A Shiny, New Bryan

For my regular readers (was kind of surprised that there were any left given how little I have posted lately), you have probably been wondering what’s going on. First off, my posting has dropped to almost nil. Then I posted 3 relatively profound songs and vague details on something percolating in my life. I have always been a very private person by nature (so I have a blog why again?), but I do want to provide a thumbnail sketch of what is going on.

Several week ago, I had what I like to call an awakening. It was a realization that I was not the person that I want to be and deciding that now is the time to make the changes I want to transition to the person that I do want to be. Mid-life crises, maybe; becoming the person I want to be, absolutely.

Don’t panic too much. We’re not talking about radical changes–at least from an outward standpoint. You might not have even noticed any real changes if I didn’t talk about them in my blog. I’m not going to get 12 tattoos (hmmm, 1? maybe), not going to start skydiving (hmmm once? maybe), not going to buy sports car or a motorcycle, no torrid affairs.

So here are some of the things I want the new me to be:

  • Self-confident
  • Comfortable with myself
  • Not willing to always put myself last–and not feel guilty
  • Accepting of compliments without feeling unworthy or guilty
  • Accepting of help without feeling unworthy or guilty
  • Willing to try new things
  • Willing to be out of my comfort zone

Basically, I will no longer to be the painfully shy, angst-filled person that I have been since I was a teenager–if not earlier.

I also want to care more about those around me. With my family and friends, I want to speak kinder, be more patient, be more loving, compliment more often, and show how very much I care for and love them. For the next circle of people I interact with, anywhere from co-workers to the convenience store clerk, I want to always give a smile and genuinely take an interest in their lives.

Really, most of these changes are internal in how I look at myself and how I choose to interact with others in a more positive way. I have already started transitioning to the new me (1 week and counting) and I seriously already “feel” it. I am happier, more relaxed, more confident, and feel more control of my life than perhaps ever.

Well, I think that’s quite enough for now. If you made it this far, congratulations!

Reasons I’m Smiling Today

You know, there are lots of things going on in the world, the country, and even personally that I could fret about. However, I’m finding lots of things to smile about. I’d rather focus on those. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • It’s Friday! That’s always a good reason to be happy.
  • The Broncos are ranked #9 nationally and poised to be invited to a BCS bowl game. Tomorrow, they will kick some Vandal butt.
  • We are entering my favorite time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up. It’s always an opportunity to spend cherished time with family and friends, and enjoy good food and good times. More importantly, it’s a time to renew and reflect on the things that are truly important.
  • In just 3 short days, the Older Daughter will be getting her driver’s license. While this generates lots of mixed feelings with me, I’m very proud and excited for her.
  • I have a job that I love. Just 5 short months ago I was facing a layoff in a really tough job market. I was fortunate enough to find a new job and have no time out of work. The fact that I absolutely love the job is a big plus also.
  • I have the best family and friends in the world. They are more loving and supportive of me than I feel that I deserve at times.
  • Blogging rules! DITH is nearing its one year anniversary (just a few short shopping weeks left folks). I am having a great time and have made some great new friends along the way.
  • Did I mention it’s Friday? Have a good weekend!

Hit or Miss

Despite being on vacation, there are a few things I miss about being home. Let’s take a look at what I miss and don’t miss. That way, we can determine if a prefer vacation or the daily grind.

What I Miss

  • Easy access to a computer: I mean, it’s right here in the spare bedroom and they have high speed Internet access. But they don’t leave it on all the time, so I have to wait like 5 minutes for it to boot up. Plus I feel guilty about hiding away.
  • Our best friends: We hang out with our best friends just about every weekend, and so we probably won’t see them for a couple weeks now.
  • Traffic: It may sound strange, but it’s true. We live in the country, so there is no traffic compared to Portland. A traffic jam in the country is getting caught behind some slow-moving farm equipment.
  • The Older Daughter: She went to Disneyland with her best friend and her family. I’m jealous, but miss her just the same.
  • TiVo: I’ve come to a point where I don’t watch anything live. I record it with TiVo and watch it later so that I can skip past the commercials. Plus it’s nice to be able to skip back a few seconds to catch the dialogue I missed when all the dogs bark their heads off.

What I Don’t Miss

  • Work
  • The alarm clock
  • Worry about looking for a new job
  • The daily routine
  • Having absolutely no free time
  • Getting up early: I’m a night owl and love to stay up ridiculously late and sleep in
  • Brown: I do love the green of western Oregon over the brown of southwestern Idaho.

So there we have it: I have 7 things I don’t miss and 5 that I do. So I think that I should just stay on vacation forever. What do you think?

What Day is it Anyway?

DITH will be reporting to you for the next week from our branch in sunny rainy Hawaii Portland. Most often, I’ll typing my posts while sipping margaritas Diet Mountain Dew from the beach a cramped spare room. My nerves will be soothed frayed by waves crashing gently on the shore screaming kids and barking dogs.

Having said all that, I am actually having a wonderfully relaxing time so far. We arrived on Saturday. So far, we have mostly visited with family, watched TV, slept in, and eaten. The most exciting thing we have done so far is visit the IKEA store this afternoon–yes that legendary vacation destination.

I’m seriously not complaining though. I woke up this morning and didn’t even really know what day it was. That’s a fantastic feeling. I’m also not wearing a watch and don’t know or care what time it is.

The past few months have been tough and the remainder of this year could prove even more interesting. So I’m really looking forward to just unplugging from all the negative stuff going on–just for a few days. However, I’ll try not to disappoint my devoted followers. I plan on checking in with any interesting things that happen. Stay tuned.

Childhood Flashback: Saturday Nights

As a child, I lived in a small town and we were pretty poor. So Saturday nights were pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m actually thinking back on those nights with a great deal of fondness. The evening largely revolved around watching TV. Let’s take a look at the Saturday evening lineup that dominated most of my first 12 years:

  • Wild Kingdom: Marlin Perkins was a pioneer of wildlife shows filmed in the field. He set the stage for the many shows that would follow–arguably even the development of the Animal Planet network. I have always loved animals, so I enjoyed his weekly adventure in the wild. Having said that, he certainly was not as brave as people like Steve Irwin. Do you remember that he would be hovering in the safety of his helicopter while his staff would do much of the dirty, dangerous work? Just an observation. I also remember the annoying Mutual of Omaha (the show’s title sponsor) commercials . I can still hear the song to this day: “Mutual of Omaha is people…you can count on when the going’s rough.”
  • Hee Haw: This was a corny, but enjoyable, country variety show. It had a mix of country music, comedy skits, and corny jokes and puns. For most of the years, I enjoyed the corny entertainment. However, as my teen years approached, I also developed an appreciation for the buxom Southern belles that adorned the show.
  • Lawrence Welk: This was another variety show, but more sophisticated than Hee Haw (okay, that’s not saying much). It was also corny, but on a different level. I see it today and say to myself: “What were you thinking?” Yet every year, when PBS has it’s annual fundraiser, I find myself watching the Lawrence Welk special and enjoying the quick trip back 30 years.
  • Portland Wrestling: Prior to the 80s, “professional” wrestling was largely a local affair. Each large city had its own wrestling association. The matches were held in relatively shabby buildings. The wrestlers were gritty, working-class guys that just wanted to beat the crap out of each other. Of course, it was just as fake back then as today. However, it seemed more realistic than today’s highly commercialized, glamorous, wrestling productions. We lived in western Oregon at the time, so we tuned in to Portland Wrestling every Saturday night without fail. Throughout the 80s, these local venues slowly faded away. Very few of the wrestlers were able to make the transition to the new, highly polished package of the new professional wrestling. One notable exception was one that you might recognize. Former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura got his start in Portland back in the 70s. I even have his autograph from attending a live event!

Another memorable part of Saturday night: popcorn. I’m not talking about microwave popcorn or a popcorn machine–I’m talking about cooking it in a pan! First, pour in enough oil to cover the pan bottom. Next, add the corn–but not too much or it will push the lid off during popping and popcorn will go every where. Once the corn starts to pop, slide the pan frenetically back and forth across the burner to keep it from burning. When the popping stops, dump the popcorn into a bowl. Top it off with melted butter and a few shakes of salt. It may just be fond memories, but I don’t think any of our “modern” methods of cooking popcorn has yet topped the popcorn I last had over 20 years ago now.

If you grew up during the 80s or after, this may have been a fairly boring post for you. But for those of you that lived through the 70s, I’m hoping that I was able to spark a fond memory that you haven’t thought about for awhile. Feel free to reply with your own Saturday night memories or post your own and give me a shout back.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

It’s been snowing all day and it may continue into the evening. We’ve probably got about 5 inches on the ground. I’m looking out the window right now and it’s white as far as they eye can see. I love it! Winter is probably my favorite season.

I’m looking forward to taking the kids out sledding in a little bit. We are fortunate enough to have some land and an ATV. So I’ll be dragging them all over the place. You know, I think it’s simple pleasures like this that make some of the warmest, lasting memories. Big trips like going to Disneyland and such are always awesome and definitely memorable. But there is definitely something to be said for the smiles and giggles on the kids’ faces as they slide down the hill. The rosy red cheeks. Then warming up with steaming hot chocolate afterwards. Priceless moments.

Childhood “Lasts”

It is an absolute joy to watch a child grow up (perhaps less so as they hit the teen years, but that’s a different story). Starting from birth, children are learning, exploring, developing, and growing at a rapid rate. We mark this development as we observe various “firsts”: first solid food, first time crawling, first steps, first words, etc. As the years go by, the pace of milestones dramatically decreases, and in the teen years the “firsts” become oriented toward becoming an adult: first crush, first date, first kiss, first time driving, first job, etc.

What we as parents often miss, however, are the “lasts” that occur at the same pace (rapid in the early years–slowing throughout the years). These milestones are every bit as important. However, as lasts, they are more difficult for us to recognize as they occur. We may not realize until years later–oh yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. As I thought through some of these, it actually brought tears to my eyes. Had I known it was going to be the last time, I would have taken the time to cherish it that much more. So below is my list some “lasts”. If you’ve never thought about this before, you may want to grab a Kleenex. It breaks your heart a little bit when you remember all the little rituals of childhood that have passed.

As a baby, there was the last time…

  • She woke you up crying in the middle of the night
  • You changed a diaper
  • She nursed
  • She drank from a bottle
  • She needed binkie to fall asleep
  • You dressed her
  • You fed her
  • You rocked her to sleep
  • You woke up to her sweet cooing in the morning
  • You gave her a bath
  • She slept in a crib

Next, during the toddler years, there was the last time… 

  • She fell asleep watching Barney
  • She rode in a stroller
  • You buckled her into a car seat
  • She sucked her thumb
  • She pulled the pots and pans out to bang them together
  • She wrapped her hand around your finger while walking with you
  • You kissed an owwie to make it better
  • She got chocolate smeared all over her face
  • She pulled on the cat’s tail
  • You tucked her in
  • She woke you up way too early on a Saturday morning
  • She slept for the entire trip
  • She rode a bike with training wheels
  • She needed help tying her shoes
  • You picked her up to help her get a drink at the water fountain
  • You took her to restroom with you
  • She cried when her balloon floated away

Then in elementary school, there was the last time…

  • She woke up on Christmas morning excited that Santa had been there
  •  She left a tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy
  • She hunted for Easter eggs
  • She colored a picture for you to hang up at work
  • She played in the Playland at McDonalds
  • She sang the ABC song
  • You held her hand while crossing the street
  • You hoisted her up to put the angel on the Christmas tree
  • You pushed her on the swing
  • She asked you to come have lunch with her at school
  • She sat on Santa’s lap
  • You went to Toys-R-Us so she could explore and dream about what she wanted for Christmas
  • She curled up in your lap to read a book
  • She played on the floor with her toys
  • You carried her your shoulders
  • She rode on the kiddie rides at the carnival
  • She ordered from the kid’s menu

Finally, during the teen years, there was the last time…

  • She went trick-or-treating
  • She needed your help with homework on a daily basis

Still upcoming for me is the last time…

  • I drove her to school
  • She received an allowance
  • She slept in the house as a member of the household

(I couldn’t come up with a lot for the teens years. I think this is probably because The Older Daughter is 14 and the “losses” haven’t hit me yet.)

I have tried to do a good job throughout the years of staying involved and doing lots with the kids. Still, there are regrets sometimes. Occasionally, I’ll think of something that I always wanted to do with them, but now it’s too late because they’re too old. We have lots of pictures and videos, but sometimes I look back and wish we had taken more. I also wish that I had kept a journal. I would give anything to know some of my thoughts during their early years or to have a record of a conversation we had over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch between Barney movies.

But enough of the regrets. It’s never too late to do a better job. Part of the reason I started this blog was to help record some of my thoughts over time. I also hope that this post can in some way inspire newer parents also. To those new parents: Just remember, while time may seem to be going by slowly now, you’ll look back 15 years from now and wonder where it all went. Cherish and make the most of every moment. Take pictures, take videos, and keep a journal. Most importantly, just take time to be a family. The housework can wait, but your kids will only be kids for a very short time. Make the most of it.