Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Party!

It just isn't a New Year's Eve celebration if I don't post a picture of Jen and the boys asleep on the couch in yet another futile attempt to make it to midnight.  I actually took this picture around 9:30 but didn't get to posting it until now.  Unlike Clancey who was certain he was going to stay up until midnight, Marshall went to bed around 9:00 because he was tired and knew that he couldn't make it.  Now what you can't see in the picture is the little dot that is curled up under the blanket too.  I'm always shocked at the sheer number of people Jen is able to cram into her recliner.  It seems that all of her babies want to sit with her ;)

New Years Eve

Here it is New Year's Eve and I'm trying to conjure up the last blog entry of the year and I'm having a bit of writers block.  Considering this year I've had the least number of blog entries since I started my blog it's not surprising.  I feel like I need to write a very poignent entry but I'm not sure I have it me tonight.  Overall we've had a great year again this year, I guess I'm not going to bore everyone with a recap of the year but all in all we had a great year.  Next year looks to be another fun year for our family.  Clancey is going to start kindergarten, I have another Ironman, and we have another vacation to Beaver Island planned.  I'll be sure to keep the blog up to date with all of the fun stuff we do this year.

Clancey The Candy Bandit

Today after Mema and Papa brought the boys back they decided they wanted to play some linked together DS games.  Clancey decided that he wanted to play his games in the kitchen and as you can see from above he was sitting on the counter.  My thought was he wanted to do this because he got a kick out of being in the next room over still playing video games with Marshall.  I thought it was kind of cute so I snapped this picture and then went back in the living room to sit in my chair for a bit. It wasn't too long before I decided that I needed a snack and headed back in the kitchen to see what was in the fidge to eat when I found Clancey with his hand in the candy bowl.  

That is when it all made sense as to why he wanted to sit in the kitchen, on the counter none the less, and play video games.  No better place in the whole house to be able to have easy access to the candy bowl while you played some Mario Brothers.  Seems that Clancey knows how to work the system.  ;)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Playing Video Games With My Little Dog

WIth the kids gone I'm taking my chance to use the Xbox to play some video games for once. Normally the TV and or the Xbox are being 100% utilized by the kids so it is a nice to actually get a chance to use the TV and Xbox for what I want to use it for. I've gotten somewhat addicted to playing Tiger Woods Golf lately but I"m thinking later tonight I may play a little Skyrim or something else I haven't played in a while. I guess we will play it by ear, the more likely scenario is I watch Netflix and fall asleep in my chair.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wild Kid Free Night

Ok, this isn't entirely accurate photo to reflect the night Jen and I had.  While Jen was in fact asleep in my chair at 10:00 tonight we did actually go into Cedar Rapids to run some errands and have dinner at Granite City.  I thought thought that the picture does reflect true parenthood that when your kids are gone a good night is one that involves sitting down to watch a little TV and falling asleep early without having to worrying about getting kids fed, through the bath, and into bed.  While our kids are really good kids and are getting to an easy age it still is nice from time to time to only have to worry about yourself.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Birthday Lunch

You can't beat lunch at Hickory Park and it's even better when you have the staff sing happy birthday. It had been a while since I had a barbecue dinner and it was as good as I remember it being. Now I'm going to have to workout extra hard tonight to get rid of all these extra calories.

Checking Out The Fish

My animal loving brother in law got the boys and aquarium for Christmas and since then the boys have been excited to pick out some fish and ornaments for their aquarium. We ended up delaying our trip by one day because Clancey was sick but today we finally made it too Ames to drop the boys off and celebrate Jen's birthday at Hickory Park. Before headed over for lunch though we made a side trip to Earl May so the boys could pick out some ornaments for the aquarium and then when they get back next week we will take them to Cedar Rapids to get their fish. Guess that means Jen and I are going to have to get the aquarium set up while they are gone.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mikala Not Impressed

I know that this meem has kind of run it's course on the internet but since I just figured out how to use Photoshop and Mikala clearly fit in the picture it needed done again.  

Baking A Cake

Here I am baking my very first cake ever and doing a very poor job at it. While mixing up the ingredients wasn't that bad remembering to actually grease the pan was a big struggle. Two times I managed to dump the batter into the pan and forget to put the grease in. Finally on the 3rd attempt I succeeded in actually getting the pan greased, and by I succeeded Jen came over and did it for me after a lengthy swearing tirade after I failed the second time. It's baking now so all I have to do is frost it which will probably turn into another failure of some kind and lead to everyone just eating the cake right out of the pan. I just have to keep telling myself its the thought that counts.

Stupidly Big Tenderloin

We got our food and I ended up getting a stupidly big tenderloin for lupper, lunch/supper. If I would have known it was this big I would have probably gotten a cheese burger or something, I didn't need a 10 pound sandwich. Well the food ended up being alright, not horrible but not spectacular either, bar food is the best description. Probably owed Jen something a little better for her birthday, I'll take credit for tomorrow at Hickory Park. Now I'm probably going to have to bake her a cake tonight to make up for it the less then spectacular lunch.

Birthday Lunch

Today we had planned on going to Hickory Park for Jen's birthday lunch and then leave the boys with mema and papa but had to change our plans since Clancey was sick. Finally after bumming around the house for most of the day we decided we had better take Jen out for lunch and what better place then a Tavern next to the river. While the place may look a bit on the rough side were assured the food is really good from Jen's brother Mike. If it's not good we are going to blame him. ;-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Joy Of Christmas Past

I know I've posted this picture in the past but it is just too good to not post again.  This is one of those pictures that could end up in a round up of funny Christmas pictures.  In the day and age of digital photography this picture wouldn't get sold but back in the good old days I'm sure many a picture turned out this way.  Between Santa and I, I'm not sure who is the least impressed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sick Little Dude

For the past couple days Clancey has been coughing a lot and at night he has had trouble sleeping because he was coughing so much.  Last night it kind of came to ahead, as Jen and I were preparing for Santa's arrival, Clancey was upstairs having major coughing fits but didn't dare come down because he didn't want Santa to skip our house.  In fact when I came to bed at 2:00 am after spending a couple hours getting Jen's new sound system setup Clancey woke up because of a major coughing fit and needed to get some water.  Today he started out strong and we thought that he might be getting over it but a full day of fun took it's toll and he is down for the count now.  He has spent most of the evening laying in my recliner watching Netflix and just relaxing.  As you can see Harley is doing his best to try and make him feel better.  Clancey and Harley kind of have a love/hate relationship but Harley knows what to do when he senses someone it sick in the house.  If he still has a fever tomorrow we will be making a trip into see Dr. Grey to get him checked out.

Afternoon Of Games


Once again this afternoon has been full of fun and games. Marshall and I spent the afternoon building Magic The Gathering decks and seeing who's was better. We probably sat and played for a good 3-4 hours while Clancey relaxed on the couch playing Angry Birds and watching movies on the TV. When we got done with that Clancey wrangled Marshall up and they started playing some Minecraft on the Xbox for a bit. Jen has had some fun but being a mom she can never fully relax and has spent some of the day reading a new book I got her but has also interlaced that with laundry and a host of other things. I guess she did at least relax a bit and enjoy Christmas day.

Christmas Morning

It's now quite late in the day and I'm assuming all of my blog followers,mema and Papa, are getting aggravated by my complete lack of updates. Christmas morning turned out to be as complete blast. Right around 7:30 both of the boys were up and ready to open presents. In fact Clancey started tearing into the gifts before anyone was even in the room to watch. I took this picture when I walked in and saw him opening his first gift. I guess we told Clancey he could open presents Christmas morning when we all got downstairs, we never actually told him that we had to be in the same room with him while he opened them. Marshall on the otherhand is more of the rule follower and made sure that everyone opened their gifts in an orderly fashion. Although towards the end even he was getting pretty excited and wanted to just dig into the gifts without waiting. This was also our first Christmas morning with Harley and he was a complete wild man running around trying to steal everyone's gifts and just being a pain, but of course you can yell at mommy's baby. It's alright though I guess that is what you have to deal with when you have a young dog. All in all we had a great Christmas Morning and everyone seemed to enjoy their gifts quite a bit. Every year I get the boys a special gift from me, and since I"m not a craftsman like papa or Jen, I have to purchase my special gifts. I got Marshall I full box of Magic the Gathering cards which is right around 500 total cards and I gave Clancey my old Xoom since I got a new tablet recently. For Jen I bought her a Sonos system, which is a wireless sound system. Athough that does mean I"m going to have to listen to a whole bunch of Avett Brothers and Mumfod now. ;)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Message 2012

Here is a Christmas Message from the boys!

Settled In For A Christmas Story

Watching 24 hours of A Christmas Story is quickly becoming a family tradition and as you can see we are settled in. I guess what we really do is watch the first one straight through and then catch bits and pieces of the other 11 airings over the day. It is always quite sad tomorrow night at 7 when the last airing is done and Christmas is officially over for another year. I guess we can't worry about that now because we have a full day of fun ahead of us.

Afternoon Of Golf

We spent the afternoon playing 9 holes of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Course, virtually at least. About 2pm the UPS man stopped by and dropped off our day early Christmas gift for the boys and I. The new version uses the Kinect so you can get a real golf experience. You would think that me with my golf experience I would be unstoppable but turns out the Marshall is the golfer in this family. After running neck and neck for most of the 9 holes he managed to pull a shot ahead and beat me in the end. Plan on a rematch tomorrow so I can take the family golfing crown.

Magic The Gathering

This afternoon we got out the Magic the Gathering cards and played some multi-player Magic together. It was Clancey's first time ever playing, and to be perfectly honest I had my doubts about the ability of a five year old to play the game. Well it turns out he was actually able to play. Granted I built him a very easy creature only deck, since he can't read, but he was able to understand the basic rules and play the game. Now not being able to read does hinder your ability to respond to what other players do but in a group game he could still have fun playing. We ended up playing a couple games and he really enjoyed it. Marshall is going to be really excited tomorrow when he opens his full box of Magic cards for Christmas. I'm guessing we will be playing a whole lot of games tomorrow.

Our Food Spread

We have all of our treats set out and we are ready for our consumption of vast amounts of calories to commence. Our we get some treats eaten we will start playing some games, we're thinking Kinect Bowling first and then we aren't sure. Probably some Magic The Gathering and Go at some point to.

Video Game Time

One of the things the boys wanted to do most today was play video games do of course they got an early start at it. One of their current favs is Minecraft. For those who are familiar with Minecraft its a game that is best described as a game of virtual Legos. Given creative nature of both of the kids they really enjoy being able to create these huge virtual towns.

Let Christmas Eve Begin

We are all up and preparing our treats for a our big food and game day. As you can see Marshall is getting his little smokies ready for the day while Clancey are conjuring up plans to sleep in front of the tree and capture Santa. Ok, to be honest, I'm conjuring up plans to capture Santa and take all of his gifts while Clancey reminds me that he is magic and there isn't anyway I can actually catch him.

Preparing The Christmas Eve Treats

This afternoon, when we got home from mema and papa's and got Harley picked up from the pet resort, we started working to get all of our treats made for our big Christmas Eve celebration. Jen was working on baking cookies with the boys while I dipped almond bark pretzels. Tomorrow we have a few more things to make but not too much difficult stuff that way we can focus on have a fun day. Tomorrow the plan is to have a fun filled day of playing games, tracking Santa and gorging ourselves on treats. Can't wait!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lunch At Hickory Park

In an effort to avoid all of the bad roads up north we headed to Ames to drive over in 30 today. That meant we were in Hickory Park territory and both the boys agreed we should stop for some lunch. Once we are done here we are making the trip across the state to head home for our big Christmas eve celebration.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Opening Presents

After a long drive across the state and a great lunch it was time to open presents. You can always count on papa to come up some pretty creative ideas and today he came through like always. He made Clancey his own lightsaber and both of the boys got there own shelves to mount by their beds. Mema knitted both Jen and Michelle these big scarf things which were pretty cool too. Now that all the presents are open its time to find a place in the couch and nap.

Finally Made It

After a 6 hour hell trip across the state we finally made it to Thor for our ate lunch. We had thought about turning around but I'm glad I didn't because the dinner was freaking awesome. Now the we are done there it is time for presents and the kids are bouncing off the walls excited.

Stuck In Traffic

Here we are stuck in traffic on 380 trying to get to our first Christmas of the year. Sure hope the traffic breaks up fast because I'm really looking forward to that ham and cheesy potatoes when we get there. This trip is turning into quite the nightmare so far.

Christmas Detour

On the way to mema and papa's we had to make a quick detour to get our car looked at. As we were driving we developed a pretty bad shake at 70 mph so we stopped off at Dave Wright Subaru to get it checked out. They think it's just snow jammed in the rims, hopefully that means we will be back on the road soon. Until then we will be hanging out in the waiting room watching cartoons and eating suckers, that is the benefit of being with a kid in Sponge Bob pajamas :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Today the a huge blizzard hit the midwest which meant the kids got to start their Christmas break a day early and I couldn't go into work.  Although being it is the information age that didn't prevent me from being able to work, just meant I had to do it from home.  For lunch the family and I all bundled up and headed up to Millcreek Cafe for some warm home style food.  Millcreek is only about 3 blocks from our house and it was an absolutely miserable walk.  The winds were blowing at a constant 40 mph and gusts of up to 50 at times made it almost impossible to walk at times.  Jen thought I was being a bit crazy getting goggles out but it wasn't long into the walk before she realized I was the smart one.  The poor kids were frozen popsicles by the time we got there but the ham balls and dessert were worth it.  Now that we are home it is time to hunker down and ride the rest of the storm out in the nice warm house. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Program

This morning was the big Christmas program at the UCC church. Both of the boys did great and, in fact, today was the first time that Marshall ever stood up and read in church. Every year the church puts on a pretty good Christmas pageant and always have the older kids do something pretty clever. A lot different than when I was a kid doing the Christmas program. With it being so warm out these days it's hard to remember that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away but now with the Christmas pageant over we are in the final stretch. This is my last week of work until I get a couple weeks off and I can't wait.

Mike and Michelle Come Visit

With the boys church Christmas program on Sunday the family all gathered at our house on Saturday so we could all go together. It had been a while since we had seen Mike and Michelle, it's possible the last time was in August, so it was great to catch up with them. Since Michelle is pregnant I figure it is my duty to scare them both about the first year of having a baby ;-) I had to work again on Saturday for a bit so, while I went to work, they all drove to Kalona to string town grocery to pick some stuff up. We all met at a Mexican restaurant in Cedar Rapids for lunch and then last night after the boys went to bed we watched Ted, which happens to be an awesome movie.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Contacts

After being a glasses wearer for on the order of 10 years, convinced that I could quit anytime, I've decided to graduate to contacts.  For a lot of years I was told that I couldn't have contacts because I had astigmatism  but apparently there has been great technological strides in contact technology and now they have contacts for me.  After spending a good 25 minutes learning how to get them in and out, which was way harder then I thought it would be, I was sent out into the world with my new contacts looking like a new man.  I've had them in for a couple hours now and so far it isn't too bad.  The real test will be tomorrow at work to see if I get a headache or anything.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Busy Night

Being Tuesday again it is another busy night here at the VanOort house.  Once again the Marshall had piano in Tipton until 5:00 and then he had to get fed and be in Lowden by 6:00 for basketball practice.  To help Jen out I always leave work at 4:00 so I can get to Tipton by 5:00 pick Marshall up take him to Subway for supper and then on to Lowden for practice.  Jen stays with Clancey until the end of his piano lesson at 5:30 get him fed and then they head home.  Finally at around 7:15 he all meet back up and home for bedtime routine and then I head down to my pain cave for an hour on my bike doing hard FTP max intervals.  Generally by 10:00pm I'm off my bike through the shower and sitting in my chair for an hour of relaxing before I head to bed.  This week is especially crazy for me since I had to work all last weekend and very likely this weekend, I had a council meeting yesterday, have an eye appointment tomorrow and Thursday I have a special session of the council.  Adding all of this too being very busy at work and Ironman outseason training makes for some very packed days for me.  Christmas break and my 16 days of vacation can't come soon enough, I'm looking forward to some down time and just being able to hangout with the family and have some holiday fun!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Clancey's Infectious Laugh

Working Weekend

With Christmas Shutdown at work fast approaching and software deadlines looming I've had to spend a bunch of extra time in the office.  My thought process is that I would rather work extra now and take the whole Christmas break off rather then working normal hours and having to spend a couple of days of break in the office.  This weekend I've had to spend the better part of Saturday and some of Sunday at work in the lab trying to debug an elusive software bug.  Finally today around 2pm I managed to track the software bug down and get the software doing what it was supposed to.  Normally when you are working issues like this it's a number of things leading to the issue but this time it turned out to be one line of code that was doing a multiplication when it should have only been doing an addition.  I think I counted it up and it was a total of 12 characters that needed to be removed and thousands of other lines of code just started to magically work just like that.  I'm happy I managed to track it down so I can enjoy what little weekend I have left and get to enjoy the full Christmas Break!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Boy Night

Tonight Jen is having a girl party downstairs which means the boys are all trapped upstairs for the night. Given we couldn't risk getting the downstairs dirty before the big girl party supper had to be take out from somewhere.  Since this is Clarence and there is pretty much one place to get food it was Casey's pizza for us tonight.  Well to be honest the dog is going hungry tonight since we didn't think we should share the pizza with him but he can afford to lose a few pounds anyways.  Harley is also getting plenty of exercise as he runs around the upstairs like a psycho every time the doorbell rings.  Well now that supper is done its time to play some games for awhile.  Marshall was thinking some competitive Angry Birds and then possibly some Chess or Go.  Should be a fun night, as long as we can get the psycho dog calmed down. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Christmas Concert

Tonight was the big North Cedar Christmas concert and both of the boys did great. This was Clancey's first Christmas concert in the world big stage as part of the North Cedar School District. Let me tell you how weird it is that both Marshall and Clancey are both in the Christmas concert together now. Even crazier to think that next year will be Marshall's last year in the elementary concert before he goes to Middle School. Overall the concert was good and went off without a hitch. I guess Marshall stepped off the riser while he was doing a dance as part if one of the songs but managed to recover very quickly and didn't let it break his singing stride. Now that the big concert is over we can start looking forward to the church Christmas program.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Clancey Finds The Pickle

Every year when we put the family tree up Jen hides a green pickle ornament in the Christmas tree for the boys to find. Then person who finds the ornament first gets a small prize for their effort. This year, and I also thinks last year's winner, was Clancey and he took home the big prize of a Little Debbie Christmas Cake. I'm thinking that Marshall and I are going to have to do some training so we can beat Clancey next year.

Warm December Day

I can't remember the last time it was 60 degrees in December 2nd and you could be outside in a tshirt comfortably. This afternoon, in honor of the absolutely spectacular day, the boys and I headed out to the park to have some fun. First we played some basketball for a bit and after we got to hot and sweaty doing that we headed over to the big open part of the park to hit some golf balls. It was clear that neither Marshall or I had hit golf balls in awhile because we were both really struggling to hit decent shots. To be perfectly honest though we were enjoying the day so it didn't matter that we were struggling. Once we were done hitting golf balls we headed back to the house so I could get ready to go out for a run. Today it was just a short 40 minute run at around 9:15 minute pace just  something to get the legs loosen up for tomorrow's bike test to start my 20 week outseason training plan.

VanOort Family Christmas Tree Trip 2012

Here is the video I took of the big VanOort Family Christmas Tree expedition yesterday afternoon.  In years past we've been able to sled down the hill to get to the best trees but this year with it being nearly 55 degrees there was going to be none of that.  What that also meant was there wasn't going to be any pulling the tree up the hill on a sled either, that left the boys working their butts off carrying the tree up the big hill.  We haven't managed to get the tree decorated yet because Jen wanted to get some new big LED lights to put on it.  In fact she is in Cedar Rapids right now picking out the perfect set along with running a whole host of other errands.  The boys and I are spending our time playing video games and picking up the house, the perfect boy day.  Probably have to go get some lunch pretty soon and then this afternoon it's a run for me to enjoy the 60 degree December day.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Our Tree!

Here is the 2012 VanOort family Christmas tree. Both the boys and mommy all decided the that this was clearly the best tree in the lot. This year as you can see above the boys carried the tree up the hill themselves leaving daddy time to take a video of them. Can't wait to get it in the house and decorated all the decorations.

Searching For the Family Christmas Tree

Here we are at the Kelley Tree Farm searching for the VanOort Family Christmas tree for the year. So far Clancey likes every tree but Marshall is being far more discriminating in his favorite. I'll be sure to update the blog as soon as we find perfect tree.