Sunday, November 29, 2009

David and Shelena, Part 4: Zealotmobile

I've saved the best "David and Shelena" entry for last.

I feel sorry for people who live in Milwaukee and don't work downtown. They're missing out on one of the most unique experiences this city has to offer.

Imagine yourself, waiting on Wisconsin Ave for your evening commute bus to come. It's been a long day and you're lost in your thoughts. You consider running into Starbucks for a Caramel Apple Spice cider when you hear the faint sounds of a tinny PA system. You try to make out the words, but it's impossible. Just muffled voices screaming...err...preaching something. Probably the end of the world, damnation, repentance, etc. You look around for the source of the sound and see this vehicle coming up on you.

"Oh geez" you say to yourself, "it's the Zealotmobile!" Actually, I have no idea what other people call this...this...artwork. I'm looking for a better name myself.

David and Shelena were joining Cyn and me for lunch at Safe House when we got stuck behind the super-slow Zealotmobile. And I couldn't be happier about it. The Zealotmobile is quintessential Milwaukee and any trip to see us would have been incomplete without a viewing of it.

People have an odd reaction to this car. We've all seen it dozens of times, but not regularly enough that it annoys us. You just kind of smile about it all and move on. But if you really take time to read some of the signs on the behemoth of trash, you can become somewhat outraged.

I have no idea why this guy thinks he's saving souls with such inflammatory messages as (spelling preserved):

  • The 2nd Great Whore The Lutherans
  • Blame The Moslum N The Jew B-Cause They Both Hate U Christians
  • I'm Trying Save Your Soul A#&*$@! (although he has blacked out the cuss recently)
  • Earth: The Insane Asylum 4 The Universe
And there are some that are far worse that I won't be writing down. I'll leave it as an exercise for you to find them. :)

Hang that I think of it, the Zealotmobile's precariously placed tower of messages really reminds of something from my childhood...

"The Trash Heap, nyuuuhhh!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

David and Shelena, Part 3: Apple Pickin'

While David and Shelena were here, we went apple picking for the first time. I'm not sure why we haven't done it in years past. The boys loved the outing and enjoyed snacking on the half bushel of Golden Delicious and Jonagolds we purchased. The boys said they want to pick apples every year, but we'll have to see where we'll be next year. Good thing that apples grow in every state.

Oh, and we finally tried Honeycrisp apples for the first time. Very good snacking apple, but I still prefer the versatility of a Golden Delicious.

This silly dog followed us the entire time we were picking apples. I had no idea how much Carter likes dogs. Carter tried feeding him apples and playing fetch with him the rest of the time we were at Barthel Farms.

Too Cute

I like these shots. Not entirely sure why. I guess it reminds me that center of our family is Cyn and I, having as much fun together as possible.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for the hope that Heavenly Father keeps sending to lift us up, and I'm thankful for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We love you. You make our lives beautiful!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

David and Shelena, Part 2: MAM

Shelena is one of the coolest semi-related-to-me persons I know. And I'm pretty confident that I know most of my semi-related-to-me persons. Aside from teaching us alternative scarf-folding techniques, knowing everything about cars (she even shares the same favorite car with me), and visiting us during a cold week in autumn, she also brought a Canon Rebel SLR with her.

I made the mistake of buying a film SLR right before the digicam craze started. And I will regret that decision until I have a digital SLR of my very own. (sniff, sniff)

So thanks to Shelena for snapping a million awesome pictures of our trip on a camera with far better color imaging than my own feeble non-SLR camera.

Let's get the picture-sharing started with the Milwaukee Art Museum.

I've said it before, the Calatrava is the most beautiful part of Milwaukee.

This pic would have been better if some of us were on the right side, but the guard yelled at us. They're very cautious at the MAM about where you stand, what you touch, and the level of moisture contained in your breath. I think we'll bring our HazMat suits next time.

This is a fun little 3-way mirror sculpture that everyone who has ever been to the MAM has seen, but this is by far the best shot I've ever seen taken of it. Hooray for Shelena!

I forgot the name of the artist, but there's a small room on the 3rd floor with 3 sculptures (including the sculpture above) by the same artist. The entire room has a very serene and quiet feeling that exudes from her artwork. I could sit and think in that room all day long.

Yeah, we're silly. And Cyn has the Bangles on her mind.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Funny Part About Church in Milwaukee...

Is that there's hardly a safe place in the whole city of Milwaukee. Each time that I participate in the annual church landscaping project, I clean up a plethora of cigarette butts; sometimes I really wonder who's hanging around the church when we're not there. I got a small answer to that question last night.

We had our church meetings from 1-4 and then choir practice from 4:15 to 5. Everyone but the choir members had evacuated the building by 4:30. Around 4:45, Jordan and Carter were running madly through the halls to stave off boredom when someone walks through the front door of the church.

In Jordan's words, the man was "black, kinda short for an adult, had an American flag shirt on, and had a cigarette in his mouth!" Jordan didn't feel like the guy had very good intentions, so he ran away and grabbed Carter's hand in the process. Jordan even looked back to make sure the guy wasn't chasing them. Well done, but he didn't tell an adult about it.

The guy then poked his head in the chapel where the choir was. Cynthia (and a few other ladies) saw him but failed to tell one of the four men in the room. We all failed to see him as we were....uhh....rehearsing. Yeah...rehearsing. Talking about ninjas actually. Hrmm hrmm...

If I had known this guy was in the church, I would have talked to him. We've had some stolen items from the church and several people asking for money, so prevention is the best policy. However, I didn't know about it until 5 pm after the closing prayer. One of the sisters told me she saw him and then she asked me to do a sweep of the building to make sure he wasn't still inside. Then my wife informs me that for whatever reason, she left her purse in the foyer.

Yeah, it was gone. Her purse, her scriptures that I got her as a wedding gift seven years ago, her lesson manual, her makeup bag, a copy of her patriarchal blessing (the original is safe at home), and all of our quiet books and coloring books. Luckily, Cynthia kept her class roster including addresses and phone numbers of the young women, her coat, her keys, and her wallet in a different place. So the guy got nothing of monetary value. Still sucks though.

Cyn's name, maiden name, birth date, place of birth, and both parents' names were in the bag, but as this is the fourth time that her personal information has been compromised during our marriage, we're pretty familiar with the routine of keeping her identity from becoming completely stolen.

Jordan was really shaken up about the whole thing. He kept crying about the crayons and coloring books that were stolen. He kept saying "that's the first time I ever saw a robber" and other such phrases. After a while I had to tell him that it could have been a lot worse - our car, for example, could have been stolen. For the rest of the night he decided to see the positive and be glad for everything that wasn't stolen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

David and Shelena, Part 1: Intro

David (Cyn's bro) and Shelena (his other half) were kind enough to visit us November 3 - 11. I really enjoyed their visit. I hadn't seen any relatives at all since December 2007, so it was especially sweet for me to see them. Here are a few stats of their stay:
  • 1522 pics taken. (Will be more, I don't have all of them yet)
  • 300 miles driven in a rental van
  • 45 minutes waiting for a table in Safe House
  • 36 games played (including 7 rounds of Carcassonne)
  • 19 hours of school that Jordan missed
  • 12 pounds of!
  • 8 amazing omelets by David
  • 3 books in the Twilight series finished by Shelena
  • 2 cheese fondues (Israeli and Bacon Cheddar)
  • 1 job terminated
  • 0.5 bushels of apples picked
  • 0 days that we were all awake by 10 am
Sounds like a party, doesn't it? Thank you so much for visiting us; we already miss you.

Past Halloweens

A few weeks ago, I upgraded our computer. We're now running Win7 64-bit with 4 gigs of DDR3, 1 terabyte of storage across a 3-disk RAID5 drive (all mounted on silicone) and backup 4th drive, and 4 cores running at 2.6 Ghz on an AM3 processor. I also have four silent pulse fans with all silicone fasteners and frames. It's as quiet as it is sleek.

I still need to upgrade our tuner card which is now incompatible with Win7, a new Blu-Ray burner, and a new video card. But they can wait.

If you're still with me, congratulations! You're an official computer geek!

But I digress.

While I was transitioning the old system to the new, one of Cyn's visiting teachers wanted to see a pic of a Halloween costume Cynthia wore years ago. I couldn't find it at the time because of the upgrade. But, now that I'm all done....this one's for you, Patty.

This is Cynthia as The Avon Lady, Halloween 2001. I didn't know her at the time (I was just two months off my mission - we met 5 months later), but I thought this pic was kinda cute in an odd way and scanned it. There was an even better full length picture that I didn't scan where you can see the hideous outfit she's wearing; the orange nylons really made the outfit. I didn't scan it because the picture has Cyn's then-boyfriend in the frame. Grrr.

For good measure, here's Cyn as The Scarecrow, Halloween 2004. Sad to say that all the clothes she is wearing actually came from her then-wardrobe; we've updated a bit since then. We've also updated the "Welcome Back Kotter" sofa and cinder block walls.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sweetest Child Award Goes to...

We finally told Jordan and Carter on Friday that I no longer had a job. Jordan was a little surprised and then become rather pensive. He walked to his room, pulled out this piggy bank that he's had for years, and said "Daddy, I want you to have the money in my piggy bank. It will help you pay for things."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fitting End to a Vacation

Yesterday was my last day of a 5-day vacation. I was really looking forward to some time off after the exam. I really felt like I needed a vacation after all that studying.

David and Shelena were here for the week and we had a wonderful time - I'll post about it soon. Several months ago, I planned on resuming my search for a new job right after this vacation. And though the search will continue as planned, the intensity will change...

94 jobs were terminated at my company yesterday, and I was one of them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Matchy Matchy!

Halloween costumes this year had to be cheap and easy due to our busy schedules. Which means we couldn't do our original idea for Halloween costumes (all four of us dressing as 80's cartoon characters. I won't tell you which ones - there's always next year.)

We picked up the boys' costumes this year at a costume swap party. I'm just glad they were excited about them, despite the lack of color.

Carter as the Big Bad Wolf, Jordan as Remy from Ratatouille

Now if you'll bear with me for a moment, I must speak about something very important. Do you see those trick-or-treat bags they're holding? Pretty cool, huh? They glow in the dark for that extra touch of kiddy magic. The bags were from Cynthia's Mom - Cyn used those bags as a kid. Here's the weird part though, I used the same bags (except mine had handles) in my family! Does anyone else have fond memories of those bags? I need to know how many other Moms did cool stuff like that.

I digress...

As we were already planning on adult costumes that matched the kids this year, we felt challenged to come up with something else that matched. So...

Let go! These cookies are for my sick Grammy, you big meanie! Cookies will cure any geriatric condition!

Cynthia got some fleece from Joann's and freestyle sewed a Little Red Riding Hood costume. That fleece sure looked warm. Perfect for Halloween which was, unfortunately, 40 degrees this year. The dress and basket came from Goodwill. We wanted to stick a baguette in the basket, but we ran out of time.

Oui! Oui! Dupez ou le plaisir, monsieur! Donnez-moi le bonbon...MAINTENANT! Hon hon hon!

My costume was really easy - one quick trip to Bartz for a toque and a stop at Bed Bath and Beyond for an apron. Everyone seemed to dig the chef costume - lots of comments all night. One person recognized the Ratatouille connection and called me "Chef Gusteau"...I felt pretty fat after that one.

We went trick-or-treating in two waves (because one can never have too much sugar) and the boys gathered five pounds of candy together! Not that I measured on a kitchen scale...because that would be silly. Yeah, silly.

I'm done!

So, this is somewhat old news, but it took me a while to get a post up.

I'm done with my exam! I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!!!! No more headaches, flashcards, nightmares about missing the exam, hand cramps, frozen pizzas, etc. 450 hours is way too much time to put into any 5 month long pursuit.

I thought the test went fairly well. In the five years that I've been taking these exams, I've never been so satisfied with my efforts. No amount of additional studying would have helped and I felt like I did everything I possibly could during the exam. This has left me with a very satisfying feeling, regardless of whether I pass or not. Grades come out in early January.

Yes, January. Graders won't even see the exam until early December. I know that half of you just went into shock, but I'm used to the used to be worse...

So once again I can have a life and I can enjoy other endeavors.