Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Shannon

Christmas morning at my house, before the kids woke up.

Happy Birthday to my sister Shannon today! For 27 days each year, we are the same age. Happy Birthday old lady, I love you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


We've been busy preparing for the big birthday party (thanks G). This weekend was the annual "baking day" at my sisters house. They made something like 580 cookies. I don't care if I see another cookie for months.

If I don't talk to y'all before Christmas, have a great one!


Friday, December 15, 2006

Aurora Borealis

the icy sky at night...

I saw the northern lights for the first time ever last night. At first I thought "man those clouds look funny". I couldn't really see the green color too well with my eyes, but the camera picked it all up. Very Very Cool. Sometimes it pays to live in a small town. I'd have never seen these it the city lights.

Both of these were taken in the soccer field behind our church in Elkhart, IA. I was there dropping Alex off for the Christmas Choir practice.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Catch up

It's always so busy this time of year. I like spending time with loved ones, but I could do without work parties, choral concerts, shopping, and so on. It will be over soon though, and life will become normal again.

I don't have time to write much (choral concert tonight) but want to attach some photos from the past week.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006



Husband - Father - Homeowner - Provider - Brother - Friend - Individual

I'm sure there are more, I just can't think. They all overlap somewhat. As Mr. Miyagi taught us, balance is essential for a healthy, happy life. It is difficult too.

Thursday I photographed my sister Kym and her three dogs. Kym's relationship with her dogs is one that I haven't been able to completely understand. I just can't comprehend why/how someone can elevate a pet to such importance in their lives. When I think about balance though, I can see it. In my life, I don't have room on my "scale" for pets. Kym does. Kym doesn't have children, she has dogs. Her life has more balance when she can be a caregiver. When I think about it this way, I do understand.

Friday, Angie and I had another date night. We had dinner at the North End Diner (yummy & cheap) and then did a little Christmas shopping. It's always nice to spend time alone with her. I look forward to more and more of this as time passes by.

Saturday, I spent some time with my brother Tom. Of all my siblings, I'd say that I am closest to my brother. Tom and I are always completely honest with each other. I can't say that about most people in my life. Tom has been having a rough go of it in the past couple weeks. Damn women.

I finally finished the new bathroom Sunday. Yes, I'm completely done. This may be the first time ever that I've completely finished a project at home. I usually get very disinterested towards the end of the project and leave just a few minor details unfinished. Not this time. I worked on the trim both Saturday and Sunday and finished it in the bathroom. I still have to finish the laundry room trim though.

That left no more time for the rest. I feel I shortchanged my children this past week. My balance feels off.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The reason?

Every year we go through this. Angie does 95% of the Christmas shopping and I worry, fret over, and question just about every purchase she makes. I don't want to do the shopping and I don't want to pay for it either. I get so stressed when my already tight budget has to absorb the gigantic hit that comes at Christmas time, especially when it comes on one weekend! It's hard for me to understand why Christmas has to cost us so much. Who's jackass idea was it to give out so many gifts? That's not what Christmas is about. It's Jesus, man. We should be giving to those who need it most; not spoiled kids and their spoiled parents. I just wish I could practice what I preach.

On a lighter note: Angie's Aunt Carolyn sent us a beautiful comforter/pillow set. Thank you Carolyn!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Stupid Cattle

It's hard to believe that the long Thanksgiving weekend is already coming to an end. It's been quite enjoyable for sure.

Wednesday night, a few of the Troutslayers and I went out for a couple beers and to see the Tenacious D movie "Pick of Destiny". It was a good time. The movie is not for everyone, but I thought it was hilarious. I will see it again, just to pick up on some of the lines.

Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Everyone wrote a poem and we all read them right before dinner. It always sounds corny before hand, but it's very cool. After dinner we played a few games and had some laughs. This is the stuff that the kids will remember.

Friday was the shopping day. Angie had a list of stuff for me to get at Target when it opened at 6am. I got there about 5:40 and the line was already over 100 yards long and growing quickly. I decided to wait until the store opened and just walk in like usual. That's what I did too, along with a bunch of other folks. I felt bad for about 1/2 of a second when some lady yelled "you ought to be ashamed of yourself". I don't feel comfortable joining the crowd like a bunch of stupid cattle. Screw that. When the store opened, I went in. It was a fucking zoo. I got one thing on my wife's list. That was enough for me. I then went to Staples and waited in line at the cash register for 45 minutes. Karma.

Friday was the annual "Girls shopping weekend". Each year, after Thanksgiving, my wife and sisters get a hotel room somewhere and shop, eat, & talk. So, it was just me & the girls on Friday night. We went to Hickory Park for dinner. I had ribs and they were good. Not as good as Wicker's though.

Saturday was a relaxing day. Abby kept begging to get the Christmas tree and decorations out. Her consistency finally paid off and I got everything out. Now there's a big mess upstairs.

We went to see the Jolly Holiday Lights last night. Tina, George, and Jordan came along for the ride. It was fun to see Madeline so excited that she was clapping. I love that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

E. Viction

Friday, when I picked Alex up after school, one of her friend's mom came up to my car window and started bitching. I'm not going to go into details about what she was bitching about, but I will say that she was VERY immature about it. I wish I would have rolled my eyes at her, because that's how I felt. Then, yesterday, we had a conversation with friends about one of their children. Angie and I feel that these kids' every move is directed by their mother. Parenting is really hard and everyone does it different. However, I think it's important to let them be themselves. Kids will be kids. They have to go through life and experience it for themselves. As Angie said last night, "At least Alex is real". She is and I'm proud of her.

The girls and I just got back from a trip to Iowa City to watch my nephew in a school play. He did great and it was a pretty good play. The girls did good on the way out, but lost their minds on the way back.

It's going to be a short work week. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and and four days off. It's supposed to be warm too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I just finished watching an episode of the Glen Beck show. It was about how the radical islamists use propaganda to teach their children to hate Jews, Christians, and Americans. They showed a clip from a cartoon in which a terrorist had a bunch of grenades strapped around his body. He jumped into a truckload of Israelites and blew himself up. In the same way that we are raised to love each other and to treat each other with kindness, they are raised to hate non-muslims and to be martyrs. It's all they know. How do we stop that?

Sunday, Angie and I finally got to have real date. The first in a very long time. We went to Home Depot for paint samples and then to Applebees. I got a steak and riblet dinner. Bad choice. Don't ever get the riblets. There were way too many small bones. I was constantly picking bones out of the half-chewed food in my mouth. yuck. Next time I'll get the baby back ribs.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


It happens every year. The kids love it, but I despise it (sort of). We had our first snowfall of the season on Friday. I think we got about 2 inches in Cambridge. It was 80 degrees here on Wednesday. Crazy.

Angie showed Madeline how to sew on a button. That's all she wants to do now. She's pretty good at it too.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bath time

A few months ago our "old" bathroom roof sprung a leak. For the past week or so, the local handy man has been putting a new roof on the bathroom and fixing the ceiling. I elected to hire someone this time because I wanted it done quickly. If I'd have done it, it would have been strung out over several months. That's just how I roll.

Anyway, the "new" bathroom doesn't have a tub, just a shower. With the "old" bathroom under construction, Madeline has had to resort to baths at the sitter's or showers with me. Tonight we decided to give her a bath in the kitchen sink. It worked great and she had fun with it.

It was nice today, in the 60's, so we raked some leaves and Abby torched them.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

Halloween is my least favorite "holiday". I just don't get it. "It's fun for the kids" is all that I can come up with.

We did the annual pumpkin carving on Sunday. I have to admit that I stole the idea for the pumpkin's face from a friend. It came out ok I guess. Madeline really got into it. She thought it was cool that I let her play with a knife and that she got to stab something. I think it's her mom's east sider coming out in her ;-)

Thanks to Angie, Abby has a great hippie costume this year. Too bad she doesn't know what a hippie is. She won the costume contest at the local community center.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The third annual camp out with the Troutslayers was last weekend. I'm still feeling the effects. I had a lot of fun, as usual, but I went in with the beginnings of a cold and came out with what feels like pneumonia. I went down on Thursday afternoon. It was fairly warm. It was nice on Friday too. Friday night it rained and Saturday it was rainy all day and never over 40 degrees. The cold weather and all of the smoke (many cigars, campfire, ribs in the smoker) put a hurt on my lungs. I'm still coughing up shit. Was it worth it? You bet it was. Cold rainy camping with friends, good food, beer, & cigars beats working any day.

I went down a day early to get some alone time. Damn I needed that. I'd like to do that more often.

I took the day off Monday too. I went to the Apple Orchard/Pumkin Patch with Madeline's preschool class and hung out with her all day. It was great being four for a day. That felt more like vacation than the camping did. I'll try to get a few of the orchard photos posted soon.

Angie wants to go to a costume party at the local bar this Saturday. I'm not looking forward to it at all, but if she wants to go, I must accompany her. I really think I have some sort of social disorder. When I was younger I enjoyed hanging out in crowds and socializing. As I age, I've become more and more withdrawn. I get stressed out when I have to go to parties and socialize. I don't small talk well at all and avoid it as much as I can. For this same reason, I don't take customers to lunch or chat over the fence with my neighbors. Angie thinks I hate people. Maybe I do, but I can't help it.

Alex is addicted to instant messaging. She can sit there for hours and chat with her friends. Well, some time in the past few days, she's picked up a virus through MSN. I think she clicked on something without knowing what it was. A BIG NO NO. The virus is buried deep in the hard drive and may have infected the other two computers we have connected in our home network. Our internet provider told us that some hacker is using our IP address to send out spam. FUCK! Angie is taking two of the computers in to her company's computer guy (move!) today to see what he can do. Alex claims that a few of her friends got infected the same way. I told her no more MSN. She's taking it pretty hard.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What if

Today is Robby's 12th birthday. I often wonder what it would be like to father a son. I'm not sure I'd be cut out for it. Girls are different, harder is some respects, but easier in others. My personality is more suited to living with females. I think God knew that ahead of time.

Is Robby 12 in heaven or still a baby? Maybe there is no age. What's his body look like now? Is it completely rotted away to just the skeleton, or does it take longer than 11 years and 7 months? I guess I'll find out someday. I remember when they buried him. We didn't pay for the big iron vault (is that what they're made from?). They just put his little blue gingham casket into a pine box in the ground.

Every now and then I'll find myself studying a boy that would be Robby's age. Sure are lot's of what if's in life.

The boss asked me today "So you'll be here tomorrow?". I said "Yeah". He said "But not Thursday or Friday right". I said "Monday too". Cool, he thinks I'm off all day Thursday. Fine with me. I'm ready for a few days away. I hope the weather cooperates.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Clean Living

I'm so fucking ready to go camping next weekend. Life is getting to me bigtime and I'm ready to escape it for a while. I wish it was for a week, instead of 3 days, but I'll take it.

Madeline was painting the shower yesterday. Some of the shots turned out a little spooky.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Float Trip


This weekend was the annual river ride with two of my brother-in-laws. I suppose this was the 6th or 7th one, I'm not sure. It was a great time, as usual. For the third year in a row, the weather cooperated nicely. The leaves are a week or two from peak color, but still nice. I'll take the good weather over good leaf color anytime.

The full moon was pretty sweet on Friday night. Frank the phone charger told us it was the "harvest moon". Not sure about that, but it was big and bright and lit up the campground. The above shot is of the campground lit by moonlight. This is a 20 second exposure. I started the exposure when a car was driving through the frame. I wanted the light streaks and it worked pretty good. Click on it for a bigger photo.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Birthday Bash

Abby's 10th birthday was this past Wednesday. Angie's 40th was yesterday. We had a family get together today to celebrate both. It's always nice to get everyone together. I had fun shooting hoops with my brother and my dad.

Angie and I went up to the town bar last night to watch the second half of the Hawkeye game. Abby was at home alone with Madeline, so I left after an hour or so. I woke up at 2:30am to make sure my wife made it home ok. I found her lying on the bathroom floor moaning. She was pretty drunk and regretting it. She never drinks, but everyone wanted to buy her a drink for her birthday. She's still feeling a little green even tonight. I should have snapped a photo of her hugging the toilet, I doubt it will happen again.

Fall is here, and I'm loving it. The trees are changing colors fast. I left the windows open last night and it was 59 degrees in the house. I love it, but all of the females were bitching.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Personal Day

I just couldn't find the will power to make it to work today. I told my boss that I just needed a personal day to "deal with numerous personal issues". I guess this is really the truth. I've been slightly depressed lately. I don't know what it is, I'm just not happy with my life lately. I feel bogged down by everything. My wife is calling it a mid-life crisis. I don't know what's going on.

I spent most of the morning driving around and looking at stuff, which is my favorite morning activity. The opening shot here is from this morning's sunrise at Jester Park.

I visited Robby's grave this morning too. I feel guilty for not going out there more often. It's upsetting to find it so covered with crap. Getting the time to clean it up was worth the day of in itself.

It feels like all that I did this past weekend was to care for my children. I took Abby, her friend Lilly, and Madeline to Skate North on Friday night. Abby wanted to go there with Lilly for her birthday. Madeline and I strapped on skates and did one loop on the floor. That was enough for both of us. We were very bored for about two more hours while we waited for Abby & Lilly to be done. Skate parks on Friday nights are full of 9-16 yr olds. Not a fun place for a dad and a four year old. What's with the blinking pacifiers that all of the kids had? Drugs?

Saturday I took Madeline out for a walk on an abandoned beach out at Saylorville. It was nice to get out of the house for a while.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Morning Drive

I'm a morning person by far. I love the morning. I'm usually alone, the air is clean, it's quiet, the light is the most intriguing. The worst part is that I have to go to work in the mornings. There are some (most) days when I would like to be able to screw around for a few hours before I have to be anywhere. Today was one of those mornings. The temp was 35 when I left home. The air was still. The light was good. I felt good. Stupid job.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Huge Deck for Entertaining

I went to my sister's house this weekend to assist my nephew in building a deck on the front of their house. It went surprisingly smooth, and only took about 6 or 7 working hours to finish. This was Brandon's (my nephew) first project of this sort. He is a natural at this kind of thing and it was a joy to spend the time with him.

Iowa beat Iowa State yesterday, finally. Iowa's second half adjustments never cease to amaze me. Kirk F is one awesome coach.

We ended the day, yesterday, with the Wickers and Claussens at their campsite. Lots of good food and conversation as usual. It was nice to reap the benefits of camping, without all of the cleanup. Especially since it rained overnight.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I fell asleep for about 2-1/2 hours and now can't sleep. I hate insomnia. I'll be sleeping like a baby when the alarm goes off in five hours.

Leica is introducing the M8 digital rangefinder tomorrow. I want one bad. Too bad it'll probably cost $5,000. I need to win the lottery, or maybe sell a bunch of photos (hahaha).

Angie is coming home from her trip to England tomorrow. She's at the airport in London right now. I don't envy her for her trip home. What a long day it will be.