Posts Tagged ‘family’

On Monday I took our oldest son Gregory (who’s almost 3 now) to Grand Island to take a train ride on a real train. As compared to the little mini train at Stolley Park which he has ridden numerous times.

Eastern view of the Operaton Lifesaver train.

Eastern view of the Operaton Lifesaver train.

Our original plan was Gregory and I would ride the train and Vanessa and Zeke would go shopping. We wanted to take Zeke with us but weren’t sure how long it would take and didn’t want him to get too fussy. As it turns out we ended up taking him anyway and took the ride as a family. This was our first train ride as a family. This was also Vanessa’s as well as the kids very first train ride.

Gregory enjoying the view

Gregory enjoying the view

The whole event was sponsored by Operation Lifesaver to educate people about the dangers of rail crossings. They had a small presentation before we started which was very informative. I have decided that I will be taking the kids to do this again in a few more years when they can understand it a little better, as here in Nebraska we have a lot of railroad crossings and a ton of rail traffic.

Train Route

Train Route

Our route started in downtown Grand Island and through a small town called Campbell and stopping in Central City about 22 miles north-east of Grand Island. The trip to Central City we went backwards and then on our return we went forward, since they don’t turn the train around.

All in all we had a good time, and will probably do this again next year.
Vanessa & Zeke
The Family

We also happened to be riding the train with the Grand Island news crew who were doing a piece for the evening news on Operation Lifesaver. We made the news for about 30 seconds on each broadcast. Gregory made the spotlight and got a nice close up shot.


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Since we first moved into our new home, I have begun research on Do It Yourself projects to improve our home. DIY projects if done right and with a little bit of research can add equity to your home and can give you the feeling of accomplishment of doing it yourself. If done right it can save from a little bit of money to a heap of money (depending on the project and scope).

My first major project on our new (99 yr old) house is to update some of the electrical wiring and add a few circuits to the existing panel. Firstly let me explain that I am not a licensed electrician and when I first started undertaking this project I didn’t know much more than the basics about residential AC wiring/electricity. My first step was to do some major research on residential electricity, wiring and the NEC or National Electrical Code. With a good grasp of the basics of electricity and it’s dangers and a good understanding of how a residential home is wired. I had to learn about the NEC. The NEC essentially is the code requirements for how wiring, panels, and other electrical requirements for all aspects and areas of the home among the other covered areas (i.e. industrial, commercial). Most of the NEC code requirements are safety requirements to reduce death and injury from electrical shock as well as reduction of electrical fire risks from wiring. The NEC is updated on a somewhat regular basis and is the basis for most local codes, however some local areas have much stricter codes than the NEC requires and makes it extremely important to check local codes in addition to the most current NEC regulations.

After letting all that information settle a little bit I was ready to get started. My first part of this project which I have completed, was to place two pull chain lights in my unfinished laundry room area on a switch, and remove several older sections of wiring that were no longer in service but still hot and wired in. At this point I wasn’t ready to put a brand new circuit in and run the wiring. There was a junction box with two existing circuits directly in the middle of the room that made it easy to tie into one of these.

My next step was to start tracing lines out on the circuit I was going to tie into to make sure that I wasn’t going to fry anything and not overload the circuit. The two lights in question were already on the circuit already so overloading the circuit would not be an issue. I just had to make sure that I knew what wires were what circuit. This turned out to be a chore as throughout the years several new junctions were added above the ceiling panels in my basement and there is a ton of wiring running through the basement, old knob and tube, 40’s synthetic shielded cable and modern Non-metallic all throughout.

Before I kill the power and start ripping wiring out, it’s wise to check and make sure I have all the tools, parts and supplies I’ll need. Here is what I used:


  • Voltage Tester
  • Hammer
  • Pliers (Lineman’s, Needle-nose)
  • Screwdrivers (#2 phillips, flathead)
  • Extension cord
  • Trouble Light w/ clamp, and flashlight
  • Corded drill and bits
  • Tape Measure
  • wire stripper
  • cable sheath splitter


Parts & Supplies

  • Electrical tape
  • Wire Nuts (sized for wiring used, 12awg) about $2-$3 per bag of 25ct depending on the size.
  • 25′ of 12-2 cable (12-2 stands for 12awg(gauge), 2 conductor +ground) approx $12 for 25′ roll, I also bought a 100′ roll of 12-2 for the rest of this project and future projects @ $30 for 100′.
  • 2 metal 4″ square extra deep junction boxes and covers (metal ones are a bit more expensive but a little more durable @ approx $3 ea with the covers)
  • 1/2″ insulated cable staples (about $2.50 for box of 50, and $10 for 500)
  • 1 1/4″ #10 wood screws (for mounting J-Boxes) box of 50 for just over $2.
  • Surface mount extra deep gang/switch box ($5)
  • Surface mount cable tray 48″ ($8)

Once the correct lines were traced it was time to kill the power to the circuit and test it for voltage. This is where an audible voltage sensor for $9 at Menards payed for itself on the first day.

Voltage Tester

Voltage Tester

Voltage tester detecting voltage

Voltage tester detecting voltage

Of course one should always test on a known hot circuit before testing a circuit after killing power. Once the power was killed for that circuit and all lines proven dead it was time to start ripping out the old wiring. I had planned on using the existing holes in the beams that the existing wiring ran through so I had to remove most of the old wiring first. Had I chosen to use another method or run new wires I would have run as much wiring as possible before killing power and thus reducing the amount of inconvenience time to the family. Since we are living in the house the least amount of down time for the circuit the better.

Once the old wiring was removed it was time to install the two new junction boxes and tie J-Box 1 into the existing circuit and run the continuing wires that went on to the rest of the circuit.

J-Box 1

J-Box 1

In this J-Box are two parts of the circuit; 1) Always hot portion that extends to J-Box 2 and the rest of the tied in circuit, 2) A switched sub-circuit to run the two lights.
Wall switch

Wall switch

On the switched portion of the circuit, the hot cable runs down the wall through a cable tray to the gang box where the switch is and from the switch back up to J-box 1 where it splits off to the two lights.
Light 1

Light 1

Light 2 & J-Box 2

Light 2 & J-Box 2

From J-Box 1 an always hot cable runs to the new J-Box 2 and on to the old wiring back upstairs. Another switched cable runs to Light 2. When I first started planning this part of the project this area of the basement wiring had me concerned. The person who wired this circuit before had placed 1 hot cable into the J-Box with the light and 7 other hot cables running out. Three of these hot cables went to absolutely nothing. In fact one cable loosely ran down the stud next to the dryer and was taped off on the hot with a small piece of electrical tape. This to me was a major safety and fire hazard to say the least. This could easily have been fixed by simply killing power and removing the unused cables from the box. I decided to add the second J-Box to this area to reduce the amount of wiring going into the small light J-Box which was originally crammed full of splices. The new J-Box is big enough to accommodate the existing wiring and then some with room to spare if need be.

Once all the cables were ran each part of the circuit was stripped and securely spliced together with wire nuts and tucked away neatly in each J-Box. I waited on placing the covers and securing everything until everything was tested and proved to be in proper working order.

After everything was tested the power was killed again and all J-Boxes were closed up and everything was double checked. I turned the power back on and we now have a set of switched lights in the basement instead of pull chains, and some old fire hazard wiring was removed.

In the near future I will be replacing the simple lights in the basement and placing two fluorescent light fixtures, as well as adding a new circuit to the breaker panel.


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I have not been keeping up to date on the blog here recently, at least not since our big move into the house. I thought I’d update what has been going on in my life for those that have been checking in on a regular basis.

Just Tuesday my wife and I closed on our first house together. Which is a very good part of the reason why I have not been posting regularly here lately. I guess I didn’t realize how much there really is to do when you move into a house and start to do improvements along with the normal chaos of any other move. Now that we’ve closed on the house and are a good deal settled into the house, it’s time to slow things down a notch and relax a bit before the pace gets picked back up again.

I will be making a better attempt at making some more regular posts and try to get back into the swing again. I have been trying to do some studying on theological issues and will have more to talk about once my head clears.

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Today I brought the last few items left at the apartment and did the final cleaning. I didn’t do all that much cleaning as I know they are going to take my security deposit and will pay someone to come in and clean the place anyway. I’m also not going to do them (property manager) any favors, since they wouldn’t do me any favors let alone take care of their responsibilities.

Now I am just glad that the move is over (for a few months), and I don’t have to deal with that horrible place anymore. Now I can concentrate on getting ready to move into my new house.

Yesterday we spent half the day looking at carpet for the basement of our house. We will probably get carpet in the main, family room and up the set of stiars going to and from the basement. A small strip of vinyl for the newly repaired side entry, once we decide on what kind of vinyl we want there. Hopefully there will be enough budget with HDC to carpet the second bedroom/office downstairs as well.

I am also really looking forward to going to church this weekend. Due to our emergency move, I have missed my last off-weekend to go to church. That means I haven’t been to church service in 3 weeks so I am ready to get back to my normal schedule, which is only every other week.

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Over the last week or so, since our sudden move began, I’ve had a sudden realization, a wake up call. I’ve had the realization that over the last 6 months since I have been in the control room at my job that I’ve gotten way out of shape. Originally when I first started there I would walk anywhere from 3 to 7 miles a day. This I know because I would wear a pedometer to work every day to see how much I was doing. Now that I’m in the control room, I’m lucky if I walk 100 yards all day, besides the walk to and from my car.

Over the last week since I started moving all this furniture, I’ve continually found myself out of breath and tired. Also added to that is the fact that I had just quit smoking about 2 years ago and the excercise I was getting when I first started was taking off most of the weight I put on after I quit smoking. Now I’ve put that back on and few more pounds.

It’s now time for me to wake up and smell the coffee and renew my YMCA membership and get back to the gym. If not just for myself but for my kids, so I can be healthy enough to see them grow up. Not that I have any real control over how long I’ll live or anything but why add another risk factor for my health.

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This is kind of an off topic post, however here over the last few weeks we have been having some serious issues with our broadband internet connection. Under other circumstances this wouldn’t be as big of a deal, however our phone is over our internet and we need a somewhat reliable connection in order to use our phone. We currently have Cable tv and 3 Mbps internet connection and up until recently have had no problems. Now however we cannot hardly talk on the phone without the signal breaking up. After doing several speed tests I discovered our bandwidth was running at half of what we are paying for or less. We called the cable company and I was treated like a complete moron as if I didn’t know a thing about computers or networks. After several phone calls I was able to get a technician to come out to check out our service. The technician came out and for some strange reason everything worked fine (which was infuriating). Two or three days later my connection was on the fritz again.

Yesterday we did some research and discovered switching back to DSL @ 6 Mbps would cost us half what we pay now and switching to satellite would make our overall bill about $5 cheaper. On top of being cheaper, we are able to get a dvr. We tried getting one from our cable company, but they wanted us to pay them $15 a month to rent one, which is ridiculous. This means we can record the shows we want to watch and not have to put up with some of the horrible garbage that is played on tv nowadays.

We realize that having broadband internet and satellite/cable tv is really a luxury, and not really necessary. We have cut way back on our television viewing over the last year, and are looking forward to being able to filter out most of what we don’t want to subject ourselves to and our children to using the dvr.

So goodbye cable and hello again to dsl and for the first time in my life satellite tv.

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Over the last few years, i.e. since I have been married, and especially over the last year; I have started to see a major emotional problem that I have developed growing up. My emotional problem has been Suppressed Emotional Expression. I grew up in a drug abusive, and alcoholic family, which was not good for the emotional well being of any child. The two main emotions expressed in my house were extreme anger or sadness or despair. I was very emotional as a child, I think part of this was in response to my family life and circumstances. This was clearly unacceptable to my father, who made it clear that men do not cry and if I wanted to be a man I wouldn’t cry about every little thing. At some point in my teen years I began suppressing almost all of my emotions. I’m not exactly sure at what point this started however, I believe it began around the time of my severe depression and drug use in my late teens. As a result of this emotional suppression for the last 12 years I have struggled with properly expressing most of my emotions.

My biggest problem has been my short fuse. It seems that it doesn’t really take that much to blow my top, and naturally my anger is usually disproportionate to the situation. My anger is the only real emotion that I don’t have a problem expressing. What initially caused me to start looking into my emotional problems was the problems that quickly began to arise in my marriage. These problems ultimately culminated in an affair and pretty much forced us to face our problems as a couple and to address our own personal issues as well. We sought treatment from a counselor to assist us in dealing with our issues personally as well as maritally. This caused me to really investigate where my problem stemmed from and then how to address it.

Part of the solution has been an acknowledgment of the problem itself. This in itself didn’t fix the problem, but it has helped me to consciously attempt to remedy it. The other more amazing solution has been my acceptance of Christ a little over a year ago. Since then I have noticed an amazing improvement in my ability to express my emotions in a more sensible manner. I still struggle everyday with my anger issue and will probably continue to struggle with it for the rest of my life.

There is a common saying that, “Time heals all wounds.” However I don’t believe that is true. Here is a more true saying “Christ heals all wounds.” This is a realization that I have come to over the last year or so; that Christ wants my heart to be healed, and He will heal it if I entrust Him with it. I’ve also realized that God brought me through all the troubles of my life and childhood so that I would place my trust and faith in Him. I have endured hardship and struggle so that I would trust in His wisdom rather than that of men, so that I would glorify Him over everything.

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