22 February 2009

On an early Sunday morning

I've never been much for sleeping in. Even when I was in college, I can't recall a time where I slept in much past 730AM (it didn't help that I had early classes or a morning job). I had friends who considered waking at noon to be too early. I have two daughters that are on that train. Not me. 600AM is almost late for me. I fear I may be turning into my dad - 330AM or 4AM wake ups are totally normal for him. I now get why the blue-hair/elderly set are at the buffet at 4PM - that's late dinner for them! But I digress...

I am up early this morning, as usual. Full day of getting religion on the docket. Pre-church meetings start at 9AM, then services at 1PM, with some post-meetings that will have me there until 530PM or 6PM. It makes for a long day, but typically, a fulfilling one. So looking forward to dinner tonight. We are having some friends over and tonight is Cuban night. We are doing black bean soup and ropa veija. We were going to do the tostone thing again but after our last debacle with tostones, the stunningly patient SML and I decided to hold off. We are trying a new dessert - tres leches cake. Now I am no fan of milk - I hate it - (it has been 22 almost 23 years since I've had a glass of milk) and I hate soggy food even more (texture just makes me want to hurl) but there's just something about tres leches cake. So the stunningly patient SML and I spent part of yesterday afternoon, prepping the cake as well as the carne for the ropa vieja.

It was one of those snowy Chicagoland afternoons where going outside was pretty unappealing so warming up in the kitchen was a cool alternative. We were reminded just how small our kitchen as we worked together (older midwestern homes are not known for their big, workable kitchens - galleys on the Boeing 777 are bigger and more workable than our stupid kitchen) but we still managed to get the job done. We enjoyed that time together - dare I say it was one of those idyllic moments:
Probably not as idyllic as this.

Speaking of idyllic, after dinner is over, it will be time to catch the latest episode of "The Amazing Race." Then I'll pack for my next trip - Mexico City on Monday morning. Thanks to Mother United canceling their non-stop between Chicago O'Hare and Mexico City, I'll be doing the United hub tour to get to/from Mexico City. If nothing else, it's more miles and segments to the "Dad I need an airplane ticket" fund. At least there's some tacos al pastor and nopal in my future. And maybe a stop at Quesadilla Maria Isabel. Indeed, that will happen. Back in the States on Thursday. Just to head downstate all day Saturday. The calendar is full. But that's better than the alternative I suppose.

18 February 2009

How's your day been?

So how's your day been? Mine, you ask? Let's see...that would be not good. This pretty much sums it up:
And let me make it clear, I would be the one getting spanked.

I won't bore you with the details - it's all work-related. Let's just say that the year-end review period and the goal setting period for the new year are a drain, a chore, all manner of stuff. And that's not the worst of it. Still several more hours of work to go tonight so I took a quick break. The house is full of the wonderful aroma of roast - the stunningly patient SML, after working a full day today, has prepped a roast for sandwiches tonight. That'll warm us up as it's snowing again.

Still tons to do. Fly to Washington DC tomorrow night and then leave for Mexico City on Monday. I have a presentation there on Tuesday that I haven't even started yet. That's going to have to wait for the weekend. No choice. Just need to get through tonight.

16 February 2009


It's an auspicious day for our family today, 16 February. Our eldest child, Our Lady of BYU, turns 19.

It's been a terrific 19 year ride so far for her. She's having the time of her life now at school, having great fun, making lots of new friends, and finding a little bit of time to fret over her choice of major. She's brought us a tremendous amount of joy, as all our children have. It's quite a thing to watch her wade the waters of young adulthood. I'm grateful for the decisions she's made so far. She's doing well. I'm glad that she's sharing her life with us the way she does - glad she let me hang with her one weekend at school last fall:

I marvel that we have a nineteen year old. She's very much like her mom, organized, focused. She's got a bit of my viewpoint on life - we'll see how that serves her. I love her tagline...."Life's tough, get a helmet." That's my girl!

Remember the movie version of "The Wild Thornberrys"? Paul Simon sang a song called "Father & Daughter" and it pretty much nails how I feel about the birthday girl and her sister, CAL. Here's the video:

I'm standing guard still and there's never been a father who loves his daughters as much as I love Our Lady of BYU and her sister CAL.

Happy birthday, Princess. Love you, Dad

14 February 2009

Valentine's Day - I still vote no

The image on the left captures nicely, and, based on my Google image search, least offensively, my sentiments about the annual corporate-engineered (and profiteering) sap fest that is Valentine's Day. I can safely and proudly say that I have never supported this hollow celebration of one's adoration and/or love for another. I do not need any number of corporations, and you know who they are, telling me that I need to rush out and buy several things in order to prove or show my love to my "special someone." I'm not having it.

The stunningly patient SML, my wife of twenty years, knew this about me going in, so it wasn't like I sprung this on her after showering her with all manner of cards, candies, and flowers. If you ask her, she'll probably tell you that there's been a drought of cards, candies and flowers over the years. So some may say that's one of the reasons she's earned the title of "stunningly patient." It's not. Try living with me. Or the Boy. That's a one-two punch and it's not for the faint of heart.

Here's what I know and I don't need a day set apart on the calendar to express it, nor do I have to say it with a sappy card or anything else - I have loved the stunningly patient SML from the moment I saw her. Seriously. And I knew during our first date twenty-one years ago that I had found the reason that I wanted to be better every day and I knew I was not going to lose her. She missed that memo of enlightenment on that first date so I had my work cut out for me. And work I did. I still count my blessings each and every day that she agreed to marry me.

Twenty years later, here we are...we've done really well, I think. We've got three amazing children. We've experienced both good times and challenging times and been able to do things that I don't think either of us envisioned when we first got married. I am so lucky to have this amazing, beautiful woman as my best friend. I love her patience, her calm, her ability to see through my bravado and set me straight. I love how she has really raised our children (I've spent way too many years on the road and so much of raising the kids fell to her). I love the home she creates for us, no matter where we live. I love that she makes sure our home is one focused on Christ's principles. I love that she can't get a song lyric right to save her life - "O Shamu" instead of "Ocean Blue," sorry, ABC, but what's the diff? I love that she still loves wretched, wretched bands like Air Supply (I'd just as soon puke a lung than listen to them, but that's not important). I love that we laugh a lot. I love her.

After my mother first met the stunningly patient SML, she said to me, "You have no idea how lucky you are that she has agreed to marry you." To this day, my mother still says that. And she's right. I am a lucky, lucky man.
The stunningly patient SML and me-Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, 2008.

So this as treacly and sappy as I get - I love my wife and I am forever grateful to her. She's amazing and I'd be a mess without her. End of story. So Happy Valentine's Day.

12 February 2009

The work week winds down - mercifully.

This has been one of the most brutal weeks I've had at work in a very LONG time. And simply put, I am over it. I am so glad that it is Thursday night. I'd be happier if it were Friday night, but that's a mere 24 hours away. I can live with that.

I think in the last four days at the office that I've spent a grand total of one hour at my desk. I won't go into all that's going on but man, it's enough already. Sometimes it makes me just want to toss it all away. Pull a Joaquin Phoenix maybe and just throw it all away.

Did you see his appearance on Letterman last night? I didn't but a good friend sent me the utterly unbelievable clip. If you didn't click here. I would have posted the whole thing but stupid CBS pulled all the clips off a You-seless-Tube since they (CBS) see it as a copyright infringment they need to relax but I digress. Seriously, when was he adopted by the Manson Family? Letterman's Unabomber line was awesome. What a mess...wow. What do you say to that? Wow.

07 February 2009

Start 'Em Young

We have some good friends, Mark and Elaine, who recently celebrated the birth of their first grandchild, a boy named Mark. This has been an exciting time for them and we're grateful that they've let us share in that excitement. I'd been pondering for quite some time on what would be a good gift for young Mark, something memorable. Now his grandmother and I had more than one "friendly" exchange during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Let's just say that we were in different camps. Had her candidate won, we'd all be wondering what that candidate (the oldest and angriest man in the US Senate) was thinking by choosing a complete nut like Sarah "I can see Russia from my house!" Palin as his VP. I'm just saying. Anyway, I digress. I struck gold as I was passing through the Washington Dulles International Airport on Thursday morning as I was coming back from Brazil. That airport is puking with "America" stores - mere fronts for political trinkets and trash. I saw the Obama bib and knew instantly that it was crying out for a home with young Mark. I had to make it so. So the purchase was made and tonight was the first chance I had to give said gift. Take a look:
The Obama Boys!

So the bib is a little big, but no matter. It's awesome. His grandmother was incensed and suggested several other uses for the bib. I'll let you fill in the blanks as to what those suggestions were. But it's all good. I've probably killed any chance of us getting to baby-sit him without the presence of a Republican supervisor. Dang it.

Bring the warm!

The last two months of winter have been brutal, convincing anyone in the Chicagoland-area that global warming is more myth than impending doom (sorry, Al Gore). Well, in a delightful turn of events, it turned all kinds of warm last night. So warm that the snow that covered our patio table (it was about a one foot pile, making the table look more like a casket) melted completely. Absolutely no jacket required. At one point, the outside temperature gauge on the Swedemobile read 62 degrees. Here's the proof:
I'd like to think that I brought this weather with me from Brazil but I know that's not true. But I'm still going to think it.

It's good to be home again. I've finally gotten through the pile of mail and bills and got caught up on email. We did the slog to Costco today and it was not horrible. It was actually as quiet as I've ever seen a Costco. Not sure how to take that. Hope it's not a reflection on the economy. Went to two Church basketball games. Ah Church ball...violence and degradation that is usually reserved for dodgeball finds another home. Nice. The stunningly patient SML and daughter #2, CAL, were afraid I'd be a victim of some kind of violence or that I would offend a slew of people at the games because I wore my "Obama" t-shirt. Well, the Church did not implode and no one appeared to be offended. So we can move on happily now.

Speaking of happy, the Boy and I are going to try the new Halal/Falafel/Schwarma place, Cafe Naf Naf, this evening. I hope it's good. I'm going to be bummed if it blows.

03 February 2009

Brazil - A Carnivore's Paradise

OK, vegetarians, vegans, and PETA fans, stop reading now. This is going to be a brief but enthusiastic ode to the carnivore's paradise that is Brazil.

I have had the opportunity to dine at an Uruguayan churrascaria, a Brazilian hamburger (LOVE THE PICANHA CUT!) joint, and an Argentine steakhouse. SLICE OF HEAVEN! The Uruguayan place takes the prize. The steak was incredible - just the right amount of fat and it was an incredible cut. The chimichurri sauce drew out the flavor of the meat. Each bite was something to savor. Time and time again. The hamburger place - wow. They did something with the cheese that was out of this world. The meals were all so distracting that I really didn't get any pictures. The Brazilians really know how to do a cut of meat. A protein bonanza. Awesome. And more awesome.

It's been a good conference here in Sao Paulo. The Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo is one of my favorite "city" hotels in the world. The speaker today at our general session was a 26 year old Brazilian lawyer who was born without arms and legs. Typically, I find speakers like there (motivational) to be a pile. This was an amazing presentation. This young man does not let anything get in his way. He's a champion samba drummer, a scuba diver, a lawyer, sings in a band, is married, and oh yeah, has two sons. His name is Marcos Rossi. Check him out here on YouTube. It's in Portugese, but give it a look. I was amazed by him to say the least. The whole room, 500 people, felt the power of his spirit and the entire room was in tears at the conclusion, including me. I had to follow him and close in three languages. A walk in the park it was not.

It's been good to be here. That being said, I'm ready to wrap it up and come home. I leave tomorrow. My upgrade to First cleared on Mother United so at least I'll have a lie-flat bed seat for the overnight flight tomorrow night. It'll be good to get home. But this much I know, I love Brazil.