Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How Marshall and I Spent the Break

For a better part of the break Marshall and I have spent it playing video games especially now with my new LCD TV. Pretty much every Christmas break I've had has been spent laying on the couch, eating treats, drinking pop and playing video games. I always try bask in having nothing to worry about, no people to swear at, no idiots to correct at work and no deadlines to meet. It's always rather disappointing when break is over and I have to head back to the real world.

Buy Local for the Service

On Friday at about 5:45 right after everything closes for the weekend our oven decided to stop working. So we call Sears service department to schedule an appointment to get it fixed. They tell us it will be Tuesday before they can get to us. We thought that seemed like a long time to be without an oven but since we were going to be gone most of the weekend we didn't think it would be too big of deal. Finally Tuesday gets here and we eagerly anticipated the arrival of our repairman. The hours tick by and still no repairman finally at about 5pm Jen gets online to see what going on. Turns out the repair is supposed to be here Tuesday, next Tuesday, we know that we can't wait that long. This morning Jen decides it's time to call Olsen's Appliances in Lowden to see if they can get us in. At about 10am we get a call and sure enough Olsen's has time and they will be here this afternoon. The nice repairman showed up half an hour ago and had our oven working in about 20 minutes, he had to replace the ignitor. If Jen and I had known that Olsen's was over in Lowden when we moved in we would have probably went there to support our local business. While they are going to be more expensive then your local big box store the service you get is well worth it. I have to say anytime we have dealt with Olsen's appliances it has been a great expierence and I recommend that people consider them when they looking for new appliances.

I think there are some business owners in Clarence that should keep this in mind when they deal with people. People shop local for two reasons to support ther local economy but more importantly for the service and care they get from their local business. If the local business is not going to provide a good expierence for their customers then the value proposition for the customer is not there and they will take ther business else where.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Made It Home

Just an update since apparently there is an incident going on over by Coldstone and Panchero's Marshall and I are home safe. I guess there was a gunman at the Red Robin which is right by the Coldstone and Panchero's. Jen called a little worried about about us and was happy to find out that we were almost home. Anyways Marshall and I had a fun day we even got a new TV! I think Marsh and I are going to be playing video games all night on the new HD TV :).

Lunch at Panchero's

Marsh and I haven't had a fun day together in quite awhile so today we decided to head out and do some boy things. We started here at Panchero's for lunch, or aka Pancherios by Marshall. Once were done here were going to head to Best Buy and look at the video games and TV's. If they have the one I'm looking for at the right price I may buy one today. Finally tonight when we get home Marshall made me promise to take him out and look at the stars with his new telescope.

Home a Day Early

Jen and I intended to stay in Des Moines until this afternoon but ended up coming home in the middle of the night last night but it turns out that we managed to infect Mema with our stomach flu. So last night about 5:30 we ended up heading from West Des Moines to Thor to get the boys and then from Thor to Clarance in a 6 hour power driving session. Just another of a host of ruined plans this Christmas break either due to sickness or weather. I guess we aren't destined to have anything go as planned this Christmas break. Oh well, better luck next year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Friendly Face at Scheels

As Jen and I were wandering through Scheels we happened upon a friendly face, Cy.

New Love of Jen's Life

I think I may have been pushed aside in our relationship. She has been carrying on with pleasure moans for the past few minutes over the Chocalate Rasberry Truffle Cheesecake she got. Hmmm. Maybe when she isn't lokking I will smash it ;).

Lunch at Cheese Cake Factory

Jen and I decided to have lunch at Cheese Cake Factory. They probably have the largest menu of any restuarant I've ever been two. As you can see by the picture this is a pretty fancy place but I guess it is at the yuppy mall. I'm betting this place has a damn good chese cake which I'm really looking forward too as well.

Cost Plus World Market

I'm not so sure I'm going to be able to get Jen to leave this place it is a designers heaven. What Jen doesn't know is that every minute she spends here she will to repay me at Best Buy ;)

Breakfast at the IHOP

Before Jen and I head out on our day out we decided we had better stop at the IHOP for breakfast. Gotta love the IHOP and especially the "Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity".

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Papa the Baby Whisperer

Here is Papa with Clancey at church and wouldn't you know it Clancey is being good. Normally by the end of church Clancey has had a complete meltdown but Papa has a way with Clancey and he stays quite and good the whole time. I don't know what it is but Clancey, just like Marshall before him, has a special bond with papa.

Marshall's Christmas Program

Today is Marshall's Christmas program at church. It's a week late due to bad weather last week which worked out week because last Sunday we couldn't have made because Marshall was sick. They just got done singing and let me tell you it was pretty cute. I took a video and I'll upload when I get home.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


After we tortured Marshall by eating lunch first, we finally got to open presents. Marshall got a bunch of games and some really cool toys too and papa got him a book that the two of them really enjoy, "Where Sidewalk Ends". All in all besides all of our plans being ruined multiple times we had a good Christmas. Mike and Michelle made it down for a few hours but had too leave to beat the ice home. Hopefully next time we see them it will be for a bit longer.

Christmas Number Three and a Birthday

Today we are having Christmas number three and Jen's Birthday all in one. This is our final Christmas of the season which I know Marshall is pretty disappointed about but his birthday is in a month so he will be getting more presents soon enough.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Plans May be Broken Again

For the Nth time this Christmas season our plans may be broken again. After bad weather and being sick ruin our plans for our first Christmas and Marshall's Christmas program. Then sickness kept people away from our house on Christmas Day. We were supposed have our make up Christmas with Mike and Chell tomorrow but once again bad weather may keep them away. Finally to top it all off Jen and I had planned on taking an over night trip early next week but our oven decided to stop working so we may be spending that time waiting for a repairman to stop by. I think we should accept that nothing is going to go as planned this Christmas season. Oh well I guess better luck next year.

Christmas Number Two in Full Swing

We've started opening presents during Christmas number two. I think this is Marshall's favorite part :).

Christmas Number Two

Christmas number two is getting ready to start here in about 2 hours with my mom and brother. My sister couldn't come because she flew to Miami to spend a week. This Christmas was actually supposed to happen last weekend but the weather and a bunch of bad cases of the stomach flu postponed it until today. I have to Wii all setup for a family bowling tournament so I'm sure it should be a good time.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Morning

Just like always Christmas Morning came and went just like that. Marshall was up right at 7:00 am and wanted to go down and open his presents. When he came down the stairs the first thing he saw was his parking garage sitting right by the tree. Since it was so big Santa wasn't able to wrap so he just sat it there by the tree with a bow on it. We were concerned that once Marshall saw that he wouldn't be able to actually concentrate on open anything else because all he would want to do it play with it. Once he played with it for a few minutes he was ready to open more presents. I have to say between Santa and Jen and I Marshall and Clancey had a whole slew of presents. Besides all of the presents Marshall got Grandma Marsha bought us a Wii which Marshall and Daddy were really excited about. When we finally got all the presents opened Marshall and I spent a few hours playing Wii Sports and had a good time :) We also spent a half hour on the phone with Mike and Michelle trying to get our Wii's to connect just to find out you can't play Wii Sports online.

I've included a link to the pictures we took this morning for those of you who want to see how our Christmas morning unfolded.

Marshall Gets His Parking Garage

Marshall has been asking for a parking garage for his Hotwheels for 2 years and today he finallt got it. He is really excited he was really afraid Santa would forget again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Message From the Boys

Here is a Christmas message for Mema, Papa, and Grandma Marsha from the boys. Forgive the low quality my Blackberry doesn't take that great of video in low light.

Roads a Bit Tricky

On my way to Tipton to do my last minute Christmas shopping the roads were a bit tricky as you can see. Had we not been having full blown Christmas emergency I probably would have stayed home. Like I said earlier we could hardly not have stockings for the boys. For all of you last minute shoppers they had a whole case full of Wii's for sale so if you having a Christmas emergency you could drive to Tipton and get a Wii.
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Christmas Eve Shopping

It's just not Christmas without a little last minute Christmas Eve shopping. What is surprising is how crappy the roads are yet Wal-mart is packed. I guess I can't really say too much since I'm one of those idiots out shopping ;). I have a good excuse though because had I not went out Marshall and Clancey would have had no stockings and that just would not be cool.
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Snowy Christmas Eve

Today Marshall and I went outside to play in the Christmas Eve snow. Here is a picture of Marshall rolling around and having a good time. While the snow makes it very hard for families to travel it does make it very magical to have a "White Christmas".
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Everyone is Better!

Finally after about 5 days for stomach flu hell I think that everyone is better. I thought I would avoid it but yesturday I spent my day laying on the coach with stomach pains and just feeling down right crappy. This morning though I'm feeling quite a bit better which is good because is Chrismas Eve. Marshall and I have big plans to play video games and track Santa so we couldn't be sick for that. I do need to note that Marshall slept in his bed last night so there is no worries of Santa skipping our house tonight (Although I'm sure Santa wouldn't have missed it either way) ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Marshall on the Mend

As you can see it appears that Marshall is finally over the stomach flu that is going around. He hasn't thrown up for 24 hours now and has been eating some so lets hope that it doesn't come back. For the past few days Marshall and I have been sleeping down stairs and about midday yesturday Marshall started to get upset. I asked him what was wrong and he said "Daddy if I don't get better by Christmas Santa won't stop at our house"
This seemed like a weird statement to me so I asked "Why do you think that."
Marshall then responded "If I'm downstairs he won't stop because I might see him!"
I then assured Marshall that Santa would stop even if he was sick. I told him that Santa would just wait until he fell asleep to stop by :)

The Boys and I Enjoying the Christmas Break

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I get two weeks off from work, Jen makes a bunch of goodies and the boys and I have a good time. One Marshall and my favorite past times during the break is to sit around and play video games. This year Clancey started to get in on the action too. Here is a picture of the boys and I sitting around playing a racing game.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sick Family

Well the whole family has come down with this nasty stomach flu now except me, knock on wood. Jen and Clancey just came down with it tonight and I'm waiting for my turn next. On the bright side Marshall appears to be doing better so hopefully he is just about done with it. I'm just hoping that we can get this all taken care of by Christmas because there is nothing worse then being sick on Christmas.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Marshall Still Sick

Poor Marshall is still sick :( He's over the puking but he's still feeling pretty crappy. Today we've spent the day playing video games and relaxing but it's looking like he is going to miss his Sunday School program tomorrow. Hopefully he is over this by Christmas day.
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Christmas Snow

What a nice pleasant snow when you don't have any where to be.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Cookie Bandit

Clancey is our little Christmas cookie bandit. Today Jen made a huge batch of Christmas cookies and Clancey has been stnading by the table trying to steal them every chance he gets.
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Weatherman Wrong Again

Just like always the weather people squawk and squawk about this being the storm of the century and once again almost nothing happened. I think we maybe got a total of 3 inches of snow, hardly the 12 inches that were being forecast. Anymore you know that if they hype a storm up that you are almost guaranteed that it will be a total dud.

Sick Boy

In the middle of the night last night Marshall woke up and threw up all over his bed. Jen got, up got him cleaned off and put him in bed with me. This morning Marshall woke up and threw up all over our bed and then a little later had another incident. So now Marshall is laying down and taking it easy try to get over this. Hopefully it goes away soon because there is nothing worse then being sick over Christmas.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Clancey Dancing

While we were at the store tonight picking up our groceries in preparation for the big storm Clancey heard some Christmas tunes and broke into a dance right in the middle of the isle. He's holding onto a bottle of bubble bath that has a duck on top that we ended up buying because he's to darn cute to tell him no.

Preparing for the Big Storm

For the past two days they have been squaking about a huge winter storm that is supposed to start tonight. They claim it's going to dump up to a inch of ice followed by a foot of snow. Tomorrow was supposed to be my last day of work before going on a 2 week vacation from work so we will see if I actually make it in. We were also supposed to head to Ankeny tomorrow to celebrate Christmas with my family but if the weather comes in I guess we will be hunkering down for the weekend by ourselves. Normally when they get excited about huge storms they turn out to be big duds so we will see what happens this time.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Clancey Playing Behind the Couch

Last night Marshall and Clancey were laughing and carrying on in the living room so I decided I better go check out what was going on. So I go in there and I can hear Clancey but can't see him. So I decide to look around a bit and here's where I found him. He is quite the adventuresome little dude.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

We Made It Home!!

We didn't end up beating the ice but we did eventually make it home after are really slow trip. I couldn't believe how quick the weather changed today. We left for Cedar Rapids at about 2:00 and it was 56 degrees and by the time we got there it was 26 and ice was forming on the car. We ran into Target really quick and by the time we came out the roads were ice covered. Jen was really nervous the whole way home, I kept trying to assure her I was an expert at winter driving but she wouldn't buy it ;)

Trying to Beat the Ice

When we left Clarence the temperature was 55 degrees and it was lightly raining. Now we are in Cedar Rapids and in sleeting ice out and the temp is 27 so we hope we can beat the ice home. Maybe coming to CR was a bad idea hopefully we don't get stuck here.
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Here's a picture of any impromtu game of peek-a-boo Clancey and I started in the bathroom before we headed to CR for our new Christmas lights. He can be quite a funny little dude.
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Lion's Christmas Tree Lot

This year it looks like were going to have to settle for buying our tree from a tree lot. Every year since we moved Clarence we've gone to the tree farm and cut down our own tree so it's disappointing we didn't get to this year too. Although I will admit it's nice to not have to carry that big tree up the big hill at the tree farm ;). The tree we picked is pretty nice. I'll update the blog with a picture after we decorate it. All our lights have gone bad so were have to head to CR to buy some new ones.
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No Luck at the Christmas Tree Farm

Today the family decided it was time to go and get the VanOort Family Christmas Tree. Every year we head out to Kelly Chistmas Tree Farm to hand pick and cut our tree down. Well this when we showed up to the tree farm we were greeted by this sign. What a bummer. In fact Marshall was concerned that Christmas was going to have to be called off because you can't do Christmas without your freshly cut Christmas tree. We assured him that we would still have Chistmas we just had to go to another place to buy a tree. I guess we'll head into Tipton and see if we find anything.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santa Claus

Try to imagine if you can for a moment the movie "A Christmas Story" and Ralphie and his brother are in line waiting to sit on Santa's lap. All the kids in the front of the line are crying and Ralphie is getting more and more nervous about getting up to sit on Santa's lap. Well that would just about describe tonight for us as we went to see Santa.

At home Marshall was excited and ready to go tell Santa what he wanted. Well once we got there the anxiety started to build in Marshall the closer and closer we got to Santa's lap. The kids in front of him were crying and Marshall was cowering behind me. Finally we got to the head of the line and Marshall had a death grip on me saying "I can't do this, I can't do this." Jen and I deciding that Marshall just wasn't going to sit on Santa's lap and thought it would be best to at least get a picture of Clancey on Santa's lap. As you can see from the picture above it didn't go so well. Clancey started to cry the instance that he got on Santa's lap. Jen and I each snapped a picture and took Clancey off Santa's lap. At this point Marshall was keeping his distance from Santa. While Santa is that great guy that sneaks into your house and brings you presents Marshall wasn't so sure he was a trustworthy character but Santa did have something Marshall wanted. A big bag of candy but to get it Marshall would have to approach Santa. You could visually see Marshall weighing his options in his head. Do I keep my distance and risk no presents and candy or do I risk it and go up to this guy. Finally the big bag of candy staring him in the face and the risk of not getting what he wanted for Christmas became too much to bear and Marshall went up to Santa. I thought for sure he would take the bag of candy and run but much to my surprise Marshall jumped right onto his lap. Now as you can see from the picture he wasn't too sure he wanted to be there but he did sit there and tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas.

Once we were done with Santa we put the kids coats on and headed home. We were about halfway home when Marshall yelled out "Oh No!!"

Startled Jen asks "What's wrong Marshy?"

Marsh answers "Mommy I forgot to tell Santa two things, that I wanted a ball for Christmas and ask him how he drives his sleigh in bad weather."

At this point Marshall is starting to get a little upset that Santa may forget to bring him a ball and if there bad weather he may not make it at all. Jen and I remind him that he sent Santa a letter so he knows that he wants a ball. We also remind him about Ruldolph and no matter what the weather was Santa would make it to our house. At this piont I broke into a musical interlude and sang various renditions of "Rudolph the Rednose Reighndeer" for the rest of the way home :)

Amish Country

The family and I decided to head to Kalona to Stringtown Grocery Store to pick up some Christmas stuff. It is really wierd when you get down here to see people actually going from place to place in horse drawn carriages. I guess you would get really good gas mileage ;).
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Mr. Independent

Little Clancey is just Mr. Independent these days. Today as we were waiting for Jen to get done with her doctors appointment Clancey decided he wanted to explore the world on his own. Here's a picture of Clancey as he wondered up the hallway by himself. No fear, walking up to everyone, exploring and not really caring where daddy was. It's amazing how different the two boys are.

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No Pink Eye

The doctor said that Clancey didn't have pink eye but did find an ear infection :( So once again we are headed back to the pharmacy to get antibiotics. I think we should buy stock in antibiotics companies as much as we are buying them. On a positive note Marshall seems to be getting sick far less then he used too.
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Doctor's Appointment

Kids and doctors go together like pop and pizza. Here we are again at the doctor's office with Clancey. For the past few days his left eye has been watering and last night when I got home the entire thing was red. I speculated that he had pink eye so today were in the office to get it checked out. The poor kid has been sick for about a week now so hopefully the doctor can do something to help him.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

City Council Meeting

On Monday we had a City Council meeting like we always do on the first Monday of the month and for the most part I believed it would be a fairly benign meeting. Well part way through the meeting our police cheif turned in his resignation. While the rumor mill in Clarence had grumblings that he may be leaving I didn't put much stock in it because I had heard the same rumor for awhile. So I have to say this came as a complete shock to most of the council.
I have a suspicion that replacing our police chief is going to become quite a heated topic in town. Just like any town there is a certain set of folks that are anti-police and they have already started beating their proverbial drums. Now these people wouldn't outright admit that they are anti-police they always disguise it under the "budget" argument so as to make their intentions look admirable. Being a part of the council I'm sure I'll get in my fair share of heated arguments over this but I guess that's what makes the job fun.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bed Races

This morning after the 5K we went down to the b ed races. It was ice cold this morning 7 degrees for for both the 5K and bed races. There was actually a guy that ran the 5K in his boxers and a tank top there was also supposed to be a women who was supposed to run in her boxers to but she wussed out.
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Night Cap

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Firetruck Parade

Tonight they had a decorated firetruck parade that went through downtown Stoughton. All the firemen had decorated there trucks with Christmas lights and some were even playing music as they went by. I have to say that Stoughton really knows how to throw a christmas festival. I'm happy Jen and I came up for the weekend we have had a really good time.
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Victorian Holiday Concert

Here we are back in the opera house to listen to the Stoughton Chamber Singers sing Victorian Christmas songs.
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Horse Drawn Carriage

Jen and I took a horse drawn carriage ride through downtown Stoughton. It was really neat it was lightly snowing and it was just the two of us plus the driver and his wife. The driver was slender guy with a gravely voice and reminded me of a ready mix truck driver. As we riding down the road the driver had his wife run the carriage so he could warm his hands up for a bit. He was sitting behind her giving her some grief and I can't remember how he got on the subject but at one point he said "I'm going to fluff you tonight". He instantly realized that we were in the carriage and had heard him. He covered his mouth and looked at us to see how we would react. I couldn't help but laugh out loud because I knew it was something I would say too. A man after my own heart ;).
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As Jen and I were walking down the road we happened to run into Santa Claus. We couldn't pass up a chance to get a picture with the jolly old elf.
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My Appetite is gone ;)

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Stoughton Cooperative Grocery Store

We all decide to stop into the local grocery store to warm up for a bit. While we were in here I noticed that they had sign up sheets for the 5K so I decided to sign up. Before we stopped in here we got reservations for the four of us at the cinema cafe tonight. This a place where you eat pizza at a table and get shown a movie. Should be fun.
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Jen Enjoying the Victorian Holiday

Here's a picture of Jen enjoying the Stoughton holiday outside of the opera house.
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Another Opera House Picture

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Stoughton Opera House

We got a tour of the rehabilitated opera house here in stoughton. It is an amazing sight to see. I wish Clarence had something like this.
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Cookie Walk

We finally got to our first event the United Methodist Cookie Walk. We got here a little late they said that they went through 6 tables of cookies already and there was only one table left.
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Breakfast at the Sunrise Restaurant

After a very lazy morning Jen and I headed out for breakfast. As few times as we've been Stoughton we've eaten at this restaurant quite a few times. It's not a bad palce and ever since the smoking bans it is even better.
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Winter Wonderland

Looks like it's going to be a nice winter festival here in Stoughton. Nothing like a fresh layer of snow to make your christmas festival more joyous. Jen and I haven't figured out what things we are going to do but I do plan on doing the 5K tomorrow. Hopefully that goes alright my left knee has been kind of mad at me since the Ironman.
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Friday, December 05, 2008

Hanging at Mike and Michelle's House

After dinner we headed to Mike and Michelle's to hang out for a while. At I got to see my best friends the dogs!!! For those who don't know I'm not a dog lover most dogs that I meet bite me but I will admit that their dogs are rather friendly. Besides when they decide to pee on my leg ;).
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Dinner at El Rio Grande

Tonight Jen, Mike, Chelle, Sheryl and I decided to all do dinner at the restaurant across the street from their house. Mike and I had eaten once before and it was quite good and ever since Jen and I's favorite restaurant Garcia's closed we are always looking for good mexican. Hopefully Jen likes it.
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Weekend in Stoughton

Jen and I just arrived in Stoughton for our the local Christmas celebration and our first weekend away from the boys since Clancey has been born. While we will certainly miss the boys it's nice to get some time together with just Jen and I. Stay tuned for all the fun events as they happen.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Clancey on the Potty

Tonight Clancey kept saying "Pa Pa Pa" so Jen thought maybe he wanted to go potty. So she thought it might be a good idea to sit him on the potty and see what happened. He sat there for a bit never went potty but who knows he is the smartest baby in the world so he might just do it here soon.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Preschool Swim Lessons

Here we are once again at preschool swim lessons after a week off for Thanksgiving. Marshall is looking forward to it but has stated on multiple occasions he doesn't want to put his head under water ;).
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Ironman Finisher Video

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Snowman of the Year

Actually the title might be a bit misleading this really is the first snowman Marsh and I have ever built. Out of all the snow we've had in the past few years this is this first time the snow has been wet enough for a snowman. After Marsh and I built this snowman we had a snowball fight for an hour or so. We had a really good time. Poor Marsh played and played until he was about frozen into an icecube.
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Back Home Again

We are finally home again after being in northern iowa for a better part of a week attending Thanksgivings and visiting family. While it is nice to be out and about visiting people it is always nice to get back home.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Days Events Come To an End

Finally the last of our many Thanksgiving dinners has come to an end with no major family catastrophies. When you think about it's amazing that extended families can get together without a major incident especially in an election year. Today everyone was on their best behavior through all the get togethers and hurt feeling were kept to a minimum. Seriously, it was good to see everyone and catch up and I can't wait until next year to do it all again.
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