Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I've been faithful on my diet for 22 days and have lost about 10 pounds. I have not gone over the 1500 calorie mark more than 3 or 4 days and for sure haven't crossed the 2000 barrier. The scale hasn't moved in 5 days and I'm a little frustrated. I have added more days to the treadmill and will now add a simple regiment of lifting weights. I really haven't had the desire to trash my diet, although Sunday was tough because I wasn't feeling all the well. When I am under the weather I am more likely to eat comfort foods.

On a side note my wife is pulling pictures for my 40th birthday. Pictures are really awesome. For many people they bring back good memories. It was interesting reading some of the posts in my yearbook from a few girls. As an adult I read the post from the Prom queen where she
called me a cute guy and that she hoped I would REALLY(underlined) call her during the Summer....phone number attached. I must have been dating someone solidly at the time to not notice that. I picked up the phone and got ready to call Margie M. and decided not to with my wife standing there. Besides, she's probably married too and she probably didn't mean that she wanted to go out on a date. She was probably just curious about the Baptist kid at a Catholic high school.

If you are a reader feel free to invite yourself to my 40th on the 18th!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dish vs. Cable

We've had Dishnetwork for the 3 1/2 years that we have lived here. The bill without premium movie channels rose past $60. Sometime last year my wife downsized our package to less channels and no DVR so we saved about $10 or so a month. Well just recently she switched us to Comcast Cable. She switched because we were able to get more channels for $28 a month WITH all taxes. Plus we got a Digital Video Recorder to boot! The only drawback is having to learn where all our favorite channels are located.

Why is it then I always hear "save up to $30 over cable?" If that is the case will they now give me back dish for FREE? Doubt it.

The plus is we now have many more channels including some we gave up when we downsized: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Gameshow Network, Bravo, Oxygen, OLN, FoxSports to name a few. We also have ON DEMAND programming. This is great for my 4 1/2 year old when she wants to watch NOGGIN at night when most kids channels show cartoons or shows for those over 7. We can pull up many ready to go shows that are just perfect for her.

The main reason we switched was that we were not allowed to get SBC's "bundle" service since we were already a DishNetwork customer. We could have saved about $30 a month if they would have let us bundle the package. Well, we're saving that $30 a month and DishNetwork lost our $60 a month.

Why not cater to the customers you already have instead of trying to lure new ones in with cheap prices like Comcast did? The positive is that the $28 a month is for a full year. It definitely pays to shop around: phone, internet, TV, etc.

Do you have any saved money stories like this?

Saturday, January 28, 2006


We got home last night from the ER at midnight after spending 2 1/2 hours in a nearby Emergency Room. Our son supposedly is okay. He just had a mild concussion.

Flash back 12 hours. Around 1:30 pm I was suprised to see my wife and kids outside my classroom. My wife had that frazzled look and was holding our son. The story really starts when my wife stopped for lunch after taking a friend to the doctor's office. She placed our son in a high chair that was defective. With her hands basically full she chose not to go back and get a different one. After their pasta arrived my wife helped my daughter with her plate. At this time my son decides to stand up in the wooden high chair. Next thing my wife turns to see him falling backwards. He hit his head and back on the concrete floor. Lunch was then over.

When she stopped by my school he really looked lathargic. Could have been that it was beyond his nap time. I walked my family to see the school nurse. She said his pupils were fine and to watch for vomitting. My wife went ahead and took him to the pediatrician. They said he appeared fine.

I went from school to my announcing gig at the high school. When I arrived home afterwards the car was not in the driveway. I knew something was up. The note inside said, "We are at the Allen hospital ER......"daughter" is with the neighbors." I drove to the hospital and located wife and son. She explained the events of the night.

Our son fell asleep making it real easy to get him a CATScan. They said he should be okay. He slept thru the night okay and is a lively little guy this morning. He brought me his sisters bike helmet and wore it around the house for about an hour.

I contacted the restaurant owner yesterday and he "SAYS" he will reimburse us for any out of pocket expenses. My peave is that this is not an isolated case. Many places we go, including grocery stores, have broken straps. The owner did say someone was at the hardware store buying the materials to repair the broken strap. I guess it was one concussion too late.

Do I sense FREE FOOD out of this deal? My mind is always working. It is working more positive now than it was on my drive to the hospital last night. I had the "What if" syndrome.

Buckle UP!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I want my time back!

As we prepared to sit down for our weekly staff meeting I commented that staff meetings are on the top 5 list for things that I despise. As I talked with a coworker I thought this would be a good topic to comment on.

Top 5 Things I Feel Like My Time Has Been Wasted and I'll NEVER Get That Time Back:

5. Wrong turns: I'm talking about BIG wrong turns. On our way from St. Louis to Cincinnati I missed the cut off and ended up adding 3 hours to our trip and missed part of the funeral visitation. My fault? Or was it Illinois poor signage? Mine I guess. I hated driving knowing we SHOULD already be there.
4. Traffic: I HATE sitting in traffic and I am so glad I don't drive in traffic. I work 3 miles from my house and encounter 1 major traffic light.
3. Childcare: At church I am on a rotation to watch kids from 9:30-11:00 once every 10 weeks. I HATE THIS TIME!
2. Staff meetings: I'm talking about the team building ones. Some staff meetings are okay, but a few I've attended have wasted an hour or so of my time and I'LL NEVER GET THAT TIME BACK. Going to a writing meeting when I teach math and science. OR, sitting for an hour learning about our new online appraisal system only to be told 3 days later it isn't going to happen this year.
1. Staff developments: As teachers we are required to attend up to 18 hours of professional developments. Some apply, most don't. These are OFF CONTRACT time. Right now I have about 40 hours, 22 above what I NEED.

What situations cause you to feel like your time is being wasted and you can't do much about it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Diet Day 16

I'm on a roll......no I am not butter.

Today is day 16 of consuming right around 1500 calories. IF I've gone over it may be by 100 or so. I only treadmilled 2 times last week so my goal this week is 3 times. I've stepped up the water intake for sure. I've dropped right around 10 pounds in 16 days and feel confident that I am going to continue to be successful.

The toughest challenges are fighting through the habits and unexpected temptations. Today Chick Fil A came thru and gave all teachers a 4 peice nugget pack. I scarfed 'em down in front of jealous students and then quickly checked online to see how many calories I just had. Only an additional 130 calories and I adjusted what I was going to eat during lunch.

Also last Friday I passed up someone's extra taco and then had the opportunity to eat FREE pizza and passed since I knew each slice had to contain about 300 calories. Last night I went to dinner only having had 500 calories so I had a cheeseburger basket at a nearby burger joint. It was GOOD!

As BillyV stated once, "Better bad choices."

I'm really suprised that I haven't had energy dips and highs with this diet. I guess consistently having between 1300-1500 calories has helped.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Birthday Party Ideas

I turn 40 February 18th. It works out well because this is a Saturday and my wife is planning a nonsurprise birthday party. A bulk of the invites will be from church, some from school, and then a few from my poker crew. It will not be a 1/2 barrel blowout, but we are going to allow people to BYOB. This can be a sensitive issue when 3/4 of the people attending are Baptist by name.

Since my teen years were during the 80's my wife is thinking an 80's slant. Any ideas on some crazy, yet fun activities would be greatly appreciated. We'll start about 7pm and let it go til about 11pm. Keep in mind most of us have to be at church by 8:30 or 9:30 on Sunday. First off we are looking for someone to keep the kids most of the night if not overnight.

One of my best friends from STL is coming down and that is awesome. I got an email from my mom today saying that if she could get the $114 round trip airfare like my friend got she would be interested in coming too! SITTER ALERT!

Party ideas:
+ dress 80's
+ play 80's music
+ show the 1986 MAN Fan Club Video
+ display the original MAN Fan Club Newsletter
+ a collage of pictures from my 2 year old nudie to now
+ show videos that span the last 20 years
+ have my mom tell the "true" turtle story

Why don't you ask a Baptist to go fishing? He would drink all your beer.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I WIN!.....I WIN!.......

Dinner for 2 at Texas Roadhouse

Yesterday I played in a charity Texas Hold Em event at a local high school. A $10 "donation" got you $900 in chips. First prize was an XBox, 2nd-6th got to pick from 4 restaurant gift cards and a Target gift card. 24 people entered, about 1/2 of them high school students(dead money as the poker world might say). 4 tables of 6 with the final 3 from each table moving on until there were 6 left at the final table. I got great cards early to move on. Decent cards the 2nd round to survive the final cut and then crappy cards at the final table. I ended up in 4th place and had to pick between an Italian place, Applebees, and Texas Roadhouse. I chose the steakplace. I'm either in for a $20 treat or a $50 treat. I simply says, "Dinner for Two." If I get to order ribeye or shrimp dinners then it is huge, but I do remember in the past they advertised a "Dinner for Two" for $19.99 so that may be what I get. The actual winner of the tournament was from the dead money clan, a high school girl. She might have gotten lucky on one hand that put her in the chip lead, but she sure knew how to use those chips.

$20 Giftcard to Macaroni Grill

After church today we had a chili cookoff and all the proceeds went to the Pregnancy Crisis Center that was coming to our town. While eating my chicken chili there was announcement to make sure to put your names in for door prizes. I put one in for me and my daughter. The 2nd one picked was my daughter. She won a $20 Macaroni Grill gift card. My wife won a Chili's keychain.

Not a bad weekend. $10 poker tournament nets me "maybe" a $50 dinner. $12 chili lunch nets The MANFC family a few meals at Macaroni Grill.

The last positive thus far is that it has rained ALL DAY! I am sure a few firemen in Texas and Oklahoma are glad they can rest easy for at least a few days.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Acts of Service

Sometimes you volunteer to help out when it is convenient for you. Like when our church housed Hurricane Katrina victims for about a week. Someone serving genuinely does it without complaining and without expecting any glory or recognition. The hardest act of service to complete is when it is kind of put upon you. This is when you are asked to help out when it is inconvenient for you. This may mean giving up special plans that you've had for a week or longer. This may mean saying you'll help HOPING they don't take you up on your offer. My wife and I are in this situation this weekend and we are going to bed tonight wondering how this will affect our weekend plans. In a way we are "on call."

For the short being we are being inconvenienced. In the grand scheme of things what we are doing is just peanuts. Maybe we will grow in faith this weekend, grow to appreciate each other more and treasure the family that we have, and even help out someone else in need. We are called to carry each other's burdens, hopefully without complaining. I'm not complaining right now, probably just reminding myself what I'm on this earth for.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Saying Thanks

I am the type of person who often has good intentions of letting someone know how much I appreciate them. This Christmas I came up with a list of about 6 people, including family members, that I promised myself and my wife that I would write thank you cards to. A few weeks passed and my wife asked how the cards were coming. I'd grumble something and avoid the topic. Well, Monday while I was enjoying my off day at the tire place getting my tires rotated I decided to write these thank yous. My wife was kind enough to make cards and then address and stamp envelopes so I guess tomorrow it will be up to the United States Postal Service to make good on my promise.

Those being thanked:
Mom: so generous and very involved with my children
Dad: gave up alcohol 1 1/2 years ago and drives into my mom's to see us; also sent us gas money and filled my Jeep up while we visited
Brother's girlfriend: spent more on our kids at Christmas than we did
JAM: goes way above and beyond in our friendship
Aunt: is like a 2nd grandmother to my kids; her first Christmas as a widow
Scott: good friend who is trying out a new church; great movie pal

I think with email we have lost the personal touch of the handwritten note. I teared up the other day while cleaning when I found a note from my now deceased grandmother. She sent $5 in a card for my daughter when she turned 2. She stated how hot it was and how much she would really like to see us. My daughter is going to be 5 this Summer. My grandma wrote that she loved me and she was a tough, stubborn woman. I'll keep this note forever.

So, if you think about it, let someone know how much you appreciate them. Go the extra step and actually write something nice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

1200 Calories......a diet blog

I've been spending most of my mornings at Panera Bread Company having a muffin top or a bagel as I have my quiet time. I use between 260-330 calories depending on what I order. I did a little research tonight on alternative breakfast places to break up the monotony and was utterly shocked at how many calories things list out. Anyone who eats the McDonald's Big Deluxe breakfast is going to have 1200 calories. This is more than what I have for my 3 meals combined. My few breakfast choices would include the Egg McMuffin(300 cal.), an egg biscuit(330 cal.) or 2 scrambled eggs with a hashbrown(320 cal.). Chickfila's chicken biscuit tops out at 420 cal. and I like to get it with egg so that would be about 500 calories.

My problem is that I like to snack at night. I'm happy having 300 calories for breakfast, less than 400 for lunch leaving about 800 for dinner.

I really was thinking about getting that glazed cinnamon roll that I normally get on Thursdays, but better not. From what I've researched they go anywhere from about 400-700 calories.

It definitely helps to plan things out. I think a person gets in trouble when they fail to plan. I already have my lunch lined up and it is only about 200 calories. Maybe I could get that cinnamon roll.......

1o days straight at 1500 calories or less. Didn't make the treadmill tonight as I had to tend to my 19 month old son. It is almost 10pm and I think the boy finally quit crying and I'm beat. Time for rest!

Why Read the Bible?

I met at the Panera Bread Company this morning with a good friend from church. We are talking about becoming accountability partners. That basically means that we'll get together once a week to talk about how well we are doing with our quiet time: bible reading, praying, journaling and sometimes talk about personal or spiritual matters. As we sat today for our first meeting one of the managers from Panera that I talk to often comes over, sits down, and says, "So you guys are into the Bible. Why would anyone want to read the Bible? I think my first response was, "Oh no you didn't....." I think my jaw hit the ground.

After talking for a little while she shares that she grew up Catholic and was forced to go to church as a kid even though her parents didn't go. She told us she was from California and was warned last Summer when she moved to "the Bible belt" that people wouldn't be so open minded. She basically said we were brainwashed into feeling that we need to read the Bible.

I kind of shared my faith a little bit and finally told her that I crave reading the Bible. I also brought up that it is the all time best seller, most paraphrased book ever. It is pretty good reading. The Old Testament has some graphic and gory stories. I'm not sure how much of an impression I left on her.

I guess she did come to us and ask so she must be curious. She did manage to share that she was unhappily married so maybe she is searching for answers. Not sure if I gave her what she wanted. I'll still go by daily and spend my 6:30-6:55 in Bible study and prayer so I'll be ready should she feel confortable to ask any more questions.

What do you feel about the Bible and do you read it often?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Glory Road

Barely went to see a movie today on my day off. Glory Road was to start at 1:55 and my wife got home from her lunch at 1:56. I live 2 minutes from the theatre so I still went. The place was packed. I bypassed the ticket lines to buy my tickets at the self serve kiosk just inside. Outside I may have been 10th in line and inside I was third. There were 12 tickets left when I made my purchase. I sat on the front row and on the side.

The movie was great. A combination of Rocky, Rudy, and Hoosiers. It was a basketball movie that focused on one year in the life of Bob Haskins and Western Texas College and their run to the national title game against heavy weights like Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky. The movie also dealt with racial tensions of the time. It was set in 1965 and if the movie was accurate it was the first time that 5 black players ever started a game for one team.

The movie has some light, funny pieces as well as some tense issues. I do not feel that there was a letdown in the movie and I may go and see it again when the place isn't packed so I can see the whole action with sound coming at me correctly. Sitting in front row and all the way to the side does very little to bring out the movie. I love period pieces and this was set about 40 years ago.
I highly recommend it.

Day 8 of the diet and I'm under 1000 calories at 5:34pm. I've also treadmilled for 28 minutes, 1.5 miles and burned an estimated 200 calories.

Keep going me!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Down 4

If my eyes aren't deceiving me it appears that I've lost 4 pounds in six days. We've got a cheap scale with the tiny lines. No high tech digital here. I would love to lose another 4 this week and my plan is to implement the treadmill into my daily routine. This will probably happen in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I may get 30 minutes in right after school if my youngest is still napping. Treadmills can be dangerous things around kids.

So my plan is to stay on the low calorie plan and now ease into a light cardio plan. In our bible study class today we looked at Romans 12 and it says to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind...." I think this applies to lifestyle habits such as dieting. It will take a little sacrifice and planning to avoid falling back into the old traps: fried foods, quick drive thru breakfasts, chips, etc. Eventually I'd love to crave the orange instead of the Lays.

Seven days to the positive right now. Lunch was the hardest today as I ate about 1/2 of a small stromboli. No telling what the calorie count on that was. Other than that I had 270 calories for breakfast and maybe 400 the rest of the day. The tough thing for me on weekends is that I choose a diet Pepsi instead of a bottled water.

Go me!

To Go Out Or Not?

A good friend Chip asked me during the day Friday whether I'd be interested in maybe going out for a drink Friday night. This would be after he watched his young daughter perform some basketball drills in between the local high school games so we were looking at about 8:30 or later. Typically the place we go to is within a mile of my house and usually calm and reserve. I told him it would be a possibility because my family didn't have anything planned and this would be after the kid's bedtime.

As the day went on I had some reservations because I was successfully on day 5 of my low calorie diet and going out would surely push me over the edge. When I talked to Chip Friday after work he informed me his wife would be going out and they might meet other people. I became a little more reserve. When he let me know they were going about 20 miles away I think that is when I decided to just hang out with my family.

I confirmed my decision with Chip at 8:15 that I would just stay home. Then I asked my wife if it was too late to take the family to get some much needed items from WallyWorld. We all hopped in the family Jeepster and spent about hour shopping. Hanging out with the family was fun. I didn't come home smelling of smoke. The diet streak is still intact. My wife and I went to bed at the same time and .....watched some Letterman. For the first time in a while I got 8+ hours of sleep.

Being boring paid off. I have just completed my 6th day in a row of being around 1500 calories. I feel better. I am starting to feel that there is a renewing of my mind. I pray I stick with it this time!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday or Monday?

Wow, I made it. I just finished my first 5 day week of actual teaching since December 9th. Now my reward is a 3 day weekend. As I think about 3 day weekends I began to wonder which is better to have off, a Friday or a Monday? I personally like Mondays. Seems like all National holidays revolve around a Monday: Memorial, President, Labor, MLK. On the other hand if I were taking a sick/personal day I like having Fridays off. To me it is easier to put in 4 straight days and get off on a Friday than be sick on a Monday and then still have to complete the 4 day week.

Do you ever notice that shortened weeks sometimes are harder to complete than full weeks. I think it messes up the routine.

That said, are you a Friday or Monday off type of person?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New diet, again.

I came back from St. Louis like I do every Christmas break....ready for a new diet. I had set the 3rd as my new start date since we would be traveling January 2nd. Wednesday was a staff development day and I called my wife to meet me for lunch since we had 1 1/2 hours for lunch. There was a $20 gift card burning a whole in my pockets so we met at a semi-expensive steak house. There went the calorie counting diet. I did pretty well as my wife and I shared a 6 oz. sirloin and 5 grilled shrimp with a soup and potato side. Still above my alotted calories for the day. We only ordered one entree and one kids meal and blew by our $20 card by $11 bucks with the tip include.

I then did okay on Thursday, but blew last Friday with card night. Liquid beverages probably covered my daily calorie total. Then add a light breakfast and lunch. I think I poisoned my body by eating tons of fried food as we played cards. I was so sick to my stomach Saturday that I didn't eat my donut until 3pm. Sunday wasn't too bad, but I didn't count calories.

This puts us to this week: I've done impressively well. I've taken my lunch each day. My breakfast has been around 300 calories while my lunch has been near 400. I am okay eating the same thing everyday as long as I'm on a routine. I get in trouble by suprises.

Monday the baker guy GIVES me a second banana muffie for FREE. One is 270 calories. I took it to work and gave it away. Tuesday my wife fried chicken fried steaks so I only ate 2/3 of mine. Wednesday was my "beating" day and I tried my best to blow my diet. I did eat fried food that accounted for about 700 calories. Tonight has been okay. I've dug deep into our freezer and shared 2 microwave meals with my kids. The meals without splitting would have been about 450 calories. 4 good days so far.

Friday will be another test for me. 1st of all I usually go and get a Chick Fil A chicken egg biscuit and they are about 600 calories. I am also our Friday lunch coordinator so I'll do my best to order a GRILLED chicken sandwich only. Then Friday night a friend asked me to go to a Sportsbar and I said since I was on a financial and calorie diet I could go cheap and have diet Pepsis. He didn't seem too excited about that. If you are the one looking to drink a few I guess you are looking for someone else who is ready to cut loose also. I guess I could save enough calories for a low carb, low cal beverage. But then this place has great chips and hot sauce. I want to go, but will be relieved if we don't go.

4 good days. It takes 7 repetions to start a habit!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Taking a beating

I actually have to work a 5 day work week this week and I'm 60% there. Today was going along business as usual until I started taking beating after beating.

Beating #1: Today went pretty smoothly until I found out during lunch that we had a staff meeting. I just started working our after school program so that took care of making $25 today.

Beating #2: Right before the staff meeting I got an email from our bank that we had overdrafted our account. Pay day is at least 2 days away.

Beating #3: Our staff meeting was all about writing and I don't teach writing. It was probably a good meeting, but I didn't get to participate much.

Beating #4: The staff meeting went past 5pm so missed calling my wife to see where we could meet for dinner before she took the kids to church.

Beating #5: Next option was to go to the rush hour show. It was 5:08 and the only movie showing that I wanted to see was Narnia and it started at 5:15.

Beating #6: I then decided to go to Wally world to buy a few groceries and pick up the bar be que chicken chunks that they have. They were out.

Beating #7: I could salvage the night and go to the 5:45 Narnia movie, but as I'm checking out with my bread and soda I see that it is 5:35. No way would I make it on time.

I then salvaged the night by going to church to pick up my son instead of leaving him in child care while my wife participated in a few activities. His bright smile healed all the beatings. Instead of running to me like usually, he stayed anchored to the auto garage that he was playing with. When I told him it was time to go bye bye he just smiled and shook his head no. With a little assistance we made our way home together. At home he was a blast. He is at the age where he is actually starting to engage in sustained play, albeit 10 minutes at a time. I am blessed to have a child with such a happy demeaner. We played a little ball, in the house and when it was time for bed he let me put his jammies on him and he easily went to bed, no fuss.

My wife and daughter came home after 9pm. The last blessing of the night came when my 4 1/2 year old daughter actually read me her first book. She's probably ahead of many kids a year or so older than she is.

I'm a very fortunate parent! My beating was short lived.

Monday, January 09, 2006

3 Times I Enjoy

As I sat down yesterday after church to read the newspaper I thought about moments or times that I really enjoy. I'm talking about times that don't involved anyone else basically.

Three times I really look forward to and enjoy:

1. Reading the newspaper: Ironically enough I don't really read the newspaper. I just enjoy that initial sit down of preparing to "look" at today's headlines. My peeve is having to have the whole newspaper without any sections missing. I also don't like to read a newspaper that's been looked at already. My favorite paper is The USA Today. They have more articles that are contained to one page. I don't have the willpower to go looking for the rest of the story. All said, I look at 95% and read 5%.

2. Sunday 12 noon NFL kickoff: It really doesn't matter who is playing. I really like being in a sports bar where I can see all 8 games at once. Usually I lose interest within the first hour, but like the initial kickoff incase a marquee game is really good. When it comes to watching my favorite team it doesn't matter if I watch it, home or away. The bummer thing this past year was that I didn't get out of church until 12:15. I really wish my adult class was during the 8:30 timeslot so I could easily get the best seat at the sportsbar, which there really isn't one within 10 miles.

3. Movies: Any movie is a good movie as long as buttered popcorn is served. I think I love the whole experience. Getting there early. Getting popcorn and drink. Picking an aisle seat for convenient exiting. The previews and then the movie. If I have one moral weakness it is going to the movies just to be going. I fail to research the rating or the content. I usually go based on the star or the advertised hype. I have walked out on movies before: Bad Santa, Ice Harvest, and Lady Killers due to foul language or vulgarity.

I am sure there are other special moments, but these are ones I can experience alone.

What moments give you that "AHhhhh" feeling?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Kids Stuff

Today my 4 1/2 year old daughter asks, "Why did Santa give Ian toys from Sonic?" She's a little too inquisitive. I saved a few Sonic kid's meal toys to put into my son's Christmas stocking.

What did I tell my daugher?
A. Santa stopped by Sonic on the way to our house.
B. Santa's elves makes all the toys.
C. Santa gets his toys from the same place Sonic does.
D. Okay, there is no Santa.

The answer will be at the end of this post.

Last night I took the kids to Walmart to get some groceries. On the way in some fundraising guy dressed like Elvis was making those twisty animal balloons. The positive was I used that as a discipline management tool while we shopped. The negative was that was all my daughter talked about while we shopped so I was going to have to pony up and pay whatever the price was. Since I have 2 children I'd have to get 2. The suggested donation was $1-$20. I forked over $2 for 2 and "supposedly" it was to help abused children.

Children get excited about the simplest things. Balloons always seem to facinate kids. My daughter appreciated hers more than my son, but if I didn't get him one he would surely have cried. Also this weekend instead of playing with any of their Christmas toys they were simply playing in the dirt. Dirt is only 99 cents a bag. Maybe next year I'll buy them each a bag of balloons and a bag of dirt.

The answer is C, Santa must get his toys where Sonic buys their toys. The best reply probably would have been B.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

80 degrees in January

When I moved to Texas the first time in 1996 I said I had to live in a place that was sometimes sunny and seventy in February. Well, today beat that. I spent about 4 hours outside today and the weather was awesome. We've gone about 3 weeks without activating our heating system. The earth must have shifted on it's axis.

I did have the kids again today. I learned that the less sleep my daughter gets, the less she thinks she needs. She squeaked by without a nap on Friday and stayed up until 10pm last night. She went straight to bed without changing into jammies. She was up at 7am this morning. Not something I was looking for when I went to bed after 2am last night. As the day went on I really had to transition her into thinking about a nap. "I don't want a nap","I'm not sleepy" were a few of the replies. I let her take a fruit roll up to nap with. Tonight she didn't fight it . 8:30pm on the mark she climbed into bed and didn't get up one time....yet.

I now realize that my wife probably feeds the kids better. Today's food agenda included donuts for breakfast, a hamburger kids meal for lunch, a donut and a corn dog for dinner. I think this is border line child abuse. Lucky for me my kids ask for apples or bananas during the day and my daughter prefers the apple slices instead of fries with her kids meal.

My wife also nurtures the kids better than I do. She'll read books with them and really transitions them to bed well. I'm more along the line of, "here's your bed" and turn out the lights. I am very blessed to have son who seems to enjoy taking naps and going to bed each night. I think he's part adult even at 19 months.

They'll be excited to see their mommy Sunday afternoon. Wish them luck until they see her.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What a day?

Card night tonight! About once a month I've been able to put together between 5-7 guys for our card night. I personally have fun playing poker all night with friends and we are all up or down a dollar or so. In reality some are down $5 and some are up $5. We usually play nickel, dime and quarter on the betting. If you are wanting to learn how to play cards then you need to play with us. Most of the guys are willing to help out and tell the new learner what is going on and whether or not they have good hand. Tonight we started around 8pm after my son went to bed. We generally have snacks in place and tonight was deep fryer night.

We won't play again until February so you better reserve your spot at the table.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Home Alone.....almost

Today was my first day at school with kids. All went well. The LAME thing is that I am taking off tomorrow. 2 week break, one day with kids, then a 3 day weekend. The life of an educator. The reason I am off tomorrow is my wife left tonight for a 3 day Stamping or Scrapbook retreat with some church friends. After having dinner tonight(FREE thanks to another $25 giftcard) she took off.

I had to call in a substitute for Friday since there is nobody home tomorrow to watch our kids. I'll get a small glimpse of what my wife goes through everyday. SMALL glimpse will be bearable. I'm not sure I could stay at home permanently. I think after a year and 1/2 my wife is feeling the same thing. I'm sure she will go back to teaching next fall.

The agenda for this weekend:

Friday: detail a car for a friend and host card night AND watch the kids
Saturday: sleep in, detail another car, watch football AND watch the kids
Sunday: go to church, watch football AND watch the kids

Bored? Come on over and watch my kids, or play cards, or watch football!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gift Cards

You probably know that I got a lot of gift cards for Christmas. Well, the issue now is trying to spend them. On our trip I had 4 Sonic cards and one of them had been partially used. It was hard to figure out which was which. At least at Sonic I was able to pay with 2 cards. Problem is making sure I don't mix the good cards with the empty one.

I also got a bank gift card and it is not as easy to use. You can't use it at a gas pump unless you pay inside. It is also hard to spend the remaining balance if your total purchase is more than your card. You have to know exactly what your balance is. I went on a balance mission today and found 9 cents on a Home Depot card and $1.88 on a Walmart card. I also found that my wife's bank card had $1.18 on it. Make sure you keep track of old cards, they could add up.

Make sure you use up the gift cards. The USBank gift card stated on the back that after 7 months a $2.50 service fee will be removed if there is any balance on the card. How much does the bank make on these things? My mom was thinking that if she didn't use her $50 card she would save the giver that $50. WRONG.

The best advice for gift cards is to spend them RIGHT AWAY. I have a friend who lost a few last summer when he got married. The cards are easy to misplace, easy to discard, easy to forget about. The companies count on this.


Monday, January 02, 2006

Home at last

Thank God Almighty, we are home at last.

Woke up this morning around 5:30 am to a severe thunderstorm which contained heavy rain and some hail. I felt fortunate that I had my Jeep parked inside my mom's garage since it was loaded and ready to go! Left out around 8am and saw 4 Highway Patrol cars in Missouri the first 300 miles. None the rest of the way Oklahoma and Texas. Drove through a little rain in Missouri also. We stopped in Joplin Missouri for lunch and we visited an old friend.

In Oklahoma we actually drove through one of those wild fires you've seen on the news. It was close to dark so the flames were dramatic. In most places it was a mild fire, but in the woods the flames were over 5 feet tall. We saw at least 5 different places where fires had burned and they had jumped the highway. Tomorrow is supposed to be prime "danger" since wind is supposed to gust up to 20 mph.

Took an hour to unpack. My wife was diligent in making sure each bag got unloaded in it's proper place. She even did one load of laundry. I am also glad she really cleaned the house before we left because it was really nice to come home to a clean house.

We're back!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Day

We spent New Year's Eve with some special friends Jon and Janea. We came home before midnight in order to have a better chance of arriving safely(intoxicated drivers). In Arnold Missouri people celebrated the New Year from 11:50 until about 12:15 by shooting guns and firing of tons of fireworks.

Got up early this morning with a little prompting from a whiny 18 month old. Fixed French toast for the family. Our plans include spending one last day with family over at my brother's house. We'll watch football and dine on Applebee's riblets. My brother is also a deep fry kind of guy so we'll have some homemade chips and other healthy greasy things.

We will head out for home tomorrow morning around 8 am. We usually stop in Carthage Missouri which is about 1/2 way. They've got the best Mexican restaurant, El Charros. Yes, it's all about food with me. It is going to be hard to commit to losing weight starting January 3rd. I"m claiming the victory!

Happy New Year. I pray good things for all my friends.