Saturday, April 29, 2006

Additions to the pictoral archive

Not to flog a dead horse, but I recently aquired these additional photos of the now legendary Daddy-Daughter Dance. I thought you might enjoy them (I can picture you now, jumping up and down, hooting and cheering with glee, as though all of your fondest dreams have just come true – furniture’s tipping over, lights are blowing out, the air-raid sirens blare overhead… okay so it’s not that big a thrill, sorry for being a dork)

If you’re just joining us and feel an irresistible urge to actually read about the magical evening, scroll down a couple posts. I've described it in more detail.

Above is the formal, below was scanned from this weeks edition of the Ravenna Independent News.

Cross-section of a typical Veenie Baby week

Yes we’re still nursing the baby bunny. I think that officially makes this the cutest blog on the web, what with the kids and bunnies and all. Somebody tell somebody who gives out prestigious blog awards.

Quick Veenie Baby Comedy: (overheard at dinner)
Paige: Daddy, wanna hear a knock-knock joke?
TheDad: Okay.
Paige: Do snacks... eat.... um, ther-self?
TheDad: (about to respond, but gets interrupted by punch line)
Paige: Yes.

(Top L-R) Brooke says “Hi”, Brooke asleep, Paige says “Hi”, Paige asleep

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Date night with the twins

In a word – magical.

It was the annual ‘Spring Daddy/Daughter Dance’ at Beechnau Elementary School. My dates were the lovely five-year-old twins, Brooke and Paige Veen. I was looking forward to it, but I had a pretty good idea that it would be a couple of guys leaning on the gym walls, talking about landscaping and politics, while their daughters hung out in front of the DJ talking and, occasionally, dancing. I was fully prepared to be the only dork on the dance floor, because, honestly, I don’t care what the other dads think of me, I was going for my girls, and if they wanted to dance, well, what choice would I have in the matter.

I was completely wrong.

The place was packed with wall to wall men dancing with their little girls under the colored lights and disco ball. Every man wore a tie and every little girl had her hair done and held a fresh carnation. The way these men focused on their little angels, like nothing else existed in whole wide world, just made my heart warm over. Like I said – it was magical. Every little girl dreams of being a princess and being swept away by her prince, and that night, every single one of them had their dream come true. I hope they all grow up and meet men who treat them with as much honor and respect as that room full of men – God knows they deserve it.

Nowadays, we’re all kind of jaded when it comes to the quality of fathering in our society, but what I saw that night gave me hope. I don’t know how well these guys parent at home, but at least for one night, their daughters got to be the most special thing in the universe. At least precious, wholesome memories were made.

I know the twins had a wonderful time, and you can tell that I did too. I do have to tell you that instead of dancing, they mostly just each grabbed a hand and ran around in a circle until I thought I would throw up.

They pooped out doing the ‘Macerena’ and we went home happy.

Easter, and all that implies

Easter was pretty much what you'd expect: colored eggs, cute kids, evangalistic church services, time with family, and hunts for Easter baskets. In the above picture, I've shown where the baskets were hidden, and yes, that's an outhouse - perfect for Chantze's basket, don't you think? Below are some pictures of the action, including Chantze's reaction when he finally figured out where I hid it.

I'll let Cindy blog about the Easter bunnies. (a tragic tale indeed)

A summary of last weekend

2 rosebushes

11 trees

110 lbs grass-seed

2 sunburns

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chronicles of a four-day weekend

This may be my longest post ever. On second thought, I'll break it up into about ten others to leave all of you ample opportunity to comment. So.... feeling guilty for the neglect this poor little blog has received over the past month, I kept my camera close to me over the last four days. In honor of spring break, Cindy and I took Thursday and Friday off from work, and it’s been wonderful. We had no kids Wednesday evening (thanks mom), so we went out for dinner and drinks, then, starting on Thursday, after the dentist’s appointments, the real fun began. I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story, but let me just say – we’ve accomplished a whole lot, in the way of both recreation and the category that includes all the things you’ve been meaning to do during the week but never find time for.

(btw, in the midst of all the activities you see below, I found time to write a couple chapters)

We got our skate on

Friday night was Grace’s birthday party. We started out at ‘Jumpin’ Jupiter’s’, and “nobody had fun”. Actually they all did, it’s just that most of the kids had something to complain about. The twins were very uncomfortable on skates (although the way they slipped and slid and pinwheeled their feet was quite amusing to me – in a cartoonish way) so we paid for them to go into the ‘galactic bouncer’ thing, I don’t remember the name. Anyhow, they had a blast from there on, although an adult had to stay in there with them. Emily was upset because she couldn’t skate backwards, and Chantze was hurt because Grace and Hailie kept “ditching” him. I think it had more to do with individual skating velocities.

Sorry about the picture quality y’all. It’s not easy capturing action, in the dark, at a distance. I just realized that I put one of the wrong pictures of Emily in the collage. I have a cool shot of her being pulled by her Aunt Jamie like a caboose on a train – sorry guys. And oh yeah, did I mention there was an arcade?

Happy tenth, Gracie-poo

Then we went to Mom’s for dinner and the birthday party. Grace got lots of girly stuff – make-up and jewelry and clothes and whatnot. What’s with kids not wanting toys anymore?

Another fine theatrical performance

Our group of entertainers made up their own play, complete with costumes, props and sets. It was called ‘The Farm Folk’, and the gist of it was that this old couple (Grace was Mr. Smither and Chantze was Mrs. Smither) and their baby had been attacked by a bear (Emily). So they go and enlist the aid of the ‘Hunter’ (Hailie) who takes care of the bear with her banana gun. The plot got a little hazy at that point but somehow the dead bear turned into a giant gorilla and a new bear got her hands on the banana gun and shot everybody, including herself by accident. The funniest part was how we kept thinking the story was over and started applauding, then the kids would protest irritably, “It’s not over yet!”

Saturday morning work detail

So Grace wanted to spend the night. We let her but told her she’d have to work in our barn the next morning because Chantze and Hailie are both trying to earn and save some money. (Chantze is going to Disney World and Hailie wants an ipod) They bagged up fifteen huge bags of dirty garbage and did a really good job – I was very proud of them. My barn looks a lot better and the kids are all a little richer. Yes, I ended up giving Grace some money because she worked really hard and had a good attitude.The grown-ups kept busy most of the rest of the day too. Cindy caught up on laundry and housework and I cleaned out the garage, fixed the firepit, and changed the oil in both vehicles.

Patterson Park beckons...

After all their hard work, we let the big kids ride bikes to Patterson Park, almost a mile down the road. I joined them later with the twins and got lots of good pics. It’s downhill pretty much the entire way to the park, which conversely means it’s uphill all the way back. So I threw their bikes in the truck and drove them back.

The littluns threw rocks and anything else they could get their hands on into the creek, while the bigguns entertained themselves by climbing onto objects in the stream and getting as dirty as possible.Everybody had to get their feet wet of course. And let me tell you, this stream felt like it was flowing off an iceberg – April in Michigan is just not a good wading-season.

First fire of '06

Chantze and Hailie capped off their first big outdoor day by building a fire in the newly repaired firepit. Actually I had to get it started for them because, not being men, they didn’t have the ‘kindling pile’ and ‘tee-pee’ quite right, but from then on, it was their fire. It was very very pleasant. The twins, Cindy, and I stayed out there with them for a while, but it got really cold. The only ‘unhappy’ part of the whole experience were the disagreements over the ‘poking stick heirarchy’. Everybody wanted to poke with the broken shovel-handle.

Little white church on a hill

And here’s where we’ve been going to church – it’s called, ‘Jibson Emmanuel Baptist’. It’s Cindy’s parents little church, the pastor is a wonderful man, but we probably won’t go there forever. At some point, I’m going to want to get back involved in children’s ministries, and this quaint elderly church has really no ministry opportunities.

The park by Jenkin's

After church today, we met Cindy’s whole family at her brother Eddie’s house. We had a little lunch then walked to a nearby park. The fun revolved around trying to spin people off spinny rides like the ‘merry-go-round’. Get it? The fun ‘revolved’? Nevermind – nobody tell Fritz about this because it’s not technically a pun, more of a clever play on words, anyhow… I was amazed that no children were seriously harmed, not even during our lengthy stick-sword wars.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of our four day weekend. If you’re not tired of looking at it or reading about it, I’d be surprised – I’m tired of typing it and uploading it. Have fun and God bless.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Waiting is fun!"

First off, everybody, I’m sorry. You know what for. Blame my new ‘internet-connection-challenged’ laptop. I’ve been getting a lot of writing done, though, and I promise that once I can quit my job, this blog will get lots of TLC.

This picture here is one of the finest pictures I’ve ever taken of the Veenie-Babies. Don’t ask me why, but there’s just something about it. Their smile’s, their happiness, their cooperative posing – it’s a perfect, spontaneous snapshot of evething I love about them.

We were in Wal-mart’s parking lot, waiting for Cindy to grab one or two things, and of course the wait turned in to a half-hour. It's not Cindy's fault, though, I blame the two cashiers manning the fifty-eight checkout lanes. Fifteen minutes is the scientifically-proven threshold of a child's ability to wait, so shortly after this 'Kodak-moment', I had to scream at them to stop whining.

"Don't make me turn around!" (evil eye in the rearview mirror)

What the...?

My mom had a rockin’ birthday party with lots of family and friends. There were many great photo ops, but somehow, the only picture I ended up taking that day was this one.


It’s my emo-cuzzin Micheal riding his sister’s boyfriend. Welcome to the internet, gents.


The twins, because of their age and personalities, demand a lot of attention. I sometimes feel bad for Chantze and Hailie, not that they’re being neglected, but just that they need special time individually once in a while. We have to remind them that they’re just as important, even if we make them give one of the girls a certain seat in the van, or force them to let the twins play in their room or with their toys or something.

I take Hailie out to dinner every other Monday – we go the mall or something, and we both really enjoy that time together. For Chantze, there’s ‘Cadets’.

This is our third year, and one of favorite parts is the ‘Pinewood Derby’. We’ve done really well in the past, in both the ‘race’ and ‘best-in-show’ categories, as you can see from the trophies, there’re also several ribbons, but I didn’t get them in the picture. This year was a total wash, though, Chantz’es hot-dog car was slow because of it’s non-aerodynamic shape, and he was inelgible for best-in-show because it wasn’t an actual car. My futuristic UFO car started out great, but once it was shaped, pretty much every step from there on went ‘worst-case-scenario’. The metallic paint would not dry and the screws for my wheels skived off the lead in the bottom, making my wheels crooked. Consequently – it wouldn’t roll all the way to the end of the track. It was a real heart-breaker.
Then I was on call the day of the races – I got called in before the races were finished and worked until really late.

In the top picture, Chantze's cars are on the right, mine are on the left. The nearer ones are from this year, the further ones are from our first year.

Below is a collage of different race-day pictures -- our uniforms really are the same shade of gray -- I think my digital camera's just getting old.