Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I know I can





I am very proud of my girls for a laundry list of things they have learned and accomplished. Just when I think I couldn't be more proud, one of them will do something that blows me away. I ran into another one of those instances this week while out on a little bike ride with my six year old.
One of the physical characteristics of our little town is that it is filled with hills. I find the hills add a lot of character to the neighborhoods with a variety of bluffs offering a grand view of various parts of town. The hills have some pro's and con's when it comes to physical activity like walking, running and biking. They're awesome when you want to mix up your routine by having some heart pumping challenges with a few breaks sprinkled in. When it comes to a bike ride with your six year old though, it means you really need to plan your route.

We can do the boring route that stays on our street which offers long distance travel with no noticeable change in elevation. Choosing to go up or down a block requires a decision to be made as to whether you want to start or end with the uphill battle. Although it's not a big deal for an adult, there are different challenges for a youngster. It's not only the challenge of peddling uphill that scares them, but also the downhill runs that can get out of control when you're new to the whole braking thing. Well, we've mastered the braking part now - and nearly wore out a back tire practicing. The recent battle has been sticking it out to endure the challenge of the uphill climb.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for - the part I'm proud of my daughter for and makes this a health goal related post. My daughter went from "I don't think I can" mode to "I know I can" mode.

On Monday, we rode our bikes down to a park about 1.5 miles away (mostly downhill), played at the park a while, and then headed back home (yes, mostly uphill). Most of the ride wasn't too terrible. The hard part is the last block that rises significantly. This is the part where my daughter usually says it's too hard and wants to walk her bike up the hill. (I have to admit - I'm not always disappointed myself.) Not this day though. She kept peddling her heart out....slowed down almost to a stop near the end....and then pumped those little legs all the way to the top. That in itself made me proud, but it wasn't the end of this story.

As we rolled to a stop in our driveway and exchanged high fives, she was beaming with pride. She looked and me and asked me if I knew how she did it. I said it was because she didn't give up. She corrected me and said that it was because she "listened to my training." She then explained to me that I (apparently??) often tell her that if she thinks she can't, then she won't, but if she believes she can, she will. Now, I don't recall actually saying that, but I might have been mumbling it to myself back in my pre-bike days while running alongside her while she was riding her bike....trying not to keel over myself. Apparently I am getting the credit on this one.

Before I even had a chance to pat myself on the back, she then asked me if I knew how else she was able to make it up the hill. I assumed she was going to tell me some amazing motivational thing my wife told her since she is the one who actually has good exercise habits. But no. She told me that God helped her do it. Now I was the one beaming with pride.

The moral of the story is to remember that you won't succeed if you don't believe you can. It's also important to remember that you're never doing it alone. Even if dad isn't there to encourage you along the way...God IS. Until next time....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A world of extremes





I am starting to wonder when life turned into a series of extremes. There doesn't seem to be much of the "average" middle ground left anymore. Don't get me wrong, I think life is a lot more interesting when you're bouncing back and forth between extremes. I'm just wondering when the shift happened. Or, have I just stopped paying attention to the average stuff??

Everyday things seem to fluctuate between extremes. My heater kicked on this evening with the dropping temps after a day of rain. I imagine we'll be kicking the a/c into action tomorrow when it hits the 80's and gets humid because of today's rainfall. Right now the rain barely gives me a chance to mow the lawn. In about a month, there will be so little rain that I won't have a lawn to mow. We're about to transition from the hustle of school activities to trying to find enough activities to keep the girls occupied.

My girls have even gotten into the spirit of living in extremes. In the morning, you can't drag them out of bed. At the opposite extreme, you can't get them to stay IN bed at night. During the day (on weekends anyway) they either want to lounge on the couch and beg to watch tv or they're bouncing off the walls like they drank a pot of coffee and washed it down with a six pack of Mountain Dew. Then there's my favorite - their attitudes. They are either smothering you with hugs and kisses or they're screaming at you and stomping off in a huff. (I can't wait for the teen years!)

This idea of extremes has even worked it's way into my choice of television programs. It seems to be a back and forth choice between the good guys and the bad guys. I'll watch the good guys on NCIS, Criminal Minds or Longmire for a while. Then I switch gears and get into Dexter, Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad. I'm not sure if they even make "middle ground" tv shows anymore.

There actually is a point I'm trying to make with all this rambling. I think the middle ground is gone in general. I think we've been desensitized by "real life" and we gravitate to the extremes to actually notice a difference in anything. It's kind of like the 5 o'clock news has become reality. (Disclaimer: I don't think there's much reality in the media.) It's like we yearn for the shock value of the horrendous things people say and do, and then to balance it out, we watch a bunch of YouTube videos about kittens and puppies. Or as some people will show you on social media, they go through their day without much in terms of social interaction only to get online and blast anything and everything they can. (The comments are usually more interesting that the original post.)

If you are worried about the complete loss of the middle ground, you can relax. I will do my part to try and maintain a consistent "average" for you. Average Jester will continue to stay away from the two extremes. I promise not to write anything so amazingly compelling that you confuse my blog with an award winning literary masterpiece. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I will do my very best not to write something so horrifically awful that it puts you to sleep. (Please note that all the times in past blogs when I referenced using Average Jester to put you to sleep - I was joking.) So, if you want a break from living on the wild side (or the completely bland side), stop back again anytime. At that I will bid you farewell for tonight. Until next time....

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What Is your story?





My six year old is wrapping up her year of kindergarten this week and it got my wife and I talking about how much she has changed this past year. It makes me feel old now that I use phrases like, "they grow up too fast," when referring to my own kids. We have been blessed with the availability of an amazing school for her with teachers that truly care for her and do a phenomenal job of nurturing her abilities.

Her reading and writing abilities have grown tremendously over the past school year. She started kindergarten knowing some basic sight words and spelling some simple words. After a year of kindergarten, she is now able to read "paragraph text" books like her children's Bible and she is also writing her own stories. As a matter of fact, writing her "books" is one of her favorite things to do. She is now excited to chronicle her summer activities and adventures in book form.

Since starting this blog almost a year ago, I have realized that writing has become very popular. Maybe it has always been big and I just didn't notice because I wasn't into reading blogs a couple years ago. Now that I'm knee deep in it, I am realizing just how many people actually take the time to read blogs and, even more exciting, how many people I know that already write their own blogs.

This got me thinking about two things:
1. Out of curiosity.... Who is actually reading what I write?
2. Because I REALLY do want to know....What are you writing?

I jumped on Google Blogger when I started for a few reasons. One, I already have a Google account, just like almost everyone else out there it seems. Two, it was easy to use - and I didn't want to be battling to figure out a blogging platform when I wanted to just write for fun. Now I can also add a three and possibly four... Google makes it very easy to share across multiple sites and offers pretty decent analytics - for free.

Thanks to Google Analytics, I know that my blog has been read in the United States, France, Poland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Antigua and Malaysia....to name the majority. I realize it's the World Wide Web, but it really peaks my curiosity to learn who is actually reading these posts. I can understand one random viewing from the Ukraine, for example, but to have multiple pages read each month consistently tells me someone may actually be following the blog.

I don't want to call anyone out or make them feel uncomfortable, but I am curious who is following my blog from around the world. It would be nice to know how you stumbled across it and what you like about it. I never have a shortage of content floating around in my head and it would be fun to know which posts are most enjoyed. (I can see which ones are most viewed.) Add a comment or send me a message if you're willing to share with me how you found my blog and what you'd like to see more of.

As I stated before, I am constantly being surprised by friends that are currently writing their own blog...and I didn't know about it. I am even more curious about this than why you're reading my blog. If you currently write a blog, let me know about it. What do you write about? Why did you decide to start writing? Once again, feel free to comment or send me a message. I would love to check out what you've been doing with your blog.

This post was really started because of my enjoyment of my little girl's love of writing. I don't know if it means more to me because I like to write or just because she's growing up so fast. The same goes for my "suddenly" realizing how many friends already write their own blogs. Maybe I am just becoming aware of it because I write one too?? It's kind of like shopping for a new red truck. Once you start looking at them, you see them all over the place.

Here's your optional homework/Q&A for this week: Let me know your answer to any or all of the questions below:

1. How did you stumble across my Average Jester blog? I know many of you had me force it down your throats via Facebook or daily conversations...I appreciate you reading in spite of that.
2. What do you like about it? Favorite topics? As I said above, I have a ton of content bouncing around in my head. I would love to focus more on what you enjoy reading.
3. Do you write a blog? If so, let me know about it. I encourage you to post a link to your site here in the comments or in the comments for this post on my Average Jester Facebook page. I have a feeling that if you like what I write about, then many of my readers will in turn enjoy reading what you write about....Just a thought.

** Here are a couple of other ways to respond if you prefer:
My Google+ page - This is my personal Google+ (which you can also access on the sidebar of by blog.)

I'll let you go for now. It's time to get back to enjoying a three day weekend with my girls. Until next time....

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's mowing season





I love yard work. There's just something about spending time outside and getting a little exercise while making the place look nicer. While mowing the lawn tonight, I even thought about the possibility of taking on a few other yards so I could get even more enjoyment and exercise out of it. I quickly talked myself out of that when I realized that it would probably feel more like chores because it's not my yard.
I hate to say it, but mowing has been about the only exercise I've gotten recently. I've been itching to get out on the bike a few times per week since I got it, but that hasn't happened. I'm not charged up enough about riding to go out and do it in the rain or while everyone in our household is sick. Then again, it hasn't rained EVERY day lately...it just feels like it. (The lawn looked like it too.) At least everyone in our family is healthy again and the weather looks like it should be clear from here on out....and I'm ready for it.

My girls are definitely ready for it too. I know my wife and I are ready for a mental health break after being cooped up in the house all winter. Getting outside will be a good way to blow off a little steam and maybe help ease up on some of the temper tantrums at home. It will probably help my girls too.

Right now, the wife and I have the house opened up and are currently enjoying the beautiful evening we're having. It would be wonderful if this weather carries through the extended weekend. If so, I imagine I will be praying for the rain to come back so I can recover from my girls wearing me out for three days straight. I hope you get a chance to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather too. Until next time....

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Armed Forces Day




Today is Armed Forces Day in the good ol' US of A and I am glad to see numerous posts across all forms of social media praising and thanking the members of our armed forces for their service. I may be a little biased because of my prior service in the Marine Corps, but I like to think I would still have the same patriotic support for the men and women in the armed forces even if I hadn't enlisted back in 1991.

My enlistment started right as Desert Storm was ending and went through 1997 during a lull in overseas campaigns. Just to clarify for everyone, I was never deployed for combat during my enlistment....a fact on which my opinion has changed over the years. Back in my younger days, I always had a nagging feeling of regret that I was never deployed and therefore lacked the experience of combat....and all the war stories that came with it. Then I grew up...

In more recent years, I have grown to understand and appreciate the blessing it was to not have to experience what so many of my friends have. Although most of them made it through one or more tours of duty in combat without any major affect, that is not true of all of them. At the ultimate extreme, I have friends that never returned from their overseas deployment. I have a number of other friends that are still dealing with the physical and mental affects their time in combat created for them. I wouldn't wish that on anyone and it's all the more reason I appreciate what they do.

I don't want to change a holiday remembrance into something it's not, but I must admit that I am also thankful to the families of those serving in our armed forces. Having a family member away from home is bad enough in itself. Knowing that they are spending every day in harm's way (in the case of combat deployment) makes it that much more straining.

I am also thankful for all those who continue to support the members of our armed forces. I feel that I see a lot more patriotism these days. I would like to think it's because of a general improved sense of patriotism across the board, but in reality, I think it's more because I don't give the unpatriotic the time of day. Unfortunately, I think it may take an actual invasion on our own soil for those morons to truly understand what freedom and patriotism looks like and appreciate those ready to fight to defend it. On a side note, I hope the resulting "home grown armed forces" in that scenario will also be given the due respect they deserve. (The picture at the top of this post could easily be half my buddies out in their backyard having fun.)

Ok. Ok. I got off on a little tangent there.... So I'll wrap this post up: Thank you to all who are serving, or have served, in our armed forces. Thank you to the families and friends that support them. Utmost thanks to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of our great nation. (I realize this isn't Memorial Day, but one day a year isn't enough for that.) Keep on keeping on. Stay as safe as is humanly possible. God Bless! Until next time....

Scoop or peel?





"One" of the things I'm learning during this whole health improvement process is that there is SO MUCH to learn. This morning my wife commented that the internet is both wonderful and horrible when it comes to researching anything online because there is an argument and "proof" for every opinion regardless of how different they are. In my case for example, doing a search for diet recommendations for reducing cholesterol, I have no problem finding a wealth of knowledge. The problem is that you find 100 different versions and opinions for anything you search for.
In my searching, primarily for a breakfast go-to meal, I perused a number of websites and came to the conclusion that oatmeal and grapefruit are the solution for me. There are plenty of other options, but those two appeared in every site I read. Rather than digging deeper into the benefits of all the other options, I chose to go with these two options to keep it simple. Now I have time to research the more important aspects of my choice of breakfast foods....to scoop or to peel my grapefruit??

Ever since I was a little kid, the only way I knew of to eat grapefruit was to cut it in half and scoop it out with a spoon. I will admit that it is the more fun way to eat a grapefruit, but I had the lingering feeling that there was an easier, or quicker, way to do it. After watching my wife peel her orange, I decided to give it a try with my grapefruit. I wasn't sure if it could be done or if it was entirely legal to do so.

I drew the curtains, turned off the lights in the house for good measure and began peeling. It was amazing. Grapefruits peel just like oranges. Who woulda thought it?? Ok, so they don't really peel just like oranges. The rind of a grapefruit doesn't separate quite as well as it does on an orange. Grapefruit rind also leaves a distinct aftertaste in your mouth if there is too much of it left on the fruit. The upside is that I find the grapefruit so much nicer to eat in full pieces rather than the little chunks I can scoop out with a spoon with my old method.

I am going to continue peeling my grapefruits as I find the end result much better....even if it takes a little more time to peel it completely. Now that I have discovered MY preference of grapefruit eating methods, you can decide for yourself which you prefer. I just wanted to share this with you in case you never thought of peeling a grapefruit rather than scooping it out. I'm sure this will be the hot topic of choice in all your conversations this week. You can thank me later. Until next time....

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Moms Galore






I'm not usually one to make a big deal out of many of the holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Mother's Day is one that has become more important to me over the past few years (for a number of reasons), so I am going to do the "typical blog thing" and write about mothers on Mother's Day.

For a quick review of the ladies who hold a special place in my heart on Mother's Day (and all the days in between - if you want to get technical), take a look at the photo above. From left to right, you will see my Mom holding me shortly after I was born, my wife holding our girls and my other Mom (technically Sarah's Mom, but she's good about sharing).

My Mom pulled out all the stops when it came to raising me. I'm sure some of that is because she was just plain awesome, but part of it is due to the fact that I was quite a handful and she didn't have much of a choice. I learned a lot from my Mom (a list I won't make here due to a lack of storage space and bandwidth on my website) and much of it I didn't realize until I was much older.

Some things she taught me are simply useful like making me learn how to sew my own button back on my shirt. Because of that, I am now the primary mender of all that is fabric in our house. (Come to think of it, I'm not sure that was a good example or not since it just added work for me later in life??) My understanding of how amazing my Mom was didn't become clear to me until I had children of my own. That brings me to the next Mom in my life - the Mother of my children.

Don't tell her I said this, but she does the work of about three people and really needs to learn to get a little "her time" in from time to time. As is common with most mothers out there, she's always on the go, or at least on high alert for the next time she'll have to be on the go. Seeing first hand all the things she does, not only for our girls, but for our whole family, makes me appreciate what my own Mom did for me over the years.

I would love to get into listing examples of her awesomeness, but as with my own Mom's list, there isn't enough time or space to do so today. You can check out my previous blog, "My wife in a word," for a starter list. (It's probably still over on the right margin of my website under "reader favorites" because it has stayed in the top four posts of all time since it was written. Some of her amazing "Mom qualities" came from on-the-job training, but the bulk of it came from her own mother's example. That leads me to my other Mom.

Sarah's Mom has been amazing since the day I met her. Rumor has it she was amazing even BEFORE that! (I've known her for less than a decade.) She felt like my very own Mom as well right from the beginning. (I can say the same about my wife's Dad too, but it's not Father's Day today so I'll hold off.) This familiar bond became even more important last year when my own Mom passed away. This is now my second Mother's Day without my own Mom to call and talk to. I'm not sure how to say this next part and get the point across, but I'll try... It means so much more to me to still have my "2nd Mom" now that my Mom is gone, but at the same time, it's not that I only partially appreciated her in the first place. Is that clear as mud?

Make sure to tell your Mother how much she means to you today. You should really do it every day, but good luck keeping up with a mom in motion long enough to get your point across. At least on Mother's Day she might have a few minutes to sit back and kick her heels up. THAT's the time to swoop in for all the sappy and thankful words of gratitude.

We're a little more low key in our household. I don't think this blog post counts as gratitude for my wife because she knows full well that I would have written "something about something" today anyway....and the Mother's Day blog is kind of a cop-out as far as generating unique content if you ask me. My loving and thankful note to my wife said, "Dove Dark Chocolate." It might not sound like much, but she absolutely loved it, She might even get a chance to sit down and eat it if she'd just hurry up and finish the dishes and the laundry....Just Kidding....She's actually taking a 15 minute power nap right now. That's a full 14.9 minutes more than she usually gets once a week. Until next time....

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spring is in the air....and lungs





This week hasn't been a total loss in the personal health challenge, but it certainly had its inconveniences. I think the phrase "Spring is in the air" has completely different meanings for people with and without allergies. Everyone in our household has been sick to some degree at some point during the last week. Considering the number of cases of strep throat going around the schools, I am just happy we are all only dealing with cold and allergy symptoms. Even so, they make you feel like garbage for a few days.
It actually surprises me that the allergies hit the girls and I so hard this week considering it rained a little almost every day. You would think that would have knocked down some of the airborne allergens. It probably doesn't help that my little ones like to collect "flowers" and bring them into the house. I am referring to the "flowers" in the photo above. I wouldn't care as much if they'd bring the yellow dandelions inside, but they brought a load of the white, fluffy, sneeze inducing variety into the house.

The good side to all the rain is that the grass grew like wildfire. That means that after a week of not getting out on the bike and having very limited walks, I was at least able to get outside and mow the lawn today. Unfortunately, that was about the extend of my physical activity this week between the rain and being sick.

Another bright side is that being sick ruins my appetite, so portion control was pretty easy this week. I'm curious to see if it's had any affect on my weight this week.

My final bright and shining moment of the week is that tomorrow is the big day when my family gets to see if I turn into a raging madman without any form of nicotine. I've been milking my last tin of Kodiak pouches for a week now and they will officially be gone now. No more safety net for me. Probably for the best as the whole step down theory seemed a bit half-hearted even though I know I actually want to quit this time.

I'm going to call it a night. I feel I am nearly back to 100% in regards to the cold/allergy symptoms that have been plaguing me all week, but I am getting tired. It probably doesn't help that I just realized it's after midnight. What happened to the last three hours?? Until next time....

Friday, May 8, 2015

Family fun night is getting crazy





There have been a lot of card games being played in our house over the last few weeks. It all started with the girls being mesmerized by a little 21 card magic trick I showed them. That led to Ziva learning how to do the trick herself. After performing the trick for each other about 20 times, it started to get a little old. The fun is pretty much gone once everyone knows how it works. For some reason, kids just don't see things the same way we do.
Grasping for anything to not have to perform the same magic trick for the 21st time, I told them about a card game that my mom taught me. It's a little game called 52 card pickup. For those of you who may not have heard of 52 card pickup, the point of the "game" is to have the dealer toss cards out one at a time while the players have to catch them before they touch the ground. You start with a few easy tosses, followed by a few more cards at a quicker pace and then finally spray the rest of the deck across the players. They then get to pick up all 52 cards. The girls loved it and wanted to play it 20 times in a row.

Then my wife swooped in to save the day. She taught Ziva how to play Speed. Ziva then had to teach me how to play. It's actually a pretty fun game to play and I love that it's helping my little kindergartner with her quick thinking skills. Without going into all the details of the game, it basically involves playing a card that is either one greater or one smaller than the card showing on the pile between you. The first one to run out of cards wins. I am a little ashamed to say that I only win about half the games I play with Ziva.

After about 100 games of Speed, Ziva started getting sick of it and wanted to play something else. (I was holding out for more Speed as a little payback for all the times I had to do the magic trick.) Once again, Sarah swooped in to save the day. She taught Ziva how to play Solitaire. She then had to re-teach me how to play Solitaire because apparently I have been "cheating" all these years. (That's what happens when Microsoft takes Solitaire off their operating systems.) Anyway, Ziva has gotten pretty good at Solitaire now too. Sarah promised to teach us how to play Solitaire with two people this weekend - so we're all excited. (I'm still confused how it can be called Solitaire if there's two of you playing?!?)

You're probably wondering what our four year old Siri has been doing during all these card games. Well, she "plays" too. At first, she was content shuffling her own deck of cards, mixing them around, stacking them up, etc. Then she started copying what we were doing and eventually sitting in and playing some slow motion versions of speed with us. (Once again, I'm not sure if the same name can be used when Speed is being played in slow motion.) This is when things really started to get out of hand...

The other night, I walked into the living room to find Sarah and Siri sitting on the floor with a huge pile of cards between them and I asked what they were playing. My wife looked at me with a look that was half confusion and half smirk and said/asked, "I think we're playing a drinking game??" Siri looked up at me and told me the rules: "You pick up a card and if it's a 7 or an Ace, you have to take a sip of your water." Yep, that sounds like a drinking game. I imagine it started out because Sarah was trying to get her to drink more water because Siri was sick this week and she isn't known for staying well hydrated. Anyway, we now have to ask them to keep their voices down when they are running through the house shouting that they want to play a drinking game. What will the neighbors think?

I do remember being told a few years ago that you really feel old when you find yourself playing cards and drinking with your kids. I never thought it would happen so soon. So, even though I may be old based on that criteria, it also makes me sound like one of the younger crowd. When asked what I did last Friday night, I can honestly say that I spent the evening playing drinking games with a bunch of girls. Until next time....

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rolling right along





It's official. For the first time in about 25 years, I am the proud owner of a bicycle. Normally I wouldn't be all that excited about it, but a lot has changed in the past month or so. For those of you who may not have been following my blogs, my daughter recently learned to ride her bike without training wheels. In other words, she rides a lot faster than I care to move on foot. Add to this my search for a form of exercise that doesn't destroy my knees and I end up with a bike.

The picture of the bike above pretty much shows all the bells and whistles that my new bike has. I wanted a bike, but I wasn't ready to drop a lot of money on one just yet. For less than $100, I purchased a mountain bike at Target. It's actually a decent bike, but the employees at Target need a little work on the assembly and tuning. In the first five minutes of riding I realized the front brake pads aren't angled properly so they squeal loud enough to make the neighborhood dogs start barking. The derailer limits weren't set so I ran the chain off the low end....and then the high end. At least the seat and/or handle bars stayed on.

Fortunately for me, I spent a number of years working at Ace where we not only sold a few bikes, we also did a lot of tune-ups and repairs. After a few minutes of work, I had the derailers set properly and ready to ride. One of these days I will adjust the front brakes. (You can only get in a partial tune-up when there's a six year old standing next to you wanting to go for a ride.)

I've had the chance to get two rides in with my daughter and even a short one by myself. I can already see that this bike purchase was a good decision. I'm actually looking forward to getting out and getting some exercise. I am curious how long it's going to take for my back side to get used to sitting on that little mountain bike seat though. Maybe it's just my age catching up to me?? I remember spending all day on a bike in my younger years and never having issues. I'm going to give it a few weeks before I break down and buy a cruiser seat for it. I'm just happy that I can keep up with my daughter so far. Until next time....



May the 4th be with you...





A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.... I fell in love with Star Wars. OK, I guess it was only about 36 years ago and about 950 miles away, but you get the idea. I have loved Star Wars since I was that four year old kid down home in Texas. At that time, I really only appreciated the lightsaber duels, laser blasts, spaceships and crazy aliens. It wasn't until I got much older (about 10 years old) that I was able to really appreciate more of the full meaning of the story.

The movie was genius on a couple different levels. The special effects were years ahead of anything else. It still amazes me how realistic they were able to make the battles with the limited technology available at the time. Even without the special effects, or even in its printed form, the story is incredible in itself. The battle of good versus evil, a love story, patriotism and rebellion, a few nice plot twists and even a bit of humor makes it a well rounded story. Somehow I still can't convince my wife to sit down and watch a few of the Star Wars movies with me.

I know of one instance where a deal was made between husband and wife that if she watched Star Wars, he would watch the Sound of Music. This deal, to the best of my knowledge, ended with her watching Star Wars and him still never having seen the Sound of Music. I don't want to name names on this little deal (mostly because I don't want to throw my brother-in-law Kyle under the bus or remind his wife, Amy, that she still has a viewing of the Sound of Music coming) so I will just get to the point. Star Wars is the type of movie that deserves special circumstance deal making if it means that just one more person can be exposed to the wonderful piece of work that it is.

One of the many things I enjoy about working in the field of Information Technology is that there is no shortage of Star Wars fans. I would have assumed it was just a stereotype that computer geeks all liked Star Wars, but it's really not that far from reality. It's fun knowing that I can throw out a quote from Yoda and not get a blank stare in return. Even more fun is seeing some of the unique desktop wallpapers around the office. One of my favorites is Abraham Lincoln riding a Grizzly bear and wielding a lightsaber. It is a logical union of themes since Star Wars is heavily based on patriots standing up against the evil growing up around them and fighting for what is good and right.

I could ramble on and on about the correlation between the story line in Star Wars and what is currently taking place here in the real world right now, but I just don't feel like getting that deep with my message tonight. It will have to re-visit this them later on. Maybe around the 4th of July. For now, I'm going to kick back, relax and dream about the day someone finally invents a lightsaber. Of course, it probably wouldn't take long before someone tries to ban them. Until next time....

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Walking Weather





It looks like the weather is now going to cooperate with my grand plan to be more active outdoors. My ramp up to healthier living is on track so far. It's not like I couldn't exercise inside during less than optimal weather, but it will help me a lot to be able to do something active outside. Everything else seems to be going at least as smooth as I hoped it would.
I have started eating a healthy breakfast every morning while also cutting down my meal portions at every meal. It's kind of fun feeling full already after eating these smaller meals. I am also on track to be tobacco free. I had stepped down to pouches from chew (you can read about that in a previous post) and I think I will be able to stop even the pouches early this week.

Although I didn't specifically line it out in my plan, I also cut back on my Diet Pepsi consumption (sorry Pepsi - it was a good ride). That was originally because of the high Sodium levels in Diet Pepsi which does not play well with my high blood pressure. I have also been hearing more about how diet sodas contribute to belly fat - something I have plenty of. I'm not sure that I completely believe that since what's healthy and what's not seem to go back and forth so much.

This week I am going to get moving on my activity levels. The occasional walks with my girls have been better than nothing, but they aren't doing what I need them to be doing. Although I will continue to enjoy my family walks, I am going to start doing some walking of my own at a brisker pace than my little girls' legs can handle. The fact that there is plenty of yard work to do will just be an added bonus.

On a side note, I have realized that I have a few friends who are also on a health improvement/weight loss plan. One of the wonders of Facebook is being able to track each others accomplishments and cheer each other on. My plan involves some basic health changes with the added support of some ItWorks health products. I have a few friends doing the same and a few others using Isagenix. It will be interesting to see how the results compare. Considering I started this blog to track my progress AND hold myself accountable for results, I like the fact that I can be encouraged by my friends doing the same and get a glimpse of what different plans and/or products work for different people.

Since it's already beautiful outside on this fine Saturday morning, and typing on the computer doesn't help my physical health, I will head outside and get to work. Have a great weekend everyone! Until next time....

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fair Weather Life







Life is grand. Enjoy it. That's the way I look at it anyway, but I still find myself using the phrase "life ain't always fair" with my girls from time to time. I use it as an easy way to end an argument with my eldest daughter. Unfortunately, it's barely a step better than responding to her "why" questions with my "because" answers. Even worse, I don't even agree with or like the phrase "life ain't always fair."

More often than not, life is actually pretty fair....it just doesn't always appear that way because we don't always get what we want. A lot of this life ain't fair mentality comes from our own natural tendency to think we should be able to have everything we want. It's the American dream right? Wrong. There's a huge difference between having the freedom and ability to work hard and do well for yourself (the real American dream) and having everything handed to you on a platter (confused for the American dream, but actually a self destructive pipe dream).

One of my favorite examples of the reality behind not getting everything you ask for was in the movie Bruce Almighty. I'm actually a little surprised to be using a logical example from a Jim Carrey movie, but please bear with me. In the movie, he was granted all the powers of God. Part of that included answering prayers. Being overrun with requests, he decided to say "yes" to all prayer requests. One of the outcomes of that was having every single person who purchased a lottery ticket win. That's fair right? Everybody wins. Or was it really unfair because that means everyone won less than $10 rather than one person winning millions? Sure you didn't lose any money, but without anybody winning big there's no fun in it.

"Fairness" is in the eye of the beholder. It's also a balance between making sure you are getting what you truly deserve and being greedy. Our nature makes us constantly want more than we have, or even worse, think we always deserve it. That is what may appear to be the American dream - living just outside our means and letting credit make up for what it takes to make life "fair" for us.

Sometimes an idea of what is unfair really gets out of hand. You can't turn on the news right now without seeing "unfairness" against someone being protested with violence, looting and destruction. That's fair right? Someone I don't know wasn't treated in a manner I think is fair, so I'm going to steal or destroy the property of some completely innocent, and unrelated, person or business. That's pathetic and I think it's unfair that more of those people aren't being held accountable for their actions, but I know that's the way it is and I can't always have everything the way I want it.

Believe it or not, I had no intention of rambling on about our misguided view of the American dream or what we think we deserve. This line of thought started because my daughter has been throwing fits whenever she doesn't win whatever game we're playing. It has consistently gotten worse in the past few weeks and is therefore often in my thoughts. To be honest, I should be the one playing the "it's no fair" card because my 6 year old beats me in 75% of the games we play, but I won't do that. I'm not a whiner. I'm a grown man who is fully capable of dealing with it. Most importantly, I realize that it's perfectly fair on all counts. Her young brain is like a sponge, so I would be concerned if she didn't clobber me in every game of Memory we played. More importantly, I was a horrible loser when I was her age, so having to deal with the same thing with my daughter is completely fair in my book.

As I am starting to get drowsy at the "late" hour of 9 pm on a Friday night, I am reminded about another thing that is technically fair, but only because I know I put my folks through the same thing when I was a child. My wife and I spend Monday through Friday dragging our girls out of bed each morning in an attempt to not be late EVERY day of the week. Knowing that, why are they ALWAYS up before 6 am on a Saturday morning? The one day of the week they could actually sleep in, they are ready to go before the sun. Oh well. It just means I can get started on my honey-do list that much sooner I guess. Until next time....