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We also partook in the final day of October festivities, complete with pumpkin mutilation, cookie making and candy collecting.


Just finished downloading some Christmas pictures to my computer and I realized that we had a bunch of pictures from the fall that have never seen the light of day.  Thought I’d post some here before Christmas officially arrived.

Back in October we took the kids to a local farm for a few hours of fall fun- corn mazing, atv riding, hay bale scaling, etc.  Here’s the pictoral proof:

joepress2Just the other day I was thinking to myself, “I want to listen to some Dylan”. Then I happened upon Joe Pug.

Talk about serendipity.

While I’m sure no artist wants to be compared to another, Joe delivers much of what I was seeking from Dylan: a unique voice, passionate delivery and lyrics that drip with life, poetry, soul and social conscience.

He’s even got an intriguing story about how he came to play music:

“The day before his senior year as a playwright student at the University of North Carolina, Joe Pug sat down for a cup of coffee and had the clearest thought of his life: I am profoundly unhappy here. Then came the second clearest.

Pug packed up his belongings and drove the longest route possible to Chicago. Working as a carpenter by day, the 23 year-old Pug spent nights playing the guitar he hadn’t picked up since his teenage years. Using ideas originally slated for a play he was writing called “Austin Fish,” Pug began creating the sublime lyrical masterpiece that would become the Nation of Heat EP.

The songs were recorded fast and fervently at a Chicago studio where a friend snuck him in to late night slots other musicians had canceled. He was short on money, but his bare-boned sincerity didn’t require much more than a microphone and it dripped off of each note he sang.”

What does Joe Pug sound like?

You can listen to full versions of Joe’s songs HERE.

Or start with this sample:

Hope you enjoy as much as I have.

A couple days back I was checking out TheSixtyOne– a site my buddy Josh frequents to find new tunes from up and coming artists.  TheSixtyOne lets you listen to FULL versions of songs, search by musical categories and even write your own reviews. Check it out if you are looking for something new/different.

williamf1I’ve been in a semi-mellow mood of late so I searched the “folk” section and happened upon the sounds of William Fitzsimmons.  In addition to a beard that would make an early American mountain man beam with pride, William is a gifted songwriter with some interesting life experience (he was born to two blind parents and has been a mental health counselor) that colors his lyrics..  Fitzsimmon’s sound begins with his gentle voice and combines various acoustic instruments with the occasional use of electronic loops.  His music has been featured on several TV shows including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill”.

Jen and I both liked him right away and ended up buying some of William’s work.  Jen said she could have his music on all day and not get tired of it.  I’d agree that Fitzsimmons is easy on the ears and can be enjoyed in either the forefront or the background of your day.  If you want to TAKE A LISTEN, I’d recommend  “Funeral Dress”, “Everything Has Changed” and “After All”.

Or check out a live, acoustic version of “Goodnight” below.


This past Sunday we had a few snow flurries and some people in our church community showed up talking about how it was “coming down out there”.

Our church also has plenty of folks who have relocated from points north.  They replied that the weather outside was like “a nice summer day up north”.

I stood next to someone who rooted for more snow.  I said something like “heaven forbid”.

Guess I lost.


Last night we got about 4 inches of snow- the light, fluffy kind.  This is the first significant snowfall in the Raleigh area in that since 2005.  After lunch we bundled up the kids and took them out to play.


Addy’s snow angel in the making.


Showing off the finished product.


Colston dove right in.


Jen takes a shot at me with a snowball. (You can see it in flight between 11 & 12 o’clock.)



The latest forecast says that we’re supposed to be in the mid 50’s by the end of the week.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Q: How was your fantasy football season Fred?

Great- thanks for asking fictitious blog fan!

This year I consolidated all of my teams into Facebook so I could keep track of them at the same time.  Here are my results.  Note the “Rank” column:


As you can see, I won the championship in 2 of my 3 leagues and finished 2nd in the other.  I also won the scoring title (most points) in all 3 leagues.  More interestingly, I didn’t have all the same players on every one of my teams.  Although there was a little overlap, I had 3 distinct groups of guys who all managed to perform well enough to keep me winning.

So, thanks to all of the millionaire athletes who served as my athletic minions this year.

Now go sit on a beach somewhere and get ready for next season.

Once you’ve tasted victory, you’ll settle for nothing less!

For the last couple of months I (Fred) have been trying to plan an overnight getaway for Jen so that we could spend some time together without kids. My first two attempts were foiled for different reasons. Persistence paid off and yesterday we headed to Asheville for the candlelight tour of the Biltmore decorated for Christmas. Pics aren’t permitted inside and when we finally finished our tour it was dark and foggy. But we took a few shots anyway.

We’re heading back today to see it in the daylight. Sure I’ll have more to say later.

Last week a generous friend gave me 4 tickets to a Carolina Hurricane’s game. (Complete with parking pass, I might add.) He had won them at a golf tournament and mentioned that he thought they would be pretty good seats.


We 7 rows off of the ice with a great view of the crease on one end.

It was pretty amazing to see the speed and size differentials of the players up close.

I’ve been to four NHL games since I’ve been in Raleigh and each time I’m stunned by the energy the crowd generates when the team is playing well.

The end result didn’t favor our guys, but we had a great time anyway.

Here are a couple of shots. Sorry for the foggy pics. Guess all that lint in my pocket has found it’s way onto my phone’s camera lens.

Shawn, Elisa & Jen

Some action at our end

Sorry it has taken me so long to post this. We spent the last week of vacation with my folks and I didn’t have access to wifi. In addition to enjoying my family’s company, one of the highlights of our time in Kissimmee was spending a day at Disney.

Originally, we were going to wait until the kids were both a bit older to take them for the first time. But we caved- figuring that Addy was old enough (4 years, 4 mos) to enjoy it and that Colston would at least get in free at his age (19 mos). As it turned out, we all got in free- thanks to a generous family member of a family member. And both kids had a great time. Colston was a bit grumpy due to a truncated nap, but I’ve seen him worse for the wear after spending a day at home.

Having grown up in Kissimmee and Orlando, I’ve been to Disney more times that I can remember. I thought that going with my kids would be a bit more memorable. I was wrong. It was magical.

Not only was it incredible to watch Addy light up as she saw the park, rode the rides and met the characters- but as a parent I really appreciated the effort Disney has put in to make it a great experience for families. Every cast member we encountered was polite, and many made an extra effort to help us have a great experience. There were plenty of healthy food choices for kids- and the meals were reasonably priced. For example, an individual kid’s pizza with milk, grapes and applesauce was under $5. We pay more for less around town.

As you’d expect, Disney keeps the place looking immaculate. But they’ve also updated things as well. From the fingerprint scanners that link you to your ticket at the front turnstiles, to the Johnny Depp additions to Pirates of the Caribbean ride, to the changes to Tomorrowland that drug it out of the 70’s- Disney looked and felt fresh to me.

I think we picked a fairly good time to go. The longest line we waited in all day was about 10 mins long. In all we fit in 13 rides/attractions, saw 2 parades and watched the fireworks. And we took our time. I’m not sure we’d have had nearly as pleasurable an experience if we had to endure significant heat or crowds. But the day was nearly perfect for us.

Here are some pics. I’ve uploaded more on Facebook, so take a peek there too.

Spent some time at a great park yesterday. Took advantage of the wind to fly a kite. Hit the playground, had a picnic lunch and did some general frolicking.

Last night we got to have dinner with Matt, Charee & our nieces Sullivan & Isley.

Today we bumped around the zoo.

Pics of that maybe tomorrow.