Saturday, August 30, 2008

How We Spent Our Saturday

As you've probably heard, we've still got a bit of work to do on our home. Jen's stated goal is to have all renovations completed is Christmas '08. While that sounds far off, we're aware that the year has sped by already. So, we decided to tackle a project or two on this holiday weekend.

For the past 4 months our dining room has been a paint and flooring storage area w/blockades set up to keep the small people in our house out of it. We bought a new dining room table (surprise- on Criagslist) two weeks ago and thought we could put it to use if we actually had a usable space to put it in.

So we got up this morning determined not to sleep again until we had laid about 140 sq feet of cork flooring. 9 hours later- with some help from God on the weather and child watching by Howard & Judy- we're finished.

Here's the dining room as of this am:
(And that's after about an hour of cleaning!)

Here's what it looks like tonight:

We're feeling handy and ready for some sleep!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Lunch

Not sure what I like best about this picture- Colston's use of black beans as a facial treatment, his resemblance to a piranha, or his imitation of a spoon rest.

I love my boy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Chance Encounter??

Today I went to see a family in our church who had a new baby last night. The hospital they chose is HUGE and has been added on to about 37 times in the last 100 years. The result is not only tons of square footage for first quality medical care, but a seemingly endless labyrinth which doubles as a test of mental and physical endurance for visitors. On the way in I made a complete loop of the facility before I finally found the maternity ward. After checking in on the recently expanded family, I hopped in the elevator to begin my long trek back to my car.

One other guy rode along with me as we spend downward to the first floor. I noticed the wristbands on his arm and remembering that we were leaving the maternity ward, I queried, "Just have a new baby?" He looked at me and said, "Actually we had twins." Seeing my congratulatory smile forming, he added, "And I usually don't tell strangers this. No need to burden them with it- but one of our babies died after four days. The other is alive and strong." "I'm so sorry" were the only words I was able to generate. "That's ok. I don't know why I told you that," he replied. Then the door opened. "I'm so sorry" I offered again. He smiled sadly and then disappeared down the hall.

A flood of thoughts and emotions swam through me as retraced the halls and sidewalks back to my parking place. I thought about my friend's joy as they showed me their new baby, and imagined how conflicted this other couple must be with one baby cooing and the other silenced. Most of all I wondered why this man had apologized. Should someone with such a loss be forced to bear it in secret?

Then his words, "I don't know why I'm telling you this" came back to me. He didn't know me from Adam. He didn't know that I'm a guy who prays from time to time. Or that I've got lots of friends who do the same. But God knew. Maybe God set things up this afternoon so that we'd end up together for those couple of moments. Perhaps the Spirit of God prompted him to open up and share his darkest truth with a complete stranger. Maybe not, but maybe so.

I decided not to take any chances. As I merged my car back onto the Beltline I started praying for this family who are strangers to me, but not to the God who cries with them. And now I'm asking you to join me. Would you offer some words to God on behalf of the man I met today who wears two newborn bracelets, but will only take one baby home? Would you ask God to give this family comfort, peace and healing as only He can?

Thanks. I knew you would.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Tormentor

No, not me. I'm talking about the innocent looking girl next to me. Yes, I'm serious. Although she often looks like an angel, as an older sister, she has the innate ability to torment her younger brother.

Example: Today I met the family at Chick-Fil-A at lunch. Usually I avoid that joint like the plague at lunchtime because there are about 1000 people crammed into a building made for 100. However, since today was the first day of school, the restaurant was only half full. Hooray for education!

Anyway, as we're finishing our food, Addy exercises her option to trade the toy from her meal for an ice cream cone. Knowing full well that Colston will want some, Jen had the foresight to ask for an empty bowl and gave him some of Addy's soft serve.

For the first few minutes Addy and Colston ate at about the same rate. But as Addy noticed Colston's ice cream disappearing, she went into slow motion- averaging one lick about every 30 seconds. Why? To torment her brother and flaunt her frozen bliss right in front of his eyes.

Finally we'd had enough of him fussing, packed up and declared that Addy had to finish her cone by the time we got to the car. When we fastened her into her car seat she still had about 4 normal sized bites left. Not wanting her mom to finish or throw away her dessert, Addy put the whole thing in her mouth and somehow got it down.

In some strange way, I was kind of proud.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Heart Craigslist (Again)...

Our church community is in the process of renovating an old gym so that we can have more mtg space. As a result we've got all this old material that we're trying to recycle instead of dumping in the landfill.

Case in point, rolls of rubber flooring that used to sit under the free weights.

Yesterday I posted this stuff in the "Free" section of Craigslist. Within 30 mins I'd received 15 emails from interested folks. I told them to come and get it and by day's end it was gone.

I'm grateful that some folks got something they can use.

I'm excited that this won't take thousands of years to decompose in the earth. (At least not yet.)

And selfishly- I'm glad I won't have to lift this stuff into the dumpster.

Hooray Craigslist!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Colston's First Haircut

We'd been letting the boy's hair grow out. At first the curls were cute. Then he developed the "old man" wings over each ear and people began asking "how old is she?" That did it for me.

Grandma Judy provided the hair cutting skills. Jen kept throwing things in his hands to distract him so that he'd sit relatively still. We couldn't manage to get him to pause for pics tonight, however, but here area couple of shots:

And yes, those are socks on his hands in the first picture. Why, you ask?

They kept him busy and quiet for 15 mins. Enough said.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacation Recap- Summer 08

A few weeks back Jen and I were both dragging and finally agreed that we needed to take our first significant vacation in over a year. Although we LOVE getting out west, we chose to stay close and savor what our new home state has to offer. So we booked a great condo in the Echota development near Boone, NC.

We stayed 7 nights, which gave us lots of time to rest and enjoy the area. Some days we stayed close to home and took advantage of the amenities of the resort- swimming in the indoor pool and fishing in the stocked ponds. Between the three of us we caught 11 rainbow trout.

We also took in a couple of the big attractions in the area. We visited Grandfather Mountain- the highest point in the Blue Ridge range. All 4 of us walked across the mile high swinging bridge with 40 MPH winds blowing. We also spent some time hiking in the park.

We took the kids to Tweetsie Railroad, the High Country's attempt at an olde timey amusement park. Even though it was a bit overpriced and slightly cheesy, we all had a lot of fun on the rides. Addy even rode the tilt-a-whirl and Colston asked to go on the carousel again and again.

We also watched the Olympics every night, often staying up until 12:30 or 1am to cheer on Phelps and the gang. One of the best decision things I made on this trip was to unplug from the cell phone and internet. I went an entire week without answering calls or checking email. I think it enabled me to really decompress. And I really enjoyed the time to just be a dad and be with the kids. They're both growing so fast. Who wants to miss moments like this?

Not me. That's for sure.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Time To Recharge The Batteries

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Best Concert I've Seen In A While...

Last night I went to High Point, NC to catch Amos Lee in concert. I've been a fan of Amos' music for the past few years and have been looking forward to seeing him live. I wasn't disappointed. The show was held at the High Point Theater, an upscale venue that was clean, smoke free and decently intimate. I sat about 9 rows back.

I was curious to see what kind of crowd would show for Lee's mix of blues, soul and folk. There was a pretty wide range of ages, including a grey haired couple dead center in the front row and a 6 year old a couple of rows ahead of me who was taking in her first concert ever. There were plenty of couples on dates, and LOTS of single females. Apparently Amos' soulful crooning has quite a romantic effect on ladies of all ages. Note: If you are a single guy between 20-30 and want to meet some women who are in a good mood, get yourself to an Amos Lee show.

There was no opening act and the crowd was fairly quiet beforehand, but once Amos and his band took the stage the room came to life. People shouted, sang along, clapped when asked and spontaneously hooted and hollered. One lady next to me affirmed the start of her favorite songs with phrases like: "that's right", "hmmmmmm", and "go on Amos". And she wasn't the only one. I felt like I was at church.

Amos seemed to feel the vibe as well and got a little chatty with the audience. After a song about fighting, he offered, "You know what they say, if you can't do it- write about it." After another number about jealousy, Amos promised, "This is the last song I'm going to write about that particular situation." After doing a song off of the new album, Lee said, "I hope you already have it. If not, we're selling it tonight. Or you can find it somewhere on the Interweb. You can forage it." Amos had a nice dry wit and I left feeling like he appreciated our presence and was happy to engage us on at least a surface level.

Lee played both acoustic and electric guitar- and while he didn't seem to be a virtuoso on either, he held his own and played what was needed to get the songs across. He was backed by a 3 piece band of Keys/Hammond Organ, Drums and Bass. The guys played 23 songs in about two hours. Their set covered a good portion of each of Lee's 3 albums and included a couple of covers as well:

Keep It Loose
Supply And Demand
Bottom Of The Barrel
Jails & Bombs
What's Been Going On
Street Corner Preacher
Lungs (orig by Townes Van Zandt)
Southern Girl
Won't Let Me Go
Sweet Pea
Seen It All Before
Black River
Arms Of A Woman
Shout Out Loud
Better Days
Night Train
Fat Bottomed Girls (orig by Queen)
Lee and the players sounded good and didn't just play "what was on the record". True to their bluesy roots, they improvised on many songs. Lee even altered his delivery at times to more of a rap/melodic talk- which worked nicely. Unlike many artists who can only sing one way, Amos drifts effortlessly between an r/b falsetto, a gritty folk delivery and a bluesy growl.

Overall, I had a blast with just two minor disappointments. 1. Jen didn't get to come with me. I would have loved to share the night with her. She's DEFINITELY going next time. 2. I'm going to have to wait until Amos comes back through NC to see him again.

Check HERE to see if he's coming to your town anytime soon. And then go!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And The Woman Can Shop...

There are many, many things that I love and appreciate about my wife. Somewhere on that lengthy list is this:

"Jen is a great shopper. She loves to get a deal and HATES to pay full price."

Take this little combo for example:

When we set up camp in our new family room Jen told me that we'd need a sofa table and some "real" lamps to put on it. Given that most of our lamps came from Target and cost less than $20, I understood. the need for something more substantial. However, I wondered what these essential pieces of serenity and relaxation would cost us.

The table came to us courtesy of Craigslist and a $20 spot.

The lamps were picked off of the clearance rack at Pier 1 last night for $49 each. They originally retailed for $125.00 each.

Total cost for one sofa table and 2 grown up lamps: $127 tax included.

My wife is thrifty- and awesome!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Leaving No Stone Unturned...

A couple of years back I would sit on the couch in the evenings with my computer and Jen would wonder "what in the world I could possibly be looking at" online. (Yes, that's a direct quote.)

Now, she's got her own laptop and seems to find plenty of things to browse every night- like the latest news, Craigslist and

Lest you think she's simply wasting time, here's the latest gem she turned up tonight.

This will probably pay off someday.

Hopefully some very distant day decades from now.