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Aug 31, 2010

Abby, Names, Origins, Comments, Mold & Ebay

From Brent

I had a couple of questions about the Open Season questions that I want to answer. So I'll start with those:

Can't you put the names of people who submit the questions?

I leave that up to each submitter. Seems like if one person starts, everyone else follows. If no one puts their name or link, nobody typically likes to be first. I don't require names because I don't want people to hesitate to ask a question. Yes, I get some ugly ones. If they are ridiculous, I delete them. Sometimes I add questions to the list that people put into a comment instead of the linky list.

Where do the questions come from?

Readers for the most part. I occasionally add some common questions from the masses of email I get as people seem to ask the same thing over and over. Sometimes I'll kick off a list, or add to list, with those emailed questions. Sometimes I combine similar questions from whatever source into one question.

Now, the list questions:

Why do you think people leave those nasty comments? How do you handle them?

A variety of reasons. Some feel like they are legitimate criticism and genuinely feel that way about us. It's obvious from the amount and nastiness of the comments that many people come here JUST to find something to criticize. That's okay... maybe something we say or do will break through a hard heart.

People feel very brave hiding behind an anonymous keyboard. They don't have to answer, defend or live with their comment. We've learned to ignore/delete most and only occasionally mention them publicly if we think there is a reason or it is necessary in some way.

How is Abby doing? Did removing the mold help? Can you tell yet?

As we've posted several times (after this question was asked), the mold removal seemed to do the trick for both Abby and myself. She's had a couple of fevers but the chronic high fevers seem to have gone away.

Do you own Linky Tools? Looks like you do... can you explain what it is?

Linky Tools allows you to put different kinds of "link lists" in your blog posts. Text links or thumbnail image links; different types of links like prayer requests, questions, contest entries and just plain old generic links for any use.

Yes, we own Linky Tools. It's all free. There are over 11,000 users at this point. Still free. It started out as something I created for myself then I shared it with some friends and it went nuts.

You seem to be pretty conservative. What's your feelings about what is going on politically in our country?

I try to stay away from several topics on this blog including politics. I write about that over on my current events blog - Speaking of having other blogs, let's jump down the question list and answer a related question:

Why do you have so many blogs?

I have five blogs because I separate the topics I write about. I used to have one blog but people complained that they weren't interested in more than one general topic. I felt like that was reasonable so I created different blogs for different topics. I list them here.

You haven't put up a new issue of SeriousLife Magazine in while. Are you still doing that?

Yes. Abby's treatment and the need to work a few more hours for needed additional income has made some of the "free" stuff I do a little hard to manage consistently. I love the magazine, and have a publishing background. If I ever figure out how to make some real income from it, I'll be able to dedicate more time to it. As is, I plan to publish an issue a month.

How's the new adoption effort going?

Slow. As Abby's chemo winds down we hope to return more focus to that. We have a long effort ahead of us, saving up and raising funds. We aren't wealthy and adoption is expensive.

We'll probably do garage sales or sell some quality products and use the proceeds for the adoption. If we are selling a product or item then people can feel like they are getting something too.

Speaking of that, we are trying to get serious about our long neglected home business of selling on Ebay. We live on one income and Michelle couldn't work outside the home even if she wanted to. Abby has too many ongoing needs and we feel it is best for our situation that Michelle be at home, and we try to grow a business from home.

So we are working hard at building a home business on Ebay, and would be deeply grateful for some expert help and guidance from any one out there so inclined. I'm sure I can return the favor in some way. Holler at me:

If you want to add a question to this little series of answers, you can add it here.

Questions & Pics & Updates

From Brent

I forgot about a whole list of questions that were asked last month or so on an Open Season post. I'll answer a few of them here and there along with some photos and update on Abby.

SpideyLandis gets up close and personal with the fish eye lens.

Here's the questions. Feel free to add to the list if you want....

Aug 28, 2010

Abby Update & Got Stuff?

From Michelle

Abby had a pretty good week though she is still having a few low grade fevers. Most likely she is picking up bugs from school but so far has only missed one day school (compared to last year when she was lucky to get to go to ONE day a week).

We appreciate all the kind notes and prayers for Abby. We are getting nearer to the end of her chemo when our prayers will switch from "treatment" to long term healing (no relapse). Thanks so much for walking through this journey with us.

Got Stuff?

I stay at home as most of you know. With Abby's cancer, and three adoptions, that is a choice we've made and we reduce our lifestyle to compensate. It's worth every sacrifice. As all of you stay-at-home-Mom's know, that hardly means a life of ease and frolicking in the park with the kiddos.

We have a family/home business we involve the kids in that we don't talk about a lot. We buy collectibles, wholesale lots of items and various other things as the opportunity rises to sell on auction sites.

We are always on the look out for garage sales, estate sales, boxes of dusty stuff in attics and barns, old collections people want to sell, nostalgic and collectible items Grandma and Grandpa left behind.

Once in a while, we thought we'd put the word out ask our readers if they've got any "stuff" they want to sell. There's lots of "stuff" out there that folks could use a few bucks for, and we could use in our home business.

We are looking for pocket knives, kitchen items, any type of collections/collectibles (lighters, salt and pepper, whistles)... whatever. If you have any "stuff" you want to sell, shoot us an email with photos, a description and how much you want for it.

Email Brent though... I'm out frolicking. :)

I want, what I want, when I want it!!!

Just kidding!

Abby is quite the ham when it comes to a camera pointing her way (or a mirror!). These photos were all in good fun as she was getting in the car to go to dance camp.

Aug 26, 2010

Forgot to Tell You

From Brent

Sometimes readers of our family blog will miss blog posts over on my other blogs because I didn't put some sort of notice on this family blog. If I put a note here about every blog post I write, I would drive you nuts.

So if you want to get a quick email notice when I post on my other blogs, then be sure to sign up ON THOSE BLOGS. Here they are:
  • Brent Riggs Blog - advice, opinion and commentary on life, culture, kids, parenting, marriage, personal growth, discipline; lots of answers to questions submitted by readers

  • Build a Better Blog - blogging, writing, digital photography, online business, etc

  • Serious Faith - serious Bible teaching, Christian advice and answers to your Bible questions

  • Riggs Report - politics, current events, editorials, commentary on culture

  • Serious Life Magazine - wholesome, family oriented, inspiring and informative stories, features and columns

If you aren't part of those blogs, I hope you'll check them out.

Aug 25, 2010

Abby Update & Something We All Deal With

From Brent

A quick update on Abby... she is doing well, going to school. She had a fever last week and had to go get her blood counts done. Otherwise, the mold removal still seems to have done the trick with her chronic respiratory problems and fevers. Thanks so much for you prayers and continued concern.

Some Things Almost Everyone Struggles With

I wrote a post over on my personal blog you might be interested in. I have a friend struggling with depression, disappointment about life, stress over money... you know, that "life" stuff. Sound familiar?

I responded to many of his questions and what he asked me are questions a lot of people have. If you want to read it, here it is.

Aug 24, 2010

Free Demo - How To Make Your Landscape Photos "Wow"

From Brent

A lot of folks wanted to know some of techniques and tricks I used on the recent outdoor photography I did in Colorado. Slide show here if you missed it...

I'm setting up a FREE demonstration on those tips, secrets and professional techniques over on the Linky Tools Blog. More info here if you are interested.

Aug 22, 2010

Abby, Sunsets & Parenting

From Brent

Abby has been having some fevers this week. She went to the ER once for blood work. She started school this week so we think maybe she picked up a bug. Pray with us that she will get past it. We are on the home stretch...

I wrote a post about parenting over on my blog - - It's a dialog I had with a Dad about one of his kids who would "punish" he and his wife by ignoring them and withholding love if she didn't get her way. Pretty interesting. Thought you might find it worth a read.

Here's a sunset I caught looking down the road from our house tonight. It's not Colorado but still beautiful.

Click the image to see a large version... lots prettier than this little thumbnail.

Aug 14, 2010


From Brent

Can you believe how hot it is? [Yell real loud "HOW HOT IS IT????"]

It's 107 today. I'm ashamed to say I don't feel like doing a stinkin' thing today (which goes completely against my productive grain). I probably still will... but I don't feel like it. It's so hot you can literally smell the "hot" when you walk outside.

It's so hot the chickens are laying fried eggs.

It's so hot the local Amish are using air conditioners.

It's so hot the trees are arguing over the dogs.

It's so hot you HOPE the lid is up on the toilet when you sit down.

It's so hot it doesn't matter which sink faucet you turn on.

It's so hot we got evaporated milk out of the cows this morning.

It's so hot we're getting fresh popcorn straight from the stalk.

It's so hot the Baptist church up the road canceled the book burning today.

It's so hot the Senior Center is having a bikini contest.

It's so hot we're making INSTANT sun tea.

It's so hot the car is overheated... and it hasn't even been started yet.

It's so hot that a hot shower is more refreshing than a dip in the pool.

It's so hot the pigs are sweating like fat humans.

It's so hot the lawyers are committing suicide because it's got to be cooler in hell (doh! that will get me some comments!!! :) )

It's so hot Congress is taking their hands out of our pockets for a little while so they can fan themselves.

NOW THAT'S HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aug 12, 2010

Sit Back and Enjoy

From Brent

I put the Colorado photos in a slideshow. The photos are large format, the show plays automatically.

If you just want to enjoy the scenery and relax for a few minutes soaking in God's creation, check it out here:

Aug 11, 2010


From Brent

I wasn't going to post anymore photos from Colorado but... I'm a photog junkie, so I relapsed. I need to go to image processing rehab. My drug of choice is Photoshop. Canon is my hypodermic. I promise I'll be better from now on. I'm going cold turkey (no more photos... tonight).

It's amazing to see these isolate "rain dumps". It's like a cloud
just opens the trap door and let's it pour.

Abby with her "Dad's got his camera again..." look.


This was the ranch soccer field just outside our door.

Sky Ranch camp store and chow hall.

It was about 60 degrees when we got there.
Landis is a weenie about the cold, can you tell?
Abby's teeth were chattering.

The Sky Ranch camp store and meeting room next
to the volleyball pit.

The cabin's had marvelous views all around.

View after view after view...

Main street at Sky Ranch.

Landis, an avid Alvin fan, loved seeing
the chipmunks all over the place.

Another breathtaking view in person...
I hope the photo captures a little of it.

Landis and "P" on the trail with Collin.

This was the river right across the road from the Ranch.
We spent a day having fun along this river.

Abby talked about riding horses for the entire
19 hour trip there. She was in heaven once she finally mounted up.

Hannah made some new friends. This photo is hanging in her room.

It's Official - No More Moldy Bathroom

From Brent

Since our beloved friends came over and ripped out all that moldy drywall, Abby has been stronger and "weller" than she has been in a very long time. No fevers, no E.R. trips... outclimbing us all in the mountains of Colorado.

I finished painting, caulking and mounting hardware today. We went from a 30 year old, ugly baby blue moldy bathroom to a beautiful new bath that was more than we would have dared to hope for. A new tub, new heater/vent, shower and sink hardware, drywall, paint, counter top, cabinet faces, linen cabinet, toilet and CERAMIC TILE (which was a THRILL for us… our first tile!).

We are so blessed!!! And the really good news is: Abby hasn’t had a fever or lung problems since we ripped out the mold. So it would appear that really was the problem as we suspected. I haven't been sick since then either so I have the same hope that my frequent respiratory illnesses will cease.

Thank you SO much to all our wonderful friends, family and Christian brethren who were involved in the project. We have the most wonderful and caring friends; far better than we deserve. Special thanks to Scottie and Frank, though it’s hard to single anyone out because so many kind and generous people helped (many we don’t know about).

Special thanks to the Bauman’s who kicked the whole thing off by discovering the mold problem in the first place. I hope all who pitched in will get a lot of joy in knowing that Abby is feeling stronger and better than she has in a LONG time. If you don't believe me, check out the past week’s blog posts for all the mountain climbing and fun Abby had in Colorado.

Aug 10, 2010

No, Really... I Think This Is the Last of the Photos

From Brent

For those who have asked, you can check out Sky Ranch here...

I think this might actually be the last photos for real... but before you look at these, would you do us a favor?

Take a minute and watch this song written and sung by the daughter of our sweet friend Jill Samter. They are a precious family and Lexi (the daughter) is a role model for all our teenage girls. This video is part of a contest she is in. Each view of the video is a "vote" for her to get to be an opening act at a concert. It's very sweet... you'll be glad you took the time. View it here...

Abby and Landis with Collin after the long awaited horse ride.

Wouldn't you hate to have to look at this every day???

Got this one out the window as we were driving by.

I looked in my side view mirror, and saw this incredible rain burst...
this cloud was literally just dumping a column of rain. It only lasted about
a minute then it was gone. It was like God tipped a giant bucket of
rain out in that one spot. Remarkable...

Thunderstorms were firing up and I caught this one
with my iPhone. The beautiful storms clouds were exploding
in the distance. Look at the side mirror in the lower right corner;
you can see the sunset that was shining on the storm clouds.
I was so engrossed with this scene that I wasn't paying
attention to my speed or...

... to my new friends in the rear view mirror who wanted me to stop
and have a little chat with them about the excessive use of my gas pedal.
I was only about 4 miles over the speed limit though so I think
they really were just hoping they would get their photo taken
and get on our blog. I only got a warning and they got on the blog.

Suh Mo Pikkers

From Brent

I wish I could say this was the last of the photos (not really, I LOVE posting them) but there's still a few more posts worth. I hope you are enjoying them.

There was more scenic shots than I could take in a year.

An old mining dam with the bottom blown out.

Hannah really loved Colorado. She was sad to go,
and has asked a dozen times if we get to go back.
This was the first time she had EVER seen mountains.

Landis the Explorer

Natalie was such a blessing. The kids LOVED her
and she really seemed to fit right in with us. We invited
her to go on our family outings.

Abby is looking so pretty, isn't she?

Aug 9, 2010

More Pics - Hope You Aren't Bored of Them

From Brent

Hope you aren't bored of all the photos. We love to document our family adventures on the blog for the future. It's a great way to have those memories at your fingertips down the road.

The family camp counselors were a remarkable bunch of young folks.
We were very impressed at how servant-hearted they were and how
they just did everything they could to make the parents and kids feel welcome.
We had a "barn dance" one night and it was absolutely entertaining to watch the
family camp staff get out there and lead the way to fun. Natalie (on the right)
was our family guide. What a wonderful and Godly role model
she was for all our children. Hannah really loved having Natalie with us.

I won't put their names up because I haven't asked them if they mind
but I do want to tell you a remarkable story about this family.
First, I was just almost in tears watching them dance with their son
who has Downs. The little fella was a delight all week long warming
hearts with his big heart. We found out after a couple of
days that this family had almost adopted Chrissie Patterson and knew
the Patterson family. So here we were in the middle of the Rocky Mountains
where we had been invited to come at the last minute.
We didn't know any of the families. And yet, God arranged for us to
meet and become friends with this couple who also have a heart
for adoption, and had almost adopted Chrissie whose
home-going to heaven we had just recently attended
along with a wonderful weekend with the Patterson's.
God can really arrange things, can't He?

This is why our black brothers and sisters make fun of us white folk dancing.
Seriously, the barn dance was absolute, screaming good fun.
The kids, the counselors and most of the parents danced, or sort of danced, or
attempted to dance to all the fun songs. The counselors and staff were a HOOT,
doing the Hannah Montana dance, the Michael Jackson Thriller routine, and all
the usual steps like the chicken dance. It made me realize I need to let my
hair down (yes, that is a figure of speech) and cut loose more often.
It's healthy and relaxing to just "have fun" sometimes. I'm far too serious.

Hannah and I love to dance at home. We are thinking about getting some
instructional DVD's and really learning more. I DETEST the overtly immoral and
sensual dancing that is so common today but, and I hope my Baptist and
Church of Christ friends won't hammer me too hard, the "fun" group dances,
country line dances and modest ballroom dances are really a very enjoyable way
to have some family fun. And FATHERS, it is great way for you to be affectionate
to your daughters and teach them the respect, modesty and courtesy they
should demand from any future male suitors.

Couldn't resist another shot of "P" and his Mom.

Brittany Hess shows us all how to do the Chicken Dance with style.

Kyle and Brittany Hess are only three months into their wedded bliss.
Can you tell they are madly in love?

It's just SO hard to capture the size and depth of the mountains.
We saw this cave and Hannah took off "climbing up" to it. She got about
50 feet and discovered that climbing up a 150 ft steep grade was a
little more complicated than she imagined.

I'm sitting here in Oklahoma now where it's 140 degrees outside.
It was about 70 on this ridge a couple of days ago.
I wonder if the family is up for another 19 hour drive this week...

On The Way Out

From Brent

About an hour from Sky Ranch I had to pull over and get this one. The rain was firing up in front of us and this would be one of the last sunny scenes I could shoot.

By the way... for those of you who are new to our blog, here's Abby a year or so ago, and Abby this week. Yes, that's really her:

Aug 8, 2010

The Scoop

From Brent

As some of you guessed, we were at Sky Ranch near Lake City, Colorado. Here's the scoop...

Last Saturday, our friend Kyle Hess called and said "we had a family cancel, can you be here tomorrow?" Since the only Ranch we could squeeze into the budget right now is a bottle of salad dressing (not Hidden Valley, the generic brand), it was a God-sent blessing to be invited to attend for free as guests. It is hard to express how grateful we are to Kyle and Sky Ranch for extending such a gracious and refreshing opportunity to our family.

At first it seemed more like "you gotta be kidding" but Michelle and I talked about it, jumped through some hoops, and made it happen. One compromise though, was that I would have to work during the week. I ended up working 2-3 hours late at night, then getting up before 4am to work several more hours. It was tiring, but worth it.

Anyway, we got the call from Kyle while we were at my parents in Tulsa. So we jumped in the car about 6pm Saturday, drove 2 hours home to Norman, spent several hours getting stuff together, packed up and left about 3am.

We managed (predictably) to turn a 15 hour trip into 20 hours non-stop and got to the Ranch about 11pm Sunday night. It seems every town we approach causes at least one bladder to fill up to near bursting. Between that, getting gas, eating and taking at least one wrong road for 70 miles, it seemed like forever before we arrived. We were exhausted but thrilled to be there. We woke up Monday morning ready to enjoy a week of family camp.

It was cloudy and rainy almost all week but that didn't stop the fun.
Here is our family (except me, I'm taking photos) and another
off for a beautiful ride against the backdrop of clouds and mountains.

Again, the clouds and rain didn't stop the fun.
The facilities and grounds were beautiful. It took the kids
about 10 seconds to make friends and start playing.

So what is SpideyLandis thinking?
"Mom & Dad, thank you SO much for bringing us here..."
"You have no idea what kind of mischief I've got planned for this week".

You think it looks beautiful in a photo,
you should go there and see it in person. No comparison.

The building in the middle was our bunkhouse. It was a wonderful,
two room family cabin with real beds, great views,
comfortable furniture and two baths. Kind of hard
to call it "camping" with those kind of accommodations.

This is Kyle and his beautiful (it's hard to not keep using
the word "beautiful" over and over again) wife, Brittany.
I got to interview them while I was there and look forward to sharing
a story about them in SeriousLife Magazine.

Here is a 12 photo panorama looking out from Sky Ranch.
You can't really appreciate it from this small photo. Click here or
click the image above to see a large version. This is a REALLY wide
photo so the wider your browser window is opened up, the larger
the original photo you can see.

Yeah, it was really tough having to look at all this for a week.

Engineer Pass... if you ever get a chance to see it, don't pass it up.