Sunday, July 21, 2013


A few weeks ago was any pyros favorite holiday, whether professional, amateur, or admirer and for me it was no different.  Yes, July 4.  One of the few holidays where, for us amateurs learning about the explosive nature of pyrotechnics, we will not likely get the cops called on us or have angry neighbors yelling at us to quiet down.  Mixed with the warm weather, boating, swimming, great food, and great company, no wonder it is my favorite holiday of the year.  Sorry Santa, but you don't exist anyway.  And so this year was no different and this year I was very excited.  Last year, I did not get to do a big display because we welcomed Lucy into the world.  So this year was "make up ground" year and my goal was to impress.

This year's show was about 8 months in planning and product acquisition.  So it takes a long time because different stores carry different product lines and if I see a specific product I like, I may have to travel and get it or rely on incoming family to pick it up. Thanks Mom and Dad!  But after reviewing lots of products, I had the general plan/design figured out and I just spent time slowly pulling the pieces together.  I am considering getting my ATF license to handle professional grade product, so I can only imagine the nightmare that it must be to find/purchase/ship a whole different class of fireworks.  But by the time July 4 rolled around, I had all of the product and gear at the lake house thanks to some good friends who helped me move it!  I just had to bring some last minute supplies for set up.

Laura and I arrived on the evening of July 3 driving through lots of thunderstorms to get to the lake house.  I did not realize that this would be an omen of the chaos to come.  After arriving, eating some dinner and constantly checking forecasts on my i-phone I decided we would try to fire everything the next day which was actually the fourth.  So I got up the next day and began all the prep work.  By lunch, I had wired and fused all of the 60 shells for both the body of the show and finally with the help of my right hand pyro-man, my brother in law!  As I was working furiously to get the intro of the show put together when, you guessed it, it started to rain.  Fortunately, in my "last minute supplies" I included a giant tarp.  So I put it over and had to wait.  This set me back a couple of hours.  So I went inside to continue to prep, glue, and fuse more middle of the show boards.  It continued to rain and the forecast looked bleak so we collectively decided to call the show off.  There was to much be done, the weather was not cooperating, and I didn't want to fire if I didn't know things were 100% safe.  Ironically, the whether cleared for a couple of hours in the evening before deluging again.  Oh well.

The next day was no different if not worse.  The morning and mid afternoon where nice so we all could go boating and swimming, but by late afternoon evening, it was storming and raining and you probably know that fireworks and water don't mix well.  But because of all the rain, I had finished all of the prep work inside with my trusty helper, so if we got a clear zone we could quickly set up and fire the show.  After checking the forecast again and again, I thought we might have a brief window of opportunity.  So I called in all hands to help set up.  While the show is coming together, I checked the forecast again and noticed a giant storm blob nearly right on top of us.  I furiously finished making all of the final wiring/fuse connections to complete the show and told my wife that if we are going to fire we needed everyone out right now.  All of the sudden a giant wind sweeps down and a flash of lightning/crash of thunder hits.  Not a gentle one either.  It was one of those that was close and makes you duck down a little bit.  At this point I hollered at everyone to start taking product under the porch.  It was all hands on deck.  I was cutting all the connections I had just made and people where carrying all these plywood boards as quickly as possible all while wind and flashing lightning was all around all in an effort to save the pyro.  We got all the product under the porch, pulled my tarp over everything and maybe 20 seconds after we pull the tarp over everything, the bottom drops out of the sky and it starts to down pour.  It was quite a storm.  I was just praying lightning wouldn't strike under the porch and blow the house up!  Strike 2, but pyro saved.

On Saturday it looked like it was going to be the best chance.  Low chance of rain (likely because of the monsoon the night before), front moving on through and sunny weather with a light breeze.  I checked everything under the tarp and it all looked good and dry.  That was a relief.  Then I went to the firing site and noticed that the lake had flooded.  The water was like a foot over the retaining wall and into the yard.  Not good, especially since the whole intro to the show was being fired right off the wall over the lake.  Fortunately problem solving skilled kicked in and I was able to stack up some cinder blocks and create a pedestal to set the pyro on out of the water.  Just had to wade a little bit into the water to light the fuse.  We all as a family decided to go out for pizza that night for dinner and then light the show, and wouldn't you believe another storm blew up and dumped gallons of rain everywhere.  Everything was still under the tarp so that was not a problem, but I was getting frustrated and thinking we would never get this show off the ground.  What made it a little better was my pryo assistant brother in law saying "Again? You've got to be kidding me!  This is ridiculous!"  over and over.  That storm passed, and one more check of the forecast and it finally looked clear.  So we all got home, I re-set everything up, and a light breeze began to blow. Yes!  Eric and I waded through the water to light the starting fuses and off it went.  The show went off without a hitch, there were no injuries and you could even see some lightning in a distant storm that missed us.  And for those of you wondering how Lucy handled all of the a champ.  She loves fireworks!!  It came two days late after a battle with mother nature, but everyone enjoyed the show.  I have a new appreciation for the professional guys that have to battle weather for shows with much greater stakes.  The whole show is right below.  Hope you enjoy.  I wonder if y'alls 4th was similar?

Time to start the process all over again for next year!  Sweet.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Most Memorable Father's Day

Laura and I are back in the blogging spirit, partly because our child is peacefully sleeping right now and partly because Augusta, Ga has turned to a tropical rainforest.  So when you can't go outside, and the inside of your house is cleaned up, AND your baby is fast asleep then you have a good recipe to write a little bit.  Now many of you know that last month was Father's Day and many of you celebrated with extended or you new immediate families.  I was looking forward to that celebration with my new family, however as many of you know that was not going to be the case.  I wanted to make sure that we remembered this first father's day (despite the late blog post) so that when Lucy is older she can look back and be like, "Wow, all that actually happend?" And I can say, "Yup"

So, the Father's day weekend started off on Friday, in which our small group and I helped some friends move back to atlanta after work.  I met a buddy of mine at their house (they were coming back from atlanta to help move, but we wanted to get started earlier) and we went to go pick up their u-haul.  Once back at the house, we had an awesomely effective crew and stuffed that truck full.  In fact we were so efficient that we practically had everything loaded just as our friends were arriving.  Well played Matt and Emily :).  But after that it was off to the lake house for a restful, fun weekend.  Over the weekend, especially on Saturday June 15, Lucy didn't seem to be all that sick or ornery, in fact she had a great time.  She even put on her tiny little life jacket onsie shorts and got in the lake; albeit with a death grip on me as this new experience was very stressful by the look in her eyes.  But that evening, changing her diaper I noticed this big red spot on her hip that looked like a bug bite on crack.  And it apparently was painful because when I touched it she cried and cried and pus came out of the bite looking area. We also took her temperature because by Saturday evening she has running a fever.  Fortunately we had a doctor friend with us on this trip and her correctly diagnosed the problems as a staph infection.

So then came that Saturday evening, and Lucy let us know that she was in pain, feverish and all around sick because we could not get her calmed down to sleep.  My concern level was rising and Laura and I began to discuss if we should leave and go to the local hospital (wherever that would've been).  Lucy finally calmed down and slept, but Sunday morning June 16 (Father's Day) she was still no better, in fact she was probably worse.  So we packed up and went home.  She was still very feverish and we tried all the home remedies our mom's could think of but not no avail.  Despite our efforts, Lucy was turning into a furnace and her "bite" (staph infection) was getting worse.  We finally decided to take her to the ER on Sunday late afternoon thanks to some additional counsel from another doctor friend after I texted a picture of the inflamed region to her (thanks smartphone!).  And I am really glad we did because when we got the the hospital the took one look at Lucy, took her temperature (which was still over 103) and immediately began to treat her.  A really nice team of ER nurses came in and started an IV which little Lucy did well with.  There was much crying, utter exhaustion, but she did not give them too much trouble.  They finally got some medication in her little system to to bring down the fever and when the Doc came and looked, he confirmed the diagnosis and they started some IV antibiotics.  We prayed and prayed and cried and prayed because we knew she did not understand what was happening and she would look at us as if to say, "make it all end", but we couldn't.  The best thing for her was to let everything in motion continue and to just hold her little hand, rub her little back, and pray which is Father's day lesson/application number one for me.  Comfort and pray for your kids...always.  Anyway,  Lucy did not like the IV much but she eventually got used to it and was able to eat some food that evening with her left hand always giving big generous smiles when she could despite battling an evil bacteria.

Later that night, the doctor came back in and told us they were going to admit us to the burn/wound ICU and have that team take a look because she might need to have the wound lanced and drained which equals they would have to do surgery to get the infection out.  So here we were, on my Father's day, in the ER, then the ICU, BUT with our bags packed!  That was one of the funny things because since we were coming back from vacation we still had all our clothes in the car with us.  Score!  That night Laura and I "slept" in the terribly squeaky recliner chairs provided by the hospital.  Every time we moved it sounded like Transformers colliding into metal skyscrapers as they battle Decepticons.  Needless to say Laura, Lucy, and myself did not sleep well but finally the sun rose and Monday was here.  I ended up taking Monday off because the doctors did decide to do surgery.  So early that morning, our little Lucy was prepped for surgery and wheeled away.  I can't tell you all of the thoughts and emotions running through my mind that morning.  As her father I wanted her to get well, but I was scared for her, hopeful, anxious, wondering if I would lose her, wishing that I could take her place.  In situations like this you truly discover how much these little blessings mean to you and to others which brought me to lesson/application number two of Father's day.  Cherish every moment with your kids and enjoy them because we never know the number of our days or their days.  So take every moment.  After waiting and waiting, the surgeon finally came out and said everything went just fine but he had sucked out 15 cc's of pestilence...which is whole lot, especially on a tiny person.  He said the infection tract was pretty deep and they were going to have to leave it open to heal up.  Cue wound healing/dressing change skills I learned in PT school!  But we were just glad to see her on the other side and feed her food...which she hadn't had in like 10 hours.  Hungry baby = upset.  Hungry baby + post surgery baby + baby with IV in right arm that she cannot move = angry, but food and milk made everything better.

The rest of Monday, we just hung out at the hospital and we had some dear friends from our small group take excellent care of us providing us meals, talking with us, and praying for since that night in the ER which is Father's day lesson/application number three.  A good father will surround his family with other incredible, Godly people who will come alongside you and pray when you can't, comfort when you are worried, and always point you back to the hope that we have in Christ.  Thanks again small group!  You will forever be in our family!  Monday evening, we all got some sleep but I had to go back to work on Tuesday, June 18th.  Fortunately, my awesome mother in law was willing to drop her plans, make time for us, and travel to Augusta, to be with Laura and Lucy while I was at work.  I am very blessed to have not only and awesome mom, but an awesome mother in law.  Lucy was glad to see her as well, because Gigi provided some necessary grand parent sugar by bringing love and new toys for Lucy to play with in her jail looking hospital bed.  This is also the day that Lucy started feeling much better, but the physicians wanted to keep us one more night to make sure.  So we played in the room and the nursing staff brought a fun wagon for us to take Lucy around.

Finally, on Wednesday, we were able to go home with Lucy with some antibiotics (that were like precious diamonds - only one pharmacy in town had it and it was 300 dollars, but fortunately the hospital had a coupon for us so we only paid 15 dollars).  When I got home from work, I asked Laura how the Lucy was doing with the medicine and said she was due up for another dose and that it was in the fridge.  I open the fridge read the box and promptly read "Do not refrigerate." oops.  We decide that it is fine so I shake it up to give her a dose and then promptly read on the box "Do not shake" ugh.  So in panic mode and fearing I have just destroyed the one and only antibiotic that Lucy needed, I called the pharmacist and she assured me it was fine, just don't do that again.  Lucy continued to improve and over the next few weeks healed up very nicely according to her outpatient follow up visits.  And finally had time to celebrate Father's day which included a brand new electric razor and some excellent books to read for Lucy.  It was a  great adventure with lot's of lessons and certainly a first Father's day that I will never forget.

Lucy is 1 Year Old!

Dear Lucy-

1 Week
Wow - what a year it has been! One year (and a few weeks ago) you entered our lives. I knew that life was going to change, and it certainly has. You have grown up before our eyes. You started as a teeny tiny infant. (To be precise, you started at 7 lbs, 8 oz, 21.5 inches long and you are now 19 lbs., 6 oz, 29 inches long). You needed our help with everything. I'll never forget those first few days in the hospital. The first time I held you in my arms, the first morning I woke up and realized that I actually had a beautiful baby girl to call my own, the first time you cried and I couldn't figure out what was wrong, and how proud I was to introduce you to all of our friends and family. The first week was a little crazy since your dad was studying super hard for his board exam. He had to study in the waiting room at the hospital while we were there, and during our first few days at home, he had to leave to study at the library. I slept out on the couch in the living room with your pack n' play right next to me. This was partly because it was easier for me to get on and off the couch to take care of you (than from our tall bed) and partly because that way your dad could have plenty of sleep to study and take his board exam. I remember I was so worried that you would be okay during the night that I was so thankful every morning I woke up and you were still 100% okay. It was so hard for me to believe during those first few weeks that I actually had a healthy baby girl. It was just too good to be true that it actually did take me awhile to completely believe that you were ours.
That first week, your Gigi came and helped me take care of you. She helped us give you your first bath, went with us to Target (when we had quite a scare when a deer jumped out in front of us on the road - thank goodness we just missed him!), and cleaned the house top to bottom while I was recovering and you were sleeping. You were the prettiest little newborn with tons of dark brown hair and brown eyes. You were a very good little newborn. You only woke up once or twice each night, and that was when I woke you up to feed you! Sometimes you were so tired when I woke you up, that I had to change your diaper in order to wake you up - in fact that was our routine for the first month - I would wake up to an alarm in the middle of the night to feed you - I would wake you up by changing your diaper, and after feeding you I would walk you around the halls to make sure you were well burped :) . We had to do that in order to make sure you were getting enough food and were gaining enough weight. You lost just enough weight at the hospital for them to ask us to have a follow up visit at the pediatrician's office when you were about 4 or 5 days old. Luckily you had gained enough weight by that point for them not to be worried anymore.
During your first few months you had so many visitors and people who were excited to meet you! Your Grandma Baareman even stayed a whole week to help use get used to having a newborn. After your dad took his board exam, we had about a week as a family to spend time together before he started his new job. When you were just a week and a half old we took you to the lake house and you did so well. Ever since then you have been a pretty good little traveler. When you were about 5 weeks old I started my new job at Trusted Federal. Since you were so little and it was a work from home job, I worked while you slept for about a month. When you were 8 weeks old, I realized I couldn't take care of you and do my job at the same time, so we prayed that we would find somebody that would love you and who we could trust to take care of you part time. God answered our prayer when we found Thea - who took care of you until you were 1 year. You were so little when she first started taking care of you. All you really did was lay on your mat and look up at your toys, eat, and sleep. Of course, at that age you loved to be held too.

From there you just kept growing and growing and learning new things. Lots of our friends from church had babies around that fall and winter when you were about 3-6 months old, so you seemed big in comparison, but really you were still so little! We took you to friends houses and out to eat a lot since you were pretty content to just sit in your car seat and would even fall asleep in it (I already miss those days!).
Our house has morphed with you. At first, we had the pack n play in our room, and we would move it out into the foyer by my desk each day and back into our room each night. Then at around 1 month old, it was time for you sleep in your crib, so we just left the pack n play in the foyer. Then you started to enjoy laying on mats and learning how to roll onto your tummy. During that time our entire living room was covered with blankets and play mats with toys hanging from them. Your favorite was your piano mat. Although you hated tummy time for a long time, you soon learned to love it and started to do some yoga poses around Christmas time. It took you about a month to started using your arms to crawl and move around. You also were no longer content to just lay in the pack n play so we got you an exerciser and tried you in the Jenny Jump Up. Even though you didn't really play with those all that much, your favorite activity was being held in a standing up position. You loved when we held you on our laps so you could stand up and stretch you legs. You also loved mirrors and I would stand you on the console table so you both stand up and smile and laugh at yourself in the mirror. You also loved when we stood you up on your changing table.

Then after Christmas break you started crawling and we covered our living room floor with foam letter tiles and trapped you in a baby jail of colored gates. You were pretty happy exploring your toy filled area about about 8x8 feet, until you started being able to pull up. Then you were pulling up on everything, the couches, the ottoman, the TV stand, and our "baby-proofing" began. During this time you loved your little playschool activity table. You even learned how to pull up on our legs.
Finally around May, you learned how to walk, and boy did that change everything! It didn't take long for you to realize that you could explore the entire house on your own! Suddenly we didn't have to just make sure the living room was safe, but the entire house! We now make sure certain doors are closed when you are on the move! It has been so much fun to watch you just go everywhere exploring. You are sooo curious, that is one way you are often described. You also get described as happy and very good at daycare and church nursery. I would describe you as BUSY! You are into everything. Your little hands just can't grab enough things (and stick them in your mouth) fast enough! It is hard to keep up with you, much less stay one step ahead of you to make sure you don't hurt yourself! At this age especially you are a hazard to yourself. Just this last week at daycare you climbed onto a chair and fell off, hitting yourself on another nearby chair *sigh*. Also last week I was at a girl's night dinner at a friends house. I spent the whole night chasing you around as you grabbed food off plates and tried to put it on various pieces of furniture!

As you can see, in just one short year, you have changed so much! You now don't need our help so much getting around, since you would rather just walk around yourself! You can feed yourself, give yourself a bottle, say tons of sounds (although we are still waiting on words - C'mon Lucy!), turn pages in books, wave hello and good-bye and even build a little with your legos! You constantly surprise us with how smart you are and how fast you pick up on things. You remember things so well that it challenges us to always know you are watching what we do and say. You have successfully made it through so many transitions. From breast-milk to formula, from formula to whole milk, from bottles to sippy cups, from just milk to baby food, to table food. From infant car seat to new bigger car seat. From a infant seat in our jogging stroller to sitting on it without the insert. Now you are even big enough to ride behind daddy's bike! You have transitioned from multiple feeds a night, to one feed a night, to no feeds a night, you have switched from home all day, to some time at Thea's house, to daycare, you have had days without mommy during her business trips, have traveled to Charleston, Starkville, Atlanta, the Lakehouse, Athens, and more all like a champ. I'm so proud of you for all you have done and learned during your first year of life!

As I look back over your first year I realize that as much as I loved you when I first met you, every moment we have spent together has made me fall more in love with you. I love your personality. You are so sweet and fun. I love your sense of humor. You make me and your dad laugh so much. I can't count the number of times that we yell across the house - "You've got to see what Lucy is doing!" You are already beautiful inside and out Lucy. I love you so much. Thank you for making me a mom. God has taught me so much about loving someone more than myself in you. That is not an easy lesson to learn, but it sure makes it easier when that person I get to love is you! I know that I don't deserve to have you as a daughter, so every day you give me a huge reason to be thankful to God for his goodness. I know that I fail so much and that I'm not a perfect mom, but I'm going to do my best to be the best mom, wife, and Christ-follower that I can be since I know that I am setting an example for you. I know that there is so much fun in store for us as we watch you continue to grow. I'm shocked at how fast you've grown up already so I'm going to try to soak in as much from every moment with you that I can. I will admit that me and your dad had lots of fun together before you were here, but somehow you have made life so so much better. Seeing life through your eyes is just so fun! Going to the grocery store or any store for that matter is fun since you get so excited to be in a new place. Going out to dinner is fun because there is always a new food for your to try. And it seems every day you learn some new sound or discover something new in our house or in the yard. We hope and pray that we can teach you about Jesus and that one day you will admit that you are a sinner in need of a his saving grace. I hope that you will experience the joy of knowing the love of a Savior who is "closer than a brother". I hope you will one day know for yourself the love of Christ that is so much greater than the love that me and your dad have for you.

I can't write this post without realizing how God has blessed us during your first year. He was always so near to us, even when we didn't have a clue what we were doing! He provided the perfect job for me to earn money while also getting to spend some extra time with you each day. There were many crazy stressful days when I felt like I couldn't do it - (be a mom + do my job, especially when I had to do both at once!) but God showed me that those times when I couldn't do it by myself, I could do it by relying on him and his power. God got us through this super busy year of me working a lot and in the end he even allowed us to pay off our debt earlier than expected! This was all while getting to spend more time with you than I thought I would be able to. God was with me so much during your birth when I was very scared, and he has been with me so many times during your first year that all I can do is give him 100% of the glory for what he is doing in your life and in our family. All we can do is love him and give him our lives.

We love you Lucy! Happy Birthday!


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