Sunday, September 18, 2005

Should have bought a lottery ticket

Little did I know or even suspect what was to happen as I walked out the door last night to attend "Mystery Night", a fund raiser for our local Catholic school, Summit Academy.

Having never been to a "Mystery Night" before, Maura and I were excited to experience the event. To attend, you buy a $100 ticket, good for a couple. That ticket gets you a wonderful dinner, a chance at some great prizes, and a bidding number for both the silent and live auctions. Since there are only 350 tickets sold, there's a pretty good chance to walk away with something.

It is an elimination type raffel, if they draw your ticket out, you are out of the running for the Grand Prize, $10,000 worth of gift certificates. Every 10th ticket that is drawn has a chance to win a prize. And then the final 10 people with tickets left in the basket are brought up on a stage in front of the crowd and the real fun begins. They draw out one ticket and do a skit where they somehow eliminate one of the "contestants". The last one left on stage is the winner of the grand prize.

To our great surprise, we made it to the final round and I had the pleasure of going up on stage. Skit after skit I "stayed alive" and in the end our ticket was the only one left in the basket! Wow, can you believe it!! We sure couldn't. They asked me right away what I thought I do with the winnings and I said I really didn't know, since I didn't even know what the list of prizes were! What an amazing night! Thank you Summit Academy.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

House guests revisited

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about some interesting house guests we had been having. Well, I finally got the video up on our website. A word of warning ... It is a 45 meg download, so dial-up visitors beware. Click on the picture to start the download. And one more thing, you need a quicktime player to watch it. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Gommie turns 70!

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Texas to celebrate Maura's mom's, Phyllis McAndrew, 70th birthday. We have quite a few fun pictures from the trip to share, so we'll start off with some shots from the birthday.

There were actually two birthday's being celebrated that weekend, Phyllis' and her grandson's, Sean Malone. As you can see Sean is not vertically challenged!
The birthday duo

Maura, Phyllis, and Nicole at the party

The next day, Phyllis' actual birthday, Theresa thought she was being quite clever as she snuck up behind Gommie and tied Gommie's birthday balloon to her belt loop.
The birthday girl

Of course, with the whole family together, there was the customary family portrait.
The entire McAndrew clan plus one!

And this was such a cute picture that I couldn't help to not throw it in!
Grandma Elder and John

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Harvest time on the Camas Prairie

Harvest is one of my favorite times of the year. It probably has to do with growing up on a farm and getting to ride all the big machinery, so I'm glad that Theresa and Co. now have the same opportunity.

Harvest time

Our neighbors and (how'd you guess) distant relatives (third cousins to be exact), the Frei's, invited Maura and the kids to join them for a day on the field. Theresa actually got to go early since the twins and John needed a nap! I guess she got a special code name for use on the CB. She thought that was pretty special.

The farm girl ... code name Solvana

Joseph driving the big tractor

The Frei farm crew!

Mark and Kim, Ron and Glenda, thank you very much for bringing the farm life to our family!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Click on the Pictures!

Just to let y'all know that you can click on the pictures to see the "big" version of them.

So, if you have a high speed connection or you don't mind the wait, click away!

Our REAL house guests

Our first house guest was Maura's mom, Phyllis. She arrived just a week after John was born and stayed until the end of July. She was a tremendous help as we adjusted to our new addition. I just hope our other guests didn't make her trip too memorable! (See previous post).

Phyllis, Catherine, and John just after Phyllis' arrival

John's Baptism

Then, right before we left for Texas, the Taylors dropped by on their way home from Pittsburg with their new car.

Laurel and Ryan and Theresa, Joseph, and Catherine

Laurel and John

Not only did we visit, but they really helped us as we were getting ready to leave! Ryan changed the oil in our car and then washed and detailed the car. And if that wasn't enough, he got on the lawn mower and mowed the lawn!! Thank you very much!

Ryan and Joseph mowing the lawn

Laurel and the girls

Sunday, August 28, 2005

House Guests

Little did we know who would answer Maura's "come one, come all" invitation!

First there were the friendly earwigs:

We'd come home at night and there would be thirty of these critters covering our floor. It became our nightly "Earwig Jig" as we would dance across the floor trying to avoid squishing them under foot. Ok, ok, so it wasn't that bad, but they are so small that they can get into everything. We found them in towels, clothing, the toilet, the refrigerator, and under the toaster. The worst was one Sunday morning as we are making coffee, finding twenty of them crawling up and down the glass water level tube. We even teased that they had gotten into closed pop cans!

The infestation has stopped, thank goodness, we think due to turning all the lights off at night and bagging the grass on our yard. Not surprisingly, though, Maura has become quite adept in the use of a fly-swatter!!

And just as the earwig problem was resolving itself, here came our second set of visitors:

This second infestation probably had something to do with our landlord cutting the hay in the fields and scaring them into our house. I enjoyed the 'hunt' through the house, but it sure excited Maura and the kids. Catherine, though, surprised me as I was showing them the first dead mouse, still warm and soft. She wanted me to wrap it up in a blanket so she could take it to bed with her!!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Where have I been??

Well, I haven't been blogging! I've been putting lots of hours on the job ... too many hours, so I haven't had much time. I'm down in Texas now visiting the in-laws, so hopefully I'll have some time to post a few entries. We have lots of pics to share.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Three men and a baby!

Three men and a baby!
(Fr. Ed White, Chisup Kim, Ed Hopfner)

Do you believe in coincidences? Sometimes things happen with such clockwork that I'd rather believe there was something divine about it. That is what happened June 27th.

Maura's mother, Phyllis, made plans to fly into town to see the new baby and help our family out for a while. At the same time, a good friend of ours from Texas A&M, Chisup, whom we had lost touch with, gave us a call and said that he would be in Eastern Washington and would like to visit us in Seattle on his way back to North Carolina. Seattle ... well, we don't live in Seattle any more, but it turned out he wasn't too far away, so we arranged to meet him for lunch in Lewiston, ID (map), when picking up Phyllis from the airport.

Well, on the way down to Lewiston, we got a phone call from some Seattle friends who were passing through Cottonwood, ID, and thought they'd try to look us up. They dropped into town, stopped at the city hall, which happened to be open, and asked if anyone knew where we lived. The city clerk said she didn't know where we lived, but she knew my parent's phone number. They called and my sister Rachel was home ... by herself ... which never happens ... and she gave them my cell phone number ... the new number ... that I had just changed. How she knew that number I still don't know.

So, that is how they happened to call us right before we lost cell coverage. And, since they were on their way through Lewiston, too, we arranged for them to give us a call when they got into town and we all would meet for lunch.

We got to the Lewiston airport early and were waiting for Phyllis' flight, when Chisup called to tell us he had just arrived in town. So we had him meet us at the airport.

A couple minutes later, our Seattle friends, Fr. Ed and Ed, called saying they had just gotten to town! So we had them meet us at the airport.

Just then, Phyllis' plane touched down and she was in the lobby minutes later. Within two minutes, Chisup arrived, and within another couple minutes, the two Eds were there, too! What a reunion! Once all the pleasentries were made and the luggage was gathered, we all went off to have a nice lunch at Zany's Hollywood Grill. They kids had fun watching the electric train, Chisup had fun holding the one week old John, and we all had a great time catching up.

Dinner at Zany's

What is the significance of the paths of a seminarian for the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina (Chisup), a priest from Seattle, ordained just two weeks previously (Fr. Ed), a theology student in Berkeley, CA (Ed), a grandmother from Texas (Phyllis), and a family from rural Idaho(us), all crossing one beautiful day?? I probably will never know, but I still marvel at how everything fell in place for us to all meet for lunch. We are so grateful for such good friends and for the unexpected opportunity to spend an afternoon with them!

Oh, one last thing ... guess who, after inquiring into their next stop, we discovered the Eds were on their way to visit? The family of one of my college roommates! WOW! What a small world ... even in the Great Northwest!

Friday, June 24, 2005

We welcome John Thomas into our family!

Introducing John Thomas Uhlenkott!

Our little John Thomas was born Monday, June 20, at 2:16pm. He weighed in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. We are all so glad to have him with us -- he is truly a miracle!

Ah...what a nice rest! That birth stuff isn't easy!

Mommy and little John.

Mommy and John share a few special moments together. He was a rather stubborn boy during the labor, but fortunately by the time he finially arrived, he was pretty darn cute and Mommy quickly forgave him! :) What a precious little boy -- how Good God has been to us!!

Daddy introducting John to his big sisters and big brother.

Meeting their little brother for the first time!

What a great moment!! Theresa, Joseph, and Catherine welcomed little John with such joy and excitement. There is not doubt he will be well loved!

Finally getting to hold John ...

Theresa cannot hold John enough. And her repeated phrase is "I just can't believe he is ours." She will be a great help in the days ahead.

... after eight long months of waiting!

Catherine and Joseph are learning about being a big sister and big brother and are loving it. I think having to share him with the rest of the family will prove to be a challenge! Perhaps they would have rathered twins. :)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Home Birth

Yes, they do have hospitals out here in rural Idaho, but, yep, we tried the home birth option this time anyway ... and it was awesome. Awesome in every sense of the word. To be in the comfort of your own home, to be in the presence of extremely competent midwives who also understand the power and necessity of prayer and join in with your prayer, to have your baby in their own home from the very first moments of life outside of the womb ... the list could go on and on.

Our midwife, Sherry Riener, and one of her fellow midwives, Cathy Ward, did a great job and we felt totally at ease with them. The way certain things were handled made me know that they were very much on top of the situation, and that if anything needed to be done that they couldn't do, they would have had us in a hospital before we would have even known we were being transported. Sherry and Cathy love the mothers and babies they minister to and would never do anything that would put them in any danger. And here are some pictures of Sherry when she came back to our house to check up on Maura and John.

Sherry, our wonderful midwife

Sherry and the kids

Thank you very much Sherry and Cathy!!

More Pictures of John

Here are some more pictures of John and family.

Uncle Paul and Aunt Kristin meet their newest little nephew.

Daddy and John.

Happy and content with Mommy.

Joseph loving John.

Sleep, John, sleep.

E. coli!!

Well, we did get our water tested and the results were not good. They found E. coli in the water. Yuck!! Luckily we hadn't been drinking the water and according to the EPA, most strains of E. coli are not harmful. So, odds are we are ok.

So, I thought that maybe just cleaning the well would help in that regard. But, after Purexing the heck out of it and then re-testing it, E. coli was still found in the water.

Meanwhile, we needed some clean water. Most strains of E. coli might be harmless, but if there are any strains in the water, the water is susceptible to contamination from animal waste, and thus the possibility for coming across the dangerous strand is very real. Fortunately, we are water and pump people, so out comes the leaky water tank which we were able to plumb into the house.

Still, seeking a more permanent solution (you'd be surprised how quickly 500 gallons are used!), we thought we'd approach our landlady and see if she would be willing to drill a well for us. (She had wanted to drill before, but had spent so much on the remodel that she thought the drilling could wait a while.)

As luck would have it, the day Maura went to see her, she ended up being in the hospital and had almost died the previous night. Providentially, her docs were able to diagnose the problem as Wegener's Disease, a rare auto-immune disease of the blood vessels, and start treatment immediately. Her road to recovery looks to be a long one (say a prayer for her!) and so obviously she is not in shape to deal with our water problem.

So Now what??!!

Just when we had almost lost all hope ... Miracles of miracles, my dad knows her son, Bob. So he called him up and before you know it, the well drill was driving up! What an answer to prayers! Definitely a small miracle. After 3-4 weeks of having to get water every other day, and dealing with a limited water supply, we now have a much greater appreciation for access to good clean water!

My cousin Brett came over on a Saturday,figured out a good place to put the well, set up the drill, and started drilling

After going through some good top soil, we hit some red clayand then we hit some surface water and things started to get a little messy.
Brett, Paul, and I watch on.

Fortunately, we soon hit hard rock (30 - 35 feet), and Brett stopped drilling to drive some casing and seal off the ground water. Once the 30 feet of casing was in the ground and the hole was dry again, drilling commenced. Fifty feet later we were out of the rock and back into a hard clay. After another 10 - 15 feet, it was time to call it a day.

Now is when it gets interesting.

First off, Brett and Co. are worried that this hard clay is the cap to a high pressure artesian well. Sounds good in theory, but they are actually a pain in the bum. Plus, Brett wasn't so sure his seal would hold and the water might come up around the outside of the casing.

Secondly, Monday, June 20th, was the day they were to start drilling again ... and if you've read the post above, you know what else was happening on June 20th. Needless to say, neither Maura nor I was out there taking pictures!!

So, while Maura and I are busy getting John here, Brett and Co. pulls up and starts drilling right outside our window! I don't think Sherry or Kathy had ever had that sort of birthing experience before.

Now, Brett decided not to worry about the artesian possibility and to plunge on. All I know is that later that afternoon, they hit water

... at 2:15pm to be precise.

What is the significance of that!!! John and Water within one minute of each other!!! Wow! Water is the sign of new life and here we have new life!

And not only was it water, but it was a lot of water ... at least 80 gallons per minute. Small cities would be able to function on 80 gpm! That is a double, triple Wow!


Here is a shot of when we first hit water ... the surface water. This is probably about 5 to 10 gallons per minute. Now imagine this picture with 10 to 20 times the amount of water!

Thank God for small miracles: our water and our beautiful little boy!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Our Little House on the Prairie

Here are some shots of our new place on the Camas Prairie!

Our new home

We moved in May 7th and are starting to feel a little settled. Our landlady had just remodeled the whole house ... new wood flooring, new bathrooms, new insulation, new heaters. She really did a lot to this place. Our only concern is the water. It is a hand dug well, but it is pretty close to the feed lot. They say it gets dirty a couple weeks in the spring when it is really wet. We should probably get it tested.

A view from Lukes Gulch Road

We are a good bit off the road, so Maura likes that with the little ones. We are also in a bit of a draw so that we don't see any of the neighbors. Our own little private residence.

Getting buzzed by our friendly spray plane pilot

And little did we know that later he would be back to spray another field that would put him directly overhead! Didn't get pictures of that one ... we were to busy ducking! :) Actually we were to busy running from one side of the house to the other. Joseph was in heaven!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Farewell to some great friends

Here are some shots from a last get-together with a few great families. We are going to really miss having them around.

Kim and Julie

Greg, Chrissy, and their new baby, Jude

And now we interrupt the animal game for ...

Theresa happily taught the Johner and Schmiesing children one of her favorite games, "The Animal Game." Clare had a hard time breaking character for the picture!

All Aboard!

Once the animal game was over and they had all eaten their fill, it was outside and ride the wagon.

Getting ready to slide, one, two, three ... go! (Whose back there keeping Joseph from a false start??!!)

Then off to the local park, where we tried to share the skateboarding court with some local teenagers.

Guess who fell off first!!

Happily there were only a couple casualties from the merry-go-round. The worst was when a girl not in our group got thrown off when Kim and I decided to push it together! Oops! Fortunately, she wasn't physically hurt, although, I don't think she'll be wanting to ride any merry-go-round any time soon.

Thank you Kim and Julie for putting this together! Enjoy the beach!
Greg and Chrissy, it was great having you in the Northwest for a little while. Cows and horses in Ohio ... beware!