09 April 2017

March Madness Results

You can see that Sylvia & George both picked NC and tacked on 480 points at the end and Sylvia took home her first family pool title.  Congrats to her and thanks to all for playing!!

Friendly Sons 5k

24:45 (7:58 avg)

22/158 overall, 5/15 m40-49, 14/58 males

05 May 2016

Grand Blue Mile


221/2101 overall, 30/108  m35-39, 194/954 males

04 April 2016

27 February 2016

Kiva #7

I just made a loan to Shoira in Tajikistan so she can get a new sewing machine and fabrics.  Check out the older model she's using in the photo!
Hoping my microloan can make a difference!

30 December 2015

2015: The Year in Pictures

I rounded up 55 pictures on to encapsulate our year...
Check it out here.

29 December 2015

2015 Book List

Here it is!
A good (but not great) year of reading.  The biggest success of the year was getting my Overdrive app set up on my iPhone so I can check out audiobooks from our public library and listen to them while I'm running, working out or in the car.  That made the training runs for my Dam to Dam Half-marathon much better.  I'll always associate Argo with running the Bill Riley Trail.
Sylvia & I read eight of the same books this year and we enjoyed talking them over and comparing our reactions.  (Best: The Circle and The Martian.  Worst: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk)
We also had a few great family read aloud this year. The Secret Garden was totally magical and we were enraptured by it. Tuck Everlasting had us guessing what would happen next, who was good, who was bad and the ending led to some fun discussion.

Past years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

16 October 2015

Garage Clean Up

A little cleaning, a little sweeping, a little organizing, sealing up some seams, a lot of scraping of peeling walls and a couple coats of fresh white paint. Oh, and a new bright white LED bulb.
It didn't really change much or make the space any more useful but it sure made it less of an eyesore.

12 October 2015

At the Drive-In

Back in June the family and I took a trip over to Newton and experienced the last drive-in in Iowa. I'd never been to one before (and always wished I could have when we drove by the old drive-in lot outside of Shenandoah.)
Despite the rain beforehand (and a little during) we had a ball. We made friends with the family beside us. And we were the only car in the place that did not bring chairs to sit outside in. And everyone else brought like tailgating food or potluck or pizzas. We had stopped at KFC on the way through town. :(
The movie was "Home" and it was only ok. But the experience was great.

03 August 2015

Garage Sales!

I haven't gone to many garage sales since the days living in Shenandoah when I went with my mom, but last week I hit three garage sales in three days!  One was a moving sale in the neighborhood, one was only a block from our house and one was our friend's.
I picked up an old radio, perfect for the workbench, a garden weasel (like we had growing up except this one works), a small pitchfork, a docking station speaker, an assortment of great kids books, a pair of ~$200 boots in my size, Isa picked up a few toys and much fun was had. And some seriously great deals!  One man's trash=another man's treasure.
Oh, and you can see the fantastic squirrel target in a frame.  I can't decide whether to hang that or use the target and put the frame to use elsewhere. 

18 July 2015

Arizona Vacation!

[I'm going to make an effort to get back to blogging, not as often as I used to but at least to document memorable events]

Flickr photo album

The family just got back from almost a week in Tucson, AZ.  We had a delightful, fun-filled time with the Tucks.  I think Isa swam every day we were there.  Plus they have two dogs (one of which is Isa's, "they just take care of it for me") so she started and finished each day with playing catch and teaching tricks with them.  She was in heaven. We packed a lot of things in so we had at least one outing each day.  Here's the highlights:
  • Thurs:  alarm @ 4:15AM to get to airport for 6:10 flight. Flew through Chicago to Phoenix on American Airlines.  Then we got on a small US Airways jet to hop to Tucson but after pushing back and sitting for awhile we got the news that we had a mechanical issue and would need a new plane.  So we de-planed onto the tarmac in 100 degree Phoenix heat.  Luckily it wasn't too long at all and we were on a new jet and on our way.  Phoenix to Tucson was the shortest flight I've ever been on.  26 minutes from wheels up to wheels down.  Once we got to Tucson, we were taken on a super, all-access tour of the University of Arizona.  We were on the floor of the basketball arena, on the turf of the football stadium and zipping around campus in a golf cart.  Very cool. And Martin is a top-notch tour guide, and not just for the university!  He always had background information, geographical explanations, weather insights, historical facts, etc to made every outing more interesting and meaningful.  First meal:  El Guerro Canelo.  I tried to sample it all but made sure to have a 'Sonoran-style hot dog' as seen on the FoodNetwork.  Their 'caramelo' was one of Sylvia's favorite things she ate the whole trip.
  • Fri: While the girls stayed home to play, I got up and went to work with Martin.  He got me into the Rec Center and then left to get his work done.  I spent the next few hours working out, trying out battle ropes and throwback trampolines, running on the Mall, shopping in the retail store, watching a little Wimbledon (incredible match between Federer and Murray) and finishing it with a dip in the pool.  Martin took me to St. Mary's Mexican Food for a scrumptious birria (stewed beef) & bean burro.  It was the best burro I've had since Pablo's closed.  Afterwards, we picked up the girls and went to Colassol Cave but opted for the horse ranch instead of the actual cave. Isa got to go for a short horse ride and also lead a mini-horse around.  She didn't stop talking about that horse ride for the rest of the week.  Her and Elle sluiced for gems with good success.  We capped the day with a great meal at La Guadalajara, complete with table-side custom salsa-making and wonderful mariachi music. 
  • Sat: Relaxed in the morning, watching the women's Wimbledon final (Serena is a beast.) and then headed to Teresa's Mosiac Grill for lunch.  It was mentioned in a recent NY Times article and Bobby Flay came there in 2010 for a huevos rancheros throwdown. (I hadn't watched it until we came back.  Check it out, it's a fun show.) Along with incredible panaramic views, we could watch the woman at the grill, hand-patting out tortillas.  She makes 500 a day.  With that we were fueled for an afternoon of learning at the International Wildlife Museum (similar to Bird and Mammal Hall) and a drive up through Gates Pass in the Tuscon Mountains.  In the evening we checked out the Downtown Second Saturday festival and ate at El Charro, the oldest Mexican restaurant in the United States.  I tried their famous carne seca - a sun-dried, shredded spiced beef, sort of like a chipped beef jerky, very unique. 
  • Sun: 7:00 mass at Sts. Peter & Paul and a Bruegger's Bagel and we were off to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  Lots to see and do, part zoo, part nature preserve, part education center.  The high every day we were there was ~98-101 and the sun is intense.  So by noon, it is best to be indoors. We stopped at St. Mary's Mexican Food again on the way home for more delicious food.  Spent time relaxing, cooling down and looking at (and laughing at) old family photos.  Isa talked people into a late evening swimming outing to the University pool.  Pretty awesome to be able to go in after hours, have the place to ourselves and be able to use any of the three pools, 5 diving boards, hot tub and dive tower. 
  • Mon: Pima Air Museum had several hangars full of aircraft and history and we/I loved exploring it all.  They also have tons of aircraft outside for you to walk through.  We also took a tour on a charter bus through the neighboring "boneyard" on Davis-Monthan AFB.  Technically called the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG)  Our guide had VAST knowledge of not just the aircraft models but their history, current events, and interesting anecdotes. An awesome spectacle. Davis-Monthan AFB is home to a squadron of A-10's, one of my favorite planes, so it was a treat to see and hear then in the skies throughout the week.  
  • Tues: Sabino Canyon, part of the Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains was our pick for a morning of hiking.  Sylvia, Isa and I explored and hiked about 3 1/2 mile of the park.  It was really pretty and such different landscapes. Mountains, cacti, low trees and brush.  And it was HOT!  Did get to see a few good birds (Greater Roadrunner, Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren).  Lots of lizards.  It was a fun family outing.  We met up with everyone for lunch at BK's, a super tasty meal of tacos al pastor, great salsas and cold horchata. We shopped a bit at the UofA bookstore and then hit the pool for some swim stroke help from Martin for Isa and I. Some delicious slushie drinks from Eegee's and then we went over to the city track meet and watched Elle and Isa run. A very cool community event and the girls had a great time.  Late dinner at Pionic (custom-made personal pizzas) finished a packed day.
  • Wed: Breakfast, packing and a sad airport dropoff.  A great vacation for sure.

12 May 2015

Book Character Day

Here's a snippet from Isa's school blog where she shares her selection for last week's Book Character Day...

11 May 2015

First Communion

I have been doing an abysmal job of blogging my family's events but I would be very remiss if I let Isa's First Communion go by without a mention. 
Sylvia did a fantastic job of getting her ready, finding the dress, trying out hair styles and Isa was able to wear the shoes and hair piece from our wedding.  It was extra special to have the big event on the one year anniversary of our wedding.  Family came from both sides and we had a delicious spread of food.  Lengua & cochinita pibil tacos, rice, fresh guacamole & salsas, and of course a lovely white cake.  Isa was very excited for the sacrament and did a fine job.
Yesterday was the first time she went up for communion as part of the parish and when she realize it she got excited all over again and had to tap on my arm to share the good news.

30 April 2015

Historical Tour of Court Avenue

I had the treat of meeting a tour guide just before lunch today and be escorted around a few buildings in the historical Court Avenue area of downtown Des Moines. She was prepared with a brochure she had created and was a great guide. She even allowed me to take her to lunch afterwards. It was gorgeous weather and we had a great time. The audio is a bit faint in a couple parts, my apologies.

13 April 2015

The Black Flamingo

Randomly saw this in the news this morning (as I am staying home with a sick girl).  An all-black flamingo photo'ed around Cyprus.