Mother’s Day

Today we celebrate the most wonderful of humans. Mothers often make great sacrifices in personal comfort and many other personal ambitions for the sake of doing their very best to provide for another human. There are few mothers I have met that would not give everything they had and often more for the precious little charges in their custody.

I am thankful for my lovely wife and the love and affection she has for our children. After all the hours spent reading books and articles on caring for babies, the many hours spent hugging the porcelain throne, midnight and early morning awakenings to feed her, and all them diapers; after all that, she still loves the little thing. It is amazing, and it just makes her that much more lovable.

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To all you mothers, I salute you. To Jennifer: I salute and adore you. You were wonderful when I met you, and you are even more so now.

Schools Out!

Hooray! I have taken my last final and DTS has let out for the summer. I have been pounding the keyboard for the last couple days, catching up on projects that have languished in my inbox for far too long. I talked to Melissa Dewey yesterday and she commented that things must have been busy during the semester because I didn’t post much on my blog.

Not having a television, it is hard to imagine where all our time has gone. However, throughout the day, this breathtaking little beauty comes crawling or cruising into the room insisting on attention. She is quite pleased to absorb every spare second we will give her. She is still a perfect little angel. Quite honestly, it is hard to be the least bit objective about her. After all, she is so much more cute and loveable than anything else.

When Jen and I are not working, Kayla enjoys keeping our keyboards from experiencing any loneliness.
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We also have a few games she enjoys playing. A favorite is peek-a-boo, which sounds a bit like pah-poo. We now have a number of words, including da-dee, ma-ma, uh-oh, and mmm. The later is just what you’d guess, “Yo, big people, how about sharing that food down here, eh?” Speaking of size, she has gone from 19″ (birth) to 25″ (6 mos) to 28″ as 11 months. It is good to see that all the food she eats is going somewhere other than into the Diaper Genie.

About a month ago she became highly mobile (crawling and cruising) so now she gets into everything. We like the toilet paper to stay on the rolls so the bathroom doors stay closed. We let her play in all the cupboards that don’t have glass or toxic cleaners in them. The cupboard doors used to have little pads on them to keep them from slamming. While unattented, she enjoys removing them, so now we don’t have a door left with them. They got in the way of, slam, slam, slam, which is far more fun than, dull thud, dull thud, dull thud.

When we are not otherwise occupied with Kayla, our work, or my homework, we learn how not to destroy Kayla’s chance of ever having a “normal” life. We have graduated from What To Expect When You’re Expecting to What To Expect: Your First Year. Now that Kayla is in her 11th month and the shelf of baby books is full, its time to step up a notch. I have started with with Making Children MIND without Losing YOURS by Kevin Leman. He’s the same guy that wrote Sex Begins in the Kitchen which is another book I enjoyed reading.

Kayla got a present in the mail today from Mike & Deb Surls. It was a small box which alone provided a good 25 minutes of entertainment.
Kayla's Present

The contents were a little more mysterious. Enclosed was a very cool Aerobie Superdisc (frisbee) which I suspect was for Jen and I. However, also enclosed is a package of blue washcloths and a blue receiving blanket. Our theory is that the blue items are the first gifts for Junior 2.0, and the Surls are rooting for a boy. I would like to have a boy and if we get one this time around I won’t have to twist Jen’s arm for number three. But if its a boy, then daddy gets the big snip snip. I am of two minds.

There is more news to post, but there’s also 173 emails and two inches worth of papers to finish dealing with.

Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving we drove down to Melissa and Ruben’s home in Houston. Also at the Colunga’s was Mary and Grandma Whaley and we had a great time with them. As you would expect on Thanksgiving, the food was plentiful and tasty and there was far more than could be eaten. You can click the photo below to see a photo album from the trip.


As we left Dallas, Jen drove while I used DallasGasPrices.com to find the cheapest price on diesel fuel along our route. We filled the Jetta and drove to Houston, and then to Galveston (Moody Gardens), and all the way back, filling up at the same station. The trip meter read 610 miles and we could have gone another 60 miles or so. It’s hard not to love the Jetta’s frugality.

Unexpected treats

The past two months have been marked by unexpected good fortune. I’m quite fond of the quote “luck is the result of fate intersecting with preparation”, but all the recent good fortune exceeds any rational explanation, and can only be explained as confirmation that we are where we’re supposed to be, doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

After getting moved in, it was time to get connected. We started out visiting our neighbors, one house per evening. We’ve met all our immediate neighbors and a few more of the near ones. We are thankful to be surrounded by some extremely good neighbors all the way around us. What a blessing.

Now we’re church hopping, searching for a church home that we’ll enjoy and grow in. This morning we went to Fellowship Church over by Lewisville. It’s not the church we’ll be attending but boy did we have a good time. We just happened to visit the Sunday when Newsboys were live in concert. Better still, they played three of my favorite songs. You know it’s a great worship service when your voice is strained afterward.

Classes begin Tuesday. On Thursday, Jen and I attended orientation. Orientation is basically an interactive way to give you the laundry list of things you need to do. Get your ID card. Get a parking permit. Find your mailbox. Figure out how to open it. Read your student handbook. The library is there, sign up for a guided tour (yes, it’s almost necessary). Deadlines for X are on Y date, etc. All very exciting stuff. Yawn.

Friday was far more fun, consisting of two entrance examinations and two take home assignments. The first test was the MMPI (Minneapolis Multiphase Personality Inventory). The instructor told us it’s a way to help them determine how well we adjust to personal and social change. S-u-r-e, that’s one of the uses, but it’s also used to assess mental disorders. With more than a few of the 567 questions like “someone is out to get me: T/F?”, and “I’m being followed: T/F?”, it’s evident what they’re looking for. “Sir, your results are in. Would you mind wearing this jacket while we take a little walk?”

The other test was a biblical & theology knowledge test. We get to take this test at entrance and graduation. The goal is that you do better the second time. That won’t be hard to do. The test was very humbling. I’m guessing I scored about 6%.

One of the take-home tests was actually a pretty enjoyable one. It’s called “PROFILES of Ministry” by the Association of Theological Schools. The test consists of 24 scenarios. Following each scenario description is a selection of possible responses. You rate each response based on your likelihood of using it. Finally, you are presented with a selection of motives for choosing the responses. Again, you choose how likely you would be to have each motive. I expect those test results to be quite valuable and interesting.

Last, but certainly not least is Kayla. We’ve now passed two parenting milestones. We’ve left her in nursery twice now. That’s no small step for a first time mommy. Kayla is now 24″ long and weights 13 lbs. She started out on the small side but has made up for it since. We’re almost certain she spoke. When Grandpa called from Alaska today, I heard her say “Halibut” and lick her chops.

Simerson Housing & Moving

Wow. So much has happened in the last few weeks. The biggest news is that our house in Michigan is SOLD! That happened on July 23rd, days before we lit out of town for Marco’s wedding in Nashville. This blessing came as a big surprise. For starters, there’s an excess of houses on the market in Cadillac, almost a years worth. Our listing price was $25k higher than the next most expensive house on our street. Our neighborhood isn’t the cities finest.

Because of those considerations, we expected to sit on the house for at least a year or two. We expected it so much that we had a renter all lined up and ready to move in as soon as we moved out. Then, as divine providence would have it, we got two excellent offers, a day apart. We had only to pick the best offer (cash, no contingencies) and just like that, our house was sold. Yesterday we signed all the closing documents and overnighted them back to Michigan. The closing will be completed next week.

In previous posts I made note of the moving out party and the blessing our friends were. I’ll pick up the story on Friday evening, the day before the truck arrived with all our stuff.

Because Jen didn’t want me to unload the entire truck by myself (again, as I did in our Atlanta to Cadillac move) we made arrangements to get Jordan (1st cousin, once removed) from the Air Force base in Wichita Falls. On Saturday AM, we discovered it was a 3 hour drive to get him and booked him tickets on a greyhound. The plan was to have the truck unloaded by Sunday evening, in time to take him back to the base.

The truck arrived at 9:20AM and Jordan would be arriving around 2PM, so I set to getting a head start on the unloading. As I was working, Omega, my neighbor across the street saw me working away. He inquired, and then changed his clothes and set to work helping me. Omega is about my size but with an apparent muscular build, hardy work ethic, and is acclimated to the heat. That man worked non-stop with me, all morning long. By 2:30PM when Jen and Jordan arrived, we were hauling in the last big piece of furniture.

For the rest of Saturday and Sunday, we 3 kings of unpacking were. We worked from one room to the next, tearing into boxes and dispersing their contents. Excepting the living room (due to a lack of bookshelves), there are no boxes left in the house. We have the following rooms in order: master bedroom, Kayla’s room, master & guest bath, and kitchen. It’s taken two days to arrange the office.

The office is complex due to sawing and installation of the rack in the guest room closet, stringing Ethernet cables through the attic from room to room, and setting up all the computers in their new environment. The file server is all set up in the server closet (instead of on Jen’s desk) and Jen’s primary computer is now the PowerBook (connected to the 20″ display and external keyboard/mouse).

Home, sweet home

We arrived last night to find we had no water or electricity (it should have been on). A phone call cleared that up, but the technician didn’t arrive until 2:00PM today. The Cable modem installer arrived at 11AM. I had already wired up the access point, switch, cable modem, and IP phone. They were being powered by the DC inverter in my car via an extension cord. By the time the cable lady had it wired up outside, I had everything in the house on-line.

Now the carpet cleaners are here, removing the aromatic evidence of the previous owner’s cats. The process is pretty cool, they use a black light to find the affected areas and then replace the padding and treat the entire carpet. When they’re done, they guarantee the job. Fortunately, the utility guy showed up and turned the power on, now their machines can work. πŸ™‚

Tomorrow morning at 9:00AM our truck will arrive. We’ll have Jordan (my cousin Kevin’s son) here to help and maybe a buddy, Rick. At least we’ll have good weather, it’s only 93 degrees today.

Simerson Moving Schedule

Howdy pardners,

Everyone wants to know when we’re leaving. The final answer is: Aug 10th. That’s the short answer. If you plan to see us on Aug 10th though, you’ll be disappointed. Here’s the full schedule:

July 27th – Drive to Nashville
July 28-30th – Marco’s Wedding
July 31st – Drive back to Cadillac

Aug 1-5 – Pack up the house, install trim and paint in a few places
Aug 5-8 – Load everything into the truck
Aug 9th – Last minute odds and ends
Aug 10-11th – Drive to Texas
Aug 12-14 – Unload the truck in our Texas home
Aug 16-22 – Unpack
Aug 25th – School starts

And, no post would be complete with a Kayla photo.

This morning she had her 2 month checkup. She’s now 22 inches long and weights 10.6 pounds. She also got her shots so now she’s got Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussus (whooping cough), HIB, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Pneumococcal disease. Despite her little body being a disease riddled mess, she’s holding up remarkably well. She is mildly fussy and has a low grade fever, which is to be expected. What surprises me is that in spite of not feeling well, she’s still a very happy little girl.

Look what I found!

Somebody had a very thoughtful and loving way to say “Happy Anniversary” this morning. πŸ™‚

Volleyball Championship

Jen and I have been playing an indoor co-ed volleyball league all winter. We wrapped up the season last month and our team had a good season, ending up as third of twelve teams. As soon as the season ended, we badgered the league’s organizer to make sure our bracket (the top level) played as early in the tournament as possible due to Jen’s pregnancy. The first tournament date was April 10th, so we spent most of Sunday playing volleyball.

So, we played our best and won the tournament, right? Not exactly. We started out playing much as we had all season, which is to say, competent, but not well. The tournament was double elimination so we started by winning our first game, and then losing the next two. Losing our first match set us up for the long road through the losers bracket before we could get a chance to play the top team for the winners seat.

After losing our first match, we started fighting, a little. Our lot in life was knocking all the other teams out of the tournament by handing them their second defeat. Our next couple matches were difficult. We played three games in each match, losing one but narrowly winning two games. Simply put, we played just well enough to avoid ultimate defeat. However, during those first three matches, we slowly began achieving something we hadn’t achieved all season, synergy. As the day went on, our team play got better and better.

Late in the day, we had earned our right to battle against the top team. Their first match was a bye so they were well rested, having played no more than 6 games in their two matches. We got to watch them play one game. Comparatively, we had already played 11 games in 4 matches. That’s what I mean by “the long road” through the losers bracket. We would have to beat the top team twice, meaning at least 4 and possibly six more games.

Having watched them, we identified their biggest threat and devised a plan to control him. Our plan was simple. Their big hitter was super fast, with an explosive attack to the net. We watched for it early and double blocked both their hitters on every swing. Here was the critical difference. As contrasted to our regular season blocking, our blocking matured dramatically during the tournament. It wasn’t just one of us blockers that got better, nearly every one of us did. Karl, Rhonda, Eric, and I all stepped up our blocking and put the smack-down on the hitters. We started it in our third match, employed it well during the fourth, and by the time we got to our fifth and sixth matches against the top team, we used it so well that we effectively shut down their offensive weapons.

As we kept blocking, their big guns were pulling back off the net, hitting from mid-court, and doing a lot more placement instead of big swings. We had one team shut us down mercilessly in regular season by blocking our every hit. This time I got to watch the block from our side and I’m beginning to understand just how critical the block at the net is. An effective block forces their offense to settle for a less intense attack. It’s easier for us to defend and get up a good pass to the setters. As our passes improved, our setting picked up, and so did our hitting. Our little guns were credible weapons and our big guns pounded them relentlessly.

We won the first match in 2 successive games. We didn’t just beat them, we demoralized them. In the second match, they commented, “maybe we should just sit over on the bleachers and watch you finish up.” The very same ladies that fed Jay set after set when he subbed in for them during the regular season were ready to pronounce him one of the devil’s own for pounding so many successive balls at them. “It’s not all about power”, they’d snide. They were feeling helpless, and we were riding the tides of victory. Our last 4 games were our easiest, and we won them by substantial margins.

We played from 1 to 7PM, with only one break between our first and second matches. We closed out the day by winning our 15th and final game, handing the 4th consecutive defeat to the leagues top rated team. For me, the victory was bigger than the tournament. I saw us achieve a level of unity our team had lacked all year, and we all played our best, together.