Friday, November 30, 2007

Welcome to the Batiansila Blog! (Who Gets The Bill?)

What kind of ingenious advertising can you buy for 125,000 pounds in England? Let me tell you, those boys over there really have got their wheels turning. I'm dumbfounded by how original this is.


Tracey - Jen's sister - just returned from an extremely exciting doctor's appointment. He performed an ultrasound and heard...two heartbeats! Two kids! It is looking like some kind of nutty year for this branch of the family.

Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis (1 Day Late)

"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

C.S. Lewis was a writer and thinker who could drop you to the floor with a thought. To wit, in his remarkable piece "The Weight of Glory" it's hard not to be moved to a higher plane of Christian thought and existence.

Here at BNS we used to hit tennis balls with Bat, who at times was not playing tennis at all. Instead of trying to blast a shot for a winner, he was watching the ball and trying to hit it into a little corner or niche of the court with just the right touch and spin. He wasn't looking for the perfect shot - he was looking for the perfect point. Ergo the BNS affinity to Lewis, who similarly always was looking for the perfect point in what he wrote.

"Welcome, child," he said.
"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."


For some reason, Batiansila News Service ignored its own calendar and thought Keaton's birthday was the 27th. Then, when Keaton's mother emailed BNS on the 29th to speak with wonder of having a 21 year old, BNS digitally nodded in agreement. And subsequently never wrote anything. The BNS regrets its error.

Keaton G Christiansen is Deirdre's oldest. He attends school at that bastion of right-wing conspiracy, Hillsdale, where he is actively pursuing a degree of some sort. Deirdre he is more interested in ordering a drink than really drinking one. Then we all laughed at how Keaton lied to his mother like that. That Keaton.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Teia and Izzi (Greg's Oldest Two) and Brennick (Deirdre's 3rd oldest) just performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in an elite chorus comprised of a group of choirs from around the state of Wisconsin. Their A Capella choir was chosen through an audition process and performed selections from Handel's "Messiah."

Wow. Really proud of them, and really impressed by the sound. That's the real deal.

I'm enclosing some of the details from the Milwaukee Symphony website...

2007-2008 Teen Series

Recommended for grades 7 through 12
Programs are approximately 1 hour in length

Handel's Messiah

November 27 at 10:30 a.m.

Featuring guest choruses from Wisconsin high schools
Soloists, tbd
Lee Erickson, conductor

Explore the power of classical music with the most famous oratorio in Western classical music, Handel’s Messiah. Composed in just 24 days, this masterpiece moved its own composer to tears with its beauty and majesty. Rediscover this Baroque showpiece, from its stirring orchestration to the majestic Hallelujah chorus.

Handel - Selections from Messiah

Connections: Music, Visual Art, Language Arts

blog it

Monday, November 26, 2007

Phoenetic Punctuation

This one's for my mom:

Walter Interview Part I: The Kids

My first question for Uncle Walt was not the first one he answered. He answered the last one first:

How are your kids? I've heard questions about your two youngest. (sidebar: I realize through my life how sad it was to not be closer to them. I have basically stomped my foot and told my children there are no 1/2 anything in the bible. They have no 1/2 sisters. They have sisters. And I have no 1/2 cousins, either.) Everyone has heard some about Brandon and heather. Do you have pictures of any of them??

Now, about my kids, I will take them in order
of their appearance from back in 1959 forward. First is Rebecca, who
happens to live in Raleigh and is married to a NC State professor of
Treeology.....I know that is not correct, but it has something to do
with forests. For more, click here

Notice All The Iraq Headlines?

No? Weird. You'd think that if US military deaths were near peacetime levels, there'd be a headline. Must just be an oversight.

Zoe Update

Today we met with a cardiac specialist at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee. The doctor looked at Zoe's heart and confirmed her condition, which is called Tetralogy of Fallot. The doctor says that this is a "very" treatable condition, and indicated that a single surgery performed at some point from age 6 months to 12 months would be needed, with an outside chance of another when Zoe is older.

The visit with the doctor was strengthening, just because we could talk about legitimate problems and solutions. But I still ask for your prayers for Zoe and her health, since the spectre of other chromosomal problems is a real possibility.

Basically, a two vessel umbilical cord in and of itself means little, as does Tetralogy of Fallot. But the two things together are sometimes signs that there are more problems we are unaware of.

I pray for a healthy baby, and even a special healing of anything that is ailing her now. I put this all in God's hands and ask that you pray for Zoe, her health, and that she has a normal and happy and healthy life.

Next up: an appointment with our ultrasound specialist physician on December 13. I pray that we continue to see signs of a healthy kid. (Today she was AGAIN hard to scan because she's so active)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


DUH. Why am I not showing this on the blog? I think I'll put the link, too. Click it so that it becomes really popular and Dad gets EVEN MORE MONEY for Amen!

Everything's Coming Up Martina

Martina has given me some new pics (that's web lingo for pictures) of her baby and family. Enjoy. Unfortunately, no pictures of the robot are in this album.

Robotic Help for Paul and Martina

The title makes it sound like Paul and Martina live in the future and have a robot maid. But actually, it's an article about how God uses technology to bless people. In this case, someone you're related to.

Sources tell me as the Doc did his Doc magic using the da Vinci robot, Paul approached him and asked him how good he was at video games. I mean, c'mon, he's gotta ROCK at Halo, right?

Apparently, not. Not this da Vinci doc. He mostly does surgery and flies airplanes. How boring is that?

If video game dexterity is a key component to being a surgeon, let me introduce you to my son, Dr. Kellen (MaddenHands) Batiansila.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Watching Video Tip

Heidi told me that some of you all have issues watching video - that it actually stops and starts and is generally irritating. This is because the file is coming into your computer at the same time your computer is playing the file.

See. I said the above without using the word "download" because if I did, then Mom would turn and mutter "Download? I don't know how to download. I barely know how to turn this on! And Greg wants me to download. Meem? Can you download? Did Greg show you how to download? Maybe Martina knows how."

So here's your tip: Press play. then Press pause immediately. The player will continue to downl- I mean the file will continue to come into your computer even though nothing is playing. Wait a few minutes. You'll notice that there's a bar on the slider thingy, and that bar is getting bigger. This is the size of the downl- shoot. The file. It's the size of the movie file.

After you have at least 1/2 a bar full of file, then press play. You should be good by then.

OR, you can actually press play after you've watched it once, herky-jerky style and it SHOULD work better then.

Let me know if that works for you.

Shades of Renee

Renee actually did this, according to legend, while attending high school at Ben Franklin in New Orleans. You see, Renee was quite the foxy lady, capable of ensnaring men with her every - OW!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

He Gives Us All His Love

He gives us all his love
He gives us all his love
He’s smiling down on us
From up above
And He’s giving us all His love

He knows how hard we’re trying
He hears the babies crying
He sees the old folks dying
And He gives us all his love

Now if you need someone to talk to
You can always talk to Him
And if you need someone to lean on
You can lean on Him

He give us all His love
He gives us all His love
He’s smiling down on us
From up above
And He’s giving us all his love
He’s smiling down on us
From up above
He gives us all His love

-Randy Newman

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mass In Baghdad

Some really cool pictures of Mass at St. John's Church - Baghdad. This is dedicated to my Mom, who, to my memory, always digs Mass. Why is that?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Heidi? Dancing?

Heidi wrote me an email indicating she is going to be dancing in a Christmas pageant, and that her kids are extras. I called but she didn't answer. All I know is this guy is the choreographer for their church.

Calla Update

Calla was released from the hospital and is being tended to by Omi and Charis. She's still having trouble with some functions (see video below) but she's doing much better.

Payton was actually stricken with some really sick temperatures and was rushed to urgent care. He's doing better, but this kind of competition is going to have to stop.

Bookworm Kirin Is Now Up To Olive In Her SRA!

Kirin called to clarify just what book about Clara Barton she read. It's this one. I'm not making this up.

Good News For Tracey

Many of you know Jen's sister Tracey was facing some hardships and trials as she tried to get pregnant. If you click the Tracey link below you'll see some of those entries. Tracey's most recent test results came back with some really positive results. I am leaving big news to her, but hold her up in prayer, too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pray For Zoe

In January, Jen and I were walking around KMart and she mentioned as she passed some baby girl clothes that she wished she could have a baby girl. But then she said she knew that I didn't really want to have any more kids.

I told Jen we're already broke. We already don't fit into a minivan. We're still changing diapers, and we owe everyone. When I wake up in the morning, there's always at least a few kids in there with us. Another baby won't change much. So if she was serious, then we should be serious.

We continued to walk through the aisles of KMart.

Jen countered. She said if God would give me a raise, then, we'd have a baby. We told each other we'd pray about it separately, and a few days later we agreed that was our prayer.

In a matter of a few weeks, I was given a raise. Trouble was, it was nominal, not really a ton, but then again, we hadn't specified how much of a raise. Let that be a lesson to all of you out there.

Jen called me at work and asked me what we should do. I told her I didn't think it was a very big raise. Gideon had put out the fleece twice. We should, too. I wish I could tell you that we put it out and asked for Powerball, but we didn't. We just asked for a substantial increase.

Within weeks, I was offered a position at my current employer, Avicom. The entire organization, from top to bottom, man to woman, is a blessing in my life and I am so blessed to be there.

And it was a substantial increase.

Jen and I vexed because God had pushed the chips into the center of the table and said "Call." What was our hand? A lot of fear. We didn't do anything at first. But then we had a scare with Selah, and Jen and I talked again, and we strongly believe that Selah's health issue was a little reminder to us that God was God, and we, to quote my woefully underquoted ancient sister, are middle management.

Then, I read this devotion. I actually forwarded it to Jen. She read it and agreed...that we should follow God recklessly. Like a scene out of a movie, the phone rang. It was Walgreens, with a friendly reminder that Jen's prescription was ready. Her month's worth of pills. We decided she wouldn't take them. Six weeks later, Jen was pregnant.

This is typically where people pop the jokes about me and my indomitable procreative abilities but the truth is, none of them ring right in light of the story I just told you. God told us to have a baby, and we listened.

So, Jen and I are pregnant and we're due around the end of March.

This week we found out that our baby is a girl - what did you think it would be? - and that she has a heart defect. The doctor seemed quick to indicate that the heart defect is treatable and my read on him is he wasn't worried about the surgery it will take to repair the defect. But his voice was different when he talked about other potential problems. Zoe's heart defect and her two-vessel umbilical cord are sometimes signs of further problems.

Right now, she looks like a little kid. Her kidneys, brain, and spine are fine. She can't keep still. She looks fidgety. Please pray that Zoe Elizabeth continues to grow. It's the best sign that she is ok. Pray that her organs and limbs and her body grow and that this is just one little blip, the first way she'll break her daddy's heart.

Right now, there's nothing Jen and I can do, which is fitting and beautiful. I can't hold Zoe, and even when I try, I find I can't hold her. This isn't for me to hold. It's for you and me to hold up so that God, who called us to follow him recklessly, will hold and in His goodness, will do what He knows is best.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Klahn Update

I had the opportunity to visit with the Klahns just this past Saturday. Their oldest child, Ali, turned 18 and they surprised her with a big ole fashioned party at a barn which featured squaredancing.

I may as well have been an alien. Did you know there are 64 square dancing moves? And these kids, some as little as 8 or 10, were doing them. Incredible. A lot of them. Actually, all of them except mine, who just stared blankly at the group. With their dad.

Ted updated me with little news on their potential call to China. He said no news, but that the "company" he would be working for is focusing now on North Korea. I'll keep you posted and you keep him and his family in your prayers.

A Taste Of What Greg Does

Here's a video that we edited, scripted and had my brother-in-law write music for for banking giant Fiserv. It was exceptionally well received and it seems like our relationship with Fiserv will continue for a long while.

This video we went to Seattle and shot and edited with my great friends and co-workers Arthur and Mandi. I handled the interviews and some scripting, but we really worked together on locations and shot selection. We were given a limited number of days to get these interviews and we wanted to get sunrises and sunsets - which meant we were in bed by 12-1 and up at 3:30 for three days. It was hard, giddy work but I think it worked out great.

It's 9:25....

...and the people have spoken. All seven. Renee, will you hum in alto? Kirin, make up a tenor part to hum. Please, tell Jean that we'll just need our notes.

Heidi, did you make enough copies for everyone?

...Because This Blog, Above All Is About Education

I spoke to Kirin this weekend. She told me she read a book about Clara Barton, who organized and founded the American Red Cross.

What kind of crazy world are we living in? Kirin studies, obtains her educator license - and CONTINUES TO READ BOOKS? My whole world is turned upside down.

But, in the spirit of education, I'd like to introduce you to this gem - facts about our country and the opportunities that abound here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Calla Update: Everything Comes Down To...

Doctors have said that Calla's improvement is going great! They are waiting for her to...well, to...

That's what it all comes down to. And then she'll be released.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pray For Calla...UPDATED 4:45 11-11-07

Charis has taken Calla in with fears that she has appendicitis. Please keep Calla and all the Laabs family in your prayers.

***Updated Calla had successful surgery to remove her appendix. She had been suffering a great deal and now is doing well. Doctors said everything went well, and they expect her to be hospitalized for the next 3-5 days.

Christa may be heading south to help out with Payton. We'll keep you posted as we know more.

***Calla is expected to be at Children's Hospital, Milwaukee for 2-3 days. It was Charis who pressed the pediatrician about the possibility of appendicitis. At first, he didn't think it was, but with Charis's continued pressure, they tested Calla and discovered she was right.

Calla is groggy but doing fine and Omi and Grandpa Du even talked to her on the phone. Omi plans on coming down on Tuesday to visit and/or help.

Happy Birthday, Martina!

Martina turns 35 today, which is very old for most people her age. Martina is the classic little sister who got her way, but combined that with some stellar athletic ability to even further get what she wanted.

So, when Martina wanted to play softball in high school, and she had a restrictive knee brace on that kept her from bending her leg, she played anyway. Started pitcher. Batted. Got on base.

So now, she's got the husband she's always wanted and the family she wanted but was told she couldn't have: two precious little girls. Not bad, but not surprising for someone that determined. Happy birthday, little (old) sister.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther!

It's Martin Luther's birthday! I'm not sure what year Martin was born, but he was Christa's classmate through the first few years she attended Gymnasium. Don't get Christa started, because she's got all kinds of witty anecdotes to share about "Marty Lute," as he was known in their little circle.

One anecdotal Marty Lute story is that he went to a restaurant with Christa and the gang, most of them hangers-on,
all of whom were dominated by him, even awed. They arrayed themselves around the table, jockeyed for his attention. A young waiter came and asked if they'd like to hear the specials. Marty said, "I will have beef."

Yes, said the waiter. "And the vegetables?"

"They will have beef too."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Erin!

Erin's my twin sister. That's what people used to think when they saw us. Mom made us the clothes from the same material, and we both had dark hair and skin and blue eyes. She's the one who would write letters on my back until I would fall asleep. I'd sneak across into her room so she could tell me stories, and she'd spell her name or the alphabet.

Happy Birthday, Erin. I hope your day was great. Love, your twin.

Email Interview With Keaton!

I had a chance to talk to Deirdre's oldest, Keaton, who attends Hillsdale College. Please read this one.

"...I've got to be a man before I would even know where to start with a
woman. I'm not that grown up yet, and I'm not interested in dating
casually "for fun."

Click here for more

Open Call For Uncle Walter Stories

I reached out to Uncle Walter, asking for some time to interview him for the blog. He responded, "Sounds interesting, although I have no remote idea why anyone would want o hear me expound on anything..."

So, I'm asking all three of you readers to toss out an Uncle Walter story, so we can give him a warm welcome here. That would mean you'd either a) email it to me or b) comment -an art mastered so far by only Renee. Then again, maybe she's the only person reading this.

My Uncle Walter story...of many. I was going home with him to Slidell to spend the night or so with Brandon. Everyone was asleep but Uncle Walter and Aunt Pat in the front. We started talking, and he began to ask what I wanted for breakfast, admitting he knew nothing about cooking. He spent the entire trip to Slidell asking me about how to make pancakes - from how to crack eggs to what was to go into it - with Aunt Pat intermittently cautioning him and cackling.

It wasn't until the next day that I realized he actually knew how to cook, and that I wasn't going to have to fish eggshells out of the batter.

Another was when Renee or someone was doing a puzzle and he offered to help. He took pieces that didn't fit, and tried jamming them into the existing puzzle. then he took a glass and used it to shove pieces that didn't belong together. After some minutes of getting everyone riled up, he was done helping....

I'm sure you have more and better....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Time To Sing Into The Filter Queen

I'll sing the echoes on the "Girls in town..." and the "follow you..." "all around..."

Since We're On A New Orleans Kick...

Here's the recipe I always use for Red Beans & Rice. But I modify it a little.

Pray for Pete

Mom mentioned to me that Pete Fountain was hospitalized recently. She had a chance to talk to Bev and there's more story than I think I'm allowed to print here. So, we'll stick with the paper's account.

And I'll throw in the MSNBC article about him from a few years ago. 'Cause we love Pete.

The Speras and the Bats...go way, way back

The Speras have woven their lives into ours in a lot of different ways. Keith had a unrequited crush on Erin in grade school, played on basketball and football teams with me, and his dad coached me. Keith's limp is the result of me running my head into the corner of a huge something or the other that fell on Keith's foot. Keith's brother, Craig, was one of Tari's closest friends in New Orleans and passed away tragically some years ago.

But that's just one generation. Keith's dad and Christa and Bat double dated. If I have the story right...Dad dated my aunt, and Keith's dad dated mom on that date.

So, Keith just had a baby. He wrote about it in his column at the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Maybe It's Not Heavily Covered Because There's No Video?

Or maybe because it doesn't tell the story that we've been fed over the years. But, it's safer today, and we're winning.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

N.E.W., Alexis Finish A Spectacular Season With A Loss

Alexis, Erin and Jeff's oldest, helped lead her volleyball team to state tournament competition. Unfortunately, they fell short. But Alexis has a few years of experience left in her tank. It's good to know those Filipino-German genes are still hopping and competing out there.

Alexis, know your family - even Black Sheep Uncle Greg - is proud of you. Never doubt that.

Oops, Adler Did It Again

Word has it, Adler went to the emergency room. Again. Third time for a head wound for the little guy. This time, four stitches. Omi mentioned she's looking into a helmet for him.

Look, we all know that Jill and Andreas are capable and competent parents. But their relationship with Britney has to end.

The Golden Compass

Heidi sent me the enclosed based on a previous post. I've addressed it in this week's sidebar - the "Greg's Thoughts" thing to your right.

>> Alert: Golden Compass "children's" movie Importance: High
>> THE GOLDEN COMPASS, a new movie targeted at children, will be
>> released December 7, 2007. This movie is based on a the first book of
>> a trilogy by atheist Philip Pullman. In the final book a boy and girl
>> kill God so they can do as they please. Pullman left little doubt
>> about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that "My books
>> are about killing God."
>> The movie is a watered down version of the first book and is designed
>> to be very attractive in the hope unsuspecting parents will take
>> their children to see the the movie and that the children will want
>> the books for Christmas.
>> The movie has a well known cast, including Nicole Kidman, Kevin
>> Bacon, and Sam Elliott. It will probably be advertised extensively,
>> so it is crucial that we get the word out to warn parents to avoid
>> this movie.

CATCH UP 3: Happy Birthday Abi and Graham!

Abi and Graham turned a year older this week. I'm not sure of their ages, but I'm sure when their respective parents see this entry, and see how old these pictures are, we'll get this all worked out.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Here's how it happens at my house. Trick or treating in West Bend is fantastic. They have a street so busy, it's like a several-block-long party! Lines of kids heading up to houses, and the owners really were excited. Two women got out glasses of wine next to a tub of candy. One house really made use of it's gothic-like architecture to have some fun.

Sometimes you forget that there's days and places like this anymore.

Catch Up 1: Greg (I) Turn 39

I turned 39 last week Saturday. My birthday present consisted of two super dee duper events: 1) I had approximately 125 minutes alone with my wife where we did something that did not involve us talking about a) a bill b) someone's grades c) a payment d) chores not done.

On Friday night, Jen and I went to see the movie "Dan in Real Life." It's a fantastic movie, and I highly recommend it to all of you AE Bats. When you'll see it, you'll understand why - there's a family that gets together and plays and sings and is goofy. They play the piano and have talent shows. They catch up. Something tells me if you would have caught them 20 yrs earlier or 5 years later, it would have looked the same. I miss those days for us. I had a whole post arranged in my head, a plea to return to those days, but I didn't write it.

The next day, we spruced up the house and then Izzi's boyfriend, Michael, Josh - Jen's brother whom I will refer to here and in other posts as "Josh" - and his girl friend (I separated the words in case they are just friends who kiss) and his mom came out. We had some food, after which I discovered Josh and Kristin had never heard "Go Dog Go." So we read "Go Dog Go" and then we lit a fire. It was a perfect night - about 60 degrees and a harvest moon so bright that I could see to the lake's bottom off the pier.

Then the kids - the bigger ones - changed clothes and played night time tag games like "Candyman" and "Ghosts in the Graveyard."

So much to say that I think I'm choosing not to say it. I'll just reprint this verse that keeps coursing through my head:

10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you're going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn't build, well-furnished houses you didn't buy, come upon wells you didn't dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn't plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don't forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.

13-19 Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively. Back up your promises with his name only. Don't fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors, because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God. Don't provoke him, igniting his hot anger that would burn you right off the face of the Earth. Don't push God, your God, to the wall as you did that day at Massah, the Testing-Place. Carefully keep the commands of God, your God, all the requirements and regulations he gave you. Do what is right; do what is good in God's sight so you'll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that God so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right—exactly as God said.

20-24 The next time your child asks you, "What do these requirements and regulations and rules that God, our God, has commanded mean?" tell your child, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and God powerfully intervened and got us out of that country. We stood there and watched as God delivered miracle-signs, great wonders, and evil-visitations on Egypt, on Pharaoh and his household. He pulled us out of there so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors. That's why God commanded us to follow all these rules, so that we would live reverently before God, our God, as he gives us this good life, keeping us alive for a long time to come.

25 "It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do."


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