Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Card Time

I recently sent out our Christmas Card. You could say that the annual Christmas card was my blog before I had a blog.

I get a kick out of reading other's Christmas cards/ annual updates. I love to see what my friends and family are up to, but it's also a secret obsession of mine to critique the grammar of each letter. I must of inherited the desire to cut up other people's writings from my English-teacher mom. One of my favorite styles to read is when their letters are written entirely in the third person. As if they have hired a writer to update us all.

I shouldn't be critical, but it makes me feel better about myself. Though I'm known for making a lot of mistakes on this here blog as well. I'm awful with the words 'there' Vs. 'their' especially.
For those of you who weren't worth the price of a stamp, here is this year's Christmas card:

Hello Sports Fans, Merry Christmas to all. We hope you are all happy and healthy. We are all doing very well in the great northwest. We find ourselves in awe of how blessed a family we are. But I'll skip the sappy stuff and get right to the much anticipated annual family recap: Abby Rae has gone from her terrible two's straight to terrible teens. She sweet talks her way out of trouble, begs for what she wants and has even slammed the door shut when upset. To my delight though, she ended her "dancing" career in the spring and now has taken up gymnastics. Now I know I ridiculed her dancing lessons as a waste of time doing what most the world would consider more like seizure-like motions rather than dancing, so I think gymnastics is a happy median of an activity that will have some benefit later on. For example, if she ever finds herself under fire by a machine gun, she can now do summer-saults to avoid the bullets. Though we don't expect her to become an Olympic gymnast, since she's already as tall as them, we are thrilled for her enthusiasm of the sport. Abby also started pre-school this year and I'm pretty sure she's considered the top of her class since she tells everyone else what to do. The rest of her time is spent playing with her princess dolls, dressing like a princess and then expecting to be treated like a princess...just like I want. Caleb started Kindergarten this year and loves to go school every day. He mainly likes riding the bus, but since the bus takes him to and from school, he has to stay there all day. Caleb's sports career took bad turn when he broke his left arm during his 2nd soccer game. A splint, surgery, 3 pins, cast, and another splint filled up the next couple months. Unfortunately, when he broke his arm, he stretched his radial nerve and has slightly paralyzed his wrist, fingers and thumb. The good news is that he starting to get movement again and he should re-gain complete function, though it may take up to 6 months. All that said, Caleb hasn't missed a beat. He's figured out how to do most everything he did before with one hand, and the stuff he can't do with one hand he's learned to not care buttoning his pants...totally over-rated. It's been great to see him over-come this obstacle. Even though we have stressed about his hand, he simply keeps going like nothing ever happened. In fact he insisted on staying signed up for basketball this year and has already started attending practices. Caleb has stayed interested in Legos, riding his 4-wheeler, watching basketball with me (Go Jazz and Zags!) and is excited to go snow skiing when the snow hits this winter. The real princess of our home, Monica, continues to guide her scrapbook kingdom. Her business and website ( have stayed steady through the country's economic downturn. Maybe the CEO's of GM and Ford should take a lesson from her. Aside from being boss of her own company, she remains the boss of our home making it all run smoothly with her iron fist and sweet, sweet banana bread. I am still both a male and a nurse, other-wise known as a murse. Working at a large hospital brings with it certain excitement and challenges, along with lots and lots of sick people. I continue to work on my do-it-yourself skills around the house. I planted a 2-acre lawn in the spring for the kids to play baseball and soccer and I'm proud to say say that I still am using a push mower to cut the mega lawn. Other than working on Wallace Park, I have also almost completed building a large shop. It's essentially a 3-car garage to store some toys in. It's by far the biggest project I've ever taken on and I've needed a lot of help from family and friends. At printing, I still have some finishing touches, but I'm hoping to have it finished in the next couple weeks. We made our maiden voyage to Southern California and Disneyland this year and had a great time. Abby, especially, was enthralled by the princesses of Disneyland. Added to our beach time was the San Diego Zoo, Lego Land, and Sea World. Other than a few trips to Oregon, we've spent most of our time enjoying our home and Monica's parents' lake house. We can find all kinds of fun and excitement we need within 20 minutes of our door. I've also started a blog that has provided me with a great forum to write about our family adventures. Please check it out at and feel free to sign up for all the updates to be emailed to you. We thank all our loving family and friends for fun times that they add to our lives. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it...oh crap!

On Wednesday, Monica and I had the sweet idea of going to downtown Spokane after the kid's school for an afternoon of seeing Santa and doing some shopping. It started to snow in the morning, but wasn't a real concern since we we're driving the Tahoe with it's new (used from Craigslist) snow tires. As we made the 10 mile trip, up and down a few hills, we started seeing some funny stuff with cars slipping all over the roads like Caleb standing on a bar of soap in the bathtub. One young girl had gotten stuck trying to climb an icy hill. We hooked the tow rope up to her and quickly pulled her to the top of the hill. But in the commotion of us pulling here out of the way of moving traffic, several other cars had stopped and also gotten themselves stuck on the hill. We ended up helping another car up the hill before traffic was flowing again. Once downtown, we did the Santa thing ($25 for a picture with an old fat guy with bad breath!!?? Are you kidding me?) and let the kids shop for their grandparents. By the time we got out of the mall, the snow was starting to pile up, probably over a foot by then. It was around 3:00, with rush hour just starting to pick up. It didn't take long to see we weren't going far anytime soon.

As downtown Spokane sits, there is a very steep hill to the south (cleverly called the South Hill) and no cars were getting up those roads and to the north there are a few steep hills that were being closed by the police because the high amount of cars and semi-trucks slipping (including the same hill that we had assisted on earlier). When we realized we needed to get out of that area of town, it was too late. Downtown had become a parking lot of stranded motorists. We helped pull out a few more cars that were stuck. One girl's car wasn't stuck, but it had stopped running and wouldn't start. She was in middle of the road and when I told her that I could pull her to somewhere more safe, she told me that she couldn't even get her car out of park and into nuetral. We tried it anyway and our big bad Tohoe pulled her skidding car about 200 feet out of harms way. Chevy rocks! (except for that loosing $3 billion dollars/year problem).

With cars every direction moving at a snail's pace, Mon and I decided to takes some food to a nearby homeless shelter. Though it was a charitable thing to do, I actually think Monica just wanted me to know where the shelter was located in case I complain about her tater-tot casserole again. We headed to the nearest hamburger shop and bought 30 hamburgers and fries. We then spent about 30 min. driving two blocks to the shelter.

We were having a little bit of a hard time explaining to Caleb and Abby what we were doing. Caleb kept asking silly questions like, "Why don't they just get jobs so they can buy their food?" Ahh kids, they just don't get it, do they?

We walked to the reception desk and explained our plan of passing out the burgers and fries and within seconds we had several lines surrounding us. We encouraged the kids to pass out the food, but they were a little shy and somewhat greedy. Abby, for example, kept passing out individual fries instead of the containers of fries. The guys had a funny look when she handed them one fry. It also didn't help that Abby was eating the fries as she was handing them out. I'm not sure she learned much from the experience.

We received lots of 'Thank You's' and 'Merry Christmas's' and it turned out to be a great time. The rest of the evening was spent in traffic. It took us 2 hours to cover the 10 miles home, but we finally made it. Spokane ended up having a record 24 hr snowfall that day over 24-30 inches in certain areas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Building a Shop: Week 8

With the frozen nights, climbing on the metal roof has become a more dumb idea each day. I took a few moments of sunshine (although it was only 20 degrees) to climb up there to try and finish the roof. I had to change my pants after a couple slips before I realized my roof-climbing season was over. I was able to get all the metal roofing on except the top ridgejust not all screwed down. With snow in the forecast, my father in law, Stuart, helped me nearly complete all the metal-trimwork on Wednesday. With the 20-foot ladders fully extended, standing on ice, we came up with an idea of basically screwing 22 feet of top-ridge together, walking it up the ladder and then carefully laying it on the roof ridge, putting in 2 screws on one end and then hoping it stays there until April. With the snow starting to really come down, our plan worked like a charm. Now we just have to wait until April to see if it was a good idea. The good news was that it ended up snowing several inches and then froze. All the weight of the frozen snow is basically holding down the top ridge. It was a Christmas miracle to finish the last few pieces as the snow starting to fall. I suspect well have snow on the ground until Spring, so it couldn't have been better timing.
All that is left is installing the garage doors. Projects that I can complete inside the building, protected from the elements.

Again, a big thanks to Stuart and my other friends. There is now way I could have finished this mammoth-sized project without you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Building a Shop: Week 7

Heavy Metal dude! Ok, bad joke. Placing the metal has gone fairly well. My Father in law, Stuart (aka my BFF), has stepped away from his alleged "job" and been a huge help every day. We're not exactly sure what he does for a living, but let it be known that it's the dream job of everyone who likes to do stuff other than work. He's been a tremendous help and I'd be working on this place through March if it weren't for all he's done. Thanks Stuart.

Working with the metal has come with a learning curve. Measuring, cutting and placing 18 foot sections takes some patience and skill. The factory provided me with just enough metal to fit the building with only inches to spare. So finding the right size of metal took some time. I placed all the metal sheets on the driveway instead of having to sift through a stack each time I needed a piece. With the metal all laid out, I would find the right sized piece, cut to size and correct angle and very carefully carry it over to the building. While carrying this 16 feet tall metal by myself, I'm pretty sure if a breeze came up, I would have been flown to Canada. Lucky for me though, no wind. Just freezing cold. We got the roofing up and mostly screwed down, both the sides and the back all done. The top 2 feet on the sides are not metal, but a see-through fiberglass to allow for natural lighting. With only the front to do and just a few more sheets of metal on the driveway, Monica took a mental vacation and backed the car over the metal. She feels bad for doing it, I feel bad for letting her out of the house. Seriously, it was easy mistake. We're talking about 16 foot sections of metal on a gravel driveway that had been there for three days, it may as well been invisible, it was so hard to see.

Since ordering new metal would take 2-3 weeks, I decided to hang the bent metal. Plus it will always be a reminder to refer to when I ask Monica to bake me brownies or rub my feet.

The finish is in sight.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Tree hunting

We're spending the week of Christmas in Oregon with family this year. With only two more weeks at home before we leave, Mon and I have contemplated not getting a Christmas tree this year. I know, I it for the kids Clint! We compromised with the kids and got a tree, but we didn't pay for it. We went old-school and walked around our property (OK, maybe our neighbors' property, but who's really looking?)and cut one down.

When I announced to Caleb and Abby to put on thier coats so we can go find a Christmas tree, Abby made an interesting point. She said, "I'm not going if we have to swim through a river, but I'll go if we don't have to swim through a river...are we going to swim through a river?" Since there was no swimming during this year's Christmas tree hunt, we all set out to find the tree that looked the least like Charlie Brown's tree. We did find a decent one and hauled it all the way to our deck...about 15 feet away.

One last gem from Abby as we were placing the tree on the back deck for the night. Some ducks flew over and 4 year-old Abby yelled at them in her cutesy voice, "Go away ducks!!" When Monica questioned Abby about yelling at the ducks, she explained that she didn't want the ducks to poop on our Christmas tree. Well said Abby. The last thing we want to use to decorate our tree, is duck poo.