Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving and such

So, a little behind in posting this, but as always things just seem to get busy with classes and all.

Anyway, Thanksgiving was wonderful. I only hope that everyone had as wonderful a time as all of us. Since we are already in the South we figured we'd head a little further south for Thanksgiving. So we went to Florida to visit my grandparents for the weekend. We left Wednesday morning and arrived at their place, about an hour north of Orlando, just in time for dinner. The kids were amazing on the way down, but quite excited to get out of the car. Of course we were greeted with some outstanding cooking from my Grandma. I'm not sure what it was called, but it was some kind of egg casserole with sausage, hashbrowns, and of course...lots of cheese. The first dessert for the weekend was homemade apple looked so amazing you almost didn't want to eat it...almost :) And that was only Wednesday night :)

Thursday of course had us stuffing ourselves on turkey, mashed potatoes, pies (I had a three piece sampler for Thanksgiving), etc and watching the traditional loss for the Lions...a bad one this year :( Aside from that we spent time playing bocce ball, shuffle board, pickle ball, a little swimming in the pool and of course lots of cards with Grandma. Much to her delight, Brian learned her favorite game, "Dimes", and put in a couple good games. I was also excited for the chance to get to see one of my good friends from high school, Nick. It was great to catch up with him and play some Euchre Settlers.

It took a little while to get back to Columbia. We were supposed to get back around 7pm, according to Garmin, but taking 3 hours to go 10 miles due to traffic around Savannah had us getting home around 10pm. I called Laura in the middle of it to let her know that I blamed she is a civil was the best I could come up with. The funny note was that we planned to stop for dinner just before we hit the traffic jam and it was at a spot without any we ended up waiting until nearly 8pm for dinner instead of 6:30ish. By the time the traffic cleared up and we found a Burger King it seems that everyone else had found it first as Burger King was...sold out of burgers. The kids didn't seem to mind a dinner of chicken nuggets, french fries, and their cheesy tots (not very good in my opinion) all was well.

Back in Columbia we are (with the exception of Kelly) all just trying to finish up classes and looking toward Christmas break and traveling up to Michigan to see family and friends. Classes are outstanding down here and I am really happy that we made the decision to come, but it is still nice to have a break and especially to see all the friends and family whom we miss so much. Oh...Kelly for her part is still working on her language development. We did have our first Russian night, but that's not what I'm talking about. Amidst her discussions of the elephants that are in our living room she has added a nuance to "Oh snap" as she has made it a verb. She seems to have the correct use when she says "Oh snap", but now enjoys adding "I snapped it".

The last two days have been a mix. I got a lot of homework done yesterday and still managed a trip to a tree farm to pick out a Christmas tree. An hour later Brian had changed his mind about 15 times, but we finally decided on one...a little bigger than we had planned...but it'll fit, right? Kelly on the other hand was quite content to run around and try to determine which trees were taller than her. Although she rarely was the victor...she was quite diligent. She would run up to a tree and lean against it to try to see if the top was taller than her. She was consistent with this measuring method even when faced with the 30 foot trees, quite cute. Today we decorated the tree...a little trimming was required in the end to make it fit...things are a little cramped, but the kids had fun. However on the tough side, we received some difficult news from back home, so please keep my family in your prayers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Deer Season

Not one to stray too far from our Michigan roots Allison did her best to try to get herself a deer last Tuesday. Nope she hasn't taken up bow, rifle, or even black powder. Her preferred weapon of choice is a 3000 pound Honda Accord. We were driving down the road near coming back to our house when she sighted her target, a big doe coming out of the woods just in front of us. However, I don't know whether she decided that she's not much of a hunter or maybe she wanted a buck because she tried to brake, but she tried to brake. Braking was an excellent choice as swerving one way would have taken us into trees and the other would have been the oncoming car that barely missed the deer itself. Yet, she must not have wanted the deer to escape without a solid warning so a slight collision was made. The deer bounced off, seemed quite unaffected, and ran off into the woods. The car received a bent hood and everybody inside was quite safe...although Kelly's nap was disturbed. So in the end, some quick reflexes from Allison seemed to have saved all and insurance (thanks goes to Jason Atkinson for pointing out how little it costs to lower comp deductible) will cover the damage and we will have a rental car for our trip to my grandparents for Thanksgiving.

So that was our big excitement for the week...but no venison for us it seems. I also had a Hebrew exam this week that went pretty well, despite that we ended up with a never seen before vocab word (many apologies from the prof on that one). Yesterday was pretty busy as our church had a community day and we had a huge turnout from the kids, not as many parents, but everyone had a great time as they had a couple of the air bouncers, cotton candy, snow cones, and even a dare van complete with an x-box 360.

In other language learning news, it looks like we will be having a Russian night each week where we'll have a couple people over for dinner and try to all work on learning/practicing our Russian together. Kelly is actually doing quite well with her Russian as she understands most anything Allison tells her, although she much prefers to respond in English. She has also added to her English vocab. "Oh snap" is her new favorite phrase.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Windows 7...some first thoughts

(Allison's Warning: You must have a technical dictionary to read this blog, at least she did.)

So, I have spent the last week attempting to upgrade to Windows 7..."simple" right? Hmmm...well here is how it went. Both Allison and I got some student deals from Digital River for Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.

So Wednesday the 22nd finally came and we downloaded the one person put it "instead of looking at a nice, shiny ready-to-install ISO of Windows 7, Digital River sent you a handful of random files and no ISO!" They decided that we would only want an .exe file since we are upgrading. Well, what can we Allison installed that on the desktop and it went fine. A little messy file structure since it wasn't a clean install...but it worked. It did have an "unknown device" still, but everything seemed to be working. Not too much of a new look, but some nice things. I really like the libraries and the homegroups look like they could be good. They give you many more options for User Account Control and their drivers seem to be good...after doing a Windows update. Quicken actually works better than it did on Vista. The changes to the taskbar seem nice and I really like that you can easily change the shutdown button to switch user (or whatever you want). Yes, I did also try the "snap feature"

But then I went to install it on the laptop. Clicked on the .exe and watched it take the 5 minutes to unpack everything...oops, it got an error for file permissions at the end...huh? Okay, try again running as administrator, nope same error. Maybe it was because I'm working on files from my side which are stored on Allison's desktop, change to Allison's side and rerun. Same problem. Okay, this is more try. Log on to Vista's secret "real" administrator account, this will work now...nope same error. Fall back on the thing that never the problem. Seems like lots of others are having the same issue, but others have no problems...hmm. After reading several forums I find that the problem is that Microsoft had the brilliant idea to send the upgrade to Windows 7 pro 64-bit as a 64-bit file. So, if you happen to be upgrading from...I dunno, Vista 32-bit (which most people are) you cannot run the file. Sent email to Digital River asking for "the fix" that they had.

Digital River sent a link to download the iso file b/c you have to do a clean install...yay! Download the file and burn to dvd and ready to go. Sadly by now it's Monday and we have classes for the next three days and I wanted the laptop working. So I wait until Wednesday...good choice as it turns out. I start the install and it gets 20% done and tells me that the file is corrupt...and since it is a clean install I've formatted my previous version. Call Digital River...closed. Check Microsoft support site...crashed (they must have upgraded to Windows 7 too). Call Microsoft help takes me to the store...get number for tech support. Call them...find out Digital River sent product key for Home Premium not Pro and they will only help me install Home Premium... transferred to store to try to get new product key. The MS store cannot/will not give me a new product key because I bought it through Digital River and they don't have the records...but tech support does and should be able to handle this...transferred back. The store rep failed to give any details to tech I tell my story again...they still cannot help me. Well...might as well see what help they can give me at least with Home Premium...transferred to the actual tech support person. After dealing with 10 minutes of repeating myself and having her repeat herself because of the foreign accent...told only Digital River can help with the tech support. Given the number for Digital River (complete with country code)...hang up and do a factory restore (didn't format that part of the hard drive) so my laptop actually works while I do some Greek homework.

Call Digital River the next day (nope the number didn't work...and they didn't have it listed...but thanks again goes to google...800-GOOG-411) to get a new iso and product key. Given the "all sales are final" line at first, but then they decide they should probably cancel the order and I can reorder. Cancel sent (will take a few days) and I go to can only order once per student email address...good thing we still have our MSU email product key achieved. Redownload iso file and works! Get everything installed and I'm having no problems. So Allison logs on and her side locks up every few minutes. Nothing in event logs. So I delete her account, defrag, run scandisk, and re-add her...still locking up. I tell her it's user error, but she insists on blaming the computer.

This seems to be a common complaint so the next day I call tech support...back to help from a foreign country. After giving the problem and 5 minutes on hold I was told to delete and re-add her :( So...I asked about the unknown devices...after another few sessions of 5 minute holds I was told that I should...reinstall. Put in a request for tier II help...which was surprisingly granted...but is through follow-up and hang-up. I'm supposed to have a call back in an hour.

Install on the laptop...take 4...figured I'd do this while I waited (good thing as they never called back). Everything works again...unidentified device still there :( Decided to ignore that and I get it all set-up and Allison seems to be able to use it without any trouble. I even managed to get some more Greek homework done during all of it and downloaded a trial of Everest (sweet program) and discovered the unidentified devices are my card reader on the biggee (apparently Allison didn't even know we had one)...and AMD's "away mode" on the desktop (helps restore from hibernate faster)...annoying...but it won't hurt anything...can also be disabled in the bios. So all seems well.

This evening I log on to check my email while watching some football. A commercial comes on advertising Windows 7 and how it won't crash as much...and my side locks up :( Hold down the power button to turn off and restart...log on and make it in to check email this time. Low and behold I have an email from tier II support. Apparently they wanted to confirm that I needed help by email (a day later) before they returned the call. Well, at least I knew that things weren't quite working still :) So email sent back to them.

The saga continues...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Quick back update

Just wanted to say thanks for many of your kind words and thanks. I wanted to let everybody know that my back has been doing much better. It still is acting up a bit, but is more of just an annoyance now. I've still mostly been laying around and resting it this week as the muscle relaxers just knock me out. I even listened to my sister's instructions and did not play football this week, I was quite sad because the last few weeks have been canceled due to rain, but it was probably for the best. It is times like these that make me appreciate just how much those people who have constant back problems really go through.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A busy couple of weeks

Well, I finally have some time to write a little here and am awake enough to do it. I actually have spent quite a bit of time lying around the past couple days, but have slept most of (Allison is a little jealous). I’ve been lying down because I reinjured my back and that’s about all I can do right now. My wife and mom even coerced me to go to the doctor…he thought it was likely something with the muscles again. So I’ve been on muscle relaxers, which I’m not sure what they are doing for my back, but they certainly relax me…hence all the sleeping.

But things are definitely not all bad. Last weekend my uncles visited from Texas and we had a great time hanging out, playing some games, checking out some local restaurants (Hudson’s and CafĂ© Strudel for sure) and a comic book shop, and going to the state fair. The fair was a lot of fun, although I seem to have lost my desire to go on rides that spin around and make you throw up. Sadly, for us, that is all that Brian wants to do. So, we took turns taking him on those rides. There was some great food to enjoy…although I recommend staying away from deep fried Pepsi. Of course, if you know them, the rest of the weekend included some spades…but we also taught them Settlers which I think became Ken’s new favorite.

The time on the couch has given me some time to think about something that’s been on my mind lately - the kids in our neighborhood, although I still have no answers. I've been thinking about what it would look like for these kids to come to our church. I just can't reconcile images of the kids I play basketball with and our church. These are tough kids, or at least they feel they have to act that way, they love to fight, they love rap, and about the only other thing they seem to care about is sports. And our amazing...the people there love to praise God and do it so well. The teaching is strong...but how can these kids fit in there to hear it? The younger kids seem fine with it, but once they become teens...I just don't know. Is the answer just to get them there and they will appreciate it...or is there a better way to reach them.

Classes have picked up a bit as I have a number of books to read. One excellent one for anyone who is in any kind of leadership position, ministry or not, is "7 Practices of Effective Ministry" by Andy has quite the baseball theme to it...but if you don't like baseball, nothing to fear...Allison enjoyed the book as well. (She even now is trying to figure out how to "narrow her focus.") Hebrew and Greek are the ones that take most of my time. I like them, but sometimes they are quite a bit of work. AO work has also been keeping me pretty busy, but it has been a huge blessing to have no complaints really in that area. It is also nice that it keeps me in touch with the people there.

Allison is enjoying her linguistics class still, especially since it does not have a ton of out of class work :) Brian is mostly enjoying 3rd grade, he sometimes doesn't like compromising with others on projects, but he's getting better. However, he has determined that he does not like homework. No school yet for Kelly, though she is sure she wants to go...especially if she gets to ride on a bus.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Visit from the fam

Allison's parents came down to visit for Brian's school break and to celebrate Allison's birthday. So we've been going around and showing them various sights around Columbia. Kelly through a small wrench in the plan by getting sick yesterday, but Grandma enjoyed spending the day with her and she is better and running all around again. The rest of enjoyed a thrilling, or maybe more humorous, soccer game of 8 year olds chasing after the ball.
Next was introducing Allison's father to Chick-fil-a and it was off to the air show. That was pretty cool. Brian got to sit in the pilot's seat of various helicopters and jets, jump on some space ship shaped inflatable bounce pits and...the actual air show was spectacular. They simulated bombing a field and attacking a field...complete with some sort of explosion on the field. You could feel the concussion and the heat from some of the explosions. The show included jets, some apache helicopters, and a few tanks even - alright, not really part of an air show per se...but it cool still.
Today was the celebration of our pastor's first anniversary with the church. Lunch was great and I hear that the service was wonderful...I however spent the 2 1/2 hours watching the kids in the nursery. It was fun...but quite tiring by the end :) After watching the lines make it close...but fall short (sorry Heather...wish they could have given you a win to watch) we headed out to Lake Murray and some southern bbq. The bbq was good (same place that Pete and I went), but we stopped to pick up what is supposed to be a southern treat that Pete and I passed on...boiled peaunts. We stopped to get them and as soon as I opened the container to get some...I knew it was going to go well. There's really no way to describe it except terrible...we tried to feed them to fish at the lake...even that was a no go.

One final fam note for all of you who have been waiting with baited breath...Kelly has taken quite well to her dance lessons and is enjoying it quite a bit now...much to her mother's pleasure.

In news from CIU...we had a prayer day this past week. It's a day when they suspend classes so that the university can focus on prayer. It has really been challenging to my prayer life coming down here because there is such a great emphasis on it at the university...prayer day being a great example. A cool insight from the devotionals that we had with my professor that day. Acts 6 gives the story of the apostles delegating the work of the church so that they could put their efforts into two main things "prayer and to the ministry of the word." The leaders of the early church saw prayer as one of there two main responsibilities. What a challenge for those of us who hope to be leaders in the church today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some family updates

Well, as a friend pointed out...I'm "officially" now into the third decade of my life as I turned 31 yesterday. It was a pretty good day. It started a little earlier than I would have liked as Brian had his first soccer (his favorite sport) game and had to be there early for pictures. It was what you would expect for little kid soccer; the coach yelling, "Spread out" and the kids all bunching together around the ball. It is comical to watch if anyone hasn't lately. They get about 8-10 kids around the ball and one kid kicks it as hard as he can. It bounces off about four of them and then goes out in some random direction -reminds me of pinball - the kids then chase it down and it begins again. Brian's team had a few all star eight year olds though - they are really good - and so they managed to win 3-1 and Brian was excited. All the parents make a tunnel after the game for both teams to run through...which seemed to excite the kids more than playing...and then they had I think both teams were happy at that point (win or lose). The afternoon was spent mostly relaxing...did a little homework...and then Red Robin for dinner. Mmmm, bottomless fries, burger w/ an egg, and freckled lemonade. So good...I haven't eaten so many fries in a long time. Back home and somehow fell asleep on the couch at 9...all in all a good day.

Kelly has now master how to pull up youtube veggie tales on my phone (I bookmarked it but she does the rest)...with play by play. "I push the world, then I push the star, then push veggie tales, then I wait for the red thing (that's the loading bar)". She even knows how to scroll up and down to pick the ones she wants to watch. So this is one of her favorite things to do now and so my phone is constantly requested. She seems slightly more perplexed by Allison's because it isn't a touch screen...despite her best efforts to prove otherwise. Her other new endeavor (Allison's really) is ballet class. But despite my wife's best efforts Kelly stands around and watches during class. Allison can convince her to dance here at home, but she seems a little to shy with the other kids and her teachers. Oh well, we'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Aside from trying to encourage Kelly's dancing career, Allison has been enjoying her linguistics class...had a big project due this week though...and is really enjoying that I am a year older than her...for the next two weeks at least.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time with friends and the fam

It's been a busy but outstanding last couple weeks...sorry for the lack of updates. We got to see a ton of old friends during that time.

First, Pete came down from Michigan to visit us. It was quite a privilege that he drove down here to see us and we had a great time hanging out. We visited a number of places around Columbia...many of which I have never been to before. We found some great places to eat...I just took Allison back to Hudson's BBQ b/c it was so good. Sorry, choice for sides was still french fries and mash potatoes w/ gravy (so good).

Last weekend found us on a quick trip up to Michigan to hang out with family and a few others. It was great to be able to hang out with a friends and be able to hear about what is going on up in Michigan and to encourage one in particular who was going through a tough time. I also got to hang out with many of Allison's and my family. We stayed with her parents, who also invited my down to stay for the weekend. Allison's brother pointed out that this gave a 2:1 grandparent to grandchild much spoiling was done :) Saturday we made it up to East Lansing for the sad football game...but the good side was that I saw my little bro and sis for their birthdays that were coming up. We went out w/ my parents for Sushi and then hung out that evening at Bernie's house...thanks to her for putting us up so that we could see some more friends at church the next morning. It was fun talking to them and catching up. I also heard that my brother has been going to a few things and confusing people as he looks like me...although they all agree that they were slightly confused b/c he looks younger and ripped (I'd like to say more ripped...but...yeah).

All in all, it was a great trip, we'd love to have seen more people, but it was a short and focused trip. I also got to listen to some great messages by Ravi Zacharias on the driver up and down. I recommend them to anybody on a long road trip.

The one hard part was that several friends are going through some really tough problems with loved ones lately; deaths, illnesses, etc. Many of them are quite personal, so I don't want to share here...but if you get a moment, please lift them up in prayer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thoughts of back home

1 Thessalonians 2:17 "But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while--in person, not in spirit--were all the more eager with great desire to see your face."

What do you do when you are a thousand miles away and one of your closest friends is going through what is probably the hardest time of his life? As hard as it was leaving family and friends to come down here I feel it is harder still when something like this happens and my first reaction is a desire to be able to run over to his house so that I can be there for him. I have been blessed so far with the opportunity to make it back home for the special occasions - Laura and Will's graduations - but now something sudden happened. I think I'm truly learning what Paul was feeling when he wrote about missing the Thessalonians.

But there is encouragement, as Paul said, we may be far away in person, but please know that ya'll are not far from us in Spirit. We miss you guys and constantly pray for you guys. It is awesome to be able to still connect with the father to bring our concerns before him. You will never be far from us in spirit. We are praying that God will comfort all involved in this situation. Because in the end, although we can help, it is truly God who is "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Cor 1:3) And there is more, despite that I cannot be there for this friend, it is encouraging to have talked with some other close friends who I know are gathering around him to support him. What a blessing it is to be able to see God use others to do what I am not able to do myself.

To add to that, cell phones, texting, skype, and other things help to bring us a just a little closer to home. Looking back at the title, I find it funny because I am sitting on the couch typing this in my house. Yet, I think that we still consider our home to be in Michigan and we want you all to know that we carry you in our hearts...sharing both your joys and your sorrows. I have to thank God that he has given us this time of transition - moving a short distance away before we move far away - it has been a blessing to help us adjust.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


God is amazingly faithful. Yesterday was a tough day. As many of you know we have been getting involved with the youth, both at our church and in our neighborhood. Well, God has really blessed us, especially with opportunities in the neighborhood. We consistently have anywhere from five to fifteen kids hanging around our house and are sure to have a knock at our door soon after we arrive home from anywhere...with many more knocks to follow. The kids play with all sorts of different things, from the tree fort and tire swing we made in the back yard to video games, Legos, and the computer inside. It has been a blessing for us to have many friends for our children and to be able to minister to many of these children who seem to crave so much attention. Many of their parent(s)/grandparent(s) work long hours in order to get by and the kids are often left on their own. It seems an area where we can really make a difference in the neighborhood. Especially, as there are so many bad options that are open to the kids as they get older. Most of the people working with the youth around here feel that if they haven't got the kids involved by age 10 in some positive influence, that there is a good chance of them instead getting involved with the local gangs.

Yet, it has been difficult at times. To have that many kids around all the times is wearing. The other day when I tried to give Allison a break from the kids by taking ours and some others to the park to play, I returned home awhile later to find five others hanging around the house using the computer. Many of the kids want to borrow our various things...from a basketball, to roller blades, to bikes. But we have had trouble getting stuff back at times...mostly from forgetfulness...and the kids have been a little rough on Allison's bike. Not to mention, that when you get that many kids together there are bound to be arguments and the occasional (and not so occasional sometimes) fights. The kids are tough down here...but that seems to makes things worse as they have to act tough...and when they fight...they mean it...fists, sticks, rocks...whatever.

The breaking point was yesterday though, when we found some things missing from the house. There are so many kids in and out of here that we really can't know who it is...and this hasn't been the first time. It had been a rough couple days with a lot going on...especially with classes having just started. Then to find that the kids to whom we are attempting to minister are turning around and stealing stuff from us...again...was just about all we could take. We both wanted to just call it quits for awhile and tell them they are not allowed over. It was just so frustrating.

Enter God...I knew right away that I needed to rely on him...I even racked my brain to see what he had been teaching me in devotions lately...but nothing first. Then we went to work-out at blow off some steam. My friend JP told me that often he finds things aren't quite as bad as they seem. This didn't seem to help much...until I was praying with Brian that evening. He, like us, was dealing with disappointments. In the traumatic world of an eight year old he wanted to play video games or a watch a movie, but it was time for bed and he was pouting. We spent some time talking about how much God has blessed him and all the good that happened that day. We finished praying and as I walked out of the room God tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of JP's words from earlier and how what I had just told Brian applied to my situation as well.

I'd like to say that this solved the problem, but both Allison and I needed more. We had a long conversation that evening...most of it just talking about how we felt about the situation and how much it was still stressing us out. Not much was resolved...we both knew we should still minister to the kids...but it was difficult. She went to bed and I went next door to beat up on the Madden '08.

But God wasn't done with us. Sunday morning's message was on Galatians 6:9 "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." The Pastor spoke of how hard, at times, it is to do the work which God gives us...especially if people reject us...or steal from us. Yup, he used that exact example. Yet God does not give up on us, and we should not give up either. We have to "keep on keeping on." It was such a message of encouragement that we needed...God really came through for both of us.

We returned home with a renewed determination to reach these might be difficult...and disappointing at times...but having the response we have had is - as a Pastor has said - a blessing. We reorganized the house so that electronic stuff (things that are small and easy for them to grab) is put up and away and we came up with some new limitations...but we are looking to continue moving forward. We know God wouldn't want it any other way.

In the end, although it was difficult, it was awesome to see God work in this area and to once again be astounded by this work. I love these "coincidences" when the exact message you to hear is the one that is preached...or as our Pastor say, "There are no coincidences" ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This and that

A busy week all in all. A lot of work with AO and I'm about ready to never hear the words insurance score, underwriting tier, or anything like that again. But we've made some progress and that is it keeps me busy.

Wednesday was a good day. I finished up my final paper for my summer class...just in time for my other classes to start this coming week...but I had a few days break in between the work. So that was nice. I've been trying to start reviewing some Greek and get into Hebrew a little to ease into this semester...yeah...I'm good at procrastinating :) After I finished the paper I went next door to celebrate with my neighbor by playing a little Mortal Kombat v DC on the 360. As an amateur comic book fan (at least compared to a few friends) I was quite pleased and thought it was well done.

Finally, we took a return trip over to the tattoo artist to touch up my tattoo. That's probably news for most...but as many of you know I lost my wedding ring awhile ago and I talked about getting a ring tattoo...but couldn't decide what to get. In the end, I just decided to go for it and have the lady at the tattoo place (it had some great reviews online) design me something and go from there. You can't get too creative with just a small finger, but she made some interwoven infinity signs (one for each of us) and I think I like the outcome. It hurt quite a bit to get it done...more than I expected...but was also a lot faster than I expected. I'm really always very impressed with artists as my creativity is zero, I can't really draw a straight line well...let alone a circle, and I'm what I like to call color stupid. I can see colors just fine...but I cannot for the life of me tell you what looks good together. So I'm quite happy with it and actually look like I at least have something on my ring finger. Allison loves it...she had no idea that I was doing it...although it did take her awhile to notice...I think her seeing the aftercare instructions laying on the counter that it was what tipped her off. Hopefully I'll post some pictures of it soon. Oh...didn't mention that this was our it was kinda a gift for her. Hard to believe that we have been married nine years now.

Speaking of the anniversary...lots of marriage stuff going on besides the anniversary. They had a couples night at the church which we took our neighbor to. We watched Fireproof and discussed it afterward. This is an amazing video that I recommend to anybody...alright the acting isn't necessarily the greatest at some points. But it more than makes up for it with the content. We had seen it before, but our neighbor had it was pretty cool for us to think about again and be challenged by what it demonstrates. Our neighbor said it was really good and I hope we have time to talk about it some more.

Yup...more marriage stuff. Saturday saw us take off for Greenville (about 1 1/2 away) for our final round of pre-marriage counseling with some friends. It has been a great privilege to get to do this with them. I think that we have been able to share some good things and it has been extremely challenging to both of us go back over a lot of this information in order to reevaluate how we are doing. I definitely can do a better job at loving my wife...and this was a good challenge to show me some areas where I can do that. She is wonderful and deserves everything and anything that I can give her.

The sad part of the day came when we returned to Columbia to find that Kelly had left her doll and blanket in the McDonald's play place back in Greenville. Yup, she could tell us exactly where she left it...but it was an 1 1/2 away and they were closed up by then. We called today and they found it. We have to call back tomorrow to see if they can send it to us or something. Meanwhile we are dealing with a 3 year on her blanket/baby withdrawal...but she's coping pretty well most of the time.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Youth Explosion

That's the name of our church's back to school bbq that we had yesterday...and it was just that. It was mostly geared toward the younger kids and was a blast. We took about 14 kids(mostly about Brian's age) from our neighborhood and a couple of their parents as well :) The church was pretty packed and the kids had fun switching between scarfing down food, playing wii, and sliding on the blow up waterslide. If you can't quite picture that...think about combining a slip 'n slide and one of those bounce house things...along with a little pool of water that you slide into at the end. Not too many injuries...a few when the kids decided that it was a good idea to run back up the slide part...but no broken bones. We solved that when we made it a race to slide down and run back to the line...which also had the added benefit of tiring the kids out.

The party ended about 2, but a number of the kids came back to our place for the rest of the day, thankfully the nice lady running the food at the church had given us some of the leftover burgers and there was no cooking to do come dinnertime. My pastor and I were talking about it and it really has been a blessing the number of kids who come over to our house and want to do stuff with us. Yet, it is overwhelming at times and definitely wears us out trying to keep up with them. When they aren't in school, I don't think we go 1/2 and hour without having someone knock on our door, either asking to come over and play or for me to help the fix up their ever failing bikes.

However, it was very encouraging that two of them wanted to, and did, come to church with us this morning. They seemed to have enjoyed themselves and wanted to come again. The kids are in some ways so innocent and in other ways you can see how some hard aspects of their lives are beginning to come through. These will only get worse as they grow older. There is some gang activity around, and it is especially prevalent at the schools, many come from broken homes, and one of the saddest statistics is that our area has the hightest teen pregnancy in all of South Carolina. Please pray for this kids, and especially as we try to get more involved with some of the older kids as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And we're back

Okay...back up and running in so many ways. It's been awhile since we've updated this. We'll try to make a more regular schedule about it. The last month has been quite crazy b/w work and school.

In more recent news feels good to be back and clean again. That may sound strange, but we just returned from camping in Great Smokey Mountain National Park. It was a blast, but a couple days of no showers and lugging a three year old around in summer heat make for a nasty situation.

But all survived and it was a blast. Brian reiterated over and over that he loves camping. We headed up there Sunday, about a 4 hour drive that took a little longer due to some snags at Walmart. We stopped on our way out of town about noon to pick up the last few groceries, some camping supplies, and a few other misc things. So we get all the way to checkout only to learn that you are only allowed to buy groceries in SC b/w the hours of midnight and 1:30 PM on Sunday. As it was 12:30 at this time, we buy just the groceries, head up the road for an hour and stop at another Walmart to get the remaining supplies.

So we finally made it there and Sunday night was mostly relaxing...dinner was hot dogs on the fire w/ some busch's baked beans...and playing some monopoly - newly purchased from walmart - with Brian and Allison. The game had to be postponed til the next night.

Early Monday brought a trip to BK so that I could spend some time working, while Allison, Kelly, and Brian played around camp...Brian took a swim trying to cross the rocks in the river...Allison and Kelly nearly joined him. Later, we headed out hiking in the later morning and made it up to Clingman's Dome by lunch time. It's the highest place in the park w/ a watchtower that you can go up. By go up I mean they have a huge ramp so people can walk up. I swear the place was as crowded as Disney World...just a lot more people gasping for breath as it's a steep half mile walk up there...but they have benches every hundred feet and it's paved. So needing some more rugged hiking we headed out on the Appalachian trail for the "short"...according to my Dad's memory from 30 years ago...hike to Charlie's Bunion Gap. About 2 miles in (all up hill) we met some people with a map who informed us that it was another two miles. As we surveyed our water supply and felt we would not have enough to continue Kelly informed us that she had to throw up (I was carrying her...she wasn't walking) and did. So this ended the debate and back down the mountain we headed. We didn't quite make it where we wanted, but we had fun, saw some nice views, and Kelly seemed fine after she slept for most of the rest of the afternoon.

Brian conquered in Monopoly that night, a quick trip back to BK for more work fun the next morning, and after breaking camp we headed out for some more hiking...this time up Chimney Tops...a 2 mile trail that climbs 1700 feet. Brian did a great job...Kelly said it was hard work giving directions from my back. Chimney tops was a rock spire at the top of the mountain that you could climb up (after hiking the two miles)...we went up a ways...then down...then back up...and so on as we (actually just I) chased the kids). We didn't go all the way as the climbing got pretty dangerous, but Brian and I did see a black bear just over the ledge...I'd say more of a cliff, but there he was...eating berries about 30 feet away. The hike down was quicker, but ended w/ us getting caught in a rain storm. But we made it back and after driving back down here all are tired...Kelly even went to bed on her own saying, "I'm tired"...something I don't think we ever heard before.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


As many of you may not know, my wonderful children bought me a breadmaker for Mother's Day. I tried to make a loaf of bread today without yeast... it fell flat.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A first post we had this crazy idea that people would like to be kept up to date a little more w/ what we are doing down here and today seemed like a good day to start...

So today was our church's first attempt at a neighborhood BBQ for the kids. However, someone let the northerners do all the planning...who knew that, come the end of June, you don't plan a mid afternoon party in the south? Apparently our cold trip to Michigan had us thinking that this would be a good idea. Well, temperatures reached 98 today...the hottest day of the year so far and 2:00 found us and the few kids who showed up cramming into the little shade that could be found in the corners of the park. It was really too hot even for some games of washoes...they were a little hot when touched.

In all honesty it wasn't too bad for a first attempt and the kids seemed to have fun and free food is good. We managed to survive about two hours w/ brief forays out into the sun to attempt some basketball...really just shooting, no running...and throwing the football around. Many of the kids came back over to our house afterward and we had a fun evening of chasing all the kids around. Next month maybe we'll try more of an evening time when it seems that the sane people come out.

In other Kelly related news...toilet training progresses in interesting twists. Yesterday she proudly announced from the bathroom, "Dad, I peed!" Then came the fateful question, "Dad, can you help me?" Let's run through this. Did she pee?...yes. Was it in the toilet?...yes Well, then what's the problem?...oh, that she chose to sit on the toilet with all of her clothes still on. Despite Kelly's enthusiasm...we are going to label this as an unsuccessful attempt.