To Revisit a Picture

I posted this very recently, but I would like to talk about this image, which in my mind is the best image of me that has ever been taken:

What you see here is me with almost ten years less and certainly several pounds less. For that alone, I could love this picture.

But there’s so much more to this.

The small human you see on my shoulder is our first child. You can see the sleep deprivation on my face and the joy that lies behind my eyes. I see strength in myself as a new father and someone ready for the next great adventure, but also the frailty of that “OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL DO WE THINK WE’RE DOING” just beneath the surface.

There are things about it that aren’t ideal; my lip is a mess from my anxiety, the exhaustion is clear on my face, and the light is harsh. But I love the subtle set of my jaw and the feeling of my being on guard for this little person.

So many things have changed since this was taken. Joshua is an older brother to three siblings and one yet to come. I have been through no less than three career sharp turns, with what was once a situation of despondence and worry turning into the greatest opportunity of my life to help change the world. There have been immeasurable joys and unimaginable sorrows.

I have learned that life is an amazing adventure and I do not know where it will take me even still.

What would I say to the man in this picture? I’m not sure I even know. But I know that he couldn’t have imagined the wild ride that was in front of him.


Times My Wife Cried During the 2011 MLB All-Star Game

It happened a few times so I figured I would keep track. :)

  • During the Brad Pitt-narrated video montage intro.
  • When they announced the families of the shooting who were there for the game and the presentation of the lineup card. (I think this was everybody crying.)
  • During the singing of the national anthem. (This was more out of sorrow for how it was sung.)
  • During the Chevy commercial about bringing babies home.
  • During the Pepsi Max “Field of Dreams” styled commercial.
  • When Joe Buck introduced Tim McCarver. (Just kidding. This was me crying.)
  • When Heath Bell handed the kid by the dugout a backpack with a signed baseball – “I can’t sign during the game but I can sign before.”
  • When the camera panned across the people in the stands with the Stand Up to Cancer signs. (She thought it was about Stan Musial – you know, “Stand for Stan.”)
  • When Rollie Fingers gave his mustache to the Pepsi Max delivery guy in that commercial.

She was scared enough that she would cry if the NL blew the game in the ninth inning that she gave up and went to sleep.

I love my wife and I love that my wife loves baseball.


Fiction gives us a second chance that li…

Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.

–Paul Theroux


The Markel Family Game Cabinet – April 2009 (Annotated)

Some of you have had conversations with me—especially via Twitter—regarding games of all kinds, so I thought it’d been a while since I’d shared a picture of the game cabinet. I like to do this every once in a while.

You can click on the picture to go to the Flickr page for the photo, which has notes for everything in the cabinet to detail them for you.



It’s an Endurance Test: How Long Can I Go Without Sleep?

It was bound to happen sooner or later. For the first real time in the history of this household, a round of sickness is washing throughout the entire family. Joshua started the madness last week Wednesday, and it seems as though he tried to close the circle last night with another round.

The youngest two have so far been unaffected, but the delay in appearance from the first child getting sick to the second (three full days) has the entire house just waiting to see what happens. Amanda finally got hit with it all day yesterday, and I called off today because I was certain it was headed in my direction next.

Thankfully, I haven’t been hit by it so far, and I seem to feel all right, even though I’m almost certain it’s just a matter of time before I’m in the same boat. In any case, Amanda certainly needed my help cleaning up after the “event” and tending to the children in their respective cases—which usually means forcing them to sit still and take it easy while they recuperate from being sick.

None of them actually want to remain still and just be sick.


Because I’m Flattered That a Coworker Dedicated a Setting to Me.

We hail Thee as our Savior, Lord,
Our refuge and our great reward;
Without Thy grace we waste away
Like flow’rs that wither and decay.

How oddly appropriate given that Hannah was recently baptized, and I think also that I needed to hear these words recently for some reason.

Thank you, Henry.


We’re Thankful That the Answer to Our Question Appears to Be “Nothing.”

I have two other, much more mundane posts in the draft hopper that are going to be posted later today when I get the time to do so, but both video games and my stuff breaking seemed at least a bit trivial in the wake of this afternoon’s slight scare that I’m not too worried about getting to them until after the children are in bed and my wife has returned home for the evening.

Early last week, Amanda began to display very faint signs that she was headed for pre-term labor with Hannah. We didn’t think much of it the first day, but when it happened a couple of days in a row, we were mildly concerned, so I had her call her doctor. She was told that she should report to the women’s evaluation unit at the hospital if she should experience any further symptoms like those she had seen, to at least go through some tests and maybe an examination to make sure she wasn’t going to have the baby anytime soon.

Guess what happened today.


I Am Ashamed That I Did Not Buy My Wife Something Made of Wood

For those not in the know, Amanda and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary this past Thursday the 18th.

We used up two days to celebrate, wihch is something we try to do with anything that’s a big deal in our lives in order to stretch it out and not make it feel as fleeting.  On Thursday, we had our anniversary proper, with no gifts (not in the budget for this year), but a wonderful meal of stale bread soup, which combines all sorts of things we both like, such as beef stock, northern beans, thick bread, diced ham, garlic, and spinach.  It’s really very good.

Last night, we used up a gift card my parents had sent us for Mothers’ Day and snagged some Applebee’s to go.  Good stuff – I’ll take any excuse I can to have some ribs, she got this seasonal-item steak sandwich that looked really good, and we shared an appetizer of tavern chips, which are little, thinkly sliced pieces of potato that are then fried, covered entirely with bacon pieces, jack, and cheddar cheeses, and packed with a little dipping tray of ranch dressing that’s had a whole bunch of awesome spices added to it.

All told, we are just extremely pleased to look at how far we have come and see the changes and the challenges we have faced together over the past five (and really, more like nine!) years.  It hasn’t been an easy path the whole time, and there have been times where we have disagreed rather strongly on one thing or another.  Sometimes, we wonder how we managed through some of the more upsetting things that have happened.

But at the end of each day, I love my wife and I love her for everything that she is, and I would never trade what we have for anything in the world.

Love you, Mrs.!


It is Now Officially “On,” Even Though It Will Take a While

Amanda just received a phone call from our house builder, and we are meeting the construction manager next week to discuss the home site and go through any questions we might have.

This means they will be doing things like pouring concrete and other cool things like that very, very soon.

Weather permitting, we could be in our home in four months or so.

“Stoked” does not even begin to explain how I feel about this right now.


I Haven’t Seen Them Myself, But I Hear One Hundred Eighty Thousand is a Lot of Dollars

The title is fitting as we have recently (and by recently, I mean last Saturday) signed a contract and placed a deposit to build us a new house. This would be an old topic if it were not for the fact that Amanda and I look at each other approximately a dozen times per day right now and casually mention to each other that we now, for all intents and purposes, own a home.

It is a very strange thing to think that soon, we will get to move your things to a place where they (hopefully) will be permanently located for a good decade or more, espeically considering the impermanence our recent string of residences have provided to us.

This is, of course, not an immediate thing, as we have been quoted at a six month minimum construction period, while they await the finalization of the financing, get the builder in gear and the subcontractors out to site, and wait for the utility companies to provide all the hook-ups necessary to a properly coded residence. It will be a difficult few months while we wait for this process to be completed.

But in the end, we will find ourselves fortunate to finally have a stable housing payment, a place to live that doesn’t share a wall with another family, twice the space we currently have for our young family, a back yard, and various other features associated with home ownership. We are stunned by the sheer enormity of our purchase and the fact that we will be laboring another thirty years before we have paid back the sum we are to borrow from a reputable financial establishment very soon.

I plan on going out as soon as is possible to snag an inexpensive digital camera with which to document this entire process, because I surely think that it is unthinkable that I would not have copious visual documentation of this process that I will be able to look at in twenty years and think, “this is a bunch of pictures of those guys building our home.” It is a very satisfying proposition, and I intend not to let it slip by without seizing full advantage of it.

All that is left before being assured of the completion of this project is to begin to save more money in our way to needing to buy home improvements and other tokens of necessity, as well as to complete the paperwork and disclosures necesaary to close on a loan of this magnitude. I can say that I have been assured by more than one party that I have the necessary financial clout and resources to “seal the deal,” as it were.

There are, of course, many more words to say about this process, and many thoughts crossing my mind, but it will take some time for me to put them down in concrete thoughts and words, due to the purely colossal nature of what has just happened in rather rapid succession.

To be short, we decided that it needed to be done, and went out and did it.

Six months before I can turn to my wife and children and say “Let’s go home.”

I can’t wait.