Sunday, December 27, 2009

Would Someone Remind Me Again How This Is Done!

It's been so long since I wrote anything, I doubt I will be able to summarize what has been going on without writing a long blog. But I will try to be brief.

Christmas came quickly for me this year. It seems like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was only about 2 weeks. Is it me or are days and weeks shorter than they used to be?

I think that given everything that had to be done (gifts, work, life) I pulled everything together pretty well this year. Of course, having a female in my life again really made everything a whole lot easier. Gifts were wrapped a little more neatly. Gifts were actually bought previous to the final shopping day of the season. I was still stressed but that might just have been the sound of my credit card cooling off.

Amanda and Luke were on the receiving end of a literal "ton of gifts." We had the chance to go to Candy Cane Lane in West Frankfort and I got to have one of those moments when you are glad you have kids. At the end of the 20 minute drive through the mega-light display, Santa and Mickey Mouse wished us well. When they both approached our car, Luke's eyes lit up and his mouth curled into a smile as he slowly realized they were coming to him. High Fives later, he was very happy and telling us that he had just seen Santa and Mickey.

I was so glad to have a fun and entertaining Christmas day. I really enjoyed it and for once in a long time had the chance to just take in all the kids enjoyment.

I had one funny item that I have to pass along. The kids, Christy, and I went to Lowe's to get our Christmas tree. After about 5 minutes of looking we found a beautiful tree and had them cut it, wrap it, and place it on top of my SUV. Christy and I put the kids inside the vehicle while the much under-paid Lowe's "associate" put the tree on the roof and tied it down. When I finally got into the truck, Luke started saying, "get the tree off the truck" and "I don't want the tree up there." I teased him by opening the sun roof on the way home to "check" to make sure it was still there. Of course, that led Luke to start over about his displeasure of the tree's location. He also didn't really like the tree in the house later that night, but eventually got over his aversion to the tree inside our house.

(I have already bought a pre-lit, fake tree for next year! I hope Luke approves!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Counting Chickens

Never count your chickens or make plans to go to Chattanooga too quickly. SIU lost in a horrible game on Saturday. For about 10 minutes all was well. Then that well ran dry! I don't know if it can be proven, but I know when your team begins to lose, you suddenly start feeling weather conditions more acutely.

I am in Illinois - nowhere near Chicago. Therefore, we don't get really cold weather. I don't like cold weather. Why anyone would voluntarily live in a climate colder that what we have here in So. Illinois is beyond the scope of my thinking. Is it the big city life of Chicago? There are big cities down south. Is it the farmlands of central Illinois? Yep, those can be found west of here! Anyway, I froze my keister off on Saturday and the more points the other team put on the scoreboard, the colder that keister got!

Anyway, SIU football was a great time all season long and I can say that we have a really good chance to compete next year.

At least they don't play basketball outside!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Go Dawgs!!!

This fall I have picked up a hobby. It's not really a do-it-yourself in the garage kind of hobby, but it's still a lot of fun and exciting to me. It's SIU football!

You see, SIU has a really good football team this year. Not just really good, but possibly one of the best ever. SIU is ranked 1st in the nation in the NCAA Division I - AA subdivision second tier school blah blah blah. I don't even know anymore what division they are actually in. A couple of years ago it was classified I-AA.

Anyway, Christy and I have made all but a couple of home games this year and I love it. It's fun to be a part of the crowd and to get excited for the home team. (I never root for the home team in anything!) Also, I had no idea that there was such a large party going on prior to every home game! And free food/drinks??? Are you kidding me? Why did I not know about this before this year???

Last week they won their first playoff game and they will play again this Saturday in the quarter finals against William and Mary. It's going to be cold at game time - 37 degrees. I'm going to freeze. It's going to be fun!

I say all this for a reason. First, GO DAWGS! Second, it is refreshing to be having fun. It has truly been a long time since I have had real fun. The funny part of my new-found love of SIU football is that the last time I went to a game was in the '80s. It was so long ago that I don't even remember the exact year except it was the year they won the national championship.

If the Salukis make it to the finals in two weeks, we are tentatively planning on traveling to Chattanooga, TN for the championship game. I hope it's warmer there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Latest

Here's an update on how the Howertons are doing. Amanda's 6th birthday is Saturday, Luke is well into his Terrible Twos and dad is getting grayer by the month.

Despite all of my attempts, Amanda continues to grow up. I thought my cooking would surly stunt her growth, but it's not. Christy's cooking is probably helping with Amanda's growth...and mine too! I think sometimes that Amanda's growth is beyond normal human development. She looks like she is 8... but still occasionally acts like she's her real age. She continues to be well-adjusted to our circumstance. Kids are resilient.

One of the highlights of this week was seeing Amanda on Ch12's "Does It Work Wednesday" segment. They came to her class last week and taped the segment. She was interviewed along with another boy about a toy laptop. She had about 30 seconds of screen time but I firmly believe we have a star in our midst! Check out for yourself:

Luke is still my blond bruiser. He is so physically strong and strong willed. I just can't believe how sweet and funny he can be. And I can't believe that same boy can be the complete opposite of that!

The kids enjoyed Halloween last month. Amanda was a Southern Belle and Luke was a fire fighter. I went as an over-protective parent. I really had to stretch my mind to come up with that one!

That's a quick update... more later...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Circle the Date

I can't help but notice a certain anniversary is coming in a week. That date, while just another number on the calendar is more than a date to me. It signifies the time my life changed forever. Not only that, my family's future was forever altered because of that date.

10/29 will always signify to me the date that the most significant person in my life left me. I know deep down I will see her another day in the (hopefully, far) distant future and that she is far better off now than she ever was when she was here. Her best day here pales in comparison to any day where she is now!

I have never been one to make major issues out of anniversaries - good or bad ones. I actually had forgotten that my kidney transplant anniversary was this week. Sixteen years ago I went through what I thought then was the most life-altering event I would have to encounter for a long time. I think when you forget an anniversary, you can officially say you have "moved on." For some reason, I don't think 10/29 will ever be forgotten. I am thankful for the 9 years of marriage and 7 years prior to that in which I knew Cindy. I thank God every night for the example she set and the kids she gave me.

I don't believe for an instance that I have "moved on". I do believe that I have "dealt with" what was set before me in a manner that God and Cindy would both approve. Looking back, it is hard to believe it has only been a year. Then again, I can look back and say "where did this year go?"

I am so thankful for everyone who has helped us out this past year. I can't list everyone - but you know who you are! Even this week, I have received help from friends who don't mind a couple of hours of their time to look after the kids.

Everything has not been smooth. (No pink socks yet, though!) I have learned a lot about myself and what I can handle or not. Mostly I learned that God is in control and I don't have to have all the answers.... especially when Luke asks, "but why, daddy?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ranting is Cheaper Than Therapy!

I am finally sensing that I am part of a growing and increasingly more disgruntled contingency of Americans. I have never been to a tea party, however, I do drink a lot of Tetley sweet tea. I think those who went to town hall meetings were more like me than not and in many cases were not "organized" beyond being told where the town halls were and what time they started. I also think those who showed up with guns are bigger idiots than the congressmen whose meetings there were protesting.

I know the Democrats have been bussing in "protesters" for many years and received a free pass from the media in every one of those situations.

I am not a 9/11 conspiracy wacko or a member of the fringe "religious right". I do, however, attend church every Sunday, pray, believe abortion is wrong and school prayer is right, personal responsibility should guide, the Golden Rule solves a lot, and there is way too much federal government involvement in way to much of our lives and we are losing ground every day.

I think ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, etc. don't understand what real life is like for 75% of Americans and what we value as truly important. They also don't understand why we are mad. They also think everyone is Catholic...or a snake handler.

I fear the Dollar will be completely worthless within the next 10 years, if not sooner. How many Euros will it take for a Value Meal from McDonalds?

I also don't believe that a few degrees of "recent"climate change should cause alarm or trigger changes in the lives of hundreds of millions of people when there are billions of others who pollute more in total and whose government is not reducing any of the so-called "causes". Exactly how much "green house gasses" do volcanos spew, or are humans responsible for them too? (I guess the original "Cap and Trade" didn't work!)

I think reality TV glamorizes immoral and/or moronic behavior. What other explanation is there for Flavor of Love or Rock of Love. (American Idol probably doesn't after week 2 - but is there really a redeeming quality for it the other weeks either?)

I can't think of another industry where Barney Frank would be considered successful. Or even a respected employee.

I think Barak was not listening during his Inauguration when they said "of the United States of America".

Football is my new favorite sport. (This will come as a HUGE shock for those of you who really know me or have known me since I was younger. Thanks Bud Selig!)

What happened to the initiative to have Hydo-cars on the road by 2015?

My job would be more fun if we had a self-serve, ice-cream machine!

I wish Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would stop calling themselves Reverends.

And finally, I think punishment by the courts (in nearly all cases) should be much more swiftly carried out than how the current system is set up.

If you don't agree with me, that's fine. We can all have our opinions. It's still America....for now at least.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Counting Pins

Things are going well for the Howertons. Michigan has won 3 straight. The Salukis are playing well. None of the kids are currently sick. I am doing well at work (thanks to an intern doing my job!)

Recently my computer experienced what I would call "playing dead". That is the geeky term I am going to use. It was as dead as dead gets. After consulting my on-call computer dude, we determined it was a power supply issue. I bought the necessary $50 part at Best Buy and installed it myself. And it didn't work. It was still "dead". I contacted another computer geek and he asked if I had changed the 24-pin to a 20-pin. Of course I did... ok, no I didn't. I didn't count the pins. I only count pins in bowling but apparently my "old" computer needed the 20-pin connection. I happened to remember there was a 24-pin to 20-pin adapter-thingy in the package. And so I changed the pins and placed the 20 pin adapter-thingy back into the bowels of the computer. And to my amazement - it was still dead.

I scratched my head. I recounted pins. I re-plugged the power cord into the outlet. I pressed "on" and.... dead. Oh great! Two weeks without a computer and now something is really wrong and it's going to get expensive to fix and I am going to have to get a new computer and I will have to transfer all these programs and pictures over and it won't work with these older programs and my email is all set up the way I like it with the addresses and everything and I really don't like to change things....

Oh, wait! There's a little switch on the back of the box I just installed. It says, "ON". Maybe that's the problem?

IT's ALIVE!!!!

Maybe my computer heard I was looking at buying a laptop and got its feelings hurt. Maybe my computer is jealous from all the attention I am giving those shiny new laptops at the store. Either way, she should be ok.... I will always love her. She was my first lovel!!

After all, we will always have Madden 2007 and Zoo Tycoon!