Saturday, June 27, 2015

Too much information

I realized that I have fallen off the wagon when it comes to posting to Hubby Health. I haven't fallen off the health wagon though - although I have stalled out a little bit on my progress. It's in part due to my personal drive waning and part due to a family vacation. I do have to say that my hat is off to anyone and everyone who can maintain a healthy diet while on vacation. I know it's completely possible...just requiring a little extra effort.
We spent a week at a lake in northern Wisconsin. If you're wondering about the photo above, here's your explanation: Although I was surrounded by God's great beauty of the piney woods, I spent a lot of that time on a toilet. Don't get mad....I did title this post "too much information". Don't worry though - it does end up being health related.

The worst part for me about vacation eating is that I either seem to be eating junk fast food while travelling to and from my destination or eating way too much of some delicious meals that were specially prepared for me at said destination. I did both this time around. Add to that the fact that I do even less exercise on vacation than I do at home (I don't exercise much even at home), it makes for a less than healthy trip.

I think I have to count this trip as a wash though. I "got" to eat the junk food and the larger than normal helpings of real food, but I still managed to keep off any extra pounds. That reality of course came at a price. It was because the food didn't want to stay with me all that long....still doesn't to tell you the truth. For those of you trying to do the math, it started on Monday night and it is now Saturday afternoon when I'm writing this post.

At first I thought I just got a touch of food poisoning because we had just eaten out at a restaurant, but that didn't prove to be the culprit. I ate an entire piece of peanut buttered bread and half an apple all day Tuesday. That didn't help any. Wednesday was a travel day and I managed to eat a homemade burger before leaving the lake and a chicken sandwich at McDonald's on the drive home. Neither were probably the best choices on a completely empty stomach, but at that point, I just wanted to eat anything that at least seemed appealing at the time.

During the drive home, my stomach pains grew considerably worse. I'm not talking about "where's the next available restroom" pains. I'm talking about "who stuck this hot poker in my belly" pains. It was enough pain (and I'm a wimp when I'm sink) that I made a trip to the ER that evening. An IV and a CT scan later and I knew exactly nothing more than when I went in....but I was given some vague possibilities, some pain meds and directions to see a different physician on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday consisted of a consult with a great physician. I may be biased because I know the guy, but I always appreciate his ability to ask a handful of pertinent questions and provide a solid diagnosis. Step one was to take a breath test to check for a bacterial infection. Unfortunately, that proved to be negative. I say "unfortunately" because that could have been solved by some antibiotics. That also means that step/option two is a possible ulcer. I have some acid blocking meds to try for about a week before needing to take step three. Step three will end up being a scope down my throat to actually look for an ulcer. I won't talk about step four because that WOULD be too much information.

In the end (no pun intended), I was able to eat quite a bit during vacation (minus Tuesday) and still not gain any weight out of the whole ordeal. I suppose it would have been easier to just eat better and not have to spend so much of my vacation in the bathroom. The bigger fear I have now is what a possible ulcer will mean for my condiment and toppings selection. I have always been a cayenne pepper, with jalapenos and tabasco sauce on my food kind of guy. Somehow I don't think that's going to be a viable option while I have an ulcer flaring up. Until next time....

Things that offend

I have blogged numerous times in the past about how I like to look for the good in everything that happens in life. It’s really not all that hard to do if you think about any given situation for a few minutes. It’s part of what makes life so interesting. Today I want to veer off in a slightly different direction. I want to talk about how and why I try to do my part in offending others. (There is sarcasm there if you look real close.) It may seem like I’m focusing on the negative, but if you think about it for a few minutes, you will see that it’s really just adding a little spice to our lives…one of those things that keeps life interesting.

Over the years, I have had a love-hate relationship with Facebook. (I’m only using this example because the greater majority of the people on the planet are familiar with it.) More often than not, my choice to leave Facebook numerous times in the past was because of some big change they made to my newsfeed. Yep – I got offended just like millions of others. The other major reason I have distanced myself from Facebook in the past was because of all the offensive negativity in social media in general. I’m not talking about the truly offensive stuff like invitations to play Candy Crush every five minutes. I’m referring to the less offensive bickering and hateful talk in the comments of just about any post these days.

Two things always kept me coming back though. Most important to me was that I seemed to miss out on all the going-ons of my friends and family. More surprising, I realized that I actually missed all the negative comments on all the posts. Turns out they were a source of enjoyment to me as I laughed at the absurdity and downright nonsense of it all.

Being a happily married, conservative, white, male, heterosexual, Christian father who happens to support our troops (as well as previously served in the Marine Corps), respect our flag and what it stands for, love guns and wish we didn’t need a law to carry one, means I’ve probably done my fair share of offending others. I should probably add my horrible grammar for the grammar police who were offended by my last run-on sentence.

I thought I would take a few moments to point out a few of the ways I offend the masses on a daily basis. I don’t go out and intentionally post controversial comments. As a matter of fact, I almost never even comment in any of the threads that are blowing up with offensive comments being tossed back and forth. I treat it more as a spectator sport…..with the obvious exception of this post.

I’m a Christian. To the masses, that apparently means I only stop thumping my Bible long enough to point out where everyone else is sinning and therefore going to hell. It also means I’m intolerant of apparently everything and I must think I’m better than everyone else. In reality, I know I’m a sinner, just like everyone else on the planet. I am aware of what’s right and wrong though and that is where the misconceptions usually come from. Stating my personal beliefs for or against any given topic is apparently only tolerant if I agree with the liberal masses. Pretty soon I will get in trouble for not allowing my six year old to chase her little sister through the house with a butcher knife because I am not being tolerant of her choice of play activities. I know it’s not right or safe for her to do this – so I say it’s wrong.

I get a strange sense of enjoyment watching the “tolerant” masses call me hypocritical because of my beliefs while portraying text-book signs of hypocrisy in their tolerance.  My favorite has always been the two topics of abortion and capital punishment. Why is it that the same people who think it’s wrong to execute a convicted murderer are often the same people who think it’s their legal right to kill an unborn baby? They are both killing, but one of them deserves to be punished and the other deserves to live. Why is it so difficult to understand which is which?

Watching the news this week, you surely must have seen or heard that same sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. If you’re like me, you had to scroll through about 30 Facebook posts about it before you could see some real news about a friend or family member. You probably even saw a few friendships broken because of which post they chose to share. Really? You’ve been friends and family for how long now and you didn’t know where each of you stood on the topic? Even worse, I saw a few that not only didn’t realize their friend’s opinion differed from theirs, but also didn’t have the desire to actually listen to their friend’s explanation of this “newly discovered” belief.

For the record, I do not support same sex marriage. That does NOT mean that I hate homosexuals. It only means that I believe it is wrong (a sin) and therefore shouldn’t be made legal. (I feel the same way about abortion, but that’s currently legal as well.) I understand that some people may struggle with immoral inclinations towards members of the same sex, but I also know that doesn’t make it right.  I’m not going to alienate or send hate mail to those who take advantage of this newly given legal right to marry their same sex partner. I don’t hate, or even dislike, any of them.

Flags have been another hot topic of late. It has recently shifted from walking on the US flag to a sudden uproar about the Confederate flag. This is another fine example of the misconception of what being tolerant is. Many of the same people who are all for supporting the right to trample the American flag are against the right to display the Confederate flag because it’s offensive. Many people find the Nazi flag offensive (me included), but I know it’s their right to fly it. How about the rainbow gay pride flag? The flag itself doesn’t bother me. I like rainbows. They’re a reminder of God’s promise not to destroy the Earth again by flood. (Not sure how that relates to gay pride??) OOPS – I probably offended some people there with my relating a rainbow to God. That is my belief and my right though, right?

Does it make me mad to see people walk across the US flag? Yes. Do I think it’s their right to do it? Unfortunately, yes. Will I march for hours in protest and spend years in court trying to take that right away? No. It’s not worth my time. They’ll just find something else to offend me. How about how they lit up the White House in rainbow colors this week? Is that offensive? I think it is, but more because I thought it was disrespectful to our White House than because of what it represented in itself. Are we going to light it up in orange and black to celebrate Halloween? Will we be seeing the confederate flag displayed on the White House? Is it only tolerant to support gay pride and not southern pride?

Guns are always a major topic. I’m beginning to think they have a rotating schedule on when to bring a new anti-gun agenda into play. I said earlier that I love guns. Guns for hunting, sport shooting fun and self-defense. I was blessed to get to experience a very wide range of firearms in the military. My joy of guns is not unlike someone else’s appreciation for a classic car or a work of art at the museum. (By the way, people have been killed by (and for) both of those too.)

I think the gun debate to me is more fun to watch because of the absolutely opposite facts both sides manage to come up with over the same topic. Is it so hard to see that the cities with the strictest gun laws have the highest crime rates? Trying to say eliminating guns will prevent killings doesn’t make any sense either. People were killed for thousands of years before guns were invented and they still get killed daily by “non-gun” means. Taking guns away from law abiding citizens won’t stop criminals from getting their hands on them. Even if you managed to somehow eliminate every last gun on the planet, people would still be getting killed with baseball bats, hammers, knives, etc.

I think I have rambled on long enough this time. In hind sight, this post should probably have been broken out over a few separate posts. Chances are, if you are an intolerant individual like me, you probably read through it at a brisk pace. Those of you who are tolerant (about everything except all the stuff I just listed in this post) probably aren’t still reading down this far anyway.

Thanks for taking the time to read my almost coherent rant. I’m really not all that fired up about any of this, but it just seemed like the thing to do while I wait for all the rainbows and confederate flags to clear out of my Facebook newsfeed. Until next time….

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A trip to the lake

It has been said that if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. Since I already know how to fish, I thought I would add a little bit of wisdom to that old saying: If you teach your daughter to row a boat, you don't need to buy a trolling motor. I suppose I should really back up a bit and set the scene for you.
My family just returned from our (almost) annual vacation getaway to Seven Mile Lake in northern Wisconsin. My wife's side of the family has made this week long family reunion/trip to the lake every year for 39 years in a far. I have been able to make it to a number of them in the past 8+ years we've been married. (I missed a few due to scheduling conflicts - not for a lack of an invitation.) There have been some obvious changes to this annual trip over the years as we have added children to our family.

This trip started out like all the rest. Google maps says it takes 6 hours and 9 minutes to get from our house to the lake. (For those of you with kids, you know that means 9 hours and 6 minutes.) I was impressed with my girls this year on the drive up to the lake. We set a new record on the time it took before one of the girls asked, "Are we there yet?" 6.3 miles into our trip was when we first heard the "are we there yet" question. As a little icing on the cake, at 7.2 miles, we got, "can we stop and play at that park?" In all seriousness though, the trip up went very smooth. There was very little bickering, no last second rushes to find a bathroom, and a generally good attitude about being cooped up in the vehicle for a long drive. I was really proud of myself....the girls did well too.

Our arrival at the lake was reminiscent of my wife's childhood memories of everyone wanting to be the first into the lake. We didn't even have the vehicle in park and the girls were asking if they could start swimming in the lake. I am glad they have this great ambition to be in the water. Neither of them are very skilled swimmers and I was worried they would want to just play in the sand on the beach all week. (I was blessed to have a pool in my backyard growing up in Texas, so I learned to swim like a fish about five minutes after learning to walk.) My six year old even took a turn tubing behind the boat. For me that was half pride and half terror..ok, maybe there was a little more terror involved.

In my continued effort to look for the good in everything, I even have to say that the weather was pretty good to us. The days alternated between being warm and sunny and being cooler and overcast with a little rain. We got some good fun in the sun time without burning to a crisp because of the rain breaks. The cooler weather in the evenings made it perfect cabin sleeping weather since there is no A/C in the cabin to keep us cool otherwise.

The greatest thing about this family reunion getaway to the lake is the family. I'm not even going to try and guess the exact number of family members that make it each year, but I can tell you that we outgrew the resort a few years back. That's 16 cabins, some with more than one family in each cabin, and there still isn't enough space for everyone to be there at one time. It does make for a free-for-all funfest for the kids when there are 30+ kids there to play with...and they're all related.....and only about 3/4 of the families were there this year.

I'm going to wrap this post up with my favorite quote from the entire week. During the first night in our cabin, my four year old asked where the television was. Before I even had a chance to roll my eyes, my six year old piped up and said, "We don't need a tv. We have a big window in the cabin. That's our tv this week." All I could think was that somebody must have raised my daughter right because she was able to see the real beauty of the trip to the lake. I'll have to thank my wife for that later. Until next time....

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

40 wasn't so bad

Well, it's that time of year again. It seems to happen every year - no matter what I think about it. As a matter of fact, I think it's coming around in less than a year nowadays. You got birthday is here. It seems like just a few months ago I was turning the big 4-0. I didn't really think anything about turning 40 and turning 41 shouldn't be all that different.

I don't feel like I'm getting older. I've had joint and muscle issues since my mid 20's due to the years I spent working in the tree industry. OK, so maybe it wasn't so much the tree industry that caused it, but rather my young, dumb, macho mentality during my 20's  where I felt I had to lift twice the weight I should and paid less attention than I should have to proper lifting techniques. The summer I spent at the Marine Corps School of Infantry didn't help much either. Once again, not the fault of the Marine Corps, but rather the fact that I sprained my knee in week three and chose to force my way through the next eight weeks and pretty much destroy my knee.

Now that I'm older, I've gotten smarter. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. My wife would probably explain it as having turned into a big, whiny kid. By that I mean I have no problem taking it easy when I'm sick or injured. As a matter of fact, she probably feels like she just has a extra kid in the house that she has to wait on. (I can't say I could really defend against that argument either.)

One thing I have learned in my six plus years of being a father is that seeing your kids age is what really makes you start to feel old. This past year I have watched my kids age by means of learning to ride bikes without training wheels, starting kindergarten, reading chapter books and the like. Just knowing that my two little ones aren't so little anymore makes me feel older. On the plus side, their added mobility and intelligence has forced me to think three steps ahead of them. Once again, I think I am getting smarter with age.

It's nice to know that I am indeed getting smarter every year. I am curious when the whole sexy, mature man looks will kick in though. Right now I'm too busy battling the "furniture disease" as my old man calls chest is falling into my drawers. Well, at least I have my long as I don't start forgetting stuff. It hasn't happened so far - at least not that I remember. Until next time....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kids Rule

I've now had two similar conversations in the past three days regarding the difference between what we want as adults and what our kids want (and we wanted as kids). I can't put my finger on the moment in my life when my priorities and desires made the shift. I'm curious if it was a quick change or just a slow progression that snuck up on me, but in all honesty, I just don't recall.

My kids suggested tonight at the dinner table that we should switch roles for a day to see how it goes. At first, my wife and I just laughed it off with thoughts of how their crazy day would go. In their minds, they're thinking they would start the day off with a plate full of donuts and a tall glass of chocolate milk. After breakfast, they would transition into a movie watching marathon while continuing to munch on fun snacks like m&m's, cheese puffs and an ice cream cones.

Eventually, they would tire of watching movies and want to run around like little crazies in the yard. If they're anything like their old man, it would probably involve flooding the back yard, breaking a few windows and probably a bone or two. This would create quite a hunger as they burn off all their youthful energy. That hunger would be satisfied by eating a large banana split for lunch....because bananas ARE healthy. I think you get the idea. You probably had the same grand ambitions as a kid.

The more my wife and I thought about it though, the more we liked the idea. We wouldn't be thrilled about cleaning up the wake of destruction left by our unrestrained kids, but we think the benefits sound appealing. You're wondering, what benefits?!? Well, here's the idea we had....

We said we would be the perfect children for a whole day. We promised to sleep in until at least 9am so we wouldn't be be under foot during the early hours of the morning. We would quietly eat a healthy breakfast of cereal, fruit and possibly a bagel. (We would even prepare it ourselves.) After that, we promised to sit quietly out on the porch and read books so we weren't in the way while they cleaned the house and did a few loads of laundry.

After a peaceful morning, we would sit down at the kitchen table for a relaxing lunch. We promised to respectfully start our nap time without complaint and stay in bed until we were told we could wake up and play again. Following naps, we would love to go to the pool for the afternoon. We even promised not to run around or fight over pool toys. We would just sit by the side of the pool with a "juice" in our hand so they could enjoy some refreshing fun in the pool.

After a nice afternoon in the sun, we would be ready to have a nice quiet dinner with the family while enjoying a pleasant conversation about our day. Bath time would go off without a hitch....I'm sure my wife would love a nice hot bath as she doesn't get many of those these days. After that, we'd be off to bed with no complaints and asleep before dark.

When you look at it like that, the whole idea of switching roles doesn't seem so crazy. Like I said before, I don't know when my priorities shifted. I remember waking up as a kid at 5am on Saturdays wondering when the cartoons would start. Now I'd love to sleep in. I used to hit the ground running and not stop until dark. Now nothing beats a day of sitting back and relaxing....especially if it involves a chair, a beach, a boat, a fishing rod, or preferably, a combination of them. I remember not all that long ago when I could stay out until 3am and still be up for work, ready to go, at 7am. Now my wife and I wonder where the time went when we realize it's 10pm and we're still awake.

I have thought of one thing that hasn't changed though. My girls can sit and chit chat about nothing all day long.....and I just finished rambling on for way too long. Thank you to those of you who actually stayed awake through this whole story. Until next time....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Writing is contagious

This whole writing thing is starting to get out of hand in our household. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that it's really starting to snowball. I've heard of writer's block before, but I am now curious if there's also some contagious writer's disease that makes people around you want to write.
My soon-to-be first grader has really turned into a reading and writing champ this past year. I'm guessing she gets it from her mother because I don't remember reading and writing all that much when I was going into first grade. I think the idea of writing is all the more appealing to her because she has done so well with the reading side of things. Anyway, we are apparently going to write a book together this summer.

You may recall the Earth Day post my six year old wrote for my blog back in April. It started out as a fun little afternoon activity for the two of us and ended up being a pretty big deal. It's currently holding the #4 spot of highest viewed blog posts to date. I'm not sure whether I am proud of her, disappointed in myself, or a little of both. I mean, I've written like 60 blog posts so far and that means at least 56 of them were less appealing to others than what my kindergartner (going on 1st grade) wrote. (I think I'll stick with the proud part - I know the cute kid drawings probably did a lot of the work.)

She and I discussed the idea of her writing a journal this summer documenting the things she does, but she wasn't thrilled with the idea. When she learned that her classmate was writing one, then she was on board with the idea. She is always writing her own little "books" and I wanted her to start writing something meaningful to her - rather than the 147th version of a Queen Elsa and Princess Anna scene. Now that she likes the idea though, she wants to jump right past the daily journal idea and start writing a book. I can live with that. I'm thinking a kid's book with about 20 pages at roughly 6-10 words per page. She has other plans though.

For the past few weeks, she has been reading chapter books. (I'm pretty sure I started that around third grade - another reason I think she gets her reading abilities from her mom.) To her, chapter books are where it's at and therefore the type of book she wants to write. The "problem" is that she has half a dozen different book ideas. I know there's no way we'd get multiple chapter books written in one summer. I'd be surprised if we were able to complete one chapter book over the summer. Well, I did a little wheeling and dealing with her had got her to agree to a compromise.

We could work together on a series of short stories. I explained to her that if all goes well, we could turn it into a chapter book and if we struggled to make "longer stories" out of her ideas, then maybe we could make individual kid's books instead. I may have failed to mention to her that I would probably be posting one or two of them on the blog. Can you really blame me though? How many bloggers have a secret weapon, six year old guest blogger to boost the ratings every once in a while?

I'm looking forward to writing with my daughter this morning. Who knows, maybe I'll finally learn a thing or two about writing? Hopefully, it will be just as much fun for her. I'm thinking I should start scheduling out next summer for writing a screen play. I'm sure by then my daughter will want to turn her chapter book into a movie. Until next time....

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The blessings in life

Life is full of wonderful blessings. Sometimes they're quite easy to see, but other times you have to look a little deeper. I have a few different posts on this blog already referring to how I like to focus on the good side of things rather than letting negativity take over. I was fortunate to be given another beautiful example of this yesterday afternoon.

I was typing away on the computer at work late yesterday afternoon when I received a phone call from my wife. I found it odd that she was calling me, rather than sending a quick text, to ask me to grab some milk and bananas on the way home from work. Hearing the words, "I just had a blowout and I'm stuck on the side of the road," brought me a big relief....I didn't have to remember to get milk and bananas....because I often forget. That was blessing number one.

So, I said farewell to the gang in the office and headed across town to pretend to be her knight in shining armor. I almost could have pulled it off too - changing a tire in my khakis and long sleeve button down dress shirt, but it was not meant to be. My grand thoughts of throwing the spare tire on and driving over to the tire store came to a screeching halt (no pun intended....well, maybe a little) when I got the the scene of the "blowout". The picture above may not show it as clearly as I saw it upon arrival, but the tire was bottomed out in the wheel well....a pretty clear sign than it was more than a flat tire. It's a shame too because the tires are only a few months old and are covered under a road hazard plan that I accidentally purchased.

Realizing the larger issue at hand, I made a call to get a local wrecker coming. I may be the guy they put the picture of the gas can on the gas cap for, but I know how to call a wrecker when needed. I then played the "knight" part as best I could and sent my wife and youngest daughter off in my truck to pick up our other girl. (Apparently a loud "blow-out" is exciting stuff for a four year old.)

Well, it turns out it was actually the ball joint that blew out which pretty much drops any support on that corner of the vehicle. If you look at the photo below, you'll see the newly unrestrained metal arms did a nice job of gouging out the tire and alloy wheel. (It did a number on the pavement for about thirty feet too, but I didn't want photographic evidence of that....just in case.)

Seeing the actual failure and the damage done, I quickly realized blessing number two from yesterday afternoon. My wife had just left my daughter's preschool and hadn't even driven a full block. She was driving at maybe 20-25 mph at the time the ball joint failed. What if that ball joint had blown out while going 65 mph on one of the many two lane highways all over southern Minnesota? I'm not even going to dwell on that right now any more than to say it's VERY easy to be thankful for this version of the story. I would gladly take the inconvenience of a few hours of my time and a few hundred dollars of my money over the alternative any day.

I already got the call tonight after supper that the Jeep is already done and ready to roll. That would be the third blessing stemming from this event. It was a relatively quick and painless repair and we're back up and running again. If I wanted to really start looking for added bonuses, I could also mention that none of the passing drivers ran over me or the wrecker driver. My wife also said she had nearly a half dozen people stop and ask if she needed assistance before I got there. (Which wasn't that long of a time span - really.) I even had a buddy stop and ask if I needed a hand. And this morning, my neighbor was kind enough to drive me to work so my wife could take my truck. The small blessings just kept adding up. That's just one of the things I love about small town living.

OK. I've rambled on long enough for one evening. This was a pretty easy situation to identify the good aspects. Although they're not all this obvious, they are all around you. Keep that in mind when things just don't seem to be going right in your day. It could always be worse. Until next time....