The Fighter Continues His Fight…

June 1, 2011 by  

I do not know what more to say about my brother-in-law Michael Lovato.  I do know this… I always knew he was a fighter.  What I guess I did not know is just how strong of a fighter he is.  After several days of being completely unresponsive, the last few, he has been all but that.  I was so amazed yesterday when I called my mom for an update.  She was at the hospital and actually put me on the phone with Mike–who talked to me!  I was so blown away that I didn’t say everything I wish I would have said, but I did tell him that I, along with my family (the OP Elledges), love him so much and are praying for him hourly.  He thanked me, and it was a joyous occasion.  Then today, I wake to the news that the doctors and nurses are amazed that he is where he is today, and they decided to resume treatment rather than just hospice care.  I do not know today if Mike will win the ultimate battle of his young life, but I am convinced more than ever he has a lot of fight left in him.  And based on his past, I would not  be surprised in the least bit if he doesn’t knock out his opponent, despite him being the underdgog.

Mike truly gives me a whole new perspective on life.   I sit here today, troubled with my own life events… but nothing compares to what Mike is going through.  And I know, if he can continue to fight the good fight, well hell, so can I.  And today, more than ever, I intend to.  If I learn nothing else from Mike, I learn that fighting to overcome hardships and obstacles ain’t no thing.  So I will.  And it WILL change my life.  He is fighting for life, and inspiring me to change mine.  I pray the outcome for both is a victory.  Don’t get me wrong at all… Mike’s fight is much more real and courageous than mine.  But I am going to model my remaining life, no matter how long that is, to be like his.

I continue to pray for Mike and my sister and family,  I pray for comfort and I pray for him to defeat this big, bully “Cancer”.  I know he can.  And I know my sister can remain strong.  And further, I know I can learn from them both, and change my life accordingly.

Love to and prayers for Mike, Stephanie, Stevie, and Ashely, along with the rest of my family….

–RElledge

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Mike & His Fight

May 30, 2011 by  

My brother-in-law Michael Lovato is a fighter.  No other way to describe it.  Today, he lies in a hospital room in Casper, WY fighting cancer.  He has already fought and won two rounds of kidney transplants.  Mix in a courageous fight this year against cancer, which just some three weeks ago he was declared “cancer-free”.  Our entire family rejoiced that God had been with Mike and he had beaten the big C.  But now, in just the last week, a very progressive cancer has spread and taken over his body and mind.  The prognosis is grim.  I know if there is anyone who can beat it, it is Mike, but at this point, it looks like a heavenly intervention would be required.

Lovatos_Grandpa

Stevie, Mike, Grandpa, Stephanie and Ashley

My sister, Stephanie, is such a strong woman, or at least she shows herself to be.  I do not know how she remains so strong with all she and Mike have been through.  It is amazing, to say the least.  I am so proud of her for demonstrating such strength and courage in the face of adversity, but I know on the inside, she is weeping like the rest of us.  I’m sure she has her private moments where she let’s it out.  That is good…she needs to.  I know she is trying to be so strong for my nephew, Stephen, and my niece Ashley, both of whom are also showing amazing strength.  My thoughts and prayers are nearly exclusively with them all.

Mike entering our family over 12 years ago was truly a blessing for my sister and my niece.  Mike became the father figure Ashley so desperately needed and longed for.  While he is, on paper, only her step-father, it does not ever feel that way.  He loves Ashley as if she was his very own.  And Ashley needed that.  So did Stephanie.  Then, thanks to Mike, we were blessed with the addition of Stephen some 10 years ago.  What an awesome, strong young man he is.  I can only imagine what is going on in his head.  He absolutely idolizes his father (and rightfully so).  I know Stevie will be the same fighter Mike is, I just pray he doesn’t face a fraction of the battles his father has.  I hope his battles will be the fun kind, as he continues his pursuit of his black belt.

I feel helpless sitting here in Overland Park while my big sister is going through this; but that’s what she wants.  She told me on the phone she wants me to stay here–she doesn’t want me to remember Mike how he is right now.  She wants me to remember him as the champion fighter he has always been.  And I will, no doubt.  This is just another sign of how strong my sister is.  I want to be there for her, but she wants to be there exclusively for Mike.  I respect and understand that.

Cancer is the most hideous disease I can ever imagine.  It takes far too many people, far too soon.  I pray for the miracle that will allow Mike to win this fight.  He is definitely up against the ultimate opponent.  While the odds may be against him right now, I know that I, for one, don’t count him out.

Sending love to and prayers for Mike, Stephanie, Stevie and Ashley, along with the rest of my family,

–RElledge

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I Love You Mommy!

May 8, 2011 by  

It’s hard to imagine life without my mother.  My sisters would undoubtedly tell you I am a mama’s boy.  I don’t really know that to be the case, considering I have a close relationship with my dad, too, but if that’s the case, so be it.  My mom is a great woman, and I am proud she is my mom.  I am thankful we have a day each year designated to pay our respects and show our love to our mothers, though they most certainly deserve far more than a single day a year.

My Mommy and My Princess

Mothers are truly amazing, and their work and efforts do not get recognized near enough.  I see that much more clearly now, having two kids of my own and a step-son.  My wife is a wonderful mother, too.  As are my two sisters.  If you pay even the slightest bit of attention, you will recognize what superior people moms are.  My mom, my wife, and both of my sisters all work(ed) full-time jobs (my mom retired a few years back).  Yet, when their work work is done, that is when they kick it into high gear.  From changing diapers, cleaning house, cooking dinner, running errands, getting kids to practices/games/events, doing laundry… man, the list is overwhelming and non-ending.  The  things they do blow my mind.  I am spoiled.  I am fortunate.  The mothers in my life are champions.  I get exhausted physically and mentally at work, and when I get home, I just want to relax and chill.  My wife picks up my slack.  I feel the pain when my wife travels out of town.  I do not know how many times I have told her that she is a much better primary care giver than I am.  She is.  I am thankful for all that she does in taking care of me and the kids, much like my mom did (and still does) and my sisters do.

My dad’s mother passed away just a few weeks ago.  This is his first mother’s day where, at least in physical form, he cannot thank his mother for all of the wonderful things she did for him.  I can’t even imagine being in that situation.  I saw his post on Facebook this morning and shed a tear.  Mothers are so important.  My mom’s mom passed back in 2004.  Seeing my mom posting pictures of her yesterday makes me realize that even 7 years later, a mother’s love is never forgotten.

On this Mothers’ Day 2011, I find it so easy to say “Thank You” and “I love You” to the moms in my life:  my mother, my wife, and my sisters.  And oh, I would be remiss to not mention my mother-in-law.  What a wonderful mother she is, as well.  Mothers are remarkable.  While it is easy to say today, I realize I need to say it again tomorrow, next week, next month, and all the days ahead.  Without mothers, we’d all be in trouble.

To all you wonderful mother’s out there, Thank You and Happy Mothers’ Day.

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The Social Birthday

March 24, 2011 by  

The Social BirthdayOver the past two years it seems that birthdays have changed significantly. On Tuesday, my 39th anniversary of life on this planet, I experienced my second “Social Birthday”. What I mean by this is that the traditional methodology of friends and family wishing me a happy birthday has officially evolved from a phone call or greeting card to a text or Facebook message.

The Social Birthday actually begins the day before the actual birthday. There is no doubt as to why this is, since Facebook lists your FB friends birthdays for you, sometimes showing you who will have one the next day. It is clear to me people actually look at this stuff daily and make a practice of wishing their FB friends a happy birthday on their birthday (plus or minus a day).

My Social Birthday
Happy Birthday, LOLTo show what I mean about birthdays becoming Social Birthdays, let’s look at my birthday greetings. I received:

  • 8 text messages
  • 3 physical greeting cards in the mail
  • 1 phone call greeting (thanks, mom!)
  • 1 e-mail greeting (Thanks Shawn Porter)
  • 107+ individual birthday greetings on Facebook, beginning several hours before my birthday and ending the day after my birthday. These greetings came from friends and family both, and some included some “wonderful” facebook application greeting cards. I’m pretty sure there were more greetings hidden in comment threads, but I didn’t go back and count those.

Additionally, I received quite a few in-person, real social greetings from my wife, kids, co-workers and friends. One friend (@ShawnHashmi) even picked-up my lunch check.

I should note that my mother contacted me in the most methods: phone, Facebook, text, and physical greeting card (including a check!) Thanks, mom!

My Conclusion
It is clear that birthday’s of old are gone by the wayside. Having said this, and while I greatly appreciate all of my “Social” birthday greetings, my birthday was most complete by the “Happy Birthday” from my daughter Braelyn (who peeked around the corner of the shower), my son Brody, step-son Spencer, wonderful wife Rebecca, my mother who called me and my friends and co-workers who said it in person.

There is definitely a place for the Social Birthday and it is great to be able to send and receive FB greetings to those we don’t interact with as regularly. I guess as I think about March 21, though, I just wish there was more personable interactions with those we are truly closest to than a thread on Facebook or a text on the phone.

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Where I Come From, We’d Call It Tuesday

February 1, 2011 by  

Some are calling it the “Blizzard of Oz”. Others refer to it as “Snowmageddon”. Where I come from, we’d simply call it “Tuesday”.

NBC photo

Oh my, Shut Down the City

Yes, the midwest is bracing for possibly the worst storm in decades. Forecasters are calling for anywhere from 4 inches to 3 feet of snow out here in Kansas and Missouri. Schools are closed. Light snow flakes fill the air. The roads have some snowpack. The winds might get to be 30-35 mph. Yes, we are boarding up our windows now, having successfully raided the grocery store for flashlights, candles, bottled water and canned foods. We are hastily switching channels between the local news stations to see what’s happening out there. I really enjoyed the clip of a snow plow driver prepping the streets, talking about safety, while driving with a bright tv camera light in his face (showing off at least three teeth). Please pray for us…

Here it Comes!

Having grown up in Casper, Wyoming, this is nothing. Schools would be in session. Offices would be open (yes, I closed our office today–it’s the thing to do out here). Traffic would flow at the normal 30 miles per hour (sadly, speed limits are still dreadfully low in Casper). People would survive. Afterall, 35 mile per hour wind is just an average Tuesday in “C” town. But not out here. We’re all hunkered down, fearing the worst but praying for the best. If you don’t hear from me, wait for Snowmageddon to stop and call for help. Thank you.

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The Titty ‘Spection Agency (TSA)

January 14, 2011 by  

Not too long ago, I was watching Saturday Night Live and they did a spoof sex line commercial portraying the Transportation Security Administration as the people you will talk to. While I thought the bit was funny, I also thought people have been drastically over-reacting to the TSA and their new pat-down procedures. That was until this week.

TSA Physical

Turn your head and cough, please.

On Monday morning, I flew from Kansas City to the west coast. With the weather conditions we had here in KC, I left early for the airport and ended up getting there with much time to spare. I grabbed a bite to eat then proceeded to a lengthy line to get through security. While waiting in line to prove my identity, I could see the TSA hard at work with their pat-down procedures. I watched two people get the rubber glove treatment. Both of the individuals were at least 70 years-old, it appeared. One man; one woman. It took me about 4 or 5 minutes to get through the line, and for the entire duration, the two were being rubbed and frisked. I truly felt like the lights should be dimmed and there should be some Sinatra playing over the PA system. I felt as though I was watching a complete body massage. Fortunately I got to the check-in point and lost site of the TSA agents before I could see if there was a happy ending for either of the two elderly people.

I was, however, thankful… I felt very secure as it was so reassuring to know these two people were not going to bring my plane down. I know my government is looking after my well-being, making sure grandma and grandpa were free of any weapons or explosives. In reality, I know now what I felt when the TSA was formed after 9/11 — our government really shouldn’t be heading security at the airports. What they do is more for show than really to protect us. They are there to create a false sense of security. And until recent times, that has mostly worked. But now, they are proving to be the joke that they are. We have people making ~$29,131 per year that should be making $8/hour at Walmart or $1.99/minute on a sex line that nobody would call.

TSA Breast Inspection

Any explosives in there, grandma?

Just this past week, it was announced that the TSA’s show is not all about showing the public how safe they are making our airports and flights, but that they also seem to like the show they receive when they give their massages. Lynsie Murley sued the TSA last year and has now settled for an undisclosed amount after her breasts were exposed during a pat-down. The event became a laughing matter, so it seems, for the TSA members around. Their “attention to detail” and joking around about it has led to some sort of a payday for Murley. I bet the payday was not insignificant. Many of you will also recall that last November, John Tyner’s encounter in which he proclaimed “…touch my junk and I will have you arrested” prior to his pat-down received much publicity, as he secretly recorded the “private” meeting with the TSA on his cell phone. Without rehashing the whole story here, I encourage you to read his blog post here or watch a Fox News story about it below.

Personally, I have not had the privilege in all of my flights of late to get my personal pat-down, though I must admit I am anxious to have one. Would certainly make my flight a bit more relaxing, having received a thorough massage with a happy ending (I just wonder if they will provide a cigarette afterwords). While I haven’t received that special treatment, I have twice been through the new full-body-imaging scanners. I know some people feel this is a total invasion of privacy, but to me, I feel happy that I am able to make some pervert’s day. My only real surprise is that the images acquired haven’t been leaked in a new WikiLeaks scandal. That day will likely come, I am sure.

I leave you with the clip from SNL’s parody on the TSA. It is well worth the watch. Enjoy your flight. Maybe my long trip to Maui next week will be kicked off with a bang… almost literally. After all, the skies are much more friendly these days (or at least the pre-flight, I should say).

If you want to read some more pat-downs gone wrong, check out this link. Even more, if you are currently working at McDonald’s or Walmart and would prefer a titillating job with the TSA, you can apply on-line here.

–RE

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My Princess is Three

January 10, 2011 by  

While Braelyn has been telling people she is three for about the last five months or so, she actually turned three yesterday morning. It has been an amazing journey watching Braelyn grow-up, and no doubt, the next three years of her life are going to be equally enjoyable.

Braelyn on her Day of Birth

Braelyn Grace after her entry into this world on 1-9-08.

Braelyn at 3

Braelyn on her real third birthday.

In the the three years and now one day in this world, I am reminded of all the wonderful moments in her short life. Some of these moments, and my favorite things about Braelyn, include:

  • Taking a cruise at just a few months old. I wonder what someone would think today if she handed them her passport with her newborn picture on it.
  • Her trip to Maui, where she splashed in the pool. Yes, my daughter has done her share of traveling.
  • Her first word being “Da-Da”. While it has been replaced with “daddy” today, it’s my favorite thing she says. Maybe not as cute as her singing “tinkle tinkle little star” but I always love her saying “daddy”.
  • The tight squeezes she gives, and has me give her, multiple times every night before I can leave her room.
  • Playing with her favorite toys, which now-a-days is anything Brody has at the time.
  • Her first day of preschool–”cack” pack and all.
  • Her first visit to Disneyland, which she remembers every time we start a Disney movie and she sees the castle in the Disney opener.
  • The way she refers to yesterday, and really any day in the past, as “last day”.
  • Our Sunday ritual (which has now expanded to at least two times per week) of taking a bath in our master bedroom jacuzzi tub. Now, Brody joins us as well.
  • Her love of going outside and swinging and sliding. And swinging some more. Mix in some time with chalk on the driveway.
  • The way she said Hoover’s name…. “Who, VER!”
  • The way she interacts with my parents over webcam. Technology has enabled her to grow up knowing all of her grandparents, even though my parents do not live close by.
  • The way her picture with her grandpa Robert brought tears to his eyes at Christmas.

Most of all, I love the way she stole my heart and won’t give it back, that early morning of January 9th, 2008.

Happy 3rd birthday to my Princess Brae-Brae.

Braelyn with her Minnie Cake

Braelyn with her Minnie Mouse Cake.

–RE

You can see all of her birthday pictures in my gallery.

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Back from the Dead? Journalism at its Worst

January 8, 2011 by  

Rep. Giffords

News of Rep. Gifford’s death, then lack thereof, circulated the news sites.

I don’t know whether Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will ultimately pull through and live or not, but I know that the mere fact that she is alive must be nothing short of a modern day miracle. For what was over an hour, if not two, she was dead today. This, according to the journalistic efforts of new outlets such as MSNBC.com, who started sending me breaking news alerts of her death. Within hours, I received yet another breaking news alert indicating that a surgeon thinks she will live; while the headline on MSNBC.com remained that she had died.

My rant here is not about her death, or lack thereof. This was a tragic event–one that no American should ever embrace. The fact that a 22 year-old man shot her and killed five or more other people, including a nine year old girl, at a political speech in a parking lot is dispicable. While the event in and of itself is horrible, it is magnified by shotty journalism, which is what I really feel like ranting about. Journalism in the United States has turned from telling the story to making the story. Journalists no longer need to have facts or know the truth — it is merely a race for ratings. Be the first to report a stroy and put a notch in your belt. Who cares if the story is right or wrong; just be the first to report it.

msnbc

MSNBC broke false news about Rep. Gifford’s fate.

I see no signs anymore on MSNBC.com that Rep. Giffords is, or was, dead. The headlines were wiped and the story vanished into the abyss after learning that she has lived. I don’t know if the reporter, editor, publisher, or anyone else will pay for reporting bogus news, but in the end, it no longer matters. Regardless of which news site you get your breaking news from, chances are they are making, not breaking, the news. And this, my friends, is a major problem. Sadly, a problem I don’t see going away anytime soon.

Dan Rather

One would think journalists would have learned from Dan Rather’s firing. But they didn’t.

Flashback to Dan Rathers, who was fired from CBS for reporting false information about former President Bush’s military service. A “big gun” took a bullet. Other media outlets would certainly learn from the event, wouldn’t they? Apparently not, as today, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was killed. Then was alive. Just leaves us to wonder if it was a born-again experience– a modern day miracle, or was it journalism at it’s worst. I think the latter.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Rep. Giffords and all of the victims of today’s horrid tragedy in Arizona. I pray for speedy recovery of those who did not perish, and for the familes and friends of those who did. I don’t yet know if this was a politically motivated shooting, as I suspect it was, but there is no justification ever for turning to violence. I probably don’t support much of what Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stands for politically, but I will turn to my keyboard and never to a gun. I do wish outrage over shotty media would prevail and those reporting the news would do just that: report it, don’t make it.

–RE

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Elway the Comedian

January 8, 2011 by  

John Fox

Elway wants to interview John Fox for the Broncos head coaching vacancy.

If a report on ESPN.com is true, John Elway, in his new role as Executive VP of Football Operations with the Denver Broncos, wants to interview John Fox, the ever-so-successful embattled Carolina Panther’s football coach, for the Broncos head coaching vacancy. All I can say is, “Are you kidding, Elway?” There is no Rooney Rule equivalent saying you must interview at least one horrible candidate before you can hire a head coach. Something, though, must be making this even a consideration, as I hardly believe Fox’s record with the Panthers even hints as a positive move for the Broncos.

Yes, Jim Harbaugh is out of consideration now that the San Francisco 49ers have pulled him from his successes at Stanford. For this, I am thankful. I wrote the other day that I think Harbaugh would be a big mistake, as it is rare to find someone successful in the college ranks who jumps to the NFL and finds success. I further find it unlikely that NFL coaches who can’t find success in one organization probably won’t find success in another, unless of course they worked for Al Davis and the Raiders, in which case all bets are off.

John Fox

John Fox and the Broncos fan will share this look if he takes over the head coaching duties with the Broncos.

As the Panther’s head coach, John Fox does have a winning record. In his 9 years at the helm, he has ammased an amazing 73-71 record. This is hard to do when you have to overcome three successful seasons (11-5 in 2003 and 2005, and 12-4 in 2008). Those three seasons, each with over ten wins, are the only seasons in which Fox had a winning record. The Broncos need better. They must have better. Let Fox finish out his final season of his contract with the Panthers and go find someone else.

I am all about the Broncos picking up a seasoned head coach, but one with a track record of success would be ideal. The Broncos made a lot of mistakes over the past two years, and hiring Fox would extend the streak. Hopefully Elway will come to his senses and find a winner to lead the team, so the fans of the Broncos don’t have to share the same posture as Fox.

Enjoy your weekend watching some playoff football… and sorry, Broncos fans, try not to dwell too much on Elway’s interest in Fox. I am certain he is just working on his stand-up routine this weekend and he will make another comeback in the coming weeks.

Peace,

RE

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The Speaker Changes, but Little Else

January 6, 2011 by  

Pelosi is out

My favorite moment of the week, though purely symbolic.

Yesterday began the 112th Congress of the United States, and with it came a change in the Speaker of the House. Yes, Nancy Pelosi is out, and Republican John Boehner received the gavel. This coming after a sweeping victory for the Republicans in last November’s election. While the Speaker of the House has changed, little else has. A new party (yes, the party I am a member of) took control. But despite the promises to the contrary, only the party changes when it comes to dirty politics. Now, the embarassement of how our government operates today continues. Business as usual….

The first two days of the new Congress has already yeilded the following:

  • Multiple members of the new Congress vote, despite not being sworn in.
  • A nothing more than symbolic effort to repeal the health care reform begins.
  • Republicanss figure out quickly that the promises of the campaign season won’t become reality.

What does that mean for us? Well first, since Texas Rep. Pete Sessions and Pennsylvania Rep Mike Fitzpatrick decided to be at a party when the oath was delivered, yet proceeded to vote on legislation later, votes that took place may have to be redone. Wasting time (and money)… business as usual. Now, Republicans have to spend time drafting a rule to allow the duo’s “TV” oath to count, but it is unlikely Demcorats will agree, so it’s likely after the posturing is over, the votes from the first two days will get redone. Oh, and by TV oath I refer to the fact that the dynamic duo saw that the oath was being given while seeing it on TV, so they participated virtually. Yeah, that’ll do it. Time to repeat the oath and votes.

Once the full Congress is finally legally sworn in, the leaders of my party have decided it is time to try and repeal the health care reform. Hey, I am all in favor of this being repealed, but even if some sort of repeal happens in the House, it’s highly unlikely it will in the Senate, still controlled by the Democrats. So in the end, I believe it will be just a big waste of time. This, coupled with the fact that the Republicans appear to be headed down the path of using the same underhanded and dirty tactics we whined about when the Democrats used them to pass it in the first place, it once again will be business as usual. It is a complete and utter joke. And yes, I am talking about “my” party. Why not get down to real business; real reform. Cut spending (eliminate pork). Quit wasting time (and thus money). Do something real.

And seriously, are we not going to be able to do those wonderful campaign promises we made to assist in regaining control? Really? We’re not going to be able to cut spending by $100 million like we said we would. Go figure, right? And using an up-down vote, denying the Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter) to propose ammendments to the repeal health care legislation being drafted is yet another broken campaign promise. Two wonderful examples of how “my” party is hypocritcal and how little more than the person holding the gavel has changed.

While I love the symbolic change of one of my least favorite political figures office sign coming down, just two days into the 112th, I am embarassed and disgusted at the whole thing. I wish there was a realistic option of government reform, but in reality, little will change besides the faces. So excited it’s time for 2012 election promises to begin. So excited… For what? The only thing I can think of that will be worse than the start of this Congress would be my party offering me this….

No Palin, Please

Please, please, please, not Palin

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