Category Archives: family

family christmas day

because we travel to detroit every year to celebrate christmas with jeannie’s folks and mine, our family christmas is always quite early. this year it’s today! we just got up and had hot chocolate while opening our stockings. in a few minutes we’re going downtown to serve breakfast to homeless folk at a mission (this is a new thing for us this year; we’re hoping it will bring a bit of perspective to the day for our kids). after serving, we’ll head to our favorite san diego beach dive for brunch: kono’s, at crystal pier in pacific beach. i’m sure anyone’s who’s been there would give me a woop-woop.

after brunch we’ll come home and open presents, followed by going to see narnia (actually, both the kids have already seen it, but jeannie and i haven’t). we’ll wrap up the day with a trip to the hotel del coronado (the del) to have a cup of hot chocoate or a fancy drink while looking at their amazing christmas decorations.

what a great family day!

my little girl

well, i can hardly believe it. i went to my first middle school choir and band concert last night since being a parent of a middle schooler (been to many of these suckers as a junior high pastor). and either i am completely dillusional now that my own little girl is in the show choir, or this school just has an amazing music program. because — shock of all shocks — it didn’t suck! just the opposite: it was so unexpectedly good. liesl was one of about 60 girls who tried out for one of three solos in the song ‘santa baby’, and got one.

the two jazz bands (downtown and uptown) were — how do i say this? — actually enjoyable to listen to! kids played improvisational solos that blew me away. and not just one ringer kid. drummers and jazz guitarists and a few sax players and a trumpet or two and a clarinet, and even a girl playing the vibraphone all solo’d.

ok, now i’m rambling like a smitten dad. what can i say? i expected two hours of painful nails-on-the-blackboard stuff, and got a great concert with talented kids — including my own amazing little girl.

little jesus

on the way to school this morning, liesl (my 11 year-old) said, in a cutesy baby-talk voice: look at the little jesus on that car!

there was, now that she pointed it out, an extremely small jesus-fish in the lower left corner of the rearview window of the SVU in front of us at the traffic light. really, like an inch long, nose-to-tail.

me: wow, that is small.

liesl: it’s like they want god to know it’s a christian car, but they don’t want anyone else to know.

my boy is eight today

max turner oestreicher turns the ripe old age of eight today. such a great kid: smart, funny, focused, creative, affectionate. last night max made me a ‘scavenger hunt’ (just for the fun of it) that had me going all over the house and yard from clue to clue, to get to the final piece of paper that just said ‘i love u!’

this morning, max’s class got krispy kremes in honor of max. and tonight, he gets to pick the restaurant for dinner. i’m guessing he’ll go with IHOP — he’s a pancake freak, and he says, ‘they have the best pancakes IN THE WORLD!’

house full of 8 year-old boys

max’s birthday is this week, and he had his first sleep-over last night. i was, as they say, the grand poobah of 8 year-old boy partydom. clearly, i am not a children’s ministry guy.

an edited script of me in the last 12 hours would be:
“welcome, liam, good to meet you”
“guys, let’s take turns on the xbox”
“cole, you have to give your controller to garrett; you’ve had it too long”
“hey, try not to scream too loud, OK?”
“OK, guys, we have 8 pizza toppings, since max is turning 8; come make your own”
“tommy, are you sure you want that much cheese?”
“pizza’s ready!”
“come sit down in here; we’re going to play a game where you can win dollar bills!”
“first person to bring me a blade of grass gets a dollar!” [of course, this resulted in handfulls of grass thrown in my face seconds later]
“let’s go have cake!”
“wow, another target gift card, max!”
“yes, cole, you can go in the hot tub in your underwear”
“guys, no cannonballs into the hot tub, OK?”
“guys, no running on the hot tub stairs, or you’ll slip and fall”
“wow, cole, you’ve gone down the waterslide 25 times? 28?”
“HEY! stop running!”
“liesl, if you leave them alone, they won’t bother you”
“tommy, can you stop hitting people?”
“let’s all sit by the fire pit and i’ll tell you what we’re doing next”
“kyle, don’t stand that close to the fire”
“cole, your towel is going to catch on fire if you stand there”
“ok, get your jammies on”
“cole, you didn’t bring anything to sleep in? yeah, you can sleep in those underwear. you don’t want a shirt on while we’re still playing?”
“we have 8 kinds of snacks for you to make your own snack mix”
“cole, that’s a lot of marshmallows”
“garrett, i think that’s enough pretzels”
“ok, we’re starting the movie”
“yeah, that’s funny dancing, cole”
“guys, i want everyone to go to the bathroom, then get in your sleeping bag”
“ok, guys, time to start quieting down”
“TJ, can you stop farting? no one will be able to quiet down if you don’t”
“kyle, turn your flashlight off please”
“cole, please stop rolling around on top of the other guys”
“ok, guys, really, you have to quiet down”
“wow, it’s 6:10am; can you guys who are awake try to stay quiet?”
“ok, it’s 6:15am; i guess everyone’s up now”
“ok, make sure you take turns with the xbox controller — remember how we did this yesterday?”
“the donuts are here!”
“ok, i’m setting up the pinata in the backyard”
“cole, careful with that stick! you’re going to take someone’s head off!”

come to think of it — this isn’t all that different than junior high ministry. it’s kind of like junior high ministry on speed; and with a bit more positional authority.

one more hour.

a perfect thanksgiving

our house was full today:
– my wonderful wife and kids
– my parents from detroit
– my cousin who lives in san diego, and his fiance
– my cousin’s three roomates (who together run a parachute jump business)
– jen and jay howver, from ys
– the teenage daughter of our friends who are out of town

we ate like kings, played extreme bocce ball (the hill and the trampoline are fair game), sat in the hot tub and around the fire pit, and played some wicked halo 2 battles.

what a blessing to have a full house of friends and family on a day like this. i don’t take it for granted.

oh, and the yams and stuffing were my favorites.

max’s poem

all the kids in this area, kindergarten through high school, are invited to participate in an annual “reflections program” sponsored by the PTA. there are a variety of categories: literature, visual arts, photography, musical composition. the rules are very strict (hope the other parents follow ’em!) that the work must be exclusively the child’s — not a creation of the parent and the child together.

oh, and each year has a theme. this year’s theme is: i wonder why…

max, our 7 year-old just wrote this poem, and i’m totally blown away — all these words actually came out of his mouth (without help or coaching from us):

I Wonder Why I Wonder

I wonder why things are not as they seem.
I wonder why people are afraid of things that aren’t true.
I wonder why god made boys and girls.
I wonder why some people don’t like each other.
I wonder why some people hate life.
I wonder why people get old and die.
I wonder why things that are not good for you taste better than healthy things.
I wonder why god lets people get hurt.
I wonder why I wonder.

(max turner oestreicher, 2005)