As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed. Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, January 30, 2006

Snow Day

Fresh Snow on an Old Capital



Circle K

Funny story...On Friday, I was driving along minding my own business on I55. I was almost to the Clearlake Exit and guess what? Well, if you know my history you would already know. Yes, I got a flat tire. And me with no spare, no jack and no cell phone. I had my camera with me so I should of taken pictures of all the people flying by me at 80+ miles an hour. I was so worried about being killed as I walked down the Interstate that I forgot to take some neat pictures. I hate missing a photo-op. Anyway, I walked up the hill that the off ramp went around and walked down I72/Clearlake. Cars continued to zoom by me without a thought. I made it to CircleK and called my friend for a ride from the payphone. He came and got me and gave me a ride the rest of the way to work. I called by Brother-in-Law and he got me a spare with a used tire, put it on and picked me up to go get it. What a guy! Needless to say, I am going to have to get some new tires one of these days. But, what has the world come to that people are either too afraid to pick up someone in need or just to busy to help?

Our Story


Our story begins on November 11, 2003. Exactly one month after my second son's first birthday. My wife and I were surprised to find out she was expecting our third child. We were a little nervous since we lived in a small apartment, but also excited! Could it be that this new baby was our girl that we so desperately wanted?! After two wonderful sons, we both secretly hoped for a girl. The next few months went by and we made plans for our expanding family. There were sonograms, doctors appointments and baby showers. One sonogram we found out we were having a girl. Wow, what exciting news! I imagined so many things that we could do with her. You could not contain the excitement we had for the baby.

We picked the name Karli Michelle. At that time I would talk to her. Call her by name. To let me know she heard me she would leap in her mother's womb. I would put my hand on mom's belly and she would push back at me. Almost like saying, "Here I am dad.” Than came the month of June. My wife was around 36 or 37 weeks along. Due to my second son being delivered C-section, we had to make a tough decision to either have another C-section or VBAC. My wife wanted to just have the C-section to safe. So the doctor scheduled it for July 6, 2004.

The weekend of the fourth of July she noticed Karli was not moving. She was not to concerned, thinking that all babies slow down when getting ready for birth. But that Monday worry changed to terror. The baby was not even responding to touch. I was awoke by my sobbing wife, worried for our little one. My mind raced with terrible thoughts. What would we do if something bad has happened? How could we cope? We rushed to the hospital hoping that we were wrong and Karli was o.k.

The triage was where we found out the news. I remember the nurse that was taking care of my wife. She was nervous when she could not find Karli's heartbeat. It was an awkward moment for her. She knew what she feared, but could not tell us. She got the attending to do a sonogram. We saw our daughter on the screen. The doctor pointed out the heart that we had seen several times before. But this time it was no longer beating. Our hearts sank and we both started sobbing. Our little girl was gone. This was a total shock being just hours before our scheduled C-section. My mind flashed back to an ER episode on TV where one of the doctors lost their baby in a similar way. This time it was no TV show. It was real and it happened to us!

Then next few hours were a blur. I called our family and they rushed to the hospital to be with us. We had so much support from our friends in our faith. Some even staying over night at the hospital sleeping in a tiny office with only straight chairs. My colleagues at work also helped us in many ways, as well as SHARE.

Karli Michelle was born at 4:32 PM on July 6, 2004. She came into this world silent but was beautiful. She had lots of brown hair. Was 7 lbs., 10 ½ ozs. and 20 ½ in. long. I held her tightly, walking around the room with her singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider” as I caressed her hand. Thinking back I wish we had more time with her. Soon she was moved to the funeral home.

One of the hardest parts of the whole ordeal was to tell our oldest son, who was seven at the time, his baby sister was gone. Much of which I don't think he understood. I think that was the first time he saw me cry.

At her burial I read a poem I wrote. This poem was written in two parts. The first was started when Karli was still alive. The second, a few hours after her birth.

As I sit and watch the sun rise,
I think of all I have with me.
As I stare at the stars in the skies,
I dream of what will be.
Soon I will have a brand new baby,
Although the future I cannot see.
I can imagine a beautiful girl
With brown hair and brown eyes
With rosy cheeks and a head full of curls.
I hold my new little one.
She wraps her hand around my finger
And I caress the tiny hand with my thumb.

Now the time has come and gone
For our new baby to arrive.
We know from God she was sent
And for the brief moment she touched our lives,
We will love her an eternity.
As I held her in my arms only for a little while,
Hoping to look down on her and see a smile.
That would not be,
Not at this time and place you see.
But my hope is a future time
When God will bring her back to me.
You see there is no safer place
Than to be in God's memory.

I also held her little coffin for a few moments and told her my goodbyes.

This July will have past two years but our wound is still there. We have a hope to see her again someday. That helps us cope with our loss now, but it doesn't take away the pain that we have.

It's kind of strange how such a small life can impact you so much. She was only here for a short time, but she has changed our lives forever. I will never be the same person I was. My wife and I continue to use expressions like "before Karli” or "after Karli”. That was a turning point in our lives.

Looking in the future, the next few years are a little gray. We have no concrete plans to have another baby, but we are talking about it. It's really just a matter of when. But one thing is for certain, we will never forget our first daughter, Karli Michelle.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Taste the Rainbow

Never forget

In the fall of 2004, my wife and I attended the Walk to Remember. This was put together by Share, an organization that helps people who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth and other infant deaths. These are photos of the balloon release. Each family member got to release a balloon for their lost loved one. By the pictures you can see how many lives are impacted by losses such as these. And we will never forget them...


Hardworking People cleaning up after Old Man Winter






On January 28 we had a small snow storm that gave the children something to play in, but most adults found it more of a pain than a good time. So I was able to capture some of the hard working individuals cleaning the stuff up. Kudos to all who work hard keeping the sidewalks and streets clean after the weather turns nasty. Keep up the good work...

The Hilton Vs. The Capital Building

Which is taller, the Hilton or the New State Capital Building? I have ask that question to many people. Out of all I have ask, only one has said that the Capital Building is taller. What a controversy we have. I would like to put the issue to rest. According to the http://www.online-springfield.com



















"Tallest Buildings
The tallest building in Springfield is the State Capitol Building, measuring 361 ft. to the top of the rotunda and 405 ft. if you go to the top of the flagpole. The second tallest building is the Hilton Hotel, measuring 352 ft."

Now you know and knowing is half the battle!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Longhorn Steakhouse


Longhorn Steakhouse
2451 Wabash Avenue,
Springfield, IL 62704
(217) 726-5130
I would like to congratulate Longhorn Steakhouse for being my first restaurant review. The Longhorn Steakhouse opened for business in Springfield on May 2, 2005. It is a upscale Bar\Restaurant who, as you can guess, features steak. This is a very nice place, with western motif and an all around country western feel to it. From the look of things, I think many people like it because it was busy with people waiting for tables and all the tables were full. It's my opinion that although it is mainly an adults restaurant with a full bar, it does try to make kids feel welcome too. My sister, her husband and three children, as well as my wife and our two kids came with us. They gave them crayons, their own special red napkin and a coloring book/kids menu. The kids menus were reasonable, they did come with a drink. And what surprised me was they even had steak on the kids menu. Nice for those young carnivores out there. But to keep it on the nutritious side, fresh fruit was also served with the meal. Sad to say my picky eaters did not touch the fruit. For those of you with children, there are 7 items available for children 10 and under. As I mentioned, steak is one of the items, but for those health nut kids there is grilled chicken salad. The old standby grill cheese or as we in the Midwest call them "cheese toasties". Of course hot dogs and cheeseburgers are always a hit with the little ones.
For starters, my wife ordered a strawberry banana daiquiri . I tasted it and it was very tasty. Capt' Morgan rum was definitely in there. Also we had a "Tonion" as an appetizer. At first I didn't catch what they said but when we got the appetizer I realized of course they meant a whole lot of onion. As a joke, I stopped the waitress and said, "Mama, there is onion in this appetizer." She laughed but I am thinking it was a sympathy laugh for my wife, bless her heart.
The food for the main courses for adults consists of meat, meat and more meat. I had the 20 oz Longhorn, which I believe is one of the signature steaks. It was very good although a little over done. It is a large porterhouse/filet/NY Strip all rolled into one. The fillet part was a perfect medium but the thinner part was medium well. My wife had the ribeye. The steaks were seasoned with what the called "Prairie Dust". I didn't even need steak sauce, it was that good. There were several other steaks but I don't want to give away all the surprises. Other things on the menu included salmon, shrimp and various salads. They had a chicken section for those who may have had a recent heart attack. But for all of us, we stuck with red meat. Yum Yum. I am not a salad eater so I asked what I could substitute for it. I was thinking they would give me cottage cheese or something insignificant but nope, I got New England Clam Chowder. Of course, when she said that I had to do the comment from the Ace Venture movie, "Is that the red or the white?" She did not get it though, and said "Its the white, everyone asks me that." I don't blame her, no one really gets me anyway. The clam chowder was very good. I liked it especially since it did not have big chunks of vegetables in it. Also the clams were not gritty like some clam chowders are. The dinners come with a side. I had a sweet potato. They advertise cinnamon and butter but I requested brown sugar and they had it. My wife had a loaded bake potato which had butter, sour cream cheese and bacon. Everyone asked for more sour cream because it did not seem like enough. I also was lacking brown sugar but since I was eating a 20 oz steak I didn't care much.
It didn't seem to take long for our food to come either. It seemed like everything was spaced out nicely. We got our drinks, then bread and soup/salads, then our food seemed to come when we finished those. All in all it was a good experience.
I recommend going in nice casual clothes. Jeans are ok but nothing less than that. It is too nice a place to go in shorts, (although this is January). The atmosphere was nice, not too loud, unless you count my children driving me crazy during dinner, (sorry to the folks that had to sit next to us).
I warn you now, save room for desert. We did not and my wife regretted it. We may have to return just for desert. They have fried cheesecake, Cookie dough cheesecake and other delicious sounding dishes. Maybe if I return I will post how they turn out.
I feel bad that I did not get the waitresses name. But she was very good. She kept bread on the table along with our drinks filled. The hostess was also very polite and friendly. When we left she wished us a good evening.
The prices were a little pricey but you did get a large portion of food with your meal. It is comparable to some of the other sit down steakhouses like Ned Kelley's, (NOT places like Maverick or Golden Corral, where the steaks are just mediocre). If you want a good steak and enjoy good conversations, this is a good place to try.
The wait was 1 1/2 hours but well worth it. Its location next to the mall was convenient. We just went over there and walled around until time to eat. Seating was plenty. I would mention something about the smoking, (did not notice any) but soon, I don't think smoking will be an issue in Springfield restaurants.
I did make it into the men's room which was clean and well lit. I had to go in a couple times since my cold has given me the sniffles. I did appreciate paper towels so I did not have to use the air blow dryers, (my pet peeve).
The available seating is 260 people. They don't make reservations but they do have call ahead seating. I ask the manager when people should use the call ahead seating and he said it would be good to do it anytime. They open Mon-Sunday at 11:00 and close at 10:00 PM Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 PM on Friday and Saturday. Longhorn Steakhouse is owned by a corporation called RARE HOSPITALITY. Here is a link to there website.
If you want to go directly to the Longhorn Steakhouse website you can click here:
I would like to thank the manager for giving me my additional information.
If I was to rate this visit on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give them an 9.5.
So, this draws to a close my first review. I hope you liked it.
Randy

West End Sunset

Wow, what a great day here in Central Illinois. It was hard to believe it is still January.
I was on my way to meet my wife for dinner and caught a glimpse of a beautiful sunset over a very commercial west end of Springfield. Here are the results.

We then ate dinner at Longhorn restaurant. I thought I would take this opportunity to start my food critic blog. You can check it out at http://food-critic.blogspot.com/. I will put a link to it in the links section of this blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Words???

Ok, so what's with a word post, I thought this was just a photoblog? Well, I started out with one blog for photos and comments both and one for just photos. I decided to ditch the other for several different reasons. So now I am going to combine the photoblog with a regular blog. I mean after all it is "Photos Etc" right. I would like to thank one of my friends for introducing me to this wonderful time consumer, Jeromeprophet. He has been my blogguide, if you will. Anyway, I will now be posting photos with just captions as usual, but will add some comments and a little mixture of both. I hope you enjoy my take on life through my camera and my mind. Until next blog...

Randy

P.S. I appologize for the lack of posting but on the bright side, I do have lots of photos I want to post the next few weeks. So keep coming back.

Galvaston Island Sunrise


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Jamaica Sunrise


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Field of Dreams

Each flower represents a lost little one.


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