Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boys Are Back

After spending a few days at Mema and Papa's after our family Christmas we picked the boys up today.  I was really looking forward to getting my video game playmates back so we could have some more Titanfall tournaments.  I've been practicing but I'm still not as good as Marshall and Clancey is even beating me from time to time.  Going to have to step my game up if I want to be able to beat the boys on our second video game day on New Year's Day.

Shopping Day

Yesterday Jen and I went to Cedar Rapids for a much needed shopping trip for me. It had been years since I spent any amount of money on clothes so I was in dire need of some new stuff. Normally the trips go pretty poorly with me getting more and more frustrated trying thing after thing on that doesn't really fit. Yesterday, though, the stars must have been aligned because nearly everything I tried on fit and looked good. Ended up only having to go to one store and got it all done. Hell I didn't even have a baby fit at any point during the day. When I head back to work people are going to wonder who and the hell I am, I won't be wearing 10 year old worn out old polo's.  Since we managed to get done shopping pretty quickly we had time to go over to the book store and walk around. Been a long time since we've been to the book store, it was pretty enjoyable.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lunch At Hickory Park

On the way home from Mema and Papa's Jen and I decided to stop at Hickory Park for some lunch. The boys aren't with us because mema and papa wanted to keep them for a few days so it's just Jen and I. Tomorrow the plan is to head to CR to do a bit of clothes shopping for me since it's been years since I've actually bought clothes for myself. Pretty sure I'll have a baby fit at some point during the day though ;-)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jen's Birthday

As is tradition, we celebrated Jen's Birthday that evening after we celebrated our family Christmas.  I'll say this, Mema does a good job of making sure that we don't invade Jen's Birthday with Christmas.  She always makes sure that she has a rum cake and that any gift she gets is not wrapped in Christmas paper.  Hard to believe that Jen is 39 years old and next year we will be 40.  Doesn't really seem like that long ago we graduated college and we're just getting our lives started.  Time sure does fly.

Christmas Dinner

After we got done opening the presents it was time to do our family Christmas dinner.  As an adult dinner is probably the best part of Christmas, in all the hustle and bustle of the year it's not very often you get to sit down a good ham dinner and mashed potatoes and gravy.  Plus it give you a chance to retell all the stories from the year.  A new favorite is Daddies Baby Fit putting together the tent on the way to Disney World.  Not sure I"m a fan of that story.

More Presents

In what is somewhat of a weird twist we decided to do presents at Mema and Papa's before we did lunch, which I have to say the boys were quite happy about.  Clancey we quite concerned though because as he was looking under the tree he didn't see any presents for himself so he was sure that he wasn't getting anything.  Much to his relief there ended up being a number of presents for him.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mema and Papa's

We made it to Mema and Papa's around 4pm today and are planning to have our Christmas tomorrow.  Papa has a DVR full of plenty of movies he's saved to it for us to watch tonight.  ABC family is also having one of their Harrry Potter Weekends so if nothing else we can watch some Harry Potter this weekend.

Great Plains Pizza

On the way over to Mema and Papa's for Christmas we thoughts it would be a good idea to stop in Ames for lunch. Normally we would stop at Hickory Park but today we decided to change it up a bit and go to Great Plains Pizza. Been a long time since we've been here so we are all looking forward to it. Hopefully the pizza gets done fast because we are all starving. I think we're used to eating tons of food everyday so only having one meal today just isn't enough ;-)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Xbox Live Down

Well some damn hacking group known as "The Lizard Squad" managed to ruin our Titanfall plans.  This damn group of hackers decided it would be a great idea to DDOS attack Xbox Live and take it down all day.  Pretty much the Xbox One is useless at this point and the 360 is spotty at best.  The plans for Titanfall have been dashed, being its only an online game.  Looks like we are going to have to play some Halo Reach this afternoon, which should be fun.

Presents Opened

After about a full hour of opening we got our present opened.  I took a video of the whole thing but it's like 7GB which is going to take about 4 days to upload to Youtube I probably won't start uploading for a couple days so it's going to be a while until it shows up online.  Anyways, the kids had a great time opening gifts.  Once again Santa out did Jen and I by getting the boys each their own laptop computer.  Which they were both excited about.  They also got Remote Control Helicopters, some video games and clothes.  We're thinking that after I get the laptops setups we are going to head upstairs to the game room and play some Titanfall for a while.


Seems like the time just flew by but here we are at Christmas Day once again.  Jen and I couldn't be believe it but the boys didn't bother us at all this morning to get up and unwrap presents.  Jen and I didn't go down stairs to unwrap present until 9am this morning.  When we got downstairs Marshall said that they didn't come up to bother us because they were afraid we would make them wait longer.  I"m pretty sure that making kids wait until 9am to open presents is some kind of kid torture.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cookie Decorating

Kind of late in the game but after church we decided we had better decorate some cookies so that we had some to give Santa this evening.  After this it's time to do the reindeer dust, the pickle, and then head to bed and wait for Santa.  So far we've had a great Christmas season and can't wait to see what the jolly fatman brings us tomorrow.

Christmas Message

Christmas Eve Candle Light Service

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to take pictures in Church but I guess I have to risk it so I can get this picture every year.  Right now Jen and boys are downstairs decorating cookies and getting excited to go to bed.  As much as they enjoy video game day they still like Christmas the most.  Who wouldn't, that's when you get gifts.

Tracking Santa

Not sure if you can see it on the TV, but take my word for it we are tracking Santa.  I think every year the technology for tracking Santa gets more and more advanced.  This year we are able to use our phones to send the live video of Santa right to the living room TV.  Works out well because every time we run downstairs to get snacks we can check where he is at.

All I want to Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

I think it was yesterday that Clancey lost his second front tooth and is officially in need of two front teeth for Christmas.  Pretty sure Santa does what he can to meet the kids desires but this one may be a bit out of Santa's control.

Video Game Day In Full Swing

We've been at it for a couple hours now and are having a great time.  We've spent some time playing Halo Reach along with some competitive Titanfall.  Turns out that the boys are both better than me at games now, which is kind of a hard pill to swallow.  I guess it comes with the turf, I'm getting older and the boys are in their video game playing prime.

Christmas Eve (AKA) Video Game Day

Hard to believe that today is Christmas Eve and our annual Video Game Day/Food Day at the Van Oort house.  This morning Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf, brought the boys two new bean bags for the game room and then a new Xbox 360.  Now we officially have 3 Xbox 360's, 3 TV's and can play Halo Reach against one another on our own screens, which as a gamer is a really big deal.  The boys are up early and can't wait to get started.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Boy Day

Today after spending most of yesterday having a mini-video game day and not stepping foot outside the door, Clancey and I headed into the Quad Cities to do a bit of Christmas Shopping.  Marshall was feeling a bit under the weather still so it was Clancey and me on our own.  In addition to Christmas Shopping we went out for lunch, had some Starbucks and even went bowling.  It's not that often Clancey and I get to spend time together by ourselves so it was fun to hang out.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Video Game Day

With the video game room officially done the boys and I decided that we had better break it in prior to video game day to get all the kinks worked out.  Today we ended up playing about 12 hours of video games together and the game room worked out awesome.  Think though that we need to get one more Xbox 360 and 2 more Xbox One's to really make the room awesome.  ;)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Crazy Busy Week At Work

This week has been on the busiest weeks I've had in a really long time.  Normally the last week before Christmas Break would be largely spent just "going through the motions" but this week I've had to get a whole lot done to make it to break.  As of this afternoon I've created and presented four software design approach reviews, written a 16 page whitepaper and pulled together a quick turn bid in under one day.  The end of the week couldn't come soon enough and I'm happy it's here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Video Game Room

Today, after church, I spent a better part of the the day working on the video game room and I have it mostly done.  There are few things left that need to get moved and some stuff that needs to get sorted through but at this point it is good enough to use and is ready for video game day!  The boys have been really excited about getting it done so I'm really happy to have it done.  I spent some time up here this evening trying it out and it's pretty cool so far.  Can't wait to try it out with the boys next weekend.

Christmas Program

This morning was the Christmas Program up at church and both of the boys did a good job.  It wasn't quite as exciting as the Drama performance earlier in the week but it was alright.  Marshall read for the first time in front of the church which was cool to see.  Clancey was a star that held up signs for the church crowd to see.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dinner In Davenport

Marshall finally recovered from his torturous run and has started to talk again.  He said he just felt really tired and not completely recovered from being sick all week.  He did say he still wants to do the half marathon in the spring so that's good.  We are going to have some dinner in Davenport as a celebration for their big finish.

They Finished

They made it too the finish!  Jen said the race went really good and she is feeling confident for the half marathon.  Marshall hasn't spoke yet, looks to be in shock, and struggled to run the entire race.  Jen said they were about a half mile in when Marshall started to ask to walk.  He did manage to muster a run the whole way but it appears it's going to take him a while to recover.

Just Ran By

Jen and Marshall just ran by Clancey and I, they only have to run around the block and they will be done.  As you can see Jen looked really good, Marshall on the other hand, didn't look like he was fairing for well.  I'll be curious to see what they deal is when they finish in a couple minutes.

Start Of the 5k

Here we are at the start of the 5K.  While we were waiting around for the race to get started we took a few pictures of Jen and Marshall.  After Marshall and Jen have been sick all week I'm a bit worried about how they are going to do.  I guess we will see in 30 minutes or so when then make it back around to the finish line.

Geneseo, Illinios

This morning we made a trip over to Geneseo, Illinios so Jen and Marshall could do the 5K they have been training for the last couple months.  Since we got there a bit early we were able to take the city in a bit.  We found this awesome cafe downtown Geneseo called State Street Cafe.  As you can see from the picture above they had a leg lamp in the window that we all had to get a picture with while we waited on our food.  After we got done we found this cool pig in clothes that Marshall really wanted to get a picture with.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Marshall's First Drama Performance

Tonight Marshall had his first drama performance up at the middle school in Clarence and the kid killed it.  He played Brutus in a modern take on Shakespeare which was pretty entertaining.  At one point the kid got into an insult contest with Shakespeare and even had to tackle him.  Marshall really enjoyed himself and was sad that he wasn't going to get to do it again for another year.  To be honest, I'm sad too because it was fun to watch him perform.  

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Video Game Room Coming Along

Slowly but surely the video game room is coming along.  It's harder than I thought it would be to get to done simply because everything you move out of this room you have to find another place for.  It's these kinds of activities that make you realize just how much crap you collect over time.  We should be able to have it ready for our video game day come Christmas but I am eventually going to have to just buckle down and clean some space on the shelves down stairs to put some of this stuff.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Competition Is Over

The competition is over and the kids didn't end up placing.  Too be honest it would have been very difficult for them to place considering most of the big schools had multiple Rockwell Engineers helping them out.  Now I guess I am a Rockwell Engineer and next year I plan to help our team out so they can have a chance to place.  It was good to go to the competition and see what it took to win so next year Marshall's team can bring the drama!

Brothers Discussion The Event

Marshall really wanted Clancey to see what was going on so he asked me to grab him so he could see the last time they ran the robot close up.  I made sure to get as many good pictures as I could without violating the rules of the competition.  As you can see they were in deep discussions about the robot the best way to solve the problems.

First Lego League

Today we are at Marshall's First Lego League competition in Marion.  The competition is best described as an engineering competition for Middle Schoolers.  What they do is couple different tasks, build a robot to solve some problems on a table top and then present 3 different topics.  One topic about the Robot itself, one about a project they came up with and one about core values.  So far the kids are having fun and doing alright.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Christmas In Clarence

Here I am posing with Santa at Christmas in Clarence.  I came up the Mema, Papa and the boys to take part in the events and get some supper.  It's early yet and it's already busier than it was last year.  Hopefully it stays busy and the group makes a lot of money for the library project.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


I just landed in Cedar Rapids and I'm ready to get home.  I know Jen is happy because now I will be home to help her with Christmas in Clarence tomorrow evening.  It also is nice to know that I'm done traveling for the year and after getting a couple big projects done over the course of the next couple weeks I'll be ready to sail into the holidays for a couple week break.

View From My Conference Room

This week I've actually have a fairly productive set of meetings for once and feel like the trip was worth it.  I was able to accomplish a couple key goals over the course of the week and will be able to leave today to head home.  I was worried I would have to stay another day but since I got my goals accomplished early in the week I'm headed home in a few hours.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Morning Run

This morning was a spectacular morning to get out for a run.  When I started it was a bit chilly but by the time I got running I managed to get warmed up and it was perfect out.  As you can see I got up to the monuments before the crowds so I was able to get some good shots without having people in the way.  Not sure if I'll be able to get out the rest of the week for a run but at least I got out for this one.