Five for Friday: Leavenworth

As you read this, it is likely that Bekah and I are living it up in Leavenworth, or in the car somewhere along Highway 2.

Since the arrival of children in our lives, this is only the third time we've been able to break away from the kids for any reasonable amount of time and it is the first real kid free vacation we've ever attempted.

Believe me - I'm excited.

And since the anticipation has been nearly uncontainable, Bekah and I have been busy making plans. Here are the most prominent items on our itinerary.

1. Private guided horseback ride and dinner for two. Just a half hour north of Leavenworth (just outside of Plain) there's a lodge that offers a two hour ride followed by a romantic dinner at a quite mountain lodge.

2. One hour massages at the spa. Which spa? I'm not sure yet, and frankly I don't care. It's a massage. I've got nothing to complain about.

3. Winery tours. We've booked a trip with an agency in town that provides all the transportation (with some additional amenities) to three different vineyards. One of them is Eagle Creek Winery. I'm not sure where we're going for the other two, and I'm not sure it matters.

4. Catching (hopefully) a show with Leavenworth Summer Theater. I say 'hopefully' because the general admission is sold out. The only seats available are the donor/patron seats. If those don't sell out by Friday morning, we can buy tickets. Bad news, it might sell out and we won't get to go. Good news, if we do get tickets, they'll be the best seats in the amphitheater. What show are we hoping to see? (If my mom is reading this, she might want to sit down.) The Sound of Music.

5. Floating the Wenatchee River. Cold water, hot sun, and nothing but relaxation.

We'll be unplugged through most of the weekend. And possibly out of cell range. But keep an eye on my twitter feed. I'll be posting as much as 3G allows.

That's my weekend in a nutshell. How about you? Any big plans?



Keeping the ego in check

Consider this scenario: your kid asks you for your age. They scream when you answer them. That happened to me last night.

Five in the morning

There is a conspiracy afoot, one where the universe is preventing me from sleeping in past 5am. Something keeps waking me about 4:50 every morning. Yesterday, it was the sound of heavy rain followed by the panicked realization that I left my car's windows down over night. Today it was the incessant clucking of our neighbor's chickens.

Two more work days to go

At this time in three days, Bekah and I will be chilaxing without the kids somewhere in Leavenworth. We have much planned and the more we look at opportunities, the more I am amazed how any single town can cram so much awesome into 1.3 square miles.


Zu's Blogfest experience.

For those of you that were there and noticed my running around following an adorable four year old, let me assure you - she had a great time.
Zu ate a lot of watermelon.
Seriously, a lot of watermelon.
Thank you to everyone who made her feel like a princess. She likes being the center of attention.

In her own words:

What she did with Daddy, "I went to a restaurant."
What else we did, "We said 'hi' to people."
Her favorite person that I talked to, "Herb."
What was her favorite part, "Eating."
Her other favorite part, "Being with you."

By "you" she was talking to me. If you are the father of a little girl, I can not tell you how important it is to take her out for Daddy/daughter dates. She will love you for them.

Blogfest's pictorial review

For those of you that were not able to attend, here is what you missed.

North Idaho supplied some beautiful skies.
And Bent lit up his gigantic grill. With firewood.
Bent spent most of his time behind the grill, tending to the steak and chicken.
He was also sociable. Here he's chatting with Stickman.
Cis, Dogwalk, Herb, and Dave chat with Liz and others.
No, your eyes were not deceiving you. Dave and Herb were both wearing matching shirts. And by "matching" I mean "identical."
Proud papa, JimmyMac arrived with his new baby along for a leisurely stroll.
And Dustin made sure everyone knew he was Mike Kennedy's biggest fan.
Don Sausser talked with most everyone there. Here he's talking to Digger and Spaz.
The chicken went on the grill.
And there was plenty of food.
A good time was had by all.

Other observations:

Spencer is both taller and skinnier than I assumed, however his superman hair was on full display and exactly how everyone describes.

I always forget how deep of a voice Herb commands. And for those of you that believe he's a grouchy old man, forget it. He's a charmer and my daughter adored him.

It was good to see Stebbijo out and among the HBO crowd. Also got to meet her husband for the first time. Also of interest, Stebbijo and I have the same exact camera.

I feel bad for Gary. He had a wicked sunburn. (softball, I think)

I was looking forward to talking more with a few people - primarily Mike and Beth. But my daughter was keeping me busy. I got far more exercise following her around than I anticipated.

If you ever have the opportunity to dine on Bent's BBQ, do not pass it up. Absolutely delicious. I think I like his grill work better than Wolf Lodge.

Also a big 'thank you' to Dave for the work that he does. That's the reason we all were there.

And a massive kudos to Steve Widmyer and his crew at Fort Ground Grill for being friendly and gracious hosts.

I was not the only attendee with a camera. You can see other galleries from other photographers far more talented than I.

Don's pictures HERE. (He got a few excellent shots of Zu)
And Stebbijo's collection HERE.
Cis's photos HERE.


Checking in a little late

This is the post that I should have published on Thursday. Instead, I went to bed early.

It was a no change week. No good, but better than the four pound gain that happened at the beginning of the sexyback challenge.


At my wife's urging, and in light of some personal frustrations, I went to the doctor earlier this week for some lab work. We were looking to see if there were some medical factors contributing to a lack of weight loss despite improved diet and increased exercise. The doc found something and I've got a followup visit at the beginning of August. On top of the stagnant weight, we're hoping this also explains my perpetual state of exhaustion and occasional/inexplicable irritation.

I also began physical therapy yesterday to see if we can fix my jacked up neck and shoulders. My shoulder blades are too far apart (and the right one is slightly higher than the left), they're rotated forward a bit, which causes my head to rest forward more than natural. All that results in constant tension throughout my scalene and trapezius muscles. The culprit (as if this should be any surprise) is me sitting in front a computer; it pays the bills but kills my neck. The therapist gave me a stretch to do (at least to start) three times a day that I'll begin working into my regular exercise routine.

Hopefully with the doctor/therapy combination I can begin to make some noticeable progress.


Five for Friday: tidbits

I had to get some blood drawn on Wednesday. Is it weird that I was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula while waiting on the phlebotomist to stick a needle in my arm? As for the classic novel, I have a new favorite literary quote: “For so surely as we live, that scar shall pass away when God sees right to lift the burden that is hard upon us. Till then we bear our Cross, as His Son did in obedience to His Will. It may be that we are chosen instruments of His good pleasure, and that we ascend to His bidding as that other through stripes and shame. Through tears and blood. Through doubts and fear, and all that makes the difference between God and man.”

Speaking of phlebotomy, I have bad veins. It took two phlebotomists and multiple pokes to find a usable vein. There is a good reason I don’t like needles. I once had a bad experience. And then another one. This occurrence didn’t improve my outlook.

New word: Experdited (verb, past tense) what happens when an expert expedites something

I completely forgot Leonard Nemoy’s name earlier this week. Does that mean I have to turn in my geek credentials?

What’s with all the RVs camping in the section of the Walmart parking lot closest to the street? There’s no RV hookups so that eliminates the possibility of dumping the stored up effluence. It would be like trying to sleep in daylight with all those bright streetlamps illuminating the whole area. And you’d have to cope with all the noise of street traffic. Most importantly, we live in North Idaho where actual campgrounds are plentiful (also, more scenic and less white-trashy).


Conversations with my youngest

JJ: "DAD!"

Me: "What?"

JJ: "Huh?"

Me: "Huh?"

JJ: "DAD!"

Me: "What?"

JJ: "Huh?"


Five for Friday

As I mentioned in last night's post, Christian and I went out for a walk. What I failed to mention is that we stopped to play at a playground, I took a bunch of pictures, and we had a ton of fun.

As for the pictures, here are my five favorite shots from the collection.



It's Thursday so that means it is time for an update. It was a bad week. A birthday party for a friend, house guests, extra kids, and far too much soda. All throwing off my mojo.

Excuses. I know. I'm in control of what I eat/drink and how much/little I exercise.

That being said, I had a couple of surprises today.

Surprise #1: I lost another pound this week. Just a pound but that's better than I expected.

Surprise #2: As of this morning, I am able to cinch my belt one notch tighter. Hopefully I can keep it that way.

Christian and I went out for a walk this evening and I told him I was fat. He asked my why I was fat and I told him it's because I drink too much soda and don't exercise enough. He asked why I drink soda and I told him I like it, but I shouldn't because it's not healthy. Christian then lectured me about how I should drink milk instead because it has calcium in it and that I should eat more fruits and vegetables for vitamins.

I don't know how my six year old got so smart.

I told him to scold me any time he sees me drinking soda. "Christian," I said, "if you ever see me drinking soda, say 'stop that.' Tell me that I shouldn't be drinking that."

He liked that idea and proceeded to tell his best friend that he's going to tell his dad to stop drinking soda.

But I'm down a pound so that is a victory. I'm getting skinnier - albeit slowly. Now I just need to get rid of that extra fluff below my chin.

And no, I'm not just talking about the beard. Although, that needs to go too.


Fixing Adoption

If you know anything about Bekah and me, you probably know that adoption is something that is near and dear to us. We are surrounded by a community of friends who have gone through the adopting experience - both foreign and domestic. Within our own home, two of our three rambunctious blessings came to us through this process.

Adoption is a funny thing.

From beginning to end, it is an emotional roller coaster - the highs of falling in love with a beautiful child plagued with the fear and doubt of wondering whether or not everything is going to work out. The pain of not knowing if you will be able to keep the child as a part of your family. Laughter, tears, anticipation, heartbreak. It is all a part of that journey.

One thing has stuck with me over the last couple of years. It is something that the judge told us at the hearing to finalize Zu's adoption. "There are no returns," he told us. "You are to love her and care for her as if she was born to you naturally, and hopefully she will care for you when you are old."

His crack elicited a few welcome chuckles, but it was his last statement that left the biggest impression with me.

He said, "When you are gone, she is entitled to whatever inheritance you leave behind just like any other natural child." *

She wasn't born to us, but the signature from the judge proved that it didn't matter. In a few short minutes, she was ours. And as far as the law was concerned, it was as if we were her natural parents.

Like I said, adoption is a funny thing.

Zu is our child. Our heritage has become her heritage. We gave her a new name and a new life. About a year later, we repeated the process with JJ. And through it all, Christian has soldiered on like a champion big brother.

And while the timing is unknown, we're not yet done with adoption. We want to do it one more time. Zu and JJ are both products of the foster care system. We may choose that route again, but we've frequently pondered the option of foreign adoption.

However, foreign adoptions are burdened with a few devastating challenges. Mainly: time and money. They are nearly prohibitively expensive, and the time it takes to jump through the legal hoops is cumbersome and discouraging - that is if those hoops don't sabotage the process at the last possible moment. Take in to account that the cost, the laws, and the work involved varies from nation to nation. Consider that the longer a child is in an orphanage, the greater the psychological trauma. The older the child is at the time of adoption (coupled with the quality of care in their home country) the greater risk you face for attachment disorders.

The system is broken. But what if it could be fixed? Watch. (ps, you might recognize the kid in this video as the boy who really wanted to sing along with Beyoncé's Single Ladies)

Here is the link to the petition mentioned above. Both Ends Burning

* In my own personal belief, adoption is the greatest analogy of how God's love works. That He accepts us into His family to share in His inheritance as if we were His all along. You might not agree with me or even understand, but this process has been a pivotal experience for me. The need in this world is too great to do nothing.



One of the best things I've found on the internet (in recent days) is a quick visual comparison showing that Harry Potter and Star Wars are practically identical. For those of you lining up to see the movie on Friday, spoiler alert: Harry dies.

Overheard: "A customer was promised two $50 gift cards, so I guess that equals a hundred."

I've been listening to a lot of Alice Cooper recently. I'm not sure what that says about me.

Conversations and public bathrooms are two things that shouldn't mix. Talking to strangers and acquaintances in the midst of such personal activities. If taking care of nature's business in the company of other's isn't awkward enough, consider the conversation I had with a friend while I was washing my hands.

"Do you know what the meaning of happiness is?" he asked. Before I could answer he continued, "It's not being a parent. Happiness is emptying your bladder."


Something like progress

Four pounds lost. That puts me back down to 196 which is exactly where I started three weeks ago.

And this hasn't been an easy week. I've been sick since Tuesday so there has been less exercise going on. But I also eat less when I'm sick. Less eating is probably a good thing, considering the grazing that went down on the 4th of July.

In good news: no soda since Friday.

Goals for this next week:
1. Keep of soda
2. Get over this stupid cold
3. Resume exercising
4. Continue the downward trend in weight


4th of July for Math Nerds

Have a fun (and preferably safe) Independence Day.

ps. I'd recommend you close any translucent ads at the bottom of the video so that you can see the full screen.


Five for Friday

It should be no secret that I'm a slacker who generally puts far too many things off until the last logistically plausible moment.

That being said, here are five reasons I procrastinate:

1. Um...
2. Well...
3. Because...
4. You know...
5. Ooooh, shiny.