Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pa's Birthday

It's been so long since I've logged on, I almost forgot how.

This is for Dad/Pa on a special birthday.  Happy birthday, Dad!  We love you. (make sure your sound is turned on)

video

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so far behind I'm not going to put much effort into catching up.  But here's a summary.  Cameron had a birthday, summer vacation started, Kevin joined the cross country team, Kevin had a birthday, four day vacation to Gulf Shores, Kevin diagnosed with brain tumor (major bummer), the next day I had a birthday but didn't really feel like celebrating, summer vacation ended, Kevin had brain surgery, Cade had a birthday, Halloween and finally, Dana had a milestone birthday.  I won't say which one but it rhymes with morty.


The first weekend of summer vacation the boys and I tried riding some trails in the forest.  Different than our normal laps on an MX track but we had a good time. 



 Cameron read The Dangerous Book for Boys and got inspired to build something.  Never one to turn down an opportunity to develop a future gearhead/handyman, we went to Lowe's and bought the stuff to make his own workbench.  He used a handsaw and made the whole thing with little help from me.  Right on!
 
 
 4th of July was fun until someone called the cops on us that night.  Turns out the fireworks vendor lied and fireworks are not allowed in city limits.  We were almost finished too.  Now I'm stuck with six mortar shells just waiting to be shot.  Stupid whiners and complainers. When do I get to exercise my right to pursue happiness?
 
 
 Kevin, Cameron and I drove up to Red Bud, Michigan with a friend and his son to watch a pro motocross race.  It was 105 degrees and humid but we had a great time.  It's always impressive to see how fast those guys go on a track that rough. The boys and I were fine in the heat but a lot of others were wilting fast.


After the race, we drove over to Lake Michigan just to say we were there.  We weren't prepared to play in the water but that didn't stop Cameron and Eric from getting wet.
 
 
 Just before school started we took a mini-vacation to the Gulf.  On day one, we drove to Mobile, AL to see the USS Alabama.  If you ever get the chance to see it, do it!  I could have spent all day crawling around in that thing.
 
While we were wandering around in the ship, Dana started feeling overheated as we got lower and lower so she finally called it quits and told us she was heading back to the deck.  The boys and I had more exploring to do so we kept on.  Somewhere in that conversation, Kevin missed something because he started following Dana out thinking we were done.  After climbing up a level or two, he turned around to check on the rest of us.  After he realized we weren't coming, he turned back around and discovered Dana had ditched him.  She didn't know he was following her!  He eventually found her but not before stumbling around accidentally exploring new areas of the ship by himself.  Poor kid.  No one even knew he was lost!  He eventually found his way out and found Dana but it made for a good story that we all had a good laugh at.
 

The day after losing Kevin, we made our way over to Gulf Shores for a couple days of playing in the water.  The weather wasn't the best but we had a great time together.


Dana found a good deal on a condo on the beach so we were living in luxury!  Remember what I said about the weather?  This gorgeous sky and water showed up the day we were leaving.  Go figure.


Cute picture of the boys wishing they could go splash around some more instead of getting in the car for a 7 hour drive.
 
 
It was right after our vacation that we discovered Kevin had an epidermoid cyst in his brain that was causing difficulties with his vision.  When we were first told about it, they said he had a cancerous tumor that may or may not be treatable and then left us to wait a few days to get more details.  As you can imagine, that was absolutely devastating news that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Kevin had his high school orientation that night so we chose to wait until after it was over to tell him.  After that, we kept him (and his brothers) in the loop on everything we knew.  Kevin did a remarkable job of handling the stress.  Dana and I had our breakdowns at times.  By the grace of God, as we learned more, the news kept getting better.  First it was treatable with chemo (scary but seemed good compared to no treatment and let it keep growing), then it wasn't a cancerous tumor at all and was indeed operable.  Many trips to Birmingham where we grew to have a huge amount of respect for UAB, many many many prayers and so much love and support from our friends and family, and finally surgery at the end of September.


First day of school.  9th grade (high school!), 6th grade and 1st grade (but not in that order).


Kevin joined the cross country team this summer and spent most of his vacation getting up early to run.  This is the start of his first meet.  We decided to say he finished first (of the second 100).  And for the record, if you're wondering how he finshed 101st out of the group shown, there are a lot more people lined up than what you can see here.


Near the end of that race.  Kevin started out too fast and was dying by the end.  But to his credit, he finished strong and kept his composure.  Cameron and I had the unfortunate opportunity to learn first hand that many racers immediately barf after crossing the finish line.  We decided not to stand by the chute at any more races.

Kevin competed in 2 more races before he had to have brain surgery to remove the cyst. We were all scared to death as the surgery approached.  Mom and Dad drove out to stay with Cameron and Cade while we were in Birmingham.  They were a huge help and really took a lot of stress off by not having to worry about those two while we were gone.  (Thanks again Mom and Dad!) We went down to UAB the day before the surgery for more tests and doctor visits then the three of us had dinner and went to see Spiderman to have some fun and get our minds off what the next day would bring.   After checking in at 5 am (ugh) the rest of the day was a blur and not because we were tired.  The last moments with Kevin before they wheeled him out for the surgery were both heart warming and heart wrenching.  Kevin was so brave as Dana and I tried unsuccessfully not to cry in front of him.  The staff was so kind and wonderful to us as they tried to ease our fears.
 
In the end, Kevin did great.  He was super cranky as the anesthesia wore off (just like the last time he had surgery) but we were more than willing to cut our boy some slack.  The death stares he gave everyone, especially the doctors, were kind of funny.  We spent countless hours rubbing his neck and shoulders which were knotted up and just when we thought he fell asleep and we'd slowly quit rubbing, he'd look at us and ask us to keep going.  The first night was probably the worst because he felt so bad and the guy on in the room on one side of him died and the guy on the other side was brain dead.  There's nothing quite like a little life and death action right next to your son to rattle your nerves. He kept his room in NICU at about 40 below so Dana and I nearly froze to death.  After moving to a regular room, Dana laid down the law and turned the temperature up to something livable.  Like 50 degrees or so.  Seemed downright tropical by then.
 
During the 3 days in the hospital, we had several visitors stop by.  Some were in the area and came to see Kevin while others drove down to Birmingham specifically to see us.  Like I said, lots of love and support.

And I can't complete this post without mentioning a conversation we overheard between Cameron and the girl next door this summer.  Cameron came stomping in the house, mad about something.  Sydney came to the door immediately after to talk to him.  Dana and I listened and learned that the two of them and another neighbor girl were throwing pickles at each other (?) and one hit Cam in the eye.  Sydney recalled the last time they were throwing pickles and Cameron hit her in the eye. Cameron deadpanned, "No, I didn't."  So Sydney responded  with, "Well, if you had I wouldn't have gotten mad about it."  I'll have to try that approach next time I have an argument with Dana.

As I write this, my belly is full from Thanksgiving leftovers.  We had a fun day yesterday with some good family time which included Dana's always awesome Thanksgiving lunch as well as our annual 3 v 2 soccer game.  We certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.  I hope you all had a wonderful day as well.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We're Back!

For some reason beyond my understanding, I haven't been able to log onto our blog for awhile.  I think it had something to do with Google taking over the blogspot site (and the world).

I've probably forgotten all the funny stories that have happened these last few months so I'm going solely on what memory is jogged by the pictures.

I remember this!  Kevin caught his first real fish.  He'd actually caught another fish twice many years ago in NM.  And I really mean another fish twice.  It was a small catfish that we threw back only to have Kevin catch it again a few minutes later.  I chucked it much harder that time and never saw it again.  Other than that, Kevin never had much luck.  He did catch one other small fish the first year we were here but it was hardly big enough to fight.  Not only did catching this whopper make up for all that but it turned poor Hunter (photobombing in the background) green with envy.  Kevin used Hunter's pole and bait and even rode with Hunter to the pond. 


Easter was quiet this year with just the 5 of us. Well, quiet in a relative term. It's never really quiet with these boys.

 Dana got to join Cade in his class' Easter Egg Hunt this year.  As a side note, Cade's teacher, in the yellow shirt, retired at the end of the year.  She taught for 20-something years and retired immediately after having Cade in her class.  Coincidence?


Egg coloring! 


Cameron combined two holidays to make a vampire egg.


Kevin going for plaid.



The annual family picture which inevitably leads to a fight.



You're never too old to hunt for Easter eggs.  A word of advice though, don't hide camouflaged eggs.  They tend to disappear and forgotten.  Just yesterday (7/15) I found one under a bush.  A colony of ants appeared to have made their home in it and were enjoying what I believe was at one time Starbust candies.


Time for a Moto Update


 Cade seriously outgrew the PW and is now on the KTM.  Rides it pretty well, too.



Cameron airing it out on his 65.  He seems to enjoy riding the most of the 3 boys and he certainly gets our money's worth when we go to the track.


 Who says old dudes can't learn new tricks?  This near-geezer finally got the nerve to huck one of the triple jumps!  Moments later, some twerp on an 85 whipped it sideways over the other triple making me seriously consider t-boning him with all my might.  (But I couldn't catch him.)

Kevin didn't go riding that day because the he's way outgrown his 85.  Poor boy needs a bigger bike.



 Cam and Cade wanted to work on something.  Never passing up the opportunity to encourage a new generation of gear heads, I had them take apart their old bicycle and showed them how to remove the brakes from the hub. 


Soccer season finally ended!  Kevin's middle school team, who was expected to bomb this year after all the talent went to HS, made it to the Northern Alabama championship round.  They went toe-to-toe with the other team and lost in a close game.  Very proud of those boys.

 Candid shot of the kids waiting for their game.  Kevin's on top.



 Because of his size, we moved Cade up to the 7-8 year old league.  You'd never know he was so young as he played right with those kids and even scored.




 Undefeated!
(Mostly because of the little Mexican kid on the lower right - but still, it's a team sport)


 My littlest buddy and me


 Somewhere along the line, Cameron turned into a bad little soccer dude.  Here, he just powned #6 who pretty much ran over the rest of our team. 


And in April, Cameron turned 11!  As the middle child, he just seems to sneak up on us.

Dana made his favorite "cake" to celebrate.  It's actually ice cream sandwiches with crushed Butterfingers on top.  His dinner location of choice was... McDonald's.



 

This was taken by one of the ponds in our neighborhood as the sun was going down.  I really like this picture. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cell Phone Picture Dump

I finally got around to downloading the pictures on my cell phone so just like the old days where it would take months to get film developed these pictures are a bit outdated.  But that's ok.  I still like 'em.


We had a lot* of snow last year and Cade spent every minute he possibly could out in it.  No hill was too small to slide down.   This is a small rise behind our house that provided hours of fun.

*Don't laugh, Kansas!  It was a lot for us.


Happily eating a chunk of snow bigger than his head.  The best part of the snow was it gave Dana a reason to break out her totally 80s snow gear.  Tragically, she isn't wearing her pastel green jacket, purple goggles or pink headband in this picture.  If she was, I'm sure blue eyeshadow would have made an appearance too. Totally!




I might have posted a smiliar picture of Cade dressed for his pre-school graduation but he looked so darn cute I'm doing it again.


Cross eyed pictures are always fun to take.



You never knew Cade had a mullet, did you?  Or maybe Dana was sitting right behind him and I fluffed her hair over his.  Nah, I'll stick with the mullet story.


My littlest MXer.


 And my former wrestler before his first ever match.  He's in the stance and in the zone!  Dang he was cute.

Showing the big guns after getting his first pin and earning his first medal.

I just realized my camera takes better pictures than I was giving it credit for.  Maybe I should use it more often!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

1st quarter of 2012

Sooooo, I'm not doing such a good job of keeping up on the blog anymore. I still blame it on the iPad. Anyway, here's a quarterly update on the happenings in Athens, AL. The pictures are a little out of order but I don't feel like fighting with the blog anymore so deal with it.


Our tree is even rinky dinkier than it looks in this picture. We've always wanted to buy a live tree and plant it in the yard after Christmas to enjoy for years to come. We found out the hard way it's quite expensive, difficult to handle, and you're not supposed to have it indoors for more than a week. We bought ours the day after Thanksgiving. I don't have a picture of it right now but imagine this tree in our yard and totally orange. Like dead orange. I'm not sure it's gonna make it.


Christmas morning!!! Spoiled Kevin got the Foosball table and the other two spoiled boys each got a Nintendo 3DS from Santa. I think back to my first hand held games and how cool they were. Kids nowadays wouldn't give them a second glance.

Cameron couldn't help but "reorganize" the presents every day or two. I think he secretly untaped the edge on some of his presents and peeked when no one was looking.

Cameron and Cade also got these nifty electric scooters. These, along with the foosball table, are one of the few non-game gifts that the kids actually use on a regular basis. Score one for Mike and Dana!

On the last day of the year, Dana traded our beloved Expedition in on a new-to-us Explorer. This sucker has everything under the sun including the park assists where it parallel parks itself! I'm way too much of a cheapskate to normally buy something like that but we got a good deal on it and, most importantly, Dana absolutely loves it.



Here we are in the church pew waiting for Cade's basketball awards ceremony. More on that later. I looked over and all 3 of my family members had their faces buried in some kind of electronic device. Just like in the commercials but worse! Am I the only one who still interacts with the real world around me?


Dana and the boys bought this recordable book for me for Christmas. They each took turns reading a page. You can tell by the doofy look on my face that I'm enjoying listening to it. What a great Christmas present.


The boys checking the contents of their stockings on Christmas morning. Notice their new Christmas pajamas that they received the night before.

Sort-of-annual picture of the boys with the sleigh and reindeer. This might be the last year Cade sits in the sleigh.

We tried to take a nice family picture but with 5 people it's next to impossible to get a good one. After 30 poses and 1200 pictures, this was about the best we got.

Cade's Valentine card box. Dana got the inspiration from Pinterest. Pretty cool if you ask me.

And playing for the Bulls, #14, Caaaaaaadddddeeeee Reynolds! (Audience roars)

Cade had no problem getting the rebound most of the time. Being the tallest kid on the court didn't hurt.

We had some excitement of a different kind in early March when a tornado came through our neighborhood. Our house was mostly spared, the pickup not so much. As of this writing, we're still working with the insurance to get the holes in our roof repaired.


Kevin is on the school's soccer team again this year. He's looking more like a young man than a little boy.
Speaking of Kevin, we recently discovered he's basically blind in his left eye. Not really, but his vision is 20/200 so his brain has quit using it. He had been complaining of not being able to see so we got his eyes checked and that's when they found that. He now has a contact (for his good eye) and we're pursuing a second opinion on trying to improve his left eye. The optometrist says there's nothing that can be done and it's something they would have had to catch when he was a toddler to have any hope. We don't understand why it wasn't caught 4 years ago when he first started complaining and ended up getting glasses - which he never wore.
Other than that, all is well. Cameron and Cade are playing soccer for the city league and their games start the week after Easter. Dana is substituting for the pre-school at our church on a somewhat regular basis. She really seems to be enjoying it. She has also become a Pinterest freak and has made some pretty neat crafty things (and food!) I'll try to catch up on pictures soon but no guarantees. That is, unless I can figure out how to do it with the iPad so I don't have to walk all the way from the couch to the computer desk.