Category Archives: Family

Better Ways to Text

You’ve got a smartphone. Your data plan may include unlimited texting. In my house, that’s a GoodThing(tm) because I’d be broke if I had to pay for my kids’ texts. To wit, from our most recent bill, I sent 153 SMS messages. My wife sent 57, my daughter sent 184 and my son sent 3,046! I think his thumb is stuck to his phone’s screen.

My smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3, has a pretty large screen. Not the largest you can get, but easy enough on my eyes and fingers. I also have a Google Nexus 10 tablet (made for Google by Samsung) with an external keyboard. I’ve been using Gmail and Google Calendar for years. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I could no longer have the instantly updated view no matter where I look (phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, library, hotel kiosk, wherever). Because of this integration, and frankly, because I’m lazy – I don’t want to pull my phone out to deal with  a SMS text message if I’m working with my tablet – I’ve been looking for a SMS text app for my tablet that can use my smartphone’s number.

This week, I found Mighty Text. Its available in the Google Play store. No, I don’t get a commission if you click the links, I’m providing them because I think you’ll like this app. Anyway, install it on your phone and create an account. By default, it will link to your phone’s Google account, which is probably Then, install it on your tablet and link it to the same account. If you want, install a browser add-in to your desktop or laptop and link it to the same account for seamless integration across the platforms.

The app claims “instant notification” to your tablet or desktop when your phone receives a SMS text message. I don’t know about instant, but I can tell you that the incoming message popup is visible on my tablet BEFORE I hear the notificaiton sound associated with the incoming message on my phone. Incoming and outgoing messages are visible on all linked platforms.

So, have you been looking for an app like this? If so, try MightyText and let me know what you think. Do you know of other apps that can do this? Please share, especially if you look at MightyText and think you’ve got something better!

Note that I’ve updated my Smartphone Apps list to include the MightyText and GoSMS Pro applications.


Do As I Say…

There are a few pieces of wise advice I remember hearing more than a few times from my Dad. Two in particular come to mind this morning:

  • Always use the right tool for the job, and,
  • Do as I say, not as I do

Well, OK, I don’t know if I ever heard you say “Son, use a real edger!” and I can’t say for certain that I ever saw you try to use a string trimmer to edge your driveway or sidewalk. But I know you had a real edger (it was green and black) when we lived on Denton Ave. and I’ve struggled enough trying to use a string trimmer to edge so I gave up a few years ago.

For fathers’ day, my extremely perceptive family picked up on my hints and I got a Black & Decker “edge hog”. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The right tools for the job!

A half hour in the hot sun and my driveway and patio are edged like a pro would edge them, with the help of the edge hog, my electric tornado and a nice heavy duty extension cord. Thanks for the advice Dad! Your driveway and walk next week?

FTC 16 CFR, part 255 Disclaimer: The Black & Decker “edge  hog” link above is an affiliate link to If you click the link and buy the product from Amazon, I may earn a few cents. I only link to things I use and truly believe are great products, in hope that someone who reads my blog will also find them useful. This is not a significant source of income for me and the few cents I may earn does not in any way influence what I link to.

Hope Dies Hard

One year ago today, I started using the web site to change my life. Right up front, I need to thank my lovely wife Teresa for recognizing Lose It! as something I might be interested in. She sensed I wanted to change, knew I had tried a few things that weren’t getting the results I was hoping for and realized this site had potential to work for me.

The Lose It community – Lose It is way more than a web site or a smart phone app – has many facets. One is a series of “badges” for successes. Some of them seem rather random, others clearly designed to help motivate toward a specific goal. Today I achieved the goal of logging daily for 52 continuous weeks, and earned the “Die Hard” badge.

LoseIt! Die Hard badge for 52 weeks of continuous daily logging

One of the many things I have learned is that for me to be successful as I adopt a healthier lifestyle is that I seem to have a poor (or maybe just selective) memory regarding what I eat and drink. In fact, I just realized I forgot to log the orange juice I had with breakfast and jumped online to do so before I have an extra serving of something later thinking I have an extra 167 calories in my daily plan. The Lose It tool which helps those of us with a problematic memory is logging. And, to help develop the habit of logging, Lose It awards badges:

  • 3 days: Keep It Up
  • 2 weeks: Regular
  • 4 weeks: Dedicated
  • 8 weeks: Committed
  • 24 weeks: Hardcore
  • 52 weeks: Die Hard

I get it, and I got it. Its displayed proudly with the others on my Lose It profile page, and above for anyone who ventures here to see.

When I first joined Westwood Health & Fitness, I had a simple goal…enhance my cardio capabilities enough to survive a High Adventure week at the BSA National Sea Base with my son Matt and other scouts and dads from Troop 24. Goal achieved, and we had a great time. Fast forward a while to spring 2011. I had a goal to lose 21 pounds so I could ride the zipline at Utah’s Olympic Park on our vacation in June 2011. After starting Lose It, I did lose 21 pounds, and I did ride the zipline. Then I wanted to be lose 26 pounds by our 26th wedding anniversary a few weeks later. Goal achieved.

Then I went out on a limb. Double or nothing so to speak. I hoped I could lose 52 pounds by my 52nd birthday, and began thinking about my long-term target weight. By that time, I had begun to realize that a number on the scale isn’t really much of a goal and doesn’t provide much satisfaction or motivation. Maybe that’s why I missed the 52 goal. In fact, I’m still trying to get past 45 pounds. It seems I’ve stalled here, gain a pound, lose it. Gain 2, lose 3. Gain another, lose 2. Gain 3, lose 1. Etc.

I mentioned that Lose It is a community. Anyone who is just using it on their smart phone (there are both iPhone and Android versions of the app available in addition to the web site) is missing the best part of Lose It, the community of friends. People who are there with you. Who have similar hopes and struggles. People who have similar goals and are working along side you to meet them. People who have made their goals and want to help others. People like Belle, who has made some incredible changes in her life, lost over 265 pounds and starts every day sharing a joke and ends every day sharing a motivational or inspirational quote. People like Cheri, who cheer *\o/* everyone on. A few family members who are getting healthier along with me, a few “real-life” friends, who joined after seeing my success. And people like Debi, who posted something really profound a few weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly ever since.

“If you really want something, you’ll make time for it. Otherwise you’ll make excuses” – Debi O.

That morning I had made a comment about it being too cold to ride my new bike and my schedule being too busy to get to the gym so I was just going to have to try to get some extra steps in that week. As I look back on the past 4.5 months – the time I’ve been “stalled” at my current weight – I can see I’ve made a lot of excuses. You may have even heard me make some of them.

  • I’m traveling this week and its hard to lose weight eating in hotel restaurants.
  • I’ve got meetings every night and won’t be able to get to the gym this week.
  • Its too cold/windy/rainy to ride my new bike.

This past weekend, I didn’t use any excuses. We went camping as planned even though the weather forecast was for overnight temperatures near/below freezing. And I took pictures of the snow on our tents and smiled. I hiked the west bluff trail at Devil’s Lake state park even though it was cold and rainy and my knee hurt.

Over the past year, I didn’t use any excuses about logging. If I was away from my computer, I made notes and logged when I got back. When I got an Android phone, I got the app and started logging wherever I was. I earned that Die Hard badge.

And, now, I’m setting my next target…I will have that 50 pound badge before the end of the month. No excuses.

What are you making excuses about in your life? Leave me a comment, or drop me an email if you’d rather talk about it privately. Stop making excuses. Stop hoping. Start doing. Start succeeding. Want to make some healthy changes in your life? Join me and Teresa and Sami and Jon and Belle and Cheri and Debi and over a million others on Lose It.

Potawatomi Area Council’s newest Eagle Scout

Eagle is the highest rank advancement in Scouting. Since 1912, over 2 million scouts have earned the rank of Eagle. This represents, however, less than 5% of all scouts. Today, Matt Kaarolek became the newest Eagle Scout in Potawatomi Area Council (Waukesha, WI).

To earn the rank of Eagle, Matt progressed through the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life. He has earned over 21 merit badges including; First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Camping, Family Life, Personal Management, Emergency Preparedness and Swimming. He served a minimum of six months in a leadership position while a Life Scout. He planned, developed and lead a service project for the community. He took part in a Scoutmaster conference. And, today, he passed his Eagle Board of Review.

While a Scout, Matt has gone on numerous events, outings and campouts including High Adventure camps at the Florida National Sea Base, Northern Tier Canoe Base and this summer will travel to Philmont Scout Ranch to complete the Triple Crown of Scouting. Matt is a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, a national service organization within the Boy Scouts of America and has worked at a local scout camp for two summers and will be on staff there again this summer. Matt has also been accepted to work on staff at the 2013 National BSA Jamboree, opening the newest national high adventure base at The Summit in West Virginia. He’ll be working in the extreme mountain biking area. What an exciting opportunity!

Scouting has been good for Matt, and Matt has been good for Scouting! His mom Teresa and I are extremely proud of his accomplishments! Obviously this experience hasn’t happened by accident and I wish to extend a heartfelt thanks to the primary leaders who have worked with Matt over the years including:

  • Greg Bomberg, Pack 294 Cubmaster
  • Lisa Murray, Pack 294 Den Leader (Wolves, Bears, and Webelos)
  • Trace Stoller, Troop 24 Scoutmaster
  • Lisa Murray, Troop 24 Scoutmaster
  • Rob Wucki, Troop 24 Assistant Scoutmaster & Eagle mentor
  • Assistant Scoutmasters, Troop 24 Committee Members and Scout parents who helped with our programs

Outlive Your Life

For the past month, the morning show hosts of the radio station I listen to most while commuting have had a daily segment with Max Lucado. They’ve been discussing his book, “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference”. This is not a review of the book, there are plenty of those on This is, rather, a reflection on a few gifts I have received – things which will long outlive the giver.

Last weekend, I rode a portion of the Elroy-Sparta bike trail ( some of the Scouts from BSA Troop 24 in Hartland, WI. They’re in better shape and rode many more miles than I, but we had a great time doing it. Purchased by the State of Wisconsin in 1966 for $12,000, The Elroy-Sparta was the first conversion of an abandoned railway to a recreational trail in the nation. I’ve visited this trail, with beautiful scenery, cool damp tunnels, and friendly faces, many times, with family, friends and scouts. Likewise I have enjoyed the Sugar River trail, the Glacier Drumlin trail, the Bugline trail and the Lake Country trail closeer to home and the Paul Bunyan trail in MN. Why? Because my Dad introduced the family to these trails many years ago as a relatively inexpensive way to see cool places while getting a little exercise and enjoying nature!

This morning, my wife referenced a copy of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, pointing out some fabulous photos of “The Ledge” and how we should put it on our bucket list. I knew in an instant the reference must be about the Niagra Escarpment. As I read the article, I smiled as I recalled the portions of the ledge I’ve already visited – Cave Point and Eagle Cave in Door County; Ledge Park in Dodge County; Lime Kiln Park in Cedarburg and countless rock outcroppings in the Kettle Moraine overlooking scenic vistas along twisty roads and hilly trails. How did I know of these things? Of course, my Dad introduced and reintroduced me to them years ago and I have done the same for my children and my friends.

Tonight, my brother will take his sons and other scouts from their troop to Devils Lake. Along the way they’ll probably cross the Wisconsin River via the ferry at Merrimac. While the foot bridges haven’t yet been rebuilt from the 2008 flood damage, they might hike into Parfrey’s Glen nearby. They may have started conditioning earlier this year with a hike along the Root River trail, as I have dozens of times. How do I know of these things? Yes, Dad’s influence again.

Camping. Hiking. Biking. Canoeing. Scouts. Ping-pong. Church. Family. Friends. Driving down random roads and finding wonders like Kitchi t kippi springs ( and always having a camera to capture some of the memories to rekindle the magic when it begins to fade and blur with time. These are but a few of the many things my Dad has done to outlive his life and help enrich the lives of others.

Thanks Dad, for making a difference! I hope and pray that I will be able to outlive my life in ways you are outliving yours!

Life’s Not Fair

How many times did you hear that phrase as a kid? Awww, that’s not fair! Well, life’s not fair, you’ll have to get over it. Ever catch yourself saying it? Sure you do… If you know me you may know that I’ve been planning a trip to Peru with my wife and 20+ folks from our church. We will depart Friday 12/26, take a limo/bus to Chicago, fly to Miami then after a layover take the red-eye to Lima, Peru. Another layover to freshen up a bit and a local flight from Lima to Piura where we’ll be picked up by volunteers with pick up trucks and taken to Santisimo Sacramento, our “sister parish” and return to the frigid midwest a week later.

You’re right, this isn’t going to be your ordinary winter vacation. It will be warm and should be sunny. Piura is a desert area, with daytime highs around 95F and overnight lows around 70F. With the current Milwaukee temperatures, Piura weather sounds rather wonderful. So, what will we do in a desert? Anything the pastor needs us to do. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Distribute supplies, gifts, visit an orphanage, help build new thatched roofs for some of the “houses”, meet the families we support, go to church, visit, pray.

If you’ve seen me recently, you may have noticed I’m walking with more of a limp than usual. Early this month, I had two days of flu-like symptoms that turned out to be the onset of a nasty infection – cellulitis – in my left leg. I’ve been on a program of injected and oral antibiotics to kill the infection, a diuretic (sp?) to help reduce the swelling, culturel to combat one of the side effects of the antibiotics and a steady diet of Alleve to help with the pain, itching and swelling.

Last Thursday I saw the doctor again and there was good news “I think we’ve killed the infection” and bad news “like a war, after you’ve killed the enemy, there’s a lot of cleanup and rebuilding to do”. My leg has a number of open sores that need to heal and the real bad news is that I can’t go to Peru due to fears that the sores will get infected with no decent treatment options available.

Did I mention we’ve been planning this trip for a year? Paid for it months ago? This was my Birthday and Christmas present to Teresa, and her Birthday and Christmas present to me. Now I’ll be staying home. That’s not fair!

Well Steve, life’s not fair, deal with it. Fortunately American Airlines will let us change my ticket to our 14 year old son. Lan Peru is not so accommodating. They’ll let me use my Lima – Piura – Lima ticket some other time in the next six months and we had to buy a ticket for Matt. Ouch.

Matt was really looking forward to staying with some friends from his Scout troop. We think he’s really looking forward to Peru now. I asked him if he’d take my camera to take pictures for me. Wow…

Obviously God has some reason that Matt has to get to Peru or that I have to stay here. I wonder what’s in the plan? I wonder if we’ll recognize it when we see it? Will it be fair?