26 Dec 08 – Our trip was to see our newest grandson in South Carolina.  For our trip we rented a Dodge Caravan – It’s got the stow and go you know.  After loading up we finally hit the road around 1100am.  The weather for the week was expected to be warm, so we added a stopover at my aunt Ruth’s who lives in Tennessee.  We’ve never traveled in December before, and I wasn’t sure about driving in the mountains if there would have been snow.  We finally arrived at her house around 9 pm – it always takes us longer to get places for some reason.  We didn’t do much stopping because we left so late.

27 Dec 08 – We stayed at my aunt’s until about 1pm.  It was good a good visit, and I was able to get some more family history.  She’s getting on, and hasn’t been doing well health wise, so I’m glad we stopped by.  Before we left I took the kids for a walk, and showed them some of the places I used to play when I visited as a kid.  Unfortunately/fortunately I wasn’t able to find the cave I used to explore with my cousins.  I found out later from my aunt that I went to the wrong spot, and then she related some stories about how some other kids got hurt exploring in the cave.
    The drive through the Smokey mountains to Crystal and Jon’s was gorgeous.  It was a beautiful clear day, and even though the trees were leafless it was still awesome.  Especially when you live in flat Illinois.  While we were in the mountains, we stopped at a park by the North Carolina border for a little hike.  We finally arrived at the Acker’s residence around 7pm.  We were very excited to see the new baby.  He’s such a cutie!
    Before Josiah’s bedtime we had a belated Christmas time, and exchanged gifts.

28 Dec 08 – Went to church morning and evening. 

29 Dec 08 – A beautiful day! High in the 60’s.  I spent it with my kids and Josiah drawing on the pavement by the house with sidewalk chalk and just playing out in the church parking lot.  Ruth helped out with Crystal and the baby.  For lunch we went to the Silver Bay restaurant – Nathanael’s first time eating out.  Later on we went to Wal-Mart to get Melodie the scooter she wanted for Christmas.  We also secretly got her a tiara to replace the one she got for Christmas.  Sean-Daniel had accidentally broke it, and he felt really bad.  I let him present it to her when we got back to the house, and she was very happy.  As for the scooter.  I was a little nervous at first, but after she crashed a few times she started to get the hang of it.  Unfortunately, she was not in the sharing mode, so in the spirit of Christmas I took Sean-Daniel to Wal-Mart and let him pick out his own scooter.  It was fun watching Sean-Daniel and Melodie scooting around with Josiah following in his electric tractor.

30 Dec 08 – Another beautiful day!  We all went to the Greenville Zoo to see our favorite animals – they were all still there.

31 Dec 08 – Today was a little rainy, so Jon and I took the kids to Monkey Joes.  Josiah was so cute climbing the huge slides.  He always seemed to tumble head over heels though when he got to the bottom.

01 Jan 09 – Happy New Year!!  Not much fanfare.  We stayed up till about midnight last night watching movies.  Later in the day we went to Reedy River historic park.  It finally got cold again, so we stopped off first at Spill the Beans coffee shop before going for a walk.

02 Jan 08 – Me and Ruth and the kids went to a historic art museum that Bob Jones set up.  There was a kids section for them to learn about paintings and some basic information on the evolution of painting. 

03 – 04 Jan 08 – Heading home the same way we came.  This time we stayed with my cousin in Tennessee for the night, but we did stop by aunt Ruth’s to say goodbye.  We got home on the 4th around 9pm.


13 Jan
Ruth and I have been suffering from one of the common signs of old age – having a hard time seeing close up.  Since Ruth has 20/20 vision she only needed to buy reading glasses – she looks very cute in them by the way.  I, on the other hand, have less than perfect vision, so I needed bifocals.  Well, after putting it off for almost two years, I finally concluded that I could no longer function well close up.  Today I picked up my bifocals and tried them on when I got home.  They’re not too bad, but will take a while getting used to – especially going up and down stairs.

17 Jan
This morning I went to the pet store to research getting Sean-Daniel a red-eared slider turtle – he’s been wanting one ever since he saw one in the wild.  On the way out I passed the parakeets, and stood there watching them for a moment.  I used to have one before I married Ruth (I called him Virgil because he looked like an old friend of mine), but he had been killed by one of the other pets.  I suddenly thought maybe it was time for another one.  So I found the old cage,  and after cleaning off the cobwebs and setting it up, I went back to the pet store to pick one out.  I watched them for awhile (there were about 15 in a big glass case), and there was one that kept looking at me and tilting his head – he looked just like ole Virgil, so I asked for him.  Ironically, when the girl when into the glass case to fetch him, he flew out into the secure room without a fuss.  I brought him home, and the family gathered around to see me put him in his new cage.  After closing the cage door I announced “Everyone, meet Virgil”.

27 Jan
It started snowing and sleeting yesterday on my way home from work.  It was predicted that we would get about 3-4 inches, and it looks like we did.  I stayed home from work today to catch up on some things.  This morning the kids stayed inside and played.  David had given the kids a Game-Cube for Christmas, so they played with that quite a bit. This afternoon Ruth went out to clean off her car, and the kids went out to help.  They looked so cute all bundled up – it was around 20F.  Sean-D looked especially cute with his “Bob the Builder” goggles on.  He said that it protected his eyes while he scraped the ice of the windows.  I eventually got bundled up myself and went out to play with the kids.  I pulled Melodie around the property, and had a snow fight with Sean-Daniel – the snow was dry so we couldn’t pack it.  It was sleeting all day, and tonight it’s still going.  The forecast is for another 2-3 inches, so I might stay home again tomorrow.

11 Feb
Sean-Daniel’s is eight years old today.  We celebrated today, just the four of us, with a cake, and gifts.  There will be another party on Friday where we’ll have family over..

14 Feb
This Valentines day I woke the kids up at 7am as we agreed the night before.  The plan was originally to get to the store early and get Ruth some flowers, balloons, and cards.  However, are plans changed when Ruth announced, last night, that instead of spending money on flowers we buy her some presents – of which she had drawn a list.  So when the kids woke up they went upstairs and started working on cards for Ruth.  They each made two: one on notebook paper, and one on card stock.  They were wonderful, and Ruth was very happy.  The next phase was getting her wish list filled.  Sean-D stayed home, and Melodie went shopping with me- again, Ruth was very happy.  The final phase of our day was a date –  just Ruth and I.  For that we had Amber to help.  We took turns watching each others children while the others went on their date – we went to Chevy’s restaurant, and Ruth was very happy.

21 Feb
Melodie turned 6 a couple of days ago.  We celebrated with just us four.  The next day we celebrated again with grandma and pa Falconnier, David and Alana, and Amber and Holdyn.  Then today we had another celebration for both Sean-D and Melodie at McDonald’s play land for their friends to come to.  There may be one more birthday party if Ruth’s sister comes down.  Then we should be done.
This evening Melodie lost another tooth.  Probably a good thing since her new one is coming in next to the one that just fell out.

7 Mar
The weather was finally good enough to take Sean-D fishing with his new pole he got for his birthday.  He did very well, but neither of us caught any fish.  We used lures instead of worms, so he had to learn to cast and reel in right away.  He’s got a good  arm, and was casting about 20-25 feet out. We only fished for a couple of hours because it started getting windy.  Sean-D was sure a tornado was coming.

20 Mar
The kids were on spring break all week.  I decide to take off this Friday to go fishing with Sean-D.  We went to Carlyle lake for about 5 hours, and didn’t even get a bite.   Neither one of cared though because we were able to spend time together, which was the whole point.  Still, he did get a lot of practice casting, and was getting out almost as far as I was.

21 Mar
Today was Melodie’s turn to spend the day with me.  We spent the morning at Monkey Joe’s, and then went to the movies.  I was surprised that at the 15 Cine they couldn’t manage to have at least one G rated movie.  After consulting with Ruth we ended up seeing Race to Witch Mountain”.

08 Apr
I decided to start spending more time with Virgil, so I could build his trust.  After about a week of spending at least 30 minutes a day with him I finally got him to perch on my finger.  He liked it so much I could hardly get him to jump off.

18 Apr
I finally determined that this year I was going to the Missouri Botanical Garden in the Spring, so today was the day.  The forecast was 70 degrees and rain, so we took our umbrellas.  The Garden was so beautiful.  The tulips were bright and colorful, and there were trees in bloom all over the place  – crabapple, magnolia, and dogwoods were the main ones.  I also enjoyed the fragrance – especially from the Vibernums.  It actually didn’t start raining until the afternoon after we went inside for a snack.  We visited most of the areas we always like.

17 May
Today we went to meet Ruth’s friend in Wentzville MO at the Renaissance Faire.  This was our first time, and it was a lot of fun.  There were people all over the place in period clothing – there were even girls dressed up like fairies.  Some of the events we saw were:  World Bird Sanctuary, a Jousting Match, and Robin Hood presents.  Melodie pick up a stamp sheet, and got stamps at several booths along the way.  At the end of the day she presented her sheet to the King, and was given a scroll officially making her “Princess Melodie”.

25 May
Memorial Day!  I promised Sean-Daniel, a week ago, that we would go fishing.  Of course I had forgotten, but not him.  We formulated our plan the night before, and got up a 5am this morning so we could get to Carlyle lake before the fish woke up.   It’s a hour drive and when we got there it was just getting light.  Sean-Daniel picked a spot for us to fish, and about 15 minutes into it it started raining.  We sat in the car awhile, and Sean-D finally determined it was going to rain forever, and wanted to give up.  I convinced him that we should at least drive around the lake to see if we could pick a spot for our next attempt,  and we got to promising area just as the rain stopped.  Sean-D decided that maybe we should stay and fish after all.  It was a good thing we did because we caught 2 nice sized catfish.  It was a team effort – I caught the fish on the pole and Sean-D scooped them up with the net.  We did catch another fish right before we decided to quit at 11:00am.  It was just a big carp so we through it back in.

5 Jun
Ruth and the kids came home from Chicago. They had gone to pick up Ruth’s friend Madame Gouttbarge at the airport and visit Chicago for a couple of days before coming home.

6 Jun
This weekend was the Fort DeChartres annual Rendezvous at Prairie DuRocher.   Today I took Sean-Daniel and Melodie with me while Ruth went to the Botanical Garden with Amber, Holdyn, and Madame Gouttbarge .


Arvada, Colorado Trip 8 –13 Jun 2009

Crystal and Jon have moved from South Carolina to Colorado for Jon’s new position as Associate Pastor. Ruth’s friend, Madame Gouttbarge, has come to visit us from France.   She was Crystals teacher in 2nd grade while they were living there, and this was the perfect time to visit.

08 Jun – Once again we rented our favorite Dodge Grand Caravan for the long 1737 mile round trip. I picked up the van at 0730 and by 0930 we were on the road—taking I70 all the way. We had lunch in Missouri, stopped at a few rest stops along the way.   We had supper at an IHOP in Salina Kansas. We finally stopped for the night at a Super 8 at 2200 in Wakeeney Kansas—about 563 miles from Belleville.

09 Jun – Left hotel at 0900 after a continental breakfast. Madame Gouttbarge thought it funny that we should stay at such a nice hotel and yet eat breakfast on Styrofoam plates. It was an interesting 2 leg of our journey, and the terrain kept changing from hilly to flat—I especially liked the prairie dog towns. Madame Gouttbarge commented on various interesting sites.   We finally hit the Colorado border, and about 30 minutes from Arvada we saw the snow capped mountains.   We arrived at Savannah Suites right at 1500, and checked in. While checking in we had a bit of a shock when a young lady was being wheeled out on a gurney with a net over her head. As she was wheeled by she groaned “you don’t want to stay here”. They put her in the ambulance and Ruth and I got a little anxious. However, since the room was clean, and everything looked new, we decided to trust God and stay. After unloading some stuff from the van we headed for Crystal and Jon’s—a 15 minute drive away. We had a delicious supper and Crystal and Madame Gouttbarge got reacquainted. After supper we walked to a nearby park, and let the children play awhile. At 2100 we headed back to the hotel.

10 Jun – Today we went with Crystal and her kids to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. There were a lot of stuffed animals on display in beautiful scenery. I think I prefer this way of looking at animals instead of the zoo.   Madame Gouttbarge, Ruth and the kids watched an IMAX showing of “The Grand Canyon” while

 Crystal, Josiah, Nathanael. and I walked around some more. It was very crowded today because today was free admission.

This evening we went to Jon’s Church for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.

11 Jun – Today Crystal and I took the children to the Children’s Museum while Ruth and Madame Gouttbarge went shopping at the 16th Street Mall. Later this evening we celebrated Crytsal’s 27th Birthday.

12 Jun – Today is our last day in Arvada, and we just couldn’t leave without going to the mountains. We took 170 West to Lookout Mountain. Then we tried to find Bison Range, but didn’t see them. We did see some beautiful countryside. Finally, we drove to Loveland Pass. The road was so curvy Ruth had to pull over and let me drive. The temperature dropped from 50 degrees to 46 degrees in just 20 minutes. I was an amazing view when we arrived at the pass, but the cold and altitude got to us, so we only stayed about 20 minutes before heading back to Crystal’s house for supper.

13 Jun – We met Crystal and Jon at Panera’s for breakfast, said our goodbyes, and were on the road by 1030. At 2230 we stopped in Salina Kansas for supper, and decided to stay the night. We had a hard time finding a hotel because they were all full, but we finally found a Best Western.

14 Jun – Continental breakfast on Styrofoam plates, and back on the road. We pretty much drove straight home.



27 Jun
Ruth and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary today. It was actually on 22 June, but Ruth was in Chicago taking Madame Gouttbarge to the airport.   Ruth’s mom watched the kids while we went to Chevy’s Fresh Mex, and then to Long Acre park, where I proposed 10 years ago, to talk and reminisce.

29 Jun
Last weekend Sean-Daniel announced he wanted to start a family club. He had grand visions of building a tree house where the club would meet. We would have a password, and meetings to determine what this password would be. In the end he agreed to let me set up my old tent in the yard. Our first meeting came to order on Sunday after church. It was fun. After the official stuff like coming up with the password, and determining who would be president, director and judge, Sean-Daniel went and got some books for us to pick from and read out loud. I read chapter 1 of “The Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Treasury”, Sean-D read a joke book, and Melodie read a book about Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Today, Sean-D announced that the club would be having a picnic, so we brought our sandwiches and corn on the cob in the tent for supper.

Today the kids and I planned on fishing at Carlyle lake, but there was rain in the forecast. We got up anyway at 6am and headed out the door for the 1 hour drive – when we got to Carlyle we had breakfast at McDonalds. As soon as we got in the car to go to the lake it started raining, but we went to the fishing spot anyway hoping it would stop – but it just rained harder. We all agreed to come back another day. When we got back home it wasn’t raining , of course, so the kids rode their bikes. I had to do a double take when I noticed that Melodie was flying around the yard without training wheels. Ruth said she had learned to ride without them just yesterday after one day of training. Of course this made Sean-Daniel excited, and he spent the day improving his riding too.

Alana had a surprise “Welcome Home” party for David at her parents house this evening. David had been away to a school in Georgia for a few weeks.

25 July
The kids have been doing such a great job riding their bikes that Ruth and I decided it was time for a family bike ride.   This morning we pulled our bikes out of the basement, dusted them off, and filled the tires.   There is a nearby grade school with a parking lot and track, so we rode out to there.   Everyone did a great job, but we couldn’t stay long because it started raining.   In the afternoon the kids and I played kickball while Ruth worked in her garden.

I also see that I neglected to mention that the kids have a pet boxer turtle. It’s a little thing I got from a coworker back in June. The kids have named him Alex Boxy. It’s actually a compromise since they couldn’t agree to one name. They have done pretty well taking care of him, and they are required to let him out in the yard for a walk every day.

1 Aug
Melodie caught a little toad and wanted to keep it as a pet, so I made a little terrarium complete with a log for her to keep it in. She wanted to name the toad Alex, so we were able to change the turtles name to Boxy and transfer ownership to Sean-Daniel.

8 Aug
Today Ruth went to Alana’s baby shower, so I took the kids to the zoo. We had a fun time, but the temperature was around 101F. We stayed about 3 hours and were thoroughly worn out by the time we got home.

9 Aug
Another scorcher today, so I pulled out the huge inflatable pool my dad and Linda got us about 5 years ago. It took an hour to blow up, 15 minutes to fill up, and the kids played in it for 30 minutes.

15 Aug
Sean-Daniel has had a burden for Africa ministries ever since he saw a TV program showing the great need for shoe’s for children. At first he was just saving his money in a special box—putting in his chore money and money he would find. The he was inspired to have a yard sale. He and Ruth worked all week gathering things from the attic and taking donated items from friends at church, and today was the day for the yard sale. At the end of the day we counted over $145 dollars collected for 2 charities that he finally came up with: Samaritan Feet and an organization that digs wells for clean water.

20 Aug
First day of school! Sean-Daniel and Melodie were getting so excited in the days leading up to today. However, it was because of the memories of playing with their friends that caused the excitement. I asked, “What about all the schoolwork?” “Oh yeah” they replied.

12 Sept
Sean-Daniel has been showing a lot of interest in organizing event and clubs. He came to me last week and said he was starting 3 clubs: Fitness, Paper airplane, and Crafts, and wanted to know which one I was interested in joining. Well, since I started running again this year, I of course chose the fitness club, and today was our first meeting. We do stretching, exercises, and running. So far, the members are me, Sean-Daniel, and Melodie, but Ruth joined us for some sit-ups.

28 Sept
Sean-Daniel started home school today. His performance at school was getting worse, and Ruth and I attributed it to the lack of enough teachers for supervision and help. He was lumped in with Junior High students and the teacher seemed to expect more out of him than he was capable as an 8 year old.   The home school program is still the same and it’s through the same school.

9 Nov
This past weekend we spent down in Branson Missouri with my dad and Linda in their timeshare. This is the first time we stayed in the timeshare together. We left home on the 6th at 1pm in our rented Kia Rondo, and we promptly got stuck in St Louis on interstate 44 for almost 2 hours because of an accident, so we didn’t get to the condo until about 9pm.

The next day we spent most of the morning catching up with my dad on the latest happenings, and then at 1230 we went to Silver Dollar City while dad and Linda ran errands.   We had fun seeing the sites, a Frosty the Snowman skit, and the Light Parade in the evening.

On Sunday we went to the Living Word church with dad and Linda. They had an excellent worship band, and the sermon was on forgiveness and not holding grudges. In the afternoon we went back to Silver Dollar City and went to the section that had all the rides as well as seeing a short musical called the Live Nativity. We hadn’t planned on staying late, but we lost track of time and saw the Light Parade again.

On Monday, our last day, we went to an in-door putt-putt golf course while dad and Linda cooked a turkey breast for lunch. After lunch we took some pictures and then headed back home.

26 Nov
Amber invited us over to her house for Thanksgiving. Amber made most of the dishes and Ruth made the turkey and brought it over.

28 Nov
It was such a beautiful day that we went to Pere Marquette state park and hiked on one of the trails. We made the adventure part of our fitness club routine. Afterwards we went to the Fin Inn for dinner. The restaurant is known for have aquariums in the wall at each table, and stocked with fish from the river. Tonight ours was stocked with 3 gar. Now Sean-Daniel wants to catch a gar when we go fishing next time.

18 Dec
Melodie’s school had their Christmas program today and Melodie had her first speaking part ever.   She was one of 12 angels in the skit.   There was one part during the skit where a different kid would name an attribute of Jesus while he was here on earth and another kid would add to it. Melodie’s line was “He was tempted” and the response was “Yet did not sin”.   She said it loud and clear. It was a nice program and all the kids did a great job.

23 Dec
Ruth and the kids got the Christmas tree and decorations just in time for Christmas!! This year they put up the little 2.5 foot tree, and loaded it with lights and ornaments. It was very beautiful.

25 Dec
We spent Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Falconnier’s. David and Alana made it. But Amber and Jon went to Colorado to spend Christmas with Crystal and Jon. Phil and Camille came over from Missouri. Lydia and Neil came down from Chicago and I was finally able to meet their new addition to the family – Sophronia Evelyn. She was born in May and adopted in June. Sean-Daniel and Melodie were happy to see their new cousin too and play with Langston. Evelyn was not able to come in from California today, but should be in tomorrow. It was a lot of fun getting with everyone and I know Ruth enjoyed it.


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