Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas Story–A New Point of View

My son had his first Christmas and to say he was overwhelmed is an understatement. He got so many different gifts from all over. He was more interested in trying to eat the wrapping paper than anything. Oh, and eat Rudolph’s nose. Throughout the several Christmas’s we had with my wife’s mother and my parents and ourselves, we caught the great Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. It helps that is on for twenty-four hours straight. My wife had never seen it before a few years ago and now she watches it with me or by herself.

There is a scene that is one of the classics in the movie; however, I am looking at the scene in a whole new light. I watched as the father, played by the late Darrin McGavin is asking Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsby, if he had a nice Christmas. Then he leads him to a corner in the room where the great Red Ryder Air Rifle is hidden. Before, you always focus on Ralphie opening the present in absolute amazement. I watched the father this time and you almost see more excitement on him than you do Ralphie. He is laughing as he is opening it and of course, the mother has no idea what to say. I see the absolute joy on his face when his son unwraps the gift.

If he gets this much joy watching his son open up a present he got him, I can only imagine what our Father in Heaven feels when he sees us accept His Son into our hearts. That is the ultimate gift given to us over 2,000 years ago.

I hope I share this joy with my son as he gets older. I still remember when my parents did something like this when I was growing up. I really wanted a baseball bat that was going to make me hit 15 more homeruns. So after opening my presents, my parents sent me to a closet door near the main entrance of their house. I opened it up and there it was, the bat I wanted. I was overjoyed; however, I know my parents were equally happy as they saw how thrilled I was.

I guess I need to start finding some hiding places here in the house.

A Christmas Story–Ralphie opens present

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top Christmas Songs: Number One – Silent Night

Silent Night was written in in the early 1800’s and translated to English in 1859 by John Freeman Young, which is sung by many today (Underwood, The Hymn). I wish I could count the number of times I have sung this song and each time it gets to me. What an amazing night that must have been. It is an amazing experience to see the birth of your first child; but to birth the Son of God who was coming to save us, must have been mind-blowing. Josh Groban does a great rendition of the song a few years back in Disneyland. Enjoy.


Josh Groban–SIlent Night

Friday, December 24, 2010

Top Christmas Songs: Number Two – O, Holy Night

This song is one that to me, does not need an explanation why it is so powerful. It was written by Adolphe Adam back in 1847 after his parish priest asked for a Christmas poem (Collins, Stories of Best-loved Songs of Christmas 2001). The lyrics of course have changed over the years; however, what the lyrics are saying and their intention are crystal clear. Wikipedia has some of these lyrics here. Chris Tomlin did this version a few years back. Many of you know I am a big Chris Tomlin fan; however, he has changed up some big Praise and Worship songs, which does not mean they are bad, just different. See Amazing Grace: My Chains are Gone and Joy to the World: Unspeakable Joy.  However, this one was left exactly as he found out lyrically. Watch the video as it has the lyrics to this awesome praise to our Father above. It is almost hard not to get emotional.

Chris Tomlin–O, Holy Night

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top Christmas Songs: Number Three–I’ll Be Home for Christmas

I had heard this song many time growing up but never was a favorite of mine because I felt it never applied to me. I was always “home” for Christmas. Even after I moved to Phoenix, I flew home for the first few Christmas’s to be home with the family or they flew out to Phoenix. Home was wherever the family was at the time. Then came Christmas 2007 when my mom sent me the Josh Groban Noel album and I heard this version. I lost it to be honest. Josh Groban has an amazing voice and that cannot be argued. Listening to this version makes you realize that there are so many people in the world that cannot spend time Home for Christmas. Many of those people are serving in the military. During the song, you hear people wishing their loved ones Christmas greetings from all over the world as they defend our freedom. I cannot relate to this as I have only spent one Christmas away from my family; however, I sure as heck can appreciate this song so much more listening to this version. Even though we may not be together for the holiday, when we think of them, we are together.


Josh Groban–I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Jobs I Have Worked–You want me to take what position?

So it is just after Halloween in Phoenix, AZ and the Sales position had been going well at the SpringHill Suites in Glendale. Then I went to drop off some tickets to my boss and she dropped a little bomb on me. It looked as though she was leaving and wanted me to take over the hotel as General Manager. I was trying to gather all of what she said but knew there would be little time to react. I told her I would be more than happy to interview for the position and was quite thankful for her recommendation. I later found out they only interviewed one other candidate and they were not impressive. So right around Thanksgiving of 2006, I was named the General Manager in waiting. My boss was not leaving for another few months so I had time to soak up as much as possible. Glad I did.

The last major event we did together was the BCS National Championship in January 2007. We did shuttle service to and from the stadium. It was a fun time and a lot of hours, but prepped us for the following February, the Super Bowl! We had a staff that put in a lot of extra hours, that were much needed. We were shuttling peopleTravis Super Bowl that entire weekend to and from, well, anywhere they needed to go, They were paying a lot of money to stay ten miles from the Super Bowl, so guess what, they were going pretty much anywhere they wanted to complimentary. It was quite an experience, as the picture to the right can show (Picture courtesy of Bianca Harmon).

At the SpringHill, I worked WITH a great staff. We had very little turnover there and got through some weird and wild situations. Between a drunk guest flooding his room because he passed out on the bed and left the tub running to kicking out an family because the mother wanted to buy them alcohol. Oh and of course, being threatened because a guest did not want to check out. That was an interesting one.

Through it all though, we were hard workers that always took care of the guest, no matter how rude some could be (see life being threatened). I will always have the utmost respect and praise for the majority of those people I worked with during that time. Even when mistakes were made, they owned up to it and looked to learn from it. Mistakes will always happen in the work place; however, when you have people that are flexible enough to LEARN from their mistakes, then you are truly blessed.

So, I had to change things up and go home for Father’s Day. And man, did things get changed up!

Next time: Seriously, I went home for Father’s Day and my news is not the biggest news!

Top Christmas Songs: Number Four–Little Drummer Boy

This song was written by Katherine Davis in the early 1940’s(Boughton, Harrison Charles 1977). She is a Missourian, so that may be another reason why I love this song. The rendition I love is by a band that I listened to A LOT beginning in high school.  They released this as a four song EP in 1995. I listened to them play this song over and over and started to wonder exactly what the song was saying. It is a perfect song for Christmas. It references a boy who wanted to buy a newborn baby in a manger a gift; however, he could not afford it. So, with the new mother’s approval, the little boy played his drum for the baby. The thoughtfulness of it is almost overwhelming to me. A young boy wanted to celebrate the birth of our Savior and do something for him and all he could afford is to play his drum. The message of the song seems to be not what we are giving to others, but the intention behind it. Do we give gifts to others so we can have people be thanking us or is it enough to see the joy on someone’s face when they open that present or open that card at a time they really need it?

Jars of Clay–Little Drummer Boy

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Top Christmas Songs: Number Five–Christmas Shoes.

The following song I have heard many times. It is such a great song. Really makes you think what we are celebrating in a week. We are showing the love that God showed by sending his Son to save us. It is a tear jerker, but why is it a tear jerker? Is it because it may seem like a sad song or that we are so focused on what we are getting and not how we are giving?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Same Job, Whole New Field

So after an exciting two days in the insurance field, I went back on the job hunt. I only knew a few people in the Phoenix area but sent them emails to see what possibilities were out there. One of the emails came back with a lot of potential.

It was at a hotel that I had worked with while I worked for the baseball team in Surprise. He was going to be leaving soon his position at the hotel for another opportunity. So I went in for an interview for the Director of Sales position at the hotel. The interview last two hours and we did not really talk about work stuff that long. The General Manager and I talked for that long just over what had happened at previous jobs and I wanted to know more about the hospitality industry. So I kept asking question after question. She answered each one and I left feeling confident that the position was mine. I got a call about a week later and I was correct, I was the new Director of Sales of the Spring Hill Suites in Glendale, AZ.

I started during the busiest time of the year with Spring Training starting shortly and everyone coming to town to see their teams play. It was crazy to see all the baseball personnel and fans come together to see their teams get ready for the upcoming season. That ended and then came an event that I never thought I would ever be so close to: NASCAR. Holy cow that was a nutty week. For the record: I am not a NASCAR fan. I have been in arguments with many people, including those reading this right now about it even being a sport. I will still argue that point; however, I still had fun when they came and met the teams. The nicest group of people. I was introduced as the salesman that did not like NASCAR. They laughed it off and were still very polite, at least to my face.

First major adversity was in June of 2006. I had been there almost four months and we were preparing for our biggest group of the year as Madonna’s group was taking up 95% of our hotel. The day before they were due to check-in, a lady came to the desk and checked into a room. About 25 minutes she called down to let us know that she just downed a bottle of pills and we should call someone. Our AGM and Engineer ran upstairs to get her as we called 911. The lady survived; however, it was my first experience of why some people come to check into a hotel room: to check out, permanently. I was in shock but impressed with how the staff moved into action. It was a scary situation but it was handled perfectly from the staff’s point of view. It was impressive to see how everyone, other than me, had the initial shock look and then went into the proper crisis mode. Showed how experience in the field conquered experience of a job title. Wow.Brooks

We were staying busy throughout the summer months and into the fall. I was learning more and more about the hotel industry and the particular brands our franchisor covered. Then came a conversation with our General Manager that was quite shocking and unexpected. What would happen next?

Next time: So you want me to take what position??

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

So what am I Thankful for this year?

wDSC_0193I am thankful that I have a wonderful and loving wife.

I am thankful for an amazing son.

I am thankful for great parents who are now grandparents for theDSC05275 first time.

I am thankful for my brother who I get to see today.

I am thankful for a nice house we purchased a few months ago.

I am thankful for great friends both local and afar.

I am thankful for a new job I got this year.

I am thankful for a mother-in-law that cares so much for her daughter, son-in-law and of course grandson (no specific order, ha).

053I am thankful for a flexible company that worked with me so well during one of the most trying times in my life.

I am thankful for two cars that run well.

I am thankful for a staff at work that is willing to work holidays and is willing to work incredibly hard.

I am thankful for a Father in Heaven that loves me so much that no matter what I do or so, He welcomes me with open arms,

I am thankful for the troops that are around the world fighting to keep our great nation free.

I am thankful for the ability to provide for my family.

I am thankful to be alive.

I am thankful for amazing doctors.

I am thankful for God sending his angels down to watch overScan2_0002 me, my wife, my son, my family and friends when I was going through brain surgery this year.

Most importantly, I am thankful. It has been one crazy year and thankful I am here to celebrate my son’s first Thanksgiving, my wife’s first home cooked Thanksgiving for Cameron’s grandparents and uncle. What an amazing year to be thankful.


(First picture taken by Jeff Koziatek in June 2010, contact him @ Tallhippo. Remaining pictures taken by or with Stephanie Young’s camera.)

Next Job: So, two days gets me two weeks.

So here I am, living in a town called Surprise on the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. I am 1500 miles away from where I grew up my whole life, trying to find a job. So there was a position open with a company that looked like a good opportunity to get in to a large company. I will not be mentioning the name of the company, just that is in insurance sales.

I went in for the interview and I should have known that something was up then. They interviewed me and everything went fine. Then they asked me to type a letter for them to see how fast I could type. Apparently, it was fast enough and they were satisfied. I started in January of 2006. I was excited to get started with a company that had a great chance of advancement. I worked the first day and was told we were being tested the following week to be certified to sell insurance. It was a state requirement and was going to be a lot of studying. I was fine with that but then near the end of the day I was a tad confused when they told me that once we passed the test, we would be sitting at a call center for at least 18 months. What?

In the interview the told me that after only a few months, we would be sent to a local office to get more experience out in the field of sales. So I was a tad confused about spending that amount of times in a call center processing claims. Not that there is anything wrong with that; however, if you know me, I cannot sit still for 30 minutes, let alone 8 hours. I thought to give it another shot the next day and not give up on this quite yet. However, day two was not much better. They then tell me that, “Well, we day 18 months but about 98% of you will be in the call center for a few years.” That was the infamous straw that broke the camel’s back. I talked to the group leader and he told me to sleep on it. I told him I would but I knew what the decision was going to be. I called him the next day and told him I would return the materials for the class. Because I signed a contract, they were required to pay me for the two days of work and ten days of vacation. I told them to keep the money too but a week later, a check came in the mail.

As I look back on this job, I see God teaching me to trust Him more than I trust myself. I wanted the job simply to get a job and that was that. However, God had a whole other plan for me. I found that out the very next week.

Next job: Same job, whole new field.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Jobs I Have Worked - There is a Town Called Surprise????

An opportunity presented itself in November 2004. My current boss had accepted a position at a start up baseball team in Arizona. The whole league was a brand new league. I had never been to Arizona and was just told it was hot during the summer, or what people down in Arizona call it, a dry heat.

I went back and forth on the decision. I remember my mother telling me that there were plenty of snakes out there to scare me back here. (I have a HUGE fear of snakes, I will leave it at that.) So after going back and forth, I went for it. So the packing began!

I did not visit Arizona before I moved out there (highly do not recommend that), but I was trusting God was leading me out there for a reason. It was an interesting trip out there. I left on a cold January morning from my parents house and began the drive. I stayed at a lovely Days Inn right off the highway in Oklahoma City. The next stop was Albuquerque, NM where I stayed with a college roommate whom had just moved there a week prior to me. Then, made the final leg of the journey to a town called Surprise, just outside of Phoenix.

We were temporarily based at the stadium where we would play the games. This stadium could seat about double what we could at River City. Games were going to be starting in under 6 months so we were working a LOT of hours to get this team going. We knew going into it that we were not going to be able to sell out every game and our goals were going to have to be different that what our goals were in St. Louis.

The first set of games were great. Decent crowds and a lot of excitement around the team. The team was not great and did not have a lot of chemistry; however, we had some things to build on from a promotional standpoint. Then, the beginning of the end started to happen.

First, they let go our Director of Public Relations because we were not gaining in attendance in 110 degree heat. Our name was out there; however, people wanted to stay inside and understandably so. That happened on a Thursday night, right before our biggest series of the year with Rickey Henderson coming to town. Then, it all collapsed. They fired my bosses the day the series was supposed to start and several other people quit following this. So here I am facing a major life dilemma: Do I quit as well and support my bosses who were also good friends, or do I have stand on my own for the first time in my after school experience? I never felt like I stood alone when it came to my jobs after college. The Rascals job came from my internship I had with them the year before and a job was created for me after college. We all had been good friends and it did not feel like a “normal” job. So after going back and forth, I told the league I would be staying on board.

We finished out the season not well at all. If we had more than on average 75 people watch our games, I would be shocked. We would sell tickets and do group outings; however, it was so hot, people would not pick their tickets up. The most entertaining parts of games was when we would announce the attendance. We had to announce sold tickets and not actual bodies in the ballpark. After the season, the league waited a few months with our team in Surprise, but they ended up folding the team. It was not shocking at all. The league was starting to already make drastic decisions to the years of research in some towns. They wanted me to join a new team in Reno, NV and an existing team in Fullerton, CA, but I wanted out of baseball. That year had wore me down. So I got out of baseball and was going to try and figure out what to do with my life 1500 miles from where I grew up.

I still wonder at times if I regret making the decision I did by staying on with the team. I am thankful I spent the rest of the summer with the team. Not because I was enjoying what I was doing; however, I proved to myself and others that I could do this whole working thing on my own. It was a challenge placed in front of me and it was the beginning of me growing up.

Next job: So, two days gets me two weeks.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jobs I have Worked – From Internship to 1st job after college.

So I guess it is coincidence that I write about this job as we are having some sort of a reunion this weekend with some of the staff at this job. It just shows to me that this was more of a job to a lot of us. For the majority of us, we see each other as family.

I needed an internship for my degree at the University of Missouri. I wanted to get involved in minor league baseball and started looking. I knew that a lot of teams existed and I started contacting teams across the Midwest. I had one team very interested and asked for another interview, but in person. They were about 400 miles away from Columbia, MO and knew it would be a new challenge for me to work far away from home. Then I remembered a team just outside of St. Louis in O’Fallon, MO. They had another team across the river in Illinois that was just starting up. So, I interviewed with both teams over spring break. The one across the river had a lot of growing pains and were not looking for an intern right at that moment. I then got a call from the team in O’Fallon inviting me to join the team that summer. Excited does not even begin to describe how I felt. I was doing an internship in baseball. If you know me, that was a dream come true.

Rascals Days2 I started at the end of May and worked until the middle of August before I had to go back to school. We had to work a minimum of 480 hours for to receive a grade in the class. I think I hit that about halfway through the internship. We worked from 8:30 in the morning and usually went late into the evening on game days. We also had extra events at the ballpark that we worked the concession stand and had a blast doing it.

The summer flew by so quickly. We worked extremely hard and brought in a lot of fans. I started to learn what the business was about and it is just a little more than the baseball that is played on the field. Its’ focus was on the fans and the fans would have a good time no matter what the final score of the game was.

Rascal Days After my only second A+ in college (Dad, be nice!), I went back to college for my senior year to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life that May. The Rascals asked me to come back even though they went through a management change. I graduated from Mizzou on a Sunday and by that Wednesday morning, I was back in the office. That began my life in the “real world.” We had many high’s and lo’s while working at the Rascals. There are too many stories to write on hear that helped shape my understanding of working hard. What I learned is that if your work can be great only if you have a staff around you to make it great. We had that staff. We were around each other so much during the season, once the season ended, we continued to hang out on many nights. From watching college football on weekends to having late nights playing Bond on XBOX.

I left the Rascals in January 2005 for my next job, which will be talked about next time. Since then, we have stayed in touch. Many have gotten married and had kids. Some have moved on to high end jobs and some have passed on. Either way, for everyone I worked with at the Rascals, I will always be in debt and learned something from each and everyone there. It really helped to teach me how to be the worker I am today!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jobs I have worked – You want me to drive WHO around??

There were random small jobs I have worked in my life that led to something a little bigger. This one while I was in college is a perfect example.

I was part of a group in our dormitory called Community Leaders or “CL’s".” As a CL, you do a lot for the dorm between organizing the lovely carpet delivery for new students to putting on a big outdoor concert to almost setting a building on fire. Okay, the last part was an accident and the Hearnes Center is still there. However, we also assisted Student Activities to provide security to concerts that came to town. We worked the Run DMC show the beginning of our sophomore year and of course all thought it was the coolest thing. After that concert, I started to get a little bit more involved in Student Activities. Next thing I knew, I was running the Special Events committee. We had several committee’s on Student Activities (Black Programming, Music, Film, etc) and what was cool is we all helped each other out for events. Just ask me about working a concert with Genuwine. Ha!

Anyway, we focused in on a up and coming comedian to bring in to town. He was well in our budget for a comedian as we were not there to make money. We had a budget we had for each year and your focus was to break even, or maybe lose just a bit. The comedian did not need a whole lot and just a ride to and from the airport in Columbia and a hotel room. The comedian you ask: Jimmy Fallon of SNL fame and now his own Late Show on NBC. The event was in one word: AWESOME! Sold out the theatre which blew us all away. I had the privilege of introducing him in front of almost 1000 Mizzou students. It was crazy! He stayed afterwards and signed every autograph outside the theatre.

Then, over FAMILY weekend the following October my junior year, I brought in another comedian by the name of Lewis Black. I highlight family because I think his shows are more for adults then the family. He sold out another venue on campus and he was very different from Jimmy Fallon. Lewis was more of the go out afterwards and shut the bar down type of guy. Not getting drunk but just be out and talking to everyone. Someone asked him if Jon Stewart was around and he went into a hysterical yelling rampage, all in good fun. He came back the following year, after I relinquished my title and I was asked to drive him around again.

It was fun driving them around as well as some of the others I worked with; however, the whole process from start to finished really showed me the importance of following through each and every item on a project. It has definitely been used from working in ALL the future jobs I have held. Crazy to think that these shows happened ten years ago; yet, their principles are still being used to this day.

Next time: Jobs I have Worked – From Internship to 1st job after college.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jobs I have Worked – Grocery Store

So as I was heading into my junior year of high school, my parents emphasized to me that if I wanted a car (what hg student doesn’t), a more permanent job would be required of me. I went to the grocery store chain here in St. Louis and re-applied for the job I applied for several months back. They turned me down simply for scheduling issues I had with playing summer baseball. Now that baseball was over, the hired me on as a bagger, sorry Courtesy Clerk.

It was a fairly busy job. Very flexible with school and worked a lot on the weekends and they were flexible around my church schedule too. I have absolutely no complaints about them as an employer and would highly recommend them to anyone.

The majority of times, you could assume by the day of the week how busy you would be. Usually busy around 5-7 during the week and the afternoons on the weekend. You would have random events that caused craziness. Thanksgiving was always entertaining for me because you would see people come in around 10pm and get a 14lb frozen turkey and shocked we had them in stock. Well, since it takes quite awhile to defrost the bird correctly, you were not going to have that turkey for Thanksgiving. Christmas Eve was relatively simply because we closed around 8pm and people would start heading to church earlier in the evening.

When I turned 18, they moved me into a new position as a checker. The would have me as an Express Checker so I was in charge of sending the courtesy clerks out to get carts as well as when other courtesy clerks and checkers would go on break. Authority at 18!! Major Euphoria! Okay, it was not a lot but hey, I took it.

What was even more great about the job is that it was available to me when I cam in for holidays and the summer. I would work the later hours if need be and ended up closing up the store a lot of times. One evening, after closing, I counted my drawer and went to drop it off in the safe. Well, the courtesy counter had shut down early and they were gone. The manager on duty had left as well so it was me and the overnight crew. I had to go track them down and get them to sign off on my drop. They were afraid to do it because they had not done it before and were unsure of the procedures. We went back and forth for a few minutes and we finally called the store director. Long story short, a manager and the person who left the courtesy counter were not too happy with me for about a week after they were reprimanded.

What that one event taught me is that yes, you may be scheduled to a certain time; however, revolve around your associates’ schedule when needed. You have to be flexible in ANY job you work. Even union jobs and what may seem like mindless jobs. Flexible is key, not break. You do not want your life to revolve around work and break from your family and friends. But be flexible. Bend a little bit for them.

Next time: Jobs I have worked – You want me to drive WHO around??

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cody – One Great Dog

The past few months there has been talk from my parents that the end is looking near for our family dog. Cody has been with our family since 1996. I never had an issue of not having a dog growing up. It was not a big deal to me. Friends of mine and dogs and I thought every now and then it would be cool and sometimes would say something to my folks; however, nothing ever came of it. Then my brother came along.Picture 372

He wanted a dog. He had to find a way to make it happen. My dad started to side with him and get a dog too. That left my mom to be the one to get on board. The only way that was happening as if both my dad and brother agreed to sign a contract to take care of the dog and my mom had very little to do with him. That worked out for maybe a week.

My dad and brother decided on a dog they wanted and drove to Kansas to get him. The picked the dog up from a breeder and made the journey back to St. Louis. He was an instant hit. I was at work when they got back to the house. Neighbors started to come up to work and ask if I had seen the dog because he was so cute. I FINALLY got off work and went home. The dog came running to me and was going crazy. Hyper dog!! And then, Cody made his mark: He peed on the kitchen floor. I laughed and my mom started 14 years of clean ups.

We do not have crazy stories about Cody from the book and movie “Marley and Me” like a dog attacking a training and humping them. He would always follow my mom around, especially the kitchen when she needed to get food on the table. He did that pretty much every day of his life. The big holidays were his favorite days. He would hang out, in the kitchen while the food was prepared. Mom would ask someone to move him to another room; yet, he would find his way back. And then when that food would go to the table, he would not hesitate to just sit down, many times between my mom  and me looking for food. When I would get up to go to the kitchen, he would follow me and of course, he got some good food. Not cheap tenderloin, but Cody was worth it.

Travis 042My brother has since graduated from college and lives about five hours away now. He came in last weekend to see him as his health has gotten worse.  It was a chance to see him one last time before Cody’s time will come. We had a wedding to attend last weekend and my parents were watching our son during the reception. Cody has yet to take my son on as a member of this family and has made his disapproval clear; however, at one point, my son leaned over and began to pet Cameron on his ear. I wish I could have seen it and it must be a magical moment for my parents.

Cody is going through pain and I support this decision for this tough weekend ahead. I will say my goodbye’s to not just a good dog, but a great dog. A member of our immediate family is going to be leaving us and not hearing him come down the stairs or sitting in the kitchen while making a sandwich will be so difficult for all of us when we go over there now. But, we have great memories of our Cody. He was the greatest dog we could ever have. Goodbye my friend.

You can read my dad’s blog regarding Cody: Tough Decision Ahead.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Jobs I have worked – Tom Sawyer wannabe

This is the job I did not get paid for monetarily but man did it teach me some things.

It was during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had applied for a job at a local grocery store; however, with the baseball demands I had, I could not commit to the time they required. Umpiring was not a real possibility anymore since I was playing more games than I had previous with playing JV and Varsity Legion baseball. So I would just relax around the house or hang with friends during the day. Well, to my parents, that was for some reason unacceptable.

Coincidentally during this time, my parents were starting to redo their white picket fence around the yard. So, before they were going to have it professionally painted, they needed to sand off the old paint and get it prepared. You see where this is going.

So I would go out there for several hours a day, never complaining and thanking God for such a great opportunity to learn the true meaning of working hard. Okay, so I may think that now, but not then. My mother and I would fight about this ALL the time. I am sure my father would attest to this simply because he I am sure got calls at work about me complaining. I still would go out there and do the work, even while friends gave me crap about it.

I always equated work with money growing up and that was it; however, this job taught me that when a job is completed and you might get a few bucks, there is a greater satisfaction in knowing YOU completed something. It took me awhile to see that but I look back on this experience and besides needing to apologize to my parents (especially my mother), it was something I NEEDED and appreciated.

Next time – Bag them groceries!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Jobs I have worked - Photography

So during the school year of my sophomore year, a friend and myself worked for a guy who went to our church. What made it better was the fact he lived about 10 minutes walking from my parents so I did not need a ride over there. He was and still is a great photographer and was looking for a few assistants to help him get his photographs organized. The St. Louis Rams had just moved from Los Angeles and he got a job as being one of their photographers. I do not think I have seen so many pictures of football players in my life. From talking on the sideline to plays on the field to the fans.

He also would do events in St. Louis as well as college events. He worked with the Saint Louis University Women’s Basketball team. This was the one event that he took me out on the job for to see what he did and keep up with what he had to do. A 15 year old male going to watch women’s college basketball: TOUGH CALL. He was all over the place. Shooting from different angles from the court to the stands. Not many people attended the girls games in the mid 90’s as they played on campus in an OLD gymnasium so he could move around all over the place without interfering with anyone’s views.

It amazed me how the process worked. He would take the pictures to going into his dark room and develop them to cutting them to getting them into slides. Then after all this work, he would get a few pictures from the clients and the rest would be for him to keep. It was insane the work and dedication that he put into one event to get less than 25% of the pictures taken.

What David Preston showed me was that hard work and dedication to God and family through your work may not produce the big bucks all the time. But it sure earns you a lot of respect from people. I saw him about three weeks ago taking pictures for a big hospitality event in downtown St. Louis. He was taking pictures of the mayor of the city and county controller. He has garnered the respect of MANY organizations in this great town. He does something he loves and keeps pressing forward.

I would love to see his collection of slides now though. That was 15 years ago this fall!

To see more of David Preston, go to

Next Job – Tom Sawyer Impersonator????

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The jobs I have worked – Soccer Referee

So the umpiring job only was during the spring/summer time and I needed something to do on weekends during the fall. I had played football my freshman year and right after I was named a captain for the next game, I tore my hamstring and football was done. Something was needed to fill the time.

I always loved soccer and played throughout grade school. St. Louis does have a fairly decent history of soccer and the love of the sport here. The high school I attended won the state title twice while I was there. I wanted to do something like umpiring and something I would not have to commit a lot of time to with still being in school. So I got into the world of CYC soccer referring.

Umpiring was one thing, soccer is a whole other story. Not just the running up and down the sidelines; however, the issues with the parents were a LOT worse and the things they would say. I usually worked with the same other guy on Saturday mornings about 5-10 minutes from where I grew up. The parents would be lined up all along one sideline because of how the field was situated. We would flip Saturdays on who would get the “special” sideline.

For the most part, things would roll off me when they were said. I understood they would be frustrated with their ten year old missing a shot and it only had to be because they were fouled. I was not one to just call the foul or penalty. I wanted to show them and the coaches what they were doing wrong and if they kept doing it, then I would call it.

One fall Saturday I got the “special” sideline. As we were going through the first game, I noticed that the coach was acting as if he was coaching in the World Cup. His team was not very good and continuously got called for offsides. Then, he screamed at me when I did not call it for the other side and they were scored upon. I pulled him aside and explained to him why it was not called. The parents were even getting embarrassed and were yelling at him. He shrugged it off and we moved on to halftime. I was talking to the other referee and I overheard him tell the kids to try and kick the ball “towards” me to see if I could get out of the way. His team was down a few goals at this point and seems as though he had given up on the game. The other referee and I talked and both agreed if this happened, the coach would be kicked out and I would have to report it to the league.

So, about five minutes in, the coaches son was going down the line and kicked it square at me as I was running in the out of bounds area. I caught the ball and stopped the game. I went to the coach and through him out. He exploded. The parents held him back and he told me he would be waiting for me in the parking lot. SERIOUSLY?? I went to the kid and looked at him. He said “I’m sorry sir but I have to listen to what he says.” Simply put: Sad.

My dad was waiting in the parking lot afterwards to pick me up and I was escorted to my car and we left. I am not sure if my dad remembers the event but it seems as though it happened yesterday. I drove by the field a few months back while we were looking at homes. I cringed.

Many who know me, know I am a sports nut. Now that I have a son, I would like to be involved in my son’s sports career, if he chooses to go that route. I pray I am not like that coach. He lost a lot of respect from many that day, possibly his son. That man showed me the father I do NOT want to be. I pray for that man that somehow, God has changed his heart. His son is probably in his mid 20’s now and may have a kid of his own. Weird to look at that situation now through a parent’s eyes.

Next job – Photography??????

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The jobs I have worked – Umpire

Just this past Wednesday, I attended an event in downtown St. Louis with many hotel associates. As I was walking around, I noticed a gentleman I used to worked for about 15 years ago. I was unable to talk to him as he was working and was far away from me when I recognized him. It got me thinking of all the jobs I have had so far in my life and what did I learn from them.

I had turned 15 years old when I began my career path and was an umpire for little league baseball. We had a local park in my hometown where I had played at just the previous year. It was an extremely flexible job because I was also playing baseball for my high school as well as Legion baseball during the summer. Even with all that going on, my parents wanted me to get my feet wet with a part-time job. So I did just that by umpiring. I would get to the park and work 1 or 2 games depending on the night. We got paid by how many games we worked. I worked as many as I could as it was something I loved doing. I was around baseball and I got to be involved in a different part of the game. It was a blast.

Two events I remember taught me about perseverance and patience in confrontation. Umpires deal with a lot of confrontation, that I have seen numerous times. What shocked me is that it happened as much as it did in 7th grade baseball! I made a call at first once that I will admit was wrong. I called the runner out when he was clearly safe. I looked at the play and did not listen for the ball to hit the glove. The coach came on to the field and I was ready to get screamed at as I was already beginning to second guess my call. The coach put his arm around me and simply said, “You got it wrong and I think you know it.” I told him I knew I missed it and he simply said, “Mistakes happen. But remember this Travis, keep having fun.” That was it. He walked away and the call did not play any call on the game. It showed me how to deal with a problem situation properly. Not lose it and scream at someone, that accomplishes zilch.

The second event was a game I was working with someone I saw at the event mentioned at the beginning. I did not talk with him as he was walking away at the end of the event, but I would like to get in touch with him to see how he is doing. Anyway, I digress. We were working a game one night that took forever. I was behind the plate and it was taking forever. That happens a lot in little league baseball with a lot of offense and not a lot of defense. The game was nearly at the automatic game stoppage with one team up by 10 in the fifth inning. The bases were loaded with two outs. The batter had two strikes on him and a pitch came that was right on the corner. I was about ready to call him out and the game would be over. Time to go home early!! Instead, I called it a ball. I was shocked I even called it a ball. This time, this call bit not only myself but my friend working in the field. Why did it bite you may ask? Well, the inning lasted about 40 minutes as they came back to take the lead in this one inning. The game ended up lasting until about 11:45 that night, about two hours later than expected. We were not even allowed to start and inning after 11pm. So guess what happened the last inning! I apologized to my buddy and he had forgotten about the call and told me that this was the greatest game he had ever been apart of before. It taught me this: Even through adversity, focus on the positive.

I only umpired for one spring/summer as baseball commitments controlled me more after that freshman summer. I still have to say I enjoyed that job and still look at it as a learning experience, even though with these two stories, I was not the greatest umpire. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, right?

Next time: The Jobs I have worked – Referring Soccer

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Still a Great Movie

I have always been an early riser. My parents can confirm this as they love telling the story of them coming into the living room and I am up watching golf at 6am when I am just a few years old. In college, I would sleep in a little bit but not that much consistently. Now that my son is trying to be like daddy, I rarely sleep past 5:30 in the morning. Stephanie is the complete opposite of me and loves to sleep so when I do get up early in the morning, I tend to have some peaceful moments in the day before Cameron wakes up and brings even more joy to my day.mission-DVDcover

This morning, I woke up around 5am and came out to the living room. I flip through some infomercials and sports highlights before I find one of my top five favorite movies of all-time. It is a movie of love lost deep sin committed and a chance of repentance. The movie is entitled The Mission starring Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson. I saw this movie years ago and it was a movie my parents had watched and recommended. Robert De Niro plays a Spanish slave trader who finds out his wife does not love him anymore. He ends up killing her lover and is held in a jail. Meanwhile, a Jesuit priest, played by Jeremy Irons, takes him in and brings him to the a remote area which they are serving in the mountains. 

I will not give away what happens at the end of the movie, as I do encourage all reading to watch it or if you have seen it, watch it  again. The part of the movie that really hits me is the scene when they arrive in the mountains and meet up with the tribe they are assisting. Robert De Niro’s character, Rodrigo, is carrying a massive net filled with junk as his penalty for the murder of his wife’s lover. He struggles throughout the trip going through the jungle and is in a state of complete exhaustion. As he finally gets to the tribe, a member of the tribe runs at him with a knife. He is thinking his life is over as his stares at the knife to his throat. The tribal member then cuts the huge net and shoves it off a cliff and it lands in the water, which carries the netting away never to be scene again. Rodrigo then begins to sob as people come up and hug him. He realizes his burden is no more.

How many times have we been at a state of complete exhaustion? If I am guessing, we have all hit that proverbial brick wall. We want to just rest and sit down. We need a good nights’ sleep. We need to kick back after a busy week at work and watch a good movie and forget that we are having marital problems or that a financial burden is growing larger and larger.

However, we are taught to press on with our eyes focused on Him. In the book of Philippians, Paul says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). This is coming from someone who HATED Christians so having to forget that lifestyle and straining towards Christ must have been an incredible challenge for Paul. But he pressed on towards Heaven!

Next time you or I hit that brick wall, what will we do? Sit down and rest and relax? Or, will we press on knowing that we can do ANYTHING and get through ANYTHING if our eyes and hearts are focused on God?

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

What 9/11 means to me now

Has it really been nine years ago since 9/11 happened? Really? It seems like it was something that just happened yesterday and something that happened about 25 years ago. I can tell you exactly where I was throughout the entire day.

My roommate and I were heading to campus at the University of Missouri for classes for the day. As he drove, we heard on the radio that a plane had flown into a World Trade Center. They thought it was a small plane and that was all that they had heard. When we got to campus, I did not have class for a few hours so I went to Ellis library. As I got there, they had a small television with about 100 students watching. We watched as the second tower got hit and knew there was a major issue. We all tried to get to the computers to find out what was going happening. Remember, this was when high speed internet was only a few years old and it could not handle all of us going to the’s of the web. I found a way around it by going to a more familiar site, They were covering what was going on as well. The rest of the day turned into a blur. I hung out in Speaker’s Circle for awhile and watched adults sobbing, praying, holding each other; but most of us were just in shock.

Everything stopped in America. No flights for a few days, no sports, no other news other than all that was going on in New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA.

About a week later, baseball returned to a game with the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets. It was the hardest I had ever cried watching a game. The reason I cried was two-fold I think. Remembering what had just happened was the obvious reason; however, it showed that we knew that as a country, we had to go forward and show we can come back from this. What is more American than a simple baseball game.

9/11 is my generation’s Pearl Harbor or Kennedy Assassination. You will never forget where you were and how things changed. Nine years later, things sure have changed. 9/11 will always be my son’s half birthday. 6 months ago, Cameron was born at 2:15am.

The following are two songs and two videos I watched or listened to a lot after 9/11. Never forget. To those who lost those on that day as well as those who have lost loved ones while fighting for freedom.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Does listening to music move you?

There are not many things my mother and I shared while I grew up. I was a rough playing sports loving school, not a fan of boy and she was a mother who really, really wanted a girl to have afternoon tea with and take trips to the ballet. I think she is secretly wanting me to have a girl now so she can have that or more or less, so I can experience something similar to what she went through, raising someone who has none of the same interests as you. Well, we had a few.

One of those things was an artist she introduced me too when I was a teenager. It was an artist whom I had sung some of his music in Sunday school and in church service; however, was not 100% familiar with the name. So I borrowed the CD, then I think she gave up and just bought herself the CD. She had no problem doing that because of who the artist was and what he stood for in his life.

The name of the artist is Rich Mullins. The man was an INCREDIBLE songwriter for God. He was a devout Catholic who lived on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico. He never played these large concerts but he had a serious following. He played many intimate shows and did as many as he could so he could try and connect with as many people as possible. He preached the word in his music. He wrote songs about how awesome our God is as well as songs about seeking Him daily. If you go through the list of songs he wrote, you have in doubt sang them in church. He led the way when it came to worship leaders; however, he would never claim that. He was someone who gave ALL credit to Christ.

In just under two weeks, it will be 13 years since he passed away in a car accident in Illinois. There are times I still listen to his songs and it is hard not to get choked up. I wonder what it would have been with him writing songs for another five years down here. However, then I think of what he has done in heaven praising God playing his music. It makes me smile just thinking about it. He was down here long enough to engrain Christ’s message into our lives.

A few are below. The second one is one of his last concerts he performed in Lufkin, Texas. If you go to the video, you can see all the parts. I encourage you to listen to the music and his message in between the songs. What a powerful vessel he still is today, almost 13 years since he went home.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Baseball Cards: What happened???

My mom raised myself and my brother to love God, love family and to simply love like Christ asked us to love others. There is no doubt in my mind that she was hoping to have a daughter so she could have a sweet ballerina. Well, God had other ideas. Not only did my mom have two sports loving boys but also had a male dog that seems to follow her at only the times she does not need Cody to follow her. By the way, Cody is 14+ years old right now and the doctor recently said that they were shocked that Cody has lasted this long as it is rare in his breed. Go figure.

Not only did she have ALL boys in the house, but she grew up in the same atmosphere. She has two brothers who LOVED sports, especially baseball and had a father that, to say he LOVED baseball, is like saying that I am kind of a St. Louis Cardinals fan. They man loved his baseball, and definitely where I got my love of the sport. He would watch Wednesday night baseball with me when we would visit. Even though he was in his mid 80’s and I was in my late single digit years, he would stay awake longer than me to watch those games.

From that love grew that passion for baseball cards. I remember my mom’s parents bought me the 1987 Topps Set for my birthday one year. I remember my Granny buying me a box of cards when I was young and thought that was incredible as well! I would find the players I thought were going to be great and put them in a card protector sleeve. I had and still have boxes of baseball cards. If you are a true fan and collected cards growing up, you still will randomly go through the cards HOPING to find that one card that has been overlooked that will pay for your child’s first ten minutes of college. I had a subscription to Beckett Magazine for a few years so I could get the updated prices on my cards. I got some hand me down cards from my uncles and grandfather which a few might be worth something some day.

In the early 90’s, things started to change with baseball cards. It seems like they were trying to start making several more brands of cards that seemed to push the collecting envelope. I remember when Fleer came out and then Fleer Ultra and Upper Deck Select. I stopped collecting nearing high school in the mid 90’s. It just seemed to much.

When I moved back to St. Louis over a year ago, my parents gave me boxes of baseball cards. My wife saw them and I am pretty sure rolled her eyes a few times. I am not sure if my son will collect baseball cards or not. Either way, I will share with him my collection. It is not that spectacular; however, it is something to show him what it used to be. When you were so excited to get that piece of stale gum and how TICKED I would be to get that Team Leaders cards. Granted they were great to put in your spokes of your bike to make that sweet, sweet noise.

If he does start to collect baseball cards, I hope it is still somewhat fun as it was for me. It seems to have a different focus now rather than for fun or for that sweet noise on the bike.

Oh, and I am starting to feel for my wife too now. Last night, while Cameron was crying, I turned on a baseball game and he just starred at the television and started to laugh. Oh, how I will love it but poor mom. Sounds like I have said that before.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Almost 5 Years Later

I woke up rather early this morning between Cameron crying and just some stresses at work. So I came out and started to watch a series that I have been meaning to watch for some time now. The name of the series is entitled Treme and it is a ten part series from HBO. I have watched many HBO series but this one has another meaning to myself.

The series is about post-Katrina New Orleans. Both of my parents are from Louisiana and my dad is from New Orleans. New Orleans has been a part of me since as long as I can remember. I am on episode 8 right now and looks like it will be finished tonight (depending on Cameron and his random crying fits).

As I was watching the first few episodes, I could not help but feel sad. See, last year our General Manager’s conference was in New Orleans. My wife came with me as she was able to meet several family members that were not able to make our wedding. On the last day we were in New Orleans, my parents’ friends gave us a tour of the main areas affected by the hurricane. A fellow GM and a good friend of mine joined me and my parents’ friends for the tour. We saw so much sadness as there were blocks and blocks of homes, damaged and no one around to inhabit them. This was 4.5 years after the hurricane and streets were empty. It was shocking. I have no pictures to show on here because, we took no pictures. None were needed as they are sketched in our minds forever.

Getting back to why I felt sad. Several of the opening scenes were them driving around the same areas we drove last year. It made me question: It has been this long since the storm and it still looks this way?? It makes no sense to me why it is taking so long. I am not here to get into the political side of things. It is just sad that a city feels as neglected as New Orleans is and it is apart of me.

I am proud to have New Orleans in me and that I can try and pass as much of it on to my son now. It may be sad but New Orleans will come back. As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” In English: Let the good times roll!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baptism Sunday

Today is a big day for our family. It is the celebration DSC05033 of Cameron’s Baptism. We think it is such a great day because it is a celebration of where we have come with our buddy since he has made his grand entrance  on March 11th this year. Stephanie’s mother flew into town for the event and my parents will be attending the service at our church this morning. We do not believe this “gets him into heaven;” however, we believe that we will be parents that show him God’s amazing love for us and that we ask God to bless Him and continue His great Love to Cameron. 

Many of you know our story and what happened when we went into the hospital. I think today is a celebration of all that happened and how were blessed by God before, during and after what happened.

We went in to be induced on March 10, 2010 at 10pm at night. We got situated in the hospital room and were watching television. When Stephanie began to be induced, they were having an issue to get the IV started. To put it short, Stephanie DOES NOT LIKE NEEDLES. She curled up into a ball and was bawling. All I could do was hold her and say it was going to be okay and it was nearly complete. Well, I started to get the feeling that I needed something with sugar in it and I said “I do not feel that w……”. I was trying to say well; however, I passed out. When I passed out, I slammed my head on the ground. When that occurred and was found the next day, the force had cause a cerebral hemorrhage in my brain.

At the EXACT moment the doctor was telling me that information, a pastor from the church we had been attending walked in to the room. The pastor and I had never met before but developed an immediate friendship. He sat and prayed with my father and me as my mom went running from the room to tell Stephanie what was going on with me. The pastor read from Psalm 34. It encouraged me and all I could say is we will praise Him through this and How Great our God really is.

After prepping for an hour and PRAYING, the rolled me past Stephanie’s room. I had to sign a document that due to the high risk of surgery, I could pass away. We were both aware of that as we cried together and hugged. This is the part of the story that always takes the longest because I stop and cry each time I write this or tell the story. The feelings that were running through me were insane. I can not explain them to you other than I am thankful we had God holding us through that time.

I went into surgery at 4:20pm and I woke up just after 6pm (a certain hospital in Phoenix take note! (Another story)). I called Stephanie’s room and talked to her. It was awesome to hear her and also awesome we were not parents yet! I had not missed it.

I went up to my room and there were friends and family all over. It was such an awesome feeling to have after all that happened. It meant the world to me to have that type of support.

After awhile, people went home and I just hung out with my nurses and monitors awaiting to hear about Stephanie and the baby. I found out around 9pm that they were going to be able to get me into the room for the birth. They told me to rest up before hand and so I tried to sleep the best I could. My brother crashed in my room on the pullout sofa.

Then at 1:25pm, in come the nurses. We get whisked downstairs and I get sent into the room, or wheeled to be more accurate. I was a tad shocked to see Stephanie’s mom and my mom in there hold her and helping her through the delivery. Talk about troopers coming together to help out!!! Cameron came at 2:15am Thursday March 11, 2010. I got to cut the cord and hold him for a bit before I had to return. Oh, and he was 10lbs 3oz. THAT’S RIGHT: HUGE!! But healthy.

This picture here simply sums up this experience. Stephanie with one of her nurses who was there through it all, me with TWO of my nurses who made sure I was in the room and of Scan2_0002course, our Cameron. It makes me think about all that happened and all that, as a family, we ALL went through and all I can simply say is How Great Thou Art!! People are shocked by our story and how I am came through the surgery but to be honest, God pulled us through and also, Stephanie was the amazing one through this. She delivered the big boy but also had to see her husband and best friend pass out, hear the noise of my head on the ground, hear I have to have brain surgery watch me being wheeled away and THEN pushed that baby out FIVE DAYS EARLY at 10 lbs. She showed me God’s amazing love to this day and am thankful for that.

So today is a special day. This is how I see it three hours before the baptism. I will share some pictures and hopefully video of it after the event. And yes, I will be in tears but the tears will be that of joy and happiness. I am blessed to have this story of trials OVERCOME simply by the grace of God. I hope this story is service to Him that ANYTHING can be overcome when Christ is on your side!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our first house

Lately, Stephanie and I have been doing some major house hunting. We feel now is the time to get into the housing market. We keep searching for that perfect house. I have been talking with my parents about things we need to look for in buying a home for a small family.

30 years ago, my parents were doing the same thing, trying to find that first home with their first newborn son. I vaguely remember that home. It was in a good area of St. Louis named Creve Coeur. It was off of a major street and close to my father’s work, which could be considered a good or bad thing. We lived there for just about six years before we moved to where they still live to this day in Kirkwood.

The crazy thing is, I still remember some great memories of the house in Creve Coeur. I remember the neighbors right next door to us that had a basketball hoop. I remember I would go over there at times and they would give me some of the sugary breakfast items that my folks tried to avoid giving me. They had two boys who were much older than me. The husband passed away a few years after we moved away. My mom still talks to the wife from time to time.

There were not a lot of kids right at my age in the neighborhood. So after schools we be exploring in the backyard or, going across the street. There was an elderly couple that lived there. Several days a week, I would come home from school and go over there for Goldfish, 7 up and Jeopardy. We kept in touch from time to time after we left and sadly, when I was in the 4th grade, she passed away. I remember attending her 37funeral and waiting for my folks in the rain to pick me up at school. It was one of the first funerals I had attended. My grandfather passed away after I turned seven; however, my dad was the only one who could attend the services in New Orleans.

I drove by my first house about 8 weeks ago. Not much has changed on the street, other than the people. I remember the neighbors and how they influenced me. Crazy to think that in only living there six years and it being my first home, that I still remember those people and memories. It makes me smile to remember them. The more I look at it, the more I see that your house can be a great house. It could have all the great features you could ever want and more; however, if you have no one around you to support the house, what is it really worth? I will always remember that house; but, I will remember the memories and people much, much clearer.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh LeBron, What happened?

So last Thursday I sat at home with my wife and soon to be four month year old baby boy and just sat back and relaxed. Had a nice dinner and had some good family time. And then I nearly lost my dinner watching the special on ESPN called “The Decision.”

I do not know LeBron James but I must say this: This is one very self absorbed individual. He has a one hour “special” to let the world know how rough this summer has been on him and his family and he wants to move past all of this. I am not exactly sure what moving past all this was since teams and cities were foaming at the mouth to throw MILLIONS of dollars at him. Yeah, sounds rough to me too LeBron. I COMPLETELY understand what you are going through. I mean, the house we are trying to afford and pay off medical bills for brain surgery and a ten pound baby pushed out naturally. Seriously, I get it LeBron.

Then twenty five minutes in he makes his choice for Miami. He ahs to team up with other stars to win a championship. Talk about the definition of NOT being a leader but a follower. He is joining a “dream team” so that he can win the big one. That is what makes you a better basketball player or a better man: FOLLOW someone that has won WITHOUT you.

Then it got even more interesting. The Cleveland Cavaliers owner made a comment to get the situation moved in a whole other direction! You can read the whole letter here, but to summarize: LeBron, I hope you never win anything ever you traitor. The Jesse Jackson got involved.

Sigh. I have never liked Jesse Jackson. Everything is about race and he sticks his egocentric “thoughts” in the middle of EVERYTHING and this is what we get (Jesse Jackson rant.) Just an FYI: Actual slaves did not get a $15 million/YEAR salary! I’m just saying.

In the end, we have a heart broken town, a bitter owner, an activist who claims this bitter owner is a racist and a talented player who is now a follower.

I have to admit I watched it for 30 minutes and then turned it off. You can see a re-creation of the interview here. Thanks to Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd for the recreation. At least enjoy this video.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The River City Rascals-Those were the days

Work was quite busy yesterday, especially when the we had a major water issue at the hotel. We got it all resolved thanks to an amazing staff of people around me.

As the day winded down and carpet blowers were makingRascals Days2 their way out of the hotel, I went to a local restaurant to meet up with a friend and former “associate” from my days at the River City Rascals. For those of us who have worked in minor league baseball, you are more than just 8 hour of day acquaintances. You spend 16 hours a day together during the season and you develop friendships that last no matter where you end up at later down the road. These were not associates. These were friends.

We sat down and were going through stories that were making us laugh as well as stories that were making us reflect upon people who were part of our group who are no longer with us. We kept on telling stories as we left and hung out in the parking lot afterwards going on and on about the times we shared.

We talked about the campouts that were out on the field, the times we played Golden Tee after games in what used to be the arcade and also asked about the friends we had not caught up with in years.

Even after the season, we all still would hang out and enjoy the down time. We talked about how playing Tiger Woods golf until late at night and of course many upon many of James Bond night with someone always getting the missile launcher and blowing up his own teammates.

Since I left the Rascals in early 2005, not one work experience has ever been the same.  That means nothing against the three companies I have worked for since; however, it is something I do not want to replace, but just to remember with fond memories. It took me a few years to realize that but the experiences I have had are not something to be replaced. The associates I have worked with and have worked for are different, but not in a bad way, just different.

I can remember a story about each of those staff members. I will never look at baseball the same since working there. I will also not look at Thanksgiving Day parades the same. I am excited I can go back to the ballpark there as a fan now and support the franchise that supported me for four seasons.

Great memories.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes.

One year ago, I posted a video from the band Switchfoot entitled “Home.”

I just watched the video again and all that has happened, I will admit I shed a few tears. Home for me, I thought was St. Louis, MO.

If anyone knows me, I am a St. Louis boy, born and proud to be from. I will ramble on for hours about Cardinals baseball and the love I have for them. When I posted this a year ago, I was going through several sets of interviews that eventually brought me back to where I grew up. So this song naturally came to mind.

Home is not necessarily St. Louis for me. Home, on Earth, is with my amazing wife and my awesome son. They are the ones that keep me going through the day. The reason I get emotional about it is simply because this is the place I belong. We are so wrapped up in “life” that we forget where we belong and sometimes even, who we belong to.

Where I reside for the rest of my earthly life may be St. Louis. It makes me smile who I get to spend that time with here. As my son sleeps on our bed, or heck, his bed, I think of this song.

“And now after all my searching, After all my questions, I’m gonna call it home. I’ve got a brand new mindset, I can finally see the sunset. I’m gonna call it home” (Switchfoot: Home).

Where is your home on this Earth? Are you there?

What an Amazing Man

I have been trying to think of a story or something that would really bring out my dad on this Father’s Day. This is a very special Father’s Day to me. I get to be apart of the celebration this year now that Cameron has made his entrance into our lives. It excites me I get to share this day with my dad now, but it is a little challenging. I have a LOT to live up to be anywhere near the father my dad has always been to me and my brother.

They always say that baseball is something between fathers and sons and is an incredible experience. I always thought that but in a much different way. My dad did not grow up liking baseball or sports for the most part. At Louisiana State University, he got to see Pete Maravich play basketball as well as experience Saturday night watching LSU football. Then after a few years, they moved to St. Louis. St. Louis has this special bond with their baseball team. You always wear Cardinal red to games and you cheer for other accomplishments of the other team, at times. You respect the game of baseball.  I grew up LOVING baseball and having a father that was not the biggest fan, it could come as a challenge. But not my dad. He would go out and play catch with me. He would drive me to and from games and cheer me on in the stands. He SUPPORTED me.

The first memory I remember of going to a Cardinals game was the World Series in 1987. I am guessing I remember that particular one because it was such a huge game. My mom entered for us to get tickets and we got selected. Nothing was going to stop my dad from taking his 7 year old baseball nut to a World Series game. I also remember other games he took us too. When I was 16 we had AMAZING seats about five rows up behind the Braves Dugout in the 1996 National League Championship Series.

After a few years, and me moving away, we rarely didadd anything regarding baseball. Then the Cardinals built a new stadium when I was in Phoenix and decided to win the World Series then. Awesome timing! I came back the following year for his birthday and I TOOK my dad to a game. I knew he was not there to cheer as loud as he could for the Cardinals. He went to the game with me because he supported me through me appreciating him. Oh and as you can tell, he wore his Cardinal red too.

What I have learned from him is that you need to support your family no matter what they do. If they want to stay focused in their studies, encourage them. If they want to get involved in sports, encourage them. If they make mistakes and are unsure where to go, encourage and LOVE them. I love my dad. He has done this for over thirty years now and he is starting to do the same with my son.

So dad, thanks for encouraging me with all that I have done. You have set forth quite a challenge for me to live up to; however, I am thankful I have that challenge. You have been an amazing example of what Christ has set out for you to be as our dad. What an amazing man you are in our lives. Thanks dad.