Family Vacation to Moab, Utah

Earlier this month Marathon Girl and I took the family on a camping trip to the La Sal Mountains east of Moab, Utah. We had a great time camping, river rafting, and visiting many state and national parks. Highly recommend the trip to the area if you've never been. Here's some  photos from our 6-day adventure. 

View from our campsite one evening. The peaks are the La Sal Mountains. Warner Lake is in the shadows near the bottom of the picture.

View from our campsite one evening. The peaks are the La Sal Mountains. Warner Lake is in the shadows near the bottom of the picture.

About 1.5 miles from our campsite was Oowah Lake. It was a beautiful hike to get there. 

About 1.5 miles from our campsite was Oowah Lake. It was a beautiful hike to get there. 

Three of my kids playing around on the hoodoos in Goblin Valley State Park, Utah.

Three of my kids playing around on the hoodoos in Goblin Valley State Park, Utah.

Me, Marathon Girl, and one camera shy kid. Goblin Valley State Park, Utah.

Me, Marathon Girl, and one camera shy kid. Goblin Valley State Park, Utah.

If you look really close, you can see the head of one of my kids hiking around Arches National Park, Utah.

If you look really close, you can see the head of one of my kids hiking around Arches National Park, Utah.

Taking in the beauty of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

Taking in the beauty of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa

I've been in Denver the last couple of days attending my grandfather's funeral. Having served his country in World War II, Grandpa had a military sendoff and was laid to rest in Fort Logan National Cemetery. Just driving through the cemetery itself was sobering to realize just how many people have served our country.

Even though it was a somewhat solemn occasion, it was nice to see some cousins, uncles, aunts, and many others that I haven't seen in decades and spend time with them. My dad's family is spread out from Alaska to Florida and having everyone (or most everyone) together doesn't happen very often. It was also nice to hear stories about Grandpa that I had never heard before. I was also glad I could bring three of my kids so they could say their goodbyes and meet people that they've never met before.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. You lived a full and wonderful life. Your life has touched more people than I think you know.

See you in the next life.

James Warren Keogh (1923-2013)

My grandfather, James Warren Keogh, was in many was a mysterious man. Quiet and soft spoken he was never one to talk much about himself. And when he died last week at the good old age of 90, a lot of the stories I wanted to hear about his life went to his grave.

A World War II vet, Grandpa served in the Pacific alongside his brother Jack. He fought in the battle of Iwo Jima but like most men of his generation never really talked about his experience. When I was about 10 I stumbled on an old army sack filled with medals including a Bronze Star and a tattered Rising Sun Flag. I asked my dad about what I had found and he couldn’t tell me anything about how Grandpa got them.

Though he didn’t talk much about the war, Grandpa was always willing to tell stories about growing up in Michigan and attending Detroit Tigers games as a young man. He saw greats like Joe DaMaggio and Ted Williams play. He loved playing baseball and his love of the game carried over to his old age where he played on softball teams into his late 70’s before the games finally became to physically difficult to participate.

Grandpa spent his professional careers working as a geologist for the federal government. He could tell you anything and everything about rocks. He liked rocks so much that he xeriscaped his yard with rocks and native Colorado plants. You always spot his house a mile away because it was the only one in Lakewood without any grass in the front yard.

Grandpa was always generous with time and enjoyed having grandkids (and, later great-grandkids) around. When I was around 8 years old, I flew out by myself to spend a week with him in Denver. It was the trip of a lifetime. We spent the week hiking in the mountains west of town, going to natural history museums, eating at Casa Bonita, watching him play softball, and attending my first (and only) Denver Broncos game.  A couple years ago when Marathon Girl and I took the kids on a family vacation to Denver, he was more than happy to spend as much time as possible with our family and his great-grandkids.

Grandpa is now with his brother, Jack, and other family members. And though he’s in a better place, his living legacy includes six children and tons of grandkids and great-grandkids. Most will be there to say one final goodbye this week Denver. Maybe, just maybe, we can all piece together parts of his life that remained a mystery to many of us. Even if that never happens, his kind, gentle influence will still continue to live on through his family.

See you next life, Grandpa. Maybe then you'll tell me some of those stories I always wanted to hear.

The Third Grade Email Dilemma

Last week our oldest child came home from school and proudly announced that he had a Gmail account and wanted to email his friend. This announcement took me and Marathon Girl by surprise. Email? In third grade? I assumed this day would come but I thought it would be something I’d be dealing with in toward the end of elementary school—not at the close of third grade.

Curious to see what was going on, I logged into my laptop and the next thing I know he’s typing in a username and password and there’s an inbox full of email messages from him and his friends have sent over the last couple of days. Then he proceeded to show me that he could email any student in the school district. He typed in the name of a girl who lived next door to us before we moved. Her name came on the screen and he typed her a quick message and clicked Send.

“I don’t know how I feel about you having a Gmail account,” I said.

“It’s not a regular Gmail, dad,” he replied. “It’s a school account that works with Gmail. It’s totally safe. The block out the bad stuff.”

Turns out the kid was right—well mostly right, anyway. After doing a little research I learned that the school district, starting in the third grade, gives kids in their own district email account that is run through Gmail. And apparently they do have decent safety standards because I tried to sending him test emails from work and other email accounts and all were bounced back as being undeliverable. Still, nothing is ever 100% secure in the online world. I work for a company sells computer security software to businesses. It’s a great product but I’m also well aware of the limitations that such products have.

So we’re letting him use email—for now. We really don’t want to discourage him (or any of our other kids) from learning computer technology or using email—especially where our oldest has such a gift for learning anything related to computers, smartphones, and tablets. The challenge is to find the balance between letting him learn and keeping him safe from all the online garbage out there. We have basic computer rules at home (Mom and Dad have access to everything they do online, the computer is a public space, no interactions with strangers, etc.) but now we’re going to have to incorporate some email rules too.

My only real complaint about the email incident has to do with the school district. It would have been nice to be notified that our kid would be getting an email address before he got one so we could have talked about email safety and rules ahead of the game.

Even though I’m a technical person, I always figured keeping up with my kids and new technology would be a challenge. Thankfully, I got an early reminder that it’s time to up my game.

The Amazing Technicolor Cast

When I was in first grade a classmate, Carson, broke his arm during recess. I can’t remember the circumstances surrounding how the accident occurred but what I do remember is him showing up to school the next day in a shiny, white plaster cast. During the day we all took turns signing our names on it. As happens with kids of that age, his cast became the envy of everyone in the class.

The envy didn’t last long. Within a couple of weeks Carson was complaining about his arm itching. And then there was the smell. Since he couldn’t get the cast wet, his arm under the cast was hard to clean. I remember sitting by him at lunch and telling him his arm smelled and him explaining to me that it was hard to clean. I think I still scooted down bench a foot or two to eat my lunch.

At some point the cast came off and life in first grade returned to normal. What I do remember from that incident is that Carson seemed uncomfortable enough wearing a cast that I hoped I’d never break an arm or any other part of my body that would require me to get a cast. Even though everyone could sign it, it just didn’t seem worth it.

Fast forward to 2013.

Last Sunday my 5-year-old daughter fell off her scooter and broke her arm. Thankfully, she didn’t need pins or any other surgery. The doctor took x-rays and put her arm in a splint. A few days later she went to get a cast.

How times have changes since I was a kid.

I came home from work on Thursday and discovered that not only did she have a cast that looked like an exploding rainbow, the material it’s made from is waterproof. She can take a bath or shower, swim, or do any other water activities without worry. For the most part, she’s going on with life like nothing ever happened to it. And though I still hope I never break an arm or any other part of my body, I have to say that wearing a cast doesn’t seem as bad as it did when I was in first grade.

Happy to be a Zero TV Home

When we moved into our new house, MG and I didn't bother calling the cable or satellite TV company. Instead we decided to became what is called a Zero TV home. Yes we still have a TV but anything we watch are online or through inexpensive subscription services like Netflix. (Marathon Girl is streaming a show on Netflix as I write this.)

Apparently this is becoming more and more common:

Some people have had it with TV. They've had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don’t like timing their lives around network show schedules. They’re tired of $100-plus monthly bills.

A growing number of them have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people are watching shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections. Last month, the Nielsen Co. started labeling people in this group "Zero TV" households, because they fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.

Marathon Girl and I have been happy being a Zero TV home and have no plans on going back to regular TV ever again.

Just a few of the positive changes we've noticed since cutting the cord include:

  • We spend more time together as a family.
  • We spend more time together as a couple.
  • I spend more time writing.
  • The kids fight less.
  • We spend more time outside.
  • We watch less TV. A lot less. The few shows we do watch tend to be only those we find worth our time and we watch then when it’s convenient—not when broadcasters want us to.

Here’s a list of negatives: .

For those who haven’t tried it, I highly suggest giving Zero TV a try for a month. I think you’ll notice a positive difference in your life too. More time and freedom is a wonderful thing.

The Warm Lights of Home

One of the things I hate about this time of year is that I generally drive to and from work in the dark. For some reason it makes me feel like an entire day passed me by—all because I didn’t get a chance to see the sun.

But since we moved this summer I’ve discovered that the drive home doesn’t seem as dreary or dark. Our new house sits on a small rise. As a result, you can see it (if you know where to look) from about a mile away. Seeing the warm lights of home in an otherwise dreary and dark world actually brightens my spirits and makes me feel like there are still plenty of things to do even if the sun set a long time ago. It’s a reminder that there’s a family who can’t wait to see me and spend the rest of the day together work.

So thank you warm, bright lights at home for reminding me on cold, dark winter nights that there’s still plenty to do and something worth coming home to—even if the sun has long set.

My Kids: Hardcore Football Fans

For the last couple years I’ve bought a family pass to Utah’s forgotten college football team. It’s turned into something that the oldest four kids really look forward to. And even though I spend more time keeping up with the kids than watching the action on the field, it’s something I look forward too as well.

This season has been an ignominious one for Weber State. They’ve only won one game and are struggling on offence, defense, and special teams.  Today was the team’s last home game. If anything it was a garbage game as both Weber State and Northern Colorado had nothing to play for but pride. To make things worse, Mother Nature dumped 12 inches of snow in the last 24 hours and the forecast called for temperatures to be below freezing. Because of the freezing weather, I decided to give the kids a choice: we could go to the football game or we could go to the game or a nearby entertainment center and play laser tag and (indoor) miniature golf.

Much to my surprise the all four kids voted for the football game. There wasn’t any hesitation to their decision either. They all wanted to spend the afternoon at the game no matter what the weather. So I dressed the kids as warm as I could and packed blankets and other warm things into the van and off we went.

Even though we only made it until half time (it got too cold for the younger ones), everyone had a good time playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and huddling under blankets for warmth. Yes, Weber State put in another lackluster performance, but that’s not what mattered. What was important that the kids had a fun-filled afternoon with Dad and we all made lots of memories together. In that respect the cold, the snow, and watching Weber State lose was worth it.

Can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Living with the In-Laws: Week 3

This week I realized that Marathon Girl and I made one mistake when planning our stay with the in-laws. Since we were originally planning only staying three or four weeks we didn’t bring much in the way of toys and other things to occupy the kids. While we’re trying to get them (and us) out of the house as much as possible, there have been a time or two we’ve wished we would have brought over the Wii or some more toys over. Thankfully, we have a series of vacations and other activities planned through the end of the month that should keep us busy enough that it won’t be an issue through the Fourth of July.

And no, there’s no update on our short sale. We’re hoping and praying for good news soon. Maybe next week I’ll have an update.

Living with the In-Laws: Week 2

We just passed two weeks of living with the in-laws. First, the good news: As of now, we don’t seem to be getting on each other’s nerves. The arrangements we worked out before we moved in regarding meals, etc. seems to be working rather well. The kids seem to be adjusting to the temporary living situation and now that school is finally out for the summer, I think a lot of the morning and evening chaos will be reduced.

Another plus is that we’re doing more family (me, MG, and the kids) activities after I get off work and are spending more time together as a result. Relationships seem to be improving and growing stronger. We also have two mini vacations planned for this month that, if all goes as planned, will take us to Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska. (Sorry, Liam, no planned trips to Michigan at the moment.)

Now the bad news: As far as we know, the status of the short-sale hasn’t changed and we’re still looking at a nebulous July closing date. This has me worried. Since things are moving at a snails’ pace, I can see the date getting pushed back to August or even later. I’d really like to get the kids can settled into their new surroundings before the new school year begins. Living with the in-laws for an indefinite period of time simply isn’t an option. If it looks like things might fall through or get pushed out to the fall, we might look at renting a place temporarily or looking at other homes. I’m not opposed to buying a different home if necessary but the market out here is awash in short sales and it’s hard to find a good one that’s not going through the bank in some way. I was kind of surprised that our old home sold in seven days but after seeing what’s on the market day-after-day, I’m becoming less and less amazed.

Here’s to hoping our home goes through soon.

 

Temporarily Homeless

Well, it’s official. We sold our home and are now living with the in-laws for about six weeks until the short sale we hope to buy closes

Heaven help all of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my in-laws. I couldn’t have married into a better family. We all love each other and have a great relationship. This is why I want to make our stay at their home as short as possible.

The hardest thing about temporarily moving in with them is that I no longer feel independent and self-sufficient. I shouldn’t feel this way considering that I’m otherwise supporting myself and my family and have done so without a problem ever since Marathon Girl and I tied the knot.

It’s just that if given the choice between living in a cardboard box and moving in with someone, I’d take the cardboard box every time. But my kids would probably have a hard time with living-in-a-box thing.

So let the adventure begin.

For everyone’s sake, let’s hope it’s a short one.

Kids 1984 vs. Kids 2011

1984 During the winter months the first thing I’d do after waking up is head straight to the living room where I’d send next a heater vent. There I’d sit there until the furnace clicks off and my legs and toes were toasty warm. Once the heater clicked off I’d hurry off to my bedroom where I’d get dressed and get ready for the day.

2011

When it turns cold, the first thing my kids do after they wake up is tiptoe downstairs and lie on the heater vent near the foot of Mom and Dad’s bed. They share the vent until the furnace clicks off and which point they race to the table for breakfast then, after eating, hurry off and get ready for the day.

Ghost Pumpkins and other Random Halloween Thoughts

This Halloween season I was surprised to see that a local store selling large, white pumpkins albeit under the clever name of “ghost pumpkins.” Though I’ve seen stores selling small white pumpkins from time-to-time, this was the first times since I lived in Bulgaria that I’ve seen such big ones. (In Bulgaria, all the pumpkins are white. Orange pumpkins are unheard of.)

The kids weren’t too up on the white pumpkins so we ended up getting the traditional orange ones. Now I’m regretting that decision not to buy one. At the very least it would have been fun to harvest the seeds and grow a couple of plants next year. Besides, after looking online, white pumpkins offer some unique decorating possibilities that wouldn’t look good on orange ones.

***

Speaking of Bulgaria, apparently Halloween has taken off in popularity over there. Recently I was talking to someone who just returned from there and he said that it common to see kids dress up and go around trick-or-treating and young adults attending Halloween parties. Older people still aren’t in to it. This article is a few years old but it pretty much mirrors whatI was told about Halloween in Bulgaria.

When I lived there, no one even knew what Halloween was. We started a couple of Halloween parties but the Bulgarians who did attend thought it was a silly holiday. I wish I knew what caused the popularity of it to take off. At least the kids are dressing up.

But they also do Halloween fireworks.

And have dance to traditional Bulgarian music at their Halloween parties.

***

I’ll be taking Jack Sparrow, Captain Rex, a purple fairy, and a skunk out trick-or-treating tonight. I’m glad the kids are excited and the weather will be warm. Hope you all enjoy your Halloween events too.

College Football = Family Time

As a kid my dad took me and my brother to Utah State football games. Some of my fondest memories as a 5-year-old were sitting about as high as one can sit in Romney Stadium watching the action on the field.

We moved soon after that and though I watched a lot of football with my dad, we didn’t attend any Utah State games for another 10 years or so. The only reason we went back was because Utah State offered family passes to their football games. Since they were cheap, I was able to talk my dad into getting one. I think the family only attended the first game. I believe my dad and I were the only ones that used the pass after that. Most of the time we watched the Aggies get their butts kicked by unheralded college teams like Pacific and Cal State Fullerton but we had a good time anyway. It was football, after all. It was hard not to have a good time.

Looking back, I realize the games we went to as a kid and a teenager were fun not because of the football but because I got to hang out with my dad. Now that I have young kids of my own who like watching games the occasional game on TV and playing football in the yard with me, I thought it would be fun to take them to some college games. The problem was finding a close and fun place to take them.

The popular college football tickets in this state are to Utah and BYU games. Having attended games in both stadiums I know from firsthand experience that neither are places I want to take young kids. The passion and intensity that can be found in both places is great if you’re in college or an adult who has his or her identity wrapped up in a football team, but there not so good if you’re a dad trying to spend a fun Saturday afternoon with the kids. (Utah State games aren’t much better.)

Last year I got word that my alma mater, Weber State, was offering family passes for its home football games. I bought one on a whim even though I wasn’t sure if my kids were going to enjoy it. At the very least I figured it would give me an excuse to go to a couple of games—even if I ended up going with just one or two of the kids. Besides, I figured the kids would have a good time since Weber State games are about as family friendly as a football game can get. On a good day the stadium is half full. That means if your kids get bored about halfway through the game, there’s plenty of empty bleachers to play on and tons of other bored kids to befriend. And the fans that do show up for games never have high expectations. If Weber State wins, everyone goes home happy and somewhat pleasantly surprised. If they lose, everyone shrugs their shoulders and goes home happy. It’s kind of the way sporting events should be.

Much to my delight, the kids loved going to the games. Granted they seemed to enjoy the kettle corn and root beer I bought them just as much, if not more, than the action on the field but the loading up the van on Saturday afternoons and making the 90 minute drive to Ogden become something they really looked forward to.

This year renewing the family pass was a no-brainer. The tickets arrived in the mail yesterday and the kids were thrilled when I showed them what was in the envelope. We marked the games on the calendar and the kids went to bed tonight chattering about kettle corn and upcoming football games. And to be honest, I’m just as excited about it as they are.

When they look back at these days I hope they realize the reason I take them to football games isn’t because of the action on the grid iron. It’s because I enjoy spending lots of uninterrupted time with them. Football games just happen to be a fun way to do just that.

Running: 11 Years and Counting

This morning I celebrated 11 years of running by going on a four mile run. My two oldest boys tagged along on their bikes—very happy to be outside so early. We had a great run and afterwards sat on the porch for a few minutes drinking ice cold Gatorade before we had to inside get ready for the day. As we sat on the porch I thought about how much I enjoy having my boys come with me on these runs. When I first started running, it was something I enjoyed doing by myself. Granted, I didn’t have any kids then but I relished the solitude. The exercise helped me clear my mind and focus on different things.  Then Marathon Girl came along and everything changed. Running with her was a great bonding experience for the two of us. She kept pushing me to run faster and keep up with her. I loved the challenge she provided but most of all I just liked being with her and sharing some time with her doing something she loves.

It’s kind of the same experience with my boys. There’s some father-son bonding that goes on during these runs. When they’re not racing far ahead of me and tell me to catch up (they get that from their mother) and I enjoy talking to them or just listen to them chatter on about whatever’s on their mind as we navigate the running paths in our neighborhood. It seems like I learn more about them during these morning runs then just about any other time. I enjoy this time so much that on the mornings I end up running alone, I find myself wishing they were riding along with me.

There’s a part of me that’s amazed that, after 11 years, my body is still able to run mile after mile every morning. I keep thinking that one day it’s going to say enough and force me to swim or bike instead. But I’m happy my body is still holding up because I can still do the occasional run Marathon Girl—even if it means taking all the kids with us. And I’m glad my boys like coming with me. I hope they know how much I enjoy having them with me.

I hope it’s something they want to do so long as my body can keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The Paperback Game

Looking for a game to play at a party or when on vacation? A writer for the New York Times has what looks to be a hilarous way to pass the time while on vacation or at a party where there are lots of books lying around.

Here’s what you’ll need to play: slips of paper (index cards work well), a handful of pencils or pens and a pile of paperback books. Any sort of book will do, from a Dostoyevsky to a Jennifer Egan, and from diet guides to the Kama Sutra. But we’ve found it’s especially rewarding to use genre books: mysteries, romance novels, science fiction, pulp thrillers, westerns, the cheesier the better. If you don’t have well-thumbed mass-market paperbacks in your house, you can usually buy a pile from your library, or from a used-book store, for roughly 50 cents a pop.

***

Once you’ve gathered your loved ones at the table — 4 to 10 is optimal — and opened fresh bottles of wine and perhaps put on an old Ry Cooder record, here is how the game unfolds. One player, the “picker” for this turn, selects a book from the pile and shows its cover around. Then he or she flips it over and reads aloud the often overwrought publisher-supplied copy on the back cover.

***

The other players absorb these words, and then write on their slips of paper what they imagine to be a credible first sentence for Ms. Lindsey’s novel. Essentially, they need to come up with something good — or bad — enough to fool the other players into thinking that this might be the book’s actual first sentence. Players initial their slips of paper and place them upside down in a pile at the center of the table.

Meanwhile the picker — the person who read the back cover aloud — writes the book’s actual first sentence on another slip of paper. He or she collects all the slips, mixing the real first sentence with the fakes, and commences to read each one aloud. Each person votes on what he or she thinks is the real first sentence.

Here’s how score is kept: If someone votes for your bogus sentence, you get a point. If you pick the real first sentence, you get two points. (The picker doesn’t vote in this round.) Now go around the table clockwise. Someone else picks a book, and you repeat the process until a round ends – that is, until each person has had a turn at being the picker. Or you can play until the wine bottles are drained, and it’s time to go outside to gawk at the stars.

You can read the entire article here.

This would actually be a fun game to play at my parents home where there are tons of books lying about. I’m heading over there for the 4th but alas we already have tickets to a demolition derby. However, it’s something I’d like to try next time I’m at a party or hanging out with the family later this summer.

If any of you have played The Paperback Game (or something similar) I’m curious as to how much you enjoy it. According to the author you don’t have to be a book worm or a writer to excel at the game—just creative.

Pause: A Generation Gap

A while back I was playing Monster with my kids (read: chasing them around the house) when one of my boys turned around and held his hand straight up, palms facing each other and yelled “Pause!”

“Pause?” I said. I’d never had any of my kids pause a game of Monster before.

“You know, like the Wii games,” my kid said. “You pause them when you need a break.” Then he held up his hands again and I realized he was making the pause symbol with them.

I nodded and went off chasing the other kids all the while wondering when Pause became a phrase kids used to stop real world games. Back when I was kid—one who grew up with video games—you called Time Out. Since then I’ve noticed that all kids (at least the ones who play with my kids) all of them use the word “Pause” instead of “Time Out” or some other phrase when playing real world games.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not complaining. I just find it fascinating how games my kids and other play in the virtual world influence the way they play games in the physical one. So far I haven’t seen them use the world “play” when they start up again after taking a break, but have noticed that they sometimes they turn their Wii games into games they mimic in the real world. That's Something I never did either. Back in my day video games on the Atari 2600 or other consoles weren't as interesting, in-depth, or fun as they are today. In the meantime I’m keeping my eyes open for more signs that the virtual world is bleeding over to the real one.

Random Thoughts November 2010

(With apologies in advance to Thomas Sowell.) San Francisco recently banned toys in kids meals with high fat content in an attempt to help put the brakes on childhood obesity. This makes me seriously wonder if any members of the board of supervisors have kids of their own. Most kids don’t want to go to McDonalds because they can get a toy. Most kids (including my own) want to go because so they can play in the big play area and they like the food. They’ve never, ever asked to go to McDonalds or any other fast food restraint so they could get a toy. And, no, my kids aren’t an anomaly, research backs this up.

Losing weight is as simple as eating fewer calories. You don’t need fancy diets. You don’t need to exercise. Just use some self-control and eat less. Don’t believe me? Ask Mark Haub who lost 27 pounds in two months eating protein shakes, green beans, and twinkies.

The one thing that bugged me about the article about Haub was that they touted that his body mass index (BMI) “went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal.” Normal? Never, ever use the BMI as an indication of health or being “normal.” Aside from the fact that everyone has different body types, the BMI measures mass – not health or ideal wieght. When I enter in my height and weight I come out with a BMI of 26.9. (That’s about in the middle of the overweight column.) The reason? I have a lot of muscle mass from daily weight lifting routines. I’d probably have a lot more muscle (and a higher BMI) if I didn’t run 20+ miles a week. Overweight? Not. A. Chance.

Speaking of people with weight problems, here’s one more reason to like New Jersey governor Chris Christie. I wish he was governor of Utah. (Hat tip: Half Sigma)

I’m about half way through NaNoWriMo and have mixed feelings about it. For all my author and wannabe author friends, I’ll post a summary of the experience after it comes to an end.

I managed to take my kids to 4 out of 5 Weber State football games this fall. Of course I missed the one game I really wanted to attend. But all the kids had fun and it was fun family time. They’re already asking when we can buy tickets for next year.

My Broncos are suffering through another ignominious football season. It would be a lot worse, however, if I was a Cowboys fan.

Marathon Girl bought some Christmas music the other day. As a result, it’s all the kids want to listen to. For some reason I just can’t get into any holiday spirit unless it’s after Thanksgiving and there’s snow on the ground. I guess this means I’d be a constant grouch if we ever move to Houston.

I’ve done a bad job of updating my blog roll. I checked it the other day and realized that a lot of the people I listed no longer blog or have changed their blog address. Anyway, I’ve updated it. Check it out when you have a minute. And if you have any blog suggestions, feel free to send them my way. I’m always looking for a good read.

Widower Wednesday: Dealing with the Late Wife’s Family

A common issue that comes in my inbox is how women dating widowers should deal with the late wife’s family. Generally the widower is in regular contact with his late wife’s family and somewhat regularly attends her family events. This usually brings up two problems. The first is how to handle those related to the late wife are standoffish, rude, or vocally upset that the widower is dating again. The second concern is that many women feel like the widower spends too much time with the late wife’s family instead of trying to build a new relationship with her.

As to the first issue, there’s nothing you can do about the thoughts or actions of others. All you can do is choose how you respond to remarks or the cold shoulders others may give you. Kind words and loving actions are usually the best way to handle these situations. Love and kindness may not be the easiest response but they’re the ones that win people over in the long run.

Don’t take their comments or actions too personally. Those who have a hard time seeing the widower with someone other than the late wife are usually those who are still grieving the loss of their daughter, sister, or friend. They’re have a hard time accepting the fact that the widower’s is moving on.

The other thing you want to look for in these situations is if the widower stands up for you. If he knows how their treating you and does nothing to stop them, you need to decide if you can have a relationship “weenie widower” as my friend C calls them. If he can’t defend you with the late wife’s in-laws, there will be other situations where he won’t defend you either. Having a widower with a spine goes a long way to make these situations easier.

As to him spending time with the late wife’s family, you shouldn’t expect him to cut off contact completely with the late wife’s family. Unless he had a bad relationship with them when the late wife was alive, odds are they’re going to be part of your relationship with him—especially if he and the late wife had kids. Having the late wife’s family as part of your relationship with this is something you need to decide if you can live with.

Where I’d be concerned is if he spends so much time with the late wife’s family that you feel he’s neglecting your relationship. Often the late wife’s family will help him get through the tough times by watching kids or just being there for him. This can create a bond that is difficult to sever.

However, part of starting a new life means putting the old one behind you. A widower who is serious about moving on and starting a new relationship should spending less time with the late wife’s family and more time with you. If he had a hard time doing this, I’d worry whether or not he’s willing to fully commit to you.

As always, if you’re having difficulties with the late wife’s family or are concerned with how much time he’s spending with them, talk to him about your concerns. Couples with strong relationships all have the ability to talk openly and honestly one with another. Strong communication skills are vital if your relationship is going to have any chance to work out.

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The holidays are coming up. If you have any particular widower-related holiday issues you’d like discussed on Widower Wednesday, send me an email. I’ll be posting holiday related topics staring on November 24.