Its been a while

I know its been a while since the last update and boy have we been busy.  In mid-June we took a two week road-trip to Texas to visit our old neighbors (and 2 of Matthew’s God parents) the Perryman’s. It was a great trip. Texas was hot but there was a heat wave going through much of the rest of the country at the time so it didn’t seem much worse than anywhere else. Each day it was around 95 degrees and sunny but there was a constant breeze so, in the shade, it was very comfortable. Standing out in the sun was definitely another story.

While we were there we took day trips to Austin to visit the Apple store, look around downtown and head to Dave and Busters for a few. One fun fact is that the Texas state capital is a rotunda similar to the US capital and is actually taller than the US captial…figures…it’s Texas.  

We also took a day trip to Ft. Worth (photos) and the historic old town (read tourist trap). They claim to have the only daily public cattle drive in the US. Cattle drive is a loose term at best and while it was neat to see the longhorn steers stroll through the town (all 12 or so of them) I got the feeling this wasn’t the way it went down back in the day.

The kids got souvenirs there, we stopped by the world’s largest Honky Tonk bar called Billy Bob’s for a softdrink and we even brought back some Texas salsa mix. Best of all, our friend Angie’s mom met us there (she lives just outside Ft. Worth) and she tagged along with us and showed us the sites. The highlight of the day was the photographic archive they have in Ft. Worth. We spent some time looking through old pictures of cowboys and the townsfolk from the 1800’s. The neat part was you could buy copies of the photos you liked. We found this really cool old snapshot of a larger family from the time. They seemed to be one of the wealthier families. I bought and scanned in the photo and you can see it about halfway down the page in our Ft. Worth photo gallery . Very neat.

During one of the hot days we took the kids to an indoor rock climbing facility called Boulders where we all tried our skills at climbing up to the top of 35 foot walls without much to hold onto. Hunter and I made it up all the way (Hunter climbs like a monkey) and the whole crew had an awesome time climbing around for a few hours. Here are some photos .

During pretty much every other day the kids played in the Perryman’s swimming pool (photos) where we took tons of action shots of great diving board maneuvers like the triple-lindy and more.

Then one night we decided to go to a putt-putt? mini golf and entertainment center and played a round of mini golf. Everyone had a great time until we went over to the go-kart race track. It was all fun and games and everyone was having a good time…then the Mom’s got behind the wheel. Suddenly kids cars were being driven into walls and flipped around on the track when they were cut off in a corner. If the crew had been watching both Cheryl and Angie would have been ejected from the park.

Speaking of racing, one night the grown-ups went out by themselves and guess where we went…back to Dave and Busters to play games. While we were there, Cheryl and I raced against each other and for the first time ever she beat me…not once but twice. Its a sad day and now I know I must be getting old 🙁 Maybe I was just scared from the go-kart track…yeah that’s it. We played lots of other games and wo n lots of prizes for the kids.

After a week and a half we packed up and began the trip home. Just after we got on the road, the sky opened up and it poured. We thought we were in for a tornado as the clouds were only about 20 feet off the ground we actually saw some clouds that looked like the funnels were forming. We drove through the driving rain and gusting winds for a few hours and finally stopped late that night to rest in Alabama. We got up early and headed home.

All in all it was a fantastic trip. Thank you to the Perryman’s for putting up with all our craziness! If you haven’t seen all the pictures by now. Head over to the photo section and check out the 4 photo albums we put together.

And then there was the bed and breakfast we ran when we returned home…but that the next installment…


New Music – Hawk Nelson

A friend told me about this band out of Ontario, Canada called Hawk Nelson…and I checked them out online and have to say they rock. They have a college garage band sound that is similar in attitude and sound to Blink 182 and Weezer. Their debut album, Letters to the President is very strong and I encourage you to check it out. The kids and I have been rocking out to the album since we picked it up a month or two ago. Our favorite song is a toss up between the title track and California.


The Laughter Club

A friend from my men’s group and I are beginning to plan out a new life opportunity. We’ve been talking about it for two years and haven’t taken action on it as it always seemed like things would get in the way. From our reading of Wild at Heart and subsequent discussions, we’ve come to believe that this was not just coincidental but an attack aimed at keeping us sidelined in the battle (and I do mean battle) for our hearts.

As we build out our idea I’ll share what our plans and dreams are here. We don’t know where this will take us but we want to flesh it out and see where we land.

Our thought is to create an organization whose mission is to find and help people in our community, region and nation who are stuggling with the problems of the world including depression, chronic illness, death, stress, work, raising children and family and many others issues which hold people back from reaching their full potential.

The first branch in our Tree of Life vision is what we are calling The Laughter Club, and it deals with depression. My friend Tony came up with the idea for The Laughter Club after our pastor committed suicide and he was searching for answers. Tony is a depression survivor himself and realized in talking with others that there were many people in our community who also needed help getting through tough times. So he started this group which meets every few weeks to support those dealing with depression and discuss ways to further the groups efforts. So far the comments from those who have joined has been very positive.

 One of our first goals once we write our business plan and setup our non-profit, is to raise enough money to buy a building/house for the organization to work out of and operate from. We plAn using this setting to provide counseling and meeting facilities for various small groups in a comfortable and safe setting.

Of course we bought the domain and have a place holder up for now (thanks again to my friend Gobie at Kolusu Networks who is hosting our site). One of the members of the laughter club designed us a quick logo for us which we plan on using until we can decide further on our strategic mission, from there we’ll be work out further details for the brand(s). We hope to have an better site up in a few weeks and our business plan underway for the umbrella organization with further details on the way after that.

If you have any thoughts or comments on our ideas, let me know. I’d welcome them. More on this one soon!


Wild at Heart

My wife (who has never written a single blog BTW) complained that I started a couple entries with the word "so"…so I won’t be doing that this time. 🙂

I’ve been reading with a group of men from my neighborhood called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. Its a book about the masculine heart and how many of us have lost ours through the warfare within our lives, with our friends, our enemies, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. Its a great toolkit for building a better understanding of the attack our hearts are under, and how we can fight to get our hearts back. Once we do that it gives us tips and tools to fight for the hearts of our spouses, children and others.

I know it sounds a bit out there (and I think that the author uses biblical references more as spice than the meat) I have to say that many of the men in our group, including myself, have taken the essence of the book to heart and are working to see what positive effect it can have in our lives. And in my mind that is all this book should aspire to, motivating men to take action rather than live in fear and self doubt from the wounds of their past.

During our exploration of the book, we have been meeting weekly with an awesome guide, Michael Thompson from Priority Associates. His leadership, experience and sharing have been inspiring and have driven many of us to begin planning to take action on what we have learned…a tough thing when your talking about a bunch of guys with wives, kids and way too little free time.

Another sign that his leadership must be working within a lot of us is that this group of about 15 men has been spreading the word about the reading and learning we are doing, and there has been a lot of interest from others in the area. Both in running through this book again and/or developing other men’s gatherings…beyond the "golf tournament" and "YoYo bar trips", and with a deeper focus on our spirituality and relationships with God and our families.

Recently we set up a meeting to share what we had learned with others and discuss our next steps. We had about 40 new people attend with about 75% filling out cards saying they wanted to join a platoon such as ours. Pretty impressive response rate for you marketing types out there.

FInally, as I went through the class I spoke with Cheryl about the insight I was gaining and the direction it was taking me. It must have had some impact as she just signed up for a study group on the new women’s version of the book called Captivating, by John and his wife Staci. This book just came out a couple weeks ago and the class is being led by Michael’s wife. Even after the first two classes for Cheryl, I think the books have given us a basis for discussions we have never had before and opened us up to more.

As we move into the last chapter of the book and the next in our lives, we’ll see how much impact it can have on our group. I’ll keep you informed and hopefully we’ll see some great changes take shape.


One of the coolest gifts I’ve ever given

OK…so I’ve been thinking about how I can get photos to people. Most of the time I send them via email as we don’t print too many anymore. The problem with that is that I either clog up people’s email with a bunch of new pictures or for those who don’t have email, They rarely get new pictures.

So the other day while my Dad was here I was remembering a gadget I saw on the net a while back that sounded pretty cool. We talked about how interesting it sounded and I checked it out. Man is it ever cool. My Dad talked me into calling my brother and telling him about it. We just had to get one for my Grandma.

What is it? Its basically an modem enabled digital picture frame from Ceiva.

OK…so maybe it doesn’t sound that cool…but it really is.  

I ordered one online and had it shipped to my house so I could check it out. While I waited I signed up for an online account on their site, gave them my grandma’s local phone number to get a dial in number for the device, got an email address from them and emailed some picts of the kids right from iPhoto via the Mail option (they have PC software if you are not on a Mac). I was ready for delivery. The only thing I had to do when the device arrived was link it to my online account. To do that I had to type in the serial number from the bottom of the unit so they know where to send the photos. It was a bit interesting as I was giving this as a gift and so, if I had just sent it directly to my grandma, she would have either been internet savvy or I would have had to have here give me the serial number off the bottom. I was glad I had it shipped to me first.

I logged onto the Ceiva site before it came and investigated the features there. I could set a ton of information about the device like what was playing on my device, how long each photo would show and when the device would turn on and off during the day. I was even able to sigh up for what Ceiva calls channels, slides that you can subscribe to like sports, news and even history. I signed her up for the weather channel slide so one of the 30 slides the device holds. It asked me for her zip code so the forecast would be her local 3-day outlook. Very nice addition.

I couldn’t wait to see how cool it would be. The site said only 3 simple steps once unboxed the device. 1. plug in the power cord. 2. plug it into a phone line. 3. Press the big white button on the back.

When it arrived I tore it open and set it up.  The 3 simple steps were a just as described. I pushed the big white button (step three) and the device came to life and called home. It took about 5-10 minutes the first time it called home and downloaded the pictures I had sent. After it was done the screen scrambled for a few seconds (a bit unnerving) and then it went black. A second later it came to life and started cycling through my photos. I couldn’t wait to send it to my Grandma. I watched and watched. The kids came and thought it was exciting to see the photos (a couple of which we had just taken) on the screen.

Speaking of the screen its a 640 x 480 and the quality is decent but not perfect. The screen is bright but the viewing angle is a bit limited. The frame around the screen has a nice black matte and comes with both a stylish black frame and a hightech silver. We bought my Grandma an additional oak frame and it looked very nice. You can also buy different mattes but we though the black was perfect.

After playing with emailing photos to the device for a few days to ensure that when it was set to call home every night, it did and downloaded pictures from my brother and me. I also showed it to some friends to get their opinions and they all thought it was cool too.

I packed it up and shipped it to my Grandma last week. She got it yesterday and set it up. She understood what to do and thought it would be very easy. One problem is that the placement of the power and phone cords made it difficult for her to get them plugged in so she had her neighbor help her. She loved looking at the pictures of the kids and the fact that more will be coming in tomorrow.

If you want to know more or think about getting one of these let me know. I can refer you and get you $50 off the receiver.


Pros: innovative and easy technology

Cons: ongoing monthly cost to send picts, location of buttons, display quality, ease of giving as a gift

Busy time at the Doerrstop Inn

Well as you can tell from the previous posts, we had Cheryl’s brother in for a few nights last week…and the day he left, my parents flew in from MI for the weekend.  They came down to see Mary’s tap show at the Carolina Theatre and to catch up with the kids.  We had a great time and here is a quick shot we took of all the kids with Grandma and Grandpa before they hit the tarmac.


If you want to make a reservation at the Doerrstop Inn just give us a call.  We can always make room.


New Site Design for

While my Dad was here I talked him into buying a domain for his church. I spoke with my good friend Gobie over at Kolusu Networks in Toronto and he hooked us up, hosting our DNS and the website. If you need a great host check him out. Mention me and he might give you a good deal…or a swift kick in the pants. 🙂

I then set my Dad loose with iBlog and helped him setup and design his site. Now he has a great looking site that is simple to maintain. If you have a Mac with OS X, it doesn’t get any easier.

Check it out and let us know what you thought.

If you are interested in having me design your site, send me a note by clicking on the feedback button below.