Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rodeo and The Reds

The Sweeney brothers had a reunion in Tennessee.
Left to Right: Greg and Linda, (with Aaron in the middle) Garrett and Lavona, Grant and Gloria, Glen and Elaine, and Graham came with his son Loren. 

The kids had fun with a pool around. Uncle Aaron is having a good time splashing his niece. 

We went to a rodeo in Rutherford. It is a fundraiser for the  fire department.
Gloria showing Jane some dance moves.

Elliot and Loren thumb wrestling.
Elliot loved the attention of his older cousin.
It was nice getting to know Loren and we invited him to visit us in Grand Rapids.

The calf scramble ( I think they call it that) All kids 12 and under compete to pull the tags off three of them. Once you pulled a tag you were to return to the middle and give it to the rodeo clown.
Elliot had pulled a tag, but dropped it a bigger kid grabbed it off the ground and ran up to claim the prize. The clown had noticed what happened and told Elliot to come up and get a prize too. The prize was a five dollar bill.


This was the kids first rodeo. They immediately began asking for boots and cowboy hats.
We left the kids with their grandparents for four days and met up in Cincinnati over the next weekend.

The highlight was the baseball game.
Hoping to catch a practice ball.
The infamous Charlie Sheen was there. They had him play a game during one of the innings. 
We purchased Reds shirts at Old Navy and came ready to root root for the home team.

Johnny Cueto bobble-heads for the first 20,000 people.
Jane sold hers after the game for $5.00 to a couple of guys who were buying them.

The T.V announcer was drowned out by the cheering fans.
The Reds were number one in their division and were on quite the winning streak. Watching the last inning was very exciting. The Reds closer had 100 MPH fast balls, the Pirates didn't score any runs and another victory was added to Cincinnati. 
  My favorite part of this video is hearing grandma, start clapping and cheering while Elliot is awarded his $5

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blueberry Picking

Our summer has been full of spending time with friends and fitting in all the activities we can before the cold weather hits.

Blueberry season arrived and we decided to take the opportunity to pick some.  The cost of berries in the store can be quite pricey.  We found this farm offering to pick a pound at $1.10. 
Benjamin and Carissa joined us for this excursion. 

Carissa instructing Benjamin not to pick the red ones.

 What did we do with our berries?
Some went into our mouths, some went into the freezer and I baked some into these muffins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oughta see Odyssey

In 1987 James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family came up with the idea of a radio drama. It was to provide a unique way to minister and reach people about issues concerning the family.
That drama eventually became Adventures in Odyssey and has been on the air for 25 years.
Radio drama was something Nathan was familiar with as he grew up listening to Children's Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie.  
Nathan and I were dating when he started listening to Odyssey.  The first epidsode I heard, involved a character on the show becoming a Christian. I didn't know the back story, had no idea who these characters were, but the writing and acting were so well done, I cried.

In 2007 we took a trip to Colorado Springs. This was for Odyssey's 20th Anniversary.
The kids were ages three and two and it was our first time away from them.  We drove 10 hours to Nathan's parents  house in Tennesse to drop them off. then we drove another three hours to Nashville, and caught a plane to Denver.
Waiting outside the Focus chapel for the doors to open. Nathan looking at our newly purchased complete guide to AIO. 

Paul Mckusker is a writer and director of the show. His talent is tremendous and goes beyond Odyssey. He wrote and produced a radio drama for all the Chronicles of Narnia. His work is the best there is in the business.

David Griffin plays a character called Jimmy Barclay, one of my favorite.  He started when he was 10 and played the character into his teen years. 

Dave Madden played a character called Bernard Walton. You might also remember him as Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge family.
 On AIO he played this grumpy character, and has all these great one-liners.
 One of my favorite "I would have to die to get better"
 Alan Young did not make it to the anniversary show, but he played a character called Jack Allen. Alan Young is Wilbur from Mr. Ed and also voiced Scrooge Mcduck.
Genesis and David Long. These two were kids on the show and later got married in real life. They have kids the same age as ours.
The target age for Odyssey is 8 to 12 years old.  Of course with parents who are avid listeners our kids were hearing episodes as infants and toddlers and probably would not be able to tell you when they first heard it.  They are now big fans. 
Elliot is often found with one of our ipods in his hands walking around the house listening to an episode.
When we heard Odyssey was doing a 25th anniversary show in Dallas, we knew it couldn't just be the parents going this time.  We had frequent flyer miles, it was summer, we had relatives living in Texas. All good reasons to say yes to the trip.

This is Chris Anthony she introduces the episodes of Odyssey. She has also been the voice of Barbie.
We were able to join the cast and crew for a special dinner the night before the performance.
This allowed for easy pictures and signatures. 

Nathan and I waited in line for two hours at the 20th Anniversary show for autographs and photos.

It is here I would like to make a side comment. Nathan and I have only flown twice together within the US and both times involved Adventures in Odyssey.  
Jesse Flora he works for Focus and is involved behind the scenes.

We were able to have Will Ryan sit at our table during dinner.  Will told a story of being at the rehearsal for  The Little Mermaid and listening to Alan Menken play piano and the singer  perform Under the Sea. Will voiced the seahorse in the movie. He has done several voices for Disney and cartoons. It was great to hear him do the voices of some of the characters. It was his  Odyssey character Eugene that became a Christian in the first episode I have ever heard.

Chuck Bolte plays George Barclay and was a producer of the show. He grabbed Nathan and had him stand next to Dave Arnold, a writer and sound designer. His comment was that they could be brothers. Dave was very apologetic about that. It was a great photo opportunity.

After dinner we were able to watch them rehearse.  Many people would love to meet famous movie stars/directors up close and personal.  Having Will Ryan sit at our table couldn't have been any less exciting for someone else to meet Brad Pitt. 
  I will take shaking hands with Paul Mckusker over Spielberg any day.  

Many of these people are famous voice actors.

 Katie Lee (Connie Kendall):  Muppet Babies and Gummi Bears.  Katie is also Christian. She is nice to talk to and hearing her stories are always fun. Not all the actors on the show are Christian.
Andre Stoyka, he is the third person to play John Whittaker:
He has voiced Winnie the Pooh and Owl and the Keebler Elves. 
Jess Harnell (Wooton):  Voices a transformer in all the movies. Animaniacs, Pixar's UP,  Finding Nemo, The sea gulls that say "mine, mine" was him and one other guy. 
 I was excited to meet Townsend Coleman who was not at the last anniversary. He has done work on Fraggle Rock and was the voice announcer for NBC for 15 years.
Kimmie Robertson is a new character on Odyssey. She was Lucy Moran in Twin Peaks and did the voice of the feather duster (maid) in Beauty and the Beast.

Brock Eastman works for Focus, he does media for AIO and is also a writer.  He took time to talk to us and gave us an autograph poster featuring one of his books. 

The host of the birthday bash was Irving Bible Church.
 Inside the church is this playground called the tubes. It is open daily from 9-10pm. 

A giant birthday card. Jane's signature including her Chinese name.

Brock took the photo of us next to the cutouts of the characters.

Visiting family and getting to see Odyssey up close made a perfect combination for a vacation. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Independence Day

This Michigan summer has been the hottest on record in over 70 years.  Temperatures running in the 90's and low100's. We visited the Grandville celebration for the Fourth of July this year. We tried to stay in the shade as much as possible.

The kids waited in a long line to get these balloons.The skill of The husband and wife team to make balloon animals and paint faces, was of the highest quality.
Jane had a bouqet of flowers attached to this head piece. They were sprayed to smell like real flowers.
 Elliot's horse had a rein made by attaching a balloon not inflated. Jane said the list of balloons that the clown could make was really really long.

This is a walking taco. Fritos covered with taco toppings.
I thought this was so good, we made these at home the following night.

The kids put paint on a piece of paper that was spinning fast.  The artwork was secured with a paper frame, allowing each kid to take home their masterpiece.

Elliot practicing on his skateboard. His very patriotic outfit of red white and blue. Although it is the Norwegian flag from the kids school in Hong Kong, NIS  and not the US flag.

We attended a Whitecaps baseball game for the 4th, with Shanda.  It was a packed crowd and they did fireworks afterwards. 

The Zooperstars featured different mascots from baseball. This squid costume  was cleverly designed to be able to "swallow" another person. A baseball player was swallowed and bits of his uniform were spit back out. He eventually reappeared with only his boxer underwear on.

The kids love the bounce house and playground

This was Barack O Lama. Not to be confused with the other famous Barack. 
The kids were a bit spoiled this night, getting treats like cotton candy, popcorn. Their Aunt bought them Whitecap t-shirts as well.
On the drive home we could see the various firework displays, lighting up the sky in all directions.