Monday, December 29, 2008

50 in 52 Wrap-Up

Well, this journey is finished now; I endeavored to read 50 books in 52 weeks (Dec 10, 2007-Dec 14, 2008), what a journey in discipline!

In the end, I finished only 48 books but, I am not disappointed (ok maybe just a little, but it's fleeting).

1. I did not re-read any books that I had already read.
2. I mixed "growth" books with fun books.
3. I didn't count any of the books of the Bible that I read (I was tempted to, especially as the 52nd week came to a close).
4. I have re-set the goal for 2009. --- In 2009, I plan to read 36 books. I think this will be a healthy medium for continuing to read and being realistic about having other priorities (my husband, the boys, a mission trip, a fourth baby & a toddler, learning a foreign language, leading a small group, family vacations, getting in shape after the baby, etc.)

1. None--Aim for Nothing, Achieve Nothing.

For your enjoyment and curiosity, I have listed the books I read here:
1. Fiction- 1st To Die by: James Patterson (12/17/07)
2. Kids/Finance- Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees by: Neale S. Godfrey (12/30/07)
3. Spiritual/Personal Growth- Wonder by: Arthur Gordon (12/30/07)
4. Leadership/Business- The Starfish and the Spider by: Brafman & Beckstrom (1/4/08)
5. Fiction- 2nd Chance by: James Patterson (1/4/08)
6. Fiction- Life of Pi by: Yann Martel (1/12/08)
7. Biography- Tuesdays with Morrie by: Mitch Albom (1/18/08)
8. Spiritual/Personal Growth- Cure for the Common Life by: Max Lucado (1/26/08)
9. Fiction- 3rd Degree by: James Patterson (2/2/08)
10. Self-Help/Life Lessons- The Five People You Meet in Heaven by: Mitch Albom (2/12/08)
11. Self-Help/Personal Growth- The Secret by: Rhonda Byrne (2/13/08)
12. History/Leadership- A Message to Garcia by: Elbert Hubbard (2/16/08)
13. Fiction- 4th of July by: James Patterson (2-23-08)
14. History- Common Sense by: Thomas Paine (3-5-08)
15. Biography- I’m Proud of You by: Tim Madigan (3-8-08)
16. Spiritual- I Became a Christian & all I Got was this Lousy T-Shirt by: Vince Antonucci (3-15-08)
17. Fiction- 5th Horseman by: James Patterson (3-18-08)
18. Fiction- 6th Target by: James Patterson (3-24-08)
19. Marriage- The Love List by: Drs Les & Leslie Parrott (4-10-08)
20. Biography- Eat, Pray, Love by: Elizabeth Gilbert (4-15-08)
21. Fiction- 7th Heaven by: James Patterson (4-22-08)
22. Kids- The Five Love Languages of Children by: Gary Chapman (5-02-08)
23. Leadership- Encouragement Changes Everything by: John Maxwell (5-12-08)
24. Fiction- The Magician’s Nephew by: C.S. Lewis (5-24-08)
25. Historical Fiction/Youth- Heroes Don’t Run by: Harry Mazer (6-14-08)
26. Biography- Condi, The Condoleezza Rice Story by: Antonia Felix (6-18-08)
27. Children’s Lit- The Truth about Bats (Magic School Bus) by: Eva Moore (6-22-08)
28. Spiritual- Looking for God: An Unexpected Journey through tattoos, tofu, & pronouns by: Nancy Ortberg (6-22-08)
29. Fiction/Mystery- The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by: Alexander Smith (6-28-08)
30. Fiction/Mystery- Tears of the Giraffe by: Alexander McCall Smith (6-30-08)
31. Fiction/Mystery- Morality for Beautiful Girls by: Alexander McCall Smith (7-6-08)
32. Fiction/Youth- Out of Order by: Betty Hicks (7-7-08)
33. Self-Help/Life Lessons- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (7-13-08)
34. Fiction- The Kalahari Typing School for Men by: Alexander McCall Smith (7-19-08)
35. Fiction- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by: C.S. Lewis (7-22-08)
36. Fiction- The Full Cupboard of Life by: Alexander McCall Smith (7-25-08)
37. Fiction/Mystery- S is for Silence by: Sue Grafton (8-11-08)
38. Spiritual- Wild Goose Chase by: Mark Batterson (8-19-08)
39. Spiritual- Mocha with Max by: Max Lucado (9-10-08)
40. Fiction- In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by: Alexander McCall Smith (9-29-08)
41. Christian Fiction- The Shape of Mercy by: Susan Meissner (10-11-08)
42. Fiction- The DaVinci Code by: Dan Brown (11-11-08)
43. Fiction/Mystery- Double Homicide (Bstn/Santa Fe) by: J&F Kellerman (11-17-08)
44. Biography/Self-Help- The Last Lecture by: Randy Pausch (11-26-08)
45. Spiritual- Wide Awake by: Erwin McMannus (12-01-08)
46. Fiction- Blue Shoes and Happiness by: Alexander McCall Smith (12-08-08)
47. Fiction- The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by: Alexander McCall Smith (12-09-08)
48. History/Leadership- 50 Military Leaders that Changed the World by: William Weir (12-14-08)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Whirlwind tour for the holidays

Colorado, Arizona, and back again...

It was not my a matter of fact it is an unspoken rule not to travel after the 15th of December up through the New Year. 

But there I was heading to Fort Collins, Colorado to visit one of my mentors and his friends at Timberline. I had a wonderful time. When I arrived on Saturday morning it was in the 50's and the time I woke up on Sunday morning it was in the teens, dropping, and 6 inches of 
snow had arrived. Now I know why they ski so much in Colorado. 

To make the trip a little crazy I left the Denver Airport (after being delayed 4 hours) around 12:30am and arrived in Arizona at 3am. I never really went to sleep because I had to be out on the golf course for a 10am tee time. The sun came up and my body was not to happy to never have enough darkness to really get quality sleep. 

I hit the ball around a beautiful course, Starr Pass, in Tucson, AZ. This is a new and incredible resort in Arizona that is 20 minutes from the airport. As part of my day to day responsibilities at ATS, I stayed the rest 
of the week to attend meetings at the Intelligence Warfighter Summit

Thursday morning caught the plane to Phoenix and started my journey home to DC. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Billy...How the story began

I think history helps us understand how people will react, what has made them who they are today, and how things could potentially unfold. 

As part of an ongoing effort with Thomas Nelson Publishing, I am in the middle of another book review. Just wrapped up "Billy" by William Paul McKay and Ken Abraham. This fall in 2009 the movie will release...check out Billy: THE EARLY YEARS for the scoop!

I have read Preacher to the Presidents and other similar biographies that look at the impact and influence this man had on America's leaders but this is the first book that really looks at what and who had an influence on him. 

The book reveals relationships, trials, and struggles that I think we all face at different points in our life. What I found the most interesting is the roles that both Ruth Graham and Charles Templeton had on Billy Graham's journey. I also enjoyed reading more about his life in the market place as an employee and salesman prior to full time ministry. 

Great won't be disappointed. 


Sunday, December 7, 2008

ATS Christmas Party

While we did not grow in numbers there is a lot of excitement for us in DC. By the time 2009 rolls around ATS in DC will be in the process of hiring or may have already brought on board, 2 new employees and our work in the DC area is growing beyond that in 2009. Over all the company has had another solid year of growth throughout the country and everyone here sees what it takes to not just maintain but grow. 

I think a second reason for excitement is relationships. Sharon and I work very hard to get to know the employees of the company and this is one of those special points in the year where we feel particularly close to the team. It gets harder as the company grows but we like to get gifts that are specific and meaningful to those who get them. I won't tell you what they were but I am sure they all agree we were on target again this year. 

The final reason for excitement was the food. We reserved a table at Tysons Tower Club  which required Dave to pick a suit coat or tie. Either way, it was the first time I
 would see him in either we had to capture the moment! Five courses, incredible appetizers, filets, bananas foster, the food kept coming and we stuffed ourselves all the way to the end. We laughed and had a 
blast during our 3 hours together. You know you have connected and are having fun when you can spend 3 hours with fellow employees and not talk about work the whole time. was a great way to kick off the holidays!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sybella's Birthday Party- Part 2

I wanted to share this special video-short from Sybella's party too but it seemed like too much to add in with all the other pictures. So, here it is:

***If you are viewing this note thru Facebook, you can view the video on our blog at:

Sybella's Birthday Party

We had an Awesome morning with friends over at our house for Sybella's Second Birthday. Thanks to Mia, Macy, Liam, and Kylee for celebrating with us (and all their parents too)!

Here are some of our favorite shots of: the kids, using the table favors, balloons, blowing out the candles, and the gifts. Sybella enjoyed the whole morning and can now answer "2" when asked her age.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nat'l Christmas Tree Lighting

Our Family attended The National Christmas Tree Lighting last night. The tree sits in front of the White House on The Ellipse. Here are some pictures that I snapped including: The White House, Kids in front of the tree, Sybella & Granda, the boys, boys watching the entertainment, President Bush about to light the Tree, and 2 shots of the lit Tree.
Also, Thanks to Dave & Kate Schmidgall for attending with us; we had a blast hanging out!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Baby Names

Monday, Dec 8th, we have an ultrasound scheduled. This ultrasound is an anatomical scan to evaluate that the baby is growing properly and that there are no visible health issues. Also, as long as this baby cooperates, we plan to find out the sex of the baby. I don't really know why, but I am more excited and impatient to find out the gender with this baby than I remember being with any of the others; with Colin, we waited until he was born to find out whether he was a boy or girl!

We have named each of the other kids before they were born and haven't ever really struggled with names. We have always had a boy and girl name picked out far ahead of time. For instance, Colin would have been Hannah if he was a girl, Connor would have been Kelsey if he was a girl, Sybella would have been **** if she was a boy (not telling because that is the boy name we are planning on using).

We have always told other people the names as soon as we decided on them but often that implies that we are asking for input, which if you know David and I, once we have decided on the name, we are not asking for input. :)

We have also had "guidelines" for naming each of the kids, which again if you know David and I, is no surprise. With the boys, their names had to be of Irish origin, not super-common, and not easily turned into nicknames. With the third child, 6 years had elapsed, and we had changed some in our perspectives, we wanted the name to be complimentary to the others but didn't have such firm guidelines. We discovered Sybella's name in a movie! There is a Princess of Jerusalem (from the time of the Crusades) who's name was Sibylla, also commonly spelled Sybilla. We loved this name immediately. After a couple of days though, we decided to go with Sybella (another derivation of the name Sybil) so that IF we wanted to call her Bella, we could- violating our previous nickname guideline. Funny enough, besides the boys calling her "Baby Bella" when she was tiny, we rarely call her Bella, she is simply Sybella.

With this baby, we haven't shared the names yet, because we haven't decided on names yet. We have a boy and girl first name picked out; we have a middle name for a girl but are grappling a bit with the middle name for a boy.... So, that begs the question, what to do? Some of the options we have considered:

a. wait until we know if it's a boy to worry about it

b. open it up to a poll of our friends and family (actually ask for input)

c. pray that it's a girl and forget about boy names all together

d. change our "secret" criteria for naming this baby in order to find the name that fits

e. wait until we see the baby to figure out the middle name

f. change the first name that we have picked so that "pairing" it with a middle name that fits our guidelines is easier

Fortunately, David and I agree and have similar tastes for names, so at least the process is not complicated by disagreements (except maybe how important it is to have this resolved by Monday).

Any comments or thoughts???

Is it a bit crazy that so much thought and emotion can go into a child's name? I know that they will have it forever, unless of course, they start using a new name, embrace a nickname, their friends rename them, or they legally change their name as an adult because they hate it!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Colin & Connor's Friends

Any time you move to a new neighborhood and new school, there are lots of questions you ask yourself:

-how will the kids adjust?
-will the new teachers be a fit?
-will they make friends quickly?
-will there be kids in the neighborhood to play with?
and on and on....

I wanted to post an update about how pleased we are with our move to Fairfax.
God has certainly been faithful, in His timing, to provide for us.

Many of you know that the move to Vienna, VA was a good one for us and for the kids schooling and sports in particular. They both flourished in school and with their teachers in particular. That made me even more nervous though about whether the move to Fairfax could measure up, and how the kids would fare with 2 school changes back-to-back.

Wow, we have been blessed. The kids LOVE school. Their teachers are an awesome match. Colin is doing better in school than ever and his teacher is not only pleased but is his 3rd biggest fan (behind mom and dad). Connor loves school in his typical sanguine response but is maturing as a student with a creative and inventive teacher.

As for the neighborhood, there are over 30 kids in our immediate area and it is routine for the kids to be hanging out with their friends as soon as homework is done. One of their good friends also has a younger sister that is 3-yrs-old so about 2 times a week, all the boys will play outside with their little sisters!

I couldn't ask for more.

New Bed

Sybella is turning 2-years-old tomorrow and to celebrate early, she got her "Big Girl" bed on Friday evening. (we love Ikea!) She has now spent 2 nights and 2 naps in her new bed without any issues; she is not looking back---If you ask her, the crib is for "babies," which clearly, she is not.
Now, I just have to get myself (and Sybella) excited about potty-training.
***If you click on the mosaic above, you can enlarge the pictures for a better view.
Also, for those of you who have asked me about mosaics, thanks to Shauna, I use Big Labs Mosaic Maker.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Sharon and I met the staff of Samaritan's Purse and had the opportunity to hear from Franklin Graham while in Atlanta. We took time pack some boxes and check out the temporary facility they had set up in Atlanta for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). We both though the idea was a great way to help our family engage in making a difference this holiday season. We also thought it would be great way to set the stage for giving and understanding that there are so many in the world today that are without. 

SO...last weekend we turned part of our basement into a packing center. First we took the boys to the local Wal-Mart and had them spend their money to purchase gifts to pack in the boxes. We took everything home and took time to stuff boxes full of calculators, balls, cars, personal notes, toothpaste, snacks, crayons, pencils, name it and we were filling them up. 

We had a blast, it did not take a lot of time and it was an exciting way to start the holiday season by driving home a message that we are called to give to the poor, the widow, and the orphan. 

I encourage to check out more about Operation Christmas Child (OCC) and consider taking an hour out of your day to impact lives across the globe. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bell Ringers

Many people are spending less this holiday season due to economy worries. Last week at Bible Study our opening speaker (Karen) laid a challenge before us to remember that "scaling back" this holiday season does not have to and probably should not include cutting down on charitable giving. I know you are saying, "Whoa Sharon, don't blog a lecture; the economy is tough enough." Don't stop reading yet, I promise, No Lectures (just food for thought)!
So anyway, the speaker read off about 50 things that people could do this holiday season to serve and help others. I was moved by the suggestions she came up with. Some of the things were traditional and others were absolutely unique (at least to me). I am writing this post to remind you as I have been reminded, that it is vital to help others with both our checkbooks and our service.
Each of us can give to a charity in some way; we can buy a goat for a family in Africa, buy a toy for Toys for Tots, make a Shoe Box, or sponsor a child among many other things. But on a whole different plain, we can serve each other and the community around us too:
1. invite a family over for a meal
2. take food to a shut-in
3. rake leaves or shovel snow for someone who can't
4. play with the kids of a single parent to give them a break
5. work in a soup kitchen
6. deliver meals for a local organization
7. bake cookies for a widow or widower
8. sing carols at a nursing home
9. volunteer at the Humane Society
10. visit a site to find a volunteer opportunity that specifically suits you (ex: )
The challenge our family is embracing has 2 parts:
a. to do something over the holidays with BOTH our checkbook and our service
b. to find a way to make service more frequent

In addition to our choice for charity giving this holiday season, one of the things suggested at Bible Study that struck me as "do-able" is to stop every time we pass a Salvation Army Bell Ringer and empty our spare change into the bucket. I have never really given to the Bell Ringers so this is a new (and easy) way to show the kids that a little can go a long way and that no gift is too small. It really is a lot of fun to give and I want the kids to develop a habit of giving. What a way to do giving a little almost every day.
May your holiday season be blessed as you bless others!Comment on the blog to let us know what other ideas you have for serving your community.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I have witnessed a lot of incredible basketball slam dunk contests but this beats them all. While I am not advocating destruction of property...I do love to see people show off the skills they have been blessed with.

Are you showing off the skills you have been blessed with?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Raising Support!

As David posted in an earlier blog, we are officially heading to the Dominican Republic (DR) as part of the A1:8 Project ( In partnership with NCC and Salt & Light Ministries...David and I will be leading a team to the DR January 17-24, 2009! David and I have decided to take Colin with us on the trip as well. He is 10-years-old now and continues to learn the importance of living out his faith with action; we would like to broaden his perspective to the needs of people internationally who are often not blessed with the comforts of life in the United States.
We would like you to partner with us to make this mission trip possible.
Yes, we need your prayers but we also need your financial support. The cost of the trip is $1500 per person. Those costs break down as follows (approximately): 1/3 travel, 1/3 room, board, & transportation in the DR, and 1/3 directly to Projects and Needs in the DR.
I am sure that you can do the math. We need to raise $4500 to make this mission trip a reality. (see the bottom of this post for how to make a Tax-Deductible donation.)

Our mission in the DR will involve education, hygiene/health teaching, and sharing the love of Jesus. Part of our work will be in the community of El Valle. El Valle is a town in the mountains NE of Santo Domingo. We will be working with several missionaries at the "Center for Aid to Children". The goal of the center is to meet the spiritual and physical needs of children.
Many of the community children are 'orphaned' by the economics of the country. In the DR, schooling is expensive and not run by the government; many parents can not afford to send their kids to school. Parents often leave early in the morning and travel to a larger town to find work or food. They don't return until late at night. Their children would otherwise be roaming the streets, but the center takes them in and provides for them. The center provides these kids with a school, meals, medical aid, and a safe, supervised environment with hope in Jesus Christ. The center is currently serving 42 children. The Center for Aid to Children along with the community hospital (also run by these missionaries) has the desire and ability to win an entire community for Christ. We are blessed to unite with them to bring the love of Jesus to this area.

Make checks payable to National Community Church. In the Memo line, please write "Simon-DR Trip." A Tax Receipt will be mailed out in January to all whose checks are received by Dec 27th.
Mail checks to:
3873 Chain Bridge Rd.
Fairfax, VA 22030

*If your employer provides for matching donations, the EIN number for NCC is 52-2016840, please make sure to notify us about the matching donation so that we can link it to the DR Trip.
**Any funds raised beyond the required $4500 will go directly to projects and needs in the DR.
We appreciate both your financial and prayer support!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Update for "50 in 52"

Having followed the updates here on the blog and on Shelfari, several people have inquired recently as to how my reading was going. I usually do an update about every three months based on my progress checkpoints. The next "checkpoint" for my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks was on Sept 30th. I am just late on posting a blog update. I had set the goal to have read 40 of the books by Sept 30. I did in fact have 40 books finished by that date; I finished number 40 on 9-29-08 in fact, just in time.

The next checkpoint is December 14, one month away. I am scheduled to have all 50 books done by then. Unfortunately, I have done almost no reading since we moved. I will have #42 finished today or tomorrow and I am reading 3 others right now as well. But, that still means I need to start and finish 5 more books before Dec month from now. I can do it! I know I can, but it is going to take some planning and prioritizing!

I'll let you know how it goes.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Review - Me Myself, and I AM

I am not really into the whole journal craze, but I found this book to be easy to pick up and leverage it to ask some very introspective questions. It took little effort to open and dive in. It gave me things to reflect on and meditate on during quiet time in the morning and late at night. 

The book was also a great resource for finding questions to ask of friends around me and create new conversation about life journeys. The fact that I read this close to Thanksgiving also drove home how thankful I am in so many different arenas of life. 

I think the material in here would be great to use if you have a small group and you are trying to generate more conversation and discussion. 

This one is a fun and challenging book to pick up at your local bookstore or order on line and just go for it. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Standing in Line

Yes, again this year, David and I got up at 4am and drove in to DC last Saturday to stand in line for about 3 hours on The Ellipse. "Why?" You ask.

We wanted tickets to the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. It is held the first Thursday in December every year. There is entertainment and the tree is lit by the President. Last year, our first year back in DC, we got tickets and enjoyed attending the lighting. I am not gonna lie, It was cold; I mean REALLY cold on the day of the lighting. We weren't sure that we would attend again this year. But after 11 months, we are refreshed and ready to do it again (kinda like pregnancy....oh wait, we are already doing that again). Anyway, we are looking forward to attending with the kids again. We want to fully engage in LIVING in DC. Every opportunity we get, we hope to take advantage of what the city and the region have to offer. Here is a picture of our "line numbers."

Note: Tickets are passed out on the First Saturday in Nov. This year that happened to be the day after Halloween, so, even though we arrived about 20 minutes later than we did last year, our numbers (221 & 222) were over 100 spots lower than last year (356 & 361). I think people were out too late trick or treating. Approximately 680 line numbers are passed out each year and each person gets 4 tickets, hence why David and I both stand in line since we are a family of five.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Early and Often...Political Junkies

Hey it’s DC and one thing I have learned since moving here a year ago is…politics is the rule.

People today are obsessing and clicking around wasting time this Tuesday November 4th. A lot of people made it out early (most of my friends have been texting me or letting me know via twitter) but no one will see exit-poll results until early evening.  A friend of mine reminded that there are mash-up maps of results from sites like this one at SetFive, or this one mapping general Twitter election buzz, are self select reporting and wildly inaccurate as election tracks.


I am a simple guy and will be watching CNN and Fox News…


If you’d like to get the actual numbers tonight as quickly as the talking heads are getting them, here are links to several battleground-state official sites for results in real time, along with poll-closing times. All times are Eastern Standard Time.

6:00 / 7:00 pm: Indiana
7:00 pm:
7:00 pm:
7:00 / 8:00 pm:
 Florida (watch out for hanging chads…I want a re-count!)
7:30 pm:
 North Carolina
7:30 pm:
 Ohio (sure cast your ballot…what address is your park bench? No no…we don’t need your ID just a piece of paper with your name on it
8:00 pm:
8:00 pm:
8:00 pm:
9:00 pm:
9:00 pm:
9:00 pm:
 New Mexico
10:00 pm:
10:00 pm:
11:00 pm: 
11:00 pm:
 Washington (Ohhh…my buds – Chris & Dino going at it in the big gubernatorial race)
1:00 am:
 Alaska (You know you’ll still be up!!!)


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween '08

For the sake of saving an extra post, I am combining both of our Halloween events into the same post.

Our mom's group had a Halloween Party for the kids on Wednesday and Sybella got a chance to hang out with her friends and get an "extra" wear out of her Halloween Costume. Just love the picture of her licking the spoon, I know it's the wrong end, but every good chef tastes their food! :) (Right Denise??)

Indiana Jones, an Army Officer and a Fabulous Chef had a great time trick or treating on Friday night. This is the first time that Sybella has actually received treats. (Note, in the picture of her coming in the front door, she already has a candy in the mouth.) The kids had fun and the costumes in the neighborhood were cute. I love the new neighborhood, there are lots of friendly people and TONS of kids. Did I mention that I LOVE our boys? Despite their enthusiasm to get the candy, they were very good to their sister and she and I were able to keep up them the whole time. Dad stayed at home and passed out candy at our front door.
Following a trip through our neighborhood, we drove to Granda's house to get an "extra-big, grandma-size serving" of candy for the Treat Bags. Granda knows that Connor DOES NOT eat chocolate so she had ALL non-chocolate candy for him!!

Connor's Last Soccer Game

Here are some pictures of Connor's Last Soccer Game yesterday. There is also a picture of our awesome Coach, Damon, giving Connor his trophy and then of course, Connor "displaying" his trophy. The Green Strykers had a great season and had lots of fun. It's a good group of kids and parents and we will missing seeing them every week! Most of us will back together for spring season in March or April.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Colin's Football Playoff Game

I posted last week about Colin's team making it to the Football Playoffs. The guys played hard and played well. Colin was able to make several great tackles and was part of a forced fumble and subsequent fumble recovery (center picture in top row--is the sideline return after the fumble recovery). Unfortunately, the Warhawks didn't win but we are so proud that they made it to playoffs AND 9 of the 14 players were first year players. WOW!! Great Job Warhawks!


David and I, along with our kids, love to play a game called Bongoball (aka Ladder Golf or Bolo Toss). So, when David had the chance at the Catalyst Conference to play Cornhole (a similar game) with some of the NCC staff, he jumped right in!

I just happened to have my camera and snapped a few shots.

Some September Sybella Stuff

There are 2 pictures of Sybella from September '08 that I just couldn't pass up for a posting. I know that they are late but they are cute.

Three or four days after we moved into the new house, I heard Sybella call out "Mommy" from the other room. She normally calls me "Mom" so I knew something was a little different. I said, "Yes Sybella, what do you need?" (I was putting something away in my closet and she was about 25 feet away in her room or so I thought.)
The next thing I heard was "Mommmmy................... Mommmmy............. Mommmmy......Mommmmy...Mommmmy" is an increasing speed and increasing whine. I, of course, went running. Sybella stopped calling (I think because she knew I was coming.) Sybella was not in her room, she was not in Connor's room, she was not in the bathroom. So, at this point, I am calling for Sybella! I then hear a whimper from the hall closet. Opening the door, I find a young lady who has shut herself in the closet and now in the dark, can't figure out how to get herself out.
The quality isn't great but this is the picture I manged to capture:

And this is a picture of Sybella in Dad's arms. How Cute!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Colin’s football team WON today and has made it to the playoffs. GO WARHAWKS!!
They will be playing Braddock Road TOMORROW night at 8pm under the bright lights at Water’s Field.
If anyone would like to attend, you are welcome. [Water’s Field is just off Maple Ave on Church Street in Vienna, VA]

We enter the playoffs with slightly mixed emotions. We are absolutely excited for Colin, the other players, and the coaches, who have worked so hard this season. But, as first year 'football parents' who had NO idea the commitment we were getting in to when we signed up for football, we were secretly ready for the season to be over. We have had practices 3-5 days a week since August 1st, plus a game a week, several scrimmages, fundraising 'booster' days, raffle tickets, pictures, working in the Snack Bar, Chain Gang duty (moving the first down chains), and various other 'responsibilities.' Did I mention learning how to put pads in football pants and WASHING those stinky clothes? :)

Seriously though, we are super-excited for the Warhawks and as Sybella says, "YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stop Doing IT!!!!

Recently I was fortunate to hear Jim Collins expound on several ideas from his book Good to Great. He also spent some time in a shorter but just as challenging book "Good to Great in the Social Sectors". He spent his time centered around the theme that greatness is not a function of our circumstances or the cards we are dealt but rather...greatness starts with a choice and then the discipline to carry out that decision.

In the follow-on study of great organizations and the differences between them, Collins made 2 statements/observations that I took to heart:


His point was there was one characteristic between Level 4 and 5 leaders that made all the difference. In the words of Rick Warren, "It's not about you." Humility was the game changer in taking good organizations to that next level. I have to admit that it made me stop and think about all the times I take credit for something when I could be passing it along to someone else in the organization.

The other MAJOR take away for me was the 'stop doing list'. We all have our 'To Do' lists and Collins said that great leaders take time to evaluate where and how they are being most and least effective. Based on that, they create a 'stop doing' list, These are things they will stop doing because they: can be delegated, are taking up too much time of the leadership and there by are creating inefficiency, or they are things that need to not be done at all by the organization.

Some quick thoughts...David

Friday, October 24, 2008

In the City

While I was in Atlanta several weeks ago this song just hit me hard. With so much going on in our nation, people struggling economically, and the fear that exists in society...I just couldn't help but to be over powered by the hope that is expressed in this song. 

My heart goes out in faith, hope, and love for:
DC, Seattle, Santa Domingo, and all the other great cities across the globe. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Out with Friends

Sybella and I had a chance to go to a Tot-Swap (consignment sale) yesterday with our friends Shauna and Kylee. The girls move so fast now that I didn't get exactly the shots I wanted, but here are some cute ones of them outside and saying "good-bye."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lots of planning

Well we are officially heading to the Dominican Republic (DR) as part of the A1:8 Project ( In partnership with NCC and Salt & Light Ministries...Sharon and I will be leading a team to the DR in January of 2009!

We are meeting to discuss the details and inform people of how they can join us in the DR. Sharon and I will be at Ebz Coffeehouse in downtown DC Saturday night (Oct 25) at 7:30pm and then Sunday (the 26th) at 12:00pm in the Food Court at Ballston Common Mall.

More to follow...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby Simon #4

By now, I bet many if not all of you know that we are expecting Baby Simon #4. (Gotta Love Facebook!) My due date is April 28, 2009. I am sure that there will be many posts between now and then but I thought that we should start off with pictures of the Baby! We had an U/S today and managed 4 great pictures. I am currently 12 weeks and 4 days. David and I were both commenting that with each child, the pictures have gotten better and better. It is truly amazing that you can get pictures like this so soon.
So, here they are:
(If you click on the mosaic, it will enlarge to give a better view.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tax Return

If you filed an tax extension back in April, today is the last day to file a tax return. Now, if you normally procrastinate, as long as you are SURE that you are getting a refund, you could actually wait a while longer and still be fine. But, if you want to collect your Economic Stimulus Package check, you must file your taxes today.

Why do I know all this? I got a friendly reminder on the news this morning and just got off the phone with my accountant; he will be e-filing for me in the next hour or so.....thank you Doug!

Most times, I plan ahead, organize too much, and get stuff done right away but occasionally (particularly with taxes) I work under the "adrenaline rush," wait until the last 24 hours kind of pressure. Thankfully, my accountant is understanding and I am organized enough and technically proficient enough to still get him everything he needs even from 3000 miles away.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

For Young Men Only!

I always believe in putting the bottom line up front in the military we would tell out soldiers “BLUF”.

So here goes: I am giving a copy of this book to my son (that simple). The book was short and easy read that I read on my flight from DC to Atlanta and for men, a short read is essential to make sure they get to the end. I will be using the book to drive discussion with my 5th grader over the coming months.

FYMO by authors Jeff Feldhahn & Eric Rice with Shaunti Feldhahn. When I saw the quote on the cover by Jeff Foxworthy, I was thinking, “Foxworthy? Really? What does he know or care about relative to this subject? Isn’t he just another comedian?”. The irony was that when I landed in Atlanta, Jeff was there at the conference to discuss some tough topics and help with a charity event and I had the opportunity to see his heart for helping young people all over the world.

FYMO was a great way to quickly earn a Masters Degree in ‘Girl’. Being clueless doesn’t look good on a man and when you are a young man navigating the minefield of the teen years it is even more important to get clued in. The stories and surveys shared from young women will give any young man a new perspective on what young women are looking for, what they are not, and how to win them over.

There is some great practical advice like: 5 smart moves a guy can make to get the girl. And there are some clear steps given to breaking the code about women (let’s be honest…I have been married for over 11 years and still not accomplished that).

The authors (and their wives) do a great job in gathering important information from young women and dealing with tough issues for men regarding: social networks, facebook, myspace, dating, sex, being one of the bad boys vs. a good guy, and more. My favorite quote in the book was, “Honesty is where superficiality stops and real friendship begins.”
At the end of the book there is also a short guide that will help you engage and drive discussion with your teen (or pre-teen / young man) who is starting to figure out there is in fact an opposite sex and that they don’t all have cooties.

Drawing on a fresh national survey of 600 teen girls, as well as hundreds of personal interviews, For Young Men Only reveals the real truth about what teenage girls think, what they want, and how average teen guys can build healthy friendships with high quality girls. I do recommend picking up a copy and sharing it with your son. Heck, I was even reminded of some practical things I need to do a better job of relative to my wife.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Catalyst Nuggets and the Leadership Challenge

Can I just say that I was stretched (Sharon will admit she was too).  3 Days (Pre-Conference Labs and a 2-day Conference). I got my money's worth during the labs. I loved the personal setting and being able to engage top leaders from around the country face to face. When Reggie Joiner, Founder & CEO of Re-Think, was speaking there were times where he was staring right at me. 

Day 1 of the conference was overwhelming and actually left me emotionally drained! Sharon and I had the opportunity to hang out with the leadership of NCC and really engage with such great people! What amazing young leaders who are going to be used by God in awesome ways over the coming years. 

While this can not possibly capture the entire are some nuggets:

1. Grace and mercy is demonstrated when you provide clarity to your employees

2. When we make decisions in fear we almost always make bad decisions

3. True innovation and creativity starts with a Creative Circle of 2 to 4 people. When the right people in a creative circle come together, YOU can move the impossible into the realm of possible. Every leader who wants to stretch themselves should build a "Personal Board of Directors" and allow those people to speak into your life and provide input.

4. If you want to be really passionate, influence culture, and achieve the impossible; you are going to have to be broken to your core and gain clarity and focus. Become a HERETIC!

5. Structure you organization for growth not control.

6. To reach people no one else is reaching; we must do things no one else is doing

7. The next generation products and ideas will not come from the last generation

- Focus by Al Ries (marketing book)

- It takes the last generation leadership to clear the space, lend the resources, provide them margin to grow, champion the next generation. The next generation MUST create and the last generation MUST encourage and support.

- Be a student not a critic

8. Edification of your tribe…set a vision with your leadership and hold on to it. Re-visit the vision and mission frequently, keep an amazing level of humility as you achieve success, always stop to recognize the core of the tribe who played supporting roles. Simply…Edification, duplication, association.

9.  Organizations all too often are slow to upgrade or change systems and process because:

- It is costly

- It takes time and/or

- It is so hard

10. If you want something ‘built to last’ you have to be willing to change the very thing you are building. Steve Jobs and his team at Apple to get from 1985 ‘Mac Plus’ to 2008 ‘Mac Air’ made 10 complete operating system changes, over 80 major upgrades, and went through more than 60 platforms…all in 20 years!

Monday, October 6, 2008



Heading to Atlanta tomorrow. Sharon and I will be getting away to focus on how the year has gone so far, set some long range goals, spend time with wonderful friends, and have an opportunity for the two of us to just enjoy a few minutes of down time without the kids around. 

Great conference and incredible line up: Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Andy Stanley, Dave Ramsey, Craig Groeschel, Mark Batterson, and so many more. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Technology and History

Cool feature just added at the Library of Congress. Watch the whole 4 minute video. It is worth stopping and checking out. Great features that capture the youth and provide access to all vistors when someone wants to check out truly historic documents. Nice example of leveraging technology to make the Library of Congress a more hands on and engaging experience. 

Sharon and the kids went to the Library of Congress this summer and this technology wasn't in place yet. It's nice that these things are free to the public...I think it is a shame that people don't take advantage of it. 


Sunday, September 14, 2008

How things get set in motion

This weekend I had the opportunity to marvel at how a master carpenter works. I am not going to share all the details but I will tell you that it takes pure genius and powers far beyond my capabilities to accomplish what God did…

11 years ago Sharon and I moved to the Pacific Northwest and as a seasoned professional in the soccer community I started refereeing soccer in the local area. This is where I met Tracy Kelly who was the treasurer of one of the leagues I served as a referee in. Tracy and her husband Alan became great friends of ours and they partook in some crazy adventures with us over the years. Their oldest daughter, Nicole, became our trusted babysitter in 2000. Through a series of events Nicole ended up moving to my home town of Youngstown, Ohio back in 2006. She is a paramedic and a wonderful gal.

This weekend I have to stop and say THANK YOU to Nicole for "doing her job". She was instrumental in a place and time where none of us could have influenced the situation.

BOTTOM LINE – God put in motion a story 11 years ago something that changed people's lives this weekend!

WOW…if you only knew the challenges between 1997 and today! How many times paths could have changed, people gave bad advice, road blocks appeared, and the situation looked bleak. And who could have imaged that being a referee in soccer would set in motion a chain of events that ended up saving someone's life?

I was reading several books and listening to a podcast today and here are some reflections:

  1. If you succeed at the wrong thing you failed
  2. People will criticize your choices but often can't grasp the bigger vision
  3. Don't be ordinary – be EXTRAordinary
  4. It's people who are willing to do the irresponsible thing that seems irrational who end up getting the responsible and amazing result
  5. Ask yourself – What makes you cry, what makes you pound your fist, what makes you smile = YOUR PASSION
  6. All too often we pick small dreams and accomplish them to fast – find big dreams and spend the rest of your life pursing them
  7. When you step out in faith God will bless it.


Connor's Soccer Game

Yesterday, Connor had his first soccer game of the season. He and the team did a GREAT job. I have to say that I was absolutely amazed. The boys have matured so much as players since the spring season. Their stamina, ball skills, communication, passing, and their interest in the game have grown exponentially since last season. I loved watching last season because the boys have fun. Now, I will enjoy watching because the game interesting! They still play on a smaller field and only 4 players to a side, but with their new skills and stamina, it means that they are all over the field and play much longer without substitutions. Can't wait until next week's game. Enjoy the pics.

**There are some pics of Sybella --who by the way tried to enter the field of play several times, not understanding why this game was any different than the ones at home. She gets to kick the ball at home. After she realized she couldn't play, she followed her buddy Ian around for while; he was very kind and tolerate of his shadow. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I haven't blogged in a LONG time. I have been too busy.

The long and short of it, is that I decided to take a PRN Nursing Job at Virginia Hospital Center (PRN is nurse-speak for "as needed"). I will work 2 days a month (not a week, 2 days a month) . It's very convenient and it's self-scheduled. It will give me an opportunity to keep up my nursing skills and to be familiar with our preferred area hospital. I haven't worked in 2 1/2 years and in the 2 years before that, I was a Manager so, I didn't do much patient care. Labor and Delivery is a Specialty Service that is always changing so I didn't want to be away too long, for fear that I would not be proficient anymore.

Don't get me wrong. I prefer to be at home with the kids and I intend to be, but, I have always said that if something happened to David or some other unforeseen circumstances arose, that I would want to still be able to enter the work force in a speedy fashion. For me personally, it's a form of stewardship. I am very thankful for my blessings and the opportunities that I have been given, both in the education/work environment and in the ability to be at home with my kids as a stay-home-mom. Working 2 days a month gives me the opportunity to stay current, maintain connections, and to truly have the best of both worlds. I am thrilled that nursing provides opportunities like this; many professions do not provide this option to moms that choose to be at home.

There is only one catch, and it was a huge and unexpected one. In order to be a PRN nurse and work 2 days a month, I had to attend 10 days of orientation/classes and then another 7 days of preceptorship to get oriented to Labor & Delivery. Seventeen, that's a lot when you are used to being at home and you still want to be at home. But, I decided it wouldn't kill me.

Also, to make matters slightly more complicated, we are moving next week. (packing and boxes blog later) The boys started school on Sep 2nd at the new school, which is a 15 minute drive from our current house and obviously would not involve school transportation from Vienna. So, I needed to hire a temporary nanny and it needed to be one who could transport my kids to and from school when need be. My, do I love Craig's List?! Yes I do! We found a another stay-home-mom who wanted to make some extra money. She comes to our house (with her 14-month-old daughter) to take care of the kids and she is able to pick the boys up from school for us. Fortunately, David's schedule is flexible, so he has adjusted his hours to accommodate being with the kids more. Of course, that means he works later in the evening but wait, he usually does that anyway :) He is a great Mr. Mom. (only a few more days left David!)

I am taking next week off to pack and move, and then I only have a few more days of preceptorship left. God is faithful and the whole family has survived a 3-week explosion of chaos.

Did I mention that we are still a one-car family? Thanks Mom for loaning your car many times over the last month!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quick Notes and Consistent Hurricanes

Just wanted to leave a few quick insights, catch-up on a busy weekend and mention a few points. I have not blogged for a week now and I think it facebook and twitter’s fault :-)

However, my folks (Karen and Bud Simon) are really starting to update their blog and fight now it is more important than ever. Gustav did not start in New Orleans, Hanna did not magically appear along the Carolina’s, and Ike didn’t rise up out of the Florida coast line. They all started somewhere off the western coast of Africa and headed west. One of their favorite ‘rest stops’ along the way has been the D.R. (Dominican Republic); my folks have been down there in full time ministry now for 4 years and while tropical storms and hurricanes are not new…this season has not really let up.

We are looking to put a team together and head down there in early 2009 (January or February)…in the meantime we are also looking at ways to help the support the work and efforts of those on the ground day after day.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

And So it Begins...

Yes it is football seasons for everyone...including our children. Colin is playing defense for the Vienna Warhawks. To check out more of the action head over to my facebook album.

Who is your favorite team? Are you a college or pro football enthusiast? No matter what type of football action you gotta love the kids going strong. I am just grateful that it is 10 minute quarters with a running clock (so I know there is a finite timeline).

Today was the first full scrimmage against Springfield. The result was not what we were hoping for 0-6 but they played well and had fun.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just QUIT!

I had to read a book that has a cover stating, “A LITTLE BOOK THAT TEACHES YOU HOW TO QUIT”.

The Dip by Seth Godin is a succinct 80 pages, presents glaringly obvious but understated facts. Not to be a cliché but this MUST read. Is it right to take an 80 page book and summarize it in one sentence? Know what will make you quit, why your quitting, and use quitting as a strategy…in other words, quit when you know you're on a dead end path. Godin states that most people fail because they either quit too fast and too often or they fail to quit pouring the resources into activities that they know will not pay off in the long run.

I am just as guilty as the next person; whether it be sports, academics, business, or relationships…it is hard for me to quit things and we all can get emotionally wrapped up in things and lose perspective. On the other hand I know people who never get passionate about anything and quit before it gets to hard.

Godin defines life-paths as curves. Of these there are two primary curves: The Dip and the Cul-de-Sac. The Cul-de-Sac curve is a dead end; you keep putting time, money, and effort into it and you just get nowhere. The Dip on the other hand looks something like this:

When you first start down a path, you are really excited about it so the reward is high. Additionally, other people are very happy for you and praise you - again, the reward is high. Then, in between the beginning of a task and its mastery, there is a potentially long period in which the reward vs. effort drops off. What the book guides the reader through questions and situations towards identifying whether your current struggle is a "dip" or a "cul-de-sac", and emphasizes that the moment you recognize that your situation is a dead end, that it is not only OK to quit, but it is, in fact, essential to success.

VERY FAST READ…I read slow and finished it in less than one afternoon.

One of the most interesting points I took away is that the world is becoming both smaller and bigger at the same time. While Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat shows us how the Internet has leveled the playing field…there is still room for small businesses if they put forward all their efforts to accomplish being #1 in their ‘niche’ market which can be defined by the product, the service, or the geography. In other words the world is infinitely small because of “The Best Pancake House in the World is in Conneat on the Lake”. How is this possible? It’s because Johnson’s Pancake House choose to be #1 in Pancakes serving Lake Erie. So are they really the best in the world? I don’t know but we all have made a similar statement about a product or service because someone choose to be #1 in their niche.

If you want to make sure your business strategy is on target, your marketing efforts aren’t in vain, have any doubts about what direction you are heading, whether all the exercise is worth it, then ask yourself 3 questions and see if you’re in the “DIP”.

Page 27 – The next time you're tempted to vilify a particularly obnoxious customer or agency or search engine, realize that this failed interaction is the best thing that's happened to you all day long. Without it, you'd be easily replaceable. The Dip is your very best friend.

Page 29 – ... the real success goes to those who obsess. The focus that leads you through the Dip to the other side is rewarded by a marketplace in search of the best in the world. A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.

Page 31 – It's human nature to quit when it hurts. But it's that reflex that creates scarcity. The challenge is simple: Quitting when you hit the Dip is a bad idea. If the journey you started was worth doing, then quitting when you hit the Dip just wastes the time you've already invested. Quit in the Dip often enough and you'll find yourself becoming a serial quitter, starting many things but accomplishing little. Simple: If you can't make it through the Dip, don't start.

Page 63 – Quitting is not the same as failing. Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you. [and] Coping is a lousy alternative to quitting.

Page 66 – Sunk costs are not a good excuse to not quitting. Seth then goes on to challenge each of us to ask 3 questions which will help us determine where we are and if it is time to quit or stick it out…

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A quick laugh

I am sure if you are anything like me, you have been enjoying the Olympics on one level or another. Occasionally, you just need to laugh so I thought you would all enjoy the following demonstration on the uneven bars... VIDEO FEED

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Playing Uno and Reading Hardy Boys

Yep, that's what I did with my boys today. We played Uno and Read chapters 4&5 of The Tower Treasure. Sometimes I just love to sit with them and do stuff that they totally enjoy for a couple of hours. Actually, I do that every day but sometimes, I set aside hours to spend specifically with no Little Sister around. (usually she is with David or has already gone to bed)

Tonight was a no Little Sister around night and it was a lot of fun. I am Blessed and Highly favored- I love my kids!
They make me so proud - both who they are becoming and the decisions that they make.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Plates!

I got new plates...and I'm not talking dishes! Yes, vanity plates for the car. I hate that term 'vanity' plate because there is nothing prideful or arrogant about this. They are not really that expensive and I think I drive nicer because of the reminder.
It was Sharon's idea to get plates...we had several ideas but this is what we both agreed on and decided to get. It is a constant reminder of how blessed we are and how we have gotten to where we are in life.
Thus far the Lord has helped us.