Friday, July 31, 2009

The Brothers Are Here . . .

Following 15 hours of delays for half of them and two hours for the other half - Patrick, Ryan, Joyell, Erin and To-Be-Baby-Amore are all here! We're so very thrilled to have them here and are hoping for a great, long weekend of descent weather and great family time.

I think these video clips sum up the first evening of the visit. Photo recaps with Patrick and physics with Ryan.

Ah, the childhood photo albums + brothers + beer = hilarity! Maybe you had to be there!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Simmon Family . . .

I have a co-worker here that is going through the often difficult, emotionally challenging and wonderfully thrilling process of adopting a child.

Joy and I know all too well how hard it can be but Mike and his wife are doing an international adoption and it has gotten very crazy as Ethiopia has cracked down on some "questionable" processes in the courts.

Mike and Chelsea are gooooood people. Their son Gabriel (they have pictures and video) is beautiful and charming and sweet and he's just sitting there. Waiting. And they are just sitting here. Waiting. They are a family separated by thousands of miles, a court system and a whole big ball or red tape.

Anywho - if you are the praying type (and I know SOME of you are) please say a prayer for them. They have a new court date on August 5th.

And if you want to help offset the costs of their adoption and get a very cool looking t-shirt, click here and contact Mike and Chelsea to order one (or a dozen) shirts.

Keep your chins up and love Gabriel all you can, Mike and Chelsea. He'll be with you soon enough

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ava Grace . . .

Today, my dear, sweet Ava Grace turns THREE. It is so hard to believe that it has been three long years (and quite literally a lifetime - one that has JUST begun) since Joy and I drove, anxiously, to the hospital here in Wichita knowing that our wait to be a family was over and that our daughter was finally about to come in to our lives.

It is also hard to believe how different our life is today versus that day and how life just sort of has a way of taking its twists and turns and making you feel like a fool as soon as you feel like you've got it all figured out.

I won't get too sappy here, Biddlebops but please know that I love you and your Mommy more than I ever thought I could love a wife or a child (when I thought I had it all figured out by trying to spend my life blissfully alone) and I am so very grateful that you came in to our lives and, frankly, I'm glad you came in to our lives the way you did.

It was just one of the many, many moments of my life that has reminded me that I'm a fool and that I don't have it all figured out. I needed it and I am happy that we all beautifully survived the the first of the many twists and turns that will no doubt set the pace of our life as a family.

You're smart, kind, caring, imaginative and funny. I'm the lucky guy that gets your hugs and kisses and professions of love and affection. I'm a lucky guy. I'm a blessed man. I'm a fool. I'm blissfully happy in all of that - thanks to you and that lovely woman you call Mom(my)!

The day you were born . . .

The day you turned one . . .

The day you turned two . . .

The day you turned three (uh, today) . . .

Whatcha' Been Up To? . . .

Hey, everybody. LONG TIME NO BLOG! I apologize for that. I have a bunch of drafts started but it's been a NUTTY two weeks or so since I last got a few minutes to post.

I know what you're wondering - what's been going on? Well, for those of you on my Facebook network (and all 12 of your readers should almost ALL be on my Facebook network by now (smile)) would know I've been super busy with work.

I got a new title. Insert back-pat and new box of business cards here. I'm now a "Communities Strategist." Yeah, I know, utter industry gibberish but I LOVE it and I'm excited that I have a new title. I spent the first 11 years of my professional life strongly committed to being a "PR guy" and was very, very obsessed with that part of my industry and staying in it and strong but - almost two years at a full service-integrated-agency later, I am now happy to shed the PR part of my title and to embrace the spectrum of what we can do here. My CEO is beaming with pride right now (smile).

Anywho - with new titles comes great responsibility (I think that is what Spider Man's aunt told him at least) and that means I've been getting my feet, cankles, knees, thighs and armpits very, very wet with an RFP that has dominated my life for two full weeks.

An RFP, for the gloriously unacquainted, is a "request for proposals." Organizations (who are increasingly just fishing for great ideas and understanding on budget perspective, according to AdAge) issue RFPs when they are bidding out work, seeking a new agency of record or considering a change in their creative and communications process.

We pitched the client this morning and it went well, I think - but that is not the point of this here post.

I co-coordinated the effort with one of my favorite colleagues (she's very smart and funny and talented and a very hard worker) and we worked a TON. 90 hours between last Saturday and this morning (I left here at 12:45) to be exact. I worked 14 straight days on this thing. The weird thing is, as tired as I am (and I am exhausted - I cried and cried on the drive back from the pitch this morning (I was alone in the car (except for two life-sized cutouts of coworkers, a cooler full of dry ice and 14 additional display boards)) I am not upset about the time or the effort.

I missed Joy and Ava. I saw them very, very little this week (Joy went back to work last Monday - but more about that in another post) and I got very, very little sleep but it felt great to be involved and to be busy and to feel like I was helping my agency sharpen its proverbial pencil and get some great ideas and work and direction on paper for a client.

The hours though . . . oy the hours. It reminds me of "old Sean" that lived in Baltimore and worked in downtown Washington, DC for a man that didn't seem to understand a "work-life balance." I worked 10, 11, 12 hour days regularly. And that was before factoring in the three hours I spent commuting each day. I was tired all the time. It felt like jet lag, only without the thrill of being someplace exotic (or coming back from one) and I just wanted to sleep, eat or both alllll the time. I was cranky. I was moody. I was anti-social and I was unwilling to really snap out of it. All this, mind you, while I was a married man that could not afford to just eat, sleep, crank out and be alone all the time.

It was weird to go through this process as the "new" me. To not have 300 extra pounds to further weigh me down. To not just mindlessly eat as a way to try to cope with the misery. To not just rage out at my co-workers, boss, friends and family when the stress level started to rise. To not do what I had always done. I realized that this was a short stint. A "reminder" of what my life was like. Not a return to the "old days." Not a "regression." Not a problem. Wifey was her normal, loving self. She let me have my time and my crankiness and she took on the extra hours with Ava and with her job in stride. She's nearly perfect. I don't deserve her. I worry that she will realize that one day but - six years in - she's still willing to just subtly hint that she's figured it out every now and again (smile).

I'm happy it is over. I've got lots of enthusiasm for spending some quality time with Joy and Ava this week and - drum roll please - Ryan and Erin land Thursday night and Patrick and Joyell come in on Friday so we are SUPER excited about this coming weekend (which will likely be exhausting in its own rite but in a very different direction).

Wish us luck on the RFP. We're super excited about the client, the work and the potential and we gave them 78 different tactical suggestions that should give us plenty of work on the back end. And if that means extra hours . . . clearly I can still handle that too.

Now - if you'll excuse me - I. Must. Sleep.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Simpson's Wedding . . .

We (and by "we" I mean Wifey) just booked our tickets and hotel for Stacy Simpson's wedding. She's getting hitched (sorry, Tom Kelly) at a beautiful resort in the Dominican Republic and we are super, super excited about the trip.

This will be the first time Joy and I leave the country together (save for a morning spent on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls two summers ago) and my first trip to one of those fancy-schmancy all-inclusive resorts where you have to take a bathing suit and linen pants. Save for the Amore Family Cruise in 1999, this is my first time ever going south of Florida. This will also be our first, true family vacation too.

We could not be more excited (even though it is still eight months away).

We've already started buying clothes (that are on clearance now) to take with us and Ava has been trying, very hard, to pronounce Dominican Republic correctly ("Go airplane get to beach!" she's got down (smile)).

I'm thrilled for Stacy and I'm thrilled that we get to go on a trip!

Sorry, Chachi, for the terrible photo of the two of us (you look lovely as always but I look . . . well . . . ) but I don't have one of us since my surgery - let's fix that on the beach (smile)!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Running . . .

I have been struggling to force myself to exercise lately. To run, more specifically. I'm very much committed to getting in to shape and running but I just . . . ugh.

Work has been crazy (not an excuse) and Joy is getting ready to go back to work (not an excuse) and I'm trying to make more time for Ava and Joy since our lives are about to change again (a valid thing to do - but not an excuse) and I'm out of good DVRed television (not an excuse) and I'm just not sure how much motivation I get out a commitment that I still have essentially four months to prepare for (I know I'll be eating those words in October/November).

Anywho - I can't find my copy of Heft on Wheels (a MUST read for any of us fatties, especially men, who are trying to get moving (literally) in this life) and I can't seem to draw inspiration from the already-bought run clothes (in sizes smaller than my current ones) that mock me from my work-out clothes drawer and even my stalled physical progress seems to leave me feeling "eh, whatever" about the whole thing. What's a man to do? You already know if you're reading this . . . I turned, as always, to the Internet.

Here's what I found.

One, a spot about shaking the "old you"! Another about my favorite topic-to-end-all-topics, moobs. Finally, a very, very funny movie that you can watch on DVD while running.

Let's go RUN, shall we?!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Blubber Belt Blankets the South . . .

Great read on obesity and the way it beats the crap out of the south and specifically Mississippi. For what it is worth, my proud, Southern people . . . I love your food, your culture and your patience with living in the deep, deep south.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Friend Al . . .

Picture it! The Eastern Market/Potomac Avenue "section" of Southeast, Washington, DC. 1999 - 2004.

An apartment where "men" live. I mean REAL men. The kind of man with girlfriends who lived in separate (and not always neighboring) states lived. The kind that, largely, lived paycheck to paycheck (if not hand out to hand out). The kind that didn't care what time the Metro stopped running because a cab would pick you up in front of any bar in town at any time you wanted them to. The kind of men that welcomed friends to come and crash on the couch - but had friends that new better than to actually SLEEP on that couch. The kind of apartment that the men ONLY moved out of to move in with their betrothed. And that was only because they wouldn't move in with US and the other men. The kid of man with arthritic thumbs from the time spent playing PS2. The kind of men with no food in the cupboards, only beer, wine and liquor in the fridge and three plates - only one of which was "clean" at any given time. We were men. Men that ate whatever was easy, delicious and minimally nutritious food. We were the kind of men that had Al on speed dial.

"Who is Al?" you foolishly ask. Well - you've OBVIOUSLY never gotten the invite to crash on our couch so let me go ahead and tell you about Al - our Executive Chef for all those years.

Al is the namesake for Al's Gourmet Pizza. And let me tell you - that is not just some sort of slapped together name that didn't walk the talk. No, no. Al was GOURMET all the way. And he, and his crew, delivered in 30 minutes or less and they knew our number (and our order) when we showed up on their caller ID.

We ordered from Al's at LEAST four nights a week and sometimes we would order from him more than once per evening (I remember one particular night when we ate 300 wings, two pizzas, four subs and some mozzarella sticks . . . spread out over five hours and six separate orders).

The TYPICAL dinner order was a SIXTEEN INCH sub for everyone who happened to be at the apartment when we picked up the phone (you could TRY to order the eight (note the lower cases there vs. upper for the SIXTEEN) but you would be chided and overruled). And we're not talking turkey breast with reduced fat mayo and fresh veggies. Nah. Screw that. We're talking cheeseburger or chicken patty or tuna with extra mayo or Meat Of Your Choice parmesan. Fish Filet (when we had Catholics over during Lenten Fridays ONLY).

The TYPICAL snack/Tiger Woods Golf order was at least 100 wings with a towel underneath the tray to protect the ottoman.

I can't even BEGIN to imagine how many thousands of calories Al provided me with on any given week - much less over the life time of him being my Executive Chef. Needless to say it was a love affair that my roommates and friends handled better than I did or could. They could actually put the second eight inch sub (the sixteen-incher was actually two, separate, eight inch subs) away for later. They could put down their paper towel before the last wing was gone. They could leave a slice of pizza for someone else to eat for breakfast (if the bugs and mice didn't get to it first).

I never went to Al's. Never wanted to. I never wanted to meet the man or thank him - face to face - for all the delicious dinners and drunken fulfillment. Okay - to be honest - I never wanted to leave my couch to go further than the front door to get my Al's. Vinu went TO Al's once though. Once. He said it was utterly anti-climatic and a bit of a turn off. Turns out Al is NOT at the stove. He's not tossing pizza crust in the air and ladeling mayo on the subs himself. He's not frying the fish filet and he's not putting the speciality in his specialty pizzas.

Nope. Turns out that Al's is actually a sad little storefront without much charm or sitting space and with a television that is set to the soccer channel and turned up way too loud (here I just assumed it was an actual mob of excited fans chanting for the pizza in the background when I called).

Turns out that Al's is not worth the mystique I put on him or the romance with which I discuss the food he sold me to this day. I don't care though. You were a good friend, Al. Thanks for that! Thanks for everything!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gastric Band Going Direct-To-Consumers . . .

I just read this article (thanks to a colleague) in a trade publication that I hold near and dear (there is a killer AdAge podcast too, if you care) and . . . well . . . here comes the soap box.

I'm ALL about empowerment in the fight against obesity. I am. Tell us to eat less. Tell us to move. Reward us for our efforts. Chide us for our failures. Point out every fad diet, work out trend, get-skinny-quick scheme and self-adjusting, hidden elastic waist banded pant you can. I love it. I love it all and I consume it all with the ferocity I once saved only for a box of my beloved Oatmeal Creme Pies.

I am all for education and shared resources and experiences and demystifying the process of bariatric surgery but - come on people - do we REALLY need to market lap bands and/or gastric bypass surgery directly to people? On YouTube? Really?

We can't leave DOCTORS in the middle on this? How about the EMMI program (an educational web site designed for engaged patients and surgical candidates) or a microsite that talks about options in a less "commercial" way. I get the idea of DOCTORS using the Internet as a viable, cost effective way to further education.

And - let me be clear (before someone defends this site or calls me a hypocrite or whatever) I am not just complaining about this campaign on YouTube or that the product is also advertised on television. This is not about Realize, Ethicon or its parent company Johnson & Johnson. No disrespect intended to the company that - speaking of band(s) AIDS, that is, has covered more cuts, scrapes and bruises on my body than I even care to quantify.

I'm MORE concerned about this glut of advertising we're getting from the so-called "pharma" industry for all these products, services and offerings and how you should ask your doctor if X is right for you.

Half of the ads (I swear to God) don't even really tell you what X is . . . much less what it might do for you - if it is right for you. And I get that the ads have to devote their time to disclaimers about nose bleeds, indigestion, permanent eye discoloration, night sweats, fits of violence and general annoyance following the use of the product advertised but . . . here is a solution - STOP advertising this stuff directly to consumers. Stop putting people holding hands while laying in neighboring bathtubs on top of a cliff watching a sunset to tell me Wifey and I can still chose the "right moment" even after Little Sean (and I do mean LITTLE (smile)) fails me. And stop implying the right moment might be in neighboring bathtubs on a cliff watching a sunset anyway. I get that you have regulations governing how you can influence, er MARKET to doctors and I get that you also have a million protectors limiting how you can market to consumers and other audiences as well.

We are living in the year 2009 though, people. Figure out how to market TOWARDS your targets without making people think your product is some "one size fits all" commodity or solution. The testimonial web site is a good first step. It is. Two thumbs up there. It is still too much though. The wide-open Internet, especially a portal like YouTube, is not the right place to "sell" lap band. There is too much information, too many opinions, too much conflicting information, too much potential to confuse and inundate OR to sell this lifestyle of ours off as a silver bullet.

Gastric Bypass nor its red-headed step cousin (no disrespect to those that opt for it) the Lap Band procedure are NOT for everyone. They are not. The statistics show that. The human experience shows that. The weight gain after the procedures shows that. The mortality rates from complications the surgery puts on existing/other conditions shows that. This blog and my grammatical errors talk about that. Any number of resources can tell you how "dangerous" and "deadly" gastric bypass is. I read it all. I worried about it all. And then I sat down with DOCTORS who explained it all to me and helped me understand what the procedure might mean for me and what my personal odds and chances and risks were.

Let a DOCTOR (and God love the good men and women that devote their lives to trying to get the fattening, depressed, smoking, drinking, over eating, over stressed, inactive and sexually overextended LOT of us feeling "better" if ONLY for a few days at a time) decide if these procedures are right for "us" or at least trust that any good, self-aware and self-loathing fatty (like myself) is already at least aware of if not considering bariatric surgery BEFORE they see your TV commercial, YouTube video or other DTC effort for advertising.

I don't mean to bite the hand that feeds me (strategic, smart communications and marketing is vital to our economy (just ask me and my colleagues)) but . . . come on . . . let's leave the Internet to porn and other things it was really made for.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Workout Checklist . . .

I'm still working out like a "mad man" (and by "mad man" I mean some one that works out about five times a week for about 45 mintues at a time with the intention of moderate weight loss, muscle development and an improved overall outlook on life). I have to say - I'm really, really enjoying it.

I don't see any real impact on my body. My clothes don't fit any differently. My lungs don't feel like they have a larger balloonability. My arms are not confused as "guns" when I show them off at the pool. My tattoo doesn't look any cooler (I kid - I would never get a tattoo, the pain would be far too much for me to possibly sit through),

I FEEL better though. That is a given though, I suppose (these lunatic freaks all around me have been telling me for 33 years now that exercise feels good and makes you feel good (Wuh-tever)). I've noticed though that the undiagnosed-but-rampant-none-the-less "OCD" that runs so much of my life has crept its way in to my exercies routine. Here, for your point-and-laugh pleasure, is my pre- and post-workout checklist.

There is a certain madness you can engage in when you work out at home, in the privacy of your basement that you just don't get at the local park or the gym or your nearest Curves (apparently my "kind" aren't welcome there anyway (sorry, ladies)).

I digress . . .

1 - Get my sweet, sweet workout gear (picture something spandex/lycra based on the bottom with a tight fighting, graphically printed t-shirt that says something like "Just Do It" up top, ladies - then stop laughing and replace that image with loose fighthing jersey knit cotton shorts and an oversized, solid colored t-shirt, with pocket up high) on and head to the basement. Take two towels (one for sweat, one to cover the display on the treadmill) with me. Grab a magazine on the way down (if you're NOT a subscriber to Cat Fancy ask yourself why you are NOT capable of giving and receiving love and then subscribe when you realize you ARE capable). Stretch it alllll out (I'm talkin' groin too here, ladies).
2 - Strap on my sweet, sweet running shoes. Check another two miles off my 500 Mile 'til I Replace the Kicks Chart (because once I check them off I HAVE to run them).
3 - Listen to my warm up song while cueing up something to watch on television.
4 - Say a quick prayer that my heart, mind and body will either a) survive the work out to follow or allow me the power to crawl to the phone across the room so I can call for Joy and/or 911 help before I black out. Remind God that I don't waste his time with the little stuff so he can know I'm very serious about this request (you can take 300 pounds off the boy but you can't take the mortal fear of a massive heart attack, stroke or other physical collapse off the mind of that boy).
5 - Hop on the treadmill and get the walking started (I do this while listening to MGMT and talking with the Powers That Be).
6 - Put my Nickelodeon water bottle with 20 carefully poured ounces of water (with flavor packet - I'm digging the Kroger brand, sugar free, faux-Gatorade with Lemon-Lime flavoring lately) on the window sill next ot the treadmill. Test to make sure I can reach it without actually turning my body more than 45 degrees from the front of the treamill (the real trouble comes at around 50 degrees, stumbling sets in at around 60, catastrophe surely lurks in the low 70s).
7 - Finish my song. Wrap iPod headphones around iPod. Toss iPod on the loveseat. Curse when it bounces back off. Stare at it - there on the floor - for the next 40 minutes. Ruing the day they (those bastards) invented cushions.
8 - Hit play on whatever TV I have cued up. Kick up the speed, the incline and the positive energy.
9 - Lay towel, specifically and strategically, over the display of the treadmill. Begin sweating within seconds (I'm a dog and the towel is Pavlov).

1 - Wipe massive amounts of sweat from brow, equipment and walls, floor, ceiling and upholestry surrounding my work out area
2 - Take off running shoes and place back on trophy shelf (that might someday house troph(y/ies) after kissing the inner soles of each and thanking them for giving this angel some wings
3 - Wring out socks. Throw against wall. Know they will still be stuck there, ready for next workout.
4 - Sit on loveseat in basement. Exhale deeply. Loudly mutter something (and to lonesome self) that will likely contain the Lord's name (taken in the wrong spirit) at least twice and one or two four letter words -none of which would make my mother or the aforementioned Lord proud or happy.
5 - Pant. Two to three minutes. Pausing only for repeat of step four.
6 - Stand. Turn of crappy summer television show or DVRed episode of the great television that TNT saves for the summer (that imp Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer tickles me pink)
7 - Turn off the lights. Grab my empty water bottle. Head up the stairs to the real world that awaits me.
8 - Stop in the kitchen. Have a teaspoon of peanut butter on my way upstairs to the wife, daughter and dog that likely await me (no one sleeps around here)
9 - Take off my work out clothes. Throw them in the laundry. Head to the bathroom and get ready for bed.
10 - Sleep like a baby (a normal, sleep loving baby not MY particular baby).

If you ARE a medical professional (Michele, Laura, Joe, Chris, Melissa, etc.) please feel free to send help and/or narcotics . . . I really want to get through the pain to get my kick-butt tattoo of the Little Debbie logo on the back of my calf (or, uh, something like that).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blowin' Stuff Up in the 'Burbs . . .

I wanted to post a few pictures from our great July 4th celebration in the "burbs."

My NORMAL (and beloved) fireworks friend, my brother-in-law DJ was out of town with his lovely wife and daughter enjoying some vacation time in Kansas City so I assumed we would have an evening without too many explosions and then, thankfully, the call came and we got invited to Park City for some fun in the waning sun with the Timmermeyer side of the family.

They aren't DJ but they sure are fun! We arrived to see this spread of pyrotechnics (fret not the pile grew before it started to shrink) . . .

and the adorable (and brave/slightly crazy) AJ was our fire guide for the evening. (Yes. He's just a young child and his shirt says "Ladies Man" (I'm telling you - the kid was wise and bold beyond his years)). Ava was immediately smitten with AJ (as she seems to be of all boys that are least one year older than her and who are bold, brave, etc.) and followed him around like a puppy dog for a majority of the evening. He was a generous crush. He even gave Ava the punk to light things here and there (supervised by adults, clearly).

Don't believe me that it gets crazy out in the 'burbs? Tell that to the burn in Uncle Bill's shirt that was caused by an arrant firework . . . from the NEIGHBOR'S house. Yeahhhhhhh - we blew the whole block up!

Here is the only successful (of about three dozen attempts) shot I have of one of our aerial blasts going off. The evening was ended with the "Not in My Yard" fun pack that consisted of ground sparks, pops, buzzes and 15 aerial cannon blasts.

Thanks for the invite and the great time, Hibbs/Timmermeyer family. We do love living near family and you are very special part of why that is true. We really enjoyed being with family and having some fun in to the late night (10:30 for us is a LATE night) and might just try to convince DJ and Lexy to let us move our normal party over to your place for 2010. The two Js (AJ and DJ) will make it a legendary night for sure!

Saturday, July 4, 2009