Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Announcement 13 Weeks in the Making...

In April 2007, we got married.

In October 2009, we brought home Slider.

In January 2014, we adopted Sammy.

And in April 2015, our little family will be growing yet again.

Really, though, our new addition is already here, sort of... and has been making its presence known for the last couple months as it proceeded to torture me from the inside. In the words of Lily Aldrin, this kid better be real freakin' cute.

You may remember this from Pat's last post:

Later in the day we went out to dinner with my mom and Char’s parents to Red Lobster. My father-in-law’s birthday is today so we were celebrating both. Dinner was fantastic as always and we got a couple of free desserts for our birthdays. After that we went out to Roundheads, a pizza pub/bar to celebrate my birthday with some local friends. All in all a very good day.

What he didn't mention is that was also the day we told our families and most of our close friends that I'm pregnant. So, yeah, a very good day.

And now that we've heard the heartbeat for the first time (!!!) and I'm out of the first trimester (officially 14 weeks on Thursday), we're ready to tell the internet. Even though I'm not on Facebook anymore, I still think of things as being "Facebook official" when you're ready to share news with the whole world instead of just your little corner of it.

In six months... I'm gonna be a mom.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This Week in Illinois

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post for an Illinois special. We are in Lombard for most of this week for my brother-in-law’s wedding. That is this Friday. As I’ve mentioned before, we’re all looking forward to welcoming his fiancĂ©e and her daughter into the family (even though they totally already are). I’m also looking forward to standing up in a wedding for the first time. It should be a fun evening.

Wednesday was also my birthday. It was a very good day. Wednesday morning I went out and played a round of disc golf over at Madison Meadows. I really enjoy this course. It’s got a lot of very long holes with wide open fields so you can just go all out and throw as far as you can without too much penalty for poor aim. It’s also a very nice course to look at around the well maintained pond pictured below.



Later in the day we went out to dinner with my mom and Char’s parents to Red Lobster. My father-in-law’s birthday is today so we were celebrating both. Dinner was fantastic as always and we got a couple of free desserts for our birthdays. After that we went out to Roundheads, a pizza pub/bar to celebrate my birthday with some local friends. All in all a very good day.

And today, I got to watch a couple of monarch butterflies hatch out of their cocoons. My mom finds the eggs on her plants and brings them inside to give them a better chance of survival. Once they hatch she releases them. Pretty cool to watch.


Friday, August 8, 2014

This week in Iowa - 2

Well, my favorite news this week is that I got my birthday present a little early! Char and my mom went in on getting me a disc golf basket. 

Yup, I've already been putting it to good use this evening. This will finally give me a chance to work on a couple of different putting styles to see what I really like. I foresee this thing getting a lot of use in the near future.

Chicago Bears football is back! Yes, it’s only the preseason, but it’s nice that the wait is finally over. I only watched the first quarter when the starters were playing (had to get back outside to enjoy the new basket). Dante Rosario was looking pretty good on a couple of catches and runs. It’ll be interesting to see if he can provide a good target opposite Martellus Bennett. Other than that…it’s the pre-season. It’s hard to really judge anything. Season opener is in less than 4 weeks.
My uncle’s wedding went very well. The new couple was absolutely beaming. I got to see family that I don’t get to very often. The cake was delicious. The champagne fountain was pretty cool.
I also found out that a couple of my cousins play disc golf. I’m hoping to head up towards their area to play what sounds like a very nice 36-hole disc golf course next weekend. I also might get to see their brother who is currently in the Marines. Depends on when his leave is.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This week in Iowa - 1

Ok, so this blog has been sitting here unwritten for way too long. Char’s been posting like crazy on her other blog so it looks like it’s up to me to keep this one alive. I've decided I’m going to try to post at least once a week. It’ll probably be a bunch of random stuff that went on that week, but it’ll be nice to start posting and keeping people up on what’s been going on with us out in Dubuque.

So basically, I've been working a lot lately. Due to a couple of days off and some overtime that I was fortunate enough to get, I've been working 10 hour days for about the past 6 weeks. While I enjoy the extra money and I've always got more than enough to keep me busy for those extra hours, I’ll be looking forward to going back to 8 hour days next week.

I haven’t been playing nearly as much disc golf as I’d like, but I’m still getting out about once a week with some friends from work. I've also decided that I’m going to give a different putting style a try. It’s still probably the weakest part of my game so it’s worth a shot. It’s called push putting. I've tried practicing out behind the apt a bit and once I got the hang of the technique, I seem to be able to keep the disc on a relatively straight path (which is the idea). I want to get a portable basket so I can actually practice instead of throwing at an imaginary basket. I also still want to try to enter a tournament at some point this year. 

Exciting news on the cat front: Sammy is now fully trained to use his feeding box. 

He hasn't thrown up in months and now we can just leave his food out all the time for him to eat at his leisure. We decided to train him in slow steps since he’s an older cat and isn't the quickest to adapt to new situations. I’ll be honest, when we were only part way through and he didn't seem to like the tunnel with a wide open door, I was a little nervous that I’d spent money on the cat door. Sammy, however, pleasantly surprised me when he picked up on pushing the door open all on his own within a day of us adding the flap into the equation. So nice to be able to accommodate both of our cats’ eating habits.

Char and I have gotten out and done a lot of bike riding the past 2 weeks. It took us a little bit to get going with all the traveling and extra work I've been doing, but we've finally got our momentum going. Hopefully it continues for the rest of the year. I’m also hoping to bike to work a little more often starting next week when I’m back to shorter hours. (trying to be ready to leave at 5 AM to bike in was just not going to happen)

This has been a summer of weddings. We were out in Dublin, Ohio two and a half weeks ago to celebrate my friend Andromeda getting married. I was afforded the honor of giving a reading in the ceremony, and I couldn't be happier for her and Jacob. They are an excellent pair and will take good care of each other. This weekend, my Uncle Ed (godfather) is getting married. It's supposed to be a small ceremony, but like any wedding seems to have gotten bigger as we get closer to the date. In any case, he and Jan seem to make each other very happy and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to meet some of her family. In just over three weeks, my brother-in-law, Marcus, is getting married. Char and I are standing up in the wedding, a first for both of us. I’m pretty sure Marc’s still only fifteen, but we’re excited about welcoming Molly and her two-year-old daughter, Sophie, into the family.

Well that’s enough for now, but this is the type of post I’m going to try to put out once a week. Just little blurbs about what’s going on. I pretty much stole the idea from Char’s updates that she posts on Fridays, but as the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

So, the bike theft

As promised, here is the full story about our bikes being stolen.

For the last 3 years, we have kept our bikes locked up at the bottom of the stairwell here.


It's a very convenient spot for 2 bikes since our apartment isn't really that big. Even though the building itself isn't locked, the bikes are out of sight from the door and there are only 2 apartments downstairs (including ours) so we don't get a lot of traffic coming by them. We also always have them locked to the stair railing.

Last Saturday, I left at around 1 to run some errands. On my way out, the bikes were there. On my way back, I didn't notice if they were there or not. I did notice that the door to our hallway was open, but with my attention focused on that and carrying stuff, I didn't look back in the direction of the bikes. Charleen mentioned that she had heard a bunch of banging around earlier, but it's an apartment building, that's nothing out of the ordinary. On our way out to dinner, however, we were shocked to walk out and see our bikes missing. That night an officer came by to record what was stolen. He left his card and we were going to call him back once we confirmed the serial numbers with the bike shop the next day. We also called our landlord right away on the off chance that someone had complained about them and maintenance took them.

The next day, we confirmed which numbers on our receipt were the serial numbers at the bike shop and called the officer to add those numbers to the police report so that they could flag them if the bikes showed up at a pawn shop. Our landlord also called me back to let me know that she hadn't told anyone to take the bikes, but our next door neighbor had skipped out on her and it was possible that one of the maintenance guys thought the bikes belonged to them and might have moved them. She'd have to check the next day when they were in.

Well, on Monday, I called her back and she confirmed that none of her guys had moved them. They had definitely been stolen. Thankfully, we do have renter's insurance, but I didn't want to call them right away. Even though the weather was getting nicer, I didn't want to start with the insurance since I still wanted to give it a couple of days on the off chance that the police got a hit on the serial numbers. I figured I'd rather not go through the process of paying our deductible $500 and getting new bikes only to recover the old ones. Well, on Thursday we still hadn't heard anything so I called up to start the insurance process. A rep got back to me on Friday and I had some paperwork to fill out over the weekend. Yay...

On Sunday, one of the maintenance guys knocked on the door to tell me that he knows where the bikes are. He happened to see them the day before in the pawn shop downtown where he pays his bills. He was one of the guys that was in the building the previous week to clean up some of the mess with the sewer backing up so he was pretty familiar with what they looked like. He also mentioned that one of them had a light on it and the other one didn't. I was pretty excited to have possibly found the bikes, but there was a problem. The pawn shop wasn't open on Sunday. The maintenance guy, Wayne, wanted to meet up with me and the land lord the next morning to tell her what he had found out. The pawn shop wasn't open until 10 AM the next day so I called in to work to make sure I could take the morning off to get this resolved. Thankfully I have a pretty understanding boss who knows I'll make up the time later in the week.

So here I am for the rest of the day Sunday looking up what goes into the process of getting stolen property back from a pawn shop. The good news was that pawn shops due to their nature, typically take down a driver's license and sometimes even finger prints of the people who sell things to them. Also, as long as the serial numbers hadn't been scratched off, I knew I could prove that the bikes were ours. One would think that that would be that. Buying or selling stolen property is illegal, and the property should still belong to the original owner. The pawn shop didn't do anything wrong since they didn't know the bikes were stolen when they bought them, but it should be like counterfeit money. Whoever ends up with it last after discovering it's fake is out the money. Well...it turns out that different states have different rules. Many victims of theft have to pay the pawn shops what they paid to get their stuff back. In other cases, the police will take the property as evidence until everything is processed through. The more I read, the more I realized that we might not be getting our bikes back the next day. Yeah, I didn't sleep well that night.

So Monday morning at 8 I met up with the landlord. She wanted to know right away who took the bikes because if they had anything to do with the apt complex, they were going to be either evicted or fired. So, she was going to meet me over at the shop at 10 when they opened. I also contacted the police to see what they wanted me to do, as expected, they told me to verify that the bikes were indeed there and if they were, call them back and they'd have an officer over to get the information from the shop on who sold them. So after I had been home for about an hour twiddling my thumbs until it was time to head over to the shop, there was a knock at the door. It was my landlord telling me that she knew who had taken the bikes. It was one of her maintenance guys. He had thought that the bikes belonged to the neighbors that skipped out and had taken them without her permission to pawn them. As a result, he was now fired and would be going to the pawn shop to get the bikes back. I was a little uneasy about this and was wondering if I should meet him down there to take the bikes back myself, but it ended up not mattering. The pawn shop wouldn't give them back to him anyway after finding out they were stolen. They needed my permission to sell them back to him.

So, I threw the bike rack in the car and headed over to the pawn shop. On the way over to the shop I was thinking about what I would say to the guy who had stolen our bikes. The landlord had told me that he was very upset when he confessed to her that he had taken the bikes. Apparently he couldn't afford to lose this job. Well, there wasn't anything I could do about that now. That was the landlord's decision, not that I didn't agree with her. I decided that in this case, less was probably more. Besides, my main priority was getting the bikes back in one piece.

I walk in and there they are, both bikes, undamaged with sale stickers on them. And there was Jeff, the guy who had stolen them. Quite honestly, he looked pretty pathetic. I was glad I had decided not to say much. I pretty much just didn't want to talk to him. I just wanted to get in, get my bikes back, take them home, and not have to think about him again. He on the other hand apparently needed my acknowledgement that what he did was "just an honest mistake". He kept repeating that phrase. I'm not sure if he was trying to convince me or himself. Anyway, one of the guys in the pawn shop said that he needed to take the money directly from me. This is the one plus that I will give to Jeff, he had the money ready to go and handed it to me without any fuss. So, I gave the money to the pawn shop and they started the process of getting their paperwork straightened out. Jeff once again was still trying to get me to acknowledge his "honest mistake" and now that the bikes were mine again I responded that if it was an honest mistake, why didn't he fess up as soon as the landlord asked him and the rest of the maintenance guys about taking the bikes a week ago. He then started muttering something about trying to figure out how and I turned back to the pawn shop clerk. After another minute, Jeff asked if I wanted his help out with the bikes or transporting them back to the apartment. I simply told him, "I think you've done enough." He left, one of the clerks helped me take the bikes out to the car, and I loaded them up and took them home.

Now instead of feeling a bit depressed when I walk past where the empty spot where the bikes used to be, I smile every time I walk into our kitchen.

Crazy year so far

Sorry I've been so quiet recently, it's just been an interesting year so far.

To start off, we brought in a new addition to the family. Meet Sammy.


Sammy is roughly a 13-15 year old cat that we got from my friend Nathan. Nathan is living in a condo with a roommate and just felt like he wasn't able to provide a good home for Sammy anymore due to having to basically confine him to 1 bathroom so Charleen and I talked it over and decided that it might be nice for Slider to have some company. For the most part it's working out just fine. Sammy just has some quirks. He has a tendency to throw up if he gets upset and eats too much, and he occasionally has bathroom accidents. So it's a bit of an adjustment from a cat that only needs to be fed twice a day and almost never has any health problems. Either way, we love him and he and Slider have a pretty good if just a bit brotherly rough-housing relationship.

Near the end of January, one of our neighbors slid into our parked car in the lot outside our building. It wasn't much damage, just a cracked rear bumper, but there's a bit of a communication barrier so it's been a drawn out process to work through him to get a check to cover the damage. Thankfully that just came in the mail yesterday so we can now go about getting the appointment set up and finally get the car fixed.

A little over 2 weeks ago, I woke up to hear the toilet gurgling at about 3 AM. Charleen mentioned that both of them had been doing it all night. Strangely enough, I was the one sleeping through it all. Typically, she's the heavy sleeper between us. Anyway, I took a look at them and we didn't have any leaks that I could see, they just didn't seem to want to flush right. I decided to wait 'till a decent hour to call the landlord and have them take care of it during the day. I called around 6:50 as I was finishing getting ready to go to work. The landlord mentioned that someone else was having some plumbing issues as well and she'd send someone over when she got in that morning. About 10 minutes later, Charleen noticed water seeping out from under the utility room door and into the kitchen. We managed to get everything out of the way of the water and called back the landlord who came over within 30 minutes to shut off the water. All said and done, nothing was damaged, it only collected on a linoleum floor, and after the maintenance guys used a shop vac to collect most of the water, I mopped the floor with bleach before heading in to work.

Last Saturday, Charleen and I were heading out to dinner with friends only to discover that our bikes had been stolen from inside our building where they were locked up. Long story short, we got them back 9 days later after they were spotted at a pawn shop. I'm going to write out a separate post on this one since I think it deserves a bit more background. It's a big relief to have them back, but the whole process was frustrating and stressful for both Charleen and me.

So yeah, that's been the start of 2014 for me. I'll post the bike story soon, and I've got a lot of other thoughts that I keep meaning to post about, it's just a matter of finding the time and energy do writ them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

How You Got Sick of Waiting to Learn How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother has been one of my favorite shows for years. This final season, though... it's been a mixed bag. It's had some great moments, but on the whole it's just not what I expected and hoped for. A lot of long-running sitcoms get criticized for not quitting while they were ahead, but HIMYM has taken that to a new extreme, dragging out one weekend to last an entire season.



One bit of good news is that we're less than two months from the long-awaited series finale.

Another is that last week's episode, the 200th, was a great one. That episode, combined with some great moments that stand out from the filler of this wedding weekend that won't end, give me confidence that the end of the series will be everything we're hoping for... even if the road to get there hasn't been.

*** Mild Spoilers Ahead ***

The best parts of this season have been those featuring Cristin Milioti as the mother. I absolutely LOVED her introduction at the end of last season. It made me so excited for this final run, especially as I heard the creators discussing how we were going to get to know her this season. We already want Ted to meet her... but we have to want her to meet Ted too.

Unfortunately, we haven't gotten as much of that as I was expecting. I've liked the glimpses that we have seen of her, either over this weekend or in flashback. (The flash-forwards to her and Ted are cute, I guess, but I'm just not as interested in THEM as I am in HER.) I like seeing how she meets each member of the group, and "Bass Player Wanted," the last episode before the holiday break, was probably my favorite of the season.

Until now.

Last week's episode was perfect. It's absolutely the best episode this season, and will probably go down as one of my favorites of the whole series. There are so many callbacks to little things we've learned about the mother up until now, but it's all given context. I feel like we finally got to know her and where she's coming from.

Even if we still don't know her name.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fantasy Football Rookie - A Wrap Up

Fantasy Football is finally over. Yes, we did play Week 17. Yes, I was paying attention and set up my roster ahead of time. No, I didn't post about it. We were out of town and computer time was rare. Pretty sure the only change I made from the previous week was taking out Calvin Johnson and putting in a backup receiver.

Despite Week 17 being my lowest scoring week ever, I managed to end the season in 3rd place. Go me!

I'm pretty sure I won't be doing fantasy football again. It was fun for about a month. After that it just became something I had to remember to do. I do sort of appreciate getting a broader look at the other teams and players in the league, but I don't need fantasy football to do that.

It was fun to do once, but next year I'll go back to just being a spectator.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goodbye, 2013... Goodbye, Facebook



It's been a long time since I've actually gotten anything worthwhile out of Facebook. Well, that's not entirely true, but it's been a long time since the positives have outweighed the negatives. I joined as a way to stay connected to friends and family... but now it's all just noise.

So, I'm done.

I posted the above status two days ago. I deleted my account this morning. I would have done this months ago if it weren't for a couple ongoing group things. And, of course, there's the nagging feeling that I'm going to miss out in the future simply by not being so easily available. But I just don't care anymore. It's not enough of a reason to stick around.

Even if I change my mind in another few months - who knows, stranger things have happened - I have a feeling I'll appreciate starting from a clean slate.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie (Week 16)

Friday Morning - 

QB - Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins
RB - Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy
WR - Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Riley Cooper
TE - Julius Thomas
K - David Akers
D/ST - 49ers
D - NaVorro Bowman, Nick Roach

I picked up Kirk Cousins to start in place of Joe Flacco, partly because Flacco has a minor injury, but mostly because Cousins had a great game last week and is going up against the worst passing defense this week. It might be a risk, but at this point it's one I'm willing to take.