Thursday, December 28, 2006

Spreading Some Holiday Cheer.

Ok...I "advertised" it. I put the address to the blog in our family Christmas letter.

This was originally supposed to be a little private blog for the parents, sister and the crew in Sioux Falls...but in the back of my mind I knew that if you put something on the web it was for the world to see. If I wanted it private I would have e-mailed it, right?

Well, it seems that the little link drop in the letter worked. I have a "hit counter" on the website and it has been rolling up like the national debt in the last 3 weeks.

We had a great Christmas...we were a bit depressed on Friday, it didn't seem like we had any big plans and none of our family was coming into town, but that mood changed quickly.

Saturday was a great laid back day. Maxim and I went out on the ice and it was perfect weather for making snowballs and snow angels. We had an epic battle that ended with me getting a snowball shoved down my sweatshirt! Maxim won. It was cool, last night you could still see our footprints on the snow covering the ice from that battle royale.

Sunday was the church play, Maxim and I both remember our lines...I was the Mayor. After we partied with Eric and the Gross crew for a while and closed the night out up the gravel road at Steph's family's party. The boys basically passed out that night from exhaustion.

Monday, we hung around the house in the AM and went into my folks for lunch and supper. Brent, Vicky, Aaron, Sheila, Lynn and Gloria came over to join us and Grandma for supper. Brent and Aaron are the party starters! Never at a loss for stories and they keep everyone laughing.

Jim, Linda and Scott (AKA - Waldo) came over later for dessert and some cowboy quickdraw shooting. My dad is a fastdraw cowboy gunfighter, and he has this range set up in the garage...the neighbors must have
been gone, because it was a loud night! Tons of fun with Scott...he might be the only cowboy gunfighter that holds his .45 pistol like a gangsta.
The boys had a great time opening presents from family, and once again were blessed beyond what we could ever imagine.

We have no plans for New Years, so that should turn into a Festival Con Vaquaros...or something epic like that.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas!

For those of you that didn't get the mailed version of the Christmas letter and is the picture. We are standing on the ice on the lake behind our home.

Steph's knee scope went great, the Doctor thought she should be perfect in a few weeks. She started PT yesterday, just easy stuff. I have been juggling work and helping with the boys. Did I ever mention that being a stay at home parent is more work than going to work? It is, and I am so thankful that my wife has given up a great banking career to stay at home with the 2 chipmunks.

Maxim and I have been skating on the lake is so surreal sometimes...the quiet, the openness, the bond of 2 hockey players enjoying the ice together. Maxim loves it when I chase him and hook him with my hockey stick and then pretend to check him. In 2 more years there will be 3 of us out there.

John Denver's "Country Roads" just came up on my playlist. I think that song sums up the year. With the exception of the West Virginia thing.

It's rain/sleet/snowing outside...things seem perfect in this world.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth.

Here is a couple of links to consider during this time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Kitchen Progress

The sheetrocking of the kitchen is shaping it up nicely I am over half done and should be finished in theory by Friday. It always amazes me how sheetrock changes the look of a room. Sometimes it makes a big room feel small and a small room feel big, but our kitchen with sheetrock still looks huge.

576 square feet of kitchen/dining area. Most people in the world have about half that to call home! We are spoiled in America.

The sunrises at the lake have been super beautiful lately...I could use a blanket of snow to make things a bit more wintery, but that will come soon enough.

The boys have been great, with the exception of Maxim and I loosing our PlayStation 2 playing rights for a while. Seems when it was time to shut it off the other day, Maxim threw a bit of a fit and Steph put it away. She is a great mom...I wouldn't have the well-behaved children I do if it wasn't for her.
Brecken is doing some amazing things...standing on his own for 3 or 4 seconds, feeding himself finger food and his bottle, using a little bit of sign language, SOOOOO BIG and bye-bye are super easy now.

Last Saturday was an amazing December day...54 degrees (F) we were all outside, Maxim and Brecken drove around in the Jeep, I put up some Christmas lights and Steph made a star out of plywood and then put rope lights on it. Maxim wanted a star, and Steph gave it to him. It looks super cool when you are driving up to the can see it from about 3 miles away! Makes you think about the real Star.

Steph has the house decorated to the hilt. I only wish we could have people over to our kitchen to enjoy some holiday cheer at our new home...maybe for NewYears Day? Or Steph's Birthday? For sure 4th of July!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Letter Season.

My writing for personal reasons has taken a backseat to work, being a husband, dad, carpenter and hockey coach. My last entry was more than a week ago. May be the newness of the blog thing has worn off.

I couldn't believe it when on November 29th we got our first Christmas Letter/Photo in the mail. It was insane. I wasn't even done with leftover turkey, and Little Miss On Top Of Things (Name Removed To Protect The Properly Planned) had already dressed the gromets up the same, gave the dog a bath and talked her husband into wearing a sweater for a picture.

I think it is funny, and I am guilty of it as well, but our lives all sound so "Leave It To Beaverish" in Christmas letters.

For example:
Joe got a promotion in his company, he is now a Facility Engineer (aka-janitor).

I (the wife speaking here) enjoy my time at home with the kids keeping the house clean, and running them to football, soccer, gymnastics, swimming and piano (aka - I watch a lot of Oprah and Dr. Phil, and then ship the kids off to activities so I don't have to put up with them for a few hours).

Johnny is an 8th grader and loves math, science and is a great athlete (aka - we held Johnny back in 5th grade, because he wasn't starting on the YMCA league basketball team).

Mary is an active sophomore and dad is doing a good job to keep the boys away (aka - Mary is on her cell phone with girl friends all the time, but the boys just aren't calling her).

You get the I thought, I need to write both versions of the Christmas Letter...I'll send the one that paints the beautiful and then Blog the one that tells the reality of some things.

I'm doing them both in the same format.

January - I worked some crazy long hours at work, and watched a lot of TV. Steph turned 30 on the 30th and I completely missed her birthday. She is still mad about that one. Maxim got into some trouble at day care for hitting and not listening.

February - Steph ran a red light and totaled her brand new Yukon, broke her ankle, banged up her knee, but thank God that her, Maxim and unborn baby were protected. My highlight was that my bonus gets deposited in February...believe me it came in handy for the hospital the way we met our deductible this year.

March - I looked at some Christmas pictures we had developed and I realized that I was a fat tub of crap, and instantly launched myself into a workout routine...I weighed 228 and had the body of a 38 year old...happy to report that now I am 202 and benching over 260 pounds. Steph was starting to be ready for the baby to be born in March...she did a lot of nesting during this month. She made me start finishing our basement. Maxim went through a spell in March where he would not sleep in his own bed, because it was "nary, nary scary". So instead of fighting it, we let him sleep with us. We are still on occasion trying to break that habit.

April - April was great...Brecken was born, Steph was at home with the boys...the month kind of flew by.

May - My little cousin got married in we all (our family and my mom and dad) packed up and drove to Chi-town together. My dad at times was completely annoying. I think he wanted to punch me about 4 times during the trek. We always end up loving each other.

June - Maxim turned 4 on June 17th. Steph went back to work, and we started to contimplate a move...and on a whim we decided to move to a lake...Lake Byron north of Huron.

July - I do not remember a single thing about July...except it happened, and the 4th of July was during this time...I think we went to Pickstown and wakeboarded a ton.

August - Dad and I went to the Knoxville Nationals...great red neck fun...We put the house on the market and sold it for full asking price in 30 days. Moved our stuff to my parents house and storage in Huron and started on the extremely big project of fixing up the house at the lake we bought.

September - Wake me up when September ends. I think this is when Steph had her gall stone surgery...or was that in August. I can't recall.

October - More house work...Maxim swore 2 times this month...where he heard that from, we have no idea. It is pretty scary hearing a 4 year old use the f-word and s-word properly. (See now that's something every parent would leave out of their fantasy world Christmas letter, but it happened and it was a big deal so I included it on the blogmas letter)

November - Maxim started my pride, but he started hockey with tears for the first 5 practices and didn't want to go, and wouldn't skate without someone helping him...he is one of the best 4 year olds on the ice now! Brecken started feeding himself, and standing up...he will be walking in early 2007.

December - Steph is having her knee scoped, and holiday cheer...stuff like that. But for real, things have been great this year, I just need to hurry up and get the kitchen done in the lake house before Steph yells at me again. I guess when you take away a woman's kitchen it's like a man losing his garage.

Happy Holidaze
The Fam

There both versions...if you were not among the people on the list of mailed letters, I apoligize for that, but you were invited to the blogmas letter.

By the way my sister rules. (There Sal, now you have been mentioned like 4 or 5 times on the blog)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Stupid Chain e-mails.

If you are like me you delete most chain e-mails, no matter who they come from...I'll wade through the jokes and funny videos, but if I have to hear one more time about the Free Mason's rule over America based on the markings on the back of a Dollar Bill, I'm gonna puke.

Anyway, my buddy Mike S. sent this one today, and for lack of sending out more crap mail, I copied and pasted.

Participate with me on this. It's actually quite interesting. Ionly sent this to folks whose answers are bound to be clever!This is what you are supposed to do, and try not to be LAME and spoil the fun! Just give in and do it. Copy, not forward, this entire e-mail and paste it into newemail. Change all the answers so that they apply to you then sendthis to a whole bunch of people you know *including* the person who sent it to you. Put your name in the subject. The theory is that you willlearn a lot of little known facts about your friends. It is funand easy questions to answer.

1. FIRST & Middle NAME : Thomas Robert
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER SOMEONE? Doubting Thomas??? I have no clue?
4. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? During the movie "Luther" (Life of Martin Luther, great movie by the way) I got choked up...full on cry, no idea.
7. KIDS? Maxim 4, Brecken 7mo.
9. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? yes, I'm a blogger
10. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Whenever I can, I did go to rehab for it one time
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Peanut Butter Crunch and Smores...on the healthy side "Blueberry Mornings"
14. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? depends on if I tied them when I put them on...most of the time you don't have to untie flip-flops or Tevas...
15. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I can bench 250# 5 times, but I don't feel strong
17. SHOE SIZE? 11 in Teva/tennys and 9 in ice skates
18. RED OR PINK? Red...if you know me you know about the red and black addiction
19. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My ability to be super laid back...but ironically, at times, it's also my favorite thing about me.
20. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My sister, and her family
22. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES YOU ARE WEARING? old blue jeans and barefoot
23. LAST THING YOU ATE? Do you eat coffee?
24. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? a mix of Radiohead, mewithoutYou, MxPx, Roper, Beck, Nodes of Ranvier and Showbread (Pretty typical for me) youchartstyle=sideRed you can see for yourself
26. FAVORITE SMELL? Campfire, coffee and when someone smokes a pipe and it is that sweet smelling it.
27. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Steph and Maxim...He calls to ask if he can play with the Playstation 2.
29. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Love him, just wish I could see him on the golf course more.
30.FAVORITE DRINK? HOT: any coffee COLD: Coke or room temperature water out of my Nalgene31. FAVORITE SPORT? Hockey, soccer and board sports32. HAIR COLOR? brownish with a smattering of salt
33. EYE COLOR? blue
34. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? since 1986
35. FAVORITE FOOD? Johnny Carino's Spicy Shrimp and Chicken Pasta, and Qudoba's Steak Classica...home grown Steak on my grill
40. HUGS OR KISSES?? are we talking Hershey's little chocolate morsels here...if so, I am a hug
41. FAVORITE DESSERT? O'Henry Bars, my mom's recipe
42. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Skipper, he has way to much free time
43. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Skipper...he is a horrible typer
44. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? just finished Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
45. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Napoleon Dynamite picture, a good friend hooked me up with this one.
46. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? I haven't watched TV since like Tuesday of last week.
47. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Maxim's feet running around the house, Brecken's cackle laugh, and the sound a boat makes when it pulls a wakeboarder out of the water.
50. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I can do the back spin, and the worm...Breakdancing was big for a month or 2 in Huron.
51. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN? 1972, Wessington Springs, SD

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How's this, Dad?

Ok, I realize I'm not solving any of the worlds problems on this blog, in fact, some might read this and think it should be a blah-g instead of a blog. However, my dad is a huge reader of the site. Who knew?

This afternoon I talked my pops into treating me to lunch at the local diner, and he says, "OK I just have to talk to you about something on your blog...". So I am thinking he is in disagreement with my somewhat liberal and progressive Christian mind. NOOOOOO not in the least...he was ticked about this comment in the list of "My Moments" on my birthday entry. "My mom making a pan of O'Henry Bars, "just for me"". (see Nov. 21 post)

He claims I dissed him as a major contributing factor in my life on the blog...well Mr. Father Of Mine...Let me count...not counting this post which is dedicated to your ego. You are leading Ma by a score of 12 mentions to 7 mentions. Hmmmm, I guess I owe MOM a few props to catch her back up.

Mom thanks for:

Teaching me and taking me rock climbing
Building my first go-kart
Taking me ice skating for the first time
Teaching me how to downhill ski
Playing hours of catch and hitting me grounders

There you guys are all square.

Hey, by the way, dad...check the would have never let me do that as a kid, let alone taken a picture of it. But it is one of your prized grandsons so it is funny and cute. Man, you held me down...

Kidding as always...nothing but love for ya O-G. (that stands for Original Gangsta in street talk but today it stands for Original Grandpa)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy T-Giving.

Maxim's team hockey picture. Can you see my chest swelling with pride?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Birthday Jack Handy

Theres a difference in living and living well,
You cant have it all, all by yourself
Somethings always missing 'til you share it with someone else,
Theres a difference in living and living well.

-George Strait-

This would have been posted yesterday, but was down.

November 20 was my birthday so I'm gonna get all sappy. I still feel 18, but for the record I'm not. I don't know if it is my Generation X upbringing, but I don't feel like some stuffy 34 year old career-minded only businessman.

I am satisified with my balance of life. Hence the George Strait lyrics up above. Mom and I share the love of music...granted mine is still a bit louder, harder, screamier and faster than she likes, but we find common ground on a lot artists. George is one of them...she heard "Living Well" on the radio the other day and thought of Steph and I and the Lake House. She gave me the CD for my birthday...great gift! You can never go wrong with music.

Anyway, the more I have listened to that song the more I realize that maybe that's why I don't feel all crusty and old. I'm still 18 at heart, a bit to laid back for some people, but I enjoy living and thanks to my family and God I'm living well.

I live for my moments.

What are MY moments you ask?

Brecken's full-cheek smile and cackle-laugh
Maxim and I (Coach Tom) on the same ice at hockey practice
Hugs from both of them
Watching both of them sleeping in their beds after a big day of playing
A good friend and 3 dogs looking for pheasants on the wide open prairie
A good cup of coffee
Baby calves running and bucking in an open field
Looking out my window and seeing a butter-smooth lake
Snow when it falls straight down
When the perfect song comes on at the perfect moment
Steph's eyes, her big smile, pierced nose and perfect feet...when she wears my old SDSU sweatshirt, or any of my clothes for that matter, or those tattered Gap jeans
Sitting on the deck at night with my guitar
The smell of campfire
My mom making a pan of O'Henry Bars "just for me"
The sound of skates on frozen water
Did I mention coffee...stuff like that.

It got me through the first 34 years and will be about the same thing that keeps me young for the next.

About The House...thanks to my dad, the kitchen ceiling is sheetrocked and insulated. After T-Giving, I will finish the walls and make the electric "hot" as long as "ElectricDealer" as he calls himself on Ebay sends my no longer in production Wadsworth brand 15 AMP single pole circuit breakers right away. Otherwise, I have to buy retro versions of the little suckers and they cost like $40 a shot. I need 6. Mr. Ebay is selling me 2 used ones for $.99 but $6 for shipping.

I was just about to give you a timeline on when stuff was going to get done, but I remember a comment from my ever patient wife..."Don't...Don't...Just don't give me anymore timelines that you can't hit...I don't want to hear them." So honestly I CAN'T TELL YOU WHEN WE WILL BE DONE...or Steph will be mad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Caller: Hey, you guys have a car on one of your power poles...

This actually took talent.
Our stuff is built so tough you can park cars on it.

Vertical Parking.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back Home

I've been on the road more than home in the last 3 weeks. My travels should be done for a while, and I'm looking forward to the slow down. Steph and the boys did come along on some of my trips. On the way back from Nebraska we stopped at the Fort Randall Dam area where we camped and wakeboarded last year with The Crew. Super nice day and Maxim loved it.

Last night I put up the rest of the siding that I had torn off to put the new windows in, so we are now ready for snow. The siding is temporary, because next spring I will put some brick on the front to dress up the road side of the house a little bit.

I started to connect all of the wiring last I have to call my electrician-in-law to see if I was reading his mind right on a 3-way switch. This electrical system will challenge my abilities, and suck my will to live.

Steph has put a Thanksgiving Day deadline for the sheetrock to be up...I should be able to hit that date. The only think keeping me from it would be my fear of getting shocked AGAIN while messing with the electric.

The geese on the lake have been insane! Every night they honk the night away.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Things Considered...

As the sole editor and writer (and most likely reader) of this blog, once in a while I take the liberty to preach.

Every professional job I have held has required a decent amount of windshield time...which I love. So needless to say, if I'm not using the BlackBerry while driving, I'm messing with the MP3 player looking for another song or I'm searching the radio dial.

Over the years I have become a big fan of National Public Radio's show "All Things Considered". It is news radio that makes you feel smarter for having listened. Yesterday they were reporting on something that was right up my tree-hugging alley.

Prime Minister Blair said the scientific data is overwhelming - the world is getting warmer and greenhouse gas emissions are largely to blame and that if the trend goes unchecked the consequences could prove disastrous.

"This disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime," reminded Mr. Blair. "Unless we act now, not some time distant, but now, these consequences, disastrous as they are, will be irreversible."

Most climate change is driven by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, which puts carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A report that Blair's office released yesterday says that analysis finds that to avert potential disaster, greenhouse gas emissions will need to be reduced by a staggering 80 percent.

China and the good ole USA are the main burners of these fossil fuels, most of it for transportation, electricity and heating needs. In fact, each day China brings another large-scale gas fired electric generation plant on line...EACH DAY! That is insane!

Some smart Brit named Sir Nicholas Stern, who is the primary author of the 700-page report issued by the British government, says it makes economic sense to get started now. He says the first step is to convince governments around the world, including the reluctant United States, that they should share a sense of urgency about global warming.

Why is the USA reluctant, because we are cowboys that's why, we can't handle when some tea sipping Brit tells us the polar ice caps are melting because we are set on driving a H2 sixty miles to work each day by our self.

The first time world leaders got together to discuss global warming during the current era of Global Warming awareness the USA decided it was not in our best interest to be a signed partner in the Kyoto Protocol. Next week's Kyoto conference in Nairobi, Kenya, will give President Bush a chance to join our cohort Tony Blair and all other industrialized countries in support of the Kyoto Protocol.


- It is a pact agreed by governments at a 1997 U.N. conference in Kyoto, Japan, to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by developed countries to at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. A total of 165 nations have ratified the pact.

Can we reduce that much greenhouse gas?

The question isn't can's will we? In my opinion no, we have EAZY access to a plethora of coal, and natural gas, so why should we care? My boys will be dealing with the problems their father's generation placed on the earth with our big cars and get rich quick throw away society.

I believe global warming will affect all of Generation X in some very major way...on a negative scope. What the Dirty '30s and WWII was to our Grandfather era (The Greatest Generation), what the Nuclear Era/Cold War was to our Father's era...Golbal Warming will be our biggest hurdle to crest before passing the torch on to the next era of leaders. Who, by the way, are right now listening to Kanye West on an I-pod worrying about not getting shot on the way home from school or in school.

Should they be worried about it, NO.

I didn't worry about Russia blowing up the USA when I was in 6th grade and my sons shouldn't worry about freak weather patterns and a vanishing O-zone. My father's generation shouldn't be worried either, they did their work, it's time for GenX to step up, and start living a bit smarter, slower and greener.

As much as I hate to say it, cause I think he is a complete puppet...but Gore is on the right track with his push for Green Sanctions and Taxes on businesses in America that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases.

By the way, as I write you know...I am on the payroll of a company who uses fossil fuels to create energy, but also is a company committed and striving to find alternative ways to create that energy. I am proud to be a part of that, and a part of the future energy BLOWING all around us.

I just hope I can do what my dad always taught me..."When you borrow something, give it back better than how you got it." Well, I am borrowing the earth from my boys for about 45 more years, (by my plans) and I hope they remember their father as one who loved Creation enough to care for it now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The House That Golf Built.

A buddy of mine that works for the SDSU athletic department LOVES golf, and yesterday he sent me PowerPoint called "The House That Golf Built". The pictures are of a stunning house overlooking the ocean somewhere. Everything is in order, and decorated to the hilt. Turns out on the last slide, it tells you that it is TIGER WOODS' house. (see to see if it is true) If it is Eldrich's house or not it is a complete JAW DROPPER, but there is one thing that I full of "stuff" as it is...I thought it was empty.

There was no 3 day old sippie cups with sour milk hidden under the couch, no Rescue Heros all over the living room floor, the couches didn't look slept on, and there was no bouncer seat in the middle of the kitchen. So if that is the house that golf built, I would rather have the house that a family built. Don't get me wrong, I would take Tiger's house in a second, spill some milk, mess up the bed, throw a Malibu Wakesetter LSV on the boat lift and call it home. I think you get the picture.

We had a home this weekend, last night alone 15
people were at the house to visit with Steph's folks one last time before they left on Friday AM. I loved every hour of entertaining, and didn't want them to leave so was 10:30 pm.

This was a busy week, of work and fam. We "dedicated" Brecken at church on Sunday, which if you ask me is like saying, hey church family look at our kid. When in all reality I think it should be called a Parent Dedication...Steph and I saying to the church family, "Hey we are going to do the best we can with these boys, will you help?". Anyway it was nice and Steph's folks were there so that made it special.

It was just nice to see the boys with Steph's parents. It is rough for them to be so far away, in Indiana. It would be nice if they were far away in Colorado, Utah or Florida, but Indiana? You can only say WOW more Amish people, so many times. I can tell from Steph's mom's comments that they can't wait to get back to S.D.

Roger and DuckMan (Ohio Hunter) did a bunch of work, and they deserve the Living On Liquid good citizen of the month award! Which reminds me we will have to give our another one next month...Rog, you wanna come back? You can continue to be a part of the house that family built...kidding, thanks for the help.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Blues Traveler

I feel I have seriously neglected my duty to blog...but then again the main reason for my writing is to keep Steph's folks updated on the life of the boys and the house project, and they are at our house this week!

It's pheasant season and I have been spending a lot of time traveling. I was in Chicago last week and hooked up with my cousin Aaron and his beautiful new bride Sheila for Bob Chinn's Seafood! I ate my weight in lobster. I don't think we left the restraunt until 11:30 p.m. It was great to catch up with them. They are the coolest people in Chicago, right next to Cubs players Derek Lee and Jacque Jones, and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Adrian Aucoin.

I returned to SD on Saturday night...hunted Sunday, my German Shorthair got something stuck in her front left paw so I had to take her to the vet. So the season has been a bit of a downer so far.

Roger and his Marine buddy Mike have been doing the electric work in the kitchen in the mornings before they hunt. I'm in the middle of my "harvest" season, and right now I can't hardly break away from the electricity factory to enjoy some time with them or even really bear down and work on the kitchen.

I haven't even skated yet! I have to ref a SDSU hockey game this Saturday and I don't even know if my skates are sharp. Bruce Bergman to the rescue.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

1 Bedroom?

Night 2 in the new house was great...I didn't wake up at all except when Brecken cried at 5:15 a.m. Maxim slept on the couch in our room. He isn't quite ready to sleep in his own room yet. I can't blame him. He has been sleeping all over grandma and grandpa's house for the last month...usually ending up in bed with Steph and I around 4:30 a.m. So new surroundings take a little bit to adjust to when you are 4. He said his bedroom is "nary, nary kinda scary", so we cut a deal and he slept on our couch.

Brecken is also sleeping in our room in a play pen thingy...seems my system for saving the special brass bolts from the crib during the move didn't fare to well. I have only found 2 of the 4 needed. I hope they turn up somewhere. I'm sure Babytown in SF would charge me $80 for 2 bolts and yell at me for bothering them on the way out of the store. I still don't like that place...a little customer service, please? On Monday morning I woke up to find Maxim AND Brecken in the middle of the bed with Steph and I. I told Steph last night that this was how the Ingalls must have stayed warm during the "Long Cold Winter"...everybody in 1 bed!

Speaking of hardware, I put the kitchen table together last night...somehow I lost 5 of the 10 needed screws to keep that thing together, too. Rev. Decker did you steal those? So I found 4 more that looked just like the others and we set the table up in Steph's "kitchen". (see pic) It worked out pretty good, but doing the dishes in the bathroom sink least that's what Steph told me.

The living room is super cozy, and I have a hard time not crashing in front of the TV all night to watch 1 of our 4 channels. At least there is baseball on! Steph will continue to put up decor next week when her mom is there to help. I hope Clarice has her "tough boots" on as she is staying with us and she is at the cold end of the house, next to the future kitchen.

Finally, this is what we woke up to this morning. Now I understand the love my brother-in-law had of the "stark beauty" of the lake in wintertime.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Where we are sleeping tonight!

We moved in all of our stuff this weekend...set up the beds, and we will be sleeping in our house tonight!

6 weeks after we purchased, we are now going to call it home. It's a good thing, I was getting way to comfortable in mom and dad's "apartment"!

I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Exciting times in the Living On Liquid blog.

I can't wait to sleep on my own bed......zzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, October 13, 2006


The wood floor is done, it looks ace!

The carpet dudes came today and kicked out the rooms...they covered up a nice wood floor in the master bedroom that Steph found last night.
Oh, well the boys need somewhere soft to wrestle.

We will have very little carpet in the house, with the wood floor and monster tile in the kitchen and bathrooms...easier to clean after parties. I'll get a big "school janitor mop" and when I think the party should be over I'll turn off half the lights in the building, and start mopping up, hopefully people will get the hint to pack it up!

Is is just me or do school janitors never want to hang out and socialize after a game? I swear at my high school the final whistle would blow and half a bank of lights would go out before the players got to the locker room.

On my way back to the office this afternoon, Mark K. and some of his buddies were out spreading manure using a teams of horses! It was a great sight, so I stopped and shot some pictures of something that could have happened 120 years ago on the same field. A big poop throwing party, right there north of Huron! Mark and my dad were born 120 years too late.

Speaking of which, dad and I watched a great western last night, "Ride With The Devil". Civil War era western of sorts. Ang Lee directed...pretty solid, kept us up until 12:45 a.m.

Finally just a little picture of the young the backpack.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It is has been snowing in Eastern South Dakota all day.

When we left the lake house tonight is was "flurrying", we crested the hill leading to the James River Valley and the wind kicked up, and it looked like a full on snow only lasted 2 miles, but I turned into my usual giddy little boy-self when the snow comes.

Maxim woke up this morning and ran to a window to see if he could make snowdudes...he wanted to use the grass since the snow wasn't staying.

I do need the COLD weather to hold off until I get the kitchen sealed up, insulated and sheetrocked. Steph put another coat of varnish on the wood floor and it POPS. Can't wait to see it with some furniture sitting on it.

I have to get my docks out of the water this weekend...I think we are done with "in-water activity" for the year. I did tell Steph I wanted to wakeboard while it was snowing. I guess today would have been my day for doing that.

It is time to switch from Glass To Powder.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Steph's Turn.

Our carpet comes on Friday the 13th. Not sure if the date says anything about this project or not, but we are almost ready for it.

Sunday was the usual church, home and work...heavy on the work. We sanded the floor 4 more times. Finally we were ready for stain.

Maxim was hyper on Sunday, all hopped up on sugar from another one of our good parenting moments (see picture). Headphones, dvd and powdered sugar donuts on the way to church. So G-ma $.01 (that's Grandma Penny) pulled the best move of the day, she came out and picked up the boys to free us up to work later.

That's when Steph went into overdrive. She decided to start staining on Sunday night. I wiped the floor clean with tack cloth and she started making the floor even more beautiful. I was nervous going into this floor thing to begin with, but if Steph's Aunt Sharla can do it, so can Steph. They are cut from the same cloth. She just jumps in and kicks it out.

Making dust is a major no-no while staining a floor, so that means my chop shop carpenter skills were put on hold for a while. So I did what every person with an empty room would do while their spouse slaves away...I skated in our future kitchen.

Steph finished around 11:30 pm and we packed up to head back to Huron, but one little problem. The keys for the Expedition were in my jeans in our bedroom. The sliding door was locked and the only other entrance is through the living room. Steph gave me one of those looks, and put rubber gloves on her feet and retreived the keys. As she walked she buffed the footprints out with a rag. She is so smart.

Monday night we were at the house early...Steph was going to put the first clear coat over the floor and I was going to mow the yard, and do some work outside. I mowed the yard with Brecken in the kid-carrier backpack...he fell asleep about 10 minutes into it. Maxim had fallen asleep on the way out to the house and rocked a 3 hour nap in his car seat. When he woke night began.

I have mentioned before that taking care of kids is hard work, but Brecken and Maxim together is like chasing a bunch of Howler Monkeys around. Steph said I would get
frustrated if I was going to try to do any work...I was. Finally around 8:30 I filled up the Jacuzzi Tub and all the boys had a bubble bath. Brecken was laughing at Maxim, Maxim was laughing at me and I was laughing at Brecken. It was still a lot of work. I got both of them into their jammys and fed Brecken...AGAIN.

Steph finished up around 9:30 pm, and decided that she needed some time in the hot tub.

The floor looked amazing, tonight we will lightly sand and tack cloth it, and put on another coat.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


What a week.

6.5 hours of conference calls, meetings, parties, work on the lake house, Brecken's 6 hour crying spree on Thursday...I only heard 10 minutes of the whole thing, but I almost started crying. We needed a weekend.

Friday we/the company/ threw a tailgate party prior to the football game in Freeman, good times, good people, great pork. On the way home, I had the guys drop me off in Mitchell to hook up with Steph, the boyz, and G-ma/G-pa at Menard's. I capped off their 3 hour shopping spree to the lumber yard with a Matchbox car for Maxim and a some gutter guard to "Keep the clutter out of your gutter!".

We are still getting used to having a bunch of trees on our property, the leaves falling in the yard today bothered me, I wanted to go out with the mower and pick them all up.

Today, Saturday, We rough-sanded the floor of the living room. I am glad I don't redo floors for a living, I would hire some 18 year old to do the work. We went over it 5 times with 60 grit paper. Steph hit the low spots and corners with the palm sander. Tomorrow we will go over it 2 more times, once with 80 grit and once with 100 grit and see where we are at. We should be stained and liquored, I mean laquered, by Wednesday.

G-pa Bob fought off sleep long enough this afternoon for some big projects...he de-shod his horses and de-carpet our stairs to the basement.

Carpet comes on Friday the 13th. Steph wants to make the official first night of sleep there on the 14th. We are so ready to call the lake "home."

Still haven't got the boat battery re-charged, I left the depth finder on and drained it. Last Saturday, Steph and I wanted to cap the day with a little wakeboard session, but no juice.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Casey the house!

Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones you better watch your speed.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind,
And you know that notion just crossed my mind.
-Grateful Dead-

I couldn't get the Gratefuld Dead's Casey Jones lyrics out of my head last night, as we attended a "pep rally" in Huron to get people to get excited for the DM&E railroad's potential 300 mile rail improvement project, that is if the "A-Team" of politicians (which one is Murdoch??) can get the government to approve the $2.3 bill it is going to take. This would be one of the biggest rail construction projects since the Civil War, and in ways it has generated Civil Wars.

The whole thing was kind of ironic, because for the last 9 years we have all been taught to welcome the trains to Huron, just ask Dr. Hohm, I wonder if he takes the 9 year old home-made billboard out of his yard when this thing passes. So I'm pretty sure everyone at the event was already supporting the project.

Gov. Mike Rounds, Sen. Tim Johnson and Sen. Jon Thune all spoke from the political horses they ride...Rounds did his usual roll up the sleeves and carve a mountain speech, Johnson talked to us like we were all from Washington...just a hint Tim, we are all pretty proud to live in SD, you don't have to take a 20 minute speech to tell us to be...tell us what you are doing, and Thune talked about his Grandpa...AGAIN.

The guy that I think did the best job was DM&E Prez and CEO Kevin Schieffer, although after the 3rd round of politician banter, most of us were ready to get home and cheer for the Detroit Tigers. Kevin is not your typical Prez/CEO, he is an open-collared, whispy-haired man's man, who looks like he would be at home in a duck blind or on a pheasant hunt, and last night behind a podium. Just a tell it like it is kind of guy...solid...a lot like Rounds.

Anyway if they get the $2.3 billion they can start fixing the railroad, so we can start hauling MORE coal out of the Powder River Basin to power MORE generation plants.

Most of you know I work for the Electricity Factory, and the increased mobility of coal and ethanol will help keep down electricity prices, but the visionary in me thinks we should also be pumping $2.3 billion into wind energy development.

God hauls the wind for of charge, and Mayo Clinic, MN can't do anything to stop it...we just have to harness it. Or have to need to want to harness it. If you can understand that.

For more info on the rail thing look at

For more info on our lake house check back here Thursday...I just ranted today...felt good though.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A fun and needed night off...

I spent Sunday in Sioux Falls teaching hockey referees the finer points of how to take abuse from over zealous hockey moms and dads who think their kid will play for the Gophers some day. I am ready for some ice time, playing and with the stripes on.

After the classes, I drove by the old house and stopped in to visit the old neighbors, Matt and Becca. Ironically they were I invited myself to the table, and downed a great bar-b-que. It was nice to catch up even though it's only been a few weeks...the kids miss Maxim, and I know he misses his Sioux Falls homies as well.

So Monday rolls around and I kicked out more work than should be corporately leagal for one person on a Monday...I finished at the office around 11:30 pm...but I did run home for a few hours after 6:15 pm to hang with the family. That 3 hours was the best 3 hours I have had with the boys for a long time.

As most of you know I love my mountain bike and just getting out and pedaling...even if it is on pavement. Maxim got a bike for his birthday from G-ma and G-pa Decker and he rode it right away, but after a little nasty spill he shelfed it for a while. Until last night!

Steph mentioned that Maxim was full of the dickens, so I thought I would burn some gas out of Mr. Energy. I asked if he wanted to go to the park, and he got stoked to go, so I threw it out that we were biking there. He on his bike and me on mine. There is a soccer complex about 4 blocks from mom and dad's house, and they just put in a small playground, so that was the plan.

HE ROCKED! Cruised all the way...I helped him across the busy street, and he only needed help one time, going over the "big mountain" was an approach to get into a parking lot. We played until "dark came out" and rolled back home. Mark that one up as Favorite Fathering Moment #476.

We were all suprised, he rode a little a couple days ago (see pictures) on the sidewalk, so this was BIG TIME.

Tomorrow there is some big "Yeah Huron" thing at the Huron Events Center that Steph and I are going to, so another night of no progress, but Wednesday will be a good night...I'm well rested...kind of.

By the way did you know that if you don't shut off the breaker to an old 220 volt outlet for an oven and then cut the wire, you get a shock and big blue flames shoot out. Just another story for the the old blog.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm Venting...

So did you know that not all vents kick out hot air when your furnace is on???...oh yeah, the cold air return.

Last night, 9-28-06, I was engaged in the mad science of running the air duct. My layout had our new kitchen sporting 4 vents for the delivery of heat. I spliced into some existing duct and got it hooked up and had to try it out. The furnace kicked in, and fact, it felt like cold air.

The conversation that followed went something like this...

TOM: Why won't this stupid thing kick me some heat? I turned it to like 90!
STEPH: Did you take out the insulation that you packed in there so the dirt wouldn't fall in?
TOM: (sarcastically) AHHH, no I thought if I left it in it would keep the warm air warmer.
STEPH: Don't mock me.
STEPH: May be that is the cold air return, you know I saw on HGTV that each room needs a cold air return. See it is sucking cold air in to the furnace.
TOM: Why do you have to be so much smarter than me in everything?
STEPH: I'm a woman.

So after a couple more Stephanie "brainiac" moves, the venting is run, and the floor will be laid tonight. Steph has the floor in the living room ready to sand, and things are going nicely.

The boys are still alive, I think, actually I have the pictures to prove it.

Maxim and Grandma made "pupcakes" the other night, and Brecken is lovin' the water...good thing we live on the biggest body of water in Beadle County. That will save so much on water having the lake right there...Saturday night baths in the lake! Speaking of which we tested out the hot tub last night...sorry no pictures of that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Move In Date Has Been Set...

So last night, over dinner, at my parents kitchen table, Steph and my dad "shook hands" on the date Steph said we would move into the lake house. Dad either didn't think it could be done in that time period, or he just wants the boys around the house a bit longer. My money is on Steph's prediction. She has a way of "moving" projects along.

I was the innocent by-stander during this fun exchange. I was not involved, more like not committed either way. Committed is what the pig was to the plate of bacon and eggs you ordered this morning at the local "Greasy Spoon". I'm more like the chicken...just involved.

The kitchen will not be done before we move in, so it will be sort of like camping in a house. We will have a "dorm fridge", a microwave, a crock pot, and the "Man Kitchen"...aka...the grill. I'm not worried about the arrangement, in fact, it will help the building process. It is much easier to just fall into bed when I am done instead of driving back into town to the basement.

So that brings up the rundown of things to be done. Last night I dropped in the venting runs and put the rest of the supplemental "pink board" under the floor joists. Tonight I will brave the crawl space, and hook it all up and heat will be delivered. That leads into the laying of the tougue and groove 3/4 inch subfloor and the floor, for a while, will be done. We will tile the entire room so I think I can put that off until December! Steph will want it done before Christmas. The electrical will be roughed in by Saturday. I have to teach a hockey referee clinic all day Sunday in Sioux Falls, 3 months ago it seemed like a good idea, now I don't even know where my skates are!

Steph has rented a floor sander and edger for the wood floor in the living room, so we can get that finished, and carpet comes on Thursday? I think. Some local legend by the name of "Goldie" is laying the carpet. Apparently, according to Debbie at the Carpet Center, he is our family's carpet-layer. Now, I knew we had a family doctor, dentist and vet, but didn't know about the family carpet-layer. It's like our own little Beadle County Mafia, and the fact that the carpet store lady knew this was amazing.

Oh yeah, the move in date...October 13-14. After that weekend, I have 5 days to get things in order before I leave for Chicago for a couple days and Steph's folks come to town for the OPENER. Pheasant Opener. I think a few days of pheasant killing will be good for my soul.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Summer has come and passed,
The innocent can never last,
Wake me up when September ends. -Green Day-

My MP3 player, constantly on shuffle, found the perfect song yesterday on my drive from the lake house back into Huron. Green Day's "When September Ends".

This summer was out of control, and September has been a blur. Steph and I were talking last night about how we didn't get to wakeboard very much, or put our usual 60 hours on the boat...althought the time we did spend on the water was among the most memorable...the Yankton trip with 12 people in Meyer's boat and the monster wake that followed us that day, the "eternal summer" weekend at Pickstown, (maybe the best water I have ever rode), riding behind the jet ski with Decker and Meyer (perma-smile fun), the sinking of the Malibu...yeah we sunk my cousin's Malibu...long story. As soon as I am done with the counseling I will write about it!!!

This weekend was productive, the floor joist is completed, and half of the "pink board" is now in place, all the nails in the floor that have been tripping me are pulled. I replaced a load bearing post where the door from the garage used to be, and put in a header that opened up the staircase area going to the family room. Gusset-plated the base of the scissor trusses, and put in another window. Steph prepped the wood floor in the family room, all the staples, nails and tack board should be gone and we plan to finish the floor this week...plan being the key word.

The garage/shed/shop was organized and the boat is under a roof now! After church on Sunday, we grilled BBQ Chicken, put on some Bob Marley and chilled out on the deck. It was nice to be outside after 4 straight days of rain.

I never really realized how much I feed off the weather, Steph says I am in tune with nature that way...on Saturday it was rainy again, and I must have been putting off a sour vibe, because she asked me like 10 times before 9:30 a.m. if something was wrong. There wasn't anything wrong except, I hadn't seen the SUN for 86 hours!

It is weird how my mind changes with the weather...I feel like the wakeboard season is over, and my mind has been thinking about snow. I have been dreaming of hockey and snowboarding/skiing trips to Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, T-Peak and G-Bear. Grandma...can you take the boys for a few days...when September ends? Steph and I are going to the mountains...but not before we finish the house at the lake.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Progressively Progressing

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -Albert Einstein-

When Steph and I first looked at the lake house, we knew there was work to be done before it would be a Stephanie Certified home. It needed, among other things, paint, decor, LANDSCAPING, and most of all a place to bake cookies, and someday in the future, do homework. To put it short...the kitchen area sucked my will to eat, my will to live and ever have company enter through the front door.

Albert's above quote says it best...Steph's imagination of gutting the kitchen, knocking out the wall to the single attached garage, vaulting the ceiling, and raising the floor was visionary, and will define the living space of the home. When I figured out structurally that it would work, Roger (dad-in-law) dropped a week of work to help me with the process.

It has been a while since I have remodeled, as most of my work lately has been new-type construction, meaning I didn't have to tear anything out to get started. I forgot how SLOW the destruction/construction process is. It took us every bit of a full week of work to vault the ceiling and pull out the old wall.

I wish I could have counted the number of times Roger or I said..."What the crap was this guy thinking?" in regards to some of the construction tactics used in finishing the old kitchen. Lucky for us, the shell was built right...for the most part.

Roger was huge, SEMPER FI!!! Mr. Marine had my butt, for the most part out of bed around 6:15 a.m. and working by 7:00 a.m. We would not be this far if it wasn't for him and his drive.

During the week that Roger was in town, Steph's Grandpa Raymond, gifted us the use of his "hired men" Brandon and Kenneth. Let me tell you about Kenneth, if Teddy Roosevelt thought he was a strong as a "bull moose", he should have met Kenneth. The guy is big like a Louie L'Amour main "BIG JON". Kenneth was in charge of a chainsaw and some tree clearing. Paul Bunyan and Babe would have been proud. Now, the tree hugger in me hurt for the lost trees, but when you buy a house on a lake, you want to see the lake. Thanks to Kenneth we now see clearly.

Hard work, sacrifice and focus will never show up in tests. -Lance Armstrong-

Last week was spent on smaller job projects, and putting down the new floor joist. This week (9-18-06) my dad helped Steph and I install the new front door where the garage door used to be and installing a window where the front door used to be. Our entrance now welcomes you to our home...the old one felt like a human doggie door.

The work has been fun, but hard, and I hate being away from the boys all day, and again at night. That sacrifice will be worth it when I see them playing on the wood floor in the living room, coloring on the walls of their playroom, or running off the dock and cannonballing into the water...with me right behind them. "Lake Rats" that's what one of our neighbors loving called the boys. I like that!

Finally...Just a list of things every man should have in his arsenal of tools.

Cordless Drill, Electric and Cordless Skill Saw, Cordless Pnumatic Air Framing Nailer (I love this thing), Sawz-all, compound chop saw, table saw, best wire cutter/stripper money can buy, recycled material shims...they work better than wood and save trees, flood lights, a slew of extension cords, metal grinder, Stanley Tape Measure, a sharp (or charp if you are from Chile) wood chisels, and a friend with a tile saw...right Trav? I could go on here forever...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The boys and their "Stay-at-home-with-your-mother-in-law-super-mommy"

So Steph has been retired from the banking industry for about 3 weeks, and she has slid into "stay-at-home-momness" like anyone who leaves a beautiful home in a familar city to live in a new town in her husband's parent's basement. (My brother-in-law Brad did a similar stay in the Bob and Penny Glanzer basement upon returning from Alaska...and he turned out mostly fine, so we are not real worried about Steph.)

Anyway, Steph and the boys spend most of the day playing superheros (Maxim is Dash from the Incredibles and Steph IS Elastagirl), cooking and organizing all of my t-shirts, hats and shorts that I leave in a pile the night before, and soaking in every waking moment of Brecken's little life. They take in the library, go on walks, change diapers, feed Sneezy (the goldfish)...and did I mention that Huron has a Wal-Mart now??? Nothing says high fashion like an afternoon stroll through the sparkling aisles of the Mecca to "BETTER CRAP THAN KMART".

Some may say I have stripped this urban Kansas City beauty queen of her high class life, but I think she digs it...except the living with my folks part. That may be the reason why she has my dad's bullwhip in one hand, and my toolbelt in the other when I get home from a hard day at the Electricity Factory slaving over a keyboard looking for good deals on more outdoor gear I don't need at

I promise my next post will include an update on the house and the work that has been kicked out in the last 3 is shaping up nicely.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stepping Into Liquid

My wife and I have always hated dropping our boys off at the day care.

Ironically, that is why we now own a home on a lake.

Sometime in May of 2006, our thinking changed as to the direction of our families future...we decided Steph would stay home with the boys, and since we are "lake people" we contimplated a move to Lake Byron, S.D.

Home prices in Sioux Falls compared to the rest of S.D. is like watching an episode of HGTV's "What You Get For The Money". I have yet to watch the show, but from what I understand is they show you what you get for $200K in Las Vegas, Sacramento, Billings and Yale, SD. Our market-median home in NW Sioux Falls would cost $50,000 less in Huron. So we looked for real estate on the lake that I grew up skiing on...totally expecting the usual insane sticker shock related to lake living.

Now don't get me wrong Lake Byron (24 Kilometers north of Huron, SD) is a beautiful lake and an nice liquid break from all of the prairie surrounding, but is also a typical lake for S.D. Think along the lines of Wall Lake, Lake Mitchell or Lake Madison. Recent years of better land management have taken care of some of the "pea soup" issues that surround mud-bottomed lakes in the area. In fact, I believe Byron is cleaner than Madison and Mitchell on their best days.

In dreams, I have won the lottery, paid my friends to take care of my money, security details and spiritual well-being, and then built a huge home for all of us on Okoboji or better yet Powell, and then we all wakeboarded the summer away, only to move to a rustic cabin in Big Sky, MT for the winter...but this is reality, and moving back "home" to the company G.O. is my version of winning the lottery.

Long story even longer...we found a place that needed ample work, and my wife's incredible tasteful and frugal ability to decorate. We made an offer, a counter offer and another and we agreed to a price that would get you 50 feet of shorline and a worthless lot on most other lakes...and on some lakes it would buy you 6 weeks of a timeshare. Let's just say the market in the Huron, S.D. area is a bit soft...great for us.

We sold our house in S.F. in 24 days for full asking price, and moved in to my parent's basemant, and the remodel project began on Saturday, September 6, 2006 around 6:47 A.M.

This blog will take you on our journey of Living On if anyone beside our parents really care.