Monday, April 9, 2018

One Hot & Steamy Night in Dallas

DM Dallas 2017
Once again we headed out to enjoy our every 4 year tradition - a Depeche Mode concert. This time around, the weather in the Big D was better than it was on the last tour, which was cool and rainy. Dallas on September 22, 2017 was hot and steamy, as was the concert.

The experience this time around was a little different in that we brought the kids. Carissa was really into it, Brittney, not so much. Carissa has been properly indoctrinated to the music of Depeche Mode and has come to really love it! Since the song Precious comes from DM's 11th album, Playing The Angel, Carissa said she wants a "Precious" party for her 11th birthday. How can that be denied. :-)

It was another fabulous night with Depeche Mode!

It was really great that they put Somebody back in the set.

The family had a great time, even Brittney said she enjoyed the trip, though the concert was not the highlight for her as it was for Carissa, who rocked out the entire time!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Up on Cripple Creek - or in this case, Flat Creek

Last week we had the opportunity to enjoy 4 hours on the Flat Creek together. A nice float in the kayaks with some technical portions, which made for some nice challenges, and unfortunately many sections that forced us out of the kayaks altogether in order to walk to deeper water. We packed our picnic lunch and plenty of water and Gatorade to drink.  We had a very nice time together, I always enjoy my time with Cherilyn, pretty much no matter what we are doing. We are not perfect but we do try do do things to nurture us and these dates are good for us. :-)
Growing up, I remember reading and listening to talks or having class lessons in church that talked about how dating did not need to be expensive in order to be enjoyable. It would seem that this date might meet that criteria with a picnic lunch we packed ourselves from the food we had in the house, the fact that there was no fee to float down the river........ However, the kayaks were not free, we purchased them this year and while one of the kayaks was a used one, it was more expensive than the new one by about $150. The PDF's, Personal Flotation Devices, were around $60 a piece, the water proof boxes for the phones were around $5 each, the kayak dolly was $25 (used), paddles were $27 each and of course the truck to haul everything was more expensive than my grandparents last house. So, all tolled, this was an expensive date. Most people complain about dinner and a movie being expensive. LOL All this being said, the experience was priceless!! Not to mention, there are many other rivers in the area where we can do this again making for a new adventure.

We had a great adventure and even ran into some company on the river -
Yes, that is a copperhead - we did NOT stop by to say hello

And of course some of Missouri's finest cattle were out bathing in the cool river

Floating along the river we had to navigate to one side or the other or between obstacles and sometimes the best course was to get right in close to the obstacle without crashing or getting stuck in order to float on to the next section of the river. This challenged what little skill either of had amassed at this point in our kayak learning. Other times saw us approach sections of the river where it split and we had to choose which way to go without seeing all the way around.  Sometimes these sections looked as if one side might be a more clear shot but shallow, meaning we might have to get out and walk a ways while the other choice looked deeper but unknown to be completely passable. One such choice turned out to be more work to get around obstacles and duck under fallen tress than it would have been to just float the other way until we needed to get out and walk.

I had to put my lack of maneuvering skills to the test​. While both of us had a couple of close calls on the float, neither of us had our kayaks flip over.

Deep thought -  As we travel through life, we often have to make choices about our direction and sometimes we make incorrect choices that cause more work for ourselves. Other times we must make choices based on very little information and just put our faith to the test and hope that it will work out. That does not mean we won't hit some rocks or rapids along the way but it does mean that we will be afforded the opportunity to work at making things go the way we would like. That work will strengthen us and the next time we find ourselves in a situation that seems difficult, we can remember that we have made it through before and we can do it again.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Over Hill Over Dale

Memory is a wonderful thing, most of the time. Women often say that if men had to give birth, nobody would have more than one child. Somehow women can allow the pain of child birth to be overridden by the joy of the child and think, perhaps it would be nice to have another. The memory of the wonderful feelings of joy that come from raising a child seem to dampen or even remove the memory of the pain of child birth. This weekend I had the opportunity to experience this phenomenon.

The Camp and Ride!

A few of us enjoy mountain bike riding on the trails. We also happen to enjoy camping, so we combine the two for a fun weekend experience. Unfortunately, we do not do this often enough but nonetheless, it is still fun. We first began this adventure two years ago and once again we put together this trip to Table Rock State Park and the White River Trail System. (scroll down on the page for info) MAPS 

None of us are in the shape we want to be in and most of us have not ridden much this year so we were a little out of practice. I would classify myself as in the worst shape of all of us - I was the anchor.

The ride was great as we had near perfect weather.

The trails are fun and have just enough technical points for me as I am not an advanced technical rider. 

The biggest obstacle on these trails are the elevation changes. The change can be as mush as 900 feet. The downhill portion of that change can be very fun, however, we all know that if one goes down, one must go back up! This is where that whole memory thing comes into play. As I struggled with some of the uphill portions of the trails, my body told me this was suddenly not the fun experience I had remembered it to be. My mind only remembered how much fun I had the last time we all took this trip and rode the trails. I remembered the comradery of the last trip, it's fun to hang out with friends, have a good meal and watch movies and ride bikes. Yes, the last time we did this I also had a difficult time on the uphill portions and experienced pain like I did this time but somehow I had forgotten that. I believe that once again, in time, I will again be free from the memory of pain and be left with the joy of the good time we all had. I look forward to that!

Friday, June 26, 2015

What God giveth, He can also take away or how blessings can be disguised

Remember all the work that went into restoring the 5th wheel? All that effort was thwarted!

Click HERE for the full pictorial of the project.

Well, the above picture is just the attention getter, our 5th Wheel did not burn up. I just parked ours by this one at the salvage yard. Question: Which one would you buy at the salvage auction?

Our trailer was, however, totaled in a hail storm we had in the beginning of April.

Graveyard drop off
 While it doesn't look like there is anything wrong in the picture, EVERY piece of siding has dents. This means that the entire trailer would need to be resided. Additionally, the roof was severely dented meaning it too would need to be replaced. This all adds up to costing more to repair than to replace. In the end, we were given the option to keep the trailer and take a check for salvage value or turn it in as a total loss. So, we followed the advice to Billy Joe and Bobbi Sue - we took the money and ran. (Bonus points if you comment with the name of the song and artist)

It was sad to give up what we had worked so hard on but the decision came after a family council where we learned some interesting things about the young ones. We have explained before about insurance and how it works and why we need it so the girls had a basic understanding of what was going on. We let them know our options and asked for input.

Option One: Keep the trailer and have the repairs done which would put the trailer out of commission for the entire camping season and cost us a large amount of money which would take away from some things we might want to do throughout the year.

Option Two: Take the insurance money and give up trailer camping all together and go back to tent camping and use the money toward a better truck. (We do not have four regular doors that the girls can open and the back bench seat area is small and cramped on long drives)

Option Three: Take the insurance money and find another 5th wheel and keep the truck we have.

Option Four: Take the insurance money and do some remodeling to the house so each girl could have their own room.

What we found out from the girls as they weighed out the options:
  • Neither girl wanted to go back to tent camping! I refer you to the Camping 2011 experience. :-) Click HERE
  • Brittney said she would be OK being a little cramped in the truck because we might only drive somewhere for about 3 hours but we might be camping for 3 days. So the little amount of time being cramped was more than made up for in her mind by the amount of time spent camping.
  • Both girls said they would rather have a camper than have their own room. This was the most surprising thing they came up with.
  • Everyone agreed we should find a new camper
Craigslist and beyond.........

Not wanting less than what we had and thinking we did not want another project, Cherilyn set out to find another great camper at a good deal. She searched a radius of hundreds of miles scouring multiple websites until she found what she thought was a good design at a good price. We had been to local dealers and looked at new and used and found that it was tough to find what we wanted and even tougher to consider financing in order to get into a new 5th wheel. Finally on a Friday morning, Cherilyn found what she thought was something worth looking at. Only problem - it was 4 hours away outside of Little Rock. We made the decision by the time the girls got home from school at 1pm (Fridays are half days) We decided we could drive down and if we purchased the camper we would just find a place to camp and sleep in it that night and come back the next day. We decided to just make it a fun family trip as much as we could. The girls had some movies and their dvd player and we had time to just talk and enjoy the drive. We even grabbed a pizza in one of the towns we traveled through. We arrived after 8pm and we able to look at the camper and after about 40 minutes, decided it wouldn't do. We both had the feeling that it just wasn't right. So we took the girls for an ice cream and got a hotel room for the night.

Days later, Cherilyn found a model that seemed to be better than the one we drove to see and she began looking for a used version. At 10pm on a Thursday evening Cherilyn found a 5th wheel that had only been listed for 3 days and in Missouri, although it was 3 hours away. She called first thing in the morning and found out that someone who looked at it the day before was going to be bringing a check by that day. We missed out. (you really have to be on top of these things because the good ones go quickly) Later that morning another good deal was found only it was even further away, 8 hours away in KY. As we were contemplating whether it would be worth the trip, I decided to look for stock at the dealers in Tulsa, only 2 1/2 hours away. Low and behold, I found the same model that was in KY. The website had a price listed that was good but said to call for best pricing. I called and spoke to someone who gave me the information I was looking for and I gave him an offer. He said he needed to check with his manager and would call me back. Less than an hour later, we had a new 5th wheel. We arranged to pick it up the next week.

What we have ended up with a 2004 Wildcat bunkhouse model - aluminum framing and fiberglass skin

Click HERE for more pics

So, out of the tragedy of losing the 5th wheel we worked so hard on, we have ended up with a better designed model that we are all really happy with. A real blessing for our family.

Sometimes in life we need a paradigm shift. Not all things that seem bad at the moment are actually bad. How we look at things and how we control our attitude make a huge difference in how we deal with our lives. Steven Covey give the following example of having a paradigm shift from his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

   I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly - some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.
    Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway.  The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
    The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people's papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.
    It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, "Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn't control them a little more?"
    The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, "Oh, you're right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don't know what to think, and I guess they don't know how to handle it either."
    Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn't have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man's pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. "Your wife just died? Oh, I'm so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?" Everything changed in an instant.

(Quote found HERE)

Our totaled 5th wheel experience helped teach the girls that sometimes bad things do happen but we often can find blessings beyond those things that are bad just by looking at things differently or by gaining more information before making a judgement call.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


The personal dynamic and function of the family has been on my mind the past several months.  This video describes some ways to apply what goes on in business to the family in order to create a better functioning family unit.  Like all advice on how to create a happier, better functioning family, we should always consider the uniqueness of our own family in order to best fit and implement the ideas.  I found the advice in the video to be edifying and uplifting and I am trying to apply some of the principles to my family.  I have found that I am not perfect but then, none of us are.  So the point is to continue to try and improve and if there are times when things aren't being done as they should be, start doing them again, don't just give up.

Take some time to view this video, it's only 18 minutes.  :-)

Outside the daily function of the family unit, I have had events of late that have caused reflection; the untimely death of my step-mother and the passing of my maternal grandmother.

First, the lighter side - the afore mentioned events remind me of a great tune by the Godfathers -

Birth, School, Work, Death

On a more serious note, Why are we here? Life surely must be more than Birth, School, Work and Death.

Thoughts in 28 minutes :-)

A plan for why we are here

Are we to just live from day to day without a purpose? No. Each one of us has great potential and we should be seeking to develop it each day. Our personal potential leads to family and our family potential and this should help give us directive in our life. More than anything, our families are where our greatest accomplishments should be on this earth because of all the "stuff" we can acquire while here, only our knowledge and our families carry on with us beyond this life.

Pause for another 28 minutes :-)

the eternal perspective of life

Blockades to family happiness -
I think that sometimes we need to get over ourselves. I know my stubborn streaks can get in the way of a good time, good conversation and sometimes make it harder to work at relationships.  We all have those moments or things about us that sometimes get in the way and I know I want to try a little harder and do a little better at being better in all my roles.

Reflections on Family -

Family should be important at any point in life. If you grew up not liking your siblings or cousins or anyone in your family, get over it and enjoy a relationship that could change your life. If you have always enjoyed your family, enjoy them more. If you were just not around much growing up, make time to foster new relationships. If you are raising a family, take time to reflect and reevaluate family priorities. If you do not yet have a family of your own, focus your personal development to be in line with what you want to be in a father or mother and spouse.

In the end, life is much much more than Birth, School, Work and Death!

It's about family!

(3 Minutes)

It's about what we make of the small and simple moments of our life!

(3 Minutes)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Simple things

Sometimes in life we are frustrated with the results we are achieving.  We begin with good intentions and even push through to a point where things seem to be going in the direction we want and everything is working. We have a plan and our execution is seemingly flawless.  We have done and are doing what needs to be done at the moment and we can see all that needs to happen in the future in order for our plan to be successful.  As we move forward, however, because we are receiving results, we may not notice that we have forgotten something. Kind of like using salt in your cookies instead of sugar, the cookies still look like cookies, however, they do not taste like cookies. The simple ingredient change caused a result the was not desirable.

Sometimes it's the small or simple things that get in the way of big success or the complete results we are aiming for. We have a refrigerator/freezer not unlike any other with an ice and water dispenser which we use quite heavily. As time has gone on, it seemed as though the ice maker was beginning to fail.  At first, it seemed to not make enough ice fast enough but not to the point of being a real issue. Gradually though, the ice maker fell further and further behind in its ability to keep up with demand and the ice began to be thinner and not as solid, this became a source of much frustration. As the ice makers production declined the desire to replace the refrigerator grew exponentially along with the frustration.

In the midst of the frustration and desperation and the sickening feeling that came with looking at the price of new models, we began to investigate. After looking at a few things and determining the mechanics seemed to be in working order we checked the water line to ensure it was flowing properly. Feeling confident the water flow into the refrigerator was good, we bought a new filter. Guess what the result was?  We got perfect ice!  A simple $40 fix instead of an $1800 new refrigerator.


When our lives seem to be producing insufficient results, we should not be so quick to toss our life and start over. We just need to reevaluate and see what we missed to gain the results we desire.  In most cases it will be something small that we overlooked.  All might be going well enough, still making ice, just not enough or quite the quality we hoped for; however we notice that things could be better.  The family seems to be functioning but not everyone seems as happy as they could be or willing to do their part in proportion to the rest of the family.  You might begin to ask yourself what is different, or what could I be doing that I am not? It may turn out that family prayer might have gone from 7 nights a week to 3. Personal prayer might have gone from daily to weekly. Telling your spouse or kids how much you love them might not be a daily thing any more.  These are all simple things, like changing the filter, that can make a big difference.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In the beginning 2014

With summer well under way and our second batch of company visiting, I thought about all the things done and good times had so far this year. I know it's cliche but life is about the journey and not just about the destination. So here are a few of our good times along our life's journey for the segment that is 2014.

In the beginning - IT WAS COLD!

So we needed a lot of wood in order to keep warm.  I took part in 3 ward wood cutting parties and purchased a lot of bundles of slab wood.  We burned through a lot of wood this winter.

Carissa's school had a winter festival to go along with the opening of the Winter Olympics.  Lots of fun games and food and exhibits by teachers who had visited Russia before.

Then Krystene came for a visit  and there was fort building.....

 and a trip to the bowling alley


I think the next time Krystene comes it should be in warmer weather - snow and cold really limit what you can do around here.

February came and it was still COLD, very cold. This must have been a sign of things to come because Cherilyn's birthday turned out to be not such a warm and fuzzy day.  It was not the fun memory of a day that birthdays should be, the world failed to be bright. Well, when you own your own business you just don't get to put in for a day off on your birthday and sometimes it's just more overwhelming because it's your birthday and you just wanted a day off.

On the brighter side....... Chocolate ALWAYS makes things better! :-)

ingredients for my ganache

ganache filled strawberries
 Valentine's Day was good with chocolate!

Because the month was cold, we needed some indoor fun so off to the Jump Mania we went :-)

Lunch time at Jump Mania

Fun Slides

Carissa wondering who will bounce off the slide and into her

 With the cold came the wind.  It blew so hard the swing set nearly blew over. The biggest reason for the play set failure was indeed human error. We forgot one bolt which evidently keeps it from doing this.
Another trailer load of heat
The cold led to MORE snow so good thing we had all this wood.

To most people in areas where snow is more abundant, I know this does not look like much but around here it's 2 days of NO SCHOOL! 

Goodbye February, welcome to March!

So, what makes the snow go away?  Warm air right?  Well what happens when warm and cold collide? WIND! LOTS of wind! The thing about wind is that it doesn't just stop because something gets in its path, it tries to move what is in its way, which is exactly what happened.

The horse hut thought it wanted to be a rocket ready to launch.

Besides wind bringing in the warmer weather in March, Silver Dollar City opens and once again we decided to go for opening weekend.

The change to spring also means we can do more outdoor cooking :-)

The new grill getting broken in
All in all, the beginning of the new year was a good one!  Many new memories were made that have brought much joy to our lives.