Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's the Excuse TONIGHT ?!

Brooklyn, my almost-8-year-old, is THE best dawdle-er I have ever known.
And that is with no disrespect to some of my immediate family members,
extended family members, and co-workers,
who can be    s u p e r  -  s l o w     in their own right.

Brooklyn with her  "curls"
EVERY night, Brooklyn is the QUEEN of finding a reason to come back upstairs after prayers ... or just never really make her way downstairs in the first place.
I finally got smart and began tracking these reasons, so you could have a clearer understanding of their ridiculousness as well as their variety and creativity.


Herewith are those from within just the past month or so:
.
 - For school tomorrow, should I take an invitation to my birthday party to Brook ?  (This is her friend in class and from church)
 - Can I heat up my heating pad ?  (This on a summer night with a forecasted low of 65 degrees!)
 - I have homework.  (Which ended up being "reading for 20 minutes" ... which she easily could have done in her bed!)
 - I need medicine.  (This one has had several varieties, including: foot cream, band-aids for cuts, headaches, earaches, sniffly noses, presumed spider or bug bites, sunburns, and preventive dental care, like fluoride rinses).
 - I'm so thirsty I think I'll just DIE without a drink of water !!!  (Complete with facial expressions and intonations that only Anne Shirley from Green Gables could have pulled off as well!)
 - I didn't get a hug, or a special hug, or princess kisses, or to give you a kiss, or a kiss from you, etc.
 - Did you decide if I can do cheerleading or not ?  (This after we had already filled out the paperwork and had her put it in her backpack that afternoon.  When I pointed that out she said (very slowly) "Oh yeah!")
 - I can't seem to fall asleep (this after maybe 15 minutes of trying to fall asleep ... at the most !)
 - But I'm scared to go downstairs alone (which is applicable for all of 3 to 5 seconds when her brothers rumble down the stairs loooooong ahead of her finishing this very sentence)
 - Do you think I could have maybe a piece of bread so I don't starve?  (After she didn't finish her dinner and therefore had to go without snack).
 - My legs huuuuurt so baaaaad.  Can you carry me?  PLEASE ?!?!
 - Um ... there's a spider in my room.  (I ask "Where?" and she replies "Well it's in the window on the outside and I can't really see it but I know it's there!")
 - Did you guys hear that noise?  It was kinda loud but soft.
 - My radio and/or light isn't working.
 - Did you notice it's raining?  Cool huh?!  I love to just watch the rain ... (and then she just stares out the window as though we forget she was there).

And this one occurred while I was finishing this blog !
A full 30 minutes after she had gone to bed!

 - Do you have Myra with you?  'Cause ... I thought I heard her.  I'll go look for her.

And my response is always the same ...
"Sweetheart, I love you.  Now ... GO TO BED !!!"

...

What's worse than a Sunburn ?

If you follow my blog regularly, you know why I have a major sunburn.  For those who don't, it was the result of excessive direct sunlight atop Pikes Peak.

It was all funny (because I was so red) and yet painful (did I mention how red I was?!) but around dinnertime last night I began feeling much better.  Dehydration and unquenchable hunger were gone.  My face, head and legs were not hyper sensitive to any touch or itch or rub.
It felt so good to not hurt anymore.

And then it happened ...

I looked in the mirror and was horrified at what I saw.

My skin was peeling!

ALL OVER !!!

I would post pictures, but (thankfully) I have avoided any cameras during this awkward transition.  I spent 15 minutes in the shower this morning just rubbing and peeling the dead, burned skin off my face.  It only helped a little bit.  I cleared my forehead, which is now a nice, shiny pink color!  But under my eyes, and on my cheeks, and especially around my goatee/beard there are just flakes and flakes of dry, dead, skin.  It looks awful!  I don't feel presentable in public!

I have decided that this peeling process is WAY worse than the pain that comes with the sunburn.  At least with the pain you know that you are sensitive ... whereas with the peeling, it just happens.  I could be in the middle of a conversation with someone and all of a sudden my face could get super dry and it looks like I'm in a skin blizzard!

My apologies to any of you who have either experienced this yourselves, or who have had to witness someone going through the change.  I'll try not to be seen until it is all over.  See you next week!  :)

...

ANOTHER New TV Show ?

I blogged around a month ago about watching That 70's Show with Karen.  We finished watching the full series a little over a week ago and were looking for another new-to-us series to watch (or catch up on) through our Instant Netflix on the Wii.  We scrolled through the available TV Shows, etc. and one title caught my attention: Merlin

I know my brother-in-law and his wife have watched the series for a while now, but it struck me that at least one other couple we know had mentioned it (although I simply cannot remember who!)

So we gave it a go ... and I have to say, I was pretty impressed.

The acting is good (sometimes a little over-the-top).  The storylines are fair (nothing too unpredictable, but I kinda like being able to figure out how it's going to end each episode).  The dialogue doesn't drag too much (there have been a few scenes that seemed like time-fillers).  The premise is unique enough (it is a King Arthur based dramedy focused on the early life of the famous sorcerer Merlin).

But I have to wonder ... if all the individual parts of the show are so mediocre ... why am I enjoying it so much?!  We've burned through maybe a dozen episodes already and I literally can't wait to see where the show is headed.  I'm totally bought into the main characters and I get frustrated when we have to stop watching for the night to head to bed.

Perhaps it is true that the sum is greater than the parts.

...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's your Leadership Style ?


I had a very interesting conversation with my Manager recently about leadership styles.  I'd always pegged him as a straight "Authoritarian" type of leader, one who tells you what to do, how to do it, when to get there, and if and where you are messing up.  But my interactions with him haven't really been like that at all.  It's been much more hands off.  Not as much as I'd like, but still much more than I had expected.

During our conversation, he explained (I didn't ask) that he has a variety of leadership styles and he uses the one he has to based on what needs to be accomplished.  If the person being led isn't really getting things done then you have to utilize the Dictator style.  He also said that he tries to be more hands-off to begin with and then moves tighter or looser as needed.  In my experience with him, that seems to be true.  But that's not my main point of this blog.

See ... I'd always thought you were ONE KIND OF LEADER, but it makes complete sense that you should have a variety of different styles and that the person being led would dictate which type of style you need to use in any given situation.  Certainly he is not the first person to have thought this, and my personal epiphany wasn't anything spectacular ... but it confirmed my long-held belief of the following principle:
 - You really CAN learn something "new" from ANYONE!

No disrespect intended to my current Manager, but I honestly didn't think that he would teach me much more than how to drive performance (metrics).  That is something I've wanted to improve on and was eager to learn from him, as it is one of the strengths I perceived about him.  But (and this is partially because I am open to learning from anyone, anywhere, and at any time) I have picked up much more than that in just over half a year.

I hope I never stop being willing to learn.
...

Monday, August 29, 2011

What's with all the Pointing ?

Myra just points at things ... nothing in particular.  She just holds her hand out with her finger and points ... to nowhere.
You can't tell here, but she really is just ...
pointing ... at ... nothing!  It's a blank wall !!!
What's up with that?

I had to include this one even though there is no pointing.
She was just so proud she cleaned out the box and climbed in!
...

Got Oxygen ?!

That appeared to be the only slogan printed on any article of clothing at the Summit House on top of Pikes Peak this past Saturday when we visited it.

How disappointing!

The last part of the hike is more
"bouldering" than hiking.

After 6 1/2 hours of a fairly grueling hike, which included an elevation climb of over 5500 feet (from below 9000 to 14,110 feet at the peak itself), I had hoped there would be something ... anything  available with the words "I climbed Pikes Peak."  But there was not!  You could find shirts or bumper stickers that said "I drove up Pikes Peak" but there was nothing to be worn as a badge-of-honor representing your ascension up the mountain that Zebulon Pike himself never managed to climb to the top of!

I was proud of the 4 boys (Josh Case Jr, Nathan Peterson, Jeffrey Moore, and Jon Morrow) from the Firehawks Patrol that made the entire climb with me.  Only one boy (Aaron Bullock) was unable to make the complete ascent, but he did hike from the Crags Campground to Devil's Playground, which is an exhausting hike over 4 miles in length and covering 2300 feet of elevation increase.  Excellent job Firehawks !!!

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience.  There is a certain satisfaction that comes from achieving such a lofty (pun intended) goal.
I take pride in the fact that I can forever again look up at the beautiful peak and say
"I hiked that!"

I just wish I had it on a t-shirt or something!  :)

...

Fake Grass or New Sod ?

My backyard needs help.  It is help that I alone can give, but I alone am not sure I alone want to give it the TLC it needs.

Here are some pics of my backyard in its current state.  I am hopeful (but not yet very committed) that this blog will one day be referenced in a future blog that includes pics of the new-and-improved-and-amazing-backyard-of-my-dreams!  But we're a LONG way away from that.

West side of yard (facing south)

The dead tree (to be removed)


The "spice" garden
a.k.a. Ralph S Mouse's house
The (east) side yard
Future home of our garden


The east side (leading to the
future garden area)
Facing North looking at the house
So very many weeds!  :(











I have decided, after much research and truly careful thought and planning, that new sod will be a better short-term and long-term bet for my back yard than fake grass.  There is much more care required than I originally anticipated with fake grass.  I figured once it was down then you just enjoy the easy living that justifies the additional cost.  Oh how wrong that assumption was!  :)  You can read about it yourself at the following link, or you can just trust me when I say it does NOT seem worth the extra cost.

I am certain that I will not get the new sod in this fall, but perhaps I can do some of the landscaping and terracing that needs to happen in advance of next Spring.  By then I'll have to get the new sod in to save my wife's sanity over Spring Break ... the kids need somewhere outside they can go to play!

If you've had experience with fake grass and think I might be missing a golden opportunity to invest in some easy maintenance ground cover, then please post and let me know.  Otherwise, I'll be calling around for your help to spread dirt and roll sod sometime next Spring!  Because, I alone cannot do this!  :)

...

Is it cooked or raw ?

I love tuna fish!

My wife makes it better than any I have ever eaten.  She mixes it with Ranch dressing instead of the typical mayonaise or Miracle Whip.  She also adds parmesan cheese to the mix, which provides a nice kick!
Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!  It is delicious on pretty much any kind of bread, but I prefer mine on plain white bread!

It recently hit me that I am not really sure if the tuna fish out of a can is cooked or not.  A little research revealed that ... it IS cooked!  Whew!

I think I still would have enjoyed eating it even if it turned out not to be cooked, but I needed to know!  If it was RAW then I would have had to seriously reconsider my dislike for sushi.  Thank goodness I don't have to change that ... yet!  :)

...

What's HER Name ?

As often as twice a week, I pick up my daughter Catalina from preschool and walk home with her.  This is a unique experience almost every single day.


Cat showing off her ladybug sticker.
 Here is one of those "unique" experiences:
A few days ago, as we were exiting her classroom she saw a friend of hers from class.

The little girl said "Hey there my friend."

And Cat, while still walking quickly away from the school, turned her head and shouted "Remember my name!  It is Cat!"

The little girl sheepishly replied
"Okay.  See you next week Cat."

And then Cat said "Okay bye."


I then asked her "What was your friend's name?"  And with an annoyed-at-me-for-asking-such-a-stupid-question-sort-of-look she said "I don't know!"

What the heck?!

I'm raising a hypocrite.

...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Free Dessert ?

This evening my parents took my wife and I out for dinner.  We ate at Cheddars, which is a very reasonably priced eatery that has all kinds of food.  I had Tilapia with Mango Salsa.  My wife had chicken and shrimp.  My dad had a very hearty salad and my mom always enjoys ordering the chicken pot pie.

Our food took a long time to come, but the conversation was fun and we'd had plenty of onion rings and croissants as appetizers so at least I wasn't starving.

The Manager (or Owner ... he never really introduced himself) came by and asked if we had been told why our food was taking so long.  We politely said no and he explained that somehow our ticket was lost.  I felt a little bad because the girl waiting on us was in training (I hope she didn't get into a lot of trouble).

Anyway, the whole point of this is that the Manager / Owner told us all to order a dessert on him for the inconvenience of the long wait.  I was stuffed from my food so I didn't really want anything, but my parents insisted so Karen decided on the Apple Pie a la mode (which we got "to go" since we were so full).  That is actually also what my parents got, except they ate theirs at the restaurant ... with a fair amount of help from me because it just looked sooooo good.

And it WAS good!

Now we've been home for a few hours and Karen reminded me that we still have our dessert to eat.
Mmmmm ... I love dessert, but FREE dessert is even better!

Thanks again Mom and Dad Case for the delicious dinner and extremely enjoyable conversation!

Jerry and Julie Case ... my wonderful parents!  :)
...

Monday, August 22, 2011

So ... was he dreaming ?

Last night Karen and I finally watched Inception.  Yes, I know this movie was all the rage last year and it's WAY old now ... but hey, we watched it so I'm using it as a blog topic.  Don't read any further if you think this isn't timely enough.


I've wanted to see the film ever since reading my older brother Jeremy's blog about it last year.  But, as with many films, I'd kinda forgotten about it until it showed up on Netflix DVD in our mail this past week.

I'm not going to write a whole review (read my brother's because his review is GREAT!) but I did want to add my two cents to the ending argument.

I believe that:
 - if you want to believe he was dreaming all along and is only NOW finally awake ... then he was and is.
and
 - if you want to believe he is only NOW dreaming ... then he is.

THAT is the beauty of the ending of the film.  There is NOT a definitive answer.  And the argument can continue forever.  They say a perfect politician is one that can leave people on opposite sides of an issue believing that he/she sees it exactly as YOU do.  That idea should certainly apply to movies as well.

Very good movie.  Loved the fight scenes with the hallway moving all around.  Coolest visual effects since the original Matrix.  Watch it if you haven't yet, but if you want to argue the ending one way or the other ... talk to my brother Jeremy because I'm sure he would be happy to debate it (in a friendly way of course) with you.  :)

...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When we get home can we Fight ?!

That's what Catalina (4) asked of Karen and I today right around lunch time.

Here's the backstory:
 - The kids were having a "fight" or "battle" with Josh Jr being the necessary bad guy, while Catalina and her sister Savannah (5) were the good guys (complete with Cat wearing Ben's "Batman" wings).
 - Mommy then stated that we were "all done with fighting before church"

And that's when Cat uttered the amusing phrase above ... because she wanted to know if they could resume their "fight" after church.  :)

L-R:  Savannah and Catalina
The DYNAMIC DUO !!!  :)
...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tired ?

Yeah ... me too.

Here's a funny little cartoon about counting sheep.

Enjoy!

...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Why Are You Crying ?

This morning, as I was leaving for work (and to drop off the two little girls at my in-laws' house), I leaned in to give Karen a kiss goodbye.  I said "I love you" and then stood back up.  13 years of marriage later and I can recognize when my beautiful wife just doesn't look right.  There was a sadness in her eyes ... so I asked the obvious question:  What's wrong?

Simply typing the words she said would not do her response justice.  A detailed description is necessary in order to fully appreciate the explanation of the answer to this blog's title question, which will come later.

After I asked "What's wrong?" this is what happened: Karen half-smiled.  Her eyes then began to water.  She curled into more of a fetal position and brought her hands up to cover her face.  It was at that point that she uttered her response ... "I don't know."  She was virtually inconsolable.  I leaned in to give her a soft hug and another kiss.  I told her that she just needed some rest and that I would call her later.  And then I left.

Some of you may find this a little harsh that I just left her in this sorrowful state.  But I've also learned, in our 13 years of mostly blissful married life, when it is the right time to just ... walk ... away.


This evening, after hanging out with some good friends, Karen's mood was much better.  I commented on that and asked her if she really was feeling better.  She confirmed that she was ... and then explained to me why she actually was crying this morning.  And it was too amusing to NOT blog!

Karen worries about a lot of things, many of which are quite ridiculous (her words, not mine!)  This morning she was sad because ... she felt like if she were to just die at some point, I would be fine without her.  This is on the basis that, for the whole past week, I have been capable of taking care of the whole house and our family without her help.  Again, these are her words, NOT mine!

She makes me laugh because she cries over this sort of silly reasoning.  Truth be told, this week has darn near sent me into a coma!  I have newfound respect, not just for mothers, but for ANY single parent out there!  And I have / had an amazing cast of supporting family members!  Without them I would have gone completely crazy!

Regardless, I am happy to have a happy wife back!  :)

...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Her First Composition ?

I always hear people say things about their superstar kids like:

"He was playing golf by age 5."
or
"She picked up her first guitar by age 3."

Well, if Myra becomes a world-renowned pianist as an adult (or child prodigy), then let the record show that at just shy of 14 months, she was already tickling the ivories with reckless abandon and her own sense of style and sound!  :)



...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Will She Do It Again ?

Last night, Myra, our 14-month old, went to sleep around 9:30pm ... and didn't wake up until this morning at around 6:30am!


It was HEAVENLY !!!

Karen is usually the one who gets up with the kids in the middle of the night, but this week is my week (even though she had to wake me up early Tuesday AM to take care of Myra ... I am a HEAVY sleeper!) so more than ever before I was grateful for a full night's rest ... although with full disclosure in mind I wasn't in bed until well after midnight and was up around 5:30am (the first time anyway).

I'm certain lightning won't strike again so soon, but I really hope it does and she sleeps all through the night again! Maybe it will even be a pattern after it's Karen's turn again. Then she will think I am an even more wonderful husband and father because I fixed the baby's sleep schedule! :)

...

What's For Dinner Dad ?

I won't go into all the reasons, but suffice it to say that I am (and have been) in charge of dinner in this house for this week (and possibly into the next week).  Karen is fine and if you read this blog of hers you'll know that WE are fine too!  Let's just say it is my turn for dinner around here for a little while.

The blog post title has been asked of me literally dozens of times ... in just three days of my cooking.  It's not that I mind the question, but sometimes "daddy dinner" is a spur of the moment thing.  Awww, who am I kidding?!  It is always a spur of the moment thing!  :)

Tonight I was in a bit of a rush (swimming with the 11-year old scouts tonight) so I asked Karen's opinion of what to make for dinner.  She suggested the good old classic "Macaroni and Cheese."  I thought to myself The kids will NEVER go for that! but I decided to take her advice (Side Note here -- Husbands, always take advice from your wife, especially when it comes to things related to the kids!)

Having just barely set the 2 boxes on the counter, Josh Jr (11) lopes up the stairs and says "My eyes see something that is making them very happy about dinner!"

Two minutes later, Savannah (5) starts to ask this blog title and I cut her off to say "Macaroni and Cheese."  Her face explodes into a big grin.  She wraps her fingers into a fist and pulls her arm down swiftly in a pumping motion while exclaiming loudly "YES!"

Hearing that from the other room, Catalina (4) bounds in and says "I yuv macanoni an' cheeze!"

Who knew?!  I'm not trying to impress these kids anymore.  I'm going with pancakes tomorrow night and we'll go all out with ramen noodles on Friday!  :)

...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Was this song written just for ME ?!

On the ride home from the Panerathon 5k, my sister played me this song, which a friend of hers had shared with her.  The song is titled "Lead Me" and is sung by a group called "Sanctus Real."

I have NEVER felt so strongly that
a song so perfectly captures MY life!

(L-R) Savannah (~6), Ben (~10), Brooklyn (~8)
Myra (14 mos.), Josh Jr. (~12), Catalina (4)

When it talks about the insecurities of a wife and children.  When it talks about the feeling of inadequacy this man is feeling.  When it talks about the "perfect life" on the outside that is masked with uncertainty on the inside.  Can I do this?!  Can I be that strong for my wife?  Can I be there for my children?  Can I avoid chasing the wrong dreams?  Do I have what it will take to fight against any evil for my eternal family?

Of myself, I know I could not.  But with HIS help, I am confident that I can!

It is amazing to me how fragile my own "strength" can be.  I am confident.  I have faith.  I work hard.  I love openly.  I dream big.  I am tough.  But I am (and always will be) in need of HIS guidance.  I need HIS strength to lean on as I am trying to do everything I am "called" to do for my family.

I hope you enjoy the song.

...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Choir "practice" or "Music Theory" class ?

I won't be going into ALL the details (mostly because I don't know really ANY of the details) but our Choir Director at church was recently released from her calling and replaced with another person.  For non-Mormon readers, this is something that happens periodically.  We members of the church receive "callings" to serve in various roles to support the ward (congregation).  We don't have paid clergy in our church so everything that occurs related to Sunday (and any other day of the week) meetings is done by volunteers.

What is not necessarily typical, is for someone to be "released" from their calling out of the blue.  It is not that you always know when you're about to be released and perhaps receive a different calling, but generally there are more "normal" times when that happens.  Like when you move away.  Or if you've done the same calling for several years.  Or you are needed in another calling that is perfectly suited to you.

My current calling is a dual responsibility.  I am one of three teachers of our 11 and 12 year old Primary Class.  I am also the 11-year old Boy Scout Leader for our ward.  I've been doing this for a little over a year now and it makes sense that I be in this calling for at least a little while longer because my oldest son is currently that age.  It would not surprise me at all if I were to be "released" in the next 6 months or so, after my son moves to the next group of scouts.  I'd also not be surprised if my new calling after that were in Young Men's (that's the group of 12 to 18 year old boys) as a leader of some sort.  I'll be fine with whatever happens, but you can see where I'm going with the whole logical side of things.

Anyway, this "release" of our (now former) choir director came at a very illogical time ... but that's not really the point of my blog.  All I really wanted to say was that this new director doesn't seem to follow the same beat (no pun intended!)  And that's fine!  For him ... and for anyone who likes the way he is going to change things.

I'm not entirely sure I am going to.

And so I might choose to stop going, but not until after I give it at least 2-3 weeks to see if I can still enjoy it.  The main difference is that with the former director, we sang most of the time we were at practices.  With the new director, we seem to just be instructed ABOUT music most of the time.  I am at a point in my life where I really don't care to learn LOTS of new information about music theory.  I'd really rather just enjoy singing and focus on making the sound better, not my knowledge of what it should sound like or what the composer was thinking when she wrote the piece, etc.

We'll just have to see ... but I can tell you that I have stopped attending choir in previous wards because the director took the fun out of it.  I really hope that doesn't happen ... but I fear it already may have.  :(

...

Why am I the "bad guy" ?

I abhor the smell of cigarette smoke.

I have had many experiences in my life that have contributed to this overall disdain for the odor, but suffice it to say, I have my reasons and they are VALID!

As a Mormon I choose to follow the "Word of Wisdom," which is a commandment to abstain from coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and really any other "addictive" type of substance.  Coffee is the only one that ever even remotely appealed to me, but just because I really like the smell and the concept of all the different flavors.  I don't like "hot drinks" much though, so I've never tasted a sip of any coffee, etc.  But I do enjoy that smell.
Not cigarette smoke though.  Not at all!

And so, as part of my regular routine at work, I do something that may occasionally get me frowned at or looked down on for.  I DO NOT hold the elevator for people coming into work from the "smoke shack" (that's what people call the approved smoking area outside our office ... in Cleveland they call them "Butt Huts" ... that makes me giggle!)  I do a quick scan of that area as I'm swiping my badge to come into the office.  If I see anyone heading from that "shack" I will speed up to get on the elevator and ride up to the 3rd floor (where I work) without having to smell their smoky clothes.  I will even push the "Close Door" button to ensure I don't get stuck with that odor!

My frustration is that some (not all) smokers find what I am doing to be rude or in poor taste.  And I have to wonder how I became the "bad guy" in this situation?!

I am making no judgements of you as a person on the basis of your decision to fill your lungs with "cancerous air" and to stain your teeth and to "waste" money on such an unhealthy activity.  I don't think it is a good decision in the least, but it is, ultimately, your decision!  You might still be a super awesome person and wonderful member of the human race.  You might save people's lives and do charitable work that would make Mother Theresa feel lazy.  You have a right to do whatever you choose.  So why am I not allowed the same right?!  Why am I wrong for not wanting to be in your stinky presence in an enclosed space where I'll end up smelling like that all day?!

Sidebar Non-Smoker Business Idea
I've told my wife Karen that what I really want to do is create a "stink bomb" of sorts that perfectly replicates the malicious odor of meconium baby diapers.  I'd put it in spray cans that enable you to shoot the odor just as far as cigarette smoke travels and then non-smokers could use it "against" those smokers who take offense at our not wanting to have to breath their "dirty air."  Just imagine the uproar that would occur in the media and among smokers when they found out that I was deliberately polluting the air with a foul smelling toxin!  I'd be the most hated person since _______ (fill in the blank with the first name that comes to your own mind).

HYPOCRITES !!!

Let me ride my elevator in peace and without the offensive smell.  At the very least, allow me to exit when I realize you are covered in smoke-smell.
I'll take the stairs.  None of the smokers ever seem to find their way into that space so I should always be safe there!  :)

...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Got Milk ?

I am a big fan of MILK!

I've blogged before about my love of chocolate milk (but NOT that dumb chocolate water which is made with a skim or 1% milk-like substance.
It's NOT MILK!!!)

I am very happy that my family (at least my kids anyway) are BIG TIME milk drinkers!  We keep lots of milk on hand (thank heaven for our extra fridge downstairs!) and usually some pre-made chocolate milk (as a treat for the kids with the occasional dinner).

When I say "lots" of milk I do mean it.  We are buying milk basically every week nowadays.  And we buy 4-6 gallons at a time.  Yes, we are close to about a gallon a day as a family (it is definitely over a gallon if you factor in the chocolate milk).  That works out to about 1 gallon per person per week (Karen doesn't drink much at all if you're doing the math at home and questioning my calculation abilities).

 I'm curious though ... is that "A LOT" or is that just about right?!  Let me know your experience and family size.  I do fear that when the kids hit the teenage years we may need a third fridge!  YIKES !!!  :)

...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What would their name be ?

The most funny post on my Facebook News Feed in this past week came from my cousin Lester Case.

He wrote:
"If the Goo Goo Dolls went on tour with Lady GaGa ... would it be called the Goo Goo GaGa tour?"

Ah ha ha ha!  That's classic!

And it reminds me of a game we used to play as kids on long car trips.  With our vast knowledge of famous people's names, we would try to come up with the most creative or funny-sounding pairing of names.

Here's an example of what I mean to get you started:
 - If Paula Abdul married Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and kept her last name with a hyphen, she would be Paula Abdul-Abdul-Jabbar.  (I think we even had a song about it ... did I mention this was on loooong car trips?!)

I know we had dozens of others but none of them come to mind right now.  I am certain my sister Jaimee and brother Jeremy will add comments below with a few additional favorites.  Feel free to do the same!

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How is it always so timely ?!

I've blogged before about my love of the cartoon strip Dilbert.  Although I am not an "engineer" I do work in a call center and the cubicle-dwelling characters from that cartoon are near-perfect renditions of my peers and share real-life experiences that I frequently have.

I always laugh when I read my daily calendar, which has comics from Dilbert that ran a few years ago.  I have to mention that fact because it relates to my overall blog title.  Somehow, the comics that I read almost always tie in directly with something that is happening at work ... at just that moment in time!

Here's the one from my calendar for August 6th/7th:


Now what's interesting about this is that our company (in the past month or so) has been rolling out the details of HealthyU, which is a "Wellness Program" of sorts.  It looks like it will actually be a great program (in my opinion anyway) that provides discounts and incentives for heathier employees (or those working toward better health).  As a non-obese, non-smoking, regular-exercising employee ... my own premiums should be among the least expensive.
That feels right to me.

This comic strip made me laugh though, especially the "pointy-haired" boss' reaction to the question asked of him by Dilbert.  Whether you choose the part of the boss or Dilbert or even the consultant (Dogbert) ... it is still funny ... from any perspective!

How is it that these comics are not just somewhat relevant but downright scary in how perfectly timed they are ... especially when you consider that this strip was originally distributed in newpapers 3 years ago ?!

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Would you like to stay Forever ?!

You may not realize that this blog title is a line from a very popular movie.  At least, it was popular many years ago ... even if it was mostly just with critics and kids (an odd pairing to be sure!)

That is also the line that my son Ben cracked up the most at in the movie we watched this evening at the "last movie night at the Vista Grande pool in 2011."

The movie was Mulan, which I've never been a huge fan of, but the music is quite remarkable (as with almost any Disney film)!

The line was stated by the oldest living ancestor in Mulan's family, immediately after Mulan invite's the handsome Captain Whateverhisnameis to stay for dinner.  This old lady never thought Mulan would "find a man" so she is asking the question in the hopes of just jumping to the ending as quickly as she can.

Ben found it hilarious and kept quoting it over and over and OVER again on the way to the car and on the ride home (until we made him stop so we could say prayers).  I laughed out loud when the lady said the line in the movie, but it was even more funny to hear Ben get such a kick out of it!

Brooklyn loving the water and sun !
All in all, I am very glad we went to the pool this evening and stayed for the movie.  I am sure my mind will be different tomorrow if the kids wake up grumpy from lack of sleep, but right now it all seems worth it!  :)

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ever forget you have laundry in the washer ?

I've blogged before about how I do the laundry in this family.  It's just something I don't mind doing (and it works out nice because then Karen and/or the kids do the bathrooms, which I loathe!)

On a few occasions, I have gone to the downstairs laundry area and realized that I've left the dryer full of jeans.  They are the last load I wash downstairs and even though they are dry I just sometimes forget to go and retrieve them.  You see, I have plenty of pairs of jeans, so I never "miss" them.  But today, something that has NEVER happened before happened to me ...

I realized I forgot a load of laundry in the washer !

And it had been there (fully washed but never run through the dryer) for the whole past week!

After finishing laundry last Monday I decided it was time for the backpacks to reclaim their hooks on the wall in our office area.  This meant that the summertime towels and bathing suits had to come down.  And they were "worn" so I had the brilliant idea to go ahead and wash them.  Which I did.  And then ... they ... sat there ... in the washing machine ... for this whole ... past ... week!


Suffice it to say that I ran them through the wash again (just in case there was mildew or anything of the sort) and tossed them in the dryer as soon as they were ready!  They're already folded and ready for use (tomorrow night, if the weather holds out).

I guess there's always a "first time" for any mistake!  Sigh!  :)

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

It is still Saturday right ?!

My current work schedule includes Saturdays.  I actually like that for several reasons.  First, I get paid a little more for working on a "non-traditional" workday.  Second, I still have two days off in a row (Sunday / Monday).  And third, Saturdays are always like "casual Fridays" where things are more relaxed and less "official."  Comfortable is nice!


Today at work, I got confused about what day it was though.
Like, really confused!

I was on my way to the printer and, while looking around, realized that LOTS of people were here today!  WAY MORE people than we have on typical Saturdays.  In fact, in my team alone there were 5 people here that don't normally work Saturdays!  And that's out of only 8 total that work in the office (11 of my team work from their homes)!  EVERYBODY was here!

I usually "dress down" on Saturdays and don't worry about shaving, etc. but now I am wishing I hadn't!  :)

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Can my husband guess ?

It happened again.  Except this time, it really wasn't me.  It was my wife.  She did it.  I was there.  I helped.  But really it was all her.  I did have to force her to own up to it, but it wasn't me being a jerk.  I really was trying to be supportive.  She needed to "own it" and I needed to make her do just that.  She was so embarrassed, but she bore the responsibility well ... eventually.

Of course I am talking about Karen's victory on the radio Thursday morning!

K-Lite 106.3 does a "Brain Buster" question of the day as part of their morning radio program (which used to be Captain Dan, Renee, and Paul but then Renee "retired" so it was Captain Dan and Paul, but now they're added another gal (Tammy) but now I'm way off track).

Anyway, "back in the day," Karen and I used to win ALL THE TIME by answering the question correctly as often as we were allowed to (usually 30 days between).  It is a little easier to get through to answer because it is just the first correct answer that wins.  So if the trivia question is obscure enough, or something that we just happened to guess very quickly, then once we got through it led to some easy, free prize(s).

This morning ... almost no one was calling in.  This is an assumption based on the fact that Karen got through 3 separate times.  And the 3rd time was the charm (although it took a 4th guess, from yours truly, to actually win)!

You'll have to link to Karen's blog HERE to listen to the full broadcast, wherein you will hear her give her guess and then ask the title of this blog.  She thrust the phone at me and told me what to say ... and that's when I ratted her out for not wanting to guess the correct answer because she didn't want to admit she had done this as a younger woman!

The end result:  We won 4 tickets to the Parade of Homes (which we love!) AND 4 tickets to go to the Colorado State Fair (which we also enjoy, especially if we get to hear The Martini Shot Band play again!)

I love winning!  :)


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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Have you heard The Martini Shot band ?

I love music.  I am sure I've started many blogs with those three words.  But they remain as true as ever and are worthy of repeating often!

This is Ryan.  He's always so sad!  :)

I'm not very up-to-date on local musicians, but a few years ago I had the opportunity to be the "boss" for a very talented guitarist.  Ryan "Sizzle Pizzle" Walter plays lead guitar for "The Martini Shot Band" which is comprised of guys from Colorado Springs and Pueblo.  For a few years Ryan and I worked together on the same team and we talked often about music (when we weren't doing work related stuff).  He graciously gave me copies of two of the three CDs his group had put out.  Not only was I very impressed by the gesture, but some of the songs were just amazing!  They have become favorites on my MP3 player and my wife and kids enjoy hearing them too.  Here are links to a few of them:






(If these links won't play for you just go to their website and you can click
through the song list at the top of the page to the ones you want to hear).

Recently I checked out their website again and was completely ecstatic to find that their music is ALL available to listen to on the website!  Better still, I can actually listen to the songs at work (which is a minor miracle since anything streaming - audio, video, etc. - is blocked due to our "workplace policies") !  I spent the better part of one full day just listening to some of my favorites, but I was also able to hear a few "new to me but long ago recorded by them" songs.  "Pittsburgh" was listened to at least a dozen times in a row and I enjoyed "This Highway" too!

So if you're looking to hear some kickin' local musicians, check out their website and let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why is it always Feast or Famine ?

It always seems to be "Feast" or "Famine" for me at work.  Let me explain.

As a Supervisor, my responsibilities are often not tied to specific dates and times.  Sure I have scheduled meetings, etc. but most of what I do simply needs to be done before "X date" instead of a very specific time.  This allows for a fair amount of flexibility in setting up my day-to-day activities, but it also requires careful planning and constant adaptation to changing priorities.

Eventually it always feels like there is either:
 way too much work and not enough time
... or ...
 plenty of time and nothing that has to be done right now

Given the choice, I prefer the "Feast" (where I am just so busy that I have to raise my performance to meet the challenges of fitting everything in).  Although, it is nice to have the "Famine" (ample amounts of "down time") periodically.

I think the biggest challenge that I personally face is that I'm often looking forward to whatever is coming as opposed to enjoying the here and now.  When I'm "swamped" I think about how nice it will be when I'm caught up.  And when I'm in a lull between things I look ahead to busier days and get excited for the challenge that is coming.

Maybe if I planned better I would be able to even these peaks and valleys more ... but I think that the scenery would then be boring, even if it were more comfortableTalk about your no-win scenario!  :)

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Are YOU "Smarter than a Woody" ?

People always claim that Mondays are terrible, but I love 'em!
The fact that I work Tuesday through Saturday and have Sunday / Monday off does have a lot to do with that!  :)

On Monday, August 1st (what a great start to the month) I was the 9th caller to Peak (92.9) FM's morning radio show right around 7:00am.  Click the link below to hear the full recording of my VICTORY in their trivia contest.
Over $200 in prizes* later and I am one happy camper!  :)


If you've never heard the show or that game before, here is a brief recap:
Each day on the show, the one host (Goose) creates and asks 5 Trivia Questions of the other host (Woody) about a variety of pop culture things.  Most mornings, Woody slaughters the competition (which is always just ONE lucky caller) by answering 4 or 5 of the questions correctly.  I have heard him get as low as 3 right before, but I've honestly never heard him do worse than that (though I am certain he has).  In fact, his record is (was at the time) 158 victories to only 22 losses.
And on Monday, I added ONE MORE loss to his record!

Am I proud that I won with a score of 3 to 2?  No, not really.  I had no business winning because Woody missed two very easy questions.  But even if he "let me win" so they could start a new set of prizes, I don't care !!!  I still won and I'm ecstatic because now I can do all kinds of things for Karen's birthday next Tuesday!  Yay!

*My prizes included the following items:
 - ONE free large one-topping pizza from Papa Johns
 - TWO free passes to any movie at Hollywood Theaters
 - TWO free one-night rentals from Redbox
 - FOUR VIP passes for a ride on the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway
 - FOUR tickets to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
 - TWO full-day passes to Waterworld
 - TWO free half-gallons of Blue Bell ice cream
 - ONE dinner-for-two ($20) at Feelin' a Little Philly
 - TWO $10 gift certificates for Applebee's restaurant
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