Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So which is the better course?

My blog post question is a serious one and I am looking for anyone's thoughts on the matter.  I feel pretty good about the path I have chosen, but I wonder if there may be a better way.  So please feel free to enlighten me if you have another alternative school of thought or opinion.

To clarify right from the start, this is not a philosophical question about the universe or anything like that.  I know my place in the eternal scheme of things and have really never had any doubt with that.  My inquiry is based on a much more trivial thing (and is probably not even worth a silly blog post about it).

Here's the question and then some background (would it be foreground since it is after the question?):
 - Is it better to leave an escalating conflict situation if you feel you are unlikely to accomplish anything positive from it?  -or-  Is it better to finish the conflict and/or try to ignore it?

Now for the background/foreground or whatever grounds I am coming from ... maybe playground is a better venue for the topic is, of course, basketball.

Tonight, and the past two weeks, we have had 12+ guys show up for basketball.  That part is nice, but when we got to 17 guys I realized you can have too much of a good thing.  I really hate playing basketball when you have to sit more than one game in between playing.  It would not be so bad if there were a better core group of players so the games go by quickly.  But the majority of the folks I play with are spotty at best and not really very passionate about the sport (I myself am probably too passionate).

I'll try to cut to the chase here.  There are always those few guys who have a certain "air" about them.  Usually they were the high school quarterback type who have put on more weight than they would ever want to admit and I assume they are still feeling like they run the world (as they likely did in high school).  Well it is these folks that I generally cannot stand ... mainly because they are never wrong.  Just like in high school where they could not be picked on or bullied or given a failing grade in a class (if the football team was any good), they also cannot ever be wrong in their adult life.  (Side note: check out the song by Bowling For Soup titled "High School Never Ends" or the video too if you can ... hilarious!)

Not really cutting to the chase you say?!  Well, you're right!  I apologize (something HS QBs - or any other sports star for that matter - rarely if ever do) and I'll try to remedy that.

So one of these "jocks" knocked a ball toward the sideline tonight.  I ran toward it and he bowled me out of the way.  To be fair, we probably more collided with one another.  The ball bounced out of bounds.  I helped the jock up and asked if he was okay.  He said yes ... and then he and his team attempted to keep the ball claiming that it was a jump ball.  I challenged this by saying that he had knocked it out and that I never touched the ball.  He raised his voice and said it was a jump ball (jocks are usually quite articulate).  I asked if that was always the rule "So if you knock a ball out of bounds all you have to do is fall down with someone and it becomes a jump ball?" and he got more angry.

At that point, I turned and walked toward the stage calling for a substitute.  My decision was to simply walk away because I recognized that I was never going to get him to accept any possibility of being wrong and it just wasn't worth the effort.

He began catcalls and his teammates joined in on the complaints of me being a princess, etc.  They called for me to stop being a baby and just play the game.  So after a few choice words about how I was stopping because he wouldn't shut up about it (which in hindsight I wish I had been mature enough not to say) ... I simply, and quietly, left.

So I ask you, humble readers who have not pestered me while I took many weeks off from blogging (thanks for that by the way) ... knowing that I was in no position to simply let it go and keep playing ... what should I have done instead, if not just realizing I was out of control of my temper and choosing actively to leave?

One side note:  This evening's incident marks at least the 5th time that I have challenged a call by this particular jock ... and he has not backed down on a single one.  About three times ago was when I decided to start leaving if/when he personally refused to back down.  This is the third such incident in about a year and I have walked away from each one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where are all the "Ballers" ?!

I remember a time when I had to lock the doors at the Meadowland Stake Center on Tuesday nights to keep too many basketball players from crashing our games.  We had at least 10 "regulars" and between 3 and 7 "maybes" each week.  Then people brought their friends.  I recal one night less than a year ago when we have 27 guys show up!  It was a mad house and I ended up just leaving because it was 30 minutes between games once you had to sit.

Two months ago:  we had 8 guys

7 weeks ago:  we had 5

6 weeks ago:  I cancelled because no one committed to coming.  (I went and played down @ Aeroplaza and that was pretty fun, but MUCH LESS challenging competition).

5 weeks ago:  we got 2 guys (myself included)

4 weeks ago:  I recruited like crazy and we got ... 7 guys.

3 weeks ago:  we got 7 guys again ... but not the same 7 guys

2 weeks ago:  we only had 6 guys (but one showed up very late so it was 2 on 3 for a while!)

Last week:  I cancelled because I only had 2 guys committed to coming.

So far this week I only know FOR SURE that 5 guys are coming.  What the heck?!  It makes me wonder if everyone just got old at the same time and we've all stopped being able to play at night.  I know I am more tired the next day, but I still love playing.  Where's the passion?  Where's the commitment?  Where's the love?  Where are my true "ballers" at?

For heaven sakes ... we have had 17 and 19 people respectively for the last two weeks at Volleyball (which I enjoy, but c'mon ... it's not basketball!)

So very sad ... this is probably why the Stake Presidency has already said we will only play Men's Basketball for the "Season" on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights (Thursdays will remain "Ladies Night" @ the gym).  Looks like my fears about playing for the Oakwood basketball team may never come to any head at all.  I guess that's good ... but I miss playing full court ball.  That's the best part of my game ... open court running and gunning ... put me in the half-court and I'm done (mostly).

Oh well ... maybe I am being taught a lesson ... we'll see ... (sigh)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mom, How Can I Ever Thank You Enough?

My mom, Julie Case, smiling at Ben and holding Catalina
(I love this picture because my mom is often smiling
the most when she is with her grandkids!)
Today, October 13th, is my mother's 61st birthday.  She posted on Facebook (which honestly amazes me because she isn't particularly computer-savvy) that she thought she was turning 62 today so she is elated that she got a year back.  That almost sums up my mom perfectly.

I met my mother at a very young age.  I was very impressionable and she took advantage of that, but in a very good way.  She, like most of us, remembers almost exclusively ONLY the "bad" things she did when raising me (none of which I will share now because even though they are funny, this is a tribute to my mom and not a "roast" on Comedy Central ... but my typical humor will still be sprinkled throughout, which is just one more thing you can thank (or blame) my mom for).

Some of my earliest memories are of my mother letting me just be "me" which is about as close to a miracle as I will ever witness.  I was horrible!  Those of you that have known me mostly just as an adult will find this unbelievable but I used to be VERY hyperactive and unable to focus on anything.  I remember my mom telling me stories of my childhood ... one in particular stands out ... I came bounding into her room and pounced on her in the bed and shouted "it's fwee-o-clyock mommie ... let's play" ... this was 3:00 AM!  And despite this kind of rambunctious energy she loved me and supported me.

Oh sure there are funny stories what my parents had to do to get me to calm down, but the truth of it is ... a lesser mother would have taken me for a ride and driven the car off a cliff.  Or beaten me senseless to try and get me to settle down.  Or just shunned me.  Or quarantined me to my room.  Or sent me to a boarding school.  You get the picture ... my amazing mom did NONE of those things.  She just loved me.  She showed patience much more than she would ever believe or care to accept as the truth.

Another memory is of her beautiful garden in our Orem, UT home.  She planted all kinds of good things like raspberries and peas.  I think she probably thought they never grew well but the truth is that I ate every pea and raspberry I could find that was even close to the ripened color.  It's a miracle anyone else ever got any, but year after year she would plant and weed and fertilize and on and on.  I remember "helping" her sometimes, but really I just ate the ripe stuff and ran away.

I remember my mom worked another job outside the home most of my youth (something she would tell you she regrets, but in reality I learned much from that example about doing what needs to be done to make ends meet and sacrificing of your own time to benefit others).  She was (and still is) an amazing typist.  She worked as a transcriptionist for many, many years in all kinds of situations: small offices, hospitals, ER, radiology departments, at home via virtual networks, etc.  I can remember days when I was sick and stayed home and I could hear her typing reports for doctor's feverishly in our home office.  The sound of her typing was comforting and would often lull me to sleep (which you might imagine was a difficult task given my ADHD).  I remember reading a book together (I don't recall the title but I know she will know it) and then her typing the report for me almost faster than I could dictate what I wanted to say.  Those who know me will know that my typing skills are atrocious (I use what I refer to as the 4-finger method, although one of those fingers is my thumb and understands it's place as the spacebar king ... the other fingers seem to fight each other for those middle keyboard letters) ... I digress ... I can type fast enough to keep up with the average joes so no one knows the difference and I give credit to my mother because it was the sound of her typing that taught me what it ought to sound like.  I just mirrored that sound and will never type "normal" again.

My mom supported me through the awkward teenage years.  She would get excited with me after first dates and be there to console me and tell me I'm a "real catch" after difficult break-ups.  She came out to cross country and track meets (could there BE a more boring sport to watch high school kids compete in?!)  She drove me all over the place and when I was close enough in age to drive she always made sure I had a car to get where I needed.

She taught me my love for music and my ability to harmonize with any song.  I still sing songs the way she does and I think it may bother her that I'm stealing her harmony line.  She is a gifted pianist but would never let anyone believe that about her.  She taught me how to clean and I mean CLEAN!  We had what I felt like was ALOT of chores, but the truth is, it kept us "busy and out of trouble" to use my dad's favorite phrase.  It taught me the value of hard work and of taking care of your stuff (a.k.a. not being a hoarder).

My mother was a huge reason I felt confident in serving a two-year mission in LA (even though she bawled like I was going to die there when I first opened up my call).  She did so many things to help me prepare that I didn't even recognize until months later.  She sent me letters every week and packages nearly as often, with homemade cookies and candy and filled with love and spiritual power.  She has been there for every important event in my life and the lives of my children.  Always the graceful host she coordinated graduation and birthday parties, my missionary farewell and homecoming.  She supported the planning of our wedding reception and remains ready, willing, and very able to assist in anything I ever need help with.

Mom, I could write forever on the amazing gifts you have given me and the things you have done for me.  But if I did that then you'd never get to read this because it would never get published.  I love you.  You are much more of an inspiration than you know.  You're not perfect, but you try so hard and that gives me the strength I need to try myself when life gets tough.  If I can be half the parent you were, then I know my kids will turn out great.

I hope your birthday was a blast and I look forward to celebrating many, many more with you in the years to come.  Thanks so much for being my mom!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When is a Banana ready to be eaten?

There are basically four stages of banana-ripeness:
 - Green and hard as a rock -

 - Yellow and sorta soft -

 - Yellow with spots and almost mushy -

 - Black and shriveled -

I absolutely cannot eat green bananas but I know some people who love to cook with them at that stage.  Once they are fully yellow I can barely stomach them without feeling like I'm eating a potato or taro root.  So in a pinch I'll down a yellow banana.  Black and shriveled are just perfect for making banana-bread (at least that's when my wife usually makes the bread and hers is delicious so I trust her method of proofing the bananas).

By a long shot, my favorite banana-ripeness level is the third category I mentioned above: Yellow, with spots and almost mushy.  At this stage the banana almost tastes like it is a sort of creme-filling and if they are cold or mashed up some I think they provide much better flavor on cereal or ice cream, etc.

I love banana-flavored things.  It remains to this day the single best Slurpee flavor EVER!  Bananas and nuts go great together in everything from cereal to muffins to pancakes to bread, not to mention desserts like pies and ice cream (Chunky Monkey by Ben and Jerry's is superb!)

But I am curious if there are more like me out there, because in my current family and my family-of-origin I seem to be the only one who prefers this kind of flavor and especially this kind of almost mushy banana.

So when do you eat them?  Are you a "greenie" or a "pure yellow" fan?  Just wonderin' ...


Monday, October 4, 2010

Whatcha watchin' ?

Lately ... the following TV Shows have had my attention.  Karen and I have been watching literally dozens of episodes each week to get "caught up" on these great shows.  Some we've always loved and others we've heard great things about from friends or family (of course that list is a mile long so we haven't seen all those you've suggested yet).

Since we've been able to watch many of them instantly on Netflix, we're getting up to the current season rather quickly (and our "through the mail" Netflix pattern works well enough to get two discs watched every week).  So without further ado, here are the top shows I'm checking out lately:

#1.  The Office
I just love this show and am a little disappointed that I've not really watched any of it over the past 6 years!  It is very much like my work life (even though they are in a small office and the folks I work with are generally MUCH smarter than the TV show).  It just resonates with real life, even when the situations are so surreal.  A former boss of mine always said that I reminded him of Jim, so I guess that's a compliment.  :)

#2.  Chuck
Although the current season (now that we're caught up) seems to be very similar to the Alias plot-line (mom and dad were both spies and they're both bad and good, etc.) ... I still enjoy the show.  It does remind me of a quote a heard once that "Being is never as entertaining as becoming."  So that must be why season one and early season two were more enjoyable for me.

#3.  Cougar Town
Okay, this is my most guilty pleasure (as the show is not the most clean) ... but it is HILARIOUS !!!  I'll reserve a separate blog sometime in the future to compare the core 6/7 characters in this show with the Friends cast (which is partly why it is just as funny).  But I have literally hurt myself laughing from this show more than pretty much anything I have EVER watched before.  So many quotes but a recent one that I love is the "nonversation" which is that time when two guys are just sitting there, not talking, but lots is "said" between them in the silence.  I laughed three times out loud while writing this because I remembered so many parts that are just too funny to describe.  And I have to say it 'cause they have a super cool version of this you can play on their website:  PENNY CAN !!!

#4.  Bones
Karen kinda got me interested in this one.  I watch mostly because she loves it.  The female lead (aptly nicknamed "Bones") reminds me way too much of an ex-girlfriend: book-smart but socially very awkward.  The actress in the show is quite beautiful though so she's not like my ex in that regard at all!  Anyway, I can't stand the gross bone-related stuff, but the witty writing and banter between the characters is very fun to see.

#5.  Psych
Speaking of witty writing, this show has probably the best writers, if only from the standpoint of: how many one-liners and quips and obscure 80's references can we squeeze in one episode?  I laugh so many times during each episode, and sometimes have to pause the show to explain to Karen why the reference is so funny.  It never translates near as well as I'd hope.  But again the cast of characters and the roles they play set up for so many funny moments (but the show is at it's best when it mercilessly mocks itself and/or other psychic or crime-solving shows).

#6.  Leverage
Best show ever ... that is among those based on a good guy done wrong, who kinda goes a little bad (bends the rules) and does so by hooking up with a group of proverbial bad guys (and girls), who kinda go "good" once they have a taste of what using their powers for the right side feels like.  Again, witty writing and great individual characters.  But this show is set apart because the interplay between the characters is masterful.  The computer geek is envious of the muscle-man fighter, but those tables are turned just as often and the geek is "the cool kid."

#7.  Castle
The two main characters on this show are played by people who I already loved in other venues.  Nathan Fillion was completely lovable yet equally disliked in his role in Firefly, and his character in this show is similar enough to take advantage of his strengths, yet different enough that you don't assume he is one-dimensional as an actor.  The female lead played a vampire in a made-for-TV series starring Noah Wyle (The Librarian).  She was very adept at playing that sexy role and this role has her down-playing her attractiveness as a more hard-core police detective.  The "will they" or "won't they" magic continues between these two opposites that are really quite perfect for one another and that makes it super fun to watch, if not very frustrating to wait for the eventual "Yeah, they did!"

Oops ... gotta go ... Karen's ready for some more humor ... life is sure grand even without DirecTV or cable!  :)


Saturday, October 2, 2010

"English" Walnuts?! How do they know?

Today I needed an afternoon snack and it really needed to be something chocolate.  So I headed to my "food drawer" because I was at work and I usually keep it stocked with enough food to last me several days (you know I have to have my 24-hour kit if we ever get snowed in!)
I was about to enjoy my Little Debbie Fudge Brownies when I noticed something on the package ... it said in big bold letters "with English Walnuts."

Several thoughts entered my head all at once.  Here is my attempt to capture them all and break them apart for your reading pleasure:
#1. Is that "advertising" supposed to excite me or deter me from consuming these?
#2. How do they know they're "English" walnuts?  Do they have an accent?  Or mabybe they like tea and crumpets?
#3. Is there really a big difference between the nationality of walnuts?  Do Jamaican walnuts run faster?
#4. When choosing to eat pre-packaged, thick-as-mud (and just as tasty) brownies, who is really thinking about the tiny specks of nut-like substance that appear in occasional bites of the brownie?  They certainly don't look like the ones pictured on the box, which you can clearly tell are walnuts (and if you look closely you can see they are English because they clearly have terrible dental hygiene).  :)
#5. The Ryder Cup is going on right now ... I better support the team by boycotting these English "nuts".
#6. Was Little Debbie from England?  Or would she be rolling in her grave knowing that we've gone back to the motherland and begun using foreign ingredients in her "tasty" morsels?
#7. Huh ... I've never noticed that Li'l Debbie is wearing a hat that has a chinstrap on it.  And why does her shirt match the background of the packaging material?  Maybe she made her own clothes from leftover tablecloths?

Suffice it to say ... I opted for the much easier to appreciate Swiss Rolls.  Everybody loves Switzerland, right?!  And the packaging has beautiful mountains behind the "enlarged to show detail" picture of these delicious treats.  But then I noticed something on that packaging ... it says "twin-wrapped."  Now a whole new flood of questions and thoughts is flying through my brain!  Why are only "twins" allowed to wrap these precious little cake treats?  Is there a need for them to be identical or can fraternal twins still make the cut?  And who has the right to say that twins are naturally better to do the wrapping?  Do "fake" twins ever try to get jobs at the wrapping stations (like when Joey Tribianni from Friends tries to have a fake twin get him a job doing medical testing)?

Now I'm still hungry and I'm afraid to check any of the other packaging for the bevy of food I have because:
 - the SunChips may not in fact have "Great Multigrain Taste" (why would anyone want "Poor Multigrain Taste" and do they even manufacturing that kind of stuff?!)
 - the peanut butter M&M's bag clearly says "Party Size" and it's just me so I'd feel guilty not having something to celebrate while eating them.
 - Grandma's "Homestyle" Chocolate Chip cookies have a "Fresh New Look" but that might be referring to the picture of Grandma and to be honest she looks more like the witch that gave Snow White the apple.
 - The Austin "Cheese Crackers" say with Cheddar Cheese which makes me wonder why they have to mention the cheese twice in the name?  Are the crackers made of cheese too?  How do they get them to crunch like crackers then?
 - And last but not least ... how can you have a "Low Fat" S'mores Granola Bar Mr Quaker?!  Especially while the Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bars do not clarify their fat content!  Isn't a "S'More" comprised of equal parts chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow?  So how is that chocolate more "lowfat" than the "chips" variety (which in theory would be smaller right?!  they're "chips!")

Oh no ... I just noticed my bagels must be very sad with their life.
They are after all ... PLAIN!


Friday, October 1, 2010

How do you stop the "Cravings" ?

Everyone gets cravings.  And it is not just food or drink that we crave.  It can be time with people or a break from work and day-to-day life.  You can crave the opportunity to read books or attend sporting events.  Everyone has some "itch" that they just have to scratch every so often.  And just like fasting can make you crave that food even more than usual, any craving can begin to make a person unravel if left unsatisfied for too long.

Cravings don't have to be bad.  You might crave an afternoon run or the "free time" you will have to watch a favorite show or read a book.  Those are not likely to do any harm to anyone, especially not you personally.  But if the "itch" starts calling you, life as you know it can come to a complete stall until you scratch it.

I have LOTS of cravings, some healthy and others ... not so much.  But one in particular just seems to take over my life if too much time passes between "scratching" that itch.  Don't get all weird and start trying to guess or making up cravings that you think fit the description I'll be providing.  I'm not going to share it with anyone (even though that probably makes it sound weird or inappropriate).  Just live in suspense for a while okay?!

I first experienced this particular craving probably over 20 years ago. (Save yourself the lame math related to my age which puts me in my teenage years at this point ... and keep your minds out of the gutter please!)  And since my first introduction to it, I've been more or less hooked.  I've decided numerous times that succumbing to the craving wasn't "like me" and so I have vowed numerous times to stop partaking in it.  But that "itch" just gets stronger and stronger.  I've gone for extended periods of time without giving in to the urge.  I think maybe the longest was close to six months, which may not seem like much but believe me it was in some ways pure torture.  I have convinced myself that there are other "substitutes" that can take the place of it, but they never seem to fully satisfy the craving.  They might buy me another week or two, but that "craving" voice inside my head just keeps calling me back.

I just can't stop my need for this particular craving.  And that disappoints me greatly.  I am not the strongest person alive (physically, mentally, etc. take your pick).  But I don't think I am so weak that I cannot win the battle against this craving.  It's a matter of personal pride now to prove to myself that I can beat it!  Whether or not it has any bearing on anything related to the grand scheme of things, I simply don't like losing!  I don't like thinking that some primitive craving can have that kind of control over me.  Ever!

So we'll see ... we'll see if I can continue to eliminate this craving.  We'll see if an alternative can be found that eliminates the uncontrollable desire for it.  We'll see what kind of weird ideas you readers come up with as to what "my craving" is (although I can guarantee that no one would ever guess it).  If I was a betting man ... I'd bet on me to beat this thing!

But I'll keep you posted ... :)


Saturday, September 25, 2010

How DOES She Do It ?!

It is a shame that I have wasted 45 blogs thus far
and have not yet taken the time to write about
the single
most important
and best part of my life:
my loving, underappreciated, overworked, amazing wife
Karen Joy "Lockard" Case.

So through some amazing "stupor of thought" I was able to convince her to marry me 12+ years ago.  I think the Spirit must have been still lingering from my missionary days (or is the spelling "daze" more appropriate?) and it was just enough to hook her for time and all eternity.  No matter what it was, I got her and I'm keeping her and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it!  Bwa ha ha!  Oh wait ... the evil laugh really doesn't work so well here.

Karen is AWESOME !!!

There is no correct place to start and there is no end to how amazing she is.  So I'll just highlight a bunch of things that come to mind right now and you'll just have to expect MANY more blogs (or at least comments on individual and seemingly unrelated to her blogs) about how great she is and how lucky I am to "have" her.

Karen is absolutely beautiful.  Her face is strikingly pretty, but in a soft way (not some over-make-upped actress that deep down is not pretty or beautiful at all).  Her hair always smells so good it makes me want to have her head on my chest and be running my fingers through her brown locks.  I'll spare any TMI (too much information) and just say that many other parts of her are very noteworthy and extremely attractive.

But it is her smile and her laugh that get me EVERY time!
I love to watch movies or tv shows with her, especially those that make her smile and/or laugh.  I can't describe her laugh but there is just something about it that makes me feel so good when I hear it.  When some people laugh it is forced and fake (I am guilty of this at work and at family get togethers from time to time).  Karen's laugh is not forced.  It is not fake.  It is like that of a child who has been tickled until they almost lose their breath.  It is the laugh of a person who shows no pretense and doesn't much care if others find the same thing as funny as she does.  It is pure.  And when she laughs, I laugh ... and a part of me inside is made better for having been able to enjoy that often brief, but always fun moment with her.  I am so glad that we find the same silly things funny.  The way our kids phrase things.  TV shows like Friends and The Office and Psych.  Just plain awesome!

Beyond all the laughter and fun times, Karen is just about the most charitable person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  And our kids follow her lead in ways that just make me want to cry tears of joy!  She is too humble to take credit but I know they are not offering me part of ther snack because I do this ... it is from the example of their awesome mother!  She was the Compassionate Service leader for our ward for over a year and a half.  (For my non-mormon friends that is a huge responsibility within a congregation as you coordinate meals for families that are ill or recently had a child, coordinate babysitting or housecleaning for expectant mothers on bedrest, coordinate friendly visits for new members of the ward, and on and on and on).  True, she was not always the most excited to make dozens of phone calls for each "event" but she did an amazing job of asking others to serve, and just as often she stepped in to complete the assignment when something fell through.  Many women took the time to thank her for her efforts, but this was rarely directed at her and more at the "ward for helping me out."  So it was a very thankless responsibility but she did it with a smile and impressive organizational skills for a very long time.

Above all, Karen is concerned with how people around her are feeling.  She wants everyone to be happy all the time.  You can see how this might lead her to be pessimistic (because there is no way that goal can even come close to being achieved).  But she's not a pessimist.  She is a true-blooded optimist if I have ever known one!  She thinks anything is possible (and with her it almost always is!)  She finds a way to feed and clothe our family of 8 on the most limited of budgets.  She is not too proud to take advantage of things like free preschool and clothes from Goodwill.  She has a pioneer spirit about her that reflects the adage "Use it up.  Wear it Out.  Make it do or do without."  This may be the result of having married me and my somewhat meager salary, but I think she would be just as thrifty and happy with the "simple things" if she was married to a millionaire!  But back to the keeping everyone happy line of thinking ... she is just so aware of the needs of those around her.  Her empathy for others is so great it brings her to tears and incites her anger quicker than if something sad or tragic happened to her personally.

I wake up almost every day waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Waiting for her to realize she is getting the raw end of this deal and that she could have it so much better!  I remain so unworthy of her love and admiration that it sometimes is easier to head off to work and pretend to be good at something than to have to be near her awesomeness!  It's overwhelming at times.  I try so hard to play it off (because I don't want to help her realize she is out of my league in so many ways) but it is impossible to mistake or forget.

Karen, you truly are amazing!
Don't you ever let anyone (including me when I'm in "really stupid" mode) tell you differently!
You literally light up my life.
You give me reason to live and to change everything I hate about myself.
You inspire me to try harder
and to love more openly
and to forgive others more fully.
You are the best mother for our beautiful children
and the reason they are beautiful!
You are brilliant in so many areas and could be equally brilliant in any others, but you let me have my "smart moments" because you know I need them.
You have talents upon talents and could "go pro" in many different areas but have sacrificed that fame and fortune to be a mother and a wife ... and ...
I and our children will forever be in your debt as a result.
You deserve the absolutely best things in life and I promise you that you will have them!  It may take an eternity to bring them to pass, but you shall have your just reward if it takes everything I have to bring it to you.
I love you more than I could ever convey
and will strive to show you more often in word and in deed that
you cannot get rid of me!

Thank you.  Thank You!  THANK YOU !!!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Why all the running lately?

Well if you can't beat 'em (but I can) then join 'em (I did).

Big thanks to my little sister Jaimee for encouraging asking dragging inviting allowing me to come running with her this evening.  I have not gone "running" in ... wow ... at least 15 years, maybe 16 if I do the math right since my birthday was last week.

She was gracious in making me feel like a freakin' superstar runner, but we all know I was never that good.
I ran in high school for two reasons (and ONLY these two reasons!):
#1.  You could not really get "cut" from the Cross Country or Track teams.
#2.  Both teams were co-ed (for our slower readers, this means they had girls and boys on the team)

"That dude looks skinny but at
least he's slow enough to catch."

I have heard people talk about the joy of running ... but I think they're full of crap.  I run when something is chasing me, or when I'm playing a real sport (see: basketball, football, baseball, sometimes volleyball), or when someone did not hear me clearly call "SHOTGUN!" and so I have to beat them to the front seat.  In other words, I run when I have to not "just because."

But Jaimee has been on this running kick as of late (along with what seems like EVERY one of my Facebook friends and extended family members*) and so I thought this would be chance to support her healthy habit and exercise the old muscles once again.  *Huge props to my cousin Darrin who just completed a Triathlon!  Wow!  I don't care if the knee-brace wearing octagenarian bested you ... you'll get him next year!

I just want to beat the short old guys ... and my sister!  :)
So on October 16th, I will be joining my sister and a few of her friends (plus Chris Fark, a guy I work with who signed up too) for the 4th Annual Peace Officer's Memorial Valor Run (good luck fitting that on the t-shirts).  It is a 5K race (3.1 miles for those who don't use the metric system).  Jaimee's goal is to break 30 minutes ... and that will be my goal as well ... at least for this first race.  Personally I would love (that's way too strong a word since I kinda don't really care) to get back to "under 20 minutes" for a 5K run ... but that may be unrealistic at my advanced age.

Either way, 2 1/2 hours of full-court basketball this afternoon, mowing the lawn this afternevening, and then running 2.2 miles (in about 25 minutes) has left my muscles good and tired ... but I feel good too.  Hmmm ... maybe that's the "runner's high" everyone keeps fabricating.  Stinkin' liars!  :)


Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is going on here ?!

The other night I go downstairs to turn off the lights for the kids and I find this ...

Ben (almost 9) with his arm around Josh Jr (almost 11)

I suppose on some level it is cute.

But on another level ... they are going to HATE me for posting this!  :)

Here comes the punchline ...

It is a real life BRO-mance!  Get it?!  Since they're BROthers?!

Ha ha ha.  Oh waitaminute ...

Hope they don't get me back while I'm sleeping ... uh oh.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Birthday to who?

Quick post tonight ... 'cause it's my birthday and I think sleep sounds like a great present!  :)

Mmmm ... so good!
My beautiful wife Karen made an "extra" Lemon Cake yesterday so that I could take it into work today for my team and peers.  I wanted to do this because it reminds me of birthdays in grade school where the birthday boy or girl would bring in treats for the rest of the class.  I always thought that was backwards, but now that I am older I actually like the idea.  Think about it ... if I'm bringing the treats for the day then I get to pick what we're having and I know that at least one person will like them ... ME!  :)

Thanks to all my family and friends who wished me a happy birthday and/or blogged about it and/or provided me with gifts (or at least pretended to like me more today).  Your efforts were noticed, appreciated, and made my day much better than it would have been.  Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

You're saying THAT is your Guilty Pleasure?!

Oh yeah ... I am!

Admitting it for God and everyone to know.

Not ashamed in the least about it.

I'll be on my deathbed
and asking for

I know it's not "good for me."

I know the risk I am taking with my health.


They're just irresistible to me.

I'd have them every day ... if I could afford it.

And I KNOW that I am not the only one who feels this way.

So let the world know.

Shout it out proud.

You're hooked!

I Just Can't Get Enough!

Mmmmmmmmmmm ...

McDonald's French Fries!

Ohhhhh ... soooooo ... goooood !!!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why did you do that?

The most common response I have received from people regarding my blog post yesterday (with the picture that I will be explaining shortly), is why?
Why did you do that?

To answer that valid question, I have to take you back in time a few years to one of my first experiences as a Supervisor at Progressive Insurance.  I could write forever about how cool I think the company I work for is, but that will just come out in bits and pieces throughout my blog posts.  There was a job fair that was going to be held at   UCCS (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) and the recruiting department wanted to have Progressive employees run a booth there.  Through process of discussion it came up that myself and one other Supervisor (Brian Kimberling) had in fact graduated from   UCCS.  So we're the "perfect" candidates to represent Progressive, right?!  The jury is still out, but WE sure had fun!

I'll tell more of that story later but to "get to the point" (not my strong suit) let me explain how this ties in with the picture.  I drove us to UCCS for the "career" fair and after we were leaving Brian took his nametag sticker and stuck it on the ceiling of my car.  He said "Now you'll always have something to remember me and this day by."  And I left it there.  Weeks went by and I was sitting in a Sonic drive-thru (getting my Route 44 sized Watermelon Slush after an afternoon of playing basketball).  They handed me my drink and the receipt was taped to the lid with a Sonic Sticker.

A thought entered my head: I should just add this to the nametag that "BK" left here and start a collection.  And so I did.  Over the years (it has been at least 2 years now, maybe 3), I have added dozens of stickers to the ceiling of my car.  Almost all of them are Sonic stickers (I seriously get excited when they hand me my order and it has a sticker on it!) and you would never know they are there unless you have the priviledge of riding in my car.  A few of the stickers are from Odyssey Elementary events that I attended with my son Ben when he was in 1st or 2nd grade.  Good times.  Good memories.

So back to the question of "Why?"  The answer is simple ... just because.  Because I can.  Because it's something I would do.  Because it is silly.  Because Brian started it.  Because it gives me something to collect that doesn't really cost anything.

And my personal favorite:
... all parents say it with me now ...
Because I said so, that's why!  :)


Can you tell what this is a picture of?

The answer will be provided in tomorrow's blog.

So if you're curious, pop on back to find out.

If you're NOT curious ... good for you!

It's probably not worth your time.  Really!  The story behind it couldn't be that interesting.  You'll probably never wonder about it.  I bet not a wink of sleep will be lost by you.  In fact, you're probably not even going to look at the picture 'cause it's such a lame blog idea and you're WAAAAAYYY smarter and more mature than that.

Good for you!

Good for YOU!

If you DO know ... please don't post the answer ... it will just kill the suspense for tomorrow.
You don't want to be responsible for ruining the fun now do you?!  I thought not.  :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is something wrong with your lawnmower?

If my neighbor had asked my wife that question today, I think her response would have been: No.  He's a little lazy sometimes but he still works.  (For those not catching the joke, it would be Karen calling ME her "lawnmower.")

But she didn't ask Karen, she asked me ... after seeing me struggle to push it back and forth again and again, stopping and starting the engine multiple times, while cutting the grass in the front yard.  She misunderstood what was happening, but I thought it was very nice of her to be concerned.  So I stopped and did my best to explain the situation she was seeing.  But first, a little background ...

There are many different arguments about what to do with your lawn once the fall season is upon us.  Some swear you have to water it until the first snowfall, others say the watering never stops.  Some say you need to fertilize every holiday, others believe fertilizer is a scam and does nothing for the hardy grasses most of us have nowadays.  Some say you should leave the grass at a reasonable length, while others argue that it should be cut very short a few weeks before the end of the growing season so it can begin to hibernate for the winter.  It can be very confusing and even so-called "experts" differ in opinions widely.

I am a believer in watering until the first snow falls (or if the grass is as yellow as the leaves of trees in the neighborhood).  I am a believer in fertilizing every holiday during the summer and haven't bothered in years with winter or spring fertilizer.  How different can the compositions of these chemicals really be?  Does the grass really know the difference?  Hey Blade, you're not gonna eat that "summer weed and feed" are ya?  It ain't no good for you after Labor day ya know.   Or perhaps it would be a married couple and the wife says "The Lawn Doctor said too much of this stuff will kill you!  Don't you care about our little sprouts?!"  I am also a believer in leaving the grass longer during the growing season (3-4 inches still looks very nice) but chopping it very short just before the real end of summer.  Then watering the heck out of it for a few weeks (optimally) until the first snow begins to fall.

So back to my inquisitive neighbor: Amanda is her name.  Her husband is a really nice guy named Chad and they have a 3-year old boy named Ian whom Catalina just adores (she had to hug him goodbye when she walked to preschool today and then gave him a kiss on his cheek.  He wiped it off as soon as she turned around.  Adorable!)

I explained to her that I was cutting the grass very short and probably should have cut it to a medium height and then down again afterward, but I was feeling lazy.  Thus every 4 to 10 steps I had to stop and empty the bag and I also walked the lawnmower forward and then backed it up just slightly before pushing forward again with every new section of grass I mowed.  I have to say that after shaving it down, it looked really good!
Not our house ...
but the lawn looks similar.
I was so impressed that I ran over it a second time in the opposite diagonal direction so it looked like a baseball outfield.  I drenched it immediately after mowing (and then later again this evening at dusk after giving the same haircut to the backyard).  I am proud of my lawn and it was a huge pleasure for me to just enjoy the way it looked as the sun set over the front range.  If I had been smarter (or more boastful) I would have taken pictures, but just picture a beautifully manicured lawn and dial it down a few notches and you'll have an idea of how mediocre (but nice for me) it looked.

Hopefully this will be my last lawn-mowing of 2010.  Next year I plan to service my lawnmower before the start of the season (sharpen the blades, replace the oil and spark plug(s), etc.) and I hope we will enjoy each other's company for years to come.  But I wouldn't cry if someone replaced her with a self-propelled drive train ... mechanical or in the form of one of my sons ... I'm not picky !

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where have YOU been?

So I knew back in July when I first decided to start blogging that it would be idiotic of me to commit to "The 365 Days of Josh Case" ... so I didn't.  I do not mind reading the Lamentations (it is Sunday so we have to have some Biblical reference right?!) of my blog-buddies that are doing the 365-challenge. In fact, it makes me feel good knowing that I am not bound by the same requirements.

I say this often but don't get me wrong ... I am not mocking or putting down the 365-days bloggers.  I could, because I am free of that pressure, but I'm not.  I think it is a very admirable goal and I applaud those of my family and friends who have taken (and for many almost completed) that challenge.

It is days like the last two days that remind me how glad I am that I made the decision not to commit to that level of ... commitment.  :)

Friday, 9/10
It was the annual Fathers and Sons campout ... and in our family's time honored tradition ... we didn't go.  Instead, the boys and I set up a tent in our backyard and "camped" in the safety of a suburban neighborhood.  Believe me when I say that I tried to convince the boys to "campout" in safety (and comfort) of the movie room ... but Ben convinced Josh Jr that it would be so cool to sleep in the backyard ... even though that meant a much earlier bedtime.  So after about 15 minutes of tossing the football around we roasted smores over the fire (made in my charcoal grill which will likely end up being a very bad long-term decision).  I then got soft and the boys & I came in and watched "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" together before heading out to the tent for bed.  "Pioneers sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked."  My boys stayed awake as they talked and talked and talked.  But eventually (see: when I stopped responding) they rolled over and slept.  I, on the other hand, laid there awake for quite a while.  But sleep finally won out and later the next day Ben said it had been "the best campout ever."  Josh Jr is still undecided.

Saturday, 9/11 -- Patriot Day
I snuck out of the tent around 4:45am and after a quick (but very warm and thus extremely enjoyable) shower, I headed into work.  Why so early?  You'll find out later.  Work was great ... mostly because in the 2 1/2 hours I had of near silence before anyone else came to work I got virtually everything I needed to do done.  Then my team got to work and I met with several folks through the rest of my day.  Around 11:30am my dad and brother, Jordan, and the boys picked me up to go to the AFA vs BYU football game.

The game was great!  Well ... not for BYU or their fans ... but for Air Force it was spectacular.  The horrific looking Cougars (or whatever JV High School team they let suit up for them) made AFA look super fast and super good.  The weather was awesome though and Grandpa Jerry treated us to seat cushions and hot dogs and water and snacks.  Where was that generous guy when I was a kid?!  Just kidding dad!  You were always cool when we went to sports events!  Ben was ready to leave as soon as we got there (he is more like his mom and found more fun in watching the people around us than the game).  Josh Jr was witty as ever with his comments and questions.  And then it only took us an hour to exit the parking lot.  Notice no asterisk next to that time assessment.  It was abysmal!

On an unhappy note, I cracked my temporary crown (this is the 2nd temp crown I have had on this tooth!) chewing on a hot dog.  They said to avoid anything hard or sticky.  The hot dog was neither of those things.  I am now in somewhat severe pain because the prepped tooth under the temporary crown is exposed and VERY sensitive to air or liquids and any thoughts I have about anything to eat have to be carefully considered.  Can I cut it into small enough pieces to stay on the left side of my mouth?  Am I really that hungry or should I just start a long fasting period?  Ultimately I realized that if they need to try and complete the crown tomorrow I probably should not come fasting or the shot might cause bigger physical problems.

The rest of the evening and most of today is a blur of sorts.  I know we (the Oakwood Ward choir) sang a beautiful medley of two hymns in Sacrament meeting today.  I know we had a great meal and fun hanging out @ Grandma Julie's house.  I know Mindy and her kids were over Saturday night and I vaguely remember watching part of some Jennifer Lopez movie about getting pregnant.  But ultimately, the weekend was one that literally wiped me out ... so this blog is rather boring (in my opinion) and I just didn't feel compelled to bore y'all with it.

Hopefully tomorrow I will get my tooth fixed (finally) and after being able to eat normally again I will be in a better position to share something more witty with you all.  But don't hold your breath ... remember: I can't get that tooth numb so unless there is a miracle you might not see another blog for another few days.  Spend the time you save with your kids and you will thank me later.  Unless you go "camping" in the backyard ... or to root for the BYU Football team.  :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

How's that feeling?

That was the very question that my dentist (and at least 100* people that either work in his office or were just passing by and thought "when in Rome" and joined in) asked me at least 50* times today.

You see, he had stabbed* me with his HUGE* needle in at least 20* different places at or around the area where normal people get novacaine to numb their mouths.  And then like every 5 seconds* he kept hounding me about whether or not my lips were getting tingly and if my tongue was feeling fat*.  It just wasn't.  Not at all.

Now I have been to this dentist for a million* appointments and they have all lasted longer than 2 hours (note the absence of an asterisk on that one ... you'll get there ... wait for it).  Even the very first appointment, which was for a deep* cleaning and a somewhat* relaxing chair massage (I think the chair really enjoyed it).

Today, I was un-numb-able (oh it's a real* word ... trust me).  They ripped* my temporary crown off (it said "King James" on it and I just had to dump the traitor) and then mercilessly* caused me great pain and anguish by touching the tooth and asking "can you feel that?!"  YES I CAN !!!  And it hurts!

This was the small* needle he used.
PS - See if you can pick out the male assistant.
So after THREE (also note the absent asterisk) different shots of novacaine, with both the small and BIG needles (also no asterisks) and still no numbness (my tongue felt a little fat, but he's not exercising as much as he used to ... I blame some questionable mouthwash and the fact that Karen is really tired) ... where was I?!  Oh, yeah!  The dentist gave me 2 options: we can just "work on it and see how it goes" ... or ... I could "go about my business and come back an hour or two later when numbness would supposedly occur."  Being a tough-guy* I opted for the former* option.  The male assistant (don't judge me ... he was the ONLY male assistant in the place) suggested that we just head over to Indigo's and get hammered.  He then slurred his words a little too accurately and vomited* on* the* nearest* female* assistant* to* sell* the* whole* joke*.

I called the dentist back at 4:00pm (one hour later) to advise him that I could not move my right arm* but that my teeth were still not feeling any numbness whatsoever.  The receptionist advised me that he shouted* something about "never wanting to see me again"* and that we should let my mouth rest and try again next week.  So next Thursday you can expect a blog about the remaining 27* attempts to numb my teeth, as well as the male assistant's use of a baseball bat to "seal the deal."

*Please assume that anything marked with an asterisk
 may possibly* be an exaggeration or a complete mistruth
that was made up in some lame* attempt
to add humor to this dentist-themed blog post.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's good painting music?

Well I am sure everyone has their own preference but today I listened to my John Mayer CDs while I was painting Brooklyn's room (stage one painting that is ... there will likely be a dozen stages since she wants blue sky, white clouds, brown mountains, green grass patches, and every color of flower and butterfly imaginable).

I have mentioned before that I love all kinds of music and John Mayer's stuff is definitely on that list (sometimes my favorite and other times just nice to have in the background).  I listened to two of his CDs today while I painted:  Heavier Things (which I had not heard in a LONG time) and Continuum (which I only heard a few songs on because I listed to the first CD several times over).

My favorite song on Heavier Things has to be Come Back To Bed.  It is just a smooth song about making up and I like the message when he says "What will this fix?  You know you're not a quick forgive." and "You can be mad in the morning.  I'll take back what I said."  I just think it supports the theory of not going to bed angry and working things out when they happen and not days later.

But I enjoy all of the CD (two songs a little less than the others), especially because the tunes and words just beg you to sing along with them.  And I love singing!  I am not particularly gifted int hat area, but I can carry a tune and my mom taught me to harmonize quite well to virtually any melody.

Continuum has some very different songs on it but I love so many of them it is impossible to highlight them all ... so I'll pick two:
First, Gravity.  I have my own personal reasons for loving the message of this song, which I will not be sharing here.  But I will say this much ... the following words from the song have deep meaning for me: "gravity, wants to bring me down" and "twice as much ain't twice as good and can't sustain like one half could ... it's wanting more that's gonna bring me to my knees"
Second, I'm Gonna Find Another You.  This song doesn't have much meaning at all to me personally as I have found the only YOU that I ever want in my beautiful wife Karen.  But it is a sweet break-up song and I can picture myself back in high school and I would have loved to have this song to sing to a certain ex-girlfriend.  The lines "I hope she looks like you and she's nicer too!" and "I'm gonna do some things you wouldn't let me do!" really mean alot when you're in a break-up situation.

The "hot mama" of my Daughters (& sons too!)
Anyway, I could go on and on about other songs on these CDs but needless to say it made the time while I was painting fly by and gave me a chance to reflect on lots of things.  I have a super great life and I am so very blessed!