31 December 2009

One more - how to bring in 2010

Just one more post before we ring in 2010 - wanted to share this photo from MSNBC of the goings on as 2010 was rung in in Hong Kong today:
Man, do I love Hong Kong!

Happy New Year to all!

End of the year

In a few short hours, 2009 will be over and we'll be into a new decade. I believe every media outlet on the planet has done some kind of "Top 10" or "Best of ..." for the year and the decade, so I'm not going to belabor it with my own. Not sure what we are doing tonight but I wish we'd been in Sydney. Look at how they brought in the New Year:
Reason #120 why this is one of my favorite cities in the world!

All in all, it's been a good year. Sure, there's parts of it I'd prefer not to repeat. I'm looking forward to what 2010 will bring us. I like the sense of renewal a new year brings. Opportunity is a good thing.

May 2010 be good to you.

27 December 2009


Hitting 21 in a game of blackjack is a pretty darn good thing, right? At least that's what I've been told, but I digress. This is I can tell you...21 is a good, solid number. I know because today, December 27th, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. I am a lucky, lucky man. I know it. My mother still marvels that SML married me. On my last trip to see my mom a few weeks ago, she reminded me again of just how lucky I was that SML agreed to marry me. Just to clarify, it's not like I was JoJo the Dog-Faced Boy nearly 22 years ago when SML and I met and that getting her to agree to marry me required some act of magic, but it's safe to say I was a bit of a diamond in the rough. The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML saw that and has since worked diligently to make me a better man.

We've gotten better together. We've had the incredible blessing of three amazing children. We've endured job losses and big moves. We've held each other through the sadness of losing our fathers. We've laughed ourselves silly watching 80's music compilation commercials. We've seen a few far-flung corners of the world (and may I point out that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML has NEVER had to fly Coach on any of those long-hauls - nothing but comfort for her - one of the bonuses of marrying an airline dork). We've worked together to make the right decisions for our family.

As I look back on these 21 years, I'd say we've done OK. We're not perfect, not by a long shot. We continue to evolve together. It's not boring, never has been. I am lucky to be in as much love with my wife today as I was the day we were married 21 years ago. I'll say it again...I am a lucky, lucky man and to the stunningly patient SML, I say, Happy Anniversary and love you.

26 December 2009


Today, December 26, is a day of celebration in the Lyons Den. We celebrate CAL's birthday and today she is 17 years young. I just got back from driving her to work (she has a license - we have eight inches of freshly fallen snow - thank you, Mother Nature for that belated Christmas gift - on the ground and the stunningly patient SML didn't want her driving) and I marvel at the amazing young woman she is.

We started her day as we do an all birthdays here by bringing her breakfast in bed. She had French Toast, slathered in my Kryptonite, the wretched peanut butter, and my gift to her was not losing my breakfast all over her bed. I mean she had the peanut butter swimming in a lake of syrup. Hideous doesn't even begin to describe it...anyway, like I said I gave her that one gift and then it was time for the other gifts. Clothes, clothes, and more clothes. Except for having one of the Jonas Brothers, Nick specifically, sing to her today, what else could she have wanted?

Lunch and a movie, that's what. So we packed up to brave the snow and went to California Pizza Kitchen, where we were pretty much the only diners and then we raced off to see "Invictus." It was a good movie - a message film without being preachy. You come away being amazed at the humility and brilliance of Nelson Mandela. It was hopeful.

It was a good day with CAL. She is a young woman now, working and planning for college. Can't believe she'll be joining her sister, Our Lady of BYU, sooner than we think. She is a delight and I am grateful that she continues to put up with me as her Dad. I treasure this picture of the two of us:

Love you, CAL, and happy birthday!

25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I just looked at my post from Christmas 2008 and realize that we are tremendous creatures of habit here in the Den. It was pretty much the same day, with just a few minor changes this year, noted below:

- I slept in until 600AM instead of 630AM
- The French Toast Casserole is still the butter-laden equivalent of a nuclear bomb, and yet, I still made it, and we all ate it.
- It was not - 4 degrees today, like it was last year, although it's snowing again.

Everything else was pretty much the same. Or as we like to say, it was all traditional. It has been a good day. I am grateful for the chance we had to be together as family and for the evening we just spent with good friends. I'm grateful for each of the gifts of the season - most importantly, the gift of family, faith, and friendship. Grateful, indeed.

24 December 2009

The reason for the season

We're in the home stretch of preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas. I got the tamales last night (muchas gracias a mis amigos en el supermercado El Guero en Aurora) and it seems like we are ready. It's been a bit of a rush and the weather is going to make any last-minute preparations a bit of a train wreck. We are awash in ice. Not snow, ice and it is not pleasant. I'd rather be contending with feet of snow than the ice. Yuck.

So the slowdown does give me a moment to consider the real reason for the season - celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. How grateful I am for His birth and all that it ushered in. There would be no hope; no redemption from the entanglement of sin; no victory over the chains of death and of these things, I am certain. I don't want to forget that and I appreciate reminders of the real reason why we celebrate Christmas like the one in this video:

Merry Christmas and may His Spirit be with you.

21 December 2009

Grossed Out

Working from home gives me a certain flexibility and with the stunningly patient SML picking up more hours now in her role as dental assistant, I'm trying to carry more of the load at home. So today after mowing through the last of the leftover wheat pasta, I set about to do the dishes. Thought it would be nice for the stunningly patient SML to NOT come home to a pile. And that's when it happened. The gross out. Face to face with a knife covered in that which grosses me out more than anything. This:
My mortal enemy

Peanut butter. My Kryptonite. This knife was slathered in it from one of the kid's breakfast. I approached that knife like it was radioactive, because to me, the junk is toxic. I gingerly put it under the stream of hot water, which was a mistake. The smell of the wet peanut butter nearly sent me into convulsions of dry heaves. And that stupid peanut butter was not coming off that knife. So I upped the water pressure and nothing - it was like the SuperGlue peanut butter. There was no way I was touching it to scrape it off. That's how fierce my repulsion is - the thought of touching it is crippling. And to heck with water conservation...at this point I was prepared to let the water run full blast, draining the whole of Lake Michigan, to get that knife semi-cleaned off so I could toss it in the dishwasher. I finally grabbed a fork that was in the sink and used it to scrape off the offending substance. Man, I hate peanut butter. Just writing about it now makes me nauseous. Seriously.

I don't even want to explore why I have such an aversion to the stuff. I just do. I will continue to be crippled by it. If a jar of peanut butter was the difference between me and starvation, I'd choose starvation. And with that, reliving this afternoon's disabling encounter has me exhausted. I'm done. I'm going to bed.

19 December 2009

Snow...it's kind of good to see you

The winter greeting that we got from Mother Nature last night, which delayed Our Lady of BYU by nearly two hours, spent the night with us here in Chicagoland. We awoke this morning to a beautiful blanket of snow. It was a very manageable snow as well, not heavy and wet. I was eager to get out in it, not to shovel but to run. So I did. Took off about 730AM for about 2.5 miles, not long but perfect for the conditions. There was something so invigorating as I heard the snow crunching under my feet. It was cool to look over my shoulder as I ran to see the footprints I was creating as well. It was a gorgeous morning. I have to say the snow made the difference.

Got home and it was time to shovel. Like I said, it was manageable and the Boy jumped right in without complaint to help. He's really good about handling the snow issue. He's good about most stuff.

Since it was our first morning with Our Lady back, we decided to enjoy breakfast out so we headed into our little downtown to a breakfast place called Tangerine. CAL, the Boy, and I had eaten there once over the summer and really enjoyed it, so it was good to take the stunningly patient SML and Our Lady there. With a light snow still falling, some of the normal crowds were missing, so we were seated without a wait. The menu is not overwhelming and it was easy to find something for everyone. Things taste fresh there and are hearty without feeling like you've ingested cement. Our Lady had the banana nut french toast:
She eats it without syrup, which is not right!

Other items on our tab included the chocolate chip pancakes, the southwest breakfast burrito, the nutella-filled crepes, and I had the eggs on toast. These were awesome because of the bacon, the garlic in which the eggs were sauteed, and the bacon.
This was really good!

The rest of the day was spent on errands, getting ready for Sunday, and enjoying some downtime. Again, looking outside at the freshly fallen snow throughout the day was beautiful. It's been a good day.

18 December 2009

So that flight won't be on-time

Our Lady of BYU was due to return home this evening after a successful Fall term. Alas, the She-Beast that is Mother Nature has decided to wreak havoc on her on-time return. Here's the announcement on the O'Hare/Midway airports website:

"During inclement weather, passengers
traveling through O'Hare or Midway International Airports,
or picking up passengers are advised to check their airline's
Web site or call to confirm the status of their flight."

It's kind of sleeting. I'm no meteorologist so I won't pretend to figure out what's happening in the skies above ORD today but I do know this...that airport has its own weather. It can be overcast all around it, but they will be pounded with snow. Crazy. So Our Lady sits in SLC without a Red Carpet Club to hide in. It's going to be a long night for her.

It will be good to get her home. We've missed her. I've missed her. I'm still not fully cool with this oldest child growing and leaving thing. She's having such a great time, as her latest personal blog post reflects and I am so grateful for that, but it's tough to see her growing up. CAL is doing the same. And so is the Boy for that matter. I can't stop it. I am terribly grateful that their mother, the stunningly patient SML, did such an amazing job raising them. I did my part but they wouldn't be who they are today were it not for her. Seriously.

15 December 2009

Another Airport, Another Lounge

Just a quick note before I board yet another plane. I'm sitting in another one of Mother United's Red Carpet Club, awaiting a boarding announcement. I've enjoyed the fresh from the can orange juice and an exceedingly dry multi-grain mini-bagel. Gross. But it's free and I'm drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Pathetic.

It's been a good couple of days with Mom. It's been a little more than three months since Dad died and in those dark first days after his death, it seemed impossible that Mom would be on her own. And yet, here she is, growing stronger each and every day and doing things we thought she wouldn't do. It's a miracle and a blessing. And I am most grateful for it. I am most appreciative of the things that my brother and sister are doing to care for Mom as well. This has been a true collective family effort and it's been good.

Not eager to get back to work this afternoon. Is it Friday yet?

12 December 2009

My nod to the holiday season

There are a mere two musical works that I like at Christmas. Two. One is Handel's "Messiah" and there is simply no comparison to that stunning musical tribute to the Christ Child's birth. It is so moving, so compelling. I can't get it enough of it.

And then there's the other one I like. It's a little less, well, highbrow. It's got entirely too many mullets in it. And Phil Collins. Those of you of a certain age probably already know what I'm talking about..."Do They Know It's Christmas?" Thank you, thank you Bob Geldof for getting that collection of 80's bands/train wrecks (Paul Young, Boy George and Culture Club, George Michael sans the other one that made up Wham, that guy from Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Bono sporting the most wicked of mullets, Banarama, Jody Whatley, the previously mentioned Phil Collins to name but a few) together to make a broad appeal to resolve famine in Africa.

So I give you "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

09 December 2009


It's safe to say that I am fairly bereft of talent. I can't sing, play an instrument, act, etc. That's why I laughed when I saw this today:
What was his name anyway? Like it matters.

Growing up in the Church, from time to time my lack of talent was showcased in the Ward Road Show. Twice as I recall. And that was back when you took months to prepare and even compete to see who had the best production. It's safe to say that more than one mother who helped produce these shows was permanently damaged psychologically as a result. So in a nod to letting cooler heads prevail, the Road Show process has been scaled back. One day, one show - that's it. Prepare, practice and put it on all in one day. And the results - clever, happier kids, and less-damaged parents/producers. So I give you "Love Story" by the young men and young women of our ward:

Who's that female lead? Umm...that would be CAL! And the kid in the green t-shirt? The Boy. I have to admit, it was fun. That's because I was in the audience.

08 December 2009


Well, I guess it's safe to say that winter is here. We were merely teased with a dusting of snow yesterday. The teasing turned serious today and it's coming down as we speak. So it was a pleasure to pull out the old school snow removal tool, the snow shovel, and get it going today. It looks like it's going to get a good workout this winter season. Excellent.

06 December 2009

Sunday morning observations

Without fail it seems, I wake up early on Sunday mornings. 500AM seems to be my average. Nothing I can do about but accept it. It's always quiet at that hour and it gives me an opportunity to think, ponder, and review what's doing in my life.

Here's what I know - I have a good life. No, a very good life. I am amazed that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML puts up with my multitude of faults and quirks. We've been blessed with amazing children. Our Lady of BYU, CAL, and the Boy are a joy, day in and day out. We are able to worship God and His Son as we choose and feel blessed as a result. I see His hand in our lives and in the lives of extended family and friends time and time again. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. I know we are blessed.

So in the things that really matter, we are good. Always there is room to improve and I strive/struggle to do that. I'm working on that whole improvement thing. I'm getting the sense that there's something more or something else waiting for our family and it's time to start finding out what that is. So let the pursuit begin. Look for updates, and maybe the occasional cry for help, here.

Speaking of pursuits, DO NOT miss the season finale of "The Amazing Race" tonight. It's been a good season and I suspect that Malibu Ken and Pinched-Face Barbie are going to win. They've run a good race so if they do take it, good for them.

05 December 2009

Giving 'til it hurts

After three tries, the fourth try at 730AM today was a success! I was able to donate blood! This saga started about three weeks ago. I went in for my scheduled donation and was promptly deferred when the antibiotic I was taking landed me on the "deferred" list. I rescheduled for a week later and found myself in the throes of a cold, with a wicked sore throat, that forced me out of that appointment. Rescheduled for several days later and I was still waylaid by the cold. One more time. Scheduled for 7:10AM today. Initially it didn't look good either. My blood pressure was "off" according to the people there. Had I had a lot of coffee, they asked. Well, unless I threw down several cups in Michael's bizarro world, the answer was no, given that I've never had a cup of coffee in all my life. They called in another lady and she took my pressure and declared me worthy to give! Bless her soul! So off to the Blood Barcolounger I went to donate.

It was an easy donation. A mere six minutes and we were done. A couple of cans of apple juice later and I was out of there. That giving did not hurt.

The giving that did hurt was the "give" required to fix the Swedemobile today. Flat tire that could not be repaired, so a new tire was required. Of course, they tried to upsell me on a pair. They also informed that it looked like the shocks needed some work. I'm done "giving" on the Swedemobile. It's behavior of late is reflecting that of its maker-owner. Kind of falling apart. Fantastic. And I don't mean that in a good way.

02 December 2009

Not well played, Tiger

So it's been a very weird week at work. It's been one of those weeks where everything that you've worked hard on and planned has gone awry and done so at the worst possible moment. It drives me crazy and given that we've had a couple of nights of full moons here, if I were superstitious, I'd almost argue something's up with that full moon thing.

That being said, at least my ups-and-downs are not being made into fodder for Taiwanese news stations. That is to say, I'm not Tiger Woods. Amazing golfer. Enormous, enormous idiot. His "apology" was pathetic, nearly as pathetic as his adulterous behavior. Clearly, not well-played Tiger.

The media has had a field day with this and I have to give props to the Taiwanese news team that came up with the "inside Casa Tiger" on the night of the accident story. Check out their brilliance here...don't let the Chinese narration throw you. You need only watch to see what they've done:
Thanks Mike T. for sending me this clip
And further thanks to Mike T. for sending this gem

The world media and those who are really good with Photoshop are something else. Take what the Taiwanese have done with the afore-mentioned clip...I'm willing to bet they've captured pretty accurately what went down at Casa Tiger. And you have to admit that the animation of Sim-Elin taking the club to the SUV is awesome. But in a matter of hours, the media managed to get one of the most private, yet well-known, personalities in the world to come clean on his pecadillos. If the collective world media can get Tiger to crack, why haven't we sicked the media on the search for Bin Laden? Seriously. They'd have him in no time, don't you think? And you have to just be amazed by people who can doctor a photo like the one above. It's unbelievable. It's sick. It's funny.

I'd like to say I'm disappointed that yet another celebrity/athlete/idol has found himself/herself in a moral bruhaha. I'm not. It's gotten boring. And that's a sad comment on the world that we live in now. We've come to expect it.