Defeated

Man trapped in snowed-in car for two months now awake, says hospitalSo there I am, lying on my back on the kitchen floor, out of breath, hands frozen numb. My wife’s feelings are hurt, my dog’s locked up, and the baby’s crying. And I just kept thinking one word: Defeat. 

As I’m sure you’ve all heard on the news, Kentucky’s just been hit with a really bad snow storm. We woke up yesterday morning to almost a foot of snow, which was really quite awful because we just had a snowstorm and the rain just washed it all away the day before. I mean, I had my shorts picked out and everything.

So we woke up to about ten-inches of snow, and luckily it was already my day off, because I think I’ve used up all my personal time already (thanks, snow). And just like normal, I take the dogs out to go potty.

The dogs have been really good about not going potty inside on the carpet, which led me to stupidly trust that Pixie just might not have needed to go number 2 in the snow.

Big mistake.

We’re all back inside, the baby’s awake, Sarabeth’s in the bedroom and I’m in the kitchen putting away last night’s dishes. And then I hear Sarabeth yell from the living room, “Andy! Come here! Run!”

When I get to the living room, I saw (and smell) feces smeared everywhere. On the curtains, the carpet…the baby (I’m still learning that when it’s too quiet, that’s actually not a good thing).

Sarabeth quickly ran the baby to the bathroom for a bath while I pulled out all the cleaning supplies in our house and got to work. “I’m going to have to rent a carpet cleaner,” I told Sarabeth when she finished washing the baby. “I’ll just clean the living room.”

“If we’re going to spend $50 on a carpet cleaner, we might as well clean the whole house,” she said, logically.

Even though she was right, I was infuriated at the prospect of having my whole day shot to clean the entire house. If you’ve ever used a carpet cleaner before, you know how slow those things are!

And, like the gentle, loving husband I like to think I am, I yelled at her that I didn’t want to waste the whole day cleaning the carpet, and I stormed out of the house to rent the stupid thing from Home Depot.

But my feet were instantly stuck in the driveway. So I had to spend fifteen minutes shoveling the foot-thick snow from the door to my car. I dropped my keys in an effort to pry the frozen car door open and had to dig in the snow for them. (I’d been telling myself to get a pair of snow boots and gloves for so many years, but never took my own advice.)

When I finally found the keys and got the car door open, I realized I was utterly and completely out of breath and my hands were completely frozen to the point that they were so red they could have guided Santa’s sleigh.

Seeing stars, I dragged myself back to the front door and, not having the use of my hands, tapped the door with my elbow. Sarabeth was kind enough to let me back in so I could let my hands warm up under the kitchen sink. But my legs were giving out, so I had no choice but to lay down and catch my breath on the kitchen floor.

Turns out, Sarabeth had the brilliant idea of covering the living room with a giant blanket, as she knew I wouldn’t be able to drive all the way to Home Depot in that weather.

Moral of the story? Make your dogs go outside, no matter how cold it is. And don’t ever yell at your wife; she might not let you in from the cold.

I’m just lucky I married the right woman.

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Do You REALLY Understand Healthcare?

MedizinYou’re sick. You begrudgingly take off work, using your last sick day of the year available to you. You’d rather not go to the doctor, but your boss is requiring a doctor’s note.

You drag yourself out of bed, buckle the screaming baby up in the car seat, drive to the doctor and sign in.

You provide the receptionist with your insurance card. You write a large check for your deductible (the very reason you’ve been avoiding the doctor). On top of that, you owe a copay, and this is ONLY if that doctor accepts your insurance provider….

Has anyone ever stopped to ask, “What’s going on here?” If you’re practically having to take out a loan to pay your deductible, and you’re expected to fork up a percentage of your bill, then what are your premiums going toward? Insurance retention?

But if we’re all honest with ourselves, I bet we’d say, “I wish insurance didn’t exist.” It’s a hassle at best. I mean, is it really so expensive to pay a doctor to look down your throat and prescribe an antibiotic that you can’t pay a flat rate yourself?

Is insurance really helping us? How much would an X-ray really cost as a flat rate?

And, not to get political here, but… well, I’ll save this question for a later post.

In the meantime, am I the only one who’s had these questions but has been too afraid to ask them? Is there anyone who can explain this or elaborate? Has your insurance provider helped or hurt you? Share your experiences as an insurance subscriber below. Let’s hash this out.

And keep checking back for further posts on this topic. I just might have some more to say on this topic that you and your family can benefit from.

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Big Hero Six Review

BIG HERO 6Finally got to watch Disney’s newest animated movie Big Hero 6.

Not surprisingly, I loved it. And yes, that could be due to the fact that I’m biased toward Disney movies once again (I mean, who hasn’t been the last ten years?).

I think it’s great that Disney is expanding its universe into unfamiliar (to me, anyway) territories such as anime comics, which is what Big Hero 6 is based off of.

Who’d have known Anime could be so much fun and original? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Disney took some major creative liberties to get it up on screen, but the fact that they’re reaching out and making unknown stories known, I think is a good thing.

Now about the movie itself. While it doesn’t linger long in your mind like Frozen did, and it’s not as emotionally gut-wrenching as Meet the RobinsonsBig Hero 6 delivers in all the ways a Disney movie should – with some new twists and extremely poignant scenes.

You’ll no doubt fall in love with Baymax and Hiro the moment they’re introduced, and the lesson about letting go is a really tough one to teach kids and teenagers, and I think Disney does a superb job of getting the point across and creative an avenue for parents to talk to their kids about death.

Lots of fun. Great visuals, tons of humor, and dark action make this an awesome film for your next family movie night. Keep ’em coming, Disney. Share your thoughts of Big Hero 6 below.

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On Writing: Motivation

motivation

When it comes to writing and developing characters, you need always to keep one word in mind: motivation.

Motivation is helpful in two fronts. Motivation…

a) defines characters, and

b) pushes the story along

Think about it. In order for the beautiful harmonizing of a solid story and lovable characters to occur, several things must happen, but the main thing is motivation.

Think Lord of the Rings. Not only is the story itself driven by the motivation to destroy the ring, but the characters are defined so clearly because of that motivation.

Think Finding Nemo. The title itself is the motivation behind the story and the characters.

Motivation is nearly everything in a story. Why am I writing this? Why is the bad guy bad? Why did my protagonist just do that?

Motivation.

But the catch is, the motivation must be believable.

Writers – don’t make your characters bad just to be bad. Don’t dwell on it, but give your readers a reason why they’re bad. The Toy Story franchise does this best with their antagonists (need I say more than Lotso/Daisy?).

Likewise, give your readers a reason to believe that your protagonists really are good, and ask yourself the question: Why is my protagonist good?

Another trick: To help keep your story on track, ask yourself at the end of each scene, Why? Why did this scene just happen? Why did my character just say/do that? You ought to be able to answer confidently with the ending in mind so that you’re always heading in that direction.

When I wrote The Man in the Box, I was always prepared to answer someone who might ask me, “Why did you write this book?”

You should be too.

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What I Learned From Michael Scott

With Christmas being over and taxes coming up, I figured it was time for a laugh. Sarabeth and I are currently watching The Office literally for the 4th or 5th time. Saturdays are our most stressful day of the week, so that’s the night we turn on the next episode and let go of all our worries and every time we have a really good laugh (it’s good therapy).

So below I have listed some things that we’ve learned from Michael Scott over the years, and perhaps you can list a few more…

goodbye_michael_scott

Don’t promise an entire class of kids that you’ll pay their college tuition until you have the funds to do so.

Don’t write an age-sensitive joke in a woman’s “bird-day” card.

Don’t conduct a meeting on obesity dressed in a fat suit.

If you’re going to fake-fire someone, make sure you have the punch-line right. (“You’ve been X’d, punk!”)

You can’t declare bankruptcy by yelling it.

Giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dead bird does nothing.

Clear it with your boss before you announce in front of the whole company what branch is closing down.

If you’re trying to catch the ice cream man, make sure you open the screen door first.

Don’t hold a roast in honor of yourself. It actually might hurt your feelings.

It is, in fact, a “dog-eat-dog world,” not a “doggie-dog world.”

Abraham Lincoln never said, “I will attack you with the north.” (Though it has long been our favorite Lincolnian saying in our house.)

If you’re going to a job fair to represent a paper company, you might want to have some paper with you.

Don’t hold the pizza delivery guy hostage just so you can get your discount.

Watch out for indoor ponds.

Just because someone says, “What’s up-dog?” doesn’t mean the joke’s over.

Feel free to add your own favorite Office moments.

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Baby A’s First Steps

So she’s walking now.IMG_1864

Sarabeth and I were lucky enough to be together when “Baby A.” took her first step a few nights ago. And now it’s official. She’s a walker, and the days of crawling are behind her.

I came home from work last night and guess who just hobbled up to me all the way from the living room, through the dining room, and into the entryway to give me a big hug? Okay, it wasn’t a hug more than an attempt to snatch my glasses off my face, but you get the idea.

I’ve been wondering though, where are those feet going to take her? I thought of all the professions that she might take up, and then I stopped abruptly because then I thought about her feet carrying her down the wedding aisle… and I can’t quite go there yet. I’m still just trying to get her to say “Daddy,” because she’s got “Momma” pretty much down pat.

IMG_1858Oh, and more good news. We go to court in a couple of weeks to change her goal to be permanently adopted by us! Even as I write this, I’m getting real soppy and can hardly see the computer. I mean, I’ve always known that she’ll be ours the moment I saw her, but to actually make it official… our lives would be completely incomplete without her – temper tantrums and sleepless nights (for Sarabeth) and all!

At any rate, I hope her feet take her far and wide and to places that will bring her much happiness in this life. But I’m just so glad that her first couple of million steps will be made under our roof.

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Why I Wake Up at 4:00 A.M.

 

earlybird1I get up at 4 in the morning to work.

Not to go to work, which starts at 6.

I get up at 4 in the morning to work on what I don’t have time to work on the rest of the day.

People are always saying, “I don’t have time to accomplish my dreams, or do what I want to do.” They’re saying this as they’re flopped in front of the TV mindlessly tuned in to The Bachelor or Game of Thrones.

“I hate my job,” people say as they sleep in as late as they can without being late to their day job.

I say, Get up at 4 (and earlier if the alarm hasn’t gone off yet and I’m awake). Freedom didn’t come freely or easily, so why should your independence, or your dream job, or your money?

I get up at 4 because I believe, with all my heart, that if I work hard enough and sacrifice enough sleep, that my dream job will come true. So I get up at 4 in the morning and write, and write, and write.

At least, at the end of the day, I can say, “I got to do what I wanted today.”

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