Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The End of Time

Okay so not REALLY the end of time but rather just the end of the first decade of the new millennium. None of that would matter for us...it is just a time on a clock and a number on a calendar but I do believe that this Christmas will be a transition in our family. There will be a transition from kids to grand kids I am sure. My wife is most excited about that. Not sure exactly what it will be yet, but I know it will change from all the years we have been together. Change is good, right? I guess.  We will see what the next ten years brings my wife and I.

Preparation for the following changes beginning in 2011:
  • Change in Christmas Morning (now that we have to divide our time with our kids in-laws and that three of the kids no longer living with us.)
  • Change in Home (I imagine we will work on re-organizing the house. Not only cleaning out stuff but finishing some long procrastinated remodeling. Some rooms will be re-purposed, some areas expanded for different uses as many of the things we have done are now different.)
  • Change in Vacations (looks like my wife and I can plan trips that just involve us....2...not 6+. That will be odd. Going to see things that will allow us to relax.)
  • Change in Eating and Exercise (well this certainly needs to happen regardless. We eat out more but we need less snacks around here and I, for one, need to plan on exercising. No coaching anymore, just yardwork and handyman chores.)
  • Change in Vehicles (No need for a minivan any more......Thanks to the Lord! Maybe we can just get one that runs a bit more consistently.)
  • Change in Work (Our office will operate in a different manner. I hope to take more time to myself, separate my work time from personal time. We have a great team and I think that this will be very enjoyable......it would be nice to have a few projects that gives us some savings without last minute scrambling to meet payroll!)
It would be exciting if there is more down time for me.  Time to read, study, paint, travel and whatever else I want to do. This year I am 45 years old.....by 2021 I will be 55. Wow, both of those numbers sound so strange. Who would have thought?! Greyer, Older, and a few wrinkles. Let's keep it at that my friends......Not growing older, just more experienced and wiser!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Master of a Dream

You will find out out soon enough if you don't know me very well, that I have the wildest and most vivid dreams of anyone. Last night I dreamed of returning to Oklahoma State to obtain my Masters of Architecture. What a crazy thought! Really though.....I have had this dream several times before.  I recall moving back into the old duplex dump after being gone for so many years. That is a a crazy thought too. This dream last night was a bit different.  Most of the time I go through my dream trying to figure out where my desk is in the studio or wondering the halls of the library.....(by the way it never is really the "true" studio or "true" library.  Somewhere else)......by the way I have a design in my head for a very cool library stair that winds its way up several layers of a university library if anyone is in the need!)

I digress.....Sorry!

In this particular dream I was walking through the studios with Professor Bryant (RIP) as he was helping me find someone to escort me through the registration process and which classes I was going to need to take. My masters was going to be a bit different.  As with all the previous dreams about this subject, I still had my business and somehow it still continued to operate. However this one had more specifics on what my master's thesis would be about.  I had convinced the school to work with me to allow for a "custom" program where I could develop a building that was dedicated to an industry or trade or something that allowed for a state of the art building with the highest technological structure built right there on the OSU campus.  Better yet....full funding for the project was paid for by T. Boone Pickens - the sugardaddy of Oklahoma State. So not only would I get my masters, but I would get to use a fantastical project  - real project - to use as the thesis.  The masters would include the facilitation of construction documents and of course contract administration during the building phase. The thesis would be based on the principles of taking a project (as a business) all the way from conceptual, fund raising, approvals, construction documents and construction.  A sort of how-to-book for the future OSU students (add others) to use as a guide for real life application. Everything would be documented.

And another great perk......my office and other students at Oklahoma State would join me in the production documents.  HA HA HA I didn't even have to draw it! Just manage the thing. Only bad part was it was a year away from home in Virginia Beach so I also had to fly back and forth every week to continue doings of the office.  The home team is awesome though.  They took care of everything, continued the work, managed the accounting, worked with all the clients, we set up video conferencing for the repeat clients and long term ones. Most of our clients were so pleased to work with us, they didn't mind the slight inconvenience of working around my schedule......now that sounded arrogant! Meetings were planned few days in advance and I had a small office in the architecture building to continue my office work as well. It worked pretty smooth.


Okay now for the inspirational part.  First not sure that my school would be so kind to alter their program that much for one person; two, not sure I would get a lifetime project so far away from VB with T. Boone......pretty far fetched......and third, to keep my business running while I ran off for this fantasy......hey, just thought about eating at Eskimo Joe's everyday! SO back to reality. What did come out of the dream is the thought of writing a book for the small business development for a design firm. The practical application of how-to and what not-to-do. A design manual for the all of those individuals who just want their own thing.  Or maybe a reminder to some of the architects that forgot what it was like to care about design and client personal service. The book would take a while.  Not only gathering the thoughts but to orchestrate it into an organized thought process and step-by-step procedure.  But just think.....what if it did happen and if say....someone like.....AIA published it. and say.....a portion of the sales went to OSU Architecture......and say......they gave me a honorary Master's anyway!

It could happen my friends!
Dreams.....they keep us going.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Stockings and Stars

We started a tradition in our family many years ago when it came to the holidays. Yes there have always been the food traditions, like turkey, cranberry salad and all the "stuff" that goes with an unforgettable meal.....usually all crowded around a table bursting at the seams to hold everyone and everything. The other part: decorations, presents and the like have their own energy that have grown to be just a regular expected part of what we do. I have always been St. Nick and just loved Christmas, Santa and all the fun it posed. It was a time to jump from the worries of the world and be a kid again.  There is nothing better than being Santa and watching the kids open their presents on Christmas morning.

Not sure how it all started exactly, but I had decided to make the stockings hanging at the fireplace a bit more special and something just as exciting as all the presents under the tree.  After all it is hard to compete with big boxes and bows! Our kids were always allowed to get their stockings first thing in the morning and take them back to their beds and play until the second thing in the morning arrived. It wasn't always about the things inside it was more about the tradition of placing a new "pin" on the outside.  It has been fun for us to try and tie together a theme for the season. Initially it was us trying to just find a Christmas pin. There were times is was somewhat difficult so we began making our own. Ideas came from candy, toys, movies and whatever else fit the occasion. Currently there are so many pins from the years past that it takes a bit to find the new one.These recent years as the kids have got older we have been on the search to find matching stockings for the "new members". You know....the little kids eventually grow up and get married and we need to expand our tradition......I think soon, we will need to new fireplace or maybe a multi-level fireplace. It is harder and harder to impress.....Kids be ready for a supercharger stocking infusion that will be introduced soon....maybe not this year but soon!

The earliest part of our holiday tradition has evolved around the Christmas tree star. When we started it wasn't meant to be a planned thing or special thing it was because we didn't have much money. When we first made it to Allentown for our first Christmas we were pretty broke. I had just started work about 3 months before and the two boys were small. Our poor little Charlie Brown tree had a paper chain, and few hand-me-down ornaments from friends and a construction paper star glued to a cardboard toilet paper roll. Pretty simple.....but then we kept going.  Another star the next year and the next and the next.  There have been times when we finished the star on Christmas eve....oops...procrastination! Most all of the stars have survived all these years.....The one that didn't make it the one that tried to make look like a snow ball star from white packing peanuts......didn't survive. We have had a candy cane star, gingerbread man star, fabric pillow star, ceramic tile star, cardboard snowflake star, peppermint star, shooting star and when a few years ago was rough......a band aid star.....that Christmas hurt.  This year......a Buzz Lightyear Star! TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! Currently he is leaning WAY over. (falling with style).

Make your traditions and enjoy your family my friends!
That will always last!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dont stick sharp metal hooks in your mouth

I know.....a weird name for a blog, but it actually relates to my trip to the dentist this morning.  Didn't your mother used to always say don't stick any sharp objects in your mouth? And what does the first thing the dentist do? Yep....gets a grappling hook and sticks it in your mouth.

This morning I had an appointment at 8AM....what a way to start your day! Well it is partially my fault.  I have never been the best at taking care of my teeth. Add the fact that diabetes takes it toll everywhere including the teeth and gums, that makes for a hopeless cause.....but this isn't about my dental hygiene.

Lets face it, going to the dentist cannot be a joy to anyone. The poor guys try to be so nice and uplifting but you cannot be! I simply cannot "put a smile" on my face when greeting my dentist knowing he is about to alter that smile. You are led to the smallest closet room on earth and they set you in a chair that is reminiscent of an interrogation process. They lean you back and shine a blinding light with the illuminosisty of the sun in your eyes. And then the fun begins.....lets see if this guy can stick all of his latex enshrined hands into my mouth! yep, yep i see.....how has your day been...AHHHHAHHAH. That is nice.  What are you doing for the holidays...AHAHHAHHHHHAHH. That sounds fun.  Come on you cannot understand a word I am saying unless you also are a retired code reader from the navy.  I cannot even understand what I am saying with all these gadgets in my mouth.

Gadgets. They include: one shining metal grappling hook (when utilized properly it catches and the dentist reels you in like a marlin on a fishing expedition); one face sucker (used to slurp up all the slurp before it spills out on to the tiny napkin attached around my neck with a roach clip); one jet powered water gun used to blast the inside of your mouth (note to self: choose wisely when you select your appointment date......cold weather makes the water line very cold.....makes water gun very cold....makes sensitive teeth set on edge); little mirror tool (lets be sure to add another metal object in my mouth...all the better to see you with my preeety). All of this usually comes after the shots of numbness juice with the longest needle listed in the Guinness Book of Records. This lovely product makes your entire face, lips, chin and tongue numb just so you are sure to slobber all over yourself like a two year old. yeah great!

And we pay to have this enjoyment. ha ha ha. All in all it isn't too bad....that is until the fun numb wears off. Beware of drinking a glass of water while numb....beware of eating any crunchy stuff while numb.....I think I will treat myself to nice ice cream Slurpee for the rest of the day.....oh yeah....still cannot talk intelligible.....oops.

My friends, my only words of wisdom for you today (I write this still numb.....not joking, for real) is remember to brush and floss! Thanks Dr. D. You are the greatest!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shopping Craziness

I don't like the craziness that takes place during the holiday season. I don't like crowds. I don't like waiting in long lines. Quite honestly I don't care if I save 15% if i have to wait forever in a crowd that closely resembles those of Beatlemania in the 60's.  Not Bah-Humbug......Just Bah! I have tried the Black Friday thing.....NEVER AGAIN. Those shopping experiences makes me feel like I'm in a cattle herd. And really, you kid with the Mohawk hair cut in Best Buy. Not a chance I would ask you for advice.....get a hair cut....REALLY?! Some of these stores may you feel inferior. Like they are God's Gift to Shopping.  No thanks.  Started a bunch of shopping online this year. Saved some money.  Otherwise I am going after hours.  Last night we went to Walmart at 6PM. Hardly anyone there. Awesome!

Mostly, I don't know what to get so I have to wander around throughout the store like Moses in the wilderness......."Let my Presents GO!". I have a small list with a small budget.  I just want the right thing and I know I will find it eventually.  I just need to keep looking. Hopefully it will be before Christmas when that lightning bolt of inspiration happens. Easiest part of shopping was buying some gifts for the Toys for Tots. So much fun stuff in the toys aisles.

Stay safe shopping my friends.......and wait until you find that perfect gift.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Change in Seasons

It is not just the change in the seasons this year....it is the change in the season. Each year we have been growing to this point where the holidays would take a dramatic change. A change that naturally and expectedly would occur as the kids grew up. I wish that we could just freeze time....okay maybe not really.

We have some pretty strong memories of our Christmas mornings through the years. Our first Christmas was back in Stillwater and we had a construction paper tree stuck to the wall.  Our son could draw the ornaments on the tree....FUN. Okay so that wasn't the morning story....that belonged under the heading of Christmas tree....watch for that blog coming soon.

First Christmas in Allentown PA. I had graduated that May from Architecture at OK STATE and we had taken a 3 month traveling tour throughout Europe (13 countries) with our 2.5 year old son and our 4 month old son. Got back and went to work for a firm that I had worked for over the previous summer. (OK, that was to set our financial condition....none) We lived in a row home in the downtown area and had the second and third floor. First floor was rented out by the Grinch. The bedrooms were up on the third floor. My wife and I woke up early and waited down stairs to be ready for the kids and watch their expression. We waited.  And Waited......and waited...and waited. Whats wrong with these kids! Don't they know it is Christmas Morning! We could hardly stand ourselves......amazing how much $40 bought back then for little kids. Yes, they played with the boxes mostly. So much stuff the kids had to take a break in the middle and come back later to open the rest.

We had some great Christmases in the old School house. Our bedroom was in the loft and we could look down and see the kids as they got up and scoped out what Santa had brought. An Awesome aerial view of Christmas morning.

Many of the traditions started to really form once we moved to Virginia Beach and the kids started helping more. Most of the time it involved making sure all was in bed so Santa could bring his presents. Each year, the kids would first go get their stockings....usually a crazy hour in the morning... and then take it back to their bed and play with what they found until everyone else began to wake up......wasn't long until the stocking opening adventure would take place in MOM and DAD's bed.  All the kids would grab their stockings and come to open them together. Even the dog joined in......that was the only time he was allowed in our bedroom.....the dog that is. He got a big bone for Christmas each year which kept him busy while we all opened the presents. We even got to the point where we ate some breakfast first before opening the presents.

This will be the first year that we don't have everyone home for Christmas. Our oldest son lives locally but not sure if he will stay overnight. I imagine that he may want to be with his girl in the morning....(not planned yet). The next one is now married and will spend time in Colorado with his wife's family. The dog passed away two years ago so now he is replaced by little Mav.Rick. He is the "little one" this year. No way he could eat a big bone.  I can see the mess he will be making while we open presents.
Gone is the days of massive presents.  The presents got expensive some how.....bigger toys for bigger boys.....what do you get them all?

All is good.....this is why we had kids and why we enjoy them growing up. My dream is to add on to this old house with suites for everyone.....each kid (family) can still have "their own" Christmas in the morning before coming down and joining the rest of the gang.....Grandkids.  I guess that will be the next chapter in the coming years. Pretty amazing thing. TIME.  I am glad it isn't frozen.

Be safe my friends and enjoy the little ones before they get big. It happens in a twinkle of an eye.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tis the Season.....for a Movie!

The prelude to Christmas is about watching all the Season inspired movies you can to motivated for the holidays.  It is like smelling salts for the holidays.....one sniff and you are ready to take on Scrooge or the Grinch! I have always been a movie hound but especially like the tradition of watching the favorites during Christmas. I must say that if I feel a bit grumpy, I don't hesitate to smile while seeing one of the classics. Brings back the childhood memories.  Probably reminds me of how I forced the traditions on my kids..... "you got to see this movie....it is a classic!" To  my kids a classic meant that it was old.....and probably in black and white. They refused to watch black and white movies of any kind....oh well...I tried to teach them...lol. Regardless we watched them and I still watch them. It makes for fun and silliness which is what many of us need during the season.  Too much is wrapped up in buying for Christmas rather than sharing or caring. I think we need to remember the destination to Christmas to make the season fun rather than just the event. It takes a lot of work to make one successful....enjoy the time before time slips by too fast.

There were all types of season movies but basically four categories.
1. Claymation type movies
2. Cartoon type movies
3. Regular movie types
4. Made for TV movie types. (not my favorite)

I have favorites for each except probably the made for TV versions, such as the puppies looking for Christmas or the Lifetime versions of something or nother. Maybe it is just because I didn't grow watching those. Here is a list of some of my favorite holiday movies.....maybe I need to make a new tradition around here by watching one a day until Christmas arrives. (The kids are gone so I can control the remote!)
  • It's a Wonderful Life

  • A Christmas Story

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

  • A Christmas Carol (1951)

  • Miracle on 34th Street - (not the remake)

  • Scrooged

  • Frosty the Snowman

  • National Lampoon's A Christmas Vacation

  • White Christmas

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

  • The Grinch

  • The Little Drummer Boy

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 

  • The Bishop's Wife 

  • Home Alone

  • Elf

  • The Santa Clause, and the Santa Clause 2

  • The Four Christmases

  • There might be more but that is all I can think of right now. The list isn't really in any particular order.  Tell me your favorites and share your memories.  I would love to hear from you.

    Enjoy my friends. Have a Merry Christmas Season.....and DON'T SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!