Missouri Beer Festival

Lots of people at the Holiday Inn Expo Center
Lots of people at the Holiday Inn Expo Center

Brooke and Meg went to Girls Weekend at the Lake, as usually happens this time of year, leaving me all by my lonesome with Calvin.  Thankfully, my wonderful parents were thinking of my plight and Mom watched Calvin while Dad and I checked out the Missouri Beer Festival.  This event has been held for a few years now, switching venues once or twice as it has grown.  The Holiday Inn Expo Center is among the largest available in Columbia, as other options on the University’s campus, wouldn’t allow the sale of alcohol.

Overall, for $25, we were pretty impressed with the selection of breweries and beers.  The Festival opens at 1:00 pm (unless you lay $25 more for a VIP pass) and continues until 5:00 pm, yielding plenty of time to make your way around the Festival floor, trying the wares from the available breweries.  Though their website has mostly comprehensive list of the breweries that were present, there were others like Civil Life, Stone and Abita that were also featured.

As part of the deal, you were given a tasting glass, where each brewery would pour somewhere between 2 and 3 oz of beer for you to try.  Though this doesn’t sound like much, it certainly adds up over a 4 hour period.  They also had food available for additional cash, and believe you me, that BBQ smelled pretty great.  They also allowed voting for your favorite brew (apparently Rock Bridge won for their Option #2 beer), though the organizers took the ballots at 3:45 without announcing that they were doing so, and we weren’t quite ready to vote yet, so I guess we didn’t exercise our constitutional rights on this one…

Me, Dad and cousin Laura

Me, Dad and cousin Laura

The main thing I’d like to see corrected for next year’s event hinges upon the beer list.  When we’ve attended Schlafly’s events in years past, they provide you with a list of the beers and descriptions for each, thus allowing you to cross them off as you move through the stations.  It gives you a good sense of how many you had and which ones you liked.  For this event, you were provided with a list of breweries (and their locations on the Festival floor), but no list of beers.  Granted, you could always write that down, but with the complexity and length of some beer names, it’s not ideal.  I’m not sure how they could easily fix this, as some breweries won’t decide which beer to bring until the last minute, but surely there’s something they could do.  An 8×10 sheet of paper with all the beers listed, including style and alcohol content, would be just fine.  It would also allow me to seek out the beers I liked far more easily, rather than requiring me to try and remember (during an afternoon of heavy drinking…) which ones were awesome and which ones were just so-so.

Overall, we had a pretty good time.  We saw some familiar faces (Dad saw half of his office there…which was kinda crazy…), got to try some great beers, and had a pleasant time with a bunch of people we didn’t know.  I suspect we’ll be back next year, so long as our babysitter’s available.  🙂

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at Nana and Papa's house.  Jake, Kristen, Andy, Meg, Calvin and Brooke
Christmas at Nana and Papa’s house. Jake, Kristen, Andy, Meg, Calvin and Brooke

Again, haven’t posted much recently. I’m still on Break for another two weeks, but much of that has been taken up with various projects around the house (which I still need to take pictures of and post…) and various travels around the state for Christmas.

That, and I’m still fighting with access to this blog from within my own network at the house, as our router isn’t very happy about that…for some reason…

Anyway, Christmas has been pretty fun this year.  Meg has been pretty hyper all week, so my patience has been strained recently, but we’re in Hannibal now completing our week-long Christmas celebrations, so that should subside soon.  Calvin still doesn’t quite understand the concept of opening presents yet, but he certainly enjoys the new toys he’s been getting.

Regardless, this is mostly a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” post.  I’m still working on getting everything working properly with the system at home, so once that’s done, I expect to post quite a bit more often.  There’s much to catch up on!


Christmas 2013

What a pretty family. :-)
What a pretty family. 🙂

As Christmas fell in the middle of the week this year, our schedules were thrown into something of a tizzy.  Christmas in Columbia with my family was the weekend before, we still traveled to Louisiana, MO to spend Christmas Eve with Brooke’s grandparents, we returned to St. Louis for Christmas morning so the kids could open presents under their own tree, and then we went to Hannibal for yet another Christmas celebration this weekend.  That’s all with a second trip to Columbia for Meg and I between St. Louis and Hannibal destinations so I could see a few friends of mine from high school (good times had by all, by the way).

Needless to say, while the countless presents have been welcomed by our eldest, I’m sure the constant travel and disrupted sleep schedule has strained her.  Still, in some ways, it helps us by having easy things to keep her occupied for days when she’d otherwise be making me play “sleepover” with her, or “hide and seek” (wherein she lays on the floor and considers this to be “hiding”…).  It also helped all that traveling by having a new car to drive in

Regardless, we had a pretty great trip.  We received far too many presents, but that just goes to show how generous our two families are.  Meg really enjoyed opening presents four times in a week, so getting to spread these things out over a longer period of time than usual was nice for her.  Christmas just kept on coming!

Though I knew this phase of my life was coming, it’s starting to become even more evident that Christmas is becoming less and less “for me,” at least with regards to the “magic of Christmas.”  I’m not talking about the religious aspect of the holiday, but more the shift from childhood to adulthood, where Christmas was such a big deal for a large portion of my early life.  It still is, but now, it’s more of a big deal for my kids than it is for me.  I still love Christmas, don’t get me wrong, but it’s beginning to take on a new meaning: where it’s now my job to make Christmas magical for my kids rather than make it enjoyable for myself.  I hope that doesn’t sound “bah humbug”-ish, and maybe it’s just something I need to try and work on for next year, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

Still, watching Meg open her presents (and Calvin in the coming years…he was kinda useless at opening things this year…) was enough “magic” for me.  It wasn’t the same, watching someone else open presents as opposed to me opening presents, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as meaningful.  It certainly was this year.

Merry Christmas, everyone. 🙂

The Holidays

Brooke had to hold Meg's arm still for this one...
Brooke had to hold Meg’s arm still for this one…

To be honest, I haven’t been posting all that much recently because I haven’t had much to say. At the same time, it’s been pretty busy, for one reason or another. With Christmas falling in the middle of the week, I feel like my schedule has been thrown radically off course for the past few weeks, and am only just now getting back in the swing of things.

Christmas was good, of course.  We went to Louisiana, MO for the Baumann (extended) family Christmas on Sunday the 23rd, then continued north to Hannibal for the Baumann (immediate) family Christmas on the 24th.  It was odd seeing how much snow was on the ground up there, as we really hadn’t gotten any in St. Louis beforehand.  At the very least, it still felt like we got a “White Christmas” out of the deal.  After that, we attended our traditional Christmas Eve service back in Louisiana before heading down to St. Louis that night, so that Meg could open her presents under her own tree on Christmas morning.

However, since we didn’t get home until 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve, Meg was quite content to stay in bed until 8:00 am the next morning, meaning we had to wake her up to get her to church on Christmas Day (thus, leaving Meg enough time to open one present before leaving).  Still, it all worked out.  Meg wanted to play with everything she opened immediately, rather than waiting until after everything was opened to choose something to play with.  Perhaps it was better to only get one first.

“Pez? What’s a ‘Pez’?”

We typically don’t go to Christmas Day services, but as we were in town, didn’t have to go anywhere, and our new pastor wanted to have a service on that day (we usually don’t), we went along and had a good time.  There were even some folks in pajamas, bringing a good “family atmosphere” to the proceedings.  It was a short-ish service, but was nice to participate in.

Brooke went to work the next few days, and Meg went to school.  I, being the lazy one, stayed home, getting a few things done while watching the Extended Editions of “The Lord of the Rings” (in preparation for “The Hobbit,” which I still haven’t seen!).  I assembled Meg’s new “big girl bed” (which she’s now sleeping in, most nights), hung out with a few friends, kept up on laundry, etc.  Overall, a good mix of productivity and laziness, so I was satisfied!

We then went to Columbia last Friday for the Linsenbardt (immediate) family Christmas.  Jake and Kristen couldn’t get there around Christmas, so this is the first year I can remember where we pushed things off a few days.  In the end, it was probably better this way as we didn’t feel as rushed, traveling between towns without much lag time.  Still, we had a good time and got to hit up Flat Branch and Shakespeare’s while we were there (making it more than worth the trip).

Always need more Sesame Street books!
Always need more Sesame Street books!

Meg stayed in Columbia with my parents while Brooke, Edie and I returned to St. Louis for New Year’s.  Brooke actually went in to work for a little bit on New Year’s Eve while I took down the tree and did a few other things around the house.  We hung out with Adam and Kelley that night, which was rather nice because we typically have them over to our house (as Meg is usually in bed by 7:30, and they live 20+ min away from our house, making dinner a difficult prospect).  Regardless, good food and good times with friends, so it was a nice way to ring in 2013.

And now, I’m back at work.  I had a good time over break, but am ready to get back to a typical routine, even if it means getting up “early” and putting clothes on instead of staying in PJs all day.  We won’t have any easy weekends coming up, though, as my cousin gets married on Saturday (the bachelor party is tonight, and the rehearsal is tomorrow…I’m an usher and Meg’s flower girl-ing…), so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

But thankfully, Cabin Fever is next Saturday.  Can’t wait for that one. 🙂

Any Given Friday

The crisp, cool air of September typically brings up some of these memories.  Fourteen years ago now, a Friday night in September meant that I was walking out onto a football field in mid-Missouri to play a marching show.  To this day, the fondest memories of high school involve that uniform and that snare drum, the same one I had all three years at Hickman High School.  I’m sad I’ve lost track of a lot of the people I marched with, but I do think of them from time to time and wish I could get that kind of experience back again.

More than likely, I’ll have to wait until Meg’s in a similar uniform someday.

But until then, I can relive the memories, thanks to transfer technology from VHS to DVD, and from DVD to YouTube.  Thus, on this Friday in September, I present to you my marching shows from high school for your viewing enjoyment.

“Western Perceptions” – 1997

“The Music of Shakespeare” – 1998

“Homage: Three Tapestries” – 1999

And for those that want Kristen’s shows, I’ve got those up on YouTube also. “The Music of Stravinsky,” “The Wind and The Lion,” and “Journey Through A Dream.”

Over The River and Through The Woods…

Needless to say, this year marked quite a few changes for us.  The birth of Meg and our move to Iowa have complicated Christmas travels to a greater degree than they used to be.  Way back when, we would go to Hannibal/Louisiana for Christmas Eve and then rush back to Columbia/Lohman for Christmas lunch with the Plochberger side of the family.  As my grandmother passed away earlier this year, we will no longer be getting together for Christmas Day in the same way that we have in the past, likely doing something like a traditional “Family Reunion” once a year at some other time.  Therefore, we won’t have to rush back so quickly Christmas Day.  That part is a bit easier.  It’s the rest of it where things get interesting.

This year presents other issues.  Firstly, my buddy Andy S. got married earlier this year.  We were unable to attend any of the festivities, largely because Brooke was quite pregnant, so I didn’t really want to be out of town for an extended period.  He and his wife, Rachel, are hitting Columbia (and our mutual friend, Brett), but only for the week prior to Christmas Day.  Therefore, here’s how this is going to work:

  1. Meg and I will drive down to Columbia on the 21st so we can see some folks prior to Christmas  (~5 hr drive)
  2. Meg and I will drive to Hannibal on the 23rd; Brooke and Edie will meet us there (~2 hr drive)
  3. We spend Christmas Eve in Hannibal/Louisiana, get up Christmas morning, open presents at the Baumann house, and then head off to Columbia (~2 hr drive)
  4. We stay in Columbia through Monday and return to Iowa by way of Hannibal, picking up Brooke’s car (~5 hr drive)

So yeah, it’s gonna get kinda crazy…at least, crazier than it’s been in previous years.  It’s a good thing that we have a larger vehicle now so we can carry stuff with us between locations, but it’ll be nice having two cars in Missouri so we can load them both up to get everything back up to Iowa.

This brings us to another issue:  space.  As in, we have very little.  Meg, for all of the 17 lbs that she weighs, comes with metric tons of stuff.  As in, multiple bags of clothes, blankets, a baby cage (read: “pack ‘n play”), and toys.  And we still have Edie to take along, too.  And presents for 3 people for the ride home (but presents for 9 people on the way there).  We’re probably going to have to pick up a car-top carrier before we even consider going on vacation next summer.

Related to all of this, we probably won’t travel much in January/February, for a few reasons.  One, we live in Iowa.  Iowa is cold.  Really, really cold.  The 3″ of snow that fell today will probably still be here in March.  So yeah, we’ll probably stay bundled up and keep as warm as possible, without going anywhere besides work.  The other reason (the real reason…) is that Meg hasn’t been traveling well recently.  It just seems like we go places and she gets off whatever sleeping schedule we finally settled her into, then it takes at least a week to get her back to something semi-normal.  She also tends to get sick, in some fashion, shortly thereafter.  I’m sure a lot of this is related to the teething (that she’s finally showing some progress in!), but the constant traveling can’t help.  It just seems like we make some progress at getting her to a normal routine, and then it’s dashed within a weekend!  We have gone to Columbia, Hannibal and St. Louis a few times over the last few months.  She generally does fine in the car, and is great for most of the day, but overnight…eeeeeeesh…

So yeah, that’s this year’s plan.  Weather/sickness depending, as usual.  We’re just going to make a concerted effort to get through it all mostly unscathed, survive winter, and make it to Meg’s first birthday.  Mark your calendars for March 5th!

Of Thanksgiving and Wireless Printers

This year marked our annual trek across Missouri for Thanksgiving, but the first time we’d done so with a nearly 9-month-old. We’ve done this every year since being married, but until now, we’ve only had a dog to deal with. This time, we had a baby…plus the carseat and luggage that goes with her. Needless to say, I’m glad we have a different car now, as all the stuff filled up the back to the point where we couldn’t see out of it any longer.

Regardless, we went to Hannibal for the Thanksgiving holiday where the majority of the Poor/Baumann clan typically goes.  Meg did great, for the most part, but didn’t sleep terribly well the second night.  As usual, the food was great, the company was fun, and the “Poor Women” entertained me with their video game shenanigans (this year, some fun with “Just Dance 2“…and yes, we have video evidence…).  On Friday, we continued our Tour of Missouri by driving to my parent’s house in Columbia where we hung out with the immediate family.  Again, Meg did pretty well the first night…and not so well the second night…  But overall, again, good food had by all, and a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit on Saturday night.

Either way, it was a pretty good trip.  We made it back to Iowa by mid-afternoon, so it allowed us to clean up a bit around here and prep for the upcoming week.  Christmas is going to get difficult, I imagine, as we were already pressed for space in the car on this trip.  We’ll need to pick up some kind of roof rack bag in order to make space for everything.  That, or Edie will have to spend Christmas with Sam…  😛

On a side-note, we didn’t do much Black Friday shopping.  I did pick up a few games online, and Brooke and I grabbed a new All-In-One printer from Wal-mart for $44.  Great deal.  And it works wonders.  Wirelessly.  It’s glorious.  🙂

And, on another side-note, I was looking to see if the Dave Matthews Band performance from the 2010 Grammy Awards was posted anywhere and, low and behold, it’s up on Youtube. I tried finding it the day after the awards and the only place I could find it was iTunes for $3. Outrageous! Therefore, I post it now. It’s, perhaps, the best live performance of them I have seen and, by far, the best performance of any group at the Grammy’s that night. They should have won.

One Decade Down

This coming weekend marks my 10 year Hickman High School reunion – The Class of 2000.  It took me awhile to find the Columbia Daily Tribune’s article about it (way back in their “archives”…that aren’t what I’d call “searchable”), mostly so I could remind myself of the statistics these kinds of things tend to include: 619 graduates, 73% of which were going on to four-year colleges, 13% to jobs, and the remainder to two-year schools or the military.

We’ll be heading down to Columbia this Friday to attend this year’s Hickman Homecoming Game, and hopefully we’ll get to see my old marching band play some of this year’s show while we’re at it.  Otherwise, the general “plan” is for people to get together for some Mizzou tailgating (which I won’t do, in favor of frolfing with Stu…) followed by a group dinner at Boone Tavern on Saturday night.  RSVPs for all of this were done over Facebook, so while I have some idea who is attending, I don’t know exactly because the invites were only sent to “fans” of “Hickman High School Class of 2000.”  If you weren’t a “fan” of that particular Facebook Group, you probably didn’t get the invite.  So yeah, to an extent, I have no idea who’s going to even be at this event, besides a few specific people I’ve chit-chatted with in the past few months.

That all aside, we’re due for a visit to Columbia.  We haven’t been down there for a few months now and Mom is itching to take Meg shopping for some winter clothes (which is good, ’cause Iowa is COLD).

But back to the Reunion.  This will be the first time most of my “Group of Friends” from high school meet Meg.  In a few cases, this will be the first time they meet Brooke!  I guess part of the fun of going to a 10 year High School Reunion is “reconnecting” with friends you haven’t seen in years (or a decade), but it’s going to be fascinating to see what trajectories we all ended up on.  I was friends with a wide variety of folks in high school, ranging from valedictorians to band geeks to space station simulators.  To date, I’m the only one I can think of from high school that was part of that group and also has a child.  I’m also one of the few that is married (although most have “significant others,” to some degree).  Considering 10 years has passed, I find those particular milestones to be rather interesting, as I’d argue that the preceding generations had a higher percentage of individuals that were married and had at least one kid 10 years after graduating high school (my Mom had 2 kids within 10 years of graduation).

I guess  I’m just reflecting on how I ended up here, as compared with others from my graduating class.  Whether it was always subconsciously in the plan to be married, have kids, and have a Ph.D. in time for my 10 year reunion.  Whether that notion was part of other people’s plans, or whether their lives took them in completely different directions than they’d otherwise intended.  Whether I will be considered the odd-man-out, or whether someone else’s shocking revelation will trounce anything I could come up with in this post.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not worried about going to the reunion.  On TV, you see people fretting about going back to their high school reunions, usually that they’ll seem somehow “less successful” than their brethren, or that they have memories of the “high school experience” that no one else remembers like you do (think of the season three 30 Rock episode, “Reunion“).  Despite my questions above, I’m just genuinely intrigued by the idea of how my experience differs from the experiences of the other people I hung out with in high school.  Personally, I think if we were to rate attendees based on their “successes” post-graduation, I’d rate fairly highly.  I guess I’m just wondering if I meet the expectations that my friends had 10 years ago, and if they will all meet mine.

I guess I just find it all to be “curious.”

Passing On


We went down to Columbia this past weekend for my Grandma’s funeral. She was 95-years-old and took a fall a few weeks ago. Grandma never recovered from it and, thankfully, her pain didn’t last for too long. While my Aunts and Uncles (and Mom…and the whole family, for that matter) were sad to lose her, Grandma lived a very long life and was able to do things on her own for the vast majority of it. She only moved into a nursing home last year, and even then, her heart was always strong.

I’m very happy that Meg got to meet her Great-Grandma. In my case, I actually remember my Dad’s Grandparents (as they passed away in the late-1980s/early-1990s), but I never really knew my Mom’s Grandmother. We do, however, have a picture of Mom’s Grandmother holding me while in the nursing home when I was a baby. Similarly, Meg will probably get to know Brooke’s Grandparents over the next few years (as they’re all in their 70s), but will have a picture (or two) of her being held by my Grandma.

Of course, I now have someone else I can call “Grandma” (or whatever Meg decides to call my Mom, someday :-)).

On another note, some of you may have noticed the server was down over the weekend. We woke up Friday morning to find the server powered down. I tried a few things, but couldn’t get it started again – it wouldn’t power on at all. I was hoping it wasn’t the motherboard, as replacing that would likely have me lose the blog up until my last backup (which was a few weeks ago…grrrrr…). Fortuitously, we were going to Columbia anyway, where I could take advantage of Dad’s stash of components and electrical equipment, so I just took the server with us! Long story short, we tried a few things and eventually figured out it was the video card. The fan on the thing was immovable, suggesting it had overheated. After I removed it, the thing turned back on…but I had to go get a new one from Best Buy in order to actually see anything on the screen. The new card was recognized by Linux without a hitch and it’s all up and running again (obviously). Now I’m investigating ways of automatically backing up the blog database…

The Loss of a Friend

Colette Anderson, our long-time family friend from St. Andrew’s in Columbia, was the kind of person that I only knew peripherally growing up, but around the time I hit college, it seemed like she and my Mom became really close. I can remember back to Freshman year when I’d go out to my car after church and find a case of Mountain Dew in the back seat, or I’d shake her husband, Chuck’s, hand after playing drums for the service, ending up with a $20 bill in return. They were both great people that I am happy to have known, and I am certainly changed by their influence and generosity.

Both Chuck and Colette actively attended St. Andrew’s Saturday Evening Service, one we started over a decade ago focused on contemporary music. They both appreciated my contributions to the service in playing drums (and later guitar), and of course, supported all of the other people that came through the service over the years, always coming up after the service to thank us for the work we had done (even when we screwed up royally…which happened on many an occasion…). In many ways, they were “honorary members” of the band, frequently joining us for dinner after church or at our various social gatherings.

Chuck passed away, unexpectedly, on December 21, 2002. I don’t think Colette ever fully recovered from the loss, but did her best to move on and devote more of herself to her family (including new grandchildren) and her “church family.” Earlier this year, however, she was diagnosed with cancer and lost her battle with it this past Wednesday, December 16th. I made the trip to Columbia for the memorial service, held yesterday.

I guess I felt it necessary to make particular note here of the way both of their memorial services were held. Rather than focusing on their lives and the things they had done, these services were designed in celebration of what they stood for and how we can all better ourselves by looking at their examples. For both services, I was honored to participate in playing drums, along with others playing guitar, piano, and singing. Colette chose the songs for Chuck’s memorial service, and was able to choose many of the same ones for her own service. She was sure to pick upbeat, yet meaningful, music to set the tone that she wanted: not to dwell on the loss of her, but as a reminder of the life she led and how we can incorporate her ideals into our own lives.

She would tell us how Chuck frequently hummed “Come, Now Is The Time To Worship” on the way home from church anytime we’d play it. Colette chose that song to be played at his service, and also wanted it played at hers. It was an inspiring experience to play that song just the way we’d always done it (fast and loud!), and once the clapping started during the tune, many of us cried. It may be the best we’d ever done it. “Trading My Sorrows” was another one the family requested, and even though we had only played it together as a group once before (some of us had never played it before that day), it turned out perfectly.

It was probably the best memorial service I’d ever gone to, and I hope mine is similar someday (preferably a long time from now, of course). Colette and Chuck will certainly be missed, but their inspiration and legacy will live on for years to come.