Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Almost had it...

This morning, Desmond was super proud of himself.  He barges into my room as I am finishing getting myself ready to work.

He finished his breakfast, got his uniform on, brushed his teeth, prepped his backpack, put on his shoes and was 100% ready to go!  Normally, I am rushing him to finish after I am done getting ready.  However, today, he did everything and still had about 15 mins to spare before we had to leave.

Then...about 25ish minutes later as I dropped him off at school:

"Um, Dad...did you get my backpack?"

Friday, January 27, 2017

There's still a baby in there

Popped in for the something week ultrasound last week!  The tech confirmed that there is indeed a baby still in there!

This trip was a redo.  Owen doesn't love to pose for the camera.  So, they weren't able to get all the shots they wanted to at the last one.  Particularly the kidneys.  Last trip, there was no view of the kidneys.  Of course, to parents that means he has no kidneys and something is wrong.

But, it was just because he wouldn't get into the right position.  This last appointment, we confirmed there are kidneys.

Here are some photos for you to admire.

We brought Desmond along with us on this trip.  The tech printed out for him his very own photo.  He took it to school with him and, according to the principal, was showing everyone!  He was apparently very proud. :-)  He'll be a great big bro, me thinks.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

You should probably get a dog, first

I once had a friend tell me this:  Having a baby is like having a dog.  Only you can't crate them when you leave.

Truer words were never spoken.  Saw this today and found it pretty funny.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Conversation Pieces - To Be (sick) or Not to Be (sick)

The scene: Living room of the Pank.  Desmond has been sick for about 5 days.  We skipped out on Disneyland and spent our vacation in a hotel room. It was a 3 day weekend, but Des was holding onto a nasty cough and a low grade fever on Monday, so we had decided to keep him home Tuesday. 

Monday night: 

Me: "Ok, time to get ready for bed.  I want you in bed early tonight.  You need rest. 

Desmond:  "I don't think I'm sick anymore.  I feel fine!  I don't need to go to bed early."

Me: "You must be really excited to go back to school, then."

Des: "Huh?"

Me: "If you're not sick, you can go back to school tomorrow."

Des: *cough, cough*  "I'm still sick. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vacationing and running and getting sick and stuff

This past weekend, we took a bit of a mini-vacation.  A while back, in an effort to inspire me to start running again to lose weight, I signed up to run the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon at Disneyland with my friend Joey.  Kim and I decided to make a little trip out of it.  Taking Des out of school for a couple days (the first school he has ever missed) and hitting up Legoland and Disneyland before running and heading back home.

Well, here's what actually went down.

First of all, I should say that the inspiration to run never really hit me.  The training I did for this half marathon was a fraction of what it should have been.  In fact, when I actually did run, I only made it to 7 miles.  To refresh your memory, a half marathon is 13.1.

Fast forward...here comes our long weekend.

Wednesday night, Kim and I pick Des up from school and head right to the airport where we find our flight is delayed.  That sucks.  But, it's not the end of the world.  However, by the time we land in LA, get our rental car and drive to Carlsbad, CA (where Legoland is) it's about 12:30 AM.  Desmond is super excited!  We stayed at the Legoland hotel (highly recommended!) and he was instantly bouncing off the walls.  The room contains a treasure box.  To find the code, you have to complete a bit of a scavenger hunt.  With some help from Kim while I parked the car, Des had all the numbers he needed.  He opens the box to find 2 Mixels and a Lego Magazine.  OMG!  He's never going to leave.

Finally, we convince him to go to bed.  It's about 1 AM or so.

6:00...he's awake and ready to get started!

Desmond doesn't really like it when I make him take pictures, but he was a trooper for this one.  And, in case you were wondering...yes...it did feel just like you would suspect lying on a pile of legos would feel.

We get breakfast and we hit the park.  Here's some pics.

Des and Kim at the Hotel, ready to hit the park!!!

Des and Kim picking Lego Einstein's nose. 

Lego Deathstar, just slightly bigger than the one Desmond built at home. 

These ladies asked to have their photo taken with me. 

This red guy has a name, but I don't know what it is.  Red Ninja Dude, or something. 

And...that's about all the pics I have from Legoland.  Why don't I have anymore, you may ask.  Well, around noon it started to rain.  And not just a little drizzle.  I can handle a little rain.  But, a "we're closing all the rides" kinda downpour.  Also about this time, Desmond asked to take a break from the park.  Which seemed weird to me.  He doesn't love rides, so I wondered if this was to get out of me pressuring him to go on a roller coaster.  But, he wasn't just asking not to ride the roller coaster.  He was asking to leave the park. 

Well, turns out the reason was because he was getting sick.  We went back to the hotel and Desmond fell asleep.  Again, we didn't yet think he was feeling bad.  We figured it was the late night/early morning.  We woke him up to go to dinner.  He didn't eat much dinner.  We went back to the room, stuck him in the bathtub and he was asleep by 7:30.  Out cold.  Woke up in the middle of the night crying.

Yup...totally sick.  Fever and everything.  The Legoland nurse came to visit him in the room.  Declared it the flu.  

(Side note...the Legoland nurse is an actual person...she did not look like this)

Image result for lego nurse

Our Friday pretty much involved resting in the Legoland hotel room for as long as we could and then driving to Anaheim.  Des seemed to recover a bit on the drive.  But...guess what...Kim got sick.

We were set to meet Joey and Andy for dinner.  However, Kim was down.  Des was back up, but that didn't last long.  At dinner, he looked like he was ready to keel over.  We got back to the room and he was out cold super fast.

The next morning, Kim was worse.  Desmond seemed to be better.  But, that was just an illusion.  Disneyland quickly got nixed.  Kim was bedridden for the day.  Desmond and I hit the pool for a bit, but not too long because I was concerned about his cold.  After the pool, Kim slept some more, Desmond pulled up his iPad and I snuck out to watch the Seahawks.  Daddy needed a break.

Oh...and the Seahawks lost.  That sucked.

Ok, evening rolls around...Des seems totally fine again!  So, we go the the Skinner's (Joey and Andy) for dinner.  No prob!  Des plays with the girls, I chat with my friends.  A fine evening.  We leave so we can go to bed.  I have a half marathon the next morning.

1:00 am...Desmond wakes me up.  He's whining in his sleep.  After a while, I get up and rouse him.  He starts to cry.  His nose is 100% plugged up.  And, he's been blowing it so much that it's raw.  We throw some vasaline on it, give him some Tylenol and put him back to bed.  He's asleep instantly and the next morning says he doesn't remember any of it.

4:30, my alarm goes off.  I start getting dressed to go run my run.  I look at my phone and notice I have about 5 text messages from Joey.  Turns out, Disney wants all the runners there by 4 am.  Oops.  Oh well, I still made it on time.

Here are some pics from the run.  These are from my phone.  They had professionals taking photos, as well.  Haven't seen those yet.

Joey and I at the staring line.  It's amazing how smiley we are at 5 am after such little sleep. 

Lots of people there for this race. 

 I confess...we cheated.  We used speeders. 

This is not the double chin you are looking for. 

 The line for BB-8 was long, but I made Joey stop.  

Capt. Phasma had her eye on us. 


Part of the course passed our Hotel.  Kim and Des came out to meet us!

Joey probably could have ditched me 100 times.  But, she stayed with me and we finished together.  Thanks, Joey!  My knee wasn't very happy with me.  Of course, if I didn't have 40 extra lbs pounding on it...and if I had done the training I was supposed to, it might not have been so mad.  My bad.  

In the end, I finished and I didn't die!  That was my only goal.  I have no clue what my time was.  But, for runs like this, time is hard to determine because you stop for photos so often.  I walked more than I wanted to but I made it to the finish line.  

I don't know if I will do another Disneyland race.  Take all the sickness out of it.  I was surprised at just how much was spent outside of the park.  When I did the Goofy challenge 4 years ago at Disney World, the entire marathon (26.2 miles) was inside the Disney facilities.  That was awesome!  There were more character photo ops, there was more music.  It was just a more fun experience.  This one was great for the first 30-45 mins.  After that, it was just meh.  

We're home now.  Kim and Desmond both took Tuesday off of school and work because they're still sick.  I am surprised I haven't been knocked out, yet.  Knocking on wood.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Verizon can Bite me

Saw this article today.  Made me decide to tell everyone how mad I am at Verizon, right now.

First of all, Kim and I don't come anywhere near 200 gigs a month, so while this article doesn't apply to us, it was painfully clear that Verizon is NOT a fan of unlimited data customers.

Kim and I were on one of those grandfathered in unlimited data programs.  We didn't really need it.  But, I don't like the idea of potentially being surprised by overages.  And, since our price remained the same (in fact, when we upgraded phones a couple years ago, it would have cost us MORE to go to a limited data plan), we stuck with it.

Until recently, when I upgraded my phone.

Verizon was offering a great deal.  Upgrade my phone (to a Google Pixel) and return my old Samsung Galaxy 7 (which was only a year old) and get a monthly credit that equals the cost of the new phone.  So...basically a free Google Pixel.  While I enjoyed my Samsung, the battery life was total garbage.  And the Pixel was getting great reviews. So...ok!

First, I called Verizon.  The assured me that if I either went with the monthly phone payment program OR bought the phone outright, my plan would NOT change.

I asked again to clarify.

Confirmed...if we went with the monthly payment program or bought the phone outright, the plan would NOT change.

Given the Black Friday deal regarding the monthly credit for the return of my Samsung, this means I was upgrading my phone for free (monthly charge for the new phone + a monthly discount equal to the charge for the new phone).  AND...I got to keep our unlimited data.  Also...we didn't need to renew our contract...I hate contracts.  Although, given that I was on a monthly payment plan for the phone, I kind of am in a contract.  Will need to pay the remainder of the phone cost if we leave.  But, for a great deal like this, I can look past that.

Ok, so assuming you got all that, moving on.

The next bill shows up.  It's about $100 more!!!!


A couple things appeared to be one offs.  My old phone hadn't arrived, yet.  So, the credit hasn't kicked in.  Then there was some weird promotional credit the month before.  But...even after we remove that...our bill was still about $40 more.  And, we couldn't figure out why.  So, I called them.

After a long phone call, the customer service agent figured out that the reason my bill was higher was because they raised the price.  And, apparently they told me via email.

I let her know that I had no such email.  However, I acknowledged that because Verizon sends me an email literally every 2 days, there was a chance I deleted it without looking at it.  Unless it was somehow called out in the subject or the To: line, there was no way I would know it contained anything other than the usually sales spam.  She didn't have a comment for that.  However, given her voice, I feel like she felt my pain.

I complained about it and sent in a follow up complaint about how crappy I thought it was that Verizon raised my price and, in my view, didn't tell me.  Or, at the very least, tried to hide it in with everything else.

THEN...it gets even better.

A week later, I received multiple text messages and emails from Verizon.  Sounds like I had gone over my data limit.  And, each time I went over it further, they sent me another note.

Well, thank you, Verizon, for making an effort to make sure I see important information this time.  However, how does someone with unlimited data go over their data limit?

Another long phone call later, we figured it out.  I no longer had unlimited data.  I lost it when I upgraded my phone.  Now, I get 2 gigs a month.

Remember when I said I was assured my plan wouldn't change when I upgraded?  Yeah...well, it changed.

Funny enough, I was still paying for the same plan.  And, Verizon told me, I could not get my unlimited plan back. It was gone and she couldn't give it back.  So, I am paying for unlimited data that I am not getting and I am now on the hook for the overage charges.

But, she tell me if I "upgrade" to the 16 gig/month plan, I will still be within my data limit.

The only good-ish part about any of this was that it's now cheaper...sort of.  It will cost what I was paying before they raised prices without telling me.

I could leave Verizon, if I want, as I don't have a contract.  All I have to do is pay for the $700 phone which I upgraded to a month earlier for free.

Let me summarize these events:

  1. GREAT DEAL TO UPGRADE MY PHONE, essentially for free while keeping my data plan the way it is.
  2. Surprise rate increase on my unlimited data plan.
  3. Data overages due to a plan change I was assured wasn't going to happen. 
  4. Limited data plan at a rate equal to what I was originally paying for unlimited data. 
  5. If you don't like all this, you are free to leave if you pay for the phone you just received for free.  
At the end of the day, Verizon got exactly what they wanted from me.  They got me off the unlimited data plan and essentially locked into a new 2 year contract without calling it a contract. 

One of the WORST customer service experiences I have ever had in my life.  And, I have had a few.     

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Why I am mad you voted for Trump

As I have mentioned before, until recently I have identified as a Republican.  I have identified this way since High School.  My first ballot for President was cast for Bob Dole.

I live in Seattle.  I love Seattle!  It's my home, now.  Seattle does not have many Republicans.  In fact, I believe I have shared this story on the blog, the first caucus I attended in Seattle, I was the ONLY person there from my precinct.  I cast my vote for John McCain.  Meanwhile, down the street, there were hundreds from my precinct casting votes for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.  

This shows that I am used to being friendly with people with whom I disagree with politically.  My best friends are Democrats.  

So, it's funny that, now, as I find myself in disagreement, not only is it with people whom I share many ideals...but, I disagree with them in a way that is more vehement than I have ever disagreed before. 

I disagree with people all the time.  Seattle, remember.  We elected an open Socialist to the city council.  The state primary went to Bernie Sanders, another self proclaimed socialist.  (Free college isn't actually free, people!)  But, disagreement is ok.  Disagreement is healthy!  I have always done it in a way that is respectful and (for the most part, but not always) that respectful disagreement has been reciprocated. 

Until now.  

I am legitimately mad.  I have been told that I am being a jerk.  That I should respect different opinions.  Shame on me for belittling people just for thinking differently than I do.  

That's not it.  It's not.  You can think differently than me.  I don't care.  Good for you.  I didn't oppose Trump because he differs from me politically.  

However, rather than sum up the reasons why I am mad at Trump voters, I will defer to this quote from Sparrow R. Jones.  I have never heard of Sparrow Jones until I saw this quote.  You may have seen it as well.  It was floating around Facebook for a while.  It very eloquently sums up what my problem is with Trump voters. 

"I am not mad at you that Clinton lost. I am unconcerned that we have different politics. And I don’t think less of you because you vote one way and I vote another. No… I think less of you because you watched an adult mock a disabled person in front of a crowd and still supported him. I think less of you because you saw a man spouting clear racism and backed him. I think less of you because you listened to him advocate for war crimes, and still thought he should run this country. I think less of you because you watched him equate a woman’s worth to her appearance and got on board. It isn’t your politics that I find repulsive. It is your personal willingness to support racism, sexism, and cruelty. You sided with a bully when it mattered and that is something I will never forget. So, no… you and I won’t be “coming together” to move forward or whatever. Trump disgusts me, but it is the fact that he doesn’t disgust you that will stick with me long after this election."

There you go. You want to think I'm a jerk because I have said, "Shame on you for voting for Trump," that's fine.  That is your right.  Just as it is my right to remind you of how vile this person you elected is. 

I feel like I have a personal responsibility to remain vigilant against him.  After all, I have spent years supporting, funding and standing up for a party that allowed this Tea Party, me before you mentality to take over.  Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed of us.  Ronald Reagan would be ashamed of us.  Jefferson, Madison, Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt...they would all be ashamed of us. 

I am ashamed of us.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Reconciliation - My how things have changed

Next month, Desmond will celebrate his first Reconciliation at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One of the advantages of attending Catholic school is that this is all part of the curriculum.  We don't need to send him to special CCD classes.  There are a few additional Sunday meetings, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the years of after school sessions my mom sent me to.

A part of Desmond's journey that I have enjoyed, however, is the parental involvement.  I honestly don't remember if my parents were involved in my first sacraments (outside of baptism, obviously) in the way that the Church is making us participate.  But, I have been grateful for the experience and the refreshers.  At first, I may have groaned a bit (UGH...I already did all this 25 years ago!).  But, I have actually found it pretty enlightening.

Mostly in regards to how Confession/Reconciliation has changed.

Or...rather, how it should have been at Our Lady of the Lake when I was growing up.  Turns out a lot of these "changes" that I am enjoying were part of Vatican II.  But, apparently the memo didn't get to Lake Havasu City.

Here's how I remember Confession.

You would stand in a line outside the room with a bunch of other people, silently tracking how long the people before you were in there.  At Our Lady of the Lake, the confessional was a small room, not like the "box" that you see at many churches.  It was dimly lit.  There was a screen with a kneeler.  There was also a chair across from the priest.  There was no screen in front of the chair.

Here's the thing.  I happened to have a pretty good relationship with my priests when I was young.  Fr. Rudy and Fr. Greg.  See, I was an alter server, I taught CCD classes to Kindergartners, I was a Eucharistic minister in my high school and college years, and I think I even joined the choir for a bit.  I had a particularly good relationship with Fr. Rudy.  The point is, they knew who I was, they knew my parents, the knew my grandparents.  For some reason, I felt like I had to sit in the chair facing the priest.  Although, there was one time that I used the screen.  Fr. Greg was on the other side.  About half way through my confession he says, "Is this Jason?"

 So, when you are 8 or 10 or 13 or 16 or, frankly, even 39...sitting across from someone you admire and who you want to think highly of you and telling them about all the things you did wrong...that's not really fun.  In fact, I hated doing it every single time.

And, I was one of the good kids!  In the grand scheme of ways kids can get in trouble, I was pretty lame.  I am pretty darn confident that I didn't have any "sins" to offer any priest that they haven't heard a bazillion times before.

Still...sitting across from Fr. Rudy and telling him that I said bad words (oh boy did I say bad words) or that I lied to my parents or that *GASP* I watched one of those late night nudie shows on Showtime...that S-U-C-K-E-D!  And, candidly, I think it scarred me a bit for confession.  Because I don't go anymore.  Not on an individual basis, at least.  I go to the congregational confession when it's held.  This is when the priest holds a confessional service.  As a parish, we ask forgiveness for our sins, pray and are absolved of our sins.  No one on one where I spew out everything I'm ashamed of.

Fr. Jack, my current pastor, is the greatest priest I have ever had.  He's a wonderful man who teaches the ways of Jesus in a way that focuses on love, forgiveness, service and grace...not in the "do this or your going to hell" way that so many other pastors focus on.  I have often told Fr. Jack that he sounds like a Jesuit.  His response is "I have been accused of that many times."  I have zero desire to show him what's behind the curtain.

So, back to what I have learned from working with Desmond on Reconciliation.

First of all...it's called Reconciliation, not Confession.  The focus is on Reconciling yourself with God.  The way Ms. Hoch (Desmond's teacher) teaches it, when we sin, God does not turn his back on us...we turn our backs on God.  He's still there, waiting.  Still loving.  Always loving.  The sacrament of Reconciliation is the act of acknowledging our poor choices and turning, once again, back to God.

With this in mind, no longer do you sit in front of the priest and regurgitate all your sins.  Apparently now, it's more of a conversation.  What's keeping you from being the best person you can be?  What's on your mind and heart that has become a burden?

Kim and Shaundar have also both been part of this journey.  Neither of them are Catholic, but they've both been very active in learning about all these sacraments.  That's been great for me, as well.  For Shaundar to be supportive of something in our son's life that is important for me.  And, for Kim to learn about my faith in a way she's never been exposed to before.

I have yet to go to confession...*cough* sorry...reconciliation with Fr. Jack.  I mentioned to him that I may have to bite the bullet and give it a shot.  He says he looks forward to it (in a very sincere, "I think that's a great idea" way).  But, I'm still terrified.  Again, I'm positive I don't have anything to talk about that he hasn't heard before.  And, I suspect my confession would be much less juicy than others he has heard.  But, the discomfort remains.  Maybe it's pride?  Maybe I should confess that as well?  Who knows.

First Reconciliation happens on Feb. 4.  I have made it a personal goal to attend Reconciliation myself, 1:1 with Fr. Jack, by that time.  Let's see if I pull it off.  If I don't, I guess I will need to confess that I just lied to both of my readers.

I can't NOT chime in on this Supreme Court thing

So, it's no secret on this page that I am rapidly pro-life.  I don't beat around the bush on this topic.  But, what you may not know...