Monday, June 30, 2008

Creative Climber

Just having a chance to post some cute photos in a truly mind-boggling moment:

OK- so, the mind-boggling part,
Sybella couldn't have climbed up onto the toilet to get into the sink, otherwise, she would've knocked all the stuff on the counter, how did she get up there?
The best we can figure, she stepped onto the 6-inch step-stool (really, just 6 inches), then used the edges of the cabinetry as foot-holds, like a rock climber would (God help us!!!!!!!!!).
By doing this, she probably created enough leverage to grab onto the sink and pull herself up.
Where were David and I you ask? We were literally 12 feet away moving the boys bunk beds so that they could clean behind them. She wasn't left alone for more than 2-3 minutes.
Note: If only I could accomplish that much in 3 minutes!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Movie? 35,000 ft? First Class?

A Movie? 35,000 ft? First Class?

What do they have in common??? Me…

First let me warn you that this is unfiltered and transparent.

Second, this is longer than the usual blog post.

Lastly, not everyone in life is trying to do more and get better (heck…few are trying to do either) but somewhere in these lines I wanted to share a few thoughts on how I am trying to do both. Here goes…

Here I am on Alaska Airlines somewhere over New Mexico on my way from DC to LA and a flood of thoughts happened. I was recently riding in a friends Camaro (actually it was his sons’…but either way, it was a fun ride; he was sharing his journey over the last several months and how he came to some decision points. One thing he mentioned was that recently he would start crying for no reason. This concept did not surprise me…I have been there…but I guess the timing was right to be reminded that when it happens, someone is tapping us on the shoulder and we need to stop and figure why.

The Bucket List is the best movie I have seen in a very long time! It is family-friendly, has a good message, minimal profane language, and I laughed hard. And yes…I cried. Not because the movie was a sob story or mushy…but because it clearly brought back several thoughts to my ‘frontal lobe’.

Not some spiritual prayer, scripture reading, or deep meditation…just a simple movie with Morgan Freedman and Jack Nicholson. The movie was not some revelation, analogy, or parallel. It just brought me back into focus on several things…here they are:

1. Last night I was packing for my trip and I heard it loud and clear, “You’re comfortable and won’t change until you recognize this and do something about it.

2. In the last three years I have flown business or first class more than I have flown coach (which is pretty frequent if you are wondering) and in the last 5 years I can only think of once when I have not had at least an exit seat to sit in. I am not bragging…just need to say that somewhere along the line I forgot how blessed and highly favored I really am. Now I also have to say that I work a lot (a lot!) while up there and actually accomplish more than the average bear when given the space to do so…so the upgrades and time in first class has not been wasted.

3. Sharon said this weekend that she wants to go somewhere (where is something for her to share) on our 15th anniversary and I poked fun at her and mentioned how optimistic 15 years of marriage is. The reality is, I want to be able to say I was not only married longer than I was single but that at some point, I don’t know any other way to live than with Sharon by my side (I think that is true now but every year it becomes a little more real). I watched this couple in the plane and he had to go to the restroom three times during the 5 hour flight. Each time his wife got up and helped him to and from his seat to the restroom. Now if Sharon has to help me to and from the bathroom, please shoot me and put me out of my misery :-) but I have to say there is something about the closeness and relationship that is displayed by this couple.

4. It’s hard enough when you cry and don’t know why…it’s worse when you are trapped on an aircraft at 35,000 ft. I have a passion and mission….when I am not on target it is tough to focus and everyday things quickly serve as a reminder that I need to change something. We all need to change something…what do you need to change?

5. I think there is a general misperception that people are called to things that excite them and make them happy. The reality is that sometimes we are called to things that are hard, not fun, and frustrate us. The difference in whether we are happy or not depends on our attitude, commitment, and in whom we are trying to please. There have been several places, people, and situations in the last year that I have encountered and failed to look at with the right perspective and therefore not only did not have the right result but was unhappy.

In the last 12 months we have hit some of our life goals (and it has been awesome to do so) but the journey is just getting started and there is still much to do. While I am not sure where all the potholes and traffic jams are...I do know the destination.

The biggest challenge right now (metaphorically speaking) is figuring out what we are supposed to do with the passengers we've picked up, which vehicle we are supposed to be driving, and which roads we are supposed to use to get us there on time. I am happy with what God has provided, I am thrilled about who he choose for me as a co-pilot, and I don't want to let days go by and not be course correcting.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Field Trip #2- The Washington Monument and The World War II Memorial

Friday the kids and I had our 2nd Field trip of the summer. We went to visit the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument.

None of us had been to the WW II Memorial before. It is young, it was finished and dedicated in 2004. The Memorial is beautiful. There are 2 fountains and pillars as well as many wreaths that are expertly crafted in metal. We enjoyed walking thru and talking about the history surrounding both the war and the memorial. The boys are big fans of history, particularly wars, and WW II is their favorite to study. This may be because many of their great-grandfathers served in the war. Their favorite story is of my grandfather, Oscar Hahn, who served in the war as a spy. He was German-born but immigrated to the U.S. with his family at a very young age. He was in the pre-curser to the Secret Service and also served as an agent to VP/President Truman during the war.

Next, we took a tour of the Washington Monument. Did you know that one of the stones on the interior wall is made of Jade and is worth $3 million? Neither did we! When you descend the Monument in the elevator, there are 2 different places where the elevator stops and you can see the internal walls. We did not get a picture of the Jade stone But, we got some other stones...As you can see in this picture, stones were sent from many places; this one arrived "From Otter's Summit, Virginia's Loftiest Peak, to Crown a Monument."

Here are some more pictures:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Project Management

Took a course this past week in the fundamentals of project management. Now I have managed projects and programs for a long time but lately there has been a trend towards certifying / accrediting those who can effectively do this work. 'PMP' - Project Management Professionals is much like the title of 'CPA' only now applied to those who meet the standards of the PMI. The class was excellent and Didex provided a great instructor (Stuart Tozier).

It was no surprise that so many projects have missed the target, been canceled, or gone over budget. It seems like every city has their own 'Big Dig' nightmare. Every company and organization has a story on some level about over run costs and how to take a $2.8 Billion project and turn it into a $14.6 Billion project.

I was reminded that we should lead people and manage things.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Today, we tried Pig-Tails for the first time. It was interest, fascination, admiring, annoyance, and then joy to get them out. Too Funny!! We'll try again in a few days.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nationals Game

Tuesday Night the family headed out to the Washington Nationals Game. They lost to the California Angels. They don't often win.....but it's good summer family fun!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Days with Friends

The boys are enjoying Hot Summer Days with their friends:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Connor's DC United Game

Many of you know that Connor's Team, the Red Dynamites, had the opportunity to escort the DC United Players onto the Field this past Sunday. The United were playing the San Jose Earthquakes. It was a sizzling hot 3pm game with lots of fun, food, goals, and excitement.

The boys arrived at 1:30 to line-up and be escorted into the "tunnels." They were issued their very own DC United Uniforms (Shirts, Shorts, and even Socks). They were taken out to the Players' Field Entrance and had the opportunity to talk to the coaches, trainers, subs, and even spent some time with Ben Olsen.

As the players exited the locker room, Connor was matched up with Gonzalo Martinez, who later scored his 1st goal of the season in the 55th minute of the game. Martinez was certainly in the action of this game, after his goal, he also managed to get a yellow card---Connor was thrilled to have walked with a player who was central to the United's 3-1 Victory!

**Here are some of my favorite pictures, you can check out the rest (all 85 of them) on Flickr.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice

Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" + "to stand still." As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky.

As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December.

How did you spend the longest day of the year?

We were invited by our friends Damon and Denise to hang out at the pool. Lots of fun and a great way to start the weekend.

DID YOU KNOW...Evening weddings were performed under the moon during Summer Solstice and very popular in ancient times. During the ceremony they would serve a fermented honey...thus creating the term, "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

The Library of Congress

Over the Summer, I have planned field trips for the kids. Since they have only lived in Northern Virginia for 10 months, they have not yet had the opportunity to visit many of the sites. They are excited to experience the history of this area and "play tourist."

Today was the first of our field trips: The Library of Congress.

Facts about the Library of Congress--
1. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world.
2. The Library is the oldest federal cultural institution in the Nation.
3. It is housed in 3 buildings. The Thomas Jefferson Building (which we toured today) has 13 stories of shelved books below ground.
4. There is over 600 miles of shelving for storing items.
5. The Library has more than 128 Million items including: maps, manuscripts, photographs, films, audio and video recordings, prints and drawings, musical scores, digital materials, etc. Of these, there are over 28 million cataloged books and there are items in 460 languages.
6. The library, established in 1800, is 208 years old.
7. Interestingly, it is the only library of it's kind that allows for same-day "Reading Card" registration and materials access. Comparable libraries in Europe have waiting lists for "Reading Cards" that are 5-7 months long.
8. The Library has possession of one of 4 known "perfect-vellum" 42-line Gutenberg Bibles left in the world.
9. The library holds in it's Bob Hope Gallery, the late comedian's 85,000 page "Joke File."

In Summary, one visit to the Library of Congress is not enough, the 45 minute tour and accompanying video are invaluable, the architecture is AMAZING, and the kids enjoyed themselves, as did I. The Library is a wonderful representation of the United States, Democracy, and an open door for Learning.

Enjoy the pictures!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting Close

Today was just one of those days full of meetings, emails, and phone calls. I did end the day by playing catch football with the boys in the cul-de-sac. After a long day I think it is easier to relax by playing catch with the boys than it is to relax watching tv.

After rejecting one applicant to rent our home and so many people we have interviewed and shown through the house, we are getting close. We have a great family that has gone through the whole process and we should be signing the rental agreement. Keep your fingers crossed and the prayers coming.

For you die hard, devote bloggers...I will let you in on a secret...I conceded several days ago but tonight I officially told Sharon we can have #4. For those of you who know us'll know what that means.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Last Lecture

WOW! The book has been on the New York Time's best seller list for awhile now and I had the book strongly recommended to me from a friend. I read it over the last several days and I am blown away. A lot of professor's give a last lecture when they retire. But Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with cancer and truly gave his last lecture.

This book serves as a follow on to that lecture and is a powerful read. I want to pass a long a few of my notes but to hit all the high points, would be much to long and would rob you of the joy of reading this book yourself.

To learn more about his life and hear several different talks he has given and to the last lecture he delivered go to: TLL.

A few of my thoughts and notes:
1. Even injured lions want to know they can still roar
2. If there is an elephant in the room...introduce it
3. Self-esteem is not something you give, it is something you build
4. Win Big, tenacity is a virtue and it is not always necessary that people see how hard you work on accomplishing something
5. Make memories
6. People before things
7. Which is more important - $16 or 15 minutes?
8. Brick walls are not there to keep us out, they are there to remind us how badly we want something and to keep out those who are not willing to work to get over it

Again...great read and stirs the imagination while reminding us of what is important.


Celtics and more

Just getting back from my trip to Boston. I had a long 2 days in conference meetings and discussion of text analytics. Three great recommendations/comments I heard from end users (customers) were:

1. Win big and win early...when winning big is not an option, still win early
2. Show - Don't tell
3. Don't follow the shiny object

I think the first one is self explanatory; the second one has to do with making people feel valued. How many times do you ask a hotel staff member where something is and they say something like, "down the hall up the first set of stairs and make a right". What would happen if they introduced themselves, asked you your name, and then walked you to the place you are looking for? This methodology and insight from Gaylord Hotels International is applicable in more than the service is a key nugget in life (more action and less words). The last comment about shiny objects was from Alessandro Zanasi of Italy who is a member of ESRIF. His point was know your mission, understand what capabilities/skills are required to meet your mission, and then identify what technology fits into that paradigm. To often people get off course and impressed by irrelevant items and forget what the mission is.I had two hours to get in a little sight seeing but this town is so rich with history, how can you get a taste in such a short time? I grabbed the nearest tour bus and did the whirl wind tour and take in everything from the Boston Massacre and Paul Revere's home to The Garden (Celtics) and the ever famous Cheers. I took tons of photos and tried to soak it all in but two hours just scratches the surface. Stories of the Boston Harbor and Old Ironside to all of the things going on academically (there are 67 colleges/universities in Boston) ...the most famous of course MIT and Harvard.

After the conference I found a local pub and cheered the Celtics onto victory along with several hundred other die hard fans. The food was good the atmosphere was incredible. With 4 minutes left they started singing "Na na na na...hey hey hey...good bye" with a minute left the high fives and noise level was amazing and when it was all over they started playing "We are the Champions" and the whole place joined in. It is one thing to watch the game on TV but to be around all of that energy was pretty wild.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day Food Drive Finale

Instead of a gift for Father's Day, Colin and Connor decided to Honor their dad by demonstrating the love and service to others that he has taught them. (See post on Service Project Update)

On Father's Day, the boys were invited to Chesterbrook United Methodist Church to make a presentation of all the food and donations that they collected for the Food Bank. During the announcements they had the opportunity to briefly explain that by going door-to-door and sending e-mails that they had collected:
~ 16 filled bags of groceries and $150.00 for the local SHARE food bank
as well as,
~ $275.00 collected for a local Washington State Food Bank because of their e-mails.

The kids FAR EXCEEDED their goal to collect 20 bags or approximatey $400-$500 dollars. Essentially their efforts, almost doubled their goal. Great Job!

We are so proud of the care and concern that they have for others, it will certainly bless and enhance their lives!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Last Day of School AND The Squirt Gun Party

Today was the LAST day of school. I spent the morning baking cupcakes while the boys had a last chance to get their yearbooks signed, say 'Good-bye' to friends who are moving, and relish an awesome school-year, that has now PASSED.

Here comes SUMMER!

As soon as school was out, we drove to a friend's house with cupcakes, towels, and squirt guns. YES, squirt guns for a Squirt Gun Party.
There were guns, hoses, hot dogs, chips, cherry-cola jell-0 drinks, popsicles, friends and lots of laughter.

The only rule: Moms don't get sprayed (dads are ok but NO moms) :) ----Really! That was the only rule.

There were about 40 kids there. It was a great way to start summer!

NOTE: If you click on the Mosaic above, it will enlarge so that you can see the pictures more clearly.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Boston or Bust!

It was a little crazy getting out of DC this afternoon. Part of the problem could have been that I went to the wrong airport! That's right...I showed up at Dulles and realized my flight was out of Reagan National - ooops. Sharon is such a great wife, she drove me into the District and I was there 90 minutes early. The only problem was - NO PLANE! After waiting 5 hours I decided to jump on US Airway and get to Boston despite American Airline's missing plane (the plane wasn't missing...a bird flew into the exhaust and the delayed the flight). The fact is that flight never departed.

Leadership lesson - when the dream is big enough...the facts don't count! I could have gone back home and given up but I wasn't going to let the airline stand in my way and deny me the goal.

I arrived late into Boston and forgot what it is like to ride in a taxi between East Boston (Logan International Airport) and the city. Tunnels, tunnels, to get under that water to get there. Boston is such a great city and the spirits are high as the town is buzzing with NBA Finals excitement. After getting checked in, I headed over to the local steak house to grab some food and hang out with the locals to cheer on the Celtics!

There is nothing like hanging out with die hard, committed fans! I love that people get so excited and passionate (not much for the face or body painting) but despite the loss I think everyone was still in a really good mood since that means the Celtics come back here to Boston on Tuesday night for the big game.

Who are you cheering for?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day Golf

For Father's Day I decided to take my Father to the Piedmont Golf Course. This PGA Tour course, is designed by Tom Fazio, while the fairways are open the rough will eat your ball in a heart beat and if you go much further than the rough...don't bother looking for that ball! The medium sized greens are straight forward but the only approach is straight on; otherwise you are dodging sand traps and water. It is a Par 72 course that plays 7,000 yards from the back tees. It's a workout when the temperature gets up there.

The course is windy! When we started it was pretty calm but I was told that most days the course is tough to play because there is almost always a constant cross breeze.

We started off great...all 3 of us hit straight down the fairway and landed dead center about 200 yards off the tee. From there on out the rest of the game went well but I won't share the details in order to allow for some story telling by those who swung the clubs. My brother Phillip joined us since he is now living in Northern Virginia and the three of us had a great time cruising around the course and hanging out on Father's Day.

It was a great morning and afternoon as we rounded the back nine and headed off to the front nine. As we approached the 3rd hole, I found out why they call this place "The windy course" a matter of minutes a storm blew in off the foot hills (you can't call them mountains once you have lived in the Pacific Northwest) and the temperature dropped from 90 to 70 (or at least it felt that way).

All and all a very enjoyable time, relaxing, and fun to play a challenging course . Thank goodness I brought a dozen extra golf balls...


Date Night

Sharon and I had our monthly date night last night. I made the reservations and she found the babysitter. Off we went for 2.5 hours of adult time to talk, eat, and relax at Tysons Tower Club.

We recently read a book called the Love List by Les & Leslie Parrott. It recommends 2 things you should do as a couple daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. Great little book, easy read, and short enough that a man might read it all! One thing they recommend is a date night...Sharon and I already subscribed to this and love that time away every month to date each other.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Well it isn't quite Father's Day but since I am traveling again on Sunday and I have plans with my Father on Saturday...I thought it was a good idea to take the boys out for a Father Son Moment. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just some good old fun at the driving range. There is a driving range about 4 miles from the house (Oak Marr Rec Center & Golf Course).

We had fun just swinging the clubs and the boys wanted to go on the 'upper level'...I think it makes them feel like thier golf ball goes further. We had a good time and enjoyed the weather. Just having a quality time with the boys...who are growing up way to fast (10 and 8 now). Colin will be in 5th grade next year...YIKES (I have a 5th grader) and Connor will be in 2nd grade.

For the record...we did not dig tunnels in the sand trap at the golf course. These are photos from of the tunnel I helped the boys build while we were in Myrtle beach several weeks ago during another FSM.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Powdered Donuts

This morning, Sybella proved how creative she can be with even just a minute of unsupervised time.

This is what an 18-month-old looks like when she is tall enough to get out powdered mini-donuts from the pantry and isn't afraid to put a whole one in her mouth! LOL!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Field Day and Cub Scouts


This week the kids had Field Day. It was a total family affair. David and I volunteered, as did Sybella.

The boys had tons of fun, got very wet, & soaked up the sun. They also both volunteered to be at the school at 7am on Tuesday and Wednesday to set up the equipment-- Colin and Connor are GREAT kids with Serving Hearts!


Tuesday Night, we also had Colin's End of the Year Picnic for Cub Scouts.

The boys finished up their requirements for the Showmanship Badge- by singing and making puppets. The den has completed the first year of Webelos! At the picnic, the food was good, the company was awesome, and we finished just before the Thunderstorms moved in.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Things are heating up in DC!

By Tuesday, June 10th at 11am...I am officially overheating. Not the! WOW, I have lived in the California Desert and Southern Arizona but when you add that Northern Virginia Humidity, there is nothing like it. Way to hot and praying for cooler weather.

This week I want to celebrate Willis Haviland Carrier...the Father of 'AC'. Did you know that he invented the air conditioner in 1902 and that AC for non-industrial use (aka your home) did not come around until 1928? They called it the residential "Weathermaker". If his name looks and sounds familiar, it is because his family is still making Air Conditioner's today.

While digging into history I actually found an discrepancy. David Crosthwait lived at the same time and may have actually been the first two 'invent' AC...but Willis filed the patent earlier and so the Carrier family gets the credit.

Either way, they are heros in my book!

I also like Carrier's quote, "I fish only for edible fish, and hunt only for edible game even in the laboratory." I had to think about it but I frequently see people just doing a job, or building technology for technology's sake, or just plain old being busy (esspecially in DC). I think Carrier was trying to remind us that we are here for a purpose and we need to engage in productive activities while we are here. It is not enough to be to are the ants. We need to find things of passion that stir us and pour our energy into those things.



Saturday, June 7, 2008

Service Project Update

Here is a reminder and update to our service project:

Instead of getting David a gift for Father’s Day, the kids have decided to honor their dad by collecting FOOD and FUNDS for those in need.

We are inviting you, to help us, help others.We all know that the economy is tough right now and food prices are UP--- unfortunately that has created many empty shelves and pantries at Food Banks and Services.

We are raising money and food for S.H.A.R.E. of Virginia via the Chesterbrook United Methodist Church's drop site.*****If you are not familiar with S.H.A.R.E, they partner with approximately 350 churches and community organizations to collect food. The individuals who participate in S.H.A.R.E volunteer 2 hours of their time and then are able to pay $18 for bags of groceries worth $40-$50. The participants get to bless and help others and are then blessed themselves with low-cost groceries.

Over the last 2 weeks, we have collected 8 bags of food and $70 in donations. However, we still have a ways to go;
we have set a goal to collect 20 bags of groceries (approximately $400-$500) to give on Father’s Day, June 15th!

How can you help?

Before June 13, Bring a bag(s) of food to our house OR, if you live far away,
send a check made out to S.H.A.R.E. of Virginia (NO amount is too small or large, send $1 and UP ^^- We need EVERYONE's help!)

Thanks again for helping!!!

NOTE: 100% of your donation is Tax deductible and will go to S.H.A.R.E. of Virginia. If you would like a receipt for tax purposes, let our mom know- she will make sure that you receive one.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Colin's Spring Concert

I have been meaning to post this and I had just not gotten around to it.

Just before we went on vacation (the same day actually), Colin's "Strings" Group had their Spring Concert. The Strings Group is lead by Mrs. Shah and consists of 4th-6th graders. It is an optional offering for the older elementary school kids. It is not required---- Colin WANTS to play violin. :) The concert was fantastic! The kids played 6 pieces. All the violinists played from memory- no music. It is awesome for the kids to be able to showcase what they have learned both to the parents and in the school assembly seen here.

Colin is on the right-hand side, in the second row of risers, close to the end.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

National Candy Month

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Child Nutrition Events Calendar, June is National Candy Month.

As a side note, I am not sure why the USDA who also puts out the Food Pyramid would want to emphasize National Candy Month but, since they did, I have decided to do a candy making project with the kids. We might as well start our summer fun a little early and who can pass up candy? [If it goes well, we'll keep the recipe handy for possible use with a future science fair project--always have to be on the lookout for an academic relevance!]

We could melt chocolate and make chocolate lollipops, I have at least done that before; unfortunately, Connor does not like chocolate. Really!
Instead, we are going to make Rock Candy.

I found the recipe that we will be using on-line; has anyone used this or a similar recipe? How did it turn out?

We'll let you know how it goes! Note: It takes 7-14 days for the Rock Candy to 'grow.' You'll have to be patient for the follow-up post.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bicycle Adventures

We have wanted to cycle as a family but we have just not made gettting all the 'stuff' a priority. But now, having become a 1-car family, our priorities have shifted a bit. :)

It will certainly be easier to be out and about town if the kids and I can cycle (vs. walking or running).

So, the family hit the trail tonight (yes, ALL of us) David managed to get a picture of Sybella and I enjoying the new trailer: