Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Well, I wish I could blame today's run on the arm band, but I can't.. Rough start this morning, and had to walk a little bit :)

I've got to get adjusted to this schedule soon, tomorrow I need to be at work at 7:30!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back at it!

The time has come again, back to work for Leslie and I.  I'm trying to adjust to the new schedule by getting up at 4:50 to run now, because I know getting the kids ready this year is going to be especially difficult.  Emily will be going to school now with Leslie, so getting her ready, as well as Benjamin, will take some doing.  I just hope I don't have to push back my wake up time any more than that :)

I've been counting the days until I get to see kids again at school, and I really can't tell you how excited I am!  This year will be my first 6th grade rotation, so not only will I get to experience 6th grade at the same time as the kids coming in, but I will get to follow them through 7th and 8th.  It reminds me of my band teaching days at Irving Middle School, where my father in-law would always tell me, "there's nobody to blame but yourself now..."  How true :)

Another piece of wonderful news (at least for me) came when I got home from my run this morning and checked my pace/mileage.  For the first time, the sensor seemed to work almost perfectly.  I think it's the placement on the shoe that is making the most difference, so I'm looking for a pouch to fit the sensor where I'd like it on my shoe.  Hopefully things will straighten out soon.. I was beginning to look at those $300 GPS watches instead of this one.. Baaaad idea...

The only downside to summer being over is now I see my family less.  I was looking at last year's post around this time, and sure enough.. same feelings then :)  I've had the solution for a while, but Steve Jobs just isn't listening: embed iChat into the iPhone, so then I can attach iPhones to Benjamin, Emily, and since Leslie already has one, then we'd all be able to chat and see each other whenever we wanted.  Since Leslie and I would be busy for most of the day, we could just leave the camera on, so we could watch them all day.  Overkill?  Not for me :)

One of the greatest parts of never leaving education is you never have to give up that excitement as the school year nears.  What's even better about this year is now we get to start re-experiencing going to the store to get school supplies for Emily.  Emily, going to McKinley... Amazing how fast it's going!  Last night she was jumping (as she always does) on her bed before we started reading a book, I swear she was going to hit the ceiling!  When did she get so tall?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Scavenger Hunt!

First person to tell me where this is, and what it's about, wins a big prize!  (Or, no prize at all, but fun just the same!) Good luck!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 2 in Colorado

Well, I decided to run the same route this morning (I know, shock to some of you, that I'd put myself through that again).  It's amazing what a good night's sleep will help a run, because today felt a little better.  Mount El Dorado ended up only being about a half mile of a steep incline (still hurt..), but the best part of this morning is realizing how the world was shrinking, and why my mileage wasn't working out.

It seems that when I'm going uphill, or downhill, my foot doesn't roll like it does when I'm running flat, and for some reason that's messing with the sensor.  The sensor that connects to my arm band is meant to go in Nike shoes, in the sole, and since I wear Asics, I just cut a little hole in the tongue and slipped the sensor down in there.  I'm going to stop by a sports store tonight and get one of those little pouches that you can strap onto your shoe laces, hopefully that will even out my distance/time issues.

Last night our group went to Boulder and ate at the Chop House, where we ate last year.  Just like last year, the food was incredible (last year had the lamb, this year pork chop).  My favorite part of the trip, just like last year, was getting to tell the people around me about my engagement experience.  I always love the response I get when I tell them I had Leslie fooled for several months thinking she was going to a reception for my ex girlfriend.  Aaah, the memories :)

Speaking of memories, tonight we're going to where we went after our engagement in Boulder: Estes Park.  There's a restaurant on one of the mountains named The View, also having excellent food. 

The sessions today were wonderful, as expected.  I love going to this convention every year, although I always walk away with the same feelings... When I'm at home, I'll get many questions that I can't seem to answer exactly how I'd like.  It's usually because I don't have enough of the research backing in my head to formulate an informed response, which usually leaves the teachers asking more questions that I can't quite answer either.  I come here and wish I were each of these presenters all rolled up into one, being able to call upon all their knowledge immediately.  Frustrating feelings, but still very energizing.

One more day of sessions, then we're on our way home on Sunday.  I can't wait to get home and see everybody!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 1 in Colorado

Well, the drive here went really well.  This is my third year coming to this conference, and what I remember is that coming up, the drive is great... Coming home... we all want to get home, so it seems to take FOREVER.  Plus, we gain an hour coming, but lose it coming home, so it takes about 12 hours coming home.  Ugh.

Every child I see reminds me of Benjamin and Emily, I sure do miss them.  I've spoken with Leslie a few times, and things seem to be going well at home, other than our credit card fiasco...

Leslie called me right about the time I arrived here yesterday and told me that Target wouldn't accept the American Express.  I called them, waited about a half hour to talk to somebody, and when the guy got on the phone, he explained that our accounts had been flagged because of 300 some bucks charged to gas, not in Oklahoma.  I explained that I was putting all charges for this trip on the credit card, because I'd be reimbursed later, so all seemed fine... Until I got another call from Leslie today telling me same thing happened.  I'm not looking to sitting on hold for another half hour for the same issue.. We'll see how that goes.

So, this morning I decide to run, especially since I've got my new toy.  I got up, got dressed, and headed down to the front desk.  The nine year old who I swear was standing on blocks behind the counter greeted me. 

"Hey, I want to run 10 miles, so can you tell me where to go out 5 miles so I can run there and back?"


"Okay, well, is there anything 5 miles out that I can run to and back?"

"Well," (he whips out a map), you can try ... hmm.."

Patience... Patience.. "I'm not picky, just point me in a direction that will take me five miles.."

"Well, there are a lot of hills out here, so I'm trying to find something flat for you."

"I can handle it, just tell me where to go."

"Well, there are hills... and the elevation will..."

Shh son, daddy's been talking now for a while, and you don't seem to understand.  I can handle hills, I do a couple of them a day back home.  "How about this one?"  (I randomly point at a road)

"Well, El Dorado, yeah, but that's a hill.. Then it runs in to 128 (or some state highway, can't remember what)"

"Does the highway have lots of traffic?"

"No, lots of bikers on that road through the hills."  (If he says that word again, I'm walking out of this conversation, after, of course, knocking those blocks out from under him)

"Looks good, thanks."

I head out.  About ten steps into my run Leslie calls to tell me she's taking Benjamin to the doctor for his 2 month appointment.  She asks me what's wrong.

"Man, I just started and I'm already pretty winded.. Weird."

"You are elevated pretty high in Colorado, remember?"

"Oh yeah, that's probably why [panting], alright, call me when you're done with the appointment."

So, I hit the hill he was talking about.  What a rookie, this hill just goes around the corner just ahead and levels out.  I know there are Mountains up here, but they're over THERE, not by this hotel.. Sheesh.  Then I turn the corner and look at what appears to be a verticle climb for about sixteen miles.  Better than that, I'm crossing some business that is labeled, "Level 3."  Does that mean there are more levels?  If so, how many?  At this point I feel like I'm running backwards.  I look down at my new toy for mileage: 1.3 miles. 8.7 to go. This is going to be a long run...  Just as I was thinking this, I noticed an airplane taking off from a nearby airport.  It was reassuring to see that it reached cruising altitude, and leveled out, at about the same height I was on my little "hill."

So, I finally reach the peak of Everest, and head out on the highway.  Lots of bikers (huh, little kid was right..).  Scenery was great.. Mountains, open fields - then it flashed - I remembered last year running around some open fields and a large animal very near me scaring me to death... I started scanning the horizon for scurrying bodies and didn't see anything, and just then something darted out in front of me.  After I finished squealing a little bit, I realized it was a prairie dog, and as I looked over in the field, there must have been 20 of them running around.  Then my mind started visualizing all 20 of them coordinating attacks on me, then calling in reinforcements, and maybe even some air strikes from some bird friends nearby. 

Things were going pretty well at this point, and I was nearing what looked to be another corner to the back side of a "hill."  I noticed, however, on this curve, it was more like how they would build one of the turns on an indy car track, rather than a regular road.  I felt like I was going to fall over running almost on my side as I rounded that one, and just as I came to the other side, I looked at what I thought at the time was not unlike looking at the grand canyon for the first time... and not because of how pretty it was.  It looked like a free fall on the road for about a mile.  Even though I was almost half way done with the run, I had enough brain function left to realize what that meant: I'd have to come back up.  I look down at my watch: 4.2 miles.  Just .8 left to half way (just about to the bottom of the "hill").  Do I forget it, turn around and head back?  Well, that would have been the smart thing to do.. But I don't.  You can imagine the turnaround and coming back...

So, I finally hit the top of the hill that I managed to reach at the beginning of my run.  I started down the hill thinking "ahhh, I was waiting for this.. Pain going up, but smooth sailing going down."  Wrong again.  I spent the entire time pounding my feet on the ground leaning back as far as I could to keep myself from falling straight on my face.  I still can't tell you what I preferred, going up and feeling like I was going to die, or going down feeling like I was going to die.

And then the best part.  I was finally nearing the hotel, ready to finish my run.  I neared the front of the hotel and looked down at my watch.  10.0 you're thinking, right?  Well, it said 9.5 miles.  Somehow, even though I had turned around at 5.0 and followed the exact same path home, the world had shrunk just a bit in that time, and I was now a half mile short.  Rational thinking would have suggested at this point that my watch wasn't calibrated correctly... Did I just forget it and head in?  Nope, gotta see that 10.0 on my watch.  Well, as you can see by my run data on the left, I gave up at 9.89, knowing full well it was more than 10 miles.

As I walked back in the hotel, the kid was looking at me.  After a brief pause, he asked, "so, how was it?"  knowing full well how it WAS.

"Good."  I fooled him.  I am a good actor when I need to be.

"Flat route tomorrow?"

"Oh, I think this one was just fine"  Academy nomination.

"Well, I mapped out a flat route for you for tomorrow if you want to pick it up in the morning."

"I'll take it right now."  Oh well, I wouldn't have won the oscar anyway.  I noticed his smile as I entered the elevator.. Yeah yeah.. Whatever, I needed to go pass out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last minute packing...

Tomorrow I leave for Colorado, and while it's very exciting to go every year, I never look forward to leaving everybody for five days.  It's nice to know that Chebon, dad, mom, Leslie's parents, and everybody else that I know will be staying over here, or doing stuff with the family to keep them busy while I'm gone, but I sure do miss them when I'm not here.  Hopefully, with skype, I'll be able to see them a little while I'm there.

If you haven't noticed the knew widget over to the left, I'm playing with my latest toy.  It's taken forever to set up, and while I should have been packing, I've been messing with this thing.  I ran my 10 miles this morning, but since I wanted to see it in action before I left, I went and ran a quick 5 mile this evening.  It looks promising, I'm going to use it in Colorado and either try to upload data while I'm there, or just upload it all when I get home.

So, gotta get ready for tomorrow.. I hope to get stuff on the site while I'm there, but at the very least I'll be tweeting :)  See you soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pei Wei, apps, Twinkle

So, the McKinney's and us visited Penn Square about a week ago, and after went to Pei Wei (surprisingly healthy, if anybody ever wanted to know).  Here is a quick shot of Emily using her chop sticks.  She can handle those things better than I can...

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We're planning on doing some swimming today.  I want to get as much in before Wednesday, when I head off to Colorado with teachers from school for our yearly Nuts and Bolts Conference.  I love going, but it sure is hard leaving everybody here for five days.  I'm planning on getting Skype back up and running here so I can see them every day.

I'm also scheming early, because I'd like to go see Dark Knight again... What better way to do that than to ask Leslie to see it with me?  She hasn't seen it, and I KNOW [no chance on this earth] that she'll love it [nada, zilch].  I can't decide if it's because I want to see the movie so bad again, or because I want to see the theater so bad again...  Either way, let the planets align!

Finally, not only am I addicted to the iPhone apps (I'm up to three pages of "home" screens now full of them), but tweeting has become more addictive than ever with Twinkle. Not only is it a great Twitter app, but it also has a "nearby" function to show tweets within a certain radius that you pick.  For instance, I've got mine set to 50 miles, so I can see tweets from anybody from here, to Moore, all the way to.. well.. 50 miles away.  You can set it as close as 5 miles, but it's fun seeing people from the city tweet it up.  So, here's the deal: if you have not gotten into Twitter, DO IT.  And, once you do, make sure you grab Twinkle.

That's it for now.  Anybody up for Dark Knight today???  Come on Leslie!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight (and other stuff)

I'll start with the most recent: The Dark Knight. Kyle got some tickets a few weeks ago, so I got to go last night to the 7:00 showing.  It was my first time at the Warren Theater, so I was double excited for that fact.  Let me first tell you about the theater..

A friend recently told me he is "boycotting" movies, because of the outrageous pricing in recent years.  I asked him if he was boycotting gasoline and coffee as well.. I didn't get an answer to that question.  The only reason I mention this is because I remember when the Warren theater was being built, the main focus would be "a unique and comfortable" theater experience.  I figured that just meant spend more money for a little bigger seat.  I also couldn't believe the amount they were going to charge for balcony seats (that also provides a waiter, food, and drink, all for EXTRA).

I can tell you after tasting the Warren Theater Kool-aid, it tastes good, and I want some more... As I approached that theater, I could hear the theme to Star Wars being played from the speakers, from then I was hooked.  The attendants opening the front door for you, the layout of the theater inside, down to the curtain that raised before the movie, all added to my experience unlike I had ever hoped.  If you haven't had the chance, go there, today, and see a movie.

Batman was... unbelievable.  I found myself yelling (mostly on the inside, but sometimes squeeking out a little) for the thing to slow down a little, because I was missing so much.  However, one of the most overwhelming feelings I got during that movie was how upsetting it is Heath Ledger is gone.  It was strange for me watching him in this movie, and I wonder if I would have felt the same about his performance if he were still alive.  I remember several times during the movie some of the audience laughing (they were supposed to, they were funny scenes, eerily so, but still..), but I noticed I wasn't.  I didn't think I'd feel the same way as some critics about an oscar nomination, but... well.. that's some good Kool-aid too.  Like superheroes or not, like action films or not, like MOVIES or not, you must see this movie.

Kaitlyn spent the night last night with Emily, and I only got to hear the tail end of the conversations they were having at 10:30 in Emily's room, but it sure was funny.  Giggle giggle giggle, talk talk, giggle giggle, great times.

We've come a long way swimming this summer... We've gone from holding on to me for dear life to swimming alone (with floaties), swimming under water (at least her face), jumping off the side, and now... jumping off the diving board!  What a long way we've come!

Okay, one last thought (it's been a while since I've posted, so I've gotta get it all in.. besides, my page views are WAAAAY down, gotta get those back up..) on the iPhone... without boring you with another review of it, let me sum up as best I can:

If you don't have one, YOU MUST GET ONE.  If you already have a 2G version, don't upgrade, not worth it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Going 3 Gs

Well, it's been a few days, but for a little fun, thought I'd recount the big day.. I didn't really know whether or not I really wanted one until I woke up at 6:45 Friday morning, and thought, "what the heck?  Probably too late anyway, but could always sit in line for a bit.."  I told Leslie after I got up where I was going, and headed out to the store.

When I got there, the line was already doubled around two sides of the building.  This picture below was after we started moving a bit, so we had already gone around one corner.  Keep your eye on that guy looking to the left (with the rather thick neck) with the white ball cap, he'll come up later..
Anyway, I get there in line and immediately met some very nice people (not the guy in the cap above.. again.. stay tuned).  One guy had just driven down as fast as he could from Penn Square, because after being in line for an hour there, they came out and told everybody that you must be the account OWNER in order to upgrade to the iphone.. So he rushed down here for [hopefully] a phone.  The lady behind me was about to go on a trip, and was trying to coordinate her leaving with how long it was going to take in line.. Unlike most people, I've loved being in lines for most of my adult life.  I find it nice to chat with people with obvious similar interests.  Some people would rather just sit in lines and not talk to anybody, but they usually aren't the ones in line for a Star Wars opening, or an iphone launch :)  (eye on the hat..)

Anyway, shortly after I arrive the AT&T workers come out with water for everybody, very nice gesture.  One of them was counting as she moved down the line, so I immediately pounced..  About ten people after me, she said, was the 70th person in line, and they had 70 phones in stock for the day... And so it began.  It was no longer the "ahhh, I'll just wait and see, no big deal" but a full, blown out, must have the phone experience.  Immediately we began figuring how many in line were there just for support, and how many actually wanted what we wanted: the guy in front of me wanted  a white 16 gig (not me); the girl in front of him, an 8 gig (nope); lady behind me 16 gig, didn't matter what color.  I wanted the 16 gig black, and I figured some time after that even if I didn't get it, I wasn't going to cave and walk out with "anything" as some were already planning on doing.  I'd go ahead and order the phone and have it delivered some time next week.

Anyway, the line progressed, and suddenly hat man was talking to an employee, and looking (I thought) right at me, mouthing something.  I realized shortly after he was actually trying to talk to a group behind me, but I still wanted to know what he was saying, so.. like any other normal person, I asked him what he was saying...  No response.

So, I look at him again, step out of line a bit to make sure he sees me, and I ask again.  Nothing.  Not only nothing, but he won't even acknowledge that I'm even speaking to him.  Now, apparently the people next to me weren't ready for something like this, but I, with my expert line time, was slipping right into my comfort zone.  The people around me were saying (all too quietly, rookies..) "man, what a jerk.. he's not even looking at you."  Ahhh, they know so little, in fact, it's time for a little right turn on this story...

A few (probably several now) years back Chebon and I are in another sort of line.. that line trying to get out of the theater in our car.  In fact, we hadn't even made into the "line" yet, we were just sitting in our parking space waiting to get out.  Now, all of us know that waiting game.. We try to look at the eyes of the drivers coming towards us, asking them (with our eyes), "my turn?  Is it me now? You gonna stop for me?"  Well, one of those moments popped up just then.  Two girls in a jeep were slowing down, and I figured were letting us get out (clear reverse lights on the car and all.. you know the drill), so I start backing up.  Interesting thing - they then SPEED up to block me in.  Then, the feeling we can also all share, that feeling that begins deep in the darkest corners of your being welling up like the burning fire of a thousand suns until you can feel it from your toes to your ears, came over me.  The best part was, they were looking RIGHT AT ME.  I remember Chebon chuckling a little, obviously he wasn't in the same zone I was.  I sat there barely able to see through the heat in my eyes until they had passed.  "Oh well, nothing we can do now..."  Oh no sir, I won't go down that easily...

I then whipped my car out as fast as I could, and headed in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic.  I zipped around the back side of the theater, and sped out onto the road as fast as I could without turning us over.  Chebon, holding on for dear life, screamed, "There's no way you're going to beat them, don't kill us in the process!!!"  I would have welcomed death rather than be defeated by these girls..  I shot around the corner, and guess what?  We were ahead of them.  Not just ahead of them, 15 or so cars still ahead of them.  We had won.

Not good enough.

This was the part that I still look back on with glee.  I pulled up, and motioned for every single car to go ahead of us onto the road, waiting, patiently, for that jeep to get closer.  The absolute best part about this part of the story is that they had no idea it was us... yet.  And then, it happened.  It's a shame Chebon can't remember this part, because he was laughing so hard by this time he couldn't see through his tears... But I remember.. oh yes.. I remember..

My hand shot up out of the window to stop them from coming out.  They immediately stopped, and why wouldn't they?  They had just seen a very GRACIOUS person let tons of cars out, so they could understanding waiting for a second or two before they left.  They still didn't know.  Instead of pulling forward, I parked the car in the street, and raised myself out of the driver's window, and met them, eye to eye.  They focused on me, and I could see the past ten minutes flash in their pupils, watching closely their expressions as they realized who had just stopped them from coming out.  Oh, the triumph, I wish I could express :)

I then SLOOOOWWWWLLLY slipped back in to the car, and drove away, waving at them as I went.  Oh, it's the small things in life you learn to cherish :)

Okay, back to line.  Remember, the rookies had no idea, but this part is all about timing.  "It's fine," I said back to them, as he walked past me, ignoring me.  "It's fine, no problem, he's just too busy talking to them.."  Now, the story isn't nearly as fun as the movie story, but we still had our moment.  You see, the number of people in line who are nice FAR outweighed the ONE of him, so every once in a while when we'd all be laughing, I'd say (loudly enough for EVERYBODY to hear), "Man! Who knew being in a line like this could be so fun???  Well, obviously not THAT guy"  - chuckle chuckle, grin grin.. All in good fun, you know :)

Okay, so we were finally up to the door... the guy and girl in front of me got in, and I could see them giving me the "thumbs up" from the back, and everybody outside started cheering.. It wasn't good enough for me, I had to have the phone IN HAND before I danced the "promised" jig.  Sure enough, got the phone, and danced around the store for about five minutes with everybody laughing.  It was great :)

So, there was the condensed version of the phone story.  Trust me, there was lots more to tell, but most of it was my stupidity with the software upgrades at home, let's just say I was up until 12:30 in the morning trying to get it to work.  I must point out, however, that while I was trying to install the software, any time ANYBODY called, the phone would start over for another 45 minute cycle.  The best part was when I tweeted that information, and Chebon called shortly after.  Well played, sir.. well played.  And yes, I did yell:


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Andy Alligators

A few days ago we found several Andy Alligators cards in one of our drawers, so Emily and I decided to go check the place out.  When we arrived Emily first saw the bowling alley, so we played a few games over there.  Then we moved over to all of the games that would spit out tickets at the end: whack-a-mole, sponge bob, etc.  As we were walking around Emily noticed the "Deal or No Deal" game and wanted to try it.

The layout was pretty simple, it had all the case numbers on a panel in front of her, and it asked her to open certain number of cases each round.  At the end of each round, she could either "cash out" or keep playing, by hitting the "Deal" or "No Deal" buttons.  This wasn't the interesting part, however...

When we first sat down at the game, it started by asking us which case to choose as our own.  The highest ticket "spit out" is 200, so I guess that's the "million dollar" case... Anyway, I told Emily to pick a case.  She didn't have a clue what I was really asking, but she picked a case randomly.  We played through to about the end, and she hit the "Deal" button and won about 40 tickets (check the pictures at the bottom, it's funny watching her face as she played - she didn't have a clue what was going on, but she knew to smile if the girl on the screen smiled after opening a case, and frown if the girl frowned..).  After that, the game shows you what was in your case, and sure enough, Emily had picked the 200 ticket case.  Nice coincidence, I thought.  Then she wanted to play it again..

We played through another round, and she got about 37 tickets on this one.  Strangely, her case that she selected was the 200 case... AGAIN.  Okay, now I understood, this is how the game sucks you back in to play more and spend more money.  Nice trick Deal or No Deal...  We'll just see how this goes.  I start the game this time, and when Emily started reaching for the case she wanted to pick, I said, "I'll pick this one..." and I did.

About three cases into the game, we opened the 200 ticket case.  There went my theory.  Picking a 200 ticket case is an odd coincidence on the first go around, but two times in a row?  That's some luck.  Anyway, we moved on and played some more games.

Before it was time to leave, I had a thought... This is the same type of thought I had while playing at the Golden Nugget in Vegas some years ago when I had just won $500 and decided to leave the casino a winner.  I was congratulated by the dealer and the people in the money cages, as "not many people have the strength to walk out of here with money in hand..."  Until I neared the exit and noticed an empty table with $100 minimum bet... I had always wanted to be one of "those" people (man, lots of quotes in this post...), so I started nearing the table.  The dealer behind the table was shaking her head at me as I approached, and when I was near enough, she said to me, "Sir, you are almost out the door.  Go back to the hotel a winner, don't waste any more time here tonight.."  A nice thought, but it was too late.  30 seconds later I was out of money..

Anyway, back to my thought at Andy Alligators.  Why not try one more time?  We plopped down at the game, and for the third time, I let Emily choose her case.  Several times in the game she wanted to hit the Deal button, but I wouldn't let her.  We reach the end of the game, and it was down to two cases.. Guess who picked the 200 ticket case, for the third time in a row?  You got it, and they were all different cases, each time she picked... AMAZING..

Just 17 more years.. just 17 more years...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Running thoughts.. Part II

During one of my many random mind wandering moments this morning while running, I began thinking how I would describe my experiences while running to somebody who never does.  I've always told people one of the main reasons I like running so much is because it's when I can get a lot of thinking done, however that's not always true.  Most of the time, unfortunately, I spend the majority of my run counting each step as I go, and guessing how much longer I'll be out running.  If I can run daily for about three or four weeks, I can finally get into a groove and not have to think through the pain so much, but it's always easy to take a week or two off before I get there...

Anyway, I think there are an incredible amount of experiences in our lives which unless we share them in one way or another, we'll never really know, or appreciate, what those experiences mean.  Take, for example, the typical angry honk as a car goes screaming by a runner, running against the flow of traffic, in the street, and not on the sidewalk.

Common sense would probably indicate that the most prudent, or acceptable, way to run would be with the flow of traffic, on the sidewalk.  I know that most people can at least understand the argument of running against the flow of traffic, as it's easier to see cars coming toward you, and if you have to jump for dear life, it makes it a little easier.  However, those same people would make the argument that it wouldn't matter at all if the [insert expletive of your choice here] would just use the sidewalk there wouldn't be the need for such a silly conversation in the first place.  Here is a perfect example of shared experiences.  I haven't had the opportunity to do this yet, but I'm waiting for the time when somebody confronts me on the issue.  My first question in response to their rant will be, "do you run?"

My bet is the answer will be no, 100% of the time.  Now, I'm not talking about "running" in the sense that Chebon calls it running: to the front door and back... "Running" meaning over a mile at a time.  For people who don't run, the sidewalk is completely free of cars, people, obstacles; it's total freedom to run and frolic, and how DARE somebody not use what the taxpayers have paid for in an effort to increase safety for ALL citizens!  For me, when I start trying to run on the sidewalk it becomes a game of Pitfall! and I only get one life... Branches hang low, debris everywhere, little cracks hit just so send me flying several feet, usually in the opposite direction, and more often than not, any time I come up on any kind of tree or shrubbery, there's a swarm of who-know's-what just waiting for my sweaty, stinky body to run by so they can attack.  Which brings me to my next experience that only those who have done this can share...

Since we just finished the nice big 4th of July, picture yourself hanging out by a pool, grillin' a little som' somin', chattin' it up with friends, whatever.  You see something coming towards you, watch it as it lands on your leg, see it chomp into your flesh, and start filling up like a little elastic gas can.  What do you do?  You swat that sucker as hard as you can, and usually get a little splatter of blood on your leg, or whatever, and move on.  You would think this would be the same when you are on a run... Oh, my friend, let me share with you the truth.. Because, oh we got trouble!  Yes we got trouble! Trouble with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for PAIN!

Somehow, all the mutant, raised in radiation farms somewhere in the midwest, juiced up with performance enhancing drugs (when did they start calling them that??) bugs have found all the possible pathways a runner can take, or maybe they just find me.  It never fails that on a run, I will see one of those little [insert expletive] coming towards me, and I know the battle is on, because this is no regular smash and squirt job, no sir.  I will feel it land on me somewhere, and I'll start swatting.  It'll fly off, and dumb me, every time, will think that it's over.  IT'S NEVER OVER.  I feel I run at a pretty good pace, but those freaks of nature find a way to put it into high gear and chase me for the next two to three miles, taking a good bite every time they land.  Insane with rage doesn't begin to justify my feelings as we, Matthew Musquito and I, battle it out down the road.  Now, you can imagine what this looks like to anybody driving by... Good times.  Oh, and this is in the road, against traffic, so I'm usually coming at them looking like that.. Better times.

Anyway, back to running upstream.. For those of you who don't run, do this little experiment the next time you're out.  Walk down the sidewalk, and take a note at how many times you have to move in any direction to avoid something above you, beside you, under you, whatever.  Now imagine doing that while running for an hour and a half.

So, what experiences do you have that you can share with us?  Let's all share together!

This time last year...

 Here's my post from a year ago today:

predictability runs high this week (7.9.07)

So here's how things seem to be going now: Get up, run/walk, go swimming, go eat, take a nap, get up, run/walk, go swimming, eat, go to bed (repeat). Oh well, it's great being able to relax with Emily this summer! Our biggest concern lately has been trying to get her to swim by herself (with all of her floaties attached, of course), but she just isn't having it. We went through the same kind of struggle with potty training, and when we finally let her do things on her own time schedule, it worked out fine, and was a lot less stressful/painful. I'm thinking the same technique would be best with the swimming thing. While it's hard to see her go from loving to swim by herself (last year) to being terrified, it also seems to follow the trend lately of her being scared of a lot of things. As my mind keeps telling me, let her be her... :)
Other exciting things that may happen today involve the pest control people spraying the house today, me calling into work for a bit, and I may even mow our lawn today! Fun fun fun!

So, let me see what's different this year... Get up run/walk [check], go swimming [check], go eat [check], take a nap [check], get up run/walk [guess not that much this summer], eat [check], go to bed [check].  Trying to get Emily to swim by herself with her floaties, that sounds familiar, for at least the first few weeks of this summer.  Now she loves getting in, swimming around by herself, and going under.  I've managed to get her to jump from the second step into the water, I'm working my way up to the side of the pool.

Right now she's so proud of herself being able to go under the water, that's all she does now as soon as she gets in the pool, for about a half hour.  "Watch, daddy, watch! One..Two...Three [huge breath in, eyes go from six feet diameter to locked shut]!" and she lowers her head into the water, usually just above ear level.  A few times she'll go all the way under and come up, gasp a little, wipe all the water from her face, and then yell at the top of her lungs, "I went ALL THE WAY UNDER DADDY!"

Potty training, that's really funny to read a year later.  Obviously we were talking about just pee pee, not even considering pooping at this time last year.  Funny how we were still working on potty training a year later, but mission accomplished!  She's a potty poopin machine!

For those of you interested, it's a hard life with this much unpredictability.  Moment to moment, day to day, year to year, you just don't know what's going to sneak up on you.  I mean, just now I realized that I need to mow this morning.  Oh, did that a year ago today too.  Oh well, I better hurry and mow so I can watch my programs :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

That wagon's looking pretty empty right now...

I'll be crawling back on it this morning... From what I've read and heard over the past few days, I'm not the only one suffering from pactitus.  Saturday night Rusty's sealed it for me for the weekend...

So, here's hoping some of you get back on with me... Leslie, Chebon, Kate (although you never 'officially' committed - you remained "confused" for some time - sounds to me that only after a year of law school you're getting the hang of things quite well), Lori, Amanda... how many will be back on?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pictures I've missed recently

With all the activity going on the past few days, I haven't had a chance to post some stuff we've been doing lately.  In this batch are some pics/vids of Benjamin alllllmost smiling/laughing, Emily showing off her bible school experience at church (they were to perform the Sunday after they had their camp.  We first went to the traditional service, where she "performed" by sitting with us in the corner watching everybody else on stage, then went over to the contemporary side and "performed" by standing a little closer, but not singing...), Emily dancing to her movie upstairs, and some others.  Enjoy!

Reliving childhood memories with my daugh...not so fast.

I don't remember how old I was, but I remember plenty of details from my family's Fourth Of July experiences.  We would arrive at the park early enough to plant a spot as close as they would let me, trying to avoid the dogs, cats, and stuff-on-sticks nearby.  I remember one 4th specifically where I had my ham radio, and I would walk around the park talking to my dad, as if I was a hundred miles away.  I remember the heat being pretty bad, and the bug spray pungent and reapplied often...

And then, when the time had come, the lights from the softball games all shut off at the same time, immediately followed by the roar of the crowd waiting for the fireworks to begin.  I remember the first "thump" and watching the rocket head up before exploding for that first sight of the holiday.  From that moment I would stare in amazement until the last one had fired.

These memories were to be relived this year with my daughter.  She had been talking about it all week, "Are the fireworks today?" "No, not today, four more days," until yesterday.  She could hardly contain her excitement all morning, even at the boat, for the fireworks later that evening (and neither could I...)

It was getting late.  It was about 9PM, and Emily was watching some "George" in the living room at my mom's house.  We (Leslie, Benjamin, mom, Pat, myself) were in the other room talking.  Mom and Pat decided that they weren't going to walk all the way over to the park, so it would just be the three of us (they were going to watch Benjamin).  I read that the fireworks were to begin at 9:45, so the time was coming...

And then, a funny thing happened.  After years of waiting to revisit this part of my childhood... After almost a year of waiting (read our first post from last year's blog...) to take Emily out, and after this final week of preparation, here's how it went down as Emily walked into our conversation:

"Daddy, are we going now to the fireworks?" 

This question had been asked a thousand times in the last week, and probably a thousand more in the last ten hours.  However, this time, the way it was asked was a weeee bit different.  Leslie heard it to.  In fact, probably everybody in the room heard it.  I pushed forward, knowing full well what the next few minutes were going to hold, but I felt if I stayed strong enough, we could make it through...

"In just a little bit.  Aren't you excited?" [Jedi Mind Trick Activated] You WILL be excited, you WILL be excited, you WILL be excited.

"Yeah."  More waivering.. I could see her mother out of the corner of my eye squaring her stance, instinct taking over.  I had to think fast, and act fast.  I focused Emily's attention to me, away from the peering eye of her mother.  Avert your eyes, Emily, do not look into the light!

"Good.  Now go back in the other room quickly and watch the rest of George and then we'll go."  Come on, just follow my instructions, don't look around the room, just listen to my calming voice and head back in there.  It looked like she was about to turn and go.  In my mind, I will always remember that moment as the moment we could have pressed on.  But it was too late, the voice from the other side of the room was speaking, and her hypnotic tone shot through my cloud of mind control all too easily as she said...

"Emily, we can go to the park and watch them, or we can watch them from here."

Although I knew it was over at that moment, I wasn't giving up without a fight.  I placed both of my hands on Emily's head, moved it back to look at me, and gave it my all, "Emily, we're going to go to the park in just a minute (chuckles from the other people in the room.. they knew my feeble attempts were nothing compared to the voice of her mother...  I think I even heard Leslie whisper, "You're powers are weak old man..")  She quietly responded, "...will they be loud?"

The stake drove hard... Can...not...give...up...  "They'll be a little loud (more chuckles), but it'll be okay.  Just go back in ther--"

"Will they be tiny here?"

Ah hah.. this could be my moment to turn it around.  "Oh, they will be TINY.  You probably won't even be able to see them over here Emily.  Waaaay too tiny, might as well not ev---"

"I want to stay here and watch."

You think I'm done?  You think that's it?  You talkin to me?  I don't think so, the force is strong in this one my friends.  "Emily, we can stay here if you want, but you won't be able to see them.  We can go to the park and it will be FUN [you WILL go to the park, you WILL go to the park]."

"I want to stay here and watch."

The voice of reason from the other side of the room again, "We can go to the park next year, this year we can watch from over here, and it will be fine."

Now, in my mind, I allowed her to say that part.  I knew that if I gave up, lifted my sabre, I would become more powerful than she could possibly imagine.  All I had to do now was speak to Emily's mind, "Run Emily, Run!" And we would make it.  Unfortunately, she had already trotted off to go pee pee, back to sounding excited about watching the fireworks.  My favorite part was when Leslie looked at me after she had left the room and said, "Peter, we can go to the park if you really want to..."  You know, you don't have to rub it in Darth.

So, we headed outside.  I didn't pout too much, especially after the first firework went off.  It was clear then (as it had been to everybody else LOOONG long ago [in a galaxy far far away... I couldn't resist] that it would not have been pretty sitting in that park trying to fight my way out as Emily shrieked in terror, never to return...  She loved it out there, and there are some videos below showing her reactions to some of them going off.

We saw a parade, went to the lake, ate lots of good food, swam, and watched fireworks yesteday.  What more could I ask for in a holiday?

Next year... you WILL go to the park...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth! And, Happy Anniversary!

Well, it's been a full day already! We got up early, headed over to Chebon's, watched a parade, headed out to the lake, sailed a bit, ran back home, had some McDonald's, and are now getting some rest before tonight's big event.

Coordinating all of this took some doing... A bottle needed to be prepared for Benjamin, Emily needed a life jacket, a bag of "stuff" (towels, swim suits, bug spray, sun screen (or sun scream if Emily's doing the talking), Benjamin needed to be fed just before we left to the lake to give us enough time, food prepared for out on the lake, and last minute diapers "just in case." Whew! That sure was a lot of work to prepare for this! And while I ran this morning, by myself, Leslie took care of all of it, by herself... oh wait, with TWO KIDS. I should stop my trying to get nominated for dad of the year, I've won it too many times.

When we got to Chebon's house this morning, Kate was making blueberry waffles, which Emily loved.  We chatted for a while, Emily got to see the big dogs ("One looks like Molly and one looks like Jasmine!"), and she fed them some left-overs.  Kate took her down to the snow cone stand to see if they had any snow cones, but no luck there.  We watched the "parade" and Emily clapped for everybody going by.

Let me try to summarize as best I can the parade:

... kid on bike... kid on bike... parent with kid in stroller... kid on bike... man in golf cart... Parade over!

Okay, it was actually really neat to see, Leslie would love to have one in our neighborhood with all the kids, and Emily loved watching everybody go by.  There's some video of a kid on a scooter going by, so check out the pics/vids when you get a chance.

Dad came over to Chebon's and picked up Benjamin, and we headed out to the lake.  Emily loved her new life jacket (we were worried she would freak out when she had to put it on, but leave it to marketing/Barbie power to make it easier) and was ready to get on the water.  We could tell she was getting a little hesitant as we neared the dock, but she powered through it.  While Kyle, Chebon and I got the boat ready, Emily, Leslie, and Kate hung out by the boat waiting.  At one point Chebon picked up Emily and about thirty seconds into her death grips on his shirt, both in front and in back, she decided she was "too heavy" and needed to go back to mommy.

After we got in the water, Emily had a blast.  We sailed out for about a half an hour, then turned the boat around to come back.. which is when the wind decided to die, and we spent most of our time coming back with the motor.  Emily was getting tired/hot toward the end, but she made it! Let me just add, the "under" part, whatever that's called.. cabin or something.. WOW, heat doesn't really describe it well.  Chebon said it best after emerging, "I've got vision sweats."

I also realized this morning that today is the one year anniversary of this blog! For a little fun, here's a copy of the first post:

fish fry at Chebon's (7.4.07)

We had a great time today at Chebon's house for the fish fry! Emily ate and ate and ate and ate and ate... then ate some more. She played ring around the rosie with several folks, and went potty about a hundred times. It was great meeting all of Kate's family and friends, and seeing Chebon's family and friends as well. It was very well done, worthy of a "Frasier-style" get together!

After the cookout we went over to Mema Marge's house for dinner (we were trying to eat healthy, Leslie was better at it than I at Chebon's) and then came home. We decided to skip fireworks this year, but maybe next year! Right now we're hoping that Emily doesn't wake up thinking the fireworks are thunder tonight.. We'll see!
edit: Well, against our better judgement, we decided to roll Emily out of bed at about 10:00 when we noticed that out or front door we could see about six or seven separate fireworks events going on north of us (probably in moore). I think Emily was awake for about thirty seconds, just long enough to wonder what the heck was going on. So, I guess she got to see fireworks this year after all!

 I tried to take the same pictures over at Chebon's this morning, to see a year's difference, and here's our updated batch:

I'm just amazed that in a whole year, Chebon hasn't been able to buy a new shirt :)
Well, that's it for now.  The rest of the day is hanging out with Chebon and Kate (after naps over here...), cooking out over at mom's house with Pat, Randy, and Patricia, and fireworks tonight! I'll update more later!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Preparing for the Fourth

This year will be Emily's first time to see the Fourth of July Fireworks at the park! We've been prepping her for about a week, which probably means she'll scream through the entire thing (every time we try to prep her for anything she usually goes bonkers when it actually comes.. other than Benjamin I guess), but we're looking forward to it. It's been about four years since I've gone to the park for the fireworks, and I LOVE going out there!

Who doesn't enjoy the hot, muggy, mosquito infested, smelly people, loud music, dogs everywhere event? It's all worth it when the "ooohs" and "aaaaahs" come out :)

Emily and I swam at the yellow park for the first time tonight. The first thing Emily realized as she spit out some water was that this one is filtered with salt water, not chlorine. It was an interesting difference to be sure. We swam around for a while, then some other people showed up and swam with us. Leslie and Benjamin did laps around the walking sidewalk while we swam, and it was lots of fun!

Plans for tomorrow are: swim some more, see Pat, eat some more, sleep a little, swim some more, play, and sleep some more! We love summer!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A week from Friday...

I don't know why I'm so excited about the iPhone next Friday... Other than 3G and... well, I can't even remember the other thing that it does now, there's not much to get excited about. The data plan will cost more, the GPS (oh yeah, that was it, GPS) won't allow turn by turn applications, SMS is still poo, no video (still), and lots of other stuff.

Will I still get it? Probably, I mean, I'm thinking about Leslie, since she gets the other one :) I'm just that thoughtful.

I'm trying to talk my mom into buying my digital camera, so I can get another upgrade... We'll see how that works out.