Our Favorite Christmas Light Displays (UPDATED!)

2013-12-20 20.36.17
There’s a Santa in the window!

It’s a family tradition to go drive around the suburbs and look at various Christmas light displays. In 2013, we shared some of our favorites. Now, I present the updated list with new finds in 2015! I included links to Google Maps.

Jason 2.0

We recently discovered some flaws in the code for “Jason 1.3”. We are working on the bugs and hope to have a new and improved “Jason 2.0” available for beta testing soon. After some testing, Jason 2.0 will be available to the public.

Jason OS Change Log and Bug Report-
Jason 1.1 (released Aug 27, 2005): This release was generally good, however a bug caused the CPU to concentrate too much on its occupation, which didn’t leave enough time for interoperability connections with the companion Melissa OS.
Jason 1.2 (released Sept 14, 2008): The CPU issue carried over and a new kernel panic bug was discovered when the OS was left with newer, less developed, OSes. This often required one to be offloaded to the Melissa OS, causing unnecessary strain on that OS.
Jason 1.3 (released Aug 12, 2012): The OS suffered a fatal crash shortly after deployment. The cause may date back prior to Jason 1.0.
Jason 1.35 (released Jan 7, 2013): This patch fixed the fatal error as well as the kernel panic found in 1.2 and improved issues with 1.1. However, this patch was rolled back on Sept 1, 2014 causing complete system failure.

Jason 2.0 is currently in development.

In Transition

They posted my job at my company this week. I knew it was coming, but the finality of seeing it in black and white was so brutal. So complete.

I collapsed, both physically and emotionally, into a quivering gelatinous pile. Inconsolable.

I’m leaving a place that I have been working nearly my entire adult life (if you take out 4-5 years or so). I have so many friends, so much history here. And I am good at it, really good at it. I know that I will find something else, but this is one of the hardest things I have ever done. To make this choice that I know will be so beneficial for my family and for my own personal well-being.

What is it that Maria quotes in The Sound of Music? “When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window”? I don’t know if I’ve found that open window yet. I just keep finding more closed doors. So, there better be a damn open veranda somewhere.

Changes

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~Alan W. Watts

There have been a lot of changes in the Grandt household lately. Good changes. Scary changes. But good changes.

We are moving.

To Iowa.

We are packing up this house, the four people in it, one cat, and unfortunately too much stuff, and moving it approximately 250 miles west to the town I grew up in. A small town with approximately 2,500 people.

And I can’t wait.

In actuality, Jason has been there already for a month. He started a new position in the IT department at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics the day after Labor Day. He’s been staying with my parents, while we finalize some things here.

The girls will start school in West Branch after Columbus Day. There will be a transition for Claire, because she will go from full-day, five-day-a-week preschool to half-day, four-day-a-week preschool. But for Maggie, she’ll now have cousins in the same grade as her. They’re both excited.

But there’s been a problem of housing. So far we have been thinking we may have to stay in the spare room at my parents – all four of us in the one room. And I am having nightmares of not being able to access any of the things I will have to put in storage for the next 6-9 months. But things are seeming to come around on this aspect, so we hope to have good news on that soon. We just need someone to buy our townhouse now (you need one, right? It comes with a nosy neighbor!).

There’s also been a hiccup with my employment and I will be unable to continue with my current employer. My last day of physically being at my office here in IL will be October 9th. After that, I will continue working from home for my company short-term as we get our house ready to put on the market. But yes, looking for something new in IA at the same time.

It has been a roller-coaster of emotions that I am not sure I was quite prepared for, especially in regards to my job. And I know that our family and friends here locally will miss us quite a bit. But this decision is one that we felt was good for our family long-term. And the sacrifices will be worth it.

A new adventure.

Is This Heaven? No, It’s Iowa.

ray_fodA few weeks ago, I was offered a position at the University of Iowa Hospital in their Health Care Information Systems department. After much thought and consideration, I have accepted that position. Melissa, the girls, and I will be moving to Iowa in the next few months. My start date is still to be determined.

This is an exciting leap of faith, but Melissa and I agree this is a positive move for our family and it offers some amazing opportunities.

We are currently working on short term and long term living arrangements and hope to have some of those finalized soon.

Melissa and I will need help packing up the house, clearing out our junk, and moving. Any help you could provide, we be so greatly appreciated. Oh, did I mention we’ll supply pizza??

PS: Is anyone in the market for a 3 bedroom townhome in Hoffman Estates? If so, contact me ASAP.

SOAPBOX: Why Daytime VBS is Not Reaching Children

As someone who has been involved with Vacation Bible School programs for over 10 years, and now as a parent of two children, I have come to believe that daytime VBS programs hosted by churches are not reaching all of the children they could reach.

Daytime VBS programs are a “tradition”. As someone who grew up in an LCMS church, I know the mentality of “this is the way we’ve always done it”. However, forcing a VBS into the day fails to look at the changes in our society that have occurred since 1980. My premise is this: churches do not allow families or single parents the ability to get their children to VBS programs held during the day. Let’s look at some statistics.

Single parent households are on the rise and single mothers are significantly more common. According to census.gov, in 1980, of all households with children, 19.5% were single parent households. This has grown to 29.5% in 2008. In 1980, 18.4% of children were born to unmarried women. This has grown to a staggering 40.6% in 2008.

Additionally, census.gov shows that dual income households with children under the age of 18, have increased. While not significantly, since 1990, it has risen from 64.3% to 66.1%. Nearly 2/3rds of American households with children who are are old enough to attend VBS have BOTH parents working.

So, what does this all mean? How do kids get to VBS? There normally isn’t a bus service. The church doesn’t pick up the kids. That means, parents are responsible to get their children to VBS. As we have seen, single parent households are on the rise and dual income households hold a strong majority. This means, there isn’t a “spare parent” who can ferry the children to a daytime VBS. Children may be at summer day camps not affiliated with the church, or a child care center, or left home (those children who are old enough, obviously). This SIGNIFICANTLY limits the church’s ability to reach out into the community.

Given those statistics, it’s easy to extrapolate out that a church’s volunteer base is also shrunk due to high school students working summer jobs or at summer school, middle school students stuck at home with no transportation, and parents at their day jobs.

Nighttime and weekend VBS programs have their own draw backs such as competing with local athletic programs and parents/students being too tired to have another activity. But, I believe my point stands: if you want to reach the largest amount of children possible, do NOT hold your VBS program during the day. Or, at the very least, offer another alternative.

She’s gone

It’s been too long since I posted and I’m not sure where the time’s gone. We’ve had vacation and Christmas and months have gone.

But what has been the most disruptive is that Grandma Mayhew passed away a week ago. And my whole world has come tumbling down. Not sure where to go or what to do, I’ve spent this week at home with my parents.

Our Favorite Christmas Light Displays

2013-12-20 20.36.17
There is a Santa in the window!!

It’s a family tradition to go drive around the suburbs and look at various Christmas light displays. I thought I’d share a few of our favorites (with links to Google Maps)

What Would I Do If I Won The Mega Millions?

MegaMillions_logoThe projected jackpot for tonight’s Mega Millions drawing is $636m, so i thought I’d dream about what I’d do if I won.

The jackpot shrinks to $341.2m if you take the lump sum. Assuming a federal income tax of nearly 40% and Illinois state income tax of 5%, that leaves $187.66m in cash.

This is how I would spend the money:

  • $27m (15%) Church and Charity – distributed over 10-20 years for tax purposes.
  • $10m to medical research and/or children’s hospitals
  • $100,000 savings funds for our 7 nieces and nephews. Payable at $10,000/year over 10 years after they turn 21.
  • $200,000 savings funds for each of our kids. Payable at $20,000/year over 10 years after they turn 21.
  • $750,000 to pay off the mortgages of immediate family members (grandparents, parents, siblings) – this is probably an over estimation of the real amount.
  • $1m land and property in IA and FL
    • $800,000+ for a large chunk of land and a new house in FL
    • $200,000 for a “vacation home” in IA
  • $500,000 RV to travel the country

That leaves a paltry $147,310,000 for general living expenses (food, gas, utilities, health insurance, property tax, house maintenance, new cars, etc) for the rest of our lives. That is $150,000/year over the next 982 years. Or, $2,104,428.57/year for the next 70 years.

Naturally Melissa and I would probably quit both of our jobs. Melissa would work at developing a photography business and I would find a nice local church and/or performing arts center in FL to volunteer at. We’d probably spend most of the summer up north in IL and IA with family. But most importantly, I’d want to keep the girls “grounded” and never live an overly lavish life. We’re just normal people.