Thursday, April 27, 2006

Small Investment

Tonight is the 4th day and night that I've decided to go the extra and leave positive marks on other people. Every morning I've left my wife a note or a card with words of encouragement, words of affirmation, or words of humor. I've seen her attitude and spirit light up some this week.

Also, each night I've put on a puppet show for my daughter and it is paying off in huge dividends. We've had difficulty convincing her to go to bed AND stay in bed for a while now. Monday night I took 2 of the many stuffed animals that she sleeps with and spontaneously put on a puppet show and she was so giddy and happy. One of the nights I held hands with her and the animals as we said our prayers. Last night my wife could just see her beaming so much that she couldn't hide her happiness.

My daughter is soaking all this one on one fun attention in and it is so much better than making her go to bed and threating a spankin if she doesn't stay in bed. The 10 minutes I spend putting on the puppet show requires so much less energy than trying to quickly put her in bed with her being reluctant. Tonight I shared my satisfaction with her staying in bed and told her if she could stay in bed then there would be another puppet show tomorrow night. Maybe she is falling asleep quicker thinking about which 2 stuffed animals to put on stage.

So my advice is this, see where you can actually invest some positive actions or time. Hopefully it will reap many returns for you as it has for me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ketchup or Catsup?

I sometimes wonder if ketchup and catsup are different. Currently we have ketchup in the fridge, Hunt's, produced by ConAgra foods. Main ingredients include tomatoes, corn syrup, vinegar, onion and garlic powder and NATURAL FLAVORS. I read somewhere in a book that natural flavors can include rodent hair, droppings, etc. They are natural.

Anyway, even though I've learned about the natural flavors I still use ketchup on occasion. I personally feel that there are some things you should NOT put ketchup on. These would include eggs(any style), waffles, chicken strips or nuggets, etc. Today a generally good student got in trouble for mixing ketchup and cheese. In our cafeteria we put a HALT on behavior generally reserved for boys that includes mixing 2 to 3 drinks or putting food in drinks. But today a nice young girl mixed ketchup and cheese. Was she acting like a boy? Or was this a normal food behavior for her?

What do you put ketchup(catsup) on?

The world's tallest Catsup bottle is located in Collinsville, Illinois, just outside of St. Louis.

Monday, April 24, 2006

ER trip #2

Last night around 8:30pm as the night was winding down the whole family was in our bedroom watching the Next Food Network Star and I was attempting to fold clothes with 2 crazy kids wrecking any sense of accomplishment or success I was dreaming of having. Seems like this is the only time that the laundry basket is the coolest toy in the house. I gave up and settled down on our bed in hopes of reading the Sunday paper while watching FoodNetwork. The kids wrestled with the basket and each other. It was kind of fun watching my son put a ball on the blanket that she was using to make a basket hideout. She would then kick the ball causing it to fly across the room. She kicked the ball back behind the treadmill and my son went after it. Then it happened. My son misstepped coming off the treadmill falling face first into our bedrail. It was a hard hit and I knew it wasn't good. It took a few moments for the blood to show, both inside his mouth and the centimeter gash on the outside. I yelled for my wife who was on the phone and she quickly came in to help. The boy was screaming as we tried to get control of the bleeding. This little guy is strong and he's not even 2.

My wife did a great job putting ice on the outer wound causing the bleeding to stop. It was her job to entertain him on the way to the E-care. I was thinking major hospital emergency room for stitches when she mentioned that we had a miniature E-CARE emergency room closer by.

The boy was calm when we got there and the place looked closed. I walked closer to the door and saw that it was open until 10pm, over an hour away. All told we were there maybe 45 minutes from sign in to discharge. The toughest part there was when he was screaming while my wife held the numbing agent to his lip/chin area. The easiest time was when he lay there completely still as the attendees glued his skin shut. When we left there were about 6 cares on the lot. Good timing I guess.

When you have more than one child you compare them and compared to our daughter our son is high maintenance and expensive when it comes to bumps and bruises. All my daughter has ever needed was bandages.

His new nickname: Crash!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

To Beer or Not to Beer

I generally reserve drinking a fresh brew for special occasions and rarely store it at home in my fridge. I currently have a Shinerbock that someone left Feb. 18 when they attended my birthday party, a 40 oz. BudIce birthday gift(I was 40), and 3 Kirin Ichiban's that I purchased a month ago to have while playing cards. For me the timing of having a beer is key.

Top 5 Times/Places to have a Cold One
5. Card night
4. After mowing on a hot afternoon
3. Baseball game/Sporting Event
2. Meeting up with old friends
1. After a long hard day/week

3 of these came into play last night. (1) It was Friday and we just completed the toughest week at school having administered the state tests for 3 days and having the other 2 days be less than normal. (4) I went straight from school to mow the church lot from 4:15-5:30 in 90+ heat. (3) Last night my school purchased about 300 tickets and I donated "a night at the ball game with Mr. MANFC," meaning I went to the Minor League ballpark to meet a few of my students and other parents and students from school.

I arrived at the ball park still feeling the effects of a long week, a hot afternoon of mowing, and I could smell the ballpark food. Then I heard it, "COLD BEER HERE!" The situation was right, but the timing wasn't. Of course I walked in on the wrong side of the park and had to walk from the right field side all the way around home plate to the left field side. I must have passed up 20 COLD BEER vendors. Each time I could see the iced up, condensation laced, plastic bottles. I did think that I could have ONE before I arrived at my seats. Problem was I would need 3 to cover the (1) long week, (4) just mowed, (3) ballgame atmosphere.

I sat with my students during the game and one of the student's parents attended and they were drinking ice cold beer. I supressed my urges and decided NOT TO BEER.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thank You For Smoking

Went right after school today to see the movie Thank You For Smoking. Having a strong opinion about cigarette smoking I thought this would be a good movie for me to see. The movie had more stars laced in it than a cigarette has nicotine: William Macy, Katie Holmes, Robert Duval and other recognizable faces. The movie was very entertaining all the way thru even though it was only 92 minutes long, short by current movie standards. I do recommend seeing it as long as you can put up with profanity.

I remember growing up in a household where both parents smoked, their friends all smoked and a 6 year old could buy candy cigarettes with the red tips. Smoking was cool back then even for kids. I thought it was normal for families to have ashtrays full of butts and ashes. It was no big thing to see cigarette butts laying on sidewalks outside of stores. We even had one of those sand ashtrays outside of our Baptist church. I remember laying in the floor board of our family car on long trips avoiding the trapped in smoke(long before we used seatbelts or carseats.) Our house on party nights had this floating smoke line that the kids tried to stay under. Teacher's lounges had smoke billowing from them at schools. Mmmm the side effects of smoking.

But now we are a little more educated. The reduction of public smoking has been one of the most positive changes the past 10 years in society. 2nd hand smoke isn't as prevelant, especially for many educated people. I admit that I don't really feel bad when cigarette get heavily taxed although I'm not sure anyone ever benefits from the money raised.

Overall since I've never smoked it is hard for me to understand why someone would smoke. I do realize it is very addicting as I've had friends and family who have tried forever to quit with no success. Although my mother has not smoked in 10 years after having a near fatal heart attack in 1996. Years after her doctor warned her about it. Nowadays I've only got a few friends or acquaintances who smoke and they are very courteous or sensitive to mine and other's desire to not be around smoke.

As the movie basically stated, the smoker has become the outcast in society.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Not Guilty Plea

We live in a sick and twisted world when a 26 year old male abducts, kills, then sexually assaults a 10 year old girl. This happened in Oklahoma this week when the young girl went missing and a few days later the girl's body was found in a plastic tub inside the man's apartment. When picked up the GUILTY perp said, "Go ahead and arrest me. She is in there. I chopped her up."

How is it that this perp is allowed to go before a judge and enter a "not guilty" plea and then have a court appointed lawyer use up tax dollars and stretch the emotions of people whose lives will never be the same?

The guy admitted to it and the girl's body was found in HIS apartment.

I pray for peace for the family of this girl.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Disposable or Not

I have always been the type to throw something away and go out and buy a new one. This works for things like: mowers, weed eaters, tools in general and sometimes cars. This Spring I've made some uncharactistic decisions that may have saved me some $$$ believe it or not.

1. My mower wouldn't start and since it was one I bought used 3 years ago I thought about sitting it curbside and buying a new one for less than $200. Well, my friend Billyv and I tampered with it in March cleaning out the fuel filter area and actually got it to working pretty good. Savings of at least $150.

2. My gas grill is about 8 years old. One of the cheapest they offer and it has moved 3 times. I've replaced the burner 3 times and just recently the burner was going bad and the wheels were falling off. My wife suggested buying a new one. A new entry level gas grill would be about $125. I went ahead and bought a new burner, new wheels, and new ceramic briquets. I spent about $50, but it cooks meat just as good as a new one. Savings at least $75.

3. Lawn keeping season is upon us and since I mow my yard and 3 others I really need a decent weed eater. The shield broke on mine last fall and I used it a few times this season and have cuts and scrapes on my shins to show for it. Just recently it quit working on me and I just knew the time was right for a new one. Then I realized my 10 year old extension cord was bad and the weed eater actually still works. So tonight I got online and looked up what it would cost to replace the shield. $8.22 versus paying at least $45 for a new electric weed eater. Savings of about $35 or 350%. Now I just have to follow thru and order the part, or check the lawn care place nearby to see if they can get it for me for around the same price.

It feels good when you avoid making a new purchase and are able to prolong the life of something that you own.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's A Jeep Thing

My history with Jeeps started back in early 1990 when I was 2 years removed from graduating from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. I was working for a pizza place and I happened to deliver a pizza to the manager and son in law to the Reuther Jeep family. Actually during college I worked part time for an auto replacement company and I kept up with used car inventories for about 20 dealerships and Reuther Jeep/Eagle was one of them.

We recognized each other as I delivered the pizza and jokingly mentioned that I'd rather sell Jeeps than deliver pizzas. A few weeks later I was one of the first "non-family" salespersons for Reuther Jeep/Eagle. I started May 5, 1990 and I remember watching The Kentucky Derby on my first Saturday. I sold Jeeps for them from 1990-1996 and owned 2 different CJ-7's and 2 1997 Jeep Wranglers. I first bought a 4 cylinder and traded it in on a 6 cylinder right before I quit Reuthers to move to Texas.

Long story short, I got to relive some of my Jeep soft top days this weekend when a co-worker of mine let me use her Jeep in exchange for a thorough detailing. Yesterday I took my family on a drive through the outskirts of Dallas where farmland is slowly being churned into new home subdivisions. Sunny and in the 70's matched with a stiff breeze made Jeepin on a Saturday a blast. Sunblock for everyone!

Whenever I clean Jeeps for friends I romanticize about owning a soft-top Jeep again. Not just any Jeep because I have a Jeep Liberty, but the authentic, take the top off, Jeep.

Ironically a good friend in St. Louis called his Suzuki Samurai a "Jeep." I DON'T THINK SO. I'd never put my "It's A Jeep Thing" on the rear spare of that vehicle.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rough Day

Sure was a rough day at school today. My morning started off with HEAVY traffic on the highway that I drive by. Keep in mind that I only drive about 4 miles to work. Early this morning the State Highway Patrol(probably) decided to recreate the scene of an accident that happened just past midnight 2 days ago. A truck on the service road wrecked into the guardrail keeping the truck off the high, BUT the passenger was launched onto the highway. An 18 wheel tractor-trailer stopped to assist. A 3rd vehicle full of 20 somethings ran over the ejected driver and then rear ended the 18 wheeler killing the guy on the highway and 3 passengers. WOW.

My day pales in comparison. I've not felt 100% for about a week or so. My whole family has battled sinus issues. I showed up to school about 5 minutes late due to traffic. I was crabby all day and so were 2 of my colleagues. The student's apathy and blatant lying are really wearing thin on us. I AM SO GLAD TOMORROW IS A HOLIDAY!

On a positive note my wife had the kids napping when I got home at 4:15 and as of 5:15 they are still napping. One full hour alone with peace and quiet.......YES!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dine Out Consultant

I read an article in the USA Today about Lifestyle Consultants who help high end clients manage their lives. They help take care of picking out clothes, hairstyles, shoes and other things. They charge as much as $10,000 for 10 consultations. This probably caters to the CEO's and professional sports figures more than the common man.

This got me to thinking as I frequented 2 restaurants today that maybe I could create a position called "Dine Out Consultant." I know how to find deals. I know which restaurants have meals big enough to split with a wife. I know where kids eat free on certain days. I know which places have great kids meals that you can get a shake or a scoop of custard with the meal. I know which restaurants have the best happy hour prices and when appetizers are 1/2 price. I even know which places serve Coke vs. Pepsi.

I have even thought about creating a webpage devoted just to food deals. When it got big enough I could sell it to Google and retire.

Anyone willing to invest some capital until I get this thing running smoothly?

Monday, April 10, 2006

NRA vs. Democrats

Received an unsolicited phone call the other night from what appears to be someone representing the National Rifle Association. I was actually in the mood to waste the telemarketers time so I listened silently. The man brought up the 2nd Ammendment and how Democrats such as Hilary Clinton and Ted Kennedy were seeking to abolish the 2nd Ammendment that would do away with the citizen's right TO BEAR ARMS and would I listen to what the NRA President had to say.

"Sure" was the first words I uttered.

After listening the a taped message I then got a 2nd live person asking me my opinion of what I just heard.

"I have no opinion in this matter," I simply stated.

The 2nd live person proceeded to try to sell me a 5 year membership to the NRA for a one time fee of $150, "just $30 a year."

"I'm not interested."

He proceeded to say that he understood that times were hard for many people and that they had 3 year and 1 year memberships....blah, blah, blah.

I became confrontational at this point saying, "I'm really offended by the comment that you understand how times were hard and that he assumed 'times were hard' for me."

He stammered for words trying to apologize saying he didn't mean that times were hard to me. I basically said I wasn't interested and hung up.

So was it a call slamming the Democrats or was it a call trying to sell NRA memberships? Or both. Should I contact the NO CALL LIST people and file a complaint? I think I handled it correctly. I wasted their time as I unloaded the dishwasher. I was also polite and to the point.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Clothes Shopping

I've been putting it off for a long time, but couldn't really wait any longer as Spring arrived and now Easter is one week away. I decided to go clothes shopping. Clothes shopping for me really means traveling to ONE store and buying a few outfits. My wardrobe lacks over all anyway and 50% of my pants collection is almost off limits now that the weather is warmer.

I invited the family along knowing that this fills my wife's love tank and plus she could be the judge of whether an item would be purchased or not. I've had success at the Haggar outlet before and that is where we ventured to last night.

Final purchase included 2 pair of non-stain khaki pants, 2 short sleeve polo type golf shirts, a silk button up shirt and 2 long sleeve clearance shirts at $5.95 each. Total bill was $120 with the pants taking up about half of that total. I could easily have purchased another 5 long sleeve shirts for next year and may just do that after next paycheck.

It felt really good to wake up this morning and put on new clothes for church. I even managed to avoid getting any lunch on them so I could wear today's outfit to school one day this week.

On top of this I purged a few items from my closet and then ventured into the sock and undies drawer, much to my wife's appreciation.

Why do guys find it so hard to get rid of old undies?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another Food Post

Took the family and a pre-teen neighbor to Arby's tonight for their "Pick 5" for $5.95. This is more than their 5 for $5.55 sandwich deal. They offer some pretty good choices. We ordered 2 of the deals and the items we chose were: 3 soft drinks $1.49 ea., 2 cheese sticks $2.69 ea., 5 sandwiches $1.99 ea. We added a family curly fry for $1.99 and the total bill was right at $15. Without the deal it would have added up to more than $22. Pretty good amount saved.

Problem was as we dined I kept staring at the menu trying to figure out how great the deal was. We received medium drinks in a 20 oz. cup, but it was hard to match which price was actually the medium since they don't list sizes anymore. My wife turned it into a state test(TAKS) question by asking me what is the range of the potential deal. If you ordered all fries the amount would be $6.5o, but if you ordered all cheese stix then the amount would top out at $13.50. A pretty big gap.

Overall I don't really care for Arby's since they serve low grade roast beef, but when you are trying to eat cheap it'll do.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Top 5 Things I've Learned This Week

5. The week of Daylight Savings in the Spring is a long, tiring, week.
4. 4 grade students like to take a full box of pencils and rip the erasers off so they can throw them at each other.
3. Teachers say things like, "How did he end up on his head?" and "Unless you have hemroids you need to sit down."
2. Teachers and students are both burned out at this time of the year.
1. Some foods just aren't meant to be eaten the next day as a leftover lunch.***

***Some foods aren't meant to be eaten away from the restaurant. Yesterday I had 2 dinners. The first was a kids meal at a local Steak n Shake burger place. The cool thing is for $4 you get a small shake. That was gone before my food came out. The fries at this place are great only if you eat them hot at the restaurant. About an hour after the kids meal I was still hungry so I went for sesame chicken at a local chinese joint. Chinese dishes don't serve well at home either unless they aren't a deep fried dish.

Foods that are okay the next day would include chili, some pizzas, warmed up fajitas, most pastas.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Simply Chocolate

I actually had a small glass of chocolate milk tonight. As I drank it I remember having chocolate milk as a kid. We often just had Nestle Quik chocolate powder which required lots of mixing. I think the rabbit promoted it.

I have a couple of chocolate questions for you.

1. If you are having chocolate milk which do you prefer? milk and powder, milk and chocolate syrup, premixed chocolate milk.

2. If you are having a chocolate shake would you prefer, One made from chocolate ice cream or a vanilla ice cream with a chocolate syrup?

I also liked eating Coco Puffs because when I finished I was able to drink the chocolate flavored milk.

Simple things......chocolate.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Church Confusion

Our Pastor made a decision that our church family would not move their clocks forward until AFTER church services on Sunday meaning we didn't lose an hour of sleep until after church. We arrived at church at our 8:00 am time which was really 9 am for everyone else. I do know of some negative reception of this decision and time will tell if it was a good one or not.

The reason for the delayed time change was that the Sunday after daylight savings time is traditionally one of the lowest attended Sundays.

My observations:
-the low attendance numbers are because members are lazy and take advantage of the time change and make it the excuse for staying home
-the visitors parking is right outside my room and I saw at least 4-5 families that pulled up, unloaded, found out we were on a different schedule, and left
-some of those families may not have come back
+I did see some families return
+2 families brought their 3 year olds to my class and stayed with us
+I got to know a couple that I wouldn't normally have gotten to know
-it was really 1:20 by the time we left church
-we didn't get home until about 3pm after lunch

I found out today that daylight savings time will start sometime in November and end in February the next time around.

Don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

F#*& THIS and F*$& THAT

Posting early today because my wife and I have a sitter lined up from 9-3. FREEDOM.......FREEDOM!

Watched the movie Inside Man and overall I rate it a good movie. One thing I had trouble with was the usage of the "F" word. I know movies can keep a PG-13 rating if they only use one F word so this movie jumped to the Rated R category pretty quickly. I sat there wondering why the F word was used so many times. Sure it was a movie about a bank robbery, but it ruined it for me as I sat there thinking time and time again, "was it necessary?" Every time I hear the F word it is like someone is punching me in the stomach. I just don't hang around people who use the F word so is there a true audience for it? Is there a certain segment that might say, "That was a pretty good movie except there werent' enough F bombs in the movie." I have walked out on 2 movies due to profanity so do others walk out because there is no profanity?

I'm pretty calloused or acceptable of some things, but won't budge on the "F" word.