Monday, December 24, 2007

Oh MAN, Where Art Thou?

Long time no MAN. I just haven't felt like blogging or even visiting my blog friend's sites. I think I'll look to renew my passion for blogging after the new year. I'll leave you with a few updates.

1. My heart: Went for a consultation last Wedneday and the heart specialist's EKG confirms that I've got some quirk with my heartbeat. Could have been born that way, something could have happened along the way. I go back the 8th-9th for major tests.

2. Christmas: My church is not having a Christmas Eve service. We did something on Sunday so we do not have plans tonight. I look to allow the kids to open ONE gift tonight to play with since after we open gifts tomorrow we will head out for St. Louis. Merry Christmas.

3. St. Louis: Will be there 25th-5th. The wife is flying back on the 2nd since she has work commitments the 3rd and 4th.

4. 2008: Reduce debt, recommit to losing weight, maybe buy a Jeep(new or used), continue to look into whether or not we really want to move back to St. Louis(Minman is shaking his head right now say, "What a big tease."

Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Year!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Day Off

Actually stayed home most of the day today. Our church was doing our 2nd Saturday Outreach today, but participating would have blocked about between 6-8 hours of my day as the group was traveling about 70 miles away to help another church plant get started. I had many reasons(some might say excuses) for not going.

1. I'm just tired. Seems like since basketball season started I've had something just about every night of the week.
2. My house has been neglected. I can't even park in my own 2 car garage. It has become a dumping ground.
3. I have 2 kids. I couldn't imagine taking a 3 an 6 year old on an hour plus drive. Then while there try to entertain them. Then drive back. They'd probably fall asleep on the way back IF we didn't ride with anyone.
4. COST. If I had to drive myself there would be no way I could cough up $70 in the amount of gas that would need to be bought.
5. I have 2 kids. If I went by myself I would be away from my family a second Saturday in a row. Last weekend I worked a basketball tournament.

That said I slept in til about 8:30 this morning. My wife and I cleaned the garage and turned into a mini basketball court for my son and now both kids can play and ride their bikes in the garage. I also spent about an hour tweaking my bible lesson for tomorrow. I took an hour long nap. Dropped stuff off at the Goodwill. Worked out. I was going to try and bust the 24 minute mark for 2 miles, but quickly pooped out and just made sure I got it in under 30 minutes. I've had to heavy calorie nights in a row and I think it caught up with me.

Tonight I'll probably go and see a movie.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Impotent

Really no matter where you work you could always keep a journal of what has been said and possibly write a book. The following are things I've heard said by elementary aged kids the 10 years I've taught, or someone else reported it said.

1. While researching the planet Uranus(sounded 'yoor uh nus')
Student: "Hey, I'm looking at pictures of your anus." So it sounded.
Also on one students poster this child wrote, "Hearing the name makes people laugh..."

2. Doing the "it" word family my daughter threw in "shit".
Teacher: "not in this family....."
A few kids later someone offered "tit"
Teacher: "No, next word."
A few kids later a kid says, "Clit, my friend is named Clit."
Teacher: "I think that is Clint, let me spell it for you on the board...."C L I N T."

3. First grade doing the "ell" family:
A kid offers up "hell" and the teacher acts like it is not a word and the child says, "Yes it is, as in 'hell yeah'.

4. We researched fossil fuels this week and one student typed up the top 10 things about petroleum. This student then made a poster and only had the top 9 reasons, but the printed out research notes had a number 10 and it said, "Each year 84 million burglars are impotent." Imagine my curiosity when I only saw #10 on my printer. I thought about it and finally noticed a computer in my room was on. When I went to log it off I saw a website that said we import 84 million? or billion? barrels of petroleum each year. It SHOULD have read "Each year 84 million BARRELS are IMPORTED. Think teaching spelling isn't impotent? I mean important.

On a side note I had a personal best on the treadmill: 2 miles=24 minutes 10 seconds.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tree Shopping

Once again I worked out a deal to get a "free" Christmas tree. Friends from my former church run a tree lot real close to my house and I happen to be his son's teacher for the 2nd year in a row. Last year we went with an 8 foot Nobler fir, which tonight I was informed was the Cadillac of trees. The have a huge one that is marked at $499. WOW! The tree last year was marked $129 and I traded out 3 auto details, one of which I still owe.

Tonight we bundled up the kids as it is a bit chilly here. My wife was wanting a taller tree since we have 12+ foot ceilings so we ended up sellecting the entry level Douglas Fir and it is near 9 feet tall and was marked $79. That will cost me 2 details.

Before we had this deal we usually bought a 6 foot cheapy tree from major home improvement stores in the area and would budget about $40. I'm told thru my current hook up that these trees are cut WAAAAY in advance and usually don't stay "fresh" as long. Maybe.

My best tree experience came in Carthage MO in 2001 when we went to a tree farm. We walked the grounds, selected and cut down our own tree. Boy was it a fatty. It took up half of our small dining room and I had to cut off branches just to get it outside after it had dried up.

Tomorrow night's task is decorating it. My wife will do that while I announce basketball!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Crank Dat Soulja boy

I announce different sporting events for a local high school team and often get my warm up music from students. One of my requirements is that I preview listen to them in advance. The main thing I look for it blatant profanity. If there is cuss words in it I won't play it. From there it becomes gray in many areas. The "clean" versions of songs have the words bleeped out, but you can clearly hear, "mother _____ er" and to me that is just as bad. Then there are a few rap songs where the "N" word is bleeped out. Also the scene in many of these songs is the about what goes on in "da club." Then my least favorite is the hidden sexual innuendos in songs.

I researched "soulja boy-crank dat" after hearing it on someone else's cd. It had a great beat to it and it sounded perfect for basketball warm ups. I copied this song and have played it at about 3 basketball games and the kids go wild. Well, yesterday I went to www.urbandictionary.com and looked up what "superman dat hoe" meant. It was extremely vulgar and nasty. I was sick to my stomach.

I also dropped a song that Trick Daddy song "Lets Go" where he samples an Ozzy Ozbourne song. I've had this one in my collection for a while. The song starts out, "There's a lot of F "N's" in the club tonight....." The real lyrics have the F and N word probably about 50 times. The song I have is edited and you can't really pick up on it. Although the song talks about drug dealing and carrying guns.

If anyone has some decent action songs they can recommend or some good warm up songs without words I'd really appreciate it.

The sad thing is I would probably get complaints if I played a Christian song. I also found out the "Crank Dat-Soulja boy" is played on Radio Disney. SICK, SICK, SICK.

Got to go old school I guess!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gator Aid

Dr. J. Robert Cade, the inventor of Gatorade, died this week at the age of 80. A while back I remember seeing commercials of how Gatorade was created and thought the commercial was a spoof. On TV they show the Florida Gator football team back in 60's needing something to help them replace all the sweat and body's minerals as they played football. Along comes Dr. Cade with his fantastic creation.

Well, after reading the obituary today I learned that this was indeed a true story. The first batch cost about $43 and they only tested it on freshman during the games since they did not want to hurt the varsity team. "It sort of tasted like toilet bowl cleaner," one of the researchers stated. They then added sugar and lemon juice to improve the taste. It eventually was used by all players and the Florida Gators became known as a second half team who outlasted opponents. In 1967 the losing coach of the Orange Bowl said his team lost because it didn't have the GatorAde that the Florida Gators had.

Pepsi now owns the Gatorade name brand and it has brought the University of Florida more than $150 million in royalties. Gatorade held 81% of the $7.5 billion sports drink industry in 2006. There were 4 original flavors and now there are more than 50 flavors available internationally.

I think it is ironic that Dr. Cade was Florida's first kidney researcher and his cause of death was kidney failure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Small Town Texas

Tonight I went to small town Texas to watch a good friend coach a high school girls varsity team. This small town had a population of close to 500 and I think I only saw one gas station and it closed up for the game. This town is surrounded by farmland. We're talking fields for corn and wheat, not the Texas Longhorn kind. That's somewhere else in Texas.

I gave my wife the night off as I took the kids. I met the coach's wife and her kids and we carpooled. She is a good friend that I first met through teaching and now we have become good friends through our church. I got to live her twice nightly winter routine. We left her daycare parking lot at 5:30. Went straight to the Sonic drive thru for 1/2 price Tuesday night burgers...my treat. She probably saved me $9 in gas so it was not much of a sacrifice.

The following is a list of what I did see: hairstyles straight from the 80s, good ol' boys, Wrangle jeans, cowboy boots, bleached blond hair, and lots of people having fun. Lots of really WHITE people too.

My kids did alright. My 3 year old son actually watched most of the first 1/2 and wasn't too much to handle. My 6 year old daughter basically ran around everywhere and I was assured by the coach's wife that she was fine tagging along with her 5 year old daughter whom everyone knew.

Bottom line was it did take about 4 hours out of our busy life. I did get to support a good friend and see what he does for a living. AND my wife got 4 straight hours of alone QUIET time.

Tigers win! They're 12-0 and ranked in the top 10 in the state for a 1-A school.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good Friends

A few weeks ago one of my best friends from St. Louis called me out of the blue. It was great to hear from him. This is the same friend that despises keeping up with The MAN via my blogs. We caught up on things and one thing I've always appreciated about MIN the Master is that he would often prompt a spontaneous prayer. When we were roommates he often would suggest that we pray together. Later when we lived states away we would get together and he rarely let an opportunity go by without recommending we end our time together in prayer. In a way I kind of thought it to be corny, but I always came away from those prayer times feeling better and deep inside I appreciated this. It is awkward suggesting to someone "lets just pray about this RIGHT NOW." I let many opportunites go by without doing this and it is something I should get better at.

This past Friday my family was invited to have an awesome soup lunch with the family of the pastor who married my wife and I. We actually met at a weekly bible study at this pastor's house. This was the first pastor in my life that we got to hang around and we got to know his family on a personal level. It was indeed a special time in my life. I sought consel about dating my wife who was 19 and 8 years younger than I and they said it would be okay. A little over a year later I married this beauty. This was back in Missouri about 15 years ago and times have changed. The preschool family that he had are now in college and high school. My kids are the age of his kids when we moved to Texas in 96. A few years later we were fortunate that he would again be our pastor as he took a job at a church in North Texas.

Our busy lives crossed paths only a few times since the turn of the century and getting together Friday rekindled old times. I was reminded that the conversation back then did not revolve around getting older, growing prostrates, heart issues and such. We had a great time. We also got to be around D & B as they came in from out of state to visit the pastor and his family. Our special time ended with my wife and I having great conversation with D & B as the pastor had to leave for an afternoon wedding.

For me being a Christian allows me to have such special friendships that remain strong even when our lives take different paths. Being a Christian allows me to quickly gain "new family" when we have joined new churches over the years.

Thanks Bro Bill and family for having a big impact on my life! So much time does not need to pass before we get together again! Thanks for having us over Saturday!

Your friend in Christ,

The MAN

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

My mom and dad flew in to Dallas Monday morning and experienced temperatures in the 80's. Monday night we went to our church grounds and picked up pecans and my dad went to watch me announce my basketball game. Tuesday afternoon my wife and I got to go shopping and then to a movie and last night we went out with a friend to watch to Mavericks basketball game. It sure has been nice to spend time with family this week.

This morning we feasted on donuts for breakfast and afterwards I went to the gym. I achieved another personal running/walking record and shaved off 50 seconds on my 2 mile trek. I spent a personal high on running shoes Tuesday as well. With tax I ALMOST spent $100. When it comes to shoes I am CHEAP. Not this time though. These shoes will be my "gym only" shoes.

We plan on eating turkey about 1pm. I prefer the early turkey dinner for various reasons. First of all if you eat early you can eat it again for dinner. At dinner you load up only on the things you really like. No needing to be nice and taste everything. I also like eating earlier because I know for sure I will snack all day preceeding the meal. Chips, chips, chips and dip.

Other plans for me today include finishing up a detail on an Expedition. I'll also probably fold a mountain of clean clothes that are blocking my route to the wash machine. Not sure what the ladies are doing later on to meet their shopping needs!

Life is good. I'm thankful for my family!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mooooooon River

Went for a long overdue physical yesterday. I was the first person on the books at 8:30am and I was wondering why at 8:35 I hadn't been summonsed. A nurse walked in about 5 minutes later and guess who called me into the office?

First up was blood pressure reading along with the withdrawl of blood. I'm not good with needles, but I did manage to donate 2 small vials worth of my blood. Next up was the eye test and I passed with flying colors. My left eye is slightlly more dominant than my right eye. I then peed in the cup followed by the ear test. The last thing the nurse did was administer the EKG heart reading.

The doctor then came in and asked if I ever had a heart attack. I answered not that I knew of. He showed me on the EKG reading how there was a reading that resembled someone who may have had a prior heart attack. He did say that he'd put about 85% confidence in the reading that I did not have the downward spike in the reading that went along with the initial spike that he was concerned about. My blood pressure was slightly high, but he said nothing to worry about.

Last real thing was the "drop your pants and put your elbows on the table" request followed with the "I"m sorry for about what I am about to do........." comment. The old finger up the rear exam. I've never experienced this pleasure and humbly yielded. My wife assures me that this is NOTHING to what women go through on a regular basis.

End result, I'll probably do a follow up visit with a cardiologist to check on the heart thing. The doctor did give me 3 weeks worth of Flomax which might help me make it through the night without getting up to pee 2-3 times.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Gym

Yesterday I made it to the gym for the 3rd time this week only to find that my MP3 player had a dead battery. I stilled worked out and actually had a personal best on the treadmill for a 3rd straight time. The negative of the workout was having to watch Barry Bonds hit homer after homer as they reported that he had been indicted for perjury. I think I watched him hit the homer record yesterday as they continuously showed his 756 record breaking shot. I'm so sick of this story. Everyone including Barry knows that he juiced it as well as many other players during that time. I guess Barry is going with the "I didn't know" story. Would that defense work in any of these following MOCK cases?

"I didn't know my drink had alcohol in it officer so I didn't think I was intoxicated while driving."

"I didn't know she was only 17," says her 18 year old boy as he is charged with statuatory rape.

"I didn't know that the car I was driving was loaded with 18 Kilos of cocaine."

"I didn't know that my friend stuffed my pockets with $1000 worth of MP3 players."

Pathetic excuse.

I shaved another 55 seconds off my 2 mile walk/run today. I'll let you know when I make it to the 12 minute mile mark. I really need some comfortable shoes!

I did buy 4 Energizer batteries at the snack shop inside the gym. $4.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Date Night

I took my daughter on a date today. I awoke the other morning to a Christian radio station and the speaker was talking about how he would often taken his daughter out on dates so by the time she was really ready to date she would know how she was supposed to be treated by her date. I asked my daughter earlier in the week if she would go on a date and she happily said yes. Every day she would ask how many more days until our date.

I left the house today about 1:15 to go to the gym for a quick work out, a sit in the sauna and a shower. I arrived to pick up my date about 2pm. Her hair was fixed and she was in a pretty red dress. We held hands as we walked to my truck. This is the first time I've ever had to lift my date into the vehicle AND she rode in the back seat. She picked Steak and Shake for dinner and the best part of her meal was her chocolate shake. I ended up eating my meal and 1/2 of hers. I'm such a pig.

On the way to the movie we saw an awesome new black Chevy Corvette. My daughter says, "That would be a nice date car." Yes, but she was stuck with me and the pick up. We enjoyed seeing The Bee Movie. Pretty good movie and we both made it through without having to use the restroom. My customer service idea of the day is to have a self serve butter station in each theatre. This would serve as a convenience and possibly a safety measure for parents who are tempted to leave their child in the theatre to restock on that tasty butter flavor.

My daughter's favorite part of the date was seeing either a fox or a coyote in a field just outside the theatre. I would have saved about $30 just taking her to a nature reserve. Maybe next time!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fried Chicken!

I think I posted the Fried Chicken story long ago so BillyV when you see the title does it take you back about 20 years?

Tonight we dined at Popeyes Chicken before church. You know me, I had a buy one get one free coupon. Problem is, that coupon came with 3 others so the whole day I was trying to figure out which DEAL my family should get. In my frugality I stopped by the house to pick up the kids 2 Capri Suns at the store price of 20 cents each saving well over $2 since I didn't have to buy them drinks.

I used my buy a 3 piece combo and get a 2 piece dinner for free COO PON. That was $7 with the add for one piece of white meat. I also got the naked chicken strips and 2 extra biscuits. The dinner ended up being $13 for 4 people. Not bad I guess. Had I gone the 8 dark pieces for $4 and added sides, 2 drinks and my naked strips I'm sure that would have been more so I think I made the right move.

Dinner was fine, but I personally don't go to Popeyes for the fried chicken. I really prefer their catfish, which is expensive and my second favorite is the naked strips. I do think that Popeyes chicken pieces are smaller than the other local places.

My favorite chicken places in Texas:
1. Chicken Express: best strips, good chicken, but I prefer the catfish. $1 Sweat Tea too!
2. Golden Chick: 1/2 price Mondays was a staple for a while until I got sick one time. Decent strips too!
3. Popeyes: catfish, naked strips, and the biscuits
4. KFC: My least favorite tasting chicken, but I love the wedges
5. Walmart: $3.97 for 8 pieces, not bad if it is fresh!

Mine and Billyv's favorite place in Maplewood was Church's Chicken. It is still in the same location and still has bad service. I don't know how many times we ordered 8 pieces for $2.99.

Chicken 3 meals a day?
Chick Fil A-chicken egg biscuit
Scotty P's fried chicken strips for lunch
Buffalo A & D chicken wings with chicken fried rice for dinner

Really, I did this last Friday!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Big Tease

Just about EVERY time I go back to St. Louis I come back to Texas thinking about what would it take to move back to St. Louis. The weekend before Halloween I got to spend great time with my family and I long for those relationships. My brother happens to be selling his business and this past Saturday I jokingly mentioned that we could buy it and move back.

Well, I went to the movies late Saturday night and when I got home after midnight I found my wife sitting at the computer looking at houses in the surrounding St. Louis areas. This mental tease usually lasts for about a week. We'll refresh those desires Christmas when we both go back and probably pull every house magazine, visit realtor.com and then drive areas that we like.

I guess we could do the T chart and write down the pros and cons. We only go thru life once so as Red said in The Shawshank Redemption, "You either get busy living, or get busy dying."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

It will be a perfect night for hunting down the best candy on the street. We'll also be going to church, well, at least my wife will be. My daughter just had a major meltdown after saying the paint job my wife did on her looked stupid. She said this 3 times and got her faced washed off. Now trick or treating for her is in jeopardy.

Costumes: I do not like masks that cover faces. To me that's the easy way out. I prefer students to have faces painted or extra hair and appropriate clothing to match the theme.

Candy: I have no problem handing out the cheap, small stuff: Tootsie Rolls, Gum, DumDums, etc. I enjoy pilfering through the candy that my kids get and picking out the good stuff. I'm not big on sweets so I really only take the GOOD stuff.

Time: I think allowing the kids to go out about 30 minutes before it gets dark is okay. I mentally have an 8:00-8:30 cutoff for going door to door. No kid trick or treat age should be out past that time anyway. All of those after 8:30 are teenage delinquents.

Lights out: When the time is right I turn out all the lights and move everything to the back room.

Parties: I've never really gotten into adult Halloween parties. Maybe it is the group of friends that I grew up with who weren't really much into partying. I think I went to ONE bar Halloween Party in my life.

November 1st is a good day to be going to a Catholic school. All Saints Day means NO SCHOOL!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Louis Details

Thursday Oct. 25: Arrived about an hour late. We were waiting for a plane from Houston to arrive. My mom sat in the wrong terminal for 30+ minutes before she figured out where my flight came in. Good thing my flight was late. White Castles dinner at 11:30 pm. Mmmm.

Friday Oct. 26: Went to see Gone Baby Gone with my mom. I really thought the ending was good. The main character really has a tough decision in the end. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't always mean the most positive outcome. I bowled 5 games with my brother that afternoon and ended up getting 11 hours sleep........NO KIDS!

Saturday Oct. 27: It was all about dad because it was his birthday. Family, friend, Fred and a good time.

Sunday Oct. 28: My brother conned me into going to the Rams/Browns football game. Tailgating started about 9am. With my small "squirrel sized" bladder I held off until 11am before drinking anything. I think I peed about 8 times at the game. Went straight to the airport after the game and somehow did not have to use the plane bathroom.

It was a good trip. Family is very important and I got a good amount a quality time with my mom, dad and brother. Unfortunately I did not hook up with any of my friends. One was on a church retreat and another did not call me back.

Mom and dad will be here to see the grandkids in 3 weeks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back Rubs

I remember back in my dating days one of the ways for me to flirt with someone was to offer the shoulder or back rub. Who doesn't like a little bit of the human touch. Well, I'm still giving back rubs, but it's to my family members. Tonight as I put my kids to bed my 6 year old daughter begged for a back rub. She likes for me to rub her back and count to 100 as I do it. Since she's in first grade I counted by 10's and immediately she said, "No fair." I then counted by 5's. She asked me to count by 2's. Pretty smart for a 6 year old to know that the smaller I skip count by the more time she'll get.

My son likes for me to write letters on his back. I ran through the alphabet 2 times, gave him a kiss and said mommy would be in after she got home from praise team practice. It worked. It actually works best if we do it after 9pm. Otherwise he's still wound up and it's not productive time spent.

My wife will throw the lotion out on the bed when she is hinting for some TLC. When she bought me the massage book for a gift, I really wonder who the gift was really for. She also likes a little bit of time spent on her feet. My daughter likes the feet to be rubbed also.

That said, we all love concentrated one on one time. Doesn't matter if you are a kid or a spouse. Now I'm not going to offer to rub my poker friend's backs. Just think how our relationships would be better if we unselfishly tried to meet other people's needs on a daily basis. Start the cycle and eventually the favors would be returned. Try it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Car Buying Tips

I sold Jeeps for 6 years and I am still uncomfortable with the car buying experience. I could post all kinds of stories but I will post my own personal guidelines for buying a car.

1. Only buy when you are not desperate. If the need is not urgent or you are not impulsive you will likely get a better deal. The more times you can walk away the lower your price or payment will be.
2. If you feel unfortable at all......LEAVE. There are some good dealers out there who won't manipulate you or make you feel like an idiot.
3. Car buying is easier if you don't have a trade. A trade throws a whole other dimension to an already dicey situation. At this point you are negotiating price, trade in and payments. Even worse if you owe money on your trade.
4. Research. Find the car and model you like and watch the ads. I knew when I went into the dealership which car was the ad car and that the dealer had many of them. Actually they FINALLY matched an ad that another dealer had. Be prepared to buy the ad car or else the price on a similar car could be much higher. Or you could also pay $500 on pinstripes or $799 for the "environmental protection plan" blah blah blah. I got the already installed tinted windows on my car for free.
5. Buying verses leasing. I've leased the last 2 cars we've bought. My payment difference between a 3 year lease and a 5 year payment was about $130 a month cheaper by leasing. I simply turn it in after 3 years and get another vehicle. There are mileage restrictions so beware. A lease is just another way of financing. You still have a payoff, the bank owns it, and you can actually trade it before the 3 years is up. Leasing could fit the budget and you can often buy a better quality car since the lease payment is based on it's future value. Think future value of a Honda Accord vs. Chevy Malibu.
6. New verses used. I have a hard time paying $15,000 for a used car with just a little bit of warranty left when I can get the same car brand new for about $20,000 and a full 3 year warranty. The story is different if you are looking at a $3000 used car verse a brand new car.

Helpful websites:

www.autotrader.com
www.kbb.com kelly blue book
www.cars.com

Warranties? If you are going to for SURE keep a car for more than 4 years and put as many as 100,000 miles on it you may consider a warranty. Dealer cost on a warranty is about 1/2 the retail price. Dealers can negotiate on this too!
Color? I see these crazy bright yellow or funky off colors and it does affect resale. Not as much on a lease, but you severely limit who will look at buying your car if it has an odd color. Don't do it!

Feel free to ask questions since this is not all inclusive!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend Update

Friday night I announce volleyball and our team got whipped.

Saturday I handed out 100 flyers for our Fall Festival October 31st, watched a few students play football and watched The Kingdom.

Sunday was church and family time. A big disappointment was showing up to get my son's hair cut as they turn the open sign off. An even bigger disappointment was driving by the car dealership that had a CJ-7 on the lot at 3pm and at 5:15 it was gone. I'll go back and see it on Monday.

Been having a hard time posting lately.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trick or Church?

Early this month my wife and realized that we were being strategically placed to help out at church for our Fall Festival that will be held October 31st, Halloween Night. My wife made it clear right away that we would not be available since our family does celebrate Halloween, usually by letting our kids dress up and walk our neighborhood. We are participating at church by donating candy.

I guess church and halloween is kind of like church and state. They are very separate.

The biggest issue for us is the fact that we are leaders at church and are generally expected to be there on a regular basis. I guess my wife and I could divy things up and do both.

Give me some feedback on this!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What is more satisfying

2 things I did today were very satisfying, and possibly weird for some folks.

Today while mowing I was able to disturb about 6 different ant piles, most likely fire ants here in Texas. There is just something satisfying about kicking or hacking off a 1000 ants. I did get bit or stung by one ant while mowing.

After mowing today I went to a friend's house to watch the Mizzou/OU game. I reached into my gym bag with great anticipation as I searched for my new unblemished white underwear. I was in the guest bathroom, almost a bit giddy as I firmly put the new Hanes in place. Ah....freshness!

So, what would be more satisfying for you.......kicking an ant pile sending ants into defensive frenzy or pulling up those brand new undies? I'm still having a hard time deciding.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

State Fair Woes

My wife hates my pessimistic attitude when it comes to outings involving large crowds. Yesterday 22 local school districts had the day off and all students plus teachers had a free ticket for the state fair. I ventured off with my family about 10 am. All told we spent at least 3 1/2 hours riding in our car, much of it in traffic. We also spent about an hour walking to and from the parking lot to the fair. Almost 1/2 of our "fairtime" was spent in our car or on the parking lot. We spent about 5 actual hours galavanting around the fairgrounds.

Pros of the state fair:
1. FREE, they even let my wife in on a student ticket
2. FOOD, lots of it EVERWHERE
3. KIDS, the kids got to explore. They seemed more interested in leaves and sticks than anything else.
4. BIRD SHOW-excellent upclose show about hawks, owls and other birds
5. AUTOSHOW-we spent about 20 minutes checking out mainly the new Jeeps-The concept truck for Jeep is called Gladiator. AWESOME!
6. A/C-many indoor exhibits had air condition
7. The Lion King-we saved about $20 buying our Lion King tickets at the actual box office. Service charges were $6.75 online.

Cons of the state fair:
1. FREE DAY-too many people
2. TRAFFIC-exits were closed and no clear communication on where to go. We were also funneled around to ONE entrance.
3. PARKING-$10 to park WAY AWAY. Picture the Griswolds at Wally World. They did have a shuttle servie. SEE #4.
4. SHUTTLE SERVICE-there was no clear system on who got to go first. People who were waiting often got shafted and had to wait while those who just walked up got a ride. AND, at 5pm there was about a 30-45 minute wait to get a ride back to the car. We WALKED IT.
5. HEAT-October 8th and it was over 90 degrees with HIGH humidity.
6. TICKETS-cash is rarely used. Ticket vouchers were needed and some of the ticket booths had lines that people would stand in for over an hour. PLUS, we didn't use $7 worth since I couldn't find the funnel cake stand.
7. RIDES-$5 for one ride. This makes Six Flags look like a deal.
8. MAP-the map didn't really clearly define what was what so we often guessed on where we were going.
9. LINES-just about EVERYTHING had long lines. Except the Cotton Candy line.
10. INEXPERIENCE-I now know to get a Fletchers corn dog instead of a generic one

I do understand that the fair normally isn't THAT crazy. Maybe I'll find out next Tuesday when we go to see The Lion King musical inside the fair. Our ticket lets us in to the state fair at no charge. I just worry about where to park. Next year maybe I'll take a "sick" day and go on a day when few people are there.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

You are rude

"Mr. X, I am not calling to sell you anything......" the sales call started. I struggled to understand what the lady was saying and when she asked if I was interested I told her that I couldn't understand a word she said. She then asked me if I was an American. WOW, what nerve. I proceeded to tell her that I wasn't interested and it was family time. She continued with her sales pitch. I told her I wasn't interested and she asked why. "First of all, I can't understand a word that you are saying, and I am currently spending time with my kids........" She then said I was RUDE, so I hung up.

2 minutes later the phone rang again and it was someone else from a place called????Beachcomber? I couldn't understand this guy either. He asked me if I was a "national?" I told him I was born in the midwest and have lived in America my whole life. He asked if I was interested in a FREE vacation and I said no. He asked why and I reitterated that it was family time and I wasn't interested in spending part of my night talking on the phone with someone I didn't know. He said okay and we parted ways a little bit better than the first phone call.

What gall! Not trying to sell me anything? You may not be trying to sell me anything that costs me money, but you are trying to sell me on meeting someone who WILL try to sell me something. And to ask me if I am an American. Well, I am fluent at only one language, ENGLISH, and this lady and gentlemen couldn't say they were fluent at ENGLISH.

I wonder how far away this sales call came?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Down 30, Up 10

Last year about this time I finally decided to take dieting serious and I joined Weight Watchers the first week of November. In the course of 2 months I lost 20 pounds, thru the holidays mind you, and then an additional 10 pounds before I turned 41 last February. All last spring I bounced up and down a few pounds around the 200 barrier and gained back 10 pounds since summer began. On big contributor is the fact that I've been so busy and going to the gym is a distant thought. I've also loosened up greatly on what I allow myself to eat.

Well, October 1st begans the 2nd chapter of weight loss. I fully expect to lose the 10 pounds during November and would love to lose an additional 10-20 pounds before Christmas gets here.

The first thing driving me to lose weight is my trip to St. Louis at the end of October. I am going back for a weekend for my dad's birthday. Then mid-November I have my long overdue physical. I'd like to cushion the blow of "how much weight I need to lose" that the doctor recommends. Plus, I've felt like crap the last 2 months knowing that the clothes are starting to feel a bit tight again.

Day one! So far so good!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

3 Things

I mowed tonight and it is still HOT here in Texas. I got a bit of sunshine as I mowed for 3 people after school.

1. My daughter tags along with me when I mow right after school. She is pretty good and can entertain herself with a notepad or a magnadoodle. She really gets excited when someone is home and she gets to play. These past 2 weeks as we drive around we've transitioned from taking turns on what we listen to on the radio: she wants Radio Disney and I usually listen to ESPN or some pop music station. Now we just listen to Classical Music and it is not that bad! At least she isn't going to hear something she shouldn't hear!

2. I mowed 1/2 of a duplex tonight. Early in the mowing season the next door neighbor asked if I would mow their 1/2 too! We set up $15 as a fair price and I began mowing. This summer when I left for St. Louis my neighbor mowed for me and covered this lawn 2 times before he showed up and they had a sign that said, "Don't Mow Anymore" on the door. Well, I've mailed to bills to collect $45 they owe me to no avail. Tonight the boyfriend's truck was there and for some reason I did not go and knock and demand my money. I think I've chalked it up as a loss. They've had many chances to pay and haven't.

3. We had Pei Wei for dinner tonight for the first time and I really liked it. We dined for under $20 and that include 4 drinks. One adult teryaki bowl, 2 kids teryaki bowls, 2 adult drinks and 2 kids drinks. They only upcharge 50 cents for each kids drink. That's FAIR! I'll go back for sure!

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Smoothies

I have been interested in making smoothies for a while, but our blender was big, bulky and required more than necessary assembly each time it was cleaned so I had yet to delve into the smoothy market, until Monday night. I went ahead and put in orange juice, a banana, a strawberry and some ice. Wasn't that bad. Had a lot of ice chunks though.

My wife doesn't care for banana so I went to make her an orange julius. I put the blender on high and left it running a bit longer in an attempt to get rid of ice chunks. Well, I burnt up the blender.....it started smoking and somehow managed to leak some black liquid into the smoothy.

It was 8pm and Big Lots was open so I went to look at their choices. Two cost $20 and one $15. The Hamilton Beach blender had about 12 buttons so I opted for the 2 button blender with the glass container. I LOVE IT! Easy to clean and it really chops up the ice.

I am looking for some HEALTHY smoothy options for the upcoming weeks. This morning I just had orange juice with a banana, no ice. Not bad. Got any recommendations?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Billy the Kid is back in town

Best news I received today was the my best friend billyv is back in town, blogwise that is. He took a short sabbatical for personal reasons, but he is linked once again. Welcome back billyv!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lunch Disappointment

After church today I really wanted to go and watch some football. The only problem is in my decent sized town about the only place that would have most of the games on their screens is Hooters. This wouldn't sit well with my wife and it probably isn't sending the best message if this is my dining place of choice IMMEDIATELY after hearing a sermon from Matthew in which the pastor addressed the issues of lust in our society. As Homer Simpson might say, "Chicken wings, football, boobies."

About 40 minutes after NFL kickoffs we arrived at a restaurant just north of town and it was one we visited a few times last year with decent reviews. With 8 TVs going the Rams/Bucs game wasn't on so when the waitress addressed us I asked if we could get the Rams game. At least 10+ minutes later the manager finally hooked us up.

While the wife was in the restroom with daughter I ordered our drinks: tea, diet Coke, 2 kid sprites. She shows up with a large Sprite, large diet, and one kid sprite.

We ordered chicken nachos, wings with fries(hot sauce on the side), and a kids meal cheeseburger. While we waited for our food the manager and a few of his friends were playing the video golf game right next to us and he asked if we had been in before and I said last year. He informed us that he just took over ownership 3 weeks ago so it was a cool exchange.

The order came in a reasonable amount of time, but the wings were tiny and soaked in hotsauce.

When the waitress finally came back to our table we informed her of the wings issue, the need for silverware and napkins, ketchup and plates.

My wife also asked for some salsa for the nachos and the waitress brought back "wing sauce???"

We finished most of our food which didn't taste bad at all altough the fries were a bit wimpy and appeared to have sat under the warmer for a LONG time. Fries can be a deal killer for me!

My wife took my daughter to the restroom one more time and said one of the 2 toilet lids had a broken 1/2 lid. STRIKE 5. She commented that only someone with one butt cheek would be comfortable using that toilet. Plus she said her feet stuck to the floor as she walked across it.

The last deal breaker, well, the deal was broken long before we got the check. The total for our meal: nachos, wings with fries, kids meal burger and 3 drinks was $28. I left sick to my stomach that we went to this place. The service was not good at all. The food was decent, but not $28 range. We could have gone to Chilis, Saltgrass, or just about anywhere for that price. You know me, I find the deals. A nearby BBQ place would have been about $14 for us with ice creams for everyone! But, no games.

We were really disappointed that the one girl who was waiting on everyone couldn't keep up or remember things we asked for in a timely fashion. Probably the biggest disappointment was that the owner was standing within 5 feet of us and either didn't know the girl couldn't handle it, or didn't care.

The 5th Quarter had one chance to win us over and it failed. We won't be back.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What I Eat

I am very predictable when it comes to what I eat at which restaurants.

McDondalds-Filet of fish, double cheese onions only, fries
Pizza-sausage and pepperoni
Jack In the Box-2 tacos and onion rings
Scotty P's-chicken tenders and fries with cheese on top
White Castle-4 cheese-no pickles, fries, onion rings
Movies-large popcorn, large diet
KFC-tender/taco combo with potato wedges
Donut Palace-on cinnamon roll
Chick Fil A breakfast-chicken with egg biscuit
Chick Fil A dinner-tenders and a large waffle fry

I sometimes think about getting something different, but I don't. I think about getting a quarter pounder with cheese, onions only at McD's and I don't. I try not to get popcorn at the movies and I almost always do. I get bent if I have to eat a pizza that is not sausage and pepperoni.
I think one problem I have when I go somewhere new I think of all the menu combinations, the cheapest way to eat the most variety of food and so on. I have a hard time making decisions so being set on something does save me a LOT of time. The other day at Big Lots I was trying to decide on a snack chip and I think I must have bounced around the chip aisle for 10 minutes.

I guess I'm becoming an old dog!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fiber1000

After teaching a few lessons on food and nutrition at school I decided to add fiber to my diet. One girl brought in a box of Fiber1 cereal and with one 1/2 cup a person could get 57% of their daily recommended grams of fiber. So when I saw Fiber1 breakfast bars I had my wife get some. They only provided 40% per bar so the first morning I had 2 of them with a diet Pepsi. BIG MISTAKE. By 10am I was experiencing some severe gas build up. I had not had this level of discomfort EVER. While monitoring my class I probably walked out into the hallway 10 times a half hour to let loose. I really had to be careful and hold back a bit because I know people down in the cafeteria or the gym would hear.

Everywhere I went I tried to pass some out inconspicuously. For the most part they were odor free, but I get moving around just in case. From 10 to 10 that day I probably let out about 1,000 air biscuits. The next day wasn't quite as bad, or should I say I didn't let loose as often, but the odor began to get offensive.

It took me about 3 days to recover and I think I will let someone else have my Fiber1 breakfast bars. I could let the kids have one each for breakfast!

WOW. I'm not exaggerating in this story. Buyer Beware!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Time or No Desire?

I've been slacking in the blogging department lately. Well, sort of. I've probably posted about 80% of the time on my new bible reading blog www.cravetheword.blogspot.com. Since I am committed to doing that before I even check emails it has helped my spiritual life very much. I may be slacking in blogging because I am very busy and very tired. This has been an extremely busy start for a school year. This week I have 3 after school commitments along with other church, mowing and auto detailing commitments.

One huge blessing tonight was that my kids went straight to bed after I picked them up from church. I played hooky for 2 hours and got a grip on a bit of house cleaning. I can actually see the floor in my bedroom, 90% of the clothes are washed AND folded. Not sure I'm going to fold the load currently in the drier.

I am looking forward to a Friday night of cards. Friday night may be the only night in 2 weeks that I haven't had to do something.

I love my new school, the kids are great, and fall is just around the corner.........

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dining In Drawbacks

I really am surprised that I don't weight 300 pounds since over the summer we averaged eating out 2 times a day EASILY! We've made a decent attempt to start dining at home and scheduling our dine out times based on being busy with church and other school commitments. My wife has tried to design meals for the weak with the intention of us actually being home for those meals. Problem is when we both get home after 6pm many times neither of us want to take that extra 30 plus minutes making a meal AND messing the place up even more.

Maybe for us dining at home needs to be quick micro meals from Lean Cuisine or SmartOnes. The disposable dishes are handy plus the portions are very acceptable. Tonight when I got home I spent some time unloading the dishwasher and then semi-cleaning dishes to load the dishwasher again. I was able to remember some of the meals that we have indeed had this week.

The problems of our dining at home begin with commitment. We often buy the groceries for it, but don't always stay the course. Some of the food that is bought ends up getting thrown out. Also, my wife and I are not that good at closing the deal of doing the dishes. I've always been the type of person who: kicks my shoes off at the door, sets something down wherever I am standing, washes clothes and only folds them when I can't get to the washer, basically I ride the horse hard and end up putting it away wet.

I wonder if I planned dining out meals around kids eat free events or super cheap meals if it would actually be cheaper and even free us up on time since there would be less time spent cleaning up.

I guess I'm just not a good planner. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

$100 Update

If you remember a few weeks ago my wife found a $100 bill outside of a local bank after she went inside to cash our checks. By chance we used the inside part because we sat in the drive thru for 10 minutes without moving. When she got in the truck we talked about what to do? She found it on the parking lot. We decided to ask the couple who pulled up after us if they lost anything and they said no.

We have kept the $100 in a safe place for 3 weeks until Monday. On Monday, my wife's birthday, we went to an antique mall. Part of my birthday gift to her was getting a sitter 2 days in a row. As we browsed thru the mall I actually said a brief, quiet prayer that we would actually find a wooden blanket box somewhat like the one we had about 8 years ago and sold when we came back to Texas. We miss that blanket box that doubled as a cool looking hamper. Well, it wasn't one aisle later when we came across a decent looking blanket box. I had $200 in my and my wife later said she was thinking $195. It listed for $295. We looked it over good and finally walked on. I was easily justifying buying it since I hadn't got my wife much for her birthday. The next aisle we came across ANOTHER blanket box similar to the first one. It had to be the same vendor. Sure enough. A lady asked if she could help us and chatted a bit. Without any prompting she said it was her booth and she was taking 15% off for labor day.

Buy price would be $250 plus tax. Now we just need to decide which one. We ended up buying one plus 3 wooden chairs at $22.50 each. Our total purchase with tax was $344.

Total Purchase $344
$100 found money $ -$100
birthday check from mom -$ 75
wife's savings bond from 1978 -$ 50
$ saved from misordering flowers -$ 44

Real net out of pocket $75(or the antique blanket box for FREE)

I could easily justify that I might spend $75 for her gift. All I know is she is extremely happy with her mid-30's birthday weekend!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Date Night

Actually went on a date tonight with my wife.

Dinner: $6 cash,$20 giftcard
2 games of pool: $2
4 games of bowling: $11
1 large coke:$2.50

The sitter cost as much as our night out: $40. It was great getting away from our kids and seeing that we still enjoy being around each other. Kids are a blessing, but they do take away from the time a couple have together.

I really need for grandma to move to Texas and watch them on a weekly basis!

Have a great Labor(less) Day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Women Sports

I am about to begin announcing for my 5th season in decent sized school district. I call games for volleyball, softball and basketball for girls high school as well as basketball for the boys high school team. I can honestly say that girls sports can be as fun and as exciting to call as the boys games. My only true comparison is basketball and the level of play for the boys is much higher. My favorite sport to call is probably volleyball because no matter how lopsided the teams are there are some rallys that are really exciting. An inferior team may pull of winning one game of a best of 5 match also. In basketball and softball the better team usually dominates the whole time.

That said, I saw a commercial on ESPN the other day where some well known female athletes walk up to a mega megaphone and start talking about women sports and equality, etc. I do agree that girls should be given the same opportunities as men when it comes to scholarships, BUT it is obvious that 99% of the time women's sports can't compete with men's sports when it comes to viewership. Who watches sports? MEN. Who do they watch? MEN. A very small percentage of women even care enough to watch golf, baseball, basketball, bowling, football and such. Men don't watch women's sports. Tennis may be the one sport that women are on an even playing field. Men ARE programmed to watch sports, but realistically we watch other men. Occasionally the lucky guy marries the girl who knows a bit about football or baseball and will go out to a sportsbar or sit around on a Sunday afternoon and watch NFL games.

Finally, since men's sports brings in about 98% of advertising money at the college level I can see why it is tough to evenly provide scholarships to both girls and boys as outline in Title IX. I wonder if all of the other scholarships: academics, arts, music, etc are evenly spread ?

Monday, August 27, 2007

You Know..........

You know it's been too long since you've been at the gym when:

+you are happy doing 1 mile in 20 minutes
+you call it a day after 2 bicep exercises
+your stretching routine is longer than you workout
+you forget your locker combination
+you forgot what a naked grown man looks like
+your feet hurt after walking 1 mile

With the routine that going back to work brings I really hope to get back into the swing of things at the gym. The scales show me up 10 pounds since summer began and I know I can reclaim, or should I say, shed those evil pounds with a few weeks of consistent working out and eating behavior.

All the above were true. I stretched out for about 10 minutes. I walked a mile, then went to the restroom. I came back and walked another mile in 18 minutes. My free weight routine was 2 sets of curls. I then sat in the dry sauna for about 10 minutes and called it a day. I even got a few unwanted looks a sweaty, hairy, dripping, flabby, old men. Clothes really do wonders for people. Even thinner people who APPEAR to be fit.

Goal for the end of September is to be back under 200 pounds. The next milestone would be the 190 mark.

Go me!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Long Do You Wait?

Does it bother anyone else when you visit a drive thru and are asked to pull up or out front and "we'll bring your order out ASAP?"

I went through a "healthy" fast food drive thru tonight and ordered 4 simple items for myself and my family. I paid my $5.48 and was asked to pull around the corner just as the car in front of me did seconds ago. I sat out front entertaining my kids and the car in front of me got 3 bags of food. I sat for a little while longer and began to wonder if my food was traveling down the road with the family in front of me. Since I had 2 kids with me I pulled back around to the drive thru and asked about my food. I was told to pull to the window.

I was asked, "You the one with the Texas Cheeseburger?"
Me, "Uh, yes and fries, onion rings and 2 tacos."
Server, "Sorry about that, it happens sometimes when we have so many people pull around front." She handed me my food.
I look in to see I am missing my tacos.

Not much in the area of customer service recovery efforts. I have contacted the stores website and informed them what happened. We'll see! If I get a satisfactory result I'll not name the place since I usually get good service. If you frequent this place you should know by what I ordered.

Me and BillyV moment: "I don't remember ordering 2 tacos..." as I bite into one of BillyV's tacos!

What would a place do if you refused to "pull forward?" You know by pulling forward it makes the store's numbers appear better that they provide QUICK service. Bah!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Poison Ivy

Last Wednesday night I skipped church to do some work for the church. We are trying to put in a sign at a busy intersection and the weeds were over 6 feet tall. Well, my work Wednesday night wasn't too bad although the tall grass was thick enough to run my weed eater out of string before I finished. I also had some weeds that required the use of a hand clipper. I managed to mow the rest and all said I cleared out an area of about 15 square feet.

Thursday I got a call from the pastor asking if I had about an hour to help put the sign in. It was my last day off and I had plans with the family so he excused me from helping. I felt the need to help and loaded the truck with my weed eater thinking I could clear out the little area that was still blocking what would be the bottom part of the sign. I let the pastor know I would help and while I waited for him to show up I started weeding. Then I noticed the dreaded Poison Ivy monster. I had already whacked some of it down. Bad thing for me I had on short sleeves.

A little bit later I worked the augger(gas post hole digger). In the 30 minutes that I worked I sweat a lot. I was worried about wiping the poison ivy in my eyes so I kept my goggles on.

I went home, showered, and then spent the day taking the public train with my family to downtown Dallas.

Nothing showed up until Sunday when I could see these little spots on my forearms. It was 3 days later and usually poison ivy shows up withing 12-48 hours. As I look back I did do the laundry on Saturday and possibly picked up my sweat pants and t-shirt as I grabbed clothes to wash.

Poison Ivy Facts:
Once you break out it is not contagious.
The oil of poision ivy(urishiol) can stay active on shoes or clothing for up to 5 years. WOW.

If you suspect that you've been exposed to poison ivy:

Apply rubbing alcohol to the infected area.
Rinse with water (any water).
Wash up with soap and warm water.

I found something called zanfel that sells for $40 an ounce. Instead I read online that if you take a hair dryer and heat the infected area to the hottest that you can bear your skin sends a message to the brain to start healing the skin instead of reacting to the itchy feeling. So far that has worked!!!!!

Moral of the story: don't skip church, or don't help the pastor after you have been excused!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The $100 Dollar Test

We went to the bank today to deposit my wife's check and also to take out enough cash to start our budget system. We arrived around 12:30 and after sitting in the bank drive up lane for about 10 minutes without moving my wife got out and went inside. Does anyone else feel slighted that the 2 empty lanes are for "commercial" accounts only.

After a few minutes I realized that my wife indeed made it inside so I pulled around to the front of the bank and waited for her return. A couple pulled in next to me a few minutes later and made it inside also. After a short wait my wife returned to our truck. She holds up a $100 bill that she found on the ground. If you remember about 2 months ago I found a $100 bill at BigLots and returned it and never heard another word about it.

We sat and pondered about what to do. Comments from my last blog tend to slant towards keeping it if it was OUTSIDE a place of business. Together we decided to wait and see if the couple who parked next to us lost any money. When the guy walked up next to us he was surprised that we started talking to him. He reassured us that he didn't lose any money.

That said we decided to drive off. We continued to discuss what we should do. Did God bless us with a $100 bill? What he testing our character?

Once again, what would you have done?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Budget Time

You know when you post a date of when you are going to start your diet and that date finally comes and you look for reasons why you COULD bump it back just a bit? Well, today is budget time for my family. My wife and I both get paid on the 15th and we are going to make a commitment to paying off all our debt outside the house and one car payment within one year.

I analyzed our monthly bills, fixed and flexible, along with variable items such as food, clothing and entertainment and with aggressively paying down what debt we do have we still have a bit of money left over each month. We are going to an envelope system where we will put cash in various envelopes: mine, my wife's, clothing, food and dating-entertainment. If there is no cash then it means NO GO. We plan on using our bankcards only for gas, hair cuts and any medical issues. Probably will create a miscellaneous envelope for the times I earn extra cash mowing or detailing cars.

My number each month to spend is $100, or $25 a week. When you only have so much to spend a few things will change: $5 buy in poker nights in stead of the $20 games, fewer fountain drinks, non-premium beverages on card nights, sodas while watching the game at a sportsbar, dining at home a LOT more, sneaking in my own popcorn to the movies, going to the $5 theatre instead of the $8 nicer one. Breakfasts at home instead of drive-thrus.

What do you think is a reasonable amount for personal expenses each month?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No Return for Me

Last Friday I went to Walmart in attempts to exchange a gift for my daughter. In the past my name had been blocked and I've not been able to exhange anything without a receipt. Well, once again I was refused and it was awkward having to tell my daughter that daddy has something on his record and I couldn't trade in her game that she got for her birthday. The Walmart rep did give me a # to contact and it seems that I have an outstanding bad check for about $400 from 2003.

During the summer of 2003 I received a visit from a nearby city police detective. My identity had been stolen from the trash dumpster of a car dealership that I had worked for 2 months. The case came to a head when police responded to a tip of check laundering. When the came to the hotel the suspect took off in a vehicle and a high speed chase occured and it ended up with a tragic result. The assailant broadsided a lady resulting in her death.

The detective showed me a driver's license of the suspect and there was my first and last name, address, driver's license number and some other data. He did use a different middle name and it was HIS picture. Weird. I ended up being called to be sworn in, but never testified. I never really knew what happened with the case. Fortunately for me my credit wasn't tarnished because I've been able to buy things without any problems. I just can't exchange things at Walmart.

So what do I do? Spend the time and effort to clear my name at Walmart? As far as I've experienced this is the only flaw that I have at this time. I would need to fax or write the records department asking for a release of the information. Then I'd need to contact Telecheck to see what I need to do with them and so on and so on and so on. This seems like it is a problem maybe once ever 2 years so I may just skip it. I may get the released information because it would be nice to know what happened.

On paper it appears I was charged with manslaughter. The case must have been plea bargained because I still can't find any record of what happened.

Monday, August 13, 2007

T-MINUS

The countdown to the start of school has officially started. Both my wife and I spent a little bit of time at school today getting ready for the kids who come 2 weeks from today.

This past weekend my wife took our son to St. Louis as she attended a funeral for her brother in law who tragically died in a one car accident. It is a miracle that her nephew lived. My wife drove so I was glad they made it safely back last night. You truly never know when is the last time you might see someone. The hard part was letting them go last Thursday. I really wanted to hug on my son!

I had my daughter and she stayed with church friends as I attended a work retreat. We are opening up a new school so it was a great time for us to bond and get to know each other. This is going to be a special year!

I am also looking forward to spending a bit of time with my best friend Billyv who should be coming thru on Thursday. I think he has a weekend church commitment at his former church in the area.

Fact of the Day: Did you know the can opener was invented 48 years after the can was made?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Death and Taxes

I am doing something tonight that falls in between the experiences of death or going to a funeral and paying taxes. I am going to a professional baseball game tonight. That's not so bad, but it's for a local team that is in LAST place and I could maybe tell you 2 people on the team. Makes me feel like a typical gal in not knowing players on the team.

"Which color are we so I know who to vote for?"
"First of all, the HOME team usually wears the white color and the visiting team wears gray or some other color accentuated by their team color. Second, you don't get a vote here, you cheer or root for the team."

Anyway, when our church group posted this on the calendar I knew I wouldn't want to go, but when I was asked I told our leader that "I will reluctantly go to the game." The ONLY reason I am going is to participate in our church group function. It is going to be HOT----100+. It will take 45 min. to 1 hour to get to the game. I am missing out on an opportunity to play cards. I'll get in late and I have to leave at 7am for a retreat.

5-11pm is going to be torture for me! Also, my wife isn't going because she left for St. Louis yesterday, her brother in law died in a car accident. My daughter will go in her place.

Pray for my wife and the famil with the loss. Also, think of me sweating in the Texas sun.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thankful Moments

Why does it always seem like we remember the bad things that happen to us. When I visit family in St. Louis I sometimes get beat down by my brother who often says, "Oh yeah, nothing is easy....." and other sayings that are kind of negative like this. I think that the 10% of bad things or negative things seem to occupy our thoughts more than the 90% of neutral or positive things that happen to us. One example could be that out of 10 golfing trips it might have rained 1 time, but during that one time we thing....."It had to rain today, the one time I get off work and try to golf."

Well, today I am thankful for the one negative thing that COULD have happened to me and DIDN'T. I was driving back from mowing my friend's lawn when I noticed that I was indeed going 50 m.p.h. in a 40 m.p.h. zone so I backed it down a bit. Sure enough less than a 1/2 mile later I noticed a motor cycle cop pulling up behing me. I remained calm mainly because he didn't have his lights on. He then proceeded to pull into the lane next to me and stopped 2 cars ahead of me before turning on his lights. I thought maybe he was going to point for me to pull over as the light turned green. Nope, he pointed at the car in front of me. That guy got a ticket and it could have just as well have been me that got the ticket.

After I got home I realized that I have our church's advertising placard on the back of my truck. Did the Holy Spirit intervene and cause me to be aware that I was speeding? Is there a possibility that the officer saw that and decided not to give me a ticket? Or did God intervene and blind the officer to the truth that I was speeding too causing him to ticket someone else?Spiritually, crazier things have happened.

Either way, thanks GOD for sparing me a $100 ticket.

MAN FOTD: Did you know that according to today's USAToday there are still 78,000 service men missing from WWII? Makes the 3,000+ service men who have died during this Iraq War pale in comparison. There are 4 missing to date in this war.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

National Night Out

I don't know if this is a national thing, Texas thing, or North Texas thing, but we are having our National Night Out tonight. In the past our neighbor and his wife have taken it upon themselves to kind of host our area deal, but I have not heard or seen any fliers for this year. I do know some neighborhoods have block parties and local fire and police departments make their rounds and greet the people and kids.

When it comes to meeting my neighbors I am not that outgoing. Yet, at church I am in charge of our welcoming center and love meeting new people. When my neighbors congregate on our street I tend to say hi and continue about my way. My street is a little bit unique in that my side of the street only has 3 homes and the other side has 6. Then add in the few neighbors who are adjacent to us. In the past we have taken over the dead end street, the neighbor had cooked hot dogs and picked up sponsors t-shirts. The kids all run wild and I end up counting the minutes to when I can go back inside.

Not sure what is happening tonight. I wouldn't mind sneaking away about 5pm before the hoopla gets started and roll back in after 9:30pm when everyone has retreated to their casas.

Is anyone else doing the National Night Out thing tonight?

Monday, August 06, 2007

What's The Purpose?

I knew when school let out that going to St. Louis while my wife attended a 3 week training was a wise thing to do. I would have sat around the house for 3 weeks with the kids with way too much time on my hands. Well, summer is dwindling down and school is just around the corner, but right now I find myself sitting around without purpose. Mowing is down to a one day a week thing. The gym is only a 2 hour activity. We don't have the money to just go and go right now so it is wise for us to stay home. It's so hot that staying home means staying inside. That means I am on the computer a bit more and I'm snacking A LOT!

My mom turned in her retirement papers today and she said she was most concerned about what to do with herself once she doesn't have a purpose to get up in the morning.

I just have a hard time sitting around and doing nothing!

I did make southwest chicken chili tonight: 4 chicken breasts cooked and shredded, add one onion and one green pepper chopped, add a jalepeno to taste, add one 28 oz. can of chopped or diced tomatoes, add one can of beans(chili, red, kidney, doesn't matter), add chili seasoning and cook. Feel free to add things like salt, pepper, cilantro. Let it cook on low for a while and enjoy a decent, semi-healthy meal. For me I'll ruin it with lots of tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.

Facts about chili:
-Did you know that chili peppers were grown since 4500 B.C. in the Americas, from Peru in the south to Mexico in the north?
-The heat is measured in Scoville units. Bell peppers rank at zero units, jalapeƱos between 3,000 and 6,000, and habaƱeros at 300,000 Scoville units.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Useless Fact OTD

Billyv and I go way back to about 4th grade so our friendship spans 30+ years and thru the years and states apart and near we have maintained this friendship with very little interuption. One thing I was always good for and billyv seemed to love was the MAN useless fact of the day. Yesterday I posted that 70-80% of the toys we buy in the USA are made in China and billyv commented that he loved the fact of the day. That said I am committed to bringing you at least one useless fact of the day at the end of my normal posts.

We were successful today FINDING yard sales, but the only real catch of the day was made by my daughter. The 2nd sale we found had some Little Petshop items and she bought the whole thing for a $1. The Littlest Petshop Park retails for about $30. I know this because 2 weeks ago we bought it for her birthday. Along with the park she got 6 "pets" which retail for about $4 each. Total retail would have topped $50 and she paid $1.

Next time I think we will hire our neighbor to watch the kids from 8-noon. After about an hour they were both driving us crazy!

TheMAN Fact OTD: Nearly 90% of adult contract oral herpes simplex 1. I saw this on Dr. G last night. She is the one who does autopsies. A young lady died from this only 2 weeks after she kissed some guy at a bar who might have bitten her lip. Only 22 known cases of death thru this disease.

Down for the Count

The main goal for today was getting my mowing completed. It had been 8 days since I last mowed so I took off about 9:30am this morning with my daughter and after getting a donut and making a deposit at the bank I started mowing about 10am.

Long story short, I mowed 4 lawns in the heat of day and I staved off heat exhaustion, just barely! I spent most of the afternoon laying on the couch watching The Bourne Identity.

I felt revived enough by 8pm to take my family for sno cones. Wow, it hit the spot.

Fact for the day: 70-80% of toys bought in the USA were made in China. We have one of the toy sets that were recalled due to lead being in the paint.

I wonder a)how many don't know about a recall
b)how many who do know about the recall just throw the toys away
c)how many take the time to get a refund?

Saturday AM: yard sales or rummaging some may say

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Actual Date Night

We have a sitter lined up for tonight:

Her needs: a little bit of shopping at the local outlet mall.
Our needs: dinner at a gourmet pizza place, FREE COUPON!
My needs: go to a movie

Should be home sometime after midnight. Could try to drop my date off by midnight and then go see The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ding Dong! See ya.............

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Ultimatum

I do love movies, but not often does a movie come out that I can't wait for. The kind of movie that I would probably go to the midnight showing to be one of the first to see it. Well, this Friday The Bourne Ultimatum http://www.thebourneultimatum.com/ comes out and I am looking at ways to convince my wife to do something with the kids while I go and watch this movie.

The first of the Bourne movies was The Bourne Identity which was released in 2002, which was based on the book written by Robert Ludlum in 1980. The first book deals with the Vietnam war so the movie is "loosely" based on the book. Sequel books were written in 1986 and 1990. Eric Van Lustbader wrote 2 more books since the movies have been blockbuster hits. It appears that the last 2 movies have been a blend of the last 2 books by Ludlum and the 2 books by Van Lustbader. No telling if there will be sequels.

I do enjoy Matt Damon and the Bourne movies to this date have not disappointed. Now, if I could find a way to go for FREE that would be so ME! I feel like I need to find The Identity and The Supremacy on cable before going to watch the 3rd movie.

You can read all about Jason Bourne and his saga's at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Bourne .

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

9:22

I finally got out of bed at 9:22am this morning. It helps that my wife put new curtains or drapes on the wall and our room can stay dark all day if we choose. I'm still dragging and know that SOON I need to get on a routine since school will be starting and the get up time will be 3 hours earlier than 9:22. I also know that I will need to get in bed before 11pm and not stay up playing cards until 3am.

I think I feel like crap right now also because I've not been on a consistent eating plan since school let out. Also, I haven't see the gym as often as I should have. So, in a round about way I am looking forward to the consistency that being back in school will bring.

Today is my mental last day of summer where I can be lazy ALL DAY! Maybe even take in a movie and have a large buttered popcorn and 44 oz. diet Coke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Crave The Word

As a Christian one of the things I really struggle with is actually spending time in God's word on a daily basis. This is crazy to me because I thoroughly love and enjoy reading the bible. I fall short of saying CRAVE because that would suggest that I would be more active in reading the bible. I created a website one time while teaching a bible class and it died out within a month. I've also copied and pasted passages in a 3 ring binder from Biblegateway and it also lasted about a month.

Reading the bible is not a chore at all, but for some dumb reason I seem to get too busy to consistently grow myself spiritually in the word. I'm too busy watching TV, checking email, mowing, etc. Well, my new goal is to actually read one chapter of the bible each day and post it on a separate blogger site. You are welcome to read the chapter, comment on the few things that I share, or post a comment on something that the passage is telling you.

I challenge you to keep me accountable in the effort and hope I grow spiritually and act as an encouragement for you to get busy reading the bible as well. Hopefully I will last longer than a month!

So feel free to click the link to your right called Crave The Word! I've already posted Epeshians 1. I comment on how God sees you if you are a believer and also give my understanding about not being able to lose your GIFT of salvation.

You've come this far.........spend less than 5 minutes in The Word!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mental Day Planner

I have never carried around a day planner or calendar book. I know some people have their lives and schedules written down months in advance and are very detailed about appointments and such, but I've always kept a mental calendar of where and when I should be. That said my mental calendar has been thrown into overdrive with school quickly approaching.

When school let out early this past June that August 17th date was posted deep down somewhere in my right parietal-temporal lobe. I knew I had 30 days to spend in St. Louis and had mentally figured different milestone dates that would increase my awareness as to when I would have to go back to work.

Dates and matter of importance to me

July 1st-one full calendar month before August
July 17th-30 days before reporting back to work officially. Most teachers go back WAY before their report date.
July 25th-my first step back into thinking about the next school year. I had a 2 day science workshop.
July 31st-to me this is kind of my LAST real day of summer because August will be busy.
August 11-going with 50 colleagues on an overnight team building ropes course deal.
August 17-first real report day to work in the room and 10 daby BK(before kids).
August 24-my last weekend, although August 17th is the last FREE from kids weekend.
August 27-ready or not, here they come
August 31-first Friday and start of a 3 day weekend
September 4-this Tuesday will be the start of what I hope is an awesome year!

With all of these dates bouncing around on my mental calendar I rarely miss an appointment or responsibility. AND September 3rd is in there because it is my wife's birthday. I am already thinking how many days I have left to buy her something special. Wish me luck on that one.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Letter Rip

During my conversation with my pastor a while back we talked about dreams and what you watch, read or seriously think about and how it impacts what you dream about. I really don't like to watch the news before going to bed because 90% or more is so negative. In North Texas even the watching the weather can be stressful.

Well, let me tell you what I remember dreaming about last night. I was making words in my dreams. Last night my wife and I played a game called Letter Rip which is found on www.primarygames.com. You get many tiles and you have to spell as many words as you can in a short amount of time. The bigger the word, the more points you get.

In the past I do recall playing Free Cell, poker and Fowl Words(primarygames) in my sleep.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Prayer Gratitude AND Smells

Thanks for the prayer on my dad. After a 2 week visit in the hospital he went home yesterday, Monday. He is doing fine, but is really bummed out about not being able to work his garden. My brother did pick about 100+ tomatoes and my dad says that his sister and neice are coming over to do some canning. My brother said some of the cucumbers were as big as watermelons.

Also, my friend's roommate did pass away so continue to pray for my "resourceful" friend as she and her daughter deal with their loss!

Positive Smells Natural
Flowers-they smell great to us, but serve as to attract the bugs so plants can reproduce
Fresh cut grass-this may kill those with allergies, but I dig the smell of a fresh cut lawn early in the morning
Fruits-God gave us some very colorful food and most of if comes with an attractive smell. Instead I like dull looking potato chips and deep fried goods.

Positive Smells Man-Made
Popcorn at a movie theatre-need I say more
Asphalt smell-reminds me of Six Flags
Leather/new car smell-it doesn't last long, but we all like to climb into a new car and take in that smell
Bread/cookies-anthing that is fresh baked usually gets into this category
Italian restaurant-must be the garlic or oregano

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Story

My side of the story:

During the winter of 94 I left work at the Jeep Eagle dealership where I worked to pick up my late night date. I pulled up in my brand new 1995 metalic grey all wheel drive Eagle Talon with leather interior. I was sure to impress my date. I hopped out of the demo and headed to the apartment in which my date lived. After a few minutes we returned back to the car and like a true gentleman I walked her to her side and opened the door. After she was safely in I walked around the car and let myself in the driver seat. It was then that I felt a sense of terror. I had released a wee bit of gas before I got out of the car to pick up my date and little, if any of it, had disapated in the cold St. Louis air. Like a deer in the headlights I froze, not acknowledging the smell, just hoping the new leather smell would stand out to my date more than what had come out of my rear end just minutes before. My date ended up marrying me that following summer.

Her side of the story:

The story is rather accurate! My future husband came upstairs to my apartment and lingered between 5 and 10 minutes. It was a rather cold evening in late Feb or early march. Like a gentleman, he opened the car door for me. I had no idea of the suffocation I was about to endure. It was terrible. I had smelled gas before, but never this smell. I imagine the 10 minutes of cold air had frozen the smell into fart icycles just hanging from the roof! He did realize upon his entry, which seemed to be hours later, and meekly squeeked out an, "oh...sorry." We laugh about this still to this day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Smells

As I sat at a local intersection with my daughter she commented that "someone was smoking." She was right, even with our windows up and the A/C going we could smell the invasive odor of the burning cigarette.

I thought I would post down 10 offensive or disgusting smells.

5 Imposing Smells others may force upon you

1. Cigarette smoke-this distinct, unhealthy, discharge of a cigarette lingers and travels very far. I don't know what is worse, the original smell of the cigarette at the bar, or the smell of your clothes after you get home.
2. Body odor-this tends to be a problem for heavier people, or those who don't shower that often. Sometimes the smell of body odor that has a heavy dose of perfume on it is even worse.
3. Flautulence-we all break the wind, but it is how and where we do it that counts. I'LL POST A PERSONAL FUNNY ON THIS ONE TOMORROW!
4. Breath-some people suffer from HALITOSIS, but sometimes items like coffee or onions can really extend how far your bad breath travels.
5. Bad perfume-when someone WAY OVERDOES their favorite cologne or eau de toilet so that everyone within 20 feet can smell them.

5 Bad Smells in General

1. Urine-especially the whiff of a concreted area where people may urinate in public. An example would be a place where the homeless may relieve themselves.
2. Burnt popcorn-those who set the microwave for 4 minutes and walk off only to come back to a smoke filled room and ruined popcorn. This smell travels much farther and tends to be more permanent than cigarette smoke.
3. Skunk-if you've ever run over a skunk while driving you may understand this one. The smell lasts forever in your car.
4. Death-decomposing flesh has a very pungent smell about it. We had a 99 Cavalier in which a mouse built a nest. When I turned on the A/C unit the fan basically blendered the baby mice and caused more than $500 damage. Imagine my car sitting on the dealer's lot for 2 days with the windows up in near 100 degree heat. That smell went with the car when we traded it in.
5. Vomit-that raw semi-digested food with the trace of stomach acid can cause gag reflexes in many people.

Future posts include one of my near tragic flatulence occurences AND positive smells!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sorry, We're Closed

I had kid duty tonight and procrastinated until about 7:15 before deciding what to do for dinner. Dining at home was out since we, check that, my wife did a major cleaning on the house in preparation for a birthday party Saturday.

With 2 kids I really wasn't that excited about going IN anywhere so I decided to drive to Ameriyaki grill, a place WAY across town. I really enjoy their teryaki chicken bowl and they've got Jr. burgers which the kids like. I have them addressed in my cell phone and tried calling about 1/2 way there. My plan was to just go in and pick up dinner and drive back home. As I turned the corner I got that sinking feeling when I didn't see any cars out front.

Sure enough, there was a sign on the door saying "Sorry, we're closed." I think they were closed for good because the specials board on the inside was wiped clean also.

I am not good in situations like this. I just sat there not knowing what to do. Having a teryaki chicken bowl was my ONLY consideration. My daughter rescued "us" and said she wanted Sonic which was right next door. Cheese stix it was so I reluctantly gave in and ended up eating some greasy fried food which is not on my diet plan.

This is the 2nd favorite restaurant that has closed on me in the last 2 years. I guess the next time I find a place I REALLY like I'll start ordering doubles, not look for ways to save money, buy stock, work for them for FREE and so on.

Bummer!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

One Last Time

Sometimes experiencing something for the last time can be exciting: the last day of school before Spring Break or Summer, the last car payment, the last set of a tough workout, last few minutes before the workday is over, one last mile of a 600 mile trip and so on.

Sometimes the last time you do something could be less exciting, yet anxious moments: the last time you hit the snooze button, the last weekend of your Summer break, the last month of 1 year free financing on furniture, the last paycheck of a spouse who has just decided to be a stay at home spouse.

Last week as I drove home I started to reflect on another possible last time. With my parents getting older and both of them having experienced life threatening illnesses I really cherished the 30 days that I just got to spend with my family while in St. Louis. My visits with each parent may have been the last time I get to see them. I won't be back until Christmas.

Today my friend asked me to be a witness and sign her friend and roommate's DNR(do not resusicitate) papers. Since Spring her friend's situation has rapidly deteriorated and she is looking at days of life, not weeks, months or years. As I mowed my friend's lawn I was humbled into thinking how we waste the days we have and how we take each day for granted. Her friend has most likely experienced many lasts: Christmas, Thanksgiving, snowfall, spring when flowers begin to bloom, vacation, dinner at a favorite restaurant, birthday parties and so on. Right now her time is limited and so precious that she has most likely experienced her last: trip out of the house, excitement about something on TV as trivial as American Idol or Survivor, even the last day that she just felt well.

Fact is we will all perish, but when we're MUCH older right? Don't take it for granted. C.S. Lewis once said that God "shouts to us in our pains, it is His megaphone to a deaf world."

First I ask you to pray for all involved in this sad time.

I also pray that you and I are reminded of how special life is and to value ALL of the moments that you go through, whether small, tedious, or rewarding.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What Did You See?

I went to the movies tonight by myself. After being unsuccessful for 2 days in a row to get a friend to go with me I decided to go ahead and go alone. There were only 2 movies that I could see for FREE with my movie passes and had originally planned to see Die Hard with a good friend who had to cancel at the last minute. I then decided to see the other movie on my own. I ended up seeing Knocked Up. It got pretty good reviews on the www.imdb.com website so I went to a chick movie all by myself.

Knocked Up movie review: The story line was appealing enough and the movie kept my interest 90% of the time. I would not recommend seeing it based on the number of times the "F" word was used and there is an unnecessary amount of SKIN in the movie.

On the way out to my car I saw a former student who asked, "What movie did you see?" I really felt like telling a lie because I was either embarrassed or convicted by seeing this movie. I really wished I could tell him that I saw a decent movie. I told him the truth and said not to see it because there was too much profanity in it.

This brings me to another point I struggle with. I sometimes go to the movies just to be going without using my best judgment. I would easily say 1 in 3 movies I have seen lately really aren't fit for watching. I have often read review on Christiananswers.net, but this time I did not.

I confess my lack of good moral judgment.

Muggy

Well, it really hasn't rained here in North Texas since we got back in town. Everyone said there were maybe 2 days that it didn't rain the whole 30 I was gone. Isn't it funny how we think we control nature or the outcomes of things. I venture to guess that MOST guys feel like they control the outcomes of ballgames or sporting events by whether they watch or not, or whether they go to the games or not.

One example would be the following: The Cardinals were winning 3-0 after 6 innings and I finally got a chance to turn the game on. Immediately the other team scored 2 runs so I felt like I had bad karma and caused the visiting team to score.

Do you have any situations that you feel like the outcomes change by whether you watch or not?

Hot and in the 90's here in Texas.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back in Texas

We left Missouri Friday morning and crossed the Okla/Tex state line about 5pm. We hit a little bit of rain in Okla and of course it rained on us most of the 40 minutes we drove in Texas. Everything sure is green around here. Mowed my lawn today and I had to weedwhack the backyard before I could mow. Didn't like mowing on high either. I'm sure I'll get back out and mow it another notch lower Tuesday or Wednesday. Caught a 3-legged toad today. My wife thinks she whacked the leg off the time she mowed a few weeks ago.

The scales revealed that it is time to get back on plan.....up 10 pounds from the last day of school. The trip to St. Louis KILLED me and I can feel it. I'll be in the gym everyday except Sundays until school starts up.

Top 10 Things I Enjoyed in St. Louis
10. Trip to St. Louis Zoo with friend K and kids
9. Trip to KC to watch Cards play. Would be closer to 1 if they'd won OR even competed. They lost that game 14-6.
8. Fishing and fireworks out in Beaufort MO
7. FOOD=weight gain
6. Bowling 3 of 4 Wednesdays
5. Six Flags with family
4. Grants Farm with J, J and the boys
3. The Police Concert with BillyV
2. Getting in 30 days of family, enough to last until Christmas.
1. 12th Anniversary overnighter. It sure was nice sleeping in a queen sized bed with my wife for the first time in 30 days. Plus taking in all the outdoors things.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

House Trailers or Mobile Homes?

My wife calls them house trailers and was corrected the other day by someone who said they were mobile homes. Well, in the central eastern portion of Missouri they are house trailers and aren't very mobile. I'll get to this in a bit.

We left Sunday A.M. for our anniversary to stay in a bed n breakfast about 1 1/2 hours outside St. Louis. We often stay in b'n b's for our anniversaries and do them blind so it is a gamble. We stayed at the www.nostalgicplace.com and was not disappointed. It is only about 5 years old and was made from an old laundry quarters of Ursiline College. The Nostalgic Place actually is not a part of the college grounds any more and the college was sold to an individual in the mid 90's and is now a combination of housing, antiques and a great lunch place called The Abbey. Word is that Microsoft "almost" bought this place as a retreat/training ground, but it was just a bit too far outside of St. Louis. Imagine what that would have done for the economy.

This is all located in an area where 3 "towns" are located within 3 miles of a highway stretch: Pilot Knob, Ironton, and Arcadia Valley. This place was booming in the 1880's as iron and lead were found in the small mountains. Great timing as the Civil War had just begun.

We visited Elephant Rock state park where huge pink boulders of granite cover one hillside. This are was mined for granite until the mid 20th century. When the iron in this area was found the farthest that railroad tracks journeyed west was to Pittsburgh. That quickly changed. We also visited a Johnson Shut In's State park that had recently re-opened for a few months. It closed in December of 1995 because the water reservoir on the mountain burst spilling billions of gallons of water which destroyed the park. Rumor has it the electric company did this on purpose because it was not a cost effective electricity plant. Miraculously nobody was killed.

There really was not much to look at in this area. Most homes were house trailers and on many occasions it seemed when a family upgraded to a new house trailer the old one was simply discarded on the hillside nearby. I noticed 2 different occasions were the family was on its 3rd house trailer with 2 of them nothing but scrap metal on the property. It didn't even look like they were used for storage.

We did find a GREAT place for dinner called Baylee Jo's. We had a pick from 3 places and the first place we walked in and walked right back out. BJ's had great food and was priced right. They even treated us to FREE ice cream since it was our anniversary. We did have to witness a biker lady heaving up something out on the parking lot. That part was FREE too!

Bummer thing about going on Sunday is that the most of the few antique shops were closed Sunday and Monday.

We also hiked about 1 1/2 miles down a rocky trail to see some special water fall, but nobody told us that all we would see was a trickling of water. 2 days later and my calves are still killing me.

Count down to Texas has started. My dad is still in the hospital, possibly until Friday, so thanks for your prayers. He seems to be doing better and I pray he quits smoking. We'll most likely leave for home Friday real early OR drive over night Thursday. Who knows????