Sunday, November 19, 2006

John enters the 21st century

Since Laurie just posted, I won't get into too much. Yes, as President of the Kiwanis Club of Colonial Plymouth I am even busier than I have been in the past. Our club has 92 members and does a lot locally, as well as supporting an organization called Kids Against Hunger. We help set up sessions where groups (usually kids, like school groups) package a nutritious mix of rice, soy, chicken powder, and vegetables that is sent to various parts of the world to aid starving children and adults. Over the past year and a half, we have packaged over 300,000 meals. It's the best project we've been involved with in my 10 years in the club.

Work is going quite well, though I am still in the growth stage of my business and not yet where I want to be. I have a new assistant (we call them Branch Office Administrators, or BOAs) named Kathy who is going to be fabulous as she gets more experience. I am already in a much better frame of mind than with my prior BOA, who caused me a lot of stress. The referral network worked well on this one. Kathy was Laurie's dad's assistant for 10 years at FTD.

Quick update on Zane. Played his first official varsity hockey game last night. Lost 6-2 to Chelsea. He played the whole game and made 57 saves. Yes, you read that right - 57 saves out of 63 shots, a .905 save percentage which is quite good. He was very busy. For those of you who don't know hockey too well, that's about twice as many shots as a goalie would normally face in a game. We are very proud of him.

My inquiries to join the Paisley Fogg have not lead to anything as of yet, so I started singing on a part-time basis with the OLGC choir. After 16 years of being a cantor and many times being asked, I guess it was time.

I will try to check Birchtales regularly, but what would really be neat would be an automatic email notifcation that goes out when someone posts. Is that possible, Gretchen?


Monday, November 13, 2006

Plymouth Update

Greetings from Plymouth!

Hockey is in full swing and we hope to squeeze in some family time when we visit a rink near you.
This weekend, Mom (Grandma) came to see Vaughn's team play at the Bloomfield Hills rink. A disappointing tie, 2-2 but fun none the less. She declined the opportunity to follow us to Oak Park where my team played; we managed a 3-1 win.

Vaughn's team, the Canton Crush, is doing quite well. You can follow their ratings at this link. He is Mr. Versatility and plays wing, defense and occasionally center. A recent growth spurt added a couple inches but no weight. Ask to see his rock hard abs. Another inch and he will pass me up. School is going well and he plans to try out for basketball this year. His team will travel to Indy right after the New Year so we'll get to visit Craig and Jeanne.

Bryn is still playing hockey "with the boys." She's a great defenseman --a regular Nicklas Lindstrom in pigtails. She just finished soccer, to John's great relief. Although hockey is more expensive, it's indoors with bathrooms and snack shops and you don't have to bring a chair. Bryn is really enjoying 5th grade and is having great success in the classroom. She also has experienced a recent growth spurt and is a whopping 4 ft. 7 inches--average at last. Her team will be in Chicago for a tournament January 12-14.

Zane is a sophomore at Canton High School and gainfully employeed at Busch's markets, the same grocery chain that Mike used to work at. He took driver's ed and is now logging his student hours. Zane made the Canton varsity hockey team as a goalie and is still in the clouds about it. Zane started the first scrimmage game and there is hope that he will actually see some game action. It really pyschs out the other team to see a 6' 2" goalie in net. Unfortunately, he's the biggest kid on a very young team. I told him I hope he likes seeing his name in the paper, followed by "gave up 7 goals on 60 shots in Canton's loss." He reports that school is going well, although that has yet to be independently verified. Report cards come home this week.

John is now President of Kiwanis. I'll let him tell you more about that when he figures out how to blog. It does keep him very busy. His work at Edward Jones is going well enough to have won a family trip to Disney World in March. We have never been and are really looking forward to it. The kids are very happy that our hotel is right by the ESPN place. John was diagnosed with asthma, although it doesn't seem to be as chronic as with the boys, it does flare up from time to time. He is the official National Anthem Singer of the Canton High School Varsity Hockey Team.

I'm enjoying my 15 minutes of local fame. I have been in the news a bit lately and am very amused by it. I was featured in Detroit Free Press local section article in August, then a front page article in the Canton Observer on library technology had my picture and many quotes, then the Plymouth Observer featured my World Series Commissioner's Trophy, made from a garbage can lid and other items. I managed to get to one of the Detroit Tigers ALCS games with my brother and got tickets (the legal way) to World Series game 1 at Comerica Park with John and my brother. Soccer season is over for me also but hockey is going great and we are having lots of fun.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving in Essexville (Vaughn especially) and will bring Zane's new football. Also planning for Christmas in Chicago, but only if all the mono has cleared up! Hang in there Carol.

Thanks to Gretchen for reviving interest and her patience with the techno-challenged.

Family Photos

Some family photos from the annual pre-Christmas Helmreich photo shoot are posted at:

It has gotten a little harder to set up the background, lights, operate the camera, and convince two very mobile children to cooperate, but we still got a few decent shots. (And some funny ones when Chloe and I took our own picture while messing with the remote trigger...)

Not much new in Indianapolis. Chloe has become quite the big sister, taking care of her little brother at all times. Gibson is getting quite good a throwing things - the larger the better. Jeanne and I are becoming quite tallented at prying Chloe off Gibson - "No, you can not carry your brother to the car," and I continue to run regularly (mostly to make sure I am fast enough to catch Gibson.)

Our new house has a basement at this point and framing begins this week. People continue to look at our current house, but no real action in the first 45 days on the market (except the ten showings). Thank goodness we have a guaranteed buyout from the builder if the current house does not sell.

We plan on being in Joliet on Thanksgiving and St. Charles for Christmas. We are looking forward to seeing everyone during the holidays.

P.S. If anyone is in the mood for Christmas music already, check out Aimee Mann's new album of ten standards called "Another Drifter in the Snow" its amazing.

Now how do I get spell check to work on this post???


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sick Sick Sick

Well, don't know if any of you have heard Ian has mono and is quite sick. Janine also may have mono and is getting her test on Monday. I am not sleeping well and may have to be put on sleeping pills. Carol/Mom is cooking up a storm and I am FINE with that. Jim/Dad is working very hard and we are all looking forward to Ian's return!!! 7 more nights to sleep!!! I know he can't wait to come home and see the dogs and sleep in his own bed (something he will be doing a lot of). Can't wait to see all of you for Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Totally Out of It AKA Out of It...Totally!

Hello Family!

There isn't much news here because all I do is work. Lost my construction coordinator August 1 and have been leading Saturday work teams at Habitat houses where I know enough to organize the site. Six day weeks do not agree with me, but I have met a lot of very nice people giving of their time on the sites. Hired a new guy a week ago but I am continuing with 3 sites that are near final inspection so he can concentrate on 3 others - one is a foundation, one is framed but not enclosed, one is at mechanical inspection. Two others are being built by local high school building and trades classes - that is mostly a stop by and see how they are doing situation.

I can't wait until things are back to "normal".

Rich is practically as nutty with his plastering business as I am with Habitat. It is a rush against the cold temperatures for him.

For Thanksgiving we are hosting any and all in the Chicago area. Rich's daughter, Lauren, will be visiting for a week during that time. We hope all who join us will try their luck at our new poker table!

(Thank you, Gretchen, for teaching me how to blog and bringing some of us into the 21st Century - at least when we can remember our sign-on information!)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Geezer Rock

Here are a couple pix of the Paisley Fogg at the Dogwood Theatre

Uncle Keith checks in

Greetings from Bay City

Thanks to Gretchen for putting this together and tutoring us on its use.

Last night I had a nice dinner at Bennigans in Mt. Pleasant w/ Amanda followed by a concert at the music school by the Jazz Lab I band which played "Hey That's My Bike" among other notable big band jazz numbers. While at Bennigans we disovered Uncle Buddy's perfect meal-Guiness glazed steak (or chicken, salmon or shrimp :) Mike made the mistake of going home this weekend so he missed out on the jazz concert and more importantly Uncle Keith's dinner treat, but I gave him a raincheck.

Ethel is coming home today from a visit to her dad in Albuquerque. While she was gone Radar and I made a trip to the cottage Saturday to clean up the yard. Gretchen, Paul, Barbara if any of you ever feel like coming for a visit to the cottage it is about 6 hrs from Chi-town and would be a fun way to visit. I think you (and Craig's family) are about the only family members who have never been to Shores Sweet.

I am keeping the grass well trimmed on the football field in preparation for the Thanksgiving Day game in Essexville. Vaughan be sure to bring the football because I don't know if my OJ Simpson signature model still holds air!

The Paisley Fogg is still croaking out its age old (I mean timeless) music. We played in beautiful Fremont MI, home of Gerber Baby Food a few weeks ago. Maybe when I figure out how I'll post a photo of the gig.

The law biz is still reasonably good to me although my interest flags from time to time. Craig recently helped me a great deal on a common carrier damage claim which is something he is an expert in and I'd never been presented with before.

I'll let my children post their own updates to let us all know what they are doing.

Uncle Keith

Sunday, November 05, 2006

tom birchler is in the loop

So we have our own Birchblog? how cool is that. thanx for setting it up Gretchen. NO big news but did enjoy recent visits at mom's with Uncle Bud and Aunt Delores and a week later with Bridgid and Joe. They are all doing well.
Emily made the 8th grade volleyball team and won her first game. Mike's flag football team is winless, making them worse than the Lions.

News from the AA Birchlers

There is nothing extraordinary happening in our house, but I can report the boring truth! We hosted 10 at our house this weekend. My sister, Chris, from Indiana, plus hubby & 6 kids came in. Another couple (friends of theirs) came, too. The 4 Indiana adults went to the UM/Ball State game (my sister and her friend went to Ball State) while we watched kids (w/ grandparental help). A great time was had by all!

Amanda is doing fine in school - and she is not having roomate issues this year - YEA! She came home this weekend (with loads of laundry, of course, and left w. lots of provisions, of course!). We were glad to see her. She is hoping to study abroad next year & is working on the details for that.

Justin is doing well at Coastal. He is having a great time in marching band. He has a nice group of friends and is doing well academically. He played intramural football this fall. Jim and I visited in Oct.; we had a great time - saw him march during a football game (that was cool!), and hung out and watched the Tigers beat Oakland (we won't talk about what happened after that!).

Andrew, soph. @ Fr. Gabriel Richard HS, recently finished his cross country season; not his best year (rebounding from an injury last spring), but he enjoyed it. Drew is still the reptile man. He currently has 10 snakes and 7 (I think) lizards. He's holding his adult male corn snake in the photo above. He is going to breed his 2 adults this spring; he has started the process of bromiating them (snake hibernation) . They will hibernate for 2-3 months, then breed. If all goes well, he'll have eggs about 10 days later and baby snakes a few months after that. If any of you want to give a snake a home next fall, let Andrew know!

Joey (Gr. 8) has had a busy fall. He ran CC for his MS, and did ok. He played flag football for school; they were undefeated. He is preparing for Confirmation (this April), and is filling out his application for FGRHS - almost as involved as a college app. In addition to Joey having to fill out 5 short essay questions, the app. has a parent section that has 3 essay questions, including writing a letter of rec. for Joey. Basketball is next on the athletic agenda.

Josh (K) finished his first rec. soccer season this weekend. The team was undefeated - mostly because Josh and another kid on the team (also 6 years old) bowled kids over as they ran the ball down the field to score! He is still into animals big time. He currently wants to be a veterinarian, live on a small farm and own horses, and train killer whales part-time! He asked if he could visit a veterinary hospital sometime to see what the Docs do to take care of the dogs....

Tony (preschool) is looking forward to the day when he can play soccer, too.
He's doing typical preschool things, is very interested in learning to read, and has been dressed in his Lions football uniform constantly this fall (he doesn't know enough to be embarrassed!)

Things have been hopping at the hospital for Jim of late. He's playing in our parish men's basketball league.

I lost all my drivers this year, so I'm back to being the taxi mom - that has been a major drag! Andrew turns 16 in January so, if he gets his license, that will help, but he can't get a school parking permit until next year, so I'll still need to do the daily post-athletic practice pick up during rush hour for the remainder of the year...sigh.

There you have it - the boring truth ; maybe next time I can get Jim to blog - he can breath more life into the boring truth.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No News is Good News?

Hi Family,

So . . . I've noticed that there aren't a lot of posts on Birchtales and I'm feeling out-of-date on all things family. Maybe the Birch8 are still emailing each other and keeping current that way . . . or maybe they use a device I've heard of called a "phone" to keep in touch with each other . . . or maybe Birchtales got lost again and will resurface in 6 years or so . . .

But whatever the case, here is a friendly reminder:

I have moved the "Post to Birchtales" link to the upper left side . . . click it! login! post!

Click here for instructions on how to post to Birchtales
Click here for instructions on how to create a Birchtales Blogger account

Feel free to email me if you are experiencing technical difficulties and need some help getting setup again.

Hope to hear from you soon . . .


Update from Indy

Click here for our latest pictures.

1. Selling our house, building another...
2. Chloe is in Ballet (see photos at link above)...
3. Gibson is running around - and has been dubbed Gibson the Destroyer by Jeanne...
4. I finished the Chicago Marathon in 3:39 (8:22 mile pace), an OK time for my first try on a 40 degree windy day...

See everyone at the Miles Christmas...