Saturday, March 29, 2008

Community Cafe Up and Running (by RR)

Sitting at my desk after the first weekend shift of the official grand opening of community cafe. It went extremely well. It was very helpful to have the place up and running Monday through Friday of this week. A lot of the figurative "bugs" were worked out earlier in the week. So, the first weekend shift went very smooth. Some of the people I worked with at Caribou agreed to come over and help me with the launch. Megan K. and Alison R. came and it was just like old times: controlled chaos at times, fun the whole time and great coffee drinks. We even did an impromptu "coffee talk." That is where everyone gets a little sample cup of the brew of the day and sniffs, slurps, swishes, and sizes-up the coffee. We tasted the Brazil variety. It is one of my new favorites. More of my C'bou buddies will join me tomorrow.

Business was pretty robust for the first shift. A lot of folks were just curious, but many people sat and/or left with a high-quality, reasonably-priced coffee shop beverage.

Tomorrow I am expecting it to be a mad house, especially in between first and second service. I will update you on the madness.

Here is a picture of the new place:

Going Home

Now that the end of the grand-opening weekend is in sight. It is almost time to focus on the next exciting thing coming up in the very near future. I get to go home for a few days next week. I am beside myself with excitement. I cannot wait to see my wife and kids face to face. Being away from the most important people in my life has been very difficult at times. It has, however, caused me to appreciate and miss the little things that get overlooked when I am with them on a daily basis.

Here are some examples: I miss having talks with Veronica about our favorite types of music. I also miss being witness to her candor. I miss seeing her grow into a sweet thoughtful young lady. Also how she could kill a whole bag of chips in one sitting if she knew I wouldn't yell at her for it. Funny thing is, she got that from me. Sorry V. I miss "talking shop" with Hunter about drums and guitar. I miss hearing him practice upstairs and feeling proud of him and his talent. Also how caring and thoughtful he is toward his friends and most people in general. I miss Cole's sweet affection toward me. He is so genuine and has a definite soft spot for his mom and dad. I miss the look he gets on his face when he tries to tell a fib. Also the the look when he knows that I know it is a fib. He also has a tender heart and genuinely loves and cares about friends and family. I maiss all of that stuff and millions of other things.

I can't wait to spend some quality time with them over the next few days. It won't be long enough though. Next time I go back, It will be for at least a week. No more of this 2-3 day business

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Isn't it amazing....

It is amazing how different people have come through our house...and stayed for a while. Back in Glasgow, Kentucky, Ronnie's cousin, Noah, came for a two week visit and stayed two months. He lived in our storage shed and the boys thought he was the coolest. Ronnie made a mistake one time cutting Hunters hair. He then had to shave all of Hunter's hair off to correct the mistake. After that Noah shaved all of his hair off, too, so that Hunter wouldn't feel so bad. He seemed to go home a different young man.

Then Ronnie's other cousin, Jenna (Noah's sister), came through our house. All she came away with was a tattoo...oops...and a few laughs.

Then we lived with a couple of med students in Rochester, MN. Wendi and John K., Tara and Tia all had to put up with us for a while. Poor people! I don't know if we did anything for them, but I do remember two deer, a broken into car, and many cookouts and dinners.

Now we are getting ready for another young lady to move in. Kayla will be coming to our house from Rochester on Saturday. She is a friend of Veronica's, and they attended youth group together at Christ Community Church. The plan right now is for her to live with us until we move back to Rochester in July. She will go back to Rochester with us at that point. Things can always change, but that is the plan for right now. She may decide that we are way to wierd and beg her mom to come home. Who knows!! :)

If you see a young lady in pictures on the blog with long dark hair that will most likely be Kayla. Give her a shout out and say hello. I am sure that she is going to be nervous the first couple of weeks. Say some prayers for her, too. Living with us may not be all fun a games...we are the dorky Ray's you know. Her mom will be checking in here on our blog every once and a while to see some pictures and such.

On to other news. English got her new job in the Air Force. She kept her Aircrew status and will be an Airborne Battle Manager. I have no idea what this is, but I am sure you could look it up on the internet. All I know is that she kept the status she wanted, which was a pretty high security clearance. That way she keeps the "cushy-ness" of her job. With this job she will be able to take college courses after she completes her training.

English will be at Lackland AFB, a base in Florida, a base in Washington state, and then stationed somewhere. I don't know the order or time table for each of these. I am sure that she will tell me as she goes along.

Now I have to make a funny...when she called she told me that she got her job. The Air Force is bad about using initials for everything. Her new job is ABM. Say it slowly...A....BM....think about it...think about it....a....bowl....movement. Bad I know, but it was the first things I though of. Dan H. would probably be proud of me if he knew.

Have a great day everyone.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Minnesota Morning

Isn't this a beautiful picture? When I turned on my phone Monday morning this is what was waiting for me. A beautiful picture of the sunrise in Rocehster, MN. Ronnie took this on his way to work and sent it to my phone.

Ronnie will be back on Monday and we can't wait!! I hope that the weather is nice to that he can get warm after being in Minnesota, but he will trun to the frozen north on Thursday. Maybe he can thaw out a little bit.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Weekend

Finally we came to the end of a busy week. The church I work for has 4 different services that I had to get worship guides ready for this week (24 pages each). I was worn out at the end of Friday. Throw in the Prom on Thursday night and two softball games and it was a hectic week.

Today the kids and I went to the beach for a couple of hours. It was beautiful out and 78 degrees. The wind was strong, but that was ok. The kids played football and threw each other around for while. Then some of Veronica's friends showed up and they threw around a baseball. I got a little bored part way through our time at the beach so I took a walk. No one wanted to go with me so I took off for about 40 minutes. No fear that anyone was going to drown in the ocean due to the fact that the water is so cold still. There were some guys surfing, but they had full suits on.

While I was on my walk I was looking for some rocks brought in by the ocean as well as some drift wood. On my way I walked through the hard sand and on my way back I walked up towards the dunes in the soft sand. (My buttocks are going to be sore tomorrow from the soft sand.)

Veronica has already started working on her tan, which isn't fair because she looks at the sun and she gets brown. I get really tan, too, but I just don't go out in the sun very much. This time of the year is great since it is still cool, but in the middle of the summer I hate it when it gets so hot. I will try to enjoy the beach before the temps go into the upper 80's. Then it is me and the friends!

My mom and I are going to sunrise service on the beach in the morning and then the kids and I will go to regular Easter services at 9:15. After that we head to my mom's for Easter lunch. Then I think that we will come home and chill for the afternoon. The kids are on spring break this week, but I have to work. Bummer. I wish I had the week off.

Happy Easter everyone. May we all stop and think about what this weekend stands for.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Veronica's Prom

Tonight was Veronica's first Prom.I think that she looked beautiful! They ate dinner at a very nice Italian resturant. After dinner it was picture time at the marina outside the resturant. It was a cool night, and the girls were getting cold in their sleeveless dresses.

This is Veronica and her close friend, Megan.

Veronica, Megan and another young lady in their group. Veronica and her date, Brandon.
All the girls
All the guys
Veronica getting her picture taken by the photographer.
Being silly when I wanted to take her picture.
Then a little lady when the photographer was taking the picture.Thankfully the evening turned out to be beautiful even though it was a little cool. They all climed into a limo and off to the prom they went. After the prom it will be breakfast at a friends house (it is church youth group sponsored) and then they will be home by 12:30 a.m. All the kids were so excited. Veronica's date was ready to go an hour early and tried to pick her up a half hour early. I told him to slow down that I wasn't even home from work yet. I am glad they were all looking forward to the evening.

I just wish Ronnie was here to send her off to her first prom. This is the second dance she has been to without him there to chaperone. The other one was when she was in 7th grade. He got to talk to her as they were getting ready to drive off in the limo. She looked so lovely!

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Ebby Ray

My girls crack me up. Both in such different ways. I do love it when they are together and get to laughing. It is a sweet sound in my house when that happens, which isn't to often any more since English isn't living at home.
Here is English being silly. We were at Trader Joe's (my favorite grocery store) getting some snacks and wine for the evening (she wasn't getting wine...Jan, Uncle John and I were getting wine) while we were in Monterey. She picked up this bottle of wine and held it over her head (like she had an idea....took me a moment, too). It was cute. She is silly like that.
This was when we were out to eat in Monterey. I have no idea what is going on, but I am sure that we were all laughing at the time.
Here is Veronica in her uniform. Can't say that the girls are thrilled with these uniforms, but I think that they look cute.
This was taken this morning. Veronica has to dress up on game days. She probably won't admit it if asked, but I think she likes dressing up.

My two girls are the greatest! Smart, beautiful, fun to be around....whew, they didn't turn out like me!

Friday, March 14, 2008

No Video

I don't have any video to post today. Veronica had a game last night, BUT she was pulled out after the first inning. She got hurt again. I got to the game just after the first inning so I didn't see it happen. From what I understand she was catching a ball that was thrown in from right field. The ball hit her right hand bending her middle finger back. Once she said something out loud about what had happened the coach wouldn't let her go back in. This morning I looked at her finger and it is quite swollen and it hurts her to touch it around the middle joint of her finger.

The sad thing is that with Veronica coming out of the game they had to rotate some players around. This didn't help with some of the girls confidence since some of them were playing in positions that they had never played at before. The girl that took Veronica's spot had never played 2nd base before, but she gave it a shot and made some good plays, but also made some pretty big errors.

Veronica coming out of the game compounded the already existing problem of the fact that some kind of stomach virus is running through the team. A couple of girls weren't at the game last night, shifting around of positions, lack of confidence = a loss.

The team was beat by the end of the 2nd inning. Not because of the score. You could see it in the way they were walking, talking, lack of chatter on the field, batting, etc. They almost beat themselves. Hopefully they will have some better games at the tournament on Saturday.

On a good note, Veronica's black eye is going away. I think that it will be gone by prom next Thursday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to me??

My mom is so funny. Of course I have learned her little quirks over the years. One of the things she does is find a "reason" to buy someone something. She can't just go out and buy a gift. There has to be a reason or occasion behind it. This totally cracks me up.

This afternoon I got a phone call from my mom asking me where I was. I told her I was in the library at church eating lunch. She said ok...see you later. I thought this was a bit odd, but continued on with what I was doing (setting my phone alarm so I could take a nap during my lunch break). A couple of minutes later there was a knock at the library door and in came my mom. She had this big bag and said, "Happy Birthday Day!!"

Some of you may know that my birthday is in the summer (July 28th if you would like to write it down so you can yell Happy Birthday to me when the times comes). I get excited about my birthday so I announce it to everyone. I even tell people to wish me a happy birthday. I don't care about getting gifts I just want everyone to wish me a happy day.

Anyway, my mom gives me this big bag to open. In it was a Sony Handycam camcorder. It uses mini DVD R/RW's. This thing is awsome! The screen is so clear. The DVD's will be perfect for putting videos on the blog for Ronnie to see. It will also be great for when we move back to Rochester and I can send the DVD's back to mom so that she can watch them. It is so small and light weight. Speaking of sending the DVD"s to people I could even make copies and send them to Ronnie's family and to English.

I can't wait to use it, which I will do tonight at Veronica's game and on Saturday when Hunter plays the drums at the St. Patrick's Day parade down on Main Street. Sorry may get sick of seeing video's on the blog.

Thanks mom!! I love it and I am glad that you wanted to celebrate my birthday today!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quotes...and a story

There are two things over which you have complete domination, authority, and control - your mind and your mouth. Moldfi Asante, Educator

If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out. Rabindranath Tagore, Poet

Be cautious. Opportunity does the knocking for temptation, too. Al Batt, Storyteller

There are no interest-free shortcuts. If you skip a stage in one way, you pay for it in another. Peter Abrahams

Always remember that striving and struggle precede success, even in the dictionary. Sara Ban Breathnach, Writer

Justifying a fault doubles it. French Proverb

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether is it taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right. Hannah Whitall Smith

A tongue's slip is a truth's revelation. Greek Proverb

Filling What's Empty
A Zen Master took on a new student who had previously studied under several other masters. During their first encounter the student began to speak of his past studies and achievements.

The Master listened patiently until a servant appeared with a tray of tea. "Please pour the tea," the master instructed his apprentice. "I will tell you when to stop."

The student eagerly seized the teapot and began to pour the tea into the master's cup. As the cup began to fill, the student began to slow his pour.

"Keep pouring," the master instructed as the tea spilled over the sides of the cup and onto the floor.

"But the cup is full," the student objected as he drained the pot. "The tea has been wasted."

"You have a lot in common with this cup," said the master. "You are already so full of knowledge that there is no room for more. Would my wisdom be wasted on you?"

The student looked down at his feet.

"Don't despair. There is still hope," suggested the master as he poured out the tea from the cup onto the floor: "An empty cup con hold more than one that is already full."

Sometimes in order to learn what you need to know, you need to forget what you think you know.

By H. Evan Woodhead

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cookout in March

When I was talking to Ronnie this morning I was telling him about an interview I went on and what the kids were doing today. I went to a horse stable to interview for a position there. I would give trail rides and help take care of the horses. I don't think that I will get the job, but we will see how it will pan out. I think that it would be perfect until we move. I would get some good exercise and be outside a lot.

Anyway, back to the conversation. I was telling him what Hunter and Cole were up to and then mentioned that Veronica was going to a cookout tonight. He started laughing and said, "A cookout?!" I wasn't quite getting it and said, "Yes, a cookout...what?" He said, "Ebby, you are talking to a guy who is in 11 degree weather with snow on the ground. A cookout sounds funny."

Oh, thats right. I am in 68 degree weather...beautiful blue skies and confortable outside. Strong winds today though. I would have sat out in the back yard to get some sun, but the winds were too stong and blowing sand all over the place. Other than the wind it was a beautiful day.

Ronnie is in the middle of winter in Minnesota. Although most Minnesotians are probably sick of winter and have cabin fever, Ronnie did call me the other day and tell about snow that fell in the night and how beautiful it is. Winter is new for him so he is enjoying it...until I mention
cookouts. :)

One more thing. I got a hair cut today and I really don't like it. I am probably going to get all of my hair cut off this week. Yep, I will be going back to one of my short do's.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A straw moment?

Our friend, Wendi K., had the greatest saying..."Get a straw.......and suck it up!!"

I think that our family has used this saying hundreds of times. Although there are times when I say this to the kids because of their whinning or moaning about something small I didn't use it this time with Veronica. When I saw her eye the morning after she got hit with a softball I knew that 1) it hurt 2) it was still hurting and 3) that if I said that she probably wouldn't talk to me again.

Wendi left a comment on the post before this one and asked Veronica if she needed a straw. Wendi is the only one that I know that could get away with that right now. Wendi could probably have gotten Veronica to laugh about it, and then Veronica and John would have started fighting about something and she would have forgotten about the eye. Why do you have to live so far away when I need your help!!

Actually, Veronica is doing ok with it all and hasn't complained about it too much. It is still hurting some, but is getting better as far as the pain goes. The way it looks is another story. Below is a picture that I took last night after her softball game.

Speaking of game last night....Veronica's team won. They were so excited. They lost the first game Monday night (when she got hit), but did a great job last night playing a pretty good team in their division. I don't think anyone expected them to beat this team, but they won 8 to 3. Veronica played the whole game at 2nd base. I think that is going to be her spot.
Oh look at that shiner. She is getting sick of me taking pictures of her eye. It isn't my fault. I see it everyday, but Ronnie isn't here so he keeps asking me to take pictures. Can you see the knot over her eye? Maybe I should have taken her to the doctor!?!? Oh well black eye or not she is still pretty!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pictures from Monterey

These pictures aren't in order. I am not even going to try and put them in order. These are from my two days in Monterey and the one day we spent in San Francisco. What a great time I had!

I am actually on the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!!!
This is a picture of San Francisco from across the bay. We were in Salsalido.
Cute little sail boat in the bay at Salsalido.
Uncle John standing in front of The Lone Cypress. It has been on this rocky area for over 250 years.
Here is Grandma Jan at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
Grandma Jan and English.
English taking a picture of her and Grandma Jan.
Ebby taking a picture of her and Uncle John.
Beautiful ocean on the 17 mile drive.
English very tired after a stressful couple of weeks.
Grandma Jan and Uncle John on the 17 mile drive.
The Lone Cypress on the 17 mile drive.
John, English, Ebby and Jan in front of the Lone Cypress.
Uncle John, English and Grandma Jan on graduation day.
English and her certificate of completion.
English getting annoyed with me continuing to take her picture.
English and her classmates. All 4 branches of the military are represented here.
Another picture of the beautiful coast off of Monterey.
The following picture is not related to my trip at all. I just thought that I would include it for the heck of it. Veronica had her first softball game last night. Even though Veronica has never played softball before, other than the little bit that they play in Phy. Ed. , she started at second base. At the bottom of the 5th inning she was removed from the game after getting hit in the head (just above her right eye) with the softball. She woke up this morning with a black eye. It was pretty swollen and she had a nasty headache. She is still dealing with the headache, but is doing fine.
I have so many more pictures from my trip. I can't possibly post all of them. I am just thankful that I was able to go at all. Thanks to Waltwee for giving me the ticket, mom for watching the kids, and my boss for letting me have the days off I was able to see family I don't get to see often, and see my oldest daughter. What an awsome time I had!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monterey, California

*No pictures are being posted at this time. I have to get the cord from my mom whose camera I used on this trip. I will post them as soon as I can.

Well I made it back from California safe and sound but very exhausted. I left for San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon. On my flight from Charlotte to San Francisco we had to make an emergency landing for a passenger that was having a heart attack. Thankfully there were two nurses on board one of which was an ER nurse. We made a pit stop in Amarillo, Texas to drop him off and then we were on our way again. Our flight was only a little over an hour late, which I didn't think was too bad.

When I arrived in San Fran I was greeted by English. I was so happy to see her. We had a great visit on the way back to Monterey. We got to my hotel around midnight which was actually 3:00 a.m. my time. I finally got to sleep to only wake up at 4:00 a.m Cali. time (7:00 a.m. my time). I was so mixed up on time. I usually don't have this hard of a time, but then again I don't usually fly in at night. I usually get to Cali in the afternoon and have a few hours to try and adjust.

Thursday morning we met Grandma Jan and Uncle John at their hotel and then we went to breakfast. After that we went to English's graduation. As Ronnie said earlier, English didn't pass her exams. She is so disappointed. She only missed it by one question, which almost makes not passing even worse. She is now putting in her new job request with the Air Force, and will hopefully find out what her new job will be in a couple of weeks.

To answer a few questions:
1) No she can not re-take the test. Once you fail that is it...for air crew, which she is. If she was ground crew she could take it again.
2) She is no longer a linguist.
3) She does not know where she will be stationed now or when in fact she will move.
4) She has put in for a couple of different jobs all but one of which are still air crew. She wants to keep her security clearance.
5) English did receive a certificate for completing the courses.

Anyway, after the ceremony we went down to Cannery Row, which is a popular tourist spot. It is just a bunch of shops and resturants down by the bay. After that we went back to Jan and John's hotel and hung out for a while, and then English took me back to my hotel for the night.

Friday morning we met up with Jan and John and decided to make the 17 mile drive. This was such a great decision. What a beautiful drive. On the drive we stopped and ate lunch at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. Even though I don't play golf it was still pretty neat to see. What a beautiful area English lives in. After the drive we went back to Jan and John's hotel and played some cribbage while English took care of some errands she needed to tend to. I actually won two games. I stink at Cribbage and so it was a big deal to me to win a couple of times. Jan ended up being the "Champion of the World". When English rejoined us we went out to dinner down at Fisherman's Warf, which again was a really neat area. I kept saying it over and over what a beautiful area Monterey is. I couldn't believe it.

After dinner we hung out for a little bit and then said our goodbyes. It was great to be able to visit with Jan and John for a couple of days. I am so glad that they were able to drive up for the graduation. English took me to a local pub for a couple of minutes so that I could meet some of her friends. I then got her to drop me off at my hotel so that she could then go back and hang out with them. A couple of them will be leaving this week so I wanted to make sure that she go to see them some before they left.

Saturday morning English's building had to move to another building so I hung out at my hotel. I didn't get much sleep Friday night due to the male and female in the room next to mine. I won't go into much detail, but I am sure that you can guess as to how and why I was woken up at 1:00 a.m. and again at 4:00 a.m. It happened again at 10:00 a.m. Each time I just cranked up the TV, but then couldn't go to sleep due to the loudness of the TV. Couldn't turn the TV down due to the loudness of the people in the next room. I left them a note on their door as I was checking out. My note was pretty funny.

Well English and I left Monterey at 12:30 and drove Highway 1 up the coast. Once again this was a beautiful drive. It took us a couple of hours, but it was well worth it. Once in San Fran we drove to the Golden Gate bridge and down into (although it was accidental) Salsalido. Cute little area directly across the bay from San Fran. Then we drove back over the Golden Gate bridge and straight through down town San Fran. We tried to go to a movie, but they all started too late so we did a little shopping. I then made English drop me off around 8:00 p.m. ( my flight was at 10:40 pm) so that she could hopefully make it back to base for a going away party.

My red eye flight is probably a flight that I won't take again. I use to take them all the time when I was little, but at 40 I just can't do it. I was so tired yesterday. I am even more tired today. Even though I feel exhausted it is well worth it. I had a wonderful time in Monterey. Got to hug my little girl and see her life there. I am so proud of her.

Well as I said I will post pictures as soon as I get the cord.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Snow Boarding and Dinner

Yesterday I had the day off from CCC. so I decided to go snow boarding with Jordan Steggerda. It had been a while since I had been. I was a little nervous at first. But after the second or third run I figured it all out again. It was a lot of fun. Of course I took some pretty good spills. Spills that would have been fun to watch if I wasn't the one spilling. There were acouple that probably made the people watching from the lift say, "OOOOHHHH!!!" But I got back up, dusted the snow off my jeans, and kept going. It was pretty cool. I am only a little bit sore today. I think it may catch up tomorrow morning. Sometimes that's how my body works.

Then later in the evening I went to dinner at the Ganz's house. The whole gang was there(the Jensen family too) and as usual, it was very fun. Dinner was fabulous. Heidi made an Alfredo Pancetta Carbonara pasta. Que bellisimo! I don't know what that means but it sounded good coming out. After dinner I wrestled with Alex and Megan Jensen and kicked their butts up one side and down the other of the Ganz,s basement. They loved it. They were tenacious little boogers. But I had to work them over good anyway. I bet they slept good. After the wrestling and the snow boarding I sure did.

I talked to Ebby on the phone today. She has had a wonderful time in Monterey with everyone. She heads back to SC tonight. Before they go to the airport, her and English are going to do a nickel tour of San Francisco. That sounded fun. Hopefully she will have some picture to post on the blog when she come back. I talked to the boys today too. They are doing fine and are going mini-golfing to day with some friends. I can't wait to get back and do a little mini-golfing of my own with them.

Have a great weekend.