Thursday, September 25, 2008

Freedom Burn

Last Monday, I woke up with my face three shades of red. It was kind of a gradient effect. Dark red on the left, gradually changing over to a milder shade of red on the right side. This was not sun burn. This was a case of Freedom Burn!

If the sound of military aircraft flying is the sound of freedom, then the burn on my skin caused by watching military aircraft fly during the day is Freedom Burn.

Last weekend I took the family, and some friends from out of town, to the Oceana Air Show. I love the planes and the noise! We went on Saturday and Sunday this year. Double your fun!

The first day we got there late, but we did have some excitement. As my friend PR and I were looking for earplugs, we saw a guy get arrested. I have no idea what for, but they shuttled him off pretty quickly.

PR is a tall guy and no sooner than we noticed the ruckus did he blurt out, "Hey what are the doing that for?"

I about freaked out! There are dozens of military police standing around where we were with M16's. You don't question these guys or even make eye contact when you are on base. Regular laws do not apply. So, I quietly told him to shut up, and snapped the picture below as PR posed in front of the B-52 on display.

A minute after this picture was taken, a squad of MPs, and an attack dog, ran from where the first guy was hauled away, to a new group of people. That picture is below.

I have no idea what was going on and I didn't stick around long. I was surprised that I was able to take these photos, but I wasn't the only one taking pictures.

Day two was incredible! We had the best spot out there. VIP tent location with free food and $1 beer. I spent most of my time trying to keep the kids happy while taking pictures and video clips.

I am a terrible photographer/videographer. I take way too many pictures and video clips. Most of them are of my shoe and the tarmac, but every once in a while I do get something that passes for acceptable.
I put some of the better images together in a little movie below. I hope you enjoy the highlights of the the airshow!

I must give a special thank you to my neighbor Don for getting us the most incredible VIP passes in the world. If you looked at the video, you can really see how close we were to the action. After the jets passed by, you could feel the heat blast from their engines.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Jell-O Incident

Mornings, during the school year, are always a little harried around my house. My oldest son stays home to catch the bus to his school, but the rest of us must gather our things and try and be in the minivan by 7:20 am. There are always problems. Sam may not be able to find his Power Ranger motorcycle to take to day care, or Savannah may be angry at the world because she was forced to get up too early. But not today.

Today, everything was great until I opened up Sam's door to get him in his booster seat. Sam is four and while that means he can't find his socks in the middle of the floor, he notices just about everything else.

I hear him yell, "Eeeeww! That's nasty!"

"What?" I say with the exhaustion of a parent that hasn't slept 8 hours in a row since before my first child was born.

"There is Jell-O on the seat."

Sure enough, under the edge of his booster seat is what appears to be an entire cup of orange Jell-O that has escaped the boundaries of the little aluminum foil covered cup that is been mysteriously opened, and tilted. It seems that often a parent's job is to be a detective and discover the culprit to every misdeed. I don't always understand the point of finding out who did something, but being well trained in this aspect of parenting, I automatically queried, "Did you do this Sam?"

"Not me," he answered with the coolness of a chilled cucumber.

"So the cup is under your seat, but you didn't do it?"

"Nope," he said as a halo began to form over his head.

"Ok, who did it? I know your brother didn't do it because he didn't eat his lunch on the way home from daycare in the five minute trip from the YMCA. I didn't do it, and your mom didn't do it. So, who did it?"

"Maybe Savannah did it."

Savannah is now getting into the car and has no idea what we are talking about, but at six, and stuck between the two boys in the family, she doesn't need to know what's going on. She knows the right answer. "It wasn't me."

As a good detective, I had to run down the list of suspects one more time. "I didn't do it. Your mom didn't do it. Calvin didn't do it. Savannah didn't do it, and Sam, you didn't do it. So who dumped the orange Jell-O on the car seat? Wait, I know! Maybe it was an alien."

It is wonderful to see the wheels turning in a child. Sam shouts, “Dad! I know what happened! While you, and mom, and Calvin, and Savannah, and Ducky (the cat), and Kona (the dog), and I were all asleep, a Nightmare snuck out of the closet. He came down the stairs, and went out to the car, and he dumped Jell-O all over the seat."

By now, I have finished cleaning up all of the Jell-O mess. Amy turns to me and says, "Do you buy that story?"

"Sounds like a good one to me!"

Case closed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Running on Empty?

Life has been very busy for me since school started 3 weeks ago, but I have found some time for just me. Well, really my dog and me. We run together every morning. We started out with only a mile everyday before work. This week, we started running two miles. My goal next week is to go for three. I don't think Kona really cares, she just likes to run. She can run forever.

I used to hate running. In middle school we used to have to run 600 yards every so often. I only completed it once without stopping. I saw no purpose to it. I was stubborn and basically refused to do it.When I was a teenager I would run all day while playing basketball, but I still would never run just to run.

Only after I became an adult did I ever run for the health benefits. When I was in my twenties I ran to get in shape for a Taekwondo Tournament. I found out that I really could run, it was all just a mind game that I could play. Unfortunately, it didn't help me win my match. I should have sparred more.

Last week, I decided to enter a 5K after using an online conversion tool so I could picture the length of the race. Jimmy Carter promised that the US would convert to the international standard of measurement, the metric system, but to me, it will never be more than a conversion I need to make before I can understand it. Five kilometers is only a tad over 3 miles.

I am pretty sure that I can run 3 miles without a problem. Just because I haven't done it before, doesn't mean that I can't do it. I'll find out for sure next week.

What I do know about running is that I am like a vampire runner. I don't like to run during daylight. I prefer leaving the sunglasses at home, and I must wear sunglasses during the day. I have also developed a near phobia about having other people see me run. It is strange but the peace of the run is shattered by daylight and people milling about.

Now I am faced with new challenges and odd things to worry about. Obviously running 5k is part of the problem that I face. But the St Mary's 5k will be held during the day! I will also be around other people who will see and hear me. Is it ridiculous to worry that other people might think that I look odd when I run, or that I make way too much noise huffing? I don't even have proper running shorts. Will my dog hate me when she figures out that I ran without her?

I think it is important to have stupid things to worry about- as long as you remember how ridiculous your tiny problems are in the big scheme of things.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


At 41, I decided I had to live healthier. I wasn't really happy about that decision. I mean, really, who can be happy about giving up all of the food they love? I went to the Cheesecake Factory twice this summer and ate- salads! I really didn't mind too much- weird! I love Cheesecake. It is probably my favorite dessert, and I passed it up.

I stopped smoking in February. Surprisingly, that was not hard, but I was never a heavy smoker. I have had a few cigarettes since then, but usually only after I have been drinking alcohol. It makes me feel so bad that there is no danger of falling off the wagon. I don't enjoy smoking any longer.

I don't drink much anymore either. That has pretty much been the case since my oldest son was born. You just can't drink and be a good parent. I learned that the hard way from my father. I only drink socially, and I rarely have the time to be social in that way anymore.

It seems like a sin to have a refrigerator in the garage with a ton of beer in it that never is consumed... I feel an urgent need to check the freshness date on the 2 mixed cases of beer I have.

I don't drink. I don't smoke, and I don't eat anything you set in front of me anymore. That sounds like a terrible existence.

My doctor has been telling me my cholesterol was too high for a couple of years. He told me I should take better care of myself, or he was going to prescribe pills to lower my cholesterol. I decided I was not taking any of that medicine like Lipitor. I don't need any more gas than I already have, and kidney failure does not sound pleasant.

In the future it seems as if we may have exercise in the form of a pill. Didn't we have that before in speed? That didn't work out so well, did it?

I think I have a personal goal of not taking any medicine for as long as possible. I don't count vitamins and fiber pills as medicine, those are dietary supplements. The doctor/pharmaceutical company coalition bothers me, and the speed with which the FDA approves drugs makes me wonder if adequate precautions are in place. I guess that my overall good health means that I have the luxury of being able to doubt the reliability of drugs.

I am eating better. I eat fruits and vegetables, grilled chicken and stick to better, lower fat choices. If we go out to dinner, I eat big salads.

I used to be in pretty good shape, but weren't we all in better shape at one time? In college I lifted weights and got to be pretty strong. After I became a teacher, I decided to get into martial arts because I had always wanted to try it, but never had the time and money. I really loved martial arts, but it made me aggressive. It only makes sense, training for combat should make you aggressive. But the worst part was it was terribly expensive. So after Amy and I began replenishing the population, I found that could no longer afford that hobby. Babies are expensive too, and family comes first.

Now, I have begun to exercise more. The hardest thing about this healthy thing is establishing a new pattern of eating, good exercising behaviors and setting attainable goals. I began by running in the morning with my dog. Nothing major, just a mile every morning before work. I would like to be able to run much further than that, but it is a start. I have set a pattern that I hope to add to later on.

My major problem was that without someone telling me what to do, like a trainer or something, I had a difficult time setting goals. In college working out was easy. My roommate would yell at me and publicly question my manhood while I struggled with large weights. Now my dog gives me a miserable look if I don’t run in the morning. It used to be that rage was my motivator. Now it is guilt.

In June I found a website called 100 pushups. The idea of the website is that if you follow their routine, that after 6 weeks you would be able to do 100 push ups. It took me a tad longer that 6 weeks, but I can now do 100 pushups in one set. I just need to keep it up.

Just for fun, I have begun to dust off all of my body builder poses and perform a routine for the family unit. It really annoys them when they are trying to watch TV!

Somehow, I am still not in shape. My shape is looking better. I am better. Stronger. Faster. But I weigh more now than I did in February. So I am not completely happy with my current condition, and I will be adding more to my routine. Supposedly, you can get six pack abs in 6 minutes on your couch. And you can easily build up to running a 5k using a program similar to the 100 pushups site.

Maybe I will clean out my garage and hang up the heavy bag. Clean out the garage! Ha! That was funny…

Whatever I do, it needs to be cheap, at home, and something that doesn't take too long.
Daddy doesn’t get much alone time. Maybe I will modify a disposable camera and make a cheap taser. Electrical impulses do contract all of the muscles at once. Three zaps a day and I should be in awesome shape in no time.

The other day I said, "to hell with it," and ate two pieces of cheesecake. Being healthy is not nearly as much fun as it looks in the media.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Letting Go

Parenting is a verb, like running. You often find yourself doing it without even thinking. This thing must done, and then this other thing, and you end up getting so caught up in all of the things that you must do that suddenly you find yourself faced with a milestone that you hadn’t really thought about.

I was overwhelmed this morning when I suddenly realized that this was the 1st day of school for my little First Grade baby girl. She seems so grown up. When did that happen? More importantly, how was it able to slip by me?

When I know important things are coming, I try to brace myself and picture how wonderful everything will be. I say things to myself like, "It is the natural way of things." But for every beginning, there must be an ending. I just can not break the feeling of loss and mourning as what was, slips away.

Last year was big, but this year is the beginning of the numbered grades. Savannah has been looking forward to this day since last year when she could not understand how far away 5 months was, and insisted that tomorrow she would be in First Grade.

Tomorrow came today.

She had to wear her new “Cute is My Middle Name,” t-shirt today. Her Disney World autograph book was packed away with her “First Visit” Disney World button in her Mickey Mouse back pack, so she could share with her friends all of the fun things she did this summer.

Amy and I took Savannah to her before and after school day care, and I watched her go to the coat rack and hang up her backpack. I wanted to scoop her up and run away. Instead I picked her up and squeezed her so tight she let out a little squeal. I whispered in her ear about how proud I was of her. I told her she was going to have a great day and that I wanted to hear about everything that she did. I thought my heart would break when I put her down.

And then I walked away.