Monday, December 31, 2007
Finally, we were lucky enough to find our dog Alex through a pet rescue last January. This was our first Christmas with her here and we are blessed to have such a good dog that won't bite you for putting her in silly outfits like this. (Dogs never forget and I think this is why she jumped up in a chair and stole my breakfast one morning a couple of months after this picture was taken!)
That's it. 2007 was some kind of year. I hope that 2008 will be less crazy but I'm as prepared as I can get. We'll take it one day at a time.
I thought I'd never stay up until midnight tonight, but I did - no one else did in our house. So, I saw Dick Clark again. The first one I remember is 1980. It seemed like such a big deal when 1979 was over - I'm not sure what we expected. 28 years later - still no jet packs - still no tourism to Mars. They are still playing Blondie and the Go Go's on the radio so I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. Happy 2008!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
We'll come out of 2007 stronger because we swayed a bit at times but did not break. I've been through years where everything got tainted by tragedy and somehow we are older and wiser now - this year was different. The key point that amazes me about 2007 is how positive we stayed while enduring some pretty hard times.
Thinking back, I wrote out 5 "milestone" nuggets which sum up 2007. It's basically odds and ends that ended up highlighting (or "lowlighting") the year. They are purely random items - not meant to reflect every family event and no mention of what happened in the news of the world. There are no politics here - just the little weird stuff that makes me who I am.
So, let's visit 5 of the highlights of the year:
5. Started working at home.
Yes - through some sort of landlord dispute, the lease on the building housing my office was lost. My option was to have a 70 mile daily commute. I got very lucky in getting to move the main office to my house. It has been quite an adjustment moving stuff all over our already small house, but in the last month I settled into a small corner of the bedroom. Even without interruptions, the job is pretty consuming. I'm sure life would be out of control without my small home office hideaway.
4. Got a Treo and a new laptop
OK. Sounds like petty material stuff. The treo gave me the motivation to start the blog. I finally had the ability to carry a camera with me at all times and I caught a lot of stuff I would have never caught in the past. I started the blog as a picture journal to show day to day life and it has continued to evolve.
The laptop - the Gateway T-1620 - is my personal, non-work, laptop for blogging, surfing the web, and general goofing off. Before I used old hand-me-downs or ebay laptops just to be able to close work and get away from it. This is more than a laptop - it is my escape!
3. Got a "new" car.
My wife's grandmothers horrible car accident (more on that in the next two days) was my motivation to stop picking up my daughters in my trusty 1999 Chevy Metro.
Two days after her wreck, we went to the dealership and bought a nicely used 4-door 2003 Pontiac Vibe. I feel safer in it. The Metro was a great car and I do miss it, but I feel better knowing my kids are in a bigger vehicle. And, I don't look like as much of a dork driving it as I did the Metro!
2. I discovered "Corner Gas"
My favorite show has been on in Canada for 5 seasons. It came to the U.S. this fall and I'm hooked. It's right in line with my sense of humor. I now have 4 seasons on DVD and 2 shirts. They own my soul. I didn't get the "Corner Gas Uniform Shirt" for Christmas, but I did get a $10 coupon - so it's now on the way. Yeah! The show has brought me a lot of enjoyment and laughs and been quite the stress reliever.
1. Sara started kindergarten.
On July 30th, our oldest daughter was off to school - real school. It was quite an adjustment for me more than her! You know this day is coming and you prepare for it as much as you can, but the fact is that time does not stop and she has to grow up. I know just how fast it goes by and we do our best to treasure every moment.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Everywhere you look....
Another day cleaning up after Christmas and tomorrow is Garbage Day- for the first time in 11 days. That meant tonight was the time to run all the trash down to the street and hope there are no hurricane force winds tonight that will spread our remnants across the neighborhood. If I wouldn't look like more of a nut than I already do, I'd be tempted to take a picture of the stack of trash - it's borderline obscene to have that much trash. We did have 15 people open presents here over two days so I guess it is to be expected.
Tonight we streamed some Wii playing over the webcam and got a few viewers. Watching two kids and a chunky dude play Wii is not the same as inviting the world in for a big family get together. I have to keep thinking about the best use of the webcam.
I think the countdown to New Years Day will start here tomorrow night by counting down my three biggest stories of the year - some covered in the blog and some not. Hint: I have had a lot of questions - and I mean A LOT more than I thought I would have - about what happened to one of our most popular Christmas traditions. The story behind that will be #2 in our countdown.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The yard dried out today and I took the opportunity to take down all of the big Christmas decorations outside. I only left up the icicle lights - they are very easy to take down and I'll do that New Years Day. It is raining again now and it will rain all day Friday. We might have the first snow next week.
Wal-mart had another huge sale today - all of the special Christmas gifts were 50% off. So, why are they so generous? They are taking advantage of all the people who are returning those special Christmas gifts that they did not like. Wal-mart cuts 50% off the price. You don't have a receipt. Wal-mart gives you back only half of what your last minute shopping friend/relative/boss paid for it. The margin is so good that they make money twice - off the original buyer and again when it sells for 50% off. A very nice racket, eh?
So, more work tomorrow and Friday and then another 4 day weekend! Yeah! I'm also working on another Blogger theme to countdown to the New Year that I will hopefully start tomorrow.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I grew up wanting to be a writer - took a huge curveball off the course by majoring in education - and have ended up being paid to be a writer of sorts - technical writing. This is my first step toward having a more creative outlet and for that I am thankful.
Thanks to the inspiration of http://randallfriesen.com/ I got the what might seem crazy idea to stream our Christmas Eve gift giving family event on the web. I got to utilize the webcam on my new laptop and got to brush up on my horrible HTML skills at http://www.geocities.com/barneynoble/. In my defense - I haven't written anything involving HTML since 1997! Cookie cutter web editors have spoiled us!
Our web cam was seen by many people (we had over 600 hits today!). Via the tracking on camstreams and the sitetracker on this blog and the cam page, we saw visits from all over the US and Canada and also the United Kingdom, Finland, and Germany!!
I think a good time was had by all. My wife's family always opens gifts on Christmas Eve while my parents come for Christmas Day. My kids are blessed - the get gifts Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning from Santa, and Christmas before lunch from my folks.
Did I get what I wanted? YES. I got seasons 3 and 4 of Corner Gas (http://www.cornergas.com), which is my favorite show. I also got 2 Corner Gas t-shirts. I'm nicely outfitted and owned by the marketing ploys of CTV.
More than that, we are very fortunate to be close to family and to have made through a crazy year (flip back through the archives to see some of the ups and downs). We are truly blessed and I want to wish each of you who somehow stumble upon this page a very Merry Christmas!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
We cleaned - did as much prep for 11 people being here tomorrow as possible. I went to Wal-Mart one final time tonight - I think I have everything we need. If we don't have it, we'll do without it!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I'll be testing the stream tomorrow - streaming our dog in her prison like cage (she's been chewing the kids toys lately out of boredom).
Check it out at : http://yorkie9.camstreams.com
Look here for the embedded video Christmas Eve afternoon (between 1-6PM Central Time approx.) More details to come....
Friday, December 21, 2007
At lunch, we ran to Wal-Mart and bought some Play-Doh. Here are some of our creations:
And yes - it is a Play-Doh Toilet!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I did experience one real White Christmas in Cincinnati but there was so much snow that year - the special feeling I would have had was quickly turning into a weary dread. We moved the following summer!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Just a week to Christmas and with every post I write I prove how boring my life actually is. I could write about frustration with work, but I'd rather leave work for work!
Monday, December 17, 2007
We all have a lot of crap and the other big trend these days is to simplify. Oprah recently profiled hoarders. These are the people that buy everything and never throw anything away. A few years ago, we moved from Cincinnati to Nashville and had a huge truck filled to the top. I realized unpacking that we didn't need near the amount of junk we had and I've worked and worked since to have less and less baggage. I've bought only 3 or 4 dvd's in the past year - only 1 cd. What's the point of buying something like that and letting it sit. So, theory #1 - there is a group of people today just sick of accumulating more crap.
Theory #2: It's a load of lies. Retail is in better shape than ever. How do I know? There are stores EVERYWHERE. We have about 25,000 people here in my town and we have a WalMart supercenter, a Big K Mart, Big Lots, Kroger, Publix, Office Max, Radio Shack, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.. When I grew up, life was a bit different. I lived in a similar size town growing up and when you wanted a big store, you drove 20 miles to East Nashville and shopped at exciting places like KMart, Big K, and Zayre.
Of course, we also had the mall and that was reserved for really special shopping (Christmas and Birthdays). See, if we wanted a special item in 1979, we waited for it. Today, that special item is just 4 miles away at WalMart. The temptation is there and we can impulse buy immediately. No need to wait! Charge it! You may be shocked, but getting a credit card in the late 70's and early 80's was just about impossible.
So, we've just diluted the market so badly and we're so impulsive that we've spread the dollars around and we're spending more than ever. Trust me - I didn't have a fourth of what my kids have now when I was growing up and I felt rich compared to some of my friends. The money is out there - but instead of a hand-full of retailers splitting it up, there are hundreds and then factor in the internet. Whoa doggie! Ho ho whoa!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I bought a "game chair" yesterday, thinking it will be good for sitting in the corner typing out stuff like this and also good for playing the Wii (that is still hidden until Christmas). Alex the dog instantly took it over as her own.
Here are some pictures of the Christmas decorations - taken a couple of weeks ago. Too wet to stand out in the yard and take pictures these days.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Blog 1 of 12
I realize I need to stop ignoring the blog. I blame my blog shunning on my job. Things have been insane at work lately. There is always a fire to put out - always some new thing to freak out over. I drove to Knoxville for a meeting today and drove back tonight. Nothing like a 300 mile commute to clear your head. I took tomorrow off so I could get some down time. There is a delicate balance between managing a group and managing to drive everyone nuts including yourself and sometimes I feel I am barely hanging in there. Maybe three days of rain, snow, and cold is just what I need to get things back on track!