May 28, 2008

More pictures......

My friend Kelly Peuse emailed me a slideshow of aerial pictures from above Parkersburg. Click here to see it. Quite incredible.

Movie Review - Prince Caspian

I have been extremely excited to see the second Chronicles of Narnia movie ever since I heard that they were making it into a movie. Typically, Jared and I do not go to a movie unless it is at the dollar theater, but this was one of the exceptions.

Let me just start off by letting ya'll know that I am a pretty big fan of the Chronicles of Narnia books and C.S. Lewis. I think he was given an amazing talent as an author which is definitely evident in both his fiction and non-fiction books.

Anyways, back to the movie....This is just my opinion about the movie and let me remind everyone that I have no experience what so ever critiquing movies. Oh, and I won't ruin the movie for those who haven't been able to see it yet.

Did I like the movie?

Was is like the book?
No, not really. It did have the same "basic" story line but A LOT was added and the order in which things occurred in the book didn't match up to the order in which they happened in the film.

Would I recommend seeing the movie?
Yes, it is a great movie to see if you like fantasy movies. Plus you don't have to worry about any bad language or nudity. Always an added benefit when seeing a movie.

Is it appropriate for children?
I would say it depends on their ages. There are battles like in the first movie and a few other scenes that might frighten small children. Also, if your child saw the first movie, you would probably be ok letting them see this one. If you have concerns I would preview it first then you would know for sure if you want your kids to see it.

Overall thoughts:
The movie in general was good. I was quite disappointed though with how much the storyline was different from the book. Some of my disappointments included adding unnecessary scenes, deleting aspects of the story that help explain things more clearly, deleting or limiting the moral lessons that were more evident in the book, changing character personalities, and making the film much more darker than how I pictured the story in my mind.

After all that....Don't get me wrong I definitely would see the movie again and think that if you haven't read the book then you will probably enjoy the movie and not be as critical as I am. I know that if I would have just saw the movie and not read the book I would have loved it! Mostly because I wouldn't know what I was missing.

May 26, 2008

It could never happen here.....

It was about 7:00 on a Sunday night when my phone started vibrating.

I had been enjoying the cool evening with friends, snacking on chips, catching up and cracking jokes like we always do. "Huh, Kelly is calling me, I wonder what's up" I thought as I answered it. "Have you heard?" she asked, "A tornado formed by Aplington and has wiped out almost half of Parkersburg! Have you talked to your parents? Are they ok?"

It was complete news to me. I grew up just outside Aplington. Parkersburg is just a hop down the road. Could this really be happening?

A call to my mom quickly confirmed what I had just heard. "Yes, Parkersburg is destroyed. Wendy and Mike are OK though. Their house is completely gone but they made it down in the basement just in time. It missed us though." Wendy is my cousin. She and Mike just brought their 5 day old home from the hospital a couple days before.

We hung up after only a couple moments. Soon my phone started ringing again with other concerned friends wondering if I had been up there this weekend and wanting to know if we were OK. I thought of others I knew up there and started calling them to see how they were doing. I kept getting the same stories.

A few pictures to illustrate...

Unless you don't live in Iowa, you probably know the stories already. You've seen the pictures of the complete devastation. A town of 1900 about a third gone. More of it badly damaged. People I know. People I grew up with. Relatives. Friends.

I saw an old classmate of mine on TV describing it. I heard from a guy I used to compete with at the county fair talking about the sheriff's department plan of action. I read names in the paper of people I remember.

It's been surreal watching the footage, reading the articles and thinking about the town I grew up by destroyed. I wanted to help. I wanted to show up with a chain saw or something and at least attempt to help someone look for their possessions. I wanted to be grateful for the lives spared and pray for those who were taken.


For now, the town is closed off. Only residents are allowed and only during daylight hours until large debris is moved and it is safe for people to sort through whatever they can find.

Wendy, Mike and little Amy are staying at my aunt and uncle's house outside Aplington, counting their blessings for being alive, trying to deal with their loss, and -most sadly- preparing for a funeral for Mike's grandparents, who were victims of this devastation.

Please pray for those affected. I can't imagine what it would be like to have your world turned upside down.

May 25, 2008

Land of the Free.........

As I was looking through pictures and reading stories related to Arlington National Cemetery, I came across this photo.
At first I glanced over it, but then came back to look at it. Obviously it is commanding tourists to honor those laid to rest there by being quiet and thinking of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

On a weekend dedicated to the goal of remembrance, take time away from the bbqs and camping to be grateful for the freedoms we have and for those soldiers and their families who continue to provide it.

That sign is a good reminder for all us who support our troops, are thankful for them and pray for our leaders who know more about the war on terror than we could ever want to know. And for all those who get their combat updates from CNN and are so vocal with their anti-war message, that sign is for you too.

May 22, 2008

And you thought gas was expensive?

I came across this article this morning about the inflation rate of Zambia's neighboring country Zimbabwe. It's crazy to even think about for me.......

Inflation hits 1 million percent in Zimbabwe

Associated Press - May 21, 2008 1:13 PM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - A loaf of bread in Zimbabwe now costs as much as a dozen new cars did 10 years ago.

The annual inflation rate in the African nation has risen to more than 1 million percent.

Economic analysts says that unless the rate is slowed, it could be 5 million percent by October.

Some of the prices are mind-boggling. A small pack of locally grown coffee beans is almost 1 billion Zimbabwean dollars. It costs $100 million just to get into a swimming pool. That's about 30 U.S. cents.

Long-time president Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH'-bay), who faces a runoff election next month, accuses the United States, the European Union and Britain of using their economic influence to back his opponents. He has also severed ties with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial organizations.

May 18, 2008

Craig's List

I was recently introduced to Craig's List. I am assuming most of our readers already know and/or use Craig's List so I will not explain what it is. But I will say that I am fond of it. This is my story about how I became a Craig's List fan....

About a month ago a co-worker of mine mentioned how is sister found a great deal on a set a bunk beds on Craig's List. So immediately I ask what is this thing and how do you use it? (because as soon as he said his sister got a great deal I was interested) Anyways.... once I was informed that all ya gotta do is type in your area and search for the item or items you want I started searching right away. What I found was a Graco car seat and two bases for $80. So what do I do? I send my mom to West Des Moines two days later to meet the lady who is selling the car seat and check it out to see if it is worth the money. Turns out it was only used by one child, they were non-smokers, and didn't have pets. Needless to say we purchased it. It is great and once again we ended up finding a pretty good deal.

Here is a picture of the car seat. Also pictured is a vibrating baby seat my mom found for us at a garage sale for only $5! Have I mentioned that I am a fan of garage sales?

Garage Sales

I find garage sales to be an absolutely great way to shop. Personally I think they are worth waking up early on a Saturday morning for. Although I am rather new to what veterans call "garage saleing", I have definitely been bitten by the garage sale bug. Last year was the first year I started this money saving technique and found a couple fantastic deals.

This year has been pretty successful as well. This past weekend a couple friends and I spent 2 hours hopping from sale to sale. What I came home with was a medela breast pump. Yes, I know, not very exciting to most people. But lets put it this way, I think the $230 that I saved by spending $20 dollars on a used one as opposed to a new one at $250 is something everyone could appreciate.

And for those concerned about how unsanitary it is to use a used breast pump, don't worry! You can buy replacement parts for less than $40. So my total savings $190! I think it is totally worth it!

May 13, 2008

Pregnancy Update!

So, just for fun I thought that I would inform our faithful blog readers with some of my current pregnancy statistics and experiences.

  1. L.B.J. is about 5 to 5 1/2 inches long.

  2. I cannot button any of my pants anymore, not even my "fat day pants".

  3. I have become a master of creative solutions to item number 2.

  4. Large chunks, hunks, or slabs of meat are appauling.

  5. I have only gained 2 pounds but it feels like 10 as a result of item 2.

  6. I really wish Ames had a Sonic.....can I get a cherry lime-ade please!!!

  7. I feel fishlike movements very rarely....well, maybe it's just gas but let's be optimistic.

  8. I cannot stand the smell or thought of Chinese or Japanese food.

  9. I really want to sleep on my stomach.

  10. Only 150 days until our due date!!

May 11, 2008

Ag Leader Technology

I try not to write much too about work because, in general, it is boring to write and even more boring to read. I thought some of you may be somewhat interested though on what I have been doing these last couple months at work.

Between the thunderstorms and rainshowers, we have been working on constructing a roughly 96,000 square feet addition to an existing building. The main floor is 360 feet long. For comparison, a football field is 300 feet between end zones. Total size of the main floor is roughly 1.3 acres. Footings are in, which is a good milestone, but it also catches all the water every time it rains and doesn't allow it to drain.

For an official Ag Leader Technology press release of the addition, click here.

May 8, 2008

Whatchu talkin 'bout Willis Wednesday

At first glance to me, it seemed like another slow week. Nothing really all that interesting to share with everyone. No big news. No awards for either Allison or me. More rain. The NFL Draft came and went without my name being called AGAIN this year. No great pictures or stories to post.

But as I thought about it, the more it came to me of how much I have to to talk about. The blessings we have could fill an entire blog. When I went to bed tonight (yes, I've been to bed and back up already-too much on my mind) Allison was sleeping and it made me smile just thinking about how much I love her. I also thought about our little baby and what an exciting time it will be for us.

On Dave Ramsey's call in radio show, he is commonly casually asked "how are you Dave" before they begin the real reason for their call. His response is always, "better than I deserve." What a true statement. We are all blessed in so many ways. I've actually borrowed Dave's answer a couple times and have gotten some interesting looks. But what a good, quick way to perk others up to the fact that life isn't all that bad.

All too often, we all focus on the things that are going "wrong" in our lives and forget about all the things we have to be thankful for. I'm thankful. Are you?

I remember this old song from when I was little that still goes through my head from time to time. The last line of the chorus sings: Count your many blessings; Name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.