Monday, December 24, 2012

New Traditions

Traditions make family events enjoyable and memorable. Some may be more habits than traditions but it usually boils down to "this is what we have always done". And thats perfectly okay. Over the last several weeks we have been telling stories about what the kids used to do, what mom always does, what the kids did to each other and of course what Dad did, said, bought, told us, or even what he used to sing. Yes, it is the common understanding that Dad is a bit goofy at times, some times.....most of the time.

I have shared some of our traditions in the past blog posts so this year I am going to share a few more that we have recently started. The reason we started new ones? Well the kids are pretty much grown up now and we don't have them all upstairs waiting for Santa.  They come over later in the day or cannot come home for the holidays at all so we needed to adjust what we have always planned.  Basically a method for me to keep things lively and crazy in the house.

Some thing with the Tree:
You have probably already seen some of our posts about the tree experiments. Most certainly Dad must have gone crazy.  Yep pretty much.  This is only the second year we have done anything special with the tree but it most certainly has started something. After only one year, everyone was expecting me to do something. I guess they know me pretty well. It started out last year as a sort of confession that I was really bummed out.  One son and his wife couldn't come home for the second year in a row making it three out of four kids.  And then another son was in a foreign country and wasn't going to make it home either. Batting .500 wasn't acceptable.....but understandable. Our daughter had gone through a rough patch which we are so very blessed and thankful that all has gone well for her this year. Christmas 2011 was just turning out a bit topsy turvey......what better way than to reflect this in our tree. Our Christmas was going to be a bit upside down so therefore so was our tree. Nobody else knew my plan other than me. We have always gone out and cut our tree down and of course we need a large tree.  When my daughter was asking me about a certain tree while we were walking around the farm trying to pick one, I told her it didn't really matter this year.  Why? Because we are doing something different with the tree.  What are we doing with the tree? Don't worry you will see. Why doesn't it matter? What are you doing? What are your plans?  On and on the questions kept coming like a three year old persistent in getting answers to questions that she wouldn't understand even if I told her. She was three.....17. So finally to keep the blabbing from continuing I told her.  I am hanging the tree upside down! No you aren't! MOM! Dad says he is hanging the tree upside down! Oh goodness, you are so gullible was her mother's response. Boy were they ever surprised.

This year we decided to keep a theme and connect the tree, the star and the stocking pins all together. Although the plan was still for only 2 of the kids and their spouses (or soon to be spouses) would make it home for Christmas all of them were going to make it home the second week of January for our daughter's wedding.  We would just postpone Christmas.....well nobody is  patient in our family so it meant two Christmases. And since we were getting everyone home from all over the world (well sort of....Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Colorado Springs and Bolivia) it must mean the only way we could possibly achieve this is by teleporter......you know....like on Star TrekBeam me up Scotty!
We will have a portal in our living room that is sucking up the tree.....and another with the tree returning.  Therefore two trees....one in the ceiling (right side up this year) and another coming up out of the floor with a ring of blue lights and clouds (representing smoke...I guess.) Actually the top of the same tree (yes I cut it) is coming up next to where the bottom (yes I hung it) is disappearing into the ceiling. So there you have it.  Everyone is already guessing what next year will bring......we will just have to wait and see.  This will get challenging!

Christmas Eve Pajamas:
Last year the girls ran out and bought some PJs to wear for the night before and we watched the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". One of our favorites. This wasn't ever planned before just happened......they even had to run out and grab some flannel pajamas on the eve.  Oh and guess what? There were any left in the stores at 8PM on Christmas eve for DAD.....so what did he get to wear........here you go.  No telling what they will buy me this year. I even wore the same outfit in my Surf n Santa 10 Miler this year. A little more planning this year. Last year was spontaneous. Make cookies for Santa (me), Watch the movie, Wear the PJs and just be silly. Oh yeah, we will read the "Night Before Christmas" too.  I always tried to do that when the kids were little but it never quite kicked in. Maybe now I am just preparing for grandkids.....did I just say grandkids....ahhhhh.


Whatever your traditions are, just be sure to have fun and enjoy yourselves.  It isn't about the money, it isn't about the gifts, it isn't about the giant meal.  It is about family and friends and enjoying the time we have here together.  Merry Christmas my friends.  Have a great and fantastic holiday.

etthisibelieve


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

COLD Weather Running Gear

Here’s what you need to say comfortable and safe when Mother Nature goes frigid:
Trail running shoes
Trail running shoes
Your usual running shoes are fine in dry weather, in temps down to just above the freezing mark. But when it’s slushy or icy out there, opt for more protection. A pair of sturdy trail runners should see you through all but the harshest winter conditions. Many are waterproof, and their thicker top construction adds warmth and stability. Importantly, their soles are made to grip uneven, unstable terrain, so they can provide extra traction in slick conditions. Many trail runners are versatile enough to wear in spring and fall, too.
$80—$170
Base layer shirt
Base layer shirt
The only thing that will ruin your run faster than a sweat-soaked cotton tee-shirt is a cold sweat-soaked cotton T-shirt. So never wear cotton as a base layer, especially in winter (when hypothermia is a greater risk, hence the adage, “cotton kills.”) A synthetic, form-fitting, sweat-wicking base layer will keep you warm and dry — and allow you to pile on layers without feeling bulky.
$45-$60
Half-zip shirt
Half-zip shirt
On top of your base layer, you’ll want a long-sleeve, synthetic shirt with a zipper extending several inches down from the neck. Unzipping will allow more air to circulate once you’re warmed up, and you can zip up again when the wind picks up. Look for one made from the same moisture-wicking material as the base layer. This can be a top layer in fall or spring, but it’ll be your middle layer on cold winter runs.
$55—$70
Jacket
Waterproof running jacket
In dry weather, above the freezing mark, you may only need to put a spring or fall running jacket atop your half-zip shirt. But to run in harsher winter weather, invest in a waterproof jacket that will keep out wind and moisture. Be certain it has reflective strips to make you more visible to drivers, as short winter days make night runs more likely. Some models boast extra insulation¬ for the coldest climates.
$80–$200
Tights
Running tights
Whether they’re skin tight (which can provide more warmth and sweat-wicking power, but leave you feeling a little…self-conscious) or a bit looser for guys with a few pounds to lose, tights made from technical, sweat-wicking material are a must-have.
$60—$120
Wind pants
Wind pants
On extra-cold, windy days, tights won’t cut it. These looser, wind-proof pants provide an extra layer of protection between your hard-working legs and the elements.
$60–$120
Underwear
Underwear
The most essential of base layers, a pair of snug-fitting, sweat-wicking underwear will keep you warm and dry where it matters most.
$30—$40
Hat
Hat/visor
Your grandma was right: you lose most of your heat through your head. A stocking cap made from sweat-wicking material keeps you warm in cold, dry weather, and a waterproof hat with a visor will keep an unexpected drizzle off your head.
$15–$20
Gloves
Gloves or mittens
Never run in winter without them. Even in moderately cool temperatures, your hands can become icy cold. Some companies make gloves from material designed to warm up as you start sweating. Runners in wetter climates favor those made from waterproof material.
$20—$40
Socks
Socks
Look for a pair made from breathable Merino wool, or at least from a heavier-grade technical material than your typical summer models. As with all base layers, avoid cotton unless you literally want a bad case of cold feet.
$10–$17
Head lamp
Head lamp
When it’s pitch black at 5pm, a small, lightweight head lamp made for running will illuminate your route and make yourself more visible to oncoming cars. New models are comfortable, so you won’t feel like a coal miner.
$20–$50
Balaclava
Balaclava or neck gaiter
A face covering not only protects your skin from the wind, but also warms the air you breathe, protecting your airway from bitterly cold, dry air.
$20–$30
Sunglasses
Sunglasses
If you run often during the day in a snowy climate, wear shades to keep the snow glare off your retinas.
$50–$200

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ADJECTIVES - Brought to you by Black Friday

Ok you know it isn't always easy being a writer when you are not really a writer.  I like to keep my blog posts a little fresh so here are a few MORE DESCRIPTIVE words I plan on using in my upcoming posts.
Adjectives — descriptive words that modify nouns — often come under fire for their cluttering quality, but often it’s quality, not quantity, that is the issue. Plenty of tired adjectives are available to spoil a good sentence, but when you find just the right word for the job, enrichment ensues. Practice precision when you select words.

Here’s a list of adjectives that may best describe your Black Friday Experience:

Baleful: deadly, foreboding
Bellicose: quarrelsome (its synonym belligerent can also be a noun)
Bilious: unpleasant, peevish
Boorish: crude, insensitive



Enjoy my friends! Use your WORDS!
ET This I Believe

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Tree Cutting Tradition

One of our Christmas tree traditions has been to cut down a real tree out at Bright's Christmas Tree Farm. As long as we have been able, we started getting real Christmas Trees.  I grew up with an artificial one which was okay but for some reason we began getting real ones with the kids. The first tree in my duplex in Stillwater Oklahoma in 1988 while I was still at OSU was a construction paper tree taped to the wall for my son to draw the ornaments on.  Okay so he was too young to do too much drawing but still it was the thought.

The second tree was in 1989 when we had first moved to Pennsylvania right after we had all arrived back from traveling through Europe. We had both boys at ages 3 and 11 months. We were dirt poor, no money from our travels and I had just began work in Allentown Pennsylvania.  We got a Charlie Brown Christmas tree which I think still costs us like $15 and made a yellow construction paper star glued to a toilet paper cardboard roll that we stuck on top of the tree.  We still have that star. Ornaments were few but we did have a paper chain and some popcorn on a string.  The popcorn kept falling off the string. We lived in a walk up row home near downtown so I could walk to work. My wife and I can still remember so vividly that year as we woke up especially early to make sure we saw their little faces when they came down to see all their presents. We waited forever and ever. We finally had to wake them up because WE couldn't wait any longer. (I think that was the last time we had to wait on them to wake up.) As a matter of fact, there were so many presents given by so many of our family that the kids had to take breaks in the middle because they got tired of opening them. (after all... presents for little kids are so easy to buy and so inexpensive....it isn't that way anymore!)

There were many other trees after that.  If you have read my blog for long you will remember "The Christmas Tree" story.  If not, here are the links to the three part story.
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree ..... Continued
The Christmas Tree ..... Finale

Once we moved down here to Virginia Beach we found it difficult to locate a tree farm to cut down our own tree.  After all we do live at the beach! We did like everyone else and went to the lumber yard or at one of those "pop up" Christmas Tree places that seem to spring up on every vacant lot available.

However there was one year that we were not able to buy a tree because there were not any available....that is by the time that we finally went out to look for one.  That was in 1999, the year of the Y2K.  I had quit my job and started my architecture firm IONIC DEZIGN STUDIOS the September before.  My wife had stayed home with the kids. We were dirt poor.....there is a common reoccurring theme here isn't there? We had refinanced the house to do some home improvements but with my little unplanned adventure taking place we used that money to keep the creditors at bay. Not sure those improvements have ever been accomplished....completely at least. The projects hadn't kicked in yet and the one and only project we had didn't pay the retainer until one week before Christmas. We had four kids, the oldest 13 and the youngest was 5. Christmas looked pretty slim that year before we received the retainer and my wife and I kept telling ourselves "It is the thought that counts" and "Presents don't make Christmas".......yeah right.

The check came in and we made it stretch by purchasing used bikes at the pawn shops and other miscellaneous things were bought to fill up under the tree.....tree.....tree.....what tree? There were no trees that we could find! We cannot have Christmas without a tree. What were we going to do? I had to think...be creative to come up with a solution. At church we had made some cardboard skits for the teenagers and had purchased large 4 x 8 sheets to use.  There were a few left that had not been used.  With their permission, we swiped up the sheets and went back home to construct a tree. I cut the cardboard into the outline shape of a Christmas tree and then cut a single notch in the bottom so they could slide together.  It formed a sort of "pop up" brown Christmas tree.  Lights were strung on the edges were the corrugated was exposed and ornaments were thumbtacked to the panels WHERE EVER you wanted! Presents stacked up in between each wedge of the tree.  It was great. I have got to find some pictures of that tree someplace!

After that we found Bright's Farm out past Pungo near the NC border. Every year since, we have headed out to the farm and cut down our own tree.  We can walk through the rows of trees and find which one we like the best and cut it down ourselves.  They always offer to cut it for us but that would never do.....We have to cut it ourselves and drag it back to the car.  We do let them help tie it to the top of the car. After all I wouldn't want to lose it on the way back.....that would be something that would probably happen to us! It is always on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, not the Friday....The Bright's always go shopping on Black Friday.....so there it is.....our Christmas Tree Cutting Tradition.

As the years have gone by, the kids have been either away at school or .....just plain away. There are fewer and fewer of them to help pick out the tree. There were times when we brought friends of the kids as well. It is an adventure! Like all things we seem to do. Last year we went with our oldest son and his wife to pick out their first tree. That was fun.  This year it is only my wife and I.  The tree doesn't always get put up right away.....that takes a bit more effort.  The best thing about getting back home with the tree is MOM MAKES THE WAFFLES! Another great tradition!

Have a great holiday season my friends and enjoy your tree hunting adventures!
ET This I Believe.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

Here we are again at another holiday time already.  Can you believe it is Thanksgiving already? Where did the year go? Our family has had so many traditions over the years (from when I was a small child) that it just becomes...well... a bit silly. I begun writing down some of these things in this blog so that my children...and maybe one day grandchildren would know about how it all began. And how goofy this whole family is. Okay maybe goofy really describes just me.

I looked over my old blogs to see what I wrote about Thanksgiving before and realized there was only one post.  If you would like to re-read it: http://etsthisibelieve.blogspot.com/2011/11/feathered-beast-feast.html

Thanksgiving is sort of a trial run before Christmas on all the food and festivities. Over the years we have morphed some of the traditions to better fit our own family and also what tools we have to make dinner with.  It is kind of like the story about the granddaughter was preparing a ham for dinner and they were following all the ingredients to cook a ham and had all the things in place but one odd fact about the traditional recipe was a big chuck of the ham was cut off.....why was that? The granddaughter called her mother and asked her about this recipe and what was she supposed to do with this chunk of ham that was cut off and why was it cut off.  The mother simply responded that she didn't know.....she just always did it because grandma did it for all those years.  So the mother called her mother, the grandma, and asked her why did we always cut off a chunk of the ham.  All the ingredients were followed and the tradition was to cut off a piece of the ham.  The grandmother just laughed and said, no silly that wasn't a tradition.....that was because that was the largest roasting pan we had so I had to cut a piece off for it to fit!  Traditions....how they began.

The Thompson Cranberry Salad started long ago but I believe that our family cannot truly take credit for it. I know I added "Thompson" in front of it so we would clarify that it wasn't just any ordinary cranberry salad. Story goes that many years ago my great grandparents had worked for a wealthy family during the depression and it was one of their favorite holiday dishes.....not as exciting as "bringing it over from the ol' country". My oldest son said, "You mean we stole our family tradition from someone else...that sounds like our family." But we have made it special by never making any other time but Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The process has become a tradition, no one but "family" gets the recipe.  Everyone else calls it "PINK STUFF". Cutting the grapes, which takes hours, has become a sort of indoctrination into the family. We don't have the big grinder my mother had so we need to improvise on some of the kitchen tools. Most of the time this is always done the evening before.

My father was always the creative individual who made up stuff all the time. I guess that is where I get it from. I should mention that he was also the goofiest person I ever knew as well.  I guess that is where I get THAT from too. I miss him during these times. Just wish my kids could have met him. One of the "after products" of making the cranberry salad is when we drain the ground cranberries.  It produces a very sweet syrup that as a young child we had always tossed it out (best I can remember) just too sweet to do anything else with it. My father, one time decided to mix in some soda with it. 7UP to be exact. It produced the famous cranberry drink we have with the meal.  Unfortunately it was usually only one glass because there was only some much to go around.

Typically the tried and true method of mixing the liquids is to slowly pour it into a separate pitcher.  However, if you don't drink it all you cannot save it because the soda will loose it's fizz. We have tried many different methods of mixing the drink over the years such as pouring the cranberry syrup into the soda bottle.....that produces a pink volcano!  we have also switched to diet 7UP due to all us diabetics in the family.....save a few calories.

Another one is the Party Mix. Not sure when this began but it is a spin off of the Chex Party Mix. The Thompson's of course make a bit of their own modifications to the ingredients one being Honeycombs. Mostly it is the assortment of cereals that are on the box but some additives. Other have chosen to add some of their own favorite cereals, but I stick with the original mix that Dad always made. Sometimes this doesn't get made just due to the shear size of all the food stuff we make. This year we forgot. So maybe we will make it in between the two holidays to keep up with some snacks.

This year the new tradition is heading out for a run on Thanksgiving Day morning.  My wife and I will be doing a 10K Turkey Trot. After all we need to burn off a few calories before the big meal. Is was a nice brisk run but we accomplished it. I did it just a few seconds over one hour....need to work on my time! This may end up not being an entire family thing but our daughter-in-law ran it with us this year too.

Enjoy your day and watch for some more posts on our traditions during the holidays.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Psalm 136 - Thanksgiving

Every year we are asked what we are thankful for. There are always so many things that you can respond to when asked that question. I often equate the response as one that resembles winning an academy award. Okay you have now won this award and you have 15 seconds to thank all the people you want.....and don't forget anyone. Yeah right.

I have always liked Psalm 136. Many years ago in Pennsylvania, several families got together on Thanksgiving and shared a meal at the church building. As a young Christian at the time I was asked to read a scripture...Psalm 136. When I read it I found many things. First it seems that no matter what you do, where you are, who you are....God's love is there for you. God's love endures forever.

Secondly, throughout all the chapter it seems a bit redundant with God's love endures forever over and over.....right...it does....no matter what...his love endures.

The third thing I noticed about the scripture is that years later we were having the same meal again with many of the same people at the same building. However I had grown spiritually and learned a lot over the years.  We were getting ready to move away from our church family there in Allentown and move closer to Philadelphia.  I read the scripture again......funny thing it meant something entirely different. The words were the same, the meaning was the same....it was just that the scripture had grown with me. I had moved on from milk to more meat. I changed, God's word never does...but his love endures forever.

My friends, remember to have a safe thanksgiving and enjoy each and every moment with your family.


Psalm 136

New King James Version (NKJV)

Thanksgiving to God for His Enduring Mercy

136 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
    For His mercy endures forever:
To Him who alone does great wonders,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who made great lights,
    For His mercy endures forever—
The sun to rule by day,
    For His mercy endures forever;
The moon and stars to rule by night,
    For His mercy endures forever.
10 To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn,
    For His mercy endures forever;
11 And brought out Israel from among them,
    For His mercy endures forever;
12 With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm,
    For His mercy endures forever;
13 To Him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    For His mercy endures forever;
14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it,
For His mercy endures forever;
15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
    For His mercy endures forever;
16 To Him who led His people through the wilderness,
    For His mercy endures forever;
17 To Him who struck down great kings,
    For His mercy endures forever;
18 And slew famous kings,
    For His mercy endures forever—
19 Sihon king of the Amorites,
    For His mercy endures forever;
20 And Og king of Bashan,
    For His mercy endures forever—
21 And gave their land as a heritage,
    For His mercy endures forever;
22 A heritage to Israel His servant,
    For His mercy endures forever.
23 Who remembered us in our lowly state,
    For His mercy endures forever;
24 And rescued us from our enemies,
    For His mercy endures forever;
25 Who gives food to all flesh,
    For His mercy endures forever.
26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
    For His mercy endures forever.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ADJECTIVES - Brought to you today by the letter A

Ok you know it isn't always easy being a writer when you are not really a writer.  I like to keep my blog posts a little fresh so here are a few MORE DESCRIPTIVE words I plan on using in my upcoming posts.
Adjectives — descriptive words that modify nouns — often come under fire for their cluttering quality, but often it’s quality, not quantity, that is the issue. Plenty of tired adjectives are available to spoil a good sentence, but when you find just the right word for the job, enrichment ensues. Practice precision when you select words.

Here’s a list of adjectives:

Adamant: unyielding; a very hard substance
Adroit: clever, resourceful
Amatory: sexual
Animistic: quality of recurrence or reversion to earlier form
Antic: clownish, frolicsome
Arcadian: serene

Enjoy my friends! Use your WORDS!
ET This I Believe

My Birthday Gift

Getting older isn't always the most exciting thing...unless you are young then it is great.  Once you get past a certain age you really don't want to celebrate birthdays anymore. Like not having a birthday party will prevent you from aging. However getting older is better than the alternative!

I can honestly tell you that last couple of birthdays that I have had were very much unwanted. I was certainly feeling old and did not appreciate it at all. Yesterday I turned 47....almost a half a century, almost five decades....anyway you look at it, it is just a number. It is what you feel like and what you think about in your mind. If you mentally think of yourself as old, then you are.

This year I have taken some serious steps to improve my health and it has all started with losing some weight.  To date I have lost 41 pounds.  Yes I go up and down but not by much. I started running again, something I am not really that great at.  However I have been plugging away at the miles and slowly working my way up the miles.  My half marathon I did was over 4 years ago.  So far I have only worked back up to 10 miles. Yesterday I gave myself a birthday present. 11.4 miles......okay I was actually pushing for the half marathon distance of 13.1 but honestly I was dragging a bit. Regardless I am beating my goals I established for myself at the beginning of the year. I will certainly have the 13.1 distance down before January.

My family got me the perfect gifts of winter running gear....I hate the cold.  But I am determined to keep running all winter long.  Thanks to my family and thanks to all those who have been reading my blog posts and facebook posts encouraging me along the path. I plan on DOMINATING old age!

Stay healthy my friends!
ET This I Believe

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Circle of Life

Well, we first heard about the circle of life from the famous Disney Lion King movie.  Our family, with all the young kids at the time, watched it over and over........and over and over. It seems that many times we reminisce about a past experience with our now grown children and use a quote from one Disney movie or another to recall the moment.

However the discussion of the circle of life never really entered into the discussions. The words of the song appear like this:

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say, eat or be eaten
Some say, live and let live
But, all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give

In the circle of life

It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap by faith
It's the band of hope
Till, we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life

Some of us fall by the wayside

And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rollin' high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps the great and small on the endless round

This week begins another transition in our lives. Not sure I have grasped the total reality of everything that will take place. It has come the time for my mother to move in with us.  She is calling it an extended visit. The Circle of Life. For now we are letting her call it a visit but she needs someone to watch over her now she is at the age of 80. There is nothing wrong with growing old...we all do it. When we get older we begin to forget things, we have more illness, we have more medicines, we cannot get around quite like we used to.  Nothing wrong with that....it is better than the alternative.

As a teenager, my grandmother (my mom's mom) came to live with us in Oklahoma for many years. Teenage boys are not the most energetic individuals about sensitivity. I had older siblings growing up and by the time I was in elementary school, most of them had grown up and moved away.  I had the house to myself. My mother and father worked in their tax business and I often times found myself home alone. Pretty typical for right after school. During the tax season, my parents often worked late in the evenings and I was home alone then as well.  It was either that or stay up at the office with them....no thanks.

So when my grandmother came to live with us, my territory was invaded. It actually wasn't that dramatic.  I just had the rule of the house and now I had someone to chat with instead of being alone.  I wish I had taken the opportunity to write some of her stories down. It would have been great (now) to recount her life growing up.  She was the only grand parent I ever got to meet so it was special.  Looking back I can say that the only thing that really irritated me about her was when she took over the remote control.  Television was her life....isn't that so true about older folks.....the television is their connection to everything. She had to watch Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons. Those were not the favorite shows of a teenage boy. And back then we only had one TV. Isn't it strange that years later I marry a girl whose favorite shows growing up were just those!

My grandmother went up to my aunt and uncle's home in St. Louis for the remainder of her days and unfortunately I never got to see her again.  I never even made it to her funeral. A very sad accounting now that I think about it.  I missed out on a lot.

As a father, we have gone through the mass Exodus of all our four kids.  Okay, again a bit more dramatic than actually occurred.  It just happened.  My wife and I had our children pretty young and they just grew up. I can honestly say that I wasn't really sure that I was ready for that.  It has probably affected me far more than my wife. One by one each left for college or for the mission field and then marriage and now making their home. Currently two are married, one lives near us in Norfolk and the other in Colorado.  One is just finishing up a mission work in South America and will soon be headed back to Texas to finish up school.  I expect a wedding announcement soon.....I probably shouldn't say that on here....oops. And finally our daughter just announced her wedding plans for January.  Basically all of them no longer live in our home. It was always our intent to have them grow up and send them out of the nest.....what would be the alternative?

We are actually very proud of them all.  It is exciting to see them begin their lives and careers......and I am sure families soon too.  Don't call me grandpa yet.....however I believe that my grandpa name has already been coined as "PAPA T". A spin off of MR. T and COACH T from the younger days. At 46 my wife and I had found ourselves as empty nesters. As first, tragic.  After we got used to it...okay, after I got used to it.....later.....it was kind of nice. We could go anywhere at anytime....nobody to report to...except for MAVRICK.

As a son, now yesterday I spent the day home from work preparing my daughter's old room for my mother.  It is painted a bright cheerful turquoise.  I cleaned the room, made adjustments for the lighting and heat, and prepared the bathroom for her needs. This will be a transition for us but I think it will be very nice. Different but nice. There will need to be time for all of us to make adjustments....even the dogs....they need to learn how to get along and share their bones.

Later this weekend, we will get her a cell phone, set up her computer with Facebook and an email account (she is baulking a bit at me on this one but I think it will be good. We need to keep her mind busy and active.  TV will not be her only outlet. She can connect with friends and family from all over.  It wont be that complicated....she is a smart lady, just hasn't had the need to use it in awhile) We will be making a few repairs around the house, many of the things we were wanting to do anyway.  I just need to get them accomplished now.

I am excited, and happy....my mommy is here. After all the years of her watching over me and taking care of all my needs, I get to help her.....It is The Circle of Life.  I don't intend on wasting these moments.  This will be a great Christmas! Take care my friends.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Wife Just Left Me............Home Alone


Okay you guys are just sick. I know you were quickly clicking on the link just to find out the juicy scoop on my love life.  Well sorry to disappoint you on that front...love life fully intact.  My wife headed back to Oklahoma today to pick up my mother and bring her back here to Virginia. What a wife! To fly back (during the every impending Hurricane Sandy pounding at our ocean front), helping her mother-in-law pack up and few things (including two poodles named blackie and paws) and drive all the way back from Oklahoma (roughly 20-21 hours) to Virginia Beach.

So.....no juicy gossip but just home alone a few days with MAVRICK. Looks like the two of us dawgs will be living the bachelor life while my wife is away! Throwing parties, eating junk food, staying up all night playing video games.....what a great time!

Okay, so it has been a whopping ......4 1/2 hours since she flew out and I guess I am already lonely. Eating alone isn't so fun.  MAVRICK just stares and twists his head to the side when I talk to him giving me that look of, "What are you talking about Dad?." The bed is just too big by myself, (even if MAVRICK is lying in half of it....how can such a small dog stretch out across a bed so much?). You know I can't really watch all the recorded shows while she is gone either because we watch them together all the time, (unless I fall asleep early......Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest,  Covert Affairs...you get the idea.)

Oh...I didn't even think about my MOM IS COMING TO VISIT.  I have got to clean the house before they get back....kitchen needs to be immaculate, floors all scrubbed, everything dusted, bathrooms spotless, lawn mowed and not to mention that I need to get her room all ready.

Oh Man! There goes the party time.....sorry guys....I need to get off here and get to cleaning, scrubbing, washing, wiping, scraping, dusting and organizing. No time to chat.....Got to get to work.  Talk to you later my friends!

PS......I think my picture just changed from this:

from this
to this

Sunday, October 28, 2012

RUN FOREST RUN


10K WICKED - OCT '12
 Another installment of my running progress.  I haven't written about it in sometime.  There actually hasn't been much to tell.  Once I got down to the weight I wanted, I was able to focus a bit more on the exercise part. DROPPING 40 POUNDS HELPS A WHOLE LOT!



CHKD 8K - JUNE '12
Shortly after I started running, I was having problems with my knees. After an exhaustive search on what possibly could be the matter from, do I need new shoes again?, Are the ones I just bought causing me problems?, Maybe I should switch back to my older shoes? Am I running crooked on the edge of the street? Am I running straight?, Am I running crooked? Do I need a knee band?

WEW FARMHOUSE 6K - SEPT '12
After all that, I noticed my hip was hurting too. A little in my back as well. A bit of diagnostics and advise from my favorite chiropractor, we determined it was my "rubberband".  ???? I forgot was the official name was....ER band? anyway, it is the muscle, ligament.....stringy rubber band thing that attaches to my lower knee, runs up to my hip and basically I needed to stretch better. After all...I am more brittle these days instead of rubber. All better now.

RACE FOR A CURE 5K - OCT '12
My wife and I ran the Race for the Cure, a 5K at the beach. In the last few weeks I have been able to kick it in gear. Thursday I ran 8.5 miles and Saturday I ran 10. The longest run in years. Today was the 10K Wicked.  Fun run hosted by our friends at J&A Racing. My first time running it and this year we were facing the hurricane getting ready to hit our area. At first, I was a little disappointed because there were so many non-runners that prevented me from running a good stride.  Then I finally just took it "in good stride" and enjoyed the run. Not easy trying to get around superman trying to get out of a phone booth running down the boardwalk. Or how about the gerbil in his wheel? There was a shark eating a man (feet and legs sticking out of the shark's mouth), witch, zombies, fairies, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer, M&Ms, all sorts of superheros, all sorts of video game characters, nurses (not the real kind), doctors (not the real kind), patients (they needed a doctor of some sort), prisoners, policemen and women, army men, beer bottles (yes I said it, people dressed as beer bottles not to mention those dressed up as kegs), a disturbing banana man and his "high school" girlfriend, football players, baseball players and ever so more. 9,000 runners in all....okay again not all were runners...lol. A very fun event that we both enjoyed. I did a fair time considering the obstacles with around a hour for the completion. I am waiting for the official posted time.

Running does get a bit addictive but very fun a exciting.  I will never be a super fast runner but I enjoy it none the less.  We are looking forward to the next ones.  Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving and then of course the Surfing Santa by J&A Racing.

Get out there and run my friends.  Enjoy yourselves!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Awake at Night

No this isn't a haunted ghost story or zombie tale...just me not sleeping in the wee hours of the morning. I hate when I do this...wake up at 3:30AM and just toss and turn trying to fall back to sleep. It isn't anything that I am worrying about. My wife says, "Stop worrying about everything." and "You know what the bible says, 'You cannot add one measure to your day by worrying.'"

Well it isn't worrying....just stuff.  Stuff floating around in my head.....and the fact that I fell asleep at 8PM last night...on a Friday night no less! I am thinking about the storm coming in land tomorrow and running through the details of what we need to do to prepare for it. No biggie. We have prepared for many storms.  Just get food, water, batteries, gas for the grill and few candles.  you can almost call it a romantic event if it wasn't for the heavy rain that will be coming as well. Also, thinking about a mummy costume for the 10K Wicked Race tomorrow....and no I am not wearing a costume.....just thinking about how I would make one if I did decide to wear one. Such a waste of brain power!

Or here is a good one, I am running through the details of how to install the ceramic tile on my fireplace. First is contacting the supplier again that I met with last week to run through the samples. Second is examining the areas where the tile will actually be installed. I will need to calculate how much tile I need to buy. It will wrap around corners so I will need stainless steel sleuter strips. Outside corner ones that will go here and here. Also the standard edge sleuter strip for the bottom edge where the tile will meet the floor or edge of wood moulding. And how about the curvy section where the wood moulding runs into the existing brick hearth? Slueter strip or just chaulk the edge? If is was a strip then how would I cut and bend the stainless steel to fit the profile....ahhhhhh Stop it!

Okay lets shift to the kitchen. We can think about how I am going to redo the flooring and expand the kitchen area.....Don't do it! I already have plans prepared for this. No need to run over the specific step by step details unless I am planning on writing a book of "How To".

Okay, roll over on my other side for a while.....now it is thoughts of work and some of the design details for some projects we are currently working on.  Did we ever get that detail to the contractor? I forgot to write an email requesting the permit acceptance letter from the city. Or, we got a new project and the facade details are already running through my head. And of course, "Did that client pay us yet?" I already know that answer.....it is more like "When will that client pays us."

Time is up...counting sheep is out (really, you know that would never work....I will be thinking of exactly how those sheep are jumping over the fence, is there a number on their side, are they going to stay in single file or get mixed all up with the ones I have already counted, or are they all white, black or a little of both...if they are a little of both, what is the pattern on their wool....Wool? how do they actually shear the wool and how do you spin the wool).......you see my dilemma......ahhhh. Well that is enough about that...I think I will play Sim City so i wont wake up y wife clicking here on the keyboard writing about absolute nonsense.

And there you have it. Awake at Night.......I have changed my mind.....It is a story about a zombie....that is what I will be doing tomorrow as I stagger around everywhere! Have a good day my friends!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Quotes on Forgiveness

Sometimes it is always good to remember the great benefits to ourselves of forgiveness.  Being forgiven as well as forgiving others. How do we expect God to forgive us if we cannot forgive others.  Just a few quotes to ponder. No need to know who wrote them but just to dwell on the nessage itself.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that that situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat......Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.........Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation.........Forgiveness does not excuse anything.........You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness......”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

“We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward.”

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either -- or both -- when needed?”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Adjectives - Grow your vocabulary

Adjectives — descriptive words that modify nouns — often come under fire for their cluttering quality, but often it’s quality, not quantity, that is the issue. Plenty of tired adjectives are available to spoil a good sentence, but when you find just the right word for the job, enrichment ensues. Practice precision when you select words. Here’s a list of adjectives:
Adamant: unyielding; a very hard substance
Adroit: clever, resourceful
Amatory: sexual
Animistic: quality of recurrence or reversion to earlier form
Antic: clownish, frolicsome
Arcadian: serene
Baleful: deadly, foreboding
Bellicose: quarrelsome (its synonym belligerent can also be a noun)
Bilious: unpleasant, peevish
Boorish: crude, insensitive
Calamitous: disastrous
Caustic: corrosive, sarcastic; a corrosive substance
Cerulean: sky blue
Comely: attractive
Concomitant: accompanying
Contumacious: rebellious
Corpulent: obese
Crapulous: immoderate in appetite
Defamatory: maliciously misrepresenting
Didactic: conveying information or moral instruction
Dilatory: causing delay, tardy
Dowdy: shabby, old-fashioned; an unkempt woman
Efficacious: producing a desired effect
Effulgent: brilliantly radiant
Egregious: conspicuous, flagrant
Endemic: prevalent, native, peculiar to an area
Equanimous: even, balanced
Execrable: wretched, detestable
Fastidious: meticulous, overly delicate
Feckless: weak, irresponsible
Fecund: prolific, inventive
Friable: brittle
Fulsome: abundant, overdone, effusive
Garrulous: wordy, talkative
Guileless: naive
Gustatory: having to do with taste or eating
Heuristic: learning through trial-and-error or problem solving
Histrionic: affected, theatrical
Hubristic: proud, excessively self-confident
Incendiary: inflammatory, spontaneously combustible, hot
Insidious: subtle, seductive, treacherous
Insolent: impudent, contemptuous
Intransigent: uncompromising
Inveterate: habitual, persistent
Invidious: resentful, envious, obnoxious
Irksome: annoying
Jejune: dull, puerile
Jocular: jesting, playful
Judicious: discreet
Lachrymose: tearful
Limpid: simple, transparent, serene
Loquacious: talkative
Luminous: clear, shining
Mannered: artificial, stilted
Mendacious: deceptive
Meretricious: whorish, superficially appealing, pretentious
Minatory: menacing
Mordant: biting, incisive, pungent
Munificent: lavish, generous
Nefarious: wicked
Noxious: harmful, corrupting
Obtuse: blunt, stupid
Parsimonious: frugal, restrained
Pendulous: suspended, indecisive
Pernicious: injurious, deadly
Pervasive: widespread
Petulant: rude, ill humored
Platitudinous: resembling or full of dull or banal comments
Precipitate: steep, speedy
Propitious: auspicious, advantageous, benevolent
Puckish: impish
Querulous: cranky, whining
Quiescent: inactive, untroublesome
Rebarbative: irritating, repellent
Recalcitant: resistant, obstinate
Redolent: aromatic, evocative
Rhadamanthine: harshly strict
Risible: laughable
Ruminative: contemplative
Sagacious: wise, discerning
Salubrious: healthful
Sartorial: relating to attire, especially tailored fashions
Sclerotic: hardening
Serpentine: snake-like, winding, tempting or wily
Spasmodic: having to do with or resembling a spasm, excitable, intermittent
Strident: harsh, discordant; obtrusively loud
Taciturn: closemouthed, reticent
Tenacious: persistent, cohesive,
Tremulous: nervous, trembling, timid, sensitive
Trenchant: sharp, penetrating, distinct
Turbulent: restless, tempestuous
Turgid: swollen, pompous
Ubiquitous: pervasive, widespread
Uxorious: inordinately affectionate or compliant with a wife
Verdant: green, unripe
Voluble: glib, given to speaking
Voracious: ravenous, insatiable
Wheedling: flattering
Withering: devastating
Zealous: eager, devoted

45 LIFE LESSONS, WRITTEN BY AN OLD MAN

Tell me which is your favorite.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for things that matter.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose Life.
28. Forgive but don’t forget.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.