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May 26, 2009

How We Spent Our Memorial Day

With friends. :-)

This little montage was put together by PJ, my 'mentee' from church (comments by PJ, too).

Breathe Deep

I wish I could.

I've had bronchitis before, but I don't remember it being this miserable. I think the worst part is not being able to take a deep breath without inducing a coughing fit. I will be so glad when this is over with -- I think once I can actually breathe again, it's time to start running or doing something more active to get my lungs back in better shape. I hate bronchitis!

May 9, 2009

Scheduled

I'm just a scheduled kind of guy. At work, I am the keeper of the shipping schedule. At home, I would be scheduled if I could... but Steph is a 'wing it' kind of girl, and is home more than I am, so we end up winging it more often than not. That works for her, but for a week of single parenting, I need a schedule... at least for meals. Here's what my plans are...

Saturday Dinner: Grilled Kosher hot dogs, Safeway macaroni salad, oven french fries
Sunday Lunch: Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, canned corn, fresh fruit & vanilla yogurt
Monday Dinner: Figaro's Pizza (after dance class)
Tuesday Dinner: Leftovers
Wednesday Dinner: Leftovers
Thursday Dinner: Mac & Cheese McDonald's (after Em's tumbling class)
Friday Dinner: Birthday Party at Ricky D's Pizza
Saturday: Steph home!

Hopefully this will help make the rest of my week run a little smoother. By the end of the week I know I'll be appreciating the job that full-time single parents have -- I know it isn't easy. So on that lead in, I just want to say thanks to Steph for everything she does -- I really do appreciate it!

You may not see this for a week or so Steph, but Happy Mother's Day! Hope you have a fabulous time in Maui!

Thursday Edit: I followed the schedule until tonight, when I'm ashamed to say we fell off the wagon and went to McDonald's instead! Five days of single parenting while battling a chest cold has me a little run down, so I took the easy way out tonight...

Looking forward to another day home with the kids tomorrow. :-)

May 5, 2009

Days of Solitude

After a relatively busy and eventful year, I decided it was time to take a personal retreat and spend a few days at the beach on my own -- no Steph, no kids, no dogs. We had some timeshare points that were going to expire if we didn't use them soon, so I booked two nights at the resort at Seaside (not exactly the quietest place for a 'solitary' weekend, but it would work).

Before I left, I decided that this trip would be about more than just the destination, it would be about the journey, too. I didn't want to get on the freeways and join the Portland rat race, so I took the road less traveled. I headed out through Hubbard, through Newberg, down a back country road through farmland to Gaston, and then more back roads to Hwy 8 and eventually Hwy 6 to Tillamook. It poured and poured for most of the drive, but I didn't mind at all... in fact, I loved it.

I wasn't totally sure what I would do once I got there, but I figured I would do as much sleeping as I could... which didn't end up being much more than normal. Saturday night I went to Big Kahuna for halibut fish and chips, and they were as good as I remembered -- but it just was kind of strange eating dinner by myself in a restaurant... I wished that Steph was with me. I stopped by a candy shop, and bought myself some chocolate dipped Twinkies for dessert, then back to the room to relax for the night.

Sunday morning brought clear blue skies and sunshine, so I went to the coffee shop, and then to a gift shop for a pair of cheap sunglasses, and then it was time to walk -- the sun and the sea just called to me. The tide was out as far as I had ever seen it, so I decided to find the firm sand and walk down the beach... and I just kept walking. As I got close to the southern extent of the sand, I saw surfers braving the cold waters, so I sat on a rock and watched a while; but I soon forgot about the surfers as I was overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of the ocean.

It's amazing how God speaks to you through his creation -- when I was walking along the shore, or sitting and listening to the thundering surf -- there was no need for all the material things I've collected in my life. No laptop computer, no interior decorations or fancy furniture, and no home theater system; it was just me and the sea -- it was so simple, so beautiful, and so good for the soul. At that moment, I felt like I could just live in some old shack near the beach and I would be happy -- of course it wouldn't be the same without my family, but for that moment, I was happy there -- just me and the sea.

After a while I walked clear down to the other end of the beach, almost to the mouth Necanicum River, and then headed back along the promenade. My back was hurting later on from all the walking, but it was worth it. I then decided I wasn't going to another restaurant for dinner, so I went grocery shopping at Safeway, and came back to eventually have grilled Filet Mignon with Montreal seasoning, grilled sweet onions, green beans with bacon, and TGI Friday's onion rings. I dined on my patio, and enjoyed the sea breeze while I ate. Then after dinner I went out for another walk, as the sea still called to me.

Monday morning brought light overcast, with dark, ominous clouds on the western horizon. I got my coffee and sat on a bench at the turnaround, enjoying the wind and the surf. Then I went for another walk. On my way back up to start packing, a resort employee told me about a 'big storm' that was rolling in, which made me a little apprehensive on one hand, as I didn't want to travel through a rain forest in the middle of a wind storm. But on the other hand, I wished I could have stayed another day, because I so love a good coastal storm.

I decided to leave a little bit early, and grabbed lunch to go on my way out of Seaside, with the plan of eating it at Oswald West State Park, high above the Pacific. The rain poured down and the wind howled, and I ate my chicken strips while watching the distant surf crash ashore at Manzanita. I got out for a few minutes to admire the view and the weather, but soon it was time to be on my way. I successfully retraced my path without a map, and traveled the same back roads... and was again rewarded for taking the road less traveled.

Taking a 'personal retreat' isn't everybody's cup of tea, but as a natural introvert (INTJ), it was refreshing for me, and it helped to recharge my batteries. I don't really care if the Jones' consider such an outing to be odd... I quit trying to keep up with them long ago. Sometimes the time spent alone allows us to hear and sense God in ways we never could without taking a break from the rat race. Maybe I'll start a new trend, or maybe I'm just a nut; but I really enjoyed my days of solitude, and that's all that matters.