January update….We are still here

So a new year has come and with it some new things and some of the same. Jesse is now the personal chauffeur for the Zeliff family as he has to get more practice driving. Anytime we go somewhere, he drives and is getting more confident with each trip. He still manages to scare either Renee and I, but he is getting better. We did nothing special for New Year’s Eve and celebrated at the house when the clock struck midnight. This involved drinking some sparkling grape juice and then off to bed. The next day we watched the Rose parade and then took all the Christmas decorations down and packed them away for the rest of the year.

This past weekend, I watched the NFL playoffs and once again saw my beloved Chargers crash and burn. Same result as every other time they have entered the playoffs. I am angry and bitter now about how it ended, but come the fall I will have renewed hope that they might finally secure a championship. It is strange how one can get so wrapped up in the efforts of grown men that you don’t know simply because they wear the jersey of your favorite team.

Thankfully, my faith rests in one who eternally won. He defeated death and hell and will reign for all eternity. And the cool part of that is He did so once and for all. My sports teams may fail and let me down, but the Creator of Heaven and Earth is always faithful and victorious. I hope everyone reading this is doing well and that you know His love for you is so great that He stretched out His arms and died for you.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8

Last blog of 2009: Christmas at the Zeliffs

It’s Monday December 28th and another Christmas has passed. I enjoyed having 4 days off from work and spending time with the family. While I stayed home on the day of Christmas Eve, Renee and Jesse did some last minute gift shopping. I did a little cleaning up around the house and made some pumpkin cake. It’s like pumpkin pie without the crust. After they returned and finished their wrapping of presents, we set up the tripod for family portraits. They were great fun and if you are on Facebook you can see them if not be patient and I may get them up on the website…eventually. Following that, we went out for some fast food and to look at lights around Apple Valley. As the evening drew to a close, we gathered in the living room for our tradition of reading the birth narratives of Jesus from the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Jesse led off with Matthew and I picked up with Luke. Jesse then chose one gift to open and we turned in for the night.

Christmas morning came and I was the first one up. I read the paper and talked to mom in FL while waiting for Jesse and Renee to awaken. Once everyone was showered and awake, we enjoyed some homemade banana bread before Jesse passed out the stockings. After the stockings were done, Renee took over and began passing out presents. Halfway through opening presents, we were joined by my best friend Jim Ritch. He drove up from San Diego after duty on the USS Reagan the night before. Too sum up the presents this year: Jesse = guitar, music and books, Doug = golf stuff, candy and new Zelda DS game, Renee = Magic Bullet, kitchen stuff, and popcorn. We watched some NBA before enjoying a ham dinner. We then watched the Chargers demolish the Titans and secure the #2 seed for the playoffs.

The next morning, Jim went for a 16 mile run before showering and heading back toward SD. After he left, we went out to spend some gift money at Target, Best Buy, Tom’s Music, the mall, and finally the Super Target. On Sunday, we sat around the house doing nothing and eating leftovers/sweets. It was a relaxing weekend and glad it is another short week.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you have a great New Year. For those of you we haven’t spoken to in a while, we miss you and hope to hear from you soon. For those we got reacquainted with this year, glad to have back in our lives. For those that never left and are always there, thanks for being with us through 2009 and we look forward to the blessings ahead in 2010.

Thanksgiving has past and Christmas is a few weeks off.

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving this year and were happy to have my mother, Betty, fly out and join us from Florida. After my father passed on in Septemebr, we were glad she wasn’t alone for the holiday. She only spent a few days with us as she went to Yuma the day after Thanksgiving to see my Aunt Loretta and Uncle Ed. She did return with several half gallons of Bluebell Ice Cream for which were very grateful. The day after Thanksgiving, we did venture out briefly to Best Buy to get mom a GPS unit and to snag a new phone for me. We returned home to set up the Christmas tree. Renee and Jesse finished decorating the tree while I hung the lights outside. Mom flew home yesterday and heard all about it from her 3-legged cat, Hoppy, for having been gone for two weeks. This weekend, I spent some time typing up the annual newsletter and getting the Christmas cards ready to mail out. I hope that each of you have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas from the Zeliffs.

Holidays on the way

I had a pretty good weekend. I went grocery shopping with Renee on Friday night as we picked out all the great munchies for Thanksgiving. The cart was full to overflowing as we left Stater Brothers grocery store including my favorite, pecan pie. We got home and managed to get everything packed into the refrigerator.

Saturday morning, I was up early working on my weekly battle image for the NAPP forums before heading to the driving range to meet two co-workers. I recently bought an old set of irons and a golf bag for a whopping $35 after deciding that 43 might be a good age to try and learn how to golf. I played some tennis in high school and college, but never tried golf. I arrived and paid $10 for a JUMBO basket of golf balls(195) not knowing what size I should get. I then spent the next couple hours taking my swings. According to my co-workers, I did well for a beginner. I hit the majority straight and learned some of the technique involved in swinging a club. On one swing, the club head flew off the end of the shaft as I made contact. So much for my 7 iron, at least until I get it repaired. 😛 On another swing, I cut a ball in half, though I suspect it was an old ball and it would have happened to anyone. I returned home for a hot shower and icy hot on my back. That night, we ran to Best Buy and purchased Up and Star Trek on DVD. We watched Star Trek that night before heading to bed. Great movie!

Sunday morning, we finished straightening the house and awaited the arrival of my mother who had flown in to Las Vegas on Saturday night. My hands felt like I had been running a jackhammer the day before and muscles were letting me know that I should not hit as many golf balls next time I go to the range. Mom called to say she was still tired and planned to get some more rest before driving down the I-15. I relaxed and enjoyed watching the San Diego Chargers win their 5th straight game by defeating their division rival Denver Broncos. As the sun was setting, mom called to say she had just awoken from her nap and that we would not see her until the following afternoon. I finished the evening watching the LA Galaxy lose the MLS Cup to Real Salt Lake on penalty shots.

Now for the short work week before the holidays arrive in full force. I am not sure if we will attempt any Black Friday shopping as we usually don’t. We will enjoy a great Thanksgiving feast with my mother and the next day the Christmas Tree and lights will go up. Let the festive season begin.

Two months later…still going and going and going

Two months ago life was going along as normal. My Chargers were just beginning their season and the Angels were looking at making a run in the post season. Since then the Chargers fell to 2- 3 and have manged to climb back to 4-3. The Angels won their division, swept the Red Sox in the playoffs only to lose to the Yankees.

On September 17th, I recieved a call I had aniticpated one day recieving, but wasn’t entirely prepared for. My father, who had been in declining health for a number of years, had passed away of a heart attack at home. My family and I immediately flew to Florida to be with my mom and help her in any way we could. My younger brother arrived a few days later and we helped mom around the house as much as we could. While going through my dad’s workshed, we found his stash of cigarettes and laughed at the irony of us finding it after we hid so many things from him as teenagers. There were many tears as we reminisced about his story telling, refusal to ask for directions and his ability to fix anything mechanical. I brought home many souvenirs of my father and will always cherish his smile and laugh until I see him again in heaven.

Returning from FL, I had two days of work before leaving for Las Vegas to attend Photoshop World. I enjoyed the few days I had there with my son also attending. We left early as I had my 25th high school reunion that following weekend. I attended the Homecoming game on Friday night (which we won) and then toured the campus on Saturday before Renee and I attended the dinner. We ended the weekend with a family get together with classmates at Straw Hat Pizza. That evening we went to our friend Marilyn’s house to watch my Chargers lose to her Steelers.

The following Friday, I was on a plane to Columbus, OH where I met up with my brother Chris. We stayed the night there and drove to West Virginia to help my mom with my father’s memorial service. It was held at Leatherwood Missionary Baptist Chruch in hills outside Elkview, WV. An hour before the service began, mom handed me 4 pages of notes and asked me to speak for her at the funeral. I quickly composed an outline from it and gladly told of how they found love 45 year ago. I told of how my father always loved her and how he was a proud marine until his dying day. After the service ended, my brother and I cleaned up the church and reception hall before returning to Columbus and flying home the next day.

The last two weekends have been filled with music. We were invited by the owner of Open Grave Records to attend a CD release party in Fresno, CA. We drove up last Saturday and were glad to enjoy some great live music and the hospitality of the musician and his family as they BBQ’d and then performed. Last night, we drove to LA to see Stryper in concert at Club Nokia. It was my first ime seeing them despite having been a fan for 25 years. They played a really great show and it was cool to share it as a family.

As we head toward the holidays, I hope each of you cherish your family and enjoy every moment you have in life.

Let the season begin!

After a long off season and sitting through the games yesterday, the San Diego Chargers get their season going tonight with a visit to the Oakland Raiders. This is their year to take it all the way. Time to get things rolling and never let their foot off the gas. Go BOLTS!

So what’s been going on since I last posted. Hmmm! (Scratches head!) Back on August 20th, Jesse came to work with me so he could take his written driver’s test at the Barstow DMV. After waiting in line for an hour, he successfully passed his test missing only 3 questions. Since then, he has been driving to youth group/scaring his dad in the passenger seat. We had a few friends over for Summerslam PPV and BBQd some cheddar wurst and burgers. Also in August, the new program manager started at work so I was relived of being in charge.

Over the Labor Day weekend, we traveled to Yuma, AZ to spend the night at one of my former co-worker’s house. We went to breakfast and then went to see my Aunt Loretta and Uncle Ed that live there as well. Before leaving Yuma, we made a stop at the Walmart to stock up on Renee’s favorite TX ice cream, Blue Bell. We loaded 5 half gallons into the bottom of the cooler and put a 20 lb bag of ice on top and headed for home. As sandstorm kicked up as we crossed into CA and we would later be pummeled by rain as we passed along the western shore of the Salton Sea. The next day we got together with a bunch of my former co-workers/students from Excelsior Education Center and chowed down on BBQ, laughed until our faces hurt, and enjoyed being together.

Other than that, I have been getting things together with classmates for the 25th reunion coming up in October. It will be great to see everyone and find out about them and their families. Oh, and we snuck off to see the movie “9” in between watching football games this weekend. It’s a wierd little movie, but then again aren’t all Tim Burton movies describes in that way.

Huntour ends the summer for Jesse

This past weekend, we went to the Glasshouse in Pomona to see the Huntour concert. Doors opened at 2 pm, so we arrived early around 1:30 to get in line. We met up with James Mattern and his wife of Divine Metal Distro/Open Grave Records as we had an extra ticket for them. We enjoyed talking to them until the doors opened and we made our way inside the venue. It was a small concert hall and reminded me of the Whiskey A GoGo in Hollywood where we saw our friends Martial & Dave play a few years ago. The afternoon kicked off with D.O.A.R. (Destruction of a Rose) and they brought it. Great band with polished stage presence. Next up was Faith Snakes, but they were not received very well as they had more of a punk sound than metal. We took that time to sneak out and grab a bite to eat at Joey’s BBQ just down the street. After a brisket sandwich, we made our way in to catch the last half of the set by 7 Horns, 7 Eyes. They were alright for what we heard of them. Next up was Hands and we enjoyed these guys very much. Jesse later decided to get their CD. After them was The Great Commission and they reminded me of my early days in Christian Metal. Their style was very hard and heavy, but their message was very straightforward evangelism. They also had a female guitarist that brought the guttural screams very well. She also busted out the helicopter/windmill head swing which I hadn’t seen on stage in years. Jesse also got their CD.

The final three bands were who the crowd had come to see. Focused had reunited just for this show and brought what was known years ago as “Spirit-Filled” hardcore. They were very tight musically, but you could tell their lead singer was getting spent by the effort of performing at such intensity. He had all of his family in the crowd to include some under 8-9 yrs of age. They were good, but you could tell the lead singer was exhausted by the end of their set. Next up was a band we were really looking forward to, Living Sacrifice. I had listened to a little of them back in my day, but Jesse had really become a fan of their since we picked up a collection CD of theirs for him at Christmas. These guys were awesome with their intensity and Christ based lyrics. Much head banging was done during their set and encore. The final band of the night was Demon Hunter. We had seen them 2 years ago at Cornerstone California, but it was cool to see them in a smaller venue. Surprisingly there were only about 100 people so it was like having a private show. We enjoyed their set and two encores before heading home for the night.

Sunday was spent recovering from the concert after applying icy hot to sore neck muscles. Renee began assembling Jesse’s schoolwork for the week after we went to the Barnes & Noble for some books and a stop at In-N-Out for lunch. Today, Jesse starts his final year of homeschooling. He is a junior and wants to do his senior year at the private school he attended as a freshman. Renee has worked with him since 1st grade with exception of 7th & 9th grade when he attended the school I was teaching at and the private school. He needs to take his written driver’s test to get his permit in the next few weeks so he can begin his behind-the-wheel time . Not much longer left and he will be off living life on his own. Don’t mention this to Renee as she gets a little weepy of the thought of her little boy being all grown up. As for me, I envisioned him as a grown man the day I brought him home from the hospital.

Comic-Con and other July happenings

July has been pretty busy around our place. After Jesse returned from camp I spent the week transfering everything over at work to me as the sole employee left. The previous system administrator left on the 10th and decided to upgrade the servers before leaving. This borke all of the websites and I ended up working all weekend from home to resolve the problem with some company guys on the East coast. In addition to that, Jesse’s computer was having issues that I thought were related to a corrupt OS. After reformatting his PC, it became clear the problem was actually a faulty vidoe card. That Sunday I loaded up and went to San Diego for the week long ESRI User Conference(GIS software). On my return, Jesse and I aprticipated in the Worldwide Photowalk by attending the one in Barstow. We hadd fun while we backed in the Mojave sun.

After two days of work, we were off to Comic-Con in San Diego. We stayed at my best friend Jim’s palce in Santee and rode the trolley back and forth the convention center. It started on Wednesdasy night with picking up our 4 day passes and then cruising the extremely crowded expo floor. We managed to get a little swag, but more importantly we got the giant Warner Brothers ccombo swag/poster bags that we would use the rest of the Con to lug swag back to Jim’s.

The first full day of Comic-Con, we arrived a little after 12 and got in line for Ballroom 20 where Burn Notice and Psych were going to have their panels. The line was extremely long and wound around outside before finally going back inside. I didn’t think we were going to get in, but we made it in. The Burn Notice panel was hilarious as Bruce Campbell stole the show. He was hilarious and cracked jokes throughout the “BRUUUUCE” chants. He suggested they combine his current show and the Evil Dead series to have a movie called “Dead Notice.” I still don’t know why Burn Notice had a panel, but Bruce Campbell was hilarious. Renee did score a bright yellow Burn Notice shirt as swag.

Next up was the Psych panel, It was funny as well, but seemed mare scripted than the spontaneous quips by Bruce Campbell. The full cast was present as well unlike Burn Notice that only had Bruce Campbell and some lesser characters. I don’t know why Psych had a panel there either, but they had the best swag. We each score a T-Shirt, comic-book, and a Magic Psychic Ball. It’s a green Magic 8 ball with phrases like: “Ask Gus”, “Maybe yes, maybe no”, or “Ask me later” to name a few. The line for the swag was another long one as some 4200 people stood in line to get their free stuff. Afterward, we did a little more on the expo floor before heading for the trolley and the one hour ride back to Santee.

Friday was costume day for Jesse. He spent the previous night finishing up his Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine costume and had it on as we rode the trolley. Before we had even crossed the street after getting off, someone recognized what he was and commented on it. We did the expo floor and Jesse posed for many photographs whiel Renee stood in line to get some Gatchaman swag. She was a big Battle of the Planets fan as a kid so she gladly accepted a hat and watch. After that, we went to the Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi panel to hear from all of the authors of the novels. We then went to the Del Rey booth to get autographed posters and novels by the authors(6 in total as they did two posters and 2 novels per person). We found a Subway in the Gaslamp, Jesse took off his costume, and we sat on the sidewalk to eat as all the tables were taken. While eating, one of the stars of the CBS show Criminal Minds passed by us.

Saturday we got up early in hopes of getting in line for Ballroom 20 to see the Chuck panel. Jesse wore his costume again and the line was even longer than the previous time we tried to get into that room. We eventually were moving and inside the building. Jesse was interviewed by IFC News as we made our way in just as the panel was getting started. We sat down just before “Jeffster” came out to rakc “Fat Bottom Girls” as the crowd went wild. The stars of the show were all present and talked about the upcoming season of Chuck and how the fans has saved the show from cancellation. We left the panel and made a quick trip to the Hilton Bayfront Indigo room to get a spot for the Heroes panel some 3 hrs later. Last year, the line wound completely around the convention center and we wanted to get in early. As we walked in the Indigo Ballroom, we saw none other than Stan Lee siitng on the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 panel. That was pretty cool to see the guy reponsible for Spiderman, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, etc. We then sat through panels for the TV shows Sanctuary and Glee(why a singing & dancing show is at Comic-Con is a puzzler to me). The heroes panel began as the room went wild for each of the stars especially Zachary Quinto aka Sylar and Spock from the new Star Trek movie. One of the cooler cast memebers introduced for the new season was Ray Park. He is also known for being Darth Maul, Toad in X-Men and Snake Eyes in the new GI Joe movie. We grabbed a bite to eat at Nicky Rottens in the Gaslamp and then hopped the trolley back to Jim’s pad.

Sunday we were up early again and off to catch the Dr. Who panel. Unfortunatley, they moved rooms and we didn’t notice until we arrived at the wrong room. We rushed back to Ballroom 20 expecting another long line and barely made it into the room before they closed the door. It was a funny panel as the current Dr. Whoo discussed his leaving the show and this years finale. We made one final trip trhough the show floor and saw stars like Lou Ferrigno, Adam West and Margot Kidder all signing autographs at various booths. We returned to Jim’s to pack up and head for home. We arrive home around 6:30 pm exhausted and unloaded the bags of swag scored into the house. That was followed by trips to the grocery store and to the mechanics to pick up Jesse’s truck. Needless to say, Monday was a LONG day as I was the only one at work and I was worn out from Comic-Con. It was a great time, but I think if we go in the futre it will be for only 2 days and not the full 4 1/2.