5 September
Chris Arends

We had recently taken a trip and just pulled into the garage. It had been a fun trip. Good for work, good to get away with Susan. Then as I was unloading I heard it. HHHHSSSSS. I look at the rear tire and there it is a hole in the tire that is leaking air quickly. I will admit at first I was bit pissed that this was happening.

When I started thinking about my options I realized this was actually good. Flat tires happen but when they happen can make a big difference. It was in the upper 90’s and I could be in a situation where I would have to put the spare on now meaning get dirty and sweaty in the garage where I have little space to move around in and it would be hot. The good news is we have another car and I work from home so I had no urgency to get this fixed in the heat. I could do it when I wanted to.

My next thought was this could have happened while we were driving. That could have meant tire damage, losing control of the car or having an accident or worse. I also wasn’t stuck on the side of the road having to unpack the car and fix this then have to get the tire fixed then put back on.

I was also lucky that my neighbor has an air compressor that enabled me to just fill the tire with enough air to get to my local tire shop who could plug the tire in five minutes. So what could have been a dangerous situation or a real hassle happened but it happened when and where it wasn’t really a big deal.

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31 August
Chris Arends

I was listening to a podcast the other day about creative thinkers. I was trying to think of people in my life that were creative. Since I was thinking about sending my Dad his birthday card he was top of mind. Initially I thought my Dad was far from creative.

For some reason I thought about all the “junk” that he bought at farm auctions and stored in our shop. Then I changed my mind that made re-think how I thought about him. We didn’t have much money at that time so he couldn’t have been buying things just to fill up the shop and make us sort can after can of nuts and bolts. For some of it he probably had to buy the lot to get something specific he wanted. For the other stuff he had plans for. He saw potential. I remember him always talking about a different way to things for the hogs or rigging up something. Not a lot of them got done but he proved something else from the podcast that creative people like Einstein, Edison or Beethoven weren’t necessarily smarter than other people they just had more ideas. By sheer volume they came up with great ideas or amazing music compositions. My Dad had a lot of ideas. They weren’t on the scale of relativity but they were creative. I like to think that he passed on to his sons some of that creativity in how to fix or build things.

His junk was helpful in other ways. It gave us material to play in creative ways. We made star fighters, ships and more from the odd pieces and parts he brought home. We played with that junk over and over again, expanding our imagination. It didn’t hurt that the shop was a good place to hide to keep from getting extra chores.

Thanks Dad for buying junk and seeing the potential and happy birthday.

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3 August
Chris Arends

My wife doesn’t really like pizza. Well at least not as much as our kids. When they were younger we started the “tradition” of having pizza for Friday night dinner and watching TV together. As they go older it never really went away except when they had marching band or other activities on Friday night. Now that they grown my wife still likes to keep the tradition alive. As I said it isn’t that she likes pizza all that much its that it gives her time with them when they are home.

It doesn’t really matter much what we watch, where we get the pizza just as long as we are together.

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29 July
Chris Arends

This may sound weird that I haven’t been able to get back to blogging on a regular basis for so long. Maybe it was that I didn’t have anything to say. Maybe I was just lazy. It could be any one of a dozen or more reasons. The things is I want go get back to writing more. I also want to take more photos and do something more with them. What has been stopping me? Me is the the short answer.

There are always stories in the news or we all have friends that are super achievers that make us want to vomit but we like them anyway. One reason is that they do inspire us even if they make us feel unworthy sometimes. So I need to get out of my own way, stop wasting time that I could be doing things that are more productive for me, my family, my job and just the world in general.

Some of my struggle has been what do I write about. My original purpose has been gone for so long but the reality is I probably need to keep being positive even though I am working and have been for quite some time. So I may not always write about being more than half full but I will be making an effort to get back into regular writing and posting some more photos as well.

Another reason I want to write more may be my own sense of what did I do with the first 50 years of my life and how will I do better with the next 50 or what ever I get. There are some good and some bad. Either way I still want to do more and do better. Some are bucket list type things others are more existentially motivated and others just sound like fun.

Look for new adventures, new ideas, and more entries. Some entries will be boring as we can’t hit a home run every day we can only do our best.

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23 December
Chris Arends

What to get your wife for Christmas is an age-old question. From the Gift of the Magi to A Christmas Story, men have been getting it wrong. Even when we listen to our wives we still manage to screw it up. My wife is great about not wanting stuff. Never really has. She always says we have too much stuff, not enough storage or she won’t really use what I think might be a good gift.

The reason I am not getting my wife anything for Christmas is she doesn’t want any thing. And its not that I don’t want to get her anything. Heck she deserves whatever she wants for putting up with my and the boys. It just seems that I never can get her the right thing. Wrong size, wrong color, wrong model, wrong thoughtful idea. No matter what I find a way to mess things up. So what she started doing is asking me to do things for her. Build this, fix that, help the kid’s type of things. Now that sounds sweet and like a bonus for me in that I don’t have to battle the malls or hope that Amazon can get it here on time but the reality is she is asking for one of the hardest things in the world.

Now, I will do my best to get as many of them done over the holidays and fortunately, my company shuts down over the holidays so you would think this would be no problem. The funny thing is between visiting family, watching football (doesn’t that count as family time?) and getting in an end of the year ride or two (she wouldn’t want me getting fat and dying early?). Add in then the kids work schedule, the weather or some other random event and suddenly it is time to go back to work and our regular schedule and low and behold I have failed to get my wife anything for Christmas.

So this year I am setting the bar low. I am not going to set any false expectations. While what my wife wants is one of the hardest things to give and what she deserves, making promises and not keeping them is worse than getting her nothing makes her frustrated and me feeling like a heel.
The goal is to not disappoint her this year. I am going to promise her my time but in ways that she can enjoy and that I can deliver.

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6 December
Chris Arends

I have been reading “Tuesdays with Morrie” which was left behind by Nick when he went off to college this fall. In it he talks about living as if today were the day were your last. As this is the Christmas season it got me thinking about the future. With Nick and Christine still dating and Robert thinking of the military as an option for next year this could be our last Christmas together with two special people that could very loosely be regarded as children in the house.

With Robert at almost 6’7″ it is hard to call him a child but he is still our little boy. He doesn’t have the responsibilities of being an adult yet but is quickly making some of those transitions. Nick is off at college so we don’t see or talk to him as much already and he is moving quickly towards going his own way.

While at the request of my Wife and Mother-in-law I have made a Christmas list, what I really want for Christmas this year is for the boys to take time to enjoy the season. This could be the last chance to have a Christmas season where all they have to do is go along for the ride. I want them to think about what it means to be Home. Giving their Mother the “gift” of doing their laundry, making the food they like and of course her baking. I want them to b engaged with the activities that are going on around with both their friends and family. Don’t spend too much time playing video games and share what is going on with those you care about. Before they know it they will have other distractions in the holiday season. As they get older, work, travel, eventually their own families and other distractions that will get in the way of truly enjoying the season.

I know this wish may be as elusive as flying reindeer but I am optimistic.

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16 April
Chris Arends

I could write about how I hate working late. The missed sleep, the early morning, the badge of courage for putting in extra hours. That really isn’t what is on my mind.

The truth is I kind of like working at this time. I can focus. Get in the zone and really get things accomplished. No email. No family. No distractions. Just me and the work.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a workaholic and its not that I don’t love my family. If I am in the cave and know that I could be doing something with them instead of working doesn’t create the best work environment on a Sunday night.

So I make the choice to work after they go to bed. I can lose track of time and make sure I get things done well instead of just done.

Sure I will have to listen to my 14 year old complain about how tired he is. Knowing that we had time together tonight and I still got some work done makes it all worth it. Don’t tell my boss. She thinks I do it because I love my job.

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24 June
Chris Arends

Yesterday our new friend from Germany arrived. Susan and the boys picked her up at the airport for her three week visit.

Felicitas- from Freudenstad Germany is working to improve her english and get some American culture. I don’t know who will be more shocked her or the boys.

Things will be a bit different for Nick and Robert as they adjust to having an 18 year old girl in the house. That means closing the bathroom door and always having good manners.

Feli loves that we have ceiling fans and that you can get chilled water and ice out of the door of the refriderator.

Another relief to her was that we have another car that is smaller than the Expidition which probably looks like a bus to her.

We will enjoy the next few weeks sharing our lives with her and learning about her and where she is from.

Stay tuned as we share our adventure with Felicitas.

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9 December
Chris Arends

Tonight my sons and I went and picked out our Christmas tree.  Despite that fact that they are 11 and 13 they didn’t mind that we walked down to the neighborhood nursery to pick out the tree. 



They happily looked through the selection of trees and easily decided on a tree.  After my evaluation of their choice we purchased the tree and as is our tradition proceeded to carry it home.   At this point they both eagerly grabbed an end of the tree and started for home.   I expected at some point one of them would get tired or just be annoyed that I wasn’t helping.  To my surprise they happily, almost joyfully carried it all the way home.  Now it is only about 5 blocks but it seems a  lot longer when you are carrying a 7 ft tall tree.  Yet they both could have gone on for miles.




After we got home they each helped in getting the tree up. Nick going into the attic to get the stand and ornaments and Robert setting up the tree stand.




Now I am sure to most of you that sounds great.  And to some extent it is to me as well.  Then I stood back and thought of the first time we did this, when they could barely stand the walk back and forth. Now here they are easily carrying the tree.  It is just one more reminder to me of how fast they are growing up and how I need to savor these moments.   In 5 or 6 years they may not be home for this part of Christmas, returning just in time to ask for the keys and gas money so they can see their friends.





This morning I was thinking how I wasn’t in the Christmas mood and how I needed to do something to help the boys slow down and remember the spirit of Christmas and here I am 12 hours later with thoughts of Christmas’ past, present and future going through my head.   Now all I need is for it to snow.

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30 November
Chris Arends

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my parents came down from Minnesota. Growing up in Iowa we always had Anderson Erickson Dairy products. This time of year was especially anticipated as they make their Egg Nog.egg nog

I don’t know if this is really good egg nog or just that it brings back childhood memories of Christmas but it is held up as the best egg nog myself of my brothers have ever had.

Now my parents knowing that we all love this egg nog told me they were going to bring some down. I thought, great and forgot about it until they arrived with 5 quarts. Now you might say that was nice of them except that I am the only one in my house who likes egg nog and the expiration date is December 8th.

It 250 calories in a half cup serving that is an extra 10,000 calories.  I don’t want to do the math on how many hours of cycling I am going to have to do to burn that off. T And I am sure it will be of no benefit to my cholesterol numbers either.

So as I sit here with my third glass of the day, I say thanks Mom and Dad for the egg nog.

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