Monday, February 16, 2009

John Stockton Jr.

My son Caleb, 6, is playing in a basketball league this winter. It's a league sponsored by a local Christian church. It's been a fun time for the whole family. The league is very well organized with an exciting introduction before each game, full uniforms and even cheerleaders. For those girls who aren't interested in playing basketball, they have cheer leading starting as young as age 5.

The league has set up a tunnel that all the players run through during team introductions. They put out smoke, play some cool music and then all the parents line up for the kids to run by. It's quite a scene and the kids soak it up. I'm sure it does wonders for all the kids' confidence for them to feel like the entire gym is cheering for them.

Basketball has a special place in my heart and I'm excited to share my love for the game with him. We've gone to several high school games (if we go during the J.V. games, we don't have to pay to watch the varsity game afterword) and we also watch games together on television.

He's had a great time playing in this league and has really been a blast to watch. Even though Basketball at his level is very difficult to watch. It's a sport that requires a lot of coordination and an understanding of all the rules. Soccer and tee ball are much more simple to teach and play at his age. That said (and of course I'm very biased), Caleb has really excelled on his team. He's learning more fundamentals each week and more importantly, he's being aggressive. Most kids at his age are quite shy when playing sports. But Caleb has a drive in him that causes him to stay aggressive during sports, it's something that I don't think can be taught, especially at 6 years old.
Last week's game, for example, of the 25 shots his team took, Caleb probably took 20 of them. This week, his coach taught him to pass to his teammates more, so several times Caleb would dribble quickly to the basket, but instead of shooting, he passed the ball perfectly to his teammates. It was a blast to watch. That said, we kept track of the teams shots this week and Caleb still took 11 of the team's 20 shots.

I know I'm a total homer and I suppose I should be, since I'm his Dad. But I couldn't be more proud of how much he enjoys playing sports.

I grew up idolizing the great John Stockton of the Utah Jazz. Watch these videos and tell me there isn't a resemblance.

(The vidoes can't be viewed via email, you have to go directly to the website at

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winter Sports

With the freezing temperatures lately, it's been hard on me and the kids having to stay indoors all day. We still have a couple feet on the ground, but it may as well be granite rock all over after weeks of freezing temperatures and no new snow.

We have found a few activities to keep the kids from iCarly and Spongebob. We went roller skating with Caleb's school night. It was both Caleb and Abby's first time on roller skates and it was a lot of fun to watch...Yes, I said watch. There's no way I'm strapping on a pair of those coccyx crunchers again. Monica did skate around with the kids until they both told her to let them skate by themselves. They held different activities for the kids that night including a race. And when they invited the kids who wanted to participate, Caleb was the first out there. Monica and I thought about telling him that he shouldn't participate since this was his first time and that he was a really really slow skater...but what fun would that be? Thankfully, they divided the kids up age and Caleb's group only had three kids. The race consisted of one kid who knew how to skate, who made it around the cones in about 20 seconds, while Caleb and the other kid took a painfully long 5 minutes to skate/scoot/walk around the cones. It was quite a scene as the other kids cheered on Caleb and his buddy to the finish line.

Abby has been ice skating about 10 times since last year. She's becoming quite good according to Monica. She refuses to be with her Mom there also. She started out using a bar that's held like an old person's walker, but has since gone bar-free. If she can stay bar-free, it'll help with my goal in rasing kids who stay out of jail...get it? Bar-free! I crack myself up.

Both kids continue thier sports endeavors of basketball and gymnastics. We love watching them gain confidence in themselves. Both are involved in programs that promote trying new things and being a team player, which is important at their young ages. They can learn to be selfish later.

Caleb and I also finally made it up the mountain to go skiing last week for the first time this year. He started right where he left off last year and even skied the last half of the day without the edgy-wedgie. The edgy-wedgie is, other than my all-time favorite name of a product, a little rubber tubing that holds kids' ski tips together. Try saying 'edgy-wedgy' five times without smiling.

Hopefully we'll get either more snow or some warmer weather soon, (40 degrees! That's not too much to ask for is it?) so we can start playing outside again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Change is in the Air

This is not a political post, but I believe everybody has felt the change in the air the last few months. New president, poor economy, planes crash-landing WITH survivors, and now I have left my 8 year relationship with my TREO and bought an iphone. I know, I know..shocking.

Let me explain: We've all seen the media bomb-bard us with how everyone is loosing their house, loosing their job and loosing their retirement savings. Though, I think this is mostly a pile of crap since I still can't find a parking spot within a 1/2 mile of Costco or Wal-Mart and we waited in 1-2 hour lines in Las Vegas for restaurants, I do however think that good will come out of the media's slanted position. Simply stated: debt is dumb financing, and if more people get out of debt, this is good. I sincerely think that most people were in just as much debt last year as they are now, the only thing that has changed after all the hype is now they're realizing that they should stop spending beyond their means and get out of debt.

I personally don't have a problem with debt, thanks mostly to selling our home just before the housing bubble busted and paying off all our debt. That said, all this talk about the economy has prompted me to try do some things differently in order to pump-up our savings and retirement while I believe stocks/funds are on sale. And don't forget that we WILL sail the tropics on a sweet sweet sail boat someday!

In order to increase my savings, I've gone to the ultimate research tool, the internet, and I've been following 15-20 blogs on ways to save money. Most of the ideas are coupon and sale related. It takes some time to learn, but I've got time on my side. Here's a short list of somethings I've done in the last month:

*Refinance our mortgage. Incredible rates are available, though they've climbed in the the last week. I wish we could have gone to a 15 or 20 year loan, but not yet. Savings: $300+/month.
*Called Direct TV, went directly to the cancellation dept. and told them I was switching to Dish Network with their promo offer. They offered to drop their rates for one year. Savings: $23/month.
*We have 3 cars and changing the oil is a priority for me as I plan on keeping them for a long time. Every 3000 miles, the oil/filter gets changed. Taking them to a quick oil change place cost anywhere from $26-$40. It's dirty, but doesn't require much brain power to change the oil myself. It costs approx. $12-$18 for the oil and filter. With three cars changed three times per year, that's a potential savings of $80-$170/year.
*We continue to heat our house with a wood stove. I'm always looking for free wood and good deals in the summer. It takes some work to stack, split and bring the wood inside, but the payoff can be huge. We have a fairly large home and we average about $105-$120/month in electric/gas bills. Talking to other home owners in the area, they pay $250-$300/month in the winter. That's a potential savings of about $2000/year.
*I'm new to coupons, but I'm learning quickly. With the plan of matching coupons with store sales, there are some sweet deals. Ever see the ladies on the news that buy $150 of groceries for only $6.50? Thats what I want to do....except I'm a Man!! (A nurse who uses coupons...but I'm still a man!) We are fortunate to have a large pantry and plenty of space for storage. So the plan is by searching for deals on foods we eat, then stock-piling by buying a bunch at a time. I've already started and I've loaded up on spaghetti sauce ($.46/jar), chili ($.80/can), and cereal ($.99/box). I've learned that most stores and manufactures cycle their sales every 3-4 months, so the method of buying enough for 3-4 months should pay off.

Is anybody wondering what this has to to do with buying a $300 phone? Monica has agreed to let me do the grocery shopping (I know, how nice of her). But with some organization tools that are provided on the iphone including applications that allow for comparative shopping, and the ability to have the internet with me always, I'm sure I can save our family hundreds of dollars per month. It's a huge challenge, but I'm for it. I'll keep you updated.

If you look really close, you can see me, Mon and Abby on the deck. Caleb must be making sandwiches down below.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Am I in Heaven?

Thursday was a beautiful day. Caleb (my six year old) and I went to watch a couple high school games. We watched the J.V. (if you go to the J.V game, it's free) and the Varsity games of the mighty Mead District rivalry game between Mt. Spokane High and Mead High. Both games were close and fun to watch. I love it that Caleb likes to go to games with me. He may be more excited that we eat nachos and popcorn for dinner than actually watching the game, but I'll take the father-son time any way I can get it.
We got home in time to watch the Gonzaga University game that had been recorded when I realized the Utah Jazz were also on TV...How could this night get any better?? Thank goodness for the DVR so I could record both games and then watch them without commercials. Just as I was heading for bed after watching four games, guess who the guest analyst after the Jazz game was...only the greatest power-forward of all time, Karl Malone. He also was a permanent fixture on my wall while growing up, in addition to playing a little basketball.
I can only imagine this is what those of us who do what God says, will get to do after we die.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A week in Paris

Monica spent six days last week in Anaheim, CA for a scrapbook convention. With her gone, it was single-parent time for me. (i.e. Mac-n-Cheese, Spaghetti's, and cheese quesadillas) I can't imagine being a parent without a microwave. I know I'm pathetic, since I didn't even have to work while she was gone, but I now have a great respect for what she and many parents around the world do everyday.

With me cooking (OK maybe I'm using the verb 'cooking' loosely, but this is my blog, so wipe that smirk off your face) three meals a day and providing for our kids, Monica was hamming it up with her scrapbook friends. She even spent some time with Paris Hilton.....yes, that Paris Hilton. I'm not sure where to start with this strange situation, I just have too many questions.

1) What was Paris Hilton doing at a scrapbook convention? I just can't imagine Paris hanging out with her pals cutting out paper, photos, and decorations.
2) Why was Monica with Paris Hilton? Come on, where was Angelina Jolee or Julia Roberts? Of all the celebrities, it had to be one of the famous people in the world that is only famous for being born. She's not talented, she's not gifted, she hasn't done anything newsworthy...all she did was be born....into a rich family.
3) Why couldn't it have been me, that would have been so cool to meet Paris, she's HOT!

Mon says the trip was successful. The kids and I survived the week, though we may be a little malnourished. And we now have giant photos of Paris Hilton in our living room. What a great country!

Vegas Baby, Vegas

Mon and I had a great time in Las Vegas last week. Despite a 10-hour plane delay and slight detour through Oakland, CA, we did everything we wanted and more for a short kids-free vacation.
We got to see a couple shows, we soaked in the hot tub, we stuffed ourselves and Monica even won some money.

For me, the best thing of the entire trip was that we took NO pictures! (All men reading this just stood up and applauded) It was a great feeling to only smile when I was happy or laughing and not at the end of 1...2....3....

I would tell more about our trip, but you know the whole 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' deal. I wouldn't want to wake up tomorrow next to a horse's head because I broke code. A huge thanks goes to Mon's parents, Travis, and Sarah (bro and sis in-law) for watching our kids. We were able to recharge our batteries for another least.