I must begin this look back at 2006 with a short commentary on what we just stayed up to witness as a family on our TV. The Ball Drop. Every year it’s the same thing… ridiculous people saying ridiculous things (for hours!) while surrounded by a million other ridiculously dressed people waiting for the clock to hit 12:00 (or, if you observe military time, 24:00 or 0:00… whichever one it is…) πŸ™‚

Why do we get soooo excited about the clock changing from 11:59 to 12:00? What’s so cool about going from one calendar to the next? Why is everyone so hyped up about a day where the only significant event is that the last digit of the year gets upped by one?

I guess the only thing I could come up with was that we love new beginnings. It’s fun to get a new house, a new car, a new job, a new baby, new… you name it. We like new. So, every new year represents life: made new. It’s a new chance to do things we missed in the previous year, to right wrongs, to accomplish unreached goals. It’s just a do over in a way. New start.

So, I do get it… but the hype (to me) is just silly. If you like it… well, I’m glad you do. πŸ™‚

Now, let’s take a look back at 2006 for the Campbell family.

January 2006

  • Bills Fired their GM Tom Donahoe, they kept the coach, but then he left. They also brough in Marv Levy. It was a busy couple months at the beginning of 2006 over at the Buffalo Bills Review (my Bills podcast and website…)

February 2006

  • Jen & I led the singing for a Couple’s Retreat at a place down in Pennsylvania. We weren’t sure what to expect, but it was nice. Great food (in great quantities!) and we met some nice people. We’re actually returning for the same event this coming February! πŸ™‚
  • Kirsten turned two! She’s a fun, cute, loving little girl! I’m so glad God added her to our family (even though I wasn’t prepared for the news of her “arrival” when Jen told me we were going to have another baby…) πŸ™‚

March 2006

  • Julia Gayle Campbell entered the world on March 11th – a very good day. All went smoothly, which was such welcome news when we had lost the previous baby at about 11 weeks into the pregnancy. Julia was my previously mentioned highlight of 2006. πŸ™‚
  • I sprained my ankle on March 22nd. I was playing basketball early in the morning, before anyone woke up (because I was in charge of the three older kids for that two weeks, while Jen recovered from having the baby) and I twisted it really badly. It has took me most of the rest of the year to fully recover!
  • Ooo! I think this is the month we got our Mac Mini, too! We hooked it up to our living room TV to act as our digital video hub, and our TV viewing has been radically changed! πŸ™‚

April 2006

  • This was recovery month! My ankle, Jen’s body, and the whole adjustment to a new baby thing. This was our fourth, though, so it was a bit easier? πŸ™‚
  • For some reason, April’s calendar was filled with lots of get togethers. Many for business, but a lot more dinners, and other fun nights with friends. (How does that mesh with my first memory from April???) πŸ™‚

May 2006

  • The main thing I remember from May was the Sabres! They were in the playoffs, and not just that… this young team of unknowns was dominating! They were fast, they could score like crazy, and they never gave up. Add to that an amazing rookie goal tender, and it was quite a playoffs for the Sabes! We lost in 7 games in the Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the Carolina Hurricanes. It was so fun, they even hooked Jen! Now we can’t get enough of this WINNING Buffalo team… πŸ™‚
  • Oh, I do remember that I spent a LOT of time in this month (and likely in April) putting my book (which became two books!) together for a summer release.

June 2006

  • The first of two books was released near the end of this month. Life In The Rearview Mirror was my second published book, and first of two I would release in 2006.
  • The summer was YARD WORK time. We did a TON of work to our yard this year. We cleaned out decades of garbage along the edge of our entire property and created some nice “flower” beds which our neighbor helped us fill. We moved dozens, perhaps hundreds? of rocks from our yard to various other (more organized) places. We even had some help from a friend and reshaped most of our back yard, covering over a huge pit of rocks and other rubble… making a nice, big, flat, open yard! Of course… I thought this would take a month, but it spanned May to… maybe October??? It was the year of yard work!
  • We returned to our 6th straight VBS at Fairmount Christian Church in Mechanicsville, VA with our friends the Raines family. They asked us to lead the music for the teens in 2001, and for some reason they keep asking us to come back! πŸ™‚ It is an annual event we look forward to annually. πŸ™‚ (This time, there were no near-death experiences…)

July 2006

  • Just a couple weeks after the first book hit the public market, my second book (maybe the one I was more excited about) came back from the printers! There’s The Steeple… Here’s The Church is a collection of writings sort of chronicling the last year or so of our life re-evaluating our place in “the church” and what exactly “the church” is. That process has been going on for years, but the book captured writings from the year 2005. Definitely another highlight of 2006…
  • In July, we got to attend two different family reunions on Jen’s mom’s side of the family. That was pretty cool. It was really interesting that even Jen’s mom didn’t know a lot of the people! They do that every year though, so perhaps we’ll make it to another one soon? Always nice to meet up with kin… πŸ™‚
  • Ian attended his first Apple Camp (two, actually!) He got to learn how to make movies on an Apple (learn, and do!) and then he learned how to make a website, too! We posted it here. He had a blast! πŸ™‚
  • Somewhere during this summer, I also became an Authorized Apple Business Agent! That was a fun accomplishment for me, and has continued to be a fun bit of extra income and a way to be part of the “Apple family”! πŸ™‚

August 2006

  • Somewhere around here we found out that we were going to be having another baby! We waited until an October visit with my sister to divulge that information to other folks, with our previous track record of losing a baby in 2004. It was kind of early, but we were exicted to add another member to our family!!!
  • The summer (specifically July/August) also saw the return of THE BILLS SEASON! That meant pre-season football, pre-season Bills Reviews, and even a COUPLE visits to Training Camp! The kids loved it, and I’m already looking forward to next year! πŸ™‚ I was even offered a chance to write for the Buffalo Bills website! They gave me a blog in the fan section of the site! Awesome!

September 2006

  • Bills Football began again for real. The BBR was in full swing…
  • The annual Walker Family reunion was again held over the Labor Day holiday. πŸ™‚
  • We got to see several of our college friends when we attended the alumni weekend for Cincinnati Christian University (used to be Cincinnati Bible College, when we were there…) It was a lot of fun to see everyone. We all had lots of kids, so it was harder to have meaningful conversations sometimes, but overall it was a really great weekend. Plus, we got some Skyline! πŸ™‚
  • We hosted a new friend for a couple nights in our home: Wayne Jacobsen. Some friends (a couple different friends, from a couple different places) had recommended his books, and we discovered that they were a big help to us… he just put thoughts into words for a lot of the things we had been thinking through over a couple years’ time. So, it was nice to get to spend some time with him at our house at the end of September.

October 2006

  • Alex turned FIVE! He was 5 on October 5th this year, so we had a fun birthday with lots of fives in it. We did five fun things involving the number five.
  • October 2006 was also our 9th wedding anniversary, and Jen’s 32nd birthday! We had fun celebrating both of those days… in fact, we celebrated Jen’s bday by visiting Gettysburg and then Washington DC, where my sister just moved to in September. It was a nice little (short) family vacation. And I think, a nice birthday for Jen. πŸ™‚
  • I also got to do an interview with Steve Tasker (a former Buffalo Bill) in October. Interviewing the players from those Super Bowl teams – the teams that made me a Bills fan for life, I think – has been a definite bonus of doing the Bills Review
  • We trick-or-treated on Halloween night right in our own neighborhood! First time we had gotten to do that! It was so fun to walk around our town, with the people we live next to… was just fun. πŸ™‚

November 2006

  • We took another trip to Ohio, this time for Thanksgiving with my parents (and other family). A nice time, as usual. πŸ™‚
  • November is my birthday month… I turned 32 at the end of Nov 2006. I caught up with Jen. πŸ˜‰

December 2006

  • We crammed 7 holiday concerts into 8 holiday days. Was like the “good ol’ days”! Actually, it was a lot of fun.. more than I expected it to be. A great way to kick off the Christmas season.
  • In the month where we lost Jen’s older brother, Jeff (Dec 4, 1998), we found out that we had lost our baby, due to join our family in May of 2007. We got the news at a routine doctor visit when we could not hear the baby’s heartbeat. All had seemed very normal up till then. The baby had been just fine. We were well into the “safe zone”… we were just blind-sided, and I am still recovering. Losing one baby was hard, two is harder, and I’m sure Jen’s parents would attest that losing a son at age 36 was exponentially harder. This even obviously put a bit of a damper on 2006 πŸ™
  • We wrapped up 2006 with a visit to my parents place in Ohio again. For the first time since Ian was born (1998), we spent Christmas day with my family. That was nice and different. Glad we got to do that.

Well, I know there are probably LOTS more things that we did in 2006 that either seemed too “routine” to post, or that just slipped my mind as I did this broad, sweeping overview of an entire year of life. Certainly it was a good year… and a hard year all the same. But I’d have to say the main thing I will remember from 2006 is the continued journey of learning to live everyday life with a Father who loves me completely, in everything that I do. He’s still working on helping me understand that, but I think that this past year that was a major focus … just learning to live life everyday loving the people he has put around us, and learning to abide in him in all that we do. It has defintely been a life-changing year… if nothing else, at least in our daily/weekly patterns. That has been both challenging, and extremely freeing and rewarding.

This was fun. Thanks for reading along. If you got all the way to this part, you’re either a fast reader, or a good friend. Or, bored? πŸ™‚ Anyway.. glad to have you along.

I wonder what 2007 has in store…

God Is In Our Family, Too

Just a quickie here…

I was reading a story to Kirstie tonight, and we got to a part where I was reading about something that God made. The narrator of the story was saying something about God (I forget what) and Kirsten interrupts to tell me, “God’s in our family, too!” Ha! That was awesome. I said, “Yep! You’re right! He’s in our family, too!” πŸ™‚ It’s so cool that she knows him as a person, and even a member of our family!

A great line, from a great little girl. πŸ™‚

Amazing Story from NYC

I turned the radio on this morning, coming back from playing basketball with some friends, and Glenn Beck was telling the story of this guy who saved another man who had fallen onto the subway tracks by jumping on TOP of him and ducking underneath the oncoming train!!! I looked it up, and it’s for real! Crazy!

Here’s a link to one story I found:
Superman of City’s Subways


Usually I do not need much sleep. I regularly can operate on 6 hours of sleep or so. This past week was a bit more full than others, so the sleep hours were down even more. Very late nights (some would call them mornings) and then a bit earlier than normal mornings. (I’ve been trying to get up around 7:15-7:30 to go out for a nice 2-mile walk.)

Well, I think today it caught up with me. πŸ™‚

I went to bed last night just after 4am, and was hoping to get up with my alarm clock at 7:15am. It was not till about 8:30am that I woke up and remembered that dream where my alarm went off and I could not get it to shut off. I also remembered that after a brief struggle, I was victorious. And thus… I did not get up till about 9.

Sometimes, the body just takes over, I suppose. In fact, the reason I went to bed at 4 was that I was falling asleep sitting at my desk! That’s never happened before! Would have been kind of funny if I really did fall asleep!

Perhaps I should take a nap this week or something…

Go(o)d Timing

While I am here… I wanted to post this story last week, but didn’t have the time. (I don’t now, but since I’m here…) πŸ™‚

I usually take a break for lunch (which my wife dilligently prepares for us) around 1pm every day. Often it will end up being 1:15… or if a particularly busy day, it could be later. But this past Friday, I had finished up some things… and there was a rumbly in my tumbly… and didn’t want to start the next thing for fear of going way past 1:00… so, I decided it was time for lunch at 12:15. Usually, I would not make such a decision. There was a set of odd circumstances that led to that, and then even more odd was, if I ever do “leave” early… I usually find several things to do on the way out of my office. But today, I didn’t. I just left.

I walked downstairs and greeted my family. The greeting I received in return from my wife was, “Why are you down here now?” It was not the kindest greeting, but Jen prefers things to be as they “should” be. So, deviation from the norm (though completely expected from me) is much more difficult for her to handle than me, or perhaps our children.

I tried to think of how to explain why I was down there early, but really, there were several reasons (too long to explain) and at the same time, there were no reasons. So, after a brief pause, I replied, “Because I had to.”

The words even surprised me. πŸ™‚ I think I followed that up by saying quickly, “That was a weird thing to say!” But not 5 seconds after I had said, “Because I had to,” there was a knock on our front door. I peeked around the corner to see who it was and it was a friend we have not seen in a while who stops by on occasion to spend time with “basic”, as he calls us. πŸ™‚ From observation, it seems like he’s on the lonely side, so we’re happy to share a meal with him or just hang out for a while.

So, I said to Jen, “And maybe this is why…” (refering to my previous statement, “Because I had to.”) I went to the door, and happily invited him in. πŸ™‚

The cool part was, had I dove right back into the next project, I would have come down, but not been “free” to do so. This time, I was, and it was an enjoyably quirky lunch. (He’s an odd fellow, to be sure…) πŸ™‚

After he left, I just marveled for the rest of that afternoon at God’s timing, and maybe even the way he gave me words to say. I mean… I didn’t know really why I chose the words, “Because I had to,” but they seemed to fit once our friend knocked on the door. (FIVE SECONDS after I said them!!!)

Just a fun God moment in a very busy week. Wanted to share it with you. πŸ™‚

Cyborgs, and the World Wide Mind

PBS is offering a series of shows on iTunes as a free download, and then asking viewers to vote for the best show, which will then become a regular series on the network. I downloaded the shows yesterday and decided to watch the one called 22nd Century first. I like futuristic stuff, science fiction and whatnot… so, I thought I’d check it out.

The show was about cyborg technology. Tiny computers that enhance people’s organic functions. There was a story about a man who completely lost his hearing, but with a small computer connected to his brain that could interpret the signals still coming to his ears, he learned to hear again! And then another story of people who are “locked in” and can not communicate with the outside world (though they are full cognisant of it), but with the help of tiny computers connected to their brain, they were able to just think a word or letter, and get a computer screen to show what they were thinking. The machine learns (and is programmed) to react to the different signals the brain sends out when the person was “thinking” of that specific word, letter, object… whatever. That one took some more training time, but was pretty amazing.

All of that was well and good, even the guy who wore glasses that had computers in them (and I think they were attached to his brain).. neat stuff. The totally insane part was some of the other folks who were suggesting that since we can tap into our brains like this, the 22nd century will be replete with Cyborgs – people and machines working symbiotically.

Is this a good thing? On an individual basis, why not? Obviously if it was required by others (like a government policy or something) that would be a very, very bad thing. But if you just wanted to enhance your body (though the validity of that statement could certainly be challenged) then go right ahead. However, this technology allows for individual “cyborgs” to be connected to other machines (like a computer network). Again, that’s not that bad… the main question there is who is in control? Is the person and their brain in control, or, does the machine have the capability of taking over? It sounds like sci-fi, but is it possible?

Certainly the possibility of a machine by malfunction, or even worse, by way of programming taking over the mind of a human being is not a desirable outcome of this technology. It’s rather a scary thought. But that was not the worst idea put forth by this 60 minute show.

The WWM (pronounced, “whim”), or, the World Wide Mind. The idea here is that as we have the internet now, which requires that we interface via keyboards and screens and such… we could have instant connection by having a sort of computer network in our brains. We would be “always on” the world wide web… in our mind. We would be able to hear, read, see, even feel what other people are thinking. IT’S THE BORG! πŸ™‚

While there may be a fascinating side to all this, and apparently many feel it is entirely plausible… the down side is just disastrous. It would be so easy to control another person who is “wired” this way. It would be way too easy to invade another person’s “self”. It’s just scary.

The world-wide-mind thing is a mystery to me as well. Why would we WANT to be connected to people in this way? I know we are relational, but why aren’t the built-in ways to relate good enough? πŸ™‚ It seems that any benefit you get from linking to another person this way is FAR outweighed by the negative possibilites that come from such a link. There is no privacy, no … self! Anyone can “access” you any time they want.

Well, I finished the show just hoping this was some wacko’s idea of what the future could be. I’m all for integrating technology. But, we must be very, very careful. Technology is much easier to hack than the great “firewalls” God built into us. Yes, there are problems with those, too. (How could there be any deceit if we all knew what each other was thinking?) But I’ll take the original, thank you very much!

And, I’ll have fun using all of the great stuff we’re going to see in about 5 minutes from the Macworld conference in San Fransisco… πŸ™‚

ο£ΏTV and The iPhone Becomes Reality!

I would love to go on and on about the amazingly cool products apple just released yesterday, but all I have time for right now are links and this photo. πŸ™‚

iPhone (Please don’t think this is just a phone…)
Watch the whole Keynote speech (A well-spent 2 hours!)

Enjoy! I’m sure I’ll write more later!

(And… if you’d like to get any of this great new stuff… click here then click here) πŸ™‚


Peace and Quiet?

So, yesterday afternoon, we drove the kids over to Grandma & Grandpa’s (well, almost all the way there…. we met in the middle…) and now we have a couple days with no kids! That’s great on a couple accounts… 1) Grandma LOVES to have her grandkids… especially stay overnight, and 2) we get to have some time together, alone, and… quiet! We went out for a nice leisurely “lupper” (That meal that is neither lunch, nor supper… but, “lupper”…) last night at Olive Garden with a gift card (which helped tremendously!).

When we got home, the quiet was kind of nice. But kind of not nice. I missed our kids. I think Jen did, too… though she was enjoying the quiet a bit more than me. We fell asleep on the couches watching the second football game of the day (even having missed all of the first one!) and it was still just very… quiet.

After not too long, the quiet just made me realize how much I love the Life that is in our house. God has richly blessed us with four great people that he added to our family. I was quite surprised at how much I really did miss having them there (they had only been away for several hours at that point) and how little I was enjoying the quiet.

Jen was dealing with it as well. The kids take all of her focus and energy, emotional and physical, and once she didn’t have that, she was a bit directionless, and was having to deal with some internal things that she had not had time (or taken time?) to face since she is busy with kids from the time she rises in the morning until she crashes at night. That was not a pleasant part of the evening (nor is she likely past it…), but it was another part of the quiet. Perhaps that one will be good in the long run…

Finally, when we did go to bed, I turned everything off in the house as I normally do. This time I turned off the monitor to the girls room, too… which I do not normally do. As I was laying there with Jen, I could hear her breathing/moving… but all else was silent. That was strange. Almost sad, actually. Usually there are some signs of life in the house. Either breathing, or slight movements… creaks of beds, something. Last night… there was quiet.

There’s certainly something to be said for quiet. It is enjoyable at times, but I suppose (maybe for the first time) last night I realized that I enjoy the “noise” that God has surrounded us with. We are really quite blessed to have the incessant noise that generally permeates our house. It means our family is full of vibrant life. And I guess last night reminded me that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What A Surprise!!!

I can’t believe how little I have been able to get up here and share the fun stories from life in the Campbell home. I really do love to tell stories. I think it’s because I love to read stories. (I could say something cheesy like, “Stories are the fabric of life.” or something… but we all know that anyway, so I’ll leave the cheese out here…) Who doesn’t love stories?

Well here’s a quickie…

Last Tuesday night, Jen & I were headed out for a nice dinner together… no kids… (there’s a theme to today’s posts…) πŸ™‚ but first we needed to get some gas. We went up to our gas station and filled up, and this time I happened to have lots of cash, so I decided to use that. (Almost never do that…) After I had filled up, I headed inside, but the pump beeped LOUDLY at me. I figured I needed to do something else, but when I returned to check, it said, “Please Pay Cashier”. I thought, “Ummm… right!” πŸ™‚ And I headed back inside.

Our gas station gives away 50 gallons of gas every week. When you fill up, you just run in and get some tickets, and then check back on Fridays to see if you’ve won. We never have, but I still like to get tickets. Just in case. πŸ™‚ This time, as I was heading inside, I noticed a sign on the door that said “Double Tickets on Tuesdays!” Sweet! More chances to win! I was going to make sure I mentioned that when I was paying.

When I came inside, the two ladies behind the counter were laughing, smiling… just having fun. I smiled, but thought nothing of it. As I approached the counter, I noticed that one of the ladies was our old neighbor (from our previous residence) and smiled a hello at her. Her co-worker, a younger, perhaps teenage girl, was arguing her case, “He was just cuuuute!” I smiled at her as well, and in response she said, “You were just cute! Running up and then running back to check the pump and then running back in!”

I was cute? They were laughing at me? Hmmm. I was a bit surprised by all of this now, and really didn’t know what to say. I said, “Thanks?” And after a bit more explaining, justifying, etc… the giddyness seemed to die down and I said, “I need to pay for my gas…” πŸ™‚

They were still chatting happily as we completed the transaction, and as they did, I made sure to request my tickets. The younger girl gave me my double tickets and then a few more for good measure. (I was “cute”, remember… I guess that gets you more tickets…) πŸ™‚ And then our former neighbor and I chatted a bit… just catching up on our respective families.

When I left I recounted the entire (humorous) story to Jen and we had a good laugh, too, over my “cuteness” and then had an enjoyable evening together… Jen took me out to a sub shop we’d never been to. Then we stopped by the Apple Store for a leisurely, “kidless” evening. It was quite nice.

Alright… I said “quick” but we’re getting long…

Fast forward to Saturday morning. It’s nearly noon and I need to hit the bank and the PO before the clock struck twelve. The bank was first… and with a long line, I knew my plans were mostly foiled. But, it went rather quickly, and I was out at 12:01. The library, which is in the same parking lot, had a book on hold for us, so I ran in there real quick, hoping they had stayed just a few minutes past 12… They had. I found out they close at 2. πŸ™‚ That was nice.

I hurried to the now closed post office and got a stamp out of that little machine, and sent in my tax payment… so that was all good. Just one more stop… had to check on our gas tickets, since I was right there anyway.

I jumped out of the car and hurried in (remembering the funny “cute” story from a few nights before). I checked the tickets again and looked at the general set of numbers I was hoping to see on the winner’s board. When I got to the counter I looked at the number, and it was close! But we’ve been there before… just a number or two off. But this time… IT WAS EXACTLY OUR NUMBER!!!!

I must have checked it four times before I finally said, kind of quietly, “I … think we won?” The guy behind the counter said to another worker on the floor, “This guy says he thinks he won the gas giveaway.” The lady he was speaking to came over to inspect and I said, “I think I’ve got it!” She verified they were the same numbers and took my license number so that when we come in, we just put our gas on that tab until we’ve gotten our 50 gallons!

FIFTY GALLONS. Gas is $2.45/gallon at the moment, so that’s $122.50 worth of gas!!! Nice!!!!! We’ve said before that money is not flowing freely around here, and that remains true. It’s even been a lot tougher of late, which causes a little extra stress in the home. So, this was just nice timing, and a very fun gift to us. We’re excited!

So what I got out of this story was, be sure to be cute when you’re getting gas, and you might end up winning 50 free gallons!

Well, ok… maybe not. πŸ™‚