Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's Time For...Secret Cave...

One of the things I like about being a dad is coming up with unique activities and bonds with my kids. It's like an inside-joke, it's something only we know about and do, and that makes it special. That may be a bit of a generalization or exaggeration, but at the least I'm hoping that we are building memories and strong bonds.

Before I describe the "Secret Cave" thing, a couple other examples of some of those "unique" things I like doing with my kids:

1. "Bonk" - Ever since Connor was little (pre-Cosette even) he and I will make eye-contact, then slowly move close and bonk our heads together. It's a form of a hug. I started doing it with Cosette too, but with her it's more dangerous cause she's a little wild and crazy.

2. Kisses - I like kissing my kids and do it often, despite the frequent complaints that it's too "slobbery". But once in a while the kiss is accompanied by one pop-quiz question: "What does a kiss mean?" And I'm happy to say that I have them trained to know and respond: "I love you." I see a two-fold significance in this: 1-They know that when I kiss them, I'm telling them that I love them; and 2-Hopefully, they will hold kissing as something special and meaningful, and will therefor wait to kiss later when they're dating.

3. "SURPRISE!" Almost every day when I come home from work, the kids hear my keys rattle at the door, and by the time I enter (or sometimes a little after) the kids jump out from the hallway and yell "SURPRISE!" It's like a family ritual of the kids welcoming me home. Me like.

4. Funny/Serious - This one I gotta give credit to Cosette...she's the master of switching moods/emotions at will in a split second. She and I will have a contest of switching from saying, "Funny" and laughing hysterically to saying "Serious" and making a very serious face. She's very good at it, and I have a hard time keeping a serious face because she cracks me up. about "Secret Cave"...

This is a newer one. One of the kids' favorite things with daddy is playing on the bed. We have tickle fights, light-saber battles, pretend to be toys in Andy's room, etc. Last week, while playing on the bed, the three of us ended up under the blanket where it was dark and "spooky", but we could still kind of see each other. It suddenly felt like a good campfire/ghost-story atmosphere, so using a semi-creepy, low voice (not wanting to scare them TOO much) I randomly said: "And's time for...Secret Cave Story Time..." *giggles of excitement from kids*

Uh-oh, I think...they're into this, gotta come up with something good. I don't remember what the story was I told, as I was ad-libbing something pretty random, but they loved it and wanted more "Secret Cave" when I finished. So then there was, "And's time for Secret Cave Monster-sound contest." Then "Secret Cave blinking contest"..."Secret Cave coming up with silly names contest"....etc. Now every time we do Secret Cave, the three of us take turns coming up with the next Secret Cave activity/contest. I love the kids' creativity and silliness. It's a real challenge to keep thinking outside of the box with new ideas!

I'll close with Connor's Secret Cave idea that we did tonight. It was a Secret Cave activity that went on longer than most: fall-asleep-then-wake-up-and-tell-our-dreams. So we all pretend to be asleep for about 5 seconds, then wake up and share what dream we just "had". For your enjoyment, here is a brief list of not even 10% of the ones that were shared (it went on for a while, and I can't remember all of them):
1. I turned into an eyeball! (Cosette)
2. I grew huge and stomped on all the houses and condos in the neighborhood, then turned into a monster and smashed the PLANET!! (Connor)
3. I was a drum, and you kept hitting me on the head! (Me - because every time we "wake up" Connor is tapping me furiously "Wake up! Wake up!"
4. I was all hairy, and made of hair, and went "MYEAAHH" (Cosette)
5. I was a balloon and flew up into space! (Connor)
6. I was a rock that could talk and looked at you with eyes (Me - lame)

Man...that was only a little over an hour ago, and I can't remember any more. Take my word for it, the kids out-imagination'ed me! Fun times.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Smashing Good Time

I love smashing my own records. (Hence the title)

Running on a treadmill has been good for me as it helps me push myself to do just a little more than I think I can. I look at the time, and if it's at 19:00 I say, "I can push it to 20:00" or if I feel I've gone as long as I can, but I'm only 2/10 of a mile away from the 2 or 3 mile mark, I push it.

So between those ever-changing mini-goals, and the runner's high itself, somehow I manage to do things just a little different, just a little better each time. Today was a good day in that sense.

I know a few people have been following my progress, like how I went from running 1 mile without a walk break...then 2, etc.

Today, I had originally set my goals to: 1) run for at least 40 minutes without a break, and/or 2) run 3 miles in a row without a break.

I was over 2 miles at 30 minutes, and as I approached the 40-minute mark, I was feelin' good and knew that I could make it to 3 miles. I hit 3 miles at 43:36 (another record for me), and I realized, "Hey...if I keep going, not only can I hit 4 miles, I can get it under an hour!" So I did. The last few minutes of that leg were pretty tough, but I had come so far, I didn't want to lose that goal.

So I reached 4 miles at 57:50...the entire time at my standard pace of 4.2 mph (cuz my favorite number is 42)...the whole time running without stopping for a walk break. I would have thought it would be a few more weeks before I could run for an hour at a time. Now I know that I can.

And 4 miles is the majority of the 6.2 miles (10k) of the Bolder Boulder race I'll be doing in May. Not only do I know that I'll be able to do it, I'm planning on trying to get into one of the "Running Waves". Those are the under-70-minute waves. I just need to go from a 14-minute mile to just under a 12-minute mile by then.

I'm mixing up my runs a little too, on advice from my trainer. I've got my "long distance" runs like I did today, and then once or twice a week, I do an "intensity" run where I go for high speeds (like 6 or 7 mph) for short durations, with rests in between.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Aaaagghhh!!! I can hardly stand her cuteness.

This morning I've spent a little time giving Cosette a golf lesson, and she was really cute trying to remember how to hold the club and getting all excited when she hits the ball right.

Then while coloring and watching iCarly, there was a scene where Carly kisses Freddie. (Yes, I know I'm admitting that I've watched quite a bit of's the kids fault.) But the Cute Cosette part is that she turns to me and makes the cutest face saying "That's boring. That kissing is boring." Hilarious.

But the piece-de-resistance is what she said last night...

She was talking in the car on the way home about a dream or something, that went kind of like this:

Cosette: "Jesus is sad."

Us: "Why"

Cosette: "Because his family is going to California"

Us: "And he's sad because he's alone and will miss them?"

Cosette: "Ya, but then they come back!"

Us: "Oh good, so then Jesus is happy again."

Cosette: "No, Jesus is crying"

Us: "Why?"

Cosette: "Because his children are lost."

Us: Stunned silence...I tear up a bit.

I know she doesn't realize the import of what that means, and she probably didn't mean it that way, but something about hearing your 3-year-old say that Jesus is sad because his children are lost...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fitness Report

I was just going to do a Facebook status update like I usually do, but wanted to go into a bit more detail.

I'm officially one week into my 24 Hour Fitness so far, and being analytical, I like looking at the raw data. You should see my spreadsheets...

So in the 7 days since I joined, I've gone in 5 days. I know that there can be a lot of enthusiasm early on that peters out over time, but I'm thinking that if I keep it up for 3 or 4 weeks it'll become habit/routine.

Friday I had my free/introductory session with a personal trainer. I kinda liked it. She had me working pretty hard, and I have a feeling that if I continue with her, I'll get good results soon. So I took the new member special where you get 3 1-hour sessions for $99 (regularly it's $60 per session).

Anyways, it seems like each time I've gone running, I try to do just a little bit better by going a little faster or a little farther.

New accomplishments for today: 2 miles in 29:46...and 3 miles in 46:47. That last mile took a bit longer, as it had more walk breaks and my phone fell and broke open and I had to rescue it.

By the way, in case I hadn't mentioned it, I plan on doing a 10k race at the end of May called the Bolder Boulder. (6.2 miles) So far, I'm on track for a 90 minute race time. I'd like to get under 70 minutes to get into a different "wave".

After the treadmill, I did a few reps of weights and crunches just for good measure. Then, hit the sauna.

Holy crap! How do people do the sauna?! I could only stand about 5 minutes of it. It got difficult/uncomfortable to breath, and I knew a few minutes more would've put me at risk of passing out. Maybe it was just because I had worked out for an hour, but even so...don't know if I'll try that again. I'll just still to the jacuzzi.

All in all, it felt good. I'll rest on Sunday, then try to get 3 miles again on Monday, then I meet with my personal trainer again on Tuesday. Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Connor & Cosette

I will fight to the death anyone who thinks there are children in the world more adorable/awesome than mine!
(Ok, maybe not to the death....we'll just have to agree to disagree...)

Here is some evidence that backs up my claim:

1. They've watched Toy Story (and Toy Story 2) a lot. No really, A LOT. So much so, that they take their respective Woody & Jessie dolls and re-enact the scenes...verbatim! It's hilarious!
2. Following the Toy Story theme, on Sunday while playing on the bed we started playing like they were toys like from the movie, and had to stop moving/talking whenever I looked at them. That was a load of fun, and I'm not sure if it was my idea or Connor's.

3. Which brings up another common activity. When daddy gets home from work, he is usually tired & hungry. When I unlock the door and enter, the sound of me at the door usually results in the kids quickly (sometimes not-so-quickly) "hiding" so they can jump out and yell surprise! And even though I usually make a bee-line for dinner, half the time I go into the bedroom to change out of work clothes and the kids end up coming in insisting we play on the bed. It's kind of a win-win: I get to lay on the bed and recover from work for a bit, and they get to use me as a jungle-gym. One of their favorites is operating the "Daddy-machine" where I lay face down, and they sit on my butt and operate my legs like levers driving a tractor or spaceship or whatever.

4. Tickle fights. 'Nuff said.

5. Whenever Connor gets upset about something and ends up on his bed crying, I can always come up with something silly/different to distract him and get him laughing/playing again.

6. Cosette's laugh makes me laugh and fills me with indescribable Joy. (tearing up now as I write that sentence)

7. It is hilarious and amazing to see their over-the-top reactions to mundane/normal things I don't think about. (Connor: "WOW! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, THATS AWESOME!" - his reaction to many things)

8. Knock-knock jokes. The Connor/Cosette version. Usually something like this:
Who's there?
Mr. Pootsy!
HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA (kids erupt in laughter)

9. Cosette is my angel; and my princess. I usually call her one or the other, and when I do, she reminds me of the other. ("Hi, my angel." "And I'm your princess!")

10. And my favorite: the unexpected, un-asked-for, random hugs and "I love yous".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet the Gang

I've shared a few names and stories from my experiences with ministering to the homeless. One thing I've tried to do, from the very beginning, is to think of them not as "random anonymous people", but as people with a name, story, dignity, etc. So to that end, I've attempted to learn (and remember) their names as much as possible. Since my memory sucks, I started carrying a little notepad with me, to write down their names as I meet them. Ok, but what about matching names to faces? One technique has helped a lot with that, and has other benefits as well: praying for them. It's not been as frequent in the last couple of months, but especially those first few months, I prayed a lot over individual names, and would recall what they looked like, and what their story was (if they had shared it).

So, for those who are interested, I'd like to introduce you to some of the names, and ask you to pray along with me. This list may be a tad lengthy, so maybe just pick a couple of names so it's not overwhelming. (I've put down the dates when I met someone for the first time. The last few months, I've not met many new people, so there are fewer names).

Mike "Twisstidm"
Backpack guy with radio
Matt - wheelchair

"Mouse" (with wife & 2 small kids)

Lee (older guy I had long talk with)

"Comfortably numb"

Ronnie White
Dave (from this post)

Paul (the older guy stabbed several months ago)


Marshall & Kallie (married)

Merlin & Sharlene (engaged)
Roger (w/ dog Koda)

Miss Kitty
(Wahsatch Camp)

Wow! There have been a couple times when I forgot my notepad, or didn't meet anyone new, but still, I hadn't added it up before. That's 45 people, and I know I'm missing some. I know many I will probably never see again, even those who I'd really like to know what's happened to them.

I'm looking forward to warmer weather, when there will be more people at the park again, and I can add to my list of friend! =)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Acacia Park - 2010

Since it was my first visit in the new year, I felt it a good time to catch ya'll up on where I'm at with the Homeless ministry. (Sorry if this ends up long.)

I had hoped to be able to do something over the holidays, but between my parents staying with us and being a bit discouraged by a few Friday Failures (where I took food, but couldn't find anyone to give it to), I ended up not going on Christmas or New Year's days. I think part of me (perhaps slightly pridefully) wanted to say I had a perfect track record since I hadn't missed a day since I started in August, but now that the "streak" is broken, I can let that go. of the other thoughts that was born out of taking food and not finding anyone, was the logistical quagmire I've been creating for myself of how much food to get, and how many different locations will I drive to in order to find someone to get it too, etc.

Then one day I went to Subway for lunch, and as I drove back to work there was a homeless guy sitting on the corner with a sign (that I couldn't read). That's when it hit me: gift cards! I found myself wishing I had a Subway gift card so I could roll down the window and hand it to him.

So, the next time I was at Subway, I bought several cards, and Wendy got some at the store too. Subway is kind of handy, because there's one right across the street from Acacia Park. But I'm thinking that other food/supply-type places might be good too. I still want to take down actual food, but will probably wait until warmer weather when it's more likely to find folks.

But as for tonight...there were a couple guys that I'm used to seeing, and have been developing relationship with. Anthony and Twisstidm (Ya, for the longest time, I assumed it was spelled "Twisted M", but whatever...)

It was kinda cool just standing there, hanging out and talking. They told me what went on over Christmas. Anthony and his friend moved to a different campsite. Twisstidm is hoping to perform soon at the Black Sheep on Platte. It's starting to feel like they aren't strangers that I'm helping out, but friends.

Funny story interjection: As we're standing there, some guy walks up and looks at Anthony, then Twisstidm, then me, and decides to ask ME: "You got any weed, man?" Without missing a beat, I pulled a Subway gift card out of my pocket. "No, but I can give you a sandwich." "Does it got any weed any it..heh heh..." "Well, you can ask them to put lettuce on it." And so on... I was a little naive at first, but I think I've witnessed a pretty fair number of drug deals go down. I'll never forget a couple months ago, when a guy walked up and asked for a dime. I start feeling in my pockets for change before it hits me...DOH!

Anyways, one of the more significant things I took away from tonight, was that I got Twisstidm's phone number (you might be surprised how many homeless people have cell phones). And no less than three different times, he asked that I "check up on him" this week. It seems important to him, so I want to make sure and follow through on that.

Last thing: When I left the 4-5 guys I was talking with, I had 2 gift cards left. As I started to drive away, I noticed an older homeless guy walking the opposite way. But for those of you who know downtown (especially on a busy Friday night), it isn't the quickest/easiest thing in the world to try and "turn around" with the one ways, etc. I really wanted to give him a Subway card, but I must have spent 15-20 minutes in a figure-eight pattern, expanding my search as I tracked where it looked like he was headed.

At one point, I saw another guy crossing the street and was able to give him a card, but I never could find the first man, and that vexed me a bit.

The spiritual application for me was two-fold:
1. I wanted to help the guy, but it was difficult and I failed. - Thank goodness God always knows where we are, what we need, and is able to give it to us every time!
2. Maybe a sense of the frustration and sadness I felt is similar to how God feels, in that he wants to help us, but WE make it difficult by trying to hide or do it on our own or rebel, etc.

At any rate, I somehow feel encouraged, and look forward to continuing this calling in 2010. I even found a group on Facebook called "Colorado Springs Tent Community Help" that looks like a good resource too.

It's really late and I'm really tired, so that's all.