Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This entry is for Leela. We were sitting at the kitchen table a few days ago. She was looking glum. I asked her what was the matter. She said, she was worried that the kids weren't having a good Christmas. I said, Christmas is three weeks away!

She shared with me about how growing up she remembered doing so many fun things all December long. I looked at her and said, what do you think we've been doing?

So this, Leela, is your quick reminder of just a few of the wonderfully fun things we have been doing all December long.

We started out with the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation. Here are our hosts, Eddie and Catherine.

We were Todd and Margot.

The next weekend we had our marathon of Christmas Parties, Mistletoe Half Marathons, Parades, and IHOP (see my post from like two posts ago).

Then we got our Christmas Tree, put up decorations, lights...our house is the best one on the block, if I do say so myself.

Then you took our girl to the Nutcracker.

The next day you decorated a gigantic gingerbread man.

(It looked better than it tasted)

Don't you forget how Anna Rose turned her entire room into a Nativity scene during her "nap" time. It might be the only Nativity in history with a dinosaur!

Do you still think our family is not in the Christmas spirit?

Are you for serious? Here's one more picture for proof:

The yearly photo with the big man himself! Another classic. Leela, I hope you're satisfied. It's been the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Covert Op - Plaza de La Bandera - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Some people dream about Mount Everest. Others about eating a hot dog in every Major League Stadium. I dream of genie. Just kidding. I'm not kidding about Scott Steele, though. He's my climbing buddy and one of my best friends. He dreamed about the Plaza de La Bandera. Check him out as he pulls it off. You're awesome, Scott.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Depending on Definition

If you ask me, we had a GREAT weekend. If you ask my wife, well, let's just say you'd get a different answer.

It started off with a bang. Literally, Lia was in a car accident. She was ok. (Of course, the bad husband that I am, my first question was "Was it your fault?"...boy do I have a lot to learn) It led to a stressful few hours, but it also led to some of the best connections Lia has ever had with some of the folks from our church. See, the moment we got home, we had to jump in the unblemished Jeep to go to a church Christmas Party.

They party was a lot of fun, and the vulnerability that comes with being made vulnerable led to really meaningful conversation. Afterwards, we came home. Slept. I woke up at 5:55 to get ready for the Mistletoe half-marathon. Lia woke up a bit later. We got ready, stretched, got the kids up, the sitter came, we ran. We both did great. Lia broke 2 hours! I ran a 1:23! Don't think I'll do that ever again. After I finished, I ran to the car, relieved the babysitter, put the kids in the car, and drove back to the finish line. Found Lia. We hung out at the after party. Anna Rose cried at a near encounter with Bolt, the mascot for the Winston-Salem Dash. We had to leave before the awards were dished out.

We fed the kids. It snowed! Anna Rose and I ran outside to catch snowflakes on our tongues. The sitter came back. Lia and I went to the Wake Forest basketball game. We won! We came home. Anna Rose and I ran a few errands. Then, we all put on every bit of clothing we possess and went to the Christmas Parade down 4th Street. It was sleeting, but it stopped just as we parked. We watched the parade with friends then went to IHOP for breakfast for dinner. The kids stayed up way past their bedtime. We finally got them asleep. We followed shortly thereafter.

We got up. Went to church. I had to go early for worship practice. Then to Starbucks to interview a couple who were joining the church. Lia cooked food for a party later that afternoon. Then to the service. Then afterward, straight to the Young Life Christmas Party. I ate a healthy portion of Lia's awesome Mexican lasagna. The kids entertained everyone. We got back in the car. Went home. I folded laundry. Went for a run. The kids went for a nap. We tidied. The kids got up. We went to church for a congregational chili cookoff/meeting. It went well. We came home. Got the kids to bed.

Lia and I sat on the couch. I said, "Wasn't that weekend amazing!"

Lia said, "I can handle a weekend like this, maybe once a year."

I said, "What? I could do this weekend every day!"

God help Lia.

This has been a big discovery for me over the last year: my definition of good is WAY different than Lia's. A good day for me is activity, lots of it, the more significant, meaningful things, even if they are hard, even really hard, that you can pack in the better. Lia's definition on the other hand is peace. A good day is a stress free day, one when what you expect to get done gets done and nothing unexpected happens. To me that sounds like a boring day. To Lia, my good day feels like torture.

The discovery's made me rethink some things. Like, when I ask someone how they are doing: they might say fine. But that depends on what their definition of fine is. That's the real question I need to get answered. I'm learning that there are words and there are meanings. I believe we are called to understand - that means knowing not what is said but what is meant. It's a challenge. I mean, it's really hard sometimes...isn't that great!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My Worst Nightmare and the Blessing in Disguise

On Monday, last Monday, I met with my mentor, Fil. I confessed to him that I was tired. "What kind of tired?" he asked. "Physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, you name it," I said. He said, "Sure you are. But what kind of tired?" "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well," he said, "is it fatigue? Or are you burned out?" "A little bit of both," I said.

He quoted me these words from my man JC: "Are you tired? (Yes) Worn out? (Yes) Burned out on religion? (You bet) Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest."

"I like that verse," I said, :all but the last part. What I need from JC is some more energy. Something to get me motivated."

"Do you ever rest, Ned?" Fil asked.

"Not on purpose," I said. "I mean, I'll watch some football on the weekends if I can't think of something better to do."

We continued to talk. Fil continued to expose my rest aversion. To him, rest sounded essential. To me, it sounded like a waste of time. He encouraged me to practice resting. Take a portion of each day and intentionally stop and do nothing of particular value (other than the value that there is in stopping). I said, "I'll think about it."

I didn't.

It was Thanksgiving after all. We traveled to Columbus, Tuesday night. The next day, I asked Lia if she minded if I got some work done in the morning. Afterward, I hung out with the kids, got them down for their naps. Ran. Read. Did my emails. Talked with my mother in-law. Picked up Chad from the airport, and so on.

Thanksgiving Day. Lia and I ran in the Columbus Turkey Trot. Got in a marital spat. Went for a long walk with my father in-law to talk it out. Ate lunch. Made up. Played some ping pong. Played with the kids. Talked to the relatives. Talked to my parents, sister, and so on. We ate Thanksgiving dinner. It was great.

the vultures were circling the carcass

At midnight, I started to hurl. I really don't know if it was food poisoning or a bug. It really doesn't matter. (Cara contracted the exact same thing. Only the two of us ate this suspicious ham for lunch earlier that day. Hmmm. Sue's theory is that since Cara and I are chock full of recessive genes (light hair, light eyes, left handed, etc.) that we are weaker creatures and therefore more susceptible to things like bugs and bad food. Thanks, Sue.) Anyway, I was vomiting up all my favorite foods. I thought I was going to die. Despite my mother in-laws theory, I don't get sick like this very often. (When I do, everyone knows it. See past entries.) All I know was that I was out for the count. Midnight to 6am was a blur between bouts of my favorite foods coming out both ends.

My worst nightmare: no, not the sickness. I could deal (barely) with the sickness. What was going through my mind was that I'll never be able to eat turkey, stuffing, gravy, mash potatoes, spinach casserole, and corn pudding ever again. That's serious.

It finally subsided. From 6-noon. I was laid out in bed. The whole family minus me went shopping. I didn't move. Then, around 10 o'clock, it hit me: I'm resting.

Now, I'm not theologically savvy enough to know whether it was somebody's germs, my man JC or my own stupidity that got me sick (I can't speak for Cara); what I do know is that I was forced to stop. And I didn't like it. But it was good.

All this to say, I'm learning. I'm not ready to jump on the Restful bandwagon just yet, but I'm starting to think those Sabbath-loving, nap-taking, kick-off-your-shoes yahoos might not be as crazy I think they are.

Here are a few photos from the holiday...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall Fun

The whole time I was waiting for an American Funniest Home Videos moment. Alas, the moment turned out to just be fun.

Friday, November 05, 2010


We were a hodge-podge this Halloween, not for lack of preparation. Rosie had planned on being a puppy since November 1, 2009.

Last Christmas, my folks gave Dave Dave a train conductor outfit. He grew into it just in time. It also just so happens Dave's favorite word at the moment is choo choo!

Lia and I paid homage to two Philadelphia Eagle quarterbacks of yesteryear.

Lia and A-Ro thought a black nose was more dalmatian-ee. Cute is what I call it.

The muscle suit might have been a bit too much.

Dave's been working on the railroad, all the live long day...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Charlie and Nicole

Our China friends Charlie and Nicole came to visit us over the weekend for their fall break. They go to Pittsburgh State University, which is in Kansas. Go Gorillas!

It was so great to see them. On Thursday we flew kites, played with the kiddos, and went out to eat. We brought along our photos from our trip to their home and relived some great memories.

Charlie did it to me again and pressured me into eating something WAY over my hot threshold.

Friday morning, I showed them around Winston. We ate hotdogs and chips. Then we took Anna Rose to a farm where they had hayrides and a corn maze.

These were all firsts for Charlie and Nicole. We navigated the Corn Maze, bounced along the hayride, raced rubber duckies, picked out pumpkins, played tether ball (I was merciless), and we shot at targets with a corn cannon. Nicole was the best! This photo was taken a second after she exploded the farthest target.

That night we carved pumpkins (another first for Charlie and Nicole).

Dave Dave got sick.

By the way, give a brother a break and tell him he has a piece of spinach as big as Alaska between his teeth.

So the next morning, instead of us all going hiking, just Charlie, Nicole, Anna Rose and I did. We met up with about ten friends from Wake Forest. I forgot to put my card back in the camera so I am pictureless until Elizabeth Jay, ahem, sends me her pictures, hint, hint.

We had to go straight from Pilot Mountain to the airport. I made a critical error in judgment and my "short cut" nearly caused us to miss the flight. Thank goodness that Greensboro airport is about the least busy airport in America.

What a trip. This is what Charlie wrote Lia on Facebook.

"All right, thanks. I went to a happiness family on my fall break, they are so nice and I had a wonderful time there."

I love it! "Happiness Family"

All I have to say is thank God for our happiness friends.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Columbus Marathon

After qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2007, I decided to make it my lifelong goal to qualify in every age bracket.

They are as follows:

Qualifying Times
18-343hrs 10min3hrs 40min
35-393hrs 15min3hrs 45min
40-443hrs 20min3hrs 50min
45-493hrs 30min4hrs 00min
50-543hrs 35min4hrs 05min
55-593hrs 45min4hrs 15min
60-644hrs 00min4hrs 30min
65-694hrs 15min4hrs 45min
70-744hrs 30min5hrs 00min
75-794hrs 45min5hrs 15min
80 and over5hrs 00min5hrs 30min

I figured this was a great goal because as long as I'm alive, at least up to 80 and over I have something to shoot for every five years. I still think it's a great idea. So having just turned 36, I decided it was time to try to pull off age bracket 2.

3:15. That's a 7:26 pace if my multiplication is right. Whew. I guess that's why they call it a challenge. Well, it wasn't going to get any easier next year. So I started training.

I decided to run the Columbus Marathon. It is known to be "fast" (there is no such thing as a fast course in my opinion - though there is such a thing as a slow one). But the main reason I chose this one was that my in-laws live there. One key to marathon running I have learned is to have a comfortable bed to sleep in the night before and after the race. Besides, I really love running in Columbus. It is generally flat. The neighborhoods are beautiful. And the weather in October is typically ideal.

We went up on Friday. Went to a pumpkin patch on Saturday. Watched the painful Ohio State game Saturday night. Sunday we raced.

Training had gone relatively well. Based on other marathon trainings, my mileage was way down. I decided for this marathon I'd focus on speed work. (Besides, time is of the essence for two working parents with two kids.) So I did two speed 5k workouts a week. Then, two fun runs - usually 4-7 milers on one of my favorite routes around Winston. Then, a long run. The Wonderland trip hit me right at my peak. So I missed a 20 miler.

I ganked up my ankle pretty bad on the trail, but my thought process was that hiking for 93 miles with a 40 pound pack for a week at elevation couldn't hurt my endurance training. I don't think it did. The injury was frustrating but it was more walking, starting and stopping related then running. It hurt in the beginning and after each workout. The middle actually felt all right.

My longest run was two weeks out. It was a 21.67 miler around Winston on a Thursday night. I was tired but it felt promising. I did a half marathon distance the following weekend and thought I was going to die.

The thing was I did want to qualify for Boston. But what I really wanted to do was officially break the 3 hour mark. My last qualifying marathon was a 3:07 in a 30 mile headwind. It was brutal. I was convinced that had the weather been favorable, I could have broken 3 hours with ease. But it wasn't. And I could rationalize all I wanted, but I still wouldn't have an official time sub 3.

So secretly I was hoping to make it this time. I didn't tell anyone. Publicly, I told folks that 3:15 was the goal. It was. It just wasn't the only one. I just didn't know if I could hit the other one. And I have too much stinking pride to be honest sometimes.

Race day, the conditions were great. No excuse there. I was placed in corral 1, so no excuse about bottlenecks or not getting to pace quick enough. Really, I didn't have any excuse. I even had folks to cheer and hand me GUs at mile 20. All I had was the question. Could I do it?

I started fast but quickly settled down. My first mile was a 6:43. I asked this older fella because my watch didn't start. I also asked him what time he was hoping to hit. He said 2:57. That was the winning time for 50-55 years the last three years. He (John) was hoping to win it this time.

2:57 I thought. Hmmm. I'm sticking with him. So I did. For 21 miles. He was a Godsend. He finally took off and finished in 2:54. (He won). On second thought, maybe he didn't take off. Maybe I just slowed down. I have to admit the last few miles were a blur.

Lia and Caitlin, who had run the half, and Rich cheered me on at mile 26. I turned the corner and saw the clock. 2:57:37. I couldn't believe it. I started to cry. It was about all I could do.

I was so happy. I hadn't decided whether or not I was actually going to go ahead and run the Boston this time. Monday was the sign up day. Driving home, I decided, hey, why not? I doubt I'll ever have a faster time. Turns out I wasn't fast enough (at least my fingers weren't). Boston sold out by the time I turned the computer on. Sigh. I guess my saga with the most famous race in the world continues...

I'm still happy. The challenge is to qualify. Five more years until I have to go through it again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I'm starting to get to that age when I am running up against the reality that I'm getting old. Like my age for instance. I'm 36 now. If you round, that's 40. 40 is old. I'm basically 40.

Then last week I was bouldering with some college students over at Wake Forest. We went at it for about an hour, and we're sitting there on the pads chewing the fat and I realize I am twice these guys' age. TWICE!

Then there's the fact I'm getting all these nagging injuries. I have bursitis in my left foot. I ganked the sole of that same foot bouldering. I threw my back out carrying Dave Dave on my shoulders. Is this the way its going to be?

Then there's last Saturday. My favorite all time Young Life class - Tabor, Class of 2000, had their 10 year reunion. 10 years! Most of these dudes are married now. Several of them have kids. On Saturday we played pick up just like old times. Boy, did I stink. I mean seriously. I looked and played like a 36 year old gimp.

Wait, I am a 36 year old gimp. Ugh. I was just being myself! Ugh. Seriously, I played awful. For instance, first game, we are playing to 25 by twos and threes. We are up 24 - 16. I come in off the bench. We lose 26-24. I'm not kidding. I single-handedly was responsible for 8 of their points. I actually passed the ball to the wrong team one time. It was humiliating.

I was talking to my dear friend Alan yesterday. He says two things can happen when we get old. We either despair or get wise. Listening to him, I realized quickly which direction yours truly is heading. Oh brother.

But there is beautiful thing about age. Because, you know, I'm sitting there at Five Guys afterward the game. I'm watching these fellas. I'm seeing how much they have grown - how mature they've become - how loving they are to their spouses, their kids - how they are using their gifts for great things - and I am sitting there soaking that reality in...I realize how blessed I one day, we're going to be sitting around a heavenly banquet table, hopefully eating Five Guys fries, or something of the like, and it's going to be just like this but better. How 10 years ago I never would have imagined to have such amazing friends. Men of the DASH - I love you guys...(I promise between now and your 20 year reunion to practice me jump shot.)

Go Spartans.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wonderland Trail

The Wonderland Trail is the 93 mile loop that climbs and descends around Mt. Ranier. It is one of the most famous trails in the world - known for its beauty, its difficulty, and its predictably crummy weather. We experienced all three the week of September 18-26.

Ben Warner (left) and Ross Mangin (right) were my partners - more accurately I was theirs. I hopped on the trip last minute. Thanks Lia! We really did have a blast. I noted this on the way home, but it was true throughout - we never argued. I've been on lots of trips like this, and I can't remember one that went conflict free. This one stands out for that.

I credit Ross and Ben's great attitude for it. The first few days really tested it. They were hard physically and mentally. It rained. The second day in particular was 6,000 feet of elevation change, pouring rain, and slippery icy conditions. What made it more miserable was that the last two miles were 2,200 feet straight up from a campground where we had shipped our food for the rest of the journey. So there was 30 extra pounds that none of us wanted but needed to carry. Somehow we sucked it up and made it to Sunrise camp. (Later I found out Ross and Ben had garnered the energy by secretly eating a bag of dried mangoes)...ha!

No matter how we did it, we all made it. We were exhausted though. That night we cooked food in our tents and went straight to bed. The next morning Ross woke up early to be the first of us to discover that the clouds had parted. He dragged us out of bed to the view below.

That was the turning point. The sun, the mountain...we spent the morning soaking both in. After what we had experienced Day 1 and 2, it was one of the most breathtaking/satisfying moments I have ever had on a trail.

Later that day we met the first of four bears.

He/she was huge. From 50 feet, I could see the beads in his/her eyes, the points to his/her claws, the thick muscles, the thunderous jaws. Like other bears I've come across, this one was unafraid. I have to admit - though I stood my ground, it was mostly out of paralysis. I won't speak for Ben and Ross.

The thing that makes this trail so challenging is the elevation change. Every day we had to go up one ridge to go down the other side. If you think about a mountain, it is a series of ridges that rise to a peak. So going around it, you go through a Sisyphusian experience of climbing only to have to go back down again. It was frustrating, but it was part of the deal. Here we are crossing one of the many rivers we forded. This one happened to have a suspension bridge.

Each night we would set up camp, cook dinner, then play a card game called San Juan. It is sort of like Settlers of Catan without the game board. I think we would all highly recommend it. Here Ross and I are looking out on the appropriately named Mystic Lake. I can't remember who won, but I do recall this was taken just after one of our San Juan games.

The last day was our best weather day. The picture below was taken then. As a birthday present, Ross and Ben allowed me to go ahead and run the rest of the trail for fun (also to get our car, which was stranded 13 miles away from the finish). It was a great experience for me. A great way to finish the week and begin this 36th year of my life. (36 - I can't believe it.)

It was a great gift from Lia as well. Of anything I could have asked for, a trip into the Wilderness was exactly what I needed. Thanks again, Lia! You know me so well!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

So sorry

I apologize. I've totally dropped the ball on my blog. I promise to pick it up again. Part of the reason is that I have just started another one. Check it out:

I'll put a link to it over on the right.

As for, October will have several entries.

I need to tell you about my birthday present trip on the Wonderland Trail in Washington state. I need to chronicle the Tabor alumni basketball game this upcoming weekend. We also hope to host our China friends Charlie and Nicole later this month. And of course we have Halloween to look forward to (We already have Anna Rose's costume). So go and check jesusnugget every day. And check back here once a week or so. I should have some good stuff uploaded soon.

Peace out,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Lia and I bought this shirt while we were in China. This is what it says on the back. I'll transpose the front since it is harder to read.

LOVESICK Marriage No Remedy

Stabng is ome madn
the beating ome
gaicai shop loupre insd
touphilips file chiners ok

Stabner is ome madness
pharmaryler ladier

As for what it means, I'm not sure.

Although I am positive David, Anna Rose and I have lived it the last week. I have not been this sick since 2008 and the deadly morning of the Boston Marathon. That however only lasted a day. This has lasted eight. I will spare you the details, but I think there should be a rule somewhere right next to the law of gravity that parents of sick children should not be allowed to get sick themselves.

That's right, a new law, one to counteract Murphy's Law, something on the books that would immunize parents from the desperate throws of nursing two children and themselves at the same time. (Lia, the only healthy one, strongly agrees.)

I think I shall start a petition campaign. The question is where to send it...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ramblin' Rosie

I watched two triathlons yesterday. Lia competed in the Ramblin' Rose. It's a cool event - a women's only triathlon - sprint distance. Lia did great, finishing 4th in her age group! The course was set well, so we could cheer for her multiple times, provided we jogged. It just so happens that I, along with Ron Burgundy, have been trying out this new fad called jogging or yogging. It might be a soft J. I'm not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It's wild.

In the car on the way home, Anna Rose asked if she could have her own triathlon. "Sure," said Lia and I simultaneously. "I'll set up the course during your quiet time," I said. I didn't really, figuring she might forget about it. Nope. She was in her bathing suit and holding her sneakers when I opened the door.

Here is the pre-race interview:

The race:

She finished in 3 minutes 10 seconds. Here is the post-race interview:

Her best time was 2 minutes 26 seconds! Go goRamblin' Rosie! (We cut her off after three go arounds.)

Congrats to both my girls.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Emei Mountain

The Beautiful Mountain. This is where we spent our fourth night in China. On top of this 10,000 foot peak that overlooks the other side of the world. It took a hair-raising 2 hours of breakneck serpentines up to the three-quarter point, a sprint to the cable car (the last one of the day...we made it by seconds), and a short walk and there we were: in the middle of the clouds.

Lia and I climbed the stairs to one of the most eerie scenes I have ever witnessed. The centerpiece: a 70 foot tall (it may be taller) golden man/woman buddha that disappeared into the fog.
We were told that the next morning, if we were lucky, the clouds would settle, and we would be able to watch the sun rise through the clouds. I have seen something like this on an airplane, but never with my feet on the ground. It sounded spectacular, but I did not want to get my hopes up. It had rained off an on since we arrived in China. And we had seen more clouds than sun. But we were game. Anyway, sunrise was really 6:20pm for us. We would be wide awake anyways...

As it turned out...we were lucky...

It was truly one of the most amazing sights - God and man-made - of my life.

Charlie and Nicole told us that we were not the most lucky. If we had been the most lucky, there would have been a single flat line of clouds and the sun would have poked through in one place to light them all at once. That does sound pretty awesome. But I told Charlie that I felt we were plenty lucky...after all, there are more wonderful things than sun and clouds...