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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Dream Home

I've always enjoyed looking at house plans, drawing my own house plans, and even more so, walking around houses looking at their layout. Even as a child, I knew that someday I'd be building a house to live in. It hasn't happened yet, but I know that someday, maybe even soon, it will.

Jodi got me a book of luxury home plans last year for our fifth anniversary and I love it. Not only does it have the floor plans for the houses but since they are all actual homes, they've included photos of them as well so that you can really see how they look completed. I doubt that we'll ever build one of the houses in the book, but I imagine that we will incorporate many of the good ideas in a home that we build.

Lately, we've talked a lot about what we would desire from the ideal home. Some of the things that we've discussed have included a greenhouse, shop, and craft room. Some may say that we dream big, but I don't see any reason why we shouldn't.

Besides, the greenhouse is to grow healthy food for ourselves and depending on the size we build it has the potential to create a partial income from what we produce out of it. The shop serves lots of purposes. For starters, I'll finally have a place to do automotive repairs on our vehicles where I can get them done fast and efficiently. I'll have a place to finally do vehicle flipping like I've dreamed of doing which would be a fun partial income, as well. Aside from automotive space, it will also have a wood shop area that I can use for all types of things instead of using the front yard like I am forced to do now. And, I see the craft room being an amazing space for Jodi to have all her crafty things available without digging and searching. The craft room could also double as a transition room from the house to the greenhouse so that it could have space in it designed to be a good spot to pot plants, store greenhouse and household tools, and perform various other duties that greenhouses require.

So, in the near future, I'll be toying around with my own sketched out plans of what our obtainable dream house would look like. After I achieve a sketch that both Jodi and I like, I'll throw it together using the new Google Sketchup. I'm not sure when Google Sketchup Version 8 was released, but it's a much welcomed advance from Version 7.

In case you are unfamiliar with Google Sketchup, it's an extremely user-friendly, free, 3-D modeling program. It has simple push, pull, and drag tools to create complex 3-dimensional models fast and with ease. The best part about it, though, is the 3-D warehouse. Anyone can upload their own completed models to the warehouse. And, anyone can search the warehouse easily and download any of the models found there right into the project you're working on. Before remodeling our kitchen, I "built" our kitchen plans using Sketchup and it allowed us to see exactly what our new kitchen would look like. This way, we would be able to anticipate any issues that we would have with the layout. It was relatively easy to put together, too, since all of the cabinets that I used were available for download from the warehouse. So, all I did was arrange them in the room that I created. Version 7, though, when you used the orbit function to move 3-dimensionally around your object, it was slow and choppy. Version 8 is instant and smooth, so it makes the 3-D environment even more fun to work with. Check it out. Click this link to be taken to the Google Sketchup download page.

Missing Cat

Our cat, Tracker, has been missing now for 14 days. Two weeks ago, I let him out while I was getting ready for work. Then, I let him back in as I was leaving. That was the last I saw of him. Jodi let him out later that day and he's never returned. I walked all around the neighborhood, but saw no sign of him anywhere. Jodi went to both the animal shelter and the Humane Society the next day and saw a lot of sad faces but not Tracker's.

I hate to speak of him as if he were gone for good, but it's time I quit looking out the door for him. I keep expecting that sooner or later he'll have climbed the screen door again (which always irritated us) and be sitting in the glass section above the door waiting for us to let him in.

Tonight, I'll make a couple posters to put up around the neighborhood just in case some one around us did take him captive unknowingly. If we don't hear anything by the new year I'll clean out his food bowl and litter box and put them away in the basement. Maybe, it's just as well that he did leave us. With the baby on the way, it's safer not to have a cat. I figure that someone "took him in" not knowing that he had a home to go to. Though we had one for him, we never made him wear a collar or anything so there was nothing other than his perfect health and well-fed body to show that he did have a home.

Who knows? Maybe the posters will work. Or maybe he'll show back up someday. We'll see.

Room Transformation (in progress)

Last Saturday, Jodi and I started the transformation of Lyric's old bedroom to Ezra's new bedroom. Months ago, Lyric began sleeping in Jacob's room on the top bunk. Neither Jacob nor Lyric would have it any other way. They like being roommates, I guess. And, being the largest room in the house, there's plenty of room for them, though we may have to figure out a better layout. The full drum kit takes up a lot of space.

All the decor in Lyric's room has come down which was sad to us, but the fun has just begun really. We've mudded up the walls to fill in all the holes from past decor, and even filled in and smoothed out a few cracks in the plaster. It's ready for a light sanding, some primer, and a fresh coat of paint. We don't really know exactly how we will decorate it, but rest assured that I'll post more pictures as we get Ezra's decor up and furniture all in.

Another fun part will be rearranging and fixing up the boys' room. A couple months ago, I picked up a really nice dumpster find. It's a bank of 6 lockers; 2 high, 3 wide. Other than being dirty and having some chipping paint, they were in really nice condiiton. All the doors work. There was one dent where the side collapsed in, but it was easily fixed. Jodi and I bought the paint already for them and when we're done they'll make an awesome contribution to the boys' room for both storage and style.

The photos here look like we're transforming the room into a dreadful place, but I assure you that these photos (taken in the dark with my phone) give the room no justice. As a matter of fact, they look so terrible that the only reason I am posting them is to make the photos to come look that much more awesome. Stay tuned.

8 Simple Rules

I have a wonderful marriage. It's easy for me to say it, too. It's not wishful thinking. It's not hopeful optimism. It's simply true. I'm not comparing my marriage to other marriages, either.

Back on the sixth of this month, Jodi and I had our seventh yeariversary (the anniversary of the day we met). Of those seven years, we've enjoyed 5 years and 5 months of an amazing marriage and I would like to share some marriage basics to the men out there that stand to only improve your marriage (women will surely gain from this advice, too, so keep reading, ladies). The following list is not in any particular order nor is it complete, by any means. I didn't make them all up, but they all did come out of my head. Who knows for certain how they got there?

  1. Say "I'm sorry."

  2. When arguments arise, and they will, apologize. No matter how right you may be, apologize. Chances are you hurt her feelings by something you said, or did, or maybe just the look on your face struck a powerful emotional blow to her. Regardless, you should be sorry. Yes, you should. Yes, you should. Stop arguing with me. You should be sorry for hurting her feelings. You should be sorry that you're not having a good time together. You should be sorry for your role in contributing to the disagreement. She should be sorry, too, but whether she is or not doesn't excuse you from what I'm saying to you. You're the leader here, right? The head of the home? Then, lead her. Say you're sorry first and mean it. Put aside your hurts. You're a man. You can do it.

  3. Smile when you reconnect.

  4. Whether it's coming home from a 12-hour shift at work, or coming in from taking out the trash greet her with a smile, at the very least. Your greeting sets the tone for the time you will be spending together. If you come home immediately complaining about work, expect a negative and overwhelmed atmosphere all night. Contrasting that, try smiling at her like you just met her when you get home. Give her a hug. Make the time you get home something that is looked forward to all day by you and the others in your home.

  5. Pray for her.

  6. This is key. Even if you don't believe in God, pray anyway. What if you are wrong about God and he does exist, then at least she'll be doing well for your answered prayer. Even so, praying for someone is the best way to relieve any unforgiveness you may have against that person. And, that's good for everybody.

  7. Replace "I deserve..." with "I'm thankful."

  8. Let's face it, our first instinct as humans is to protect ourselves and serve ourselves. However, our selfish instincts don't really know best when it comes to bringing lasting happiness to ourselves. All too often, people tell themselves that they deserve something that they don't. For example: "I worked all day, I deserve to sit & relax for a few hours." Why do you think you deserve these things? Who decided that periods of work deserve periods of laziness? When you hear an "I deserve ..." thought coming on replace it with what you are thankful for instead, like maybe a house (that needs a little TLC), wife (that needs a little TLC), kids (that need a little TLC), pets ("), ... The list goes on and on. You want all these things because they bring you joy, but do not forsake them because you are a little tired. They will revive you better than any "me" time.

  9. Laugh often.

  10. Our moods are chosen. Make no mistake. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise. Your emotions have no control over you. You are not a slave to your surroundings. You decide how people will affect your day. You choose how your circumstances will shape your countenance. Choose joy. Shake off all negativity. Attack it with optimism. People will love you for it.

  11. Don't go to bed angry.

  12. This is an old one. And so true, too. Ephesians 4:26 says, "...let not the sun set upon your wrath." Old anger turns to bitterness and can defile many. It can become unforgiveness, that hurts the bearer worse than the ones he holds unforgiveness towards. Deal with your stuff. You don't need time to think. You need guts to deal. Be strong, man up. Fix it.

  13. Do things together.

  14. I've never met an obviously happy couple that didn't do virtually everything together. And, I've seen many unhappy couples who don't hardly do anything together. One watches the game while the other does something else. One tinkers in the garage, the other scrapbooks. One hangs out with the guys playing cards, the other goes out with the girls. Find some things that you both enjoy. If you can't think of anything that you both enjoy, then go sit at a coffee shop and talk until you come up with something. Don't drink coffee? Have some water, then. If you don't look forward to time spent with your spouse, then you need to change something.

  15. Help each other

  16. You each have your roles to play to maintain the lifestyle that you have chosen. Each of you have your part and a set of responsibilities, but many people will wind up excusing themselves from the other's responsibilities and refusing to help on the grounds that “that's not my job.” But, that attitude only causes problems. It's better to make it a competition of who can do more for the other. If you're both trying to please the other, then you both will be endlessly happy. However, if you are only out to do things to get for yourself, then not only will you not be happy, but you will eventually lack motivation to do much of anything at all. I'll borrow from John F. Kennedy here and say that it's not what your spouse can do for you, it's what you can do for your spouse.

God created everything and then He "saw that it was good." Then He created man and said, "it is not good for man to be alone." So, He created a wife for man. You all know the story. But, notice, when He saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone, He didn't create a TV, or football, or all-you-can-eat buffets, or bars, or a bad influence of a friend, or four-wheel drives, etc. He created him a wife. Marriage can be such a fulfilling life to you, but you have to follow some rules. Like these here. Rules not to stop you from having fun, but rules set to teach you how to have lasting fun, happiness, and joy until death do you part.

Theft by Deception

I don't think that I've written a blog this short since I started blogging. I've wanted to write one about this subject for a long time, but what was taking so long was that I knew that it wouldn't be a short one. I'd fill the World Wide Web full of my opinion and rantings and no one would even begin to attempt to read it knowing that they would be bored out of their skull long before they even finished the introduction. Even now, I'm losing some of you. So, being sensitive to my impatient fast-food culture blog readers, I'll keep it very short.

A few years ago, I watched a video online called Theft by Deception. In short, it takes you through step-by-step of how it came to pass that American citizens were expected to pay a tax on the money that they earned. By exploring not just the current tax code and regulations but also the tax code and regulations before revisions were made since the birth of the Income Tax in 1913, it shows you exactly how the federal government imposed an unconstitutional tax on the American people. But, even the federal government knows that it's unconstitutional and therefore illegal. So they made great efforts to conceal the fact that the tax code and regulations themselves don't say anywhere that regular citizens like you or me are required to pay any income tax. Yeah, you heard me correctly. There is no law, code, or regulation that requires an American citizen to pay federal income tax if they live and work with only a domestic income from within the borders of the United States.

Have you ever seen the law that requires you to pay federal income tax? I KNOW that you haven't because it doesn't exist. Don't you think that it's ridiculous that you have probably payed a tax year after year in blind faith that you are required to do so. I bet you have some questions and I'm sure that you have some doubts, but rest assured that all those questions can be answered simply by watching the video. It's long, but very worth it as it helps the regular person better understand how the tax law is constructed, how it functions, its original intent, and its current intended purpose. Watch it.

How I Met Your Mother

It was December 6th, 2003. I had long hair again. I had grown my hair out over the course of the previous year or better in the same style that I had had through the latter three years of high school. It wasn't too popular of a hair style then, but acceptable nonetheless. It definitely wasn't in style in 2003. Not hardly, but I didn't care.

It was about 1:00 AM if I remember right and I was playing a game of cards called "Spit" with my friend, Gabe, over at Shannon's house. Shannon told us that her friend Jodi was coming over. Then the two of them proceeded to tell me about her not even attempting to conceal the fact that they thought that we would be a good match. Again, I didn't really care.

I had this picture in my head for the future and it was Jacob coming home after school in his car, and I'd be in the garage or yard working on something. Just two guys living their lives. I couldn't fathom anything else, really. So, the prospect of meeting a girl who my friends thought that I would like didn't really interest me.

Then, this girl enters the room. Despite all of what I just told you, she captured my full attention as she walked across the room, found a chair while still talking to Shannon, greeted Gabe, and then finally made eye contact with me. My brain had failed to complete a thought throughout that time. It didn't start working again until after we were introduced. My first thought afterward was, "I really like this girl." The thought immediately following that one, though, was "Yeah, but she's out of my league."

As the night (morning) went on, the four of us had a good time just sitting around talking. Shannon's next door neighbor, Adam, even came over and hung out with us for a while. However, the time finally came when some sleep was going to have to get slept. I had a truck to go buy at 9:00 in Republic, a 1959 Ford F-100, and I was going to have to drag Gabe out of bed to drive me out there so that I could drive it back. I wanted to see Jodi again, but I didn't know how to go about making that happen without being blatantly obvious about it. We were parting ways and I could feel the opportunity slipping from my fingers. To delay, I offered my hand in a formal handshake while telling her that it was nice meeting her. She took my offer and repeated it back to me with a smile. The words we spoke played no role in our communication in that brief moment for it was all in the handshake. A handshake mutually prolonged to let each other know of our interest in the other. Not so delayed to be terribly transparent, just long enough to be unmistakably noticed. Then, with just as much subtlety as the handshake, came the graceful release that included an ever-so-light, almost imperceptible grazing of her fingertips across my palm as our hands separated.

There was no doubt, at that moment, that I would see her again. I didn't know how, when or where. I just knew.

New Favorite

There was a time (before meeting Jodi and having some accountability) when I ate Chinese food about three times a week on average. And, I do mean on average. There were weeks that I hit five times. I admit it. So, it goes without saying that I really like Chinese food, I think. My wife can attest to the fact that any time someone brings up getting food from somewhere or going out to eat that my mind, by default, goes straight to those deep fried little pieces of sweet sauce covered heaven.

So, imagine my surprise upon finding a restaurant that I like more than Chinese. Or maybe I should be more specific since the restaurant in which I found to be better is technically Chinese as well. HuHot is relatively new to Springfield and the only reason that I hadn't gone before was due to the fact that someone had told me about it and compared it to Nakato. So, I pictured just another "remove your shoes, please" sort of place.

However, it's not like that at all. It's a nice modernly laid out business with all the dramatic lighting you would expect to find in a successful, growing nationwide chain of restaurants. And, your shoes are expected to stay on for the course of the dining experience, so that's nice. But, of course, the food is what makes the place a landmark. It's a huge Mongolian Barbecue. You go through a line that passes a buffet of uncooked food, of which you fill bowls with to your heart's content. Then, you pass a buffet of nothing but sauces and oils, then it's on to the grill. You watch as four or five cooks mechanically, and skillfully cook and plate your food for you in about a minute. It's healthy for you because it's all MSG free, it's mostly vegetables that you wind up with, it's cooked fresh, and it's cooked without the use of oils and grease. It's a welcome healthy alternative to the scores of other restaurants that may taste good, but leave you feeling much larger than you felt before having gone. Also, it's fun to get experimental with the sauces and see what great new tastes you can come up with by mixing the different flavors together. I'm getting a craving for it just writing about it.

It's definitely my new favorite restaurant, replacing New China Buffet. Sorry, old friend, but you're old hat. Maybe, I will visit you every so often when I am feeling nostalgic, but don't leave a place for me at the table.

If you haven't tried HuHot yet, you should. And, If you feel like you can't do it on your own and need a tour guide, I'm available and willing to help you along the way for the low, low price of covering the cost of my meal.

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