Thursday, December 31, 2009

16 years ago today...

Our lives have changed a great deal this year. We probably saw the biggest changes since we got married, which just happens to be 16 years ago today. There are some things in life I probably would have done differently knowing what I now know, but deciding who to share it all with was the best choice I ever made. I couldn't have asked for a more loyal, supportive, and loving friend to travel alongside me on this journey.

San Diego Trip

We just got back from a fun trip to San Diego! :)

Earlier this year, when Jenetta still had a wedding photography business, she bartered some photographic work for the Manchester Grand Hyatt which is located just west of the Convention Center in downtown SD. We were finally able to use the two free nights and the dinner coupon this week. On Monday, Jenetta and I drove down after nap time and left the girls with her mom. We had an amazing mini-break! We used the dinner coupon to eat at Sally's and had some really great seafood and time alone to talk. The bill would have been over $100, but it was free for us!

Later that evening, we walked around the gaslamp, arm in arm, and enjoyed each other's company.

The next morning, I woke up early and went for a run along the bayfront. Then we walked to Horton Plaza to eat at St. Tropez for breakfast. We had a gift card for that place from a former client that Jenetta and I both used to do photographic work for. Later that day, we drove to La Jolla and ate at La Dolce Vita - you guessed it, another coupon! We even found street parking along Prospect right in front of the restaurant.

Later that afternoon, we picked up the girls to spend the next night with us at the hotel. We swam in the pool, explored around the area with them; then we drove to Old Town to eat at Casa De Reyes (another gift card). It was a little challenging getting them to sleep - they were so excited!

The next morning, O and I ran along the 5K course that was being run later that day. It was fun to run across the finish line and explore new places to run and play together. We went cheap on breakfast - $8 worth of yogurt and juice from the grocery store.

Then we went to the Holiday Bowl parade. I had considered going to this with the girls anyway. It was awesome that the end of the parade route was two blocks from our hotel. After the parade, we packed up and came back home to the usual routine.

Jenetta and I were remarking about how relaxing the first day was (and how tiring the second day was)... Hopefully in a few years, vacations with them will be less work as they can take care of themselves more.

As we were leaving, we found out that even the internet access and the parking had been comped at the hotel. We had been told we would have to pay for that ourselves!

So with tips, $10 worth of gas that I bought in La Jolla, and the grocery store bill, we spent a total of $49 on this trip! Yea!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone! We hope you enjoy your holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aunt Barb

My mom's sister and her husband live about 3 miles away from us (actually they live across the street from our first home here in Escondido).

Barb comes over once or twice each week to read stories with the girls and to do crafts with them. She has a rich treasure chest of activities and things to do with preschoolers, and the girls love it so much when she spends time with them.

Those of you on the Brown side of the family with kids or your own definitely need to take advantage of "Barb time" whenever you can!!!

Today Barb prepared a Christmas candy house with them covered in icing and all kinds of candy. The girls had a blast making it (and they can't wait to start eating it!)

She also gave fun Christmas pillowcases for them to put on their beds so they could have "Christmas dreams." She had a neat story to go along with these gifts as well.

We have a very wide and diverse support network. We are so grateful for all of it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Generous gift

It is ironic that I wrote a post yesterday about receiving. (Or God telling us something - depending on your perspective).

Today we were given a Christmas card anonymously that held an extremely generous cash gift inside. All we know is that someone at our church wanted us to have it.

I was moved to tears when opening this card.

There is some maintenance on the car that I have been putting off for months (bald tires - kind of scary now that the rainy season is here) and a long list of bills that need to be paid. We certainly can use this gift!

I think that the lesson I'm probably supposed to learn in this over two years' worth of financial difficulty is that before when I was the guy handing out the gifts and helping to meet the needs of people there was an element of pride involved. Sure it was subtle, and I kept it well-hidden, but I really enjoyed hearing of someone needing something and being in the position to write a check to help out. It made me feel good to be a part of the solution.

Pride gets stripped away when you apply for government assistance or are unsure of which bills you can pay or start thinking about losing your home.

I want to be a gracious receiver. Thank you so much!!! (for this specific gift and the many blessings we have!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


John 1:16 - From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

Our pastor today said that this verse should be on a Christmas card, but he's never seen it. He talked about the real meaning of Christmas really starts with accepting a gift and that we as adults have a hard time with that. We are great at the giving part, but we struggle with receiving.

I've been thinking about this all day....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jenetta's kitchen blog

Jenetta is adding a new blog to her business empire...

She will be sharing about her journey to include the girls more in the kitchen. Check there from time to time for updates.

I found the reading interesting (and I'm not really into food stuff - she is the one who watches the Food Network all the time...) So, I'm pretty sure that those of you that read other food and wine blogs would appreciate this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

L's 4th Birthday

Yesterday was L's fourth birthday. We had planned on an inside event, and although the rain held off until later last night, we were glad to be indoors - it was gloomy and chilly all day. Lots of friends from church and the neighborhood came over and L was so happy to be a "big kid" now. She has decided that four year olds do not need to suck their thumbs - but she's having a hard time remembering that decision :)

Again, I wish I could show more photos or some of the video we took. Their expressions are just priceless. Even at 5 and 4 their personalities that will define them for the rest of their lives are so crystal clear! But here is one of O "helping" to open presents... and one of them both eyeing the goodies before the guests arrived.

Happy birthday baby!

Christmas on the Prado

We've had a busy, busy weekend! On Friday, we went down to Balboa park to experience Christmas on the Prado. This is our Christmas tradition (even though it is now named December Nights, because of course, anything civic can't have a mention of Christmas in it...)

The evening kicks off the Holidays for us, and we've gone almost every year we've lived here. This year was the first time we took our children to it, so everything was different - things that had no significance to us (like train and carnival rides) are now immensely important, and things that always were a lot of fun for us (like sitting at the organ pavillion and listening to Christmas music) - not so interesting for them :)

This year was special in lots of ways. We hung out with Ryan and David, Courtney, and Isaiah for much of the evening. We paid close attention to the nativity setups and talked about the bible scenes with the girls. The weather was really mild - it was just a great night. The girls fell asleep in the car on the way home - they were spent! When we got home, I had a hard time putting their PJs on because they were sound asleep.

I wish I could show you more photos or not blur out their faces. But we have to be careful for their protection. There were so many pictures and videos of them with giant smiles on their faces!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas decorations

We are back home now and everything has returned to normal. We ended up driving home a few days early because all the excitement was just too much for the girls (and the behavior and discipline issues were making it difficult for us to enjoy the visits very much).

So we came back and have been laying low for a few days. Sunday was challenging, but yesterday everything seemed back to the way things had been before we left. So we decided to get busy on the Christmas decorations. I hung the lights outside and got really sweaty on the roof - I should have worn shorts, it was so warm! :)

Then the girls helped us put up the tree and the decorations, and they invited one of their friends from across the street over to help make gingerbread cookies. We've been playing Christmas music, and the house is so colorful. I love this time of year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Redding Turkey Trot

O and I did the Redding Turkey Trot this morning. They had three divisions. The first was a 1/4 mile kids dash. O ran with the other 5 and 6 year-olds and finished near the front. Since she just turned 5, I was proud of her effort. At the finish, she asked if she could do it again :)

The second division was a 6 mile run. My dad and my sister stayed with O and cheered me on at the starting point. I had a little difficulty breathing in the cold air, and the course (especially the first two miles) was a little more hilly than I anticipated, but my goal was to finish in 55 minutes, and I did it in 54:04. If it had been chip-timed, I think it would have come in around 53:30 because the start pack was pretty narrow, and it took a while to get going.

But the run was beautiful - it goes along the Sacramento river, and the hills and trees and water were really pleasant to look at when running. I also met a family from SD - both wearing their R&R marathon shirts like me. It was a lot of fun!

The third division was a 2 mile fun run/walk. My dad and Jessica took O with them to walk the course. Afterward, we all enjoyed orange slices and juice together before heading back home to rest before the Thanksgiving feast. Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!

O is really into stormtroopers for some reason.

A very short video of the start of the kid's race:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Redding trip for Thanksgiving

We are spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Redding with my family. Typically it takes us about 9 hours to drive from home to here. On Monday, it took us almost 12! The LA traffic and the extra potty breaks really slowed us down! But, I guess we got there a whole lot faster than people would have 100 years ago! :) For the most part, though, the trip was pleasant. The girls only really started complaining in the last few hours - mostly it was just tiring. (for all of us!)

Now that we are up here, we've already had a lot of fun activities together with my family, and we have a lot more scheduled for later in the week. Other than being too jacked up and excited to sleep or nap, the girls are behaving well.
Here are some photos of the past two days:

Golfing with grandpa at the Redding golf course:

Playing in the snow area at Eskimo Hill outside of Lassen National Park with cousin Holli:

Driving in grandpa's convertible for ice cream at DQ!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Orange Slices - Orange Belts

This post will cover a bunch of things we've been up to over the past week. Things have been going pretty well, and we are grateful for it!

On Sunday, I ran my first half marathon. I finished in just over 2 hrs. 11 min, which put me in the bottom 30% for my age bracket. I've got some work to do! I like the half marathon a lot better than the full. I think at this stage in my life, this is a better race for me to work on as the training does not take up as much time as the full marathon did. Although it was a perfect day, I was still recovering from illness, and I wasn't able to give it my best effort. I'm confident that I can beat 2 hrs when I run another one in February. When I finished, I remembered how good orange slices taste when you are getting dehydrated and are exhausted from exercise. What a yummy reward at the end!

Also this weekend, Joy and Jenetta took the girls to an event at the Barnes and Noble store in Carmel Mountain where they got dressed up and had stories read to them. The girls love dressing up in their pretty dresses and they love spending time with Grandma Joy even more!

On Monday, we spent some time with Cris and Alana. It is a good thing to have more family nearby, and the girls love playing with them! It will be great when they have another "cousin" to play with after their firstborn comes along. This video is not very interesting, I'll admit, but it demonstrates the girls favorite thing to do at a lake - toss rocks in the water.

Later that day I got more information about my job. Apparently, I will be hired back on Dec. 1. There is a list of tasks that need to be accomplished prior to re-launching the product early next year, so that at least is some job security for me. I'll be SO happy to get an income again!

The last thing I wanted to post was a progress report on the girls behavior. We were blessed with an 8-day stretch of really great listening a
nd obedience and helpfulness with the girls. We have a rewards/punishment system involving smiley faces, and the best O had ever done with keeping all her smiley faces for an entire day was a stretch of 3 or 4 days. (I'm pretty sure she was sick for half of those, anyway). A typical day involved her losing at least one of the three smileys before breakfast! Losing all three smileys before the end of the day results in consequences they really don't like - and it's no fun for us, either!

Well, both girls had been keeping all three smiley faces all day long for a stretch of 8 days! There has been the usual sibling bickering and some minor incidents, but nothing worthwhile of any serious consequences. O has talked a lot about being calm and doing her best to keep her smileys. It really has been wonderful - so much so that even when they made some unfortunate choices yesterday, losing one smiley face didn't seem like that big of a deal to us (although it was huge for them - and they are determined to do better today!)

Anyway, with their karate class, they earn their first belt - the orange "Tiger" belt for listening at home, being obedient, and a number of other things. We felt strongly that we weren't going to just check them off and let them just get their belts. We wanted them to mean something - for them to earn them. Their behavior has been so good that we felt it was time for them to get their belts. They were so excited!

This past stretch has been really fun for us. It makes us enjoy parenting! We leave on Monday for a week's long vacation with family in Redding, so I'll post more fun stuff when we are up there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I was inspired by two things this morning. First, the tone of my previous post made me feel totally stuck in a rut. I've been doing the same things over and over so much the days are all blending together. So I decided to do something different today. Secondly, one of my friends from grad school put on his facebook post - "there has to be a far better way to honor our veterans than furniture sales."

So I decided to take the girls downtown to the Veteran's Day parade. O wore her camouflage pants, and she was so excited to see that she matched the people in utilities. They said "Yes Sir" and saluted everyone in dress uniforms, and they said "Thank you" to all the American Legion and VFW and ex-POWs that paraded by. Plus they got a bunch of candy. It was a fun outing.

Been a while...

I haven't posted much lately. We've just been doing the same things over and over again, I guess, so I haven't had much that feels worthy of sharing.

The girls dressed as princesses for Halloween, and we went to a nearby church for a harvest festival. They had a lot of fun, but it was easy to see that after a few minutes, it was getting overwhelming for them. It was hard to walk around because of the crowds and there was a pretty long wait for every booth and activity. Neither one of them do well in large crowds - it makes them very anxious. So we came back home and let them trick or treat in our neighborhood. Then let them stay up late and we watched Charlotte's Web together in front of the fire.

We are fully into the routine of school, play, exercise, meals, and cleaning up. I'm looking forward to the holidays to change up the schedule a bit! :)

Both girls are enjoying their bikes. L is now big enough to pedal on her own, and O is becoming a speed demon. We tried the no training wheels experiment for O at her request the other day - I think we will need to keep them on for a little while yet. But they ask to go outside and ride all the time. We are thankful to live on a cul-de-sac.

The one big changeup for us has been illness. L brought home a stomach bug that she picked up at school, so this weekend was really tough on her. Then she shared it with me, and after two days on the couch and in bed, I'm just now getting back to normal. I am supposed to run a half marathon in Coronado on Sunday. I'm hoping I can get my strength back in time. I haven't eaten real food since Saturday! Jenetta is still in bed this morning, and I think it is hitting her now.

Speaking of running, we are finding that O really enjoys running with me, and it makes a huge difference in her level of focus. It is challenging to make it a constant game for a 5 year old. If we just ran, she would check out pretty quickly. So we play red light green light, you can't catch me!, who can get to the stop sign first?, and a series of other games that we make up along the way. It has been a fun bonding time for me and the exercise has been really good for her - it makes a huge difference in her behavior and choices during the day. I'm running a turkey trot 10K in Redding with some of my family on the 26th, and I was thrilled to find they have a kid's division 1/4 mile sprint. O is super-competitive, so she has been practicing and is looking forward to running faster than all the other kids!

There has been mixed communication on the job front. I've been told that the new company will be officially setup on the 16th and the first task is to hire me. The shareholders have been putting in a tremendous amount of work and they have told me that they are tired of taking their vacation days to handle tasks they would rather have me do for them. I appreciate that kind of talk, and am encouraged by it. The person slated to be the new CEO has some serious concerns about the viability of the company as a whole. My former boss was so positive that he overlooked most of the unpleasant realities. This person does the opposite. He is hyper-realistic - often to the point of expecting failure. So it can be discouraging to hear his projections. But at the very least, I know things can't be worse than the picture he paints, and I know he is honest about what he sees.

But I'd love to post next week that I officially have a job again and that income is once again flowing our way! In the meantime, we know that God provides and that whatever happens, we are trusting Him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

O's 5th Birthday

We celebrated a birthday today. Our friends and family joined us at Bates Nut Farm with half of the rest of San Diego county. It was warm, super-crowded, and a lot of fun. I'll put up some photos later today, but here is a short video of the cake that Jenetta made.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The past 6 weeks have really been unique for us. It's been over 8 years since I've had a month off from work. So in many ways, the rest has been awesome! I've surfed a lot, gotten some good distance runs in, read a few great books, had time to hang out with friends, and spent the majority of each day doing things with the girls. The time has flown by, and I have very much enjoyed the chance to recharge.

Some people have been asking me about the status of the company I was working for. It is still totally up in the air. I have been assured by the shareholders that are reorganizing the company that they want me to be a part of the process going forward. But one estimated date after another has passed without any resolution. There is still no new company. There is no money in the old company's bank account, and there will be no funding for the new company until the situation with my former boss is settled.

That has been the most annoying part. He has stalled and delayed and negotiated and countered and basically wasted everyone's time after agreeing to "do the right thing" well over a month ago. I've been put in a tough place as the person with a lot of inside information about what has gone on with our company that I didn't feel comfortable sharing out of respect to my former boss. Today I found out that his latest stall tactic is to blame me of all people! I am being accused of mail fraud and sabotaging negotiations between him and the shareholders. These claims are completely ridiculous and the shareholders aren't buying it, but I sure am steamed about it! I want to really give him a piece of my mind, but it just isn't worth it, so I sit on the sidelines and wait.

Speaking of that, I went to LA on Monday to meet with the person who would be the new CEO if the company ever gets going. I really admire him and he has taken the time to share a lot of his experience with me. One thing that really stuck with me is he told me that hope is not a very effective business strategy. He advised me to get going and see what I could get on my own. So I am back to interviewing and applying and waiting...

In the meantime, I've been surprisingly busy this week. I got a gig as an extra with speaking lines on a reality TV show pilot for the Food Network. Today I had a lot of time on camera and had a bunch of fun. I hope the show makes it! It could lead to some production work for me as it will be filmed in Carlsbad. I'm shooting a house for a former real estate client tomorrow morning, I've had an interview with a temp agency, and we're getting ready to host O's 5th birthday.

Our oldest daughter turns 5 tomorrow. Things are going better with her. We've discovered that significant exercise really helps her, so when she doesn't go to school, I try to run with her 2-3 miles in the morning. It's challenging to make it a game for her and to vary it up so she doesn't check out. But for the most part, she enjoys the time we spend together. And when we get back home, she is much more pleasant to be around!

L is getting over three weeks of croup - that was no fun! She was coughing so much, and her little voice sounded like a three-year-old's version of a chain smoker. She was kind enough to give the adult version of her cough to both of us, so both Jenetta and I are hacking and coughing most of the time, although mine is mostly better by today.

My parents arrive tomorrow night. They are driving down for O's party. It's a long haul for them, so we appreciate it a lot. I'm sure I'll post stuff later when they are here.

Jenetta did a photo shoot today with a family and their three dogs. She continues to plug away at her blog and discover ways we can make more money at it a few cents at a time - it all adds up! I enjoy watching her interact with the girls. She has a very nurturing side that I'd never really seen before. And she's also a no-nonsense, take no crap kind of mommy. I like to see that side of her, too.

So that's pretty much where we are. Send us a line or update your blog and tell us the same for you... :)

Friday, October 16, 2009


Last night we got together with our homegroup to celebrate our second annual "Friendsgiving." It is a time for us to feast and be thankful for the blessings of friendship in our lives.

This year, we decided to do it closer to Canadian Thanksgiving than the US one for no reason in particular other than we didn't want to wait another month :)

As David said in the e-vite: "i love thanksgiving meal so dang much. doing it more than once a year is a dream come true for me."


Monday, October 12, 2009

Jenetta's birthday

Last year, I put together this huge party for Jenetta with lots of friends. This year, we just had a quiet night at Joy and CJ's home. Joy took the girls in the afternoon and made a cake and wrapped presents for Jenetta. We took the opportunity to clean the kitchen here at home and then we headed over to enjoy the evening.

This year sure has been full of changes for us!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My brother Joel and his wife Emily welcomed Jacob Greg Penner to their family last week. So far, he is the only boy in the growing group of grandchildren.

Everyone is doing fine!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Travels with Cocoa

O got a project from school the other day. She was to take a stuffed dog named Cocoa home and have him come along wherever they went. L didn't want to be left out, so she had a small red dog named Coco that she brought along.

We took the dogs to the farmer's market yesterday and to dinner at Lourdes.

This morning, I took the girls (and the dogs) on an adventure I'd been meaning to do for a while. After breakfast, I took the girls to the Escondido Transit Station and we boarded a Sprinter train headed for Oceanside. The ride takes just under an hour, and they had a great time riding on the train. Kids under 5 ride free, and my fare was $4 for the round trip.

We got off at the terminal and walked to the pier. The girls had fun watching people fishing and posing for photos with their dogs. Then we split a milkshake and fries at the Ruby's Diner at the end of the pier. After snacking, we walked back and caught the next train back home.

We've had three really good days in a row. O has been doing a good job of listening and accepting things when they don't go her way (instead of the usual screaming and crying sessions). This has been a welcome relief! We have a reward system based on choices and listening that she fails at more often than she succeeds at. We've had three days in a row where after bath, she gets to share in the rewards for good behavior. It has been a welcome turn of events! It is so hard disciplining and correcting over and over and over. It just wears you down so much!

Jenetta and I were talking the other night that we are actually enjoying spending time with our daughters. We need that so much - it really helps us be more patient in the difficult moments.

And the waves were not bad. Some sets to overhead +. I am heading out with David tomorrow morning! :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Latest.... more waiting

I actually worked this week! I got a random call from a realtor I haven't heard from in years who needed some photos of a home in Escondido. I hadn't shot a home in over a year, but I dusted off the equipment and jumped on the chance to make some cash. And on Thursday and Friday, I found myself doing quite a bit of work for the water company. Unfortunately, I was not paid for any of that. :(

Here is the latest on that situation: My former boss has been asked to resign from the company. The shareholders plan to seize control of the assets and the debts once the resignation is official and everything has been done properly. I have been assured that once that happens, I will be offered a contract to help the company move forward.

The problem is that delays keep slowing this process down. If we had a big savings account, I wouldn't worry too much about it. But I need to earn a living. So it has been frustrating to sit on the sidelines and just wait to have a job. There actually is a lot of work that needs to be done, but until all the legalities are satisfied, they can't raise money and pay me or the new CEO a salary. I was told it would definitely be last week, then the middle of this week for sure, and then October 1 at the latest. Yesterday I got an email that it may be another 15-30 days before everything is in place appropriately.

We appreciate the support and prayers many of you are sending our way. It means a lot! Now, if only a real income would come our way, too :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What I've been up to...

Instead of freaking out every day about how small our bank account is getting or worrying about whether or not I will find a job, I've been trying to enjoy this season of life. Sometimes I am more successful at it than other times. Worry has a way of killing everything positive in your life. It has robbed me of good sleep, it has diverted my attention from my family, and I'm convinced my hair is getting thinner on top because of it.

So with God's help, I'm doing my best to just enjoy where I am right now. One huge benefit is that I've been able to spend a lot of time with the girls. I've taken them to the beach or the park or somewhere fun almost every
day. They just love to play in the sand and get messy :)

O is getting a lot more brave in the surf, so that has been cool to see. She still hangs onto my leg with a death grip when the wave is coming in, but she's learned that after it passes, she can relax a little bit and swim around in the water. There is probably a good teaching metaphor in that image about our relationship with God, but I'll leave it to those of you that are brighter t
han me to work that out.

Jenetta got a swing for free on Amazon that I put up on the tree in the front yard. They go out and swing all the time! And they love their bikes and riding around our cul-de-sac.

Yesterday, I blew up this gigantic pirate
ship inflatable swimming pool we got from some of the grandparents. It was a hot afternoon, and they had a great time splashing around in the front yard. But I felt kind of bad about filling a huge pool with watering restrictions in place in our community. I probably won't be doing that too often! :)

Today, I am taking the girls to preschool and then going surfing. I don't have to return to pick them up until 1:00, so I plan to set up the umbrella and do some reading on the beach.

I've also been able to enjoy a lot of time connecting with friends. David and Isaiah came over for an impromptu dinner last night
, I went to the hot tub at Jeremy's place after the girls went to bed, and I'm meeting another friend late tonight. Another benefit is that I've been able to resume my weekly Wednesday lunches with Geoff. There is something so good about meeting with a friend who knows your failures and struggles and wants to hang with you anyway.

I'm supposed to find out later this week if/when I will be hired back by the company. But in the meantime, I am doing my best to enjoy the time I've been given. That's what I've been up to...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things are looking up...

Well, in a manner of speaking, they are...

Friday was my last day of work. It has been sad to watch my boss continue to deceive himself. He has called me a few times and has all kinds of plans for the future of a new company he is dreaming up. Sadly, I think none of it will ever materialize.

I have spoken with a number of the shareholders and the person they'd like to put in place as the new CEO, and they are all positive that a restructuring can happen and that I will be employed again soon. But all that remains to be seen. As I told them, although I am grateful for the appreciation and well-wishes, none of that pays the mortgage.

So I'm back to looking for work again and reaching out to every connection I can think of.

But here is the good stuff...

I'm really enjoying being unemployed! :) The stress of a failing company and being caught between the shareholders and the former CEO is completely gone. Either it will work out now or it won't - it is completely out of my hands. Our bills are paid for another few weeks, so it doesn't really accomplish anything to fret about stuff two weeks from now.

Today I took the girls to their therapy appointment and then we went to the beach. It is a beautiful So. Cal kind of day! Sunny and 75 degrees with a slight breeze. The water was warm, and the girls had fun with me in the waves. We enjoyed our In-N-Out lunch on the way home, and Aunt Barb is playing with the girls in the living room.

O's behavior has gotten a lot better. We still have our minor temper tantrums now and again, but for the most part, she is a lot more fun to be around. We have both noticed how polite they are. I guess 6 months of modeling polite behavior has finally paid off! When they make mistakes, they apologize. When they ask for things, they say please and thank you most of the time.

Jenetta and I are very grateful that things have returned to a more normal place with the girls. Life is challenging enough without defiance and screaming and kicking all the time!

Because I put in so much time with the girls today, I banked some free time with Jenetta, so after dinner, I'm going to hang out with the guys and watch the Charger's game.

Other than the not having any money part, I could really get used to being unemployed! :)

Thanks for your prayers and support. It means a lot!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I've gotten a lot of response on the last post. Some were concerned that I revealed too much; most everyone was supportive and sympathetic.

Things have been a little better since then on the home front. O actually had a pretty good day yesterday, and from Thursday on she has been talking about trying harder to listen. We have a reward/consequences system in place that works pretty well. O has been really sad that her choices have left her out of some good stuff, so she has been determined to get to the end of the day with her three smiley faces still on her chart. Yesterday, she made it! So that has been encouraging. Yes, she is still defiant and struggling to control everything and having screaming temper tantrums every day. But it is all a matter of degree and the intensity has definitely gone down significantly. Most of the time she is a sweet and kind little girl.

In talking with her therapist, we are convinced that my three day trip to the east coast had a lot to do with O's regression. I basically handle all the morning parenting duties until I head off to work. So me not being there for waking up, breakfast, and getting dressed really was a source of anxiety for the girls. We feel things have improved back to pretty much where we were before the trip. So that has been a huge relief and a big answer to prayer.

I've accepted the uncertainty that is my job right now. The decisions that will set the future for the company are being made over the weekend, and a call to put things into action will happen Tuesday or Wednesday I am told. It can't come soon enough. I can't go into depth in the blog, but suffice it to say, there is a group of people that are dissatisfied with the current direction of the company and want to see a significant course correction. I agree with their position. They have said nice words to me about my role in trying to fix things and dealing with everything honestly, but whether or not that translates into an income remains to be seen. Mostly, though, I just want the stress over. I am tired of being in the very awkward situation I find myself in now. It's tough to watch someone make foolish choices and deceive themselves that they are doing the right thing (or be completely unaware of how close the consequences are to arriving at the doorstep).

Matthew 6:34 -
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

But I wanted to say thank you to those of you who are praying for us. Your encouragement means a lot. Thanks!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm tired! And I feel like complaining...

... about a lot of things.

Right now, I am tired of discipline and structure for the girls. It's been tough since I came back from my trip. We feel that my being gone really stirred up anxiety in O, or she is just going through a regression phase, but regardless of the reason, we are sick of behaviors we thought were behind us. It's sad to watch really. She feels the need so much to be in control, to be the parent, to be in charge for her and her sister. But she's only 4 and doesn't have the skills or the mental capacity to even know what to do. So she just does SOMETHING... ANYTHING... in her mind to deal with what is going on around her. This typically leads to destroyed things, defiant behavior, a lot of really wrong choices, and a whole host of things that make her annoying to be around. Who is this kid? And why did we invite her into our home? :)

I'm tired of the heat. We had an amazing summer. Temps in the 80s and low 90s during the day and chilly at night. That's all forgotten now - it's 103 today. We run the air constantly, and I know the electric bill will be huge.

I'm tired of how the stress of everything is affecting me physically and how almost everyone I know has told me "... you look really tired..." I'm tired of hearing that! I'm tired of the bags under my eyes and the solemn look on my face that is present most days.

But mostly I am so very tired of uncertainty. It's been almost three years now that we have been living with the fear behind having no idea how we will pay our next mortgage payment. Maybe we are banging our heads against the wall and just not listening to what is being told to us. Maybe we are living above our means and we should cut our losses, take the destroyed credit rating, and move back to a mobile home. Maybe we will never again enjoy the kind of earnings we experinced four and five years ago. The stress of this is just overwhelming at times. It is a black cloud over me all the time - draining my energy, robbing me of joy, keeping me from investing in others because I am so focused on our own situation.

It seems much worse now that we are responsible for two more lives...

I have about two weeks left at my job. Unless something dramatic happens this week, our company is sunk. We owe much more than is in the bank account, and when that is gone, there will be no money to pay me anymore. This is sad for a lot of people - not just me. I've learned a lot, and my resume is certainly more impressive, but this company was perhaps the best chance I will ever see in my lifetime to be in on the ground floor of a business that has the opportunity to grow into a worldwide presence. It has been fun to dream of all the good things I could do for so many people as I helped direct the company. It's been sad to watch my boss deceive himself and others and waste the many opportunities we've been given. He will be in overwhelming financial trouble. At 62, I wonder what other opportunities are out there for him. A lot of good people will lose their investments and the hopes they had for the future as well.

There has been a verse that has been on my mind for about a week now. Matthew 5 starts out with

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...

I've been wondering a lot about what it means to be "poor in spirit." I love the way The Message paraphrases that, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope..." Jesus spoke so much about the Kingdom of Heaven being at hand. Not that life sucks here on Earth, so just deal with it until you die and get to Heaven. Jesus taught that God's Kingdom was here - now. So what does that mean??? How do I live like I belive that?

I know I feel poor in spirit. I know I'm at the end of my rope. I'm tired of having $10 in the savings account just to keep it open. I'm tired of saying "No" and correcting my daughter dozens of times everyday. I'm tired of Jenetta's business being in the toilet. I'm tired of going back to applying and interviewing for a job and begging for someone else to take a chance on me. I'm tired of the uncertainty and doubts. Maybe it means when I acknowledge that I don't have the answers and get a proper humble perspective of myself and God, that there is room for Him to work in my life and my circumstances. At times, I have clarity of thought. I can look back and see time after time after time how God took care of us, provided us with what we needed, and made things work out in a way that I couldn't conceive of before. I was telling my dad that it would be really nice if God gave us the same spiritual acuity in future events as we seem to be blessed with when looking back. There wouldn't be much room for faith, but it sure seems like it would be more peaceful for everyone... God doesn't work that way. I don't know why.

I want to experience God's Kingdom right now. I want the peace that God gives us. I want to be able to think back on God's provision Jenetta and I have personally experienced over the years, and then have that affect the way I feel for longer than 4 or 5 minutes before the stress comes back. I've been thinking about the phrase from Mark 9:24 a lot lately:

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Because that's about all I can do.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trip to Bethlehem, PA

I'm sitting in the airport in Charlotte, NC enjoying a tasty BBQ pork sandwich and a few minutes' relief from the middle seat woes... Traveling with the boss - guess who gets the middle seat? :(

This trip was necessary for work - it was kind of a hail mary attempt to raise some capital for our company. We are so close - we have distribution ready to go - we have product warehoused in PA and SD, everyone loves the water, BUT we just don't have the necessary capital to support the sales and marketing effort. So we met with a small group of our investors. Basically, if we don't get more money from them or from their friends in the next two weeks, our company is pretty much done. I felt pretty good about the meetings yesterday, but the follow up and candid conversations I've had afterward leave me with my nagging doubts.

I could go on and complain about the state of things, how I don't want to lose my job (again), or that if we shut down, a lot of really good people will have lost a significant chunk of money that they will never get back, or how the travel to and from was just about the most terrible I've ever experienced, but that just makes me dwell on it more and I just end up soliciting a bunch of "poor Jon" comments on the blog.

So I'd like to highlight two good things about the trip.

Breakfast this morning was awesome! The blueberry muffin was adequate - that really had nothing to do with the awesomeness...

There is a man on our board of directors who is by far our most active shareholder. He has been a friend to my boss for many years. He is the guy my boss turns to when he's struggling. This man is a sports medicine doctor and former olympic medalist. He is also a believer. He has been such an encouragement to me. Knowing there is someone else out there who I can tell the unvarnished truth to (dropping the annoying company line) is so refreshing. He is a father of 5 young children, and his wife homeschools them. Everything about this guy is rock-solid.

This morning, he and I went away from our hotel and walked down the streets of Bethlehem, PA and talked and prayed together. One of his kids is into astronomy big-time. He was talking about a star called Canis Majoris, which is apparently is 1800 times larger than our own sun. His boy brings that up a lot when he is facing a tough time - "just think - a star that massive - and God just SPOKE it into existence!" We talked a lot about the beauty and power behind that. Words really don't do it justice. We have a relationship with the God who created Canis Majoris. Yet He is intimately involved in our lives and knows the number of hairs on our head.

We prayed for each other and left the cafe where we ended up knowing that no matter what happens with the company, God is in control. We don't have to be...

The other thing deals with the girls. I have been in pretty close contact with Jenetta when I could during this trip. She even took care of mapquesting directions for us from the Newark Aiport where we ended up at midnight on Wednesday. In our conversations together, it is obvious that me being gone for three days has a big effect on the girls. Jenetta is really frustrated. Behaviors we haven't seen in months are resurfacing. Jenetta is convinced that the stress and uncertainty is coming back for them. No matter how much I tell them I am coming back on the phone, they've heard all that before, and won't belive it until they see me when they wake up tomorrow morning.

Hearing her talk about this just breaks my heart for our daughters. We try so hard to provide stability for them, and they have shown so much improvement over the last 5 months. It is such a fragile thing...

But in a way it makes me feel kind of good, too. It's good to feel needed. It's good to feel responsible for something other than your own hapiness. This was the reason we were interested in the concept of adoption anyway.

So I am exhausted, and hoping to get out of Charlotte in about 45 minutes. Pray that I make it home and have energy and strength and patience to be full-time dad tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hawaiian Luau

Last night we enjoyed a "Hawaiian vacation" right here in San Diego. We went to the Kona Kai resort on Shelter Island. They had a really great buffet that included BBQ Kalua pork. After the meal, there was a demonstration of different Polynesian dances and songs with a really nice narration of the meaning behind each.

The girls even got to go on stage near the end and dance with the show! Sorry, I can't post the video of that. But if you live close to one of my family memb
ers, they can share the video with you sometime. It was really cute.

We went with CJ and Joy, and it was a really fun evening. Plus, the girls spent the night at Grandma's house afterwards - what could be better? :)

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