Wednesday, December 26, 2007

First off, a belated Merry Christmas to one and all! I fear that family obligations have overwhelmed me the past week, and I have neglected not only my blog, but you my brothers and sisters.So please forgive me this slight.

Being that we have less than 6 days before the new year begins, I've been thinking of resolutions; I always make them, and I never quite live up to them (I'm sure there is at least one of you out there nodding your head in agreement). Anyway, i have decided that this year I will set my goals below the level of luicrous, and try to actually keep the resolutions I have sworn to make.

I havent finalized them yet, but the Wife and I agree that healthy eating habits are paramount (it also will help our kids out, as we plan on cutting out fast food altogether as part of the plan).

Anyway, I found the following article, and thought it sounded like it could be a big help in trying to keep resolutions, so I figured I'd share it with you.

Did you know that fewer than 10% of people who set New Years' Resolutions actually achieve them? How can you ensure YOUR success? Try using the Top 10 Tips below.

1. Write Them Down. It's a fact: writing down your goals gives you a higher chance of success.

2. Commit. Move beyond the land of "good ideas" to the land of true "commitment". Make the decision that you will show up for your goals. Perhaps you can do a ritual or ceremony to symbolize your commitment.

3. Tell People. Let your biggest fans in on your new commitments and goals for the year.

4. Get Accountability. Even better than just letting others in on your "secret" dreams and goals-get some accountability. Meet for lunch once a month with a group that will ask you, "So, how's it going with your goal?" Hire a Coach. Talk to your best friend or partner. Get some support!

5. Make a Plan. Ensure success with a step-by-step plan. Electric Kites Success Coaching loves to work backwards by starting with the end vision of where you want to be and working backwards to where you are today. You'll find an easy action plan to make your goals a reality.

6. Do a Goal Check-In. Before you decide on what you'll take on for the year, make certain you can answer, "YES!" to the following questions: "Am I the primary reason for setting this goal (vs. your mom, boyfriend, wife, boss, society)? Do I feel alive and energized by this goal? Is this goal in line with my life purpose or mission?"

7. Get Real! If you're contemplating putting a goal down that you always put down and never achieve, take a second look. How will this goal end DIFFERENTLY this year? Is this goal something you need to let go of? What purpose is it serving you each year? What is the good enough reason to truly commit?

8. Focus With Reminders. Once you've got your goals and plan in place, figure out ways to remind yourself. Some Electric Kites' clients post their goals in on their bathroom mirror or in their car. Others put reminders in their palm pilots or cell phones. Figure out what works for you.

9. Believe and Visualize. Do you know the story about the group of basketball players who spent one hour visualizing making baskets, while another group actually practiced? The visualizing players had better seasons! So visualize yourself on New Years Eve 2009 with all your goals achieved. What would that look like? How would it feel? Visualize once a day and see the difference it can make in your life.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A day to remember...

I had a kind of rough day today, and I am completely worn out. I was up most of the night with my youngest who is nursing a wicked cold, so Ive only had a few hours of sleep. Earlier today found me waiting on a rental truck to become available, while I watched an angry man berate a cashier (no more than 19 or 20) in Home depot because she did not have an answer that was acceptable to him regarding a battery to a cordless drill. With a great deal of cursing, stomping around and with complete disregard to the two older women and my two sons in line he went off about her lack of intelligence and how bad the store sucked. I went from there, to moving two sofas by myself, switching one out for another. Later on, after countless attempts to clean the house, and being interrupted by both the boys whining and being mean to each other, I finally lost my temper when they tracked mud into the house all over my carpet and my kitchen. I yelled at both of them so loudly that they cried, and was so mad, I had to walk outside to collect my thoughts and reign my temper in......Then I remembered what day it was....

I don't usually like to cross post from my other blog, " Ostenfeld", but today is a day that is slowly but surely slipping away from the thoughts and minds of our fellow countrymen. Today marks the 63rd anniversary of The Ardennes Offensive, called Unternehmen: Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine) by the German military, officially named the Battle of the Ardennes by the U.S. Army, and known to the general public as the Battle of the Bulge.

On this day German forces began an assault at 05:30, with a massive
artillery barrage on the Allied troops facing the Sixth SS Panzer Army. By 08:00 all three German armies attacked through the Ardennes. In the northern sector Dietrich’s Sixth SS Panzer Army assaulted the Losheim Gap and the Elsenborn Ridge in an effort to break through to Liège. In the center von Manteuffel’s Fifth Panzer Army attacked towards Bastogne and St. Vith, both road junctions of great strategic importance. In the south, Brandenberger’s Seventh Army pushed towards Luxembourg in their efforts to secure the flank from Allied attacks.

The attacks by the Sixth SS Panzer Army’s infantry units in the north fared badly because of unexpectedly fierce resistance by the U.S. 2nd and 99th Infantry Divisions at the Elsenborn Ridge, stalling their advance; this caused Dietrich to make the decision to commit his panzer forces early. Starting on 16 December, however, snowstorms engulfed parts of the Ardennes area. While having the desired effect of keeping the Allied aircraft grounded, the weather also proved troublesome for the Germans because poor road conditions hampered their advance. Poor traffic control led to massive traffic jams and fuel shortages in forward units.
(taken from Wikipedia)

My Uncle was there; he was in the Pennsylvania National guard, 28th infantry, they were sent to the Bastogne area for some R&R. At the time, it was a very quiet piece of land that did not seem to be in any danger ofbecomning a hot zone. The 28th needed a break after spending nearly 3 months in the Hurtgen Forest. They had been given the name "The Bloody Bucket" (for the red keystone on their shoulder patches) by the German troops for both their fighting abilities and the appalling losses they faced (upwards of 70% of the entire division). On the 16th of December, the 28th along with other divisions, held off the Sixth SS Panzer,for five days, allowing the 101st Airborne enough time to arrive and reinforce the town of Bastogne. Ever watched "Band of Brothers"? Sure they held of the Germans, but the 28th stopped them before the 101st ever got there. I've heard stories of the men, falling asleep in water filled foxholes, and having to smash the ice in the morning when they woke up with their rifle butts, just to get out and move around.

I think of my Uncle and his comrades, and what they went thru 63 years ago, and I am embarrassed by my attitude today. Its so sad, how we can think we are on the right path, finding our way thru all the avarice and narcissism in this world, only to realize that weve played right into it.

Lord, help me not only to be humble, but kind, patient, and appreciative of all that I have, and help me to sway away from the things in this world that make me proud, angry and indignant. Truly, I have been gifted with an abundance of things that even now, I cannot fully appreciate.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

5:49 P.M.

It is Saturday, and I am headed home, after a long day of shopping and errands. The boys are in the back seat bickering over a bionicle toy; a freebee from McDonalds (the first resolution for the year -and one I intend to keep- no more McDonalds or any other fast food for my boys or me). We are in the upscale part of Charlotte, and never in my life have I encountered such rude and obnoxious drivers. I want to be back up in my neighborhood north of this place, where the cow pastures can still be seen, where there dont seem to be so many cars, and when there are this many cars, the people dont seem so obnoxious. It's still the same town, but for some reason the people seem nicer...At least they let you into the right hand turning lane when they see your blinker on, instead of speeding up so you dont get in front of them....

I am in a foul mood, the curse words are on the tip of my tongue and would have long since fallen for my lips, save for the two innocents in the back seat. The traffic, the rude drivers, the biting cold, the rain (which I should be-and am- thankful for since were still in a drought) and my sons ready to strangle each other over a stupid .05 cent toy have pushed me to my limits, and I do not feel the Christmas spirit

But then I see Christmas lights on a house, and I recall days long ago, waxing nostalgic of a sun slung way down low on the horizon, a cold sliver of its former self, muted by mottled gray clouds promising snow flurries and endless strands of Christmas lights for as far as the eye can see. I'm 10 or 11 years old, and Christmas has me in it's thrall. I marvel at every light display with wonder and awe, so happy to be in the middle of all this Holiday fare. Many of these very houses we pass in the here and now I can recall from my childhood; this house had the Plastic Rudoplh with all the other reindeer pulling santas sleigh on the roof, that house had a life sized plastic nativity set ( I think it's the same one in their front yard still to this day), and i remember the joy i had, and realize that while I dont always have that joy in me, my children do (they really dont fight all that often), and one day, they'll be where I am, driving their children around, so I guess all is right in the world, so long as I have my childrens memories to live vicariously through.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the times, they are-a-changin...

When I was a small boy, I can recall my Father taking my sister and I downtown to see the window dressings at Belks Dept. Store and Iveys (not unlike the picture above), in downtown Charlotte. It was one of the highlights of Christmas for us,and is one of my fondest memories of childhood. It's quite reminiscent of Jean Shepherds own memoirs.Anyway, iIt meant alot to me, and, I'm sorry to say, neither one of those buildings is really around anymore, and, for the life of me, I cannot find a window display to take my boys to see. I want to make Christmas special for them, and as I attempt to complete this mission, I am reminded of my own Christmas memories.So now I am thinking ( in retrospect), what happened? Christmas used to have such a huge impact on us, you very rarely even heard someone say "Happy holidays", it was ALWAYS "Merry Christmas".I just dont understand why we have to be so careful to tread lightly when it comes to the Lords birthday. I understand that other people are not Christian, dont celebrate Christmas and all that, but why should we compromise a moment in our year that is only rivaled by the joy of Easter? It's not right, its just not right.

Anyway, we try to do things for the boys that will make Christmas special, and this past Sunday we went downtown to Imax to see "Polar Express". They enjoyed it thoroughly, and we all had a really good time, but walking thru downtown on our way back to the car, I could almost hear the ghosts of our laughter and delight from 33 years ago, and it made me a little sad. We have a bunch of things we do, alot of them Church oriented, but not all of them. I'm interested though; What are your family traditions? What do you do to herald in the Joy of our Lords Birth, AND to usher in the Holiday season?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dusk, In recline

Descending Hues,

Long shadows fall

Coffee and frost

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oh, to be in Germany.......

To say I love Christmas is an understatement.....To say I have an unhealthy fixation with all things German? Well, that might be a little too overdramatic, but I do love most everything German (except for that nasty period in the 1930's and 40's they went thru). So when the Christmas season comes around, I always find myself staring at my computer screen, wishing I could spend just one day at the Nürnberger Christkindelesmarket . Never heard of the Christkindelmarkets? Allow me (with Wikipedia's help) to enlighten you...

Christkindlesmarkt, also known as a Christmas market,is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the advent, mainly the four weeks preceding Christmas Day. Some of the most popular items at the Market are the Nativity Scene (also known as a crèche or crib); Zwetschgamännla (figures made of decorated dried plums); Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers); Gebrannte Mandeln or candied, toasted almonds; assorted cookies like Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread); Christstollen or Stollen, a sort of egg bread with candied fruit; and not least, Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg based warm alcoholic drink), to keep the body going in the cold winter air. Many other homemade crafts and toys, books, and (in recent years) more or less useful gadgets can be found at a Christkindlmarkt.

A list of markets aroubnd the world can be found here. The
Nürnberger Christkindelesmarket has a live webcam, so you can check out all the festivities from the comfort of your own home, but it wont help stymie the desire to be there, especially when you consider the market is situated in front of a 530 year old German Cathedral.I dont know about y'all, but this sounds like a wonderful place to visit! If you are in the Chicago area, there is always the Chicago Christkindelsmarket
or if you are closer to Pennsylvania, there is the Christkindelsmarket Bethlehem, in Bethlehem Pa.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am trying very hard to be humble....

I really, really am...... But I have this problem, and it is really bothering me... Got a minute?

See, were supposed to be having this dinner for my parents tomorrow; it's their 50th anniversary. Its supposed to be me, my wife, my folks, my sister, and her husband. It was supposed to be a small, family get together because my Mom has been sick, nothing fancy, just a nice night with family. But my sister took it upon herself to invite this guy we've known all our lives, and he and his wife. they are driving all the way up from Florida.It is a surprise for my Mom. See, this guy, his mother was my Moms best friend for years, and when she died, my Mom "adopted" him, and since then has pretty much acted as if he was their second son (the one they're proud of). It wouldnt be fair to say I dislike this guy... I have a great, swirling mass of antipathy for him. I know, I know, I shouldnt feel this way, what would St. Francis say, right?

But this guy isn't my brother, and frankly I resent it that my parents treat him like family (sometimes even moreso than they treat me)! I'm mad at my sister for inviting him, even after I told her I did not want him invited. It goes way deeper than what I've given you here thus far; it has to do with me trying (seemingly in vain) to make ammends for my past slights, bungles and screw-ups as a son, I was not a very good kid, I did alot to make my parents angry, and try as I might, I dont think theyve forgiven me yet.

Anyone got any good advice for me??

UPDATE: Last night went off without a hitch, it was fantastic. My parents had a grand time(which was the whole point of the entire night), the guy my sister invited was actually alot nicer than I remember, and was genuinely glad to see me. I think my anitpathy towards him was based on how much my parents talked about him. I flet slighted, and it mad me angry. I see that now, and I want to thank you guys for writing to me about this! I am lucky to have found friends like you I can depend on!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I am humbled that Little Scribe nominated me for The Mathetes Award for excellence in discipleship. I was very surprised and appreciative. A thousand thank you's!.

Here's the quote from the original blog post explaining the award:

"Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) it to make more disciples. I'd like to take the opportunity to award five other bloggers with this award and badge for acting in the role of a disciple of Christ. These five all share the message in their own creative ways, and I admire them all for what they do.

"In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1)this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ. If you know of other deserving recipients of this award, and would like to start a new string, then please post a link to where you've started in in the comments to this post. I would love for many deserving bloggers to be blessed with this recognition."
The rules of participating:

1. Copy this post.
2. Reflect on five bloggers.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Generation X-mas....

I should point out before I go any further, that I loathe the use of the term "X-mas"; I only entitled my entry as such, because it is the title of the article I just read in TIME by James Poniewozik. The article was a debate between which Christmas movie is the best, "It's a wonderful life", or "A Christmas story". I've read the article a few times now, and don't understand why we need this article at all, but he wrote it, and here I am to write about it.He says that while he likes "Wonderful Life", don't we think its just a little bit oppressive? That Bedford Falls was better off with the more interesting nightlife presented when George had never been born, and so on and so forth. Click on the link if you want to read the whole article. In the article Poniewozik contends that : "Christmas Story lampoons holiday greed but delights in it too--there's no platitudinous ending about how Christmas isn't really about presents.".....Really?? I beg to differ

I think Poniewozik missed is the importance, the underlying message of both "Wonderful Life" and "Christmas story", that in all reality, isn't all that underlying to begin with. It isn't about the material, it's about the love, the family, the cohesiveness that the two can bring together when we work at them. Am I reaching here? I don't think so. They both have a certain amount of tragedy interwoven, albeit Capra's is certainly more painfully obvious than Clarks. But in the end, both Families find that whatever happens, no matter if it's Potter trying to destroy you, or the Bumpus hounds eating your turkey, that as long as you have family to rely on, everything is all right. So perhaps I've taken Poniewozik's article a little bit too seriously, but it's gotten me to thinking about how lucky I am to have the family that I do.

In the end, it really is only one mans opinion about two different, yet equally entertaining movies -my two very favorite Christmas movies in fact- but what it tells me is that sometimes even when the truth is staring at you point blank, you don't see the good that lies just beneath the surface.

Monday, December 3, 2007


30 minutes standing

22 people deep

Front of the line

Daddy, I dont want to sit on Santas lap.

My newest haiku on Winter haiku 2007, inspired by the massive lines to see st. Nick at concord Mills Mall yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December 1st, it finally feels like the Christmas season! I suppose this statement is a bit on the untrue side; it has felt like Christmas for a week or so now, but the real season, the true reason, was made evident last night at the Advent wreath making class. Then after we got home, I (being the manly man that I am) had to bake cookies for the Parish cookie walk, since the Cajun Princess had to be at work at 6:00 A.M. this morning. It is officially on the books now, I am the ugliest member of the St. Thomas Aquinas womens group. So anyway, today all the wonderful things that signify the Christmas season have hit home, and I feel a little bit happier, a little bit more thankful.

Lk 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”