Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Lex!

Ten years ago today, a little brown puppy entered this world along with his litter mates.  He didn't have a name on that day and won't take on his moniker as "Lex the crazy dog" for another 8 weeks when I picked him out of a scrum of puppies running madly around a small room.  What caught my eye about him as opposed to all the other puppies was that he was the most hyper-active, crazy of them all.  He ran around that room so fast, that he couldn't keep his footing and slid head first into the wall.  Yes - he was truly the puppy for me!

We brought him home with us that day and he has been part of our family from that day.  Even when he did extremely crazy and wild things we loved him and cherished him.  Some of the things that Lex has done over the years have indeed been crazy and out of control, but they were never done with a bit of anger or malice.  He did what he did just because he was and still is a pup who loves life and thinks that world is his to own.  If I could tally the expense for all things that he has destroyed or damaged, I am sure it would be enough to buy a nice car.  But it doesn't matter one bit as he has continually brought happiness and joy to our lives.

Even during the dark times we went through between 2006 and 2008, he was always there waiting to greet us when we came in the door.  Wagging his tail so hard that if it hit you a welt would immediately appear on your skin, Lex has made us know everyday that we are the most important things in life and he loves us no matter what.

Unfortunately we don't know how much longer we will have our "crazy boy" in our lives.  The cancer he was diagnosed with in June is a very bad cancer and there are no guarantees.  Yet he is still a very strong dog and he has an unbelievable determination to live.  He should have died that day in June when the tumor pierced the blood vessel in his spleen.  But he didn't, even despite losing over 2 liters of blood.  Regardless of the prognosis, Lex is alive and enjoying his 10th birthday.  Even as I sit here writing this post, I can hear him in the living room chomping on his rawhide chewy that I gave him for his special day.  Lex, my crazy, wonderful, happy, always hungry dog may you have many more years to spend with us!  We love you puppy dog!

(Lex arriving at our house for the first time.  Wasn't he such a cutie-pie!)  

 (It's almost hard to see Lex as he is practically being smothered by our older Lab Bailey.  What is so funny is that when we brought Lex home, all Bailey wanted to do was hangout with Lex and play with him.  Years later after Bailey died and we got Finnegan, when we introduced the two of them - Lex and Finnegan, Lex wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with Finnegan.  Of course all of that has now changed as Lex and Finn are the absolute best friends.  They can't stand to be apart!)

 (Bailey watched out for Lex so much when Lex was a pup.  Lex showed Bailey his "gratitude but torturing him with bites,nips and constant pestering.  Actually, I think Bailey loved it because he just wanted to be with that little puppy at all times.)
(As you can imagine, a certain little boy became fast friends with Lex!)

(This is an utterly classic picture of our boy!)

(This is one of my all time favorite pictures of Lex.  I took this about 3.5 years ago when we were out for a walk at Cherry Creek State Park.  It shows Lex's true spirit and his joy of life.  He is an unstoppable force that embraces all that life has to offer and enjoys every single second of it.)

I tried to get a birthday picture of our crazy boy, but he is just too absorbed in his chewy to listen to anything I say.  Well - I'll just have to update this post once he has devoured the whole thing and will pose for a picture!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to Work!

After a summer of fun and enjoyment, tomorrow is the day that the world becomes serious again and the focus returns to work.  Zack will attend his first full day of classes as a freshman tomorrow and I will embark upon the new career I have chosen.

Our schedule this school year is going to be an early one.  At one point I was used to waking at very early hours as I was continuously working with my team in India, however over the last 8 weeks or so I have grown use to a more leisurely wake-up time.  Tomorrow that needs to change as Zack will have to be out of bed at 5:40am so that he can catch his school bus at 6:20am.  His bus stop this year is 4 tenths of mile away which is much further than his middle school bus stop.  Therefore he is going to need to be out of the house by 6:05am. This early daily routine is now going to be our normal day-to-day life.

My work for the next two months is going to be focused on completing several projects around the house and gathering a ton of background material for my writing.  For Monday my schedule is pretty well planned as I will be getting up at 5:30am to make sure Zack is awake.  As he gets older I will turn the responsibility square over to him, but for his freshman and sophomore years of high school, I anticipate getting up whenever he needs to be awake.

I'll hang out with him while he has breakfast and gets ready for school.  Given it is the first day of high school, I will subject him to having his picture taken quite a few times!  I might take pity upon him and drive him to the bus stop.  After that I am off to do a 5 - 6 mile hike through the Jefferson County South Valley Open Space.  My goal is to hike as many mile of the trails in this open space as possible as I want to capture a lot of good information for writing.  In addition to my normal trail supplies of food and emergency gear, I will be carrying my camera to take lots of photos, a notebook to take notes and my GoPro video camera so that I can go back and look at the film if I forget any of the details of the hike.

After my return from the hike, the entire afternoon is going to be spent working on my garage.  Later in the fall I will be doing some more in-depth home renovation projects and I need the space in the garage for a work shop.

As this summer ends I look back upon all the different changes that have happened.  The biggest change of course was moving on from the corporate rat race.  That change was anticipated for the future as I had only planned to continue to work in the corporate arena for another 2 - 4 years.  Even though this change occurred earlier than I had planned it has been a wonderful opportunity!  The timing of the change was exceedingly good for a variety of reasons.  Most importantly it is giving me the extra time to spend with Zack while he goes through the transition to high school.  My financial position, along with the generous package I received from my employer has allowed me to voyage into this new opportunity without a care in the word and without the pressure to get back into a corporate position.

 (A picture from one of our summer adventures, at the top of Capulin Volanco in New Mexico.  It's a national monument located about 40 miles west of Raton, New Mexico.)

There is no life without change and there is some massive change coming our way in the next several days.  It's time for us to buckle up and get ready for the ride!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

There's a High School Freshman in the House


[fresh-muhn] noun, plural fresh·men, adjective
1. a student in the first year of the course at a university, college, or high school.
2. a novice; beginner.

The day that many parents dread has finally arrived at our house - Zack is officially a high school freshman.  He registered for classes this morning at Cherry Creek High School and he begins his high school journey tomorrow at 6:20am when he will board the bus for freshman orientation.  

It's obvious from today's registration that high school is going to be very different than middle school.  Parents are not allowed to accompany their kids through the registration process.  The students must do it by themselves.  Zack seemed surprised by this but was very OK with it.  He was more displeased with the fact that registration was taking much longer than expected and from where he entered the line it was a 45 minute to 1 hour and 15 minute wait.  He did manage to survive the wait!  I didn't want to hear him whine about how boring it would be, so I left him there to find people in line with whom to talk.

The differences between the high school of my youth and the high school of today are amazing.  From my perspective it seem as though high school is more like the experience I had attending college in the mid 1980's.  Students of today's high schools are expected to come to school and really drive their own educational process.  Not much is force fed to them and their path through school is really self determined.

Even the selection of courses that are available to high school students of today is significantly more diverse.  Instead of the generic "gym" or physical education courses that we all took in the 1980's, there are now a plethora of choices.  For Zack's first semester of physical education he will be taking a weight lifting course.  Before I know it, he is going to have more physical strength than do I.  That will be a very interesting change in the family dynamic!

Without a doubt I will be penning many more stories about Zack's days in high school.  There are many more "firsts" yet to come.  The next four years are sure to be an interesting and exciting time for us!

Hope everyone has a great Friday ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adventure Time - Zack's 15th Birthday At Water World

It is tremendously hard to believe that Zack, the young man who I once referred to as "my little Zackie" turned 15 years old yesterday.  Zack is definitely now a young man. He is only an inch or two shorter than me.  He needs to shave at least once a week or he starts to look like a shaggy beast.  It seems as each day his strength and muscles grow larger.  Despite his size, muscles, beard and mustache in my heart he is and will always be "my little Zackie".

For Zack's birthday celebration this year Zack and I along with two of Zack's best friends - Jess and James, headed to Denver's Water World water park.  Water World is one of the largest water parks in the United States.  It features over 49 different water slides, pools, surfing features and even a water based roller coaster. 

I had hoped to be on the road to Water World around 9:15AM but we had a couple of delays (mainly me sleeping in) that didn't see us on the road until almost 9:30AM.  I felt like a school bus driver as I made stops to pick up Zack's friends.  The water park is about 20 miles to the north of our home in Centennial so we didn't end up arriving until almost 10:20am.  The fact that one of his friends was still sound asleep when we arrived at his home also slowed us down a bit.

Once through the gates we quickly found an excellent place next to the largest wave pool to set up shop.  I made sure each of the kids covered themselves in sun screen as I didn't want any of them getting sun burnt and then we were off to have fun.

Zack and his buddies mainly spent their day in the Thunder Bay wave pool.  This pool is a monstrous sized wave pool that is capable of generating massive 5 - 7 feet tall waves.  I had rented each of them the large inner tubes that that are available at the park.  They loved hanging out in this pool riding the waves all day. I on the other hand took off and hit just about every attraction that is available in the park.  (You didn't expect me to spend the day hanging around with Zack and his two best geek buddies in the world did you?) I tried to do at least one of each type of attraction that is available in the park.  I even did the "pipeline" slides that rise over 6 stories into the air and plunge you down almost vertically into a shallow basin of water.  I don't know how fast you go on those slides but they are incredibly fast and you definitely experience a free fall sensation as you go off the top.  As I stood at the top looking down, I did question why I was doing this crazy extreme thing.  But once I was on it sliding downward, I loved it.

The Gang of Geeks - They call themselves geeks - it's just not me!

We spent the entire day at Water World.  Leaving there at 5:00PM we immediately ran into rush hour traffic which made the ride home very long.  Going home we dropped off Zack's friends and stopped to pick up Nancy.  For Zack's birthday dinner he wanted pizza and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.  After we got Nancy to the house I left to get the pizza and the cake.

The evening was as enjoyable as the rest of the day.  In addition to Nancy, my brother and Lisa and her youngest son all came and had dinner with us.  Zack got several very nice gifts and we all enjoyed a very tasty dinner together.  The pizza was from our local pizzeria located in Willow Creek - Mama Roma's.  I am not sure why, but they do have some of the best pizza in this world.  They also make a really tasty Italian dressing for their salads.  The dressing is so good that we always get an extra 2 or 3 servings so that we can dip our pizza in it.  It is so yummy!

Zack lighting up the candles on his b-day cake.

The birthday boy and me

Tomorrow (Friday) we embark upon another adventure as we are headed to New Mexico for the day.  We'll be getting up very early as we intend to visit the Capulin Volcano National Monument and the Cimarron Canyon before picking up one of my nephews and his buddy from the Boy Scouts of America Philmont Scout Ranch outside of Cimarron, NM.  It should be another great day with lots of new and exciting sights for us to see.

Hope everyone has had a great week so far!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.