Back from Europe and on to graduation

Jesse returned safely on March 27th and even managed to stay up until 9 that evening. He had a great time and thanks the many of you that offered support both financially and with your prayers. He returned with over 1300 photos and a few souvenirs. We pared down those photos to the top 100 or so which can be seen on our Facebook page if you are a friend. If not, send a request and you can check them out. You can also see some of his exploits on the trip through the eyes of his teacher at:–2. There are several photos of him and even a video of his presentation at the Omaha Beach Cemetery in Normandy. Watch for the red beret that appears halfway through the trip. It was his way of standing out and helping others in the group to see where they were going. Just look for the 6 ft 4 guy in the red beret. 😛

Now that he has returned, he has under two months before graduation the first week of June. Time to focus on the finish line and work hard. He has a goal for after graduation and I will share more on that at a later time. For now, we want him to do well on his remaining studies and complete his high school education. We are proud of the young man he has become and know that he will accomplish great things in life. We wish each of you a happy Easter in the next few weeks and pray that you know the power of His resurrection in your life. Behold He is not here, but is risen!

Off on his great adventure…with another to follow.

Yesterday afternoon, we dropped our son Jesse off at his school to join his classmates, history teacher and a number of parents on a two week trip across Europe. They will be visiting Rome, Paris, Normandy and London during their time overseas. It was the culmination of 6 months of asking for help from family and friends, selling off his childhood (his words), and doing odd jobs. We told him he would have to raise the money himself if he was to go. It was a test of his faith and the Lord came through for him. It is a wonderful experience for him and it will broaden his worldview.

Though I joke about when he moves out, I found myself pondering what lay ahead for us. He will be graduating in a few more months and has plans to begin a 4 month internship in Los Angeles. Jesse and I sat outside the church building Sunday afternoon while Renee attended a meeting and joked and laughed together. The realization is setting in that the boy we raised is soon to be off on another adventure, life. Our time with him in our home is dwindling despite Renee’s wish that he stay until he is older. I left home two weeks after graduating high school and returned 5 months later for a year before leaving home for good at 19. Renee married me at 18 while she was still in high school and moved out.

Now it seems, we will have an empty nest as Jesse spreads his wings and embraces his destiny. It is an accomplishment that we are glad he has achieved, but also one that is bittersweet. We are now entering the post-parenting part of our lives. We will always be there for him, but he won’t need us as much or be around our home as frequently. As he graduates high school, we graduate as well. There will be grandkids at some point, but we aren’t in a hurry for them to arrive. Enjoy your great adventure son, we are so very proud of you and will await what lay ahead on your journey and ours.

February – One month to go for Jesse

It’s been a month since I started the year of thankfulness on Twitter. At times, it has proved to be challenging as I try to find something to be thankful for that I haven’t already mentioned. Some days are no-brainers as important calendar dates arrive and other days I find myself contemplating longer and posting later in the day as something happens or comes to mind. I am grateful I undertook this challenge as now I am searching for things to be thankful for which is a good thing in itself.

Jesse is a little over a month away from his trip to Europe with the other members of his senior class. He has one final payment due on the 14th of February and he is within $200 of the amount needed to make it. I am very grateful to all our family and friends that have helped him realize this goal. He still will be raising money up until the day he leaves to cover the cost of a camera for the trip and extraneous travel expenses not covered by EF Tours(tips, lunches, etc.). When he first approached us about the trip, I told him he would have to raise the money and trust the Lord for the finances to cover the trip as we were already paying his private school tuition for his senior year as well as all the additional costs associated with being a senior(ring, cap & gown, etc.). As he finishes his senior year, he will have a significant milestone going forward of how his needs were met and stronger faith in the Lord to supply his needs in the future.

February is always a month of celebration in our family. Renee’s parents celebrated their 45th anniversary on the 5th. Renee celebrates her birthday on the 13th with Valentine’s Day the following day. On the 17th, we celebrate our 21st anniversary. On the 22nd, we remember my parents anniversary which would have been their 47th if dad were still with us. On the 24th, I acknowledge another trip around the sun as well.

Hope that each of taking time out of your day to read this are well and that you know the love of the Lord and family in your life. We appreciate each of you and your presence in our lives.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Time for the monthly, (used to be bi-monthly) blog post. Since the last post, Mom Zeliff came and spent Thanksgiving with us. We enjoyed having her visit and had a wonderful meal together. Mom also treated us by bringing back Bluebell ice cream from her visit to see Aunt Loretta in Yuma. We can’t get it here and my Texan wife Renee was very pleased to have some. During the time off, we got the Christmas tree up and the lights hung outside. Since that time, the wind has beat the heck out of the lighted garland we hung leaving it unlit for the rest of the holidays. I may take it down and try and fix them, but that isn’t a priority with Christmas bearing down on us quickly.

After mom returned to Florida, we were happy to be visited by the Lantz family before they left Ft. Irwin for Texas. Verna was in our youth group oh so many years ago and is now an Army wife with a wonderful family. It was great to see them again and share the Bluebell stash. We hopped her kids up on sweets for the long ride back to base. I feared that would have put us on her naughty list, but she informed me that everyone fell asleep on the ride home.

We did sneak in a couple of movies in the last couple of weeks. We saw the 3rd, and probably final, Chronicles of Narnia movie: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We all agreed that is was bit plodding at times and that the sea monster scene was a bit intense for the many toddlers we saw in the theater. We went to see Tron: Legacy this past weekend. We enjoyed the graphics and CG effects, but the story also seemed a little slow. The ending was kind of anti-climactic as well. We had not seen the 1st movie, so maybe that would have helped our enjoyment. We will revisit the original on DVD and see what we think then.

Jesse continues to raise money for his trip by working odd jobs(raking leaves, hanging Christmas lights, etc.) and selling items online. He has raised 60% of the $4000 goal with his next payment of $586 due January 15th. Thanks to all who have sent contributions or offered your support in prayer. He finishes 1st semester finals this week and is looking forward to Christmas break.

If you didn’t receive our Christmas card and would still like to read our annual letter, you can read it here. We wish each and everyone one of you a blessed Christmas filled with love and joy. Know that we love each of you and are grateful to count you as family and friends. We look forward to 2011 and all that it holds for us. Hopefully that includes visits from or with many of you. Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Give thanks with a grateful heart…

I am so thankful to all who have offered a prayer or financial support to Jesse for his senior class trip. He passed 50% last week and continues to sell items online and through craigslist. He has another $586 due on December 14th.

This time of year always brings thoughts of family and holidays past. We are celebrating our 5th in our home in Apple Valley. Our 1st Thanksgiving in this home, we had our friend Julie visiting from France. Last year, we had my mom visiting from Florida and she will be joining us again this year. I remember other Thanksgiving meals in Oklahoma shared with Renee’s best friend Michelle or her co-worker Warren as we moved over the holiday weekend. Another time, we gathered Renee’s youth group at Tim’s house in Copperas Cove, TX. We used to travel to see Renee’s family or mine, but we seem to stay put nowadays. We are thankful to all our friends and family that have shared a Thanksgiving meal with us.

On another note, this past Friday we went to Knott’s Berry Farm to take advantage of their Veterans get-in-free special. I made the mistake of eating a steak and egg burrito before hopping on the many roller coasters there. Due to the cloudy weather and most of the schools being in session, we only had to stand in line for 20 minutes on the very first coaster. After that, we literally walked up and got on each of the coasters. In 2 /12 hours we had been all the way around the park and had been on each of the coasters we wanted to ride. We decided to leave and head back home as my stomach continued to protest. We stopped at Panera Bread Co. and my stomach forgave me for the burrito/coaster adventure after treating it to a Frontega Chicken sandwich and some black bean soup.

That’s about all for now. We wish each of you a happy thanksgiving and hope that your holidays are filled with joy and laughter. If you desire a newsletter and Christmas card, please send us your address.

November and things are looking better for Jesse.

Jesse has been working hard and has raised 1/3 of the money he needs for his senior class Europe Trip. He raised $350 at the yard sale, mowed a lawn, sold a bunch of items through craigslist and a store at Donations have come in also for which he is very grateful. To allow him more time to raise money, we agreed to sign-up for a monthly payment plan. This means 4 payments of $586 are due the 15th of each month through February. He has about $375 more to raise for his payment this month. Our weekends have involved going through everything and taking photographs to post them online to sell. We have a bunch more items to post and pray that they sell to help Jesse.

We will most likely have a sparse Christmas so we can dedicate money toward helping him take this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Thank you to all who have offered there support. He is really looking forward to spring break and this wonderful opportunity.

Who will buy our memories? – Yard Sale Oct. 15-17, 2010

Yard Sale Oct. 15-17 - 22880 Wren St
Yard Sale Oct. 15-17 - 22880 Wren St Apple Valley, CA

We have cleaned out the closets and shelves to help our son raise money to go to Europe for his Senior Class trip. If you are in the area, please come by as we will have lots of collectibles to include: Disney, Star Wars, Lego Bionicles, Hot Wheels, Speed Racer, DVDs, books, video games, software and more. It will be at 22880 Wren St in Apple Valley, CA on Oct 15-17, 2010 from 8am to 2pm.

If you are unable to come by and would still like to help, please consider sponsoring Jesse on his trip. Thanks to those of you that have already sent money. He is close to covering his first installment due on October 24th.

October – what’s it to ya?

Well, another month has passed and I haven’t felt all that inspired to write a blog post. I used to try and update this thing weekly, but Twitter and Facebook get more attention. Jesse is still raising money for his trip to Europe. We drove to Barstow the past two weekends to clean up the yard at my brother/mom’s place. The first weekend we worked 8 hrs and hauled off 3 truckloads of tumbleweeds and branches. It also happened to hit around 105 that day so we were a might bit tired when we finished. This past Saturday, we were able to finish the job and hauled two more loads to the dump. We managed to finish before the heat set in and even stopped to enjoy lunch at our family favorite Rosita’s run by my good friend Genaro.

Now we are looking to hold a yard sale, so we will be pouring through all our belongings to determine what stays and what goes. It’s been 5 years since we moved in, so we definitely have some stuff that can be sold. If you are in the area the weekend of October 15-17th, be sure to stop by and buy some stuff. Jesse will be parting with some of his Star Wars collectibles and the countless Lego Bionicles he has accumulated. We are also going to clear out the DVDs and video games too. Hopefully, we will raise enough to pay for most of his Europe trip. That’s about all from here. Hope you are having a great fall and that the holiday season ahead is full of joy.

I wanna rock/photoshop all night….

In the past few weeks, I have been rocking or photoshopping out. On August 28-29th, we attended the 25th Anniversary of HM/Heaven’s Metal magazine Up From The Ashes III Christian Metal Festival at The Vault in Temecula, CA. We were initially only going to attend the 1st day as Renee now works on Sundays running the nursery at the church we are attending. A few days prior, my friend James(Divine Metal Distro) messaged me to ask if I would being willing to shoot video for him of some of the bands. As a result, we were able to video and photograph on both days and got in free on Sunday. We saw the 25th anniversary shows of Deliverance and Bloodgood as well as some great shows by Grave Robber, The Altar Billies, Ultimatum, Troglodite Down, Nostalgia, Fasedown and many others. If you are a friend on Facebook, you can see the best of the photos from that weekend. Another cool thing about these shows is how the musicians mingle in the audience. The venue was small and they each took time before and after their sets to hang out and say hello. One highlight for me was meeting Les Carlsen of Bloodgood when I went to my truck to call Renee on Sunday. He saw my Bloodgood shirt and came right over to talk. Jesse got a Deliverance 25th anniversary shirt and a bunch of new CDs while we were there too.

The Tuesday following, I was in Las Vegas to attend Photoshop World Conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. This marked my 5th time attending and I still enjoy it. To kick things off, I met up with 25 NAPP forum members at the Burger Bar in Mandalay Place. It was great to see friends behind the avatars and meet up with those I knew from previous PSWs. We had several NAPP instructors join us and afterward we visited the Tweetup to hang out some more. They had a live set-up taking photos and posting them to Flckr. The next morning keynote was kicked off with the same NAPP instructors coming out in KISS-style make-up and singing “I wanna Photoshop all night and retouch everyday.” It was hilarious to see them using the Photoshop tools as part of their makeup. The most exciting part of the keynote was the presentation of the Guru awards. A good friend from the NAPP forums won for Illustration and took Best In Show. The presenter commented that he must have had family due to all the forum members yelling when he won. We had three busy days of workshops on all the latest in Photoshop, Photography and more. Another highlight was attending Midnight Madness. It is a fun night of goofing around and hanging out with friends. I returned home just a little exhausted after a very busy week.

On another note, Jesse began his senior year of high school. We were very pleased to find out that he need only take four classes each semester in order to graduate. He also has an opportunity to tour Europe in the Spring if he raises the money for the trip. If you are interested in helping him go, let me know and I will pass your name along.

Hope that you and your family are well and we look forward to hearing from each of you as we head into the fall season.

Summer is winding down

In a week, the young man residing in our home begins his senior year of high school. He will drive himself to school also. Wow! How time flies by when you are busy living life. I remember holding him as we left the hospital and thinking of the day he would ask me for the keys to the car. Now he drives his own truck.

August has been a little busy for us. We attended a Rangers/Angels game on the 1st hosted by my company. They fed us very well and provided seats at the very top of the stadium. So very glad that we were in the shade and avoided baking all day while the Angels went on to win 4-1. The following weekend, we drove to San Diego to attend the 1st birthday party of my best friend’s grandson. He was at sea, but returned the next day to play with the happy boy. In the middle of last week, we drove to Las Vegas to see Renee’s parents. They were in town for the week so we took them around to see some of the sights. They were staying at the Stratosphere and had a room for us overnight. We took them to Circus Circus and then down the strip. We showed them Hoover Dam and that night we took her mom to Fremont Street. The next day we went to breakfast and then on to the MGM to see the Lion Habitat. We went back to Fremont Street so Renee’s father could see it and then dropped them back at the Stratosphere before heading home to Apple Valley. We had a friend over to watch Summerslam on Sunday.

That wraps up the month so far, we will see what the remaining few weeks brings. Hope that you and yours are well and enjoying your summer.