Sunday, December 30, 2007

Snow-time like the Present

I went XC skiing today. I actually went for the first time all year last night. It was beautiful with the snow covered trees and the silence of the woods. A few hairy moments on the hills when I fell out of the tracks that were pre-formed and blazed my own trail. Not recommended, by the way.

So today I went out determined to do more and get a real workout. As I set out with great zeal, life was good. I had my new Ipod going, the trails were fast (and visible), and I felt invincible. I passed a couple and a family trying to look like the Olympian I never was.

Now I thought I had a decent understanding of the trail system at Minooka Park. It's a County park near us and while it is impossible to get lost, it seems they've added a few miles of trail since I last skiied it. I kept taking the "long" trail because, as I mentioned, I was invincible. Well, as time wore on and I began to tire, I thought "Hmmm...where am I anyways?" I took a path that I thought led to the sledding hill, a good point of reference for me. It turned out to be a forked path going either much farther than I wanted, or to a snowshoe path.

By now I'm thinking "OK, I want to be done now. I'm tired and hot." A few more twists and turns, and a stop at a path map that told me what I did not want to know and I began to hate XC skiing. In fact I hated skiing, winter, my Ipod and county parks. I began to see the headlines taking shape in my head: "County employee dies of exhaustion and exposure in County Park." I knew I should have brought a flare gun instead of an Ipod. Then I schemed up a million dollar plan for when I was rescued. I would invent an Ipod that is GPS enabled. No one's thought of that yet, right? Either that or an Ipod that shoots flares. It'd be a bit bulky, but hey, can you really put a price on a life?

So anyhow, I end up making my way back the trail I had gone down in hopes of finding a quicker way home. I passed a few folks in the dog exercise area who looked as though they'd never seen a cross country skier before. Never mind that there were no trails near the dog area, that was beside the point. I was just glad to see people. "Hey is that a Labradoodle?" I'd say to deflect them from knowing that I was having a near death experience. It's all about appearances, right?

Eventually I made it back to my van, which I promptly kissed. During my adventure I thought "That's it, I'm done skiing for this year." It's likely that I'll go out tomorrow though, because I like to punish myself. I'll go right after I file my patent for the Ipod Flare Gun.

Blogging off...


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Heart 2 Times Too Small

I stayed home from work today, sick with a head cold. Ben was sick with a stomach thing too, so it was a boys "Ferris Bueller's day off" today. I HATE getting sick. I don't expect anyone likes it much.

Last night as I was walking home from another forgetful day at work, I came across a stranded Carroll College motorist who's car was dead in the middle of a busy street. A woman had stopped to help, but both of them were just standing in the street looking at each other like God was going to magically jump the kid's battery without provocation. When I joined the deer-in-the-headlights party I suggested we PUSH the dead car out of the intersection into a nearby lot. Let's move everyone out of harm's way shall we?

So this student finally comes to and says "Yeah, I guess we could". Yeah let's, I think. So he gets in and steers while this poor woman and I push. Evidently he's never seen the open-the- door-and-push-and-steer method, but preferred the comfort of the drivers seat. I thought he was going to ask us to make "Rrrrmmmmmm" noises.

So we get the car most of the way into this unplowed driveway. It's rear end was sticking out a ways until some other young 20-somethings walking by came and pushed him up out of traffic entirely. Don't say young people don't care about anyone but themselves. They stopped, many older drivers did not.

I let the student use my cell to call for help. He eventually got his parents. After he hung up, he said that he'd forgotten to tell them to bring jumper cables. I don't know what this guy was majoring in, but it wasn't Common Sense, that much is true.

I told him I live about a mile from where we were and that I'd be back in 25 min. with cables and if he was still there I'd jump him. If he was gone, well I'd just go home. So I walk home and get the cables and drive back. When I get there, his dad is there, but he's stuck in the snowbank coming out of the same driveway. He was hung up good on the frame of his car. How much bad luck can a family have in one day? One dead battery, one snow-beached rescue vehicle.

I ask if they still need help and his dad said that they'd welcome a jump if I could do that. I pull into the lot and almost get stuck myself. After we disagree a bit on the proper battery jump connection sequence, I was able to successfully jump the dead car. After being reassured that his wife was coming with their SUV to push the snow-bound car out, I wished them luck and Merry Christmas and was on my way.

The moral of the story is that you need to look for opportunities to help people. If that was my son out there, I'd want somebody pushing his dead car out of traffic and borrowing them his cell phone and then following up with a jump. I don't tell this story because I want accolades. I'm just saying that we can all touch others, complete strangers sometimes, if we just think about someone other than ourselves. I had a cold, didn't feel very well, and very easily could have walked right by this guy. Maybe the kid will remember this random act of kindness and pass it on, maybe not. The point is doing it because it's the right thing to do.

One of my New Years Resolutions is to get out of my bubble more like this.
Blogging off for now...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Holiday Whoobee Whatee?

Ah, the famous quote from the Grinch movie. (The Jim Carrey grinch).

Speaking of grinch, I did my Christmas shopping today. It was as bad as expected. A beautiful snowfall ruined by traffic and frantic shoppers. I tell ya, it's insanity. Everyone and their father Mitch was out today. You'd think Christmas was next week or something. Criminy sakes.

And don't even get me started about the parking thing. I would have been better off parking at home and walking the 6 miles to the mall, I kid you not. I'm not one for the mall anyway. I don't like them. I start hyperventilating looking for a parking spot, especially this time of year. I end up abandoning my vehicle in a distant snowbank thinking, "Yeah, this'll do." Nevermind that it's usually a 20 minute walk to the mall. Hey, as long as I can see the store logo, I'll find my way.

It's snowing again. It's been snowing all day. All month really. If it keeps up, I'm going to have to get a smaller vehicle, as mine will no longer fit into my ever-narrowing driveway. I'm serious. It's very similar to the Dec. of 2000 when we had record snowfall. It's like groundhog day around here when it comes to shovelling. Friggin' Alaska. Global warming my eye.

Walking the dog is a real treat in this stuff too. He's so short, he cannot get up onto the snowbanks. Today he just gave up and pooped on the sidewalk. "There ya go" he seemed to look up at me and say. "That's as much work as I'm going to put into that today. If you want better, get yourself a Husky or a Malamute or something. If you want cute, there ya go." At least that's what I heard coming out of his small head. It may have been something like "Hey, sorry about that Joe." But I think not. I think the former was what he said. I guess only Ceaser Milan knows for sure.

The high point of the day was getting a free Americano coffee at Evil Starbucks because the Verona and Breakfast Blends were both out at the moment I ordered. I love when that happens. It makes all those other $2.00 cups almost seem worth the money. Yeah right. I did say Evil Starbucks, did I not? I'm much more a PDQ coffee guy than a Starbucks coffee guy. People there are such snobs. "I'll have a grande, fatte, frappa-lappacino, extra bold, skim, iced-eggnog coffee with a shot of espresso". Give me a break. I can barely remember Grande Verona with no room for cream. When they make Starbucks more like PDQ where you pick and pour your own, then I'll be their best customer. Besides there's something much more middle class about PDQ. Poor man's starbucks without the pretentious clerks.

Well, I've spouted enough. I'm really not a scrooge. I love this time of year, mostly when my shopping is done though. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and remembers to Praise the God in heaven who sent His one and only Son to earth and started the whole thing.

God Bless you all.

Blogging off...


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blog Drought

A holiday hiatus it was. I missed blogging, but had a good break nonetheless. Thanksgiving is gone and done with for another year. A successful trip to the polar ice cap known as MN. Cousins played together nicely with no incidents of not. Well, maybe one.

When Ben returned from an overnight stay at his cousin's house, he whispered to me, "Dad, Hunter shot me in the ear with his pellet gun." When I expressed my surprise and shock at the statement, he added "…but it didn't hurt as much as when he shot me in my side."

Horrified, I thought this needs addressing. Until I realized he was smiling and was adamant that both incidents were accidents and that he was OK. He also mentioned that the gun had been taken away and that he didn't want Hunter to get in any more trouble. I shrugged it off as a boys-being-boys moment and told him to be careful and not get hurt. I can't say I never shot my brother with a projectile before.

I had Ben's third grade teachers conference this past week. It's always good to get a perspective on your child from another person, esp. one that spends 8 hours a day with him/her.

The teacher mentioned Ben's gift for writing and showed me a couple of very descriptive pieces. One even described a breakfast with Hunter where he said Hunter was "Mongling" his cocoa puffs cereal. The teacher challenged him to find that word in the dictionary. When they couldn't find it, he said that that was what it sounded like to him at the time. The teacher told him that then he should use it. I thought that was a refreshing piece of creative encouragement on her part.

Then, the teacher showed me one of his social studies projects he was working on that had two parts to it. One written area and one containing some maps with questions about the maps. He had scored kind of crappy on the maps part, which I found fairly humorous in light of what I do for a living. When I called him on it after I got home, he said that the map was hard to read, which I had to admit it was. Another case for better mapping quality control.

It occurred to me that for a guy who was going to the park 3-5 times a week, I didn't go to a park with the kids all summer. They're just too big and think the park is for little kids (it is). It just struck me as kind of sad. A closing of a chapter if you will. I won't be able to go to the park again until I have grandchildren, most likely.

There's a woman, a student at Carroll who I pass everyday who walks like a speed skater. Same gait and arm swing, just not as pronounced. Strange, but she probably thinks I walk too knock-kneed or something. Or perhaps that I'm a knuckle dragger. Hey!

The Packers played Dallas on the NFL network last Thursday, and I can say without hesitation that that is the worst announcing crew I have ever seen. Bryant Gumbel, Cris Collinsworth, and Deion. Gumbel's getting the players and the teams mixed up, messing up calls and in general being a nasally annoyment to us all. (There's a word, eh?)

Well, I've got to try and figure out how to get my daughters Ipod to work on the TV. Good luck with that, right? It can be done I'm told.

Hope to blog again during the week.

Blogging off...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

All I want for Christmas is...a laptop! ;-)

It's poor-man's blog again. (MS Word on a disconnected network.) I could get used to this laptop thing. Of course having an internet connection would make the deal even sweeter, but alas. Maybe when I get big I can get a laptop. When I get real big.

The sweetest part of the whole deal is I can watch the Bears lose while I blog. Of course, watching the Bears lose while doing anything makes it better.

The Pack seems to be for real this year. There isn't a person on the planet that would have picked them to start out 9-1. I would have guessed they'd be 3-7 at this point. It's a long road to the Super Bowl, but is sure would be saweet!

Why do they bother making a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid?

Why do dogs roll in stink?

These are the questions that run through my head.

We took Toby to the Dog exercise area today and he ran like a dog possessed. He had a blast with Yoshi the French Bulldog and with Coco the poodle mix. He was covered in dog slime by the end of the 40 minutes and badly needs a bath. He smells like dog, which fits I guess.

Ben actually got peed on by a boxer/pit mix. He was crouched down and I think the dog was just asserting himself. It's happened before, so maybe there's more to it. Maybe it's the smell of his socks.

It's off to the Northland on Wednesday for the Thanksgiving weekend. Of course the weather forecast is for rain/snow mix. Throw an SUV with bad tires into the mix and it should make for an interesting trek.

Ah, the holidays. It seems like we just left them. It's a little like the yellow pages coming what seems like every 90 days. It's just become such a commercial gorge. Sad, but true. The kids have a great time with all of their cousins and it's always good to see family, so I can't complain. We'll do the NY trek this Christmas, so it' travel until you can't anymore.

We'll my back is starting to spasm and I must direct my coaching skills so the Seahawks can finish off the Bears. What a pre-Thanksgiving treat that would be.

Will blog when I can again; likely after Turkey day.

Happy feasting.

Blogging off.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Double Click Here >>>

Now here's a new twist on the old blahg. I'm actually composing this on a laptop in my living room. No, it's not quite what you think. I'm not composing this online using a wireless network. I'm using the poor-mans blog technique of using MS Word and, once complete, I'll cut and paste it into blogger. I've always said I'd write more if I had a laptop, so I guess I'm living the dream; or maybe "dream-lite". Hey, at this point, I'll take what I can get. I figure I'm one step from typing it on a typewriter, scanning it and then doing a cut/paste. Whatever it takes to put pen to paper.

The laptop I'm writing on is actually a happy story. Donna has a friend who was told that it needed a new hard drive. Desperate for any help at all, and wanting simply to save her pictures, she asked Donna if I would look at it. I said sure and figured what is there to lose.

When I started it up on Wed. night, it would freeze instantly after the desktop showed up. It didn't look good even from my perspective.

Now I don't often consider myself a computer guru. I work all day on one and the letters "IS" (Information Systems) are part of my job title, but I just don't often think of myself as technically better than the average Joe.

Donna and others beg to differ. They remind me that when I talk techno-speak to them that they have no idea what I'm talking about. I get a lot of the "deaf nod" as Donna calls it. (i.e. "I hear you talking but I don't know shat you're saying") It always occurs to me the level people are at when I tell them to open windows explorer, and they say "How do I do that?" "Uh-Oh", I think to myself, "this is going to take longer than I thought."

I don't think less of anyone for not being more geek-like. Neither though, do I think of myself as a computer geek…but I think I'm kidding myself. By definition my job requires that I be a geek. It's a little like owning a truck however. Substitute "computer help" for "moving help" in this case though.

Donna and I were talking this morning that I should start up a side business called Last-Ditch Computer Consulting, LLC. My mission statement would be "To help poor technophobes or non-geeks try and salvage their computer when they've no answers for themselves." Like with this laptop, I would offer a "No Guarantees" Guarantee, where I say I'll do my best to restore your files and or get your computer back up and running again.

I would not charge much. Maybe $20.00 or a gift card to Best Buy (read: geek) or something. If I got the computer running, and the person wanted to pay more, hey that's OK. I'd do it more for the challenge. The beauty of it though would be that I would be very honest with the person that if I felt I couldn't fix it, I would let them know and that would be that.

In the case of this laptop, I think the hard disk had a couple of corrupt sectors. Once those were fixed, the thing hummed along pretty good. To be sure, I ran all the spy ware packages and some registry cleanup routines and defrag too, just to make sure it's as clean as it should be. (There's the geek again!)

So my gutters and chimney flashing are on finally. They finished them up yesterday. Lucky for everyone, as it is raining today. A job that is good to have done. There's something about having a good roof over your head.

Tonight we are going to celebrate the safe return of our Guatemalan Mission team. It is at a team member's house in Brookfield. I'm looking forward to meeting some of the women that made the whole trip happen. Donna is busy making 76 quarts of Peppian for the occasion. Can't have enough of that, eh?

Well, I'd better blog off for now.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Puppy Love...Yeah, That's It!

Ben is having a friend over tonight for a sleep-over, and so I managed to steal away while they're watching a movie.

We got new phone books the other day. Is it just me, of does this seems to happen about every 3 months now? I really don't know. I don't remember getting phone books this frequently as a kid. Of course, back then we had 2 books, yellow and white. Now we have "Waukesha Yellow", "Waukesha White", "Milwaukee and Surrounding Yellow", "Milwaukee and Surrounding White", "Business to Business Yellow", "Upper Midwest Yellow", "Planet Earth White". It's sheer madness.

So, I'm left wondering why we seem to be getting so many books. Is it that I'm getting old an unaware of how fast time is passing? (This is the one I'm hoping to answer No to.)

Or perhaps it's that the phone companies are making too much on advertising and can afford to spend it on publishing books before the last ones make it out of the plastic bag. I mean really, I look in the phone book maybe 3 times a year. Divide that by the 6+ books I get a year, and I figure I owe a few carbon credits to Mother Earth. Or maybe the stupid phone company does.

It could be that enough people out there actually request that books be published at an insane rate and the phone companies are listening.

Whatever the case is, I wish they would deliver me a Yellow and a White once every 3 years or so. That's all I need. Most of my phone information comes from the www anyway.

Enough ranting.

I passed a tree today that was shedding leaves at an absurd rate. It was really something to see actually. It was snowing leaves. Very strange for some reason. When I passed it later in the day, it was still losing them, but at a believable rate. What is that about?

We're making headway with Toby using some new-found tactics.

1. The "Shaky-Can". This is a soda can with a few coins in it covered with duct tape. When he bites or is naughty, shake the shaky can. He hates it.

2. The spray bottle. This is a big squirt gun basically. No one I know of human or animal, likes getting hit with a squirt gun. They're maddening, but in this case highly effective. And no, you cannot put bleach in instead of water. I know, I checked. (I'm kidding! Don't sic PETA on me!)

3. We got him a cone-thing that you put a treat in and he tries to get the treat out. He spends hours trying to get the treat. Can you say down time?

4. The Bacon-Flavored Nyla bone. He devoured one within 3 days of when we got it. Now his cholesterol's out of site, but hey, he's occupied.

None of these tricks prevented him from furthering the damage to an existing hole in the carpet tonight while I wasn't looking. He got a nice seam and was working his way toward lifting the entire seam across the living room. I'm running out of furniture to cover this stuff with. Oh the love of a puppy...

Well, I've shirked my parental duty for 30 min. now, I must go feed and water and de-louse.

Until tomorrow. Blogging off.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Scary Passport Photos

Wow, I just got a good look at the photo on yesterday's post. Wooo, scary stuff. I needed to add it to my post in order to be able to add it to my profile. So from this day forward, I'll look like a man who's just seen a ghost, or discovered he left the baby on top of the car when he gets to work.

The picture reminds me of the old joke that if anyone actually looked like their passport photo, NO country would let them in.

Part of the reason I look so scared in this photo is because it was clipped from one of my Canada pictures where I'm holding a 32" northern. In other words, I am a bit scared in the picture, actually. Not of the fish's teeth particularly as much as whether it is ready to flop at the moment or not.

If you know Northern Pike at all, they're slimy fish to begin with. Throw into that mix the excited/nervous energy resident in the "catcher" and it makes for a tenuous mix, at best. Picture two grown men thrashing around a boat trying to save a slippery fish from flopping itself into a concussion or worse, a coma. (Fish Coma...Hmmmm...That's a good title for a book. Note to self.)

If anyone is interested in a free radio service that asks you a few of your favorite groups/bands etc., and then, as new songs come on, you can rate how you like them. Based on those ratings it uses over 200 criteria to try and tailor more of the music you like. It's an intriguing concept. Check it out at;

Well tonight's blog was a bonus (Any weeknight blog is.)

I've gotta run for now.

Blogging off,


Sunday, November 11, 2007

News from the engine room

A beautiful day in Milwaukee today. Mid-50's and no wind. Not bad for the 11th of Nov.

I'm trying to dream up some trivia questions for my 3rd grade Boys Club gym activity this coming Tuesday. I'm in charge of games and have come up with an "intellectual" relay. Combining physical strength and speed with team-based trivia question answering. It's not dodge ball, but I never professed to be a gym teacher. The kids would likely prefer bashing each other in the heads with dodge ball anyway, but we're discouraged from falling back to that every week. So trivia racing it is!

I do love leading Boys Club, but it really is one of the most functionally disorganized organizations on the planet. There was a classic case of this last week. I heard nothing about what we were doing that week. The schedule we were handed out at the beginning of the year had what we were supposed to do, but we had done that the week before.

So, thinking logically I figured we would be doing the prior weeks lesson. So, I prepared for that on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, I get a one line e-mail that we're doing a lesson that is not on any sheet.

It is all very well intentioned, and I love the messages at most meetings, it's just that at times it seems that the kids drew up the agenda and the adults are trying to decipher the chicken scratching.

My daughter got an IPOD for her 12th birthday using mostly money she had saved or been given as gifts. It likely means I'll be heard less and likely be hearing less from her. Neither of these are good things. It was the only thing she wanted though and I have to admit they are kind of cool. As a music lover, I'd like one for myself, but can't see spending that kind of green on something no bigger than a wallet. Now, maybe a shuffle...

Well, I'm whipped tonight. Feel like a truck ran over me. So I will keep this brief in hopes that tomorrow I am more inspired.

Blogging off...


Friday, November 9, 2007

Ever wonder?

Ever wonder why it is that every time I go to the blog start page and sign in, I click the "remember me on this computer" box under the password, but it never does remember me? What's even weirder is that I continue to click it. Like it will magically fix itself and actually remember me. They say a sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, I'm no Pavlov, but...

As I'm walking the dog tonight I'm thinking, you know I'm interested in the people driving by, what they look like, the cars they're driving, but you know what? Toby doesn't care about any of that. He only cares about the residual dog smells on trees, tasty leaves and trash tidbits that tend to be in his path. He cares nothing about the tricked out Chevy Impala SS burning by, or the ghetto-mobile blaring hip hop/rap (what's the diff?) Dogs are so shallow that way.

It's my daughter's 12th birthday tomorrow. She's having a "sleep"over tonight with 5 of her friends. That would explain my being able to blog uninterrupted.

To say that the least, the giggling and chatter is mind numbing. If I had a nickel for every time they said "like" I'd retire early.

12 years ago tonight (3:20AM) was the beginning of one of the happiest days of my life. To witness her birth from behind home plate, so-to-speak was quite an awesome experience. God gets all the credit for the miracle of childbirth that's for sure. I can remember holding her for the first time and thinking she was the most beautiful thing alive. (Still is...Ben too!) Later that night I got to drive home in a blinding snow storm in my little Civic all while balling like a baby. A great trifecta there. One not recommended by the National Traffic Safety Board.

The weirdest part of that whole first child experience was when we were loading her into that same Civic the next day. (Actually the hospital meal they gave Donna was pretty weird too, but I'll save that story for her.) When I had to move the seat to load the baby seat into the back of the car it was just so strange. I thought, hmmm, it's not just us two anymore, is it? Well, I've been sweeping up goldfish crumbs and extracting sucker sticks from door handle wells ever since. Lets just say the mystery has diminished a bit.

The movie must have ended at the "sleep"over because the rattle and hum is increasing. This can only mean that I will be either interrupted soon, beckoned to help with something or too distracted to think coherently. So, I'll blog off for now. It's the weekend though so I plan to blog tomorrow and Sun. with a little help from God. ;-)

Happy birthday Sarah Jess!


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A dim light, but light nonetheless

Just wanted to post for post sake. Ben is reminding me that I am "past due", so will keep it very brief.

My Small Life:

I had to "charge" an .88 cent cup of coffee today at PDQ using my debit card. I thought I had a couple bucks in my wallet, but alas I'd been pandered of that the night before at church by my daughter for a couple of sugar cookies.

Needless to say, I didn't make the poor clerk punch my free cup card because I figured she'd already cost the corporation a good chunk of change sending my .88 cent charge to Visa and back.

Moral: Never travel with at least 1 dollar in your wallet. This I learned in kindergarten and have since forgotten.

Gotta go.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Oh the dogmanity!

Well, I'm currently organizing Donna's trip pictures, burning disks, listening to Pandora, listening to Ben try and guilt me into playing web-games with him and blogging, so as I see it you have at least 20% of my attention tonight. This whole multi-tasking thing is a bit exhausting. Kind of like the spinning plates, without the cleanup. Why do we do this to ourselves? It used to be that if I went to work for 8 hours and stopped to pick up dry cleaning, I needed a nap. Now, we're expected(?) to do 3 or 4 things at a time and not leave the baby on the roof.

All of this reminds me of the story of Toby a few weeks back. I was taking dirt to the dump in my van. (Yes, that is a lunatic story unto itself. Suffice it to say that a Plymouth Voyager is not a dump truck, yea, nary a pickup truck. It's really a van and nothing more. Even with the seats taken out...Yep, still a van.) So, I'm taking the dirt to the dump and am very focused on finishing the job on that day. Very focused. Donna asks me if I can put the dog out before I go. "Sure", I say as I grab the dog, my hat, sunglasses, and my water bottle. Very focusedly, I put the dog down, because I have many things in my hand at the moment. I proceed to go to the dump and shovel the dirt out of my not-a-truck van.

As I get back on the road to return, Donna calls me and says "Do you have the dog?" "Uh no" I reply not so focusedly. "Where did you put him?" she asks. OK so now the defensiveness sets in. "Why, on the chain of course", knowing full well I had no recollection of ever hooking him up on the chain. Wait, maybe I chained up my hat instead. Or maybe I shovelled the dog into the dirt pile. OH I DON'T KNOW! I admit it I have no idea what I did with the dog. I do know the dirt is done. That much I took care of. The non-living, non breathing no-furry faced dirt is well accounted for. Oh I'm a horrible pet owner. The dog probably followed the van for a couple of miles till he tired out or got "tired out" by a car, if you know what I'm saying.

To say the other end of the phone got a wee bit frantic at this point might be an understatement. "I've got to go and try and find Toby" (the dog I didn't value more than dirt, evidently) she said.

To make a tragic tale turn to good, she called me after several anxious moments in my dirt-smelling van-not-a-truck-thing and told me that the dog was in the corner of the yard. She said he had a look on his face of disbelief and wonder at his new found freedom. Luckily he has a smallish brain at this point and hadn't quite pieced together that freedom with the fact that it extended beyond his back yard. Either that or he actually likes us.

The scary part of this story is that I have no recollection of what I did with the dog. I'm guessing I set him down and forgot about him. Either that or he figured out the opposible paw thing and managed to free himself from the chain. Yeah, I'll run with that story...

So I am capable of great momentary lapses of reason at 45. What the heck is 90 going to bring? Lord help me.

Well, my CD organizing beckons and I need to tend to it before I forget why I logged on. By the way can anyone tell me what my password is?


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Post Halloween Musings

I hope to get back into writing on this blog, at the urging of my lovely bride, goes. Check back frequently if you like. At a minimum, I'd like to get to it on weekends. More if my kids let me on this 'puter. Yeah right.

I had to run out to get gas, return a movie and get dog food and milk. So I'm at the gas pump today and I do it all using a debit card. I get to the end, and of course I'm in a hurry and it beeps and says "Print Reciept?" I click yes and it reads out "Printer Error". I thought it was funny because I really didn't need another receipt flopping around the car to go with the other 3 old receipts, the peanut M&M wrapper and the 37 cents and two capless pens floating around the console. So to the poor lackey who made a crappy printer for the Speedway pumps, I say "thank you".

So then, I get to the grocery store and that's always like a kid in a carnival for me. I used to go shopping with Donna as our "date nights" back when we were kidless. It was fun, almost romantic. Now she does all the shopping and when I go in it's alone, and not romantic in the least. It's kind of like hunting. Get in, shop to kill, get out. Minimize your time spent in any one aisle.

So I'm looking for dog food. Donna told me Iam's smart puppy was the brand I was supposed to get. Did you know there is dog food for;

1. Aging dogs
2. Large Breeds
3. Puppys
4. Dogs in their "early years" (I wonder if it's early "dog years" or early human?
5. Overweight dogs
6. Tartar control

What's next, food made from organic, free ranging poultry? Sensitive teeth? Food for manic depressive dogs? Dogs with bulimia?

We have far too many choices in this world. It used to be either Kennel Ration or Gravy Train, now we have to take our dog to a shrink to see what kind of food he's comfortable with. This coming from animals who return to their vomit.

Why now, everytime I put on my jacket, one of the pockets has an empty dog poop bag in it? What have I come to?

I'll try and write again tomorrow in between football and walking the dog.


Monday, October 22, 2007

The return of sense and sensibility

Well, she's back and life is back to approaching normal. She and Jill and the rest of the team arrived at 11:15 last night, so we're all a little tired and cranky. She had a great trip with many stories. If you're interested in seeing some of the photos, they have some on the Church's website at:

Otherwise, I'll put a bunch into a photoshow in the next week or so and publish it out. I'll also be selling the complete photo collection for $2995.00 for anyone interested. Just make the check out to "Over the Top Roofing Inc." Please no further questions at this time.
I'm going to go and take a nap now, before I go to bed.
Buenos Noches.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Houston, we have splashdown!

Well, I've come to the end of what I might term "a bit of a long week". I seem to be battling a case of CFS...Constant Fatigue Syndrome. A weariness that can only be explained by two children, two felines and a mentally challenged, infant canine. I came out the victor, albeit battle scarred and limping. Dazed and confused comes to mind. But to keep this from being a big downer, I'll change course and focus on the positives of the week. Things like;

  • Ben never once got beat up at school because I dressed him funny.

  • Toby didn't get lost or run away, though I think he was thinking it might be a more stable environment.

  • Chester and Isabel seem unfazed by the whole deal. Of course they sleep 20 hours a day.

  • I found the matches to 3 odd socks today. Boy I'm setting the bar low. I need to get back to work.

  • The carpet only has 2 small holes in it from Toby. (Hey, it could be worse.)

  • I can still recite my address and social security number...if you catch me before 5 PM

  • My kids still love me, though after another week, even that might be chancey. ;-)

In a nutshell, here was my day. Let Toby out to pee, breakfast, wake up kids, let Toby out to pee, Church, walk Toby, lunch, let Toby out to pee, take a bike ride, let Toby out to pee, take kids to dog exercise area, Toby pees, back home, Toby falls asleep, blog, let Toby out to pee, go to Steves for pickup of Donna!

Hey people it's been a great treat to blog this past week. It keeps my writing hands oiled. Thank you to all of you for your comments (the positive ones at least.).

Thank you too, to all of you for your prayers and support this week. We couldn't have done it without YOU!

If I get a chance, I'' try and continue this blog for a week so you can witness my single-parent post partum depression, (or not).

God Bless You.



Saturday, October 20, 2007

Are we done yet?

Blogspot's image upload is giving me grief, so no photo today. A video at the bottom though!

Picture my cat Izzy here --->>> {:-X<

One would think that the weekends would be easier as a single parent, but they aren't so much. Some of it is my doing, as I'll explain later, but in general, the world of dirty laundry and pet maintenance doesn't stop on Fri. Sure, there's no "work" for Dad, but as I can attest, "work" was the least of my problems this week. Heck, I'd even say work was fun this week. My quiet cubicle, my computer (sans kid grime), my cd player, why, I might even go tonight and put in a few hours.

Seriously though, it has been a good day. God chose to have mercy on me by sending two of the best weather days of the year our way today and tomorrow. That has made all the difference. There's nothing worse than stress cloaked in gloomy weather.

Sarah rolled in at 7:30 AM from her overnight lock-in thing and promptly fell onto the couch until about 11:30. She said she had a good time despite the bus being an hour and 45 min. late.

While she slept I picked Ben up from his friends house and took him to his soccer game. The game was better than last week in that they didn't get skunked. At one point they actually led 2-0. But then the glory went to their heads and they ended up losing 4-2. I was telling one of the other parents, at this point in the season I'd take a TIE! Hey, 2-2. I can live with that. Next week is the last game of the season, so I'll be the ugly parent on the sideline if they don't win. I'll be the guy ridin' the ref and tripping the oponents as they run by. It's only a penalty if you get caught, right? (Nice message for the kids there.)

Ben played a good game though. He's mainly defense and has finally got the "clear the ball to the outside" thing down. I'm proud of him nonetheless and only will only make him practice twice a day for another week. (I'm KIDDING!)

How can you leave a dog on a leash for an hour, during which time he finds time to dig a foot-deep hole and eat dirt, only to bring him in and have him pee on the floor within 5 minutes. What is that? Note that I usually discover his accidents via my sock. Whenever I step in it my first thought is "Oh, I hope thats water I just stepped in." Like water just appears on the kitchen floor regularly. It never is of course, so I end up tossing the dirty socks into the black hole I call a wash machine. 3 times out of 4 they both come back.

So I decide to reward my kids today for their long week of chores and bad food by getting them each a game. I took Sarah to Evil-Mart and we got her a Thrillville game for the computer. Having made the mistake in the past, we made sure it was on CD-ROM media. We'd bought a game before and it was on DVD which our computer can't read. That was a $20 mistake. THIS time though we were the heads-up saavy consumers and bought the CD's.

It took about a 1/2 hour to install, as it was on 3 cd's. When it was done, when we hit play it read something to the effect of "Sorry stupid people, your computer sucks and you're out $30 bucks". Those technical messages are getting so personal lately.

So on come the tears from Sarah, who of course is exhausted from her overnight thing. Never fear, Superdad will take care of these Bozos and see to it that I get our money back. Off I go back to Evil-Mart and the return counter. I plead my case, complete with my own set of tears, and the heartless clerk just looked at me with pity in her yellow eyes and tsk'd me. So superdad calls Sarah and explains that it was mostly my fault for not reading the hardware specifications and that I would eat the $30.00 so she wouldn't have to. $30.00 to an 11 year old is about 1/2 her net worth and I felt terrible. (Read: Sucker) Needless to say we'll be getting no new games ever for this PC.

All week I've been looking for the measuring cup (mostly for the mac-n-cheese measurement), and was convinced Donna took it for her seminar in Guatemala. Today I found it in the not-supposed-to-be-here cupboard. I have no idea how it got there, though I have been making Ben unload the dishwasher this week...Hmmm...maybe there is a correlation after all.

Things I want to thank God for this week:

1. Supportive friends and family with encouraging words. (Esp. Mom, Dick and Carol)

2. Patty and Brad for Dinner thursday night.

3. The Dennerts, Mazza's, and Huskeys for letting Ben stay with them.

4. Jodie for picking up/dropping off Sarah last night.

5. Great weather

6. Macaroni and cheese

7. Mark for his Chocolate Chip Cookie delivery. (They're good!)

8. The monsoon sound system in my Santa Fe

9. My wife, Jill and their missionary team.

10. This electronic marvel we call the web. It has enabled us to keep in such good contact.

11. Sarah and Ben stepping it up, and keeping me laughing.

12. Norah Jones' velvety soothing, calming voice.

13. Casting Crowns for keeping me focused upward through the week.

14. Paco and Jenni and all the host families. You are awesome people. God Bless You!

15. All the words of encouragement about this blog from everyone.

So, I need to go fold the laundry now...or maybe during the football game...definitely before I go to the airport.

Below is Chester and Izzy at Bathtime...

Love you all.

God Bless.


Friday, October 19, 2007

What does 7 Times 45 equal?

At breakfast this morning, Ben asked how old he would be in dog years. I quickly computed 7(dog years) x 9 (Ben years) and told him 63 years old. Sarah said that that was wrong that "dog years" should be calculated as follows: 10 years for the first year, 7 for the second , then 3 for each year after that. Not to be showed up by his sister, Ben said it was actually 7 years for the first year, then 5 years for each subsequent year. Ya know, when I was a kid it was always a 7:1 ratio, pretty simple stuff. I don't know if these kids are blowing smoke, or if they're teaching something different in the schools now days, or what. I only know that it interrupted a perfectly good bowl of oatmeal, and now of course I have to google it to find out what the real answer is in case it should actually matter someday.

I had one of those scary moments on my way home for lunch today when you don't remember like 1/2 of your ride. I remember getting in my car and my first turn, the rest I don't recall until a mile and a half later. Don't remember the turn signals (though probably did do them), the mirror checking, brakes, nothing. About all I remember is singing the chorus to the song I had on the CD player at the time. Evidently that was more important to me than focusing on navigating my 1/2 ton killing machine on wheels. Scary stuff, but I've heard other people say they've done the same thing. Auto-pilot.

Whipped up an omlette for lunch today. Well, it started as an omlette. It ended up more like gifted and talented scrambled eggs.

If you know my wife at all, you know she's a piler. She has her stacks of stuff, all very important and they are spread throughout the house. There's the "critical pile", that sits next to our kitchen phone. It is absolutely sacred ground to be touched by none but her. There's the "receipt pile" that sits in the computer room that is either awaiting entry into the bank account or for one of the kids to knock it over, whichever comes first. There's the "island pile" that sits on the kitchen island, but never lasts more than 4 hours or so. And, well, you get the gist.

I actually used her critical pile this week and when Sarah asked for a paper related to her overnight deal for church, I actually found it.

So it occurred to me that while my wife is away, I am actually beginning to understand how she ticks. At the same time however, it occurred to me that her experience in Guatemala may be changing her enough that she will come back determined to deconstruct her piling technique, or worse yet, change it on me. That would be just my luck. Start to understand the female mind and they change it on you. I'll keep you posted on what transpires. (Any bets?)

To take this a bit further, and this is not griping, just an observation. Why is it that just when I figure out where the pans and tupperware goes, the whole system changes? It goes back to that neuron preservation thing I talked about yesterday. Once you hit 40, there should be a rule that everything in the kitchen needs to stay where it is. Hey, if the system works, why mess with it? As a computer guy, the only thing I can equate it with is, say every four months I moved all your files to a new folder and then didn't tell you until you couldn't find something. I'm not anti-change, I'm just a slow re-learner I guess, at least in the kitchen. It's a strange phenomena in the female genome. Some sort of nesting thing or something.

Ben had been bugging me to have a friend over tonight because Hunter couldn't make it here from MN with his mom. I agreed of course. Well this morning Ben gets a call from a friend who asks if Ben can sleep over. (Remember Sarah's on an overnight thing too.) Ben asks me and I say "Well, let me think about it...OK!!!" Proof positive that God strengthens and refreshes you when you need it most.
As a result of this, I had a chance to have Dinner with Steve at Lulu's cafe. We talked about the women in our lives and Steve showed me his latest home improvement project, a banister. I wish I had his knack for working with his hands. The good thing is I'm always learning from him. He's a good friend.

Word from Donna is all good. They had a "fun" day in Antigua today and when I checked the weather it looked like it was 73' and sunny. I trust they enjoyed it. She has said time and time again, she's not sure how she can describe the experience to people when she gets back. I guess you'll have to hear it directly from her once she's back. I miss her.

Otherwise, things are good here. It has been a good week for me to reconnect with Ben and Sarah. It has given me an appreciation for all Donna does to keep the kids and I from looking like orphans. Today I sent Ben to school in fatigue pants and a powder blue striped shirt. Does that match? Ya know I figured hey, it's Friday, and if he's OK with it, I'm OK with it. It's no worse than me going to work with blue pants, brown shoes and black socks. (they looked blue in the light.) I did a lot of standing that day.

Well, I'd better run. I'm sure there's some laundry that will need dusting if I don't put it away soon. The kids and I are getting real used to this living out of the laundry basket though. No drawers to open, just look in the basket (Sarah's on the left, Ben's on the right) and paw around till you get what you're looking for. Tidy, no, but effective.

Below is Toby at his finest.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

8 Minutes of Serenity

The circumstances of the week have required me to drive to work every day, so I can drive back at noon, let the dog out, and drive back to work. This really is a stupid human trick because I live 1.8 miles away from work. I can barely roll my windows down and I'm pulling into work.

This drive however has become my little bubble of bliss, my bastion of solitude, my no-think tank if you will. It is my chance to turn my music to my volume and just check out for 8 minutes at a time. I call it "8 minutes for Jim"; a time when I don't have to pick up any socks, stop the dog from tunnelling into the back of the couch, or try and remember who's turn it is to play first on the computer today. Grant me this one wish...please bury me in the Santa Fe with Casting Crowns rattling my dead old fillings. I'll need a double sized lot, but if necessary, you can compact me prior to burial. (Think Green) That truck is my favorite place on least this week it is.

So I pull up to a stoplight behind a cop today on my way back to work. The light changes and the cop doesn't move. "Should I honk?", I think to myself? My instinct almost made me. That would have made an interesting discussion I'm sure.

We had dinner at the Barretts' house tonight. Poppyseed chicken. Real Food. Mmmmm!!! When they weren't looking I stuffed some in my pockets for lunch tomorrow. A doggie pocket, so to speak. We had a great night just talking and watching the 3 crazy dogs assert their whatever for 2 hours. Lots of noise going on, but not a lot of brain neuron activity, thats for sure. Thanks to Patty and Brad for everything. It's good to have good friends to pull you through.

It was another absolute pristine day today. 73' and sunny. Good to be alive.

I cannot believe the amount of junk mail we accumulate in a week. I couldn't believe it before, when Donna just filtered my junk down to me. Near as I can tell, I have lots of money and everyone wants a take.

The most irrelevant piece of junk mail for the week was an automatic membership to the NRA, that came complete with a plastic card with my name on it. If any of you know me, you know how ludicrous this is. The instructor in my military class in high school said I needed to get my eyes checked when he saw my target from the rifle range.

Couple that with the fact that I sold my 12 guage and got golf clubs when I was 40 because I figured I could only hurt myself so much with golf clubs. (If you've seen me golf, you'd think I was swinging a 12 guage.) I've found that I've hurt myself far more with my clubs than I ever could with a stupid gun. Heck half of my trophy shots when hunting never happened because I had the saftey on. They pushed gun safety pretty hard in High School. I got an A in that part. So, needless to say the NRA will have to do without me. Sorry Charleton, you'll have to pry my sand wedge from my cold dead hands. (It's my most used club.)

I don't know where the time has gone this past week. Not enough hours in a day. There are certain items around the house that I have been meaning to pick up since Donna left. Because of my preoccupation with dogs, kids (and blogs, I'll admit), all I've had time to do is make a mental note. My thoughts are like this:

Note to self:

1. Red flip flop in corner in dining room.

2. Scoop kitty box that kids keep missing.

3. Either file away or throw away water heater brochures next to computer.

4. Give Toby a bath...he stinks.

5. How we doing on milk?

6. One of Ben's clean soccer socks is under his bed.

I could/should/will get to each of these items eventually, but am not quite sure of when at this point. Check back tomorrow. I think this is how people drive themselves insane. Petty little things like this drive out the neurons that people need to remember to get dressed before going to work, or to flush.

How is is that when I finally got to folding the laundry last night I come up with 4 odd white socks. All different, all orphans. I could almost understand 3, but 4 just seems like we have a sock issue, ya know? At least 2 of those should match, then I'd understand. I may have found a match earlier when I was sweeping up the cat litter that the dog had managed to spread between the washer and dryer. There was an orphans sock back there, but not knowing whether it was dirty or clean, I have to wash it again and as a result may never see it again. Or it will multiply itself assexually and morph into a new, 6th unmatchable style. The suspense is killing me, really.

So tonight I'm trying to get Ben to start getting ready to go to the Barretts, and he's chasing the dog around with a harmonica sending him into a terrier frenzy that is only curable through veterinary exorcism. I mean, I can't make this stuff up, man. This makes the Simpsons look well adjusted.

Well, I'd better get back to the killing some healthy neurons. Believe it or not this blog is almost therapeutic. If I could type it laying down on a couch, I'd be in business. (There's that money maker I've always wanted.)

So all, it looks like I'm going to make it to Sunday, though we do need milk...

God Bless.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Maps and Legends

So I stop at a Mobil Gas station for milk on the way home. It's priced at $3.80/gal. No way I say, I just paid 3.00 on Mon. at a different station. So I go in protest to said station where I promptly pay $3.89/gal. Where is this milk from, the Middle East? I've seen price fluctuations, but this is ridiculous.

It was a gorgeous fall day here today until 4:31 when it started to rain. Yep, I get out of work at 4:30. Hmmm...

Things are much better today so far. Of course, I'm kidless at the moment, but that will change within the hour.

I know it's getting late in the week because of some telltale signs around the house. Signs like:

  • The laundry I did two days ago still has not folded itself or put itself away. What is the wait-time on this, can anyone tell me?

  • We are almost out of Mom's homemade desserts (cookies and brownies). Sarah and I will either bake some choc. chip cookies tonight or its oreos for everyone!

  • The dishwasher is has only been run twice or so since Donna left. I attribute this to the fact that it's mostly filled with bowls...which speaks to our diet.

  • How come when I tell Ben to finish his homework this morning, he suddenly remember homework that is "even more important" than the stuff I want him to do. Suffice it to say I baited him with a paragraph about the Moon today. I didn't hold his hand with the pencil in it, but I did the next closest thing.

Tonight is "south of the border night" in honor of Donna. I'll be making tacos, a dish I mastered as a bachelor. Can't go too wrong with that, right? Either that or Cereal, I haven't decided. (Only kidding!)

All in all it was a good day today. The night may change that, but hey, I'll run with the small victory for the moment.

Incidentally, the image displayed above is one of the cool maps I maee today. As Donna will attest I love my job (most days) and am fortunate to be doing something I love. As I tell people, I walk to work, though occasionally I RUN home . Also there is a short video below. I've never tried this so no guarantees!

Until tomorrow!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Groundhog Day

Are we there yet? As expected, this was likely the longest day of the week. With School, Soccer, and Boys Club and Nexus, it just keeps on going. If I didn't know that Donna was having a long day as well, I'd complain. (I am anyways ;-)

Lesson #1 learned today: Making lunches ahead of time is only "organizational" if you then pack the lunch in the backpack at Go time. Yes, I got the call from Sarah, luckily before I headed to work, so made the dropoff w/little interruption.

So in my trivialities of the day, I begin to think about what might be happening in Guatemala. I think about the good that is being done and that has been done by the many who have served before.

It makes me think of Donald Miller, author of "Blue like Jazz" and how he said that he once had dreams of owning a Volvo. When he started to think about the story or movie of a man whose goal it was to own a Volvo he thought it made a pretty boring story. He then challenged himself and us to make a better story, and that's what these women on the trip are doing for themselves.

It makes me think of my 72 year old mother (at the time) feeling moved to answer phone calls in Washington, DC t0 the Katrina victims for the Red Cross. What moves people to these things. It is God's inherent goodness within us being put before ourselves. Something that many people never think twice about. What are we here for? To learn, get married, have kids, work 40 years and retire? Or is there something more? I think we all know there is.

It makes me think of Michael, my ex-little brother in the Big Brothers program whose house always seemed messy. Lord forgive me for judging that poor single mother's housekeeping skills. My house looks like hoboes are living in it after only 4 days of no 2nd parent.

Sorry for the's just what's swirling around today.

The rest of the day was pretty much a blur. Walk the dog, scoop the poop, praise the potty outside, work a little, speed home to lunch, more dog excretia, back to work, make some cool maps, speed back home, off to soccer, much unrest among a parent (not me) concerned about the coaches attitude, speed off to boys club.

Boys club was good with the usual mayhem thrown in for good measure. We had balloon races, so I was blowing up balloons until my cheeks were numb. Then, off to gym where the balloon relays took place. No head traumas this week...a good thing...Praise God for small victories. Then off to story circle with worship time and the usual bad powerpoint lyric management. (How hard can it be to hit the down arrow when you come to the end of a lyric? Yet every week it's the same story. Much muttering and mumbling among the boys when the words don't match what's being sung up front. Its a good thing God will take our worship no matter how mixed up it is. Thank goodness God can sort it all out and make sense of it.)

So we finished up with Dairy Queen and a kid meltdown when Sarah allegedly popped Ben's last balloon at home. Ahhh, now that's livin'!

I think I'll fall into bed now.

Until tomorrow...if it ever gets here...God Bless.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Deep Thoughts and Ruminations

Well, it's starting to take effect. I got on the scale today and I've lost 3 lbs. Hmmm...That works out to about a 10 lb loss by the time Donna gets back. I don't think its from lack of food so much as additional workout. You're kind of in Rev mode all the time when you're the only parent.

Which brings up an interesting story today. I got a phone call from Sarah at 3:45 today confirming that they were home from school. "Great, thanks for letting me know. Bye Bye" I thought to myself. No, from there it went into an argument over who gets the computer first. "Ben got to go first yesterday" Put Ben on. "Sarah said she'd let me go first if I helped her with something." Ben says with the tears starting to flow. Put Sarah back on. "Please let Ben go first" , I say. More tears. "But he went first yesterday and the day before...blah, blach blah" (More tears). Is anyone out there feeling my pain yet?

I reply through gritted teeth that "I can't talk about this now, I'll be home in an hour and we can talk about it then." (Hyperventalation kicks in.) Luckily Sarah sensed the Blood Pressure rise and succumbed to my wishes. I now have complete and full respect and appreciation for my Mom who in raising 6 kids got this kind of stuff regularly. It's a wonder she's not in the loony bin.

Got the kids off to school OK. Sarah was the taskmaster reminding me "Dad, Ben needs to brush his teeth before we leave." and "Dad, it's almost time for us to leave." (I was upstairs). God Bless her. She's keeping me sane. She seems to understand the magnitude of what needs to be done from day to day. She even took the dog out w/o provocation yesterday. Bless her.

I cooked the first real meal tonight for all of us, ravioli and garlic bread. Last night we had cereal for dinner. It's a bit of a tradition around here anyways, and no kid ever got fat eating raisin bran, right?

I started my first loads of laundry tonight. Trying to see if I can keep from turning everything to battleship grey.

Some other random thoughts and questions are below that came across my mind over the course of the evening tonight. I'll call them "Man Thoughts"

1. Cooking multiple items is all about the timing, isn't it?

2. What is the difference between Medium and Super sized loads on the clothes washer? They should have a fill line marked just for men. And furthermore, why no Large? Did McDonalds design this machine or what?

3. If jeans go in the darks, where do faded jeans go? Darks or colors? Why?

4. If spaghetti takes 8-11 minutes to cook, why does ravioli only take 3 minutes? Theyre both pasta products. I would think it would be the other way around.

5. How come a dog can hold it for 4 hours in a cage, but when you let him out, he's got to pee every hour?

Hardly the questions I went to College to understand, but mysteries, all of them today.

Well, speaking of the dog, I'd better take him out for his walk. Hopefully he hasn't left me a surprise in the kitchen in the time it has taken me to write this. A note from Donna is below.

Until Tomorrow...In Adventure...Jim

Heard from Donna today via phone and e-mail here's a snippet from her message:

"Love your blog...we are all enjoying it! Lesson #1 with Toby...CRATE WHEN IN SHOWER!This is a different world love. So much to tell you. I can't wait. Church yesterday was phenomenal. The people of this country are so passionate and faithful to the Lord. Jill and I were in tears during the service. It was amazing. You would have loved it. We think of you and Steve often. I am thankful to God that Jill is here to share this with me. I am learning things about myself that are fabulous and exhausting at the same time.

I have to run, but please pray for health and endurance...we are all doing well health wise,but the altitude is really bothering me head ache wise, etc. Pray for the women who are attending... that we be both hands and feet of Jesus with them. Pray for continued relationships with the women and the team. Give my love to everyone and thank them... I feel postively lifted and buoyed by prayer.... we all do.

I have to go sort cake mixes now. Kiss the kids and tell them that I LOVE THEM and miss them very very much. I saw a little boy with messy hair yesterday at church and missed my Benjamin. Love you honey! "

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Las Adventuras Dias Dos

The kids have been enjoying the "Spanish for Dummies" DVD's that have been in our car since Donna started her Spanish crash course a few weeks ago. Of course the word the memorized first was Bano which means bathroom. Some things are so predicatable.

I got a call from Donna at about 5:30 CDT and she said all was well. All she said was Guatemala was "very different" from the US and/or what she expected. She said it was going to be a very interesting week. That was about all the report I got. We continue to keep her in our prayers here and look forward to the next report.

Sarah and I had a great night last night. We took Toby to the dog exercise park in Brookfield and he did OK. Being the smallest dog there doesn't help, as he tends to garner most of the attention from larger dogs not to mention the occasional raptor passing overhead. (Tastes like chicken!)We ate out at Oscars and watched Ghostbusters later that evening. Couple that with the frozen pizza we had as a family for lunch and you get a good feel for where our diets are headed for the week. Ever see the movie "Super-size Me"? If I were in charge of cooking all the time, we'd all be 300 lb diabetics within a year. At lunch I forced the kids to drink a 100% juice juice box to stave off the scurvy for the time being.

We all made it to Church this morning. Parents were invited to worship with the kids in the Amphiteater. Of course there was lots of dancing/signing moments and if you know me and my expressiveness, you know how well I participated in that. It's the stoic German-Swede in me I guess. This carried through as I went into the main sanctuary and saw how subdued the adults were in their worship relative to the energy of the kids. I'm as guilty as the rest.

The message in church was from Luke and covered the crucifixion and the incredible contrast between the two thieves hanging next to Jesus; One bitter, cynical and sarcastic, and one remorseful and humbled by the presence and righteousness of Christ.

Toby managed to chew a nice hole in the carpet when left unattended while I was in the shower this morning. In a glass-half-full moment, I rationalized that this was why we opted to wait on getting new carpet at least until he's past the cursed chewing stage. This rationale doesn't make me less upset, it's just my was of trying to decellerate the road to insanity. "Hey, it's not such a bad hole...look, we can put a chair over it." AAARRRGGGHHH!

It has rained ALL DAY and is showing no sign of slowing down. Gloomy!

Watched the Packers game between taking Toby out to pee, feeding the kids lunch and bending at the waist to pick up socks and Tobies latest chew toy. They managed to win 17-14. Coupled with a Bear loss to the Vikes, it was a good day.

Tonight is Dad's first night of dinner and I think the menu goes like this. We'll start with a Chicken dish made of ground white meat coated in bread crumbs and shaped like a small hockey puck. For a side dish, we'll have an apple slices cut into fine wedges and perhaps garnished with sugar and cinnamon. And for a bevarage we'll top it off with a couple ounces of Skim. 20 minutes later we'll finish off the evening with 2 scoops of Mint Chip ice cream with chocolate sauce and whatever sprinkles of Moms that we can get to.
Tonight we'll settle in and watch Firehouse Dog on DVD. Tomorrow starts the real test with getting them up and off to school. It'll be fine. Normal, no...Fine, yes.
Loooking forward to tomorrow!
God Bless.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Day One of the Adventure

Hello all,

Today begins an adventure that I thought I'd capture in a blog. Donna took off for an 8 day short-term mission trip to Guatemala today, and so I've got mom/dad duties. It should be and interesting week and I love to write, so I thought this would be a great way to capture my thoughts and allow you all to partake on the journey with me/us.

We dropped her off at Jill and Steve's last night about 10:00 PM. Sarah had a bad time of it, saying goodbyes and such. She has such a big heart for family, so it's tough any time either of us leaves. The 6 of us said a prayer for safety and God's protection before we left, which was comforting for all I think. She's better least so far.

This morning Donna called about 9:20 to say she had made it to Charlotte, NC. Hooray for leg #1!

Ben had his soccer game today and, well, let's just say they remain winless. (Lost 6-0). They fought to the bitter end though and I was very proud of all of them. More importantly I didn't forget the snacks, as I was the snack parent today. Heaven forbid they don't get their snacks. There was some complaining about "no juice" and I'm not sure I wasn't supposed to bring it too, but oh well. A little less High Fructose Corn Syrup never hurt any one. He loves his soccer, and I realize winning isn't everything...I just wish it was an every-once-in-a-while-thing.

Ben was invited over to Ethan's house for a sleepover tonight which will actually take the load off a bit. He's been fine so far, but I'll take any edge I can get. (i.e. one-on-one versus zone defense.) While he's at Ethan's, Sarah and I will likely take the dog to the Dog park in Brookfield for a bit of socialization. We're both dog lovers, so to see so many different kinds in one place is really a treat.

Tonight begins the meal planning for the week, as last night's leftover pizza was today's lunch. That to me will be the hardest part. I can handle the cleaning/schoolwork/sports thing, but it's the cooking I hate. I don't know how she does it! Cooking to me is probably like me making her (Donna) ride her bike for 10 miles. (WHich I LOVE).

Oh well, I have to rake and cut the lawn today yet, so will say bye for now. Check back daily and I'll keep you posted on my thoughts and any news from Central America.

Love you all and thanks for your prayers!