Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Here are some pictures from Halloween. On Friday night Adrienne held her annual Halloween Party. We were all disappointed with Andy not dressing up this year. Apparently he had dressed up, but as Jeni said, his costume went a little to far. Luke and Johnjohn dressed up as Buzz and Woody. Not sure if any of you remember Jake and Robbie dressing up as Buzz and Woody. As a matter of fact, Luke is wearing Jake's costume. Robbie was sure original this year by being a football player. He has finally hit the age wear he wants candy but doesn't want to dress up. All the older kids went off with friends this year and it was just me and the monkeys. Andy and Adrienne came over and hit some houses with us. The monkeys really enjoyed trick or treating this year. Running from door to door getting candy.

Halloween Party Lesless held.

Jaxon, Kelsey, and Robbie

Luke and Johnjohn

AJ and Andy doing the annual Pumpkin Carving Contest

Adrienne's Halloween Party

Jimmy and Linzi

Mother AJ and Spidy Beck

Roddie and Hank

The whole gang!

Every year we have so much fun!

Jessica and Mick

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


One of Rob's best friend is Matt Elerding. This is a picture of Matt and Luke at Red Robin for I think Rob's birthday. I came across this article Matty had written and wanted to share it with you all. In typical Matty fashion, he didn't tell me about the article. Here's Matty's words:

(the rough draft of my 4th article for The Columbian. Don't be shy with your feedback.. it's not due until Wednesday!)
A Tale of Two Robs – Let me say right up front that this article, while it appears in the Real Estate section of the Columbian, is only loosely tied to the art of buying, selling and financing homes. To be candid, I just don’t have it in me to pen another depressing manifesto about the current state of real estate and mortgage lending. That being said, I have to believe that if you thumbing through this section of the Columbian then you are either employed in the real estate field, employed in the lending filed, buying a home, or selling a home – or at least some variation thereof. If this is the case then I also believe that you, like so many others in a similar role, have experienced a healthy amount of change in the past two years. If this is the case then this article is meant for you. So instead of asking you to slog through another write-up filled with the lexicon of mortgage lending or the realities of real estate, I would rather tell you a story.
It’s a story about two guys named Rob. I met the first Rob – Rob E. – in the spring of 2007. It was March and we both had the dubious distinction of being Little League Dads – a title that carries a brimming level of poignant responsibility fraught with leadership, character and, above all, an unbelievable amount of time. Rob E. and I would arrive every Tuesday afternoon, the trunks of our cars crammed with baseball mitts, bats and dirty cleats that will forever decimate the resale value of automobiles until the end of time. We would shepherd our young soldiers on to the field of battle and do our best to teach them the ways of the world on that hallowed ground known simply as the Baseball Diamond. Neither of us were official ‘coaches’ of those fearless Boston Red Sox, but being the unpaid ‘helper coaches’ of this ferocious gaggle of ten-year-old boys was a duty that we both looked forward to every Tuesday. Under the guise of coordinating baseball drills and handing out juice-boxes, we were secretly solidifying yet another chapter in the book of memories with our lookalike progeny. It was on this field, deep in the heart of Battle Ground, that I grew to admire, respect and love this father of five kids. He worked hard, treasured his beautiful wife and found time to shower five separate children with enough love to last them a lifetime. He was so very, very amazing and he made me want to be a better man.
Meanwhile, an equally incredible Rob – Rob C. – came into my life. He too demonstrated all the qualities that should be printed into a text book of how to be an amazing human being. He sold real estate for a living and had been doing quite well. He wasn’t your typical unctuous salesman. He oozed effervescence and all those he encountered knew that it was genuine and true. Despite an unwavering commitment to his career, he always managed to strike that perfect balance that allowed him to love his wife and be a role model to his three adoring children. Shortly after becoming friends with Rob C. he asked me one day, rather randomly, what was my favorite song? I answered his question with a raised eyebrow, he said ok, and we moved on. A few weeks later I called his cell phone to ask a business question and was greeted not with the standard ringing of an outbound telephone call but rather with the soothing reverie of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I couldn’t help but smile at the simply sweetness of his gesture. It’s just the kind of guy Rob C. is; simply thoughtful and he, like Rob E., made me want to be a better man.

As 2007 began to unfold, it was apparent that maybe our collective gravy train would be pulling into the station in dire need of a massive overhaul. It started with the seemingly unstoppable real estate juggernaut coming to a grinding halt and before long virtually everyone – particularly those tied to, or even loosely tied to, real estate – was feeling a level of strain that hadn’t been felt for quite some time. All around me I saw people with this unshakable and palpable level of stress and anxiety, something that hadn’t been experienced by such a large number of people in a short period of time. Our incomes were suffering and yet those pesky monthly bills kept showing up on the 1st of every month with remarkable consistency. A lousy economy is truly an equal opportunity employer. Despite their positive outlook, the two Robs of my life were also feeling the pressures of the changing economy. Rob C. was experiencing a painful dip in his real estate business. His listed homes where not selling and his potential buyers were having difficulty obtaining financing (curse those mortgage bankers!) He was working twice as hard for half the income. He would eventually have to go through the painful experience of a short-sale on his own residence and move his family into a rental home. A few short weeks later his wife, his partner in business, would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Never had I seen a friend be barraged with such a tidal wave of bad news and yet through every nightmare transaction and through all the unthinkable battles of his personal life, his bright smile and infectious demeanor never wavered. Not once.
Although not directly tied to real estate or banking, Rob E. was feeling the pain of a souring economy and struggling to make ends meet with his career as well. His company had cut his hours and people were just not spending money the way they used to. But with bootstrapping endurance, Rob showed me and so many others that perseverance was not merely a choice but an obligation. It was about this time that Rob wasn’t feeling very well and he went in to see the doctor. Three days later he was diagnosed with cancer. I watched with a heavy heart as my dear friend battled Melanoma for three long and painful months. I watched as his frightened wife and terrified children saw the most important man of their life dwindle to a frail human being incapable of walking and eventually unable to wrap his once strong arms around his family. I watched as his spirit remarkably, and inexplicably, seemed to grow stronger with each passing day. My friend, bedridden and so weak he could barely muster a smile, had become the most monumental hero I had ever met. The night before Rob would eventually lose his battle, I came to his bedside. I leaned over and kissed him his brow and told him how much I loved him for making me realize what it meant to be a hero to so many people. I feel so very blessed that these two Robs came into my life and showed me a level of optimism I had never experienced before.

Here were two guys struggling with all the ills and setbacks that this life can throw at you, but through it all they maintained an attitude that seemed to permeate the jaded exterior of all those they encountered – me included. Please understand. I’m not trying to channel my inner Casey Kasem by prodding you to reach for the stars. But somewhere between tired clich├ęs and an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom the truth lies. The two Robs showed me that for every chunk of bad, there are infinite more nuggets of good – you just have to be looking for them. There is always a laundry list of things for which we should all be grateful. Look, I’m not some Pollyanna about the bad stuff that exists out there. We’re surrounded by bad stuff. It’s everywhere. In our relationships, in our jobs, in those we love and those we don’t know. We have jobs being cut, people losing houses and parents claiming that their son is floating away in a helium spaceship in an effort to land a reality show to further exploit their children. Make no mistake – bad stuff is abound. But I also know this; there is good to be extracted out of even the simplest of moments. Sitting in a restaurant, eating with your family. Your senses pounding on all cylinders. The smell of your waitress’s perfume. The infections laugh of the toddler two tables over. The sound of the baseball game pouring from the TV mounted above. The smell of dinner wafting from the kitchen. These seemingly simple moments are loaded with all the little nuggets of life – but only if you’re open to receiving them. Listen, I know that this life is filled with daunting uncertainty and a brooding realization that maybe, just maybe, our existence isn’t going to be what we had imagined as kids while fearlessly sprinting across the playgrounds of our youth. The squashed dreams and painful realties of our lives are scattered up and down the I-5 corridor as we bumper-to-bumper our way to jobs that, frankly, we just don’t like very much. I think that sometimes we look around and feel like we’re the only ones living in a constant state of fear, disappointment and regret for a life that could have been. Fortunately we all have moments of grandeur and a realization that, if only for brief and inspired moments at a time, there is hope for the years that remain. I keep a picture of Rob E. in the sun visor of my car. He is there as a constant reminder of the man he was and the man I know I’m capable of being. I don’t keep a picture of Rob C., of course, as he is still alive. It might be difficult and slightly awkward explaining to my wife why I have a picture of another man, with crystal blue eyes, tucked into the visor of my car. Instead I just call his cell phone and listen to the beautiful notes of that famous Beethoven sonata and remind myself that we’re all in this together. And that gives me hope. And that’s a good thing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Scarecrow Festival

Johnjohn, Kate, Hank, Meggie and Pucca
Katers dancing in her Cow Girl costume
Erin and I planning our outfits so we could match! jk
Katers, Hank and Meggie
Trying to sneak a picture of Robbie and his Grandma.
We have documented proof that Robbie spent the day with us.
Trying to get a picture of me and Robbie.
I am still stronger...
But not for long!
The people around us starting giving him a hard time
so he finally agreed to smile!
On the choo choo train.
Meggie, Katers, Pucca and Johnjohn
These three are trouble!
Johnjohn on the jumping toy.

Yesterday we had the fun opportunity of watching my niece Kate dance at the Scarecrow Festival. She did a wonderful job in her cowgirl outfit. Robbie happened to be the only "older" child home, so he HAD to come with us. He complained about 70% of the time. We kept trying to get pictures of him, so we could document that he spent time with his family. The kids had a great time, riding the choo choo train, playing on the jumping toys and eating kettle corn.