December 08, 2009

Busy couple of months

So I have talked about the dining room and the rest of the paint projects and meeting The Pioneer Woman. Once that all died down, it was time to decorate for Heather's party. Let the chaos ensue: a total of 7 trees.

First up: the living room

This tree the photo tree. It has wallet-sized picture frames hung with red ribbon on the branches along with 4x6 and 5x7 framed photos stuck into the branches. The small frames a silver and the larger frames are black along with red ornament balls.

Next is the dining room.

This tree has all of the ornaments that we have either been given, kept from childhood, or things the kids made that they want to hang. Heather calls is the Heritage tree. I call it the tree with all of the old stuff. Then in the middle of the dining room table is the wreath. We just pulled the table slightly apart and dropped the electric cord through. The cord is run under table and the across a small part of the rug with piece of plastic that is the color of the rug to hide it and for safety.

The other three trees are a set of a 5, 4, and 3 foot trees that we call our forest. Then each of the kids have one. Don't be that impressed.

So the day of the party this is how the room looked.

The jars on the table look like this:

You can thank Bakerella. It's all her fault.Heather made 30 of these. They weren't too expensive but you spend about $65 to make 30.

So after that not much happened. Heather went to OKC this last weekend to see Beth Moore along with Precila Shirer and Kay Arthur with several friends and had a great time. Sunday morning all of the kids in the children's choir had their performance and they did well.

Yesterday was Heather's birthday. So instead of trying to go out to dinner last night, we went down to Tulsa and went to Ted's Cafe Escondito. The place was very good. Until....

The waiter asked if we had been there before while Heather and Reid went off to the restroom. I answered "No, we are here for my wife's birthday". Heather and Reid get back and just shortly after getting our food, they came over and ...

began to sing. The sombrero was an unexpected, but welcomed side benefit. Shortly after I took this with my iPhone, Heather yanked it out of my hand and took this:

This way there was evidence that I was at least having a good time before the bodily harm started. They needed a way to ID the body. But no, Heather decided that I should pay in other ways.

My penance - purchasing her a
iPhone 3GS. 32 Gigabytes. Black. So her device has 4 times the storage and has some features that mine doesn't have. I'm thinking that her tactical maneuver was more psychological than financial. So much so that I actually had a slip of the tongue when were talking about her phone: I said "my phone" instead of "your phone". She immediately said "Excuse me?" Oops. Bad Damon.

The funny thing was as Heather was getting instruction on how to use the device, the kids were over at the iPhone display playing games that were on their demo devices. When we went to leave, Reid asks "Where's my iPhone? I want one!" I couldn't contain my laughter. Sorry dear Reid. Not any time in a future that you can comprehend at the age of 4 3/4!

I had another doctor appointment this week for some follow ups. I think I have just one more but we'll see. Heather gets an MRI Thursday for her knee. Looks like she may be having some repair done on her menisci on her left one. We'll just see.

More later.

November 01, 2009

What fun...

The last couple of weeks have not been fun at hour house. Jackson got sick with the swine Flu. And just as Jackson hit rock bottom, Heather and I started down. Then I just ended up with bronchitis not two weeks later.

The highlight was Saturday night. One, the kids did all my work of gathering candy so I would have something to snack on. Two. I got to meet Ree - The Pioneer Woman at a book signing in her little town a mere 30 minutes away.

As it turns out, I've already known her (I say that loosely) for a while before Cathy Zielske's web page led me to Ree's. I used to work at the hospital in the town I live in, which is Ree grew up; just 50 miles from her ranch. Her brother Mike worked there and he would talk about his sister Ree. It finally hit me one time when I was reading her blog and she was talking about her brother. I thought that the person she was describing was the Mike I knew from the hospital. Lo and behold, she was.

Then. Jackson used to go to school with a boy at his old school who is now on his swim team. His mom, Vanessa and Heather are friends. Vanessa has an email address that is tied to her husband's business. Now I knew Vanessa's husband was in the cattle business, but there again was able to put 2 and 2 together. Just funny that way.

I snapped the above picture with my iPhone. I didn't notice then that she had her camera right there on the table.

So I waited in line and snapped the two pictures above. I changed the one to black and white using her actions. Not that she didn't look nice, but the B&W looks really good.

So when it was my turn, I took my books up to her and she was very nice. I told her about I knew Mike and Vanessa. She did think that it was funny that we could not get more than 2 degrees away (the whole 6 degrees of separation thing). I noticed her Nikon D3 on the table and commented on it. She then said "Oh, pick it up and shoot a few frames and see what you think." She then commented on my "old" Nikon D70 (which is what her first digital SLR was) and said that it is a great camera.

All in all, it was well worth making the little hop over there.

October 19, 2009

Done painting...for now

So my project as of late was to paint the dining room while of course led to the entry and hall. Then of course led to trim and doors.

This this the dining room before:

It took me about a week to get it completely done. During that week this is what we tried to ignore (though it made the house feel trashed)

This is the final result:

I also painted the doors and trim in the entry and hall. They were just an old, stained wood door. They now match the trim in the bright white. My final project was the front door.

Nothing special. Just a green door. After sanding and painting, this is how it looks now.

One would think this is just a black front door. One would be wrong.

A little closer.

It is covered in chalkboard paint! We made the word stencil using Heather's Cricut and some stencil material you can get for it as well as a leaf stencil. We love the way the door looks. There is a downside; on the wood, even primed and sanded, it can scrape off if you press too hard and if the chalk has a point like a pencil. It really doesn't take much pressure to get the chalk on the door. For the words, I just rubbed a little chalk in the stencil and then used my finger to spread it around within the template. This was so worth the effort!

More later.

UPDATE: Heather got out one of her Stampin' Up! stamp sets and rubbed the white chalk on a stamp and filled it in with some orange chalk. Very cool!

August 28, 2009

More practicing what I learned in Dallas.

So if the all-to-entertaining Sarah Goodman is reading this, I am so really trying to use manual more and more. I love how the images below (all shot in manual) really came out so much closer to what I saw with my eye. The color, the brightness, etc. None of these have been run
through Photoshop. All were shot on 400 or 800 ISO and auto white balance. I think I am getting there. Just more practice. And kids that aren't mine. I thought, "I'll let them be them for a while and then also get some of what I want" Yeah, no. Or not well. But that is not
Jackson. He was helpful. Now the 4 1/2 year old was a slightly different story.

Another problem is I am really finding that, yeah, the kit lenses do pretty much suck when you want natural light. I really wanted to argue with you and Candice Stringham, that indeed yes, you can get great images with a kit lens. But I am finding that the circumstances for
that have to be just right and I would really have lost that discussion. Oh well. I only have a wish list of about 3 lenses that are all constant 2.8 (I have a 1.8 50mm that someone is using).

Jackson one night noticed that I was looking at a camera and some lenses. The conversation went like so:

Jackson: What'ya doin'? Me: Looking at a camera and lens. J: How much it it? Me: $xxxx Jackson: Will that hurt my college fund?

We won't discuss what that will do to a college fund, now will we.

August 09, 2009

More playing with the camera.

So tonight the kids were outside playing on their bikes and scooters.
So I took the opportunity to play more with my camera in manual mode
and the different metering modes. I think i horrified Jackson and
confused Reid when at one point I was laying down in the street at
they passed by.

I used my Nikon D70 and NOT Heather's D90; using the D90 make me want
the D300 worse because of the speed and it is going to be quite a
while before that happens. All images were taken with a NIKKOR
70-300mm Zoom AF-S f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR lens.

August 03, 2009

The Birthday

So another year has come and gone. Jackson is now 10. I am actually having some issues with this. He is no longer my little boy, but at the same time he is. The evidence of him turning into a tween has been more evident over the last couple of months. Pokemon is still in full effect, but watching shows like The Suite Life, The Wizards of Wavery Place, and shows on Cartoon Network Real like Build Destroy Build. And (I love this), he has finally told me to stop doing something because I was embarrassing him. Only one more school year and he will be in middle school.

He had a good party at the ConocoPhillips swimming pool with several of his friends. His cake? It look like an Oreo thanks to a pan that we bought was Williams-Sonoma. After having his party we went to Red Robin in Tulsa for his dinner of choice. Of course, we had to get the Tower of Onion Rings. The rest of the afternoon he spent playing Will Sport Resort.

After having spent the last week in Dallas learning more on photography at the Creative Photography Retreat, I decided to put it to work. So I happened to be at Wal-Mart and saw this shower curtain and thought it would make a cool background. I look at the pictures above and, again it hits me that he is not so little any more. I'm not sure I can say that I have 2 young kids and that is strange.

August 01, 2009

And the tradition continues

Every year since Jackson has been born, we put balloons up around his
doorframe - one for each year. We are now up to 10! 10! How is it that
he is 10. A decade. I don't feel almost 40 and don't look it (I don't
think, HA!). But, even though I may run 15 miles a week, blowing up
one more balloon gets tough. Once he hits 12, I think a balloon
bouquet will just be ordered and tied to his door handle.

March 24, 2009

A little of Reid...

I posted this on my Facebook but forgot to put this out on my blog. We had pictures of Reid taken where she got to wear a tutu and she was the only one to wear it. The photographer had a thing called Tutus for Wishes where the session fees were donated to the local Make-a-wish foundation. It was too funny.

Evidence here:

March 05, 2009

The reality of the economy

I know that what is going on in the economy is nothing new for anyone but the reality of staffing reductions (AKA layoffs) is really killing me.

I work for a large global energy company that recently announced in the news that they are going to reduce staffing by 4% globally. So I thought, OK, globally that is not a large number out of 36,000 employees.

Suddenly, the game changed and now my company is laying off 4% in Bartlesville and one of my close friends was in that 4% and this will go on through March. That brought this layoff thing roaring back into our lives. We survived my wife's layoff in 2006 6 weeks after moving into a new home and came out of it fine, but the emotions of potentially losing a job are just alive and raw today for her. Just before her layoff, things in our lives were starting to really click along; new house, reducing debt, etc. And now here we are. After Heather's dad died, we have been able to pay off all of our debt other than my car and put a large amount of money towards the principal of the house. Again, things finally seemed to get into place for us again. Then yesterday happened. And here we are looking over our backs.

This is a new arena for me because I have never worked anywhere before where this was a ever a possibility. In my department, one employee asked to be laid off and she was granted her wish. There was another who I believe was blindsided.

So I has a sit down with my boss to just talk this out. She understands what has happened to us before and sees my perspective. What she could do was say was to think about 2008 and how my review went and go from there. I did have a very high score last year so that relieved me somewhat.

But, the potential is always there and the "what ifs" and "maybes" are just going to to make for the longest and possibly one of the most stressful of my life. Good thing I don't have high blood pressure issues cause this could kill me if I did.

February 17, 2009

New underwear

OK, This may be a little much but too bad.

I am now down about 65 pounds and I finally had to break down and buy some new boxer briefs So I get dressed this morning and all morning I just field weird to wear clothing that actually fits my new size because the leg openings come up higher on my legs than they did in my Xl and XXL pairs.

Well, this morning, my daughter (age 4) comes in all concerned to my wife that I had thrown away my old underwear. My wife was in sorting laundry and she said, "Mom, Dad's underwear is in the trash. What is he going to wear?" My wife I tried to explain that it was too big and she said, "No, he isn't growing." LOL!

January 09, 2009

1 year ago today...

1 year ago I had enough. Enough of being tired. Enough of hating how I looked. Enough of...enough. I was at my breaking point and was done.

I really think turning 35 in December of 2007 was a turning point. As I posted here, I have said for the last couple of years that I need to do something and was not going to be like this at 40. And I half-heartedly tried. At the time I meant it and started off well but in the end I just wasn't at my breaking point where I was totally committed to change. The "commitments" were temporary at best.

I found myself saying that I have 5 more years to get myself together. But then I realized that 5 years would essentially mean never going to happen. So I changed my statement to not be 36 and like this. I signed up on Jan 10, 2008. But this time was different and I knew it. My whole attitude about it was different and the reasons why were too. I was doing it for me. Not for my wife or for attention from other people, but for me. I was putting myself on the list of priorities. And it felt good. It still feels good to be on that list; everyday. And I have not regretted it.

So where am I at on this mile-marker of the road of life? Am I different now that I am 36 (commentary: how strange is to say I am
36; Shouldn't I be more "grown up" and responsible and in a higher level job making more and whatever else than I am?) Yes I am.

At this time last year:

  • I weighed in at 263 pounds
  • Wore XXL shirts and 44 waist pants
  • If there was any exercise, running lasted for 1 minute at 4.5 mph at a time (pathetic!)
  • Resting blood pressures were 120/80 and resting heart rate was in the 70 - 80 range
  • Meals consisted of my plate plus whatever my family didn't
  • Vegetable and fruit were hardly in the picture; unless it was lettuce and tomato on a burger.

There is a lot to say about the above picture, yet at the same time there is nothing that can be said. There is no way that I was that big, but there it is. What is the phrase, the camera doesn't lie? I didn't think that is how I looked. This is what 263 looked like and it wasn't pretty and wasn't happy. And I just didn't even know it.

And now:

  • I weighed in today at 206
  • Wear large shirts and 36/38 pants (mostly 36)
  • Exercise is at least 4 days a week and running lasts to where I can complete a 5K in just under 30 minutes and can last a boot camp style workouts.
  • Resting blood pressures are 80/40 - 90/50 and resting heart rate is in the 45-55 range (only 60 sitting here at my desk). I actually can get a little light-headed sometimes (not often) when I stand up.
  • I eat my vegetable and fruits first before the main course, but I still like my burgers.
  • My plate is my own; leave the others alone (98% of the time anyway)
My original intention was to be at my goal weight of 180 (now rethinking that for maybe 190) by this time. But as life has a way, it got in the way for several months. I got to 200 at the end of August, but family issues had me traveling every weekend and I put back on about 10 over 3 months (not too bad)and was able to maintain and am in progress of getting back to business. So even though I did not make my goal, I am still in a far better place than I was. I am happier and most importantly, healthier. My son asked me the other day when I was going to go run and I asked why. He wants to go with me. How cool is that? Who says I am the only one benefiting?

I watched The Biggest Loser the other night. While they were showing these guys their MRI compared to a normal MRI, all I could wonder is what had I done to myself all of these years. I am thankful God designed me so that my body tolerated as much as it did for so many years. I cannot ask to have been more blessed when I think about it and how he used those weaknesses about myself as a needle to supr my changes. I realize that even though I am a parent to 2 great kids (who are both under 10) and a husband to a very understanding but wonderful wife and have those responsibilities, I have to put time in the day for me. And it has to be more than just the TV. To think what I could possibly have missed or had to deal with had I not made changes just absolutely sickens me.

These are just ramblings and may not mean anything to anyone else who may read this. They are to look back and see just how far I have come.

January 02, 2009

The Senility Prayer

--- Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: "And
what do you think is the best thing about being 104?"
the reporter asked. She simply replied, "No peer

--- The nice thing about being senile is you can hide
your own Easter eggs

--- Just before the funeral services, the undertaker
came up to the very elderly widow and asked, "How old
was your husband?" "98," she replied. "Two years older
than me." "So you're 96," the undertaker commented.
She responded, "Hardly worth going home, is it?

--- I've sure gotten old.! I've had two bypass
surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees. Fought
prostate cancer and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't
hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40
different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and
subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have
poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet
anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all
my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver's

--- An elderly woman decided to prepare her will and
told her preacher she had two final requests. First,
she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her
ashes scattered over Wal-Mart. "Wal-Mart?" the
exclaimed. "Why Wal-Mart?" "Then I'll be sure my
daughters visit me twice a week."

---My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my
memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

--- Know how to prevent sagging?
Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

---I'm getting into swing dancing. Not on purpose Some
parts of my body are just prone to swinging.

---It's scary when you start making the same noises as
your coffeemaker.

---These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart
says, "For fast relief."

---Don't think of it as getting hot flashes. Think of
it as your inner child playing with matches.

---Don't let aging get you down. It's too hard to get
back up.!

--- Remember: You don't stop laughing because you grow
old, You grow old because you stop laughing.

--THE SENILITY PRAYER : Grant me the senility to
forget the people I never liked anyway, the good
fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to
tell the