Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feeding Haiti

This weekend, as a family, we did one of the most important things we've ever done together. We joined Numana, Inc. for a huge packaging event to provide food for the survivors of the tragic earthquake in Haiti. We weren't sure what to expect but we had willing hands and willing hearts.

We made the short drive to the Kansas Coliseum (I understand their management made it available to house the event for FREE! Good things will come your way Coliseum folk!) and were excited to see the number of people who arrived to help at this two day event.

There was a long line of people behind us.

There was a long line of people in front of us.

And, there were more people in line around the corner. On this particular day, I heard there were around 5,000 people who showed up to help. The lines moved quickly and we were all excited to get started.

The process was simple. Once we registered, they gave us "the uniform". A plastic apron and an oh-so-attractive hair net.

Normally, a picture like this wouldn't see the light of day. Not because Amber is blurry, but because of "the uniform". Since we did this for a good cause, there's no shame and I expect there to be no mocking! (You know who you are.) Also, this is the only photo Sara would allow me to post that includes her because she says she looks like the lunch lady she had in elementary school. I said, "Yeah, but you're a hot lunch lady!" She didn't buy it.

We waited for them to let us in. Each group of 12 people worked for one hour. At the end of the hour, if they wanted to work more, they would exit and get back in line so everyone would get the opportunity to serve. I found it interesting that there were 12 people at the tables working together to provide meals for the Haitian people because that's how many disciples Jesus had. The entire time I was there, I kept thinking of Matthew 25:35. "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in." We made sure the kids knew why we were doing this. They're very aware of the tragedy in Haiti, and they know that this is the right thing to do and that God has given us time and strength and health and resources to help.

You'd think that this was just an event for church groups. Wrong! There were people from ALL walks of life and it was refreshing to see. Even a guy with the most amazing mohawk I've ever seen showed up to help. He had a little trouble with the hairnet, though. You'll have to look really hard in this next picture, but he's in there, waiting his turn. Mad props, mohawk dude!

The kids did great! Andrew sealed up the bags of food. Amber helped fill the bags with food on the first day and helped pack the second day. Sara held the bags open under the funnel for the food to collect in. I called her the "bag lady". The bags had to weigh a certain amount. Every step was precise...from measurements, to how the bags were sealed to how they were boxed up. On day one, I helped the kids at the table get precise measurements of rice, soy, vegetables, spices and vitamins. On day two, Andrew would remove the excess air from the food bag and I would help him seal. One of the green shirts (people who volunteer a large part of their day to direct each table) asked me to also help box up the bags of food in a particular way and then very meticulously tape them up for shipping and air drop. I'm not sure about the first day, but today, in just one hour, our table put together 10 boxes of food containing 36 bags, each able to feed 5-6 people. That's 2160 meals! Every time a table completes a box, the table cheers. Guess who was voted to be the cheerleader each day? Yeah...that'd be me. And I rocked it, people! We made some noise! Then, every time 5,000 meals were complete, they'd bang a gong. No, not the T-Rex or Power Station Bang a Gong, but they'd hit an actual gong, and everyone in the Coliseum would cheer! It was very unifying and satisfying and all kinds of other -ing words.
Numana's goal for the weekend was to package one-million meals. At the end of today, the final total was 1,121,298 meals! That, my friends, is a success story and shows what we all can achieve when we put others before ourselves. Simply amazing!

There's another event in a couple of weeks. I told the kids, and they're already asking to do it again. To me, that's a success story in itself. And you know what? We'll be there to do it all over again. Maybe we'll see you there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Taking down the lights

Today, the weather was finally warm enough on a weekend for us to take down the Christmas lights from the house. Without the lights, the world seems a little darker this time of year, but they have to come down.

The kids always enjoy the opportunity to get up on the roof to help. Now that Andrew is a teenager, I think he likes the danger and responsibility of it all, as well as the chance to get his hands dirty and do a little "man's work". And Amber? It's a new perspective and, perhaps, she feels closer to God. And when you feel closer to God, you don't really want to move away from that. That must be why it's so hard to coax her down once we're done.

I'll admit, even I find some joy in climbing the ladder up to the rooftop for this chore. It moves faster than hanging the lights in November, so it's not quite as tedious. I took a few moments to snap off a few pictures of the yearly event with the kids.

I let Andrew remove them from the gutter while I wind them up and box them on the ground below. That way, we don't risk dragging them across the shingles and scratching off the paint from the lights. We gotta keep 'em blue.

Amber is literally at the top of the world when she climbs up on the roof. I think this picture is proof that she's living for the moment. And it's moments like this that make being a dad a pretty cool thing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

23 is greater than 5

I love going to watch the Oklahoma State Cowgirls play basketball. Love, love, LOVE it! Yesterday was our first visit of the year to Stillwater. It was also the beginning of conference play for the Cowgirls. They were hosting the #5 team in the nation, the Baylor Bears.

I don't know if Baylor is a big rival for Oklahoma State, but in my mind, it will always be a rivalry. To me, Baylor and Oklahoma University are the two great villains of Big XII Women's Basketball...especially Baylor. Here's reason #1.

The coach. Kim Mulkey-Robertson. Granted, she's a great coach, and that's probably why I like to see her lose. Oh, and the mullet doesn't help. And what's reason #2?

This girl. Yeah...that's a girl...and she's dunking the basketball during warm-ups. Freshman Brittney Griner. Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson's secret weapon for the next four years. She dunks the ball during games, too. But it didn't happen yesterday!

The #23 ranked Cowgirls, after a scary first half, completely OWNED the Baylor Bears in the second half and went on to win 78-65. Andrea Riley scored an amazing 43-points! And watching the 3-point shooting of Lakyn Garrison and Tegan Cunningham...all I can is WOW. Making a 3-point shot never looked so easy. The inside game of Lindsey Keller & Megan Byford is intense! It's a real battle underneath the goal and they handle it so well.

After the game, we enjoyed dinner with the OSU coach (his sister loves me!) then loaded up on more OSU merchandise (I've never owned so much orange clothing) and made our way home.

Yesterday I saw proof that number 23 is greater than number 5.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It starts!

I've said it before, and here I am saying it again. Today, I started working out at the YMCA. I've written or said that previous sentence too many times to be saying it once more. But, this time feels different. I seem to have more focus and determination. Let's talk about my first day back.

I couldn't decide whether to go to my normal (but small and crowded) West location or the larger, spacious (but a bit further away) South location. Well, I had a meeting to get back and prepare for after lunch, so I chose the West side...boy-eee! I got flagged at the front desk because my membership expired on Jan. 1. Since my membership is a perk from my job, it's on them and I was allowed to pass into the most frightening place on earth...the men's locker room!

I knew it was gonna be terrifying since every possible stinking machine had someone on it. That's why I hate working out right after the new year. But I'm just as guilty as all of those other new-bodies. In the locker room, I was lucky to find an available locker. Most had locks on them, and those that didn't had clothes in them...and wallets, and cellphones, and car keys. I could've made out like a bandit! I'm just too honest.

From the time I spent in the men's locker room today, I learned these things...I don't tell enough dirty jokes. I don't drop the f-bomb into casual conversation nearly enough. And, I need to learn to gaze at my naked, post-workout body in the mirror, with no regard to those around me, for minutes at a time. I'm not sure I'll ever achieve any of those things, so I guess I'll be the guy in the locker room who observes and then blogs about the choads surrounding me.

The workout was decent. Spent a half-hour on my familiar elliptical machine. This time, I didn't jump into the middle of the crowd like in the past. I'm doing this for myself, not anybody else so their company is not important to me. I found a place near the back (where I could observe everybody else) and pushed through my 30-minutes. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. The hardest part was trying to breathe when Mr. J Crew hopped on the machine next to me for a short 10-minute jaunt while the massive amounts of Drakkar he was wearing tried to squeeze the air out of me. I was chewing gum and even THAT started tasting like how this guy smelled. I had to stop chewing and tuck it up into my upper lip until he left. I guess he could've smelled like sewage or Cozy Inn Burgers, so I shouldn't complain, but guys...this was overbearing! Take a big whiff from the ammonia bottle under your kitchen sink. That will show you how strong this was.

But, as you can see, I survived day one. I will get through this and meet my monthly goals, then I'll continue and meet my next goal slated for July. It's gonna suck at first, and quite possibly the entire way through. I will complain about it here, giving you something to read for the next 7 months. But the end result will be worth it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

7:15 Project

Some of you know that I have another blog, Clickety-Click-Click. It's a photo blog I started in January 2007 and it really hasn't seen much activity in three years. Thirty-five posts in that amount of time is kind of lame, wouldn't you say? It's almost not worth having that blog around.

That blog was my first blog and the reason I got into blogging in the first place. I wanted a photo record of "things I've seen...places I've I've witnessed." From actual places traveled, down to a simple drawing one of my kids made for me, that blog is where I wanted to record it.

An acquaintance of mine took part in this project and posted her photos on her facebook page each month. I was really intrigued by them. I enjoyed looking at all of the things she did and the places she visited each night at 7:15PM. So, with the arrival of my new phone (it's no iPhone or Blackberry, but it's a step up for me) I feel I'm able to take part in this project properly and I choose Clickety-Click-Click as the outlet for the pictures.

If this interests you at all, you're welcome to visit each day, and feel better about yourself after realizing your life is not near as boring as mine is! Actually, boring is in the eye of the beholder and I find everyday life keeps me pretty active in many different ways. This will be a great 365 day journey for me, so come along for the ride!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


OK...I have this blog connected to my phone. I don't know how I'll use it just yet, but the connection is there. Facebook, Twitter, my blogs...I'M EVERYWHERE!

Friday, January 1, 2010


I'm an observer.

I enjoy observing how events people react. I'm very aware of my surroundings. This includes taking a step back and observing myself.

As I rang in the new year last night with Sara and the kids, in the midst of the activity, I observered myself observing others.

I observed Amber with her pink sweatsuit on, crocs, and a pink stocking cap. She didn't care how she looked. She was comfortable. And she danced around the house with reckless abandon to prove it to us. She is full of spirit.

I observed Andrew, playing it cool, just chillin' on the couch, wearing his hoodie, watching New Year's Eve countdown specials with us, enjoying the music and watching the freaks in the crowds. His excitement, albeit cool excitement, when I began making our traditional white pizza, was electric. I invited him to help me make them and Amber insisted on joining in the cooking festivities, too. I think Sara felt a little left out because she kept finding a reason to sneak in our tiny kitchen space to do something. Move a dish, grab a utensil, supervise my processes. I'm glad she did. I nearly used garlic salt instead of garlic powder!

Both kids enjoy the "kids wine" we toast with at 11P. It's sparkling grape juice but we drink it out of wine glasses. (We know how to kick it, don't we?) We all stay up watching the music and parties from New York and Las Vegas. I think we're all on the same page in feeling that the company of each other, white pizza, a fire in the fireplace, kids wine, and a happy dog busy picking up crumbs from the snacks we drop is preferable to a crowd full of 10,000 strangers in a city street counting out loud from ten to zero.

Those people don't get to run out in the driveway and light fireworks at the stroke of midnight (after we've toasted each other and Sara & I have kissed) while the neighbors all stand on their porches and watch. It's a festive moment, and it's ours.

One of my observations is that, at this time, my life is FULL of family activities. Both kids still depend on us to get them to their social events, their ballgames, etc. This new decade will bring HUGE changes to our family.

In the next ten years, Andrew will learn to drive, register with selective service, play in several exciting games with his school sports teams, maybe win a championship, take the ACT, take the SAT, graduate high school, go to college, and complete his undergrad studies. He will probably have a girlfriend and suffer his first broken heart.

Amber will become a teenager, learn to drive, possibly play in a state championship, take her ACT and SAT, most likely have a boyfriend and be finishing high school. Hopefully, she's the one breaking the hearts!

Those upcoming events are DAUNTING! And right now, I'm a pretty important part of their lives. As we move through the decade, my role will change. Their independence will give me a bit more freedom but hopefully my role as dad will not diminish in the slightest.

Today, my being a good dad doesn't allow me the freedom to enjoy time with my friends as much as I'd like, but I hope they understand the importance of wearing the "DAD" hat and the enormous responsibility that exists to not fail my kids. Even if that responsibility is to just sit by a fire and ring in the new year from our a family.

Happy New Year.