Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fair weekend

The kids were in bed last night at 8pm and in the care of my in-laws, freeing Bekah and me to experience the fair unencumbered. Date night at the North Idaho Fair.

Today was family day. We've been fairing it up since the gates opened. Four kids in tow (with my mother-in-law to assist). We wandered the animal showcases, rode a few rides, ate the obligatory fair food, and attacked the petting zoo.

Now we commence Operation Keep the Children Awake.

We want the younger Caseys to go to bed early so that Bekah and I can return for more fun (and possibly funnel cake). The kids have been awake since breakfast this morning. No naps. J has been a zombie for the last hour and he finally zonked out during the ride home. He is beyond waking. Since he's not quite two, we're not worried about an insomniac version of J. The other kids, however are a concern. If they nap now, they'll be awake all night long.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A day for the chefs

How did we celebrate Culinarians Day? By eating lunch at Del Taco.

Just kidding. We did eat lunch there, but the true celebration was in diner. I busted out my creative culinary side and cooked up some cheesy stuffed burgers.

You can read about it (and get my recipe HERE).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cooling off

I've mentioned it once or twice before, but it bears repeating: my body hates summer. Therefore, my favorite summer activity is finding ways to beat the heat. Today, I flexed my heat beating muscles and whipped that summer swelter into submission.

I employed four different strategies to chill out today. The following are my tips to survive the summer warmth in relative comfort.

1. Sprinklers. Soak the lawn and the body in one shot. You stay cool while the grass stays green.

2. Ice water. Large quantities in plentiful supply.

3. Movie theaters. I would be willing to bet that your local theater is statistically the most air-conditioned building in town. I have no data to back up that assumption, only experiential observations. (my father-in-law and I watched Inception this afternoon, and the theater was chilled to perfection. You can read my review HERE)

4. The beach. Taking a dunk in one of North Idaho's lakes allows you to enjoy the best of two worlds. You're able to relax outside in the sunshine soaking up your daily dose of vitamin d, yet you're also able to remain refreshingly cool and sweat free.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer cooking

The local Infant Toddler Program hosted a picnic/barbeque last night at Ramsey Park for families with kids in their program. Despite a couple brief spurts of rain, it was the perfect day to get the kids outside.

They provided all the food and drink.

They also offered some activities for the kids: bubbles, a water table, and books to give away. Zu spent her time like a nervous squirrel, running from the park’s playground to the picnic table to sneak a quick bite from her burger, then off to the water table, and back to the playground – never spending more than a couple minutes in any location. Christian was preoccupied with the bubbles until he found the water table. From there, he obsessed over filling the toy watering pot to water the park’s trees. All of them.

JJ wandered the park and braved the spiral slide, but his fascination focused on a long board one of the other parents brought.
He could not resist climbing onto the board (the board’s owner gave permission) and would not dismount willingly. I think we have a future skater in our family.

We’re heading to a friend’s house this evening for another barbeque. As much as my body despises summer, I am enjoying this lovely outdoor cooking weather.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All you can eat

Ah… Junk Food Day. It’s the gluttonous celebrate all that is salty and/or sweet in glorious excess. It is a day to indulge in whatever horrific and unhealthy pile of crap your creative hunger can imagine.

I indulged.

The ever-resent and hideously disgusting McDonald’s for lunch.
And delicious dissolve in your mouth chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.

To my credit, I had a weight loss shake for breakfast.

But isn’t observing a day of junk food counterintuitive for someone trying to lose weight? Probably, but it’s like my mom always said* “go big or go home.” I can slaughter myself at the gym tomorrow.


* Actually, I’m fairly certain my mom has never uttered that phrase.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I would be a horrible Jew

It's a good thing my parents were not Jewish. Too much fasting and I enjoy my food too much to give it up that often. By my count, there are two major fast days and five minor fasts in the Jewish year. Since I did not grow up in their culture, my counting could be off by a couple dozen.


Why do I bring this up now? Today is one of those major fasts. It is Tisha B'Av - or the ninth of Av.

This is a day of mourning and remembrance as tradition holds both the first temple and the second temple in Jerusalem were destroyed on this day (separated by over 650 years). Jews observe this day as the saddest day in their history. It is a day that is punctuated with wailing and deep lament. And fasting.

As Jewish holidays start at sunset the preceding day and end at night fall, my efforts to observe Tisha B'Av started last night. It's been a long time since I last fasted, and in this respect I would make a horrible Jew. And by 'horrible' I mean 'unsuccessful in every respect.' When Jews fast, they abstain from both food and beverage. I think that's insane (no disrespect intended). I can hold off the food, but the thirst is overwhelming. I've had much water today, but I've managed to avoid edible products. It would be an understatement to say that I'm hungry. I can't wait for sunset.

I'm not fully able to embrace the mourning and sadness over the temple's destruction. In my own personal faith I believe that we've been promised a new Jerusalem and that I am God's temple. However, there is one tradition that I can get into. Every year, on the ninth of Av, the book of Lamentations is read aloud in synagogues as it is Jeremiah's testimony of the first temple's destruction. It's my favorite book in the Bible - it's showing us that it is acceptable to express grief and sorrow.

For two and a half chapters, Jeremiah complains about how his life is miserable. Then in the midst of all that hurt, he says something amazing:


I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.*


That, for me, is the meaning in Tisha B'Av. No matter what hurts, there is hope. But for now, I'm hungry and the sun has almost sunk below the horizon.



* Regardless of your beliefs, you should read the third chapter of Lamentations. It's amazing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A few things

I've made a few observations over the past couple of weeks that may shed some light over the absence of daily posts here.

1. Do you know what is more difficult than celebrating something every day? Writing about it. The written word is missing in action, but that's not to say there hasn't been action. Work-a-holics day, picnic day, Christian is off to his first camping trip, and I'm looking forward to a date night with my lovely wife tonight.

2. There may be a culprit to the case of why I'm not writing. I've been suffering from a severe lack of motivation. Every time I sit down at my computer, the last thing I want to do is write. This may be a result of writing reports all day at work or my ADD tenancies, but if I was a betting man, I would put my money on the latter.

3. My mind wants to like summer, but my body does not agree. There is a war going on: my id versus bone and marrow. My will longs for a day on the beach and fishing trips, but my skin craves air conditioning. However, there is one holiday that both my spirit and my flesh can agree on - National Ice Cream Day. (third Sunday in July - that's tomorrow!)


Furthermore, it is a challenge to observe Work-a-holics day on the day after a federal holiday - especially if that federal holiday falls on a Sunday and the rest of the civilized world assumes your office is closed the following Monday.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The day in which we blow up explosive materials

Do you know when the United States gained it's independence? Or from whom? If you can answer yes to those two questions, you're ahead of 26% of US residents polled by Marist.

That sad statistic makes me wonder how many see the fourth of July as Independence Day, or view it as the American excuse to blow stuff up.

Either way, if you celebrated the American tradition in honor of our bloody independence or in the new American way of being destructive (with flare) for the sole purpose of bright lights and loud noises, I hope you all returned to your homes safe and with all body parts in tact.

I also hope you had as much fun as the Casey family.





Now I just need to get all that smoke out of my eyes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fresh Starts

Can I just say that the month of June sucks? Or do I have to admit that I sucked at the month of June?

First, the natural calendar is devoid of holidays (with the brave exception of Father's Day) or any rational cause for scheduled celebration. There is Red Rose Day on the 12th, and since then I've been idle.

June was a rough month. I've had a difficult time being (or even getting) excited about anything. My home life has been stressful with my son's transition out of school, my professional life has been as hectic as a mosh pit at a country music concert, and I've been suffering from a serious motivational drought.

But enough with the excuses.

It's July first. And while I'm at it, happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends. It's a good day for a fresh start. Time to get back in the saddle. Time to think like Billy Corgan and say that today is the greatest day I've ever known. I can not testify to the veracity of that last statement, but if I say it enough, I might actually believe it.

This is going to be a good month, I can feel it. July's calendar is packed with celebratory goodness. In a few days, we get to celebrate America's independence from those crazy Brits. As the month progresses we'll enjoy days like National Fried Chicken Day, Vanilla Ice Cream Day, and my personal favorite - Embrace Your Geekness Day.

July is also National Hot Dog Month and National Blueberry Month (both are occasions I can wholeheartedly support). However the second week of the month is Nude Recreation Week; don't expect any naked recreating from this blogger.

I'll leave you with one final thought: today is also Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day. Before you crash for the night, indulge yourself in a nice scoop of fried eggplant ice cream. Or Dracula cool garlic mint ice cream. Or perhaps bay leaf ice cream (tastes like eucalyptus).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy 30th

My sister-in-law turns 30 today. In honor of her day, I'd like to point you to her blog. She's a fantastic writer, and has managed to build a charming community of readers that follow her.

Take some time to visit her. Read a while. And I'd encourage you to check back often. She posts with greater regularity than most bloggers I know.

Monday, June 7, 2010

All things go

Chaos. Madness. Insanity. Pandemonium. Strife.

Can you celebrate turmoil? Because that's what work was like today. Yet, I felt strangely calm. And the atmosphere among my coworkers has been eager and optimistic.

I can't disclose the details of what composes our chaos, other then the fact that my workplace has been an environment where change is modus operandi. That isn't a bad thing. It's challenging. It's filled with opportunity. But it's not always easy, or pleasant. And it's rarely simple.

I've had a song stuck in my head all day. Oddly, I've found comfort mentally humming this song to myself as the day progressed.


It's Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. Over and over, I kept hearing those lines: "You came to take us, all things go, all things go. To recreate us, all things grow, all things grow." Sufjan's lyrics have been my source of comfort for the day.

What's been yours?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

BBQn'... in the rain

Good day for a surprise birthday party. Bad day for a barbecue.

We were at a friends house this afternoon to celebrate the birthday of one of my wife's best friends. (I'll be nice and not divulge her age) Her son had strung tarps from their porch roof out into the yard to give all the guests a canopy under which we could socialize, and that tarp was soon an essential part of the festivities.

A tad cold. Slightly breezy. And a torrent of water pouring from the sky. We adults (those possessing sanity) remained under the relative dryness of the feeble improvised shelter. The children were not so easily contained.

We don't often let the kids play outside in the rain. They had the time of their lives.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The rub down

Nothing beats a good massage, right?

Bekah promised me an hour-long massage on Valentines Day, and today, she followed through with that commitment. To be honest, I'd forgotten she'd ever made that vow, but she kept her word. It's a four month delay, but good things come to those who wait. And that was a good massage.

However, as much as I tried to crawl into my nothing box to think about nothing while getting rubbed, there was one thought I couldn't escape. They were playing Enya through the house speakers. That reminded me of the massage therapy I had after a bad car accident twelve years ago; that masseuse played nothing but Enya in the office he shared with my chiropractor. The more I pondered that deduction, I could not bring to mind a single massage parlor (that I've been to) that has played anything other than Enya.

That prompted me to pose a question on facebook: Is there an unwritten law in massage therapy that requires all masseuses must play Enya while giving massages?

To which my brother-in-law replied: No, I'm sure it's really written somewhere.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shhh, don't tell my wife

Bekah hates donuts.
Thankfully, the kids take after me.
In honor of a tradition started by the Salvation Army, we indulged in our donuts. Happy National Donut Day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The missing week in the life of Party Nic

Where have I been? Thanks for asking. To be honest this past week’s been a blur but I can tell you that my activities and habitations over the past 10 days have not included writing.

If I had to pick a single week of May where celebration should have been easiest, that last week would have been it. How woefully wrong was I? When you last saw me, my sister-in-law and her husband showed up for our adoption weekend. Then I vanished from the face of the blogosphere.

That whole weekend should have been one big joyous occasion. Should have. I have an inner worry bug inside me that tends to derail my ability to relax and enjoy the moment. That isn’t to say there was no cause for celebration.

We got off to a rocky start. On Saturday (the 22nd) I was overwhelmed with the amount of house and yard work that needed to happen to prepare for adoption party. Dan also had the awesome idea of renting COD: Modern Warfare while they were in town. He and I have previously spent a couple of weekends blitzing through full games, including Left 4 Dead and Gears of War. I was looking forward to some good video game time. Problem one: the only copy that Hastings had in stock was scratched and didn’t work. We made a trip back to Hastings where they buffed the disk in an attempt to make it playable. Problem two: even after buffing, the game still would not load. Another trip to Hastings to get a different game. Most of the games that we wanted were all rented out of stock. He and I spent a half hour surfing game reviews on our iPhones before settling on Borderlands. Problem three: by the time we returned from our Hastings excursion, dinner was served. After dinner I had to go into the office to send out some reports; I spent an hour and a half at work (allowing me to take two days of PTO) and by the time I got home most everyone had gone to bed.

Sunday was a much better day, despite the kids being more on the stir-crazy side of life. Dan and I didn’t get much time to play Borderlands, and the night was devoted to family games. Dan and I challenged our spouses (and their youngest sister) in a game of Battle of the Sexes. After the first couple of rounds, Bekah’s parents were intrigued enough to join the festivities. The guys won.

We planned a bowling trip for Monday as my belated birthday party. The upside: we had Sunset Lanes to ourselves. The downside... There was a lot. The kids lost interest in bowling after the first few frames. I had problems finding a ball that fit my fingers. And Miriam found greater joy watching the kids than in whatever was happening on the lanes. After bowling, Dan treated me out to lunch at Wingstop, then we finally got some time with the Xbox. We spent most of the rest of the day killing bandits and aliens. Monday night was a Battle of the Sexes rematch. The guys won. Again.

Tuesday was adoption day. JJ is now officially and legally a Casey.

Since we were in Spokane for the adoption, we stayed in downtown for the morning. We walked all over Riverfront Park, rode the carousel, and had brunch at Olive Garden (where Zu liked pepper off her breadsticks and JJ stole his grandma’s after-dinner mint). Finally, the day was capped off with JJ’s adoption party.

Wednesday I was back to work; Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were about nothing more than catching up with life. To be completely honest, I’ve blocked out 90% of those three days from my memory. All I know was that I needed to cram four and a half day’s worth work into three days and flirted with the brink of insanity.

Mother Nature tried her best to slaughter my Saturday plans, but I flipped her the figurative middle finger and ventured out to the Kootenai County Farmer’s Market with Christian by my side. This is the first I’ve been to the KootCo market in the six years that we’ve lived here. Christian has been promised a garden the summer that he’s six (which would be next year) and he was eager to tell all of the vendors about it. He asked what all of the different plants were as we walked by the various booths. All of the plants piqued his interest (except tomatoes, he was adamant in his distaste for tomatoes). The lavender lady gave him gardening tips that included talking to plants to help them grow. When we visited Almost Sunny (ran by Sunny and Bent of Bent's Beer Garden), Christian told Bent and Sunny that he was going to have his own garden with carrots and “other stuff.” Bent was so overcome by Christian’s excitement, he blessed us with a generous and unexpected gift of some veggie starts. Now Christian can get some practice before he gets his full garden next year.

We now have a cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage starts sitting in the kitchen window waiting for a clear patch of dirt to be dug into the yard. And Christian spent two hours on Sunday afternoon following the advice of the lavender lady, repeatedly telling his plants, “I want you to grow.” My son isn’t much of a conversationalist. Yet.

Sunday was my day of rest and I indulged in all aspects of resting. Monday was the Day we should all be celebrating: Memorial day. Finally, yesterday marked my fifth anniversary as a blogger. My first blog post appeared on the tubes June 1st 2005. I’m posting a series of celebratory posts on my primary blog this week, and you can read the first two posts HERE and HERE.

Now we’re at today. And I’m exhausted.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

When the budget allows

When Bekah and I were still newlyweds, the number of kids we wanted was an occasional topic of conversation. She wanted six. I wanted two. I think we compromised on four. Part of those negotiation processes included what we want out of life. Since she was a little girl, all she wanted was to be a mom. I wanted to be surrounded by music. So we brokered a deal, every time she got a kid, I would get a musical instrument.

Shortly after Christian was born, I bought a keyboard. I started shopping for a bass guitar before Zu was adopted, and there is one that I've had my eye on for quite a while. Now with one more adoption approaching, I'm looking for a good portable recording equipment.

Why do I bring this up tonight? Today was Buy a Musical Instrument Day. Now that is the kind of holiday I could celebrate with gusto.

Unfortunately, my musical purchases will have to wait. As shiny and awesome as new instrument could be, there are more important things. Like my kids. So, between the Bekah and I, if only one of us can get what we want... I'd rather it be Bekah.


However, as soon as it's in the budget, I'm heading to an authorized Traben dealer.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Early arrival

My wife's older sister was planning on visiting us this weekend. We were expecting her and her husband to show up sometime before noon tomorrow.

But when Miriam's work day ended, she told Dan "I'm hyper, lets go now."

Now they're here. So until we all crash for the night, I'll be celebrating by hanging out with two of the coolest people in the world (and quite possibly the galaxy).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

With apologies to my brother

My hometown was in strawberry country. Picking those berries was a first job for many of my peers. In fact, the City of Marysville throws an annual festival about this time of year - The Strawberry Festival. (I know - creative, right?)

This festival was (and likely still is) the most exciting thing to roll through town. A car show, beauty pageant, vendors market, parade, trike races, carnival... For some reason that still eludes any explanation, my favorite part was the giant strawberries that the city painted in the major intersections along State Ave. Nothing bolsters civic pride more than government endorsed graffiti.

As for the food options, those red berries received the center stage in every dish served around town. Strawberry milkshakes, strawberry shortcake, strawberry ice cream. It was the toppings for pancakes, elephant ears. Served in scones, on skewers. Dipped in chocolate, in whip cream, in yogurt.

My family was involved with the festival for a few years. My dad, brother, and I all worked the vendors market and volunteered as parade security. It came with perks. The guy who brought the go carts gave us unlimited or extended racing time, often after hours. We were given free carnival passes and an insane amount of free food.

Oh the free food. The food vendors understood that we were in control of their power supply and their access to ice. So they repaid us with goodies. This was greatly appreciated, but as it was a benefit it was also a curse. Remember how strawberries played a central theme in the festive foods?

After eating nothing but a variation of strawberries for five consecutive days, at the end of May, every year, you suffer something akin to strawberry burnout. At least that's what happened to my brother and me. For years, neither of us could stand to eat that infernal fruit. I'm not sure if Aaron has yet recovered from his strawberry aversion, but I have. Almost.



I have regained my taste for strawberries, but only in small doses - like a man building up an immunity to a lethal poison. It is a good thing, because today was Pick a Strawberry Day.

Zu, Christian, and I took a trip after dinner to pick strawberries. And there is no better place in Coeur d'Alene to pick strawberries than the grocery store.

Christian was seriously serious about his strawberries, but Zu was so excited I feared she might bounce out of her seat.

And of course, I savored my own bowl.

When life gets in the way

I missed yesterday. Completely skipped celebration. There were a few events conspiring against me.

1) It was Circus Day. The anniversary of Ringling Brother's debut in 1884. Not to make up an excuse but it is difficult to celebrate Circus Day when there are no circuses in town? (Yes, I realize there are a few who would say I live in a circus every day.)

2) Any plans to celebrate got hijacked by JJ's health. Bekah made a quick trip to the ER last night, and by quick, I mean she was absent for a significant chunk of the evening.

3) My father-in-law is entering a cupcake contest. Since my wife has mad cake decorating skills, he invaded our kitchen and dining room to enlist Bekah's assistance.

I know these reasons are not a valid justification to neglect my daily celebrations. At the end of the day, I failed. However, I did manage to spend some time with Christian looking at pictures of circus animals, which turned into pictures of animals of all varieties. Which turned into a series of unanswerable questions.

"What's the giraffe doing? Why is the giraffe eating? What is the gorilla doing? Why is the gorilla sleeping? Why is the fox hunting? Why is the baby moose learning to walk? Do coyotes howl? Why do they howl?"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blow Up the Outside World

I've always felt a kindredship with Mount Saint Helens. It blew up the day after my first birthday, so I feel like we're grown up together. Like the dorky kid next door, who you're only friends with because he lives next to you. And he owns a Nintendo. (When I was 5, he was the only kid in the neighborhood with a Nintendo... that actually counted for something back then)

I digress.

As a kid in the Seattle suburbs, I truly believed that this piece of natural history was a part of my story. And to an extent it may have been the catalyst to my fascination with disaster in both it's natural and man made forms. In this respect, I feel this is an important chuck of cultural history that I want to teach my kids.

So, today was all about St. Helen's anniversary. No... no big bash, no volcano shaped cake. I used this day as an opportunity to educate my son. A little geography lesson, a little geology lesson, and a little OOOH SHINY.

First, I made sure he could locate our house on a map, then showed our neighborhood in relation to where Mount Saint Helens is located. Then I showed him pictures of the mountain before 1980. I asked him if he knew how a volcano worked. His answer was almost correct. Then we watched the video of the explosion (thanks youtube!).

"Where's the lava?" He asked.
I explained how some volcanoes erupt with lava and some just shoot out ash and rock.
"Oh," he said.
We looked at some more pictures of the mountain, and looked at what it looks like today.
Then, "Where's Africa?"
"The other side of the planet." I answered.
"Can I see what Africa looks like?"

Perhaps he'll appreciate volcanic explosions more next year.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stuff, lots of it

Happy Pack Rat Day. I am probably the first and only person to bestow that wish upon you today. I realize this. But if you're like me, you don't like wasting stuff. And it doesn't matter if it's food stuff or clutter stuff. Or time stuff. But you get that there are mathematical formulas to calculate stuff and scientific laws that govern the properties of stuff. (my father in-law posted a great list on this idea, READ IT.)

However, I know the life of a pack rat is one of stress, insecurity, worry, and overwhelming discontent. And yet there's irony in sharing my birthday with Pack Rat Day. (as most pack rats endeavor to throw nothing away, I forgot to take the trash out this morning)

How does one stop being a pack rat? Is it possible to be a rat that travels light? I'm sure it entails throwing and giving stuff away, but there is one thing I refuse to throw away - my friends. Thank you to all who wished me a happy birthday.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I may never wear purple again

This might quickly become my mom's favorite holiday: Wear Purple For Peace Day. Yes, it's a real day. Don't believe me? Google it.

So, purple it is.

Here's a short list of what i did today while wearing purple:
Watched the most recent episode of Fringe. (hooray for DVRs)
Made the kids' lunch.
Mowed the lawn.
Hauled firewood. (we don't have a fireplace, but our neighbor's supply spilled over into our yard and needed moved in order to mow)
Picked up pine cones. (the pine trees in our front yard shed like a cat it's horrible)
Did the dishes
Sweat. A lot. (it was muggy today, humidity plus heat is a bad combination for me)

I would have lit the barbecue while wearing purple, but by that time exchanged my sweat soaked purple shirt for a comfortable black one.

But I'm sure if it was up to my mother, every day would be Wear Purple For Peace Day

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dinner for 8

Our church tried a social experiment a few months ago. The idea was to match up four couples to meet and share a meal once a month for three months.

I thought that sounded like a great idea. Bekah thought I was weird, but signed us up for it.

The strategy used by the church to select the groups is still a mystery, as our group came from different demographics and our homes were not geographically similar. Yet it kinda worked. The fourth couple in our group was a no-show, so our dinner for eight was more like dinner for six.

Tonight was the last night for the three nights.

Disclaimer: Bekah thinks I'm cheating in the use of dinner for eight as my reason to celebrate. She views it more as a commitment. And she reasons that I still would have gone even if I wasn't doing the year of celebration. I reason that I still would have celebrated Mother's Day even if I wasn't doing this project. Besides, if you don't see fellowship as a cause for celebration, there might be something wrong in your brain. Or you're just anti-social. Or I'm over-simplifying things.

While I'll admit the first evening was awkward as it was eating a meal with strangers in a setting reserved for close friends, I'm happy with the end result. One of the couples has a daughter Christian's age and Bekah is ready to start planning some play dates at the park. If nothing else, that alone makes the experiment worth it.

It also gives me a few more familiar faces to greet at church or at the Krock. So I won't complain.

However, I may need to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day a day late, as I promised the kids I'd make cookies with them, but instead we sent them to bed after we came home. And with good reason, Zu made a mess of herself.

What happened to Friday?

If you were paying close attention, you may have noticed that I didn't post anything yesterday. Why? Because I'm ashamed.

Yesterday was Dance Like a Chicken Day. I was planning on teaching the Chicken dance to my two older kids. Then I had a revelation: it is a horrible fact that I know how to do the Chicken Dance. The fact that the Chicken Dance exists is a travesty. Yet it is standard fare at wedding receptions across America.

And as a former wedding DJ, I feel compelled to apologize all whom I subjected to this embarrassing monstrosity of a dance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rise Up

In the liturgical calendar, the Easter season continues past Easter Sunday for another 40 days. The 40th day (a Thursday) is Ascension Day, commemorating the Biblical account that Jesus ascended into Heaven 40 days after being raised from the dead.

The holiday is supposed to be a feast, but after Eat What You Want Day, I'm more in the mood to fast rather than feast. The day is filled with rich historical tradition, but my kids are too your to appreciate those rituals.

So instead, we played. after an hour at the park, my daughter refused to get off the swing. I've never seen her so happy. That is the longest she's ever sat content in one place. We have to get a swing set for our back yard.


Personally, I used the day for some reflection. The Biblical passage of Jesus' ascension also contained his final promise to his followers: "I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I believe those words, but how well am I living as if that promise is still true? How do I rise up to show that Jesus is with me, always, to the end of the age?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sweat & Sunshine

I got to enjoy the sunshine more than usual today. My office had a fire alarm tripped, forcing us to evacuate until the fire department clears the building and deems it safe for re-entry.

As one of my friends called it - the biggest smoke break ever. I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to disguise my lack of melanin. After a half hour in the parking lot adding pigmentation to my skin, we headed back inside. I can't speak for myself, but that time in the sun helped me feel refreshed. I should get out more.

I continued to enjoy the sunny weather at home lighting the barbecue. To be honest, I don't enjoy manning the grill as much as I do igniting it. Bekah does the cooking, but given the opportunity I'll play pyromaniac. Give me a match and point the way... hopefully my eyebrows return intact.


But since I indulged in Eat What You Want Day yesterday, today was the day to celebrate burning it all off. The bad news: I'm not losing any weight. The good news: I'm not getting fatter. So it's a wash. I enjoy Sonic and clobber myself at the Krock. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eat it

My sister-in-law spent Mother's Day with us. While getting dinner ready she brought up this blog and some of the upcoming events. She told me she was going to boycott Clean Your Room Day. I don't fault her. Clean Your Room Day is not the type of holiday that could excite the typical resident of earth. How do you decorate for such a day?

Clean Your Room Day was yesterday, and if you read yesterday's post you would have noticed I did not celebrate that strange day. I joined my sister-in-law in her noble boycott. Today was another event I intended on abstaining from any participation.

Today was Eat What You Want Day. Glutteny in festive disguise. But if I want to achieve my other goal for the year (to lose some weight) eating whatever I want is antithetical to what I want to accomplish.

My will was strong when I started the day. Rather than eating what I wanted, I ate what I needed. A banana and a granola bar for breakfast instead of breaded bacon. Protien shake for lunch instead of something from the vending machine. Left to my own devices, my weight problem would be described in monolithic terms.

Dinner was a greater challenge. Bekah and I had a meeting at the DSHS office in downtown Spokane. A building that is two blocks from Sonic. We (heart) Sonic. By the time our meeting had concluded, it was dinner time and we had a short time frame to pick up the kids and get home before I had to run off to Bible study.

So much for the boycott.

In honor of the juicy, delectible, and artery clogging cheese smothered, BBQ sauce drenche slab of meat fastened between two slices of Texas toast that filled my belly... I wish you the merriest Eat What You Want Day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The friendly face at the front door

Receptionists come in many shapes, sizes, and personalities. Those that I've worked with have cut a wide swath through the spectrum of the human condition. From the crazy (I referred to her as the "bird lady" because she had the facial features of an ostrich and usually wore hats that resembled bird nests), to the inept but eager individual that can not tell the difference between a paper clip and a fax machine. Some are flamboyant, greeting everyone with frightening exuberance. Or one I worked with in Sioux Falls approached her job with clinical isolation; she stuck to the job in it's barest definitions as if there is a special place in the sixth level of hell for those that engage in conversation.

From bored to busy, there is a common thread that unites every species of receptionist. They are essential. With out them, your business would fall apart.

I know this, because for many years, my mom worked as a receptionist. In churches, manufacturing companies, and a pest control business. My mom was the smiling face that welcomed you through the front door and the warm voice that answered the phone.

In reality, I have no idea what receptionists do on a day-to-day basis. Their job is one that I could never hold with any sense of proficiency. The fact that they can juggle the demands of a functioning business while ushering the needs of a revolving public without committing homicide is amazing. They have superpowers.

Keep that in mind. Be nice to your receptionist. And if you didn't wish them a happy receptionist's day today... shame on you. (Actually, receptionist's day is on the 12th, but the calendar I am liberally stealing from listed it as the second Monday in May. Therefore, I celebrated today. If you've not said thanks to your receptionist, you still have two days to think of something creative.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Something for the moms

The video below so perfectly fits my son, it is as if the songwriters had him in mind. Christian is that bumbling blonde haired blue eyed boy beaming with pride as he gives his mom a bouquet of dandelions. I'm sure I was much the same at his age. (Although, I remember picking weeds with purple flowers, as my mother's favorite color is purple.) Christian's gift for Mother's Day is a rocket ship and a half dozen rectangles he cut and colored from notebook paper. Bekah will love it. And that is something I think mothers have an innate ability to accomplish far beyond the typical father: to see love and magic in the simple (and often silly) gestures of our children.

Enjoy the video. And (if possible) give your mom a big hug.



And I wish a happy mothers day to the mothers in my life. My mom and Grandma Budd, Grandma Casey (perhaps one of the strongest woman I've ever known), Grandma Lu, and my mother-in-law. And most importantly, the woman my kids will not let sleep in, the love of my life, my wife.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Walking barefoot

Maybe I'm the only one that does this, but when I read the Bible, I want to add words or phrases that aren't there. For example, when the book of Isaiah says "How Beautiful are the Feet of those who bring good news," I want to make it read "How Beautiful are the Feet of those who bring good news... as long as they are wearing shoes."

I hate feet. I think they're ugly. Yes, they do serve a purpose. Feet hold us up, propels us to jump or dance, and provide the most ancient form of transportation. I'm good with their reason for existence as long as I don't have to see them. Flip-flops annoy me. Toe socks disgust me. Good news, bad news, I don't care what kind of news you have. Just please, for the love of all that is good and holy, wear shoes.

Or at least socks.*

But today was no-socks day. A day to forget the fabric that covers our soles. A day to defy all that separates our feet from the insides of our shoes. I've managed to survive the past 24 hours without socks. Including a trip to the gas station, Christians swimming lessons at the Krock, and a voyage to Zips to fetch Bekah's dinner. And I've done my best to keep my kids' feet collectively sock free.

Did my wife participate? No... I didn't even offer her a chance. If I had, Bekah would have given me a funny look that says 'You're the strangest individual to ever grace this planet, but I love you anyways.'


* Although, I still find the trend to wear socks with Birkenstocks to be completely daft.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mr. Mom

It's Fripay! (Friday + Payday - any sense of shame) This is usually one of the happier days for office morale.

And I was not in the office to enjoy it.

I stayed home.

Bekah had a work function to attend, so it was my turn to play stay-at-home dad. Today was a day for just me and the kids. This is not the first day I've spent home with the kids, and it won't be the last, but every occasion makes me appreciate my wife.

Here are a few reasons:

* We have too many clothes. The laundry beast has escaped the darkest chambers of hades and invaded out living room. I feel small when attempting to slay that dragon.
* The kids are bottomless pits, but they eat at varied speeds. While they will all want second helpings, they'll ask for round two at staggered intervals.
* Why do parents ask kids to clean their rooms? The moment each toy has been safely returned to its proper home, the kids turn into a savage toy-tossing force like a tornado in a trailer park. Their playroom was picked up three times today (and could have used a fourth cleaning).
* Christian is in his learning how to tell the truth phase, or as I call it - he lies a lot. This is frustrating but manageable in small doses, like the few hours between work and bedtime. But for a full day? It's a wonder more parents don't check themselves into mental health facilities when the kids finally leave the nests.

But it wasn't all bad. The younger kids had a wonderful nap time and Christian helped me clean the living room and kitchen. Days like today me me happy to have an office away from the house, and grateful for an amazing wife.

On a side note, Christian like to incorporate whichever adult is in the house into his art projects. Today, he colored a portrait of his daddy.
Upon completion, Christian ran up to me, grinning like a proud monkey. "Daddy," he said, "look, I drew a picture of you. And you have a BIG belly."

And this is why I go work out.

p.s. The laundry monster still has not been conquered.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Livin' on a Prayer

A wise theologian, a Mr. Em Cee Hammer, once said, "We got to pray just to make it today."

OK, Hammer wasn't much of a theologian, and I'm not sure anyone would consider him wise. But there is a bit of truth in Hammer's 1990 single. Prayer is important. Today is a day were that importance is recognized on a national level.

Let try something different. Instead of sitting down at the end of the day to tell you what and how I celebrated, I'm giving you the opportunity to dictate how I spend the National Day of Prayer.

If there is something that you've been praying for, and you'd like someone to come along side to pray with you, leave me a comment below. Or if you'd prefer something more private, send me a message on facebook.

And if you don't pray or believe in the power of prayer, don't feel left out. Today is also Beverage Day, which I will be observing by drinking a lot of water.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Olé!

How did I celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Quite literally.

Just kidding. We had a taco salad dinner with corn bread. We made it a family dinner. Bekah chopped the produce and the kids helped me prep the corn bread. (Yes, we used a box mix. I'm not brave enough to make it from scratch.)

Zu and Christian took turns stirring. And Zu really wanted to taste the batter.

The kids love family dinner nights. And surprisingly, this is the first they've ever (to my knowledge) eaten corn bread.

Christian wanted to know what Cinco de Mayo meant. I know the story, but I'm not sure how to explain how France and Mexico got in a fight over money and that that war helped divert French military support away from the southern states during the American Civil war. If you can't explain all that in a way that makes sense to a five year old, the notion of the Mexican army beating the larger, stronger, and better trained French forces would be as foreign a concept as quantum fluctuation.

Maybe next year.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May the Fourth Be With You

I got my inner geek on today. Well, my inner half-geek at least. See, I appreciate and enjoy the Star Wars movies, but I'm not an obsessed fan. I'm not brave enough to walk around public dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi, but I might toss a few movie quotes into conversation.

And today happens to be International Star Wars Day. While I'm not down with public humiliation, I can't resist a few shameless pop-culture references. So, if you've been following my facebook updates today, you probably notices a theme. It started early this morning. And by "early" I mean before I went to bed. The updates are as follows.

* It's after midnight, do you know what your ewok is doing? I hope it's sleeping; unrested ewoks are cranky in the morning.
* I think Yoda knew something we all didn't. When he said, “Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep... Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall,” I think he was warning us about about Stephanie Meyer's writing; it would be so atrocious that a mere reading of Twilight could be fatal. If only we had listened.
* Ugh, I hurt from last night's workout. The downside, I'm walking around with C-3PO's awkward gait. The plus side, I don't have his shiny golden complexion.
* There's a girl at my office (and I'm not making this up) who looks like a jawa but talks like Jar Jar Binks.
* I'm pretty sure that when Luke found out Vader was his dad, his first thought was "him chopping my hand off makes so much more sense."
* I think I need a haircut. I'm starting to look like a scruffy looking nerf herder.

I've discovered something today. It is impossible to be grouchy when pondering how storm troopers spend their free time. But do you want to know what I enjoy more than talking about Star Wars? Watching other people talk about Star Wars.



And I'm not kidding about walking around like C-3PO. I think I strained something while working out last night.

So I'll let you depart with the shortest synopsis you'll ever see of the original trilogy. Hopefully this will bring a smile to your face.



And if you're a fan of Star Wars, and you like hip-hop, check THIS out.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Freedom!

This is going to be awkward. How do I explain it? Um...

First, I need you to listen to a few songs to get in the mood. Go look up these songs, youtube them, dig them out of your iTunes library. There are four of them: Freedom 90 by George Michael, We're All Dudes by Less Than Jake, Earthquake by Family Force 5, and Free Falling by Tom Petty.

Done?

Good.

Moving on. Facebook is a funny thing. Remember when women everywhere started posting colors as their status update - men completely oblivious to the purpose that the color posted was the color of the woman's bra? It's like a cyber flash mob.

Then a couple weeks ago, an Iranian cleric (who's name is only slightly easier to pronounce than the Icelandic volcano) stated that scantily dressed women lead young men astray, spreads adultery, and is the reason for earthquakes. Now the first two claims are debatable but they have merit. But that last claim is a whopper. Attractive women in skimpy clothes might case a few car accidents, but earthquakes? Really? Even people who believe that Obama was born in Kenya would call cleric Hockaloogie Shazam a kook. Last I checked (and a fact that even the most uneducated human would admit) cleavage and plate tectonics are two very different sciences.

In protest, a snarky feminist college student started a viral event that spread through facebook and other social media sites. Viola... we have boobquake. The hypothesized formula proven: women - modesty + less clothes than normal does not = earthquake.

Unless you live in a one room cabin miles away from civilization without internet and TV access while growing a unibomber beard, you've probably heard this story. If you are that bearded shack dweller willfully cut off from society, you couldn't possibly be reading this as you do not have access to the web.

I feel I've elaborated on recent history enough. Besides, boobquake was a week ago, so what does this anatomy/geology/theocracy lesson have to do with today?

So far, it's the women who have been able to properly exploit the infectious powers of facebook. When is it the dudes' turn? If there is a boobquake, shouldn't there be a male equivalent? OK, maybe not... but just for the sake of argument, there is such a day. You can read about it HERE.

If you're horrified by what you just read, stop now. Go scrub your brain by watching videos of puppies. Come back tomorrow.

If you're morbidly curious, the answer to your question is 'yes.' Yes, I did. And it was surprisingly comfortable.


p.s., I stopped celebrating and changed before going to the gym. There's no way I'm working out unsupported. There are lines I refuse to cross.

p.p.s. Jennifer McCreight (organizer of boobquake) would probably disagree with me, but modesty isn't a bad thing. While hooker-chic won't cause any earthquakes, it's not appropriate. There is a big difference between being dressed to kill and being dressed to be undressed. Big difference. A tad more modesty could make this a healthier, happier world. Even with non-cleavage induced earthquakes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I did it!

Today, I celebrate achievement! Is it weird to be talking about accomplishment 0.5% into a year-long project as if you have completed some momentous task? If it is, too dang bad, because that's what I'm going to do.

Sundays are going to be rough. Unless there is some sort of obvious occasion to observe (yay - Mother's Day is next week!), I am going to have to get creative with my Sundays. Trust me... I can't wait for False Confessions Day.

But a typical Sunday in casa Casey is the honey-do day. It's the day we clean house, do yard work, wash laundry. All while trying to entertain four kids. After church and lunch, that pares time for celebration down to little more than a passing thought.

And the lawn was on my honey-do list today. Meet my nemesis:
An hour and a half later, and we had a presentable lawn. Hooray for accomplishments! Now that might not sound like a big deal, so please consider a few facts.

1) We have a smidge over a half acre of uneven grass in an nonsymmetrical polygon lot. With two apple trees, a few birch trees, some evergreens, and a handful of stumps to mow around.

2) I never mow the whole lawn in one shot. It's usually a two day undertaking. Not because it's difficult, but because I'm lazy. Just being honest.

3) It's been raining all week. That made the grass thick and wet. And it's supposed to rain more this week. Mowing today was a now or never option. To make it more urgent, the heavens looked as if they might open at any moment with me and my mower out in the open.

But it's done. So I celebrate achievement. I celebrate that feeling of accomplishment.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Saga Begins

My memories of May Day celebrations are hazy. It's not what I (or any normal person) would consider a faithfully observed holiday in America. But my intentions didn't start with May Day.

It started with swim lessons. This is usually a "Bekah task." Bekah is the one who takes the kids to the doctor, to appointments, to activities. Unless it is a family excursion, I usually (unless working) stay home. Instead I made the trek to the Krock Center with Cristian and gave Bekah little more time to sleep.

After Christian's swimming lesson, the two of us boys went to Hastings to hang out. I though they'd be observing Free Comic Book Day (since they were advertising it) but there was not a comic book to be found. Scratch that occasion of my list.

Back to my original plan: May Day.

The last I remember celebrating (or hearing of anyone else celebrating) May Day was back in the 80s during my elementary school days. 20 some odd years later, those memories are not the sharpest in my recollections. As vague as those fuzzy memories may be, I do recall three prominent details: flowery art projects, leaving flowers on neighbor's doorsteps, and something involving ribbons and flagpoles.

Now I'm not one to dance with ribbons, and I don't have a flagpole in my yard, so that narrows my options down to two choices.

I delegated the art project to Christian.
And Zu went with me to get flowers. Two bouquets - one for Bekah, and one for my neighbor's door.
Side note: The weather spoiled my original plan: to take the kids out for a walk and pick flowers. Sadly, I had to succumb to retail. On the upside, I am contributing to the economy.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Almost ready

How do you celebrate something? Do you throw a party? Eat cake and ice cream? Do you buy gifts? That’s how a coworker envisioned my year of celebration: a big party with presents and desserts.

It started last week when she asked a question about Earth Day and I answered to the best of my limited knowledge. Then she wanted to know how I know so much about the day and I said that I have been researching holidays for the past few weeks. Picture the confused expression on her face. That is not a normal field of research for a data analyst. Her next question was predictable: Why?

From there I had to explain my new project. I was going to celebrate something every day for the next year. Her next question caught me off guard: Isn’t that going to be expensive? The inquiry should not have been a surprise. In her mind, she envisioned a daily celebration the same way modern America commemorates any holiday: by spending money. We have big Thanksgiving dinners, Memorial Day camp-outs, and Labor Day picnics. There are anniversary gifts, Christmas gifts, and birthday presents. We buy Easter baskets for our kids and Valentines for our loves. We buy candy for Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, and Easter (Easter, in my opinion, has the best sweets). We ignite fireworks on the Fourth of July and New Years Eve. Modern culture has irreversibly and inexplicably entwined holidays with commerce.

My colleague’s query got me thinking about how I intend to celebrate 365 different events. To be honest, I’m still not sure. And I’m starting tomorrow. Will it be expensive? I hope not. I don’t have a budget to throw 365 parties. I think my wife might banish me from ever possessing the debit card if I brought home 365 gifts for my kids (we don’t even have enough storage space for that much swag). And the last I checked, Hallmark doesn’t have greeting cards for Thomas Crapper Day (I’m not making that one up – Google it).

How do you celebrate something? How does the dictionary define the word celebrate?

According to Merriam-Webster to celebrate is…
*to perform (a sacrament or solemn ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites
*to honor (as a holiday) especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business
*to mark (as an anniversary) by festivities or other deviation from routine
*to hold up or play up for public notice
*to observe a holiday, perform a religious ceremony, or take part in a festival
*to observe a notable occasion with festivities

To perform ceremonies, festivities… Folks, I might be in trouble. I’m not the most festive person. But there are two phrases that stand out more than any other: refraining from ordinary business – deviation from routine.

I might not know how this experiment will play out. The logistics for a full year of celebration is not fully formed. But there is a healthy lesson inside that dictionary definition. Refrain from ordinary, and deviate from routine. We all need to do that. Change can do you some good.

Meanwhile, I’ll begin my divergence from normal tomorrow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ain't no party like a daily party...

Every party has a pooper, and that pooper is usually me.

I'm the guy who would rather hide in the basement playing Halo after Thanksgiving dinner than sitting around the table sharing the things that make me grateful. I used to spend Christmas day at the theater instead of hanging out with the family. Once family functions reach a certain headcount, my natural inclination is to disappear. That makes my wife sad.

For the seven years that we've been married, there is one big thing that comes up as a difference between us: holidays. She lives for holidays and family get-togethers. I loathe them.

With kids in the home, the ability to sneak off and bury my nose in a book or catch up on reruns of LOST while the rest of the family socializes is becoming less of an option. Unless I want my kids to need counselling when they become adults.

My wife's dream is to make holidays and birthdays special events in our home filled with magic and heartfelt traditions. She wants our kids to look back at those days with fondness. I want to help make that happen.

Unfortunately, that is not an easy proposition. I am not a party animal. And while I can be extroverted and entertaining, I lack a knack for the festive. And I can't just bring out a happy face because it's the Labor Day, or because it's my son's birthday.

If I am to become the celebratory person I need to be, it's going to take some practice. Now, I'm starting to see celebration as a discipline. (And by discipline, I'm not intending to describe parties as some sort of awkward punishment. A discipline is a practice, a routine, forming a habit for the sole purpose of perfecting a skill.)

Meet Tom Morello. Grammy winning musician and one of the hardest working guitarists in the music industry. How he became the accomplished player his is today is a great lesson in discipline. While enrolled at Harvard - working toward his BA in Political Science - he was developing his music dexterity. He had played throughout high school, performing in a couple bands, but he knew he needed to be a better player if he was to have a career in music. So he practiced. And he made it a point to practice every day. He'd go to his classes, study, and play his guitar. Not only did he practice on a daily basis, he practiced for eight hours each day. The habits he created as a college student is apparent when you watch him play. He is inventive and skillful in ways that outshines his peers.

If you want to become good at anything, you have to practice. It has to be a part of your daily routine.

And that's why we're here. Starting May 1st, I will be making celebration a part of my daily routine. I will be spending 365 days in celebration. And by the end of it, I may be an expert party person. Maybe not. A year from now, I might only be a happier version of myself.

But I'm inviting you to come along for the ride. Celebrate with me. From my mother-in-law's birthday to Talk Like a Pirate Day. Through Jewish traditions to the liturgical calendar. In and out of four seasons and 365 reasons to say today is a good day.

Warning, I'm not jumping in with both feet. I had to dip my toes in and test the waters. I've been practicing a bit this month. If you want to see how progress is there, I've posted a preview on my primary blog. You can read it HERE.

Come back May 1st and we'll be going with reckless abandon. And we'll be partying like it's 1999.