Saturday, December 20, 2008


Hailey started running a fever last night, so we knew Strep had found another victim.

But the tests were negative.

Hailey just has some 'other' bug.

And I'm still germ free. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frontline Update

It's been two days since Strep was diagnosed at our house. Thus far Hailey and I are free from the scourge. (knocking on wood now).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Joe here, writing from the front lines of the Strep outbreak at our household. So far the vile disease has infested Vic and 2 of our brood. Only Hailey and me stand alone against the biological onslaught.

It is a near impossible task I know, but with the help of Clorox Wipes, Lysol and a case of surgical masks I intend to get through this unscathed.

I know many of you will want to help, but its too late now. Save yourselves. Hailey and I are on our own.

If I haven't written back in a few days, you'll know what happened.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Trip

Ok, so I’m woefully late in making a post. My apologies. It’s been a hectic few weeks.

Vic’s sick again, computers fried, routers fried, work, kids, locusts, floods, famine, Christmas decorations, etc, etc. But alas, here is the latest post which takes us up through December 5th.

The Loooooong Trip Home

When Vic and I first moved to Atlanta, the trip to our Kentucky hometown, ~355 miles, would take about 7 hours. I’ve done it in 5 hrs 15 min, but I was alone and didn’t stop for gas, food or pee break.

The 7 hour trip time was pretty average up until Hailey was born. The average time then jumped to 10 hours or more. And after Alyssa and Gracie joined us 12 hours was not uncommon. So based on previous performance, I wasn’t to excited about the long trip home the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

We left at 8:40am on Wed morning. Three hours later than I wanted to. (Hey, you wake 4 women up and get them in a car for an all day trip.) Anyway, we left and began burning rubber. Vic tried to sleep and the girls watched TV in the back. Joe drove.

We drove through Chattanooga, TN. No stops yet. Little traffic. Making good time.

Stopped for a potty break, handed out snacks, sandwiches and drinks. No restaurants this time. My goal was to make time.

We drove through Knoxville, TN. Stopped for another potty break and the girls began a session of Simon Says with me. Entertaining all the Holiday travelers with their antics. I was Simon of course.

On through Kingsport, TN and then Gate City, VA, where the speed limit is like 5 MPH and there are 10 cops per mile. That town plays havoc with a schedule.

Bang, outta Gate City and on to Kentucky.

We pulled into Vic’s home place at 3:30pm. What? Did I say 3:30pm? That means the trip, with Vic and 3 screaming youngins took us just under 7 hours. WOW!!

So, of course upon arrival the youngins started trashing the place. Situation Normal.

The next few days were very good. We had Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house on Thursday and Vic’s parents on Friday. Friday morning I took Hailey and our little cousin to the Breaks Interstate Park to look at the views. They had a great time, saw some deer, played on a stage and generally enjoyed themselves.

The trip back was a little different. We left Saturday morning at approximately 11:30am. and hit traffic in Kingsport, TN. Waaaay earlier than expected. Then it started to rain. That nasty, misty rain that makes driving hell. Then we got to Knoxville, TN and just parked. No one was moving. We averaged around 5 mph around the city with pounding the steering wheel the whole way. We stopped and ate at a Cracker Barrel giving the girls a chance to stretch their legs and me to lower stress level.

The rest of the ride home sucked. Rain, dark, fog, mist, traffic, more rain. Finally got home around 8:30pm. 9 hours. Not too bad considering. We’ll see how the next trip goes.

Now, pics from the trip.

Gracie throwing rocks in the creek by Gran Gran and PaPaws.

Fed the goats by Gran Gran and PaPaws. Hailey would have nothing to do with them. Alyssa wanted to, but just couldn't. Gracie fed them, petted them and played with them all over the yard.

Hailey and Grace running down the road at Gran Grans.

Alyssa and Hailey on the swing at Gran Grans.
Upon arriving in the Breaks stumbled across 5 deer by the road. I stopped and took a few pictures. One was about 5 feet from my car door. Didn't seem to mind us at all.
We took our cousin McKenzie with us to the Breaks. Her's Hailey with her on one of the cliff trails.
McKenzie and Hailey at the State Line Overlook. From this spot, it's about 2,000 feet down to the river.
Hailey at the State Line Overlook. If you look back over her left shoulder you can see a railroad tunnel.
This is the Towers at the Breaks. It's about 1,700 feet down to the river from here.
We were lucky enough to see some Kayakers down on the river. It was 32 degrees where we were so I know they were cold.
McKenzie got stuck on a rock.
Hailey at the Towers sign.

There is an outdoor theater/stage in the Breaks.
Hailey and McKenzie had a sword (stick) fight. Acting out some make believe play.

MeMaw and PaPaw Joe, Thanksgiving Day.
Hailey, Alyssa, Gracie and McKenzie trashing Me Maw's house.

Thanksgiving spread at Me Maws.

McKenzie in front of Tocko's house.

Pilgrim Gracie.

The girls in Virgina on the way up to Kentucky.

Alyssa, Hailey and Gracie on the front porch swings at Tocko's.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Update

Computer situation is almost resolved.

So, tomorrow I'll have an update on Thanksgiving trip to hometown and a Christmas update as well.

See ya!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Due to major computer issues I've been unable to make any posts this week. My apologies to those of you waiting up nights for my next post. (uh,,,,that's a joke. :) )

Tomorrow we head across the fields and meadows to Grandma's houses for Thanksgiving. So it will probably be next week before I post again. So,,,,

Thoughts and prayers are with each and everyone one of you this Thanksgiving.

May your hearts be filled with happiness and joy from loving family and friends.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good News / Bad News

The past week has been event filled, both good and bad, happy and sad. The question comes then, which to write about first. Good news or Bad news.

Personally I always want to hear the Good News first. Start positive and go from there so to speak. So, on with the news:

Good News:

1. Alyssa turned 6 years old on November 11th. Hard to believe our ‘middle bit’ is already 6, but six she is. She got some cool gifts, a cool cake and had a great day.

Blowing out the candles.

Opening gifts, in this case a pretty red dress from MeMaw.

She is wearing this dress out. Vic got her the shoes.

2. The second good news this week is also about Alyssa. She lost her first tooth. It’s been loose for a couple of days and she insisted I pull it out. When I said no she proceeded to wiggle it constantly til it was too loose to stay in and I had to remove it. The funny thing though was when I pulled the string the tooth flew out of her mouth and flew across the room, bounced off the ceiling and landed on top of the bread box. The tooth fairy visited later that night and a happy Alyssa trotted off to school the next day very, very proud of herself.

3. Alyssa taught herself to stand on her head and to whistle in the last week.

4. Report cards are in for Hailey. The lowest score she got was in math, a 94. Further proof she takes after her old man. Me so proud!!

Bad News:
1. Growing up, my best friend lived just down the street from me. I spent a lot of time at that house playing, eating watching TV. Typical things young boys do. Used to call his Mother ‘Mom #2”.
Although my friend and I grew apart after I joined the service, I never made a trip back to Kentucky that I didn’t go down the street and see Mom #2. Of course, between work and the kids our trips back home over the past 10 years have become fewer and farther between. In fact it’s been several years since we’ve been home.

Well, as it turns out that would be the last time I would see Mom #2. She passed away last week. I couldn’t get home to the funeral, but my thoughts and prayers are with her and the family. I’ll always remember her talks, gossip, fried apple pies and the popcorn she made while we watched movies.

2. I also recently suffered the loss of a good friend. We met almost 20 years ago while serving in the Navy. We roomed together, went ashore together and pretty much watched each others backs for almost 3 years. Our wives became good friends and we ended up living about 60 feet apart in base housing. I thought we’d always be friends.

This past week my friendship with him ended. He and his wife divorced and because we choose to remain friends with both of them he wants nothing to do with us. He put it in a very nice, polite email, but it still says “Astala Vista Baby!”

All I can say is ‘whatever’, I didn’t have anything to do with the divorce. They were both our friends. But, since I was his friend, I will respect his wishes. I wish him and his new family the very best and hope he has a long happy life.

And how was your week?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gracie's Lost Angel

When we put Gracie in day care 2-3 days a week last year she knew none of the kids there. She was thrown into the mix with a dozen other 3 yr olds. It was your typical day care I suppose. Kids from all walks of life, colors, backgrounds, incomes etc. A real melting pot. After several months one of the kids stood out from the others. Angel.

Angel was a special child. She couldn't speak. She could only make grunting sounds. She was perfectly normal in every other way except her ability to vocalize sounds.

It didn't matter though cause Gracie and Angel hit it off from the start. Playing, fighting, arguing, stealing toys from each other, getting mad at each other then hugging and being best friends again. Two peas in a pod.

Angels Mother and Father both worked, one day shift and one night shift. As a result they had to drop her off VERY early at day care. On many mornings we'd drop Gracie off and Angel would be asleep in the corner. I always felt so sorry for her on those mornings. But if she wasn't asleep as soon as she'd see Gracie she'd make a loud sound and run across the room to hug Gracie. They'd hug and Gracie would start bossing her around and off they'd go. Angel was Gracie's very first friend. She talked about her all the time.

The school had been working with Angel and sending her to a special needs school in our county to help with her problem. They worked with her for months and finally had success. The very first words we ever heard the child say was Grace. The teachers at the school told us that was all Angel could say. It was so very special. We were so very proud of Angel, and proud of Gracie for being her friend.

Sadly, at the end of the last school year Angel's parents put her in a special program full time. So when Gracie started Pre-K this year Angel wasn't there. It was obviously the best thing for Angel, but Gracie was very, very sad. She would talk about Angel all the time. When driving her to school she'd say things like: "I wonder if Angel will be there to play with me today?" or "I wonder if Angel is talking yet?" or "I miss Angel." Even after months, she continued to talk about her Angel.

Well Tuesday of this week was Alyssa's 6th Birthday. ( I know I haven't posted about it yet. Let me get the pictures downloaded and I will. ) Anyway, on Wednesday they had a special little party for Alyssa at her school. Vic took in cupcakes and treats and also took in Gracie so she could enjoy too. I was at the office and couldn't attend, but I did get this email from Vic after she got home from the party:

----- Original Message -----
From: Vickie
To: Joe at Work
Sent: Wed Nov 12 13:11:25 2008
Subject: Gracie meets an old friend

Let me tell you what happened at Alyssa B-day party at school today. Gracie and I arrive and we set up the party. The kids all get back from specials and Gracie for once in her life was being very good. She was cracking all the kids up at Alyssa's table with knock knock jokes.

The party is winding down (only lasted 15 - 20 minutes) and Grace has to go potty. So I take her and we start out the door looking for the restroom. All of a sudden Gracie yells, "Angel!!", and sure enough, guess who was walking down the hall....Miss Angel herself from day care.

Gracie runs up to her and they hug, then Gracie looks at her and says, "Angel can you talk now?" and Angel says, "Yes!" Gracie starts jumping up and down screaming, "Angel, you can talk, you can talk!" There was a teacher escorting Angel and she told Gracie, "Yes, Angel can talk now. So I explained to the teacher how they knew each other from day care and how the only word Angel could say while she was there was Gracie's name and how they loved each other.

Angel then took Gracie by the hand and started pulling her down the hall. She told Gracie, "You Come." So we walked as far as the restroom with her and said our goodbyes. Angel was beaming and Gracie was beside herself. It was so touching and sweet to see these 2 little girls embrace each other and then Grace be so happy that Angel was overcoming her inability to speak. I saw something in Gracie that I've never seen before and that was pride in someone else's accomplishments, and this was something she felt with every fiber in her soul.


Sitting there at the office I teared up. My little Gracie. The one I say is going to be a hit man for the mob, the one who beats up her older sisters, the one who's afraid of nothing and no one showed us all a whole different side to her.

I can tell you as I right this, I am prouder of Gracie at this moment than ever before. And I'm so happy for little Angel. She's a sweetheart and my little girls best friend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Joe's Auto Industry Bailout Plan

I didn't like the $700 Billion bailout for the financial institutions and banks. It helps them, but not the average Joe in America. Those institutions are being rewarded for stupid if not criminal behavior, they are kept afloat, but Joe Blow down the street is still out of his house.

Now we have the auto industry stepping up to the bowl wanting thier share of my paycheck. Well too bad I say. Those companies made bad decisions and continued to make big trucks and gas guzzlers even when all indications were that gas prices were going make them impractical eventually. Why just save the auto industry only while me, Joe Blow, am still sitting in a 4 gallon per mile SUV? Who's helping me?

So, I have my own bailout plan for the auto industry AND Joe Blow.

Take the $25 Billion dollars they're talking about and set up a car upgrade fund. Consumers like Joe Blow can take thier vehicle to any Ford, GM or Chrysler dealer and purchase ANY new vehicle and a percentage of the purchase price comes out of the fund. The percentage of the purchase price from the fund would be equal to the percent improvement in average MPG from a trade in vehicle to the new vehicle. Also, the purchase price of any of the new vehicle would be only $500 above dealer cost. The MSRP crap is out the window.

For example, I take my Ford Expedition to a Chrysler dealer and trade in on a more fuel efficient mini-van. By the numbers:
- Expedition - 18 mpg highway / 12 mpg city
- Mini-van - 24 mpg highway / 17 mpg city

So by upgrading to the mini-van I will improve my fuel economy by ~30%. (rounding up here).

Based on that info:
- Mini-van Dealer cost: $25,000 + $500 mark up.
- 30% Discount from fund. $7,650
- Price of mini-van for Joe, $17,850

Any amount owed on older vehicle would be handled as it is today by trade-in value and either the customer paying it off or left-over amount rolling into the amount of new loan.

I may be naive and this idea too simplistic, but it seems this type of arrangement would help both the auto-industry and the average consumer. Just giving the money to the auto-industry only helps them and the unions.

Anyway, thoughts are welcome. Criticism will be promptly ignored. :)

Happy Veterans Day

Please find a moment to remember a veteran today and thank God for thier strength, courage and sacrifice.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Simon Says

This weekend was not horrible or catastrophic, but definitely one for which I’d like do-over. Let me summarize:
- Friday morning – Smoke alarms went off for no reason. Kids terrorized. Had to clean them, seemed to solve the problem.

- Friday – Vic sick. Fever, running nose, coughing, miserable.

- Saturday – TV Repairs unsuccessful. Stuck with 16 yr old, 800 lb 32” job. It’s so heavy it has it’s own gravitational impact on our moon.

- Saturday night – Gracie get sick, up ALL night with Vic, maybe 2 hours sleep.

- Saturday night – Alyssa has nightmares and sleeps with me. Oh, and Alyssa doesn’t sleep well with anyone. She runs, thrashes, slashes, kicks, jumps and pokes everything around her. So I got little sleep.

- Sunday morning – Gracie hacking up lungs, take her to Urgent Care.

- Sunday night – smoke alarms go off again, found the root cause, steam from the bathroom. Too late, however, to prevent additional terrorizing of the kids.

- Sunday night – Gracie up all night AGAIN, with Vic.

- Sunday night – Alyssa has smoke alarm nightmares again and joins me in bed.

- Sunday night – Hailey decides she’s been left out of the all night activities and joins Vic and Gracie downstairs. Gracie won’t let Hailey get near her, so she screams and yells ensuring NO ONE got any sleep.

So Monday morning, our clan looks like a bunch of zombies. I’d like to formally request a do-over please.

In other news:

While I had Gracie at the Urgent Care center she became VERY bored. (big surprise there). So we played a little game of Simon Says, but this time, Gracie wants to be Simon. And it went like this:
Simon says put your hands on your head.
Simon says put tickle your nose.
Simon says bark like a cat.
Simon says jump up and down
Simon says poop like a dog.

Yep, we never really know what’s gonna come out of her mouth.

All for now, have a great day!!

Happy Birthday Marine Corps

Many of my good friends are US Marines. Therefore, I must pay some homage to the many men and women of the Corps. Semper Fi!!!!

US Marine Corps Legacy

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sea Stories

Most people who have served in the military have some sort of extraordinary story or experience. In the Navy we called the Sea Stories. When hearing a sea story though you must be aware of the fact that unless you are hearing the story from two people who actually saw it, you're more than likely going to get a little or a LOT of exaggeration.

There is an un-named RAF pilot in this story who will definitely have one to tell at the local pubs for a while. Blinded pilot. In case the link ever goes bad I'll summarize.
- 60 year old man is flying a Cessna in England
- Suffers a stroke and loses vision
- RAF pilot called into help
- RAF pilot flies (assume wingtip to wingtip) next to man all the way to landing, talking him down.
- Man lands safely and is taken to hospital where he is recovering.

Great story!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On with Life

In other events around the world, Gracie got in trouble at school today. Teacher says she can't keep her out of the little boys bathroom. I asked her tonight why she kept going in there and she said: "Cause the girls bathroom is boring!"

Gotta love her.

Difficult to Express

I wasn’t happy with either of the choices for President this year, but in my opinion there was really only one choice. Unfortunately, many Americans were easily swayed. They bought the pied pipers song and dance and made a different choice.

My feelings about tonight and the election are difficult to express, but I have to put them down for a variety of reasons. I want to look back on them 4 years from now and see if I was right, wrong or somewhere in between.

My thoughts:

1. As unhappy as I am about the results, I’m still ecstatic we live in a country where we still have the freedom to choose our own leaders. Right or wrong, we make our bed and we have to sleep in it.

2. The events of tonight need to be celebrated as a triumph for an American, who happens to be black.

But I’m afraid any meaningful celebration will be short lived as vengeance and retribution will soon become the order of the day with his party firmly in power. I wonder how long it will be after Jan 20, 2009 that the investigations and witch hunts will begin.

3. Obama’s election should put to bed the BS we hear daily about America being a racist, white only nation. Jessie Jackson, the Black Panthers and other profiteers of ‘racial issues’ should now shut up and go the way of the KKK, far, far away.

But I know they will not. Those profiteers of race will now seek new ways to victimize their own people and neighborhoods for money and power.

4. Most of my friends supported Obama. They are good, intelligent people who I would trust with the lives of my family, yet I find it hard to understand their motivations.

Many have expressed that it is a time for change, time to try something new, the Republicans have screwed things up so lets try something else. But what else? I can change the oil in my car, but if I put water in there it’s not going to work too well.

The only change I heard from Obama was to go down the path towards socialism. Socialism is most famous right now as the political system of China, Cuba and North Korea. All oppressive, backward, corrupt societies controlled absolutely by their political leaders. Not a place anyone I know would want to live. So why did my friends vote this way?

5. Democratic party leaders have expressed desires to nationalize banks, financial institutions, the oil industry and perhaps others. Please show me one place where this has benefited the people. Hugo Chavez has done this over the last few years in Venezuela, Brazil too. Not a big success down there.

The reason they want to do this, if you don’t know, is power. Nationalizing these industry makes the party in power even more powerful, more influential and less likely to ever be voted out of power. Good for them, not for us.

6. Democrats are talking openly of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine to stifle free speech. What was once a right will soon become a privilege. At some point in the future will I be told to take down this blog because someone in Washington finds it offensive? If the Fairness Doctrine is expanded to include the new media its quite possible.

7. Obama spoke of a new ‘civilian security force’ separate from the military and presumably law enforcement as well. What will be their purpose? Who will they answer too?

8. I look at the tax burden I’m liable to incur next year and wonder how my family will fare. Working as hard as I do, 60, 80, 100 hours per week, why am I being targeted to pay more taxes. I pay plenty thank you very much. It surely isn’t providing incentive for me to work harder, it does the opposite.

9. The problems with the current economy started back in the 1990’s with a different congress and president. To think that putting that crew back in charge is going to change things is fanciful, wishful thinking.

Anyway, that’s what I’m feeling tonight. From a symbolic perspective, I’m truly glad to see a black man elected. But I vote for the man (or woman) based on what they stand for and their beliefs. Obama and I don’t believe in the same things and he was not the right choice for this country. Maybe in a few years I can look back on this and feel vindicated or perhaps I’ll feel remorse.

I know after the election of Bill Clinton I felt the same way. One year later I was looking first hand at the damage he was doing to our military and knew I’d been right.

So all we can do now is pray for the country and hope that God’s will and guidance will protect us and lead us forward in this new age. Sleep well tonight everyone. In a few months the man protecting us will be very different.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

The girls have been hyper for 2-3 days unable to wait for Halloween. Especially Gracie. All three had parties at their schools, after which Gracie declared "It was the greatest party ever!!!". And being the wild one of the bunch, she should know.

The afternoon went by like days for them. The clock plodding slower and slower to the hour when they would don their costumes and venture out into the night. And when it came they hit the street with a fury. I don't have many pics cause they were moving too fast and I was trading sea stories with my neighbor, retired Navy.
The three girls before heading out.
This is the first time Hailey hasn't been some wholesome princess or cheerleader.

My two little princesses.
Nice shot of Alyssa.

The girls meet up with our neighbor Katie and begin to pillage the neighborhood.
Third house attacked. Missed pics of the first two, they were moving too fast.
A house further up the street. They always go all out for Halloween.
Ain't Luann a sweetheart!?!

Counting the loot.

Pumpkin Patch

The girls and I went to the pumpkin patch the other day and I forgot to post any pics. So here they are.

Gracie getting her face painted.

The girls posing by a wagon on the farm.

During the hayride out to the pumpkin patch.

Out of the wagon, you can see Gracie burning rubber towards the pumpkins.

Slowed Gracie down long enough to get some little pumpkins.
Hailey picking cotton.

The girls sitting in the pumpkin patch.
Please note, I had nothing to do with Alyssa's prop.