Man vs Opossum

A number of years ago I was changing the oil in our car and decided to change the oil filter as well. It was on so tight that I couldn’t get it off with my hands. Lianne saw me struggling with it and said helpfully, “Maybe you should call Eric, he could probably do it.”

Immediately a rage built inside me. I sputtered, “Eric!! It’s an oil filter! I’m capable of removing an oil  filter. I’m not a dolt. I just need to get one of those filter  remover thingys.”

I stripped the threads on the new oil filter when I tried to put it back on. The process took most of the day. Oil stains marked the driveway where I had toiled away at my task. I made four trips to the auto parts store, but by golly I got it done without any help from Eric, that’s for sure.

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One Week With a Car Named Boogie

Our primary vehicle is a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with 192,000 miles on it. It is starting to show signs of aging. Lianne frequently drives the van around town with only one or two of the kids with her. It isn’t very efficient. Also, Ava just got her learner’s permit, so we will soon have 4 drivers, but only 3 vehicles. It was time to look for a new car. We quickly settled on an electric car of some kind because of the reduced cost of ownership and the lower impact on the environment. After much research, we chose the 100% electric Nissan Leaf. We found a good deal on a 2013 model down in North Carolina and went and picked it up last week. It didn’t take long for the family to fall in love with her and she was christened “Boogie” because “It’s electric.”
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Pops Body Shop and a Prophet Named Dad

At first the band was the 3 brothers and Nate Dawg. Then Nathan moved away and it was the 4 brothers, in a punk/pop quartet called Pops Body Shop. This particular story is about a time that Dad made his presence felt during one of our concerts. He and Mom were always involved in the band. They went to most of our shows, and drove the van, pulled the trailer, helped us set up and tear down. They were super supportive in every way. In this case, Dad was so supportive that he got us banned from the venue for life. Continue reading “Pops Body Shop and a Prophet Named Dad”

Solar Eclipse 2017

My vacation planning reputation was on the line. Lianne wasn’t enthused, “We are driving 7 hours for a 2 minute experience?”

I admit, I wasn’t sure about it myself. The only thing I had to go one were the first hand accounts of strangers online who had seen a full solar eclipse. They claimed it was momentous, awe inspiring, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I talked it up with genuine excitement as the trip approached. I dreamed about the eclipse two times. I guaranteed an incredible experience. My vacation planning reputation was on the line before the eclipse trip, and now that we’ve returned, my vacation planning reputation is legendary.

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Pump It Three Times

“Pump it 3 times.”

“Ok, now pump it 3 more times, then hold it.”

No, these are not the lyrics to a popular wedding party song. This is my Dad, under the van, talking to the young me, sitting in the driver’s seat. He’s bleeding the brakes. I love those memories of working with Dad on the cars. I’ll never forget being strong enough to actually help, and still small enough to get my hands into tight spots that he couldn’t reach. We’d listen to talk radio and chat and work. He was the walking stereotype of a backyard mechanic. Duct tape, zip ties, engine grease, and dirty hands were part and parcel of many a weekend in our driveway when I was growing up. Chilton was his best friend.

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Health and Fitness, Week 2 of 9

Last week I wrote about my new challenge. Here’s an update. Pretty much a fail on the bed time thing. I was aiming for 10pm, but we were all over the place depending on what was going on. We were usually much later. One night I wanted to finish a great book. Another night Davin’s volleyball match went late and we were all pumped up once we got home. I’m disciplined in some areas of my life, but this is one that I’ve always struggled with. We’re going to shift it to 10:30 for me and Lianne, and try again. I usually get headaches if my sleep schedule is way off, and I haven’t had any headaches, so I guess I’m doing OK. On the tracking side I did a pretty good job. As you can see here, I missed 2 days out of the last 10. It really is revealing when you start logging what you eat, or tracking how many steps you take. Much like a financial budget shows you where your money is going, a food journal shows you where all your calories are coming from. Here’s what I discovered.

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Health and Fitness, Week 1 of 9

I wrote about the need for people to have a challenge or a struggle in their lives. We accomplished our financial goal, so now it’s time for a new challenge. Since Spring is here, I’ve decided to tackle health and fitness. Similar to our finances, I would say that our health is above average. We do a decent job of avoiding fast foods and sugary drinks, and we are reasonably active. Still, I know we can do better. We all sit too much, we don’t sleep right, and we don’t get enough fruits and vegetables. So, it’s time for a plan. Here is Week 1.

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Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 9 of 10

March was pretty good. My bonus was a little more than I expected, but the government sure took a large share from me. Our refrigerator died. We’ve got a large, standalone fridge. We custom built our kitchen around them, so we needed something that was roughly the same size. That was a big chunk of change. That was a hit to our emergency fund, but if we don’t replenish that right away, we can actually pay the house off in April. We are so close. I can’t wait. Lianne caught some of my excitement and agreed with me, so we’re going for it. In fact, we’re paying off the house tomorrow. Continue reading “Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 9 of 10”

Make the Struggle Real

“The struggle is real.” It’s an ironic expression we say when something minor doesn’t go our way. Just a few hours ago I realized, “Dang, I forgot I made that cup of coffee. Now it’s cold.”

Jaron, in his low, morning monotone, replied, “The struggle is real.”

It’s another way to make it seem like we’re self-aware and that we realize we’re dealing with “1st world problems.” I look at my day to day activities, and the lives of my kids, and I realize that life is too easy. We have everything we need. I’m not complaining. I’m glad, but I wonder if we’re missing a key aspect of the human experience.

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Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 8 of 12 (maybe 11)

Tentative house payoff date is May 19th! Holy cow. It’s crazy to be within sight of the finish line. We had some relatively large expenses in February. One was our HOA fees, which should have been in the budget, we just missed it. The 2nd was some maintenance work on the van, but we’ve been under budget on car maintenance over the past 8 months, so the budget absorbed the extra hit with no problem. The payoff date is moving closer because of the larger than expected tax return, and a larger than expected bonus at work. I am very thankful for my job. I definitely take it for granted sometimes. I need to work on my gratitude.

Now, for some pictures of what debt free looks like in our driveway.

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