Willy Wonka Party

This is a record of our Willy Wonka birthday party last week and in particular, the media, food and games we created for it in the few hours before the party. Maybe it will be helpful to others doing the same thing.

AndrewaswillywonkaThats me on the left, dressed up as Willy Wonka. I welcomed people at the front door with a rolled out red carpet. This was the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed birthday party for our daughter Elizabeth, who turned 15. It was a great time and exceeded expectations. It was done on a budget and done quite well. So . . . I thought I would blog some of the links that were helpful, the games we invented, and, for non-geeks,  some of the hacks I used to get Willy Wonka media like fonts, .mp3 and video into our home. I use a Mac, btw and cant really recommend the best tools and programs to PC users.

There are plenty of Willy Wonka video clips out there (youtube, etc) but importing and reusing can be a challenge. I download them with the Video Downloader 2.0 which is an add on to my Firefox browser. Then I open them up with MPEG Streamclip as a Quick Time movie, or, as DV footage for iMovie. If you can find some movies in .mov or .mpg format, (I search for them on Google) then you can download them directly as QT movies and use them as fodder for your video wallpaper. Some of my downloads needed editing to get the credits and words out of them which i did in Quicktime Pro (costs a little but its worth it). When you are all done, make sure the movie is in "loop" mode and play it on your TV or, if you have a projector, shoot it on the ceiling or a wall.

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We gotta BOAT!


Our first boat. My father always said "Dont buy a boat. Just have a friend that owns a boat" which was good advice at the time. But this one came up and we couldnt resist. We live a stones throw from the ocean. All our friends sail. The family have sailed a little but always in borrowed boats. So . . we picked it up yesterday from George who gave us the boat for a £50 donation to Cancer Research.

The boat is a Mirror 16 Dinghy. Mirrors were the small sailing boats that kicked off the DIY boating movement in the 60's. This one is a little bigger and was probably built in the early 70's. James B. came with us to pick it up. As it turned out, George helped rescue James from getting swept out to sea eleven years ago. Co-incidence?

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Easter weekend in London

448469606_3e87c6fe74_m We are in London at the moment, staying with Shannon Hopkins near the Tower of London. Easter celebration for 20 people tomorrow. Anita Roach from LA is here with us - havent seen her since Greenbelt 4 years ago.

Wales was great. Saw the house my grandad was born in. We also spent a night in Oxford at the big house that is on its way to becoming a new monastery under the care of Church Missionary Society. Jim Barker spent the evening meal with us. He will be heading up the community and he is already building relationships with the various monasteries and communities in that area.


Our dauughter Hannah celebrated her 9th birthday on the 13th. A noisy happy party with lots of girls. Hannah told us today what she wants to do when she grows up:

She says she wants "to travel to other countries to tell people about God."

We figured she was headed in that direction. Isnt that cool? I have a feeling she will find this blog post one day. Hi Hannah in the future! We are very proud of you whatever you decide.

15 Year Old Binge-Drinkers Need a Happy Hour

Young people need a happy hour at the dinner table with their family. Let me explain what i am thinking.

260883I saw some stuff on TV a few weeks ago that got me thinking. UK has a serious problem with badly behaved, foul-mouthed, binge-drinking youth. [Sounds like they interviewed that church youth group I visited in London]. According to a recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research called Freedom's Orphans, British youth are worse in most areas of behaviour compared to their counterparts on the continent.
"Measured against German, French and Italian youngsters, British 15-year-olds are drunk more often and involved in more fights, and a higher proportion have had sex". Link

The only countries with worse binge-drinking youth are Ireland [who woudda thunk??] and Denmark. As fate would have it, I will be in Denmark in a few days and will probably rub this statistic in their Danish faces to make me feel a little better about the country I live in.

One of the solutions, according to researchers, is the family meal.

P History 1940

"Some 93% of Italian teenagers eat regularly with their families; in the UK just 64% of 15-year-olds do the same. . . Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, told the BBC last night the figures pointed to an "increasing disconnect" between children and adults, with young people learning how to behave from each other. He said: "Because they don't have that structured interaction with adults, it damages their life chances. They are not learning how to behave - how to get on in life - as they need to." link

WomanThe answer for our family?
Well, we live in the UK and our oldest kid is now 15 [what a co-incidence!!!!] and he runs off from meal times as fast as he can. I think an extended dinner table experience might be a good start. What I am working on right now is a one hour interactive meal hosted each week at our dinner table. I was thinking of calling it "Happy Hour" [although the origin of the term 'happy hour' might call for a different name ] and it should include
- A well thought out menu
- A spectacular and ostentatious dessert.
- Some table games or quizzes that lead to "structured interaction".
- A prayer before the meal (grace) and maybe extended grace to cover the events of the moment.
- A higher level of table manners
- Conversation about issues and relevant stuff.
- No running off until the ENTIRE HOUR has passed.

We are thinking about Tuesday night at 6pm. Any ideas out there? Any veterans? Any other families that want to hook up with us and swap war stories?

Pr 496 MnRelated:
IPPR Report (Freedom's Orphans),
[executive summary PDF]
UK Youths 'Among Worst in Europe', BBC
Revolting Youth [YouthNet blog]
UK Youths Top European Bad Behaviour League
Youth Behavior, Guardian, May 2006

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YIKES!! My Wife Is Gone For Over 2 Weeks

They say you should never send a woman to do a man's work. But the fact is, Debbie and i have been partnering in this funny thing called ministry (which is co-ed, btw) for about 20 years so I guess I can trust her to represent the Jones concerns. Actually, she often does better than me at networking and is more sociable than her geek-bookworm other half. And so we are sending her off. One hour ago we said goodbye to her at the ferry terminal outside our house.

Debbie will be in Aberdeen for a day with Whitney and Brian (8lb baby boy Oct 22, no name yet) and then fly to
- Austin, TX to work on an artists prophetic gathering event for 2007
- Portland, Oregon to help her parents move up from California.
- Houston, Texas to participate in a strategic meeting regarding pilgrimage/new-monastic/training-trail/ leadership development/rule-the-world type issues with the Baptists (UBA) and other friends including Karen Campbell,  Doug Pagitt, Shannon Hopkins, Julie Blick, the Seminext people, Ken Shuman (the poker-playing pastor), Mark Thames, Trish Taylor, Larry Jay,  Mark Berry (UK), Bjoern Wagner (Germany) E.B. Brooks (a HUGE mentor of mine) and others. Actually - its a follow on from our London meeting where we started this discussion and pretty much the same people will be there - EXCEPT MY BETTER HALF WILL BE STANDING IN FOR ME. I will be sending a presentation for Debbie to work with for the Houston meetings. And hopefully she will be meeting with some churches in Texas, Oregon and Washington who might be able to help support our projects overseas.

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Happy Birthday Abigail

AbibirthdayMy daughter Abigail turns 11 today. She blogs at Go to her bebo powered BLOG at [bebo rocks and totally blows off Myspace!] Leave a comment or even better, take the quiz "How Well Do You Know Abigail" and see if you do better than I did.

In case you were wondering, other daughters of mine have bebo:
Elizabeth is 13 and she has a bebo -
Hannah is 7 and she has a bebo -
Even tall skinny dad has a bebo, much to the disgust of his children who think he is too old to be beboing.
Oh yeah. And my son Sam is

A Day at Alton Towers

Biggest treat of the year for my kids - we took them to Alton Towers on Saturday.

Alton Towers, unlike its American counterparts, does not have a cool fake castle facade made of stucco so they have to put up with a real 17th Century castle instead. You can see it in the background.

8 rides at the Alton Towers Theme Park are considered extremely fun and scary. We did all of them. Here are the photos of the photos taken from the rides themselves that we could not afford to buy. This me and my 3 oldest kids - Sam, Elizabeth and Abigail. I wasnt scared . . . . honest.


Rita, Queen of Speed

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