01/20/11 - Slacker Yes, I'm a slacker.  I'm not normally a slacker, but when it comes to this website, I cannot seem to update on a regular basis.  Fortunately, (I tell myself), I at least update when it matters - our big vacations.  These vacations are the largest source of memories, and it is very useful to go back and relive what we did in prior years (especially when planning future trips - we can remember what we liked best).  Nevertheless, and mainly since I'm stuck as a passenger in the car on my way to visit family in Oklahoma, it is time for an update.  This is also an update of multiple proportions.  The first section, which is almost invisible, is the website framework update.  Annually I must add in a new set of months and a year to the website design.  It doesn't take long, but it is something that must be done - otherwise the site breaks horribly when trying to view the current year.  The visible part of this update are the new annual pictures - Susan and my selection of three prior year photographs we place on our "Love Through the Years" page.  As always it is a fun exercise to see how much we have changed over time (and a good opportunity to mock my weight and Susan's ever-changing hairstyles).  The second section, which is definitely visible, is a new diary entry.  If I were really ambitious I would write a half dozen for all the recent events which have occurred over the past several months; however, I'm going to take the easy road and summarize them all in a single entry.  We have some big plans later this year (a cruise, a visit to see the Kups at their new home in Arkansas - "insert hillbilly joke here" - and a tour of wine country (perhaps with a few friends - not certain of this one yet)). 

A Piece of Work - Susan noticed a new store back in October by a simple phrase on the window - "Where Masterpiece Meets Merlot".  This was definitely enough to garner our attention so we inquired further.  The store, named "A Piece of Work", is an event location where anyone can paint.  The theme works like this:  As an aspiring artist or artistic group (that would be me, Susan, Glenda, and Nick) browses an online section of potential paintings.   Once the artist finds one that suits his or her fancy, they select an evening when said painting will be on display.  Our group selected a curvy road through the forest.  The group is allowed to bring food and wine to the painting event, and once there, the hosts (or owners of the store) set everyone up at an easel and deliver a selection of paints and brushes to each artist.  The MC, or main artist, stands at the front of the room and begins to reproduce the painting we all selected.  The MC explains which colors to mix, which size brush to use, what types of strokes to make, etc.  Every so often the hosts ring a bell and that means it is time for a break - eat some food, sip some wine, admire the other paintings in progress.  After about 3 hours we were all finished, and despite the fact we all painted the same piece, each us had a unique work of art (Susan's is on the left and Nathan's is on the right).  This event was a blast and I'm looking forward to trying it again!


Wedding Bells - Back in 2008, while on a cruise of the Caribbean, we met several wonderful people who were instant friends.  Of these friends, Matt, recently married Suzanna at a beautiful ceremony in Pilot Point, TX.  I must admit both Susan and I were surprised to receive an invitation, and after a bit of contemplation, decided to turn their wedding into a mini-vacation for us.  We booked a one-night stay at a small B&B about a mile from the wedding and also took the opportunity to visit Susan's family in Sherman (about an hour away).  The wedding was fabulous with lots of dancing, great music, a full dinner (in which we had the chance to catch up with Brady and his new wife Amy) and an equally as full bar ;).  We danced the night away and had a superb time - Thanks for the invite Matt and Suzanna!

5Ks for Susan - Susan ran her first 5K in November at the Benbrook Puzzle Scuttle (with proceeds going to battle autism).  The run was a little cold at first, and the course was nice (with a decent view of Benbrook Lake), and the event itself was very well organized.  That all being said, the big news here is Susan ran her first 5K race and she enjoyed it :).  About a month later she wanted to sign up for the Fort Worth Jingle Bell Run, so we did; however, this event was extremely crowded.  Fortunately, the costumes, of which many participants were adorned, were entertaining.

Jailbreak - I also participated in a recent 4-mile trail run North of Fort Worth.  The run took place at a paint ball field and included about 16 obstacles ranging from river crossings, climbing up the side of a river bank, tire runs, traveling through conduit, a maze, and a low crawl through a mud pit.  I know most people think it sounds miserable but I thoroughly enjoyed the event.  It was a challenge and I was also awarded with my first every gold medal (out of a little over 300 participants).  It was a close race with 2nd place less than a few feet behind me.


City Council - I don't recall when, but I do remember reading an article in the Benbrook newspaper about volunteering for the community.  The City was looking for people who wanted to participate on various City Council boards from Budgeting to Taxes.  I thought it sounded interesting, and I also thought it worthwhile to serve my community, so I submitted an application for the Parks and Recreation board.  During my interview (there were about 10 interviewers by the way) I was asked numerous questions, but there was definitely a theme to them:  Why was an accountant volunteering for P&R when there were so many business related boards in need of volunteers?  My answer was easy - I work as an accountant every day and wanted to do something different with my free time.  In addition, I explained I was also a Geocacher and was familiar with the various parks in Benbrook (and when prompted to name a few I listed off all of them - even the one that has been closed for years).  I guess my response was good enough for them because I was appointed a position on the Parks and Rec board for the next 2 years.  It should be enlightening!

Feta Surgery - (Susan's Entry) - Chief Complaint:  I discovered Feta had a hernia because I palpated his bladder outside of his abdominal wall.  We don't know how it happened.  Plan: Nathan and I drove him up to a surgery specialist in Grapevine.  Action: The surgeon repaired the hernia with mesh.  Result: Feta was stoned for 2 days from all the drugs.  Feta is a happy kitty again.  The end.

Ramping It Up - Our friend, Guynell, was in need of a doggie ramp for her enormous bed (this behemoth was a little over 3 feet tall).  Her little pups simply didn't have the ability to make the leap to the top (of course, their tiny legs were only a few inches tall - Chihuahua and Shih Tzu).  I don't have the opportunity to do non-business related things very often so I jumped at the chance to build the ramp in question.  The project turned out a lot better than I thought it would and I encountered hardly any problems (usually any construction project I undertake has some kind of critical planning oversight).  The biggest problem was I ended up making the ramp almost too large - it barely fit down the hall of Guynell's home.  Once in place, and with a bit of encouragement, the dogs were running up and down the ramp like pros.

- Nathan