so here’s a game you can play along with at home. there are prizes, but only if you buy them yourself.
ok, so this was the “BIG” news at school today. this happened at the elementary school across the playground from the middle school i work at.

thankfully, no one was hurt that i was aware of. and the building doesn’t have any major damage. maybe (?) the rain gutter got busted, but nothing else much.

the picture above is actually a “picture of a picture”. by the time i heard about it and went out to the playground the bus had already been removed. but another teacher took this picture and then printed it out. i asked to bring it home for lunch so i could scan it.

at school they ended up putting a copy of it on the Vice Principal’s desk. he was gone today for some meeting and they wanted to add the caption, “something always goes wrong when Jack’s not around” or “george graf (a 7th grade science teacher) SWEARS he had nothing to do with it!”

when i brought it home at lunch time julia said, “i think the bus wanted to go to school. see the mommy and daddy bus wanted him to go to school”

so since no one was hurt, have at it. what’s your best caption for this picture. leave it in the comments.

here’s my caption: some kids will do anything to start summer break 2 days early!

// today i'm thankful for:
1. my girls were safe at school today
2. a double date night w/our pastors
3. enough money to pay for an MBP in cash
4. forgiveness for typos i fail to catch until the next day
5. easy returns at costco
AuthorAbraham Lara
woke up several times during the night with crying babies. finally got out of bed around 6.15 and then went for a run around 6.35.

finally out the door for work around 7.30.

1st period mariachi class, went through “la bamba” guitar exercises with “harmonia” section.

8.38a off to the buses on the “20 sticker trip” (reward for good kids at end of year). we’re going to watch Prince Caspian and then some fun at a park. the great part is that deb’s got a sitter for the 4 younger girls (thanks mag) and she’s going to meet us at the theater. even greater bonus is that i found out this morning that my vice principal paid for deb’s ticket to join us. score!! :)

great movie, although the kids weren’t as interested. i’d say about 25% of them had read the book.

deb leaves to go be w/the kids, we head to the park. i get to play tennis with a special needs student. lots of fun, but lots of running. they weren’t a very straight shot. :) then headed back to school for half of 6th period.

after school and going to see danielle’s end of year performance. rice krispe treats, songs, and taking home lots of papers.

then anna and danielle join me to les schwab to get air pressure in tires checked and to get ingredients for dinner.
great dinner- polish sausage and hashbrown casserole dish.

wash the dishes while deb attends to babies and kids who gotta finish homework.

hang out on the computer, searching craigslist for a macbook pro in my price range, gotta wait till monday though to see what’s announced.

write this post.

now time to spend some time with deb.

good night! :)

PS. posted pictures online in the “gallery”, in the “2007 April - June” album. the ones from here, and a bunch more. enjoy!
// today i'm thankful for:
1. les schwab
2. spending the morning with deb
3. aunt maggie for babysitting
4. my kids are safe
5. life is good

(including the “thankful” section and title - 348 words)
AuthorAbraham Lara
for whatever reason i’ve been completely unmotivated to write anything today. and it’s not like i don’t have anything to write about. i’ve got several topics that i’ve made my self a note to write a post about. plus the suggestions i’ve gotten from others.

it’s just that all those posts i’ve been mulling over in my mind and i kinda feel they’re gonna be long ones, and i’m frankly too tired tonight to want to have to think that much. (not to mention how many typos would occur because of my rush to write and tiredness)

so i decided to just sit down and start typing whatever came to mind. and this is it. this is what came to mind.

stimulating stuff, huh?

well, if not a “thinking” piece, then let me at least give you a little update of family happenings.

the twins: are growing so much. we don’t have the dots on them anymore and haven’t for a while now. we can pretty easily make out who’s who when they’re side by side. sometimes when we only see one or the other it’s heard to know which is which. oh, and it’s a constant theme in our house to try to find clean onesies or pajamas that don’t smell of spit up.

rachel: she loves going outside. she loves it any time of the year, but we let her go out a lot more during the summer time because she can go out barefoot and it’s warm enough. but we’re still working on making sure she stays in the yard and not on the street. (it’s been long enough ago to tell you that a man in uniform with blue and red lights made sure we were reminded of that fact.) oh and she’s “talking” much more now. we still don’t understand her, but she really looks and responds to us like she knows what she’s saying.

julia: is ever the princess. everything she does is done lavishly. and she’s the third kid and feels entitled to be waited on and helped. the older sisters aren’t so eager to help when she asks them to pick up her fork she dropped at dinner time. anna and danielle look at her like, “and what’s wrong with your hands and legs?!”

danielle: this kid is coming home practically everyday reciting some playground chant, hand clap, or game. one that she and anna were playing consisted of playing rock, paper, scissors (the best 2 out of 3). so they would face each other, play a hand, and then the winner would get to pinch the cheek of the loser. while still pinching their cheek they’d play another hand, if one person one twice they pinched both cheeks and then gave them a little slap. it’s funny watching them when they’ve each won a game and they both got each other by a cheek.

anna: loves baseball! she loves going to practice. she loves playing in the games. she even likes going to help us out at danielle’s practices. she’s also becoming so responsible. we’ve told them that they’ll each get a dollar every saturday if they can keep their room clean all week. she’s got a goal of getting a new doll at walmart for $12-15, so regardless of whether her sister’s help or not she’s started to clean the room every night without being asked! she’s already got $7 and some change saved up. i’m very proud of her.

deb: has been gearing up for the summer and having a house full of her whole family at home all day. she’s got activities that we could do, ideas about making sure the house stays clean through it all, and basically wanting to make it a memorable summer of fun for all. right now we’re also having an alphabet menu. everyday we’re eating something that starts with that day’s letter. A = avacados, apple juice, B = BBQ, etc. at the store tonight anna asked if we could make sure to get some mangos for M day. it took me a while to remember what she was talking about. my babe is so creative! i love you deb and i’m spoiled to have such a loving, thoughtful, creative wife and mother of our children.

and me: - well, i can almost count the hours left of school for me. my last day is on friday. whoever planned this summer vacation thing was one smart guy. seriously after a year of dealing with other people’s middle schoolers i need a break. and then sure enough i’m ready for another year of fun and excitement when the end of August rolls around.
- i got a call back from my brother-in-law. basically the crew he’s with isn’t hiring right now because they’re almost done with the job they’re working on, perhaps in a month or so. but he said there was another crew that was hiring a “labor guy”, but it only paid $10/hr and they sometimes worked 6 days/week and 10 hour days. where as my brother-in-law said working with him would be $15/hr, 5 days/week and only 8 hour days (w/some overtime on occasion) i talked to deb and she’s not that eager for me to gone 6 days a week for less pay, so i’ll just enjoy some free time until my brother-in-law can see if he can get me started in a month or so. or maybe i’ll try to find a different job entirely. who knows?
- i had my end of year review today. on the various categories there were more 3s and some 2s than 4s and 5s this year (on a 1-5 scale). basically the teachers i was with felt that i had a great potential to be an asset to the classroom, but felt that i lacked the motivation; and that i seemed to be bored during class. umm, true and true. hopefully this summer break will do me good, or maybe i’ll find something else that i can really enjoy doing (that can also pay the bills) and not have to go back in the fall. hmm? will have too think about that/pursue that more later.
oh, and we finally sold or old van last tuesday. we found a buyer via craigslist. she’s a single foster mom of 3 kids and about to receive another sometime in july or aug. she trusted us enough to take our word that the van ran fine, and we trusted her enough to take payments from her instead of the full amount up front. win-win we hope.

well there you have it, thus far i’ve written 1,126 words all while i was “drawing a blank” as to what to write. imagine if i actually had something to say!

// today i'm thankful for:
1. getting to watch Prince Caspian tomorrow
2. good, diverse music, i.e. the Mars Hill Music Podcast
3. hymns
4. craigslist
5. only 4 days 9 hours and 25 min till the WWDC keynote :)
AuthorAbraham Lara
how often do you take shortcuts? how easy is it for you to bend the truth? do you choose the "easy way" when it benefits you? do you settle for "good enough" when no one will know the difference?

these are questions of the heart. and the answers to these questions directly shape/reflect your character.

when i was growing up, colossians 3:23 made a profound influence on my life. my mother would quote that verse to us as kids more often than any other that I can remember.

it says:
whatsoever you do, do it as unto the Lord and not unto men. (yep, kickin' it up old school - KJV style)

and it was hearing that verse over and over again that shaped my work ethic. that's not to say there aren't times that I only do what's minimally required of me. or that as a kid my method of cleaning my room sometimes consisted of shoving everything under the bed or into the closet.

but I can remember countless times that I've almost been done with a task and then I noticed a small detail that wasn't required of me but I knew that were I truly doing this "for the Lord" I would do it with excellence anyways.

such as when I was on the maintenance crew of a summer camp. working at a summer camp definitely has it's fun and rewarding times, but it's also hard work and long days. one of my duties was to clean the bathrooms. those bathrooms easily get dirty with mud and pine needles. I'd go in and sweep, refill the toilet paper & paper towels, wipe down the toilets, and clean all the soap and water off the counters. I was about to walk out the door and I'd notice a small scrap of tissue or paper towel or a candy wrapper behind a toilet that I hadn't noticed before. every fiber of my tired body would be screaming, "just leave it. nobody will ever notice or even care."  but inevitably that verse would come to mind and I'd go back and clean up whatever was left.

most recently this principle (of doing what is right no matter who is watching or if it will ever be noticed) came to mind again with the decision of whether or not to tithe on our Stimulus Package check.

now before I even go into the details of the story you could probably guess the outcome. we did tithe on it. after-all if we had decided not to I probably wouldn’t be blogging about it.

i was taught at an early age to tithe on all money received. this included income, gifts, refunds, rebates, money found on the street, etc. since then i’ve heard some pretty convincing teaching that Scripture only asks us to tithe on our earned income, thus excluding everything mentioned above but the income.

now i’m not sure where this Stimulus Package check falls. is it really just and advance on taxes we’d pay for next year? or is it a “gift” from our generous government?

in any case, i felt prompted by God for us to tithe on our check.

do i think that God would strike us dead if we didn’t? no. would we fall into financial ruin within 6 months if we failed to tithe on it? not really, i think we’ve implemented some pretty sound biblical principles on managing and stewarding God’s money to keep us from that. do i think that everyone should be tithing on their Stimulus Package check? not necessarily, ask God, don’t ask me.

no, i think for me/us it was more a matter of obedience. God was asking, “will you do this simply because i’m asking you to, whether i give you the “proof” of why you have to or not”. we normally always pay our tithes. and it comes right off the top of our budget. it’s become a habit. we don’t think about it any more.

and this test of obedience came at just the right time. seeing as how we have a sizable family our Stimulus check was also sizable, and thus tithe on said check would also be a good chunk. and this was the time that we were looking to buy a new van to better accommodate our growing family. and that chunk of tithe would go a long ways when paying for a used vehicle or paying tax and license on one.

in the end i decided that my integrity and character was worth more than the amount of that tithe check. i decided that being obedient to God (even when no one else was looking or would ever know) was more important than our desire to get a new van soon. if we would have to wait a little while more to save up the amount needed for our van, so be it.

the other occasion that this came to the forefront of my life was in the sale of our other car. we went to the buyer’s house to sign the title over, but the buyer wasn’t there only his wife. so we signed our portion of it and said we’d come back for our section of it later after they’d signed it. he came home just as we were leaving but we didn’t have time to stay anymore. i did hear some conversation in the living room mentioning that he didn’t want to sign it yet or then he’d have to register the car in his name.

you see, as it was, the registration paper in the vehicle still had deb’s name on it. there was also a proof of insurance card that had deb’s name on in still in the glove compartment. now we had told them previously that we had already cancelled the insurance, but the card was still in there that said it didn’t expire until july. (this story took place in the beginning of May)

so … essentially if he got pulled over he could say he was just borrowing the car, the policeman would see the proof of insurance card and not have to give him an additional ticket for not having insurance. if he signed the title and had to register the vehicle within 15 days as it states by law, then he’d have a registration in his name and the defunct insurance card that had deb’s name. the two pieces of paper wouldn’t match and the cop would be suspicious.

i mulled this over for a while, knowing that it wasn’t “right” but not really wanting to confront them about it either. 1) because they are good friends of ours and 2) because if they wanted to do things “wrongly” then that’s their problem as long as i choose to do the right things, right?

and it’s on that second point that i realized that a true friend should try to encourage you to do the right thing not let you get away with wrong behavior.

so a couple of days later i confronted him about it, and told him that i didn’t think it was right, and that he should not try to be deceptive, and that the price of liability insurance on such an old car wasn’t worth compromising his integrity for. he thanked me for confronting him about it and encouraging him to be a more honest man. he also let me know that he and his wife had already had a lengthy discussion on the matter and had come to the same conclusion.

so there you have it. tough decisions sometimes mean not so glamorous recognition or reward for doing the right thing. in fact sometimes it even costs you something.

it may be easy to justify your actions, or to bend the truth, or to take the “easy road”, or to settle for “good enough”. but in the end it’s costing you a lot more than a few hundred dollars, or a difficult conversation with a friend, or a few extra minutes that you gained. the price you pay is that of your integrity, your character, your name.

as another quick test: if you are given the wrong amount (more than what you deserve) of change from a store clerk do you …
give it all back immediately
give some of it back but not all
count it as a blessing from God
either A or C depending on if it’s just a few cents or a few dollars.
i don’t ever count back the change i’m given

if the amount is just a few cents and you keep it, think about it in terms of: i just sold my

character for 18¢.

// today i'm thankful for:
1. no baseball games today because of rain
2. finally selling our green van
3. only a few more days till WWDC
4. take out from Golden Yan
5. a sunny afternoon drive with my wife
AuthorAbraham Lara
today is my 25th day without a laptop. although I kinda cheated since I only spent about a week without any kind of portable device.

every so often, people ask me (or I ponder to myself), "do you remember what your kids were like when they were younger?"  and often my response is, "no". as I've stated before that's why I take pictures and write so that I will remember. I often look at my kids and can only imagine at the age they currently are, as if they’ve always been that age.

technology is funny like that, too. once you get used to using some new form of it, it gets harder to imagine what your life was ever like before it.

do you remember what life was like before there were laptops?  I mean, I do vaguely remember that there was a time that I didn't own one.

and it's not even like we don't have TWO other computers at home. three, if you count rhonda's laptop. but I've become acutely aware of just how "used to” having a notebook I'd become.

we used it for watching movies on the coffee table (our TV is small compared to how far away from the couches it is, so it seemed just as big to have the small laptop up close on the coffee table).  I used it to record our church's sermons for the website. I take it with me to meetings to type notes on (I'm a  faster typist than longhand writer).

I would sit on the couch, instead of my office chair, to work on various projects like my blog, the church's website, or just reading and responding to email. when watching TV I would look up the name of "that one actor" that you know you've seen before but don't remember in what other movie.

and as I mentioned before on this blog most of the writing for it was done on my laptop while at school. and so that brings me to the "I kinda cheated" part. because I know for sure that I wouldn't have taken up my current 30 day writing challenge if I didn't have this ultra portable little computer (the iPod Touch) in the palm of my hand.

in fact, my original intent was to just play with this iPod for a couple of weeks until I was ready to buy my next computer (after WWDC).  and then I would return it to use the money for that purchase.

but now ... I kinda like it. :) although I'll still return it for a couple of reasons.

1) it's only the 8gb. if I were to keep it I'd want one with at least double the memory, 32gb would be better.

2) it's not that great of a music iPod. it an amazing video player and email device. it's internet capabilities are awesome. but in terms of playing music it's not that great. it sounds just fine, it's just inconvenient to always have to look at that screen when skipping a song, going back, changing the volume, or even pausing or resuming playback. I can do all those things with my other ipods while they're still in my jean's pocket.

3) I don't like walking around with so many things in my pocket. I've got my keys, wallet, cell phone, and now the iPod Touch. so I've been wanting, and in just a few months I'm looking forward, to get an iPhone. ever since they were announced a year and a half ago I've been waiting for my two year Sprint contract to expire this coming Oct so that I could switch over to AT&T (who currently is the exclusive carrier).  and it looks like it'll be worth the wait since expected that Apple will introduce a new model with even more features in a week from now. so maybe I'll buy it early but just not activate AT&T service with it until Oct; I'll just use it like an iPod until then.

so that's what life has been like for me without a laptop- pretty ok with the iPod Touch to play with.

am I going to give up having a notebook? not a chance. there's simply so much more that I can do on a laptop, namely video iChat. (this would be increasingly more important if in fact I'm hired in construction with my brother-in-law, so I can talk/see deb and the kids everyday.)

in fact, the thought crossed my mind today to not get a macbook pro like I've been wanting. but instead to get two macbooks, one for me and one for deb. hmmm, I'll have to think about that more, and obviously talk to deb about it.

// today i'm thankful for:
1. the good way your body feels after a good run
2. more new friends on twitter
3. a clean office, finally!
4. a great mexican pizza by rhonda for dinner
5. finishing this post before midnight
AuthorAbraham Lara
so deb recorded danielle singing this lullaby a couple of weeks ago. i’m not sure if she was planning on posting it on her blog or not and since i’m tired and it’s late and didn’t want to write much, so i’m posting it here tonight.

danielle, you are sooo precious! i’m so proud of you for learning how to ride your bike in just one day. i love to hear you sing and dance. i love it when you give me big squeezes around the neck. (if you’ve never had one of danielle’s neck squeeze hugs, you haven’t truly lived!)

you’re growing up so fast. you’re becoming a beautiful young lady. i love how you simply take God at his Word, so “as a matter of fact-ly”. i’m proud when you take care of your younger sisters. and my heart breaks when i see your spirit crushed or wounded.

you are so independent and self-motivated. you are such a great reader and are going to be a fabulous first grader next year. you have such a thankful heart. and i think you have a gorgeous smile.

have i mentioned how fast i think you’re growing up?

i love you, danielle. thanks for singing this song for us.

// today i'm thankful for:
1. sharing with others how to live on a budget
2. the last week of school!!!!
3. danielle’s “neck squeeze hugs”
4. new twitter followers
one week until WWDC

PS. i may be getting a summer job working with my brother-in-law working construction. he said he’d ask if they would hire me on or not. it would mean i would be working out of town during the week and only coming home on the weekends. but our plan is since i’d still be getting paid from the school during the summer that we could put ALL of this summer job towards our school loan debt. it would really help knock out a big chunk. we’ll see what happens?
AuthorAbraham Lara
so the blog readers found out a couple days ago about my self imposed 30 day writing challenge, but readers of my twitter feed found out the day I started. (are you gettin’ a theme here: i say a lot on twitter, you should try it out). when I mentioned it, I also asked for blog topics to write about.

my sister, Elia, was the only one to offer a response (and rather quickly I might add). her great idea for a post was to expound on the wonderful qualities of my youngest sister. in case you didn't catch the irony, that would be her.

Elia is six years my younger and up until very recently she's always been the little Jr. High kid that she was when I left for college.

growing up my other sister and I  use to think that my dad let her get away with a lot more than either of us was allowed to, because she was the baby of the family.

as I've mentioned before I don't have the greatest memory in the world, so my memories of my sister from growing up aren't many. I do remember that she used to climb on everything. and she also used to have her feet sticking up from the backside of a couch.

another vague memory I have is of a commercial we watched on Saturday mornings. it was for some kind of new board game or something; called Pizza Party. I remember Elia running around the living room with her fingers in the air singing the jingle, "party, pizza party!" over and over again.

oh, wait, this was supposed to be a tribute to her excellence and not simply a compilation of my vague memories.

as mentioned at the beginning, Elia has been a Jr. Higher in my eyes until just recently. this past august I had the privilege of officiating her wedding. and a month or so ago we found out that she and her husband are expecting their first kid in december.

it was just a few weeks ago that I started imagining what "little Elia" would be like as a mother. I began to realize, she's growing up. little Elia's growing up!

so what else can I say about my wonderful little sis?

she's outgoing, fun, loves to laugh, spontaneous, and tech savvy. she loves to be with people ad she loves to cook. she’s good with numbers, though she doesn't act like the "brainy" type at all. she uses a Mac, so you know she's awesome!

if you're interested, you can read more about her life on her own blog (but even she'll admit she doesn't write there very often).  she does write a lot more often to her twitter account: see, everybody’s using twitter.

so do you have a topic you’d like me to cover in the next month? anything’s game. leave a comment, fill out the contact form, email me, or let me know via twitter!

PS. technically this one also wasn’t posted till after midnight, because i took an allergy medicine around 4pm and then right after dinner around 6 i was so drowsy i slept until 11.30! (i only meant to take a 20min nap)
// today i'm thankful for:
1. allergy medicine
2. Northpoint Community Church podcasts (iTS link)
3. friends who hold me to a higher standard
4. only one service tomorrow
5. costco hotdogs
AuthorAbraham Lara
I hate typos. I hate reading them and it makes my skin crawl when I read them in my own writing. but even worse than typos is to see misspelled words, or the wrong word used when the author thought he/she knew what it meant. when I see a misspelled word it just SCREAMS out lazy to me. it says that the author was just  too plain lazy to use spell check, or even bother fixing those words with red squiggly lines most programs put under misspelled words.

I just re-read (as in when i started writing this post) one of my latest posts on the big "V" and realized how many typos there were. most of the time deb proofreads my articles before I hit the publish button. that night she was putting kids to bed during that time.

recently I've been writing my articles on the iPod Touch in an email that I send to myself and then I just copy and paste it into iWeb. I think I'm getting better at typing on it's touch pad screen, but obviously I'm not perfect yet.

now I could make excuses like: the fact that the iPod doesn't have spell check, or that the onscreen keyboard has really small keys. but the fact is I still do copy it over to a computer where those excuses are irrelevant.

I didn't proof read it before publishing and even after deb told me that night about the typos after it was already published I failed to go back and fix them until the next day during my lunch break because I was too tired at that moment.

anyways, all this to say, if you ever find a typo in any of my writing, or a misspelled word, or the wrong word used PLEASE, PLEASE let me know. I want to fix it. for that matter if you ever find some other type of mistake such as wrong facts, dates, or statistics; let me know that as well. of course, my opinions, rants, and general musings aren't up for correction since they are simply my opinions. (we all know after-all that they are ALL right anyways)  ;)

you could leave a comment to tell me, but I'd have to erase your comment after I make the corrections since it would no longer make sense. or you could call or email me. or you could use the contact form by clicking the link at the top of the page. submitting that form will send me an email with your comment, question, or info.

thanks in advance.

// today i'm thankful for:
1. family hoedowns
2. seeing my kids sing
3. and dance
4. and bang metal bowls
5. relax time with deb once the kids are in bed
AuthorAbraham Lara