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We’ve grown!

Well, I can officially say it now. We’re parents!

Of puppies that is.

We broke down Sunday and got 2 five week old female puppies that Heather found on Craigslist. They are dachsund/pug mix and are rather cute, not that I’m biased or anything.

Our new puppies

In the car on the way to their new home. They do VERY well while riding in the car.

After much debate, we have decided on names: Jasmine and Ginger. I don’t know exactly where we got the names. After spending a couple of days trying to come up with something, both of these names just came out of nowhere. We were coming home from taking the girls to meet their new grandparents and I said “What about Jasmine?”. As soon as I said that, one of the raised her head and looked around. We took that as a sign that she liked the name. Don’t ask me to tell you which is which in the picture to the right. I can’t tell them apart without seeing their collars; one has a pink collar and the other a blue.

They’ve been pretty good so far and are doing very sleeping, eating, playing, and learning to take care of business on the training pad and not the carpet. They’ve been sleeping all night long for the most part in their crate and have been excited to see us every morning when we get up. They do have their moments of whining when they want something or need to relieve themselves. When Ginger really gets going, if you didn’t know any better, you would think you were at a zoo in the monkey exhibit. She sounds exactly like a monkey, which I think is pretty funny. I’ll have to try to get a video of her doing it to post on here.

I haven’t had a chance to take many pictures of them, but I will try to do that this weekend.

Wordpress 2.7 Upgrade

I have just upgraded the site to Wordpress 2.7. Hopefully everything should be working okay. If you notice anything not working properly, please let me know.

Yes, we’re still here

Well, I apologize for not keeping this blog up-to-date. I had really thought that I could probably write something at least once a week if not more, but then we get busy and I forget to do it for about 2 months or so. Here’s an update:

Christmas:

We had a very nice, but busy (as usual), Christmas. We got to spend a lot of time with family and friends, which is always nice. One funny thing that happened is we ended up getting two GPS devices. I had bought one for Heather since the JPS (Jared Positioning System) isn’t always available to answer his phone when she gets lost, and plus, I thought it would be a nice thing to have on trips or just around town use. It turned out that my parents also got a GPS for us. I guess that was the popular gift item this year. I also got a grill for Christmas. I had been wanting a grill, but we never got around to actually getting one. I can’t believe how much we’ve used it. We’ve probably used it at least once a week every week since Christmas. I was even outside grilling hamburgers back in January when it got down to single digit temperatures.

Birthdays

December is a busy month with Christmas and all the festivities that go along with it. So, trying not to feel left out, January is a jam packed month as well. We have 4 immediate family member birthdays, including mine and Heather’s, plus another one right at the beginning of February. Needless to say, it makes for another busy month with lots of cake and gifts.

Valentine’s Day

We decided this year that we were just going to stay home on February 14 and try to relax a little. In keeping with the tradition from the last couple of years, I bought Heather flowers from ProFlowers.com, which we have always been very pleased with. They generally last two weeks if not longer and are absolutely beautiful. However, unfortunately, in keeping with the tradition from last year, we only received one dozen instead of two. So, they are again sending out the correct order and now Heather will have three dozen roses. I’ll try to take a picture of them because they really are very beautiful. For dinner, we bought some steaks and potatoes, which I gladly grilled and then spent the night at home watching the Preds game. It was very nice to be able to stay home and not worry about having to go somewhere or have something to do.

I think that’s about all for right now. I’ll continue to try to keep this more up to date, but we’ll see.

‘Tis the Season

Thanksgiving came and went and was very good. We ended up having two Thanksgiving meals, one with my family at my grandparent’s house on Thursday and then with Heather’s family on Sunday. Both times were very enjoyable and it was nice to be able to spend time with family, and eat a lot of good food as well.

It’s hard for me to believe that Christmas is almost here. I guess that saying that time goes by faster as you get older is true. Heather has been busy with school as she’s winding down this semester. I don’t see how she balances school, work, and family as well as she does. I’ve been busy with work and random projects that come up.

We’ve also been really busy going to Predators hockey games. We’ve been blessed by being able to take the kids from Heather’s work (Youth Encouragement Services) to several games.

I think that’s about all right now.

Tool Time

We’ve been living in the house for several months now and still have some unpacking left to do. We’ve gotten settled in pretty well otherwise. There have been a few improvement projects that we’ve been needing to do for a while and just haven’t gotten around to it. This past weekend and then again on Monday night, my dad came over to help fix some of these things.

The first project was replacing the trap under the bathroom sink. It had some holes in the bottom of it and needed to be replaced. I had bought the appropriate materials to replace it, but ran into an issue with the drain pipe that connects the trap to the sewer pipe in the wall. Apparantly it was soldered into the pipe in the wall and was about 3″ back inside the wall, which made it virtually impossible to get in to it without taking out some of the tile wall, which I did not want to do. In the process of my trying to loosed the pipe, I ended up crimping the pipe and making lots of holes in that. So now it’s leaking from two places. When dad came over we decided the best course of action was to cut the existing drain pipe and connect the new PVC trap and drain pipe with a boot. This seemed to work rather well, though it is just a temporary fix for a while.

The second big project was replacing the kitchen sink faucet. Now, this was the first one I had actually replaced by myself (I’ve assisted in other replacements) and it didn’t seem to be too difficult a task. We looked for a new faucet at Home Depot and saw one that we liked, but thought it was a little expensive and we wanted to look to see what Lowe’s had. After a yummy lunch with dad at CiCi’s Pizza, we ventured to Lowes. As we were walking back to the bathroom fixtures, we just happened to see a faucet set out with the clearance stuff. It wasn’t the one we had found at Home Depot, but there were several other faucets on sale on the clearance rack next  to it. We ended up finding the exact same faucet we liked at Home Depot for about $56 cheaper! We took that as a sign and purchased it. Because of other committments that night, we didn’t have time to install it that day.

When I got home from church Sunday night, Heather already had the new faucet assembled and ready to install. She was really wanting to install it that night, so we did. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, both supply lines started leaking as soon we turned the water on. Of course by then it was too late to make a Home Depot run, so we just did without a working kitchen sink until Monday. We ended up replacing both supply lines and everything works great. Heather is very happy with her new faucet.

There are some other projects we’re working on, but I’ll leave that to another entry. I may put up some pictures if I think about it later.

A Political Zoo

Well, since it’s election season, I will make my one political blog. Thousands of people have been asking me to write a political blog, well, really just one person (this is for you Suzie!), so here it is:

I would first like to preface this by saying that I don’t really claim to be a Democrat or Republican, but a Conservative. I vote for a candidate, not based on their political party affiliation, but based on their policies, stances on issues, past political history such as voting records, and finally on the candidate’s personal life.

Early on during this election cycle, I had already picked the candidate I wanted to support. Unfortunately, as time went on this candidate dropped out of the race. Let me clearly state that while I will be voting for Senator McCain this go-around, he is not my first choice for President. Rather, I am voting for him to keep Senator Obama out of the White House. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

As a conservative, I believe that the federal government should be small and should not be involved in decisions that are constitutionally left for the states to decide. As time has gone by, the federal government has gotten its hand involved in more areas. The government now has its hand in the banking and financial industries, home mortgages, education, health care, even including programs to give you a cell phone if you can’t afford one. When did we become so dependent on the government and why?

As odd as it may seems, I tie this all back to an episode of The Simpsons. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie have all become almost icons of American television. An article I read one time said that out of every show on television, viewers could actually relate to The Simpsons more so than any other show. In the episode “Trash of the Titans” in season 9, Homer has angered the Springfield Sanitation Department to the point where they refuse to pick up trash at the Simpsons’ home. After a run-in with Ray Patterson, the Sanitation Commissioner, Homer decides that he should run for the position. After the typical antics of Homer, he is elected by the citizens of Springfield as the new Sanitation Commissioner.

For a while, everyone is extremely happy with the work that Homer is doing with trash pickup. The problems start appearing very quickly because of the promises that Homer made during his campaign. The slogan he came up with was “Can’t someone else do it?”. The whole philosophy was that the city Sanitation Department (aka the government) would take over and do the things that people just didn’t want to do and even included a really catchy tune that Homer sings to show everything the garbageman will do for you:

Basically, what ends up happening is that Homer spends the entire year’s budget in just one month because he was getting involved in providing all of these services to the city.

I know it’s a little stretch, but I think that is what has been happening with the federal government. They have started providing so many programs, so many services, and handouts, that people are now becoming dependent on the government and not taking responsibility for themselves. This is where I have a problem with Senator Obama.

Most of Senator Obama’s plans are what I would consider to be socialist programs. Let’s take the wealth from the wealthy people and redistribute it to the lower income families. Senator Obama himself has even said that is exactly what he thinks should be done. The way it will be done though is very discreet. Raise a few taxes here and there and all of a sudden, everyone now has healthcare! While I believe everyone should be able to receive healthcare when they need it, why should I be forced to pay for it? Why fine employers for not offering health benefits? Is it your employers responsibility to provide health insurance to you? Absolutely not. But that is what Senator Obama thinks.

Senator Obama also proposes reforms to the education system. His plan, called the “Zero to Five Plan”, is a very scary thing. They are wanting to increase the programs offered to very young children (infants to five years old) to get them into the educational system early. As it is proposed, it is a voluntary program where children will be enrolled in Pre-K starting as early as age 3. What’s the problem? It’s voluntary, right? It’s voluntary for now, but what happens when the government decides they know what is best for your child and mandate this three year old pre-school? Pretty soon, there will be a government official present at every birth. As soon as the child is born, they will take the child and enroll them in a government education program.

These are just two examples of the expansion of government that will possibly take place if Senator Obama is elected. However, I think it all comes back to something a little deeper: responsibility for yourself and your family. Many people today are interested only in what the government can do for them. Will the government give me healthcare? Will they give me a good education? Will they give me a house? What about a car? You know, it’s not fair that the family over there that makes $150k a year has a 72″ LCD TV; I think the government should give me one. What most people wanting these programs or handouts don’t realize is that all of this is funded by taxpayer money. The government isn’t just a big money machine that magically produces billions of dollars for all of this stuff (although that’s what they seem like with the bailout bill). Someone has to pay for the healthcare. Someone has to pay for the education. Someone has to pay for the 72″ TV.

People need to realize that it’s their own responsibility to take care of themselves and their family. Just like in The Simpsons episode I talked about earlier, no one wanted to do the “dirty jobs” anymore, so someone else will do it. Someone else will feed my family. Someone else will send me to school. Someone else will pay for my healthcare.

Anyway. I think I’ve gone on a tangent and if you’re still reading this, you get a gold star. I know some of this didn’t flow and didn’t make any sense, but this is just my rambling.

To close, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotes that I think is very appropriate:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

I’ll be happy when Nov. 5 is here. Well, maybe not, depending on who wins.

How to Organize Your Family

While it’s not usually very difficult for Heather and I to arrange our schedules or know what the other has planned, I’m sure for many families with children, knowing where everyone needs to be can be a pretty daunting task. What is a person to do? Cozi.com to the rescue!

What is Cozi?
Cozi is a Web 2.0 site that helps families organize their schedules, share photos and memories, and keep in touch, all in a centralized location. This is a free service that allows one person to create a “family” account and then add users, or family members, to be able to access the account. We’ve only been using Cozi for a couple of weeks now, so I’m still exploring all of the possibilities it has.

The first, and probably the best feature so far, is the calendar. While Google Calendar will handle this task just as well, I really like the interface Cozi has developed. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that Google does, but it’s still very functional. It also makes it very easy to select which family members are involved in the activity.

Another way Cozi helps enhance family communication is by allowing you to send quick messages to a family member’s e-mail or a SMS message to their phone. This can come in very handy if you want to just send a quick message to someone.

Cozi also allows you to create your own shopping list and send that list to your mobile device or print it. I can see this as a very useful feature allowing all members of the family to be able to add items to a grocery shopping list. This could also be used to create other lists, such as items to pack for a trip.

Finally, a feature that I have not really looked at is the “Family Journal”. This seems like it could be an interesting feature, especially if you can get all of your family to participate.

There are a few things that I don’t like about Cozi. The first is the way users log in. Each family member’s e-mail address is added to the family. That family member then uses their e-mail address as a username and then a standard family password. This is a little confusing at first, because when Heather created our family account, I couldn’t figure out how to login. We finally discovered in the Cozi messageboard that there is one password for each family. I could see the possibility of a single user needing to be included in two different families, which would be easily solved with a single login per person, and then they would be able to join multiple families.

I think a mobile version of the site would also be very helpful. Sure, it works to have your grocery list SMSed to your phone, but it would be much easier (I think) if you could access the site from a mobile browser.

Overall, I think this site can be very useful to most families, especially those that spend a lot of time at a computer or with a mobile device to keep in touch with each other and their schedules. Be sure to check it out at Cozi.com.

Finally, does anyone have any suggestions or tips on how you organize your family?

Long Time No Blog

I can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve posted a blog entry. Just to keep everyone in the loop, here’s what’s been going on:

  • After the last blog entry about YES Camp, we had VBS at church. That’s always a very busy time with two weeks basically dedicated to it (Wakeup, go to work, go to church, go to sleep, rinse, repeat). It’s also two of the best weeks of the year. The theme this year was “To Eternity and Beyond!”. I had the pleasure of playing the character of Mr. Sock in the Star Trekesque themed skits. It was all alot of fun.
  • In August came vacation time! We went this year with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend. We spent two weeks in the Sunshine State; one week at Marco Island, and the second week at Anna Maria Island. We had a great time, except for the second week when we were under a hurricane warning for a couple of days. Luckily we didn’t receive any of the bad weather. It was nice to be able to relax and unwind for these two weeks before coming back to work and school.
  • The last big event we had was a church retreat to Gatlinburg with 3 other couples from the Y.A.C.s at church. We got up there late Friday night and headed home on Sunday morning, so it was a very quick trip, but nice to get away for a day and spend time with our church family. It was also a very exciting weekend because my sister’s boyfriend proposed to my sister while in the Smokies.
  • The Nashville Predators season is now back in full swing. We will be going to quite a few of the games, so along with the Preds, Heather’s school, my work, church, and family things, we’re going to be busy for the next several months.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to try to do a better job at keeping our blog up to date. I also hope to be able to add more pictures in the next week or so and keep that up to date. I may also post a political blog if I feel like…’tis the season.

Y.E.S. Camp 2008 – Light the Fire Within

Last week was our second year to help with YES (Youth Encouragement Services) camp. This is the organization that Heather works for.

Last summer was the first time for this particular center to have camp. It was also my first year to attend any type of week-long summer camp, other than band camp. Somehow our vacations or band camps always coincided with church camp.

Camp was a lot of fun this year. I think the kids had a great time and learned alot, however, I think the counselors and staff probably had an even better time. It was incredible to see these children learn about the Bible stories for the first times, and see the looks on their faces (especially the younger kids) when they heard the stories.

One of my favorite parts was the singing. We all got together each morning and had a singing class, where we would try to teach the kids new songs. They usually picked them up pretty quickly. Then at night, we would have a devotional with singing. It was just awesome to hear everyone singing together and was really uplifting for me.

To be honest, I had kind of been dreading camp a little bit. There’s a huge project I’ve been helping with at work that I was in the middle of, we’re still trying to get settled into our home, and I just plain didn’t feel like going. I’ve decided that was Satan trying to put roadblocks in front of me to keep me from going to camp. The things that we talked about with the kids and learned, helped me just as much, if not more than the kids. The lessons were just what I had been needing. I can’t wait for camp next year!

Now, we get to work hard on VBS at church, which is coming up in the next couple of weeks. We have a lot of prop and other “stuff” to do in order to get ready, so it should be a busy few weeks, but it’ll all definitely be worth it. If anyone is available, I would encourage you to check out our VBS July 20-24 7PM-8:30PM at James Ave. It’s going to be a really good one this year.

The Great Grass Experiment of 2008 – Part Deux

Well, it’s taken longer than I expected to get back on here and get some new pictures of the yard updated. We’ve been busy with work and working out in the yard here. So, after almost a week, here are the promised pictures:

Our grass is still growing. There are a few places that will probably need some more attention, but overall I’m rather pleased. We’re actually sitting outside on the front porch right now watering the grass. I’ll keep you updated on any changes.

We’ve also been working out in the backyard trying to clear some brush/bushes/vines that had gone wild over the past couple of years. We still have some work to do back there, but here are some pictures of that:



There was a big “bush” growing around where the birdbath stand is and had completely taken it over. The bush was not quite as big as the one in the middle picture next to the swing set, but it was the same type. You’ll notice in the last picture on the right that both of those bushes are gone, well, for the most part. When the last picture was taken, there were still two good sized branches on the one next to the swing, but since then, they have been cut down.

And finally, my favorite: