Friday, May 30, 2008

Feedom Weekend 2008

Last year we attended this balloon festival on Memorial weekend and had a great time. We went back to the "free" festival this year on Saturday afternoon.

Five dollars for parking and it's free to get is what they tell you. When you get in and see the carnival rides, the funnel cake, and the two hundred food vendors you realize that you're going to empty your wallet.

We made it past the first run of vendors without putting out much money. We even got free stuff that companies were handing out. We sat down at the Frisbee catch competition and watched several dogs practice jumping into the air for the disc. Just like last year I dreamed of the day my dog could do that. She'll go fetch a Frisbee. . .once. She'll even bring it back to you. The second time you throw it, my dog will fetch it and then bury it under the porch. There must be a different competition for that.

As I was taking pictures of the dogs jumping into the air, I looked over and caught Meredith and Randy avoiding the heat.
After our break, we headed for round two of vendor road. The kids tried a bungee jump station where they tie you to bungee cords and you jump on a trampoline. The next booth over was a mechanical bull. I tried so hard to get Cari on that thing, but she wasn't going. No matter what.
After we spent more money on food, we headed over to the launch field to get our spot on the hill. For the pilots, this isn't just an evening balloon flight. This is a competition. There is money to be won. Saturday night there were two competitions that the pilot had to choose from.

The first competition starts in the main field. A balloon takes off and goes for a flight. As soon as he launches, the other competitors can fill up their balloons and chase him. The first will choose a landing site and put together a target. The chasers will try to fly over and hit that target with a marker dropped from the balloon.
This was a really great thing to witness. The entire field fills with color as these giant balloons are filled. One at time they float into the air and over the trees.
After the last one has launched, the officials create a large "X" on the field. Another set of balloons start their own starting point and take off. Their goal is to sail over the field and drop their marks in the "X". They have to make guesses on the wind currents and find their way to the field. Again, it's pretty awesome to see these colors rising out of the trees in the distance. It's a slow race back to the field. Sitting on the hill with family watching the balloons is very relaxing. It WAS relaxing until Cari got up for a $5.00 funnel cake and Brenna started crying. I was thinking about the economic impact this festival was having on me as I started to cry with the baby.
When we left, we found out that all the money we spent did not go for training parking lot designers. We sat idle for forty minutes as thirteen rows of cars tried to merge into one lane. At least they didn't charge for the extra time we spent in the parking area.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Time on the computer has been short this week. Not enough time to read your blog and not enough time to write mine.

I've set my goal as Friday to fill you in on the details of past Saturday. Here's another shot to hint at what's coming. I say another because one hint was posted on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Entertain ME!

I've been getting some photos ready to show you from Memorial Day, but they aren't ready yet. I'll tell you that story next time.

Sometimes I like to sit and be entertained by the fools that use the internets. There are two places I continue to revisit. They don't require much thought and usually bring some laughs. You may know about both of these, but if not, I hope they bring you a smile.

The first one is a LOL CATS website. If you haven't seen it or heard of it then you should crawl out of the 1990's and join the rest of us. Pictures of mostly cats with really funny captions added to them.

The other is a video website called They collect videos from YouTube and other video sharing sites to show the best of the best. I can't normally find entertaining videos on YouTube and I get bored quickly because I don't know what to search for. When I go to Videosift, I just check out the top ten or fifteen on the right column for the amazing, the interesting, and the stupid. It has never failed me.

Enjoy your mindless entertainment.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No Blood

Friday night was wrestling night at the rec center. I got home from work and asked the kids if they wanted to see some wrestling. Randy immediately said he would not go. On the other hand, Meredith was excited to see it. I was disappointed that Randy didn't want to go because I figured he would have fun out there. He was really over tired and getting kinda whiny. I asked why he wouldn't go and he said he didn't want to see all the blood. I reminded him it wasn't boxing. Then I showed him a clip of it from Youtube. He enjoyed the clip and changed his excuse to not wanting to see broken bones.

We left him behind with Cari and Brenna when Meredith, Amanda, and I went to the venue. We got our tickets at the door and found some seats ring side, three rows from the stage. Meredith pumped herself up on some cotton candy while we waited for it to start.
I had never been to a wrestling match. The only thing I was expected was a lot of noise. With roughly 200 people there to watch the mayhem, my expectations were met. For every match there was an obvious bad guy that would come out with an attitude. He would point and yell at the audience as we boo'd him. Then the good guy would come out high-fiving the crowd on his way to the ring. Most of the wrestlers didn't say much. They would pretty much get right to it.
Yep it's fake, but man, it was FUN. Everyone starts cheering for the good guy and then he swings off the ropes and slams the bad guy to the ground.
Even Meredith got into it. As one wrestler was coming up behind the other, she would scream, "LOOK OUT!"
Two hours of screaming later, we couldn't use our voices any more. On the car ride home, Meredith was still chanting the cheers. The three of us had a blast out there. Next time I hope to convince Randy to join us.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I disabled comments for the church post below. If you have anything to say, put it here. If not, that's fine too. Have a good weekend.


Thanks for taking the poll. We had fifteen votes. The question was What is the biggest factor when choosing a church. 40% said other reason, 33% said the Pastor, 20% the people, and 6% location.

There are a lot of factors to think about when choosing a church. Sometimes when you choose one, the church changes.

The things I have been thinking about are a bit different. We chose a church and have attended it for several years. We used most of the factors listed above to choose this church and Cari is now very active in keeping this small church running.

Recently we changed pastors. He's a nice guy. Someone I could sit and talk with. The problem is that his sermons don't speak to me. I can't relate to his style. It may not be bad for most, but it doesn't work for me. I joked to Cari that he is writing a blog. Some Sunday's all I hear is a loosely connected series of personal stories. Some Pastors are teaching the Bible and some are writing blogs. The one we have now is writing a blog in my opinion.

I have started to think about why I go to church? I'm talking about ANY church. Why go? Am I going for social reasons? Am I going to learn about the Bible? Am I going to enhance my relationship with God? Am I going out of a duty to the church? I don't think there has to be one right answer to that question. The end result should be a stronger faith. I believe that people can get there in different ways.

For me, I go to church to strengthen my understanding in the Bible and my relationship with God. The friends that I have made there are secondary on Sunday mornings. That's why I don't feel very motivated to go anymore. These blog sermons aren't doing it for me.

But is it fair to leave the church? The church is trying to grow. The church is trying to get younger members more active. As I said, Cari is very active and I hold a position in the church as well. Some friends have told me that it's MY church. If anyone is leaving, it's the pastor! Do I have responsibility to the congregation as well? Following the previous pastor to his new church isn't very practical. It's an hour drive one way.

Meanwhile the growth and maturity of my faith has slowed. How long do I wait?

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Most of the comments on my garden blog this week have resulted in requests to see a naked man statue. I even caught Cari looking for one on Amazon. Now I am begining to fear what I started. All I am saying is, "CALM DOWN, PEOPLE!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Phase One Complete

I've just spent my two days off working in our new garden. I'm tired and sore. I need to go back to work tomorrow just to get a break.

We planted 24 Japanese Boxwood, 4 roses, (are you counting all the holes I had to dig in the rock hard clay?) and countless flowers. Then on Tuesday Cari and I mixed concrete all day as we made our own sidewalk through the garden. I was just so happy to not be digging holes. The sidewalk is done but the cement won't come off of my hands.

Here's a few shots I took tonight.

The path that curves to the right ends under the bird feeder so stop thinking it's a dead end.

We are still working on this, but the hard part of getting started is done.

I'm hoping those boxwood will grow into a solid hedge to create a boundry. The bottom left corner of the path at the intersection is planned to be tulips for next year. Cari has claimed rights to all space to the right of the path. Don't ask me what she's going to do with it. She might place a cactus, a butterfly bush, or a statue of a naked man. Only she knows.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Her First Hike

It's been a long time since we've gone on a hike. Last week I was off on Friday and the weather was beautiful. We loaded up everything we needed and headed to the mountains. It's about a forty minute drive to the state park. Well worth the gas money to hike such beautiful land.
About fifteen minutes into our drive I was running an inventory through my head. Camera, tripod, bottled water, baby, baby harness to carry her. . .

"Cari, did you get that harness off the kitchen table?"
She turned around and dug through the back seat. "I thought you got it.", she said.

There was no way we were hiking over three miles without that thing. I turned around and drove home. That part of our trip was not worth the gas money. The other frustration was that we are under time limits on our hike. We have to be back home before the school bus brings the other kids home.

An hour or so later, we were beginning our hike. This was Brenna's first hike. We took a lot of photos around the waterfall. I was taking photos of the falls while Cari took photos of my taking photos. This seems to be a new hobby of hers. Lately, there are a lot of shots like that.
Before we left, we got a shot of the three of us.
I packed up my camera gear, we took one last look at the falls, then I turned to head down the trail and bumped into an animal that had snuck up on me. His head was at my waist. My heart raced and I tasted that metal taste in my mouth. I jumped back. I knew what kind of animal it was but it was different. I had to look at it for what seemed to be a long time. I was still evaluating it in my mind. The noise of the waterfall allowed this large dog to sneak up and get to me. It's owners were coming up the trail and the dog was friendly. A big and friendly dog just scared me half to death.

About the time I caught my breath, we saw a large snake climbing a tree. He was about four feet long. He posed for a picture for us and then we ran away screaming.
We really wanted to show Brenna some nature. Just not the kind that moves and breathes. She did really well on the trip. She didn't complain about her legs getting tired or give us the "are we there yet?". I, on the other hand, was carrying her in the harness. When we got back to the car my shoulders were KILLING me. As much as I love hiking, I'm going to have to learn to pack less gear if I'm carrying a baby.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rose Garden

We started work on a new garden Friday afternoon . It's a large area that Cari and I have been planning for about a month. We wanted to plan and discuss the look before we went shopping. I'm taking about half of the garden to put a path with stepping stones, a bench at the end of the path, and several rose bushes / trees along each side.

I have blisters on my hands after digging in the hard clay to plant four roses today.

Cari has her half planned as well. All I'll say is that she'll be digging a lot more than I will.

I'll get some photos of our garden posted next week. We have more work to do before we show you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I was counting money at work last night with the girl that works in the cash office. She started talking about how many germs are on paper money and what illnesses you could contract. Then she said,

"It's like holding a turtle."

WHAT!!!??? Where did that come from? Of all the dirty, germy things to compare money too, who pulls out a turtle? Why not say it's like licking a toilet seat or hugging the homeless. Turtles are cute.

After we counted I immediately washed my hands. Who knows how many germs that girl is carrying around.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I am home. . .

but am I in the right house?
Look closely at this photograph. The couple that is pictured in that pink box are strangers. So why do they look over the baby's crib? I stood and looked at that for a minute yesterday morning, trying to remember where I know them from. I spun around the room making sure that I was in the right place. I don't know them and I've never seen them before. Maybe Cari knows who they are.

I determined that I was in the house and the people in that box are not. As I took a photo of it, Cari came in to see what I was doing. "Do you know them", I asked. She responded only by laughing. Maybe we adopted this baby and those are her happy parents. Maybe Brenna made friends at the park last week. Maybe someone put that photo box on the shelf and left the paper from the store in all the windows.

Shortly after taking the picture, Cari was downstairs with the box, adding photos of Brenna to each window. It's not like we have a shortage of our own prints that we should display photos of strangers. Tonight, I'm going to start checking the frames in the hallway for more strangers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Night Shot

I drive by this church on my way to work everyday. It has always caught my attention more in the dark. That's because they have lit this church on all sides with powerful lights mounted in the parking lot.

I have been toting my camera in the back seat for a few days and I finally got a photo on Monday night. I stopped and shot some photos from the window of the car. Several came out very blurry from the motion of my hands and the car. A few turned out pretty well. If I REALLY wanted the shot, I would have got my butt out of the car with a tripod.

This was more for testing how it would turn out, so I stayed seated. Two of the best views I've had over the past year are the night that it snowed and a VERY foggy morning. The fog was lit up by the lights and sat at the base of the building. Oh, if I had my camera that morning!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Liberty Idol Season 3

Liberty Idol has started up again and the crowds are getting bigger each week. Tonight was one of the first weeks for the audience to vote and the street was getting full. The crowd continues to the left of this photo down the street.

The singing contest is open to anyone and any age. Tonight we saw an age range of 9 years to approx 60 years.

We took our chairs and lounged in the street with everyone else tonight and listened to the music. Some of them were really good.
On the way to the blocked off street, you have to walk past the "crazy Christians". That's my term. These guys don't mean any harm, I just don't agree with the way they are trying to spread the message. Standing on a corner holding signs and yelling at people as they walk by is their method. It's my opinion that the guy screaming at people won't change many hearts tonight. Maybe I'm wrong. Either way, the cops weren't letting him past the corner.

I walked over to the butcher shop for some ice cream for my family. Yes, I said I bought the ice cream at the butcher shop. Randy took the walk (crossing the street) with me and Cari provided the funding with some cash. After I delivered the ice cream, I walked closer to the stage for a photo.
When I got back Cari asked for her change. I just smiled and played dumb. Then she said that the ice cream was only $4 and she wanted her $9 back. "How do you know how much I paid for the ice cream?", I asked.

"Randy told me. Now give me my change." I handed over half the change and bargained to keep some. When another singer took the stage, I directed Cari's attention to him and I came home with a few bucks in my pocket.
Liberty Idol is becoming a bigger event each week and is a pretty good time. I plan on going anytime I'm not working Saturday night. Maybe I'll try to get a video for you next time.
There's also the possibility I can make a few dollars working Cari for her change each week too. There WAS a chance. . . until I wrote this blog.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pillow Talk

Cari likes to buy new fluffy pillows on a regular basis. She buys them for her and not for me. I'm reminded of that every time I even glance at her pillow on the bed. Earlier this week, Cari came home with more new pillows. I didn't even ask if I'd be allowed to try one.

When I went to bed that night, I noticed Cari's new pillow on the bed. She laid down next to me and looked so happy. I got up for a third time to make sure the alarm was set correctly and turned on. I am always nervous that it is set to PM or that I haven't turned it on. Most nights I'll check it twice before I can fall asleep. Cari watches me check the alarm and then get re-settled in bed. I get the covers just right and I settle in with my old, flat pillow.

"I got you a new pillow," she says. "It's on the chair over there." She is pointing across the room.

WHY!?? Why would she wait until I have settled to tell me to get back up and find a new pillow?

I complain about her timing. After several minutes of listening to me complain, she tries to revoke her offer. I jump out of bed and grab the pillow. With the pillow under my head and the blankets back on, I frown.

"I hate this pillow," I complain. "It's too fluffy and big." I sling it off the bed and search for my flat pillow that has served me well for years. Sometimes I'm more comfortable with no pillow. Cari is laughing, her head surrounded by fluffy pillows.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Cari took this photo of Meredith playing across the street last week. I'm not going to talk about volleyball or the girls hanging on the net after they were asked not to. I'm going to talk about that brown field in the background. See it? To the left, near the top. You're probably thinking, "Hey! Why does Duck's neighbor have a field of wheat?"

My reply, "That's not wheat, it's dead grass."

That's my neighbors house. I talked about him not long ago. He's "Yard Maniac Guy" He's the guy that likes to cut grass every third day and last year killed his yard and started over. I suggested he may have done it to get out of the house.

We were all starting to wonder about him again when we noticed a nice tan color stretch across his yard. The wondering came to an end yesterday when Cari bumped into them at the grocery store. Cari came right out and asked what he did to his yard.

Cari told me that tears filled his eyes as he said, "It was an accident this time." The poor guy put some weed killer over his entire yard and it took out everything. At least that was his story while in front of his wife.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I need one of those

Brenna is such a good baby. She is always smiling and laughing. She likes to talk and she likes to play with her toys. That's how she is when her mom is around.

There have been a few times that Cari will leave me with the baby so she can do some shopping without a baby clinging to her. Each of these times follow this same formula.

I stand in the doorway and wave as the car pulls away and then I look at Brenna. Her face scrunches up at me and I wonder if I have the right kid. Ten minutes earlier I was holding her and she was laughing with me. Now tears are starting to build up in her eyes. She starts to squirm in my arm and is visibly frustrated. As I walk around the house, bouncing her in my arms, she starts to scream.

I hold her facing to the front, facing to the back, and sideways. I try holding her just about every position except upside down.

She won't take a pacifier. I put her in her bouncy seat and talk calmly to her. I hope that my calmness will help relax her. The scream machine is out of control by this point. I lay her on her back next to me on the couch. Her diaper doesn't seem wet or dirty, but I change her anyway. She pauses as she chokes once on her spit, and then continues to scream. I lay her on her stomach and gently rub her back while I listen to her cry.

This is not a scream of being in pain. Any parent would know that type of scream. This is an angry, angry scream.

Twenty minutes pass and I realize there is nothing I can do. No amount of shaking noisy toys or offering a bottle reduce her piercing cry.

Cari pulls in the driveway and I am there to greet her. She takes Brenna from me, sits on the couch, and starts to nurse her. The crying is silenced. Cari gives me the look like I should have calmed Brenna. I point at her feeding the baby and say, "Well, I need one of those."

Friday, May 02, 2008

It's pretty good

Last week I had lunch with my good friend Rick. A coworker suggested a small Italian restaurant located about five minutes down the road.

Rick and I found this place and told the owner that the coworker suggested we stop in. She instantly treated us like royalty. The waitress was told to serve us with exceptional care. The waitress was doing her best but she didn't realize the two guys she would be dealing with would be so difficult.

I ordered an Italian sub. The waitress said, "That's REALLY good!" as she wrote my order down. She looked up at Rick for his order. "I'll have the Philly steak sub.", he said. She wrote it down without a remark and started to walk off. I looked at Rick and laughed. "Mine will be REALLY good.", I pointed out to him.

He stopped the waitress from leaving our table to quiz her about the quality of his order. After trying to laugh her way out of it, she told Rick his sub is "pretty good".

So my food will be VERY good and Rick's might be pretty good. She claims she never had the Philly steak so she didn't know. "Well, has ANYONE ever had the Philly steak?", Rick asked.

She said people have probably had it and that she didn't remember any complaints about it. I asked Rick if her answers made him feel good about ordering it. He just about had the poor girl's nerves tore up before she walked off.

It didn't take long to get our food and I'll tell you what, it was EXCELLENT. I was first to take a bite and Rick watched for a reaction. I told him the waitress was right on with what she said about my lunch. That made him nervous. Would she be right that his is "pretty good"? He took a bite and said that it was also excellent. We flagged down the waitress so Rick could educate her on the quality of his lunch. He recommended her to try it someday but she didn't look too interested.

On the way out, the owner asked us how everything was. We told her we enjoyed it and would be back someday. She wouldn't let us leave until each of us recieved a big hug.

Good food, fair price, funny waitress, and a hug. What a lunch!