Tag Archives: Awesome


“Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…” – The Princess Bride

The kids sat down last night with Emily and me to watch the Princess Bride on the eve of our wedding anniversary. Nineteen years ago today Emily and I were married hoping that, “…wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…” We were young and maybe a little dumb but getting married was the best non-dumb thing I did when I was 22.  And so far, wuv has followed us.  We joked last night about some of the funny things that happened on our honeymoon like the worms and crows.  Emily told the kids what I think is my favorite story to tell other people about our honeymoon…

Our wedding pic
Who are those youngsters?

We were engaged for 2 or so years before we got married and we had dated before that so we pretty well knew each other and mostly had a good idea that we were going to be married early on and that it was going to be ok…or so I thought.  The wedding was stressful and my face was locked in a perma-smile for days but the ceremony was fun and went well.  We finished up at the reception and headed off to our honeymoon destination.  We were broke so there wasn’t money for anything exotic.  We went to a nearby state park that had a nice lodge and stayed there.  We ate and hauled our stuff to the room and basically collapsed in exhaustion.  Within a few minutes, Emily started crying, “What have I gotten myself in to?”  Over and over.  It’s not like we were having problems or anything…reality just struck her…on our wedding night!  I suspect she still doesn’t exactly know what she has gotten herself into as I like to keep her guessing but it’s worked out pretty well and the wedding apparently “took”.  So happy anniversary to you Emily!  I look forward to annoying you for a lot longer!

Can you hear me now?

Isaac was born early and under very hard conditions.  You can read most of the details here.  We had to make many hard decisions and face many hard realities when he was born.  We were told that he would likely have a variety of issues that might present themselves as a result of his premature birth and the subsequent treatment to save his life.

Hearing aid box
His hearing aids came in a cool box!

As it turns out, Isaac does have one issue that resulted from some of his treatments.  During his time in the NICU when he was most critical, we had to sign several releases acknowledging that some of the meds they were giving Isaac may result in his being deaf.  In fact, he does have moderate hearing loss in both ears and it centers around higher frequencies…right where most voices tend to fall.  As you can imagine, that makes school and sports teams and even home life sort of interesting.

Hearing aids are not noticeable
You can barely see the wire into his ear

Now Isaac has never been a particularly organized kid.  He loses his shoes almost daily.  Sometimes he even misplaces his toothbrush if you can imagine.    We were hesitant to get him hearing aids when he was younger for that reason.  Now that he is in middle school though, he seems to be rounding the corner on keeping track of himself.  The school situation was becoming more of an issue as well.  The county had been making accommodations for him and provided in-school sound systems in his classrooms but it became hard to manage and he didn’t enjoy the extra attention that went along with it.

Hearing aid behind his ear
The only visible part and he may just grow his hair out some

So, we decided it was time to do something.  Last week, Isaac was fitted for new hearing aids for both ears.  They are very inconspicuous and work super well.  I think the best thing was when we first walked outside from the doctor’s office.  The office is near an interstate and Isaac stepped out and immediately looked around, sort of confused.  He asked me what the hum was.  He was truly shocked and neither of us realized how much he had been missing…I only wish his first “sound realization” had been something other than the traffic noise from the interstate.  Still, it sort of made me happy just to see that he was finally going to hear like me!

Hot…dang hot

I guess most couples have funny phrases or things they say that only they get.  Actually, lots of times, many couples have the same set of things they say.  My blog friend Capri-Kel is a master of funny words and statements and I think we probably share a lot of the same phrases.  In our case, many come from a handful of movies we really enjoy.  For instance, the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is loaded with awesomeness and also many good lines that we use as they appropriate situation arises.  Another favorite is Good Morning Vietnam.  Most of you who have seen it know the line when Robin Williams gives the weather report…”it’s hot, #$@% hot…so hot you could fry a snake’s @ss”.  That’s a line that Emily and I use pretty much every time that one or the other of us asks about the upcoming weather.

That’s a long bunch of rambling just to say I bought a kerosene heater this weekend.  There is a church about a quarter mile down the road that has a junk sale every year.  It’s sort of locally famous and with good reason…there is a little bit of everything there.  So, I was among the early birds this year.  I woke before the rest of the family on Saturday and decided to walk in the rain over to see the stuff in this year’s sale.  I walked in and immediately spotted a poor, lonesome kerosene heater and they only wanted $10 for it!

My new Environtemp kerosene heater

Of course, new, such a heater would go for $100 or more so I was pretty pleased with myself.  Of course, since I wasn’t thinking properly at 8 am on a weekend, I didn’t think about the fact that I had to walk a quarter mile home in the rain carrying a kerosene heater that seemed to grow increasingly heavy.

Kerosene safety manual
This silly manual came with the heater…it’s so goofy I am tempted to actually read it!

We didn’t have to own a kerosene heater but this winter when the power eventually goes out, we will have some heat.  That’s way better than burning the dining room table in our questionable fireplace.  I love to go junkin’ (that’s a word I picked up from my friend Granny Sue).  Mostly I am not a packrat and I do not usually buy anything when I go to a yard sale but I really like to check out other people’s junk and occasionally find a deal that is hot, dang hot!


Edit:  Emily just reminded me of alternate meanings for the word “junk”.  It gives new meaning to “I really like to check out other people’s junk”.  She is not amused…she also took the opportunity to use some of her favorite phrases…I’ll spare your sensibilities…


Time has been flying lately and I have been remiss in keeping up with writing about things.  Take for instance, Dralion, the cool Cirque du Soleil show we say 9 days ago.  That’s good stuff and I haven’t written about it for 9 DAYS!  Well, as I mentioned in July, Emily and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary and our gift to each other was tickets for the family to see the show.  We got incredible tickets in the second row back.  They were acrobatting right in front of us!

So, I don’t know if you have ever seen a Cirque show but they are amazing acrobatic shows where the audience is left wondering if the laws of physics apply to the performers.  I am not kidding…the performers fly through the air and do things that people should not be able to do.  And they do it every day and somehow, apparently, survive to fly day after day.

I first saw the Cirque show called KA in Las Vegas (if you ever get the chance, see the show!).  It was amazing so I was so excited to see how the kids would react, seeing this show for themselves.  As much as I enjoyed seeing the show this time, I enjoyed even more seeing the look on Abigail’s face.  She couldn’t stay seated.  She perched in her seat, she sat cross-legged.  Her eyes lit up and she smiled and frowned and clapped.  It was so much fun to see her watch the show!

Even with things being so hectic, it was so wonderful to be able to share such a cool time as a family.  I don’t figure that things will slow down in the next month or two but it’s all in a day’s work around here!  We aren’t defying the laws of gravity around here but we are squeezing more into 24 hours that I ever thought possible!

I heard it through the grapevine

I was headed home from harvesting honey on Sunday when I passed a friend on the road as I was coming off the ridge.  I skidded to a stop on the gravel road (which is always a thrill!) and we talked about bees and stuff.  Last week, my friend had offered for me to come pick grapes from his vines.  I ran out of time last week, but my friend offered again and I took him up on it!


We picked a basket full of grapes without even working at it and I have to tell you, the smell of freshly picked, perfectly ripe grapes is incredible.  I sort of hated to get out of the car, the smell was so incredible.  If they made fresh grape cologne, I would consider wearing cologne.  I would not consider it long as I do not like cologne at all, but I would consider it…it was that incredible.

Crushing grapes
Getting ready to cook them into jelly!
Cooking grapes down
Do you see they eyeball thing? Freaks me out!

Imagine my surprise  Tuesday night when I walked into the house and smelled the grapes that Emily and Abigail were cooking into grape juice (and soon to be jelly!).  The house was heavenly!  Have you noticed how bad store-bought grape jelly is?  It used to taste grapey and pretty good but now it just tastes purpley.  It is awful.

Making grape juice
Making grape juice…to turn into grape jelly!
Homemade grape jelly!
Homemade grape jelly!

Ok, sorry…sidetracked.  Anyhow, I used to freak out when I saw my mom and grandma canning grape juice.  They always added a few grape into the jars and as they sat upon the shelves in the cellar, I swore it looked like jars of eyeballs.  No, in our grape juice, there will be no eyeballs.  Our jelly will be grapey and the sun will continue to rise in the east.  This is just how things should be.

Tuned in

I was a weird kid…ask anyone.  Some would argue I am still am weird.  They are probably right.  Anyhow, when I was a kid, I had a small black transistor radio from Sears that Santa brought.  I listened to classical music frequently on it.  I also listened to Charlie Pride and CCR on 8 track so I had a diverse listening experience as a kid.  Anyhow, back to that transistor radio.  I loved that radio and loved the smell of the ozone it generated (or whatever that smell that old electronics make).  Surely I am not the only one who knows and likes that smell?  I (somewhat) understand how radio waves work but I remain amazed at how people talking somewhere in the world can end up talking through the little speaker in my hand.

Juliette shortwave radio
My $1 Juliette shortwave radio!

Fast forward to now.  I have a little bit of extra money now and then and my fascination with radios is being reborn.  I got my ham radio license a few months ago and that started me learning more about radios and antennae and stuff.  So, with that extra money I mentioned a moment ago, I went junkin’ a few months ago and found a 40ish year old shortwave radio…for $1!

Aircastle shortwave radio
My $7 Aircastle shortwave radio!

Just this weekend, I was driving by another pile of junk someone had for sale sitting out by the road.  I spotted another old shortwave radio and whipped the car around to check it out…for a mere $7 I bought another 40ish year old shortwave radio.  Both radios are in pretty awesome shape and tune very well.

Tuner on Juliette shortwave radio

Tuner on Aircastle shortwave radio

Aren’t those faces just beautiful

I have a third more modern shortwave radio which is nice and all but punching in frequencies on the keyboard just doesn’t have that old fashioned radio feel and the new radio doesn’t make that old radio smell.  I love to stoop in near the radio with my ear to the speaker as I slowly and carefully turn the dial listening for anything interesting.

Tecsun PL-380 shortwave radio
My modern but boring to tune shortwave radio!

I have all of my radios on a table in the living room and when the lights are dimmed a little and I can spend a few minutes tuning in the world, the world feels a little smaller…and a lot more crazy!  Seriously, have you ever listened to shortwave?  There are lots of crazy folks on there.  Still, there is even more awesome stuff broadcast on shortwave and I love searching for every bit I can find!

Does anyone else listen to shortwave (or any band in addition to AM/FM)?

Has it been 18 already?

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. I know, when you see pictures of us, you say to yourself that we cannot possibly be old enough to have been married for 18 years but it is true.  We both turned 40 this year so that makes us…young when we were married.  Sometimes I think back and can’t imagine how young we really were but I would not trade a single day of our 18 years…plus 3 before that when we dated.

Freshly married!
Freshly married!

I guess I don’t tell Emily how lucky I know I am to have been able to marry her.  We probably won’t do anything fancy tonight and I expect we will probably act today much like any other day, but I am truly as happy as I have ever been and I am so proud to call Emily my wife!

It’s all in your Loggerhead

I have no idea why that title struck me but there we have it.  It will make some sense in a minute…bear with me.  So, we ate far too much food tonight after a full day of body surfing and skim boarding…with no broken bones!  It was still early so we decided to take a stroll on the beach, narrow as it was.  Our location on Topsail is strange…at low tide, the beach is quite wide and pretty nice to be upon.  At high tide, however, the ocean comes within a few feet of…whatever you call it…where the beach ends.

Part of the walk...hunting for the largest sand crab hole!
Part of the walk…hunting for the largest sand crab hole!
Family picture on the beach
Aren’t we a pretty bunch?

So, we decided to take a walk on the narrow beach this evening and we happened upon a group of folks who were into something important…well, we figured that  a body had washed up on shore.  Luckily it wasn’t that.  Apparently, last night a momma loggerhead turtle had laid a nest of eggs on the beach and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center staff were busy relocating the turtle eggs from the narrow beach location further up on the dune nearby.  They had a number of folks present…almost like they had done this before.  One guy was there to answer questions.  He told us that there are 26 miles of beaches that make up Topsail island and that every quarter mile or so, there is a turtle egg site.  That makes just over 100 nesting sites.  Volunteers walk the entire beach every day during the laying season to make sure they find all of the nests.  They relocate nearly all of those sites to safer locations away from foot traffic and storm surges.  In each move, two folks work on digging the eggs and placing them into a bucket to carry to the new site.  It is a state law that the eggs be counted and confirmed during the move.  Their starting and ending locations are gps mapped and one egg is harvested to maintain a DNA record.

Getting ready to move loggerhead turtle eggs
Getting ready to move loggerhead turtle eggs
Moving loggerhead turtle eggs
Moving loggerhead turtle eggs

By collecting and tracking DNA, staff have determined that loggerhead turtles do not necessarily return to the exact same nesting spot each year but that there are apparently a few spots they use.  One staff member said they had tracked one DNA signature between Topsail, the Outer Banks and one other place I can’t remember.  Pretty cool I’d say!

Loggerhead turtle eggs in nest
Loggerhead turtle eggs in nest
Turtle sanctuary volunteers
Turtle sanctuary volunteers

The Q&A staff member said that 93% of the eggs hatch but that only 1 in 4000 or so live to maturity.  Their biggest predator/enemy is humans of course.  Between fishing, pollution and stupidity, humans apparently take quite a toll.  Fishing vessels are now equipped with turtle escape devices (TEDs) to allow captured turtles to safely escape so steps are being taken to lessen human impact some.

The loggerhead turtle eggs ready to be relocated
The loggerhead turtle eggs ready to be relocated

So, the staff dug 157 eggs from the nest we observed and gently placed them into a new nest.  They covered the site with a welded wire fence to prevent predators from digging and marked the site to prevent human interference.  All in all, it was a really great encounter we had on the beach and I have been thinking about the turtles all evening.  They are endangered and it makes me sad to think that someday we may not be able to witness such an interesting and truly cool scene.  I guess it’s good to see things like this and to take pause now and then.  It’s good to get a little loggerhead in your head I think!

I’m in a NC state of mind

My old pal Billy Joel finds himself in a NY state of mind but I have to tell you, I couldn’t be happier to be in a NC state of mind!  We made it to the beach at Topsail Island yesterday and it couldn’t have come soon enough.  There has been much chaos in my world lately so this trip is a long desired, much needed get away.

We made it to NC
The distance from the border to the beach is far too far!
The beach...At last!
The beach…At last!

After staying up pretty late reading last night, the kids brought me breakfast in bed this morning…at 6am.  It was a great start to a great father’s day celebration.  We ate and pretty quickly headed for the beach before it was warm enough for sane people to be in the water.  The kids, not being sane of course, jumped right in and didn’t seem the least bit effected by the cold.  I stayed under the tent some but mostly played in the surf with the kids.  We laid around here and there all afternoon and went out to a really nice meal (before the crowds!  I guess we got the early bird specials…oh crap, 40 has changed me!) and then took a walk on the beach.  It never did get too warm today by beach standards but any day at the beach beats a great day anywhere else!

Constant motion! Constant motion!

I was stupid last weekend and got a sunburn on my back (don’t ask….I told you it was stupid).  Of course, here at the beach, we always wear rash guard shirts so we are protected.  When I had my shirt off on the porch, my peeling lizard skin grossed Abigail out tremendously.  I love grossing her out…and trading jabs with Isaac.  He is growing into a great middle school kid.  He just doesn’t seem to understand that Abigail will not respond like his buddies do.  They are used to trading insults back and forth and trying to out-do each other with “your momma” jokes.  Abigail has no tolerance for that!  Anyhow, I had a great time messing with the kids and doing my fatherly duty to give them material for therapy when they get older!  I love the beach where the rules are few and the junk food is plentiful!

Father and son Skim boarding! So excited! Foxy Momma!

Well friends, a book is calling my name so I will wrap this up.  Just know that my mental health is quickly returning to “normal” and that  I am in a NC state of mind!

In the black!

Isaac started taking Tae kwon do a little over 2 years ago (I looked back at that picture of him when he started…*sniff, sniff*  where is my baby?) and I had pretty mixed emotions about the whole deal.  I mean, taking your kid to a class where they learn how to fight, and I mean seriously fight…it just sort of seems messed up to me…or at least it did.  Isaac took his black belt test today and passed beautifully.  He has mastered his forms and knows many good kicks.  He had to break a number of boards and spar with several other students.  He really demonstrated that his skills are well defined and that his training has paid off.  As I watched him spar the other students, I saw Isaac take some hits and land some hits.  In both cases though, he handled it.  He’s not just a little kid any more.  He handled a challenge, he overcame a little pain and he fought hard and with determination.  He’s become such a different (and better) young man than when he started TKD.

Getting ready for the taekwondo black belt test
Getting ready...
Getting ready for the taekwondo black belt test
What nerves?

I think the thing that made me most proud today was how he handled himself and his nerves.  Of course it is a big deal to test for the black belt.  What he didn’t fully know is the degree to which he was to be quizzed on everything.  The instructors asked him all sorts of questions on all sorts of topics and he really made me proud.  He answered with thoughtful, complete answers that were more mature than I ever expected.

Taekwondo board breaking
Getting ready to break boards
Quizzed for black belt test
Grandmaster preparing to quiz Isaac

Teaching a kid to fight is one way to look at learning TKD.  I think the more important view is that TKD  teaches a young man how to handle himself in many situations.  I think this whole process taught me something too.  My son is growing up and I am learning just how exciting it is to watch my little boy grow into a young man. *sniff sniff*