Saturday, June 30, 2012

Random Stuff

Thank you for all of the anniversary and birthday well wishes.  It's good to have friends to share in the joys and trials of this life. 

I worked with a conductor that I'd never met a couple of days ago and he was asking me about my family.  After telling him about my kids, he told me that he had a bunch too.  He had several from different women and that he and his current girlfriend had a couple.  He had two fourteen year-olds, one that was twelve, and two six year-olds, and one that was two.  I didn't know what to say to that, so I didn't say anything.  Then he continued by saying, "...but I'd like to have one more.  You know, one that I could raise that lives with me.  Like my own personal kid."  Really???  I was speechless.  In my opinion, kids without dads in the home ranks as #2 in the list of what's wrong with this world today.

Joel T. and my mom were the winners of the T-shirt contest from the last post.  Let me know through the comments section or an e-mail if any of you would like to order a TOTP shirt of your own.  If there is enough interest I can place an order and make them available for around $10.

I'm going to be updating some things about the format of the blog next time I'm in the hotel.  Updating some of my favorite links, the layout, etc.  I was a relative late comer to the blogging world.  Most of the folks I know who had a blog have abandoned blogging in favor of facebook (I was a late comer to that too), but I still prefer blogging and TOTP will continue.  All of the cool bloggers have left Google's Blogger in favor of wordpress and others, but I'm going to stick with what I've got because I know how to use it and it makes mobile viewing easy.  Does wordpress not have that option??? 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our 9th Anniversary

Leslie and I with Dan Scott.  Many of you have heard about him and his struggles over the last year (you can catch up here), but did you know that he officiated our wedding?  Saith Dan, "Hey, Latayne, tell them what I say about that."  And Latayne says, "Everyone he's buried is still dead, and everyone he's married is still wed."

I'd like to acknowledge upfront that I know most of the readers of this blog have been married longer than Leslie and I and probably don't need any marriage advice from us.  In fact, some of you are examples that we've looked to and said, "We want to be like them."  But I'd like to take the occasion of this anniversary to reflect on a few of the reasons I think Leslie and I are still married and still like each other.  For you readers, to perhaps encourage you in your marriage. For me, to look back on later when I need reminding, and for our children to look at someday when they're interested.
    Marriage fascinates me.  Mine, yours, and random couples I see at restaurants and the grocery store.  I confess that if I know you and you're married I've probably discussed your marriage with my wife.  But more than everyone else's we've discussed our own marriage.  Continually.  Since before we were married until now.  What's working for us and what isn't.  What we've seen in others that we'd like to emulate, and pitfalls we'd like to avoid and our plan for avoiding them.  It's like premarital counseling never stopped.  We just keep talking about it.
    No, we don't set aside time to do this.  It just happens during the course of our day to day.  "Hey, I saw this couple at the store today..." or "JoeBob and Sue decided that.." or "What would you think about...?" and we talk about it.
Language We Choose to Use and Money We Choose to Spend...
      In my line of work the divorce rate is up around 75%.Many of the guys I work with refer to their wife as "my old lady."  I resolved that I would never do that, and instead I choose to speak honorably about my wife even when she's not around.   I believe the words I choose when she's not around affect my words and actions when she is around.
    We don't say mine or your's very much.  Leslie hasn't had earned reportable income in almost 8 years, but we get OUR paycheck on the 1st and 15th of each month, and budget OUR money together.  I run the locomotives, but it's her work and willingness that makes my work, and therefore our income, possible.
    And speaking of money......  Getting rid of debt, having a budget and a plan (thanks FPU) reduces marriage strain.  We can't afford everything we might want and we have a pile of kids in a relatively small house, but we don't fight or stress about money, statistically the #1 leading cause of wrecked marriages.  (You can read a great article on the big four marriage issues by clicking HERE.) 

A Bunch of Kids, the Digital Age, and Dating
    When you have two kids and a bump showing the world that the third is on the way you start hearing things like "Don't you know what causes that?" and "What, you don't have cable?"  We are expecting the arrival of our 5th child next month, and we've been hearing those comments over and over for the last 5 years.  My responses are always the same...."We like what causes that.  Don't you?", and "No, we don't have cable." 
    I won't discuss our sex life here (you're welcome, Leslie), but I will talk about cable.  I believe that TV and video games cause brain and culture rot and suck vast amounts of time from people's lives.  I don't like video games so that's not an issue for us, but I do like TV and movies.  But since the conversion to all digital over the air broadcasting, we don't even get a TV signal in our home since we still have an old style TV.  We do have a DVD player, Netflix, and Hulu.  Yes, we still watch stuff, but in our home all of our viewing is intentional.  There's no channel surfing for hours since we don't have channels.  If we choose to watch something we know how long we are choosing to sit and allow our brains to rot before we ever click play.  That leaves lots more time for talking and making raising our babies.
    Couples are encouraged in books and magazines to have a regular date night.  Get a babysitter and go to a movie once a week.  I think that's a great idea, and lots of people we know do this, but we don't.  It's just too hard to plan with my job and too expensive.  Maybe we're weird, but when we go out on the town we enjoy having our children with us. And I'd rather watch a movie at home than at a theater.  That way I don't end up paying for a nap, we can push pause to go potty, and  I can wear my luckypants and let my belly flop.  We do try to take a kid free trip every year or two and once in a while things work out for just the two of us to go out, but for now date nights just aren't for us.

Reason #1
    The numero uno reason we are still married is that I caught a good wife.  Or maybe she caught me.  Or maybe, like Merle Haggard once sang, we're still chasing each other.**free Time of the Preacher t-shirt to whoever can name the song I'm referring to and post the lyrics of the chorus in a comment** Leslie is nice to me and is patient and forgiving of my faults.  She laughs at my jokes.  Sometimes even before I tell her to.  She doesn't nag, doesn't "give me permission" or "forbid" me to do things.  She makes me want to do the best I can for her.

    In honor of our anniversary I'd like to share one of my all-time favorite songs, performed by two of my favorite artists.  And for all of you with young children, you should get Jewel's new kid's album, "The Merry Goes Round".  It's good stuff.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

40 days and 40 nights

It's been a good long while since my last post.
Wherefore this blog is as much for my children to read about this season of our life someday in the future when they're old enough to appreciate it as much as it is for me to share what's going on and what I'm thinking with the handful of you that are still subscribing, I'd like to recap what we've been doing for the last 40 days.  A lot of you have probably seen pictures on facebook, but here's the narrative to go along with the pictures.

I only worked one day between May 19th and June 10th.  That was the longest break from the railroad that I've had in over 8 years.  It was a time of refreshing, travel, and fun with family and friends.  We had a great time, but probably won't be able to make Leslie's tattoo payment this month.

My mom came to visit and celebrate the end of the school year with Georgia's graduation from Kindergarten and Jonesy's 1st grade awards ceremony.
 It was touch and go the last 6 weeks, but Georgia did graduate and is officially a first grader.

On Thursday (May 24) after our celebration lunch at Bush's Chicken, Annie, West, Blacker, and Justin traveled with Mimi to San Angelo while the other girls stayed at home to finish their end of school year activities.
Hank and Auntie Sheila rendezvoused with us in San Angelo for some good sibling and cousin time.

This is Annie trying on a flower girl dress and a picture of Sheila wearing the same dress in the mid-80's.

Leslie and the other girls arrived on Saturday.  Jazbo came home on Sunday after a fishing adventure.  Leslie and the kids went home on Monday for one more day of school and Dad and I prepped for our trip to the coast.
We departed on Tuesday (May 29) morning bound for a salty sea adventure.  We had arranged a guided fishing trip with Capt. Jack on Wednesday.  He is a retired firefighter who worked under my Granddad at the fire department in Odessa years ago.  He now works as a guide out of Rockport. It was a fun day of fishing that was different from anything that we had ever done before.  We caught speckled trout, limits of redfish among other sea creatures, and watched dolphins throughout the day.  You can see some videos from our day in the sidebar.  One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing Capt. Jack speak so highly of my Grandad and his servant leadership as his fire chief.

Leslie and the kids arrived that afternoon and we spent the next few days on the beach in Port Aransas.  More fishing, sand, and surf.  Lots of good food. 

On the way home we stayed a night in San Antonio and celebrated West's 2nd birthday with some of Leslie's cousins.  Dinner on the River Walk and swimming at the hotel pool.  We traveled home on Sunday after shopping and more good eats in San Marcos.

After a day of recovery on Monday, I returned to work on Tuesday, but only worked the one day and didn't go back until the next Monday.

On Thursday(June 7) I traveled to the 5th annual Guys I Went to College With weekend at an undisclosed location.  3 days and nights of good times, good food, talking about memories and making new ones.  No pictures available.  I didn't take any.

I've been back at work for a week now.  Loden is due to arrive in a few more weeks.  Life is good.  Amen.

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