Friday, December 26, 2008

Joy's Wedding

I was able to put up some of the photos from Joy's Wedding on 12/7/08.
Here is the link to that post:

Christmas Day at Joy and CJ's

We had a really nice time at Joy and CJ's new home. They prepared a huge meal, we got lots of good presents, I got to watch basketball with CJ, and we got to spend time with family. CJ's son Charlie came down from Chino to eat dinner with us.

And yes. I did get a Star Trek Pez dispenser set :)

Oh, and we made it in just over 9 hours to Redding. We're here with my family now. Jenetta is educating my family on the joys of getting free stuff from CVS.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to our friends and family!

We are spending Christmas day with Joy and CJ and Amie and CJ's son Charlie. We are going over there in a bit. Tomorrow morning, we drive up to Redding to spend the holiday with our family up there. Our wish is that all of you have meaningful and wonderful times with friends and family this year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Magazine Photo Shoot

Jenetta was interviewed for an article in Redbook magazine. The focus of the article is how families are dealing with the recession. They were interested in our decision to stop spending on our house unless we had cash in hand as well as Jenetta's strategy of starting a website to help people save money and live more frugally. The photo shoot that happened yesterday was centered mainly on the house idea. The photographers, Dave and Dave, loaded in a lot of my tools and we pulled out the carpet scraps to make it look even more unfinished.

The article runs in the March edition.

It was a fun but tiring experience. It is hard to think about your facial expressions and body positions for over four hours. Mostly, I wanted to fall asleep on the couch and watch football.

Another bonus was that the original hair and makeup person couldn't make it, so Jenetta got to put in a word for her friend Suzette Kerr. Redbook hired her to groom us :)

Here are some cell phone photos from yesterday. If they send us the real ones, I'll post those later (obviously, they look a lot better than these!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Party

We had an awesome Christmas party with our home group last night.

We did our annual Christmas sing-along. Everyone had a instrument.
What a beautiful racket! :)

The gift exchange was completely silly.
I haven't laughed that hard in a really long time.

We are truly blessed!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Latest job update

My supervisor just informed me that the current plan is to continue my employment here until the end of March. That may change at some point, but it is what they are hoping to do for me. Since not a lot of hiring happens in the end of December, that is encouraging. It gives me more time to look.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Skating my cares away...

Last night, we were invited by Cris and Alana to go skating down at Horton Plaza with some of their friends. It was chilly and there was some drizzle, so it seemed like a good afternoon to do winter-y things. It was actually kind of therapeutic for me.

On Friday, before I left work, I was informed by my supervisor that the people in Tokyo that we work for will probably not keep us for the length of our contracts. When pressed for further details, we were only told to start looking for something else. To be fair, my supervisor said he would be very happy to recommend me highly for any position at Sony or at another company. But basically, there is this major uncertainty over our heads. I could go into work tomorrow and be told that it will be my last day. Or I could work for several more months. We just don't know.

Then on Saturday morning, we went to the second of our three 6-hr classes on attachment parenting. These classes are really awesome, and the techniques and skills we are learning will be very useful if the adoption thing ever happens for us. But it is tough to go through for a number of reasons.

So it was good for us to get away and just have a good time. Jenetta tried her best, but she didn't really enjoy the skating. But I had a lot of fun. I remember not being a very good skater as a kid. I could never get the laces tight enough to prevent floppy ankles. These skates were basically like ski boots with a blade on the bottom. They held my ankles firmly, and I really enjoyed myself.

Being worried and upset won't help me in any way to keep my job for one second longer. I have to keep telling myself that. Anyway. Here is some video from the ice rink.

This one is probably the best. Especially the very end! :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good news

We had a pipe leak under the concrete slab on the older part of the house. We've been dealing with it since before Thanksgiving. Basically, we would only turn on the water to the house when we needed it. This process was annoying, but not too terrible. (It was chilly going outside after a shower to turn it back off!!!) Well, I forgot to turn the water off on Saturday when we went to our adoption class. That evening, when we returned, we did some laundry and ran the dishwasher. It had been on all day by this point. The flower beds by our front door started to flood that night. This was also the time we were working to get the rest of the wedding decorations finished, so it was probably the low point for us emotionally. I was tired and cranky, and I felt like our house was going to float away or something.

We had gotten two bids for two different approaches to the repair. Both were in the $5000-$7000 range. We were able to get a ballpark number down to around $4000 if all the cleanup work was done by me. (Drywall repair, replacing the wall mirror, etc.) It might as well have been $4 million because we just don't have anything extra right now.

Here's where the good news part comes in. We met someone at Joy's wedding who had dealt with the same problem a few weeks ago. She highly recommended her plumber Tony. So we called him and he came out yesterday morning. By the time I got home, the repair had been completed! He used a stethoscope and found the exact point of the leak and was able to diagnose that the only leak was to the guest bathroom. He ran new pipes in the attic for that bathroom only. His opinion is that this is all that is necessary. The bill was $700 - still a lot, but we can probably manage that. So this was very encouraging for us.

Another item of good news is that Jenetta and I have been chosen to be one of the three families featured in a story in Redbook magazine. The article is about how different people are handling the economic downturn. There will be photos of us and our interview in the magazine. The people at the magazine thought that Jenetta would connect with their readers. We will have more info on this as it comes together, but this is a pretty neat opportunity for us.

And one more "good news" thing. Well, not really good news, but enjoying simple things...
I put the lights on the front of our house last night. They make me happy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Joy's wedding

Joy is now Mrs. Swan! Joy and CJ were married yesterday afternoon in a lovely back yard in San Marcos with their friends and family.

Our friend David photographed the wedding, and when we get the pictures processed, we will put a few up on the blog.

We haven't seen Joy that happy for a really long time. It was very special.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Tree

Jenetta and I got the decorations down from the attic and set up the tree. We listened to all 5 Sufjan Stevens Christmas albums as we were decorating. What an evening!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Arizona

We had a nice trip over Thanksgiving. We went to Phoenix to visit Jenetta's Dad and his family there. A nice plus on this trip was that we were able to spend time re-connecting with friends from Peoria H.S. Some of these people I hadn't seen for ten-fifteen years or more. We had a really great time and we hope very much to be able to rekindle these friendships.

I should have taken photographs of all of them to show you, but I was so much into the visiting, I just didn't think about about it. Hopefully we will see them all again soon.

One fun highlight - Jenetta's dad bought tickets to this show in Scottsdale. It was basically an improved comedy show centered around a nun and her class of students. Thanks to some pointing of fingers, Pat and I got volunteered to go on stage for the nativity. I was one of the wise men, and he was Joseph. Everyone had a good laugh at our expense :)

So now we head back home to reality and work and dealing with the water pipe leak under our guest bathroom... It was very nice to have a break from all that!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I did it!!!

I completed my first 10 mile race this morning. I had never run this far before. Seriously - the farthest I've ever run was 7 miles. I was worried I wouldn't even be able to compete because I twisted my ankle two weeks ago and it is still very sore. But it held up. I experienced some intense pain around mile 7, but I was able to get through it.

The weather was perfect. The sun came out for the start and it was sunny for the first two miles. Then it was overcast until the finish. For those of you that know the area, it started at the Peoria sports complex. We ran south down 83rd Ave and ran along Skunk Creek to just past 59th Ave. Then we doubled back and finished on the other side of the ballfield. There were more hills than I anticipated because of the path that runs along that floodplain. It goes up and down the riverbanks several times.

Basically, my goal was to just finish without stopping to walk. I was able to do that and even pick up the pace a bit for the last mile. I met some nice people before and after the race. I'm glad I did it. It was a lot of fun. Now I plan to eat. A lot...

An appropriate number for me in Peoria, I think...

It was at the sports complex. The Padres do their spring training here. It's a great place to host a race. It has plenty of restrooms and places to spread out.

Me after running 10 miles. Still smiling!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


We had a friend-filled fun weekend! On Saturday, we went to Old Poway Park to attend a wedding reception for Andrew and Amy. It was a beautiful afternoon and it was great to hang out with everyone.

Then that evening, we attended "Friends-giving" - an early Thanksgiving meal hosted by Nikki and Robbie. They put so much work into making it the real thing! I think we are discovering as a group that the all-or-nothing attitude doesn't work. We are just scheduling things and whoever can attend is who will be there. It will be great time with whoever can make it. So, about half our home group got together for a great feast. I probably should have taken out my camera phone earlier in the evening when the table was decorated and both Abby and Isaiah were playing together. But, here is a short video of us hanging out and talking after the meal. (Abby was in bed by this point). The video isn't really all that interesting (probably more interesting to David & Courtney), but it lets you know who was there.

Plus, David's look at 1:05 is priceless. I think he is going to beat me up. :) Scary, man!

On Sunday, we hosted a get-together at our place to watch the Chargers lose again. It was a lot of fun to hang out together with Robbie, David, Courtney and Isaiah, Jason and Latisha, Jason's friend, Geoff, and Blake. The game was exciting until the very end. Then it was just sad.

Sometimes we get bummed out because of the apparent failure of our business and the never-ending wait for adoption. One thing we can always be thankful for and so happy with is how blessed we are to have so many close friends. These are people who we know we could call with any concern and know without a doubt that they would respond with love and compassion. That's pretty cool.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How I feel at work

I feel like this a lot of time at work...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TV Photos

Here are two photos of the TV and the new entertainment center. Jenetta found a used dining buffet on craigslist that we modified to work as a entertainment cabinet. It is a bit taller than we would like, but it works nicely and it goes with our other stuff well.

I got the HDMI cable today so I hooked up the Blu-Ray player. WOW!

We ordered Wall-E on Blu-Ray, and I've heard that animated shows look incredible on Blu-Ray. I will take photos in the light this weekend so you can see the buffet more clearly.

So, now we need to clean up our old entertainment center, TV, and DVD player to sell on craigslist.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New TV

I have been saving rewards points on my Sony Visa card for about 4 and a half years now. Most of the construction costs on our addition that could be put on a credit card were purchased that way. Because of my employee discount and a major holiday sale for employees, I was able to get a really great TV for free! Actually, the price was so good, I got my Christmas present for myself early - a blu-ray player. I had enough points to get the blu-ray player free as well!

It's been weird to think about and wait for something like this for this long. Jenetta and I were thinking that I waited longer to get the TV than our dating/engagement time. That is strange. I guess I could have bought it long ago, but I really wanted it for free. So now I got it. It was worth the wait. I was able to get the highest quality set that Sony currently makes. It is a 40" XBR7. They make an XBR8 which is slightly better with LED backlighting, but that's only in 46" and 55". We decided on a 40" model long ago when we designed our speaker placement in the wall. So, because of the sale discount, we were able to finally cash in my points.

I got to watch the Chargers lose in HD yesterday. The picture was great, but the game was sure a bummer. It's hard to watch that much incompetence over and over and over again.

Here is a photo. It is currently sitting on the fireplace hearth. We will get an entertainment unit for it sometime. Jenetta is looking for used ones online. One thing I really love about it is how it handles reflection. Our old TV has really bad glare in the afternoon from the windows. This TV is so bright that there is glare noticeable on the frame, but the image isn't affected at all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's that season again...

Good times at Kit Carson...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adoption Support Group

We attended a support group last night for people who are waiting to adopt. Waiting sucks! We feel like we must have been passed over by the county many times by now, and it makes us wonder if something is wrong with us!

Seriously, the worst part about the waiting is just the uncertainty with the progress and our status. There is not very clear communication unless they have a placement for you. I think that sponsoring this support group was their way to address that somewhat.

I went to the meeting with a very cynical mindset. How many other "desperate" families would be represented? I have been feeling lately like this will never happen for us. But to be honest, these attitudes quickly faded away. There were people there that had been waiting as long as us as well as people who have only been waiting a few days. The social workers there did a good job of fielding our questions. It was a good thing to be able to share our concerns and our stories with other people who have experienced the same things. We left feeling encouraged and hopeful. It is good to not feel alone.

On another positive note, we deposited some checks yesterday. Some of the money was anticipated, but some was not. November thru February is usually our toughest time financially. We have paid the bills up to Dec. 1 so far. This doesn't mean that we can go buy a bunch of stuff now - just that we have exactly what we need. That is really encouraging!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Morning Hike

Jeremy and I went hiking today at Torrey Pines. We walked along the beach and then went up the stairs through the bluffs. There was an art festival there today. It was cool to see all the people painting the natural beauty. Jeremy and I had a lot of time to talk. We haven't had time like that for a long time, so that was very nice.

Free Chipotle

I had a weird Halloween. At work there were a number of people who really dressed up. There was even a contest for costumes. One group of people dressed up as the Sony...HD is in our DNA slogan and logo. There were a lot of really creative costumes. They settled the costume contest by audience applause measured with an actual decibel meter. The winner had 104.3 decibels of applause. (That shows you how geeky is the place where I work!)

I didn't do much. I dressed like my co-worker, Tom. He wears a pocket T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops almost every day. So I did the same. It's weird wearing a "costume" that only one other person understands. Well, he thought it was funny, and my boss got it too, but there is such a language barrier between us that I'm not sure if he really got it or was just laughing to be polite :)

So, after work, I went running and then we went for our free Chipotle. We went all out on our burrito costumes:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jenetta's Party

Thanks so much to all of you who made the party for Jenetta such a fun evening! We had a great time and we really enjoyed the time visiting with so many of our friends.

Note to anyone wanting to surprise Jenetta - never use her name on the internet!
She knew about it immediately thanks to google alerts.

But she was a good sport and played along.

So many of you were so very instrumental in making this happen for us. I could not have pulled this off without all of your help. Thank you so much!

I only got a few photos. I was so busy all night! There were so many people there, I guess I should have gotten a professional photographer to cover it! :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Greg and Tanya

It has been really great to have my cousin Greg and his wife Tanya here with us this weekend. They were able to make us part of their special vacation together.

Today Greg and I surfed in Del Mar. He got up a few times and made a good effort of it.

I caught probably the best wave I've gotten this year. It was a shoulder-high and glassy frontside that somehow I ended up in the perfect position to catch. That was so awesome! I caught it really far outside on the reef, so it was a good long ride!

Another highlight was sharing the last ride in together. It's fun to surf side-by-side with someone you know!

We've enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them better and hope to be able to spend time with them again soon. (Thanks, Tanya for the photos!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Soapbox

Please allow me the opportunity to rant for a bit…

One of the things that makes me the most turned off about our political system is the way we seem pigeonholed into the us vs. them mentality. If the other guy disagrees with me, then he is an idiot and I can say whatever horrible thing I want to about him, his family, his background, and his ideas. These horrible things are designed to make others see that my guy is the best choice. I’m not exaggerating here. I have met people that have said outrageous, gossipy, and hurtful things about a candidate because he or she was on the other side. These were things that in some cases were completely unsubstantiated. They may be true or they may be false. That doesn’t seem to matter. It was heard on _____ (whatever cable news channel supports their ideology) and will be gossiped and clucked about disapprovingly.

I don’t think you can pin this on just one side, either. The followers of both parties routinely engage in this kind of behavior. It makes me sick. It makes me not want to vote at all.

So I am confused. There are things I like about both candidates and things I dislike about both of them. I want to study their ideas and their plans and make an informed choice. I have been approached by supporters of both candidates who were incredulous over the thought that I could even CONSIDER the other candidate because of _____.

I think it is time for some positive, thoughtful, and respectful discussion in this country. Our problems are too great just to yell epithets at each other.

Here is one subject that I would love to see studied in depth. Under most economic conditions, which ideology has proven to be the most effective?

My understanding of the basic philosophical differences between Republican and Democratic economic strategy goes something like this:

Democratic – We need to tax higher-earning individuals and corporations at a higher rate so the middle and lower classes can get more programs and opportunities. They earn so much more than the rest of us; they need to give back to the country that allows them to create their wealth. This will level the playing field more and make the nation prosper on the whole. There is a lot of injustice in the world and a lot of corporate greed and excess. It is time someone did something about it.

Republican – We should give additional tax breaks to higher-earning individuals and corporations because they invest in our country and hire the rest of us. Higher taxes for them means they work harder to find loopholes (they can afford tax attorneys) and move their funds out of the country, so the Treasury gets less anyway. When rich guy “A” buys a yacht, all the yacht workers get work.

Which is the better approach? And how do varying economic conditions affect each strategy? It would be really great to read some in-depth studies on the subject.

I read something in our paper this morning. In the business section, they talk about the Mexican Immigrant population declining in San Diego County. There are not enough jobs in the construction industry, and Latino workers have the highest unemployment rate in our area. Here is a link to the article. It made me very sad because everyday I see the guys standing outside at the Home Depot hoping that someone will need handyman help of some kind. (It makes me very grateful for the temp job I was able to get.)

At least in this case, this would provide some evidence to support the Republican strategy. Although, it is not really tax-related, so maybe it is an unfair conclusion to draw. But it seems clear that one part of the population is spending a lot less and that directly impacts the economic opportunity of another segment of our population. It would be interesting to see this studied further by sociologists and economists.

See? Thoughtful, respectful, and productive discussion. Was that so hard?

Or do you just think I am an idiot because of my beliefs?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Photos of Taking Photos

When Jenetta shoots photo sessions down in the city or at the beach, I often accompany her to assist with holding stuff and shading the clients or lighting them. Toward the end of the session yesterday, the backdrop inspired me, so I clicked off a few photos on my phone.

We were at the Ferry Terminal in Coronado. I've probably been on Coronado 100 times since we've lived here, but I had never been to this end of the island. It has such a great view of the bay and the skyline!

So here are some photos of Jenetta hard at work last night: Check out her blog in a few days to see the results of her work. I was looking at some of the shots last night, and they should be really, really good!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween 2008

A friend sent me this cartoon today. So true...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sigur Ros

Jenetta and I went with our friends David and Courtney to see Sigur Ros in concert last night at the Copley Symphony Hall downtown. Despite warnings that no photography of any kind would be allowed, there were a number of people there with SLRs and even a guy with long lenses! I will never, ever, ever, not bring a good camera to a concert again! If they tell me I can't bring it in, I will just return it to the car. All night I was wishing I had some decent equipment because these cell phone photos just do not do it justice.

It was an amazing concert. They toured without the string section, and the songs that use a lot of orchestration were either skipped or simplified. I kind of missed the horns on some of their songs, but it was amazing how full a sound they generate with just four members. They had a really great balance between old and new songs.

Sigur Ros is the unquestioned master of dynamics! No one can play soft, use pauses, or gradually build the way they do. The build and build and build and build and build to complete sonic overload on Track 8 from the ( ) album is the perfect exclamation point - an awesome way to end the show. They leave EVERYTHING on the field (to borrow a sports cliche).

After the show, David said that he wanted to go to LA to see them again tonight. I know exactly how he feels!

I've also included a video clip of Hoppipolla. It is of poor quality and I debated whether or not to put it up at all. It sounds a little better when you turn the sound down lower. Sadly, cell phone video recorders are just not designed to handle the audio level of a concert.

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