Author Archives: JasonGrandt

SOAPBOX: Why Daytime VBS is Not Reaching Children

Published / by JasonGrandt / Leave a Comment

As someone who has been involved with Vacation Bible School programs for over 10 years, and now as a parent of two children, I have come to believe that daytime VBS programs hosted by churches are not reaching all of the children they could reach.

Daytime VBS programs are a “tradition”. As someone who grew up in an LCMS church, I know the mentality of “this is the way we’ve always done it”. However, forcing a VBS into the day fails to look at the changes in our society that have occurred since 1980. My premise is this: churches do not allow families or single parents the ability to get their children to VBS programs held during the day. Let’s look at some statistics.

Single parent households are on the rise and single mothers are significantly more common. According to census.gov, in 1980, of all households with children, 19.5% were single parent households. This has grown to 29.5% in 2008. In 1980, 18.4% of children were born to unmarried women. This has grown to a staggering 40.6% in 2008.

Additionally, census.gov shows that dual income households with children under the age of 18, have increased. While not significantly, since 1990, it has risen from 64.3% to 66.1%. Nearly 2/3rds of American households with children who are are old enough to attend VBS have BOTH parents working.

So, what does this all mean? How do kids get to VBS? There normally isn’t a bus service. The church doesn’t pick up the kids. That means, parents are responsible to get their children to VBS. As we have seen, single parent households are on the rise and dual income households hold a strong majority. This means, there isn’t a “spare parent” who can ferry the children to a daytime VBS. Children may be at summer day camps not affiliated with the church, or a child care center, or left home (those children who are old enough, obviously). This SIGNIFICANTLY limits the church’s ability to reach out into the community.

Given those statistics, it’s easy to extrapolate out that a church’s volunteer base is also shrunk due to high school students working summer jobs or at summer school, middle school students stuck at home with no transportation, and parents at their day jobs.

Nighttime and weekend VBS programs have their own draw backs such as competing with local athletic programs and parents/students being too tired to have another activity. But, I believe my point stands: if you want to reach the largest amount of children possible, do NOT hold your VBS program during the day. Or, at the very least, offer another alternative.

Our Favorite Christmas Light Displays

Published / by JasonGrandt / 1 Comment on Our Favorite Christmas Light Displays
2013-12-20 20.36.17

There is a Santa in the window!!

It’s a family tradition to go drive around the suburbs and look at various Christmas light displays. I thought I’d share a few of our favorites (with links to Google Maps)

What Would I Do If I Won The Mega Millions?

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MegaMillions_logoThe projected jackpot for tonight’s Mega Millions drawing is $636m, so i thought I’d dream about what I’d do if I won.

The jackpot shrinks to $341.2m if you take the lump sum. Assuming a federal income tax of nearly 40% and Illinois state income tax of 5%, that leaves $187.66m in cash.

This is how I would spend the money:

  • $27m (15%) Church and Charity – distributed over 10-20 years for tax purposes.
  • $10m to medical research and/or children’s hospitals
  • $100,000 savings funds for our 7 nieces and nephews. Payable at $10,000/year over 10 years after they turn 21.
  • $200,000 savings funds for each of our kids. Payable at $20,000/year over 10 years after they turn 21.
  • $750,000 to pay off the mortgages of immediate family members (grandparents, parents, siblings) – this is probably an over estimation of the real amount.
  • $1m land and property in IA and FL
    • $800,000+ for a large chunk of land and a new house in FL
    • $200,000 for a “vacation home” in IA
  • $500,000 RV to travel the country

That leaves a paltry $147,310,000 for general living expenses (food, gas, utilities, health insurance, property tax, house maintenance, new cars, etc) for the rest of our lives. That is $150,000/year over the next 982 years. Or, $2,104,428.57/year for the next 70 years.

Naturally Melissa and I would probably quit both of our jobs. Melissa would work at developing a photography business and I would find a nice local church and/or performing arts center in FL to volunteer at. We’d probably spend most of the summer up north in IL and IA with family. But most importantly, I’d want to keep the girls “grounded” and never live an overly lavish life. We’re just normal people.

What’s That Noise??

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Last night, the girls went to bed and Melissa and I decided to watch this weeks episode of Revolution. We then heard what sounded like someone walking around upstairs. We had assumed one of the girls woke up and was stumbling into our bedroom. I went upstairs… both were sound asleep in bed. umm… that was odd. Well, maybe our cat Fiona was jumping around and that was what we heard. But, she was no where to be found. I guess she was just hiding in the basement like she likes to do.

kitchen_cornerThen we heard it again. Once again, kids where asleep, no Fiona. huh! Well, Melissa insists the house is haunted. Then I got a hunch.

I walked into our kitchen, and over the far left corner where two sets of cabinets meet and there is a dead space. (see picture to the right).

I looked up, and well, there you go! I found the problem. It wasnt the girls… FIONA WAS IN THE CEILING! She had climbed up the gap and through a hole in the drywall and was IN THE CEILING!

up_the_cabinets

After we picked ourselves up off the kitchen floor laughing and Melissa was hunched over laughing so hard she was trying to avoid peeing her pants, we decided to let her come out on her own accord. As soon as she decided to climb back down, I quickly stuffed a pillow into the gap until a permanent solution can be done. That should keep her out of the hole for a while.

All those times Melissa heard phantom steps upstairs, it wasn’t a ghost.. it was a cat in the ceiling!

Wireless Charging Stations Are Not Wireless!

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35637461_Nexus_4_Wireless_Charger_02_620x433There is a trend in the tech world towards wireless charging stations for mobile devices (tablets and cell phones). The premise is simple, when you need to charge your phone, you never need to have wires. That sounds great!!! Except, there’s a problem: the charging station… has wires! “Wireless charging” of a mobile device is completely inaccurate. The charging station needs to be plugged into power. So, instead of a wire to your phone, there is a wire to your charging station. Psst! There’s still a wire! It is just connected to a different device.

The Argument to Stay Off Property

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holiday-inn-orange-lake-kitchenUnless you are staying at a “value” hotel (which is a glorified hotel room) at Walt Disney World, staying on property is just too darn expensive. Families larger than 4 need to stay at “family suites”, regular rooms have a limit of 4 people. But, too often people dont take the time to realize the benefits of off property.

Here’s a scenario:
You have a family of 4-6 coming to WDW for one full week (Check in July 13, check out July 20th), and plan on 5 days at the parks

Option 1:

  • The Lion King Family Suite would cost you $2458 (yes, you read that right!)
    • 1 Queen Bed, 1 Double-Size Table Bed, and 1 Double-Size Sleeper Sofa. Talk about COMFY!!! (note the sarcasm)
  • Free transportation to and from the airport (Disney’s Magical Express)
  • Free on-property transportation
  • Extra Magic Hours (for now, until it’s discontinued in the near future)
  • You can not leave Disney Property without a Taxi
  • Total Cost: $2458 + park tickets

Option 2:

  • Stay at Orange Lake Resort for $1315.65
    • Two bedroom villa,1 king size bed, 2 queen size beds, kitchen
    • Orange Lake is located directly next door to the Animal Kingdom and is less than a 20 min drive (mostly on Disney property) from MK parking
  • Rent a Ford Escape for from Hertz for $467.07
    • Disney World Parking: $70
    • Mobility around the greater Orlando/Kissimmee area
  • Total Cost: $1852.72 + park tickets
  • Savings: $605.28 (compared to Option 1)
    • five “park-to-park” tickets to Universal is $615

Option 3 (not an option to families larger than 4 people):

  • The Port Orleans would cost you $1372
    • 2 Queen Beds
  • Free transportation to and from the airport (Disney’s Magical Express)
  • Free on-property transportation
  • Extra Magic Hours (for now)
  • You can not leave Disney Property without a Taxi
  • Total Cost: $1372 + park tickets

Option 4:

  • Stay at Comfort Suites Maingate East for $824.82
    • Two Queen beds, Suite
  • Rent a Ford Escape for from Hertz for $467.07
    • Disney World Parking: $70
    • Mobility around the greater Orlando/Kissimmee area
  • Total Cost: $1361.89 + park tickets
  • Savings: $10.11 (compared to Option 3)

Slutty Brownies

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For this Thanksgiving, I made Slutty Brownies for dessert. Like the name might indicate, they are cheap and easy… to make. It’s a cookie dough base, oreo cookie center, and brownie top. Here’s the recipe….

Ingredients
Cookie Dough

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 stick unsalted butter (1 cup) at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg
  • 2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Batter

  • Boxed Brownie Batter of your choice and required ingredients

24 Oreo cookies

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a bowl.
  3. In a standalone mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed.
  4. Add egg and vanilla and mix on low until blended.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredient mixture to mixer and blend on low.
  6. Spoon into a 9×13 glass dish or baking pan with a spatula and flatten.
  7. Top with one layer of Oreos (4 in each row).
  8. Prepare brownie batter
  9. Pour brownie batter on top.
  10. Shake around to make sure batter is evenly distributed.
  11. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes (check with a tooth pick).
  12. Let cool 15 minutes, then cut into squares.