Tag Archives: family

Gratitude and Grief

Today, I have a guest post for you from my very own Dad, Paul Newton.  He recently took a trip to Mexico, and this is the story of one of his most profoundly memorable experiences there.  I hope you enjoy his disarmingly honest and deeply moving account of how God brings comfort to His children in their time of need.

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Weekend Geek-Out!

So many ridiculously great things happened this weekend that I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just do this thing mind-dump style!  Here we go:

– My dad and my sister Christiana came up to Lake Ann this Friday night and took my brother Jonathan and I to spend the weekend with them at my Uncle Don’s house in Traverse City.  I usually try not to miss posts on account of PostADay, but when it comes to spending time with my family nothing is allowed to get in the way, so that’s why I didn’t post on Friday or Saturday.

– At my Uncle’s house, we got to relax and laugh and play together, something I haven’t had a chance to do with Dad and Christiana for months now.  It was incredibly refreshing.  We played the Funny Paper Game and watched Robin Hood and took a guided tour of the nearby peninsula with Uncle Don.  He pointed out all of the Fudgies and how poorly they drove, and he said that Jonathan and I aren’t so much Fudgies as part-time residents.  So there you have it.  I have been officially certified a non-Fudgy by a Traverse Citizen.

– Fun fact: hippos make the sound “Meh.  Meh.  Beh.  Beh.”  Chefy will back me up on that.

– Manzana Lift is the most delicious pop in all of existence.  It’s better than Fanta Orange.  It’s better than Rock ‘n’ Rye.  It’s better than pure liquid splendor.  I learned this many years ago in Mexico, but I didn’t know until this weekend that it is finally available in a select few places in the great state of Michigan, and one of those places is twenty minutes from my house downstate.  Dad was kind enough to bring me a bottle, but now I can’t wait to go home and get some more.

– My mom sends the best care packages.  I know I already mentioned this back in the spring semester, but it’s worth repeating.  This time around, she sent me a Friendship is Magic coloring book and a shark-shaped water pistol and a giant ball full of water and glitter.  And, of course, a bunch of candy.  This time the candy was Super Mario themed, which makes it extra delicious.

– Some of the best memories of my life were created on Wal-Mart runs with Adam Beckmeyer.  We have never gone to Wal-Mart without having an insanely good time in the process.  This time, we went to buy a giant box of crayons so that I’d have the right colors for my coloring book (the box Mom sent only had one shade of purple, which is definitely a hindrance when trying to color Twilight Sparkle, who is several shades of purple).  We ended up also buying some pink shoelaces and waving at a lot of random people as we drove past them.  I think I accidentally scared one lady because she wasn’t looking at us when I yelled hello, but most of the people waved back and were very friendly.  Except for the guys in the farting truck, but they were slow drivers and they loved pollution so they didn’t count.

– I finally received my packet from Chrispy after the longest week of my life, but Adam Beckmeyer found it before I did and hid it from me.  Fortunately, he’s terrible at hiding things, so I found it and opened it immediately.  What waited for me inside was the very definition of exceedingly cute:

This is the greatest thing I've ever received by mail. End of story.

I could not have asked for a more perfect rendition of the sketch I requested, and I am still geeking out about how awesome that sketch is.  Also, you all need to go read Chrispy’s comic, Precocious, right now.  I’m not kidding.  Do it.

–  I now have about eight minutes to go to bed before I’m past curfew, so it’s time to wrap this up.  Long story short: I just had the best weekend of my life, and I’m still geeking out about it.  Life is good!  Bring on week 6 of camp!

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Letters to Lauren Faust

Dear Lauren,

It’s been three months since I first watched an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but I still remember that day clearly.  A chain reaction started on that unassuming Saturday afternoon, one that has created more laughs, smiles, and fond memories than I ever expected, and it’s all because you fell in love with an idea and dedicated yourself to making it a reality.  Today, as I watched the season finale, I thought back on all of those memories and realized that without you, none of them would have even been possible, and I knew that I had to thank you somehow.  That’s why I wrote this letter: to let you in on a few of the best memories I’ve made thanks to your ponies, and to let you know how grateful I am for your part in making them.

So thank you.  Thank you for essentially introducing me to one of my best friends, Tek, whom I met through the comments section of my first pony-related post way back in February.  Thank you for the smile that I wore as I drew a picture of Pinkie Pie to send to my fifteen-year-old sister, whose cheerful spirit reminds me a lot of everyone’s favorite party pony, and thank you for the even bigger smile that I got when she wrote me back saying “I decided I’m officially Pinkie Pie!  Speaking of ponies, would you draw me a picture of Fluttershy?  Please?”.  Thank you for the chance to watch the show with her and my sixteen-year-old brother, and for all the fun we’ve had quoting it back and forth to each other since.  Thank you for the unexpected fun of watching one of my college friends succumb to the charm of the ponies, and for how it’s given us a great excuse to hang out every Thursday afternoon to watch a few episodes and chat.  Thanks, too, for the great laugh I got when a friend who posted “What’s up with the ponies?” on my Facebook wall in early April posted “I want a pet alligator named Gummy” just a few weeks later.

Perhaps most of all, however, I thank you for giving thousands and thousands of other people all around the world the same kind of lasting memories that you’ve given me.  You’ve really done something wonderful, Lauren, something that’s touched people from every walk of life, and there’s no way that all of us could say a thank you big enough or sincere enough to express our gratitude.  Still, we had to try, so I opened up my email to the bronies of Ponychan, PonyGAF, and Equestria Daily, people who also owe a lot of great memories to you, to send you their own letters of gratitude for all that you have done.  You can find their letters below, letters with stories of love found, hope restored, and lives changed.  I know there are a lot of them and that you’re a very busy woman, but I hope that you’ll take the time to scroll through, read some of these letters, see what your work has meant to all of us, and take pride in what you’ve accomplished.  You deserve it.

Sincerely,

Tim N.

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Goodbye, Culby 12

“Mandatory floor meeting” is a phrase that doesn’t often bring to mind fond memories of good times and cherished moments, so I wasn’t really expecting much more than a laundry list of checkout procedures from R.A. Jake when I sat down in the lounge for the floor meeting tonight.  After he finished reading off all of the pertinent paperwork information, however, Jake did something that I didn’t expect.  He asked everyone who wasn’t coming back to school the next semester to raise their hands.  Our resident senior, Andrew, raised his, as did our soon-to-be-married man Phil, and I followed suit.  Jake handed us each a gift (I got a stuffed dog, a cap gun, and a Hot Wheels ’73 Falcon – yeah, these guys know me pretty well), then had us stand up on the coffee table, fondly referred to as “the altar” so that some of the other men of the floor could pray over each of us.  My amazing roommate Dan prayed for me, and as I stood there with the others on the altar, surrounded by the loving arms of my brothers and listening to Dan lift me up before the Lord, it began to sink in for me how much I’m going to miss this place, these people, when I leave.  I’ve only been here for a year and the men of Culby 12 already feel like another family to me, and even though I’ll be glad to return to my brothers and sisters and parents and friends at home, it’s still going to hurt to say goodbye to Moody and to Culby 12.  This year has been one of the most difficult, interesting, inspiring, eye-opening, exciting, wonderful years of my life, and I owe so much of that to these guys, my floormates and my friends.  Thanks for opening your lives to this freshman and making my first year at school such an amazing experience, Culby 12.  I’ll miss you, and I hope I can come back soon.

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Funny Paper

My family always has a supply of little yellow paper squares at hand just in case.  We’re not anticipating a paper shortage or a horde of wild rabbits whose only weakness is yellow squares; instead, we’re preparing for the inevitable moment when the urge hits us.  The urge is unpredictable, but it’s sure to hit at least once during each of my visits home, and it’s best that we have those yellow papers and a goodly supply of pencils on hand when it does hit so that we can get right down to satisfying our craving – a craving for the Funny Paper Game.  I’m not sure what the official title of the game is, but no matter whether you call it the Funny Paper Game, Telephone Pictionary, or That One Game With All the Drawing, it’s ridiculously fun and completely addicting.

The rules are simple:  First, gather up a medium-to-large collection of paper squares with enough space for doodling.  Next, distribute a stack of these papers and a pencil to each player.  The number of papers that each player receives should be equal to the number of players in the game.  Each player then numbers their papers (starting with 1, in case you weren’t sure), places them in order (also starting with 1), and writes a sentence on paper number one.  The sentence can be just about anything that suits the player’s fancy – song lyrics, movie quotes, true stories, and random nonsense are all perfectly acceptable.  Once everyone has written a sentence, players pass their entire stack of paper to the left with the sentence on top.  They then read the sentence on top of the stack that they received and proceed to draw a picture depicting that sentence on paper number two (no letters or numbers in your pictures, mind you).  Once a player finishes with their picture, they pass that stack to the left with their modern masterpiece on top, then take the new stack in front of them (with their neighbor’s picture on top) and interpret the picture into a sentence, which they write on paper number three and pass to the left.  You just keep repeating this cycle until you get the pile with your original sentence in it.  Once everyone has their pile of papers back, players take turns showing their pile to the others and laughing at the results of the zany interpretations and reinterpretations of the original idea.

The great thing about this game is that it’s simple to pick up, it inspires creativity, it’s an original experience each time, and it generates enough laughter to power all of Monstropolis for the rest of forever.  If you’ve got five or six friends who are willing to give it a try, go for it.  You won’t regret it.  If not, you can still get a hint of the hilarity and goofiness of the Funny Paper Game by taking a look at these prime examples that my family has saved from our own games.

First, two examples of what part of a complete stack looks like.  Watch as a sentences derail into tunes from The Sound of Music or bizarre poems about two immortal boys and a poodle:

And now, an assortment of some of my favorite pictures and sentences from previous games.  Consider it The Best of the Newton Family Funny Paper Game (Volume One):

So what’s your family’s favorite game to play together?  Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll catch you tomorrow.  Have a great day!

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Best Day Ever

The Moody Men’s Collegiate Choir performed a concert in Albuquerque last night, and we had another one planned for tonight, so today we spent most of the day sightseeing.  I got to the church around 9:00 and we set off for Santa Fe.  After a short bus ride, we arrived at the New Mexico capital building and went in to see the rotunda and the Senate chamber.  It turns out that the Senate was set to start their first session of the year at 11:00, so Doc let us stay to see it begin.  What we didn’t find out until a little while later is that he also wandered off and somehow secured permission for us to sing The Star Spangled Banner from the gallery as a part of the official opening ceremony.  We had to wait for a while because the session didn’t really convene until 12:10, but when the time finally came we said the pledge of allegiance with all of the New Mexico senators and then sang the national anthem to kick off the first session of the 50th New Mexico Legislature.

After that, we went out to the Santa Fe town plaza and wandered through a few of the shops. We also got to explore the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.  They have holy water there, but it didn’t really feel that holy.  My friend Robert and I dipped our fingers in and made the sign of the cross anyway because that’s what you’re supposed to do with it.  From there, we went back to Albuquerque and stopped at Christ the King Anglican Church to set up for our concert.  As it turns out, that’s Fernando Ortega’s church.  Yes, the famous Fernando Ortega.  He came to our concert and listened to us sing, and in my opinion it was one of our best performances yet.

On top of all that, today is Saint Patrick’s Day, also known to some as my little brother’s birthday, so I called him while the choir was getting ready in our dressing room and they were all kind enough to sing “Happy Birthday” to him with me.  He really enjoyed it, and I was glad that I could still give him a gift from so far away.  All things considered, this was pretty much one of the most memorable days of my life.  I got to sing for the New Mexico Senate, Fernando Ortega’s church, and my little brother’s birthday all in one day, and I also got to eat cheesecake.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Wall Paper

To the left of my desk there is a thin strip of wall that is rapidly disappearing beneath a growing collection of doodles, posters, paintings, and other such fantastic doodads.  Its official name is The Great Wall of Paper (and One Watercolor Painting and a Piece of Cardboard), but most of the time I just call it “the wall”. I love the wall, because each article I’ve placed there reminds me of a different aspect of my college experience, and they all have a story behind them.  Together, they make a colorful snapshot of what my freshman year at Moody has been like so far, from the  new things I’ve tried to the new friends I’ve made to the family members I love and miss.  I’ve already mentioned the crazy drawing from my PCM in my “Not Just Any Desk” post, but I thought the rest of the wall deserved equal treatment, so here are all of the items on the Great Wall of Paper from top to bottom:

1. A Watercolor Painting of Mario

 

Super Watercolor Bros.

My friend Adam goes to Art Club every Wednesday, and one week he decided to experiment with watercolors by painting a scene from Super Mario Bros.  When he finished it, he let me have it, so now it’s hanging cheerfully at the top of the wall, giving my room just the right amount of nerdy flair.

2. My 2009 NaNoWriMo Winner’s Certificate

Last year's NaNo winner's certificate.

Right beneath Mario is this orange and squirrelly reminder of my very first NaNoWriMo.  This year’s certificate is framed, so it wouldn’t stay on the wall with tacky putty, but last year’s certificate is there to remind me of how much fun writing is, and how much I can write when I put my mind to it.

3. My “The Best” Sign From “Stop Motion Skyline”

You guys are the best.

One Monday night I had the crazy idea to film a stop motion video, so I sat down with my webcam and started snapping pictures.  Pretty soon, the idea developed into a short little tribute to everyone watching, letting them know that they are, indeed, the best.  That fact still holds true, and that sign still reminds me of all the fun I had trying out a new style of video.

4. My Filming Notice

A sign I made for my door while I'm filming.

Back when I first decided to try vlogging, I made this sign for my door to let people know that they could still come in if they needed anything.  I didn’t want them to think I was in the middle of an important conversation, or worse, that I was talking to myself.  Although in retrospect I essentially was talking to myself and just didn’t want to admit my insanity.  Oh, well.

5. When Beavers Fly

A drawing that my mom did for The Funny Paper Game.

Ah, The Funny Paper Game.  Ever since we learned how to play this Pictionary/Telephone hybrid from our friends, the Swensens, it’s been a family favorite.  I kept this picture, my mom’s interpretation of the sentence “When beavers fly, birds will not”, to remind me of home – and my goofy family whom I miss very much.

6. Derpy Hooves

 

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I decided to try my hand at drawing when I first started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and I learned that it isn’t too hard to do.  So, I drew a few pictures to send home to my siblings, then I drew one of my favorite background characters from the show for myself.  I think it adds some much-needed cross-eyedness to the room.

7. That Drawing of Me

‘Nuff said.

8. My “Edit Me” Motivational Poster

Do it now!

I edited the cover art from this year’s NaNo novel to remind me to get some much-needed editing done.  So far I haven’t had a lot of time to work on it, but at least I made the poster.  That’s a step in the right direction, right?

So that’s the Great Wall of Paper, a collection of pictures from all the different parts of my college life.  What kind of drawings, doodles and doodads to you keep around your room, and what are the stories behind them?

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