December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all had a great day today! We sure did. We got up when we wanted too, well, everyone but Ian, then we had an egg bake breakfast thing that was pretty awesome, we followed that up with some general play time and just hanging out. I did some pretty awesome cooking, but I'm not going to bore anyone with the details, but I did good with breakfast, soup and a slow cooker beef roast, Ala Mediterranean! It was a really tasty dinner, but more intended for an older palette, not for a kid.

I need to share this, it's so Young. I heard Ian the other day talking with one of his friends on the Xbox, remember, if you have one of those game systems and pay for the best, you can talk to all your friends while playing a game. While playing, Ian mentions that we're going to Aunt Maureen's house for New Years and Uncle Tom's 50th. Sitting in the other room I could hear him, but not see him. At one point he said, "No, not an Ant, that has 6 legs and crawls on the ground, I said Aunt, it's pronounced Aunt." Holly and I both heard him and we knew, he was definitely my son, I can still hear when one of my Aunts corrected my pronunciation, it was great!

Here are a few shots from Christmas Day:
It was really icy outside, we were all glad we didn't need to drive.

My Sweetie loves Peanut Brittle.

Ian got the coolest thing a teenage boy could get, an iPod Touch. He was thrilled!

Here's the gang, posing as best they can while trying to keep track of who gets to open the next present!

Spencer was always a bit of a cheese head and when Brett joined the Vikings, well, he felt there was no reason to hold back. Here he is with his new favorite shirt/number.

One of the gifts that Holly chose was these wonderful Nerf guns. They are awesome, we haven't broken anything yet, but that's a big yet.

Our movie tonight was "Die Hard", with John Willis. It's rated beyond G, but we felt that the boys could handle it. It's a great movie, but the dart wars that were waged, with those new Nerf guns, were awesome! Ian let the movie impact him quite a bit, as you can see by the marker, Yippee Kai Yay! MF Ian was so impacted that he felt inclined to write his nick names on the equipment.

Here's Ian with his best Bruce pose.

Not to be outdone, Spencer began to stalk me. here I finally grabbed him.

One thing about these self portraits that I realise that I can't control, is how we end up looking together. What really gets me, is that he's still cuter than me...even as he's being weird.

I hope that God feeds you with whatever you need to experience.
ave an awesome day!

December 19, 2009

Saturday, a full day

It all started blandly enough, would you like to serve breakfast at the Renucci House? I thought, no biggie, the boys need a service project or two for their next rank of scouts. We'll go for it. We signed up and then we got busy. The boys had a birthday party the night before which used to be a done at 7 deal but runs later now with louder and bigger events. To get to where we needed to be, we were up and at 'em at 5:30, and to get the boys moving it took bribes with Monster and Mountain Dew. Not pretty, but effective. We got there on time and actually had a great time serving these people that were struggling with some serious, long term health issues. Most memorable, a young teen that was looking at a second bone marrow transplant to beat the leukemia that was attacking her and the wife celebrating her 34th wedding anniversary with her husband under going a major bypass surgery. I was really proud of Ian and Spencer for pitching right in, serving with a glad heart and sincere concern.

After that we did a bit of shopping for Christmas for Holly while she was at Choir practice. She's leading a choir this weekend for our pre-Christmas service at church. I was going to buy her a baton so she could lead with power, but she said no. Then I asked which choir robe was she going to use. Her answer, we don't do choir robes in a modern church. I am not sure, but I think we're missing something here. I had visions of...well never mind. I work in the children program and we are pretty modern too, so I should leave Holly alone.

Once home again the boys and I suited up a
nd headed back out, this time to hit the hill, the sledding hill that is. We went to Wabisis and that's where today's photos come from.

Spencer is reading a magazine as we head out. One of the few times I remember that he wasn't guiding us.

A panorama shot of the area

The boys working their way up the hill after a good run.

I asked Ian to strike a pose, I don't think he knows I was posting these.

Spencer was really tired out by this point and I laid down next to him to get an interesting angle on him. I like it.

After sledding we needed some hot drinks, so here's Ian and me.

And Spencer and me

This was just for fun, but I like the way it turned out

Now we're into movies and snacking. I love lazy days!

Have a great day!

December 18, 2009

Closing in on Christmas

Been awhile since I did two posts in two days and so I thought I'd see if I could still do it.

Work was a bear, but I realize everyday how blessed I am to have a job, even if it does drive me crazy. Oh, and for those that are aware of my track record and how often I used to change jobs, I just cleared 7 years at this one and I am still having fun!

As we draw up on Christmas I wanted to share a bit of our decorating style from our house.

This shot shows an ornament tree from Pier 1, Holly and Terri are into this. Pretty cool in an old school way. On the right hand side is a "traveling Santa" that was the last gift I got from my Mom. Pretty cool, but I don't' understand why she thought mine should be travelling, some of my siblings have travelled pretty extensively.

This shot is of Jake and Daisy Hendrick's Christmas tree. That's Holly's Grandpa and Grandma. The tree rotates and it has the disco color wheel. I like this because my own Grandma Ames had one of these. It's like home, circa 1964, aaahhh!

Holly's been collecting trees for quite awhile and we see the result in this shot. Lots of little trees and each one has it's own story as to why we have deemed it worthy of being stored and then displayed. The Santa on the left is a two piece porcelain statue that has been in Holly's family longer than I have. (almost longer than she has actually!)

This is our stockings hung with care.
I wonder how soon St. Nick will be there?

Finally a bit of signage from my dear sister Maureen. This is the best advice I can give. Remember, the best gift of all is offered by Him. Why not take it!

Have a great day!

December 17, 2009

Thursday Quiet

Greetings friends!

We have been smoking busy of late. We have celebrated Smithmas with Holly's side of the family, I did an east coast trip for a week, work is crazy busy in the office, but the production is not moving so much and wished happy trails to Bob as he headed back to Florida after a nice visit with us and with Larry and Terri.

The first two shots are of Smithmas, our Christmas celebration for the Smith side of the family. As always it was fun to have Larry, Terri and Jake over and this time was no different. We all seemed to have gotten some good stuff. The boys are getting stuff now that is either practical or a computer game that they want to play but baffles us. Oh well, it's still great to get to gether with family, eat and tell stories.

I did kind of a 2 shot panorama, here's Jake, Larry, Spencer and Terri

And here's Terri, Holly and Bob

This was taken today, but it really finishes out the panoramic shot, this was were Ian and I sat for Smithmas.

Last week I went to the East Coast for business. It was a pretty good trip, I flew to Boston, went to a customer, drove to Jersey and went to a BSF (the Bible study that I go to on Tuesdays is actually world wide and all the classes are in step so I didn't miss a thing). While in Jersey I visited two other customers and then I headed into New York. Here's a shot of the desk in my hotel room, I stayed in China Town, as you can see, it was pretty tight quarters. After New York I went to Richmond VA for a final visit and then flew home. My hotel in Richmond was as opposite to New York as possible, lots of room, sorry no photo, but I highly recommend the Hampton on the south side of town. Friday I flew home. While I was gone the was the "Blizzard of 2009". Teh boys were off school for 3 days and with the dip in temperatures, I am sure that Bob was once again convinced that living in Florida was best.

Finally, I took a couple of shots with my new Camera (Thanks Bob!)

Here's Bob and the boys.

Here's Holly and her Dad

As with all extended trips, I am sure that Bob was more than ready to get home, but we really enjoyed having him home for the holidays.
Have a great day!

December 4, 2009

Snow Day

Can you believe it, they called today a snow day. It was only 6" of snow here, OK, out in the country it was closer to 10, but really...when I was a kid I walked to and from school and it was 4 blocks and up hill both ways. No really, we had to cross the Red Cedar River in Austin Minnesota and the bridge was the old, key stone style that was humped up.

Anyway, here's our little Japanese maple tree, totally covered in snow. It is so pretty. Well done Holly, I would never have thought to put a light under that tree.

We have a lot of very cool stuff going on this weekend:
  • Rockford Santa Parade
  • Byrne Christmas Party
  • Smithmas, the Smith family version of Christmas. Hi Bob!
I hope that you have some fun this weekend too!

Next week I'm off on an East Coast Trip. Lots of travel, lots of visits, maybe some fun. I really do hate travel, not sure why I ever thought it was glamorous, but I was wrong.

Will write again when I can.


December 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Oldest Brother!

This post is totally dedicated to my Eldest Brother John and it's his Birthday Shout Out. I do love harassing him, since he is the eldest and can you believe this, he's already retired. Whew, that's old.

Here he is, the eldest with Dave and me.

This is an old shot with John holding Nancy, David, Herb, Keith, another John holding Maureen and another kid sitting on the floor.

You can tell from this one, he's going to break some hearts.

Then again, holding Rudolph, he's not so hot.

Oh yeah, I remember this one, Mom accused him of drinking.

Here's the junior/senior shot, looking all American again. Shall we talk about some of the disruptions in his High School Sports Career. Nah, no point now.

I have always loved this shot where he's smirking down on Grandma Ames. She did love her mangy grandsons.

Sometimes he wasn't as happy to pose as he should have been. Here we have John, David, me, Chris and Reen. You have to love the striped pants I was wearing, I know I am supposed to be dissing John, but those pants...

Here he is with Nanny and Chris, in Grandma Ames' living room I believe.

Out in front of the Ames house by Owen's truck. Dave had hair and I think John was messing with David, but maybe not. Note the window air unit, the only way to survive in the summer up there.

Once we grew up, we had to finally start taking our own photos. Here's John, Dave, Pat, Reen, Jeff, Chris and Molly. Pretty sure this was Christmas time a few years back at the Holiday Inn at Austin.

I like this shot, not the reason that we gathered, but overall the shot is pretty good. Sorry Chris, you're the only one not looking dark, but then again, you always were lighter.

And there you have it, I could look for more, but that's enough for this year.
John, I want you to know, while we aren't the closest, I truly respect you for you and I'm proud to tell people that you're my brother and how well you've served our country with respect.
Happy Birthday!

November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, maybe a bit late

I have just returned from the dark side, also known as Facebook. It's a pretty cool concept, and would work well to keep us all connected, but I really don't understand how it all works and so I will strive to continue to post here occasionally.

We had a great time in Chicago with Maureen and Tom. Did all the mandatory "traditions", like drive in crappy weather to get there, pig out on turkey to the point that we really only ate the one meal on Thursday. Watched a little of a reality series show, this year was "Pawn Stars", not as good as "Junk Yard Wars", but what are you going to do? Located and cut down a tree for Tom and Reen, and it was unfortunately at a new location, but the selection was much better. Their tree was awesome. Below are a few shots from the tree farm. It was a positively gorgeous day, sunny with a high of 45... For dinner we went to a restaurant; 1776 click the link if you'd like to check it out. This year the beer was from ... Kalamazoo Michigan! It was Bells night, kind of fun since all the questions were about Michigan. We missed 2 and caught a small amount of grief for it. The boys had their traditional pizza for dinner. This time it was Tombstone, nothing but the best for our boys! Saturday is usually a day that I try to be of a small amount of help to Tom and Reen. This year was helping get their basement under control. My favorite year was when we cut a hole in the wall and installed a cat door. I have always loved using a sabre saw on someone else's house! Saturday afternoon, quick lunch and head for Michigan. Home fairly early and that makes church a bit easier for all of us, especially since Holly was singing today.

That catches us up for now. I will be playing on a more regular basis on Facebook, but will post as often as possible here.

The photos are:
The boys after the last dish was set at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table.

Ian and 1/2 of Spencer at the tree farm. That's Tom and Reen's tree between them, it really looks tons better in their living room!

Since I didn't care for that shot of Spencer I talked him into a reshoot. Much better!

Have an awesome week!

November 23, 2009

November what!?!

Wow, the time does go fast. Catch Up Time!
My niece Kelsey. She's in Korea teaching English and learning Korean. She's awesome! Nuff said!
My nephew Taylor is getting ready to get discharged from the military and he's thinking of staying in Germany. I assume he's learning German, but one never knows. Thanks for your loyal service to the USA!
My nephew Bryce is settling into a great job that I hope he loves, because if you love what you do for a living, life is so much easier. I miss you man!
Mike and Matt, we'll, we just got a Thanksgiving card from Mike showing a cute little girl named Lexi, who is my great niece. Matt, last I heard through an an update from Facebook you were cooking some bacon. Hopefully, it didn't burn.
Ian lost his phone last Friday. I was freaked out, he was pretty calm. I told Ian that if he was that calm, he could buy his own replacement phone. I gained serenity, Ian started to freak out. It was found and turned in and he was able to pick it up today. All is right with the world of teen texting.
Tonight we went to the Boy Scouts Court of Honor and Spencer was advanced to Star Scout and both boys earned a couple of merit badges. Well done. I like sitting through those ceremonies, it makes me remember that the boys are doing OK and that's an important perspective to have every once in a while. Especially when raising teens!
It's finals week for Ian and so he's trying his best. Tom and Reen, when we come to visit, were OK with the boy being a vegetable this time, well, for some of the time anyway. Here he is in his final project for sewing, it's the hooded sweatshirt that he's wearing. Yes, I know, I wish I had taken sewing too! Rats, I still use a staple when a needle and thread would probably work. Anyway, hats off to Ian for his good work.
Finally, if you would like to learn more about any of the stories, just email me and I'll put something together.
Until next time, remember, it's never as bad as the camera says.
Peace out!

November 8, 2009

Hello there and Happy Sunday!

Yeah, yeah, I know, I've been off line for quite awhile. I have excuse after excuse, but it really boils down to just a few things; overwork, after school/work activities and trying to fit in some quiet and solitude to recharge. I bailed on this. Here's how last week shaped up:
Monday night, scouts with a patrol leaders meeting, home late
Tuesday, BSF, Bible Study Fellowship for me followed up with a conference call to China on some quality problems, ran really late
Wednesday, youth group for the boys, date night for Holly and I and then packing for camping this weekend
Thursday, left work a bit early to go Joe Louis Arena in Detroit to watch the Red Wings play the San Jose Sharks. The seats were awesome, the game was pretty good and the Wings won in a shoot out. We got home really late, like on Friday morning at 2:00 AM. Here's some photos from that.
Here's a few out over the ice from our seats

Here's a face off showing how close we were to the goal. That net down there, that's where all the pucks went in. San Jose scored first, then they switched ends and Detroit scored to tie the game. Then the shoot out, Detroit scored twice and San Jose never did score. Awesome game, awesome seats.

Another face off.

There I am getting cozy with a really cute date. We were really lucky, the people around us were good fans, no one dumped beer on us and there wasn't anyone rude nearby.

Friday the boys and I headed out for an overnighter at Yankee Springs Recreational Area. Really a great weekend for camping out. Nice and warm. We got there late on Friday afternoon, the boys were able to set up camp by the headlights of the cars. After dinner the other leader and I set up our tents, on opposite sides of the campsite. That's kind of funny, the Scoutmaster thinks I'll be able to help keep the boys quiet so he always puts me down by the rowdy kids, but I fall asleep faster than anyone else and if I am sleeping with my good ear in the pillow, I can't hear anything. As I typed that, I thought, wait a minute, what if he's just trying to get further away from my rock the house snoring? Then I realized that's OK, I have the new bite splint and I snore no more, as long as I wear it. A few photos from our 4 mile hike are below. I am trying to convince the boys that a hike is really nothing more than messing around with a destination or two thrown in. They weren't buying it.
While on the walk we came upon a classic oxymoron signage situation. We all enjoyed a great laugh.
Ian found a classic log across a gully and had to scoot across.

While on the the messing around with a destination the scouts decided, at about the 1/2 way point, that they wanted to grab some firewood for when we returned. I tried to tell them that we'd be seeing lots more opportunities, but they insisted on dragging along some pretty good sized logs, like 3" diameter and 12 to 15 feet long. By the end of the hike some had dropped their prized possessions, but a few remained and here we have Spencer enjoying the fire.

This coming week will have me travelling to partake in a supplier day for a few days and then going to Arizona for the Green Build show.
Have a great day!