Saturday, June 21, 2008

Halo 3 RULEZ!

Halo 3 RULEZ!
I played Halo3 campaign for a little over two hours getting to the trailer from E3 2006, and I feel like the two guys from A Night at the Roxbury after they make love to their girlfriends for the first time.

OMG! That was so AWESOME! That was the BEST THING EVAR! WOW!

Yah, it was that good for me. Have to say that the Gravity Hammer is my new favorite weapon. That thing is visceral and so powerful - when you whip it around, it just FEELS AWESOME.

Without giving too much away, I like the various interruptions by Cortana throughout the game. It gives the game a depth in story and character that the previous chapters didn't have too much of.

I'm also happy that they seem to be cutting and splicing my favorite music sequences in from the first two games. I have to say I haven't heard too much original music yet in-game. And I think that's a good thing. It gives the fighting sequences an emotional anchor.

The graphics have been tuned CONSIDERABLY since the Beta. The one thing that can be a little annoying is that the Brutes go from fully armored to almost naked in a single shot. I also feel like I'm missing something not fighting the Elites.

Oh and the chopper (the Brute ghost) is one sweet piece of action too.

I'm not sure what the gaming reviews are bitching about with the story complaints. It seems pretty damn good so far. A hell of a lot better than Gears of War which actually got better review on some websites.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to finishing the fight hopefully this weekend!

(Please do not post spoilers in the comments - thanks!)

Halo 3 is MINE ALL MINE!!!

Halo 3 is MINE ALL MINE!!!
So I left home 20 minutes early to stop by Wal-Mart on the way to work and HEY! what do ya know! they opened a GameStop in my 'hood. Cool.

Okay, Focus!

Walk into Wal-Mart, check my fly, holy crap, it's a stampede out of the barn! Zip up and keep moving!

Get to the video game war chest and look around for Legendary units. None. Which is a good thing because I'm pretty sure my wife would have castrated me with bricks if I came home with one of those.

They have LE's and standard editions. One problem, there is NO ONE around with a key to open this door. I am racing up and down the aisles, DESPARATELY looking for the guy with the key - NOWHERE to be seen. Finally, some guy wearing work gloves come singing to himself around the corner.

"HEY YOU! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!" - I thought it - I didn't say it.

"Excuse me, sir? Do you have a key to this cabinet?" Weak Sauce, I know.

He takes the game and walks me up to the front of the store. There are FIVE registers open, FOUR OF THEM HAVE NO LINE. Anyone wanna guess which register I got checked out at? THAT'S RIGHT! The one with the line.

TWO EXCRUCIATING MINUTES LATER, the lady rings me up and asks me if I'm over 17. I whip out my driver's license like Master Chief whips out his magnum. She told me they actually turned away two youngsters early early in the morning who tried to buy the game. I commended her for keeping us all safe from the timmies. Okay, I didn't say Timmies.

And then.... with tears welling up in my eyes... she handed Master Chief to me... in a little white bag. Knowing that these little white bags can cause suffocation, I immediately removed the Master Chief from the bag and headed back to my car.

Once on board my train to work, I gently peeled the plastic off Master Chief and opened him ever so gently and... - SWEEEEEET! there's a POSTER INSIDE! WOO HOO!!! That's what my wife gets for not letting me order the 4' wall graphic from Circuit City!

The train pulled into my stop before I could finish savoring the manual, and as I closed the box, I think Master Chief winked at me as if to say, "We can spend some more intimate quality time together later".

I miss you already, Master Chief, but we'll be together soon.



JRo IS the Master Chief

JRo IS the Master Chief

Am I ready? I AM READY!!!

halo3instructionmanualcoveredit.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Birthday BOY!

Birthday BOY!

Last night, we held a small birthday party for my son.

This party serves 2 purposes :

1) it gives momma a chance to practice the cake she's going to make for the big party next weekend and

2) it honors the actual day of his birth, whereas the actual party will frequently not do so due to its conflict with our wedding anniversary (we got married first so we take priority).

After a mild panic trying to find the camera, we got down to some singing :

Make a wish, big guy!

Yay!!! He blew out all the candles!

Momma's Masterpiece (with the help of a molded cake pan) :

Cake for everybody!

There is something truly special about watching very young boys eat cake.

Follow the progression with me here :

Ok, fork into the cake as we hold it up with our fingers for stability :

Fork into the mouth with cake! Success!

But you know what? Fingers just work better!

Birthday Presents!!!

Duckie Soap from sister!

Go Bears! Go Bears!

a TRAIN! (This was the undisputed champion present this year.)

Silliness with bows :

MATER! Mater, or "Tow Mater", is a character from the movie Cars for those who don't know and is Matthew's favorite.

Then, we proceeded to get down to some unboxing (which means cutting or removing about 30,000 twist ties) and playing with our new toys!


This morning I felt and became convicted.

I was listening to CS Lewis' Mere Christianity and at the very end of the book, he's rattling off a list of sins (as an alternative to giving our lives over to Christ) and one of them (I won't say which for fear of embarassment) just struck me in the face. I almost stopped dead in my tracks as I was walking to work. I felt like God was talking through CS Lewis straight to me. As if to say "I know what you're thinking and you must stop." I literally had to play that section of the book over again because I thought I had made it up in my head.

I felt at once like a man who had been convicted of a crime, but then I realized my conviction need not be a totally negative thing. God had called me out on the carpet for something that I had done, and the conviction serves also as a turning point, not merely a condemnation. The conviction also strengthened by belief in God, and I think you can start to see the double meaning here as my convictions in Christ were strengthened by my conviction of my sin.

It was a strange moment, but I'm glad it happened.

Sunday Reflections : Capitulation

Sunday Reflections : Capitulation
Since this is not a word used in everyday english, let's pay a visit to Merriam Webster, shall we?

Main Entry: ca·pit·u·la·tion
Pronunciation: k&-"pi-ch&-'lA-sh&n
Function: noun
1 : a set of terms or articles constituting an agreement between governments
2 a : the act of surrendering or yielding b : the terms of surrender

It is this second definition that I would like to focus on. Capitulation is the point where all of your past mistakes and triumphs come into sharp focus. The point of surrender need not be a bad thing - the capitulation of Jesus Christ to sin was the start of the most glorious event in the history of mankind.

I have often wondered aloud about the power of capitulation. Stock Markets inevitable rally after sharp corrections. Stories of people's lives being turned around by a close call (whether it be due to conflict or illness) are many.

Our church's 4 year bible reading program is currently going through the first psalms. We are currently about at the point where David changes from a well respected and powerful prince-like official in Saul's Jewish kingdom and is suddenly exiled. In my reading, David is afraid during the transition - going from a person of power to a person in exile. But what strikes me is David's reawakening to God during his exile. He proclaims that God will not forget him, even in his grave.

Our pastor spoke last night that transition - change - is painful. And can I ever testify to that. Since December of last year at work we have feared for our jobs, at first from downsizing and now due to a pending acquisition of the company. I just really want that capitulation right now. I feel like someone who has not slept for days, nervous and frayed at the edges. And yet I maintain my commitment, my promise to God that I will not forget my faith as I look for the exit in all of this.

God Bless You All. Have a Great Week.

PS3 vs 360 - Sound

PS3 vs 360 - Sound
Probably the championship feature of the PS3 is that it is really really quiet!

The lack of fan noise is both welcome and a blessed change from the 360. What is it with MS and noisy consoles? My old XBox was horribly loud.

PS3 vs 360 - External Items

PS3 vs 360 - External Items
Media Cables

HDMI - So unless you've bought a 360 in the last month or so or you paid extra for the Elite, you probably don't have a 360 with an HDMI port. All PS3's of the 60 GB and higher variety have them. The HDMI cable is a big win for me for one simple reason : simplicity. I could care less about the nice picture, the great sound, blah, blah, blah. The fact of the matter for me is that HDMI is a clutter killer and I love that. Advantage PS3.

Out of the Box - I'm actually embarassed to even post this but all Sony provided out of the box was a Yellow/White/Red composite cable. What? Seriously? You're bragging on and on and on about your super duper TrueHD capable box and you give me this crap? Unless you bought a Core 360, you got both with your 360, a composite cable and a component cable with a handy dandy switch on the cable. Advantage 360 and shame on you Sony for trying to sell me a $50 HDMI cable at your store. I bought mine online for less than $10, thank you very much.

Cable quality - Well I never took the composite cables out of the box but they looked pretty standard and not all that generous in the length department. MS' media cable on the other hand, I think, is about 10' long and has a real nice sturdy feel to it. I have had some intermittent problems with my VGA cable, but I'm 90% sure that's due to a loose connection on the monitor and nothing to do with the cable. Advantage 360.


(sigh) First I have to start with our much beloved 360 power brick. It's not that Sony doesn't have a power supply but it's in the box, not dangling from the rear of the console. I've never been especially happy with the power brick being deliberately stationed between two power cords that are too short to do the job. Advantage PS3, big time.

Turning on either console has fun little surprises in store. The 360 does a little whirly circle animation with a matching pattern around the power button on the box. The PS3 has a touch sensitive power button on the front of the console that is WAY cool. But let's face it, we all use our controllers to turn on our consoles. I think the PS3 might boot up a tiny bit faster than the 360, but it's really a Push.


The PS3 has this little ridge over the back of their box that actually makes the connections (power, HDMI, ethernet) slightly recessed. This makes it extremely difficult to install. Also, the ethernet port was so tight that I thought I had broken my console when I finally rammed the thing in there. I'm all in favor of tight ports, but this was a little bit too much. Also, the 360 has a nice satisfying lock "click" when you plug in the power supply. The PS3 has a standard PC power cable and you're never quite sure if you've gone far enough in, because where the plug changes shape is not fluch with the console port. No big deal, but a little worrisome. Advantage 360.

Hard Drive

My hard drive never comes off my 360 except at LAN's and in Sony's case it's internal, so that's that. The Sony drive is supposedly user-replaceable which I really like in concept but I'm not a big fan of opening closed end systems.

I'll post more about interface and gaming soon, but I just haven't had enough time to play with it yet to make a fair comparison.

PS3 vs 360 - Controller

PS3 vs 360 - Controller
Alright having played with my PS3 for a couple of nights now, I think I can start to make some comparisons between the two systems.

First up is the controller.

No user replace-able batteries on the PS3 controller means you are tethered to the console during installation until the thing builds up enough juice to unhook. And the bundled USB cable is SHORT. This is supposed to be a living room device and you give me a USB cable that's like 6 feet long tops? Seriously? Although there is a weight tradeoff, I will take the 360's user replace-able and standard AA batteries. Advantage 360.

The PS3 controller is CRAZY light. You would think it was just a hollow toy if it didn't work (which it does). There is seriously nothing to this thing when you're holding it. I'm sure that the lack of rumble has a lot to do with the weight. Personally my 360 controller does feel a bit heavy at times and supposedly the chatpad is not exactly going to help with that. Advantage Sony.

No rumble on the PS3 controller. Personally, rumble is a bit too immersive for me so I always shut it off. Push.

PS button versus XBox360 guide button - this works almost exactly the same way. Push down to shut off the console. Tap during gameplay to get back to the dashboard/XMB. It's all very similar. Sony does not, however, have the little pull-out blade during gameplay that the 360 has (and I love). Advantage 360.

Which controller am I? MS handles this with a ring around the guide button so all you have to do is look down and it even shows you what quadrant you're in if you're playing split screen. Really cool. Sony's indicator is on the top of the controller (4 red LED's) so you actually have to turn it over to see which one you're hooked into. Advantage 360.

R1/R2/L1/L2 on PS3 vs triggers and bumpers on 360 - I haven't yet played a game that actually use the triggers yet but they feel really nice. First of all, Sony has finally bowed to peer pressure and put triggers on their controllers in place of the R2/L2 buttons. The feel is quite nice but it's not as thin as the 360's trigger and it's got a bit nicer of a feel to it. Gameplay will tell how good it really is, but I'll give the edge to Sony on this one.

Analog sticks. Here's one of the big differences and it's really hard to get used to. Sony's analog sticks have always been side by side. MS' sticks are offset. I would think during long gameplay sessions that Sony's sticks would hurt your hands but I haven't played anything for particularly long on my PS3 yet so it's a little hard to say that. The feel of the PS3 thumbsticks is quite nice - the texture is very tactile and "grippy". Push - I prefer Sony's feel but MS' location.

The 4 buttons - hard to say there's any real difference here. I guess I could give a slight edge to MS based on the fact that their buttons are raised in a slightly convex fashion while the PS3 buttons are pretty flat.

Start and Back/Select - These buttons are a bit wonky on the PS3. They have a nice soft feel to them, but they don't always respond unless you really mash them. Advantage 360.

Overall, I would have to say that MS got it right where it counted but Sony's feel is extremely nice. Advantage clearly goes to 360 overall for pure gaming but the lack of weight and nice tactile analog sticks and triggers on the PS3 make it a close call for me.

JRo goes to the Dark Side

JRo goes to the Dark Side

So, my OMM brethren knew this day was coming, but at long last I have succumbed. I feel a little bit like Travis after putting down Lassie. But the deal was too good.

Hey JRo, what's in the bag?

DSC01785.jpg picture by JRock3x8

You DIDN'T!!!

(shameful choked sob) I did...

DSC01787.jpg picture by JRock3x8

and...and...we're in LOVE...

DSC01789.jpg picture by JRock3x8

no, seriously...Sony was offering a $150 credit on purchases over $299. Was I honestly supposed to say no?!? I don't even give a crap about the games... $350 for a hybrid Blu-Ray player / streaming media client - sounds good to me!!!

Crossing Wires

Crossing Wires
I am not a very good electrician. I do, however, have a lot of experience running wires for various stereo components. Which is why this particular problem really irks me that I can't come up with a better solution.

Here's the deal. I have a HD digital cable box and a Tivo. I love Tivo because I can record shows and keep them forever on my computer, something the cable companies will never allow you to do. My point is to establish why I don't just get the cable company's HD DVR box.


The problem is with audio. I run audio from the cable box to the TV and I can watch HDTV with sound, but I can't record any digital cable channels on the Tivo. So I run the audio cables from the cable box to the Tivo. Great, now I am watching HDTV in silence. I wish like all hell that the second pair of audio out connectors on the cable box actually worked, but alas they do not.

My solution is rather backwards. I ran audio cables from each of the sources on the TV (Tivo and cable box) to a 4 way AV splitter and then ran the OUT to the Tivo box with the cable's audio running into the Tivo. In this case, the Tivo basically functions as a passthrough for the cable box's audio and the splitter lets me listen to either source while viewing it.

I still don't get exactly why it works though. If the in's and out's on the splitter are labelled correctly then I shouldn't get any sound on either input, but I think they're "in" and "out" can be reversed as I did it.

Am I missing something? Is there a better way?

Corrected Crossing Wires
So it sounded good, right?

"My solution is rather backwards. I ran audio cables from each of the sources on the TV (Tivo and cable box) to a 4 way AV splitter and then ran the OUT to the Tivo box with the cable's audio running into the Tivo. In this case, the Tivo basically functions as a passthrough for the cable box's audio and the splitter lets me listen to either source while viewing it."

Yah, not so much. It turns out that the Tivo is not a good pass through and it also delays the signal slightly as it caches it.

So here's the real solution and this makes even less sense than what I came up with before, but again it works :

from out cable box to out 4 way switch
from tivo out to tv s-video 1 in (the only one that is somewhat straightforward)
from tivo in to switch #2 in
from switch #3 in to tv component #1 in

did ya follow all that? good, cuz I have no frigging idea why that works, so maybe you can explain it to me.

I also figured out how to run both at the same time by pushing in both of the buttons at the same time, effectively creating a powered split instead of a switch.

Williams Family's First Visit to MSI - September 1st

MSI Visit - 9/1
Williams Family's First Visit to MSI - September 1st

Williams Family's First Visit to MSI - September 1st

We lived in Milwaukee for 8 years. During our stay in Milwaukee, we made a habit of going to the City's main Zoo every Saturday, if for no other reason than just to walk around and enjoy the weather. In the winters, it was tough. And let's face it, there's all of about two weeks of Summer in Milwaukee. I exaggerate, but...well, no I don't. Anyways, it's a habit we fell out of when we moved to Chicago, partially because our neighborhood is so nice, we didn't feel the immediate need. But now that we're settled in a little bit, we decided to start a new family tradition. The zoos in Chicago are not convenient from our house, and we felt that Michigan City's zoo would be a bit of a letdown after Milwaukee.

Therefore, we decided on the Musem of Science and Industry (MSI). I always loved MSI as a kid because it really appealed to my science / geek side (ok, it's pretty much "all" as opposed to "side". Recently though, I discovered that the building that MSI is in is the last remaining structure from the 1893 World's Fair which officially put Chicago on the map as a major world power, only 22 years after the Great Chicago Fire. History may come full circle if Mayor Daley gets his wish to host the 2016 Olympics. Fittingly enough, the Olympic Stadium is slated to be built just a couple miles due West of the 1893 World's Fair Grounds. Stay tuned on that.

Anyways, we got to the Museum, pretty much right when they opened and we purchased our memberships. The staff was very well trained - they comped our parking, they got us signed up, they took our money and off we went. Very efficient, extremely polite. On the way in, we noticed the Pioneer Zephyr (forgive me if I don't get these names right the first time) and although we didn't stop to see it until we were leaving, I put the photo here for continuity's sake :

DSC01781.jpg picture by JRock3x8

The opening hall is quite impressive - you can see the banner for the Star Wars exhibit opening in a couple of weeks. I expect I will jump out of my skin when that opens up!

DSC01712.jpg picture by JRock3x8

The first exhibit room we got to see was a large collection of model ships. There were about two dozen of them. Here are three shots of one of the more detailed models :

DSC01720.jpg picture by JRock3x8

DSC01721.jpg picture by JRock3x8

DSC01722.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Next up was a room full of cars. Matthew got so excited he started banging on the glass and we had to restrain him a bit. His grandfather is a bit of a car nut and Matthew just feeds off that. Check out the cute model showing off this beauty! :)

DSC01732.jpg picture by JRock3x8

As we were leaving the room full of cars, we saw this solar car built by students at the University of Michigan. It was really hard to get the whole vehicle into one shot. I had to paste in the description (which you can't really read in this size) from another picture.

DSC01735edit.jpg picture by JRock3x8

The next room was a room about digital effects in photography and video. The stuff was pretty tame by today's standards but a good primer nonetheless. I'll be interested to see how this room evolves over time because it's clearly out of date for anyone who has seen a movie in the last ten years. Matthew, Kelley and I sat down to watch one of the demonstrations for just a minute.

DSC01737edit.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Next we walked through the "Net" room which had a very trippy Matrix-esque floor :


Kelley wasn't interested in being the fireman but Matthew was up for it! Oh and Grandpa, I took the engineer's job in your place since you couldn't be there? What's that? Oh...different engineer, I got it...

DSC01745.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Although the ships and the cars were nice, today was all about RAILROADS! For those who have never been to MSI, they have the most FANTASTIC model railroad setup I have ever seen. I hear tell there is a better one somewhere in West Virginia, but this is pretty outstanding nonetheless. Just to the left of this picture, there is a very small dynamite demonstration that just about scared the pants off my poor daughter. It says push the button, and then there are a few flashes, a very loud boom, and a rather sad plastic wall descends into a hole demonstrating how they cleared paths through rock. It was funny to see her jump back at the boom and then see this sad little piece of plastic move.

DSC01753.jpg picture by JRock3x8

You can see in the distance of the next picture downtown Chicago. There's a good reason I didn't post anymore pictures of it - it's mostly wrong. The LaSalle Bank Building is not there at all. The Chicago Board of Trade is south of the "el" tracks instead of north of them like it should be and there are countless other buildings which are just in the wrong place. I was about to take up the issue with one of the staff there and then decided a Saturday morning probably isn't the most appropriate time to start abusing my membership privileges. All in all, the effect was very good but the bad layout just left me scratching my head.

Union Station from the theoretical west :

DSC01750.jpg picture by JRock3x8

On the other side of the floor was Seattle. I have never been to Seattle, so any Seattle folk out there can tell me if they got it close to correct or not.

DSC01758.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Another shot of Seattle's model skyline - what IS that structure at the bottom left of the picture. It looks like 4 different colored pieces of play dough mashed together and made into a concert hall or something. Very bizarre looking. I'll take a better picture during my next visit.

DSC01756.jpg picture by JRock3x8

At the far end of the previous picture you can see some loading dock equipment which I recorded video of here :


Suspended from the ceiling of the railroad rooms were several planes, including this United Airlines jet which was missing its left wing (presumably so it could fit in the room). Very impressive.

DSC01766.jpg picture by JRock3x8

As we were exiting the train room, I caught a couple shots of this beauty. I'll have to get the story on this one later. If someone knows, please fill it in the comments.

DSC01771.jpg picture by JRock3x8

DSC01770.jpg picture by JRock3x8

There was a room dedicated to oil and all of its various uses. I took the following video of this room which was a fancy light show using bubbles and some hydrocarbon gel. I didn't stay for the whole explanation because the guy was really loud. I tried to edit this video and when Quicktime exported it, it got a little messed up for the first 5 seconds. I'm still learning this stuff...


For whatever bizarre reason, I started getting a really bad leg cramp right about here, so we cut the trip short and headed back to the van. We had been there for over an hour anyways which is more or less what we like to limit our little trips to anyways.


More pictures and stories in weeks to come!

Anniversary Video

Anniversary Video
Last year, I wanted to do something special for my 6th wedding anniversary. I had in mind something a bit more elaborate but by the time I got around to it, this was the best I could do :

The video was created through a website called "" or something like that. They have a relationship with Tivo so that presentations stored online can be viewed on your TV.

By the way, the pictures are roughly speaking in time order, so that they go from oldest to newest from roughly 1997 - 2006.

The lighthouse that is featured prominently is on Kelleys Island, Ohio and is where I proposed to her.

Also, I should explain the wedding cake picture. This is the "she feeds you the first piece of cake and then vice versa" part of the reception. Well, I told her - "if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you". Well, she mashed it into my face and hence my expression of "here it comes" in that pic.

The picture where the dog is guarding the rawhide bone - that's not his. He stole that from a Border Collie that was triple his size and was guarding it ferociously. The Border Collie was not pleased, but tolerated him because he's cute. He was maybe 7 lbs at the time of that picture. He grew up to over 40 lbs.

The first picture of my wife in the hospital bed is the very first time she got to hold our daughter and I got to hand her over. That was a special moment. That was also when we named her. My wife and I had a list of names for our daughter (the same one that went to school for the first time this week) and I really wanted to name her Kelley. We sort of knew we were having a girl from the ultrasounds even though we had asked the doctors not to tell us. But, I was afraid of picking that exact moment to be selfish about naming her, so I suggested a different name (I think it was Stephanie but I can't remember). In a surprise response, my wife said "I think she looks like a Kelley." And the rest is history.

The picture where Kelley is giving her daddy a hug was not staged at all. I was holding her in that rocking chair and as she fell asleep, her arms drifted down my sides, making it look like she was giving me a hug. I asked my wife to take that pic.

The pic of me and Kelley on the brown chair was taken for a homemade first Mother's Day card for my wife. Kelley was a month old.

Later on, you see Kelley's first dilly bar and my son showing a bit more of himself than I originally thought when I first took that pic. Sorry about that. I thought my son looked very much like Marlon Brando when he was first born. Last but not least, there's a picture of a candlelight dinner I prepared for my wife on a weekend where the kids went to Grandma's and a family photo which is very hard because my son hates posing for pictures.

Here we go again...

Here we go again...

What is up with thunderstorms this summer? I don't ever remember a summer with weather this violent - crazy.

So while we've had the usual problems of fallen tree limbs again...

DSC01692.jpg picture by JRock3x8

...the real story this time around was a loss of power for 24 hours and significant flooding.

This street is about a quarter of a mile from my house. If you can kind of pick out the black gates in front of the red house, that's supposed to be guiding a sidewalk around a small stream. By the way, those people on the bikes eventually decided they would try to ride across. The water went all the way up to their seats.

DSC01693.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Here's that gate up close and personal :

DSC01695.jpg picture by JRock3x8

Looks like Niagara falls. I remarked to one of the bicyclists that this would be a hell of a lot of fun if you had a kayak.

DSC01696.jpg picture by JRock3x8

We lost power for 24 hours and I was extremely worried that our sump pump area would back up into the crawl space. I came home in a panic on Thursday night and pulled all of the cardboard boxes out of the crawl, leaving the plastic tubs in. My panic turned out to be for nothing as our crawl stayed dry as a bone throughout the whole ordeal.

We did have to sleep as one big family in the living room. The kids slept on the futon and us parents slept on the floor. The kids were fairly frightened by all the lightning and thunder. Actually it was quite a show. I saw some of the best lightning strikes that I have seen in years last night.

Our neighbors across the street were not so lucky on the flooding front. They have a raised ranch which puts their basement floor at the same level as our crawlspace. They had carpet down there and unfortunately water got in and it flooded. The worst part is they were scheduled to leave for a Niagara Falls vacation today (how ironic) and they had to cancel their plans.

So once again, a huge storm passes through my neighborhood and we emerge more or less unscathed. We are very thankful to the Lord for blessing our house in this way.

First Day of School Reflections

First Day of School Reflections

I still can't believe it. She's all grown up. My wife and I were looking at photos of her walking to and from school tonight and two struck me as being almost exact copies of pictures we had taken in the summer of 2003 when she was only a year old and just starting to walk.

sidebyside.jpg picture by JRock3x8


runningaway.jpg picture by JRock3x8

The chubby little baby fat is gone and what we see now is this beautiful little girl, older than she has a right to be. But I'm biased. I just miss my baby girl.

First Day of School Over!

First Day of School Over!

My daughter's first day at half day Kindergarten is over!

They called her name and she came out the door yelling behind her "I'll see you tomorrow!" She already has more friends than names she can remember.

door.jpg picture by JRock3x8

At once, she ran over to mom and gave her a big hug!

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And then we walked home - a family reunited once again!

DSC01683.jpg picture by JRock3x8

And *I* got a special gift from my little girl when we got home!

DSC01691.jpg picture by JRock3x8

And she was my little baby girl all over again.

First Day of School

First Day of School

This is a story of a father's pain. I took my little girl to school today and I realized she's not a little girl anymore. I had known this day was coming for months, well technically for years since she was born, but I had denied it. I refused to admit to myself that my little princess was growing up. Well today, it hit me. She's not my little baby anymore. She's a big girl.

My Baby Girl ~6-12 Hours after birth :

kelleyingrammadonnasarms4.jpg Kelley picture by JRock3x8

My wife's mother joined us for this historic event and it's a good thing because her camera shots were better than mine. My wife helped her pick out a fabulous red dress for her to wear on her first day.

HPIM2182.jpg picture by JRock3x8

My little girl was so excited she nearly forgot her backpack, and she nearly knocked me over rushing back into the house to grab it. We posed for a few shots in the driveway and then started off.

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We left the house about 7:50am to get to school by 8:10am, when her class starts. I didn't really feel any pain or angst until we got to the crossing guard.

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Then it started to hit me how incredibly nervous I had been during every single one of my first days of school. But my little girl wasn't nervous - she was excited, nearly running ahead of us by 50 feet before we asked her to slow down. I've never seen a kid so happy and excited to go to school - it was fun to watch.

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Seeing the buses in front of the school made me remember all the "fun" times I had on school buses as a kid (and all the REALLY cold mornings).

Finally, we were at her door.

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Today, we were allowed inside to take her to the classroom. We will not be allowed to do that again.

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She posed for a few pics at her table and then we left unexpectedly.

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I turned to my wife in a panic - "That's it?!?" "That's it!" she replied with an annoying cheerful tone. "I didn't even get to say goodbye..." I said.

Then the most surprising thing happened when we got outside - my younger son started calling his sister's name over and over again and started bawling on my wife's shoulder. I was prepared for me and my wife to have issues with this, but not my son. He cried for about half the walk home and then he saw our neighbor standing at the corner and he immediately perked up and ran after him.

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All in all, it went much faster than I was prepared for and was much less ceremonious than I guess I had in mind. I was ready for a "walk her to the altar" type ceremony but I guess THAT pain will have to wait for another day. Someone pass me the kleenex.