Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowy Compost

How about this sign we found at a local store!?! Should buy that one for sure.

And while I'm on the topic here's what one of my composters looked like this morning after a lot of snow!! We are still composting over the winter. At least until both of our containers are full. Then we may switch over to the city's composting/wet waste service.

So what happens in the compost with all this cold and snow? Well not much really depending on the size but when the temperature gets above freezing (as it's expected to a few times this week) things start happening and the internal temperature of the compost heats up again. If it's a larger compost or it's well insulated they have been known to stay at or above 100 degrees F all winter! Even when the temperatures are well below freezing. So don't be discouraged, keep filling those composters up!

And this is the pile of snow between us and our neighbors. I'm glad we have as much room as we do. I'm imagining many other homes close by that won't have anywhere to put all this snow!

One of the great things about a big snow fall is that everyone comes outside. For just a little while all our neighbors were out at the same time shoveling their driveways. And once again my neighbor to the east of us was a hero on our street. He has a snow blower and helped everyone out by removing what the plows left at the end of everyone's driveways. You can see him at work below. Thanks again Rohan!!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mario Kart Snow Track

So Jonah, our 4 year old, has loved having Uncle Mark live downstairs as that gives him direct access to Mark's Wii and his games. Most importantly it gives him access to Mario Kart which he has been loving! If I could use a stronger word I would. Maybe 'obsessing about' would be more appropriate. For example, he had trouble sleeping recently and when we asked what he's been lying in bed thinking about he says Mario Kart. Also during meal times to help him finish his food I once told him a little about the history of Mario Brothers and Nintendo. Now he's constantly asking me to tell him more about it!

Don't get me wrong here. We limit the boy to 30 minutes per day of playing time but it seems like that's enough to still take him over the top. I'm not sure how much is too much. I know I played way more than that when I was a kid but I was older than 4. Either way, I still think it's better for him to be playing outside or with his Tinker Toys and drums rather than a video game.

After the large snowfall yesterday we decided to go out this morning to watch our neighbor with his snowblower. He cleared the ends of I don't know how many driveways this morning. The part the snowplows leave too. Thanks Rohan!! We eventually ended up in the backyard as we always do. I cleared a path to the compost (I'm still filling it by the way) which Jonah was loving to use to run back and forth. I thought he might have fun if I cleared a larger path for him. So I did. Sure enough it turned into a Mario Kart race. Here's a video from one of our races.

Here's a picture of Jonah after "slipping on a banana peel" or being hit by a "green turtle".


Friday, December 19, 2008

White Christmas

Well so far for us in Southern Ontario it sure is looking like we will be having a white Christmas. Here's a video I took this morning from our most recent snow storm. I may need to post another once it's all done. It's 4:00PM and it has been snowing strong since 7AM!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

60mph bed

Below is a picture of the spot where I spent the last couple of weeks sleeping at 60 mph. Just in case you're interested!


Downhere Best of 2008!

Wow!! I am humbled by this. We were selected for the number 1 album of 2008 at! What a privilege it is to make music with Jason, Marc and Jeremy on an almost daily basis. Not to sound like an acceptence speech or anything but this album wouldn't have been made or sounded nearly as good without our label Centricity Music and our producers Stephen Gause and Mark Heimermann. And thank you Kevin Davis and everyone else at for giving us this huge honor.

Read the full article here.

Here's what was said about our album:

My most anticipated album all-year has been this gem by my favorite band downhere. Sometimes an album doesn't live up to the hype after an excellent album like Wide-Eyed And Mystified, but this album is amazing, every song. As a major fan of the Canadian band downhere since their Dove Award winning debut in 2001 and Best New Artist 2001, this band has only managed to get better this decade putting them in the ranks of my other favorite bands Jars of Clay, MercyMe and Sanctus Real, with their Brit-Rock sound being a blend of all of those great CCM artists and also the driving alternative rock that has made Coldplay an international sensation.

Ending Is Beginning immediately grabs you with the opening track "Bleed For This Love," written in the person of Jesus and is a moving portrayal of His sacrifice and love. Next, the first single "Here I Am," based on my favorite passage of the Bible, Isaiah 6:8 stirs me to answer my calling as a Christian to do God's will. The next 4 tracks "Cathedral Made Of People," "My Last Amen," "Hope Is Rising," and "Something Heavenly" are among the best songs ever by this great band, both musically and lyrically and the harmonizing of Marc Martel and Jason Germain has never been better. The album doesn't have any filler songs and actually closes as strong as it starts with "Live For You," "The Beggar Who Gives Alms" and the anthemic and moving "How Many Kings" as a bonus track, originally on last year's Christmas album Bethlehem Skyline.

For me, this album is truly 5 stars (98% perfect) and is my top album of 2008!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not On The Menu

After two weeks on the road it was so nice to get home today. The Bethlehem Skyline tour was great. I sure hope we are able to do it again next year so more people will get a chance to see the show. Thanks to all of you who came out to see us and to those of you who followed the show online. If you missed it our last show will be on repeat until Christmas. Just click here to watch.

For supper tonight we thought it would be nice to go out to one of our usual stops for eating out, Boston Pizza. The other 'usual' for us is Swiss Chalet. Both of these are Canadian but I believe there is a restaurant in the US called Boston's that's pretty much the same. It's a sports bar/pizza restaurant that's quite family friendly. The last time we ate at Boston Pizza I was really disappointed. There was a new menu and our favorite appetizer, garlic twist bread, was missing. We decided to try the new alternative and it just did not compare. Ever since then I've lost my desire to go back there. Well Jonah, our 4 year old, really wanted to eat there so we went for it. I thought I'd try asking for the good old garlic twist bread just to see what would happen and I was told no problem. Great!! Apparently people ask for it all the time still. It came and tasted as good as ever! I had a similar experience at Carrabbas recently (which is only in the US by the way). I was eating there with some friends and there was an old item that was no longer on the menu that they loved and still order every time with no problems. Some big chicken combination plate. So I guess the moral of the story is order away, even if it's not on the menu. The restaurants are there to keep their patrons happy!



Monday, December 15, 2008

Bethlehem Skyline Tour Update

Enjoying the last night of the Bethlehem Skyline Tour. To see the final show live, tune in...

Tonight at 7:00 PM CST

Live from Mankato, Minnesota

Downhere, Jason Gray, Daniel Kirkley,
Lanae Hale, and Jaime Jamgochian

We'll be rebroadcasting this show until Christmas so if you missed it live, still check out the link!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sexual Harassment

We had an unfortunate incident while on the road last night. One of the ladies on our tour was sexually harassed by a security guard! It was so not cool. And it happened right before the show started which meant it had to be dealt with at a really awkward time. I missed the whole ordeal but heard about it afterwards so I can't really give a good account of what happened but I do think it was handled so well by the men on our tour. Jason Gray did an excellent post about the whole incident at his blog. Check it out.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My boy, "Bramwell Clause"

Sherri sent me this photo today. This is Bram at 15 weeks (not quite 4 months) wearing a 12 month size Santa suit. The boy is huge right now! He is so cute in this one it's making me miss home even more!! Thanks to Alexis for the Santa suit. Nice find.


Playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Wii

I need to make an admission. I played Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Wii till 2am last night. I couldn't help myself. Once I started remembering where hidden things were I had to keep going. I even started to think I might be able to clear the game. Eventually though I couldn't figure out how to get to world 8, the final 4 levels. Super Mario 3 was my specialty back in the day not 1. So I did a quick search and found a really cool site with maps to all the levels. Check it out. This one from level 4-2. This is where you can skip ahead to world 8.

I got myself to 8-2 but it just got too late to stay up and attempt to finish the game. Anyway for those of you who were big NES players back in the day and now have a Wii I'm sure you know about being able to play all those old games. I checked and it looked like I could even buy Super Mario 3 for $5! What am I waiting for??? Here's where you can find those maps. He also has created maps for Zelda, Doom, Final Fantasy, Ultima and a few others. Looks like he put some serious work into it. Enjoy reliving your childhood!



Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Purpose of Marriage

Some quotes from a book I'm reading right now. The Mystery Of Marriage - Mike Mason

Speaking about the purpose of marriage:
"to get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter."

On Christian Faith:
"The Christian Faith, like marriage, aims at teaching us that the time when we are most ourselves is, paradoxically, when we are busy losing ourselves in another, when we are before the altar making vows of love and self-sacrifice, when we are out of our own depth and drowning in the deep waters of otherness."

These two quotes give a pretty good idea of what a marriage should look like. It was difficult to choose them without the context of the previous pages but I think it still conveys the author's skillful writing and is the crux of what he is trying to say in this chapter. I think it's really important to read books on marriage, especially when you are in one. It can never replace taking the time to study your spouse and learn as much about them and how to serve them but it sure does help. This book has been great so far and I'm not even a third of the way through. If you are looking for a good marriage book this is one you will enjoy!



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Canada's Political Crisis and How The Leafs Just Won the Stanley Cup

For those of you outside of Canada you may not realize we have a bit of a political crisis going on right now. I've heard bits and pieces about it over the past few days so I figured I needed to read up on it and try to understand what's happening. The man on the right is our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper and the men on the left are the leaders of the three opposition parties. There are some great articles on CBC that explain the current situation. Follow this link and check out some of the headlines in the right sidebar to learn more. If I try to explain things I'll get it wrong or someone will interpret my words as leaning one way or the other and I'll attract all the political commentators which just gets annoying.

The one headline that caught my attention the most that had to do with this political crisis was this though - Toronto Maple Leafs Win Stanley Cup. Blogger "Canadian Jedi" put this crisis into familiar hockey terms for us all to understand. He's obviously not a fan of the coalition and leans Conservative but nevertheless a funny way to describe the situation.

Canada was stunned Monday when it was announced that The Stanley Cup will be awarded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, possibly as early as December 6th.
The cup will be stripped from from 2008 playoff champions the Detroit Red Wings and be awarded to the Leafs, who didn't even make the playoffs.
How is this possible, Canadians ask?
Well, the Leafs have formed a coalition with eastern conference semifinalists the Montreal Canadians, and conference quarter finalists the Ottawa Senators, now outnumbering the Red Wings.
According to current Leaf coach Ron Wilson "the Red Wings have lost the confidence of the league and should hand the cup over immediately to our coalition".
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is cutting short a European trip to try to resolve the unprecedented hockey crisis that could force a second playoff series, or see an opposing team coalition take the cup. -link


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Downhere Chords

If you are looking for chords and lyrics to some of our (downhere) songs, like How Many Kings or Here I Am you're just two clicks away. Go to our web site - then click on "guitar chords/lyrics" and there you will have it all. We've been hearing from people asking about chords to How Many Kings a lot lately and I see people often end up here from searches so hopefully this makes things real easy! Enjoy! For all my American readers Happy Thanksgiving!



LED Christmas Lights

If you are looking at buying some LED Christmas lights for your tree, here's a post for you. Here's the lesson right off the top though, check the LED light color before you buy and be prepared to return it! White is apparently an objective color. (Except that it's not even really a color, isn't it the lack of color? I digress)

I went out to my local Canadian Tire (Canada's glorified hardware store, but different than Home Depot) since they usually have a great selection of Christmas decorative junk. This is the first time Sherri and I have set up our own Christmas Tree in our own house!! So we were excited to get things rolling. We realized however, when we opened our boxes we didn't have enough lights. Nor did we have the kind Sherri or I wanted. So it was off to the store. When I got there I saw these.

I thought, cool LED Christmas lights. Cool to touch, way more energy efficient, nearly unbreakable and - YIKES, a little pricey. I called my wife and we decided it would be worth it since we'd use them for the rest of our lives. I chose the brightest white ones I saw since that's what we were looking for. I brought them home and while Sherri was out running I put them on the tree. And here's what it looked like.

So it turns out that "ICY COOL" is actually "NEARLY BLUE". Sherri came in and the decision was made. Off with the lights and back to the store. We really didn't want to have a blue Christmas Tree!

I really should have known better as I've had this issue with LED's before when I've bought them for our kitchen. I plugged those ones in and they looked blue compared to everything else. I brought them back and returned them saying I didn't want the blue lights. The lady insisted they were white but that's another story.

Anyway, after returning the "Icy Cool" LED's I went to 6 stores trying to find what I was looking for with no luck. But my seventh store, which was Zellers (A Canadian version of K-Mart, sort of) had a great Christmas section and there I found my lights. White with all sorts of flashing and twinkling and blinking options. And I found it for way cheaper than the LED's.

There they are. Definitely much different coloring than the icy blue. And yes, we did put ornaments on after I took this picture. So again, the moral of the story, check the color of your white LED's before purchasing or be prepared to return them.

Sidenote - "Warm White" instead of "Icy Cool" may be the closest to white from incandescent lights. At least that would be true for the packaging we were looking at.

Preemptive Sidenote - Canadian Thanksgiving was way back in October so no, it's not too early to put up the tree. Plus we already have snow on the ground!!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Keeping It Real

For those of you who don't check out my wife's blog you need to visit to see her latest post. I think her sense of humor has saved her sanity! It will give you a good idea as to what our life is like at home. Well more what her life is like with me being gone so much! She does an amazing job at dealing with so much while I'm gone while at the same time remaining positive and supportive in all that I do. Her "job" is way harder than mine and by her doing it I am able to do my cushy rock star job. Thanks babe!



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eggs Over Medium

Sunny side up, scrambled, boiled, over hard, over soft, how do you like your eggs? Attention all breakfast cooks in diners, IHOPS, Waffle Houses, Denny's and other greasy spoons. Living half of my life on the road means that I eat out way more than I would like. One of my favorite eating out meals is breakfast except for the fact that they can never get my eggs right. And these are guys who cook for a living!!

You see, I like an egg where the yolk is still soft but not runny. More of a gelatinous state than anything else. I never know how to ask for it. I usually ask for my eggs "over medium". Then I offer a quick explanation so there won't be any confusion. So the egg that's in this top picture is not quite right. It could have used almost a minute more depending on the temperature of the grill.

Now the hard boiled egg in the second picture is a thing of beauty. That's how the over medium yolk should look. Maybe I'm wrong about what I'm ordering. Perhaps I should be ordering "over almost-hard"? Any restaurant workers out there want to give a guy a hand? All I want is to get the kind of egg I like!!



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barack Obama - African American?

I was reading a comment on one of Randy Alcorn's posts today. He posted about an interview Obama did about his faith four years ago. It was an interesting interview. I wouldn't say I was surprised at all though. I think Barack would do well to listen to this Mark Driscoll sermon I listened to this morning though. Anyway, I always find the comments to be interesting when anyone posts about politicians, especially Mr. Barack Obama. Randy referred to Barack as African American which caused one commentator some grief.

"Mr Obama is NOT African American. His mother was white and his father was African (kenyan) but his father was only part Black and so therefore, BO is only a quarter black, he is more arab than black. 

Besides there is NO African America and to continue to use this misnomer is in fact wrong and incorrect."
This is when the whole race thing gets silly. We're all half this, quarter that, one sixteenth this, and one sixteenth that, and one eighth the other thing. If I did my math right I think that adds up to a full human being. Do we really need to go back track Obama's lineage to figure out what we can label him? I understand how huge it is that someone who's skin is not white will be in the "White House" but whether he's of African, Arabian, Caribbean, Hawaiian, Kansas-ian or Indonesian decent shouldn't really matter now. He's an American citizen and more than half of America voted to put him in charge. It's obviously a big deal to any minority in America to see this happen. Hopefully we are now a step closer to being able to call a person a person no matter how they look. Or to put it the way Horton did, "A person's a person no matter how small."



Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Power of Google

Thanks to commenter "Carla" for pointing this out. It's pretty incredible. If you search this phrase "render chicken blood" my last post shows up as the first result!!! I only wrote that 15 hours ago! And now that I've written this post I'm guessing I have cornered the market on rendering chicken blood with Google. I'm not even really sure what to do with rendered chicken blood. Although I would definitely use it for composting if I had it. Blood is supposed to be a good addition to the compost pile!

By the way, the power of blogging has come knocking hard on my door recently. I hope to be able to share about it soon but I want to make sure I don't speak out of turn. I will keep you in the loop!



Spilled Chicken Blood

This sounds so nasty I needed to share it with the broader public. This happened in town not to far from where I live. Enjoy!

When residents of St. Marys, Ont., woke up today, some might have thought the town was the setting for a Hollywood horror flick.

The town's main street was covered in blood - literally.

Gallons of chicken blood was spilled onto Queen Street around midnight when a tanker truck spilled its load from Schneider's Poultry west of the town. full article
So why is a truck carrying chicken blood?? To render it of course. Maybe reading this will help. Taken from here.

Rendering is recycling! For over 150 years the rendering industry --- starting with the most primitive equipment --- has made a unique business of reprocessing discarded animal material (fat, bone, hide, offal) into highly-beneficial products for further use in other forms. Contrary to what you may hear elsewhere, Rothsay has a policy of not accepting companion animals or roadkill for processing.


Friday, November 07, 2008

A Different America

We recently had a couple of days off in Houston so I spent a good portion of one of those days just sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch or in bed just reading. It was unusual for me to spend that much concentrated time reading but it was a good thing to do on a day off.

In that time I read The Secret Life of Bees. I think this would be considered a book mostly that women would read since the men in it are almost all violent and not very nice, although there are a couple of exceptions. And because it is really a story about a girl and her need for a mother. So I was surprised that I got into it so quick. I've really gotten into learning about bees and keeping hives so that aspect also intrigued me. I was interested to see how the author would weave that into the story.

The story takes place at the moment in American history when African Americans are finally allowed to vote. I finished the book the morning after Obama was elected so I was really in an interesting head space for that day. I spent election day reading this book in which an African American woman is beat up because she wanted to register to vote. Then that night I see America elect its first non-white president.

I went for a run through the warm Houston suburbs shortly after I finished the book. It was Obama's first day as President Elect. Knowing that Barack would soon be the President here and having an idea of what has transpired over the past 40 years made me feel so happy anytime I passed African Americans. I wanted to celebrate with them. It truly feels like a different country.

So I obviously need to go and see the movie now since it is still in theaters. It's always fun to see the differences. - on a side note, Jonah watched James and the Giant Peach after we had read it to him. It was quite different. And much more scary. I don't know if he'll ever want to watch a book-turned-movie again!

This post will be my account to remember when I'm asked by my kids or grandkids, "What were you doing when Obama was elected?"

Special thanks to Rob and Kiki for taking such good care of us the last couple of days. Btw, Rob's brother is the current American Gladiator champion, how cool is that?? And we had a few fire trucks stop by the house while we were there. Check out Kiki's blog for details and pics.



Robot Legs

Just saw an article about this on Who thinks of these things???

"Imagine a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes for an idea of how the new wearable assisted-walking gadget from Honda works.

The experimental device, unveiled Friday in Tokyo, is designed to support body weight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions." full article here


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Established By God

I have some great people in my life. Here's an email I received from one of them this morning. It's a great reminder.

"Regardless of outcomes, here's the truth....

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Romans 13:1
Today, as in every day, we acknowledge and celebrate God's sovereign rule over his creation.

Hope all of you have opportunity to enjoy this beautiful gift of a day."


Monday, November 03, 2008

To Vaccinate Or Not?

My boys on Halloween. Jonah looks so proud and Bram looks huge!!

With a new child in the house it's time for vaccinations again. No one likes to see a needle going into a baby's skin. Are these diseases we're being vaccinated for still around? Don't vaccinations cause problems? Are they really necessary?

After reading an article from TIME the answer to these questions seems to still be GET VACCINATED! I've had these questions but hadn't read up on it at all. I've only read one article now but this at least helps. Here's an excerpt.

Read the full article here.

Some parents have taken to cherry-picking vaccines, leaving out only the shots they believe their children don't need—such as those for chicken pox and hepatitis B—and keeping up with what they see as the life-or-death ones. But that can be a high-stakes game, as Kelly Lacek, a Pennsylvania mother of three, learned. She stopped vaccinating her 2-month-old son Matthew when her chiropractor raised questions about mercury in the shots. Three years later, she came home to find the little boy feverish and gasping for breath. Emergency-room doctors couldn't find the cause—until one experienced physician finally asked the right question. "He took one look at Matthew and asked me if he was fully vaccinated," says Lacek. "I said no." It turned out Matthew had been infected with Hib, bacteria that causes meningitis, swelling of the airway and, in severe cases, swelling of the brain tissue. After relying on a breathing tube for several days, Matthew recovered without any neurological effects, and a grateful Lacek immediately got him and his siblings up to date on their immunizations. "I am angry that people are promoting not getting vaccinated and messing with people's lives like that," she now says.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time For Some Campaignin

With the U.S. election only a week away this seems like a good time to post this video. I just saw it over at Hybrid Thoughts. Fred was my "boss" (he was actually more like a mentor for me) at camp for 3 summers.

You can actually throw your own photo into the video if you feel so inclined. I first heard of Jib Jab when their "This Land Is Your Land" video came out. If you have time head over to their website after watching this video to check out that one. Enjoy!!

JibJab - Time for Some Campaignin


Friday, October 24, 2008

The Real Impact of the Economic Crisis

After my last post I figured I needed to balance out this whole economic crisis and how it's really affecting our planet. The rise of fuel and food prices has definitely added some discomfort to our lives here in the West. In the United States, the price of eggs jumped 29% last year. Dairy products are up more than 7%. And the price of corn has tripled in the last four years but these changes which are manageable for us are having devastating effects elsewhere.

First of all understand that from March 2007 to March 2008, food prices rose 57% worldwide. That is on top of a 23.6% increase the year before. With the world's poor spending around 75% of their income on food this kind of increase will push them further into poverty and will definitely make more of them hungry.

From Webster:
- a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient; an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food; a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food

While the world produces more than enough to feed its entire population of some 6.5 billion, more than 850 million people go hungry every day.

Check out this stat that I found here.
"The FAO estimates it will take $30bn a year to eliminate global hunger. For the price of the bail-out, we could make sure no one on earth goes hungry for the next 23 years."

With most of the talk radio shows I've heard in the States, this whole bail out plan was pretty ridiculous to begin with. Even unnecessary! So to know that it's somewhat unnecessary and that the money could ELIMINATE global hunger for the next 23 years is just maddening.

Half of the increase in food prices is due to the purchase of grain by the US and EU to produce biofuels, according to a World Bank study. This action alone has increased the price of grain (the kind that poor tend to purchase) by 75-80% (vs a total food price increase of 170% over the last year). In fact, corn reached $7.60 per bushel recently compared with less than $2 per bushel in 2005. "About 25% of that rise may be due to U.S. biofuels policy" Daniel Sumner, professor and director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis.

So needless to say the economic crisis has spilled out and is affecting the poor of the world in a much worse way. More than 30 countries have experienced rioting over food shortages, according to the World Bank. The Prime Minister in Haiti was even forced out due to food riots!

Please remember the poor. They are still with us, they will always be with us, they are hurting, they need our prayers and anything else we can offer to help out.

I've always been a fan of World Vision click here to go to their site and join them in making a difference.

Sources & related articles:
San Francisco Chronicle
Washington Post
International Herald Tribune


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rates Cut, Loonie Falls

I know the world economy is in a crisis right now but so far it hasn't affected me at all. Until now!

From the CBC
Loonie Sinks as Bank Of Canada cuts borrowing costs again
Loonie slips under 80 cents US, stocks tumble

I've been enjoying listening to radio and reading news reports about the financial crisis. I especially enjoy hearing my favorite financial 'no debt' guru Dave Ramsey go off about the bail out and everything else that is going on. I've been enjoying it partly because it is somewhat entertaining and because there has been no real impact on me. Well that all changed yesterday when interest rates were cut again here in Canada. Add to that the Canadian dollar or Loonie as us Canucks refer to it, lost more ground against the U.S. dollar. Both of these things however are great news for me! I get paid in U.S. dollars so the lower the Loonie the bigger raise I get. Also, our mortgage is variable rate (I know this isn't Dave Ramsey's way but things work a bit different here in Canada so I justified it!) so that means we're paying off more principal. When we got this mortgage we decided to always pay what we would if we were on a fixed rate which is considerably more. So with our self-imposed fixed monthly payment that means the lower the interest rate is, the more principal we will pay each month. Which in turn means reducing the mortgage term. All good!!

So far this economic crisis is working out for us. I'm guessing it'll catch up to us eventually but living with no debt (except the house) sure makes it much easier to weather the storms.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Landmark Day

Yes today is a landmark day at our house. Jonah counted to 100 all by himself! Well, we're proud and impressed anyway. He's only 4 after all.

We started a new thing here to get Jonah cleaning up his messes better. 10 minutes before meal times is "Tidy Up Time". So far Jonah isn't a huge fan of it. Today he did the ultimate thing to avoid tidying up. He started by really taking his time so that he had hardly finished anything by lunch. So I told him after lunch he'd have to finish up before playing with anything. By the end of the meal he was saying he was too tired to stay awake. Jonah hasn't had a daytime nap in months and hasn't been acting tired at all today. In fact he's been quite peppy and seemingly well rested. Anyway, I went along with it just to see how far he would go. He got in bed and tried to fall asleep. After I finished cleaning up lunch I went into his room and asked him if he needed me to help him sleep by patting his back and he said yes. I did and right before I left the room I reminded him he'd have to tidy up when he woke up. Sure enough he is now sleeping! Quite a surprise. Guess we're all staying up late tonight now!!

Here are some pictures from Bram's dedication yesterday. It was a beautiful day!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Note To Self

Note to self:

Sardines with tomato sauce on bread covered with cheese and onions then broiled in the oven is yummy. Going for a run two hours later is not. Yuck!!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Moving Sidewalks

I'm sitting here at the Chicago Midway airport at Gate B25 which is at the very end of the B Concourse. In order to get here there is a bit of a walk so the airport has thoughtfully installed some moving sidewalks. Now I have a thing about moving sidewalks and escalators when I'm traveling. I figure since I am doing so much sitting when I travel that I should try to be moving when it is an option. So even if I'm on an escalator I'll trudge my way up. The moving sidewalk though can be quite the frustrating experience. Just because the floor is moving it doesn't really mean you have to stop!! In fact, if you continue to walk you will be surprised how fast you are moving. Getting stuck behind these people who like to stand on the moving sideWALK is very frustrating to me. I just can't get over it. Today I couldn't help it, I laughed out loud while passing some "standers" on the moving sidewalk. It just seemed so ridiculous and funny. That's my rant for today.

Here's a great comedy bit from Brian Regan about flying. Near the end of this clip he talks about the moving sidewalk.



Friday, October 10, 2008

Chicken Butt

An amusing conversation between Jonah and I at breakfast this morning.

Jonah: "Daddy, you know what?"
Me: "Chicken butt."
Jonah: "(sounding frustrated) Daddy!" Trying again, "Do you know what?"
Me: "Chicken butt."
Jonah: Getting upset, "Remember our deal Daddy? No chicken butts."

At this point he's noticeably ticked, so in order to avoid another chicken butt I ask,
"Jonah is there something you'd like to tell me?"
Jonah: "Ummm, Daddy" long pause, "Daddy."
Me: "Yes Jonah."
Jonah: Now sounding rather upset, "Daddy, I can't remember what I was going to tell you because of all your chicken butts!"

He's eating one of his favorite breakfast meals, bagel with butter and brown sugar!



Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Unusual Boarding Pass

Here's a pic of the boarding pass that got me into the airport this morning!

I did eventually get a "normal" boarding pass but a strange way to start the day!


Monday, October 06, 2008

A Few Things

I've been meaning to update this forever but time has been quite limited so here's a quick update as to what I would love to blog about if I had more time. (Maybe I still will)

1) This from my band's newsletter:

We just wanted to let you know that we will be performing at the Block Party at Belmont University tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon as part of the Presidential Debate festivities. The party starts at noon and ends at 6pm - we will be performing from 3:15-4:15 and would love for you to come out and participate!

If you don't live in the Nashville area but would still like to participate, we are going to attempt to broadcast our performance live via the internet. If you go to you will be able to watch the performance. We will be updating our webpage from the Block Party as well, so if it looks like we are having some technical difficulties or things have changed and we will be unable to broadcast it, we will let you know via
So I'm looking forward to my time at the Nashville airport in the next couple of days with all the media and visitors that will be in town.

2) I finally read The Shack. Will post more about it. (I liked it!)

3) Spent part of this morning at a local apple orchard picking apples and generally enjoying fall with my family. Pics to come.

4) Recently, on a flight I sat next to Gary Mudbone Cooper who was a back up singer with P-Funk. P-Funk was a combination of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic. These are the bands that are given credit for starting the "funk" movement.

That's it for now. Hope to update again soon.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Ending Is Beginning Releases!

Well the day has come. Tuesday the 23rd marks the release of our fourth studio album and we'll be spending the morning on KLOVE with John and Sherry Rivers. KLOVE is one of the largest Christian Radio networks in America so we are thrilled to be spending release day on their morning show. If you want to tune in go here.

And don't forget to go out today and pick up a copy of the new album, Ending Is Beginning. The more that sell during the first week the more the stores will continue to carry and hopefully the more will continue to sell!!

By the way, check out this great review from a fairly critical reviewer at


Friday, September 12, 2008

Update On The Boys

I just love that I can say "the boys" now for some reason. Funny.

Little Bram is doing great. He's gaining weight like crazy and is so pleasant. It's been fun being able to use some of the infant clothing that Jonah had once again. I thought I better get this onesy on him before he ran out of time. This was a gift from my friend Brian in Chicago. It was originally meant for Jonah but hey why not spread the love!

(In case you are wondering I'm not much of a Cubs fan at all but I think it looks cute on him for sure.)

And in other news, Jonah started Junior Kindergarten yesterday. Today was day two and he really seems to enjoy it. So far both days after school, by about supper time, Jonah is mister chatty. Well he's always mister chatty but this is even more than usual. Here's a pic of him with his back pack on just leaving the house.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A few more pics for ya and why we went with Bram.

Bramwell Timothy Lavender

Some people have been asking about the name and if there is a story. Sherri and I had a hard time coming up with a boys name that we both liked. It took till about last month for us to find Bram and Sherri really just decided she was ok with Bramwell when the government worker came in and today and asked what his name was for the health card. I had also forgotten that my Grandfather Norm Lavender had a brother named Bramwell. Ha ha. I knew it sounded good. Then when we were looking for a middle name Sherri asked me if there was a guy in my life whose name we could use. Well, my cousin Tim and I grew up like brothers and although we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like I still really love the guy so his was the first name that popped in my head and we both liked it right away. So there you go!! Enjoy!


Not Home Yet

I thought I'd post another picture as there aren't too many yet! Sherri's brother Mark took this one last night. Bram is now out of that incubator thingy and is with Mommy in her room. So we are very happy about that. It sounds like it still won't be until tomorrow that Bram and Sherri will be home so I'll be praying for good rest for Sherri tonight as sleeping in the hospital isn't all that great.

I still haven't had a chance to hold Bram and Jonah has only been able to see him through the glass so we are looking forward to getting to the hospital this afternoon to finally get some good family bonding time. Hopefully we'll have more pictures then that we can share!

And just to clarify for those that like the details, the name will actually be Bramwell Timothy Lavender but we'll just go by Bram.

Thanks to all of you who have sent your good wishes. I've had messages and comments and emails from over 100 different people in the last 24 hours! It's nice to know we're loved. Thanks!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our baby BOY arrived!!

Just a quick update! Our new son Bram Timothy Lavender was born this morning at 8am weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces. Baby and Mommy had a bit of a rough time after the birth but are now doing much better. Will still spend the night at the hospital though. Here's a pic of Bram. Don't let all the hoses/wires freak you out. He is doing pretty good now.


Monday, August 18, 2008


Well we are very close to this baby arriving and thankfully it didn't show up this weekend (yet). I'm typing this while in the airport in Nashville so there is still a chance but at least I am heading home now!

Anyway, Sherri posted a couple of new pictures of her and her pregnant belly on her blog and asked for predictions about the gender and weight. Head over there and add your opinion!!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

100 Mile Diet and Buying Local

I finished the book 100 Mile Diet - A Year Of Local Eating this past weekend and today the family went to the local Cambridge Farmers Market! I guess the book worked.

The premise of the book is that the authors, a couple who live in Vancouver (Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon) decided to take one year and only eat food that was grown within 100 miles of where they live. Each chapter is a new month and they are alternately written by Alisa and J.B.. When you think about eating locally it changes quite a bit. For them it meant no bananas or oranges and it took them a good 7 or 8 months to find decent wheat which meant 7 or 8 months with no bread, pancakes, crackers or anything delicious with flour in it!!! It's a good read and one worth reading to see the possibilities of trying to move to a more local diet.

With gas prices where they are and wanting to be a good steward of the resources I have been given eating locally makes so much sense. Also the food is much fresher and you're supporting your neighbours! So consider getting out to your local market or farmer's stand. Winter will be here before we know it so might as well get out and pick up some of that delicious produce while it is at its best! Here's a few pics from our trip this morning!

Sidenote - The Cambridge Farmers Market (I live in Cambridge) was recently named one of Canada's best 10 markets! It's been around since 1830 and has operated from the same place ever since. A long time for this part of the world!

This is a photo of one side of the market. There are vendors on both sides then there is also an indoor part where you can find meat and cheeses.

Our bounty from this morning. Jonah is nibbling on a green bean!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Shack

I've had a book called The Shack on the waiting list for me to read at the library for most of the summer. It's been recommended to me by a few people and I thought it sounded interesting so I reserved it. It turns out Dr. George Grant who I greatly respect has written his thoughts about the book on his blog. Let's just say he is not a fan. Read the whole post here. The post is called Bad Books and Good Books.

If you have read the book (which I haven't yet) what are your thoughts about what Dr. Grant said? I'm up in the air about even reading it now.

"So look: I am not unaware of The Shack phenomenon. How could I be? I couldn't begin to count the number of people who've asked me to review it, who want to know what I think about it, who are wowed by it, or baffled by it, or angered by it, or all three together. But, here is the thing: the book is just dreadful. It is badly written and badly conceived. It is maudlin, sentimental, and silly. But, worst of all, it is heretical. Indeed, it is heretical from start to finish. Its portrayal of the Trinity, of Scripture, of man's calling, of providence, of the Fall, and of Christ's purposes in redemption are all blatantly, brazenly, objectively apostate. And then, there is its horrifying view of the church—according to a recent articles in World Magazine, neither the author or the publisher have attended church for years, and it really, really shows. Screwtape, Gollum, and Voldemort working together couldn't have made this any worse. Surely this is the sort of thing Francis Schaeffer had in mind when he warned about an encroaching latitudinarianism in his final work, The Great Evangelical Disaster.

But--and here is the point--it is so bad, it is likely to be about as enduring as a summertime gnat. I know, I know, it's made an astonishing climb up the New York Times bestseller list, but this really is not the sort of book that will still be in print in twenty years. It's a blip on the screen. It's a fad--like neck tattoos, droopy pants, doo-rags, tongue piercings, and bed-head dino-hair. It's just another of the tawdry passing fancies of a culture slouching toward Gomorrah.

So, I am not going to do a full review this book. Ever. Instead, I am simply going to repair to my commitment to focusing only on good books. At a time when so many of us are only too well aware of the smothering mediocrity of American Evangelical pop culture, why not direct attentions to those few works of encouragement, edification, erudition, and enlightenment?"


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Free Phil Wickham Album

Looks like Phil is giving away a live album for free! If you haven't heard of him this is a great chance to get some of his music. I met him at GMA this past April after hearing about him quite a lot over the previous few months. Right after GMA I picked up his album and I really like it. He has a a great voice, kinda in the realm of Keane, and his music is also very interesting to listen to. So anyway, on Friday it looks like it's available. Click the link to check it out!!



Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Reading Update

So just to let you know what I'm reading lately - I've been waiting for this book from my library since about the middle of June. It's called The 100 Mile Diet. The gist of it is that this couple who live in Vancouver decided to try for one year to only eat food that came from within a 100 mile radius of their home. They take turns writing chapters which makes it entertaining. I'll report more on that when I'm done.

The other book is another off the grid type of book, It's called The Self-Sufficiency Specialist. My new favorite thing I learned about in this book is a Trombe Wall. Check it out.


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