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: kelly blue book

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!