Saturday, November 30, 2013

Afternoon Game of Magic The Gathering

After spending the whole day yesterday playing video games in what we dubbed the "Video Game Cave" yesterday Jen banned us from playing video games today.  It didn't help that when we got done last night the boys both had blood shot eyes and in fact still had them when they got up this morning.  Given we had a whole lot to do today, go get the Christmas tree, clean off the porch, decorate the tree and I had to get a 8.5 mile run in we didn't have a whole lot of time to yearn to play video games.  Around 6pm we finally got done with everything we needed to get done today and that left some time to find something to do while Jen made supper.  Well with video games off the table the boys and I decided to play some Magic The Gathering.  Earlier this week they had both built new decks and wanted to take me on with my "Slasher" deck.  It's a legendary weenie creature speed deck that I built 15-20 years ago and the boys have never successfully beat it.  Clancey thought for sure if they played as a team they could beat me but alas the deck still remains undefeated in the VanOort house.
I still find it rather impressive that Clancey is only 6 years old and can play Magic the Gathering.  For those who haven't ever played it actually is a pretty complex game with a whole bunch of rules.  Granted without being able to read we have to explain some of the cards to Clancey but still he does pretty good for a 6 year old.  As soon as he can read he is going to be a formidable opponent.

Christmas Tree Is Up

Well the Christmas tree is officially up and decorated for the season. The year we are feeling particularly festive, heck we started playing Christmas music before Halloween. We really enjoy Christmas around our house and with the boys getting older it is getting even better. It has been nice for the past few years our holidays have been way less drama filled and we have been able to enjoy them even more. Only a few more weeks until my break starts and Christmas is here!

Ready To Go

After fighting to get the tree strapped to the top of the car we are ready to take the tree home and get it decorated. While I was getting the tree tied down the boys got to hold the rabbits that they have there every year. If you want to see the pics Jen out some on instagram. Now I think we are going to hit up Happy Joe's and then get the tree put up.

Found Our Tree

And here it is the VanOort Family Christmas Tree for the year. We had a contender early in but we couldn't get Clancey on board so we had to keep looking. After looking a bit more we managed to find the perfect one we all agreed on. Now we just have to haul it up the hill and get it strapped to the car.

Christmas Tree Farm

Here we are at Kelly Tree Farm for our annual trip to pick out the VanOort Family Christmas tree. This is the earliest we've ever been here to pick out our tree but with Christmas in Clarence next weekend and me in DC for the week this was about the only time to get it done. It's pretty busy here today but there are plenty of trees so should be able to find the perfect tree.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Weekend Video Game Cave

Is a preview to our plan for the Christmas holiday the boys and I setup our video game cave for the weekend. With our second Xbox and TV we have been hibernating in the living playing video games around the clock. Let me tell you it has been and awesome time. The boys, especially Marshall, are getting really good at  Halo so Clancey and I have to team up to take him on. I'm thinking for Christmas we are going to pretty much spend the entire couple days leading up to the holiday hiding in our video game cave playing away. Going to be a blast.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Brown Thursday Shopping

I swore up and down that I would never partake in the craziness that is Thanksgiving Day shopping.  While I wasn't necessarily against it, standing in multi-hour lines to get stuff really cheap, especially at WalMart didn't seem like the way I wanted to spend my Thanksgiving evening.  Yet hear I am.  The boys and I managed to get our hands on a second Xbox 360 for the holiday season but we didn't have a second TV to play it on.  Turns out that today they had 32" TV's on sale at Walmart to $98 so I headed on out to get one.  The TV's went on sale at 6:00pm but if you got there at 4:00pm you could get a bracelet to guarantee that you actually got one.  I was not going to wait in line with a bunch of other people, then sprint through the store at 6pm to the TV's and battle others to get one.  I was surprised that when I pulled up at 4 there was hardly anyone at the store.  The parking lot was mostly empty and I was able to walk right back to the place where they handed out the TV bracelets and get one.
Once I got my bracelet I headed over to the Xbox games to get see what they had, when I got there I was the only person there and they had a ton of games on sale for really cheap.  Since I knew I had my TV already I made camp here and scoped some games out.  It was finally around 5:15 when the store started to really get busy and a lot of people started to gather around the games.  It was rather interesting to watch, at first we were all casual and chatting nice but as the hour approached 6:00pm people started to smash in so they got there game.

About 5:55pm the announced over the PA system in the store that shopping started and immediately the chaos ensued.  There was an immediate rush towards the games and since in front I was pushed up against the game display.  There were people elbowing, pushing and yelling it was freaking nuts.  Since I was pushed up against the display I was able to reach in the grab the games I wanted and shove my way out of the madness.  Until this day I didn't really think that the video's they showed online happened everywhere and where a bit dramatic but now I"m a believer.  I'm not entirely sure how good I feel about being a part of one of those ;)
With that done I headed over to the TV line to get my new TV.  Besides being a long wait this line was way more calm, which after my video game lunacy I was ready for.  The line moved pretty quickly and after 15 minutes I had my TV.  Good thing it was small and light because this guy forgot to grab a cart.  Now by this time the store as a complete madhouse.  Apparently fire code only allows 533 people in the Tipton Walmart and rumor was there was a line of nearly as many people outside the store waiting to get in by now.  Too by the time those people got in there wouldn't be anything left.
I had to make my way across the store at this point, trying to wrangle my TV and video games to go to the area where I could pick up the boys Big Present from Daddy.  As you can see from the picture above it was not easy to navigate this place.  Once again after fighting my way through all the people I picked up my present for the boys and headed to the check out line.
Just like everything else the checkout line was crazy long and wound throughout the store.  I found the end and commenced the waiting game.  I did find it refreshing that people were being nice and cordial to one other.  The line for the checkout didn't take as long as I thought it would and, to be honest, after spending multiple hours at the store waiting it wasn't that big of deal.  I had did my battle for the stuff I wanted was in the checkout line the conquering hero.  Not sure I would so that again anytime soon but I'll say this it was an experience.

Thanksgiving Dinner

After having a somewhat late breakfast we ended up having a late Thanksgiving lunch.  This year the boys requested that we have a ham instead of turkey for lunch, which worked out well since ham's are way easier to make. The goal with this Thanksgiving dinner was to have a good dinner but minimize the amount of work it took to get it done since it was just us and we didn't want Jen to spend the whole day slaving away in the kitchen.  I think we accomplished that goal.  We ended up having ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed carrots and green bean casserole.   Of course we finished the dinner with pumpkin pie.

Clancey The Big Tea Drinking

I just couldn't get over how cute Clancey looked while he made his tea.  It's not everyday that you see a 6 year old kid making tea.  If he would have been reading a newspaper you would have mistaken him for a little adult.

Morning Pancakes

This morning after we all decided to sleep in a little Jen got up and made us boy some pancakes to get the holiday started right.  Even though we aren't able to do what we planned today we plan on making sure that this is one of the best holidays of the year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

252 Days Until Ironman

While it is still 36 weeks out my next Ironman is slowly creeping up on me.  Right now is the time of year where it is hard to stay focused on your training.  It is cold, so every bit of training is indoors, and to be honest the pain cave is also cold as hell.  Today when I went down to get on my bike for 3 hours it was 55 degree's down there.  Now you may be wondering why I had to be on my bike for 3 hours when I'm still 36 weeks away from my race.  Well when you are a lazy swine during the week you have to put in extra hours on the weekend to make up for the missed hours.  Right now I'm trying to get between 6-8 hours a week and when I started my ride I was only at 3.5 hours this week.  I did manage to get my hours in but next week I need to make sure I get my hours in during the week so I'm not stuck in my freezing pain cave for 3 hours next weekend.  With Thanksgiving next week it's going to be very easy to blow it off.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Family Movie Night

With the weather growing cold hibernating inside under blankets seems like a grand idea so that always lends itself to having a family moving night.  Given we only have 3 decent places to sit that kind of leaves Clancey or Marshall with nowhere to really sit.  As you can see he piled into my chair with Harley while we kept warm and watch Pirates of the Caribbean.  

Boy Day

Today Jen had to head to Cedar Rapids to get groceries and run errands so that left me in charge of the boys for the day.  Given we really didn't have anything to cook I asked the boys where they wanted to eat and Clancey immediately through out Dairy Queen in Tipton.  When we were pulling in we noticed that it closes for the season on November 27th so this could be the last DQ trip of the year. :(

Friday, November 22, 2013

Yearly Physical

Today I had my yearly physical and once again the doctor told me I was in spectacular shape.  Given how much I work out I would be pretty surprised if he told me anything different.  Isn't it that most doctor's tell you that keeping weight off and exercising regularly is the key to staying healthy.  Figure if you can finish an Ironman you can pass a physical.  Anyways since I missed my flu shot at work this year they gave me one today while I was in there.  As you can see they gave me a Bugs Bunny band-aid to cover the spot where I got my shot.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

No Shave November

About halfway through November here I stand with my No Shave November beard. As it time goes on my beard is growing on me, maybe it's because it makes up for severe lack of hair on top of my head. We'll see how it looks at the end of the month but I may end up keeping my beard, at least until triathlon season gets started next year.

Weird Weather

On Monday of this week it was 10 degrees and we ended up getting measurable snow and by this morning we woke up to 60 degree weather and a tornado watch. In fact about an hour ago a severe storm rolled through with torrential rain and even a bit of hail. I'll say this, I'm sure glad the hail didn't turn out to be much because I really didn't want to have a car with a bunch of hail damage that I've owned for less then a week.

Great Time Last Night

Jen and I had a great time last night getting to have an adult night out together.  We went to Baiggi's for supper and were able to walk right into the bar area and get a table.  The meal turned out to be spectacular.  It had been years since I've been to Biaggi's but turns out that it is a really good restaurant.  It was nice to be able to enjoy a nice meal together and have some time to hang out and chat since we weren't in a huge rush. We ended up getting to the Wine to Water Event at 7:30 after taking our time at supper.  The place the event was held was pretty cool, it was a 3rd floor loft area that was under construction but they had really done a great job to get it ready for the event.  We each got a glass of wine and wandered around checking out the art they were auctioning off and also chatting with Jen's friends that were there.  We ended up staying until around 10:00 chatting and enjoying the live music.  As you can see we also won the auction on a nice piece of original art by a local artist.  Not sure where we will hang it yet but I'm sure we will find a place.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Date Night

Tonight Jen and I are headed to Davenport for an event called Wine To Water.  It's an event that all the proceeds go towards providing clean water to developing countries.  It's being held on the 3rd floor of a building downtown in Davenport so it should be pretty neat.  As you can see both Jen and I got dressed to the 9's and are ready for our night out on the town.  It's not very often that Jen and I get to go out together so we are really looking forward to it.

Jen got this awesome dress at Goodwill and as you can see looks absolutely spectacular in it.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to be beating all the other guys off with a stick!

Sleep Over

Last night Marshall had two friends over for a sleep over, or to be more accurate an all night video game session.  The kids got here right after school on Friday and besides a little stint of running around the house when they first showed up they pretty much played video games all night on the Xbox.  I guess Clancey finally called it quits around 9:00pm and went to sleep on the couch but the Marshall and his two friends didn't shut it down until nearly 2am in the morning.  This morning shed some light on the activities after the parents went to bed.  We found empty pop bottles, candy wrappers and evidence that they had played Halo.  When we went to bed and we overheard Marshall say something about wait 10 minutes and then we can do whatever they were talking about we probably should have went back downstairs to check on them.  Jen and I fell asleep though which meant they had free reign to do what they wanted.  I guess they had fun and didn't do anything too bad so it's alright.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Car

For the past couple weeks my Honda had been starting to act up and have some weird engine issues.  In fact one day on the way home it acted a lot like it was just going to die driving down 380 on the way home.  Well I told Jen about this and she started to worry immediately.  The problem we have is since we got rid of the truck we only have 2 cars in the family so if one goes down we are kind of hosed.  If I didn't work so far away from home it might not be such an issue but since I do it is nearly impossible for us to get by with one car.
The next day after I told her that my car wasn't acting right she got on the Dave Wright used car site and found a pretty nice used 2010 Subaru Impreza.  The car only had 19,900 miles on it and they really weren't asking that much for it.  So today she came into town to get some groceries and she picked me up so we could go look at the car.  We went to the dealer, asked for the sales guy that we've bought two other cars from and took it for a test drive.  The car drove nice and didn't have any issues that we could see.  Normally I would do a whole bunch of homework before I go into buy a new car but this time I just kind of shot from the hip.  We started to talk price and not really knowing what the car goes for on Kelley Blue Book I just started dealing blind.  After we went back and forth the to manager a couple times I ended up getting a deal I was happy with for both my beat up Civic and the new car.  I don't know I may have gotten screwed but at this point I feel like I got a good deal so I'm not going to bother looking.
When I drove into work today I didn't intend on driving home in a different car.  Which was pretty obvious considering my trunk was full of crap.  I have to say the Honda was a good little car I had nearly 150,000 miles on it and served me well but between the hail damage, the messed up bumper and engine problems it was time to let it go.  The picture above is me saying goodbye to my old friend.
Here Jen and I are with my new car.  It's the first automatic transmission car I've driven on a daily basis in nearly 10 years but I guess you can't have it all when you get a used car off the lot.  Since it's a Subaru it has all wheel drive which will make it way better for getting to and from work this winter.  Hopefully I can get at least 4-5 years and 150,000 miles out of this car too!

Monday, November 11, 2013

First Measurable Snow

We a bit of snow last week but it didn't really last very long.  Today we ended up having a pretty heavy downfall, by first snow of the year standards, they dumped about 2 inches on us.  Given it's been colder then hell the past couple days I expect this snow is probably going to stick around for a bit too.  I'm not sure I'm quite ready for temps in the single digits and teens and measurable snowfall.  Doesn't seem that long ago that we were in shorts enjoying the nice weather.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Clancey Going Off Diving Board Second Time Ever

Dairy Queen Celebration!

After Clancey's big diving board adventure we headed over to Dairy Queen as promised and had some supper and treats.  Clancey got a cheeseburger and fries but the real treat of the visit was the Oreo Brown Earthquack that he got and shared with his Marshall.  The thing was freaking huge and between the two of them they couldn't finish it.  Now we are going to head home to get a bit of relaxation in before the start of another busy week!

Clancey Went Off The Diving Board for the First Time!

This afternoon after I got done with my bike ride we decided it had been awhile and we should take the kids to the pool.  Clancey has been making some amazing strides with his swimming of the past few weeks, going from being unable to keep himself afloat for 10 seconds to being able to swim all the way to the other end of the pool by himself.  Today just as we were getting ready to go I asked if he wanted to go the deep end with me to swim around a bit.  When we got down there I had him jump off the side of the pool all by himself which took a little convincing but he did it.  After he did that I knew he was ready to try jumping off the diving board.  Well we talked about it and he was pretty scared to try.  I told him if he jumped off the board we would go to Dairy Queen for supper as a treat.  This got him to climb onto the board but he just couldn't bring himself to jump off.  After that I told him he didn't have to so we swam back down to the other end of the pool.
When we got down to the other end of the pool Jen came over to talk to him and he was pretty defeated.  In fact tears were even welling up in him eye's.  I figured if anyone could work magic Jen could so I took Marshall and we swam around a little bit on the other side of the pool while Jen and Clancey talked.  After a could minutes I swam back over to see if he had changed his mind.  When I asked if he wanted to swim to the other end he agreed and we swam down together.  At this Jen got out of the pool and got her camera ready.  He acted a scared again but got out of the pool, climbed up the ladder. walked to the end of the board, like a boss, and jumped right off.  Being cell phone camera's are horribly slow and capturing a shot she only got him just as he splashed into the water and the one above on the board.
When he surfaced and swam to the edge he was really proud of himself and let me tell you so were the rest of us.  Like a champ that kid got out the pool and did it a couple more times.  This time Jen took a video of it that I'm working on posting.  She took it in portrait mode so I have to do some work on it before I can post it.  Let me tell you though, that kid earned every bit of his DQ treat afterward.
Walking down the board like a Boss!
Splash goes the dive master!

Marshall attempting a flip off the diving board

Kids Singing In Church

Trivia Night

Last night I was once again the MC at a library trivia night fund raiser.  When we first got there Bingo was going on downstairs and it was being piped into our trivia room via a speaker.  Given I don't have a microphone or anything it was something else to try and talk over the reading of Bingo numbers.  Finally we figured out how to get the speaker turned off so we could do our trivia night without Bingo over the top of it.  The turn out for the event wasn't as good as it had been in the past but I think people still had a good time.  Next one is February 15th so be sure to come and check it out.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Working The Yard

Yesterday after my run I headed out to the back yard to get some final things done before the snow falls and we are in the official part of winter.  The thing that really needed done is getting all the apples picked up that have fallen onto the yard.  This was a huge apple year so there was a freaking ton of apples to pick up.  It ended up taking me a couple hours to get all the apples picked up but at least it was a nice day and wasn't too bad to spend the afternoon outside.  I think the plan tomorrow is to get our pool pillow back in place and tied down and then bring the filter in for the winter.  

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Won Reelection!

I won my reelection bid for my third term on the city council here in Clarence Iowa.  As I suspected my somewhat vocal and opinionated nature did knock my overall popularity in the polls but in the end it didn't matter.  I have an opportunity to spend another 4 years helping drive the community, kicking and screaming, in the right direction.  Now the real question is whether or not I will regret my decision to run for council again ;)

Election Day

Today is election day in the big city of Clarence and yours truly is up for reelection to for 3rd term on the city council.  Right now there are 5 people running for 3 seats so I'm not a sure thing to get elected.  I think most people would consider me a good council member, but my vocal/opinionated nature does tend to rub some people the wrong way in the community.  I've always felt that the only way to be an effective council person is to openly discuss all city topics and give my opinion on what I believe is the best for the city, if others don't agree that's fine but at least I've spoken my piece.  I'll be following the news closely tonight to see how it turns out.  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Town Smells Like Natural Gas

Apparently earlier today Alliant energy was outside of town adding more of the stuff that gives natural gas it's smell and they added way too much.  Given the danger that is associated with natural gas leaks one would assume that the natural gas system is an entirely contained system with only the small leak here and there, well it turns out that is not true at all.  Right now the entire town reaks of natural gas oder, in fact when I drove into town I could smell it immediately. When I got home the whole house smelled like it was going to blow up.  One would be worried but everyone in town is complaining about the same thing.  From what I heard Alliant energy has sent extra techs to the town to go house by house to make sure that the houses are all safe.  We decided since the problem is through the entire town that our house is safe and we staying in it for now but hopefully they show up soon so we can remove any doubt.

Update 7:30pm
Alliant showed up and tested our house out and assured us that there was no issue.  The tech told me that the reasons homes are smelling so bad is that there is too much odorant in the gas and it doesn't burn off with the natural gas.  So every time the furnace or water heater kick on the house gets more of the smell in it.  They said it could be like this for another day or two which kind of sucks.  Well at least our house isn't going to blow up.

Weekend At Lake Sundown

On Saturday I headed down to Lake Sundown for my annual guy weekend.  The trip started last year after we had all down Ironman Wisconsin together as a way to get together after the fact and talk about our race.  This year we decided we had so much fun last year we should make it an annual thing.  It's a bit cold in early fall but as you can see we had a huge bonfire to keep us warm.  It also helps that Aaron has a camper with heat that we can all sleep in.  We ended up having a good time and our looking forward to our trip next year again.