Thursday, November 20, 2008


I had the best birthday party this year! We had a small group (our parents, Zoe & a couple karate students) come out the house to help with residing and yard/woods stuff. We made good progress on the siding, dead trees were cut up and cleared out, scrap wood was burned up, the yard was picked up, the shed got organized, Rae & Jo had lots of people to play with... We did lunch around the backyard fire...pudgie pies & hot dogs, with brownies for desert. The day had a great feel; lots of good energy with the group!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lots of Projects

Wow, time has gotten away from me again! It's late (most nights seem to be lately :), so I'll try to capture some quick updates on what has kept us running around the past couple of months.

We finished our office room at use to be a hallway & bathroom, and stole some room from two other closets to make a small half bath up there. We got our office stuff moved out of the kitchen and upstairs, although we need to work on some organization (at least for my stuff). We are currently residing the house. Took advantage of the great weather this last week to get as much done as we could...we'll have to finish it as we get windows in the weather patterns. Today we were up at the cottage with Jean & Karen to redo the bathroom floor & toilet plumbing. That job went surprisingly smooth and got it all wrapped up in decent time.

Jen's been putting in some real energy with work. She's in the middle of a big, big, big project and has been working up to 12, 14, 16+ hour days. She does well with making sure to take days off at the end of the week to curb some of the overtime and that way we get long weekends for some more family-time! Her project is done in a couple weeks, so then our schedules will be back to more normal-ish.

Halloween - Rae & Jo managed to get trick-or-treating twice this year! Rae was a pink unicorn and Jo was a devil bat the first round and the second time she dressed as a sunflower. They had a great time and were SO cute!! Jen and I got to go out with our karate students...all dressed in costume. We hadn't put much time or thought into our costumes...she pulled one out from a couple years ago, and I picked one up on clearance that day. But, we were surprised to be called up on the bar as part of the costume contest...ended up in 4th place (an awesome Micheal Jackson won). Jen was an evil queen & I the evil jester. Great night - super nice to spend some time with the students in a casual setting.

Last weekend Jen & I were invited to Sensei Dave Nelson's dojo, the Broken Bokken, for black belt testing. Verna & Tyler, both long-time students of Sensei Dave's, gave an excellent review. They both have family members that are already black belts of Sensei Dave's...very neat to see other martial artist families study together. A great honor for us to be invited and take part in their testing!

I'm sure I'm leaving out all sorts of things...I'll post more as I remember & let my brain/body get some rest now before the girls get me up early in the morning.

**We seem to have "hidden" our camera somewhere with all the moving of stuff around in our house, so no pictures for now. I'll get some up here as I collect them from family & when we find our camera.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Busy Weekend

On Saturday we packed the girls up and headed to Green Bay. We ran over to Bay Park Square and had Joeli's one-year pictures taken. We got some really good shots of Jo & Rae!

Saturday evening my mom had a gathering at her house so we could all visit with Jon & Pam, who drove in from Minnesota. We got to congratulate Pam on her Ph.D. and they shared stories and pictures from their Asia trip. (To see details on their trip & summer click on our link to their blog "EpiGal & the Sandan") It looks like they had a wonderful trip with a lot of sight-seeing, visiting old friends, and interesting travel adventures. Now they are back to start the next part of their lives...Pam is now working as Dr. Pam Lutsey, and Jon is back in school working toward his second degree.

We slept over in GB and had a relaxing morning on Sunday. Then we headed to Matt & Jen's house to celebrate Matt, Chase, & Joeli's birthdays. Great party...the kids all had fun running around together, and the Packers had a great game! It's always nice to have the whole family together for an afternoon!!

Then it was back home to get the girls to bed and crash for the night.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cottage Work

We ended our long weekend with a little work at the cottage. Jen and I drove up on Sunday morning and met Grandma Jean, Rae & Joeli there. As much as we missed the girls after a couple days away, they only gave us a quick hug and then ran right back to Grandma to play some more! Grandma had to go home Sunday afternoon, but Jen and I were able to stay overnight with the girls and relax for a while before heading home on Monday.

On Sunday we installed a new storm door on the front of the cottage.

Rodnie came over on Sunday to install the satelite dish.

Rae took a ride in the paddleboat with Dad before we had to leave. She does a great job steering!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lake Geneva Triathlon

I took part in the Lake Geneva Sprint Triathlon on Saturday. What a fun race! Jen and I drove down to Delavan on Friday afternoon. We checked into Lake Lawn Resort, easily the best hotel/resort we've ever stayed at. Then we headed to the race site in Fontana to register and pick up my race packet. We had a great night and got to share a wonderful bottle of wine...Jen's first chance to have a drink since she got pregnant with Rae 39 months ago! Saturday was an early morning getting to the race site to set up at 5:45 AM. The race was brutally awesome!! There were LOTS of hills...steep hills. It completely tore up the legs on the bike and run...SO FUN!

Heading to the transition area to set up my gear.

All ready to get started!

Exausted and totally pumped up after the race!

My Results:
- Overall...41st of 565 sprint distance finishers
- Men...36th out of 317
- Division...9th out of 57 men age 25 - 29
- Swim [1/3 mile]...6:18 (the swim course was not well laid out or accurate)
- T1...2:41
- Bike [17 miles]...49:50
- T2...2:58
- Run [3.1 miles]...22:27
- Finish...1:24:12

Joeli's 1st Birthday

Joeli turned 1 year old on Friday, September 5th. We spent the day at Grandma Jean's house; she is babysitting the girls for the weekend. We were able to have a little celebration when Grandma came home from work. Joeli had a blast playing with the frosting!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Melanie's Yellow Belt Testing

She does exist! Jen & I visited Sensei Jean's class for Melanie's yellow belt testing. Jen took an active role on the board pannel and was very excited to jump in with some instruction. I played with Rae & Joeli for most of the class. We had so much fun! Joeli progressed to taking a dozen steps on her own...she's getting to be such a toddler. Melanie was amazing and definately proved to be worthy of her promotion. Congratulations!!

Melanie has been missing from all classes and events that Jen & I have been to since she joined karate...there's been a running joke if she even existed. So, we brought a special bottle of wine that we thought would be fitting for the situation...Sweet Bitch :)

Summer Pictures

We didn't do a very good job with taking pictures this summer, but here are a few...

Rae with Grandma Jean at the cottage

Joeli with Grandma Jean at the cottage

This is where Rae spends most of the time at the cottage...regardless of attire!

Lyle's Purple Belt Test

Joeli learning to walk

Rae with Grandma Pauline, all dressed up for Matt & Jen's Wedding

Joeli & Mom all dressed up for the wedding

Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer Recap

Wow, the summer has flown by! Posting on the blog has been on my to do list for a couple months now, but we just seem so busy all the time. With this post, I'll try to give a quick recap of the big events we've been involved with this summer.

We've been at the cottage more than usual this year. Rae & Joeli both love it up there...just something very cool with the energy of being up north at the cabin. Jen and I, (and Jon!), taught at my mom's karate seminar there in June. We had our class's seminar up there in early August. Both were a lot of fun...a direct influence from the great karateka that take part! Jon helped me with reinstalling the boathouse railing (okay, so Jon did most of the work...I was way tired and moving slow that day). ATCAM did an awesome job on the railing's powder coat; all the neighbors comment on how great it looks! TJ came up with me on a later weekend to make and install a top handrail cap for the railing, and do some yard maintenance. I worked on the plumbing during a couple trips...we had a nagging problem with air in the lines and loosing the prime...should be all fixed now though. My mom had Rae and Joeli up for a couple days the other week, and is taking them back up next weekend. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to watch them grow up with the cottage that I did!! We still have a few more projects to tackle this year...ripping out the bathroom floor and running a new waste line to the toilet, installing a new storm door, and putting up the soffit on the boathouse.

We went to the outdoor theater in Freedom for Jen's birthday to see Kung Fu Panda. It was Rae's first outdoor movie...although she spent more time walking me back and forth to the bathroom than watching the screen. Jen loved the movie though!

We tested Lyle for purple belt on July 12th. He had a great 3 hour test and performed extremely well. Sensei Jean drove down and was an excellent addition the board panel.

Moose Jaw seminar was a great even this year. Lots of good energy all around. I watched the girls while Jen worked out for the day. It was the first camping experience for Rae & Jo...they both did great sleeping in the tent and playing outside.

Jen and I got involved with Rebel Alliance Theater this summer. They are a local theater group here in Omro that focuses on education, growth, and sustainable community. Mostly comprised of actors between 15 & 25, they are a wonderful group to be around. They were looking for Tai Chi instruction to use as a warm up. Friends of ours that have been frequenting their productions and becoming more involved with the group got us in touch with them.

Matt & Jen got married on August 1st, then had their wedding on August 2nd. All the plans worked out great; both events were wonderful to be a part of. Jen and I are so happy to have another sister!! Interestingly, the family again has a Jennifer Lynn Vandenberg...exactly the same name as Jen's maiden name.

A couple weeks ago, I was a keynote speaker at the Green Globe Renaissance Gathering. It was a very fun event showcasing and combining aspects of the Renaissance of the 1500's and current ideas of Sustainable Community corresponding to the Green Movement we are now in. I had the opportunity to share how bodywork, and specifically, my business ties in with these ideas. High point of the afternoon included Father Joe, a local retired Catholic priest, skydiving into the show, Rebel Alliance performing Shakespeare's The Tempest, and inflating of a hot air balloon.

Last night we held our karate class around our fire pit in the back yard. It was the last night our yellow belt, Mercedes, would be with us. She is moving to Appleton and will be transferring to Master Nelson's class in Neenah. So we had a very nice evening sitting around the fire, having a couple drinks, sharing conversation, and saying goodbye. We'll be sure to visit her in her new dojo soon!

Well...I'm sure I missed a few, but that's most of the big events. I'll get some pictures on here in another post soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jen D. Turns 22!

Our sister-in-law, Jen, had her 22nd birthday last Friday...Happy Birthday!! We celebrated at Roy & Pauline's on Saturday with a backyard fire, smores, and cheesecake. All the kids had fun running around the yard and playing with flashlights as it got dark. And, the rest of us had a relaxing time sitting around the fire sharing stories.

On Sunday we celebrated Father's Day and Jen's B-Day again with a round of golf and lunch at her dad's country club. I took the lead golfing in the high-score category!

Joeli's First Popsicle

This weekend, Grandpa Roy gave Joeli her first popsicle. It is one of the greatest joys to watch children discover new things! She would suck and lick on the popsicle and then she would stretch her little tongue out to try and lick all the juice off her chin. She was SO excited and happy...and had all of us laughing!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I recently puchased as set of custom Tonfa to play with this summer and get the basics down. I've had them sitting around the house so I can grab them throughout the day to practice and get use to handling them. Rae's been watching me and at her first chance, picked them up...such a little martial artist!

Daniel's Shodan

Sunday, June 8th, we attended a shodan board of review for Daniel. We were quite impressed to say the least. Daniel has been in Okinawan Shorei Kempo Karate for 14 years. He has come a long way in that time, and even in just the last couple of years, to become a great martial artist. Congratulations Daniel!

Boathouse Deck

We just did a big project up at the cottage. The boathouse top has been leaking pretty significantly, so it was time to rip it off and put a new one on. We were all pretty sick of the old outdoor held water like a sponge and had stuff growing on it.

A couple of our students came to help for the weekend, May 31 - June 1. TJ was there all weekend, and Gary came up for the day Saturday. Jean was there all day Saturday to help and Karen cooked for us all weekend! With the extra help, the old deck was ripped off in no time.

By early afternoon Rodnie was there and constructing a new floor/roof went really fast! How many times did you sweep that thing Rodnie?

Next was the "fun" part. It was the first time any of had worked with rubber roofing...and quite possibly the last. It took us the last couple hours Saturday to put the main sheets down, and then all day Sunday to put on the wear strips. Nothing real difficult, just a lot of tedious work that seems to take forever. We were all covered in adhesive, primer, and caulk by the end. And, battling the insane winds while trying to manage 20' strips of rubber without letting them stick in the wrong spots was a pain. But it all worked out and we got a little storm Sunday afternoon that proved the new roofing was doing it's job!

The following Saturday, June 7th, we put the new deck on top. We had to dodge a few showers, but got enough clear skies to finish the decking. Jean and Karen were up and Rodnie was over again. Matt, Jen, & Chase came up too.

Jen was amazing with the girls both weekends. She put in long days during full-on teething to keep Rae & Jo busy, so we could keep working! And, she grabbed a drill and jumped right in to help whenever she could.

Now there is just some finishing work to do. Jean is having the railing sandblasted and powder coated. It will be a few weeks before that is done and we get it back to put on. Grandpa Lutsey hand made the entire railing, twisting the wrought iron and welding it all himself. So, it will be nice to keep that as part of the deck, and with the powder coating it should last forever. We also have to finish up the soffit and painting.