Thursday, July 29, 2010

The New Camera Is On Its Way!

I finally did it! I was able to sell enough of my stuff on Craigslist to buy a new camera. This has been a goal of mine since returning from our vacation in Mexico. While we were there, we went to Xplor! which is a zip line park. It was very fun flying down the zip lines and taking some fun videos. I knew that there were a few water landings at the end of some of the zip lines so I made sure to put the camera in a ziploc baggy to protect it from getting wet. It worked great during those short water landings. There was also an underground river that you could swim through. It was like spelunking in a cave but you got to swim through it. There were a lot of stalactites hanging from the ceiling. I had put my camera in my pocket, secured nicely in the ziploc bag before going into the river. It had worked in the water landings so I was sure it would be OK in the river too. Well, the ziploc bag leaked when it was submerged for so long. a few drops of water got in and ruined the camera. I tried everything to dry it out and save the camera but I was unsuccessful.

More background info: When Beth and I got married in 2001, we vacationed in Jamaica. We were given a nice panoramic camera as a wedding gift and we made sure to bring it with us. We took some great pictures with it and also some very tasteful, artistic nude photos on the clothing optional island. I couldn't wait to get them developed! On about the third day, we decided to go for a kayak ride in the ocean. I had the option to leave the camera at the sports desk, but I decided to bring it along in the kayak with me. I didn't think that the waves would be enough to break over the top of the kayak, so I put the camera in the back compartment on top of the kayak. We were about 50 yards off shore when Beth started yelling at me that the camera was swimming in a pool of water! I turned around and, sure enough, the bag the camera was in was floating around and soaked completely through. I was devastated. Beth was PISSED! She had told me not to bring the camera along. Now the pictures were destroyed, memories were gone forever and I thought she would renounce he wedding vows. The rest of the week I was walking on egg shells, but we worked it out.

Fast forward back to Mexico; Beth had also told me not to bring the camera in the water and that if I had to, use two ziplocs to keep it safe. Again I didn't listen and figured one ziploc would do the trick. You'd think that I would learn my lesson and I think I have. I was once again walking on egg shells. This is when I set a goal to purge some unused items to pay for the replacement of the camera.

So in a few short days, I'll have the new camera and I can start including pictures on this Blog! I hope it makes things a little more exciting for the 3 followers of my little Blog. Thanks for following my blog, I hope you like it so far. It will only get better. For anyone of you anonymous readers, feel free to follow along. There's a lot more good stuff coming.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Uncle Don...

This evening, I found out that my Uncle Don passed away. I found out late last week that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the time the Doc gave him 3 months. His cancer must have been more advanced than the Doc had realized.

Uncle Don was married to my Aunt Irene. She was my Dad's sister. Aunt Irene passed away of cancer in the late 1990's. I think it was 1998, but might have been 1999. Aunt Irene was my Dad's first sibling to pass away and it was a very sad time. I remember hugging my Dad after the funeral service and crying uncontrollably with him. It was the first time I've had to console my Dad.

I didn't know my Aunt Irene or Uncle Don very well. Don and Irene had three children; Doreen, Mike and Dale. Doreen and Mike were quite a bit older than me so I didn't get to know them very well. I saw them at family reunions and always had a great respect for them. They were always nice to me my brother Phil. My cousin Dale was fun to be around. He was the first person to introduce me to "dubbing" CDs to tape. I also remember when I turned 18, Phil, Dale and I went to Déjà vu for a night of looking at strippers and getting lap dances. It was a great time that I won't forget.

Random Story: This is where I learned that strippers don't want anything but your money. Other than bachelor parties, I've never been back to a strip joint. Except for that time in Key West when the "performer" grabbed my ears with her long finger nails and began to thrust my face into her robust cleavage while digging said finger nails into my scalp. Needless to say that it hurt like hell. I'd never forcefully thrown dollar bills at anyone prior to that night. I have not purposely darkened the door of a strip joint since that day.

So now I pray that my Uncle Don's soul is accepted into heaven. I pray for safe passage and a short time in purgatory. I pray for Mike, Doreen and Dale and all of Uncle Don's Grandchildren that their suffering be eased knowing that Uncle Don is now in Heaven with Aunt Irene.

Until I see you again, Uncle Don, May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On the Market...

Our home is officially on the market! Go to and do a residential property search for listing number 10034700. Now the waiting begins.

Monday, July 26, 2010

3... 2... 1... JUMP!!!!

So here I sit, drinking rum and coke and listening to the Cubs beat up on the Astros. It's 5 to 2 in the top of the ninth. I have a feeling that the Cubs will pull this one off. It's been a rough season, but I feel good about it. Good things are going to happen to this ball club.

It's been a whirlwind couple of days. Beth and I have been busting our butts cleaning and organizing our house. Tonight we met with a good friend and realtor, Joe Siereveld. I've known Joe since we moved to Byron Center in 2004. He was building a house two doors down from ours and doing it fast. He and his wife Kerry had one child at the time and so did we. Joe is a home builder and specializes in high end homes. I'm amazed at what he can build and wish I had that ability. He is also a realtor and I trust him with my most expensive purchase. Joe has agreed to list our home and help us move forward with our plan. Walking through the house with Joe while he was taking pictures, I kept thinking about our next step and how exciting it will be. We are downsizing! We will live a smaller life, but it will be an exponentially better and happier existence. I can't wait to eliminate the worry of our big mortgage and focus more on my family.

Random comment: The Cubs just won! Final score: Cubs 5, Astros 2.

I am hopeful that this process is quick. From what Joe told me, the market is good now and being in the Byron Center school district is a big plus going into the school year. I hope he is right. I would love to have the house sold and be in buying mode in a few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed. I'll post a link to our listing when it is available.

So here I sit. On the cusp of a great adventure in simpleness. Back to the basics. Minimize everything. Enjoy life. Am I excited? Heck yeah I'm excited! The best is coming and I'm jumping on the train.

Random quote: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, Nothin', don't mean nothin', hon' if it ain't free."

Freedom. No more weight to bear. No more worries. No more wondering if we're spending enough time with our boys. No more missing out on those moments when they say the funny thing or do something silly. No more sadness of dropping off the boys at day care. (Note: We love our day care. The staff there is fantastic and we appreciate all the love and care they have given to our boys. Nothing could replace that, except for us being home for our boys.)

So, as for tomorrow, 3... 2... 1... JUMP!!!!

Shine Brilliantly...

I read this on Rachel Elabeth's Facebook page and thought it was worth sharing.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

A quote from Marianne Williamson

Saturday, July 24, 2010

One Red Arm

So you may be wondering what this One Red Arm thing is all about. Back in 1997 I was a senior at Central Michigan University. I was in my last year and was living in the Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity house. Knowing that this would be my last year in college, it only seemed right to go on Spring Break and enjoy my last hurrah. The Van Van was in running order and three other fraternity brothers were willing to take the trip with me to Key West, FL. After classes on a Thursday we left Mt. Pleasant bound for Key West. We drove through the night in hopes that we would get to warmer weather by morning. It was incredibly cold that first night. The mountains of West Virginia are just high enough to get below freezing in the Spring. With Frozen hands attached to the steering wheel, we forged on and made it to North Carolina by mid-day. We spent the night at Eric Kalamaras’ parents’ home before continuing on to Florida.

We pulled another all nighter and made it to Miami the next day where we stopped in the Everglades for an air boat ride. I was also making a point to try to find and talk to some Cubans that had made it to FL by boat. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any. Anyway, we headed south from Miami and entered Highway 1, the Overseas Highway that takes you through the keys and ends in Key West. We got about half way there and I noticed that my “lap” area was getting very hot. After a few moments I realized that the sun was shining directly on my “lap” area and I was wearing black shorts! Wow was it hot. I covered my lap with my hat and that seemed to resolve the issue for the time being.

Anyone who drives a VW bus knows that the most comfortable place to rest your left arm is on the door with the window rolled down. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen on our trip and my arm became very sunburned.

The next day, I looked in the mirror and was astonished at how unbalanced I looked with my One Red Arm. I kept sunscreen on my left arm all week but the rest of my body just couldn’t get tan / burnt enough to match the color of my left arm. I was known for the rest of the week as One Red Arm. I was also known as bald fat guy too but that story isn’t as interesting as this one. J

Monday, July 19, 2010

DownSizing or RightSizing

With all that is going on in our lives, we find that it is hard to just relax and enjoy the time that we're in. Every day there is something to do, somewhere to go, etc, etc... Eventually people come to a point where you make a decision. Is life about what you want / have or is life about enjoying time, family, friends and faith?

This has been a life long debate for me. I've always wanted to live life so I have fun all the time. When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was have fun, travel, be with friends, play volleyball, ski and enjoy doing stuff that most people don't get to do. I followed the intended path and went to college. In college I continued to enjoy life the way I wanted and it was fun. Never did I question where I was going or what I was doing. I was free to do what I wanted and when I wanted. During college I talked about going on a one year hiatus after graduation. I would move out West in my Van Van and settle somewhere amongst the mountains. Somewhere along the line, I was persuaded to take the road more traveled. I graduated and got a job and started losing my ambition to live a funfilled life with no regrets.

Money is a big factor in choices like these. I had a student loan that I needed to pay back, $3,000 plus of credit card debt (mostly from Spring Break 1997, but also from a new mountain bike), rent and a car payment. My monthly pay covered these with little to spare. From then on, I was stuck. All I could think about was working, advancing and trying to pay off that debt. Life would have been a LOT different had I not followed this path.

Make no mistake, I have no regrets for the decisions that I've made. I've learned a Lot. I've been married now for over 9 years, I've got three beautiful boys that I adore and a wife that is a handful but in a good way. I love her deeply and that will last forever.

This brings me to the next phase in my life. We've all got choices to make. We can choose to do what everyone else does or we can make a new path through the forest. With much discussion and thought, we've made a choice to break free from the norm. I no longer have an interest in having a nice house, nice lawn, or 3 bathrooms. I don't care what neighborhood I live in. I don't care if my car is a certain horse power or has the latest stereo system. I don't care about what society thinks of me. I am going to live my life the way I want to and on my terms. I should probably say that we are going to do this, as a family, to make the most of our lives and our time together. On September 1st, we will start the process of downsizing. Maybe rightsizing is a better term. A big mortgage doesn't have a place in our lives any more. Yes, we are going to put the house up for sale. I don't know how long this will take, but we are going to try. I am hopeful that it will be less than a year before we sell it.

This is a big change for my family. The boys are on board, so that will make is easier. This is only step one of the process. Once the house is gone, we'll make some other choices that will better our lives by decreasing the burden on our collective wallet. For now, that is all I can tell you. I'll keep this blog updated on our progress and hopefully our success. God is good and we are doing this in his name. I pray that we can keep true to ourselves and our God and make this happen. Living life to its fullest to the glory of God; what could be better than that? I know He will help us achieve this dream. Thanks for reading...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tour De France 2010

I have been trying to follow the TDF this year. So far, Lance has given up and there have been some good rivalries. I am pulling for Andy Schleck and I hope that Levi can pull up to the 3rd spot for The Shack. It is sad for me to watch knowing that this is Lance's last tour. The official end of an era. I'm sure he'll still keep riding and I hope to see him win the Leadville 100 in person some day.

I have a very limited TV Channel lineup and it doesn't include the Versus channel. So, at lunch time, I head over to the Excercise room at work and ride a stationary bike while watching the tour on one of the many TVs there. It is actually quite fun riding while watching others race on the TV. I find that during the last 20 KM I tend to ride faster as I anticipate who will win the stage. It's a great workout.

Has anyone else been keeping up on the tour?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here I am...

This is my first blog entry. I've wanted to do this for a while so, here she goes. I am 37 years old, married and have three children (all boys). We live in a nice house, my wife and I have good jobs and we can't find enough time to spend with our boys. I think this is probably typical of dual income families living in the Midwest. I would say that we are very middle class. Although sometimes we walk the line of being rednecks. Case in point; we spent the day two Saturdays ago in the kiddy pool in the driveway. Not sure what the neighbors thought about that...

Anyway, we have the same struggles as anyone else and I intend to use this forum to share my life as a married, middle class Father of three bright young boys. More about my history in later posts. If you decide to follow my blog, you won't be disappointed. There is always something odd going on... Slainte!