Tuesday, January 25, 2011

53 Days To Go....

In 53 days I will run the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab, Utah.  To say that I am looking forward to this race is truly an understatement.  I can't wait to get to Moab and take part in this race!  Because I am so nuts for it, I will leave Denver on the afternoon of March 17th.  (Yes - I am going to miss St. Patrick's day celebrations at Irish Rover Pub in Denver - oh well - there is always next year.)  The plan is to pull Zack out of school a bit early and get on the road towards Moab by 2 or 2:30PM on that day.  The drive to Moab takes about 6 hours and I would like to get there before it gets too late in the day.

Friday March 18th is going to be occupied going to the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  When Zack and I last traveled to Moab in the fall of 2007, Zack was too scared to climb up to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.  Given that was 3.5 years ago, I think he will be able to handle the climb this time and I will finally get to see the arch close up.  My hope is that we can be in the park either during sunrise or sunset so that we see the arch highlighted by the beauty of the rising or setting sun.

(Delicate Arch in Arches National Park - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The race takes place on Saturday morning March 19th.  My plan is rise very early that morning so I can actually eat something before the race.  If I eat right before I run, it does not leave me feeling good as all the blood rushes to my stomach and I feel like crap for the first several miles of my run.

I plan to use my UGo helmet cam for the run.  I won't be wearing a helmet of course, but I have an accessory that allows me to strap the camera to my chest.  I think it will be interesting to record the run and see how it looks after the fact.  On top of that I do plan to run with either my iPhone or iPod so that I have some tunes to accompany me.  The playlist is yet to be determined, but it will be music that is loud, bold and will keep me pumped up for the entire 13 mile run.  There will probably be a lot of Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, U2, Coldplay, Midnight Oil, Moby, Paul Oakenfold and New Order in the playlist that I create for the run.  All of these are artists who create very loud music with intense beats.

My fundraising for the run has gone pretty well so far.  To date I have raised almost $2500.  This is only a third of my overall goal but it is well above the minimum amount I need to qualify.  I hope in the next 7 weeks I can raise at least another $2500.

If you would like to contribute to my efforts to raise money to fight leukemia and blood cancers, please see below.  I really do appreciate all contributions!!

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at: 

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!

I hope everyone has a great day and is having a great week so far.  Less than 2 week until the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers playing in it once again - GO STEELERS!!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Running, Fried Twinkies and Cows

The weekend - it's a time for relaxation and fun.  It's a time for experiences that are different than the run of the mill day-to-day, humdrum that marks the rest of the week.  We really had to make sure that we had some different experiences this weekend as we have a guest this weekend.  My sister Lesley from Pennsylvania has come to spend the weekend with us.

Today started with it's normal routine for me as Saturday means my long run day for my LLS Team-in-Training.  For today's run we had to run for at least 90 minutes.  The basis of our training is centered around how much time we spend running.  Each week we need to run a specific amount of time to prepare for the half marathon.  The principle behind how much we run is based upon working our muscles to build endurance so that we can run the entire race.  Given that the Canyonland's Half Marathon is now only 56 days away, much of our training is focused on running longer and longer times.

The run took place along the Bear Creek Trail in the Western Suburbs of Denver.  We started near the building that houses the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The LLS is located off of Hampden Ave at Sheridan right across the street from where the Bear Creek Trail runs.  Our run had us heading to the west (upstream) on the Bear Creek Trail.  Given the distance that I had to run I traveled over 4 miles before I turned back and headed the other way.  In total I ran over 8 miles today - which is longer that I have run since I was 20 years old.  It was a great accomplishment for me and made me feel really good about my prospects to complete the race without stopping!

Once I returned home from my run I quickly showered and then all of us were off to experience Fried Twinkies and cows!  If you aren't from Denver - you probably don't know what I am talking about.  Denver is home to the biggest "stock" show in the entire United States - the National Western Stock Show.  This stock show has taken place in Denver every year at this time for the last 100 some years. Besides Zack, Lesley and me, my brother Tim and nephew Cole also went with us.

I have never seen the Stock Show as crowded as it was this year. The place was swarming with people.  Even the large parking lot was almost totally and completely filled.  Despite the number of people there we still managed to get around and see a lot of things.  We spent most of our time in the stables where the cows, horses and sheep are kept.  This is right outside of the main arena where the animals are exhibited.  We wandered through row after row of animals.  These cows, horses and sheep are the best looking animals that you could possibly imagine.  Each one of them has been bathed, dried, groomed and manicured until they look nothing like the animals that you see in a typical barnyard.  These animals are beautiful and you can see the amount of care, love and dedication that has been put into raising them.  Many of the animals have been raised by kids participating in 4H clubs.  As they kids exhibit their animals you can see the pride they have taken from raising such fine specimens.

One of the things I love the most about the Stock Show experience is the smell of the animals, their feed and the manure.  I know many people might find that last item to be offensive, but it brings back many wonderful memories from my childhood of spending carefree days hanging around our neighbors farm.

After walking through the animal stalls we got some food and then hit the "petting farm" so that Zack could spend some time playing with and feeding the animals there.  He loves to go into the midst of all the animals there and give them love.

On our way out of the Stock Show we walked past a booth selling fried Twinkies.  I had never had the opportunity to experience fried Twinkies before and I decided I had to have one.  Oh my god was it good!  They take a Twinkie and dip it in the batter that is used to make funnel cakes and then they deep fry it.  I am sure it was no good for me at all but it did taste fantastic.  I am a fan.  For next year's stock show getting a Fried Twinkie will be a requirement!

Tomorrow will bring some more adventures as we have a hike planned for early in the morning.  Not exactly sure where we are going but right now I am leaning towards a return to Hidden Mesa.  We will be up early as we have plans for brunch/lunch with my brother's family around noon.

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far.  And of course I have to add - GO STEELERS!  Hopefully tomorrow will bring yet another trip to the Super Bowl for the Steelers.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Potpurri of Things

Wow!  It has been since last Thursday since I last posted.  I normally don't go that long between posts, but my birthday was last Friday and I had a wonderfully fun birthday weekend so I just didn't get the chance to post anything.  Needless to say there is a lot for me to write about!

The first thing to mention is I just put Zack to bed and he had only been in bed for about 4 minutes when he came running down the steps because he had to show me something.  What you might ask?  He just lost another tooth!  He has been losing all of his childhood molars for the last several weeks.  He was lying in bed and just couldn't resist the urge to give one that was loose a final tug.  Out of his mouth it came!  So he came down the stairs with a bloody mouth. It is amazing the changes that kids go through!

This past weekend was a really nice birthday weekend for me.  Due to the efforts of friends I managed to have 24 hours without any responsibility at all!   No Zack, no Finnegan, no Lex - I had no responsibility for anything other than myself.  Wow is all I can say.  Thank you to everyone who made that happen - from the friend who organized it all, to the friends who had Zack over for a sleepover to the friend of a friend who watched Finn.  Thank you!  I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.  It was the best birthday I have celebrated for many years if not the best ever.

Tuesday night is turning into puppy night around our house.  The veterinarian that we take all our dogs to offers a class called Puppy class several times year.  Puppy class for me is all about socializing the dogs and getting them used to being around other dogs and people.  There is a lot of information given to the owners about how to care for the dogs, but given Finnegan is the 3rd generation of dogs we have owned we know most of what is taught.  Regardless of that it is still really fun to take him to class and watch him play with the other dogs.

Finn is a little different than all the other dogs - Bailey, Devon and Lex that we have put through puppy class in the past.  The other 3 dogs were maniacs when it came to attending puppy class.  They would get in the middle of things and just play and play with all the other dogs that were there.  Finnegan on the other hand tends to just sit back and watch the other puppies play.  He hasn't been too eager to get into the middle of things.  His personality is very mellow and laid back and it takes him a while to warm up to other dogs and get really wild.  This past weekend, he did really warm up to the dog at the house that he was visiting.  He fell in love with the puppy and spent pretty much the entire weekend playing.  When he came home on Sunday night he fell fast asleep and didn't wake up until Monday morning!

Another item from this past weekend was the fact that my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers advanced to the AFC championship game.  Yippee!  I don't know if they will beat the Jets and I am not going to do any trash talking here, but it means they at least get to play one more football game this season.  Hopefully they will win and will make it to the Super Bowl!!

Well - I think that is about it for tonight.  I need to get to bed early as I need to head into the office tomorrow to get my laptop repaired.  For whatever reason the program that connects me to my company's network is no longer working.  To repair it they need to format the laptop's hard drive and re-install everything.  Argh - that won't be fun to be without my laptop all day tomorrow!

I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

I promise I will pen some better blog entries later this week.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Puppy Antics

It has been over 7 years since we last had a puppy in our house.  Back then it was the fall of 2003 and Lex - our current senior citizen was a loud and brash puppy willing to do just about anything to get attention.  Fortunately for Lex the older dog back then was Bailey who was the most gentle, nuturing dog I have every known.  Bailey was OK with Lex crawling all over him and chewing on his ears until the bleed.

Today Lex is that older dog to Finnegan and unfortunately Lex is a grouchy "old man" kind of dog who really doesn't appreciate puppy antics.  In some ways that makes the puppy antics that Finnegan plays even that much funnier.  For every action Finnegan takes he causes a reaction in Lex.  If Finn is trying to bite Lex's paw, Lex has to growl and move his paw away as fast as he can.  If Finn wants to try and curl up next to Lex on the dog bed or the couch, Lex has to get up and run away to some place that Finn isn't.  It is actually one of the most hilarious things that you could possible watch.

The best part is when they start barking at one another.  Lex will be growling at Finn (all the while his tail is wagging), and then Finn will erupt into this cacophony of sound.  He has one of the highest pitched puppy barks I have heard.  They will make a chorus of barks, with first Lex barking and then Finn barking and then back to Lex.  It is funny enough that we really don't need to use the television for entertainment, we have built in entertainment with the 2 dogs.

Of course Lex isn't involved in all the antics that Finn gets up to.  Finn like to climb up as high as he can on the sofa and then stand there perched looking down deciding if he is going to jump.  He has only jumped once but now that he has finally come up with the courage to do that I think it might become a routine.

Finnegan has one of the more unique personalities I have experienced in a dog.  I am used to the wild and crazy playfulness of Labrador Retrievers and though Finn can exhibit that quality a good percentage of the time, he also has a very reserved and contemplative side to him.  Often he will just sit and look at what is going on.  I think there are a ton of thoughts racing through his head as he tries to figure out the entire world around him.

Finn also loves to be snuggled - which is quite different from Lex.  It has only been since Bailey died last July that Lex has allowed himself to be snuggled at all - but it can only be on his terms.  He has to walk up to you and want to be snuggled.  If you approach him, forget about it - he is so out of there.  Finn is the exact opposite.  Not only does he love to come to you, he loves when you pick him up and snuggle him and give him lots of loving.

I have developed a nightly routing with Finn regarding his snuggling.  After Zack is in bed, I will come back downstairs and sit on the couch and watch TV.  When I do that Finn will normal get on the other end of the couch.  Over a period of 30 minutes or so, he will slowly migrate from his end of the couch to mine.  Before you know it, he is right next to me with his head propped on my leg sleeping soundly.  Even as I fidget or move he figures out some way to keep that head of his right on my leg!

Our house if now often filled with lots of puppy antics and hijinx.  Though it is sometimes hard work to keep track of Finnegan and keep him from getting into serious trouble, it is very worth it!

No much else to report for us other than the fact that we are pretty busy these days.  Yesterday - Wednesday involved a ton of work and bunch of running around.  But we had a key accomplishment out of the day in the fact that I got Nancy to the audiologist and she got new hearing aids.  Now she can actually hear what Zack and I are saying to her!  Yippee.  Zack is doing better with his anxiety but we still have a ways to go to get him back to where he was prior to winter break.  It is now Thursday morning as I finish this post and we are looking forward to another busy but good day!

Have a great day!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Step to a Better Feeling Life

Over the last several months I have complained on my blog about feeling depressed and anxious so much of the time.  There is of course the obvious reason that I have felt like this - the situation I created with Shelly and how our relationship and engagement came to an end.  To this day I still feel very bad about the whole situation.  I feel badly from two perspectives.  First, and the most important reason I feel badly is because I ruined our relationship.  I own what I did and understand it was me who caused the end our relationship.  Then there is the purely selfish reasons that I feel badly - the depression, the anxiety, etc, etc.

The only way I can every correct the problems I caused is to first stand on my own and resolve my own feelings of anxiety and depression.  I can never fix anything with Shelly if I am pursuing her just to fill the feelings I have.  I need to be able to pursue her without needing anything from her - just desiring her for her.

I need to start with small steps to correct my own feelings.  Today I began to understand one of the reason I feel so much anxiety by the loss of Shelly.  I feel adrift.  I feel abandoned.  Yes - there is probably some kind of trauma that happened to me when I was a kid that makes me have some kind of abandonment issue.  I really couldn't tell you - but there was something probably there.

As I thought about the situation this morning I realized that only I can change my own feelings.  So I need to take actions to change my feelings and rid myself of the anxiety and depression.  This isn't going to sound like much, but I realized one of the reasons I feel so anxious, stressed and depressed (which can feed into the abandonment feeling) is that I live in a state of pretty significant chaos.  The chaos has many different sources.  A primary source is just the situation I have found myself in life - single parent with a child who is difficult to parent.  There really isn't too much I can do about that situation other than constantly work with Zack so he is easier to parent.  And then I need to make sure I have mourned the loss of Patty.  I discovered this fall that I had not totally gotten that out of my system.

A secondary reason I live in a state of chaos is that I am organizationally challenged and I have so much clutter in my house.  I have done a ton to clean up and improve the situation but there is still clutter.  When I wake up in the morning and I am in a disorganized bedroom and then come down to a disorganized kitchen/family room, the level of stress in me immediately shoots through the roof.  So a very simple step that I am going to take to bring more calmness and tranquility into my life is a very simple one.  Every night before I go to bed, I am going to make sure that my bedroom and kitchen/family room are clean.  I know this seems really, really stupid - but I think it is going to go miles to reduce the level of anxiety I feel which is going to make me a better parent and make me be able to start addressing some of the more route causes of the pain I created between Shelly and me.

OK - I know now that most people have read that you think I am a total and complete whack job and potentially I am.  But in general I think any change right now for the positive is a good thing.  I truly believe that 2011 is going to be a very good year for me, Zack and hopefully others who are important to me.  This January marks the five year anniversary as to when so many of the troubles began.  Patty became sick in earnest in January of 2006 though she won't be diagnosed with leukemia for another 8 months.  So it has now been a half a decade since this stuff began.  It is a good time to final put it behind me!

It has been snowing constantly here in Denver since early this morning.  There are probably 5 - 7 inches of snow in my backyard at this point and it is supposed to snow until sometime tomorrow.  Despite the weather Zack and I got out for breakfast with Tim, Celinde, Cole and one of Cole's friends.  Nothing too fancy just breakfast at the Egg and I as an early celebration of my birthday as the other Kromer's will be up in the mountains for my b-day next weekend.

After that Zack and I did some shopping and then came home to an entire day of work.  I spent about 4 hours this afternoon and evening doing work for my job.  Zack had some homework to do so he sat next to me and worked on that.  Zack has been in the midst of a lot of fear and anxiety over the last 2 weeks.  I think he made some good strides on handling it today.  He read a book called "Talking Back to OCD" and then we talked about it for a good long time.  I think it helped him a good bit.

I watched most of the football games that were played today.  I was very disappointed that the Ravens won as now the Steelers have to play them again - boo!!!  Oh well - I have faith in the Steelers - I think that they can beat them!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you are in the Denver area I hope you are handling the snow and cold well.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Sick Puppy...

Our morning started out with a bang...  Or perhaps I should say with a hideous smell!  Our little puppy Finnegan was sick as the proverbial dog.  Last night as he was lying on the floor in the family room he was making some horrific stinkies.  At one point I had to get up and walk out of the room as he stunk me out of the place.

This morning we followed our normal routine and as soon as I got up I put Lex and Finn outside to do their business.  What was unusual is that Finn did both aspects of his business - which is highly unusual.  He act his breakfast like normal, scarfing it down as quickly as could be.  About 30 minutes later the nastiness began.  He was upstairs in my room playing and suddenly his behind was exploding!  It was spontaneous and unplanned on his part you could tell but he literally exploded. 

I got him outside as quickly as I could while I went to work cleaning up the nastiness.  Needless to say Stanley Steemer is going to be paying a visit to our house in the very near future!  After everything was calmed down and cleaned up I headed out to the gym as I did not go on my team-in-training run this morning.  Before heading to the gym I wasn't taking any chances and put Finn in his kennel. 

As soon as I walked back in the house from the gym I knew something very bad had happened in Finn's kennel and sure enough it was coated with both stuff from both ends.  As soon as I got him cleaned up and outside and the kennel taken care of, I called the vet.  Once I mentioned that he was both throwing up and had diarrhea, they wanted to see him as quickly as possible.  So Zack and I packed up Finn and got him to the vet as quickly as possible.  (If a dog is both throwing up and has diarrhea, the are concerned that they might have an intestinal blockage.)

Finn ended up spending the majority of the day at the vet for observation and evaluation.  In the end run they couldn't pinpoint any particular source of the problem so they gave him a shot to prevent him from throwing up and sent him home with some antibiotics and a special diet.  He had one major explosion as soon as we got home but thankfully that was outside.  Since then he has been fine.  You can tell he is not feeling well though as he has done absolutely nothing but sleep and didn't mind that he only got 3 tablespoons of food for dinner.  Even as I type this he is curled up here on the floor right beneath me.

Otherwise it was a day of exercise for me as I did a great workout at the gym and then went on a hike with Zack.  We went back to one of our favorite spots - Hidden Mesa Open Space in Douglas County.  I was surprise to find that much of this open space had been closed for a good part of the summer and fall due to the presence of plague in the prairie dog population that lives there.  Thankfully with the present cold weather there isn't any chance of the plague being present.

Zack has really been struggling with his anxiety over the last several days.  Today was good as I got him active and we spent a lot of time talking about the situation.  Sometimes that is all that is needed.  I just want to get him into a good position for the school week ahead.  This evening Zack had one of his friends over for a movie night so that helped him get off of his anxiety focus.

Well - I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Lineage of Prince Finnegan

Though I have only been back at work for 3 days (Tues, Weds, Thurs) since the break for the holiday's, a little routine has already developed here at the house.  I tend to do most of my work from the kitchen table.  Occasionally, I will work out of my office, but for the most part I work on the kitchen table.  The routine that has now developed is a I have a constant foot warmer available for use - yes that would be the puppy Fin!  He tends to walk right under the table and curl up pretty much right on my feet.

There are a couple of good things about this arrangement.  First he keeps my toes warm - which does not stink.  Second, it allows me to keep my eyes on him as he still has some little accidents in the house. So all in all, Fin sleeping on my feet all day long has it advantages.

So this afternoon I was looking at him and I decided to do a bit of research as to what his lineage might be.  I turned to Google and Wikipedia and I quickly found out he does not have Blue Heeler in him.  He has not one characteristic of a Blue Heeler at all.  Instead it seems like my dear little Fin is probably a combination of a "Red Heeler" and a Golden Retriever.  His markings are much more like that of a Red Heeler.  Then his fur has that soft snuggly feel to it of a Golden Retriever.  I supposed instead of a Golden Retriever he could also have Labrador Retriever in him, but to me that doesn't seem to likely as his fur seems nothing like a labs.  (And I have just a tab bit of experience with labs!)

Besides getting a background in what kind of lineage Fin probably has in him, I learned a lot about the designation ACD (Australian Cattle Dog).  The Heeler's (whether blue or red) are all designated as Australian Cattle Dogs as that is there primary job - to herd cattle in Australia.

Well I should add - regardless of what kind of doggies got together to make Fin, he is a great dog!  Unlike every other puppy I have every had, Fin is calm.  Well - relatively calm that is.  No puppy is ever 100% calm, but Fin is definitely one of the most calm puppies I have ever seen.  Bottom line is he is mellow.  (I write that but of course what is he doing at this very second...  running around like a maniac trying to destroy his one toy.)

It is a lot of fun, but hard work to have a puppy around the house.  Lex is finally starting to get comfortable with him.  They are playing together a lot more, but Lex can still only take so much.  I think once Fin gets bigger it will be a totally different story and Lex will love having him around.  Right now I just don't think he knows what to do with him.

But while I was writing this Lex and Fin have engaged in a 20 minute play session.  It has been hilarious to watch and listen to them.  Lex has this deep big dog bark while Fin has this little yippy puppy bark.  It is so funny!

No much else to say for a Thursday evening.  My heart feels as though it has been ripped in half and my mind is going nuts as I am trying to figure out a way to get Zack out of his latest anxiety downturn.  Cherry Creek Schools have thrown a ton of resources at him this week with little success so far.  I have spent more time on the phone with the school psychologist and nurses this week than I have ever wanted to.  It is a hard situation to describe because when Zack melts down, you really have a hard time bringing him back from there.  The only way I have found to do it over the last 5 years is to show him how much pain he is causing me.  That normally snaps him out of it.  But that only works for me.  Oh well - we will continue to labor through it and hopefully between the drugs and Zack's growing sense of self, we will eventually get to the point that there are no more anxiety meltdowns!

Anyway - so much for January 6th, 2011.

I hope everyone's year is off to a great start.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Sad Day....

Today I suffered one of the greatest disappointments I have suffered in recent years.  I don’t want to go into details but it has made me question everything about the life I am living.  Right now I don’t know what I am going to do, but I am considering taking some pretty drastic steps.

I have my puppy Fin to thank for putting me in a much better mood today.  Without Fin life would have taken on a monumental sense of depression.  Fin seemed to realize what I was feeling and came to me and snuggled against me.  He was very funny as he crawled into my lap and won’t get out.  Early this evening he even climbed up on top of me and we fell asleep together on the couch.  Fin – you are a great dog and I am so thankful to have you!  Sorry Zack – I think you lost out buddy – Fin is going to be my dog! 

Not much else to say for today as I am utterly shell shocked from what happened.  I skipped my team-in-training run yesterday evening because I just couldn’t manage the mental energy to go and do it.

I do know this.  I have faith eternal in the future.  I have always looked towards the future with a bright and happy viewpoint.  I think that has allowed me to focus on my savings and always plan for the future.  Though I have taken a serious hit for today, things will be better tomorrow.  And they will get better the day after tomorrow.

Life will be good and I will tell you a year from now when I look back upon this day, though I feel sadness now, I am certain I will have a different perspective.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy 2011 - The First Post of the New Year

A belated Happy New Year to everyone!  I haven't been able to post for the last couple of days because I was out of town and I didn't take my computer with me.  So today is my first post for the new year!

There are many things to think about at the beginning of a new year.  In some ways I just love the start of a new year in other ways I have a bit of a hard time with the new year.  The negative points about the start of a new year are definitely outweighed by the positive points.  For me the biggest negative point is just that the start of the new year signals the end of the holiday season and it means you have to go back to being focused on work and all the mundane activities of day-to-day life.

There are many positive aspects of the new year.  The key positive aspect for me is that it gives you a fresh start.  You can wipe the slate clean of all the things you did in the previous year and feel like you can start fresh.  This is particularly the case for me - the man of many lists.  At the start of each year I start my lists all over again.  I keep several lists from year-to-year that I maintain in Excel workbooks.  With the start of each year I close out the previous year's spreadsheet in the workbook and start a new spreadsheet.  I have kept these spreadsheets for the last 12 years - it provides a very interesting look at my life. So at the beginning of the year the spreadsheets are clean and empty and ready to track the all the things I do the entire year.  (I track stuff like how much exercise I do, how many miles I run, how many sodas and alcohol I consume, how many times I donate blood, what books I read - etc.)

I also use the spreadsheets to set specific goals for myself of things that I am going to accomplish during the course of the year.  I won't call them New Year's Resolutions or anything like that.  I call them my goal sheets.  I tend to set the goals high and frequently I don't make them for the year.  But I would feel like I was going through life rudderless if I didn't have my list of things to do every year.

I'd love to hear the kinds of plans any of the people who read this blog make for themselves at the beginning of the year.  If you are so inclined please leave a comment and tell the plans/goals you have for year - I'd love to read them.

On a totally different note, the puppy Finnegan has really found his voice.  Up to this point he hasn't really barked that much.  For whatever reason today he really discovered that he can bark.  He has been sitting here in the kitchen next to me barking for the last 10 minutes.  To me it seems like he is just barking to hear himself bark.  It is very cute and very funny.

Zack returned to school today after 2 weeks off.  He had a good day at school which is somewhat of a miracle given how much anxiety he was experiencing over the last 4 days.  He got so bad at one point he last all privileges which made him even more anxious.  I can't wait for the day when he has finally beaten his anxiety monster!

I return to work tomorrow as today was the "New Years" holiday for my company.  We got today off since New Years Day fell on a Saturday this year.  I already have a bunch of work that I need to get done ASAP tomorrow so I know it will be a busy day for me.

I hope 2011 has started well for you all.  I hope the promise of the new year can be fulfilled for you and families as this year progresses.

Thanks for being my readers over the past year.  I hope my writing in 2011 will continue to improve and provide you all reasons to continue to read my blog.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.