Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Eye Exam

First Eye Exam by Joe Jon!
First Eye Exam, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden got his first eye exam today. He has perfect vision, for which we are thankful. He did so well!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guess who finally lost his first tooth?

And the one right next to it will probably go in the next day or two. He's a trooper!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cuban Sandwiches

Cuban Sandwiches by Joe Jon!
Cuban Sandwiches, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

I made the whole family Cuban Sandwiches for lunch today. Experiment #1 in my foray into international recipes. I got 2 thumbs up from everyone.With a few seasonal desserts for good measure.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sick, but still had a family meal on Thanksgiving.

We did not travel to see family on Thanksgiving as I was feeling extremely poorly. My wife managed at the last minute to throw something together for her and the boys (I ate a couple of bites). Deviled eggs, homemade mashed potatoes, pineapple casserole, candied yams, pineapples, ham, bread, and green beans all made for a great last minute feast. She is pretty amazing, and I am thankful for her.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Camping

Fall Camping by Joe Jon!
Fall Camping, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Steaks on the grill by the campfire. A nice Cabernet breathing nearby. Lots of goodies (baked potatoes, olives, salad, grape leaf rolls, mushrooms, etc.) on the side. A couple of Bass Pale Ale already in the tank. A delicious tobacco pipe with some nice Burley tobacco at the ready. The winds have calmed. The stars are shining. God is good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beach Webcam

Beach Webcam by Joe Jon!
Beach Webcam, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Well, the one by the pool, at least. I dropped my wife and kids off this weekend at the beach and headed back home Sunday evening. I'll be joining them again on Wednesday night after I wrap a few things up at work. When she called and said she was headed to the pool I asked her to stop by the webcam with the boys so that I could see them. Pretty fun!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Kindergartner

The Kindergartner by Joe Jon!
The Kindergartner, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden wearing his apple crown. School is in full swing for the little guy as he began his first "officially official" year of homeschool a few weeks ago. He is proud to show me his work each week. He is off to a great start!

Friday, September 9, 2011

While playing my 12-year old in chess this evening he moved a pawn across the board for promotion to Queen. As his pawn reached the final square he yelled out loudly, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" Scared me to death. That boy ain't right.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Good use of time. by Joe Jon!
Good use of time., a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Some kids run for the toys and video games. I love seeing my boys run for the books!

Shopping this morning at BJ's in Cary.

Update: One of our friends at church is a general contractor and all-around handyman. He came today and put in our new water heater for us. Hot showers tonight! Woo hoo!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Water Heater Is Done

Water Heater is done. by Joe Jon!
Water Heater is done., a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

I'm really glad I was here when our water heater caught fire.

I hit the rest button after the hot water disappeared this afternoon and immediately saw sparks and high voltage melting going on. I ran and turned off the outside breaker. I saw a tiny flame on the water heater and smacked it with my hand, putting it out. I then went inside for a flashlight. I came back and looked under the house and saw 8-10" flames rising from the upper thermostat. I had Gabe run for a big cup of water while I screwed the water hose on. Gabe came back and threw the cup of water on the flame. I then hit it with the water hose for a couple of seconds. A wee bit scary.

Looks like we have no hot water for a few days. I guess we'll take our showers in the travel trailer until we get a new unit. This old one has had it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yarborough's Ice Cream with my buddy Caden

We sneaked away from the older two boys, who were at a scouts meeting, and grabbed some ice cream with mommy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Ninja by Joe Jon!
Ninja, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
He sleeked down the hallway, swiftly but silently bounced through the laundry room, and, before I knew it, he was upon me in the office. Caden, the ninja. With help from the folks at Enter the Ninja.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Caden has Chicken Pox!

Caden has Chicken Pox! by Joe Jon!
Caden has Chicken Pox!, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

A bummer for our little guy. We started seeing the bumps on Wednesday evening. It caused us to cancel Plan's B and C for the holiday weekend after our hopes to travel to the mountains for a long weekend were crushed. But, we've been having a little "staycation" and have enjoyed our family time at home!

Don't Scratch, Little Buddy!

Don't Scratch, Little Buddy! by Joe Jon!
Don't Scratch, Little Buddy!, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

It's hard for a 5-year old not to scratch that oppressive itch!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bag of (Free) Candy

Bag of (Free) Candy by Joe Jon!
Bag of (Free) Candy, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Stacie's mastery of "couponing" has gotten to the point that I don't even realize the kind of deals she is getting. It seems all sorts of foods we didn't see much BC (Before Couponing) are always popping up because she got them for free or for next to nothing. Take this bag of candy bars, etc. This bag (along with a dozen or so already eaten the last 2-3 weeks) cost her a grand total of $0.00.

She is feeding our family at the rate of ten cents on the dollar at this point, and it has made a huge difference for the family budget. She is amazing.

Disclaimer: No, dear friends, she is not just feeding us junk food.We eat healthy and nutritious meals, for the most part, but enjoy pizza, hot dogs, burgers, etc. too, throughout the month.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gabe Headed to Boy Scout Camp

Gabe is all packed up and ready to go to his second Boy Scout summer camp. Six nights of fun and adventure at Camp Raven Knob with his friends from Troop 942. As you can see, he has his foot locker, sleeping bag, and plenty of water and Gatorade for what appears to be a hot week coming up for the boys. We'll be missing Gabe, but hoping he has a great time and earns another 2-3 badges toward his Eagle Scout rank. We'll go up Wednesday afternoon to see how he's doing, so we'll see him in a few days.

Boy Scout Troop 942, Sanford, NC

Loaded up and ready for a week of summer camp!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Pretty funny video of two photographers/videographers who got stuck in the DFW airport and decided to do something fun with their time. I'm hoping that as my three boys get a bit older they'll want to do some fun things like this with me.

Read an interview about it all here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Caden & Blackberries

Caden & Blackberries by Joe Jon!
Caden & Blackberries, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Along the wood line by our home we have a good number of Blackberry bushes. The boys find them to be a nice treat. Caden gathered about twice this many this afternoon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gabe's Hair Cut from Dad

Gabe's Hair Cut from Dad by Joe Jon!
Gabe's Hair Cut from Dad, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Before (right) and after (left). The Wahl clippers are officially paid for with Gabe finally relenting and letting me cut his hair. I was even able to layer it up a bit. He is pretty stoked. We cut it while his mom was out, and she came home and was pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saving Money

Caden - Mohawk 2Ethan's Hair CutCaden - Mohawk 1

BP060811, a set on Flickr. Click each pic to enlarge!
Stacie had what we believe is a record in coupon savings the other night when she paid $13 for a whopping $118 in groceries. Her skills in the mastery of "couponing" are growing like a young Padawan evolving into a Jedi Knight.

Speaking of people who wield light sabers - our recent purchase of a Wahl hair clipper is saving us some bucks, too. As you can see by the photos I cut Caden's hair with the #2 guard, leaving his Mohawk untouched, much like a Jedi carving in to a platoon of Storm Troopers. His Mohawk is growing to be pretty long!

I also cut Ethan's hair for the first time using the #8 guard on top and #6 guard on the sides and back. I also trimmed it up with scissors and a comb. "Dad ain't bad!" is the word so far.

Gabe, whose hair is about as thick as a bamboo jungle in East Asia, won't let me touch him. And Stacie's beautiful hair requires the mastery of someone far more proficient than what my humble clipper skills can offer.

So, with these initial cuts we've already paid for half of what it cost for the clippers. 2-3 more cuts and I'll be able to save we saved a few more bucks.

In other news - Gabe and Ethan are taking their End of Grade testing in the homeschool today and tomorrow. They are looking forward to a bit of a break. But we'll be cranking up the homeschool a little earlier this summer while moving toward a more year-round calendar. Caden will officially be in Kindergarten this summer. He has been doing well in his preschool level work, and enjoyed the most recent Homeschool Co-Op group while learning about Dr. Seuss and his array of books. We hope to do some fun, easy-at-home type of science experiments this summer. We're also looking forward to some vacations coming up in September and October.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random Pic for 6/7/11 Ethan & Caden

Waiting outside of JC Penney while mommy shops.

I added a bunch of pics on Flickr including random shots of Gabe's first basketball tournament a few weeks ago (see how tall he is compared to other teams!), Caden break dancing in the street, our 11-year old chocolate Lab and our 15-year old yellow Lab, a huge hawk behind our house, Ethan's horse riding lesson, among others. Click the Flickr badge to the left (below the Twitter badge) and enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Busy, But Not Completely Absent

Life is a whirlwind. I actually have a ton I could be posting about here, I'm sure, but I have sort of been going with the "micro" theme in terms of my use of social media. If you follow my Twitter feed you can get a small glimpse of what's up, such as Gabe's recent USSSA basketball game, which I consider his "breakout" game against one of the best teams in the state. He totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds (his first double-double) along with 5 or 6 blocks. He is probably the equivalent of a 7'0" center out there as a 6'1" 11-year old. He was very aggressive today, and it showed in his performance. So, instead of writing up huge blog posts about it I "tweeted" a few "tweets" while Gabe was playing.

I also have been trying to get more active posting pictures on Flickr, mostly with my cell phone. Stacie and I are horrible about taking pictures of the kids. We should do it more often. So, we're going to try a bit harder in the coming seasons to be more active there.

You can catch the action via the links to the left of the page. There you will see both my Twitter feed and my Flickr feed. You can actually "subscribe" to the Twitter feed and get updates via your cell phone. If you're really that deep in to what is up in the family, that is.

I am hoping things will slow down some, but I don't imagine that happening in the next 15-years as the boys get involved in more and more activities. I guess I just need to settle in and hold on for the long haul!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Black Snake of the Year

Today was a great day for snake hunting. It had been dreary the last day or two, so I knew that when the sun popped out, so would the snakes. My oldest two boys and I headed for the fields behind our home looking for anything fun along the way. We scanned the edges of a small pond and worked our way through some thick brush. Finally I headed straight for a big stump near the pond in a clearing in the field. Bingo. This nearly five-footer was sunning on the edge of the stump. He was an easy catch.

Black Snake 2

Black Snake 2 by Joe Jon!
Black Snake 2, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

When I first caught him he had a good grip on my arm. I don't think he has fed yet this spring as he looked pretty thin. Hopefully he'll catch some mice and yard moles behind our house and keep the rodent population down. I walked the several hundred yards back to our home and set him loose on the edge of our back yard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Mohawk

Mohawk 3 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 3, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
He posed the question concerning a mohawk hair cut only a few weeks ago and his mother and I laughed it off with a simply stated, "No."

But you don't know the persistence of Caden, our 5-year old, third shift, breakdancing, ninja.

Um, long story there. Nevermind that.

So, he persisted. And persisted.

We hemmed. We hawed.

We relented.

And here he is in all of his mohawky glory. Yes, he does look a tad like David Beckham, doesn't he?

The boy named man. I can't wait 'til the folks at church see it on Sunday.

Mohawk 2

Mohawk by Joe Jon!
Mohawk, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Front view of the mohawk. He is loving it. See how happy he is? Big smiles from a little goober.

Mohawk 3

Mohawk 2 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 2, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Side view of the mohawk. He's bad.

Mohawk 4

Mohawk 4 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 4, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Later in the evening after he had rubbed the gel out. Almost looks normal. Where's the gel?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Series of Posts on the US 421 Bypass Behind our Home - Part 1

No one has ever mistaken me for an environmental extremist or, as they say, a “tree hugger.” I do not lament the good use of what God has given us to help us along in this life. But I also understand well that God has placed us humans on this earth to care for His creation. So, whenever I see something that is wasteful when it comes to natural resources, I pity it.

The destruction of the forest behind our home for the extension of US Highway 421 Bypass around downtown Sanford, NC, may or may not be an example of such a waste. When we moved here nearly four years ago we purchased our home knowing all too well that there would be a highway built behind it at some point. Frankly, the bypass is probably needed, or at least wanted by those who consistently get snarled through the business portion of 421, and we use the current portion of it often to skip the traffic lights that cause us to crawl through town. So, no tears are being shed for the necessity of the road, nor for a lack of knowledge. We weren’t overcome by the news like some of our neighbors who were here beforehand and learned of it without being able to do anything about it. We were able to purchase our home for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20% less than the previous owner had wanted as a result of the highway (plus a considerable amount of fixer-upper quality the home held). And we love our house. More than twice as big as our former home in Winston-Salem for only a little more with a large playroom, a fourth bedroom we turned into the homeschool room, an extra full bathroom, and an office. It was a poor man’s dream.

We also felt that the highway was a few more years out and that we actually might be leaving Sanford within a few years, allowing us to completely miss it. But the government stimulus package from last year enabled the project to be moved up, and here we are, huge machines working already with a completion date just a year or two away.

Even though we knew it was inevitable, we are still quite bummed about it. The next ten posts will tell you why.

Scroll down and follow along.

Before its Time - Part 2 of the Series

9 by Joe Jon!
9, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
In the fall of 2010 we read in the local paper that the stimulus funds had been approved and the completion of the bypass would begin in late March or early April. A couple of months ago we started seeing pick-up trucks with surveyors and soil testers out and around the fields near our home and figured it had all begun. Just a few days ago the carnage began with several large vehicles and dozers moving earth and wood, and trees started to fall. This one was among the smaller trees, but had many years on it. It looks to be much older than I am, judging by the rings.

Stacks of Misery - Part 3 of the Series

8 by Joe Jon!
8, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

The tree was one of many that were already stacked in a pile that would triple in size over the next couple of days. Except for the time it took to drag them to the stacking area most of the trees were cut, stripped of their limbs, and stacked in a matter of seconds by the huge machines.

They Begin at 6:30 AM Each Day - Part 4 of the Series

7 by Joe Jon!
7, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

It was actually pretty interesting to watch them working, despite how objectionable the task at hand was to us. They were very efficient in their work. We took our dogs over to the machines so that they would be much less nervous the next day than they were the first day the monstrous machines came to work so close to their dog lot.

A Child's Dream - Part 5 of the Series

6 by Joe Jon!
6, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Only a small lad at five years old, Caden was awestruck by everything that was going on. Who could blame him? The machines were enormous and the path of destruction appealing to a boy bent on taking in as much as he can. He really wanted to drive them.

Scenic Beauty - Part 6 of the Series

5 by Joe Jon!
5, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

All of these pictures were taken with my cell phone cam, so truly no justice is found in their quality. Take this picture, for example. In my four years in Lee County I have yet to find a more beautiful patch of rolling hills, green fields, and awe inspiring tree lines. The fall colors are amazing each year. I have wondered many times how someone could choose such a spot to bring a highway through. If they had just moved northeasterly a few hundred yards it would have hidden much of the encroachment and left a great place for a park or recreation area. Not just for our sake, mind you. It could have remained a beautiful area for many to enjoy.

A Good Walk Spoiled - Part 7 of the Series

4a by Joe Jon!
4a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Our family would walk down a tiny path to a hidden creek, allowing the dogs to play in the water and giving us a great opportunity to get out and enjoy nature and the various wildlife beside our home. Deer, coyote, squirrels, birds of all kinds and many other animals would frequent the wooded area. That path is now a wide workway for the machines.

Surveying the Damage - Part 8 of the Series

3a by Joe Jon!
3a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Surveying the destruction gave us a bit of a morbid feeling. It seems all of those trees we enjoyed so often were like friends, and now we were losing them, day by day.

An Amazing View - Part 9 of the Series

2a by Joe Jon!
2a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
I would sit on my deck in the back of our home and gaze across the field as the sun set, the late afternoon light warming the tall row of trees beyond the edges. The glow of the leaves was a highlight for me each day as I slowly tugged a draw from my tobacco pipe and thought of the very simple things in life. It was so quiet there with these friends. Several of them are already gone in this photo.

My Mighty Friend - Part 10 of the Series

1a by Joe Jon!
1a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
One neighbor has lived in our neighborhood her entire life, some 68-years. She said this mighty Oak tree was enormous even when she was a little girl. The tiny portion of tree hugger in me did go down to embrace it, if only to measure its great size, and I was not even able to get half way around its gigantic girth. I discovered this tree when we first moved here and was instantly drawn to its majesty and size. I would enjoy its shade and sit under it quietly, pipe in hand, to reflect on life's simple pleasures. It gave me shade in the heat of summer and protection from the wind in the coolness of spring. I am so fond of this Oak. This poor picture does it no justice as it is truly a beautiful work of God’s creation. It will fall in the next day or two after enduring for so long. And I will miss my friend.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tornado in Sanford

Some amazing pictures of the storm damage in our town of Sanford, NC, just a few miles south of us.

Taken by Wesley Beeson of the Sanford Herald.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Sleep Over

Sleep Over by Joe Jon!
Sleep Over a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

The boys had a couple of friends over for a sleep over tonight. It's loud in this house.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Current Pipe and Tobacco Collection

My 12 favorite pipes in the rack ( along with a few pounds of tobacco.

The books, bottom to top: ESV Bible, Westminster Confession of Faith with Larger & Shorter Catechisms, The Valley of Vision, my personal journal, two separate/topical journals.

Working Together

Working Together by Joe Jon!
Working Together a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

A recent warm day made for great weather to get a little yard work completed. Our two labs Bailey (Chocolate) and Brady (Yellow) seemed to enjoy it, too.

Caden and his Ring Pop

Caden and his Ring Pop by Joe Jon!
Caden and his Ring Pop a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

He loves his ring pops.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Found this Morning

From Last Night's Storm
Originally uploaded by Joe Jon!
From Last Night's Storm. A 40' tree fell from the woods beside our house into our yard. It was an old, dead tree, so last night's wind toppled it over fairly easily, I'm sure. The storm looked a little crazy for a while. With Ethan, for scale. (Cell cam photo.)

January and February have been so busy, but hopefully things will begin slowing up now that March is here. The Upward Basketball league is finished and the boys had a great time. Hopefully that will free up some time to focus on some things we need to work on.

We had planned on doing some camping in our travel trailer, but with gasoline expected to approach or surpass $4 a gallon, we may be staying home much of the spring. It's one thing to burn $35-40 in gas to get there and back. It's another to pay more for gas than the camping fees and food/entertainment for the weekend. Maybe we'll splurge for one trip, just to say we did.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Red Truck Fly Fishing Rods

I cannot wait for spring. I'm looking forward to being on the streams and rivers of western North Carolina with my three boys. They're fishing way out west, but this video still had me shaking a little bit this morning. Late March/early April can't come soon enough.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gabe B&W

Gabe B&W by Joe Jon!
Gabe B&W, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
The thinker.

Ethan B&W

Ethan B&W by Joe Jon!
Ethan B&W, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Caden B&W

Caden B&W by Joe Jon!
Caden B&W, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
He's bad.

First Video

First Video
Originally uploaded by Joe Jon!
Caden helped me shoot the first official video with the new Panasonic HM-TA1 mini camcorder. He's always happy to oblige. Our old Sony Handycam is on its last legs. But we got this little camera, which is smaller than my cell phone, for less than 70 bucks. Hopefully it will last a year or two.

I have woefully neglected the blog after assuring myself I would be more active in the new year. But my blog activity is always a sure sign of how busy I am in life. Work has been crazy, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, basketball practices and games, homeschool activities, and much more fill up our time. And all along we forget to take pictures and make little notes.

I have done well keeping my written journal, though. And I am reading much more than normal. I have been updating Twitter with short bursts almost daily. I rarely do anything with Facebook anymore, though I have been getting razzed by friends at work whenever Stacie goes on my Facebook page and "likes" a product such as "Clairol" or other products focused on women.

The questions I asked Caden in the video are from the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC). In our family devotions we have been catechizing the children from the WSC, and they are doing well in memorizing the questions and answers. When I read that 80% (or more) of Christian children sent to public schools apostatize from the church when they leave the home it gives me pause for concern. We are thankful to be able to educate our children and bring them up in the ways of the Lord in our home.

I am getting eager to get back out on the creeks and streams of western North Carolina with my fly rod. I am looking to take some time in April and fish during the week, and I have the areas around Cherokee and the Pisgah National Forest in mind. If you would like to go, bring your tent and sleeping bag and we'll make it happen. I know of a few good places in that area, but am looking to get off the beaten path on this trip. I like the idea of having to hike in for 30-minutes just to wet a line. I don't think most fly fishermen are willing to do that, preferring the ease and comfort of fishing by the road, elbow to elbow. Either way, I plan to take my three boys with me. I also plan to have a fly rod in their hands more than mine this year. I want them to get "eat up with it," so to speak, so that I'll have fishing buddies for life.