Friday, May 30, 2008

Princess Diaries - Happy Birthday Hanah!

Mustache May is Almost Done!

This is most likely the last picture you'll see of my mustache. Tomorrow is the last day of the month and I've promised my daughter I would shave it off for her birthday party, which is also tomorrow. So, take a good look, but don't look too long or you might get a little nauseous.

You can see the full progression in the slide show on the right side of the page - if you like that sort of thing.

I've learned a few lessons from Mustache May:

1. I don't like growing a mustache - not only does it look creepy, it's itchy.

2. Before I commit to a month-long challenge that involves my personal appearance, I should probably consult my wife.

3. When you commit to something, you stick with it, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

4. Don't take yourself too seriously.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Princess Diaries - Proud Daddy

Ever since my time as the sports editor at the Niles Daily Star, covering a lot of little league baseball and softball games, I've told myself I would never be like some of the crazy parents I saw at those games. Some of them literally have lost touch with reality, convincing themselves their children are the greatest athletes in the world.
Let me first say I understand how you could get to that point. I think my kids are the most amazing, smart, cute, funny, talented kids I've ever known - because I love them so much. But, I can also be objective and see that some other kids may be better than them at certain things.
Hanah, who turns 6 tomorrow, has not started playing any organized sports yet, so I haven't really had to deal with my own reactions - until last night. She had an awards night for her Wednesday night class at church. She won two awards (pictured above) - the Christlike Attitude Award and a gold medal for finishing her whole workbook. I am so proud of her.
As part of the program all the kids went to the front of the room and sang the songs they learned, complete with motions. Hanah did well, but I can honestly say there were some other kids who performed better than she did. That doesn't mean I think they are better than her - I just know she could have done better.
So now I find myself trying to balance two extremes: Crazy, unrealistic praise and Crazy, unrealistic expectations. I hope I never push my children too hard, but I also hope I never give them credit they don't deserve. I want to always stay objective about my children's abilities, and I always want them to know I love them and am proud of them.
Since this will be our last summer at the lake, we have no plans for anything this summer other than enjoying being outside. Thank goodness, I'm not sure I'm ready for Hanah to start playing sports!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Very Random Post

Things have been quite busy at work lately. There are several big projects intermingled with the usual stuff intermingled with trying to get everything set for while I'm on vacation, so I haven't had much time to post.
But, I just got done with one of the bigger projects (the church newsletter) and have a few minutes, so this is going to be sort of a random thoughts post. Ready? Try to keep up.
Reading/Watching/Listening To:

I haven't done one of these in a long time, mostly because I haven't readm, watched or listened to anything new in a while. But, now I've got some things to share!
I've been listening to a new singer named Brett Dennen a lot lately. I discovered him while listening to a Jack Johnson mix on Pandora. He's classified on iTunes as a folk musician. I like him because he's got a very unique voice combined with some fun acoustic music.

I've also been listening to the new album from Shawn McDonald, called Roots. This new album is definitely worth a listen.

After reading Celebration of Discipline with Dan, I've been struggling to find anything I really wanted to read. Well, that struggle ended today when I found the website for Francis Chan's new book, "Crazy Love." Then I found out that we have a few extra copies here at the church and I can borrow one. I'm thinking I'll start it soon and hopefully finish it up on vacation. We may actually visit Chan's church while we're in California, so that could be pretty cool.

As far as what I've been watching, there's not much to share. I watched a little bit of American Idol, but never really got into it enough to care about who won. Though, I think David Cook could have a great career.

I am planning to go see Prince Caspian with my wife soon - maybe this weekend. I also want to see the new Hulk movie and Hancock. I guess I'm becoming a fan of comic book movies!

Family Update:

My daughter, Hanah, has become very fond of the nature around our house, especially turtles.

My son, David, has become a big fan of Legos. We plan to visit LegoLand while in California.

My wife, Katie, suggested we go fishing the other night - yet another example of why she's awesome!
Our dog, Gus, has developed cataracts on both of his eyes. He is mostly blind, but has some peripheral vision. We found out yesterday that the surgery to fix his eyes will cost around $6,000. Anybody know of a good veterinary school with students that need practice doing cataract surgery (for free)?
Vacation planning:
After the feedback from this post, I've decided to leave the laptop at home and not blog while on vacation. I appreciate your advice, for and against, the idea of chronicling our trip!
Link Love:
Dan got creative while doing some yardwork.
Biz is learning from his son.
Corey is always good for some great videos and this one is fun.
Here's another one from Corey that got me even more excited about the new Hulk movie.
Mustache May update:
If you've been following the slideshow on the right side of this page, you've noticed that I've trimmed off the handlebars. They were itchy and pretty pathetic, so I'm going with the 'stache and soul patch look for the rest of this week!
Mountain Dew Challenge - Part Deux update:
We're currently in the 31st day of the challenge, and it has gone by incredibly fast. I think it's because it's been such a busy time of the year. There have been some tough days, but I've been quenching the cravings with other sweets - not exactly a beneficial practice. So, I've got to work on that.
The end.

Once Again - The Coolest Wife in the World!

My wife reminded me last night just how amazing she is.

It was our 8-year anniversary and we didn't have any major plans. We figured we would either go out this weekend or sometime during our vacation, which starts next week. So, I was expecting absolutely nothing out of the ordinary when I got home from work last night.

Well, she had some great surprises planned!

Just so the ladies reading this don't think I completely blew it, I did come home with flowers and a card. So, I'm not completely thoughtless.

Anyway, after receiving my gift, my wife brought me inside and my kids yelled, "Surprise!" from the living room. They were waiting with a gift bag and a card for me. Inside was a new set of grill tools - the big, heavy-duty, cut-your-hand-off-if-you're-not-careful kind! It was a great surprise.

But that wasn't the end. My daughter casually said, "I think there might be another surprise for you," and started leading me outside. We got to the van and I could see a huge box covered up with a blanket in the back. I opened the hatch and, you know what's coming, uncovered a brand new grill - the big, heavy-duty, cook-a-dozen-steaks-and-a-pack-of-hot-dogs-while-making-baked-beans-on-the-side-burner kind! Amazing!

She still wasn't done. For dinner, she had steaks (which I cooked on the old grill because assembly of the new one took too long). And, for dessert, she had chocolate ice cream with magic shell topping.

Wow! What else can I say?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eight Years

On May 27, 2000, I married the most beautiful woman in the world. We were pretty young. I was 23 and she was 21, so neither of us really knew what to expect. But, we were absolutely sure that God had blessed our relationship and intended for us to be married.

These past eight years have been so incredible that only God could have planned it. We now have two awesome children who have done nothing but added to God's blessings on us.

Katie is my best friend. I would rather spend time with her than anyone in the world. She's the love of my life.

God is good to me!

Memorial Day 2008

Despite the forecasts, it turned out to be a great day to be outside. Marty and Mindy Graverson hosted a cookout. We had all the components of a great day to signify the beginning of summer: grilled food, fruit salad, badminton, kids playing in the sandbox, water balloons and my son dropping his pants to relieve himself in Marty and Mindy's yard! What a great day!
Here's some pictures:

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Great Weekend

I'm a little slow in getting this posted, but here is a slideshow from the weekend we enjoyed with some of our friends from Niles, Michigan. The Becrafts (Jeff, Michelle, Daniel and Nathan) and the Carrolls (Dave, Amy, Addison and Ashley) spent last Friday night and most of the day Saturday with us at the lake. It was a great time.

My personal highlight was Jeff, Dave and I catching enough fish to allow each of us have 2-3 pieces at dinner Saturday night.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

To Blog or Not To Blog?

Don't get your hopes up, I'm not considering shutting down the blog.

I'm actually trying to decide whether to blog while on vacation in California. The other day I got a USB Wireless Adapter for my laptop, so it should be pretty convenient to get online while I'm out there. I just don't know if it's a good idea.

I'd love to chronicle our trip and share with all of you the fun we're having there. But, do you think there's a risk of wasting valuable vacation time on blogging?

Let me know whether you think I should vacation blog or take a blog vacation! Thanks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm How Old?

Last night was a softball night. We headed into the game undefeated (6-0) but let the second game of the doubleheader slip away, leaving us 7-1 on the season.

The biggest loss of the night, for me, was the loss of my youth. I know, I know, I'm 31 years old so my youth was actually gone a long time ago, but I still felt like I had something in the tank. I could still run pretty well, play solid defense and send the ball over the fence every now and then.

Well, last night that all changed. Here's a list of the things that let me know I'm not young anymore:

1. I misjudged two fly balls right away and, consequently, allowed the other team to score.
2. I hit the ball about as hard as I could and the old guy in left field easily caught it.
3. I didn't have a single hit the whole night.
4. I stretched to catch a short fly ball and it went off the tip of my mitt. I was sure I had it.
5. This is the worst of all. During an inning I was pretty sure not to bat, I volunteered to coach first base. Not much happened in our half of that inning, but as I trotted to the dugout to get my mitt, I felt a pain in my right knee. That's right, I somehow injured myself coaching first base. I could barely walk this morning when I got out of bed.

So, there you have it. I'm not young anymore. Now, this doesn't mean I'll never be any good at sports again, but the home runs, diving catches, perfect throws and extra-base hits are going to happen much less often for me.

Sad, but true.

Mountain Dew Challenge - Part Deux Update 5

I got an email from Dan yesterday, asking what I'm drinking now since pop is not allowed. I gave him some answers, but the real question should have been, "What are you eating?"

See, my craving for Mt. Dew is actually a craving for sugar and there are plenty of ways to quench that craving. For example, this morning was unusually tough. I was considering just how bad it would be to give up, admit defeat and drink a Dew. But then, I found just what I needed to beat the temptation:

Mountain Dew has no power over me!

No More Mustache Picture Posts

After a critique from my wife, I've decided to stop using posts for pictures of my mustache progress. From now on, you'll be able to see the progress in the slideshow on the right side of the page. Enjoy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mustache May Day 19

Didn't take photos over the weekend, so here's the progress (or lack thereof).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mustache May Slideshow

Mustache May Day 16

I thought the new 'stache might make me look tough. But ...

I just look confused, hungry and a little annoyed.

Oh well.

Coming later today: Mustache May slideshow!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Year

I've officially made it to my one-year blog anniversary (or is it blog birthday?).

With this being the 209th post, I'm averaging a little more than one post every two days. Although, if you look at my posting in 2008 alone I'm averaging nearly one post a day.

It has been a lot of fun and I believe I've accomplished my two goals I had in mind when I started this thing:

it's an outlet for me. And, hopefully, I'll get some feedback I wouldn't
with a traditional journal

for now, the theme of this blog will be my experiences in Learning to
Serve. There will surely be posts off that subject, but I want to share what I'm
learning, being shaped into and ultimately becoming (as well as the bumps,
bruises, cuts and healing that come along with it).

There have been times when I've considered changing the name of my blog because I didn't feel like I was sharing enough about serving. Maybe I just wasn't learning enough to share! Either way, I decided to stick with the title because I still want that to be a big part of what I write about.

The other goal - having an outlet and getting feedback - has been incredible. In a matter of days I had reconnected with some old friends who still read and comment on my blog. And now, there are several who regularly comment and give me valuable feedback. I really appreciate that.

This blog gave me a place to write about my grandmother's death, my parents, my wife, my kids, my friends, my eating habits and even my facial hair!

Thank you for reading and please keep doing so! I'm having a great time with this and I hope you are too.

Mustache May Day 15

Well, here it is. The moment you've all been waiting for ... or dreading.

Right now I'm torn between, "Check out the stache!" and, "Is this thing really on my face?"

Hey, at least I'm not alone in this thanks to Derry! Stay strong brother!

Just in case you're feeling the need to point out the gaps on either side between the mustache and the handlebars, rest assured my wife has beaten you to it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mustache May Special Guest

While not an official participant in Mustache May, Biz decided to do a mustache cameo. I'm so proud of him! This is how I'm hoping my mustache looks - except mine is not nearly as dark as his, so that could be tricky. I only wish I would have thought of growing the sideburns!!

Mustache May Day 14

Here is the last day of chin hair. Tomorrow I have to switch to mustache mode and keep it that way the rest of the month - so get ready for some creepiness!

On a side note, some who originally committed to participating in Mustache May have not exactly stayed committed (Jeff, Rodney, Griggs).

It's very disappointing. Yet, it is a good chance for those of us who have not wavered (Derry, Marty and me - possibly others) to be an example of how to "let your yes be yes and your no be no."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mustache May Day 13

Are you bored with this yet? I am.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Princess Diaries - Class of 2020

I just finished scanning in a bunch of senior pictures as we get ready to honor the graduating seniors at NMC and it got me thinking about how quickly time passes. I'm sure the parents of those kids cannot believe their children are graduating from high school. They're probably wondering where the time has gone.

I wrote in a previous post how big Hanah is getting. Some of you probably thought, "Isn't she 5? How big can she be?" Good point. But, for me, she's bigger than I ever imagined. I still think of her as this little bundle of cuddles and giggles like when she was 2. Now, she's almost 6 and the cuddles are much more rare than they used to be.

Seeing those graduates also made me think about how Hanah is about to start school this fall. My wife is going to homeschool her, at least for her first year and we'll see how that goes. Hopefully it is a great success for mother and daughter.

Thinking of Hanah in elementary school, middle school or senior high is beyond me. I know she's old enough to be completing her first year of school right now, but I just can't picture her that way. I want her to always stay my little princess.

More than that, though, I want to make sure she and I are both ready for what's going to come her way as she gets older. I want her to know without a doubt that her daddy adores her and will always love her. I want her to come to me when she needs a hug, a kiss or a hand to hold. I want her to talk to me about boys and the silly things they do. I want her to come to me with the tough situations she'll be facing. I just want to be a great friend for her.

More than that, though, I want to be a great father for her. I want to always make decisions and put rules in place that will benefit her in the long run, even if she doesn't like it right away. I want to show her how a man is supposed to treat a woman. I want to show her how people are supposed to follow Jesus. I want to be filled with joy if she chooses a man like me to marry.

Hopefully I can get all that done before she graduates from high school, in 2020. It'll be here before I know it!

Daily Design No. 3

Here's a design I came up with late last week. It's for the cover of a binder used by our summer interns. I was given complete freedom to do whatever I wanted and I ran with it. What do you think?

Weekend Fun

It was a volleyball Saturday. That means Katie is out of town all day and it's just me and the kids together at home.

This was an especially fun one because it wasn't just me and the kids - we had good times with family and friends.

My parents came over to watch the kids while I mowed grass - but my dad ended up doing most of the mowing. He likes my tractor! Then they took us to get ice cream.

After supper, we walked down to the Yoders' house and hung out with them for a while. They always make us feel welcome and their kids love our kids, so it is a lot of fun.

Reid was lighting firecrackers - even some that went off underwater.

The Yoders have a very long pier and our kids love running on it.

I love to watch Hanah run. She's getting so big, it won't be long until she starts playing basketball or volleyball or soccer - or maybe all three and she'll be running all the time.

Yes, that's ice cream. I let them have ice cream twice in the same day. That's what makes days alone with dad so special!

Mustache May Days 10-12

Right now, it's more of a goatee, but I'm just trying to let the handlebars grow out. Thursday is the day when I'll have to trim down to mustache mode and keep it that way until May 31.

By the way, this thing is starting to get itchy. I don't understand how some guys have beards and keep them!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mustache May Day 9 - Post No. 200

I was trying really hard to make post No. 200 something very profound - worthy of commemorating this milestone. Then I realized there probably couldn't be a much better way to commemorate this occasion than sharing my mustache journey with you. After all, it's quite a significant time in my life.

As you can see, the stache is filling in nicely. If my hair were darker, you could actually see it!

If you come back to my blog after seeing these pictures of me day after day, I promise to seriously try to write about much more meaningful topics. Please don't dump me because of Mustache May! Embrace the movement - it will be over soon!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mustache May Day 8

Today was the second trim-down of the month. Everything but the mustache and the patch are gone again. Fear not, however, I will be letting the handlebars grow from here on out so I can look like Joe Theisman!

I tried to crack a little smile today, but when your nose appears to be getting bigger every day it's hard to be truly happy!

In an unrelated note, this is my 199th post! I'm trying to think of something really great for post No. 200. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Buzz Cuts - Part 5

My wife and daughter went to a Mother-Daughter Banquet last night, so David and I got to have some great Father-Son time.

We started out by mowing grass. David fell asleep on me for about 20 minutes and then it started to rain, so we went inside for supper. David thought it would be cool if we sat on the stools and ate at the counter instead of the table, so we did. Then we tried to do some more mowing but it started raining again. We decided to just head into town and go through the drive through at Dairy Queen. When we got back home we had an awesome time building a train track and playing trains until bedtime.

As the night went on, a simple lesson kept presenting itself to me: Just take an interest in what he finds interesting.

That's pretty simple to understand, but not always that simple to do.

David likes to steer the lawn mower, but he doesn't steer in a way that allows you to mow the grass. He likes to do big circles and nearly run into things before making sharp turns to avoid disaster. But if I am willing to allow him to have some turns steering the lawn mower, he loves riding with me.

David's suggestion to sit at the counter for dinner was something he thought up all on his own. There was a part of me that thought about saying no and making him sit at the table, like normal. But, what was the harm? I said yes and he thought it was incredible that he got to make that decision all on his own.

David loves to build train tracks. I enjoy it too, but not to the same extent that he does. There comes a point when I've had enough and he could keep going all night. When that point comes, I normally sit back and just watch him play, which is fun. But he always begs me to keep playing. Last night I obliged and went back to playing. He loved it.

Taking an interest in what he finds interesting is sometimes an exercise in forcing yourself to do something that doesn't come naturally. It's not always easy and it's not always fun but it's worth it. It communicates how important David is to me and I always want him to know that I think he's special.

Right now, David's interests mostly revolve around playing trains and other toys. He's not into sports, like I want him to be. But, he's only 3 and he will eventually take an interest in those things. Even if he doesn't, I'm always going to be interested in whatever he's interested in. It's worth it!

Mustache May Day 6

Not much to report, except that I'm rather enjoying this!

Some of you are probably saying, "Is he really growing a mustache? I can't see it."

That's totally understandable, and expected. Just to show you that I really am making an effort to grow hair between my nose and mouth, here's a closeup.

That's kind of creepy, huh?

Mountain Challenge - Part Deux: Goodbye, Rob

On one hand I'm a little sad, but on the other hand I'm a little pleased to report that Rob Henschen has been eliminated from the Mountain Dew Challenge - Part Deux.

Rob lasted 6 days and then forgot about the challenge and consumed a Diet Coke while watching a movie with his son - not a bad way to go out, I guess.

Anyway, that leaves Jeff, Jon, Todd, Dan and myself. Good luck, gentlemen!

Monday, May 5, 2008

First Serve Saturday

Here's another set of pictures. These are from First Serve Saturday, which was held at Prairie Camp this past weekend. First Serve is a monthly event at NMC where we spend the morning serving the community. It's a pretty amazing ministry.

Spring Resolutions

I have established something of a tradition on this blog by announcing sets of resolutions at the outset of each season, rather than at the beginning of the year as most people do.

I'm a little late in announcing the resolutions for this spring, but summer doesn't officially start until June 21, so there's still quite a bit of time to accomplish the following goals.

1. Spend as much time investing in and leading these people (and dog) as possible.

2. Capture many memories from the lake where we live because this is going to be our last summer there.

3. Learn to surf during our vacation to California. My wife is heavily against this one because of the recent shark attack near San Diego - but I think I'll probably figure out a way around that.

4. Get fishing again!

5. Run! I really want to make a habit of running because I know it's great for my health. I miss the time when I could enjoy physical activity without wondering when the next timeout was so I could catch my breath and get a drink. I need to get myself back into good shape.

6. Grow a mustache that looks something like this!

7. Win the Mountain Dew Challenge - Part Deux. Or, at least still be in the running to win it.

What could you accomplish this spring?

Volunteer Appreciation Night

Last night at NMC was one of the biggest events of the year - Volunteer Appreciation Night. We have a huge number of volunteers here who make this place work and last night was the paid staff's chance to thank them. Here's some pictures:

Mustache May - Day 5

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mustache May - Day 4

I trimmed everything but the mustache and the soul patch today, although you probably can't tell they're still there. I'm kind of giving those two areas a head start because they grow the slowest. Now I'll let everything grow out for a while then trim it down to the final shape - which should be pretty interesting!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Great Quote

Here's a quote I ran across today as I was working on some stuff for a Volunteer Appreciation Night we're having at church. The best part of the quote is who it comes from!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
- Dr. Seuss

Mustache May - Day 3

I'm actually quite impressed with how well my facial hair is responding to the challenge of Mustache May - which is pretty pathetic, if you think about it!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mustache May - Day 2

I've got an all-day meeting today, so I had to take this picture first thing this morning. So there is only about a 15-hour span between the Day 1 picture and this one.

Daily Design - No. 2

Here's another design that I came up with recently. And, yes, I used a color theme from Kuler called Citrus. Let me know what you think, what you would have done differently and if you think I should quit my job. (just kidding)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mustache May - Day 1

In an effort to show just what an incredible feat growing a mustache is for me, I'm going to take a picture of myself each day of Mustache May to track my facial hair's progress. I'm guessing somewhere around day 25 you'll be able to start seeing the mustache.

I Need Your Help

Statcounter tells me there were 76 unique visitors to this blog yesterday - which blows my mind. But it also gives me hope that I could get a decent response to this request for help.

All I need you to do is leave a comment, telling me what images come to your mind when you hear the word connected.

Simple as that. Let me know what you see when you hear the word connected.