Friday, August 14, 2009

Orinday man's exhausting ordinary day

An ordinary man’s exhausting ordinary day August 14, 2009

I woke up at 5 a.m. Got about 5 hours and 40 minutes of sleep. Not that unusual during the school year. Actually I hit the snooze button and woke up at 5:07 a.m. After my shower I threw on my light khaki pants, my teal polo shirt and I zipped to Super Saver. The first Friday of the school year I have traditionally brought donuts for my homeroom. By the time the day ended I had eaten four donuts. Such willpower. It is my favorite food. Donuts. I had one on the way home from Super Saver. Why didn’t I wait until I got home? Jen didn’t want one (She is doing the couch potato to 5K program, and she is really doing great with her exercise program and losing some weight). I didn’t want to eat in front of her, but I did get the kids donuts. Even our 12-month old Claire had a few bites of her plain donut. Davin was excited to have his white-frosting and sprinkle donut. Kylie was devastated that I bought her the chocolate sprinkle donut. She wanted a white-filled long john. Luckily I had 2 dozen rolls and donuts in the car to take to school, so I traded her donut for the long john and she was happy. By the way – of my four donuts, 3 of them were filled long johns. Yes I sometimes eat ridiculously. My weight was 1 ½ pounds down today – at 173 pounds. I’m curious what it will be tomorrow morning. We got the kids fed, dressed, brushed teeth, etc. Jen took off with Claire and Davin for Nancy’s and I took Kylie to Kids Network before school. I love Mr. Flynn. He does a great job of being so positive and interacting with the kids before and after school. Jenna, who helps him, is also pretty cool. I found out that she had Ms. Gauthier for Spanish at Millard South.
I balanced my briefcase, lunch bag, laptop, 2 dozen donuts all the way to my new classroom, which has a window, 2 marker boards, and a lot more space. German I first block went great. 28 kids in that class – my biggest this year. I have 106 students in my 6 classes all together. I hate 2 of my 4 donuts during PRIDE Time. Yes I am crazy or I have the brain of a 5-year old when it comes to eating sweets. Then I had two great classes of Honors German III. That is a fun class to teach just about every year. Students who are very bright, still very excited to be learning German, and fluent enough to have good conversations with in German. Lunch with my foreign language teacher colleagues was great. At least for lunch I just had grapes, a pb&j, and a Pepsi. Fourth block I had free to get ready for all of these things: German 2, German 4 on Monday and German 1 and Honors German 3 on Tuesday. Luckily I have been teaching German for 15 years, so I’ve got lots of stuff in my files to use. My voice isn’t too sore; usually the first week of the school year gets sore after summer vacation because of all the talking I do in my classroom.
Got out of school by 4:00. Zipped to Nancy’s to pick up the kids. Nancy is watching Davin, Claire, Aaron, and Garrett. Aaron and Garrett both have parents who teach in Millard. Claire is wearing her orange cast. She broke it over the weekend, and we don’t know exactly how it happened. When I got to Nancy’s Grayson told me that I need to buy Davin Pokemon cards so that he can play when he comes next week. Grayson explained to me a couple weeks ago when they had us over for dinner what each of his 100+ Pokemon cards can do.
We drove home via 144th. Davin reminded me that we could have gone the other way (Bob Boozer Drive is open again.)
As soon as we got home, the neighborhood boys and girls (Zach, Eric, Kyler) were all riding scooters.) We had to hurry. Jen was throwing together her ‘salad’ with cool whip, apples and snicker bards. We zipped to Michelle’s house for a party with Jen’s teacher colleagues and their spouses, kids, etc. The five of us arrived with jen’s ‘salad’, Claire’s diaper bag, a stroller, 3 of those outdoor folding chairs. Yep, we were moving in.
Jen’s parties have been more fun each year – with her co-workers. It helps that I’ve known some of them for 8 years. It definitely takes me a few years to feel at home in a new place, job, etc. It was a lot of fun. The kids had fun too. I’m always impressed with how quickly Kylie meets other kids and starts playing with them. She had a huge backyard. Davin had fun playing pirates, swinging, playing soccer and all. Davin and I had fun playing soccer for a while. Left the party around 8:00.
I think Kylie is liking 1st grade after three days. I don’t think you always get the best answers from kids when you ask – ‘how was school’ or ‘what did you learn or do at school today’ -- I like to wait for her anecdotes or responses to questions I may give in a few days or couple weeks as it naturally comes up in conversation. Wartburg Oufly picnic on Wednesday, golf league on Thursday, and this party on Friday, so I haven’t had tons of time to talk to Kylie to see how things are going, but I think I’ll find out more each day

We tried to straighten up the house for 20 minutes since we are meeting with a realtor tomorrow. We may be putting our house on the market very soon in order to buy a 4-bedroom house. We’ll see what happens. We also have a chance to meet the Trix Rabbit and the Lucky Charms Leprachaun at Bag-n-Save tomorrow. I am pumped.

A nice day. I really think we all should just take things one day at a time – one moment at a time. Enjoy the ride. Focus on what you want to accomplish for that one day. But also just be as actively engaged in all the experiences of life as possible.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Being away

I am in Germany on a trip with high school students for 3 weeks. That means i do not get to see my kids for 3 weeks. it is going ok. it will be fine. i am having fun. my family is doing great. but i realize how happy i am that normally i get to see my kids each and every day. Some families . . . due to divorce or separation . . . . or due to work-required travel . . . . do not have this. they do not get to see their spouse and kids every day. there is a certain amount of sadness. but it is a deeper word than sadness. there is a sense of absence. i talked to kylie and davin on the phone. there was a distance there. they did not fully understand my absence. And i did not fully understand the exact current circumstances and emotions. there is more than a geographical separation. there is an emotional separation. it is nobody's fault. i am sure we will pick up right where we left off when i see them in 2 weeks. one week of the trip is past. but i am today very grateful that i do normally get to see them every day. if this sense of distance or absence is something that i had to have from them 12 months of the year . . . if there were circumstances where i would only get to see them like 2 weekends a month . . . i would be devastated to think of the different dynamics that my relationships would be with them. Thank God that Jen and I have similar work schedules and that Jen and I remain and will remain best of friends.. I can handle these trips to Germany every two years knowing that when I return I will be reunited - both geographically and physically - but also regain that emotional connection once again too. When I get back, Jen deserves whatever she wants. A professional massage, a dinner out with friends, a trip of her own to visit her brother, a month of putting her feet up after the kids go to bed as i clean the kitchen and do the laundry.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I've decided I am tired of the word 'ridiculous.' I'm going to seem like an old guy here, but I really only here it overused by people in their teens, 20s and lower 30s. (I miss the cutoff since I am 37.)

People use the word to describe the weather, to describe school and job requirements or expectations, and to share their opinions on social or political issues. It seems to me when you are using the word ridiculous you are showing what a closed-minded view you have. Most debaters will tell you that it is in their best interest to eloquently explain the other side of the argument. This shows that they understand the viewpoints of others but that they still have a different perspective. Then they can explain their side of the issue. When people overuse the word ridiculous, I feel that they are exposing their own lack of understanding, knowledge, or empathy.

I propose that we think a little deeper about something before we simply call something ridiculous.

Two of my favorite quotations I have come across recently

"Everyone is someone else's weirdo"
"The opposite of talking is not listening; it's waiting"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Video games

Video games – bringing family and friends together one console at a time

For me it started with Jay's Atari game system. Going to his house to play Atari Pac-Man and Pitfall was just amazing. Andy let me tag along with him pretty frequently to video arcades where you could get 4 tokens, 5 tokens, or even 10 tokens for a dollar. Now you could play as many video games as you wanted to by bringing the video games home. Before I realized this, my only dream of this was how I heard of some people who had full-size Pac-Man or Centipede games in their basement. We were entering a whole new world. My family visited Larry and his wife. They had Intelevision (remember that?) I think we were playing football. Andy was screaming at the screen because his guys weren’t moving the way they were supposed to based on how he was maneuvering the controller. As it turned out, the whole time Larry was somehow controlling Andy’s guy without Andy realizing it.
Then I finally saved up paper route money to buy my family our first home video game system – a Colecovision. We all played it. We all got a kick out of Mom playing Smurf. My dad got pretty good at Venture despite his interesting style of controlling the rounded joystick with his thumb. We played games like Q-Bert, Donkey Kong Jr. and we had a crazy baseball game with giant controllers. I guess Blake Renaud came down to play once. We sat down to play Venture, but I had gotten so good at it, my game actually lasted well over an hour after Blake’s game lasted all of five minutes. I remember that year (I must have been in 5th grade – 1982) that Colecovision was my Christmas gift to my family that year. Christmas Eve day I wanted to have something for each person below the tree, so it seems like I remember buying everyone Twinkes from stop-n-go and wrapping them up. (I’ve often thought that wrapped up cheeseburgers – if you could keep them warm – would be the most amazing Christmas gifts.)
Fast forward to college. Freshman year we didn’t have much in our dorm rooms. Jay (different Jay from before), Bob, and I shared a room meant for 2 people. I had an old black-n-white TV, and Jay brought up his Atari. But man that was fun. Playing soccer, baseball, track-n-field. Bob and I would get so pissed off as Jay kicked our butts.
How about junior year? We had the classic video game football tournament. I can’t remember the name of the game or the system. Somebody help me out with that. We had a classic 8-person tournament. Nate came back to win it even though he was the 4th seed after the opening rounds. What an upset. There was a lot of Tetris played those later years. Remember how you would like dream tetris? You’d play so much that you would just imagine blocks dropping and you’d have to twist and move them just right.
Almost 15 years after college graduation. We haven’t had much in the way of video games since college. We got a plug-n-play Pac Man (plus 4 other games). Kylie got a kick out of that. Finally 2 weeks ago we purchased a Nintendo Wii. Kylie is hooked. She started playing this afternoon. I did some things around the house, talked on the phone – all of a sudden I realized 2 hours had passed. Kylie, that’s probably enough now. But it is fun watching Kylie and Davin box, bowl, golf, and play tennis on the Wii. It’s amazing to me that Kylie totally has my number in boxing. She just moves those hands so fast. In tennis we are evenly matched. I don’t remember any other game system where a 6-year old can compete with a 37-year old. Maybe 10 or 12 –year olds, but a 6-year old? My dominance in home video game systems is slipping away. I could follow up Nate’s famous guest column in the Wartburg Trumpet entitled “The Rise of the Nintendo Athlete” with “The Fall of the Nintendo Athlete” (Yes, I guess I could have come up with something wittier there. )
Anyhoo, I know video games can be seen as a waste of time. And I think people are getting a little carried away when they are saying how good the Nintendo Wii is for people because of all the exercise they are getting – they still are sitting indoors and are not really getting bumps and bruises that you would get from actual sports.
But on the flip side, video games are pretty cool. Yes, when you get a new game or a new game system, you tend to spend a little too much of your time playing video games instead of doing constructive activities. But it does instill the thrill of competition and help you have some fun times with friends and family.
Any suggestions on which game we should purchase next? Then in a month or two we’ll try to get outside and play some more when it warms up.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

extras from 2008

I failed to put some other things on the Top 10 list.

Kylie started kindergarten. She really likes it.

Kylie started Kids Network (before and after school care) -- I think she likes this part of her day even more than actual kindergarten.

Davin started Sunday School. It's pretty cool when he shows off his papers and things he has made after Sunday School.

My top 10 list of 2008

It may seem kind of lame to be typing a blog at 11:30 p.m. but actually this has been a fabulous day. Jen and I just finished watching "Burn after Reading" on DVD. Now we have 30 minutes left in 2008. Jen and I were sort of talking about the top 10 things of 2008. I figured I would document it -- to look back on years from now.

10. Joining a golf league for the first time ever. It was a church golf league, and it was so great getting to golf each week and getting to know some guys from church.
9. A trip to Wisconsin. Jen was taking a graduate class and was 8 months pregnant, so I ventured to Wisconsin with just Kylie and Davin. I was worried about how the car trip would go, but it was awesome.
8. Jen concluded her 2-year stint as Sunday School superintendent with a nice appreciation brunch. I think one of Jen's greatest achievements was a simple suggestion she made to Pastor David. Instead of having just cookies after Sunday School mostly for the kids at 10:30, why not have treats for everyone after 1st service before Sunday School opening and Sunday School. It has created a real nice social time for church members that really didn't exist so much before.
7. I took over the role of song leader for Sunday School opening this year. It's been really fun leading both Sunday School students from age 3 - 5th grade and their parents in singing a few songs before they go to Sunday School. It reminds me of the days when I was a church camp counselor.
6. Having the Milwaukee Brewers make the playoffs for the first time since 1982 (I was in 5th grade). Not only did Kylie get to see her first Brewers game in person, but Andy and Joel were visiting us here in Omaha as we watched a Brewer playoff win.
5. Making a presentation at NILA where I presented to world language teachers on "Don't Entertain.... but Engage your students." I was fortunate enough to have more than 15 people attend my presentation, and I enjoyed the trip to Crete, NE.
4. Playing golf at Tregaron with Andy, Jen, and Judy. We played 18 holes and played terrible golf. But it was an amusing day.
3. Our New Year's Eve. We simply ran a bunch of errands with our kids today. We opened a savings account for Claire. While we sat in the banker's office for 10 minutes, Kylie and Davin played "haircut" They really charmed the banker. We had a great lunch at Panera; the kids played on the balls at Oak View Mall, we were going to buy a Wii, but Best Buy was sold out. So instead of playing that with the kids tonight, we had pancakes and sausage, played Disney Scene It! with the kids, counted down the new year at about 8:15, and danced in the new year with kids to an entire Wiggles CD. It was just great to see the joy on our kids' faces.
2. Claire's baptism weekend. I just love special occasions where family comes together. It was often having our family here. I'll always remember the family kickball game in the backyard. Kylie and Davin were captains. I loved it when Davin picked Rex (Joel and Brooke's dog) for his team. Grandma Hope played. I loved it when she kicked her ball over the fence. Kylie yelled with glee "automatic out!" - since those were the rules.
1. The birth of Claire Elizabeth Seeger on July 22, 2008. She has been a complete joy. She just got tubes put in yesterday. Just like I will hopefully have Andy and Joel as best friends and brothers for most of my life, I'm excited to think that hopefully Claire, Davin, and Kylie will also have each others as siblings and best friends for all of their lives.

Happy New Year everybody.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

enjoying the present

There is so much to enjoy every day. Why are some people always so grumpy? If you are a grumpy person, maybe you can pause and think about how many of these things you have the privilege to enjoy each and every day. Although every person's list is different, I bet your list might include some of the same things as mine.

Things I look forward to and enjoy each day (well, at least most days)

1. a warm shower
2. a cup of coffee
3. a bowl of cereal (Raisin Bran, Grape Nuts, Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, Frosted Mini-Wheats)
4. Reading a short section of the Bible (I am working my way through the whole Bible -- I found a cool resource on reading the Bible in a year. This included reading three different chapters from three different books each day. I only do one chapter each weekday morning, so it will probably take me 5 years)
5. Waking my kids up for the day
6. Getting to plan and teach a German lesson each day
7. looking at the beautiful sky (sunrise) on the drive to work
8. one-on-one conversations with students, teachers, friends, neighbors
9. listening to stories at the lunch table (when there is a group of more than 5, I end up listening more than talking, but it's cool getting glimpses into the lives of others)
10. driving home and looking at the trees (everybody loves the colors of spring, but I think trees in winter are beautiful too)
11. picking up the kids from daycare and Kidsnetwork (after Kindergarten care)
12. making a supper for the 4 of us -- (usually it's pretty simple, but it's fun to call the kids up for supper and have their drinks, main course, vegetable, fruit, chips, etc. )
13. reading the comics and a couple articles in the paper (Omaha World Herald)
14. watching a TV show or two (The Office, Worst Week, Brothers and Sisters)
15. an afternoon cup of warmed-up coffee
16. reading a few pages of my current book from the library (Paul Theroux - The Elepahnt Suite) I usually get this reading done in the bathroom
17. a beer, glass of wine, or margarita (yes - or (not - and))
18. a phone call with my folks or my brother
19. filling in and reading the highlight calendar - We have this cool perpetual calendar - thanks to Nate and Becky - where you can record your highlight each day - each year. Then you flip through it each year and see what you were doing on this exact day two years ago, five years ao, etc.
20. Peeking at the kids who are sound asleep
21. Crawling into a nice warm bed next to Jen

My life isn't perfect. I'm so lucky to have been born into an amazing family, and I am lucky to be a father now in another amazing family. My social life may not be as impressive as many people. Sometimes I get depressed about this and that. Matt Staff knows about my mopy moods, but all in all - it's an amazing life. I hope we all take the time to enjoy the present - it truly is a gift from God. Ultimately nothing matters except our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ -- and then helps me to enjoy the present -- knowing what a great life this is and knowing what a great afterlife awaits us.