You find your own rewards… sometimes without even looking.

The last week  has been really rewarding. It’s Friday and as I look back on the week, I realize events that were merely “to-do” items on my agenda turned out to be the highlights of my week. Not the place you expected to find yourself on a Friday afternoon, but certainly a place you’ll enjoy.

On Wednesday, I hosted a “lunch and learn” at work. I love my job and one of the best parts about it is all the great technology I’m constantly exposed to. An even better part of it is that I love sharing it within the context of actually showing people how it can make their lives easier, make their work easier, make their jobs easier, and basically help them realize that often lofty goal of technology, “to improve your life”. Too often, and I’m even guilty of it too, you think, “oh, this is just too much. There’s too much out there and I can’t ever keep up” and so I’m always on the lookout for ways that technology and software can facilitate making my day to day life a little easier. Once I find them, and I learn and use them, I become an evangelist of sorts and I’m always eager to share. Wednesday was one of those days. I sent an email out to everyone at work and basically said, “hey, I’ve discovered a bunch of great, useful tools that I’m finding myself using and getting a lot of value from and if you’re interested, I’d love to eat a sandwich in the front meeting room, get on the big screen, and share some of them because I think you’ll dig ’em too.” I wasn’t sure who would show up (if anyone) but lo, and behold, I had a nice crowd! We spent the hour eating, sharing, talking, and I walked out of the lunch thinking, “wow, that was more awesome than I anticipated, and I think everyone got something great out of it!”

Then, this morning, I had a meeting scheduled to sit down with a room full of Realtors and show them how to use their CRM software to use some email templates we had created for them to more effectively market to their customers and prospects. I wasn’t sure, walking into the room, what to expect, and knowing that my audience wasn’t as “technical” (in other words, they weren’t database nerds who actually got excited about working in a robust CRM) as I was, I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the outcome. I don’t know what it was, either I love to hear myself talk (well, we all know that’s totally the case) or they were really in tune with what I was laying down, but we all really clicked as a room and it quickly turned into a really rewarding, collaborative meeting. Lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm, and again, I walked out of there thinking, “wow, that turned out way better than I had anticipated!”.

So it was, I had two rather non-eventful events planned on my schedule that I wasn’t expecting so much out of, turn out to be some of the best work moments of the week. I wasn’t programming. I wasn’t creating anything, or hitting a deadline, or managing a project. I was just sitting with some people, sharing solutions, engaging in some back and forth, and walking away feeling as if both sides got way more out of it than they thought they’d get going into it.

That’s some pretty rewarding work… cleverly disguised as “to-do” items on a calendar.

Purplicious and “Suicide Slurpees”.

Sometimes in life there are moments you just wish you could freeze and hold on to forever. I remember various times in my life saying to myself, “don’t ever forget this. Try to remember every detail, what the weather was like, what time of day it was, how you felt…”.

The other night was one of those times. Over the last 48 hours or so, I’ve just been turning this moment over and over in my mind, unable to shake it. Some things just resonate, I guess.

I got home the other night, and as soon as I walked in, I grabbed Abby, turned around and headed over to the library. My wife had some books she had reserved that had come in, one of them being “Purplicious” for Abby. The rest were books she had been really looking forward to reading, and since the baby was up, she couldn’t get over there, so I agreed to run over there and pick them up for her. Besides, it gave me a chance to give the Graphic Novel section a good once-over and see if any new graphic novels had arrived for 2011. Believe it or not, the Horry County Library has a pretty kickass collection of graphic novels. Abby wanted to tag along and who was I to say no to taking a kid to a library, right? As soon as she realized that one of the books on hold was not only hers, but it was the copy of “Purlicious” she had been waiting for, she squealed in that way that only happy four year-old girls can squeal.

One ritual that Abby and I have adopted… well… okay, one ritual that ABBY has adopted, has been stopping off at the new Turtle Market on 707 and getting a Slurpee (I call them Slurpees, they’re not technically Slurpee brand Slurpees, but that’s what I call ’em). As soon as we got in the car on the way to the library, she popped the, “can we stop on the way home and get a slurpee, daddy?” question. When the store opened a couple months ago, I took Abby over there and introduced her to the concept of the “suicide“. Since then we’ve been exploring every possible combination of mixed Slurpee recipe you can have. We’ve done green and orange, orange and pink, pink and green, etc. This time, we did pink on the bottom, and orange on the top. “It’s like orange, but it’s sour like lemonade and it’s pink when you suck it up the straw!” She was delighted with this one.

She paid for her drink, we walked back to the car, and I started buckling her into her car seat. She handed me the drink to hold, and looked me right in the eye and said, “Daddy, today has been the best day ever. I was good in school, I went to the library, I got Purplicious, and I made the best Slurpee ever!”.

I sort of sat there for a second, awestruck.

You know, we have lives that throw all kinds of “complications” at us. We have dental issues, insurance problems, car troubles, economic anxiety. We worry about jobs, our family members, our loved ones. We ponder futures and create stress. We drive around, oblivious to the world, completely unaware of the moment.

But right now, in the mind of a four-year old, the world revolves around Purplicious and Suicide Slurpees, and it couldn’t get any better.

“Where’s the camera? I need it…”

This weekend I’m sitting on the sofa, minding my business when a “supposed to be already in bed” little ball of energy come bounding around the corner.

“Dad, where’s the camera? I need it…”

Now I’m curious. Why would a 4-year old need a camera after nine at night?

“It’s in the diaper bag… why do you need it?”

“Because I’m going on a safari”

“…”

Well, apparently, over on Nick Jr., Olivia was going on a “wildlife safari”. Not the Ernest Hemingway type, mind you, but the safe, fun, “adventurous-for-your-four-year-old” kind. As someone who has actually gone to Africa and experienced a real life, “holy-shit-this-is-awesome”, life-changing Safari, I was intrigued, so I pressed further. “Are you prepared for your Safari?”, I asked. “Yes, I have a backpack, and a camera, and a map, and everything!”, she replied.

Good enough for me!

About 12 hours later, I’m going through the camera and I stumble across the below photos. All descriptions come directly from first-hand accounts of the dangerous expedition undertaken earlier that morning, while I slept. You owe it to yourself to read them:

no images were found

“The Best Laid Plans…” and what my gut told me.

I had actually planned to write a lot this weekend. I felt like I had a lot of pent up blogging inside me. Like I had things to say and there was some underlying emotion bubbling through me that would somehow be cathartically released if I wrote about it. I mean, I can’t explain it. Ever have one of those feelings like, things are just over the horizon, and you can’t quite see them yet? They’re just not in focus, or not completely visible? That’s how I’ve felt for about the last couple of weeks. I think a lot of it has to do with Adobe Max this year. I’m struggling with the “all over the map” feeling that this year’s Max Conference has left me with. Oh, not in a bad way. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I feel as if there are dozens of opportunities out there for me to apply a little talent, a little skill, a little elbow grease, and wind up on the other side of a hugely rewarding experience. So I thought maybe meditating on it, spending a little time writing about it, and talking to some friends this weekend would help me sort things out in my brain-container.

Then Fallout: New Vegas arrived. Then I got a new iPhone.

I mean, seriously, could I have had two bigger distractions fall into my lap? First off, don’t even get me started on Fallout. I wrote about it a while back on my other blog. The previous version was my number one game of 2010 and the damn thing was released in 2009. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how many hours I spent playing Fallout 3, but I will cop to it being in the hundreds. And don’t think I’m the only one. My wife not only loved Fallout 3, but she’s got a book she checked out from the library that’s a 14-day checkout (that’s already overdue), and on about three separate occasions this weekend she stopped what she was doing and sat next to me watching me fight dehydration (of course I’m playing it on hardcore mode, silly), fend of radscorpions, and work with “Fantastic” to squeeze more efficiency out of a solar panel array in the nuclear wasteland formerly known as “The Nevada Desert”. Quite simply, the game is magnificent. Oh sure, it’s basically an add-on pack to Fallout 3… but I don’t care. It’s more wasteland, more post-apocalyptic carnage & mayhem, and more piled on top of more. So here I sit, Monday morning, with barely any sleep on a weekend where I actually got an extra hour built into the weekend, having accomplished nothing more than learning how to tan golden gecko hides in the desert with some roots and turpentine. Oh, and I shot some ghouls into space. That was pretty cool.

The iPhone? I dunno. Jury’s still out on that one. I played with it a little. Wasn’t “blown away” but wasn’t disappointed either. Apple is Apple, and everything they touch they think through to such extreme that it’s almost annoying how perfectly everything works together. UI isn’t so alarming after owning an iPad for six months, but I have to tell you, if I didn’t own the iPad, jumping from 2 years on an Android phone to the iPhone would’ve been a lot more jarring experience. Having a Droid 2 and an iPhone simultaneously should be an interesting experience that I hope to spend a little more time exploring. Initial thoughts however, are a resounding, “meh”. It was, however, nice to have a new iPod. I will admit to spending an inordinate amount of time this weekend loading the shit out of it with Video/Movies/TV shows and music. Somehow Band of Horses just sounds better on a new iPod/iPhone. I can’t explain that… something about how shiny it is, I think.

But you know what? I don’t regret a minute of it. I think my gut was telling me to relax. I spent a week in Los Angeles on sensory overload and it actually felt nice to curl up on the sofa all weekend, enjoy time with the family and decompress a little. I cooked dinner for my mom, went grocery shopping, and helped my daughter go on a “wildlife safari”. Taking occasional time outs to shoot the arms off of legionnaires who don’t like me because of my tremendously good karma (the idolize me in Novac!) was just the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

Balancing your blogging chi.

For the last week or so I’ve been almost completely immersed in the world of “my work”. I love what I do. Sometimes, there’s friction between your personal life and work (too much work, not enough personal?), or perhaps I might get “burnout” just like anyone else who’s passionate about what they do, but overall, I wake up pretty much every day excited by the job I get to do. I’m creative, but not in any overt “artistic” way. I make things. Sometimes the things I make are elegant, sometimes they’re clever, sometimes they look great… and sometimes they’re all three (or an extremely rewarding combination of two of the three).

Attending the Adobe Max conference every year is like sensory overload. Wait. It’s not “like” sensory overload, it IS sensory overload. I’ve been back at work now for two days and I’m still having trouble digesting everything I saw into usable bits of information. I struggle with “actionable” items. I see so much that I want to literally do everything. I mean, suddenly I’m interested in publishing digital magazines to tablets because of the monstrously mind-blowing digital publishing demo we saw on the very first day. jQuery Mobile, a lightweight framework for developing highly engaging and interactive mobile sites (and thus blunting the momentum of, “I’ve gotta write an app for mobile!” that seems to be the mantra of everyone right now) is only in an early Alpha release and I’m already plotting and scheming about how to use it. I’ve come back to work such an Adobe Fireworks evangelist that I’ve already lined up internal classes/meetings to “spread the gospel” amongst my heathen, creative brethren.

So to say that my head is spinning would be an understatement.

But that’s not all me, you know? I’ve done nothing but eat/sleep/and breathe “Adobe, Adobe, Adobe” for the last two weeks, and I think the thing I need to do is make an effort to regain the other parts of my life. Maybe blog about more fun/mundane things. Other things I’m passionate about, or find interesting or fun.

You know, “balance my blogging chi” as it were.

So I think I’m going to spend the next week or so just having fun, trying NOT to blog about work stuff, and look around, smell the flowers, and have some fun with this shit. Oh sure, there might be some things that change around here. I mean, after all, I’m human. I’ve got a couple of itches that I want to scratch, developmentally (Have you *seen* this site on a mobile device? I mean, it’s okay, but nothing to write home about) so you may notice that I move some shit around, or some things change (Type-Kit’s only $25 for a year license? Look out, I’m about to go web font crazy, people), but it’s the content that I wanna focus on. There are a lot of really great, fun things going on that I wanna get out of my system. The new Avengers cartoon, Walking Dead on AMC, Fallout New Vegas, The Return of Bruce Wayne, Why Marvel’s animated features suck and DC’s are so awesome, how frustrated I am that I ate like shit in Los Angeles but how it really didn’t matter. Lately, the past couple of months, my daughter and I have just bonded on such a level, sharing nerdisms like Legos, Cartoons, our sense of humor and every day I see more and more of myself in her (and I gotta write about how that scares the shit out of me…haha… I know what I’m in for…). Just tons of really great stuff that I feel like I’m just busting at the seams to write about.

So kick back, relax, check back and follow along. I’ll try to keep you entertained… because seriously, if this shit isn’t fun, then why do it?

“…actually…”

The great thing about kids is the spontaneous memories they serve up. The great thing about blogging, is that you have this awesome place where you can quickly jot down memories and capture those moments so you never forget them.

I don’t wanna forget this weekend.

Aside from all the fantastic Halloween festivities, we were invited to our friends Tracy & Michelle’s son’s birthday party on Sunday afternoon. Davis and my daughter both attend the same Montessori school, and I’ve been friends with Tracy now for (whoa…) over ten years (it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, bro!). So it’s such a treat to spend time with great friends, have our kids grow up together and to become so close. Tracy is wildly creative, and together with Michelle, seem to outdo themselves every year. Last year it was race cars, complete with a custom “Hot Wheels” invitation, and this year Davis wanted a “spooky” birthday, so imagine how shocked my daughter was to receive a skull in the mail. Not a box containing a skull. Not an envelope with a skull inside. A skull. With her name and address printed on the back of the head. My wife said, “who knew the post office would deliver a skull?” Apparently Tracy did.

So with my daughter dressed as (and I’m quoting directly here) a “Vampire Queen Princess”, me as a zombie, my wife as a pretty hot vampire (seriously… wow), and a 5 month old pumpkin, we headed over to their house for the party. Great food, great guests (my wife remarked on the way home, “you know, I really loved all the people there tonight” and I had to agree…) and great fun ensued.

But the moment that I hope I’ll never forget was a flash of my daughter’s personality that only briefly appeared, but was so beyond awesome in delivery and timing. I’m not sure a blog post can do it justice, but I don’t care. I’m really just putting this down so some day when I’m old and feeble, and my daughter Googles her old man’s blog from way back when, it might jog my memory and I’ll be able to relive the moment again. At least that’s the plan.

It happened during the “games” portion of the party. Michelle had set up this sort of “egg toss” type game. On one side were these cute little paper buckets that each child had, and on the other side, a couple of yards away, were bowls of candy corn. The idea was, you run to the bowl, fill your spoon with candy corn, then walk back carefully and fill your bucket. It was great watching the kids struggle with carrying spoonfuls of candy corn all of two yards without dropping the entire contents of their spoon all over the back yard.

Naturally, kids being kids, and groups being groups, and of course attention spans being attention spans, at some point during the game, one of the little boys became a little distracted and was no longer really “into” the game. He was drifting a little and had sort of lost interest. In an effort to cajole him a little and get him “back into the game” one of the parents was standing on the sidelines egging him on a little. I don’t remember his name (wish I did) but for the sake of the story, we’ll call him Chris. He’s positioned right next to my daughter, who is laser-beam focused on getting a bucket full of candy corn, one spoon at a time. She’s almost completely oblivious to what’s going on next to her.

“Chris! Chris! Come over here Chris! Don’t you wanna play the game? Don’t you wanna win a prize?”

That was all it took to get my daughter’s attention. She stopped everything she was doing and turned to the parent doing the shouting.

“um… actually, I’m going to win…”, then, without another word, turned back to finish her (obviously, duh) preordained task.

I really didn’t know what to do or say… except deep in the pit of my stomach, I got a little knot…

“why wasn’t I videotaping this?”

My Top Ten Snack Foods

You know, I eat about 6 times a day. If you subtract breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that means 50% of my day is what you’d be forced to classify as “snacks”. The simple math says if you’re eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and you’re consuming around 300 calories each time, you’re consuming about 1800 calories a day, on the low-end. My breakfast typically runs from 220 calories (Oatmeal and a cup of blue/black/straw/raspberries) to 270ish (6 egg whites, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and a whole wheat bagel). My HUGE lunch (Double fiber whole wheat bread, low sodium roast beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, a cucumber, half a dozen stalks of celery) stuffs me and weighs in at about 270 calories, so that leaves me some wiggle room at dinner to consume about 400-500 calories,  and three opportunities during the day to consume about 300 calories and I’m still significantly under 2000 calories a day. Now factor in AT LEAST half an hour of hard cycling a day (which burns anywhere from 500-700 calories JUST for a half an hour… imagine what I burn in three hours of riding on weekends?) and AT LEAST two to three days of swimming or weight training each week… and you can see how I end up in a serious calorie deficit and a lot of times have to eat significantly more just to avoid losing too much weight.

So my snacks have become somewhat of an obsession with me and I’ve got so many creative ways to eat 300 or so nutrient dense, healthy calories. I’ve noticed however, that over time, I’ve settled on a handful of what I would consider my “go to” snacks of choice. What follows is kind of my own personal “top ten” (but purposely in no particular order… it’d be like trying to pick my favorite child) list of snacks that I really love to eat.

Popcorn – (Serving Size: 3 Tbsp, Calories: 130) – A $20 Air Popper from Target changed my life. No oil, half a cup of kernels, and you’ve got all the makings of a delicious, 300 calorie snack that basically fills a bucket. Every night (and I mean every night) I end the evening sitting down with a nice hot bowl of freshly popped popcorn with no mess to clean up. It’s high in that dietary fiber that our hearts and arteries love so much, it’s actually got a little protein to it, and dammit if it doesn’t fill you right up.

Chobani Greek Yogurt – (Serving Size: 1 Cup, Calories: Approximately 140) – I discovered this through “Eat This Not That: The Supermarket Guide”. Actually, to be more accurate, I discovered Greek Yogurt through the book. Chobani just happens to be my favorite brand. I love the Peach, Strawberry, and Blueberry, and was fortunate enough to run across it at Costco, which sells a dozen containers for just under a dollar each, which is a pretty good price. Each one of these little gems packs about 10 grams of protein into 140 calorie servings with zero fat. It’s almost like your own little delicious cup of protein bar. Think about that. You’re looking for about 300 calories to snack on, and if you added a boatload of fruit to this, you’d be hard pressed to get it up to 200 calories. Go ahead, treat yourself to some Triscuits while you’re at it.

Kirkland Signature Dried Mango and Berries – (Serving Size 1/3 Cup, Calories: 100) – My wife found these at Costco as well. As if I don’t get enough fruit already, here’s a great way to carry it on car rides, on trips to the beach, family outings, picnics, bike rides in the park. You name it. 1/3 a cup is only 100 calories, so you could cram a whole damn cup of these things into a ziplock baggie and snack on them all afternoon. As an added bonus, I’ll point out that the dried strawberries are so delicious you’ll be fighting over them, so pick and eat strategically. I treat them like I used to treat the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. I’d eat all the cereal first, so I’d have a whole bowl of marshmallows to end my breakfast. I like to try and end with a bag full of dried strawberries. Then I treat myself to a grand finish.

Chex Mix – (Serving Size 2/3 Cup, Calories: 120) – I love Chex Mix. Some of the flavored versions are good, some of them are bad, some of them are somewhat nutritionally bad, but when it comes to guilt-free snacking, nothing beats the good ol’ original flavored Chex Mix. I love those little brown melba toast bits and my daughter and I regularly spar over them. 2/3 a cup is actually a nice bowl-full and if you wanna double it, you’re only looking at about 240 calories, so this is one snack that I don’t feel very bad about over-indulging beyond the single serving recommendation. Like all snacks of this nature, watch the sodium, but if you’re generally eating healthy and this is your only sodium rich indulgence, then I think it might be okay.

Oatmeal – (Serving Size: 1/2 Cup Dry, Calories: 150) – Breakfast? Has to be oatmeal. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime over the last year or so I became a 100% official crack-addicted oatmeal addict. I have to eat the shit at least once a day, and if I don’t eat it for breakfast because I chose egg whites that day, then I make it a point to eat it as a snack later in the afternoon. It fills you up like no other food, and when you add fruit to piping hot oatmeal, and the oatmeal cooks the blueberries, blackberries or strawberries a little, it’s heaven. Pure heaven. I don’t sweeten my oatmeal in any way, because, like I said, at some point I just started to realize that I loved the flavor of oatmeal. I don’t like brown sugar in it, but if I have no other fruit around and have to resort to a serving of raisins, I’ll lightly sweeten it with just a teaspoon of brown sugar, and when you don’t normally sweeten your oatmeal, a teaspoon is more than enough. One of the best things I’ve discovered is using frozen berries with the oatmeal. Frozen berries, like most frozen fruits and vegetables are actually as good, and in some cases better nutritionally than fresh picked fruits and berries. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly frozen, trapping important nutrients that a lot of times get lost in the time it takes fresh fruits and vegetables to make it to your dinner table. You can find mixed berry medleys at every supermarket I’ve been to, and the price is reasonable. Put them in the fridge and they don’t even need to thaw all the way before use, the piping hot oatmeal will thaw anything you add to it. Quaker Instant Oats, a cup of Frozen Mixed Berries, and in about 2 minutes, you’ve got the most delicious way to start the day since coffee was invented.

In-Season Fruit – (Serving Size: One Fruit, Calories: Depends) – There’s nothing I can say about Fruit except, “I’ve never met an in-season fruit I didn’t like”. Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Peaches, Watermelon, Grapes, Pineapple, Apples, Kiwis, Oranges, Tangerines, Grapefruit. I eat so much fruit on a daily basis that I never worry about heart-healthy dietary fiber because I’m sure I get it in fruit alone. I love adding fruit to my yogurt. I add fruit to my oatmeal. I eat bananas on Triscuits. You name it, I’ll put fruit on it, in it, near it…

Cucumbers – (Serving Size: 1 Medium Cucumber, Calories: 45) – Man, I can’t get enough of cucumbers. I actually went to Target one day during a lunch break to go get my own paring knife because I was hogging the one here at the office because I ate them so much. Look, they’re forty-five calories, man! What do you expect? They fill you up like mad, they’re astonishingly delicious chilled, and if you wanna REALLY knock ’em out of the park, thinly slice them, mix them with some red onion, add a dash of olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and go ahead and treat yourself to a little mouth orgasm.

Food Lion Seltzer Water – (Serving Size: Unlimited, Calories: 0) – I don’t drink sodas. At all. Ever. I don’t even like them when I go out to dinner as some kind of “treat”. I honestly can’t stand them. Syrupy Sweetness of Corn Syrups or over-sugared drinks that, at this point, just nauseate me. It wasn’t always like that though, and I can’t remember the exact moment that I realized how much I disliked sodas, but it happened as a result of discovering this at my local Food Lion. For about 88 cents (yes, you read that right) I can get a two liter bottle of Seltzer Water. Not “Club Soda”. Not “Tonic Water”. Seltzer Water. Look at the ingredients. See what it says? It says, “Water”. That’s it. Nothing else. You buy two or three of these, and with the money you saved over Coke, Pepsi, or whatever shit you’re buying, walk over to the produce section and spend it on a couple lemons and limes. Now guess what? You’re drinking water with lime and lemon… and it’s carbonated. It’s refreshing, light, effervescent, and most of all, delicious. You’ll never drink a shitty over-sweet soda again.

Triscuits – (Serving Size: 7 crackers, Calories: 120) – Again, scoring points because of the ingredients list, which (for the reduced fat version) is all of three ingredients. Whole (notice that key word? “Whole”?) Grain Soft White Winter Wheat, Soybean Oil, Salt. Seven of these babies packs 3 grams of dietary fiber too. Great for the heart. They pair up easily with other items as well. A couple of ounces of cheese slices, some fresh, homemade guacamole, cottage cheese, peanut butter. The possibilities are endless, and each one is as delicious as the last. Definitely my “go-to” snack food. The dietary equivalent to the “Multi-Tool”.

Nut Butters – (Serving Size: 2 Tbsp, Calories: About 190) – This, I believe is my number one snack (I know, I said “not in order”… but this is my one exception). Notice I didn’t write “Peanut Butter”. There’s a reason for that. Peanut Butter is a close second, but it’s just behind Almond Butter. If you haven’t tried Almond Butter, then I highly suggest you close this browser window right now, get up, get in your car and drive to the nearest location that sells almond butter. It’s easily the greatest snack on earth. High in monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, and lower in saturated fats than Peanut Butter, Almond Butter is the gift that keeps on giving. My favorite brand is Maranatha. They sell no-stir varieties, but I believe the no-stir contains palm oil. In the case of both peanut butter AND Almond Butter, I will absolutely insist on the ingredients being simply the nut, and perhaps salt as part of the roasting process. Palm oil is a cheap oil that’s added to nut butter to prevent the oils from separating. Unfortunately, it’s really high in saturated fats, which actually makes the whole exercise of eating nut butters pointless. Why on earth would you add sugar, palm oil, or any other additive to something as delicious as a peanut and an almond? You wouldn’t, unless you were a moron. Smucker’s makes the MOST delicious all natural peanut butters. The Crunchy version has a delicious, deeply roasted, peanut flavor, and if you simply must have a sweetened peanut butter, they make an all natural smooth peanut butter sweetened with honey. The ingredients read like some down-home recipe, “Peanuts, Salt, Honey”. They’re wonderful, delicious additions to your diet, just make sure you maintain strict portion control. I recommend partnering the peanut butter with the single serving of Triscuits. There’s a great snack that will fill you up for a couple hours, and only weighs in at about exactly 300 or so calories.

October 9, 2010

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

You work all day, you get home, you throw your daughter's balance bike in the car, grab the family, and go down to the ocean to walk on the boardwalk to watch your daughter ride her bike. Trust me when I tell you that life absolutely does not get ANY better than this. Moments like this make me acutely aware of how absolutely perfect my life and family are. I'm a blessed, lucky man who's surrounded by beautiful, wonderful people. I couldn't ask for a better life.
She's got AMAZING balance for 4 years old.

It's a balance bike. No pedals. It teaches her the most important thing to learn when riding a bike, balance. She'll graduate from this starter bike to a full blown bicycle completely bypassing training-wheels and as a result, no training-wheel anxiety. I watch her, amazed. She's skilled, she's fast, and she's got the balance of a circus performer. I couldn't be more proud of her.