Friday, December 19, 2008

The Ranch

So, we all go to Amarillo yesterday to pick up Andy at the airport and Melissa decides that we are going to buy some spraypaint and head out to the Cadillac ranch on old Route 66 ... wait, let me back up.

Since the movie Cars came out several years ago, Aric has been somewhat o
bsessed with Route 66. We keep saying that we are going to take a family vacation and drive the old highway. Not all of it, of course, but a pretty good portion of it. That hasn't happened yet, but we have gone to the old Tower Conoco in Shamrock which was used as the model for one of the buildings in the movie. Then, last year we drove out to the Cadillac Ranch while we were in Amarillo shopping or something and we decided that the next time we went we had to take some spraypaint with us.

Spraypainting the old cars is allowed and even encouraged and believe me our boys loved it. It was actually a little windier than we would have liked for spraypainting but when is there not at least a breeze in the Texas panhandle so we made the most of it and had quite a bit of fun. Here are some pictures of our spur-of-the-moment excursion.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Who

I began this post on Thanksgiving day, but I am just now getting back to it. With Christmas so soon maybe it's a little to late to make this post, but I still feel strongly about the subject so here goes.

We begin teaching our children at a very early age that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all the blessings we have been given. The English settlers gave thanks for their deliverance by the Indians after a particularly brutal winter in the New World. In many countries, Thanksgiving began as a celebration for giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. I suppose we all have our own ideas and opinions of what Thanksgiving means and why we celebrate it, but by it's name and nature Thanksgiving is a time for "giving thanks." For me, the important thing about thanksgiving is not
what we are giving thanks for but who we are giving thanks to.

In 2 Samuel 22:50, we read, "Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah, among the nations, And will sing praises unto thy name." I wonder sometimes who exactly non-Christians give thanks to when celebrating Thanksgiving. I know each year as I remember all the blessings that I have to be thankful for that my father in heaven provides those blessings and that He is the one to whom I am thankful.

I will also strive this year to be thankful year round for all that He has done for me and my family. Not to take anything away for Thanksgiving (because I still love the turkey, pumpkin pie, etc.) but to help keep me from taking all that I have for granted (not granite, Creede). I want to always remember what He has done for me, is doing for me, and will do for me

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Tackle

The boys are wrapping up their flag football seasons and we have really enjoyed watching them play every Saturday. They both improved tremendously as the season progressed and they continue to understand the game more and more. Aric's team lost last week thus ending their season. Thank you to Todd Cummins and Jeff Pleming for an outstanding job coaching the Sooners this year. Alex's team played this Saturday and earned a chance to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday and they won. His coach, Craig Darter, has done a fantastic job with the Red Raiders. I couldn't resist sharing this video of Aric tackling one of his opponents. Yes, this is supposed to be FLAG football, but sometimes the adrenaline takes over and you just can't help yourself. This is the first time I have posted a video, so I was pretty excited. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Truth

You may have to be involved with education to really appreciate this but I had to post it for all to see!

The Scariest Costume Ever!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Responsibility

When I started this blog my intention wasn't to keep people informed about things going on with our family. My wife does this on her blog and does a fantastic job. I also didn't plan on using it as a soap box to shove my beliefs and convictions down the throats of those reading it. What I wanted was an outlet for expressing the things that motive me, excite me, anger me, move me, please me, or frustrate me.

As a parent I am constantly second guessing myself. Was I too harsh? An I spending enough time with them? Should I have let them go with so-and-so? Am I pushing them too hard? Do I do enough? How much is too much? Will I ever feel good about the decisions I make regarding my children? I mean, they are my children after all. I want everything I do for them to be the right thing. I want every decision to be the right decision. I will not make any parenting mistakes...yeah, right!

I know that I will make mistakes, but I will relentlessly work to keep those mistakes to an absolute minimum. It's much too important for my children and myself. It amazes me how lightly some people take their role as a parent. What are some people thinking when they have kids?

I know some people don't plan their parenthood. However, this doesn't excuse them from the responsibility of it. Others plan to become a parent for all the wrong reasons. It amazes me how many unmarried teenage girls will have intentional pregnancies. Whether the purpose is to hold on to a boyfriend or maybe just a way to get some attention. Don't they realize the disadvantages that this child is going to experience. Sometimes they seem so proud of themselves and they fail to understand that the pride should come in how they raise the child, not the simple fact that they got pregnant and gave birth. They will tote the baby around flaunting their "accomplishment" then the new wears off and they are left with a child that they don't really want and won't properly nurture.

Maybe in my occupation I have too much of an insider's view of this and so many other issues in our society. Maybe I have become too cynical about the circumstances that today's youth must face. I just know that there are too many kids out there raising themselves, fending for themselves, and dependening on themselves with no one to encourage them, no one to comfort them, no one to admonish them, and no one to love them. And it breaks my heart everyday.

Let me know your thoughts on this subject.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Survey

I don't usually make this kind of non-narrative post, but this one sounded kind of fun when I saw it so here goes.

1. Did you date someone from your school? I WANTED to date someone from my school.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? Yes, although she was there WAAAAY before I was. Just kidding, honey.

3. Did you car pool to school? Does my mom taking me to school count as carpooling?

4. What kind of car did you have? What car? My mom's Ford Limited or "the boat" as it was known to my sister and I.

5. What kind of car do you have now? Porshe Carrera. Yeah, right! It's a Chevy Suburban.

6. (THEN) Its Friday night...where are you? Bagging groceries at IGA, serving food through a drive-thru window, or selling drugs at Revco. Whatever my job-of-the-moment happened to be.

7. (NOW) It is Friday night...where are you? Now, I actually get to go see the Bobcats play.

8. What kind of job did you have in high school? What kind of job did I NOT have in high school. Bagging groceries, stocking shelves, fast food, retail drugs. You name it, I did it!

9. What kind of job do you do now? Teaching high school mathematics

10. Were you a party animal? This may come as a shock (not), but not one, single party until I was in college.

11. Were you considered a flirt? Are you kidding? That would require a personality.

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Believe it or not, NO, none of the above!

13. Were you a nerd? All the way! 100%

14. Did you get suspended or expelled? Are you kidding? If I had even been called to the principal's office I probably would have needed to change my Levi 501s.

15. Can you sing the fight song? I'm embarrassed to say, but yes, I can sing it word for word.

16. Who was/were your favorite teacher(s)? Mrs. Davidson, Mrs. Evans, and Coach Anglin

17. Where did you sit during lunch? At my mom's kitchen table

18. What was your school's mascot? The fighting Childress Bobcats!

19. When did you graduate? We are BAD! We are GREAT! We're the class of '88!

20. What was your school colors? Blue and white

21. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Not in a million years!

22. Did you have fun at Prom? For the most part. Dance until 12:00, in bed by 12:30!

23. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with? When I see her, which isn't often.

24. Are you planning on going to your next reunion? Yeah, I'll go.

25. Do you still talk to people from school? Sure, all the time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Question

We were at Melissa's grandfather's house on Saturday to celebrate his 85th birthday and Aric surprised one of the wild rabbits that lives there when he chased a football under a shrub. He was startled but also elated. Now keep in mind, Aric is the child who ponders things for weeks on end. Last year he had to research Orioles for a project at school and he talked about them for months. For the last several weeks or more everything had been about the olympics. So just as this is starting to wear off this bunny thing occurs and so he has rabbits on the brain.

He informs Melissa yesterday that he want to raise rabbits for the 4-H livestock show this year. Melissa tells him that we don't know anything about raising rabbits. To this he quickly replies, "Mom, that's what they created the internet for!" Seriously. And he's only nine years old. It occured to me then that my children will never know a world without the internet. Or a world without cell phones or iPods or GPS. Or even video games. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Unlike the generation before me, I've never known a world without telephones or television. Or a world without washing machines and automatic driers. How about no microwave ovens or coffee makers? I love to hear my mother talk about what it was like when she was growing up and I often wish that I could go back to that time just for a little while and experience what it was like. But am I better off having grown up with all the materials that existed and were available to me during my informative years. Better yet, how will all the technology of today mold and shape the person that my child turns out to be?

It's a question I'm not likely to answer, but will never stop asking myself. I guess that as a parent, all I can do is teach my children responsible use of the resources to which they have access and pray that they will make the right decisions when utilizing the tools that are available to them in today's world and in the world of the future.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Escape

Needless to say, things have been busy in our life lately. So busy that I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks, not that I blog all that often anyway. Melissa and I decided several weeks ago that there was so much going on in our lives and things were moving so fast that we just needed a little break. We decided to plan a weekend "mystery trip" for the whole family to get away and just relax a bit. But where should we go?

You may or may not know that I graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Every fall people from across the state converge on OKC (Oklahoma City) for the annual Oklahoma State Fair. Having come from such a large state with several major metropolitan areas, it was always a unique experience to be at an event that is attended by a majority of the state. Anyway, we have talked about taking the kids to the fair for several years and so it made the perfect choice for our weekend away.

As it turns out, our destination ended up not being much of a mystery. I slipped the location of our "mystery trip" not once but THREE times before we got there! Melissa was not happy with me. Aric wanted her to make clues to give him along the way so that he could guess where we were going. She did a great job making the clues and the boys enjoyed them thoroughly, especially the one that included spending money. They would have been surprised if only I could have kept my big mouth shut, but they were thrilled none the less.

We stopped in Shamrock on the way to take pictures of the boys in front of the famous Tower Conoco and as soon as we did three vintage Ford Thunderbirds pulled up. They were making a treck through all 48 continental U.S. states and just happened to arrive at the Route 66 landmark at the same time we did which was at 7:00 on Saturday morning. Since the building was used as a model for the Pixar movie "Cars" and since Aric is a huge "Cars" fan, it couldn't have been more perfect. And it made the photo op even more memorable.

When we arrive in OKC we headed straight for the fairgrounds. While standing in line we watched five airplanes "skytyping" messages in the sky. Once we were inside the gate, we headed directly to the midway. Every carnival ride I had ever seen was on this midway, but we decided to go to some of the shows and exhibits first. We went in the car show and saw all the latest models and even got to sit in some of them. We saw a sea lion show and a dog show called "Jump!" and even a tropical bird show. We walked through several exhibit halls and ate plenty of fair food. We had a funnel cake, an Indian taco, a calzone, snow cones, and cotton candy not to mention several sodas. Before we knew it, it was 3:00 and we were exhausted. When we got back to the midway and saw the long lines the boys decided we should just go back to the hotel and swim. Sounded good to me.

The hotel, however, didn't quite live up to our expectations. When we finally found it, it was undergoing major renovations and as a result, the pool was not heated. I never realized just how cold an unheated, indoor pool could be. I dipped one foot in the "ice pool" as it came to be known and I knew there was no way I was going to be taking a dip. The boys, though, were undetered. They both braved the cold water, but didn't last long. Fifteen minutes later and they were both still shivering, so we headed back to the room to get ready to go eat dinner. We ate at one of my favorite restaurants called Charleston's. It was a satisfying ending to long but enjoyable day.

We woke the next morning and did a little shopping before heading home. We went to Penn Square mall and I got to go to my first Apple Store. Wow! It was great. Even the boys loved it. There were iMacs, MacBooks, iPods, and iPhones everywhere and you could play with all of them. We almost couldn't get Alex and Aric out of there. After a few more stops we decided that it was time make our way back to Childress.

The trip was so successful that we decided we needed to do it again. In fact we are going to try to do it at least tree times a year. It certainly served its purpose. We all felt better because we were able to relax and not think about the everyday pressures of life for just a little while. I don't know where we'll go on our next "mystery trip", and since I can't seem to keep a secret I'm pretty sure Melissa will keep it a mystery to me as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Test

Well, following a minor episode I had a few weeks ago after running, my wife insisted I see my doctor. I had, after all, recently stopped taking my blood pressure medicine. Yes, with my doctors permission of course. It really kind of scared me at first and so it didn't take much prodding to get me to go. It had been a year since I had seen him so it was time for a check-up anyway. He didn't think it was anything to worry about, but for precautionary purposes he ordered a stress test to determine if I had any blockage.

I guess I wasn't really privy to all that was involved in a stress test. My mother had one several years ago, but didn't really elaborate on the details of the procedure. I was actually admitted to the hospital as an outpatient and had to go through the whole insurance approval process. Let me tell you a stress test isn't cheap! Anyway, after being admitted I was taken back to what I believe was an MRI apparatus. The technician put in an IV for giving injections and injected me with a radioactive substance so that images could be taken of my heart. I have to tell you that this unnerved me just a little but that's how it's done so what can you do?

After lying with my hands over my head for 20 minutes while the MRI was taken, I was then taken to another room for the treadmill portion of this procedure. I was hooked up to a heart monitor with 8 probes that were glued to various parts of my abdomen and then had to get on a treadmill until my heart rate reached a certain "target". As the test proceeded the speed and incline of the treadmill were both progressively increased to attain the desired heart rate. Every 2 minutes another technician took my blood presure which isn't easy to do while running on a treadmill mind you. Then during the most strenuous portion of the test, the radiology technician had to inject me with the second round of radioactive "stuff". So one of them had my right arm, the other had my left hand while I am running uphill on a treadmill that is going fast enough to raise my heartbeat to this "desired" level. No wonder the doctor had to be present during the test.

I was on the treadmill for around 12 minutes which is no time to me, but evidently much longer than most people require to elevate their heart rate to the target level. I was then returned to the MRI machine for another 20 minute session of lying still with my hands over my head. Now, maybe I have bad circulation or something, but after 20 minutes with my arms in the position they were in, my arms were as limp as spagetti. I could barely even feel them, much less use them to get up. Somehow I managed though and was finally finished. Let me just say that now I completely understand why it's called a "stress" test and believe me -- my stress was tested!

I am happy to report that the next day my doctor called and said that the test showed my heart to be in perfectly good condition and certainly not the cause of my little incident. He said that my blood pressure probably just dropped from a combination of the heat and exercise and that he has experienced the same thing on occasion. I am very thankful to the CRMC staff and Dr. Darter for the care they showed for me. I can joke about it now but I was actually pretty worried about it, especially that morning. They were compassionate and helpful in every way and we are lucky to have such wonderful people working at our hospital.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Kid

How can our precious little cotton-topped angel possibly be old enough to be starting junior high school. Wasn't he pulling up on my pant leg just a few months ago? Wasn't Andy carrying him around the house helping mom take care of him just last week. Didn't he learn to ride his bike just a few days ago. Now his head is even with my shoulders, he knows almost as much about computers as I do, and he's playing the drums in the 6th grade band! What happened? I wasn't through with my little boy yet. I haven't finished throwing him up in the air to see just how big he can grin. I still want to read books to him in bed at night and wake him up by crawling in bed with him and tickling him. I'm not through rocking him in my recliner when he's tired and wants to be held. I want to be the person with whom he'd rather spend all his time. Where's the little boy who said that I was his best friend?

Melissa's cousin Paula is here this weekend with her husband Chris and their new baby girl, Elizabeth Grace. Watching her just reminded me of how big my boys have gotten and how much I miss the days when they were just babies laying on a blanket in the floor or when they were just toddlers crawling around getting into things. I know I can't go back and recapture those days, but I can make the most of the days that are left. If I make a commitment to spend quality time with my sons then maybe I'll feel important to them again. If I listen to them and try to remember what it's like to be their age then maybe I'll feel connected to them again. And if I give him my full attention and do everything I can to make him know how important he is to me, then maybe, just maybe, I'll be his best friend again. I love you, Alex!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Return

Yes, I finally have a little time to post a new blog entry. Between tech camp, in-service, and preparing for school I've been too busy to even relax much less blog. School has started now and except for the expected technological glitches that come with every new school year, everything seems to be running pretty smoothly. Hopefully things will start to slow down just a little as we get back into a routine and adjust to early mornings and long days.

Alex loves junior high! He came home Monday and said "It was a perfect day!" He's in the percussion section of the 6th grade band and he is so excited that he gets to have his mom's old band director. Mr. Currie has such a fantastic influence on young people. Alex is fortunate to get to work with him. He can't wait to get his MacBook laptop computer. He has been looking forward to it all summer. He is getting to take a class called Explorations where he will get to learn a lot about how to use the computer and will complete many projects using it.

Aric says that he feels "weird" being at CES without Alex, especially riding the bus to the high school by himself. He really likes his teacher though. Today, the teaching assistant told me that Aric already has Miss Stewart "wrapped around his pinky" so I guess that means he is behaving. At open house last night Miss Stewart bragged and bragged on him. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding team of teachers in our elementary school.

As much as we enjoy our summer break, it's nice to be back at school and experiencing all that comes with it. The seasons will soon start to change and the fall weather that Melissa enjoys so much will bring cooler temperatures and earlier sunsets. That which seems so new to us now will start to be "old shoe" again as we fall into the schedules and routines that we develope every year and eventually we will begin to long for the sunshine and relaxation of summer again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The One

Sometimes I get a little reminder of just how wonderful my wife actually is -- whether I need to be reminded or not. This weekend we were in the local city park for a church function and we decided to walk over to the playground and watch our kids and the other church kids while they played. Not too far from where we sat on a bench one of the other kids fell from pretty high up and landed on his face and chest. After a few seconds of stunned silence, the kid began to moan and that very quickly evolved to a frightened sob. He was shocked more that hurt and although I figured as much, it was still startling to witness.

As I sat there not knowing exactly what to do, before I could process enough to even stand up, Melissa was on her feet crossing the short distance to the fallen boy. As I finally made my way up to my feet to follow her lead, she had already made her way to the boy's side and was holding him in her arms, brushing the dust off of his cheek, holding his head against her shoulder, and consoling him as only a mother could do. Once she had settled him down and check him out for any serious injury, she helped him to his feet and again put her arms around him and held him tight.

Now, keep in mind that this is not a small child. He was at least 10 years old and despite being surrounded by several of his peers, he offered no resistance to her comfort, her affection, or even her embrace. It seemed to be exactly what he needed. Within a minute or two he was walking away discussing the event with his friends and probably enjoying the attention. And all I could do was stand there and watch the entire incident as a spectator.

I have to admit that I was proud of my wife that evening. Not because she reacted so swiftly, which she did. Not because she has the intuition to know what a child needs when he needs it, which she does. And not because she can defuse the anxiety of a stressful situation, which she can (and often does living with me). I was proud because she rushed to the aid of another person without abandon or reluctance.

It's troubling when we see video footage of a man hit by a vehicle lying on the street as people walk past or of a woman collapse in a ER waiting room and die before anyone checks on her. It's comforting to know that I will spend the rest of my life with a woman who cares. I am reminded of the story of the good Samaritan and I am blessed to loved by a "good Samaritan" of my own.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Plunge

Am I really doing this? Although I've always enjoyed reading other blogs, I never really saw myself as being a blogger. Who would want to read what I have to say? Maybe no one, but here I go anyway.

We are two weeks away from the beginning of a new school year. My 16th at Childress High School. Where did the summer go? By this time each year I am ready to go back to work and get into a routine again but my wife is so...not. She would take several more weeks or even months off if she could. I've been sitting at home long enough. I know that I will be much more productive once school starts again. Even here at home.

My life has revolved around school either as a student or as a teacher for so long now that my body and my mind are in a constant cycle: the beginning of school, football season, the holiday season, mid-term, the new year, basketball season, TAKS season and tax season, spring sports, banquets (prom, sports banquet, etc.), the end-of-year crunch and, finally, afterglow...summer...and all the peace, comfort and relaxation that comes with it. I've followed this same cycle for so long that I don't really know any different.

I vow to myself right now to make this year different! If my life is in that much of a rut it's because I have let it and only I can change that. There are already changes taking place in my life so what better time for a complete overhaul. My only goal is to be the best at whatever I am doing. That means being the best father, husband, son, teacher, student, friend and Christian that I possibly can be. If I can do that then by the end of this school year I'll be "running on empty".