Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February Funk- Averted (or at least minimized)

It's February 28th and I made it! February is my least favorite month of the year. Thank G-d, it's the shortest month. Football is over with the SuperBowl in January and March Madness isn't until the end of March. February is no-man's land. Nothing good happens in February and the weather is unbearable. I heard the weather man say if it hadn't been for the warming trend the last week of the month, February could have gone down as the coldest on record for Ohio.

I made it through without even having to turn on my SAD light. I didn't get into a major funk like I sometime do. Didn't shave my mustache off. A few years ago, I noticed that for the previous several years, I had shaved my mustache. Don't really know why.

March is finally here. The days are noticeably longer. It's starting to be somewhat light when I get up and there's a little daylight still left when I leave the office. Bring on March Madness!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Girls Are Growing Up

No picture for today. Really, I don't see much worth snapping a shot every day. So, I'm going to stop forcing it. But, I'll keep up the posts.

I noticed the girls have passed a milestone. They have been having "sister sleepovers" more and more frequently now and there is a interesting benefit that has come from that. We finally have some privacy back in our bedroom at night. Both girls, until the last few weeks, would come to use our bathroom during the night instead of the one in the hallway. Shayna literally had to pass the bathroom to get to our room. That is, when Shayna would get out of bed. Most nights she would lie there and scream for one of us to come to her room and stand guard while she went to the bathroom. Some nights, they'd each get up twice, making for quite a little parade through our room.

It's nice having the privacy back. But, it's just another indication that, little-by-little, they don't need us as much anymore.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mourning the Past...

Julie's post a few days ago about her children growing up (and away) got me thinking about my own attachment to the past. I wanted to email Julie with some words of wisdom. But, I had none for her. I kind of know what she's feeling (even though I'm not there yet). Kayla and Shayna are growing up so fast, way too fast. I often miss the days when I had to help them get dressed, feed them, cut up their food, etc. Quickly passing are the days when they would pile into bed with us every morning. First Kayla stopped, then Shayna. Shayna often by-passes our bed to go into Kayla's room and they lay their reading, talking or listening to their iPods. I was talking to a friend about heaven a couple of weeks ago and we were discussing whether we'd really see our loved ones there again. The thought of not seeing the girls into eternity is so depressing to me. But, he has grown children and reminded me that even now, each day, a little passing is taking place. I already miss the children I had a few short years ago. Those days are gone never to return. So, even in the here-and-now, I don't have the children I once had.

I sometimes miss my youth. I miss my hair. I miss the time I used to have to work out and keep my body in decent shape. I miss the old me. The me today is not the me of yesterday and the me of tomorrow won't be the me of today. One thing studying Buddhism does is make me face this fact. All is impermanence. Nothing lasts forever. Each moment is unique, dependent on the last and fleeting. When I first started studying this concept, I found it quite depressing, until I considered the alternative. Clinging to impermanent things causes suffering. Learning to let go allows us to be happy in the only moment we really have- NOW. There is no past, it's only memories. There is no future, it's only thoughts of what might be. There is only an eternal now. What I have found is that if I can embrace the concept of impermanence it's really not depressing. Quite the opposite. Each moment becomes even more precious because of its uniqueness. Each moment is to be experienced to the full, cherished and savored.

Many years ago a line from Carly Simon's "Anticipation" really jumped out at me. It's been one of my mantras ever since (I have many). That line is "These are the good old days." What that line says to me is that we are so quick to romanticize the past. "Oh, how great things were when...." One day I'll look back on this old guy of 46 and think of how great things were back in the youthful days of my mid-40s. So, what I try to do is to be nostalgic about these days while I'm in these days. That's the secret.

Just as quickly as it's easy to think about how great the past was, it's easy to escape to the future, to think how great things will be when... When I make that first million, when I don't have to work so hard, when I'm not so busy, when I can move to somewhere warm. That trap is just as enticing as the one that draws me back to the past.

Today, Kayla is just about off of the growth chart we bought for her. That's today's picture of the day, Kayla standing next to the little Winnie the Pooh chart as she quickly blossoms into a young woman. As I write this, the girls are off in Kayla's room working on an art project they designed themselves. One day, much too soon, they'll be somewhere else and Tywana and I will be here alone. But, I'll get to enjoy seeing them go off and live their own lives, have their own children and I'll be able to get that two-seater I've been wanting ever since I traded in my MR2 so many years ago. And maybe I'll be able to move to a little condo on a golf course and spend time alone with Tywana again. But for now, it's time to go grab them and enjoy the evening.


Sunday, February 25, 2007


The snow is melting and today I saw the hostas sneaking up to take a peek.

Signs of Life

I don't know why these bulbs are on top of the ground. But, they're coming alive, too. (I buried them after taking the shot.

Signs of Life

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's Saturday, must be Upward Basketball

Before we get to the basketball portion of the day, I have to write about what happened earlier. I was pulling out of the garage and literally ripped the front bumper off of my car. It was a good lesson for me on a few things. It was really a one-in-a-million freak thing. We have (had) a pile of stuff near the garage entrance. The pile kept growing consisting of everything from hand weights that hadn't been used since we moved in, to old toys, to three (yes three) snow shovels and, the culprit, the bicycle rack. As I was pulling out, the bicycle rack somehow wedged itself behind my front bumper and on the rails of the garage door, at the same time. It was enough force to rip the bumper right off of the car.

Normally something that like would really freak me out. But, I'm glad to be able to say I really took it in stride. I'll have to take the car in tomorrow to get the bumper replaced (which I know is going to cost at least $500). But, hey, that's life. These things happen. I think the meditation is starting to pay off.

Back to Shayna, she played great today. I'm still messing around with the settings on the camera and not really happy with what I'm getting. When I used the flash, the background of the photos is dark. When I don't use the flash, for action shots, I get blurring. I did use the "Indoor" setting today. Seemed to help some I think. This shot is interesting. Just about everything is either blurred from being in motion or out of focus. That is everything except Shayna's face.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Spoiled Rotten

Shayna had a sleepover at Lexi's tonight. So, Kayla got to be an "only child" again (her words). We went out to Chipotle and when I stopped by UDF Tywana suggested that Kayla get a hot fudge sundae. When we got home, she couldn't even wait to take her coat off to begin enjoying her treat. Then, we all sat down on the couch and watched TV together. Normally, it's Shayna snuggled up with us. It was nice because Kayla really doesn't get babied much anymore. She's only 10. But, she thinks she's 18.

p.s.- I keep trying to convince her to not make this face. Not exactly her most flattering pose. But, I think she's getting tired of all the pictures.

Kayla's Spoiled Rotten

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What a day!

Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Man, what a day. Be careful what you wish for. The orders have been coming in fast and furious over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a lot of people want to CALL them in. Aargh! (We're an Internet company people.)

I've been so busy taking orders, answering the same questions over and over (that's why I paid for the FAQ database people) that I've had no time to do the proactive stuff to actually grow the business. So today, blog, you get a picture of me (it was that or a picture of Natural-Laxer MIX).

We are hoping to hold off to the end of the year to hire more people and move into the warehouse. So, I've got to be patient when it comes to implementing all the ideas we have. For now, it's move those refrigerators, move those color TVs.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Buddy Scott

My Buddy Scott
Originally uploaded by xpe1.

Galatians 3:28 says: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Must be true. This is my buddy Scott. We get together in a small group with the wives and meet once a month for breakfast or lunch. Today, we had coffee at Starbucks. Scott is a button-down, Evangelical, Republican lawyer-type guy. Total opposite of me in so many respects. I think I had a tie on once last year. I haven't had a white shirt on since I left IBM (too many years ago to think about). I've never voted Republican. But, we share a passion for the gospel for the spiritual journey we find ourselves on and for doing our parts in the stories we find ourselves in.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Paradigm Shift

OK. Call me materialistic. But, today's post is about my new Paradigm Studio 100 Speakers. I'm listening to them right now and they sound absolutely amazing. I'm in love again.

Time finally came to retire my 15 year old dbx's. I had replaced the Soundfield Controller a couple of times, had it fixed once and refoamed them a couple of years ago. I liked them so much, I just could not let them go. But, when the controller started going out again and the one guy I knew who traded in dbx home equipment vanished from the face of the earth, I knew the day when we would have to say goodbye was near.

I checked out Paradigm for the first time about a week ago at Ovation. The guy there was trying to get me to take a close-out deal on a pair of Studio 40s. Nice little speakers. But, I really wanted a floor standing model. After doing my research on Paradigm, I found they are arguably the best value speakers on the market. I set my sights on the Studio 60s. Fortunately for me, Ovation had neither the V3s nor the V4s on the floor. In fact, they didn't have a Studio 100 in the place either. They told me they should get a V4 Studio 60 in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I thought I'd check out some other shops to see if I could find a deal or maybe even get another pair of speakers.

The plan today was to visit Ohio Valley Audio, listen to the Studio 60s (not buy) and then boogie on over to Alamo to check out a couple of other brands. When I told the guy at OVA my budget though, he pointed out that even though he had the floor model Studio 100s marked at $1,800 (list price is $2,400), he'd let them go for $1,500 (just my budget number- imagine that). I listened to them, listened to the Studio 60s V4s (which he did have on the floor, but not in stock) and quickly decided I would be very (very) happy with the Studio 60s. Not only did they sound better than the Studio 60 V4s, they were $300 cheaper.

So, impatience pays off. If I had waited for Ovation to get the V4s of the Studio 60s and Studio 100s, I surely would have ended up with the Studio 60s at $300 more than I paid for V3 Studio 100s.

Studio 100 Tower

Studio 100s in place

Monday, February 19, 2007

No Flash Photography, Please

Kayla spent the night with Regan last night, since today is President's Day. Shayna kept reminding us how unfair it was. So, she decided to have a sister sleepover minus the sister. She slept in our room on the floor. When I took this shot, she mumbled "No flash photography, please."

Sister Sleepover Minus 1

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ty's a Star

Sang her first solo in church today. She was also featured in the Enquirer for the third or fourth time (I've lost track). Unfortunately, her picture didn't make the internet edition. But, the article is here: Ty's Cincinnati Enquirer Article

Ty's a Star

Mardi Gras Parade

This is just a fun shot. With the mirrors, there's a lot going on.

Mardi Gras Parade

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shayna On a Fast Break

Here she is going in for the score...

Shayna On a Fast Break

p.s.- I love this little camera. It fits in my pocket so easily, so I'm getting shots I would never get otherwise. But, now that I am taking so many pictures, I'm beginning to see its limitations for indoor shots. I might have to look at an upgrade...

Winter Wonderland

Hey, if there's going to be snow, might as well be pretty...

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Reverse Dalmation

Julie's B&W photos were the inspiration for this one. Take one very black dog and add some very white snow...


Friday, February 16, 2007

Sister Sleepover

Shayna loves sleeping in Kayla's room. She's worked a deal where they have a "sister sleepover" every other night now. She'd stay every night. But, Kayla won't let her.

Sister Sleepover

Like A Kid in a Candy Store

Shayna finally got to use the gift certificate her friend gave her for her birthday. I told her that since she had some money left after buying "Over The Hedge" she could pick out the most disgusting, nutritionless sugary candy she wanted.

Shayna Picking Out Her Birthday Present

Shayna Picking Out Her Birthday Present
Shayna Choosing Her Birthday Gift

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jem- They

I wanted to see if this widget I've embedded would work. I love discovering new music and discovered Last.FM about a month ago. From people who like music similar to what I like, I can find new artists to check out. Just discovered this "Jem". I really like her voice. I haven't figured out why. But, you have to hit the "Pop Up" to get it to play Jem. You can change the station and play other artists though (weird).

Lamb...It's What's For Dinner

Let's see. It was 1 degree (Fahrenheit) this morning. Shayna has basketball practice tonight. So, what's for dinner? It's time for another crockpot stew creation.

This time I decided to go with lamb, rosemary, potatoes, red wine, mushrooms, carrots and kale.

The girls operated on a one hour delay again today (Shayna was still finished with school before noon). Shayna has now finished 1st Grade History and is going to move on to 2nd Grade History. Kayla's finished her 5th Grade History and is moving on to Ohio History.

Lamb... It's What's For Dinner

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Ice Man Cometh

Wow. Yesterday was a doozy. Power outages, I-75 closed with a downed power line and ice falling from the sky. I hadn't left the house since Monday. I finally ventured out today (Valentine's Day). I had to pick up some flowers.

At least the storm made for some nice pictures.


Click here to see the set I took this morning.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Winter Sucks

This winter, until most of the way through January I was thinking "OK, so winter ain't so bad." But, the last couple of weeks we've had a few hours (literally) above freezing. Today we're getting hit with an ice storm. March can't come soon enough!

Ice Storm

Monday, February 12, 2007

Homeschool- Good and Not So Good

The not-so-good thing about homeschool is you don't get any snow days (even though they beg for them and actually had a 1 hour delay today- go figure).

The good thing is you get to have lunch barefoot, with your sister, your dog and your Mommy/teacher.



Sunday, February 11, 2007

Zoe has this strange fascination with Kayla

Zoe just will not leave Kayla alone. Every time Kayla sits down, Zoe is in her face (literally).

Here's just one example:

Zoe Sniffs Kayla

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ice Skating Outing

Ice Skating Outing
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
The girls went ice skating with the Scouts/Brownies today.

In earlier news, Shayna scored 10 points in her basketball game today. Last week she nearly made a basket, the first time she's been close to making one in more than a season. I don't know what got into her today. In fact, it was the first game of hers I missed. Wait, maybe that's it! ;-)

Friday, February 9, 2007

I'm Movin' Out (Part Deux)

We shut down the Galleria (Dayton) location yesterday. In a way, it feels like failure. But, we tried everything we could reasonably do and in 12 months there had exactly zero turning a profit. To add insult to injury, when we asked for our proceeds from January, we were told the cost of the ad that ran in December was more than we made in January. So, we owed them money.

It'll be good to focus on the website exclusively now and to have the rent we were paying for both locations to put back into generating more sales on the web.

I'm Movin' Out Part Deux

Shayna Gets Glasses

Shayna has been complaining about her far vision. So, we took her to the eye-doctor. Shock! She needs glasses (Tywana and I both have horrible eyesight).

Here she is in her new glasses, which she loves. Now, she's hoping for braces.

p.s.- After 3 days with the glasses, Shayna has already broken them. We don't know how. Of course, it was nothing she did (according to Shayna)

Shayna Gets Glasses

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Going Natural

Going Natural
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
After many years of wrestling with the decision and selling natural products for natural hair, Tywana has finally made the commitment to go natural.

This has been a difficult decision for her. She hasn't had a perm almost five months now (hard to believe) and is still transitioning and figuring out how she'll wear her hair. But, I think she's glad the decision is finally behind her.

Her story will be in the Cincinnati Enquirer in a couple of days (weeks)?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Hot Chocolate

At least the girls are loving this cold snap and snow. They went out to play in the snow today even though the high temperature for the day was only around 20F.

I found Kayla enjoying a hot cup of chocolate (oblivious to me standing over her with a camera snapping photos), until I called her name and got the second shot here.

Hot Chocolate after Sledding


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Snow Day

We finally had a real snow yesterday. And, I mean a real snow. We probably got 5-7" inches here. It's one of those days when we were really grateful that we don't have to leave the house. Traffic was still backed up at 11:30 last night. People spent 3-4 hours making what is normally a 1/2 hour commute. OTOH, we don't get any time off. Snow or not, gotta get the orders out!

Blinding Snow Storm


Monday, February 5, 2007

What happened to global warming?

It's zero degrees this morning and not supposed to get above freezing for the remainder of the week (and it's Monday).

We've had the warmest winter I can remember. Up until a couple of weeks ago we hadn't even had a significant snow fall. But, for the last few days it's been like living in the Arctic.

Brrr..... Good day to stay in.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Tywana's Singing Debut

Tywana's Singing Debut
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
She's always wanted to sing in church. Now's her chance. She's one of the best singers in the place! ;-)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Shayna Takes Her Shot

Shayna Takes Her Shot
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Shayna's improving in basketball. She was much more aggressive on offense this week. She almost made this shot.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Lazy day...

Today was kind of a lazy day. Just stayed around the house. Tywana went to a Girl Scout Mom's "Night Out". So, I kept the girls tonight.

The groundhog predicted an early spring. Ironic, since it's now bitterly cold for the first time this winter.

Close Up of Shayna

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Just the Two of Us

Kayla and I had dinner alone tonight. Shayna had basketball practice. I accidentally discovered the Widescreen setting on the camera with this shot (I like it). (click the picture to see the full effect).

Just The Two Of Us

I was playing around with the macro setting and got this shot of my winter stew. It's cold outside. We're in the dead of winter now. Can you guess the ingredients from this shot?

Winter Stew

Zoe with and without a tail

This was really interesting to me, too. I was snapping some pictures of Zoe (without the flash again). Her eyes glow red if there's too much light. Not just a little red-eye, they look like Christmas tree lights.

Since her tail is in constant motion, in the second shot, if you didn't know better, you'd think she's tail-less. It's moving so fast it's not even in the shot.


Zoe with no tail