sleeping on the floor.

6:15- Most dads now realize that unless they took the afternoon off and got to camp two hours earlier, they are sleeping on the floor somewhere. Sons have picked up the "I Told You So" look from their mothers.

6:30- Even though we all ate at home, the cook fires up the grill for hotdogs, which don't count as food anyways. At the same time, two other dads set out to start a bonfire.

7:00- Every kid in camp and most of the other dads are now surrounding the two 'fire men' to offer words of encouragement, such as: "You really suck at this." and "I have a can of gasoline in the truck..." One boy states his  belief that dropping a grenade on the wood is really all we need to do. Discussion ensues on how that wouldn't help at all, depending of course on what TYPE of grenade was used and how quickly one would have to pick up the smoldering pieces after the explosion.

7:30- The fire has been started and all males are sitting around it as they fill their faces with hotdog.

8:00- Interest has gone from "Eating" to "Finding A Long Stick And Poking The Fire" The following rules ensue:

  1. You may find a stick and place one end in the fire.
  2. If you get up to leave and find a stick you can't save your seat, even if you have been sitting there since yesterday.
  3. Setting fire to the end of your stick is okay.
  4. That end stays in the fire.
  5. You may not, under any circumstances, remove the burning end from the fire, even if it is to show your dad, who is not paying attention.
  6. You may not remove the burning end from the fire to wave it around and pretend it is a light sabre.
  7. You may not remove the burning end from the fire to wave it in front of your friend's face, even if he did it first before he stole your seat.
  8. Do not run anywhere with a burning stick. Even to the bathroom.

9:00- In a very timely move, one of the dads announces that it is time to start "Carving Wood". All of the boys grab the non-burning ends of their sticks and start hacking feverishly away.

11:00- Still burning and hacking the same sticks.

Midnight- Dads announce that it is time for bed. The fire is doused and everyone heads for the sleeping bags. To avoid a lineup for the bathroom, boys are reminded that "the world is your toilet".

12:30- Lights out. As soon as darkness settles across the camp, the air fills with fart sounds and stifled giggles.

2:30- Most of the giggling has stopped.

6:00- Dads wake up to the sounds of more farting and more giggling. Time to start the  bonfire again.

8:00- Breakfast followed by more carving by the fire.

10:00- Time for a 43 mile hike.

Noon- Time for lunch. Boys begin to doze into their chili. More fart sounds, this time the boys aren't the culprits....

2:00- Time to leave. There is a mad rush to the bonfire to find "the stick", then a strained discussion in the parking lot over how to store an object that is needle sharp on one end and still smoking on the other.

My Wife: "It doesn't sound like you did much at all this weekend. I hope Ben isn't upset..."

Ben (bursting into the room): "DAD! Thanks for the best weekend EVER! Fire! Knives! Camping! You're the best dad!"

Me: "No problem son! It was a lot of work to organize but you are worth it!"

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Approaching 50

by Mark Thrice 18. February 2013 01:13

The other day I had an important and disappointing conversation with my wife:

Me: "Honey, have you looked at my face lately."

My Wife: "No."

Me: "I'm getting more wrinkles across my forehead."

My Wife: "Yes."

Me: "My hair is turning more grey."

My Wife: "Yes."

Me: "In fact, all of my skin looks more wrinkled. My hands, my neck...its no longer as smooth and firm as it was. I look like an old balloon. Somehow, I'm starting to DEFLATE!"

Even my dental hygienist is against me.

Her (peering into my mouth): "How often do you floss your teeth?"

Me (lying): "Lots of times. Every week."

Her: "Hmmm"

Me: "What is 'hmmm'?"

Her: "Well, as you get older, you have a greater need to floss because the bacteria in your gums can cause problems if you don't get rid of it."

Me: "Like, how old are we talking?"

Her: "Your age. Right now."

Me: "You're telling me that I'm at 'the age' where I have to floss more or the bacteria in my gums will start eating me?"

Her: "Yes. Now please sit back and try not to breathe on me. I don't want to be eaten by your angry bacteria either."

Me: "I wonder if that would make my used floss a lethal weapon?"

Her: "I can tell you that I'm burning my instruments after you leave."

I can't even sleep at night, just thinking of my mouth bacteria waiting for me to doze so they can start digesting my tongue. Or at least what will be left of my tongue after it deflates...

So now the battle is on. I will not let my body fail me without a fight. Unless it is already too late.


Who Has Head Lice?

by Mark Thrice 11. February 2013 17:05

Well, it’s been two months and there is still no sign of head lice in our home or at our school. When I say “at our school,” I mean I have no idea if any or all of the other students at school have head lice. And I don’t want to know. This is because getting head lice is like yawning. Once one kid does it, everyone follows suit.

The common misconception about head lice is that they are spread by sharing hats. This is a blatant lie. Head lice spread from kid to kid by a variety of means, including thinking about them.  In particular, thinking: “Man, I would hate for our children to get head lice.” They also seem to spread by petting the dog, wearing blue socks and sitting down.

Once you have them, they are very easy to get rid of if you follow this Two Step Procedure:

1.      Burn down your house.

2.      Leave the country.

Last year when we got the notice that head lice were “going around” in school, we did what every other parent would do in this situation. We looked at the date of the memo. It was already six weeks old! Teachers, for some reason, still believe that children will pass important documents from their backpacks to their parents, even though they (the teachers) have been with them (the students) all year and are fully aware that they have the memory of kumquats.

It was my sister-in-law who first discovered them on our kids and let us know using the subtle, understated tone that adults use when they want to convey an important message without getting dramatic. “EEEEEK! I found one!” She then, in a non-panicky sort of way, herded all of HER kids into a different room and coated their heads with Ben-Gay. “Ha Ha!” she laughed when we found her. “No problem here! I routinely confine my kids to a dark room and oil their hair! It’s a game we play!”

There is no way you can feel anything but terrible when your kids get head lice. “But I try to be a good mother!” moms will think to themselves. “Why is that kid home?” dads will wonder.

Your first response will be to grab your child’s head (which, depending on how upset you are, may or may not still be attached to her body) and give it a thorough scrubbing. This will affect the lice in the same way that cleaning your son’s room will affect him.  “Thank you!” they (the lice) will say in their inimitable insect way by wiggling their antennae, and then they’ll go back to their work, namely pumping out a thousand eggs a day and gluing them all to hair follicles. (If you had that many kids to keep track of, you would too!)

This year, our strategy will be to avoid looking in our kids’ backpacks at all. Just to be safe, I’ll also be getting a jumbo pack of Ben Gay…


Boxing Week Balk

by Mark Thrice 11. February 2013 17:02

Boxing Week Balk

I love the traditions inspired by the Christmas season.
First, people who love you spend time thinking about you and trying to choose a gift that will make you happy. Later, after you've unwrapped it and they've gone home, you run out to the mall and stand in line for an hour because, as nice as your friends are, their taste reeks. I mean, no offense, but there is NO WAY you would be caught DEAD wearing Boxer shorts that say 'Home of the Whopper' or whatever it is that they picked out for you. With these timeless traditions in mind, my wife and I farmed our kids out and headed for the local mall.

We knew that we were smart. Not only did we jettison the children in favour of maximum speed, we had waited a whole week AFTER Boxing Day in order to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately, every other person in the free world had EXACTLY the same idea (and showed up forty-five minutes before us). In fact, I'll bet that on Boxing Day retailers were panicking, wondering where the hordes of shoppers were. "Why aren't our stores overcrowded with pushy, desperate consumers wanting to save an extra 50% on the George Foreman Girdle?" they asked themselves. Well, no worries.
The shoppers were out in full force seven days later. Particularly at the Old Navy. This store is a mystery to me. The clothes that they sell have nothing to do with the Navy. They are not even exclusively navy in colour. They do look old, though; I will give them that. In fact, I believe that the Marketers of Old Navy are sheer geniuses. Or genii.
Their strategy is to take every t-shirt that they can from the Eighties, wash it a hundred times until you can barely read the writing on it, then sell it as new for twice the regular price! And it works! I bet Old Navy was started by guys my age trying to prove a point to their wives.

"You see, honey? These shirts ARE worth something! I can't believe you wanted to throw them out."

I'll give you a word of warning here , too. If you need to do some jean shopping, wait a little longer than these Boxing Day sales. Say, til the end of June. At Christmas time, stores that sell jeans attract teenagers like heights attract lemmings. Maybe this phenomena is not limited to this particular season but I can only tell you what I know. And I know that a quick trip to try on some jeans meant wading through a sea of pimples and bubble gum while having my sinus cavity drained by the latest hiphop/dance/metal 'artist.' PLUS I left thinking, "HOW CAN THE LATEST PANTS STYLES BE BOTH SUPERLOOSE AND SUPERTIGHT? AND HOW CAN THEY HAVE ENOUGH MATERIAL TO RIG A SAILING VESSEL BUT STILL NOT MAKE IT UP TO THE ACTUAL WAISTLINE?"

This whole scene was depressing to both my wife and me, so we headed for the nearest shoe store. Nothing brightens my wife's spirits like ten aisles of new footwear. In fact, all I had to do was find the right section.

Me:"Look, honey, shoes for babies."

My Wife:"Oooh. How tiny! They are soooo cuuuute!"

By the time our spirits had lifted, it was time to go. We plan to return just as soon as the jean stores empty out and I
can talk Old Navy into opening up a factory outlet in my closet.


People I Don't Like...

by Mark Thrice 11. February 2013 16:59

There are some guys in the Bible that I don’t like. I mean, hey, I don’t like the devil and Judas and the Pharoah that wouldn't "Let His People Go". But there are also some “good guys” that I wouldn’t go camping with either.

Elijah? Too depressed. The guy makes it not rain, then rain, he can run faster than a speeding chariot but he still ends up saying “my life sucks”. What a buzzkill.

Abraham? Probably had halitosis.

Apostle John? Never bragged about his close relationship with Jesus but all the way through his Gospel keeps saying things like: ‘Peter, Andrew and the one that was Jesus best friend.’ Is this subtle?

John The Baptist? A little on the crazy side. True, he was on a mission. An important one at that. But how did eating bugs in the desert figure into that. Suspected carrier of beard chiggers as well.

Keith Green. I know, this guy wasn’t technically IN the Bible. But he was around the Bible a lot and his music ministry was one of the reasons I got saved when I was 18. However I just finished his biography No Compromise and I have to say, he wouldn’t be eating hot dogs at Chez Hollingsworth. Was he a believer? Yes. Was he on fire for God? Definitely. Could he have been a little nicer to everyone else around him. Oh Yeah! The man was one intense ball of black and white fundamentalism. But he sure had a powerful ministry and I’m sure God was happy with his work.

So this makes me think: I wonder if there are people out there, even believers, EVEN IN MY CHURCH, who don’t like me.

Probably (I’m just playin’ the odds here).

I can’t do anything about that if we just don’t see eye to eye on some issues. It may be healthy for us both. On the other hand, I could have been a complete jerk. That is one of my superpowers.

My point is this: it is not my job to get everyone to like me. It would be nice and I would get way more free lunches (Cressman). But in the end, it’s my job to do my job—the one God has for me—in this church, in my home, at work. First I’ve got to make Him happy. Then I need to try to live in peace with all men/people/others.
All the rest is gravy.


Enjoy Christmas By Keeping Your Mouth Shut

by Mark Thrice 10. January 2013 06:18

There is one thing that men will never understand about Christmas and that is How To Decorate In A Modern Way.

You see, when you read any magazine about decorating your house for Christmas (yes, guys, they do have magazines about this stuff) you will not recognize anything that you see. Expect to see them in your house. Soon.

Case in point: my wife was very excited about a purchase she had just made.

My wife: "Hon! Take a look at this beautiful wreath I just bought!"

I immediately started leafing through her shopping bags. "Hmmph", thought I, "Nothing in here but compost and twigs."

My wife: "CAREFUL! Don't break it!"

Me (holding the pile of leaves and twigs in one hand): "Break what?"


Me (feeling desperate to please): "WHAT WREATH?"

My wife (pointing at the items that, until recently, were a part of someone's lawn): "THAT. IS. OUR. WREATH."

Me (slowly looking at what is in my hands): "Oh. THIS is our new wreath? To hang on our door? For Christmas?"

My wife: "Don't you LOVE it? And it was only THIRTY DOLLARS!"

As much as my heart was broken, I kept my mouth shut. There is nothing worse than a broken heart followed by a black eye and a split lip...

My plan was to find someone to talk some sense into her before I had to nail the "wreath" to our front door. The next day we were at her parents' place. As we sat in the living room I was working up the courage to mention our newest decoration when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied something that made me gasp.

There, perched on the end table by the upholstered chair, was a one foot tall Christmas tree...made entirely of FEATHERS. And I'm not talking about pretty Budgie feathers either. This thing appeared to be made of the remains of a crow. Or possibly two. In fact, the whole thing looked like something you would use to give an Ostrich a suppository.

Broken-hearted, I kept my mouth shut.


Women Miss The Big Picture

by Mark Thrice 24. December 2012 23:50

Men, are your marriages in trouble?  Are your wives constantly complaining about things that you have no control over? Listen up, because I think I can help (at least, I can help you to understand what is going on. Don't count on anything useful after that...)

At the Thrice household, my wife's chief complaint is that I don't "see" things. Actually she has a lot of chief complaints including "Why would you spend money on THAT?", "Why would you say that when you KNOW how moody I am?" and "Why do you think Monty Python is so funny when it's actually stupid?"

What she means by "seeing things" is "noticing things that are important to her" ie wearing a nice shirt and NOT accessorizing with my favourite sneakers; wiping the mirror off after I brush my teeth and closing all the cupboard doors after breakfast. 

Yes, I can sense your disbelief from here.

I keep telling her that it's not like I am consciously deciding on doing something that I know she wouldn't like, or that I am conscious at all. It's just that I truly don't see those things--until they are pointed out to me with a very angry frown. THEN I see them...

I was so relieved the other day when I made a discovery: wives have the same problem except not for useless things, such as the position of the toilet seat, but for important things such as the world of electronics. Yes, its true and here is the proof:

For our anniversary, I decided to get my wife the big screen tv I knew she wanted for our bedroom. I wanted to have it bought and installed as a surprise so that it would be harder for her to return for a refund. The first step was to get my friend PomPom to put in a receptacle. 

"But wait," you say, "wouldn't she SEE the new receptacle on the wall and be alerted to your tomfoolery?"

ANSWER: If I decorated the room, the receptacle would have been obvious. HOWEVER, I did not decorate the room, hence the quilt rack and quilt-that-is-not-a-REAL-quilt-we-would-EVER-use-on-our-bed. These two items have been living, nailed to our bedroom wall for the past 5 years. (guys, don't ask.) 

Anyways, after I took the quilt rack ensemble down and PomPom installed the receptacle, I replaced everything exactly as it had been. That night, IN THE DARK, my wife said: "Has that quilt moved?"

Exactly one week later, while we were on a date, my friend Joe removed it completely and replaced it with the new television. Later that night, when we returned, my wife left her shoes at the door and went immediately to the bedroom to get her PJs on. We were all expecting a scream of delight (or at least a scream) but heard NOTHING! NOTHING!!

She was in our bedroom for five minutes and it's not like its this HUGE cavern where you could miss a big screen tv because you are looking at the fine art on the wall...

Nope. She was two feet away from her brand new big screen television for five minutes AND NEVER EVEN NOTICED IT. And the lights were on. 

So the next time your wife is on your case about not noticing something that you should have seen, just remember that she has her weaknesses too. In fact, if you hide behind the entertainment centre, she might not even see you.


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