Monday, December 29, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 7 Results

Well, this was my wedding gift to Craig! He went 13-3 while I went 10-6. So, now he's got a 3-game lead heading into the playoffs, which we will pick. Hopefully, I can catch him before the Super Bowl!

Here's how last week's games went down for me:

Rams at Falcons
Patriots at Bills
Chiefs
at Bengals
Lions at Packers
Titans at Colts
Giants at Vikings
Panthers at Saints
Browns at Steelers
Raiders at Buccaneers
Bears at Texans
Jaguars at Ravens
Redskins at 49ers
Dolphins at Jets
Cowboys at Eagles
Seahawks at Cardinals
Broncos at Chargers

Presenting ...

Mr. and Mrs. Craig Helfrich!


My buddy Craig married the woman of his dreams this past weekend. Her name used to be Jill Bause, but now it's Jill Helfrich. I was blessed to be part of the wedding party and had a great time. The best part of the weekend, for me, was spending time with Craig and our friend Marty Graverson and getting to know two of Craig's other friends who live out of town now. They are great guys and I can see why Craig cherishes their friendship.

We had a nice dinner at Amish Acres Friday night before the rehearsal. After the rehearsal we played basketball for a few hours, which was a great time. The wedding went smooth and was very fun for me because I see weddings in a whole new light now that I've been married for 8 years. Plus, when you know the two people getting married are good for each other, it's hard to contain the joy you feel for them. The reception was at Elcona Country Club and was a blast. My wife and I haven't danced that much since we got married. In fact, I woke up sore the next morning!

So, I want to congratulate Craig and Jill. I can't wait to watch your friendship and marriage grow over the years!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008 In Review - Fantasy Football

I'm sneaking this one into the 2008 In Review series because, technically, it is a look back at the year and it's all I could think of to write about today!

I was in three leagues again this season, each on a different game site (ESPN, Yahoo and Fox Sports).

The league I've been in the longest is called Terror in the Trenches and includes one of my oldest and best friends, Jeff Becraft. He works here. This was my fourth season in the league and I had finished fourth each year. I was actually the only team to make the playoffs each of those three seasons. Well, the wheels kind of fell off this year. We had the option of keeping up to 4 players from last year's team, but only one at each position. I was tired of finishing fourth and wanted a shot at getting over the hump and winning the league, so I decided to rebuild. Well, sort of. I actually kept two players who I felt were locks to be great in 2008 - Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Browns receiver Braylon Edwards. Other guys I could have kept included Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Packers receiver Greg Jennings.

Now, if you've followed the NFL at all this season you probably know that Edwards was a bad choice and Tomlinson's value dropped like a rock this season. You probably also know that Brees has a chance to become just the second player in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season. Jennings has nearly 1200 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns this season.

So, my keepers didn't pan out like expected and it killed me this season. I finished tied for seventh place.

Jeff also invited me to a league for a second straight year called West MI Fantasy Football. I don't remember for sure how I finished the first year, but I think I did pretty well. This year I finished second in my division and had the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. I lost my first-round game and the fifth-place game, leaving me in sixth place.

Finally, I started my own league this year on espn.com. I called it Dan's 16 and changed the scoring system around to try to make quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers have equal value. It was the first time I've played in a league with more than 12 teams. It is not easy to play in a 16-team league. The free agents list gets pretty thin.

Well, things worked out pretty well for me in this league. I only lost once and beat Derry Prenkert in the playoffs to win the title.

So, here are my postseason awards which include my players from all three leagues:

MVP: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears rookie running back. I owned him in all three leagues. I think there was only one week the whole season that I did not start him, and paid for it. I think he should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL, but there's a few other guys who could win it as well.

MDP (most disappointing player): Terrel Owens, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to have Owens on two of my teams, but he wasn't the consistently high-scoring player I was hoping for. He had some great weeks, but he also had some clunkers.

MSP (most surprising player): Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback. I went into the season thinking Rodgers would be pretty good, but he was great. I only owned him in the Dan's 16 league, but he finished as the third highest scoring player for the season in that league. And it was a good thing, too, because I traded away my only other QB (Eli Manning) before the first week of the season and there were only one or two guaranteed starters on the free agents list at any point during the season.

Best pickup: Tyler Thigpen, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback. Where did he come from? He wound up starting for me several times and I was never disappointed. Steelers running back Mewelde Moore was also a pretty good find.

Keeper (the one player from all three teams I would keep for next year if I could): Forte. He's just a rookie and unless the Bears change their entire offensive scheme and become a pass-crazy team, as long as he stays healthy his value is huge.

All-Stars (the best combined starting lineup from my three teams): QB - Aaron Rodgers, RB - Matt Forte, RB - Brandon Jacobs, WR - Randy Moss, WR - Wes Welker, WR - Anquan Boldin, TE - Kevin Boss, K - Mason Crosby, D/ST - Tennessee.

So there you have it, another year of Fantasy Football in the books. I can't wait for next season.

For any fantasy players out there, I could use your help. I'm thinking of changing things around in the Dan's 16 league next year. First off, I'll probably cut the teams to 14. I'm also thinking of eliminating the kicker and defense positions. I may also go to a more standard scoring system. What do you think? Any suggestions? Anyone interested in playing in that league next year?

NFL Predictions - Week 7

Still tied for the lead. Hopefully I can pull away this week!

Rams at Falcons - The Falcons actually still have a chance to win the NFC South, if the Panthers lose at New Orleans. Even if they lose, they're still in the playoffs. What a great story!

Patriots at Bills - Patriots need to win and get some help from the Jets, but I think that's exactly what will happen. Wouldn't it be weird to have a postseason without the Pats?

Chiefs at Bengals - Yucky.

Lions at Packers - There's no way the Lions win at Lambeau. Even with both teams eliminated from the playoffs, I think the Packers will play hard. They don't want to be the only team to lose to the Lions this season.

Titans at Colts - This is a tough one because it's a meaningless game, at least in terms of the playoffs. Do the Colts rest players for the playoffs? Do the Titans rest players? I guess I lean toward the Colts because they've been on a roll and probably want to keep that momentum going.

Giants at Vikings - Giants know they've got a bye in the first week of the playoffs, but the Vikings need this win to just make the playoffs. I'm guessing the Giants take it easy this week.

Panthers at Saints - The division title is still a lot to play for.

Browns at Steelers - Pittsburgh doesn't have much to play for, but this is still a decent rivalry game and I don't think the Browns can beat anybody right now.

Raiders at Buccaneers - Tampa Bay's not out of the playoff picture yet!

Bears at Texans - I really want the Bears to represent the NFC North in the playoffs. They need a win and a Minnesota loss. Or a win and a few other teams to lose to get a wild card.

Jaguars at Ravens - Baltimore is fighting for a playoff spot. Jags are fighting the desire to be done with this disappointing season.

Redskins at 49ers - Flip a coin.

Dolphins at Jets - Jets aren't eliminated yet, but neither are the Dolphins. If the Jets show up on defense, I think they win. A cold day in New York might be the worst thing for the Dolphins.

Cowboys at Eagles - There's too much motivation for the Cowboys not to win this one.

Seahawks at Cardinals - This is the most meaningless game of the season. Arizona is the most meaningless team in the playoffs!

Broncos at Chargers - This is the big one, the one I predicted here (only to count the Chargers out last week). Man, what a collapse by the Broncos. I guess they deserve to get eliminated.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 6 Results

Not a great week, but I'm still tied for the lead. The final week of the regular season should be very interesting - both for our picks and for the playoffs. There's a lot of very meaningful games on the schedule and a lot of team that still have a chance to get into the postseason.

Colts
at Jaguars
Ravens at Cowboys
Bengals at Browns
49ers at Rams
Saints at Lions
Steelers at Titans
Dolphins at Chiefs
Cardinals at Patriots
Chargers at Buccaneers
Texans at Raiders
Bills at Broncos
Jets at Seahawks
Falcons at Vikings
Eagles at Redskins
Panthers at Giants
Packers at Bears

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Wonder of Winter


If you live anywhere near the Michiana area you probably woke up this morning to a blanket of ice over everything outside. I wasn't able to open the driver side doors of my car because of the ice and it took probably 20 minutes of scraping after the car had been warming up for 20 minutes to get all the ice off the windows. I stopped along the driveway as I headed to work and took a few pictures. The one above is is of a branch of a pine tree that usually hangs about 15 feet above the ground. Today, it smacked my windshield (maybe 5 feet off the ground).

Much like this picture, I know it's kind of pretty, but it doesn't make me very happy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008 In Review: The 30s

During 2008 we celebrated four very significant birthdays. Katie and three of her best friends, Janelle Prenkert, Mindy Graverson and Rachael Thompson each turned 30 this year. That leaves only Mindy's husband Marty as a 20-something among that group of friends. He'll hit 30 some time in 2009.

Janelle's husband Derry set the bar high with a surprise party for Janelle in June. I felt like I had to at least match what he did so I threw Katie a surprise party in August. Then Marty followed suit and surprised Mindy in October. Rachel's husband Jason did not go the surprise route but still threw Rachael a great party to wrap up the celebrations.

Here's a picture of all the girls and some of their parties:





Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 6

Things are heating up in the DDDC Challenge. I'm in a tie with Craig for first place, but Derry and Dan aren't far behind. This week's games are going to be a real challenge to pick correctly. First of all, there's some really great matchups and second there's some games that are skewed a little bit based on the teams' playoff standings. Oh well, here it goes:

Colts at Jaguars - Even though they're pretty much a lock to make the playoffs, there's still a lot for the Colts to play for. Playoff seeding is very important.

Ravens at Cowboys - Many think Steelers-Titans is the game of the week, but not me. I think this one is the most fascinating game of the week. Both teams need a win to stay in the wild card picture. Both teams have been playing great defense lately. Both teams can also score some points (never thought I would say that about the Ravens). This was a tough pick.

Bengals at Browns - Why don't they just let these two teams have the last two weeks of the season off?

49ers at Rams - San Francisco seems headed in the right direction. Now, they're just playing for momentum and possibly a permanent job for Mike Singletary.

Saints at Lions - I don't know about all the tiebreakers, but based solely on records the Saints are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, so they still have a little to play for. Plus, you don't want to be the first team to lose to the Lions this season.

Steelers at Titans - I've been saying it for several weeks, but I think the Steelers are for real. Now, I'm starting to think they're the best team in the NFL. Their schedule has been brutal and yet they're 11-3. I think the Titans peaked too early.

Dolphins at Chiefs - Part of the reason I want the Dolphins to win is because I want to see the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins all tied for the lead in the division going into the last week of the season. Plus, the Jets and Dolphins play next week and I think the only way the Dolphins make the playoffs is to win that game.

Cardinals at Patriots - Cardinals have clinched their division and playoff spot, but the Patriots still have EVERYTHING to play for. Plus, the Cardinals don't appear to be as good as I once thought they were.

Chargers at Buccaneers - I think the Chargers' playoff hopes die this week.

Texans at Raiders - Another meaningless game, except that the Texans have been hot lately and may want to keep that going for some momentum heading into next season.

Bills at Broncos - Broncos nearly have the division clinched, but not quite so I think they play hard this week and then possibly take it easy on the Chargers next week if they clinch.

Jets at Seahawks - Again, Jets need every win they can get. I think they own the tiebreakers over the Dolphins and Patriots, so they control their own destiny.

Falcons at Vikings - Falcons aren't out of the playoff picture and the Vikings haven't clinched their division so this could be a really good game.

Eagles at Redskins - Somehow, Philly still has a shot at the playoffs.

Panthers at Giants - This is another candidate for game of the week because this game determines the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Giants' defense is too good to let this one get away.

Packers at Bears - Ugh. It kills me to do this, but I think the Packers have a hard time beating a motivated Bears squad in Chicago. I'd rather see Chicago win the division than the Vikings too.

2008 In Review: Vacations/Getaways

The time spent away from home in 2008 was very memorable for my family and me.

In order of memorability, here's the trips/getaways we took this year:

1. California in June

In front is my grandparents' dog, BJ. Sitting on the bench are my grandparents with my kids and in the back, from left, are my parents, my sister and Katie and me.

This was easily the best vacation my family (all 4 of us) has ever taken. It was the first time for my wife and kids to set foot in California. It was also the first time we got to visit my friend Chuck on his turf.

I knew this was going to be a great vacation when we woke up the first morning (after getting to my grandparents' house after midnight), the kids realized they were in a new setting and went outside to explore and David discovered snails. He loved them. Other discoveries included the orange, grapefruit, lemon and avocado trees in the yard.

Some highlights of this trip included: Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Hollywood, Santa Monica Pier, 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Padres game, U.S. Open Golf Tournament (seeing Tiger Woods in person) and spending time with my grandparents, my half-uncle Steve and his family and Chuck.

2. Ludington in October

Katie and I set up the camera to take a timed picture on the rocks at the end of the jetty in Pentwater, Mich.

The main reason this one comes in second instead of third is because it was a getaway for just Katie and me. That makes it incredibly special and something that doesn't happen very often.

Katie and I were fortunate enough to obtain the use of a cottage near Lake Hamlin (thanks to Derry's parents) and spent a few days away from the kids. We did a lot of relaxing, watching movies, playing games, eating at local restaurants and sightseeing. We drove to Pentwater, which is the first town south of Ludington along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and revisited some of the shops and beaches where my family and I had spent time in the summers while I was in high school.

Above all, the trip was a time for Katie and I to connect in a way that is very difficult to do when you've got two young kids running around and begging for your attention.

3. South Haven over 4th of July Weekend

Craig is getting ready to bury David in the sand at the beach in South Haven.

This was kind of a last-minute decision to take off for the weekend and join our friends Craig, Jill and Craig's parents in South Haven for the weekend of the 4th of July.

We were tipped off about a week in advance that Craig was going to propose to Jill and then he called us the night it happened. So, the weekend ended up being not just a getaway for our family but a chance to celebrate with Craig and Jill. They're getting married on December 27, by the way.

While in South Haven we spent time at the beach, drove up to Saugatuck on July 4 for dinner and fireworks and spent some more time at the beach. Derry and Janelle Prenkert (and Katylynn) also drove up on July 4 but did not spend the night, so that was a lot of fun.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008-09 College Bowl Game Picks

Craig has enjoyed the NFL Predictions so much that he suggested we make picks for all the College Bowl Games. This is going to be a bit more challenging, because I don't pay very close attention to the college game. Oh well, here it goes:

EagleBank Bowl
Wake Forest vs. Navy

New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State vs. Fresno State

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl
Memphis vs. South Florida

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
BYU vs. Arizona

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Southern Miss vs. Troy

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State vs. TCU

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii vs. Notre Dame

Motor City Bowl
Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan

Meineke Car Care Bowl
West Virginia vs. North Carolina

Champs Sports Bowl
Wisconsin vs. Florida State

Emerald Bowl
Miami (Fla.) vs. California

Independence Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech

Papajohns.com Bowl
NC State vs. Rutgers

Valero Alamo Bowl
Missouri vs. Northwestern

Roady's Humanitarian Bowl
Maryland vs. Nevada

Texas Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Rice

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Houston vs. Air Force

Brut Sun Bowl
Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Boston College vs. Vanderbilt

Insight Bowl
Kansas vs. Minnesota

Chick-fil-A Bowl
LSU vs. Georgia Tech

Outback Bowl
South Carolina vs. Iowa

Capital One Bowl
Georgia vs. Michigan State

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Nebraska vs. Clemson

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi
Penn State vs. USC

FedEx Orange Bowl
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

AT&T Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Kentucky vs. East Carolina

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Utah vs. Alabama

International Bowl
Buffalo vs. Connecticut

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State vs. Texas

GMAC Bowl
Ball State vs. Tulsa

FedEx BCS National Championship Game
Florida vs. Oklahoma

2008 In Review

I am not unaware of the fact that reading this blog has gotten quite boring lately. I write it and I'm bored with it! It seems like inspiration has been hard to find lately. That might be because the sun has been hard to find lately, or it might be because I'm having trouble finding the time and motivation to write down my thoughts.

Either way, you deserve better. For those of you who regularly check back here for new content and those who might just happen upon this space for whatever reason, I am going to do better.

I've got an idea for a new series. It's not completely original because it seems lots of people are looking back at the year of 2008 and recalling their favorite significant life-changing wake-up call boring best/worst of the year that is almost over. But, I'm going to do it anyway. Mine is going to take the form of the best/most significant/memorable items from a number of categories. I've got some categories in mind, but nothing set in stone yet.

If you've enjoyed the sports posts, don't worry. They're going to continue. In fact, the next post you read here will be my college bowl game picks. And sometime in the near future there is sure to be a fantasy football season wrap-up. But, there will also be some 2008 In Review posts coming very soon. I promise.

So, don't give up on me!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 5

I'm up by two games on Craig, trailed closely by Derry and Dan. So, it would be nice to have a good week to create some distance. We'll see.

Here's the NFL Week 15 picks, Week 5 in the challenge:

Saints at Bears - This pick is mostly because I'd like to see the Bears win their division. I think they have the best shot of any team from the NFC North at winning a playoff game, though that would probably be as far as they get. Plus it might help Matt Forte's chances of winning Rookie of the Year. Has he been great or what?

Bucs at Falcons - I don't think Tampa Bay will lose two weeks in a row, but wouldn't be surprised if the Falcons pull it off. Tough pick.

Redskins at Bengals - Does anybody care about this game? Maybe college seniors entering next year's draft.

Lions at Colts - Another highly-watched game by 2009 draft entrants. On the other side, the Colts have won six in a row and should pretty easily earn a wild card spot.

Chargers at Chiefs - Somehow, I can't seem to count out the Chargers in the AFC West. They're three games back right now, but should gain some ground this week. I still would like to see the Week 16 game between the Chargers and Broncos to decide the division winner.

Seahawks at Rams - Has there ever been a less interesting game?

49ers at Dolphins - I'd love to see the 49ers win their third straight, but I'd love more to see the Dolphins keep the pressure on the Jets and Patriots in the AFC East.

Bills at Jets - No way the Jets are losing three games in a row, which means they stay tied with Miami and New England.

Titans at Texans - I've heard some rumblings about an upset here. Seriously? Titans roll in this one.

Packers at Jaguars - Neither team has any shot left at the playoffs, so nothing left to play for but pride. I hope the Packers have more pride!

Vikings at Cardinals - Vikings need this one badly, but the Cardinals are good at home. Cardinals have clinched their division, but I still think they're good to let down.

Broncos at Panthers - So Carolina is for real. For some reason I really don't like them. But I also think the Broncos are bad.

Steelers at Ravens - WOW. Tough pick. The score of this game might be 3-2.

Patriots at Raiders - This could be a very tough game for New England to win. Or it could be a blowout.

Giants at Cowboys - No way the Giants lose two in a row.

Browns at Eagles - Combined with the Cowboys' loss to the Giants, this makes things really interesting for a wild card spot.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 4 Results

I went 12-4 this week and lead the rest of the pack by two games. The highlight of the week for me was correctly picking the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Jets (which leaves a three-way tie atop the AFC East). There were two lowlights, however: The Packers losing (why, oh why, did I have to become a fan of the Packers?) and everybody but me picking the Panthers Monday night.
Oh well, we've got a few weeks still to go. Plenty of time to stretch out my lead (or to lose it).
Here's how my NFL Week 14 Picks turned out:

Raiders at Chargers
Jaguars at Bears
Vikings at Lions
Texans at Packers
Browns at Titans
Bengals at Colts
Falcons at Saints
Eagles at Giants
Chiefs at Broncos
Dolphins at Bills
Jets at Niners
Patriots at Seahawks
Rams at Cardinals
Cowboys at Steelers
Redskins at Ravens
Buccaneers at Panthers

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 4

My lead is dwindling, but one good week can boost me back up to a comfortable position. So, that's what I'm aiming for with these picks:

Raiders at Chargers - While things are definitely not going well for the Chargers, I still think there's a slim chance that they could win the division. It may well come down to Week 17 when they host Denver.

Jaguars at Bears - Weren't the Jags supposed to be good this year? As much as I would love to see the Bears and Vikings lose this week to keep Green Bay's hopes alive, I think both will win.

Vikings at Lions - Which of these remaining games do you think the Lions can win: Week 14 vs. Minnesota, Week 15 @ Indianapolis, Week 16 vs. New Orleans, Week 17 @ Green Bay. That's right, I'm calling a winless season for Detroit.

Texans at Packers - I think the Packers will do everything they possibly can to remain in the running for the Division title, but even if they win out it may not be enough.

Browns at Titans - The Titans get two more easy wins before facing Pittsburgh and Indy to end the season. Fortunately for Tennessee, these next two weeks should clinch the division title.

Bengals at Colts - With a slim lead in the Wild Card race, I don't see the Colts taking it easy on anybody the rest of the way.

Falcons at Saints - Falcons continue their comeback and continue to be a major factor in the NFC South.

Eagles at Giants - Until I see someone beat them, I'm convinced that the Giants are the best team in the NFL. Even without Plaxico "Gimpy" Burress.

Chiefs at Broncos - Yuck. I can smell this one already.

Dolphins at Bills - Are you kidding me? The Dolphins' playoff hopes are still alive? Which team is the best story this season: Falcons, Dolphins, Jets or Titans? I can't argue with any of them.

Jets at Niners - Does anyone else feel like the Jets are hanging onto the division lead by a thread? I have to pick at least one upset, right? If I'm correct and if the Dolphins and Patriots win, there's a 3-way tie in the AFC East!

Patriots at Seahawks - But just barely.

Rams at Cardinals - I still think the Cardinals could do some damage in the playoffs, depending on how home field works out.

Cowboys at Steelers - No doubt in my mind that this is the game of the week. Both teams need this one badly. I think the Steelers have the best defense in the league, but the Cowboys can be one of the best offenses in the league. Weather could help the Steelers.

Redskins at Ravens - Not a bad Sunday night game. The Ravens should be more watchable now that they can score some points!

Buccaneers at Panthers - Gruden keeps making himself more and more attractive to a certain college football program, doesn't he?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What Am I Seeking?

We're getting ready to start a new teaching series at Nappanee Missionary Church called Seek. It's only three weeks long and will help us filter through some of the stuff that can often sidetrack us this time of the year.

My job when we start a new series is to come up with a logo, or a general look to go along with the series. For Seek, my idea was to represent the craziness of the holiday season and how the things of God can sometimes get mixed up with the things of the world.

Here's the logo, although I don't know if this is the one we'll end up using or not.


Either way, working on this logo got me thinking about my life and my priorities during this time of the year.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the things that keep me busy and keep my mind away from God. I'm not just talking about presents, decorations and food. I'm also talking about all the good things, like spending time with family and friends, finding ways to give to others and church activities.

When I let those things dictate my schedule and dominate my thoughts, there's little room left for reflecting on why I celebrate Christmas and thanking God for the amazing gift of His Son.

We have a tradition at our house on Christmas Eve where we all get down on the floor right by the Christmas tree and read the gospel story of Jesus' birth. It's a tradition I look forward to and want to keep forever.

I just hope Christmas Eve isn't the first time I stop and consider the magnitude of what God has done for me.

NFL Predictions - Week 3 results

OK, here's how it went down in week 13 of the NFL season. I didn't have an especially good week, but I surprised myself by picking a few games right that I didn't feel really confident about (like the Texans and Steelers). But I also misfired way too many times. And, worst of all, my Packers made it really hard on themselves to make the playoffs.

So, after Week 13, I'm still ahead, but not by much. You can check the standings on the right side of the page.

Here's the picks I made (the ones I got right are in green):

Titans at Lions
Seahawks at Cowboys
Cardinals at Eagles
Niners at Bills
Ravens at Bengals
Colts at Browns
Panthers at Packers
Dolphins
at Rams
Saints at Bucs
Giants at Redskins
Falcons at Charger
Steelers at Patriots
Broncos at Jets
Chiefs at Raiders
Bears at Vikings
Jags at Texans

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 13

Last week was bad for all four of us, which was good for me because I kept a pretty healthy lead. I said last week had some tough games to pick, but this week may be even tougher. Here we go:

Titans at Lions - A really good defense against a poor offense. A strong running team against a poor defense. At least you'll be eating pumpkin pie while you watch this one.

Seahawks at Cowboys - Another big week for T.O. and Romo?

Cardinals at Eagles - If the Cardinals win this one, you could make a pretty strong argument that they're the second-best NFC team, right?

Niners at Bills - But who cares?

Ravens at Bengals - Again, a good defense against a poor offense. This one should be a gimme for the Ravens.

Colts at Browns - The Colts are really putting it together lately. The only hope for the Browns is that it's really, really, really cold (and maybe snowing) on Sunday!

Panthers at Packers - Man, this is a tough one. I want the Packers to win, and I have no doubt that they can, but the Panthers are pretty good. Maybe weather will play a factor.

Dolphins at Rams - The Dolphins can't give up now, there's still hope!

Saints at Bucs - If this pick is right and the Packers do beat the Panthers, things get really interesting in the NFC South.

Giants at Redskins - The Giants are GOOD.

Falcons at Chargers - Michael Turner shows the Chargers what they could have had if they had kept him, making the NFC South even more interesting.

Steelers at Patriots - Game of the week, without a doubt. I'm not feeling too confident in this pick. I actually chose the Patriots first and then changed my pick.

Broncos at Jets - Jets are playing so well, but can they close out the season strong and win the division?

Chiefs at Raiders - Blaaahhh.

Bears at Vikings - HUGE game in the NFC North, especially if the Packers beat the Panthers. I think the Bears have to win this game if they hope to win the division because they've still got to play the Jaguars, Saints, Packers and Texans.

Jags at Texans - What the heck?

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Week of Thanksgiving


By now, you probably know that I love to take and share pictures. As i was looking at some pictures I recently took and thinking about Thanksgiving, I got an idea.

Each day this week I am going to share a picture with you and list all the things in that picture that I am thankful for. Hopefully this isn't too cheesy. If nothing else, it will be good for me to remember how blessed I am.

So, let's get started!

Today's picture is of my family on our front porch just a few weeks ago. Based on the way I'm dressed I think it was a night where I was trying to gather and burn leaves. But before I got to work, we took a few minutes to capture a memory.

The first thing in this picture that I'm thankful for is my amazing family. My wife Katie, my daughter Hanah and my son David are an incredible blessing to me and they bring me unimaginable joy every day.

I'm also thankful for the beauty of the setting we are in. God has blessed us with an amazing place to live and the time to enjoy it.

I don't know if you can tell or not, but in the bottom right corner is our dog Gus. I'm thankful for him. He's been a great dog and a fun friend for our kids. Earlier this year we thought he was going blind, but we were told he has juvenile cataracts. His eyesight has actually improved from that time and, while his vision is not normal, he's getting along just fine.

Finally, I'm thankful for holey jeans. A pair of jeans that has holes in them is one of the most comfortable things in the world. But that's not why I'm thankful for them. I am thankful because we have been blessed with everything we need - food, shelter, clothing, transportation - and even more than we need. God is good and I'm thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NFL Predictions Challenge - Week 3

OK, last week was good for me (13-1-1) but there are several games that are going to be tough to pick this week. I've got a 3-game lead on Derry and a 5-game lead on both Dan and Craig, but I just hope to maintain that with these picks:

Bengals at Steelers - This is not one of those tough games I was talking about. I still think the Steelers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And I still think the Bengals are legitimate No. 1 Draft pick contenders.

Buccaneers
at Lions - This is another easy pick. There are some tough ones coming up, I promise.

Jets at Titans - This one might not seem like a difficult pick, but the Titans are bound to lose some time and the Jets just proved they can beat really good teams with an overtime win against the Patriots. I think the Titan's first loss doesn't come until at least week 16.

Bills at Chiefs - The Bills are not the team everybody thought they were early in the season, but they're not as bad as the Chiefs. Man, there are some really bad teams in the NFL this year, huh?

Bears at Rams - This might be just what the Bears need after a blowout against the Packers last week. Kyle Orton, Matt Forte, Greg Olsen and maybe even Devin Hester could have a great day in St. Louis. The Rams ... probably not such a great day.

Patriots at Dolphins - Somebody, whose name starts with a C and ends with a G, suggested that I'll probably pick the Patriots to win the rest of their games. But, his record in this challenge is 18-11 so that tells you how accurate he is with predictions! The Dolphins beat the Patriots earlier in the year, but I don't think the Patriots are going to get swept by a division rival.

Vikings at Jaguars - I hate to say it, but this could actually be a good game. Both teams still have a lot to play for. Both have pretty decent defenses and exciting running backs. I won't be watching it, but maybe you should!

Eagles at Ravens - The Ravens are bound to win a big game, and I think this qualifies. Two reasons why I think the Ravens win: I like this kid, Joe Flacco; and the Eagles tied Cincinnati last week!

Texans at Browns - Win No. 2 for Brady Quinn. I like the direction the Browns are heading with Quinn at quarterback. If Braylon Edwards would just remember that he's a Pro Bowler and Jamal Lewis would rush for 100 yards just once (fantasy owner angst), the Browns will be OK. I don't think they're going to make the playoffs, but at least they can make this season respectable.

49ers at Cowboys - Plain and simple: Good team vs. Bad team.

Raiders at Broncos - Neither team is good, but the Broncos can put up some points.

Redskins at Seahawks - The 'Skins stay alive in the wild card hunt. The 'Hawks start contemplating who the best prospects are for the 2009 NFL Draft.

Giants at Cardinals - When I said there were some tough games to pick, I was mostly referring to this one. The Cardinals are GOOD (4-0) at home. Brandon Jacobs may not be 100% for the Giants. Eli vs. Kurt. Wow, that was a tough choice.

Panthers at Falcons - Did you know that the Panthers are 8-2? How did I miss that? Wow.

Colts at Chargers - Here's another of the tough ones. The Chargers seem to have the Colts' number lately, but I really like the direction the Colts are heading. Even if they lose, the Chargers' remaining schedule is quite favorable and they can still catch the Broncos in the West. Honestly, one of the reasons I picked this way is because I'm assuming the rest of the guys are going to pick the Colts. We'll see.

Packers at Saints - Yet another difficult pick. I'm sort of going with my heart, but also the fact that the Saints have been quite disappointing this season. I love the way the Packers ran the ball last week and I think they're passing game is always a threat. The defense will have its hands full, especially if Reggie Bush is back.

Your Lucky Day


Just wanted to give you something to brighten your day. Depending on your location, you might be looking out the window at snow on the ground or you may not even have a window to look out of, so I hope this picture of these two little people helps!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Looking Out My Office Window


Yes, it's kind of pretty, but it doesn't make me smile.

NFL Predictions Challenge - Week 2 Results

Things really took a turn for the worse this week ... for everybody but me!!!

(I really should stop gloating because it's bound to catch up with me)


I was nearly perfect this week, going 13-1-1, to take sole possession of first place with a season record of 23-6. Derry is in second place at 20-9 while Craig and Dan are tied for third at 18-11.

We threw out the game between the Eagles and Bengals that ended in a tie. There's really no point in including that one, so that's why the records show 29 games picked instead of 30.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Successful Weekend

It may be too early to say this, but this may be the first week this year that I'll go undefeated in Fantasy Football.

I'm in three leagues and I have wrapped up one win for sure and the other two look to be pretty much sealed up. Plus, I outpicked Dan, Derry and Craig in the NFL Predictions Challenge.

With all that said, I might have jinxed myself in the two leagues where my victory isn't certain. And, I'll be wearing knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet because I'm sure a big fall is coming! (you know, pride goes before a fall ...)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

$1.89

I bought gas for $1.89 on my way into work this morning.

I just wanted to write it down somewhere so I don't forget, just in case I'm paying twice that much in the next few months!

Guts

Last night Derry was the only male in a room packed full of high school girls and answered some pretty tough questions for them, including:

What are guys thinking when they are making out with a girl?

What are guys thinking when girls have swimsuits on?

This could very well have been the first time some of those girls were given an honest answer to those questions from a guy's perspective. That takes guts.

You can see the full list of questions he answered here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NFL Predictions Challenge - Week 2

After one week of this challenge I am in a tie for first place with Derry at 10-4. Dan Erickson is alone in third place at 9-5 and Craig is in fourth at 8-6.

It's time for round two as we pick all the games in Week 11 of the NFL season.

Jets at Patriots - I feel like Matt Cassel is settling in, gaining confidence and getting comfortable. That said, the Jets' defense is pretty solid. That said, Randy Moss and Wes Welker have yet to see a defense that can shut them down. That said ... I got nothing else.

Broncos at Falcons - I just think the Broncos are bad and the Falcons are becoming a really good story for this NFL season.

Eagles at Bengals - Even though they lost, the Eagles looked pretty impressive against the Giants last week. Last year I thought Donovan McNabb might be washed up, but on the contrary, he might be one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the league right now.

Bears at Packers - This is not me just picking with my heart (like some Colts fans tend to do). I really had a hard time deciding on this one. In the end, I think the home team has a slight edge. I won't be surprised if the Bears win this one.

Texans at Colts - The Colts seem to be putting the pieces together. I don't think they can catch Tennessee in the AFC South, but rolling the Texans this week will keep them in the Wild Card hunt.

Saints at Chiefs - How did the Saints go from one game away from the Super Bowl just two season ago to a team you're not sure can beat the Chiefs? I still think the Saints win, but won't be surprised if I'm wrong.

Raiders at Dolphins - I just found out that the Dolphins are only one game back in the AFC East? What??!!! Well, cruising past the Raiders this weekend and a loss for either the Jets or Pats keeps that division very interesting.

Ravens at Giants - I firmly believe the Ravens are a team that could do damage if they make the playoffs, but a loss to the Giants this week is not going to help them in that quest. The Giants are just too good.

Vikings at Buccaneers - I don't feel good about picking either of these teams, but again the home team gets the edge.

Lions at Panthers - Looking at the Lions' schedule the rest of the season (at Carolina, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Minnesota, at Indy, New Orleans and at Green Bay) it's not that crazy to think they could go winless.

Rams at 49ers - The Rams are not as bad as the Lions, but still can't pick them - even against a 2-7 team.

Cardinals at Seahawks - After pulling off a close win Monday night, I think the Cardinals come out hot and put this game away early.

Chargers at Steelers - I still think the Steelers are the real deal. If this game were in San Diego, I might not feel so certain of this pick.

Titans at Jaguars - Could this be the week the Titans lose their first game? Don't think so.

Cowboys at Redskins - Tony Romo is back. The Cowboys are fighting for their playoff lives. Clinton Portis is questionable. Cowboys get revenge for the two-point loss earlier this season.

Browns at Bills - Again, is this seriously a Monday Night game? Well, maybe Brady Quinn gets his first win in the NFL.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NLF Predictions Challenge - Week 1 results

After spending much of the day with no clue what was happening in the NFL, I was sure I was going to finish last this week. As it turns out, however, the guys I'm challenging aren't any better than me at picking NFL games!

Derry and I are currently in first place with records of 10-4 while Dan Erickson is in third at 9-5 and Craig is fourth at 8-6. It was a very close week all the way around.

I think this week may cause some separation . . . we'll see!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pilots 5K Run

There's good news and bad news here.
The good news is that I ran a personal best and improved my pace by more than a minute and a half from my half marathon.
The bad news is that I did not make my goal of 25 minutes or better, and I had to walk during the race.
It was the coldest weather I've ever run in - my car thermometer read 39 degrees when I left for home. It was also windy in certain spots, which made it difficult to keep pace.
I was right on pace the first two miles - right around 8:18/mile. I would have had to improve on that pace slightly during the last 1.2 miles to beat 25 minutes, but ideally the last mile is the fastest.
Well, my body realized how cold it was and how fast it had been running for the first two miles and decided it had had enough. The last 1.2 miles was really hard and I stopped to walk twice, but only for about 30 seconds each time.
It was a fun race. The course was around and through the Bethel College campus, which kept it interesting.
I am happy that I ran the race, if for no other reason than that it kept me on the treadmill for the last month.
Now comes the real challenge - staying motivated to keep running with no scheduled races in sight. I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

NFL Predictions Challenge update - the meter

You may have noticed by now, but many of you are reading this through a blog reader so you haven't noticed, but there is a new graphic on the right side of this page that keeps track of the NFL Predictions Challenge.

I named it the DDDC (Dan, Dan, Derry & Craig) NFL Second-Half Weekly Predictions Challenge. I know it kind of oversimplifies the event, but I was trying to keep the name from getting too long!

If you're looking at it and wondering why the star behind my face is green and all the others are blue, it's because I'm a Packers fan (yes, I'm admitting it) and the rest love the Colts.

I hope you enjoy following this challenge as much as we'll enjoy being part of it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NFL Predictions Challenge Update

We've got a fourth participant ... Derry Prenkert. Check out his picks here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NFL Predictions Challenge - Week 1

OK, here we go!

This is the second week for me to make my picks, but the first where I'm challenging Craig and Dan. Craig already made his picks, clearly going with his heart (which bleeds Colts blue)! Dan's picks are certainly coming soon. Check those blogs to see how they compare with my picks.

Also, if you want to join the challenge, there is still time. There is a NFL game Thursday night so just make sure you let me know and get your picks published before that game starts!

NFL Week 10 picks:

Broncos at Browns - This is because I think the Broncos may have the worst defense in the NFL, not because I have a great amount of confidence in the Browns, even with Brady Quinn starting. I hope he does well, but it may take a few games before he settles in and gets comfortable.

Saints
at Falcons - The Falcons are a big surprise this year, but I think the Saints get a big conference win. Drew Brees might be the best QB in the NFL right now (thanks to Tom Brady's injury and Peyton's sub par year so far).

Titans
at Bears - If Kyle Orton was playing, I might go the other way. I don't trust Sexy Rexy and I don't think the Bears can completely stop the Titans' running game.

Jaguars at Lions - No way the Jags lose to two winless teams in a row!

Seahawks at Dolphins - Dolphins are another surprising team. So are the Seahawks, just in a bad way.

Packers at Vikings - I'm starting to really like the Packers. It's obvious why they were able to say goodbye to Brett Favre and go with Aaron Rodgers at QB. I think the Vikings keep it close, but lose in the end. Bonus prediction: Greg Jennings scores at least one TD in this game, maybe two.

Bills at Patriots - No chance the Patriots lose two weeks in a row. Anyone care to guess when the last time they lost back-to-back games was?

Rams at Jets - Brett Favre does just enough to beat the Rams, but not before making you think he's going to throw the game away with a costly interception.

Ravens at Texans - I think the Ravens are going to be tough to beat the rest of the season. They're starting to score some points and the defense is tough. The Texans are rising, but not there yet.

Panthers at Raiders - Panthers are just better. That's it.

Colts at Steelers - I believe in the Steelers. The defense is solid. The offense is effective. This is no doubt the game of the week and it should be a close one. This is a tough pick and I won't be surprised if I'm wrong here.

Chiefs at Chargers - San Diego better get right quickly or missing the playoffs is a real possibility. I think LT goes off in this game for a couple TDs and more than 100 yards. Who knows, he might even throw a TD pass. It's about time for that, right?

Giants at Eagles - If Colts-Steelers is the game of the week, this is a close second. I think the Giants keep Donovan McNabb on the run, hurting the passing game.

49ers at Cardinals - Kind of a boring MNF game, but the Cardinals are pretty good. The defense is for real and Kurt Warner could throw for 450 yards and 4 TDs. By the way, is there a tougher guy in the NFL than Anquan Boldin - are you kidding me? How is he back to an elite level after that nasty injury?

By the way, the last time the Patriots lost two games in a row was in the 2006 season, losing to the Colts on November 5 and the Jets on November 12.

Old School Rap Mix

Following in the spirit of the iPod shuffle, I want to share some of the music I'm listening to today.

There's a great website called pandora.com where you can enter the name of a musician or band you like and the site will play music from that musician/artist as well as others who have a similar sound. When you enter a name you create a channel and then you can come back to that channel anytime.

So today I picked my Beastie Boys channel and wound up with one of the most awesome mixes of old school rap I've heard in a long time. Here's a sampling of the bands I'm listening to as I type:

Beastie Boys
Run DMC
A Tribe Called Quest
LL Cool J
Digital Underground
The House of Pain
Young MC
Cypress Hill

Also, a bunch of songs from Rage Against the Machine got mixed in there. Not exactly old school rap, but I dig it.

Anyway, listening to this mix today has really taken me back to my past. I didn't realize how much of this music I used to listen to on a regular basis. It also makes me realize how much of that music I wouldn't want my kids listening to now!!!

NFL Predictions - Week 1 Results

I know it's only one week, and I could have done better, but I'm pretty pleased with my 9-5 record after picking the winners in Week 9 of the NFL season.
Here's how it went down (my correct picks are in green, incorrect picks are in red).

Jets
at Bills
Lions at Bears
Jaguars at Bengals
Ravens at Browns
Packers at Titans
Buccaneers at Chiefs
Cardinals at Rams
Texans at Vikings
Dolphins at Broncos
Falcons at Raiders
Cowboys at Giants
Eagles at Seahawks
Patriots at Colts
Steelers at Redskins

It looks like only two readers have agreed to challenge me from here on out, though there's still time for others to join. Dan Erickson and Craig Helfrich are on board and we'll see if anyone else comes out of the woodwork.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The iPod shuffle

Since I recently got a new iPod and since I haven't seen anyone do this in more than a year, I'm going to do the iPod shuffle.

Here's how it works:

You set your iPod to shuffle songs and write down the first 15 that play. Then you get others to do it. It's a good way to get to know fellow bloggers.

Here's the results from my iPod:
1. Why by Johnny Q. Public
2. Toby's Mac by Toby Mac
3. My Desire by Jeremy Camp
4. I Know You're Calling by Jeremy Camp
5. Be My Escape (Acoustic) by Relient K
6. Perfectly Done by Shawn McDonald
7. Truce by Jars of Clay
8. The Blues by Switchfoot
9. One Day At A Time by Jeremy Camp
10. Flake by Jack Johnson
11. The Innocent's Corner by Cademon's Call
12. Everytime by Jeremy Camp
13. A Little More by Shawn McDonald
14. Shifting Sand by Caedmon's Call
15. Come Ye Sinners by Todd Agnew

Wow, Jeremy Camp dominated that round! I'm a little disappointed in the lack of variety in this shuffle.

Now, for the tags. I want to see the shuffle from these people:

Dan Erickson
Rob Henschen
Derry Prenkert
Todd Owens
Kristy Mikel
Jeff Simpson
Craig Helfrich

And here are a few people who don't have a blog (at least that I know of) that stop by occasionally and could do the iPod shuffle and leave the results in a comment:

Katie Weiss
Jill Bause
Becky Rassi
Leslie Yoder

Finally, anybody reading this that wants to participate can do so in the comments section. Have fun!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NFL Predictions - Week 1

I like sports. A lot. Ask my wife. (sound familiar?)

Lately, my favorite sport to watch has been shifting from college basketball to NFL football. Although, we'll have to see if that changes once the college basketball season gets into full swing.

For now, I'm all about the NFL. And while I have some growing allegiance to a certain NFL team happening, I'm still pretty neutral about most games.

Today begins Week 9 of the 2008-09 NFL season, which starts the second half. Technically, since there's 17 weeks, the second half really starts at the second half of today's games, but that's just silly.

Having watched the first half of the season and getting a pretty good feel for most of the teams, I'm going to start posting weekly predictions for every NFL game. I'll continue picking all the way through the playoffs and keep track of my record.

Anyone want to challenge me? If so, we can start the challenge next week since I'm posting this about three hours before kickoff of Week 9. If you want to challenge me, just leave me a comment and it's on!

Here's this week's picks:
(Winners are in bold italic)

Jets at Bills
Lions at Bears
Jaguars at Bengals
Ravens at Browns
Packers at Titans
Buccaneers at Chiefs
Cardinals at Rams
Texans at Vikings
Dolphins at Broncos
Falcons at Raiders
Cowboys at Giants
Eagles at Seahawks
Patriots at Colts
Steelers at Redskins

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This is What Fall is Supposed to Be

60-65 degrees.
Sunshine.
Crisp air.
Pants and long sleeves.
Colorful trees.

I love it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's an Experience Worth?

I've written before how I am sort of unusual in that I don't really have a particular team I have pledged my allegiance to. Lately, though, I've been feeling a strange pull toward a certain NFL team. I don't know why I'm more interested in this team than any other. It's a very random thing.

I am going to do my best to not become a die-hard fan of this team, but with the passing of each week of the NFL season I find myself more interested in this team and more hopeful for its success.

As I was checking the NFL schedule the other day to see when/where this team plays next, I scrolled down and found a home game against a rival team in the not-so-distant future. There was a link to purchase tickets for this game and so I clicked it. To my surprise, I found a pair of tickets in the lower level of the stadium and in the corner of the end zone.

Here's the kicker: Even before I started having these feelings about this team I thought it would be a great experience to go to a game at this team's stadium. It's historic, unique and sure to be packed with ravenous fans of said team.

Here's the other kicker: The tickets are $175 apiece, and you have to buy both of them. So, I'd have to justify spending nearly $200 (when you consider fees) for one ticket and find a friend who would be willing to do the same.

So, the question is, what's an experience worth? This is sure to be a fun atmosphere and an experience I would never forget, but is it worth it?

You're probably wondering what team and what stadium I'm talking about. Well, here's a hint:

And here's an idea of where the seats are located (red star):


note: I failed in my attempt to publish at least 1 post on 7 consecutive days, but I'm going to try to make up for it by posting at least 7 times in those 7 days. Does that count?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buzz Cuts - Part 7

It's been a while since I posted anything about my son David. He and I have become really good buddies and I absolutely love spending time with him.

One of my favorite things about David is his willingness to try new things. You can usually get him to take a bite of just about any food or try any new activity at least once.

Since starting this Buzz Cuts series, the one thing I have had trouble convincing David to do is actually get a buzz cut. Well, that changed this past weekend. I sort of had to trick him into it, though. Katie had to run to the store, so I told David we should give ourselves mohawks to trick her and then we'd just trim the mohawks down to buzz cuts. He jumped at the chance to play a trick on his mommy.

We ended up with mohawks, but Katie took longer at the store than we thought and David was getting itchy so we finished up his buzz cut before she got home. I kept the mohawk until she got back and she was less than impressed.

Anyway, here is the latest edition of Buzz Cuts:

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Fun of Photoshop

One of the great things about my job is that I get to spend most of my days learning and applying new skills in Adobe Photoshop. It's a very powerful program that is capable of way more than just cropping and touching up photos.

Today I made some new brushes out of photos we took during our weekend in Ludington. Then I made a new desktop image. So, now my computer screen looks like this:



7 for 7?

In response to my lack of production on the old blog recently, I am challenging myself to produce one post each day this week. Can I go 7 for 7?

(this one doesn't count for today's post)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ref Ruins Game

I really love sports. Really. Ask my wife.

But, sometimes things happen in sports that make me really disgusted. I just saw the below video and had one of those moments.

I cannot believe a referee would do something like this.

A Weekend With My Wife

Katie and I did something we've only done once before since we've had kids - went away by ourselves for more than one night.

Thanks to the generosity of some wonderful people, we spent the weekend in a cabin in Ludington, Mich. If you don't know where Ludington is, it's about halfway up the west coast of Michigan, right on Lake Michigan.

It was a great time to reconnect with each other. We love our kids to death, but it's often difficult to really be together with my wife while there are two little kids running around and begging for our attention. They stayed with my parents for the weekend and had a great time.

Some of the highlights of our Ludington trip:

- Watching the sunset Saturday night (pictures below)
- Sleeping in late (no pictures)
- Driving to, and walking around, Pentwater, a place where my family vacationed several times while I was in high school (pictures below)
- Relaxing at the cabin

Enjoy the photos: