Thursday, November 29, 2007

Summer Resolution results

As I did with my summer resolutions, I'm going to share the ups and downs of my fall goals with you. I guess fall isn't technically over yet, but I set Thanksgiving as the deadline for myself to accomplish these 10 items. Here goes nothing ...

1. Take my family on a few weekend drives to some of the best spots I know of to see the fall colors.
As it turns out, we take lots of long drives on the weekends. Living about an hour away from each set of our parents, we had plenty of opportunities to see the colors. We never took a drive with the sole purpose of seeing the leaves, but we did see them. I'll let you decide if that one counts.

2. Go to a major college or pro football game. I don't care what teams I watch, just want to experience it. (note: I've been to one NFL game and several Notre Dame games as part of the media - even stood on the sidelines taking pictures at those games - but I want to see it from the fan's perspective)
Done. Katie and I went to see Notre Dame vs. Air Force. You can read abou that day here. It was a good experience to see the game from that perspective. I got to see the good and bad sides of fans. I got to sit close to my wife on a beautiful fall day. I got to see Charlie Weis in a sweatsuit!

3. Continue fishing.
Failure. I guess I don't love fishing as much as I thought I did. The cold weather and failure to catch anything as the temperatures dropped were too much for me!

4. Play in the fallen leaves with my kids.
Check. The kids discovered how fun it is to lay in a pile of leaves, toss them in the air, jump in them and chase the dog through them. They even like raking leaves (for about 2-3 minutes at a time)!

5. Finish the two books I've just purchased - Made to Stick and Now, Discover Your Strengths. (I've only read the intro of Made to Stick and I already feel like I've got plenty to blog about and try to apply)
Ouch. I have had the hardest time getting through Made to Stick. It's a great book and each time I read it I learn something, but I'm having trouble committing much time to it. And since I'm a slow reader, time is the main thing it takes for me to finish a book. So, I'm about halfway through it and looking forward to the next one, but I don't plan on starting it until sometime in 2008!

6. Eat chili, but not too much because ...
I think I've only eaten chili 2 or 3 times, which is probably a great success!

7. Lose weight. I could stand to lose 10-15 pounds. I want to do it by eating healthier and establishing a consistent workout routine that includes lifting weights and some sort of cardio exercise (preferably basketball) 2-3 times per week.
I posted more about this goal here and here. I've had mild success, losing about 3 pounds. I'm having a hard time with consistency - exercising and eating habits. I still love my Mountain Dew! So, for now, it's not a success but not a total failure either.

8. Take lots of pictures and videos of my kids. I just realized how little we've been documenting their lives lately. For example, we have only measured and marked my son's height once. He's almost 3!!!!! By the way, he's the exact same height my daughter was when she turned 3, and my daughter is 3 feet, 9 inches. I have a feeling she's going to be tall like her mommy (6'1").
We've done pretty well with this one. We've taken some new videos, which we hadn't done since March. I tried to measure the kids again, but they were both still the same height. We've got lots of pictures and we're enjoying as much time with them as possible.

9. Look for new ways to be generous to people. This could include giving money away, but I'm thinking more of different forms of generosity. I'll try to let you know as I think of them.
After writing this I realized it would be hard to share things with you without sounding like I was bragging about how generous I was. Thankfully, some friends taught me some new things about generosity and you can read about them here. I've got some great friends!

10. Come up with a plan to start my own design business. This would not replace my job at the church, but serve as sort of a side job.
I don't have a 5-year plan or anything, but I'm on the road. I've got my laptop thanks to Dan. I'm picking up Adobe Creative Suite 2 tonight for a ridiculously low price thanks to Clay & Becki. Then the plan is to start offering free design services for the next 3-4 months so I can build a portfolio. So, if you or anyone you know needs something designed, send them my way. I only do print, no web design!

I'm not sure when my next set of resolutions will be made. I'm not feeling very resolute right now, but I will surely find some resolve sometime soon. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The coolest wife in the world

Just in case I didn't make it clear in this post, I want to tell you how awesome my wife is.
For the men reading this, be prepared to become a little jealous.
We've started a tradition of sorts in our family at Christmas where, instead of buying each other gifts we either go without gifts from each other or we decide on a gift to buy that is for both of us. Last year we both got iPods.
A couple weeks ago Katie (my wife) asked me what we should do for this Christmas. She had a couple ideas in mind and shared them. She said she thought we should either get a treadmill or, get this, a new TV.
Now, unless you know us quite well you probably don't know that we rarely watch regular TV programming. The only things we normally watch are sports (me, mostly) and movies (us and the kids). In fact, I can't remember the last time we turned the TV on just to watch a regular show.
So, while we were visiting with Katie's father and his family over the weekend, we started talking about TVs. He sort of informed us that we had to get a widescreen HD TV. We were both in the dark on why we should do this, but he was very convincing. Since that day, we've both been talking about it and Katie is really fired up to get a new flat panel LCD HD TV!!!!! (Guys, this is where some of you are probably getting a little jealous)
How many women lead the charge to get a bigger, better television in their house?
She's so excited, she wants to go out on the day after Thanksgiving and find the best deal on one.
So, I'm probably going to be watching football on my new HD TV this weekend, all because my wife wants me to!!!!!!!!

OK, for those of you that think this is a pretty shallow reason to be bragging on my wife, here's something else she did recently that made me stop and thank God for her. Below you'll see the body of an email she sent out to some of her friends who are also stay-at-home moms. To be clear, we don't have any problem with mothers that choose to work, we'd just like to encourage those that stay home.

Hey fellow stay at home mommies! You know, this morning as I was about to begin the tasks that I have to do everyday (You know the tasks that you can never get ahead on - you do them everyday no matter what, over and over) anyway, I was getting frustrated at my long list of things to do and as I was working on a task I was thinking to myself "I hate making this bed, I am sick of doing the dishes, if I have to do another load of laundry..." and at that moment I felt God whisper to me "Your only job is to love your kids".

I thought at first, yeah right, but then God kept reassuring me that my kids are my only job. I smiled and actually chuckled out loud. How did I forget that again?

You know, after that my day was great. I dropped what I was doing because the pressure was off - the Lord of Lords and King of Kings said that my job is to love my kids, not make the bed, or do the dishes, or keep up with the laundry. If my house is a wreck and my kids know that I treasure them, then I have succeeded!

I had fun with my kids today! We played games, we laughed and cuddled. I am so thankful that God gave me a gentle reminder that I don't stay home to accomplish a list - I stay home to love on my kids.

Here is some other good news - I actually got lots done around the house - but I saw my tasks in a whole new light. Getting things done is a bonus - but my kids are priority.

So, today I didn't get mad when I was interrupted 20 times trying to do the dishes - I stopped doing the dishes to take care of my babies. Then, when they were content by themselves I finished the dishes.

I am so thankful that this simple thought was given to my heart, because it completely changed my day and my kid's day.

Thank you all who stay home! It is so hard and so wonderful! Just remember to love your babies and cherish them - because the dishes, laundry, and dust will be there forever - your kids won't.

Lord, thanks for today! Help me remember it tomorrow!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A great day

Thanks again to Neal & Leslie Yoder for giving Katie and me tickets to the ND game this past weekend. It was a wonderful day for us. It also helped me check off one of my fall resolutions!
As you can see from the first picture below, it was a much better day for us than it was for the Fighting Irish!

My buddy Craig

This is my buddy Craig Helfrich. He is a HUGE New England Patriots fan. He thinks Tom Brady is neat. Most of all, he really respects Bill Belichick!

Ok, none of what I just wrote is true, except the part about this being my buddy Craig Helfrich.
I met Craig this past summer when we played softball on the same team. Thanks to his outgoing nature, we pretty quickly became friends. This fall, he invited me over to his place to watch the first NFL game of the year between the Colts and Saints. I quickly learned of his passion for the Indianapolis Colts.
Craig is a great friend. He's almost always available and up for doing something. He's encouraging and lots of fun to joke around with. My family and I really appreciate him and are very thankful for his friendship.
As I said, I quickly learned of Craig's passion for the Colts. He's also passionate about Notre Dame football (although I don't think you'll get him to admit that right now), the Indiana Pacers and IU Hoosiers basketball. Did I miss any?
He's so passionate, in fact, that it drives him crazy that I don't have any particular team I choose to root for on a consistent basis. I usually just enjoy watching sports for the entertainment value, not because I have any vested interest in any of the teams playing.
Well, this non-commitment of mine allows me to sort of claim just about any team as "mine" at any given time. I've been doing this a lot lately as I've gone over to Craig's house for Monday Night Football quite often.
A few weeks ago when the Colts and Patriots played their big game - both were undefeated going into the game - I decided it was a good time to become a Patriots fan. This did not sit well with Craig, so we talked trash back and forth and finally made a little bet.
If the Colts won, I would have to wear a Colts hat to church Wednesday night (which really would not have bothered me much, except for people mistaking me for a horse lover). If the Patriots won, Craig would have to wear a Patriots hat. Obviously, you know the rest of the story from the picture above.
This is just one example of why I enjoy having Craig as a friend so much. He's easy to get riled up, but hard to offend. He's been a blessing to me and I just wanted to let you all know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Deep thought

Take your time, this one may take a while to digest (pun intended).

"The hardest part about being on a diet is not eating when you feel hungry."

I said this to myself as I passed a big pile of chocolates in the office today. Then I ate two.

Meeting Katylynn

Because I've been a little under the weather for the last few days, today was my first chance to meet a very special little girl named Katylynn.

Most of you probably read Derry's blog (I know because almost all the traffic on this site comes through his site) and already know Katylynn's story. In case you don't, she is a newborn who was adopted by Derry and Janelle Prenkert. They've been trying to have children of their own for nearly 6 years and, through some incredible circumstances, decided to adopt this baby.

Holding a 6-day-old baby is like nothing else, except like holding a 5- or 7-day-old baby I guess. Katylynn is currently less than 7 pounds and she slept soundly the whole time I held her. I could have easily slipped into a nap myself if I didn't have to get back to work.

I am so thankful for this little girl. She is an answer to so many prayers by Derry & Janelle as well as many family and friends, including my wife and me. It's amazing to see Derry & Janelle with her. They're so natural, almost like they've been waiting for this opportunity for a while.

Katylynn is definitely a beautiful child. She is incredibly precious and has been blessed with amazing parents. So, I am honored to be part of her life. I want to help Derry & Janelle be the best parents they can be, in whatever way I can. They've already dedicated her to the Lord and I promise to aid them in that commitment.

Welcome, Katylynn!

Sad, but true

I'm 31 years old and still can't grow a full beard.

Even sadder, some of what does grow is turning white.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

Generosity bestowed

In my fall resolutions, I mentioned wanting to find new ways to be generous. Well, I've been learning ever since that day.

To start with, my friend Dan Erickson taught me to find creative ways to be generous to people. I told him how I had been thinking about starting to do some design work on the side but wasn't sure how I was going to buy my own equipment to get started with. He told me it might not be as hard as I thought and in about two weeks this computer showed up at my house. Dan knew of a computer his company owns that was not going to be used anymore and figured out a way to make it mine. He obviously didn't have to do this, but he did it and I am very thankful.

The next lesson was taught by people responding to the F3 tornado that went through Nappanee a few weeks ago. I heard a story of a lady whose house was destroyed yet she went out and bought 10 bags of groceries to donate to the food bank. Her reasoning was simple - she has insurance and some people don't. She knew some people needed those groceries more than she did. Wow!

Another lesson came my way yesterday when Leslie Yoder stopped by our house unexpectedly. I was at work, but she talked with my wife and somehow stumbled on the topic of cell phones. My wife just broke her phone (which is insured) and my phone has not been working very well (roaming almost all the time). Leslie and her family recently switched wireless companies and had an unused phone from their old company, which just happens to be our company. So, she went home and brought us this phone. She also brought some games for our kids. The generosity didn't stop there, either. Leslie called us last night and offered us free tickets to Saturday's Notre Dame game. This will help me check off one of my other fall resolutions.
I've written about the Yoder family before, and I continue to be amazed at their
generosity. They've taught us so much about how to be selfless servants.
The most amazing thing the Yoders have done for us has nothing to do with giving us things. What we are blown away by every time is the genuine care, kindness and friendship they give to us. I can't imagine very many couples with one child in college, one in high school and one in junior high who would make the time to spend with us.
This is where the story gets even better because not only do we have the Yoders, we have Mark & Cindi Lantz (who I've also written about before) who seem to enjoy spending time with us. They are around the same age as the Yoders and have one child in grad school, one in college and one in high school. They are busy enough without us, yet they make time to invest in our lives. What a blessing!
So, I've learned a few lessons on generosity. If I will invest some creative energy in it, maybe I can bless someone else. If I will invest some time, maybe I can bless someone else. If I am selfish, I'll never be a blessing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Am I a loser?


When I looked down at the scale this morning, that is what I saw.
That's pretty disappointing. Not because I'm terribly overweight, but because it's more than I thought it would be.
I was telling some people this weekend that I thought I should weigh about 180 pounds. I'm 6'1" and in college I hovered around 170. So, I figure 180 should be a pretty good weight for me, as long as it's not a flabby 180.
When I was talking about losing weight, I thought I would need to lose about 10 pounds to get down to 180. So, that's why it's disappointing. Now, I've got to lose 12.8 pounds.
It may not seem like much, but I've never even tried to lose weight before so I know it's going to be tough. I'm going to try my hardest to stop drinking soda of any kind. I'm also going to try to exercise at least 3 times per week.
So, am I a loser? I hope so.

Does it count if someone else does it?

I made a fall resolution to go for a drive with my family simply to look at colorful leaves. Well, I've come up short and I think time is running out for me to get it done. But, I was happy to read this morning about a trip Corey Mann took with his family. Thanks for picking up my slack!