June 29, 2008

Hawaii vacation

How was the weather recently in Iowa?

We spent a solid week in Hawaii recently with Allison's parents (Dave and Jeanne) and Allison's sister and brother-in-law (Erin and Jason). We had a great time the whole week. Jeanne had done a lot of research and planning to make it a fun trip for everyone. Even our luggage all made it. Amazing.

We arrived in Maui on Friday afternoon and went to our condo right off a great snorkeling beach. Maui has a really laid back feeling; no one really hurries, not much traffic, and no "city" feel. Here is a view from our deck.....

The first full day we got up early and traveled the "Road to Hana." It is a very picturesque drive with many potential stops for hikes and sightseeing opportunities. Hana isn't really a destination as it is just a tiny town, but is a somewhat ending point for the trip.

(one of several waterfalls on the trip and a black sand beach)

On Sunday, we woke up even earlier (about 1:00 am) to travel to the top of one of the mountains for the sunrise and a 25 mile bike trip down the mountain.

In the afternoon and during the next couple days, we enjoyed boogie boarding, snorkeling, exploring around the beach areas and hitting up the local towns for some entertainment and food.

We went to a lot of local shops looking at things local people had to sell. We stopped at the Ukulele shop and I found myself holding a 1000 dollar ukulele. I ended up buying a significantly cheaper one (one of the ones on the table). It's a lot different than guitar, but still fun to mess around with.

After 4-5 days in Maui, we flew to the island of Oahu where we were received a Lei greeting.

We hiked to the top of Diamond Head (where military lookouts used to be located). A view looking toward Honolulu. Pearl Harbor is way in the background.

On the way back down from Diamond Head, our camera batteries died, so we will have to rely on more pictures from someone else to complete our album.

I think maybe my favorite part of the trip was the last day during our time at Pearl Harbor. We watched a short film on the history of the days leading up to that famous day, then were boated out to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. It was a very solemn feeling being on the harbor imagining what it might have been like to be a soldier under attack. I can't describe it much better than that, but on that day, I was so proud to be an American.

That was our trip in a nutshell. If you are interested, we would be happy to show you the rest of our pictures and tell a ton more stories sometime. But one last picture of my beautiful wife and me our last night in Hawaii.

June 18, 2008

"We Voted"

So here are some quick pregnancy updates for ya'll before we leave for vacation.

1. L.B.J moves around a ton....which is a great thing. See Jared's previous post for more of a description.

2. For the first time in my life I find myself getting overly hot way too quickly. Now I can somewhat understand why some people think being hot is worse than being cold.

3. My appetite is nothing like normal. One day I will be hungry all day long and the next day I will be full after eating two bites of something. It seems to be worse in the mornings.

4. I have gained 10 pounds total. And I am pretty happy about it. Really I am. It is fun to start to show. Even though most of you think that I am hardly showing, Jared and I both notice a significant difference in the size of my belly now and pre-pregnancy. And MY PANTS DON'T LIE FOLKS!!!!!!

5. I have decided that when ever I would like something or would not like something to happen, we as a family should vote. That being said, I always win because L.B.J. and I seem to think a lot alike! Poor Jared gets out numbered every time. Maybe when L.B.J. is no longer inside of me some of his/her thoughts will be different than mine. But for now 99% of the time it is L.B.J. and I verses Jared.

6. My back aches slightly after shaving my legs. My solution before the problem gets worse, Jared needs to learn how to shave my legs. Jared's solution, I will just have hairy legs. Well "we voted" and he loses because I don't care if he doesn't mind hairy legs, I do! (and it bothers L.B.J. too....he/she thinks that it is embarrassing for grown women to have hairy legs.) I couldn't agree more with L.B.J!

That is it for now.

Whatchu talkin 'bout Willis Wednesday

It's Wednesday. I unfortunately don't have anything earthshaking this week to talk about. But in an attempt to salvage this post, here is what Allison, LBJ and I have been up to recently:

-L.B.J. like to move around. And kick and hit. You can see Allison's skin move in and out depending on his movements. It's really cool yet kinda creepy all at the same time. I can put my hand on her belly and feel a good kick quite often.

-Jared is happy. We actually got three good days put together and finished pouring concrete at the jobsite. Finally it looks like a 1.3 acre skating rink instead of a 1.3 acre kitty litter box.

-We are all excited about vacation. Allison's mom and dad are taking us and her sister and brother-in-law to Hawaii for a week! We leave Thursday morning early from Des Moines. I even got in the spirit of vacation and went out and borrowed a Hawaiian shirt!

-Allison has gotten pretty good at sewing. She went from novice to expert in a few weeks and can fly through the patterns now. She can make a pretty mean burp cloth in no time flat.

-We "celebrated" Father's Day, even though I'm not really a father. Allison got me a card and a couple books. One was "Shepherding a Child's Heart." Apparently when she went to pick them up, the cashier thought it was a book on sheep herding.

That's about it I guess. Don't bother checking our blog in the next week or so since it won't probably won't change. We'll be sure to get some pics and stories up when we get back from vacation.

June 14, 2008

More flooding

When your local TV stations have suspended all programing to give updates and reports all day, you know there are big stories in the making. Unfortunately, it's not good news.

Des Moines had a levee break this morning, causing downtown to flood even more. But that's not the biggest story coming out of the state. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City have it way worse.

If you live in any town of city, chances are you have at least one creek or stream running through town. Imagine that river growing in size and strength to match that of the Mississippi River. Can you imagine that? How would your town look? Chances are, it would look something like this....

Water shutting off I-80 through the eastern part of the state. Water threatening to shut off all major roads into and out of Iowa City. Damages pushing a Billion dollars.

Days and weeks of sandbagging efforts by thousands of volunteers all across these regions proved fruitful for some, frustrating for others. My brother and his family live just north of Iowa City and have filled more bags than they ever care to see again. Read their stories here, here and most sadly, here.
It's business as usual here in Ames and hard to believe the devastation across the rest of the state. I feel horrible for these people that now can only sit on the sidelines and watch the water wreak havoc on their homes and businesses. It's a testament to the mighty power of God and how He can just put his finger on an area and say, "Sandbags huh, is that the best you got?" (not to speculate on what God actually says, don't get me wrong)

If you live outside of the Midwest, you may only get a glimpse of the damage. (I just flipped to Fox news - story about rotten tomatoes. MSNBC - Remembering Tim Russert. CNN - Obama) To read the stories, go to the Des Moines Register, Cedar Falls Courier or Cedar Rapids Gazette and read for yourself and see more pictures of the incredible devastation.

June 11, 2008

Whatchu talkin 'bout Willis Wednesday

If you've had a conversation with anyone in Iowa recently, you've no doubt talked about the weather. As of most recently, flooding. Not like puddles here and there. Flooding resembling the historic floods of '93. Towns evacuated, bridges washed out. Water everywhere.

Just as a bully kicks you when you are down, nature has dealt a sharp blow to towns dealing with tornadoes with heavy rain and flooding.

We have gotten rain pretty much every day or every other day for over a month now. All the water has finally topped the levees and flood gates around the midwest. With significant rain predicted for tonight, one can only guess how much more devastation will be unleashed.

Except for the one bad day, Ames has been somewhat spared. Basements have taken a hit, the city ball fields are now open for fishing, but other than that, we are doing ok. The only real way I have been affected is my big Ag Leader project being a month behind almost.

Maybe with a little luck, the weather pattern will change. However if you start to see animals lining up two by two.........

June 6, 2008

Interesting article

I'll admit, I've read dozens and dozens of articles about the Parkersburg tornado. I've never gotten tired of it yet. So many stories from so many people.

My brother sent me this one. It's a Sports Illustrated article interviewing Aaron Kampman of the Green Bay Packers. It's particularly interesting to me since I've known Aaron since we were kids. He was a year younger than me. We used to pick him and his brother up for youth group. I think we even made wood duck houses at his family's lumberyard as part of a 4-H project.

In case you are interested, you can find the article here.

June 2, 2008

Ways to save on gas?

I know NASCAR drivers have their cars inches off the ground. Maybe this guy thought it would help the aerodynamics of his car?

June 1, 2008

Halfway there...

We have reached the halfway point in the pregnancy!! While Allison deserves most of the credit, it is still exciting for both of us!

The ultrasound recently gave us all good news, but LBJ refused to pose for the camera, thus giving us good shots of the spine, an arm and some other unidentified objects.

We didn't want to know the sex of the baby, so don't even ask. :-) It's more fun this way isn't it?

Trip to Parkersburg

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to spend a day helping out clearing tornado damage in Parkersburg.

I had taken my camera, preparing to take lots of pictures and post them so others could see them and get an idea of what it really looked like.

As we turned into what was left of the town, I quickly realized it couldn't be done. A single pictures or even a series of pictures can't begin to paint the image of the destruction. Imagine standing in one spot, turning all the way around, and seeing nothing but huge amounts of debris, trees with no limbs, and basements. Unbelievable.

The main story I saw though wasn't necessarily the destruction, but more importantly, the people. Volunteers from all over, I mean ALL over were there helping with whatever they could. Church groups, Contractors, some big companies from out of state, National Guard, State Troopers, rival sports teams, groups from the south part of the U.S., little kids, elderly. I could not believe the amount of people. I couldn't believe how much had already been done.

In the midst of the devastation, there was a sense of happiness and appreciation from everyone, locals and out of towners. Everyone had stories. Everyone had the same goal of lending a helping hand and a smile knowing so many people were being blessed by what was being done.

The group I was with was to help out at the school tearing apart bleachers that had been all twisted up and bent, sorting aluminum from steel and cleaning up surrounding debris. Most of us didn't know each other. Some were locals, most of us weren't. Some knew exactly what to do, some not some much. Some smelled kinda bad. But it didn't matter, we all just pitched in and got it done. We worked hard in the heat and at the end of the day, we knew we had made a difference.

I'm glad I made the trip up. I'm glad I got to see it with my own eyes and get a first-hand understanding of how bad it really is. Below are a few pictures. Unfortunately, they don't do justice to what it really looks like. If you click on them, it would definitely show more.

What's left of my cousin's house, theirs fared well.....in comparison.

Some of the guys in my group. What is left of the school is in the background.

Story of the year....

It's been a strange year for weather it seems. This past week was no exception: tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flooding.

Ames got 4 inches or so of rain Thursday night. By Friday noon, the creeks were way out of the banks. One was almost 7 feet above flood stage above, which means bad news for Ames. Duff Avenue - flooded. Airport Road - flooded. The new Wal-Mart SuperCenter - flooded. Not as bad as '93, but still lots of damage.

An apartment building just off Duff

The new road and bridge on S. 16th (just opened two weeks ago)

South 5th

Duff Avenue

The new Aquatic Center construction site. Irony. I love it.