Thursday, March 31, 2011

Purpose per square inch

As with most weeks, this one seems to have flown by. It is already Thursday and I feel like I just finished my Monday morning coffee. Surprisingly, this has been a relatively light week. We took Monday off of Tae Kwon Do to enjoy a small rest after monthss of hard work. Tuesday was light too. In fact, last night was the only night that we had any after school activities. No, I think the fast paced-ness has just been because we have found ourselves playing catch up. It is the week between 2 traveling weekends and we are just trying to stay afloat with laundry, house cleaning and honey dos.

Last weekend was all about celebrating the State Championship in Grapevine. This weekend has Lynley and Graham traveling to San Antonio for yet another AAU National Qualifier in Tae Kwon Do. It has the girls and I participating in the Neuroblastoma Walk for a Cure.

As many of you know, my mother fractured her arm a month or two ago. For this reason, she has worn a sling. Yesterday Ainsley came home with a make shift sling for DeeDee that had been signed by all of the kiddos in her class. As far as I can tell she did this of her own volition. It was perhaps one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. What is even more surprising is the fact that this gesture came out of Ainsley. I know, that sounds horrible. It isn't to say that Ainsley isn't incredible in her own right. She has just never been the one known for conscientiousness. That just isn't her style. She is brilliant (and I mean brilliant), adorable, and funny as h e double hockey sticks. She is tremendous. Just, given her age and her track record, I never expected this. I was blown away. Apparently, somehow we are doing something right. Of all of her impressive accomplishments though, I have to admit that it is this one that perhaps makes me the most proud.

Who would have thunk it?

She is the small sneaky one and she apparently has more purpose per square inch than most.

Monday, March 28, 2011


It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that knows me (and my physical prowess) that my son won the gold medal in sparring at the Texas State Tae Kwon Do Championships. Yes, Dudely, my own blood, my direct descendant, the boy who was bred of my very own loins is the state champion in Tae Kwon Do.

For those of you now doubting that he is, in fact, my son I have scheduled a blood test for later this afternoon.

My boy!


I would also like to point out that Sydney gloriously won a silver medal in sparring. Yep, she finished the second best in the state of Texas. On top of that you should also know that our little 9 year old cancer survivor fought at the very bottom of the 10 - 11 year old division and still managed to eek out a second place finish. How about them apples?

Arghhhhhhhhhh, again!

How impressive is that? I know, right? I know you are thinking it? How in the heck does Mark "the wuss" Dungan have children that become state champions in Tae Kwon Do? How can that be even remotely possible?

Well, let me let you in on a little secret.

I have absolutely no freakin' clue.

But, (and this is the really important part) don't let my kiddos know. For some reason, they seem to think that they got their physical prowess from me. Yep, they seem to think that it is my genetics that has paved their path to glory.

But now, here is the rub. You can't let them know that it can't possibly be me that gave them their greatness. And, frankly now that they are officially state champions, I really don't want them to know that they could take their dear old dad down. I need to keep them in the dark about that for a few more years. I need to keep the fear alive in them.

Super Dad is kind of likely Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. We just need to keep the dream alive for a few more years.

Yep, I am a proud Papa. But frankly, I have always known that they could accomplish anything they set their mind too.

The purpose is strong in them.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Texas State Tae Kwon Do Championships.

As the kiddos Spring Break draws to a close, a big day looms on the horizon. Tomorrow, the Texas State Tae Kwon Do Championships take place in Grapevine. We have been lucky to have the state championships in North Texas 2 years in a row so our travel time to the venue will be just 45 minutes. That is a good thing considering the fact that we will be traveling up there tonight for weigh in and then back again tomorrow for forms competition and sparring.

This is the second major tournament of the year and a big one for Graham and Sydney. This year both will have stiffer competition. Graham is at the top of his age group but will be fighting some tough competitors - one of which is on our own team. The boys are pretty evenly matched so it ought to be very interesting. Generally, he and the other boy trade back and forth gold medals. I am hopeful that Graham places but we have to remember that this is a tournament with the top competitors in the state of Texas and medals only going to the top 3 in any age group so it won't be easy. He has the skills to take Gold and has done so before but he will really have to bring his "A" game to win at this level.

Sydney's competition is a bit more fierce and she could not be at a lower level in her age group. She has a large group of competitors and they will all be older than her. She will have to fight faster and smarter than everyone she faces. The good news is that Sydney always brings her "A" game. With a little luck and some good draws she could place. In fact, if her mind is in the right place, it would not surprise me to see her shock everyone by bringing home the gold. She can do it. Her biggest challenge will be herself. She will have to get past the fears and mental challenges of fighting girls that are going to be bigger than she is.

As for us, well, we will be the nervous parents sitting and waiting in the stands. It will be a long day. Graham is due there at 8:30 in the morning and we are not expected to finish their sparring matches until about 3:00 PM in the afternoon. As always, Lynley will be tweeting the results live.

Wish them luck and, if you have a chance, send them a prayer for their safety.

Tomorrow will be a nervous day for our purpii.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Pauper Five

All of the Dungan's have safely arrived home. We are still driving the same car. We live in the same house. We are still scraping every dime together that we possibly can to keep the kiddos in private school. And, NO, we didn't strike it rich in the in the diamond mines of Arkansas. If I am being brutally honest, though, I blame my children. I have discovered yet another reason why we are not rich. After poisoning their minds with the hopes and dreams of becoming diamond millionaires for weeks, the effect only lasted through about 10 minutes of digging. After that they became enamored with playing in the mud and complaining about the boredom. Gone were the hopes and dreams of striking it rich. I think the girls rationalized that getting diamonds was what boyfriends and daddies were for. Graham actually hung in their with me the longest. I think he was trying to find out away to afford a little brother. Regardless, after an hour of digging around, he too eventually met his match.

In the end, diamond mining is one of those nice things to check off the list of life experiences but I don't know that I will be going back.

That was not the only thing the Dungan's couldn't quite do. It appears that we also could not make a living at catching fish. I am pretty sure that we could not survive if it was dependent upon our fish catching skills. No, if it came right down to it, we would probably have to live off of the bait. None the less, we had a pretty good time. Although, the kids have only caught a single fish in their lifetime they still seem to love it.

Late Sunday afternoon I made my way back to Fort Worth for work while Lynley and the kiddos stayed for an extra day or two. They made a trip to Hot Springs to learn what that was all about but the kiddos seemed most impressed with the indoor pool at the Holiday Inn. Apparently in their minds artificial heat and chlorine beat the wonder of a genuine hot spring. None the less, they had fun playing tourist.

I am just glad that they are back home and safe. I honestly did not know what to do with out them. I wondered briefly on Monday night whether I should still show up to their Tae Kwon Do practice even though they were still in Arkansas. In the end, I chose to stay home. Lynley is quite sure that Master Adrian was thankful for the break. And, yes, she didn't mean a break from the kids.

Well I had best get back to it. The grind awaits.

I am just happy my purpose is back together.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Countdown to Spring Break

As usual, just because I have not been writing everyday does not mean that the Dungan lifestyle has not been as chaotic as ever. Unlike most of the schools in the area SCS is not celebrating spring break this week. This week has been our normal fast paced craziness. Our kiddos have to wait until next week and, trust me, it has been a topic of conversation. They can not wait for spring break to come. They are counting down the minutes

You see, they are getting to go on a diamond mining adventure over spring break. Visions of untold riches have been floating around in their heads for the last few weeks and it has been nearly all they can think about. In fact, they are already spending their money in their heads. Ainsley even offered to buy me a new Sudburban. I guess that is a sign that my car is getting pretty old. But, I hold fast. I always said I loved the car so much that I was going to drive it into the ground. And I will - no matter how long it takes me. Plus, I have 3 kiddos in private school. I can't exactly afford to peel off $30 grand in cash for a new car right now and I am one of those annoying people that refuses to go into debt for a depreciating asset. So, until otherwise stated, I am perfectly happy with my car. The kiddos can keep their fortunes. Although... the pool does need resurfacing and the roof is about in need of replacing... I rpobably would not be too proud to accept their donations for those items.

Regardless, the point is that the kiddos get to go diamond mining. What could be better in the mind of a 5, 7 or 9 year old. While in Arkansas we will also spend some time in a cabin on a lake. The kiddos are also really looking forward to some time fishing, boating, and hiking through the woods.

All in all, it should be exactly what this family needs. That is, of course, assuming they sell beer and wine close by. Something tells me that with this crew, Lynley, and I may need some liquid relaxation after chasing the kiddos around all day.

Bottom-line, we are all looking forward to a nice relaxing vacation. It will be a nice excursion from the chaotic normalcy that is our lives.

It will be a nice dose of hopefully relaxing family purpose.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Journey of Self Deprication

Our weekend was very relaxed. We decided to just take it easy and hang out - no parties and no excursions. It was nice and it gave Lynley and I some time to focus on kiddo improvement rather than just going through the motions. As fast as life moves, we often are struggling to just get through most days. Life seems to just happen so it is nice when we feel like we can grasp some control.

Our focus this weekend was on the Grahamers who, for seeming so much like his Dad, is misfiring when it comes to his confidence engine. I know - hugely surprising. With such an overly confident father who would have thought. (I guess maybe that is part of the problem.) Regardless, we noticed it first in his language. He has definitely developed a pattern of negative language. We hear him say things like "I am just not good enough", "I never win", and "I can't do it." On occasion, I think we all feel this way at some time or another but Graham has really developed a longer term habit of this language lately.

It is time to break the cycle.

Lynley began reading books. You know she is the smart one, right? (Yep, I got the looks.) It did not take long to see that we definitely had an issue and we were happy to find some exercises and a path out of the negative patterns. We also found that there were some behaviors of our own that we needed to change. Yes, even my excellent behavior was suspect. After viewing myself through another set of eyes and trying to listen to myself through another set of ears, it became quite clear that my sarcasm and sense of humor could have a negative impact. While appropriate for adults and clearly a magnet for the chicks (Lynley) it became clear that it may not be appropriate for fragile egos. I found myself doing a lot of self deprecating humor which I saw being emulated through Graham. The problem being that I was just trying to be funny. I wasn't saying something I believed. However, when Graham did it, it was clear that he did believe it. His self deprecation is not humor. While the words were similar, out of him it clearly sounds more like a statement of belief.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not blaming myself for his lack of self esteem. There have been many factors that have contributed to the condition. The issue is that in order to help him out of this situation we have to provide him with examples of more productive and healthy thought processes. If he is going to mimic my behavior then we very definitely need him mimicking appropriate behavior.

We all have ways we can improve.

It turns out this has been a very good exercise for the whole family - especially for the girls.

This really seems like something that we can make a difference with I am so glad we have this little issue because I never understood enough about how the brain worked and how these patterns were established. I thought it was just who we were. It is nice to know that we have power to groom this in our our kiddos.

It is yet another example of the power of purpose.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prepping for the exam

I am still falling victim to the shock and awe when I look down to the corner of my computer and see, to my surprise, that it is Friday again. Time is going by fast. I want to thank everyone for the messages. Yes, we are okay. I just simply have not had as much time to write in the last few weeks. The fact of the matter is that I have starting working out every morning. Yes, for those following my ritual of self abuse, I am back to the Insanity workouts regimen. Even when I am up at 3:30, by the time I answer the email that I have time to answer, I address some issues at work and I spend 30 to 45 minutes working out it is already time to go upstairs, shower, and get the twerplets ready.

It doesn't leave time for writing.

I know, I know. What does that have to do with you? Why should my change in schedule detract from your moment of enjoyment by peering in and laughing at the nonsensical chaos that is our lives.

Well, here is the deal-io.

I am pushing 40.

Yep you heard it here first. Little Marky is just a month away from turning the big 4 - 0. Oh don't get me wrong. You probably think this working out thing is some mid-life crisis. Here goes Mark trying to hang onto his youth by getting ripped.

Yeah, I wish it was that simple. No, you see, I am old. I think 40 might actually even mark the occasion officially. But, still, age is not the issue.

You remember a little over a year ago when I had that little heart episode? I started working out. I changed my diet. I lost 30 pounds. I did it all to avoid taking high blood pressure medicine for the rest of my life and to reduce my cholesterol. Well, I fell off the wagon, put on 15 pounds, and began slathering my arteries with butter again.

So, I figure 40 is kind of a major milestone in my health and I will be going in for a complete workup, plus what I am sure will be hours of abusive and embarrassing medical fun. So, I am prepping for the test, if you will. How healthy can I become before I turn 40? How many years of abuse can I hide?

The fact of the matter is that I want to be around for my family. I want to be here.

And, in the short term, it means a few less entries in my blog as I prepare to write many more in the future.

My family is my first purpose and I don't want to miss it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Could kid training be like husband training?

Well, last weekend was the first relatively quiet weekend in what seemed like a long while. For a change, I was not working from dusk till dawn. Lynley even slowed down a bit which was nice as it reduced the guilt I know I would feel with her spending every waking moment of the weekend doing chores around the house. I know, I know, how compassionate of me.

It is true, though. I feel guilty if I take more than a 15 minute break for lunch on the weekends. In my case, I blame Lynley. She works too hard. And, because she works so hard I feel guilty if I don't. Isn't that weird. I guess through 15 years of marriage she has finally trained me. Darn. I didn't even see it happening.

It is funny though. The kids feel no such guilt. In fact, they throw a fit every time they have to go with us to the grocery store or put their laundry in the hamper. In their minds, a weekend that includes anything but playing on the Wii, building legos, or playing in the yard is a form of child abuse. In their mind, any work is a violation of child labor law. For some reason, they think it is their God given right and they deserve to play every waking moment of the weekend. I just don't understand where they get that.

How did I evolve? How does Lynley keep me from being the fat lazy husband I want to be deep down inside? How did she make me into a grown up?

Perhaps this is a case where I need to be getting her advice.

It seems she knows how to light the fire of purpose.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It can beis annoying when your kids are just like you

Grahamers still ranks up there as my sweetest and most compassionate kiddo. I am sorry to those of you who thought it would be Sydney. Nope, not even close. For those of you that thought it would be Ainsley, well, your nuts. No, Graham is our puddle of love.

Now that I have said something genuinely nice about the boy, I have to tell you what annoys me to no end about him.

He is mouthy and thinks he is always right.

Furthermore, the thing that is most annoying about these traits is the fact that I happen to know that he got them directly from me. How do you dislike in your kiddos the traits that you know they got most directly from you?

When it is the bad ones, that's how!

It is awful really. Sure, I love the fact the Graham is adorable. I am so proud to own up to the fact that he is athletic, smart, and, of course handsome. I have no problem taking credit for those "clearly" genetic traits.

It is the annoying ones I hate.

The fact remains that Graham thinks he is always right and will argue until he is blue in the face. In fact, he does this with nearly everyone but me. He does it with his mother. He does it with his Tae Kwon Do instructors. God forbid, I hope he does not do it with his teachers but, it would not surprise me.

I know, I know. You are thinking it is a lack of respect. It isn't, or at least it isn't meant that way. (I happen to know because it is my annoying trait remember?) No, he is just passionate because he believes he is correct. The problem is that he is only seeing things from his singular point of view and, given that, he is wrong. The issue is that he hasn't developed an internal voice or the ability to actually think before he opens his mouth.

I failed at acquiring those little skill until I reached college and married my wife who beat them into me.

How do I help Graham? How do I get him to stop it?

How do I get him to stop acting like his father?

It is repugnant purpose.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My two best moves are genetic

Yesterday I received a phone call from the school nurse around noon.

Two of the twerplets had found their way to the nurses office at the same time - a twerp pair. I don't know how that plays in nurse's office poker but it must be worth something.

Regardless, Sydney was in there because both her stomach and her head hurt. Would this be a good time for me to reflect on how uncomfortable I remain regarding the spot we saw on her last set of scans? Probably not, we all know I don't have the cojones for that.

Furthermore, Sydney wasn't the one that garnered my immediate attention. Give her some Tylenol and send her on her way.

No, surprisingly, it was Graham who had my focus. Word was that he did a face plant into a pole and his gums were bleeding. Thankfully his front 2 teeth were not loose. But, at the very least, his ego was most assuredly bruised.

I had visions of him orchestrating some kind of galactically awesome move. You know, the kind where he was walking all cool while giving a casual look to some hot babe he was passing and then - BAM - right into the pole.

I knew that move.

I invented it.

In the end, I thought it was worth a trip over lunch to check him out and to make sure Humpty Dumpty's fragile ego had been put all back together. When I had arrived, I made a quick stop by the nurses office and then his class room. I had a quick chat with the school nurse (the clear winner in nurse's office poker) and his teacher. There were no surprises. I then went to hunt him down in the lunch room.

I looked and looked for the Dudester. Alas he couldn't be found.

At some point I noticed the kids lining up to go back to their classes. At the front of the line was the body of a little boy in a school uniform with what looked like a black cloth lunchbox zipped up over his head.

Proud moment here...

Yep, that was my son with his lunchbox over his head.

Clearly the issue was not broken tooth or shattered ego.

It was brain damage.

My son...

In all actuality, I wasn't really all that worried about that either. It seems I had probably invented that move as well when I was his age.

In the end, all was okay. Graham and Sydney were both happy to see me in the lunch room. Both had made seemingly full recoveries. And it was also good to see that Sydney's latest bout of "neuroblastoma" was cured with Tylenol. Good thing I had not spent the last two hours with that as my primary concern. Maybe I can breathe a little more deeply.

At least until the next set of symptoms (probably today.)

I guess you could say that yesterday's highlight was a pair of purpii.