Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Christmas Letter

We hope this letter finds you full of joy during this season of remembering the gift God gave us. We have had a fun and busy year.

Ashlyn has kept us busy watching her in all the sports she enjoys. She plays basketball, softball, swim team ( this summer, it was a challenge) and soccer. She is in 2nd grade and is doing very well in school. She is a little bookworm and also enjoys writing.

Ethan played soccer again this fall and enjoyed running around on the field, not always following the ball. He is in kindergarten and has adjusted to the length of the day and seems to enjoy himself, he is doing great. He spends his time playing Lego's and jumping around out of excitement.

Mark has been busy with work, he is working 4 ten hour days. It is nice to have him around the house for three days every weekend. He still enjoys playing basketball and at certain times during the year he plays 3or 4 times a week. In the spring he and a group of guys went to watch Spring Training baseball games. This fall his boss invited him to a number of Jacksonville Jaguar games, he has kindly taken Ashlyn to one and the whole family to another. We all enjoyed getting to go, it was the kids' first professional football game.

Gina has stayed busy getting the kids to their activities, trying to keep the house somewhat cleaned and walking whenever possible. She also volunteers once a week in Ashlyn's classroom and helps with parties and other activities. Once a month a group of friends gets together to scrapbook, which has been great fun and very productive. She still helps with AWANA at church and learns a lot from that group of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

This year we were able to take a few trips. In May we went to Tampa and spent some time at the beach and we watched a Tampa Rays baseball game. In July we went to Minnesota and met Marks' parents and his brother Bruce and his wife to celebrate his parents 50th wedding anniversary. We all had a great time visiting with relatives in Minnesota, the temperature was a welcome relief from Florida's extreme heat in July. We stayed on the farm with Mark's uncle, which was relaxing. We also spent a few days at the lake, which was beautiful. Then we made a stop in Minneapolis and of course we watched the Minnesota Twins play a game. In September we went to Cocoa Beach and stayed at the beach and visited the Kennedy Space Center. We all enjoyed learning a little about the space program. For Thanksgiving we made a trip over to visit with Mark's parents, his brother and sister and their families. We will spend Christmas with Gina's parents and her sister Julie's family. We all look forward to this time, especially the kids. The kids always plan a Christmas nativity program with their cousins for all of us to enjoy.

We wish you peace in the coming year. We pray that you might come to know personally the One whom this season is about, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Mark, Gina, Ashlyn and Ethan

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jaguars vs Colts (13-0)

On the way to tailgate before the Jaguars-Colts game tonight. And as an added bonus will hopefully get to see my fantasy football playoff game off to a good start.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ethan's 1st NFL Game

Today the whole family is at the Jaguars-Dolphins game. It is Ethan's first NFL game and he just enjoyed the jet flyover.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ashlyn's 1st NFL Game

Today I am with Ashlyn at her first NFL game...Jaguars vs Bills. Raining off and on so it is nice to be in a suite!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jet Ski in November?!

This afternoon I went boating and jet skiing on the St. John's River with Dennis and Vinny (neighbors). You have to love Florida in mid-November.

Monday, October 26, 2009

PTO for Family Day

I took the day off and went to the zoo with the family and just made some homemade cookies & cream ice cream. It turned out quite good.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3d Double Feature

The family saw the double feature this afternoon. It was Ashlyn's and Ethan's first time seeing Toy Story 2. It was fun, and we filled up on the large tub of buttered popcorn and the free refill as well.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Birthday Breakfast with Ashlyn

Ashlyn and I just had a day after birthday breakfast at Karlene's Deli. We had a nice talk about how 2nd grade is going so far.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our hermit crab - Hershey Squirt

Gina called me at work earlier today telling me she thought Hersey Squirt was dead. He had not moved and she thought he lost his leg. I did a little online research. Shortly after she called back and confirmed Hershey Squirt was actually molting.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kennedy Space Center - Day 2

We went back to KSC again today. We looked around the main visitor's center and bought some souvenirs. Von, Bambi, Jesse and Sean also came down to KSC today. On the way home we stopped with them at a Chick-Fil-A in Daytona Beach for dinner. Nationwide today was CFA free chicken sandwich if you were wearing a shirt of your favorite sports team. Gina wore one of my shirts.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kennedy Space Center

We started with breakfast at the Sunrise Diner. Then we headed to the Space Center. KSC has a deal for Florida residents through Labor Day of buy an adult ticket get a free child's admission. We took the bus tour and check out the sites at different points. We also saw where they are building modules for the International Space Station. Dinner was at Old Fish House Restaurant.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cocoa Beach Trip

We spent the day on Cocoa Beach. The weather was great, nice waves for the body board but there were some riptide warnings. We are staying at an older style Holiday Inn right on the beach. They have a pirate ship to play on in the kids pool area. Dinner was at New York Pizza House. After dinner we went to the world famous Ron Jon Surf Shop.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ethan = no training wheels

I missed it since I am in Destin but Ethan rode his bike for the first time without training wheels today!

Heading to Destin...

...for the 15th annual DSFFL Auction & Draft weekend. I picked up Andy and Ryan in Tallahassee and then we missed our exit off I-10 to Destin. We ended up going a good bit out of our way. I guess I should have plugged the rental address in the navigation system. We ate lunch at Lillie's on Pigs Alley. According to their web site they have won the coveted Memphis in May Barbeque competition.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ashlyn finally made it to school

After missing days 1 and 2, Ashlyn made it to school today. She is very ready to start 2nd grade.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School Starts Today...And Doesn't

Ethan attended his first day of kindergarten today. He had a good day. Gina and I took him to class for the first time. As for Ashlyn she didn't make it to school because she was sick. And she was not happy about missing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Playoff Basketball

Disappointing early exit from the playoffs as we lost our game. Although I would not have been there for the semis and finals next week, I still wanted to win.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ashlyn & Ethan's Birthday Party

The kids had a combined party again this year and once again had their friends bring shoeboxes for the City Rescue Mission instead of presents. We had the party at our friends Von and Bambi's neighborhood pool. We had pizza from Little Caesar's and cake. The weather was sketchy and was raining while we were driving there but cleared up as soon as we put up the canopy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

School Orientation

We attended kindergarten and 2nd grade orientation today.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Basketball Game

We won tonight against the #1 and previously undefeated team although their best player was not there. The regular season is over. We are the #3 seed out of 12 teams; for the playoffs. We went 6-2.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Room Color

Ashlyn picked the new color for her room. It will be Sassy Lilac and we are keeping a border/design along the top of her current room color, Butter Up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Registered for kindergarten

Ethan registered for kindergarten today. While there Gina had his teacher switched to Mrs. Sanford. Mrs. Sanford was Ashlyn's kindergarten teacher.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to School Splash and Basketball Game

Our church had its 2nd annual Back to School Splash. As for me, we won our game 74-51.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Birthday Boy

Ethan turned 5 and we started the day opening presents. For his birthday dinner, we went to Tom & Betty's Restaurant. It happened to be karaoke night.

Last Swim Meet

Ashlyn had her last swim meet. It was a county wide meet at the Cecil Aquatic Center. It was 2 1/2 hours before Ashlyn swam. She was also going to participate in the relay but it was getting very late and we had to leave to have dinner for Ethan's birthday. After dropping Gina and Ashlyn off at the meet, Ethan and I took e-waste and hazardous materials to the city recycle center.

Friday, August 7, 2009


We had Hannah and Mary babysit tonight. With Hannah going off to college she was showing her sister the ropes. They also joined us in celebrating Ethan's birthday by having some cake.

Earlier in the day my neighbor Dennis gave me some sod so I was working quickly to get it in place.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Basketball Game

We lost our game tonight.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Swim Meet & Beach Day

First Ashlyn had a swim meet and then we headed to the beach.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Basketball Game

We won tonight 78-51.

Basketball Game

We lost our game tonight. We were down 18 at the half but cut it to 4 with about 2 minutes to play but could not finish the comeback.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Swim Meet

Ashlyn had another swim meet today.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Suns Game

We all went to the game this evening for the Ivan DeJesus Jr. bobblehead giveaway. We tailgated before the game and then saw the Zooperstars. Ryan Sandberg is the manager of the Tennessee Smokies. Tony Thomas (#3) who played at FSU plays for the Smokies and Jim Adduci (#11) is also on the Smokies roster. Adduci hit the homerun ball that I got at the Daytona Cubs game last year. During the game the benches also cleared after some hit batters and inside pitching.

Swim Meet

Ashlyn had her meet against Fletcher at Mandarin High School (her "home" school). She continues to improve and finished 3rd (freestyle) and 4th (breaststroke) in her races.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Finally bought a Mac...

After thinking about and waiting about 18 months or so I finally bought a Mac. With getting the educational discount I bought an iPod Touch (16 gb) and HP wireless printer. So now I am ready to experience the computer world from an Apple perspective.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Birthday Party Sleepover

Ashlyn went to Madison's birthday sleepover with Ashley and Emily.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gifted Program

Ashlyn met with the school psychologist for the second round of testing for possible acceptance into the gifted program.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Basketball Game

We only had 4 and won 107-85.

Water Leak

We were hearing water running after everything was off and after cutting a couple holes in Ashlyn's wall I discovered the leak was under the slab in Ashlyn's room. So we had the plumber come out pull the carpet and break up the slab. The culprit a root had wrapped around the pipe. The tree was one cut down in May. Luckily the repair bill was very reasonable.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Swim Meet

Ashlyn's swim meet was at Lakeshore Middle School. Gina and Ashlyn went to Dub Bridge (card game) with our family group. Ethan and I went to the Suns game and got our Clayton Kershaw bobblehead. We had our own little Chick-Fil-A tailgate in the parking garage before the game. When we got in we found out they were playing a doubleheader due to a rain out the night before. They play 2 7-inning games. It was the 6th inning of game 1 when we arrived. Beautiful night at 81 degrees, 70% humidity and a slight breeze.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back to Florida

Our flight left at 11:30 am. We grabbed something from McDonald's very quickly in Chicago to eat on the plane. In fact I sent Gina and the kids on to the plane while I waited. We only had about 35 minutes and had to change concourses. We were back home on time at 5:50 pm. We missed out on the weather issues that were delaying other flights coming into Jacksonville.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Downtown and Minnesota Twins Game

Early this morning I utilized the public bus system to go to Target in Richfield to buy a few things including a Twins hat. We all then took the light rail around 10:15 am to the downtown/Metrodome station. We went along the Heritage Trail loop (1.8 miles) along the Mississippi River. Some of the things we saw were the oldest continually used church Minneapolis, the Stone Arch Bridge, the lock and dam at St. Anthony Falls (and witnessed a barge go through the process heading down river. We had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory before heading to the Metrodome to watch the Minnesota Twins play the New York Yankees. We saw C.C. Sabathia pitch versus Scott Baker. The Yankees won 10-2. Mom, Dad, Bruce and Rebecca left after the 7th inning because they have an early flight in the morning. This is the last year of the Metrodome. If I remember, growing up I believe we also saw the 1982 Minnesota High School football championships in the Dome the first year it was open.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ethan's Ride

Big Rigs at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Back to Minneapolis

We left the farm this morning to drive to Minneapolis and spend the day at the Mall of America. We stopped in Elbow Lake and took some pictures...and barely made it to the gas station...before getting on the interstate. We had dinner with Mom and Dad at a restaurant in the mall called Noodles.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Golf and the Eagle Lake

The day started with an 8:54 am tee time at Stalker Lake Golf Course in Dalton. It is a 9-hole, par 35 course. 7 of us played. I shot a 50 but was pleased with how I struck the ball especially with the pitching wedge since I have not played in about 4 years. It is a hilly course and I only lost 1 ball which was on the 1st hold. I primarily used the 3 iron off the tee.

After golf we went to the lake and then headed to The Peak for the chicken and ribs lunch buffet.

Then is was the rest of the day on the lake. We all rode the Seadoo...Ethan (@62), me (@68). Ashlyn and Ethan went all over in the paddle boat. Bruce and I went tubing twice and have some nice video footage. Gina went tubing with Ethan and then Ashlyn.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

We spent the day at Jack's cabin on Eagle Lake. I played 4 on 4 water basketball...young vs old. It was Dallas, Adam, Tyler and Carrie vs me, Steve, Rachel and Andy (Carrie's). The old won.

The lake is spring fed and is very cold. We went out to the middle which is about 43 feet deep and Gina and Rebecca jumped in "cold turkey." The air temperature was about 75-80, 37% humidity; and a light breeze.

About 58-60 family and friends were there. For lunch we had fried chicken from The Peak. Jack also said they have very good bbq ribs. We decided that we may have to go check that out at lunch on Sunday.

Ashlyn and Ethan drove the pontoon boat and had fun on the paddle boat as well. There were in the lake until 7:30 pm. After dark some of us went out on the pontoon boat to watch individual fireworks displays around the lake.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Itasca State Park, Minnesota

We left the farm and picked up Aunt Mary in Fergus Falls and then headed to Detroit Lakes to meet up with Aunt Dixie. There were 15 of us that went to Itasca State Park which is home to the the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The family and I walked across the rocks where the mighty Mississippi starts...although Ashlyn did slip and fall on her solo attempt. We had someone there take a nice group picture, and Bruce took a picture of us that may end up as our 2009 Christmas card picture.

On the way to the park, we had lunch at Sunny Hill Farms. For dessert I had the turtle cheesecake. We also visited the shops at Sunny Hill Farms. For dinner we joined Dixie's clan for Friday night pizza from Pizza Hut. We were at David and Debbie's house on the lake. Next door is Dixie's house that she had recently sold. Before heading back to Fergus Falls and then the farm we stopped to see the lot where Dixie is building her new house.

A couple things to acclimate doesn't get dark until 9:30-10 pm, you eat all the time, have dessert at every meal and sunrise is around 5:45 am.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bring on the farms

Jack and Andy (cousin) farm 4500 acres of sugar beets, corn and wheat. We all got to ride on the tractors and see the farm. Ashlyn and Ethan enjoyed riding in the tractor. Aunt Dixie and Aunt Mary came for lunch and then we went to Paul Johnson's (?) farm where they raise calves, pheasants and hens. Ashlyn and Ethan fed the calves their bottles and also picked eggs from the hen's nest while the eggs were still warm. We then went to a dairy farm and watched some cows get milked. It was quite the automated process. My cousin Steve arrived with his two girls from Nebraska. All the kids had fun riding the Gator and 4-wheeler.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On the way to Minnesota...

Our summer vacation trip was with Mom and Dad and Bruce (my brother) and Rebecca to Minnesota to visit my Dad's family. This is for my Mom & Dad's 50th wedding anniversary. We flew on Southwest out of JAX and met them in Minneapolis. Well upon arriving at baggage claim, we waited and waited and when none of our luggage (nothing at all) showed up in baggage claim we went to file a claim for lost luggage. When we opened the door, there were all of our bags sitting right there. Somehow our luggage arrived on an earlier flight and was sitting in office. No real explanation but at least it was there.

After finally getting to the terminal where the rental car pick was located we met up with the other crew at a gas station just outside the airport property. It was about a 3 hour drive to the Wendall (Grant county) area where my Uncle Jack and Aunt Sharon live on the farm. On the way we stopped in Albertville to eat at Culver's ButterBurgers & Frozen Custard. My brother owns a custard shop in D'Iberville, MS and wanted to see what custard tasted like up north. His restaurant is Bop's Frozen Custard. We finally made it to Jack's although it was quite late.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another round of landscaping

6/19-6/21 I spent about 20 hours in the yard making a new bed, moving dirt, cutting out and moving sod and putting down new mulch. Ashlyn and Ethan helped out.

This weekend 6/26/-6/28 was more of the same, laid new sod extended the bed on the side of the house and made irrigation repairs. Ashlyn helped moved sod in the wheelbarrow. On Saturday I was out there from 8 am - 10:30 pm trying to get the new sod down before it dried out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vacation Bible School

The kids attended VBS this past Monday through Friday. It was during the evenings from 6:30 - 9 pm. On the 26th there was a hot dog and hamburger dinner. Then today the kids did their program during the church service.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Swim Meet

Ashlyn had her first swim meet at Fletcher High School in Jacksonville Beach. She participated in the freestyle and breaststroke. After the meet we went to the beach for a few hours.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Scott's Real Shave Ice

We enjoyed sno-cones from Scott's for the first time back on May 3rd. Today Ashlyn, Ethan and I went and tried the homemade ice cream flavor. It was quite good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ponte Vedra YMCA Basketball League

I am playing in a 4 on 4 over 35 league with Jim, Carl, Albert, Jared and Walt. We won our first game tonight 72-57. The bad thing...the a/c in the gym where the courts are is broke.

Friday, June 12, 2009

2nd Annual Day Trip to Daytona Beach

This year we went to the beach, let the kids play in a little public water park then went to see the Daytona Cubs play the Ft. Myers Miracle. The kids decided at the last moment to participate in the run across the outfield and then ran the bases after the game. The promotional giveaway was a Geovany Soto bobblehead.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Gina, the kids and I met at Chick-fil-A for dinner and now the kids and I are getting ready to see the new Pixar movie "Up." Gina went to a girls' scrapbooking night.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Birthday

It was quite the busy day today. First I went and played basketball from 5:30-8:00 this morning...and hurt my right index finger. It is quite swollen.

Then it was on to Ethan's Pre-K graduation program. Ms. Pat went with Gina and I. Ethan's school had a program for 7 of the classes yesterday and then 6 classes (2,3 and 4 year olds) including his performed today. They sang some songs and then the 2s and 3s left. Then each graduate received their diploma and a medal.

After taking Ms. Pat home we decided to have barbeque for lunch and went to Crackers which is changing its name to Dave's Brick Pit BBQ. This was the second time we have been there. It was good and the sweet tea is true bbq joint sweet. Oh yeah, we let Gina tag along even though she wasn't having a birthday and had not graduated today.

For dinner we made a barbeque chicken pizza. Then we had a family Wii night.

But the big news of the day was obtaining our first family pet. That's right. We now have a pet...a true live is Hershey Squirt...a hermit crab. It was Ethan's Pre-K class pet all year. His best buddy Zach had donated him for the class to care for this year. After graduation, Zach's mom was asking Gina if we wanted Hershey Squirt. It seems Zach has another hermit crab who doesn't get along with Hershey Squirt. I walked up while they were talking and agreed very quickly and easily to take Hershey Squirt. The kids have asked about a pet every now and then so I saw this as an opportunity to honor that request with what I assume is a low maintenance pet. Ethan was very excited...VERY EXCITED. And Ashlyn was surprised when she came home from school. Gina has already read up on hermit crabs some and everyone had a good time playing with him (I guess it's a him) tonight.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Florida Aquarium

We ate dinner last night at Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant at Tyrone Square Mall. He is a hall of fame d-lineman that played for the Buccaneers.

This morning we are at the Florida Aquarium and petting the stingrays. The kids along played in the water splash park and were up close and personal with a couple penguins at the penguin show.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rays Win!

4-2 over the Indians. We should have went to Friday night's game as the Rays won 8-7 on B.J. Upton walk off homerun in the 9th after the Rays rallied to win after being down 7-0 for the biggest comeback in team history.

Today was Evan Longoria Rookie of the Year figure giveaway. We ended up with 6 after a couple people gave theirs to us.

Rays vs Indians

We went to Indian Rocks Beach this morning for a couple hours and then headed to the ballgame for the 4:10 start although we were 10 minutes late. We had to park in one of the outer lots since everything was full. Although I do like the Rays promotion that they had last year and again this year that with 4 or more in the car,parking is free instead of $10. Our seats are in left field almost directly behind the left fielder and 7 rows up from the fence. All fans received an Evan Longoria Rookie of the Year figure.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fun day...

We had our McDonald's lunch at the picnic tables looking out over the beach and then followed that up with a pizza from Original Pizza in Treasure Island. It too was enjoyed on the picnic tables. Toward the end of the day the Gulf started getting choppy and some ominous clouds started rolling around. But other then some wind, nothing else happened as it seemed to go around us. After finishing off the pizza we went and had ice cream at Sweets 'n Treats. I had pralines and cream, Gina had Marti's Mix (some chocolate, peanut butter, brownie and pecan concoction), Ashlyn had black raspberry and Ethan had was quite colorful. The store had lots of candy including some brands from yesteryear. Oh yeah they had cans of Tab. And then we went to the pool and got back to our room around 10:45 pm.

Family endorsed school skip day...

We ended up going to Ethan "robot parade" at preschool at 8:45 this morning and then we hit the road and made it here to St. Pete Beach around 12:30. Both kids are skipping school! We will probably go to the beach again tomorrow and then it's the Rays versus the Indians which I think is the Saturday game on Fox. And then on Sunday will be the educational trip to the Florida Aquarium.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tree Cutting Day

I am at home today watching Southern Oaks Tree Service cut down 3 trees (2 oaks and 1 gum tree) and trim 5 others. Ethan enjoyed getting to watch them for about 40 minutes before he had to go to school.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Movies in the Park again this week

Over 4 weeks the city shows a movie on Friday night at Treaty Oak Park. This is 3 of 4. Tonight we are watching Finding Nemo. Hopefully they corrected their sound issues from last week.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Movies in the Park

At Treaty Oak Park to watch E.T. with the family.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Suns Baseball

We went with our family group from church to see the Suns play and then enjoy the Building 429 concert afterward. Although we did not stay for the whole concert.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And that's it for the trip...

The Pirates beat the Phillies 10-4 in a 2 hour 45 minute game. That followed a game that only took 2:10 last night. The Phillies brought a lot of their starters including Rollins, Howard and Victorino. Howard hit a monster homer to center over the batter's eye. We also enjoyed the story about Paulino who we saw check for the Phillies on Thursday, he was traded to the Giants and then within another day was traded to the Marlins.

After the game we went and ate an early dinner at Hickory Hollow Barbecue in Ellenton. Phil had hog shanks.

Bruce, Phil, Andy and Jamie will head back to Tallahassee, Biloxi, Gulfport and Baton Rouge tomorrow morning, and I will head back to Jacksonville.

We have had a fun time and enjoyed all the baseball, great food and great weather.

Game 5: Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates

We are back in Bradenton this afternoon for our last game. The temperature is in the mid-80s, some clouds and very windy.

We checked on reserved seats last night but they were sold out for today so we bought tickets on the street just like last night. Once again $15 for the $18 seats. The guy started at $25 but came down very quickly on price. Phil decided to buy a cheaper bleacher seat since he walked around most of the game last night.

We drove to Sarasota and ate at Yoder's Amish Restaurant again this morning. I had the spinach, mushroom and swiss cheese omelet with home fries and banana nut bread. And once again it was very good. I also went to their market and bought some cookies and homemade apple butter.

And word from Andy and Phil is my brother belongs in the designated "snoring room."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Game #4 in 2 days...

..Is in the books. The Blue Jays beat the Pirates 4-1. And now we get fireworks for the 2nd night in a row.

Toronto Blue Jays @ Pittsburgh Pirates

We are in Bradenton tonight. It is picture perfect evening for baseball with a strong breeze blowing out from right to left.

Roy Halladay is pitching for the Blue Jays and Scott Rolen is at third.

The ticket office was sold out of reserved seats but the guys were able to secure $18 tickets for $15. The seats are just above the 3rd base dugout which is the visitor's side.

Walk off in the 10th

The Cardinals score 4 in the top of the 9th to take an 8-7 lead then the Red Sox tied it in the bottom of the 9th. In the 10th with 2 on and 2 out the Red Sox end the game with a 3 run homer to win 11-8. The Red Sox had 21 hits and the Cards 11.

Now on to Bradenton.

St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

Today we drove down to Fort Myers and purchased tickets on the street to the sold out Cards/Red Sox game. Our back plan was the Rays @ Twins. The Twins also train in Fort Myers but at the newer stadium.

This morning we ate at an Amish restaurant in Sarasota called Yoder's. It was really good. I had french toast and a sweet roll. The bread is homemade and the french toast was very thick. We all thought it was delicious. Josh Beckett is pitching for the Red Sox.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We made it to Sarasota...

We had to deal with the traffic leaving Clearwater through Tampa but made it to our hotel, checked in and then took off for Sarasota to see the Minnesota Twins at Cincinnati Reds. And a quick bite to eat at Chick-fil-a.

2009 Spring Training Trip

Well I am on my way to Clearwater today to start 5 games in 3 days with the Yankees @ Phillies. I am picking up Paul in Tampa and then meeting my brother Bruce, Jamie, Phil and Andy at Lenny's Restaurant in Clearwater. I started this blog last spring to chronicle my week long spring training trip with Jamie. And for previous readers, Lenny's is where we met the owner of the restaurant...the late Lenny's wife...who liked to frequent the casinos in Biloxi. We then ended up in their suite for the Rays/Phillies game which turned out to be a preview of the 2008 World Series. And it rained. I think today's forecast is much better.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Missing the SEC Championship Game

I am heading back home to Jacksonville. I wish I was staying to see the championship game but I want to make it back for my own basketball game at 4 pm.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 3 @ the SEC Tournament

Mississippi State just upset LSU in the first semifinal 67-57 to advance to the championship game tomorrow.

Next up in 12 minutes is Tennessee vs Auburn. Auburn held on to beat a partisan Florida crowd last night 61-58.

At the fan fest before the game I had my picture taken with the Chick-fil-A cow. They give you a postcard of it with the tournament logo on it.

On the home front Ashlyn had a softball game this morning and said she had fun when I spoke with her. Also yesterday she brought home a letter from school asking for permission to test her for the gifted program at school. Gina and I were just discussing earlier this week how she was like me in relation to some of her math homework. Now there is one more thing to add to the similarities.

Friday, March 13, 2009

SEC Tournament Day 2

Day 1 with 4 games finished about 11:45 last night with Florida beating Arkansas. Then I ended up watching the finish of the 6 overtime game between Syracuse and UConn.

Today starts off with LSU, which was presented the regular season championship trophy before the game, and Kentucky. LSU is off to a quick 15-7 lead.

The rest of today's schedule has South Carolina vs Mississippi State followed by Tennessee vs Alabama and finishing with Auburn vs Florida.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SEC Basketball Tournament - Day 1

Attending the tournament with my friend Howard who lives here in Tampa. 4 games and 11 hours of basketball today.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The encore to last week's basketball performance...

This week's newsletter mentioned the 31 points I scored last week was the 3rd most in D4 history. Well after today's game last week's 31 is now the 4th most in D4 history as my 39 points earlier today is the new record for D4. We only had 5 there again...last week Nate was out but this week it was Danielle. We won 71-56. We were down 28-24 at the half. I think I went 13 in the 1st and 26 in the 2nd. 8 3-pointers, 7 of 10 from the line (I missed my first two shots of the day) and 4 2-pointers. I almost think I might have had 1 2-pointer that didn't get recorded. After one of my teammates told me I had the record at 39 I was trying to get to 40. I was actually fouled twice with the ball as time was winding down but the refs would not call it. I then missed a contested shot and was right there for my own rebound but one of my teammates grabbed it and put it back in for the layup with 10 or so seconds remaining. One of the refs said after the game that if he knew I was going for 40 he would have actually called the foul. Of course I was like if it is a foul then call it. Oh well. It was fun. After the guy I was chatting with the league director and some guys from the team we played and they were questioning him on putting me in D4. I said I signed up saying I wanted to play D2 but figured I was placed where I was to make a team of everyone who signed up individually.

Gina and the kids were there. She was recording the game but as it turns out the hard drive on our video camera ended filling up in the 1st half so yet again I missed out on having one of my good games captured on video.

Now a little background on the league from what I understand is that the Christ's Church league has been in existence for 12 or 13 seasons. There are 4 divisions...D1 being the best down to D4. When I completed my application to play, I requested D2 as I knew a few guys who had played and based on playing against them figured that would be the appropriate level for me. Well obviously I was placed in D4 and as previously mentioned none of us knew each other on the team. Also when I went to an open run for individual players who signed up 3 of us were there playing against the D2 champions from last year and who are now undefeated in D1 this season. I've seen a few games where the talent discrepancy isn't as great as I would have thought. The biggest difference is the depth of the talent on each team.

Ashlyn and Softball Season

Ashlyn played her first two softball games this past week (Monday and Saturday). I am helping as an assistant coach when I can. Apparently it on a more formal basis than informal which is what I was striving for. They actually gave me a jersey and a cap. All coaches have to complete a background check as well...which I passed and have the approved id to prove it. The results of the first two games were not good. But our group of girls is young and are learning to play. The two teams they played were older and bigger as 8 year olds go. Ashlyn was much more lively with the game on Saturday. She can do very well when she wants to but tends to need to be reminded to swing hard like she wants to be up their hitting or to run fast and not jog.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Afternoon Nap

Enough said...Gina worked me too hard reorganizing the kitchen. So I knocked off around 1 PM I think. And Ethan went along for the nap as well...and Doggie and Bear and I believe Pony is in the mix as well. Oh and the clothes you see behind us on the couch...that is the normal staging area as the clothes make their way from the dryer to the appropriate drawer/closet. See this blog isn't called "Open Drawers" for nothing. In fact sometimes the production crew takes a break and the clothes get halted at this stage for a couple of days. Hopefully the crew never decides to go on strike.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Picture of Ashlyn's Basketball Team

From L to R (Coach Mike, Gracie, Trinity, Ashley, Sophia, Ashlyn, Sara, Coach Ed)
The Upwards Awards Ceremony to conclude the season was on Sunday, March 8th. Ashlyn enjoyed playing this year and improved tremendously from the beginning of the year to the end.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We lost again, but...

I scored 31 points today...6 3-pointers, 5-5 from the foul line and quite a number of steals as well. This was the game I needed to have Gina there with the video camera. Ashlyn came with me but Gina and Ethan stayed home. I had 11 in the first half and 20 in the 2nd. As for the game, we lost 72-60 this afternoon. There are only 6 people on our roster and only 5 showed up today so no subs for us. That made it very difficult. I know we cut the lead to 39-37 earlier in the second half and maybe around 45-42 but then the other team hit another of their hot shooting stretches and pulled away. I do think we are getting better and understanding what each person on the team can do. Keep in mind none of us knew the other 4 weeks ago. They also had a game summary newsletter for week 2 and 3 which stated I scored 14 and 20 points those two week. I'm shooting around 86% from the foul line.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Busy Saturday

Our completed itinerary/agenda for Saturday.

1. Breakfast at Chick-Fil-A on the way to our second thing for the day...
2. Which as you saw by the earlier posts was a visit to the zoo.
3. My first softball practice for the spring at noon...while Gina and the kids enjoyed Subway for lunch.
4. Then Sam's Club to pick up some things including a hot dog and drink for my lunch while Gina and the kids enjoyed a Coke Icee.
5. After that it was Ashlyn's softball practice at 4:30 - 6 pm.
6. Ashlyn and I stayed another hour until 7 pm to take some extra batting practice in the cage. Ethan and Gina came up for part of practice so Ethan took a few swings as well.
7. I went to go play basketball at 8:30 pm for a couple hours. Next week we are back to Saturday mornings at 7 since Upwards basketball is finished where we play.

I think that was all!

Here kitty kitty...


New Zoo Exhibit

We are at the Jacksonville Zoo for the members' preview of the opening of the Asian Gardens. This is one of the two Komodo dragons.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First Baseball Game of 2009

I went to my first game of the season last night with a friend of mine from Tampa, Howard, my neighbor Vinny and a friend of his. We met at Renna's Pizza for a quick bite before the game. We saw Michigan beat the University of North Florida 9-8.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ashlyn's Last Game of the Season...and my game

Ashlyn finished her Upwards basketball season this afternoon. She improved tremendously as the season progressed. I think she did especially well since we don't have a goal at home at she basically had 1 hour of practice each week and then her game. I haven't watched the video of her games that I recorded but I think it will easily show her progress.

As for my game today, we won in overtime for our first win (1-2). I guess that isn't bad seeing how our team is made up of 6 people who did not know each other 3 weeks ago. Next week we step up a division to play so that should be challenging. The family didn't attend since they were at a birthday party. I think I went to the foul line 12 or 14 times...however many times it was, I made all but two. Supposedly they keep stats of the games but I haven't seen anything yet. It will be interesting to see the stats at some point.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Chair

I've been looking for a new chair for my study and found one today at World Market after getting their sale paper in the mail. The chair is compact which works out well for the study.

This is what 1000+ tickets looks like...

Ashlyn's basketball team had a party at Ollie Koala's (think Chuck E Cheese) tonight instead of practice before their last game on Sunday. I played the basketball game...set the high score...74 points in 35 seconds...and out came the tickets...and they kept coming and coming and coming. Ethan was getting very excited and about the 3rd time finally convinced Gina to come see. She didn't believe him. Luckily the place was not too busy as the situation became quite the spectacle. I finally had Gina find someone who works there and had to make it stop...that's right it never stopped on its own. The employee said there is a bonus with the high score but thought it would have been 100 or so tickets. In the end it was 1046 tickets.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Basketball Season Opener

I am playing in a league at Christ's Church. The last time I played in a league was in 2004 in Tallahassee.

There are 7 on the team but we only had 6 today...1 showed up just before tip off and another just after. From what I could gather no one on our team knows each other...just individuals who signed up put on a team. And it showed in our first game. The team we played against had at least 8 players and had played together.

With all that though I think we only lost by 6 points...and in overtime. I hit a 3 in the final minute and maybe a put back on a rebound (don't remember exactly when that occurred) and then made 2 free throws with 4 seconds left to tie the game and send it to OT. I definitely need to get used to the rims and balls they use.

And on another note, Ashlyn had her 6th game today and did very well again this week offensively with her shooting and passing. She received the offensive star last week after making 6 or 7 baskets. she always does a good job defensively. I had to leave at halftime to go to my game but before I left she had 3 baskets I think and a few nice passes to teammates as well.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Gina and I went out to dinner at Stonewood tonight. We saved room for dessert...well almost enough room. We shared the chocolate chip bread pudding. It comes with a chocolate crisp cookie type thing on top which we have been taught to put under the bread pudding to let it melt and then spoon it up with everything else. Yum!

My "Seahorse"

Ethan made me a seahorse earlier today and left it on my nightstand for me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our 1st Family Super Bowl Viewing

For the first time all 4 of us sat down and watched the game...ok the kids had to go to bed before it was over and Gina fell asleep just as it was ending. We laid a blanket on the living room floor for the kids to eat on while watching the game (like we do when we have a movie night). Gina made rotel cheese dip with hamburger meat in the crock pot, I made a barbeque chicken pizza and then Gina and Ethan made some smores. Ashlyn enjoyed the halftime show and wanted to understand about the pregame flyover. Ethan managed a "mmm...good" about the nachos and cheese dip and was very interested in making me a smore. Ethan also told Gina that he didn't intend to tell his kindergarten teacher that he watched the Super Bowl because it is for boys.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

David Garrard and Me

While playing basketball last night I had a picture taken of me with the quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not the best resolution since it was my camera phone. He was very gracious when I asked for a picture. I think this was about the fourth time he was out there playing with us since the season ended.

CRM Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Chick-Fil-A is coming...

On Monday night our family had the privilege of attending a volunteer appreciation dinner at the City Rescue Mission, The kids attended as well since they had a big role in helping with the "Shoeboxes of Love." Ashlyn and Ethan asked friends who attended their birthday party last year to bring filled shoeboxes for donation instead of presents for them. We were provided a wonderful 3-course meal and also learned more about CRM's mission and needs. Ashlyn accepted a certificate of appreciation for our family and represented us in the group picture with a bunch of other adults. Because of this, she is claiming the certificate is hers and will go on her wall!

As an aside, a general manager from the closest Chick-Fil-A to us (which is 10 miles away) was at the dinner. I told him they need to built one in Mandarin (our area of Jacksonville). His response was there should be one there by the end of 2009. The general vicinity he gave is around I-295 and San Jose Blvd which would be less then 3 miles away. Yeah!...I think.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Up to date with January postings

I'm striving to get my blog up to date. I've had some posts saved but not published and then I am getting other posts added. I decided to work from most recent to older posts. So here in one fell swoop is January up to date with the later months of 2008 to some point. And yes posts have been updated to keep this blog somewhat chronologically sound.

Ashlyn's Softball Evaluation

Ashlyn had softball tryouts/evaluations on Saturday. She is playing in the 8U softball pitching machine league. There were a number of girls out there. Her league will have 2-3 teams and will play other teams throughout the area. For the evaluations the girls fielded grounders and threw to first from between SS/3B, hit using the pitching machine and had a timed run from home to 1st base. We received an e-mail last night and Ashlyn will be on a team with 2 other girls in her class at school and a girl from the team she played on last year. There were 14 girls listed on her team which seems like a lot to me but we will see. No team name has been selected yet but Ashlyn will miss the first practice on Thursday because her basketball team is going to the Jacksonville University women's basketball game (normally she has practice on Thursday).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Basketball Goodbye

I said goodbye to one of my basketball playing friends this morning. Robert Prince gets a special acknowledgment because he was the assistant wide receivers coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was hired a couple weeks ago as the new wide receivers coach for the Seattle Seahawks. He worked with Jim Mora, Jr. in Atlanta and San Francisco. Plus he brought a lot of his Jaguars shirts to let us have. I acquired a nice black, dry fit "Polo" style shirt.

Hopefully it's like this next Friday...

...and many Fridays to come since I will not be working. Looking out my office window at a beautiful, clear day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I had to use some PTO either this pay period or next so I took today off to make it a 4-day weekend. Got a few things organized around the house and also watched some CNN coverage of the inauguration activities. I don't recall ever watching an inauguration before. Got to see all the former presidents emerging from the Capitol and then the Obama family. The Mall was definitely packed.

I DVR'd the inauguration in case Ashlyn wanted to see it. During the election cycle she was very interested in what was going on...especially for her age I thought. When she came home though I found out they watched it at school. She said 1/2 watched it in the cafeteria and the rest in their classrooms. She was in the cafeteria.

Historical day for the US, and I think history will be kinder to Bush as opposed to current sentiment.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Substitute Teacher

I was the substitute teacher for our Family Group bible study this morning. We are reading the book The Fine Line this quarter.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Basketball Night

Our Saturday morning basketball is on hold during the Upwards (kids) season but we are now playing Saturday nights at 8:45 pm. Hopefully the numbers are not out of control like they have been recently. There have been 27-28 people once or twice. And we had 18 yesterday morning which was very high.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Work Schedule

Just found out our office is going back to 4 10-hour days a week. I will work Monday through Thursday. I like the 3 day weekends, especially during the summer, but I will miss out on playing basketball on Monday and Wednesday mornings.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attic Storage

Our office was closed on Friday so I spent that day and Saturday adding 160 sq ft of decking in the attic. I had to install floor support for just about every 2'x4' section of plywood so it took a lot more work. We now have plenty of storage space. We needed some extra space to keep the crib and my old desk. Ashlyn uses part of the crib as a headboard and Gina's dad built us a 10 ft x 7 ft desk/wall unit.

Plus now I can keep more of the kids toys in the attic as they outgrow them for their own kids one day...hopefully. I have been able to let them play with some of my toys (and books) from childhood and it has been pretty cool (for me) to see them enjoy playing with them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Getting back to normal

Ethan finally seems to be getting back to himself today. He went back to school after missing the first 3 days this week. Hopefully we can start seeing some positive effects of removing his tonsils and adenoids and getting ear tubes again.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ashlyn's first basketball practice

Ashlyn had her first practice this morning at 9:30. We missed last Saturday since we were out of town and her first game is tomorrow. Ashlyn played in 2006 but didn't play last year.

When we arrived I thought the rim looked high combined with the girls not being able to reach the rim when shooting. I asked one of the other dads if they play on a 10' goal and he said no. He said it was 8 1/2..which is what they play on. I went to the rim and jumped to see what I could reach. It was actually about 9'8". They got it straight and it was much easier for the girls to make baskets.

To finish practice, we played a game of the kids versus parents. I had to hold back a lot!:-)

Games will be at 1 PM on Sundays and practice every Thursday at 6:30 PM.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I had not planned to stay up but we are supposed to give Ethan his pain medication every 4 hours so it got to that point to not go to sleep. We didn't get home from the hospital until around 4:30 pm. It has been a long day and Ethan is not feeling well. I think his first comment when they wheeled him into recovery was yelling and screaming "I want my tonsils back in!"

I was watching some motorcycle and truck stunt attempts on ESPN from Las Vegas. And flipped over to see the ball drop in NYC at midnight. And thought to myself why do they still put Dick Clark on the air. I understand his name was associated with the event for a long time but to me it is sad watching him.

We woke Ethan up as instructed to give him his medicine but after many attempts, he refused to take it and went back to sleep. That was not worth the He refused quite madly I might add.