Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can We Really Avoid Temptations ?

I believe in the power of change.  Fundamentally, I believe we, as human beings of divine descent, are capable of becoming what we want to be and not in being stuck with whomever we currently are.

But in practice ... it seems virtually impossible!

We ALL have temptations to be the person we are instead of the one we aspire to be.  Glance over the list of the seven deadly sins and you can quickly find at least one or two that call your name (often very loudly) all day long!  I have at least a half-dozen personality traits and/or "addictions" that I long to rid myself of, but success has thus far been rather elusive on virtually all of those fronts.

Whether it be eating junk food instead of healthy meals, or being "quick to anger" instead of more patient, I just seem to not be making much headway.  Try as I might to become more of a morning person than a night owl, progress seems stunted (or even heading backwards).  And these are but a few small examples of "temptations" I seem to be unable to get rid of.

But ... I think there is a key to unlocking that success.  If my near elimination of sugary sodas is any indication, then corrective behavior change may be possible, even likely, in the right circumstances.  The key lies in not trying to eliminate the bad habit or just trying to avoid the temptation, but rather replacing the bad with something good that is equally satisfying.  Ice cold water instead of soda.  Fruits or nuts instead of candy.  Scripture reading instead of crude humor.  Writing thank you notes instead of posting harsh words on social media sites.  There is opposition in all things and if you can unlock the natural, positive opposite to whatever trait or behavior you want to get rid of, success becomes much more likely.  At least I hope that's true.

Song Of The Day:
How could I not use a song that involves the group "The Temptations" when their name is in the title of the post?!  Although not from their original heyday, the group collaborated with Rod Stewart for "The Motown Song" and I remember buying the single on cassette tape because I loved the song so much.  It certainly is a good song that should replace some of those bad messages out there nowadays.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Am I Asking For Too Much ?

Today, my children had another "snow day."  They relish these times and I remember what it was like when I was their age.  It's a "free" day with virtually no responsibilities.  Even as adults we need days like this now and again.

But ...

I got home to a mostly snow-covered driveway.  And it was in the 40's (temperature-wise) today, so it isn't like it was too cold to shovel the walks, et. al.  Especially since both of my older boys (13 and 11 years old) were playing on their iPod / iPhones as I walked in after shoveling the snow myself.

Song Of The Day:
I know it is unrelated to kids or shoveling snow, but "All I Ask Of You" from The Phantom Of The Opera was on my mind as I cleared the driveway this afternevening.  I'm just asking for some basic household responsibilities to be taken care of without having to ask.  Is that too much to hope for ?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How Long Will I Be Able To Beat All My Kids ?

I'm betting this blog post will catch more readers than usual, if only because the title seems to suggest I am a horrible human being and even worse father.  It will be interesting to see how many comments I get when I post it to Facebook ... hopefully people will read on before misjudging.  :)

"Let's wrestle daddy!" is a phrase that often rings out in The Case Place.  It is at that moment that I must duck and cover.  My cell phone and wallet are frantically placed in a nearby safe location and I prepare for the attack.  In an instant between 3 and 6 kids are upon me with a singular goal: to pin "daddy" on his back.  That is the only way they "win" this game.  The truth is that they always eventually win, but often it will take a long time and requires a true team effort.
I am not easily pinned!

I do not remember when these battles started, but I am sure they began as "Let's push daddy out of bed" wars and evolved into more "wrestling" matches.

Over the years, as the kids have enlisted more recruits (a.k.a. more siblings), the challenge of not getting pinned has become quite a difficult task.  Time has aided this rowdy bunch of Case Kids, with the oldest boys getting stronger each year, and the little girls learning where daddy is ticklish.  The last time we wrestled, it took all my strength and cunning to avoid being pinned.  Even then, I was so exhausted that I gave in within only about 20 minutes (fastest time ever for these kiddos).

I realize now that I am soon going to begin losing these battles without much effort or teamwork on the part of my opponents.  The only question that remains is this: how soon will it happen?  I can't wait to find out.  :)

Song Of The Day:
I don't really know why but the song "Seize The Day" from the musical Newsies comes to mind when I think about wrestling with my kids.  I think it is because that is the story of children working together to outsmart adults ... that and, I really dig the tune!


Monday, February 25, 2013

How Do You Manage Such A BIG Project ?

I've always felt pretty good at outlining plans and goals to get things done.  I have often prided myself on the ability to see the most logical starting point, while also keeping one eye on the finish line.  It is usually no big deal for me to write out a list (in order) of things to be done as related to a specific project.

I have recently met my "Mount Everest"
when it comes to project management.

Our lot has over 11,000 sq. ft. to "update" ... sigh.
My wife and I have been in our current house for three full years now, and late last summer we decided that it was high time to update the landscaping in our yard(s) - front, side, back.  Initial talks about what we wanted it to look like were fun and creative.  All things seemed possible and the sky was the limit.  Later, I began to outline the smaller "stages" of this large project.  Even that seemed full of promise and hope and energy.  The first deadline was to be completed by the end of February, 2013.

And this is where I realized the height of this "hill" I was planning to climb.  It is not just the supplies we need to purchase, or the money we will need to spend, or the equipment we will need to rent, or even the hours we need to invest in physical labor to move rocks, remove dead sod and weeds, and install edging, garden boxes, etc.  It IS the staging of when to do what and in what order do the various tasks need to be completed that is driving me bonkers.  For the first time ever, I am confounded when it comes to visualizing what action needs to come 1st, 23rd, or 104th.

I am still confident that this project will get done, on time, under budget, and without too many tears shed.  But I already have newfound respect for landscape architects and project managers.  I tip my hat to you ladies and gentlemen.

Song Of The Day:
As you can see in the photo above, our yard has a bizarre triangle shape (at least the front part does anyway).  I also am working to create a new order for our project plan.  Thus we can plainly see that there was no other choice for the song today than "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order.
Oh come on!  That's a pretty good tie in!  :)


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are We Worshipping Graven Images ?

So it is written, by way of commandment, from the Lord through the prophet Moses:
Exodues 20:4 ... Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image ... and then in verse 5 ... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

Those words came to my mind this evening as I watched the annual Academy Awards show, now titled "The Oscars" to attract the younger audiences.

I am half-serious when I ask the title question of this blog post.
Clearly, I am also half-joking.

But it is a bit of an interesting question when you think about it.  There is not a better example, in this day and age, of a "graven image" than Oscar himself.  In fact, the very inscribing of the recipient's name on the little golden statue of a man literally makes it a graven image.  And it is certainly no stretch of the imagination to say that people (and not just the Academy) worship these idols.

My brother always throws the BEST "Oscars" party!  It is a blast every single year!  I see no real harm in this annual family gathering, wherein we fill out our "ballots" and grade one another's papers to see who emerges victorious (it has still never been me, but at least I'm always within 1 or 2 choices of the top spot).  I also do not believe it is anything other than an homage to Oscar when the annual winner takes home a trophy to display their victory.

And yet ... I wonder how and when we will know whether we have taken it too far?  I suppose it is, and should be, like all things, a matter of personal testimony and choice.  If it becomes all-consuming, just like anything else (exercise, work, blogging, etc.), then I think we've probably crossed a line.

What do you think?

Song Of The Day:
I know the original video was about a bullfighter, but the song title (and many of the lyrics) from Madonna's "Take A Bow" could easily be about the Oscars.  I've always enjoyed this song and the melancholy tone almost perfectly captures my angst over these potential graven images.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

What Is Your "Simple Pleasure" ?

I have often heard the phrases "the best things in life are free" and "it's the simple things that make life worthwhile" when older (or wiser) people are talking about what they value in life.  Having spent a fair amount of money on a variety of activities, vacations, food, material things, and just to keep a roof over my family's heads, I am not entirely sold on the first common phrase.  But I also do not discredit it entirely.  The second phrase (or variations on that theme) however, has spoken to me a lot more lately.

Here is a brief list of some "simple" things that I derive some serious joy from, given the right circumstances:
 - A comfortable chair after standing for a long time.
 - Stretching my legs after a hours of driving in the car.
 - ANY food after "fasting" for 24 hours.
 - Ice cold water after exercising or working in the yard.
 - A hug from a 2 year old (your own child / grandchild is often best).
 - My favorite song coming on the radio station right before I get to work or home.
 - Finding shade from the hot sun.
 - Making a game-winning shot (for me this means basketball)
 - Hearing the words "I Love You"
 - A warm shower after getting sweaty or dirty (yard work, cleaning, exercise, etc.)
 - Sneaking Honey Nut Cheerios from my toddler during Sacrament Meeting at church.
 - Crawling into a warm bed knowing you get to sleep in the next day.
 - Laughing until my sides ache.  And then laughing a little more because you just have the giggles.

How many of these ring true for you?

What other simple pleasures bring you great joy?

Song Of The Day:
I think the perfect song for this post is "The Simple Things" by Jim Brickman feat. Rebecca Lynn Howard.  The piano melody (of course) is just beautiful and the words to the song echo several simple things for which we can be grateful.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Where Did This Wall Come From ?!

This post is NOT about me (or anyone else for that matter) being clumsy and walking into walls.  Although that would be an interesting one ... hmm, idea for an April Fool's Day post?

This post IS about metaphorical walls that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere.

I believe we all have them.  I have recognized them most often in sports' seasons, especially when high school players move on to college, or college players move to professional leagues.  But I think anyone who is involved in any sort of repetitive activity is susceptible to these walls.

I have hit a wall when it comes to my motivation around my P90X workouts coupled with my healthier eating habits.  An argument could be made that my "cheat days" on the food front were the first layer of bricks in this wall, but I don't think that's it.  I think it is more of a combination of three things:
 - First, lack of more tangible, physical results from the first 6 weeks.
 - Second, a shift in perspective (who am I trying to impress with some resemblance of a "beach body"?)
 - Third, the realization that NO workout is as enjoyable for me (including before, during, or afterward) as playing a few hours of basketball!

That last thought is probably the main part of this wall.  I have had to give up mid-day basketball on Mondays and Thursdays during these workouts.  And with the church basketball season in progress I have only been playing about 25-30 minutes of ball one time each week.  I think I miss it more than I thought I would.  Not sure how I feel about that though ...

Song Of The Day:
Both the title of today's song and the lyrics (if you're weird like this*) apply quite well to the above subject.  "Wonderwall" by Oasis is a song I didn't appreciate fully until after hearing an a capella version of it.  The original (linked above) is still my favorite version to date.
*I know the song is about love, by why does the wonderwall have to be a person?  The lyrics "I don;t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now" and "maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me" could easily be applied to an activity like basketball ... ehh, maybe that's too much of a stretch.  Nevermind.  :)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Do You Handle A Snow Day With 7 Kids In The House ?

I did not make it to work today.  Thursdays are my "short" day (I work four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day each week.  The 4-hour day is Thursday) each week.  This means I am usually at work on those days from about 8 - 8:30am until Noon - 12:30pm.  So when the news came in that my office wasn't opening until 10:00am, I decided that it was definitely not worth the 20-minute drive each way to be at work for just 2 hours today.

I think my wife was very glad I made that decision.

You see, we have seven (7) children, five (5) of which are in school during the weekdays.  Except when there is a Snow Day!  My wife is pretty amazing, but being fair you must realize the burden* that seven children under one roof on a school day that has become a non-school day quickly become.  Kids, like adults, need their routine.  Sure it sounds cool to have a "free day" but this quickly disappears into "What do I do now?!" kinds of questions.

So my contribution to the household today was entertaining our oldest two boys (ages 13 and 11) with a Risk board game marathon!  After a few reminders of the actual rules and some courtesy rules (remember their ages and think about how you acted sometimes during games at that stage of your life), we spent well over 5 hours playing a total of 3 games of Risk.  There were a few breaks in between for lunch and to shovel the front sidewalks and driveway, but we had an absolute blast playing together!

The four (4) girls spent a little while playing out back in the snow, but that didn't last too long because it was windy and cold  But our oldest daughter (Brooklyn, age 9) did reasonably well taking care of her younger sisters (including showers for all of them just before dinner time).

The evening ended with "pizza and movie night" for the kids down in the movie room, while Karen and I took our newborn (Spencer, still not 3 months old yet) with us out to eat at Texas Roadhouse**.

It was a pretty great snow day at The Case Place.  :)

Song Of The Day:
On the theme of "global domination" as related to the Risk board game map, the song for today is an a capella version (of course!) of one of my favorite songs from my high school days.  "Worlds Apart" was originally performed by Jude Cole (one hit-wonder?) but this is the version by Straight No Chaser, which I actually like better than the original.  I hope you like it!

*Please understand that I do not think of any children as any sort of "burden."  I simply mean that keeping that many children happy for a long period of time when their "routine" has been thrown out the window is not easy.

**Yes, you read that right.  I have actually gone back to Texas Roadhouse.  It had been two years and I heard the manager had been replaced.  We've been back three times since and the service has been significantly improved ... dare I say, very good !!!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Is My Phone Buzzing Off The Hook ?

This evening Colorado Springs is being hit by a pretty good snowstorm.  We're usually quite accustomed to large snowfalls here (we've had some serious blizzards before) but not so much in the last 2-3 years.  Sure we get a few inches here and there, or we will go through a few weeks where it seems to snow every few days, this just hasn't happened much at all lately.

The snow never really bothers me, but tonight (during scouts of all things), my phone was buzzing off the hook (if there was a hook that it was on ... I suppose it would be more accurate to say buzzing off my hip ... but that's not really a saying anyone is familiar with yet so I'm sticking with the "off the hook" line) ... wait, where was I ?!  Oh yeah ... I had multiple people on several different fronts reaching out to ME because 1. they knew I would respond and 2. they knew I would have the answers they needed.

So the basketball games for the evening were cancelled.  Men who were planning to travel (some a good 30 minutes away) in to town for the games were informed to stay home.  Stake leaders were advised that these men were successfully kept off the roads.  The youth at our church were advised we were ending mutual (youth night) early.  Parents were informed to come pick up their children.  My own wife (and parents) were updated on the safety of myself and my oldest son, Josh Jr.

Technology is pretty amazing when it comes right down to it!  I talked to, texted, or emailed at least a dozen people within about a 30-minute period.  All the while, still working with our Deacon's Quorum.  Very cool indeed!

Song Of The Day:
I know I will catch some flak from certain people for this choice, but today's song is "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.  It just fits!  Not the cutesy romantic lines in the song, but the title.  Some folks called me, some folks texted me, and others just wanted some emailed information. 
And BTW ... it's actually a catchy song and I know you're singing along to it right now!  :)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ever Have A Day Just Go Backwards On You ?

Tuesdays are my Mondays.  I work Tuesday through Saturday, so my work week begins on Tuesdays.  This is only significant because most people dread Mondays, but I do not.  Instead, I often dread Tuesdays.  So it shouldn't really surprise me when Tuesdays seem backwards sometimes.

From the very start today, things were just "off":
 - I lost (for the first time ever) on "AYSTAW" (radio contest)
 - My work computer logged on but wouldn't connect to the network.
 - I had time for lunch, but wasn't hungry (reverse it for the normal situation).
 - I got home in time to do my P90X workout, but never did complete it.
 - I ate dinner early, but then got heartburn (never happens to me).
 - I changed out of my street clothes to be able to play basketball, but neither team (of only 4 each) who had a scheduled game allowed me to sub in for them.

And the day ended with me being wide awake and unable to fall asleep.  That was the only thing that resembled any normal routine for me.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better ...
I can assure you my attitude will be (because I do believe you can create a great day by just having the right attitude about it).

Song Of The Day:
Not all music I like or listen to is "mainstream" but most of it is, if only because of the easy access to it on the radio, etc.  Gabriel Mann is not really mainstream, but you may have heard of him.
One of my favorite songs of his is "Lighted Up" ** and the words from that song came to my mind today.  Specifically the phrases "Tuesday came and went as quickly as expected" and "Sometimes I need to feel rejected."  But overall the song sends a message about finding positive energy in less than ideal circumstances.  At least that's what I think and like about it.
**The video is clips from some soap opera, so just listen to the song.  Sorry.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Do You Wear Socks To Bed ?

This may not be the age-old question, but I think there are two types of people in this world ... those who wear socks to bed, and those who don't.

I will not say which is better, for I believe it is a matter of personal preference.  But I will say that I find it odd how some people CANNOT sleep with socks on (or some people cannot sleep without socks on).  The weirdest is a person who shall remain unnamed (don't try to guess because you will be wrong, I promise you) ... this individual almost never wears socks during the day.  They seem to prefer life as a barefoot walk in the park ... but they have confided in me that they MUST have socks on when they go to bed!  Isn't that just the tiniest bit odd?  It sure seems so to me.

BTW ... I absolutely adore this individual and do not intend to embarrass them in any way.  They are an awesome human being and are certainly not "odd" in any bad way.

Song Of The Day:
Alanis Morissette certainly had her share of hits back in the day.  I get the feeling she is probably a non-sock sleeper, but I really have no basis for that assumption and could be 100% wrong.  What I do know for sure though is that her song "Head Over Feet" is a favorite of mine.  I like that she flipped the phrase head over heels on its side, if only to have better rhymes for her song.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

What Is Going On In This Movie ?

The other night, Karen and I watched the most recent in the Bourne movies: The Bourne Legacy.  I did enjoy the movie, overall, but we were quite literally an hour into the movie before I had any real idea what was going on.  That, I did NOT like.

My brother Jeremy is (and always has been for as long as I can remember) a movie critic.  But not in a bad way.  I mean it in the way that he can usually predict whether or not someone will like a movie.  He is aware of plot themes and cinematography decisions that enhance (or in some cases detract from) an overall film's value.  He has developed a good taste for truly impressive movies, as well as a refined affinity toward the true classics.

I am not nearly that devoted to complex analysis of my movies.

I like my movies to be relatively predictable.  I like to know the basics of the plot from the very start.  I am not bothered by long action sequences that are filled with explosions and clearly absent from the laws of physics.  I'm actually a fan of cheesy romantic comedies where the guy gets the girl or vice versa.  I generally DO NOT like movies that require a 2nd or 3rd viewing to "appreciate" them.  Ain't nobody got time for that!**  :)

**If you don't know the Sweet Brown Meme then you need to educate yourself.  Super funny!

Song Of The Day:
Being that it is Sunday (at the time of writing this blog post anyway), I often listen to more instrumental, classical, or spiritual music.  But some Sundays I need a little more bounce in the music to really make the day.  That's why I like Marc Antoine's guitar melodies.  They almost all have some peppiness.  One of my favorites of his is "Latin Quarter" it always makes me want to learn how to play the guitar ... just so I can jam to this song.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why Do YOU Work Out ?

I got into a brief, but interesting, conversation with a friend at work today.  She is aware of my P90X workout commitment and saw that I was bringing in some "unhealthy" snacks to work.  She chuckled and asked how the workouts were going.  I think she was surprised when I said they were going very well.  The conversation quickly turned to the fact that many people have very different reasons for working out or being physically active.

Some people work out to look good.  They appreciate their own physical appearance and want others to appreciate it as well (or maybe they don't appreciate their appearance and want to make it better).

Some people work out to lose weight.  I think most people claim to be in this category, but some have to lose weight (doctor's orders kind of thing) while others are probably a hybrid between the "look good" and "lose weight" categories.

Some people work out for the energy boost.  Anyone who has consistently exercised has felt the endorphin rush and metabolism increase that comes from sustained cardio work.  Exercise is a great way to improve your mood if you are feeling depressed.

Some people work out to get rid of negative energy (anger, stress, etc.)  This is different from the energy boost people because the goal is to exhaust oneself rather than rejuvenate.  It's hard to stay angry when you're physically tired.

And lastly, some people work out so they can live the rest of their life however they want to (i.e. eat whatever they crave, participate in whatever they enjoy, and whenever they want to do those things).

I think this last category is the main reason why I work out.  I do want to prove to myself that I can do the workouts.  I am interested in making my physical appearance more appealing.  I want to maintain a healthy weight (in recent years it has started to fluctuate more than I would like).  I love to get that energy boost and also get rid of that negative energy.  But deep down, my main reason for committing to working out has everything to do with being able to do whatever else I want (eating, playing sports, etc.) whenever I want to do it.
I want to not feel too guilty about eating a monstrous bacon cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake.  I want to be able to jump into a pickup basketball game no matter what time of day it is.  I want to have energy available for whatever comes my way, while also being able to just have a lazy day and not feel like a slothful person because of it.

Song Of The Day:
Again, a little stretch here, but I like the concept of Billy Joel's hit song "An Innocent Man" as related to my reasons for working out.  There is a tremendous sense of guilt associated with most forms of exercise and eating, etc.  I'm working hard so I don't have to feel any of that guilt for the indulgences I grant myself.  I think we would all be a little happier if we took that approach.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Is It Like This EVERY Friday Night ?

I wouldn't say that my wife and I never go out to dinner.  I also wouldn't say we go out all the timeI would probably guess we eat out (sit-down, fast food, etc.) probably 1-2 times per week.  This usually happens on Mondays for lunch (because it is one of my days off) with a sprinkling of evenings here and there.

I guess we never really go out to each much on Friday nights because tonight it was CRAZY busy no matter where we tried to go.

I made the mistake of assuming that since yesterday was Valentine's Day, most people would have just gone out to eat last night so they would be less likely to eat out tonight.
Now I know ... big error in planning on my part.

Song Of The Day:
I know you're already guessing that the song is Last Friday Night by Katy Perry ... but you're wrong!  I don't actually like that song in the least bit.  Instead, we're going back for a classic from the 80's ... "Friday, I'm In Love" by The Cure is a pure 80's song and has long been one of my favorites.  So on this special Friday (Engagement Day 2013) let the world know that I am, in fact, in love - still - with my sweetheart!  Love you Pretty Lady!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why Don't You Celebrate Valentine's Day ?

Some people do not celebrate holidays for religious reasons.  Others do not like the commercialization of certain holidays.  Some believe they have no reason to celebrate that particular day.  Others avoid holidays because of painful memories they bring back.  Some consider every day to be special and therefore see no reason to do anything different on a holiday.

None of those are even a small part of the reason that my wife and I do not celebrate Valentine's Day.

The year was 1998 and the millenium was fast approaching.  Was the end of the world near at hand?  Would Y2K destroy everything?  These were the concerns of the day that seemed so important at the time and are now a distant memory or worn-out punch line.

A certain young man had met a certain young woman at a church dance.  They had instantly sparked and were in the early stages of a romantic relationship.  Talk of the future for them centered around potential plans for life and eternity together.  Where would we live?  How many kids would we have? (Although what was decided on that front would forever be disputed.)
The words "I Love You" had been expressed between both parties, while friends and family noticed this thing was getting "serious."

Then the woman left.  She went to Europe.

Gone forever?  Fortunately for this man, it was temporary.  She was simply "hired" to be a nanny for her niece, while her brother and sister-in-law did some work and travelled across Europe.  She was gone for almost 3 weeks, which was just the right amount of time for this young man to make all the preparations to ask this woman to be his eternal bride.  Permission was given by the father of the bride, with a somewhat reluctant "ok" from the mom.  A ring was selected and purchased.  The woman's room was decorated with flowers and a message spelled out in Hershey's kisses on the floor.  The proposal itself was planned and re-planned.  The only snag?  The woman would return to the United States the day after Valentine's Day.

No matter.  The proposal happened.  She accepted.  And the rest, as they say, is history (some still in the making).

Out of that experience came the birth of a new holiday, simply called
"Engagement Day"
If you cannot figure out why we call it that, I'm not sure you read the whole story above.
This year, 2013, marks the 15th anniversary celebration of that glorious holiday ... and I am very happy that that young woman not only agreed to an eternity of putting up with this (not so much anymore) young man, but that she prefers to celebrate Engagement Day instead of Valentine's Day!

Song Of The Day:
If you only listen to the Top 40 or songs from the last few decades, then you are missing out on some fantastic music!  There are, of course, thousands of songs about love (I am sure it is the most common subject matter for music), but there is only one song performed by the late Nat King Cole (his voice is just amazing!) with the title "L-O-V-E" and it is as close to a perfect song as any I've heard.  So on this day of love, enjoy this classic love song.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where Is Everybody ?

Last night for our church basketball game, only 5 guys showed up to play for our team.  That means no subs ... and we were playing against a team that had 12 guys come out to play.

Needless to say we did not win that game.

Oh sure, for the first half we hung with them (only down by two at the break) but it was evident very early on in the second half that we small band of brothers were exhausted.

I just don't understand.  Some weeks it seems like everyone and their brother (and their neighbor and their three friends from work) show up to play.  And other nights, we run with barely enough to field a team.  Why so random?  I guess it must be issues with commitment (typical "guy" thing!)

Song Of The Day:
The song "I'm Tryin'" by Trace Adkins came to mind while we few men tried to keep up with the other team.  Sometimes, that's all you can do.  :)


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Aren't We All Just A Little OCD ?

I recently saw a post on facebook with one of those memes of the "Dos Equis" guy.  The words printed on the picture were to the following effect: "I don't always watch Netflix, but when I do, I find a show I like and watch all 7 seasons in two days and then get depressed when it's over."  That has been my experience with Netflix many times over (in fact I've blogged about several TV shows that Karen and I have watched in that manner).

Our most recent favorite has been "Monk" (although we have been watching it off and on for roughly the past year).  Perhaps my favorite part about the show is how his excessive OCD tendencies and irrational fears highlight that we ALL have some of these fears or OCD preferences.  Monk just happens to have all of them, but if we are honest with ourselves (especially as we get older) it is easier to recognize that we start to have very defined patterns in our day to day life.

I have to have towels folded and hung straight on towel rods.  Ask my kids.

I do not like my ice to be clumped at the bottom of a cup full of water.  I will shake the cup or poke the ice with my finger so it can float freely.

I straighten my desk at work every night before I leave to come home.  The desk has to be "clean" before I can leave.

I always place a napkin across my leg whenever eating a meal.  I use a separate napkin to wipe my mouth and hands.  The one on my leg is almost never touched.

I don't think these are problematic quirks and I am betting that you have many of your own.  My suggestion is to take a moment and think about them.  Recognize that your quirks seem completely normal to you.  In fact, you probably have a very good reason for doing things that way.  It would be good to keep that in mind before judging someone else's quirks as odd or inappropriate.

Song Of The Day:
I know this song has nothing to do with being normal, in fact quite the opposite, but it fits.  "People Are Strange" by Brave People (originally by the Doors) is a song that was introduced to me by Gail B back in good ol' Greeley, CO.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Do You Ever Sleep In ?

Some people never sleep in.  I call these morning people.  No matter what time they were up until the night before; no matter what they don't have going on that next day; no matter how exhausted their body is; they just have an internal alarm clock that wakes them up and forces them out of bed at roughly the same time every day.

I am NOT one of those people.

I believe, given the right circumstances, that I could sleep well into the afternoon hours.  Of course the guilt afterward for having "wasted" all those precious daytime hours would be terrible, but who's to say that our bodies don't need that occasional "reboot" which only comes from a system shut down that exceeds the normal pattern?

Today is one of those days.  I won't say when I slept in until, but it was plenty of time (more than a typical night of sleep should account for).  Of course I am somewhat more refreshed while also disappointed in the "wasted" time on one of my two days off ... But there is not too much regret.  I still had time to finish my "chores" and run the errands I had committed to today's schedule.  I just had to forego a few other activities that I know I would have enjoyed.

Song Of The Day:
I love how you can buy an artist's CD based on one song you like, only to find out later that it is not your favorite song on that CD.  This doesn't happen as often as it used to, especially now that you can buy individual songs and also preview portions of every song on a CD before making a purchase.  That said, today's song is one that I happened upon after buying Jason Mraz's first CD.  The song is titled "Sleep All Day" and (as always with his music) the words to the tune are just as enjoyable as the melody and music.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why Dey Haftoo Go Home ?!

That was the question that my youngest daughter (Myra, age 2 1/2) asked tonight as our guests were headed out the door to their house (after a few hours of hanging out and playing games).

She was beside herself in tears and filled with devastation at their departure.  It was like she thought she would never see them again (in fact a short while later she made that very comment - "I nevuh gonna see dem agayin.  Dey nevuh gon' come back agayin!" )

Of course she was overtired and within 15 minutes was asleep in her bed.  But it was a very cute experience that I wanted to make note of so I can tell it to her when she is older and can appreciate her youthful reaction.

Song Of The Day:
It's a bit of a stretch but today's song is from Maroon 5 and is titled "Won't Go Home Without You"   This is probably my favorite of all their songs (and they have had LOTS that are pretty sweet!)


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Do You Wear Glasses ?

I am "legally blind" without corrective lenses.  I have been for as long as I can remember.  I have not worn glasses on a regular basis for decades though.

A rare photo of me
in my "spectacles"
I love to play basketball and I'm a big fan of peripheral vision, hence my preference for contact lenses.
Most people at work have never seen me wearing glasses but it still surprises me when someone asks me if I wear contacts.

My two oldest kids, both boys, wear glasses.  But when I was a kid that was a bad thing and an easy way to get picked on.
Nowadays, it seems it makes kids cooler (especially if the glasses look ridiculous like that Old Navy lady or all those "hipsters.")  That is equally weird to me, but I'm not switching back to glasses!

Song Of The Day:
Another country group that is quite popular across genres is Lady Antebellum.  But my favorite song of theirs is not one that was ever released on the radio (that I know of).  It is titled "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and is a beautiful ballad of love.  I think the tie in with my blog topic today is reasonably obvious.  :)


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Need A Laugh ?

Me and my little sister at a 5k race
Shout out to my sister Jaimee for the great tip on the hilarious movie for tonight.
Pitch Perfect is quite hilarious (although a little raunchy at times).  If you can appreciate acapella music (and some aca-humor) then you will love this movie.

Song Of The Day:
In honor of my sister, here is a recent favorite acapella song that I think she will enjoy ... The song is "Careless" by the Tufts Beelzebubs (who I have already featured before).  The album version is even better but this one is quite good too.


Have I Been Doing It Wrong ?

Tonight's P90X workout was Yoga X ... again.  This marked the 5th time I've done that particular workout.  (It should have been 6 but I missed one in the first month when I had a head cold and was too dizzy to complete it).

I am not entirely sure the reason why, but this evening as I completed the full hour and a half workout, it felt great!  Sure I was sweating like crazy and still very unflexible (especially as compared to the people on the video) but I completed every part of the workout (I even did Crane for about 30 seconds, which has never gone well for me thus far) and I feel great after it.  The stretches toward the end felt amazing and my mood is definitely calmer and happier (it had been a somewhat angry day up until that point).

So I wonder if I've been doing it wrong on all these previous workouts?  I didn't have any of the kids trying to work out with me, so maybe that helped.  :)

Song Of The Day:
Among my favorite jazz musicians is Mindi Abair, a talented saxophonist who can actually sing pretty well too.  One of her songs is titled "Home" and the tune just relaxes me in a way similar to how I felt after Yoga X tonight.  I hope you like it.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shouldn't I Be Having More Cravings?

I've got a good buddy who recently posted on Facebook about how he has eliminated soda from his daily intake ... for the past six months!  He wasn't posting this to gain some great accolades from FB friends or to brag about how awesome he is or to deride anyone who indulges in the sugary sweetness of soda (his favorite for as long as I've known him was Diet Mountain Dew ... and mine has long been regular Mountain Dew).  He was just posting because he wanted to share his own personal accomplishment.  Way to go Kevin!

Anyway, I mention this because I have been severely limiting my own soda intake since the start of the year (mostly coinciding with my P90X workouts).  I would be lying if I said I hadn't had any soda, but the truth of the matter is that it has probably been less than 24 ounces of soda (2 cans).  It easily could have been ZERO soda, but I added a little to some lemonade and powerade at some recent trips to McDonalds (their fries are an addiction I will never give up!) ... and I've taken a sip from one of my kid's sodas (or Karen's if she has any) once or twice.

The point of this blog is that I haven't really had any cravings for soda, which is very odd!  Sure, the first week or two were filled with longing for "The Dew" or a Cherry Pepsi / Dr Pepper.  But it was very telling to me a few Sundays ago when I decided to "treat myself" to a can of Mountain Dew.  Two sips in and I couldn't drink any more.  It was just too sweet and sugary tasting!

Perhaps the desire will come back at some point in the future, but for now I am a water fanatic (which I always was at work, but never much at home).  Energy levels are up.  My teeth feel cleaner.  I've noticed changes around the old mid-section (some of that could be the Ab Ripper X workouts though).  I actually crave water now instead of candy sometimes too.

Song Of The Day:
Stick with me here.  The song today is "Water Runs Dry" by Boyz II Men.  In this case, the soda cravings have run dry but there's not really a song about that.  I've always been a Boyz fan from the time I bought their first cassette tape.  One of my other favorite songs of theirs is linked HERE if you want a two-song kind of day.  Awesome melodies, harmonies, and acappella (of course!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Did You Miss Me ?

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder ... and I agree.

This photo was at his birth.
He is much bigger now!  :)
For the past two evenings, my wife and our youngest child (Spencer) have been at the hospital.  Turns out he has RSV and needed several breathing treatments to get his oxygen levels right.

Today, they were able to come home.

It is great to have Spencer home again.  Sure he has to be on oxygen for the next 4-6 weeks, but he's home!  I'm equally (probably moreso) excited to have Karen home too!

In honor of their safe return home, here's is today's ...

Song Of The Day:
Time for some more country music from one of my favorite groups from the past decade plus.  Little Big Town has had some good sized hits (their most recent is "Pontoon" but that's not the song of the day).  One of my favorites from the first of their CDs that I purchased is "Bring It On Home" and that is the song of the day today ... because I know Karen is just as happy to be home as we are to have her and little dude back!  :)


Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Does Tax Season Make Me Happy ?

I think most people are not very fond of taxes and/or tax season (other than maybe accountants or IRS guys - shout out to Joel Z!)

I love tax season!
(I am not an IRS guy or an accountant though)

Pretty much every year since my oldest son (Josh Jr) was born, tax season has been a great time of year for me and my family, at least financially.  Add 6 more kids and mortgage interest deductions (from 2 homes the past few years) and tax season always equals BIG refund season for the Case Clan!

To be fair, I still hate doing taxes ... never been very fond of paperwork ... even with TurboTax to "simplify" things.  But I have loved the end result for well over the past decade of time.  The refunds have gone up and down, but they are always equivalent to at least one month's worth of salary ... Ka-Ching !!!  :)

Today I was able to finish our 2012 taxes, e-filing through TurboTax for federal and e-filing directly with the for state taxes (those refunds always seem like "ehh" after seeing the much larger federal refund amount).  Of course I'm not going to share the refund amounts, but it is fair to say that, upon hearing the total amount, Karen quickly started looking at vacation packages for a Disney trip or cruise.  That is unlikely to happen (we're pretty frugal with our funds) this year, but we'll gladly indulge every few years if this keeps up.

Song Of The Day:
An oldie but a goodie here, although it does scream of the "love of money" which is said to be "the root of all evil."  I'm just using it to refer to how I feel about our refund $$$ that we should get in the next 6-8 weeks.
The song by Calloway is titled "I Wanna Be Rich" and I love the la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la chorus line hook!

Sing along if you're full of "love, peace, and happiness" during tax season!  :)


Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Do You Deal With Stress ?

I believe we all have our own ways to cope with stress in our lives.  We are most likely to identify our own process when unexpected stress rears it's ugly head.  This happened to me today when my barely 2-months old child (Spencer) had to go to the ER and is now staying overnight at the hospital with RSV.  Bless my awesome wife for staying with him, knowing she will get very little "rest."  So how do I deal with this stress?  Here are some thoughts ...

Some people cry.  Some people get angry.  Some people eat more.  Some people stop eating altogether.  Some people seek comfort in the presence of other people.  Some people seek to be alone with their thoughts.  Some people listen to music.  Some people read.  Some people disappear into online games.  Some people sleep.  Some people find busy work to keep their mind off the things that are stressing them.  Some people make lists of what they need to do.  Some people pray for guidance.  Some people phone a friend.  Some people watch TV or a movie.  Some people write their feelings (good, bad, angry, sad, etc.) in a journal or blog.  Some people exercise.

Whatever your method, may I offer one piece of advice?  Make sure it doesn't add to your stress after you are done ... otherwise, you're not coping or recovering, you are procrastinating ... and that virtually never turns out better.

BTW ... I think my method of coping is to offer unsolicited advice.  :)

Song Of The Day:
I also like to use music as a means to shift my stressful feelings into more action-oriented solutions.  Music can change your mood and can inspire you to overcome challenges you face.  When it feels chaotic for me, I really enjoy some Enya.  She has plenty of good tunes to choose from (although critics say it all eventually sounds the same).  One of my favorite, uplifting songs is "Fairytale" which is a relatively simple melody, but it always soothes me and takes me to a happy place.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

What's Up My Brother ?!

The CASE Brothers
L-R ... Josh, Jeremy (oldest), & Jordan (youngest)
I have two awesome brothers from my family of origin.  And then several brothers-in-law, brothers in the church, and also a few "bros" of choice.  I honestly love them all and enjoy the time I get to spend with each of them in a variety of activities.

In the past few days, I've had the great opportunity to spend a lot more time with my older brother Jeremy.  Despite his stature being shorter than mine, I still look up to him in many ways.  He is a much better brother and uncle than I could ever hope to be.  He has such patience and love for my siblings and my own children.

A few nights ago he treated me to an evening at the movies for a special RiffTrax event (which is basically MST3K as a live broadcast show across theaters throughout the nation).  The movie was so bad that the riffers didn't even have to say much to have us in stitches.  It.  Was.  Awesome!  And even better because we had each other to share the humor with.

Then this evening, Jeremy enjoyed my family's annual "Groundhog Day" movie tradition with us (as well as dinner before and a game of Dominion afterward).  It was a very fun evening and I'm so glad he was willing to hang out with us old married folks!  :)

Song Of The Day:
There are several songs about brothers, family, love, admiration, etc. but for tonight I'm just picking a favorite tune that happens to be titled "Brother"  It is by Toad the Wet Sprocket and was on the soundtrack to "So I Married An Axe Murderer."  I always think of my older brother Jeremy when I hear the song because we both enjoyed the humor in that movie and the song is pretty good too.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Does It Get Any Easier ?

I haven't specifically written about my P90X experience in several weeks, and I thought it was worthy of a brief update (plus I'm short on time tonight so that works too!)

I'm in the 4th week of the program which is titled the "Recovery Week."  After three very grueling weeks of arms, chest, abs, back, shoulders, abs, quads, thighs, abs, calves, and of course abs, I was looking forward to this week.  And then, just two days into it, I realized it's not much of a "recovery" at all!

Oh sure, the Ab Ripper X workout is non-existant, but there's no shortage of "core" work ... especially the Core Synergystics workout, which was the inspiration for this blog post.  You see, that workout is done twice during this "recovery" week, and when I did it (for the first time ever) on Tuesday night, it darn near killed me!  BUT ... tonight, it was easier.  Not a lot easier, but it was noticeable (and appreciated for sure!)

In fact, I think it is that way with almost all of these workouts.  Don't get me wrong, they are still very hard and my muscles ache afterward and I have to towel off many times during the workouts.  But I can tell that my muscles have gotten stronger and my flexibility has improved greatly (although you wouldn't think so if you saw me ... LONG way to go on that part).

There is a second subject that the title of this blog post could easily be referring too ... eating healthier and drinking water instead of soda.
But that's another story for another time.

Song Of The Day:
I have more than a passing interest in jazz music.  I'm no traditionalist, but I do like the old stuff as well as more recent jazz music.  Harry Connick Jr has been one of my favorite jazz musicians for many years now.  In the 90's I was a very big fan.  Today's song is "Trouble" from his album titled "She" which has some great songs on it.  The tie-in to the post above is that some of these P90X workouts give me trouble to begin with, but "now trouble is all I need" (lyrics from the song).
BTW ... do NOT bother watching this youtube video linked above (it is horrible!) but the song is definitely worth listening to.