Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Graduate

Me, Andrew and Judy
(click on pic for slideshow)

Our wonderful son Andrew graduated from Linn-Mar High School today, our first-born. It has been an extremely exciting weekend for a number of reasons. Judy's parents came in Wednesday night and surprised the kids - REALLY surprised them! Then, Judy's brother and sister-in-law and kids came in on Saturday morning. It was a wonderful time! Now, back to our son...

Andrew was born in Chattanooga Tennessee and has been involved in sports all along. He was an excellent soccer player, but eventually found his way to basketball where he really excelled. He also got very involved in video editing and has become quite accomplished in writing, shooting, producing, and editing videos. He hopes someday to be involved in some aspect of film, maybe even a film director! WOW! We are so proud of him.

Andrew is planning to attend Kirkwood Community College in the fall to study Marketing and Film. He plans to then transfer to the University of Iowa after two years.

Andrew - we are SO proud of you! Congratulations Graduate! If you would like to see his senior pictures click here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Idol Finale

(I missed the finale - was leading a Bible study)

Short and simple - the real winner was Chris, runner-up was Kat, and Taylor who? I didn't vote, so go ahead and blame me. Rett - you figured me out. I love sappy, female balladiers (Kat, Olivia, Martina, Tracy Marie, Darlene Zschech, Celine - my personal all-time fav.) Todd - you prognosticated a Chris/Kat showdown EARLY in the contest. I agree - another winner who will amount to nothing after winning. Taylor has a great voice, but an American Idol shouldn't resemble an Elvis impersonator.

See ya next season.

Idol Final - Over the Rainbow

Ok, so I'm sitting here at Panera waiting for my accountability partner to show up and I went online to watch Kat sing "Over the Rainbow." WOW!!! It's a little embarrassing to be sitting here in a public place with misty eyes. What is it that evokes so much emotion? I just know that when she finished the tears came, and they are there again just writing about it. AND, this is not spiritual. I think there is something within us (well, me anyways!) that recognizes a "win" and I feel the urge to celebrate with the individual. This is the reason I don't like to watch ice skating. When someone really nails it I break out in tears. That's just me. (and I love it!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Idol Final

Tonight's the final night of competition and it all comes down to two performers: Katharine McPhee & Taylor Hicks. Here's my pre-judge comments comments. In some cases I comment on the judges comments. Here goes!

McPhee#1 - very entertaining, soulful, good lows (her best range). I would have liked something a bit more powerful, but I think she was in her element.I agree with Paula. I agree with Simon. The occasion, in fact, deserved a better song, but it was a good warm up.

Taylor#1 - OMG! I love the song - perfect for him. What's up with the purple, lounge-lizard jacket. Hands down, the dude can sing. Great energy! (I wish Kathryn would have come out swinging like he did.)

McPhee#2 - I missed it. A guest stopped by. I can't believe I missed my fav song twice. It's online so I'll watch it later.

Taylor#2 - It was good. I especially like it when he doesn't dance all around. It WAS pitchy. You have to sing in tune.

McPhee#3 - Piano is out of tune. First note - she wins again. Elegant. I wish they would have raised it one half pitch to Bb. The last note sold me! First note, last note. I am putty and a bit emotional. THAT'S what makes am American Idol.

Taylor#3 - I guess he CAN sing a ballad. Real pitchy. I'm sorry, but he doesn't do anything for me. I guess the judges like them. Simon? What's up with that comment? If he's the next idol, I'm sad. (sorry Loretta)

Conclusion - Remember when Nadia nailed the perfect 10 on the balance beam? I do. I still get misty even thinking about it. A performance that moves me. When Lance rode to an inconceivable 6 straight TDFs I cried. I like Taylor - I love Katharine.

(Funny thing. I switched channels to the Academy of Country Music Awards and Dirks Bentley was singing and it wasn't very good. He was pitchy and mediocre. THERE!)

Welp, America will now vote. I hope Kat wins. I'm out.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A weekend get away

Me and Judy at the Hancock House Bed & Breakfast
(Click on the pic for a slideshow)

FINALLY! After over one year of not getting away for a single weekend, it finally happened Friday and Saturday. Friday morning we left Cedar Rapids to head to Dubuque for our first ever experience at a bed & breakfast. We drove to nearby Galena, Illinois that is rich in history and shops! We enjoyed a trolley tour then off to the shops. We ate lunch at Vinny Vanucchi's Little Italy Restaurant - authentic Italian food and it was incredible!

Later in the afternoon we headed on back to Dubuque to our B & B destination - The Hancock House. After checking in, we decided to take in the sights of downtown Dubuque but found that most everything was closed after 5pm. We went back to the B&B and settled in for the evening. I read Love Letters: An Anthology of Passion to Judy while we overlooked the Mississippi River below. I love the ambiance of this old house and its furnishings. Back up in the room I had big band music playing which further added to the ambiance of this old mansion. It was great to get away from the computer and phone and just relax with my wonderful bride of 20+ years.

Breakfast was served with another couple from Cedar Rapids and a couple from Chicago. The cinnamon and apple pancakes were delicious! Thanks Chuck and Susan - owners of this fine house.

After checkout we headed up to Dyersville, Iowa to see The Field of Dreams where the movie by the same name was shot - click here for slideshow. It was cool! (see next blog entry) It was a wonderful weekend that I'll not soon forget.

Thank you Lord for giving me such a wonderful lady to share life with. Please pour out your blessings on my precious Judy and may she know your deep, unconditional, and everlasting love.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Willow Creek Small Group Ministry Advanced Conference

Russ Robinson and me at Willow Creek
(Click the pic for a slideshow of our trip)

Tuesday afternoon 9 of us from the church headed up to Willow Creek Community Church to work on our Small Group Ministry strategy and to see what we needed to do next. This was a workshop format and we covered the book Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry. We had a great time discussing the various issues we are facing in our small group ministry.

Nine of us went - 7 equipping staff and 2 from the small group leadership team. Greg Bowman challenged me before the conference that this is probably too many people and we would have difficulty with our discussions around our table. Well Greg didn't know that we function as a team, a team of servant leaders! We had no trouble with our discussions. In fact, our table facilitator just sat there and watched as we facilitated our own discussions! I love working with servant leaders! Thanks to our team! Bob, Kim, James, Erin, Pat, Mark F., Susan K. and Deacon Dave Sanders.

While we were there we had the opportunity to tour the campus and even stand on the stage at the church.WOW! It was huge! Kudos to Willow Creek for their near obsessive focus on outreach throughout every single department.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Home sweet home

We bought a house!!! Hooray! After nearly a year of looking for a house to purchase we finally found one that we like and can somewhat afford - housing is really expensive here in CR. When we looked at it last Thursday afternoon at 5pm it was quite a moment. We walked in and could just tell that this was the place for our family.

For a long time it didn't look like we would find a house that would suit us. With 4 kids we had to have 4 bedrooms and and some. This house has four bedrooms and room in the basement for a 5th. It's a great house for us and will serve us well as we have Bible studies and small groups over.

We are looking forward to getting out of our rental house and moved into our permanent house. The kids will enjoy having a ping-pong table in the basement. We are planning to move in on June 24th and I can't wait! Thanks for praying for us!

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. Ps 127:1NIV

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

American Idol - the Final Four

I'm really getting into this Idol thing. I love analyzing the artists and then hearing the judges analysis. Since there were two songs for each performer, you will see a number after their name to indicate which song I am commenting on. Here's my pre-Randy-Paula-Simon comments, and sometimes post-comments as well:

Taylor1- wow, he even looked like Elvis a little. Nice rendition. He was born to be an Elvis impersonator.* (sorry Simon, I disagree)

Chris1 - too reserved. I wish he would have not held back. It's like he was afraid of it.

Elliot1 - terrible. Goodbye bro. (Wait! Is it possible that the mix that comes through the TV is not as good as what the studio audience hears? The judges loved it. hmmm)

Katharyn1 - Nice outfit, good song, personality like no other idol, coo hair, Aretha Franklin bit, AMAZING!!! The next American Idol!!! Pre-order my Katharyn CD.

Taylor2 - Taylor has got the soul that Elvis had. Nice leather coat - reminiscent of Elvis. Too bad this is not an "Elvis Impersonator"* contest. It's American Idol. I heard there were openings in several lounges in Las Vegas.

Chris2 - nice R & B. Why is he holding back? SING!!! There he goes! I love it when he's up there in the high E range! Nice job.

Elliot2 - man, that was your song. Whoah! Nice job! "Best performance ever" - I agree. (man, the band was rockin'!)

Katharyn2 - Yes, yes and yes! Nice lows, passion, you brought it! I agree with Simon - they weren't her best songs, but what can I say. She has it.

Idol Band - wow, they were hot tonight! Great horn licks! Drummer guy was rockin'!

*Personal note - Believe it or not, I performed with an Elvis impersonator for a summer in 1979. The guy went on later to win a national Elvis Impersonator contest held every year in Memphis. It was a lot of fun. At times it seemed like the "real deal." Glenn Bowles rocks!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

American Idol musings

I am a blessed man! Tonight I was allowed to watch Idol - YEAH!!! Here's a few of my pre-Randy, Paula, Simon thoughts:

Katharine - My choice! She's humble, sweet, beautiful and she can really bring it. I especially love that low alto voice.

Taylor - was Taylor - a cheap lounge act. I think Elvis turned over in his grave.

Chris - wow, chris nailed it! He was a little out of his range on the second. Tired vocal chords.

Paris - 1st song needed a bigger voice, but she still knocked it out. I really like her, but I prefer Katharine.

Elliot - Love the song (Broadway) - ok performance.

I really enjoy listening and analyzing the singers. Being a musician, I have "studied" entertainment for years and what makes a good performance and a mediocre one. It's a fun hobby.

So, I'm voting (no, I don't call in) for Katharine. Chris would be second. What do you think?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stress test #2 - try this one

Look at the picture above of two dolphins jumping out of the water in tandem. Research has shown that the more differences you notice in the two dolphins, the more stressed you are. This is attributed to the concentration and recognition influences intensifying when stressed.

I must be pretty stressed out!!! : )