I have been planning this weekend for at least three weeks (all the work I want to get done for the cookout Monday evening). I have decided to quit working on the yard and garden before 5 PM (even if I’m not done) so I can spend the evening with my family.

Water balloon fights come to mind if it doesn’t thunderstorm. Maybe I’ll go to the dollar store and buy squirt guns and noodles to have some real fun with the kids and Wife. What ever we do we’ll have some fun.

Monday we’re having a cookout our family and a few guys from work. Just burgers, hot dogs, beer can chicken, smoked pork, roasted corn on the cob, and other cook out stuff. No over kill this year. Just a simple cook out with family and friends. And I plan to remember our troops and fallen heroes…

What are you doing?

Parenting, what a challenge! It seems you can only know how you’ve done by the end result. And what is an end result? When I’m older and grayer with grandchildren? Or maybe there’s another way to “judge”? Maybe that could be in present actions, like following through on yard work and other chores. Or maybe making good judgments on friends, employment and schoolwork. I believe, I rely to much on the ending well part, and sometimes overlook positive signs now.

I’m very busy with work, church projects and work around the house (including homeschool things). So what a relief today when I asked my boys to dig a few holes for our new pergola I plan to install this coming week. I called home from work and they have two holes done and if the rain lets up they’ll get the other two done tonight. My girls 7 and 12-teen are scraping the arbor to ready it for paint on Monday. Sounds like a small thing, I could dig the holes in about an hour, or scrape the arbor in 30 minutes, but this will allow me to get it done quicker so I can plant the garden early in the week.

Plus, I think this will give them some ownership when we finish the projects. I have a mostly built shop (16×20 timber frame) that each has helped in their own way. The girls will come out and sweep the floor and pick up nails (I recycle used boards and beams) and the boys have helped lift walls and countersink nails in the floor.

So for the future I will look on the present and encourage my kids and be thankful for the wonderful help they provide. (I cannot leave out my beautiful Wife, she deserves more credit for the children’s good points than I do.)

I really like this web 2.0 app. It’s free (for a month) and to keep it it’s only 4 dollars and change for the premium service. It seems to be a social type of app where others you invite could add to your mind maps. When you work with someone else brainstorming you can even use Skype to talk. And they claim you can upload maps from MindManager and FreeMind as well as download (I believe).

I have been using MindMeister for several days and I am going to have my kids move their goals to the MindMeister site so they can put dates and details to them. I have planned out the Mother’s Day trip to Dawes Arboretum with a cool mind map. Needless to say I’ll be cutting out a few stops to Starbuck’s to pay for the four and change.

Don’t forget check out Jamie Nast’s book Idea Mapping along with her blog.

My Favorite Cheap Pen

March 14, 2007

I suppose a cheap pen is defined as a writing instrument of less than 5 dollars. I have two I enjoy, one is a long time favorite and the other is a newbie (which I have not used long enough to have a firm opinion of yet). The Uniball Signo Micro 207 is a fabulous pen worth at least 4 times its cost of less than two dollars and fifty cents. It’s comfortable, has a great click action, it comes in .5 and 1.0 widths, at least eight colors and the clip holds up for at least 3-4 refills (and I’ve often been able to repair a bent clip). Then I seem to “lose” the pen after that, having a wife and children may contribute to that problem.

One great thing about the Signo is the ink, it’s a water fast type of ink. Once it dries it’s mostly permanent on paper as well as your clothes. I’ve ruined several dress shirts because if the pen is open it will leach out onto the fabric and without dry cleaning or a special ink removal fluid the shirt is ruined. This does not endear my wife to this line of pens. She comments that they are good for her but not safe enough for me. The Signo pens are not as bad as the Zebra SARASA type, they love to leach out onto clothes, although they make good utility pens.

I work in a pop factory and I write on paper which has all type of chemicals, pop and water on the paper and the Signo pen still works. The ball does not hold up well to being dropped directly on the tip but most pens won’t. The ball tip doesn’t seem to be damaged by writing on a very hard surface with a heavy pressure like most Cross refills that I often ruin. My Cross pens (cheap or expensive) never seem to take the abuse of writing on a desktop surface with only one sheet of paper as padding. You know the problem, a line appears within the path of ink on the paper then shortly the pen will skip and quit working altogether.

The Signo pen is by far my all time favorite cheap pen and has thwarted my attempts to find a better expensive pen. It raises the standards for that elusive “expensive” pen. I do love the Retro51 line of pens especially the Tornando both mini and full sized but they are heavy and don’t carry well in my pants pocket (where I carry it because of uniform requirements) or even a shirt pocket because of the weight. I’ve also flirted with buying a pocket fountain pen but have not been able to justify the price or risk of carrying one (for mostly church and social occasions).

If you have any suggestions on good cheap pens or expensive pens I would love to here about them.