So what have I been doing lately? Well, aside from those holiday and birthday celebrations, I have been reading a lot. And I certainly mean A LOT! I counted it up the other day and realized that in the last two months, I have read well over 5,000 pages worth of books. That doesn't count blogs or magazines or newspapers. (A free Chocolate Orange candy to the first person who can name 10 of the books that helped make up the 5,000 figure.) It is pretty funny that someone earlier this year told me they thought I wasn't reading as much. That was when I read half of the John Grisham collection in two weeks. In the month of December, I read at least 3500 pages. I guess it all goes in spurts.
I also have been freezing my rear end off. This has been a weird winter thus far. I have spent winters in south Florida, central Florida, west Florida, northeast Florida, and now northwest Florida. Each of them were very different. This one is the coldest, but I am not sure that is fair, since this is a record cold snap. My friend Greg up here told me this is the coldest it has been in his twelve years here. There even was a brief bit where the Weather Channel was predicting snow here on Friday. Then they all had a good laugh and changed it. The low for that night still is supposed to be 19. Wha? We just experienced insane cold up in South Carolina with a record low of 14. It is weird when temperatures could be football scores. (South Carolina 19, Florida 24) I'm used to them being basketball scores. (Orlando 85, Charlotte 79)
I'm not complaining - I like the cooler weather. It is a nice break from being cooked to medium rare going to check the mail. There are two things I'm not too fond of with the colder weather. The first is the asthma. Our kids all battle asthma to varying degrees. Josiah had a full attack the other night in SC - turning blue and everything. The dry heat in the house triggered it. All three kids have been coughing more since we have to run the heat so much. Now I know why people are told to move to Florida and Arizona when they have respiratory issues. The other thing I don't like is the bundling up process. You get the kids all dressed. They have long shirts and pants - sometimes two shirts. Then you have to put on the jackets and such - to walk fifty feet to the car. Then they want to take it all off. Then you put it on to walk from the parking lot to Publix. Then you take the jackets off. Then back on . . . and off . . . . and on . . . and off. I think that alone would drive me crazy if I lived up north. The cold I can handle. It is what to do with my jacket that pushes me over the edge.
So to the true point of my post. Apparently we have entered a new decade and a new year. At least that is what I figured from all the weight loss ads and promotions I have seen lately. I decided to forgo my yearly recap, where I use my limited exposure to the world at large to make ridiculous rankings. Instead, I will use that limited exposure to my benefit, and recap the decade that just waved adios. It was a big decade for me - the Aughts. I was thinking about that the other day. What a huge difference ten years makes. I honestly don't know if I could top this decade. So, here's my self indulgent recap of 2000-2009. You may think it is stupid. But, honestly, would that be a first for this blog? If you aren't happy, send your comments and insults to my new secretary: Myrtle McIntosh, 2506 Lilly Pond Way, Sharkfart, TX, 76067.
2000: What a crazy year! I got engaged in February to Heather. In June, I had the awesome experience of going to Sydney, Australia for three weeks to help run sports camps at a church there. August 12 it rained. It also was our wedding day. We went to Vermont for our honeymoon and got to see where my dad was born and grew up (and is buried). I quit my job at FBC Temple Terrace in December; and we found out we were expecting Josiah two days later. All of that collided with Christmas in Georgia, Heather's brother getting married (which was my first wedding ceremony to officiate), and the first time I saw snow. Wow.
2001: I started off the year unemployed and expecting a child. YAY! Heather withdrew from USF. We moved to Orange Park. I worked as a substitute teacher for a few months. Then I became a furniture salesman at Rhodes Furniture. In September, we welcomed our first child into the world on the day the world officially went crazy. We all tried to understand what to do with the fall of the Twin Towers, the anthrax attacks, the new war in Afghanistan. I personally withdrew as far away from God as I ever have been. And I got a Palm Handspring for Christmas.
2002: After seventeen months of seeking more gainful employment, I was hired in May by First Baptist Church of Oviedo. That meant a move down to Orlando for my little family. It was a very challenging job, but very rewarding - and it has led to so much more than I could imagine for all of us. Heather returned to school in the Fall, this time getting her priorities straight and becoming a UCF Knight. And in a wacky turn of events, my mom moved up to Orlando late in 2002 - something I never would have expected.
2003: Another year of surprises. The Tampa Bay Bucs won the Super Bowl. I was thrilled. We went up to South Carolina for Spring Break. While there, we found out Heather was pregnant as she was going through a miscarriage. Less than a month later, we were stunned again as we found out that Heather was pregnant again, which led to another break in school for Heather. I got begin a friendship with Charles Wise at the church - which played a very important role in our lives. I started working as the layout person and editor for a Christian newspaper. Natalie showed up at Christmas - just as her name (which we had chosen back in 1999) indicates. [Natalie means "Christmas child."] We moved out of our scary apartment into a rental home, and we hosted Christmas at our house.
2004: We now became the Staples Family 4. Things went along pretty normally for a while. I began to hate the Bucs, due to their shady dealings. My mom moved to Tampa to be closer to my sister, Holly. I turned 30 and finally got a watch that fit my needs - never needing a battery (still running perfectly). Heather went back to school in the Fall. Josiah also went to school for the first time as he went to the 2 year old class at our church's preschool. My last grandparent passed away in September. She had lived long enough to see her first great-granddaughter, though. Heather turned 25 in December. I threw her an awesome party with London Broil and a big strawberry shaped cake. (You can tell it was a slow year.)
2005: In March, my prayer for a ministry to work in was answered as Charles Wise, Jonathan Pearson, and myself founded Defender Ministries. I was able to design all sorts of products and basically create the look of the ministry. By the end of the year, I had written several rounds of curriculum. Heather ramped up her school work to prepare for Med School - which we had decided was what she would aim for. (Well, I finally agreed that it was the right thing. Heather had known for years and was patiently waiting for me to get my head out of my rear end.) I got to experience the spectacle that is Las Vegas in July at a design conference - which came with the important lesson that if you are broke, alone, and not prone to drinking or carousing, Vegas is very boring place. We moved to a different rental house that Fall, even farther away from anywhere we needed to be.
2006: Lots of movement in StaplesLand. I saw my first real blizzard in February as I went up to Montreal to plan a mission trip for the church. It was 9 degrees! That's a baseball score! Defender was picking up steam - as we were able to teach sessions at various conferences. I quit my job at the church in July to go full time with Defender (although I still did all the graphics for the church for another four months). We got a new Honda Odyssey. Natalie started preschool. Heather finally was able to graduate in December from UCF. All was right with the world. Our kids were potty trained and weaned. We decided that our family was complete. So Heather and I booked a cruise for January 2007.
2007: Heather and I went on our first cruise ever. We got to see Key West and Mexico. It was awesome. And our little cruise souvenir was discovered - as Gabe decided to crash the Staples party. We began to attend Waypoint Church in Orlando - where we made some wonderful deep friendships. I took over the college ministry in early summer. Defender continued to do its thing - speaking engagements, lesson writing, looking for supporters to help hit the next level. Heather began studying in earnest for the MCAT (Med School Entrance Exam). My sister had her son, Toby - making me an uncle for the first time. Josiah started Kindergarten. We moved yet again to a home closer to our circle of friends. Gabe arrived in September.
2008: Heather took her MCAT in March and nailed a 30 on it - exactly where she needed to be (while having a newborn seemingly permanently attached to her). I had to find some other jobs to help cover costs. I began to work at the Apple store in August. (YAY!) I also began teaching at International Community School (DOUBLE YAY!) Josiah entered public school in August, but it was a huge disaster. We ended up pulling him out and enrolling him at ICS - which was a huge success. We really seemed to be hitting our stride. The kids were doing well in school. I had four great jobs that I loved. Heather was applying to Med Schools, but we really wanted to get into UCF's new school. We moved again (common theme, I know) to an apartment. And the year ended with all of us pretty happy and excited about the new year.
2009: Heather got accepted at FSU's Med School, which meant all of us were moving to Tallahassee. Gabe got to see snow in February and was not impressed. The other two kids got ticked at this, since they were trapped in Orlando with me. Heather's brother Andy and his wife Michelle had their first child, Beulah, in April. She was a miracle baby - I am fully convinced. We moved in May, which is when Heather started classes. In July, Heather's grandfather passed away, which was very hard on all of us. Natalie started Kindergarten, and we decided to homeschool the kids. It was a huge disaster. So we ended up enrolling them at Apalachee Elementary, which has been a huge success. Heather, of course, did an amazing job in Med School. And I settled into my new role as stay-at-home dad. Heather turned 30 in December. And we got iPhones.
It was an eventful decade to say the least. I started it single, 25, living in Tampa, running a college ministry, and going to seminary. I ended it married, 35, with three kids, living in Tallahassee, running my own ministry, staying at home with a wife becoming a doctor. 2000 found me rooting for the Bucs and the Yankees, hating the NBA. UCF was, of course, number one. 2010 finds me having ditched the disloyal Bucs for the Jags, given up on baseball, and rediscovered the NBA and the Magic. UCF is, as always, the most important sports entity to me - but now they have their own stadium. In 2000, I hated Macs. In 2010, I own nothing but Macs and Apple stuff. A lot happens in ten years. It is important to look back sometimes at how far you have come. It helps to remind you of what was really important. It shows me how minor events end up being big deals down the road. And I see how God is with me all the way. I hope that you had some time between the presents and getting back to work to think about those things in your life. And I hope I didn't bore you too much with my reminiscing. If I did, Myrtle is waiting for your letters. Make her earn her paycheck.