Monday, October 23, 2006

What a year!

What a year this has been. I can't believe Tyler's one year old already. It seems just like yesterday, those 15+ hours I spent in the hospital waiting for him to come out. It is so worth it. I don't know what I did without him. Parenthood is so rewarding. Today I was singing our nightly song while holding him before I put him in his crib and he put his head down on my shoulder. It was so sweet. That's not something he does very often, but he seems to know when I need it.

We think his teeth are finally coming in.... maybe. He's been pretty fussy the past few days and his hand spend a lot of time on his teeth. He's also started this really cute smile. He'll wrinkle up his nose, which pulls his upper lip up. It's so adorable, but funny! I think he might be doing it to get his lip off his teeth. I might be wrong, but that's what it seems like.

He's not walking yet, but he's close. He's standing and holding on to things as he walks around. He'll let go for a second or two before he plops back down on the floor. I tell ya, when he pushes his walker around, he is so proud of himself. What a cutie!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Give a BIG cheer!

Well, our buddy has had his first college footbal experience.

Tyler, mommy and daddy went to the University of Toledo for homecoming this past week and had a great time.

Tyler cheered on the Rockets (to no avail, they lost handily)

His birthday is less than one week away now, and he has changed so much. One thing is that he is still small. Unlike most kids, he is actually wearing clothes smaller than his age. He is just now starting to fit into the 6-9 mos clothing we have for him.

He is cruising all over the place (walking while holding onto things for those who aren't familiar with the parenting terminology) but he still doesn't have a tooth or much hair.

We'll let you know how his birthday goes next week!

Monday, October 02, 2006

One of those days...

Yesterday was one of those days when I just couldn't help but stop, look around, and realize all that I have and am given every day.

After a long, busy week, Tyler, Deanne and I each found ourselves with no pressing matters to attend to on a Sunday afternoon. The weather was awesome (70 degrees and sunny) and the leaves are just starting to turn here in the Oak Openings region of Ohio.

I wanted to take a walk and after starting down the driveway to walk in the nearby streets with Tyler, I went back in the house to find Deanne and ask her to go to the park instead.

The coolness of the light breeze as we left the asphalt of the parking lot and crossed beneath the first branches of the trees gave an air of comfort impossible within 4 walls and a roof. Summer's heat and heavy air are slowly submitting to winter's eventual grasp, but the transition is gentle and amazing.

The sun was setting and as the flecks of sunlight danced against the shadows beneath the limbs of the trees, the undergrowth of ferns and grasses seemed to emit a deep, rich green that crayola can't make into a crayon. Whitetail deer, merely looking for an evening snack are as interested in sizing us up and down as we are them. A lazy bandit of a raccoon overcomes the natural reluctance to join the world of people and finds himself staring into a buffet in the form of trash can among the picnic areas since vacated by its short-lived visitations.

Walking along among a reality which was high definition before high-def even existed, I wished we had remembered our camera to try and capture each scene knowing that no pixel on a computer screen or ink on a sheet of paper could ever reproduce the hush of the light breeze through the trees, the scent of the leaves as they begin to make their retreat towards winter, or the heavenly glow as the clouds of pink and purple provide a backdrop for the earth-bound field of green silhouettes.

To share these views with those you love makes them that much more poignant, the colors that much richer, more vibrant. I realize no amount of wishing or hoping could re-create what the three of us were able to be a part of yesterday, but lucky for us that with patience, love and willingness, that time we shared will be only a single stroke in the painting of our lives.

With God's help and gifts, we can make each of our lives a masterpiece. Looking individually, each of our brush strokes could appear beautiful, like a walk in the woods with family. They could appear plain, unspectacular as much of our lives may feel from day to day. They can even be mistake-filled as any of us is capable at any given moment. Combined, however, they are able to paint a perfect picture of an imperfect being.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Chorus gauntlet has been thrown down!

In 1998, about a dozen men were hungry for more in the elite barbershop arena. They did something about it and formed the Greater Central Ohio Chapter better know for their performing arm THE ALLIANCE.

A couple of years and much success later, a different group of men had similar thoughts to the guys from Columbus, and started a chapter focused on good singing and quartet ideals in the Cleveland area called The Independence Chapter.

The Independence Chapter gave it's guys what they wanted. A place to sing better than they had before, learn even more, and get involved in quartetting. Their scores never threatened to displace any of the Johnny Appleseed District big three, but they were planted firmly behind them as the best of non-international competitors from the district.

A couple more years later, a third group of men once again had similar thoughts and decided to do something about it. Enter the Northwest Ohio Chapter. Formed with an accomplished choral director, and a goal to be among, and eventually THE best, The Voices of Harmony were quickly regarded as a possible threat by outsiders before they even took the stage.

Now is the time to live up to that public perception. The Men of Independence Chorus aren't going to go quietly into the night. As the scores show, they have taken the threat of being displaced seriously and have worked harder and performed the better than they ever have in the past. Their 2006 division scores are 5.5% higher than any division score they have ever posted and 6-7 points higher than their
chorus division competition average. Credit must be given to these men as they ask the question "So you think you are gonna just come in and knock us out?"

Answer? The Voices of Harmony has to step up. Beating Independence is a nice thing, but it is not THE thing. THE thing is the score. The group was formed with the intention (the expectation?) of becoming an A Level performing chorus. That means 100% effort and 100% participation from 100% of the members 100% of the time, including rehearsals.

Does The Voices of Harmony have a realistic shot at qualifying for the International Chorus Championship in Denver, Co next summer? No one knows. In fact, no one has any control over that.

What The Voices of Harmony DOES have a shot at is:

1. Each man completely giving himself over to the plan

2. Each man doing anything and everything he is asked to do by the musical leadership without question or comment

3. Each man stepping up and doing his part to make the chapter as strong as it possibly can be including volunteering for any required tasks both musical and administrative.

I worked my tail off to get this thing started and I am both ecstatic and continually surprised and elated that we are where we are. I am NOT, however content with where we have progressed to, and I see (as others do) the ability to be among the best in a hurry. We have 5 schuduled rehearsals before the District Competition. Can the group be focused, attentive and do everything we can to become disciples of the "plan"?

I can't wait to try, and I am confident in success.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Sitter for Tyler

Tyler's been going to his new sitter for two weeks now and she is working out great. He's doing awesome with other kids around and they love him too, which is awesome. Penny (the sitter) is starting to wean him from his binky already. She tries to do it to all the kids by the time they are a year old. We only gave it to him when he napped or was going to bed, but he's addicted. The past two or three days he didn't need it at all at her house. At home is a little different. Thursday was rough. He really cried and cried. Last night he did okay without it. Today at naptimes, I gave in after a half hour of him crying, only because I'm sick and needed to sleep too. Now tonight he did okay without it. He cried for a bit, then talked to himself for a long time. Then fell asleep without it. It's just going to take some time.

Penny also started Tyler not taking his morning bottle, but giving him milk in a cup. We've been giving him juice at home for a while, but I've noticed that he's doing a much better job lately with the cup. He's holding it on his own and everything. It's great.

I can't believe Tyler's going to be 11 months old on Monday. Time flies so fast. It's hard at times to think what we did without him. He's such an angel.

Friday, September 15, 2006

What exactly is a Priority? How do we decide what we spend our time doing?

I have been puzzling over changes in my life and what my personal past was like for some time now. The birth of our first child likely has at least a LITTLE to do with any differences, right? ;^)

I guess, looking back at the different phases of my life and what I dedicated my non-working/school time to, I have been amazed by what changes there have been and what has stayed the same.

Of course, as many of you will understand, any "free time" has dwindled to the point of being less than I have ever had. I am probably years away from it going the other way, too, but I digress.

Case in point, we are in the midst of the beginning of another NFL season, and I have to confess that I can't tell you the names of the starting offense or defense of the Browns. Now, to most, that may seem like "Yeah, and what's the big deal?" (and you are likely correct.) But to me, that IS a big deal, at least compared to years past. Two years ago, I could have told you the names of all 53 players on the Browns roster and who was on the practice squad. No longer is that the case. Do I miss it? Sometimes. Not as much as I would have guessed before, though.

I have so few activities that take up my time nowadays compared to before:

- Work
- Deanne and Tyler
- Quartet and Chorus
- Church

There are so many things that have taken up my life and times that I don't do as much anymore or have gone completely by the wayside:

- Athletics as a spectator (football, hockey, golf)
- Athletics as a participant (Track coach and athlete, football player, golf)
- Outdoor activities (Kayaking, backpacking, biking, running)
- Drug prevention activities
- Computer and gaming stuff

Now, some of those things I actually miss a lot (mostly the outdoor activities). Others I don't miss as much, but I would be much better off in the health and well-being department if I could find/make time for them (athletic participation) but that time is not easy to come by.

Motivation and prioritization are such a strange thing. The true priorities sometimes lack the motivational backing to make them happen. I think I need to take a look at what and who I really want to be and re-evaluate accordingly. I am not sure I am going to like all of the conclusions I come to (Deanne may not either) but if I can succeed, my family will be stronger, my life and relationships will be more fulfilling, and I will be a happier, healthier person.

Easy to say, hard to do. I just hope my family and friends continue to be there to support me if I can be brave enough to make any changes that might present themselves. I won't be able to make myself better without them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My turn

Okay, I've been given access to blog to this as well. Most likely I will be the one blogging more often than Justin, but that's just our nature. I've never done this before so I'm not sure what I should or shouldn't write about. We'll see. As soon as I have time to play around or Justin shows me how, there will be plenty of pictures posted of Tyler and other things.

We've been so busy lately. It seems like every weekend there is something going on here or there. When there's not, we're still doing more work around the house. After six months, we finally got a gas dryer, but it's not hooked up yet, because we've only taken two trips to the hardware store.... One more and we should be okay :) What's another day or two after six months of hanging clothes on the line!

I can't believe it's September already! Tyler will be a year old next month. He's growing so fast and is so smart. I could write about him all day, but I'm working, so I'll write more later.

JAD Western Division Champions! (and Runners-Up, too!)

In Second place, representing the Defiance, OH Chapter – The Northwesternaires!

And in first place, representing the Northwest Ohio Chapter – The Voices of Harmony!

That’s right, folks. Yours truly can take about 2.5% (1/40th) of the credit for each chapter placing at the top of the Western Division contest on Saturday.

The first place finish for NWO was especially exciting, as it was our first ever public performance and competition entry.

About 4 of us started meeting almost 2 years ago now with the hopes and dreams of creating something which would be focused on great singing, fun and success in contest and that dream took its first measurable step towards reality on Saturday.

We still have a long way to go before we realize the ultimate goal of international competitor and eventually District and International championships, but each journey begins with a single step, and ours was a respectable one.

I want to use this space to thank all of the people who have helped me take an idea and creating something around it.

First off, although she never will get any public recognition for it, this chorus could never have gotten off the ground if my wife Deanne had not only allowed me to pursue it, but also supported and encouraged me and all those in the group since I first started trying to get people together for it 22 months ago. She continues to stand by me through all aspects in my life, and I love her and our son more and more each day because of what they both mean to me.

A close second, and absolutely indispensable in the actual formation, leadership, and all-around creation of what has now become the Northwest Ohio Chapter is someone that I now consider a true friend, Mark Blake. Mark has experience, knowledge base, and most important a way with people that I don’t have. Without him, no matter my enthusiasm, drive and desire to make this happen, it could not have. Mark’s sharing of my dream has made the journey up to this point a reality, and his support both within the chapter formation process and in life has been such a blessing.

RD Mathey, our director may not have been one of the men with the dream at the beginning, but he has been an integral part of it actually taking shape. His passion for music and singing is evident each and every time we get together, and it would be hard to imagine where we would be without all he brings to the group.

I cannot overlook all of the friendships which have been formed or strengthened among the others who were instrumental in making this happen: Kim Lehman, Kerry Conrad, CC Snyder, Mike Hachtel, and Tony Torio.

Each member of the chapter holds responsibility for our initial success. Without the 40 men who have worked hard and given of themselves, this weekend never could have taken place.

I know that the journey is just beginning, and I will not be satisfied without continued growth and further success, but it is fun to take just a moment and look at what has been created and marvel at the selfless giving of each man or woman who has been involved.

6 weeks to District and lots more work to do…

First Post

This is the first post to the blog. I don't know if I will keep up with it, but I figured I might try with all the things I could write about:

Barbershop Quartet
Barbershop Choruses
just to name a few...

So, I certainly have things I COULD write about, the thing is whether anyone would read it and whether I can keep up with it.

We'll see.