The Last Photo

Came across this post on a friend’s Facebook. What a beautiful story about love, devotion, honor… Take a moment to read it to the end and then say a prayer for all police officers and their families.

This Woman's Work

Two weeks ago, I went into our closet to pull out the pieces of my husband’s police uniform in order to make sure that everything was ironed and ready and that all of the components were there so that he could work his paid duty that evening. If you aren’t familiar with what paid duties are, they are extra shifts that we have counted on to pay for Christmas gifts and car repairs. We are blessed that my husband has the opportunity to pick up paid duties for the extra money that sometimes we are desperate for. I stay home and homeschool our four kids and every penny is needed. On this day, my husband had already worked his normal shift as a detective in the fraud branch of our fairly large police service. He had to pop home in between shifts for a quick dinner and kisses and snuggles…

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Happy Days

Taking a break for a moment from the insanity of our summer road trip (where I’m concurrently blogging under yet a different name for a purpose). Wanted to share that today Our Lord blessed me with something I needed very much to see.

Carefree, happy kids!
My babies, growing up too fast for this dad who can’t seem to produce any more of them, grinned from ear to ear all day long.

Despite some recent feelings of self-doubt regarding some poor choices in friends, my many failed attempts at getting in shape (for the record I’ve given up completely), the stress and strain of a two month road trip, and my constant and ever increasing anxiety over the future of my career (I just don’t know that teaching is still for me or whether I’m actually appreciated in my job); I spent about 15 hours at the “happiest place on earth” – Disneyland – with my best friend (my long-suffering wife), a friend, her sister, my mother-in-law, and the two loves of my life.

And I loved every minute of it.

God be praised!

Canonized!

I’m Fixed (I Think)

I’ve been a way for a while.  Actually, I’ve been busy blogging the whole time but for a different blog.  You see, friends, I am in the midst of an 11,000 mile road trip with the family.  Yes, you read that right.  It’s a mix of business and pleasure.  The business part is coming from the fact that my wife and I serve on a board that has put us to work traveling the continent this summer.  Yours truly is the documentarian.  The pleasure part comes from the fact that this is just fun for us.

While traveling and writing I had an opportunity to spend an evening with Kate.  Kate is an old friend who happens to be Annie’s daughter.  You all know Annie.  She’s my biggest fan and I love sharing my posts if for no other reason than that I know she’ll read it and comment.

Today she emailed me with a question.  You may recall that about a five weeks ago, before this trip, I began a diet called 21 Day Fix from the folks at BeachBody.com.  In conjunction with this diet I entered into a contest called DietBet.  Just so you know, DietBet uses an app where you’re assigned a goal weight and then asked to weigh in again within 3 weeks.  If your second weigh-in matches the goal weight then you win a share of the money what people paid in to be in the contest.

In my case I first weighed in at 196.9  Before you say anything remember I have a narrow frame.  My assigned target was 4% of my total weight or a bit more than 8 lbs.  I followed the recommended diet which was heavy on vegetables.  I loathe vegetables but for the first time in my life I decided to just do it.  Day after day I munched on carrots and salads, stuffed the blender with kale and spinach, and actually ate broccoli.  It wasn’t easy.  I also switched to black coffee and gave up drinking soda altogether.  Unsweetened tea became my friend.  Seemed like a lot to go through for 8 lbs.  But I did it.

On the exercise front I dropped running.  Maybe one day I’ll take it up again.  I just felt like it was never really for me.  A friend had gotten me into it and he was very helpful both as a guide and a model.  But I know in my heart I was never going to matriculate into the kind of elite athlete he is.  There will be no mud runs in my future any time soon.  I’m still hopeful to get somewhat leaner and a bit more in shape over time but switching my diet I at least know that I’m doing something right and if nothing else the black coffee can serve as a penance of sorts.  I did do 21 days of their workouts which were brutal.  I haven’t seen any results but I never do.  If anyone else has seen them, they’re not saying.

So how’d I do?

Let’s just say that starting a diet and then going on a road trip is not such a good idea.  When you’re driving a car ten hours out of a day it can be difficult to eat right.  Difficult, but not impossible.  We stopped at supermarkets in the morning and grabbed fruits and vegetables that wouldn’t spoil quickly and that took care of a lot.  Just eating the damn veggies every day appears to be helpful even if you’re going off-script with the rest of it.

When we got close to day 21 we were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We stopped at a Walmart and bought a scale.  When the day came I took the scale out.  I was not too hopeful.  I took off my shoes and stepped up.

To my surprise I was half a pound under my target!

I did it.  I got my money.  I’m happy.

Will there be any before/after photos?  Well I took them but I’m no fool.  Somehow I have this mental block about posting shirtless pictures of myself online for the world to see.  Nothing on the internet ever goes away.

But there you have it.  Would I recommend this total plan to others?  Absolutely.  In fact, I started it up again after a few days off where I enjoyed some good foods.  But guess what?  I still ate the vegetables, still poured nothing into my coffee, still stuck with the tea.  I guess it’s just a way of life and I’m hoping to stick with it further.  My new goal is to get to 175.  I’ll come back at you if I get there.

Testing

Don’t mind this post.

I’m just testing some settings with Youtube.

Enjoy this time lapse.  Who can tell me where it is?

Incredible

I was just thinking about some diet and exercise related things this evening…

I mowed my lawn tonight.  So it turns out “trainer” is a pretty decent guy.  I think we already knew that. but tonight he confirmed it for me.  I am about to embark on a major business trip and needed to get the lawn mowed before I leave.  Unfortunately my mower decided this was the perfect time to quit on me.  I texted “trainer” and asked if I could borrow his.

My mom, in particular, used to say to me “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  She was good with pithy maxims like that.  She also used to call me by my dead brother’s name but who’s counting.  She did, however, reverse half of that statement when she also taught that we should always give of ourselves.  So I guess she didn’t really go back on her words so much considering that giving of ourselves is not lending if we don’t expect a return.  Now I’m confused.

Anyway, my friend the “trainer” texted back in the affirmative.  Now I am always mindful of a friend’s kindness.  If I ever need to catch a ride with someone even if he’s going to the same place already I fill up his car.  If I drop by for a visit I bring a bottle of wine.  I never want my mom to think she didn’t raise me right.  More to the point, it’s just the right thing to do since nothing is owed to me.  It’s my way of saying “Hey, you were incredibly kind and generous with your things.  It made my day easier.  I treated your mower better than my own.  Here’s a little something for your trouble.”

So I was thinking about the word incredible for some reason.  I think that’s because it’s how I would describe this 21 Day Fix program I’m on.  By the way, I’m closing in on 21 days and it’s going well, I think.  The incredible thing about the diet portion is that I finished this day with three proteins left!  That means that I, who ate well and was not hungry all day, should have eaten even more.  Incredible!

Then I was thinking about the exercise portion.  In 30 minutes each night for just shy of three weeks I’ve been able to dramatically reshape my appearance.  I’m not talking about massive gains in size or a total beach body just yet.  In fact I’m still leery of taking my shirt off at the beach this summer.  That could be because I have a perception of myself that might not match reality.  That’s another story.  But my waist has gotten smaller.  That’s a start.  Incredible, right?

Then there’s the “trainer” himself.  I thought this was kind of funny.  On Sunday I had a chance to meet two of his brothers.  The three of them along with Mrs. “trainer” and two of their kids had just completed one of those obstacle-laden mud races the day before.  Wouldn’t you know that, standing in their presence, I realized that I was in the kitchen of the “Incredibles”.  Seriously it’s like a family who live to one-up each other in the “I’m more shredded than you” game.  And I think that’s, honestly, incredible.  Truly.  I kind of wish I’d had brothers growing up who would have engaged in a little friendly competition and camaraderie to help each other reach our goals.  So I actually have seven brothers but none of them would have engaged in that kind of camaraderie with me.  Incredible, I know.

So thank you, “trainer”.  Thanks for the mower and allowing me to invite myself in for a glass of wine.  You know you were hoping I would anyway.  And thanks for the inspiration.  I’ve got a summer of travel ahead of me and I hope I won’t fall too far off the wagon.  If I do, maybe you guys could adopt me.

Chuck, and Sue, and Me

Today I bid a fond farewell to another graduating class of seniors at the high school where I work.  All my teachers out there know the feeling.  After the amount of time you spend with you, you alternately feel as though it’s simply time and that you wish you had another four years with them.

That’s because you love them.

“But that title?” you ask.  What’s with the New York local news anchors?

I was asked last week to write a letter to one of our graduates.  The woman asking me to write was the mom of the young lady and she wanted to include letters of advice or memories or well wishing to her daughter from teachers she knew had been particularly admired by her daughter.  OK, 1) that’s powerful right there.  A mother shared her child’s education duties with me and here she is acknowledging that I hadn’t let her down.  There is no 2.  That’s humbling.

This young woman was a delight to teach.  She made the classroom a fun place to be for everyone.  She was polite, intelligent, caring, and passionate about her interests.  Among these activities was her work on the student-produced news magazine that aired once a week.  We shared many stories over my own television production work and I applauded her for hers.  This could explain why yours truly appeared on every single episode of the broadcast this year.  Hey, self-promotion…  It’s the way to go.

In the spirit of writing my letter to her, encouraging her to continue to pursue her dreams because I’m sure the Will of God lies somewhere in the imaginations that He’s given us; I began to remember why I wanted to work in TV.  I looked up a clip on Youtube of the two people who were a huge part of my life as a child.  Obviously my mom and dad are not on Youtube (yet) but Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons most definitely are.  They anchored the news together in New York for over three decades and most of that time I watched religiously.

Other kids would come home from school and watch cartoons.

I came home from school and did my homework quickly so I could watch Live at Five.

And then I clicked on a clip of Chuck talking about 40 years at WNBC.

And it hit me.

I can’t believe I hadn’t know this all along.

If you ever want to know where I developed my “style” both in dress and speech pattern when speaking in public, in writing scripts (like the things I say “spontaneously” to my class) and in how I can “anchor” down a conversation…  Well, just look at this clip.

Seriously, I used to wonder if they’d ever adopt a three-anchor format just so I could sit between Chuck and Sue.  I didn’t even care to read any stories, just to bask in their glory.

Instead I am happy to inspire others to make the most of their dreams, to teach and not to do, to be an anchor in the classroom and for the faith, to tell the story of Jesus Christ.

But so help me God, it this chick gets to meet Sue Simmons I will hunt her down.