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November 22, 2016

Pain does not define me...

With life, as with running...

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June 12, 2013

An Amusement Park & A New Phone

We went to a birthday party at the local amusement park on Saturday, hoping to have a great time. In the end, it ended up being a mixed bag... Emily had fun and wanted to stay until closing, but Noah didn't care for any of the rides, and somewhere on one of the kiddy rides, I lost my phone.

Now the good news in this is that it was just a basic free phone that I got three plus years ago, but the bad news was that I lost a lot of contact info, and worse yet, pictures of my kids. I had hoped the person who found the phone might turn it in to the lost & found, but alas my faith in the goodness of humanity was not reinforced in this instance.

I had put a hold on my service soon after I lost the phone, and decided to check my usage -- just to see if anything showed up. Sure enough, in the half hour time it took for me to report the phone lost, there were several calls and texts, but most annoying of all was the downloading of 2MB of data in that time (on a "pay per data use" contract). Thankfully the Verizon rep said they would not bill us for that usage.

So, now that I was without a phone, I decided it was time to finally get a "smartphone" -- but what kind? I narrowed my choices down to two iPhone options (4S & 5), and two Samsung Galaxy options (Note2 & S4). I even made a few cardboard mock ups to carry around in my pocket to see how the larger size of the Samsung phones would feel in daily use...


[Click to Enlarge]

I eventually decided on the Samsung Galaxy S4. This phone can do so much that I am still setting everything up and getting used to how it works. I could have gone with an iPhone as a safe bet, since I'm very familiar with the iOS on my iPod Touch -- but I am very happy that I took a chance on the S4.

Here is a photo I took with my new phone last evening (click to enlarge)...


Emily and Murphy hanging out on the couch on an overcast and showery day...

Now I just need to be a little more careful if I go on amusement park rides -- this phone definitely was not free!

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September 11, 2012

Eleven Years Later

Eleven years later, the images are still etched in my mind. The loss of innocent life that day was horrible, and for that I am still sad. The day should be a memorial to firefighters and other civil servants who did their jobs until the very end, and not as fuel to feed the fire of some damn fool crusade.

On the anniversary of this tragic day in history, I will let the Bible express my views on some of the lingering vengeful sentiments that still pervade popular social media:

The words of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -Matthew 5:43-48

And from the apostle Paul:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:14-15

If we follow Christ's commandments in the Sermon on the Mount, we may find that those in foreign lands will no longer wish to commit violent acts against us. If you are still asking yourself, eleven years later, why anyone would do this to our noble and peace-loving nation, then maybe you need to re-examine the American lifestyle, and the unattainable dream that seems to be someone else's fantasy. How does that dream compare to Paul's dream in Philippians?

It is time to press on America... let's press on towards a goal that Christ Jesus would deem worthy.

August 16, 2010

The Odyssey

I turn 40 years old and look what ends up in our driveway...


Our new (to us) 2007 Honda Odyssey... the 607 Express (according to Noah).

March 24, 2010

Beach Trip 2010

Last week we spent a wonderful week at the beach in Seaside. We had a little bit of sun, a little bit of rain, and a little bit of wind -- just what you would expect from the Oregon coast. We found some good fish & chips, some other not-so-good cafes, and even cooked a little in the condo. We made daily trips to the beach and the pool, except for Tuesday when it rained all day.

Here are a few photos of our vacation -- click on photo to enlarge:


A room with a view...


Tillamook Cheese Factory... yum!


Can you say, "Princess"?


Building roads in the sand.

February 15, 2010

The Red Green Show

One of my favorite shows from that bygone era of the 1990's was The Red Green Show. It was a Canadian creation that aired on PBS here in the states, and it was riotously hilarious, especially the segment on the show titled, "Handyman Corner".

Just last week, while searching around the vast vaults of YouTube, I once again stumbled upon Red and his merry band of Canuck misfits. Noah happened to be sitting next to me while I sifted through the videos, and found Red's antics to be particularly entertaining.

Last night, while we were watching the Olympics, Noah pulled the Red Green videos up on the computer again, and we made him put headphones on because it was too noisy. That only solved half the problem though, because we could still hear Noah belly-laughing loudly as he watched the videos! It was actually quite cute. :-)

Here's Noah's favorite "Handyman Corner" video:

What a great show...

January 30, 2010

Overcome

Everyone has a battle to fight, a hill to climb, a mountain to conquer -- something in their life they must overcome. For some, the battle may be alcoholism, workoholism, or shopoholism. But whatever the mountain or mole-hill, it takes a spark to take the first step, and support of friends and family to stay the course.

For me, all too often the battle has been couch-potato-ism - that's right, the overwhealming desire to sit on the sofa, watch TV, and munch on junk food. The end result is high blood pressure and a high body mass index. For others, this propensity for lounging around is inconceivable -- something that just is not in their blood; but for me it is very real.

It took the spark of being an assistant soccer coach to realize the mountain that stood before me, and it set the first steps on the course I am currently following. Most of the activities I now choose help me make my way down that path -- running at 5AM, old man basketball, Wednesday morning Bible study, paintball, and now tap dance.

The road I travel is different from yours, and the choices I've made may be different from what convention would suggest, but I have to follow the path God has laid before me, discerning it as best I can. I have chosen to get off the couch and live -- for Jesus, for my family, and for myself. All I ask is that you don't judge me on how I choose to live, just praise God that I have chosen to come alive, and support me as I seek to overcome.

November 23, 2009

On Laziness

I am the type that appreciates a lazy, relaxing day every now and then, but there is a time and a place for everything. One thing that really annoys me is laziness in the supermarket parking lot.

This evening Emily and I made a trip to the grocery store because Steph was feeling under the weather. As we exited the Safeway and headed down the center concrete sidewalk (with flowerbed 'islands'), we were treated to one of my biggest pet-peeves of all: shopping cart laziness!

This wasn't just shopping cart laziness either, it was laziness getting passed down from one generation to another. A grown man was showing his 8-year-old son the finer points of leaving his shopping cart in such a way that the front wheels sat completely in the flower bed -- this kept the cart from rolling away. Nevermind that the 'cart corral' was only 20 feet away!

Then to top it off, as I was unloading my own groceries, a big, bald, bubba of a man propped the front two wheels of his shopping cart up on the concrete sidewalk and left the other wheels down in the parking space. The cart corral was only 10 feet away from this bozo!

After I unloaded my groceries and my girl, I walked the 5 to 10 feet to the cart corral and politely placed my shopping cart where it belonged. And stewed in disgust at the shopping cart carnage that was spread around me in the parking lot. Dear lazy people of the world, put your shopping carts where they belong!

October 14, 2009

Jethro's Weight Loss Tips

1. Get weather appropriate workout clothes.
2. Get a good pair of workout / running shoes that actually fit your feet.
3. Go to bed early.
4. Get up early.
5. Stretch.
6. Run / walk / exercise for at least 40 minutes.
7. Eat something for breakfast, and drink water with it.
8. Eat healthy (whole grains / complex carbs / protein / low fat / no HFCS / no trans-fats).
9. Eat in moderation (but the fact that you are exercising gives you a little leeway here).
10. Stop drinking soda pop.
11. Drink lots of water all day.

I've lost 10 lbs in just under 2 months by doing all of the above. Sure, that's not as impressive as the 35 lbs lost in 3 months that I did back in 2000, but hopefully I will keep up the exercise a little longer this time, and thus keep the weight off. So far, this feels a lot better than going into the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day after work (something I don't have time for anymore).

May 26, 2009

How We Spent Our Memorial Day

With friends. :-)

This little montage was put together by PJ, my 'mentee' from church (comments by PJ, too).

May 9, 2009

Scheduled

I'm just a scheduled kind of guy. At work, I am the keeper of the shipping schedule. At home, I would be scheduled if I could... but Steph is a 'wing it' kind of girl, and is home more than I am, so we end up winging it more often than not. That works for her, but for a week of single parenting, I need a schedule... at least for meals. Here's what my plans are...

Saturday Dinner: Grilled Kosher hot dogs, Safeway macaroni salad, oven french fries
Sunday Lunch: Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, canned corn, fresh fruit & vanilla yogurt
Monday Dinner: Figaro's Pizza (after dance class)
Tuesday Dinner: Leftovers
Wednesday Dinner: Leftovers
Thursday Dinner: Mac & Cheese McDonald's (after Em's tumbling class)
Friday Dinner: Birthday Party at Ricky D's Pizza
Saturday: Steph home!

Hopefully this will help make the rest of my week run a little smoother. By the end of the week I know I'll be appreciating the job that full-time single parents have -- I know it isn't easy. So on that lead in, I just want to say thanks to Steph for everything she does -- I really do appreciate it!

You may not see this for a week or so Steph, but Happy Mother's Day! Hope you have a fabulous time in Maui!

Thursday Edit: I followed the schedule until tonight, when I'm ashamed to say we fell off the wagon and went to McDonald's instead! Five days of single parenting while battling a chest cold has me a little run down, so I took the easy way out tonight...

Looking forward to another day home with the kids tomorrow. :-)

May 5, 2009

Days of Solitude

After a relatively busy and eventful year, I decided it was time to take a personal retreat and spend a few days at the beach on my own -- no Steph, no kids, no dogs. We had some timeshare points that were going to expire if we didn't use them soon, so I booked two nights at the resort at Seaside (not exactly the quietest place for a 'solitary' weekend, but it would work).

Before I left, I decided that this trip would be about more than just the destination, it would be about the journey, too. I didn't want to get on the freeways and join the Portland rat race, so I took the road less traveled. I headed out through Hubbard, through Newberg, down a back country road through farmland to Gaston, and then more back roads to Hwy 8 and eventually Hwy 6 to Tillamook. It poured and poured for most of the drive, but I didn't mind at all... in fact, I loved it.

I wasn't totally sure what I would do once I got there, but I figured I would do as much sleeping as I could... which didn't end up being much more than normal. Saturday night I went to Big Kahuna for halibut fish and chips, and they were as good as I remembered -- but it just was kind of strange eating dinner by myself in a restaurant... I wished that Steph was with me. I stopped by a candy shop, and bought myself some chocolate dipped Twinkies for dessert, then back to the room to relax for the night.

Sunday morning brought clear blue skies and sunshine, so I went to the coffee shop, and then to a gift shop for a pair of cheap sunglasses, and then it was time to walk -- the sun and the sea just called to me. The tide was out as far as I had ever seen it, so I decided to find the firm sand and walk down the beach... and I just kept walking. As I got close to the southern extent of the sand, I saw surfers braving the cold waters, so I sat on a rock and watched a while; but I soon forgot about the surfers as I was overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of the ocean.

It's amazing how God speaks to you through his creation -- when I was walking along the shore, or sitting and listening to the thundering surf -- there was no need for all the material things I've collected in my life. No laptop computer, no interior decorations or fancy furniture, and no home theater system; it was just me and the sea -- it was so simple, so beautiful, and so good for the soul. At that moment, I felt like I could just live in some old shack near the beach and I would be happy -- of course it wouldn't be the same without my family, but for that moment, I was happy there -- just me and the sea.

After a while I walked clear down to the other end of the beach, almost to the mouth Necanicum River, and then headed back along the promenade. My back was hurting later on from all the walking, but it was worth it. I then decided I wasn't going to another restaurant for dinner, so I went grocery shopping at Safeway, and came back to eventually have grilled Filet Mignon with Montreal seasoning, grilled sweet onions, green beans with bacon, and TGI Friday's onion rings. I dined on my patio, and enjoyed the sea breeze while I ate. Then after dinner I went out for another walk, as the sea still called to me.

Monday morning brought light overcast, with dark, ominous clouds on the western horizon. I got my coffee and sat on a bench at the turnaround, enjoying the wind and the surf. Then I went for another walk. On my way back up to start packing, a resort employee told me about a 'big storm' that was rolling in, which made me a little apprehensive on one hand, as I didn't want to travel through a rain forest in the middle of a wind storm. But on the other hand, I wished I could have stayed another day, because I so love a good coastal storm.

I decided to leave a little bit early, and grabbed lunch to go on my way out of Seaside, with the plan of eating it at Oswald West State Park, high above the Pacific. The rain poured down and the wind howled, and I ate my chicken strips while watching the distant surf crash ashore at Manzanita. I got out for a few minutes to admire the view and the weather, but soon it was time to be on my way. I successfully retraced my path without a map, and traveled the same back roads... and was again rewarded for taking the road less traveled.

Taking a 'personal retreat' isn't everybody's cup of tea, but as a natural introvert (INTJ), it was refreshing for me, and it helped to recharge my batteries. I don't really care if the Jones' consider such an outing to be odd... I quit trying to keep up with them long ago. Sometimes the time spent alone allows us to hear and sense God in ways we never could without taking a break from the rat race. Maybe I'll start a new trend, or maybe I'm just a nut; but I really enjoyed my days of solitude, and that's all that matters.

October 28, 2008

Fall Photos

Now that Steph is cleared to return to normal life until next summer (when they will do another scan), it's time to turn back to the other important people in my life. The weather lately has been absolutely gorgeous, and the Fall colors especially vibrant this year -- all this combined means it's time to take some pictures (click on photos to enlarge):


Noah with his new favorite toy. (Photo by Ruth Swartzendruber)


Emily enjoying the weather. (Photo by Ericka Gingerich)


Noah, Lili and Emily. :-) (Photo by Ericka Gingerich)

The photo of Noah was taken at my cousin Ben's place on Saturday. The other two were taken by Ericka, our two-day-a-week daycare provider. Her daughter Liliana is the one in the middle on the last photo -- the kids had a blast diving in the leaves. :-)

October 11, 2008

First Frost

Forgive me for the following... :-)

Finally, Fall has fell with ferocity. This forenoon we awoke to find the first frost of the Fall. The forecast was for fair skies, and for once, it came to fruition. After watching Noah flounder in frustration at his football (soccer) game, we found our way to our favorite coffee shop. After which we headed home for a few hours of fixing the place up for the forthcoming Winter. With a fine little fellow as my assistant, the task went faster than could have been foretold. For the first time in about five years, I feel fully prepared for a Winter fraught with rainfall.

September 17, 2008

"I Can Take It From Here"

Denise's comment on the Sept. 3rd entry reminded me of this...

I take Noah to school on Tuesdays & Wednesdays because Steph works those days. Last Tuesday, the first day of driving Noah to school, I walked him to the front doors of the school. I had intended to walk him to to his classroom, but before I could follow him through the blue double doors, he said, "I can take it from here, Papa".

It's great that he's so independent, but it's also kind of sad to think that he could be at this point in life already. :-(

August 26, 2008

We'll get by...

...with a little help from our friends. :-) Meals are organized, and the live-in nannies are here. We feel very blessed.

Here are a few words that have inspired Steph, and will be with her as she has her surgery today...

Sent to Steph from Kara:

What God Hath Promised

God hath not promised
Skies always blue
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace with out pain

But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.
- Anne Johnson Flint


From the House Blessing at my mom's:

Spirit of peace, Quiet our hearts,
Heal our anxious thoughts,
Free us from our fretful ways.
Breathe on us your holy calm.
So that in the stillness of your presence,
We may open ourselves to trust
And be transformed. AMEN

August 3, 2008

Busy Week

It has been an incredibly busy week... the kind where you struggle to find even five minutes of time to just sit and do nothing.

I don't need to do a full rundown of what made our week so busy, but a big part of it was helping out with Zion's Vacation Bible School. Steph managed the 8th graders, while I helped with running the outdoor sound system. It really is a lot of fun, but by the end of the week, we're glad it doesn't run any longer than five days.

During the VBS week, most of the teachers and group leaders dress up in outfits meant to resemble clothing warn in 'Bible times' -- I'm sure they wouldn't garner any Academy Award nominations if they were ever used in a movie, but they work for Bible School. On the first night, Emily was hanging out with me while we got the sound system up and running... and Pam, one of Em's favorite people, came out wearing a Bible-times costume. So Em had to wear one, too...

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Pam managed to come up with this cute little outfit for Em.

It's good to see I'm not the only one that blue-eyed girl has wrapped around her little finger... :-)

April 21, 2008

Crazy Weather Swing

Saturday, April 12th, greeted us with unusually warm temperatures, with sunny skies and a high of 82F (28C). So we took advantage of it and spent the day at the Oregon Zoo...


Noah thought the Elephants were pretty cool... especially when they did tricks.

Saturday, April 19th, only a week later; greeted us with a totally different scene. It was downright chilly, with snow in the hills... a brief sun-break sent the temp soaring to 45F (7C) before a cold shower with pea-sized hail pulled the mercury back down to 37F (3C) in short order. Here's what it looked like...


What a difference a week makes, eh?

Maybe spring will arrive next week... :-(

[Click on photos to enlarge.]

January 9, 2008

Optimistic...

I'm starting to feel optimistic about the coming year...

Sure, there are going to be a lot of changes at the box factory, and some of them may not come easy; but I'm starting to feel optimistic about where we are headed. It will take some work and determination to make everything come together, but I'm confident that we can make it happen.

It's kind of sad to think that, by the end of the year, there will only be two Mr. Roth's here at the box factory -- but I realize that my brothers have other dreams and aspirations... and so Nick and I will trudge on without them, and with the help of the Good Lord above, hopefully we can do great things with the business. I'm optimistic that we will.

November 23, 2007

NOT a Christmas Scrooge...

I am a Halloween Scrooge -- no question about that -- but don't call me a Christmas Scrooge. Sure, in years past it has taken me a while to get into the Christmas spirit -- like usually about December 20th or so. But not this year...

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Me with the kids, after setting up the tree.

I came home from work a little early on Wednesday to put up the Christmas lights -- not the usual red & white translucent bulbs, but the multi-colored ones that Noah has been wanting for the last few years. I had run out of red bulbs anyways, so it was time for something different. Noah was so excited about the lights that he was hopping and skipping around outside while I was putting them up.

Thursday morning we headed over to Bend, as Tony & Kamie were hosting Thanksgiving dinner. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, dessert, and time of visiting and catching up (and even a little Dutch Blitz). Tony even taught the women how to play Texas Hold'em, but they didn't seem to care much for it.

Noah was quite excited about the drive over, but Emily was ready to get out of her carseat by the time we reached Santiam Summit. As we passed through one particularly gorgeous, snow covered forest, Noah announced, "I'm going to call this place Snowy Valley!". :-)

We left this morning about 11:00, and made it into Sisters just before the lunch rush. We thought of joining the rest of our crew at the Sno-Cap, but decided instead to try our own Sisters favorite, the Depot Deli. Then we were off again to traverse Snowy Valley. We were very thankful to have clear blue skies and lots of sunshine the whole way.

When we got home, Noah was dying to put up the Christmas tree -- so, I hauled it in and set it up. And of course, just like last year, a string of bulbs did not light up... so I spent a good half hour searching for the bad bulb (armed with a headworn lamp) before finally declaring victory. Once again, Noah and Emily were most excited -- Noah even wanted to sleep out there!

Well, tomorrow we will likely do a little more prepping and decorating for Christmas. Now that the tree is up, I think it's time to get the Nativity Set out to remind Noah about Baby Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. ;-)

October 29, 2007

A one-man protest...

October 20, 2007

What We Saw at the Sea Shore...

Here are a few of the things we saw while visiting the northern Oregon Coast (click on photos for larger views)...


An old warehouse along Astoria's waterfront.


Feeding Noah's train addiction... :-)


Playing at the Astoria Firefighter's Museaum.


The Seaside Aquarium was a big hit for both kids.


Noah: "Hey look, it's a school of fish, and there go the teachers!" :-)


Captain Noah feeds the seagulls...

Be sure to scroll down for more photos from our trip...

Back from the Beach

We have returned from our trip to Seaside, where we had a wonderful week of family fun. Here are a few photos from the beach (click on photos to enlarge)...








August 9, 2007

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest Theme Park in Salem has been open since 1971, but I had never been there... until today. Steph wanted to do something fun with the kids, so I took most of the day off and spent the day with my family.

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Noah in front of the Hansel & Gretel House.

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Steph and the Wicked Witch...

Noah was scared of most of the Fairy Tale attractions, especially ones with dark, winding, cavern-like pathways... but I made him walk through a few with me anyway. Steph actually talked him into going on the Ice Mountain Bobsled ride, but afterwards he stated that he didn't like it because it was too crazy and wild for him. So, we went to find a tamer ride for him, and he still insisted that I ride with him...

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The train moved a whole 2 miles per hour, and the cars rocked around and played Old McDonald Had a Farm... my, what a gay old time that was...

As we exited through the Enchanted Forest gift shop, we let the kids each pick one souvenir to take home with them. Noah picked a die-cast US Postal Service delivery truck (that had absolutely nothing to do with the Enchanted Forest), and Em... well, here's what she picked out...

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That tiara fits her all too well! ;-)

April 6, 2007

[FIRE HAZARD!]

BBQ Grill Update

Tonight I wheeled my BBQ into position for grilling, and it rocked and rolled (like it has done the last few times I've used it). When I went to light it, I could tell something was amiss immediately -- the burner didn't light as it was supposed to, but I could hear the gas and see fire from somewhere. All the twisting around had knocked the propane tubes out of alignment, and a large gas-fed flame was burning under my [plastic] side tray. Yikes!

I quickly shut the gas off at the tank, and thanked God that nothing bad happened. I was able to re-align the pipes and grill up some steak and pork chops, but I think maybe this was a sign from God... one saying: [BUY A NEW GRILL!]

I think for safety's sake, I will be getting one very soon...

I would love to get a Traeger, but they are very expensive, don't heat up very hot, aren't the best for simple hamburgers and hot dogs, and they are rather bulky. I love the smoky flavor they impart to foods, but they just aren't in the budget.

One of my friends, whom I consider to be a master griller, has a Weber gas grill; and he says they are high quality and provide even, consistent heat (he uses soaked Hickory chips in a tuna can for smoke, as I do). The Weber is half the price of a Traeger, so that is what I will get... maybe tomorrow, if time allows.

[SATURDAY UPDATE]

One of these is now sitting in my garage...

I fired it up and tested it out, but didn't have a chance to grill anything. It ended up raining much of the day, so we didn't get to spend any time outside. But come Monday evening, we will be grilling regardless of the weather... :-)

Ahhh... Spring.

The sun is shining and it's 73 degrees out (23C). What an absolutely gorgeous spring day.

I just got done mowing the two acres at my moms, and the little three-quarter acre section at the box factory. It's too nice to sit inside all day. You can't imagine how happy this makes me (OK, if you live in Oregon, you probably can). It's like finally coming out of hibernation. Tis' indeed a Good Friday.

Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful, too. Here's to a weekend of playing outside, barbecuing, and even a little yard work. Woo-Hoo!

Amen! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

March 12, 2007

Beast of a BBQ

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My BBQ grill has served me well for almost 10 years now, but I'm afraid it's on its last legs.

Before we had a backyard garden shed, we used to leave the grill covered on the back patio. Occasionally, when the wind would blow, it would work its way to the edge of the patio and keel over... and eventually the handle just completely broke off. Luckily one of the bolt holes kept from breaking out, so I was able to attach a vice-grip to use as a handle.

Last summer, we transported the grill out to the box factory for a family BBQ. On the trip home, one of the cross-members (where we had attached a tie-strap) broke apart from the rest of the grill... which caused the grill surface to lean at a ~10 degree angle. Rather than abandon my trusty grill, I simply drilled holes in the tube frame and ran some lag screws into the detached cross-member. It's a little rickety, but it holds together and keeps the grill horizontal.

I got the grill out of the shed over the weekend and gave it a spring cleaning. I burned off all the junk that grows over the winter, and I gave the cast-iron grilling grates a good scrubbing. Now I just need to season the grates and she should be good for one more grilling season... I hope.

I've had my eyes on a new grill for several years now, but until this one finally gives up completely, I ain't spending a dime on a new one. And when I do replace this one, I plan to spend enough to get decent quality... and I pretty much have it narrowed down to two choices. Do I go with a Weber Gas Grill, or do I go all out and just get a Traeger? I just don't know...

February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

Noah and Emily just wanted to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day!

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Noah shows off the cupcakes he helped decorate.

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Someone's been in the napkins... :-)

January 15, 2007

I'm Whole Again...

Well, I guess it's time for a new entry... seeing as how Steph and the kids have been home for a week now.

Last night we had a family movie night -- it felt like the first time in forever since we had taken time to just spend time with our little family. Steph ran to the store to get Junior Mints and Red Vines, and Noah helped her make peanut butter popcorn. Then we watched Cars. It was even better than seeing it in the theater... because I could have my family snuggled up on the couch with me... :-)

Today when I got home from work, little Em was most excited to see me. She kept crawling up to me and climbing up against my legs, wanting me to hold her. I would hold her for a little bit and then set her down with some toys, only to have her crawl right back over to me. Finally I figured out that she was getting tired... and she wanted her Papa to rock her to sleep. For some reason, she really likes to snuggle into my arms when she's tired... it's one of the best feelings in the world. As Grandpa Dougie put it, "She's just like a velvet teddy bear." :-)

Well, that's about it for now. Just thought I'd post that I wasn't sad anymore now that my family is home... maybe tomorrow I will post pictures of the cousins in Canada.

December 18, 2006

13 Years Ago

Thirteen years ago today, a few hundred people gathered together at a little country church in the middle of nowhere...

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On that day, I became the luckiest man in the world. I still can't figure out how such a beautiful, thoughtful, incredible woman would fall for an old scrooge like myself, but I won't complain. I thank God every day for sending her to me, and for guiding us through a modern world full of all sorts of distractions. And most of all, I thank God for blessing us with two children who bring so much joy and laughter into our lives...


So, on this 18th day of December, in the year 2006; I just want to say...
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December 8, 2006

Time for more pics...


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Iron Chef Noah, ready for action...


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...is this water ever going to boil?!?!?


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Raiding the pantry sure is fun, Mom!


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Why I do what I do... :-)

November 20, 2006

Em and Noah at GG's House

A few photos from last weekend at their Great Grandmother's house...

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October 31, 2006

Halloween Scrooge

I am a Halloween Scrooge. I don't like the evil it represents, and I don't like the way it instills an attitude of greed into our children. I don't like the traffic jam it creates in our neighborhood, and I don't like the idea of having to buy 400 pieces of chocolate coated corn syrup -- and I really don't like it when the ungrateful, greedy masses complain when they only get two pieces of said candy. I just don't like it!

None-the-less, we will dress our kids up in non-scary costumes and take them around to a few friends' and family members' houses tonight... but as more as an evening of fellowship than as an excersize in candy mongering.

Drive carefully tonight, as there will be many little ones about... and remember to brush your kids' teeth after all that candy!

UPDATE: We had our first trick-or-treater at 5:15. I was trying to feed Emily and get dinner for myself... I didn't even have any candy out yet. I shut off all the lights after that. The steady stream of traffic has already begun to flow through our neighborhood. Did I mention I don't like Halloween?

October 20, 2006

Vacation time...

We are going on vacation next week... for the whole week!

We will be staying in a condo at Eagle Crest, a beautiful resort in Redmond, OR. We also hope to visit Tony & Kamie while we over there, as they now live in Bend (not that far away). It seems like it has been a long time since we've taken a full week to go somewhere (not counting the trip to the hospital when Em was born). In fact, I'm pretty sure the last time we got away for a week was August of '05 when we went to visit the Nofziger clan up north.

As usual, I'm not feeling too excited about the vacation yet (for a number of reasons), despite the fact that we leave tomorrow.

Our main truck broke down this morning, and we had to rush it to the nearest International dealer. I rescued our driver, and he is now using the clunker truck, but I really would like to have the truck back by the end of the day... seeing as how I'm helping our friends Ron & Kara move tomorrow morning! The old clunker will still work for moving, but it doesn't have a lift-gate... and a lift-gate is very handy to have with large pieces of furniture!

I also need to mow my lawn... either this afternoon (if I'm not retrieving the truck), or tomorrow after the move. The weather is supposed to be good through the middle of next week, but I who knows what will happen beyond that. With the time-change coming on the 29th, I won't have a lot of daylight in the afternoons for mowing... so I'd better get it done before we go.

Steph is scrapbooking with friends tonight (with Ron's sister Kim, actually), so I have both kids. Normally having both kids isn't a problem, but when I'm trying to get packed up, it could create some confusion and delay. And since Steph is scrapbooking tonight, she will need to pack tomorrow morning -- with both kids -- while I am helping with the move.

I'm sure I will feel excited by the time we hit the road tomorrow afternoon, but probably not until then...

October 5, 2006

Not Ready for the Rain

We are so not ready for summer to be over with, but I know that our nice days are numbered.

Today was another beautiful 70 degree day -- perfect for being outside. Noah 'helped' me grill some steaks and veggies on the ol' BBQ (a BBQ that deserves its own weblog entry) while Steph made a batch of herbed rice... Mmmm-Mmmm good. A tall glass of iced-tea topped it all off, of course. We enjoyed eating our dinner outside, and Noah even ate all of his vegetables!

After dinner, Noah played in his sandbox and scooped pea-gravel with his trucks. Then he wanted to play soccer, so we set up his hockey net (thanks Uncle Marc & Aunt Kimmy!) and kicked the ball around. I wish days like these would never end, but I know the Daylight Savings switch is just around the corner... and that means shorter days, soon followed by 40 days and 40 nights of rain...

Here are a few photos from tonight:

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Noah takes a break from kicking the soccer ball.

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Emily had to get in on the action, too.

September 11, 2006

Save the Molalla River

So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. - Genesis 1:21

A group of Molalla developers and politicians has devised a plan that will pump treated sewage into the Molalla River, one of Oregon's cleanest rivers. Those who support the plan see it as a cheap way to expand the City of Molalla, as the current sewage treatment plant will not sustain further development. So rather than bringing the idea before a public vote, city officials ram-rodded it through; trying to get it up and running before an opposing initiative could be brought before voters. Well, they have the discharge pipes in place, but they have to wait until September 19th to see the outcome of measure 3-219 (a 'yes' vote would block the dumping of sewage into the river).

I don't generally bring up political topics on this blog, but this time I will not keep silent. I strongly urge anyone eligible to vote in this election to vote 'yes'. I won't resort to name-calling here, but if you give the main developer of this ill-conceived plan the green light, you may as well be accepting an apple from the serpent in the Garden of Eden. If you don't believe me, check out their latest dirty trick.

Save the Molalla River. Vote YES on Ballot Measure 3-219.

[EDIT 9/20/06]

Wow. I am shocked. 58% of Molalla residents are in favor of dumping sewage into the river that gives our community life. I guess that's kind of the state of affairs in this country right now... the pocket book is more important than the world around us... pretty sad.

August 16, 2006

Raising a Family on One Income

I just thought I would put in a plug for my cousin Tammy's articles about living on one income (which she wrote for Get Rich Slowly). The articles can be found by following these links:

Raising a Family on One Income (Part One)
Raising a Family on One Income (Part Two)

In these articles, Tammy provides a real life example of what it takes to raise a family with only one parent working. I think she offers some very good advice...

While we are not currently able to make it on my income alone, we are slowly working towards that goal. Steph recently cut back to 2 days a week, which is a step in the right direction. I wish Steph could quit working altogether, but when she makes more money per hour than I do, it's kind of hard to make that jump. We will have to live a little more frugally, but we are willing to make sacrifices to have her home with the kids one more day a week. We are actually going to have to use the dreaded B-word... but if we are going to make it work, I don't see any other choice... we are going to have to start sticking to a budget.

July 25, 2006

My Favorite Photo of Stephanie

I think this has to be my all time favorite photo of Steph. It was taken about 10 days after Noah was born... with a Canon digital camera that I had owned for all of about half an hour...


July 10, 2006

What do I do all day long?

At a recent family gathering, my dear cousin Tammy (aka Mrs. Darling) -- who is snoopier than an old blood hound in room full of long-haired cats -- decided she needed to know what on earth we (JD, Nick and I) could possibly do all day long at the box factory.

Well, I can tell you what I do all day long, but I am not my brother's (or cousin's) keeper, so I will not attempt to speak for my business partners. As long as our customers are happy, our bills are paid, and we stay busy; I could really care less what goes on in the other offices. There are times when one of us is busier than another, and vice-versa. We all have our own responsibilities, head-aches, and frustrations; just as we have our own strengths and weaknesses.

There are plenty of slack times when we don't seem to have much to do; but, when the chips are down, the jobs get done. Should we feel guilty when those slack times come, and there's nothing more to do than surf the internet? I don't think so. We have all put in 15+ years getting the business where it is today, and we have earned the right to goof around every now and then -- as long as we aren't slow all the time, it is just fine.

So what could I possibly be doing all day long? Well, I'll tell you...

Continue reading "What do I do all day long?" »

July 2, 2006

Early Summer Photo Journal - Part II

Note: There are four recent entries, so be sure to scroll down to see them all.

Click the following link for train ride photos and cooling off in the back yard photos...

Continue reading "Early Summer Photo Journal - Part II" »

Random Kid Photos

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Mama had to do another photoshoot with little Em.

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When kittens attack! :-)

April 25, 2006

A Nearly Perfect Day

I absolutely love this warm Spring weather -- there's nothing like clear blue skies and 70 degree temperatures to beckon you to the outdoors.

Noah met me at the front door as I returned home from work, most excited to go outside with me. He was actually ready to go to the grocery store with his Mama, but chose to hang out with me instead. :-)

We cleaned up a few things in the back yard, and then gave the grass another mow (amazing how fast it can grow in a weekend). Noah pushed his toy mower around the already trimmed spots, only pausing whenever I would stop to empty the bag -- then he would come running over to me asking, "What, Papa? What, Papa?", as if he was worried something was wrong.

After the mowing was done, Noah played in his sandbox while I cleaned up the grill for its first use of the season. A good fifteen minutes of high heat cooked off all the nasty stuff that grows over the winter, and then it was good to go.

I threw on some Kosher beef franks and toasted some hot dog buns, while Steph whipped up a batch of iced tea. Add baked beans, macaroni salad, and potato chips, and we had a fine outdoor meal (our first of the year). It was so nice to be able to set the table in the shade of our maple tree -- it seems to have filled out a lot since last year.

Emily lounged beside me in her bouncy chair as we ate dinner. She seemed quite content in the balmy conditions, and occasionally made the cutest little cooing noises. At one point I looked down at her and she gave me a big cheesy smile -- the first really big smile she has given me... she's such a little sweetie! :-)

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Miss Emily, enjoying being outside.

After dinner, Noah and I played golf and baseball, while Steph and Emily cheered us on. We took a break for dessert (strawberry shortcake), and then it was on to basketball and then dodge-ball -- Noah would run around the yard, and I would try to get him with his toy basketball. There was much giggling and laughter. :-)

We stayed outside and played as long as we could, but we were eventually chased indoors by the setting sun. Then of course it was bath-time, story-time (still one of my favorite parts of the day), and then bed-time -- and the little guy really didn't fight bed-time very hard -- I think he was kind of wiped out.

Through it all, the TV screen was black; we played no video games; the computer sat idle; the radio was silent; and If the phone rang, we didn't hear it. We didn't need any of those modern 'conveniences' today. We were just happy being a family, working and playing together in the back-yard on a warm spring day. This is what life is all about. :-)

April 20, 2006

Spring, Part II

It's been a productive week... besides being busy at work, I managed to keep up on my springtime chores...

Tuesday:
Mowed at the box factory (a lot to mow)

Wednesday:
Mowed at my mom's place (even more to mow)

Thursday:
Mowed my lawn at home (not much to mow)
Edged the back yard
Swept off the patio and sidewalks
Washed my pickup
Played baseball in the backyard with Noah :-)

Tomorrow:
We're headed to Sunriver for our annual MNF weekend trip... Woohoo!

April 5, 2006

Spring Is Here

Spring is here,
and the grass keeps growing.
No time to type,
gotta keep on mowing.

Mixing up spray,
gonna kill every weed.
Dad-gum blackberries,
they're a'makin me bleed.

Dodging storms,
gotta keep the wheels turnin.
What's that smell?
must be oak boughs burnin.

Gotta go,
my own grass needs to be cut.
Spring is here,
so I better get off my butt.

March 19, 2006

Thank You

I just wanted to take a little time to thank everyone for all the support we have received these last few weeks as we have gotten to know our Little Em (My nickname for her :-)

So, for all the prayers, blog comments, cards, visits, dinners (they're still coming!), gifts, Noah-sitting, and well-wishes; THANK YOU! We have been blessed beyond our wildest expectectations.

March 8, 2006

Happy Birthday

Today is Steph's 35th Birthday... Happy Birthday Stephie!

February 22, 2006

With Arms Wide Open

I know I'm supposed to be excited about tomorrow, but right now I feel more trepidation than elation.

I am a control freak... and so much of what happens in the next few days will be out of my control. I am nervous, excited, and terrified all at the same time. I just don't feel like I am ready for tomorrow, but I know when our new little bundle arrives, I will be ready... it just happens that way. I try to remember how I felt when Noah was born -- the great joy of witnessing the miracle of new life -- but I am still uneasy.

With Arms Wide Open, a song written by Scott Stapp of the band Creed, conveys how I feel now, and how I felt with Noah...

Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open

Well I don't know if I'm ready
To be the man I have to be
I'll take a breath, I'll take her by my side
We stand in awe, we've created life

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I'll show you love
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open

If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope (s)he's not like me
I hope (s)he understands
That (s)he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And (s)he can greet the world
With arms wide open...

And so, I release all control of the situation and put my trust in the the Lord... it's all I can do.

February 11, 2006

Quick Saturday Rundown

Slept in (until 7:30)
Had pancakes and coffee (Thanks Stephie!)
Watched a few cartoons with Noah :-)
Took down Christmas lights
Trimmed a few trees
Set up a mic at church for the Valentine's Banquet
Ran to the hardware store
Had Safeway soup and rolls for lunch (yum)
Replaced the furnace filter
Scooped up dog doo
Mowed the lawn
Pulled weeds in the back yard (Noah helped ;-)

It's so nice to have some dry weather so I can catch up on all of my chores. I was going to spray weeds in the back, but that would have meant sending Noah and the dogs indoors; and that would have made them sad. So, I used my Winged Weeder and my Weed Popper to remove the weeds instead. It probably didn't go quite as fast as using Roundup, but I know Noah appreciated it.

It was a good, productive Saturday... I haven't had one of those for a while... was kind of a nice change. :-)

How did you spend your Saturday?

February 4, 2006

Insomnia

This is what I get for drinking a Starbucks Mocha at quarter to eight -- I'm just not tired, and it is nigh unto midnight. Our friends, Joel & Julie Stoltzfus, phoned us up on a whim to see if we wanted to go for coffee... so we went, 3-year-old and all.

Oh, look at that... it's Sunday now. Seahawk Sunday, that is!

[Post Super Bowl Addendum]

OK, so it ended up being Steeler Sunday. It really was good to see Bill Cowher finally get a Super Bowl win, but I still think the Seahawks were the better team.

Reasons why the Seahawks lost:
1) Too many dropped passes.
2) Too many penalties.
3) Too many missed field goals.
4) Too many bad calls.

If they could have eliminated numbers 1-3, they could have overcome #4... but they did not. Of course, some of those bad calls were pretty big...

1) There was no offensive pass interference on the called back touchdown.
2) Roethlisberger did not make it across the goal line.
3) There was no holding on the completed pass to the 2 yard line (right before the interception).
4) Hasselbeck was called for blocking below the waste while making a tackle.

Kind of seems like it was fixed for Cowher and the Bus, but the Seahawks did have their chances... guess we'll just have to wait 20 more years for another Super Bowl appearance.

January 18, 2006

How do you deal with Telemarketers?

One of life's biggest annoyances has to be telemarketers. They call at dinnertime, they don't give you a chance to speak, they try to convince you that you can't live without their services, and then they don't take no for an answer.

We got caller-ID so we wouldn't have to take their calls, but many of their numbers come up as 'unknown'. If you don't answer, they just keep calling back. We also found that our Canadian family member's number sometimes come up as 'unknown', so we try to answer them.

After concluding that caller-ID was not a solution to the problem, I adopted a different strategy. I started answering the calls, but I would immediately ask to be removed from their call list. In most cases, this worked to end the sales pitch, but not everyone was content to accept defeat so easily -- some would actually continue trying to convince me that I needed to purchase their credit card security feature. The downside of this method is that it doesn't prevent you from getting put on another corporate giant's call list...

A few months ago at Monday Night Football, I was discussing the whole telemarketing thing with Jeremy and Sabino, and they said I should get on the Do Not Call List. I had always intended to get on the list, but hadn't realized how easy it was. If you are not on the list yet, you really should register -- if took about a month and a half for the calls to stop, but for the most part, they have. We do still hear from the occasional low interest mortgage company, and we still get a few charities calling... which brings us to the next moral dilemma...

Should I treat charity telemarketers the same as corporate telemarketers?

I am still undecided... since charity telemarketers don't identify themselves right away, they don't get treated any different than regular telemarketers until they identify themselves. My typical conversation goes like this:

TM: [pause] Hello, may I please speak to Mrs. Stephanie Roth?
Me: Who's calling?
TM: My name is [so-and-so] and I represent a charity she supports.
Me: This is her husband, how can I help you?
TM: Is Mrs. Roth available?
Me: I handle the financial decisions for our family, how can I help you?
TM: I represent [insert charity here] bla-bla-bla, can we count on your support?
Me: We are now giving all charitable contributions through our local church, so we can't help you out this year.
----Conversation ends----

While we do give to charities other than those associated with our local church, we generally don't care to give to charities that choose telemarketing as a form of fund-raising. We will give to many different causes (and probably some that use telemarketing), but we will do it in our own time, not when being pressured over the phone.

So, what about you -- how do you deal with telemarketers? Do you just hang up the phone when you hear the pause? Do you try to be polite? Do you treat charities any different than you do corporate giants?

December 28, 2005

What have we been up to?

Well, right after my last entry, Stephanie and I headed up to downtown Portland to celebrate our 12th anniversery. I surprised Steph by booking a room at the new Hilton Executive Tower, right next to Pioneer Courthouse Square and Pioneer Place (not real big attractions for me, but I figured Steph would like it). I did like the valet parking at the Hilton, as well as all the little details -- chocolate covered strawberries and champagne (sparking cider for us) in our room, soft terry cloth robes, and breakfast in bed Sunday morning... very nice.

Our view from the 16th floor of the Hilton:

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Dinner on Saturday night was at Caprial's Bistro. We had wonderful 4-course dinner, and we got to meet Caprial (she was helping out because they were so busy).

We started out with a slightly garlicky spinach appetizer (I can't remember the name of the dish) which was served with fresh bread... if spinach always tasted that good, I would eat it like Popeye does! Next was the Smoked Salmon Salad for me, and the Soup for Steph (I can't rememer what the soup was). The salad was incredible... the tangy horseradish-buttermilk dressing was a perfect match for the smoked salmon. The salad was enormous, too... if I hadn't starved myself all day, I would have been full after the salad course. For the main course, I got the Flat Iron Steak and a glass of the Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon, the two were an excellent match. Steph had the fresh Salmon, which was my other choice... it was delicious as well. Dessert really topped off the evening. We split a slice of the Chocolate Turtle Torte... and oh, was it ever fabulous... rich yet smooth as silk... the perfect compliment for a cup of coffee.

We made it back downtown in time to do a little shopping, mainly just some decent gloves and hat for me so I didn't freeze. We returned to Pioneer Place after breakfast the next morning, and were actually able to get some Christmas shopping done. Then we headed home in attempt to beat the approaching WINTER BLAST... which arrived ahead of schedule. By the time we made it to Canby to pick up Noah, we were driving on a thin layer of ice... but we made it home safely.

Since then it has been a flurry of Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, and celebrating with friends and family.

We had a good Christmas, but Noah still wants to open more presents and he seems quite sad that Christmas is over. We still have Steph's cousin Christmas gathering to attend this weekend, so he will get one more present to open... after that, he's just going to have to wait until his birthday... and he's going to have to endure new baby sister getting lots of presents... I don't think he knows what's going to hit him!