Friday, September 14, 2007

Retirement notice: The Clog Files

The Clog files will be retired... Yes, since singlehood is in the past, some of the tools of that part of my life will be depreciated as well. I won't be deleting this blog, but any future updates will be posted on our family blog:

Hope to see you all there...


Monday, August 13, 2007

A married man now... changes are coming ;-)

Since July 29, 2007 I'm a married man. In Jen I found my soulmate and friend for life. This will have also have an effect on the virtual life...

The Clog Files will start to see less and less action until the new site 'Forever de Jong' is fully up-and-running. At that time also the '' site will be depreciated in favor of the new (family) blog.

Announcements around the new websites will be made well in advance so you have time to update your bookmarks.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bad Whirlpool Customer Service

Today I experienced one of the rare days that I'm ticked-off. All who know me know that days like that don't come along very often. What happened?

I just got of the phone with Whirlpool Support. I bought a microwave in late February this year (about 5 months ago) and it started failing this week. After entering the cook time and hitting 'Start' it just 'clicks' and kicks-off the timer, but doesn't start to cook.

So, as a dilligent consumer I arranged for a service call on Monday July 23 as the Whirlpool service website indicated as available. I got a call today from their 3rd party service provider 'Total Appliance' that they can't come out until July 26.

Since I'm going to pickup the Dutch Contingent (first 6 of them) for our wedding on Sunday July 29 we have a bit of a need for a working Microwave.

So I called Whirlpool support to make alternate arrangements. Well, apparently no alternate arrangements were possible. The Whirlpool representative only re-iterated that they only do repairs and nobody could indeed come out until at least July 26. And this could be a diagnosis-only visit since if they'd have to order parts I'll be out of a working Microwave even longer.

Mentioning that I have 10 people at the house for a week and an open-house on Sat July 28 with about 50 people for my WEDDING didn't make a difference. The Whirlpool representative was unwilling / unable to help me.

Since we do delivery for Whirlpool I'm in a unique position to spread the word fast about this very rigid, very un-cooperative stance of a respected company like Whirlpool.

I'm telling (through this post and verbally) my co-workers and friends that Whirlpool makes great products, but to hope nothing goes wrong with it, since the service is far below what you'd expect.

I'm off to Home Depot to buy a Sharp (the brand I had before for 10 years without any problems). Sorry Whirlpool, but I expected better from you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Check the wedding blog for updates

With the wedding being only days away, most updates are posted on the wedding blog. Check it out at:


Monday, June 25, 2007

Home is where the heart is...

In February 2007 I bought a house that is to become the 'De Jong residence'. Slowly, but surely its is becoming more and more like 'home'. First my things got moved in from Cleveland, then Jen's things got moved in from Grand Rapids and even though all the boxes weren't even unpacked more and more 'stuff' was being moved in.

So now we have a lot of stuff in a house. That doesn't make it a home. What makes it a home is the feelings you're having when you're in it and with whom you'll be in it.

Well, you all know what the 'with whom' part of my story is, but the feeling you're having is a little more difficult. One of the things we're both bringing in is a a sense of starting over.
For Jen it is finally giving the word 'family' and 'marriage' a new and meaningfull feeling, for me it is an end to the process of moving from my parents place, through my first 'house' in Belgium' and my apartment in Cleveland to having my own 'home'.

The first 'house' (which I did own, but didn't really make it home) was more of a learning experience, the first time from underneath the protection of the parents. The apartment was rented, so never really was 'home'. And then I met Jen...

I was finally ready to settle down again and buy my own house again. It is amazing how a girl can be the catalyst for some things every man (at least most of us) have inside, but are kind of keeping under wraps.
At our Michigan shower Beth, one of our friends wrote down a quote for us that really hit 'home':" The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman's heart." It is by Joshua Holland and couldn't be more true and I'm so glad Jen came around for me and that I now have a 'home' to start a family in.

To sum it up, just look at the picture. Jen was taking it and bought the flag, I put it up and -while having some reservations putting up a Dutch flag in a rural Mid-western US town - after it was up it made it more like home since I was now putting a bit of my old 'home' into my new 'home' inspired by my STB wife Jen.

So, I guess it is true 'Home is where the heart is...'

Friday, June 15, 2007

Where did we go wrong?

Jason, one of the two MC's at our wedding commented on the Kellogs announcement below. I found his rebutal very powerful and would like to share it with all of you. The annoucement is in Italic, Jason's reponse is in a regular font.

WASHINGTON - Kellogg Co., the world's largest cereal maker, has agreed to raise the nutritional value of cereals and snacks it markets to children.

The Battle Creek, Mich., company avoided a lawsuit threatened by parents and nutrition advocacy groups worried about increasing child obesity. Kellogg intends to formally announce its decision Thursday.

The company said it won't promote foods in TV, radio, print or Web site ads that reach audiences at least half of whom are under age 12 unless a single serving of the product meets these standards:

_No more than 200 calories.

_No trans fat and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat.

_No more than 230 milligrams of sodium, except for Eggo frozen waffles.

_No more than 12 grams of sugar, not counting sugar from fruit, dairy and vegetables.

Kellogg said it would reformulate products to meet these criteria or stop marketing them to children under 12 by the end of 2008.

"By committing to these nutrition standards and marketing reforms, Kellogg has vaulted over the rest of the food industry," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "This commitment means that parents will find it a little easier to steer their children toward healthy food choices — especially if other food manufacturers and broadcasters follow Kellogg's lead."

Jacobson's nutrition advocacy group, along with two Massachusetts parents and the Boston-based Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood, had served notice in January 2006 of intent to sue Kellogg and the Nickelodeon cable TV network under a Massachusetts law to stop them from marketing junk food to kids.

Center spokesman Jeff Cronin said Kellogg contacted the plaintiffs shortly thereafter and began negotiating the new standards, so the lawsuit was not filed and will not be filed.

Did you read the bold sections? "A lawsuit by parents about THEIR kids obesity"!!! And "parents will find it A LITTLE EASIER to STEER kids toward healthy food"!!! Good night!

So…my question is this: WHEN DID PARENTS START LETTING KIDS DICTATE WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO EAT? Since when do kids have a choice in what they get for dinner? Or breakfast? Are kids running the parents? Shoot…as kids, if we wanted something specific, we were lucky to get it. We weren't spoiled like today's kids! And if parents are worried about obesity, then they need to get their kids away from the tv, computer, playstation, xbox, gameboy, etc. and outside where kids belong. Kids are made to grow and that means they need exercise. Not just moving there lil fingers to mash buttons all day.

Look. If anyone reading this knows me, I'm one of the biggest fans of eating. But I also like to eat healthy. It's a choice people. You have to watch what you eat and how much you eat. That's common sense. I'm not against food companies making their foods healthier. I'm ALL for that! But to sue companies because your kids are getting fat from eating foods that YOU gave them probably because they saw it on a tv commercial in front of YOUR tv…come on!

Parents, it's time that WE (not the food manufactures) start watching what our kids eat. And what they watch. And what they do with their free time. We cannot place blame on the food companies when it's our responsibility! Geeze man. What are we doing to this country?! Obesity in kids? When we were kids, we were yelled at all the time for being skinny! The "fat" kid was the oddball. Times have changed my foot. WE'RE LAZY!!! It's time we start spending time with our kids instead of sitting them in front of the tube and keeping them occupied and brainwashed. Come on, dvd players in cars? What happened to actually, OH MY GOSH, talking to our kids! Or even just singing songs? So they get a little anxious. This is NOT A-D-D people! THEY ARE KIDS! Little balls of growing energy. Maybe we need to plan the trip to take (wow) breaks so you can get out and play with them along the way, instead of thinking that they can sit still for hours on end. You were a kid once, remember? Or is that the point? Have we forgotten how to enjoy life? What is most important to you? Our kids are growing up around us. Are we too busy to notice? Or take a part in it?

Perhaps instead of blaming companies or even the kids, we need to look at OUR food choices. Kids can only eat what is in the house. Take charge and act like responsible adults and parents. You want to know where obesity from eating the wrong foods comes from…look in the mirror. No one forces you to eat what you don't want to (not in this country anyway). So stop blaming anyone but yourself and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

(oh…and the answer to that is NOT to sue anyone by the way. I think the judge would throw you out of court if you tried to sue yourself!)
(and if this offends anyone...sorry...but this is downright ridiculous and it just shows where our country is going unless we take action)

Thanks to Jason for sharing this powerful piece!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, 59 years ago, a wonderful event happened: my mother was born in the town of Hilversum in the Netherlands!

Happy birthday, mom!

Jen and Niels

Prayer answered: 'Our' MI condo is rented !!

Well, finally some good news to report on the MI condo. We got renters!! Yes!!

Through Jen's Small Group we found a young couple that is in need of proper housing. They are about to get married and have a baby on the way. They are both in school and don't have a lot of disposable income. Jen and I were talking on our way up to MI on what to do about 'tithing' in our current situation and one of the things we talked about was doing some 'subsidized' renting of the condo.

In a true answer to prayer - while at KCC - the mother of the bride approached us and asked if the house was sold yet. With a sigh Jen answered 'No' and the mother asked if we were open to renting it. How awesome is that... but wait... at the same time, the neighbors daughter Beth just told us that all the 'staging' furniture they put in the house got sold in the garage sale, so the condo was empty and ready to be moved-in... Thank you, God! Perfect timing, as always... ;-)

During the drive home the mother and bride went over (the neighbors have been graciously acting as the 'landlord') for a 'showing' and they liked it. Yes!!

So, as of May 25 we have it rented. It is below market-value, but since we are now helping the young couple to get a good head start and are supporting our friends Gabe and Emily in their quest to become full-time State-side missionaries at Campus Crusade we have now reached our goal of tithing (giving away 10 or more % of our 'income' to God's causes) for this year AND have the condo rented!!

We serve an awesome God!

Another weekend, another trip

We just got back from another weekend trip. We're making a lot of those. This time we went (back) to Jen's former stomping grounds of Grand Rapids, MI.

The 'official' cause was a baby-shower for one of Jen's good friend Melissa, but other reasons were to visit my friends Deb and Jon in Holland, MI. Plus, this time of year (early May) is prime tourist season for Holland, MI as it is time for the annual Tulip Time festival.

So we enjoyed a leisurely drive up on Friday after work. Jen drove to Beachwood, parked her car and the three of us (Jen, Bailey and me) were off to GR. Very uneventful drive (finally, no snowstorms or other freak weather patterns for a change!) we got in at 10.30pm - actually right on-time...

We dropped Bailey off at the (former) neighbors, said hello to them and did a quick inspection of 'our' MI house. Besides a completely deflated blow-up bed everything looked fine. We blew it back up and headed for Hotel Van de Vegte where we had 'reserved' our 'usual' rooms and made sure we had a guaranteed late-arrival. It took us all but 5 mins to fall asleep.

On Saturday we had plans to be in Holland, MI at about 10am so an early rise was needed. I, however, procrastinated a bit in the shower and after a stop at the Post Office we got into Holland at around 10.20am. Not bad...

Deb and Jon were in the garden and after the 'hello's' we set out to the arts and craft fair and took some pictures in front of the tulips. How 'Dutch'! We ate some delicious 'Elephant ears' and on the way back to Deb and Jon's house we actually met some 'real Dutch' singers. Guess we are in Holland ;-) So it was not surprising that there where some clog-dancers, almost a 1000! Funny to see Americans do the 'Dutch-inspired' customs and dances...

Since we had to be back in GR at 2pm we set out on a quest for some Dutch food and headed for the Marktplaats (Market Square). However, arrived there we found that there was still a Latin-festival and the Dutch food wouldn't be there until next Tuesday... bummer, again no Oliebollen!!!

Back in GR - only 20mins late - Jen went to the Baby shower. I went outside to help Rich build a deck... much more fun then figuring out how many diapers a baby goes through in a year!! - for those of you who thought 1000, well that times 7 !! -

For the evening we went to KCC and a after a quick stop at our friend Erin (who bought us 'Trivial Pursuit - booklovers edition') we picked-up 'Night at the Museum' and some snack-food at Meijers and wound down in front of the TV.

Sunday was nice and relaxing... Slept in late, sat outside in the sun, had some lunch (remember... Slept in late... ;-), did some planning for the MI wedding shower, did some exercises (Jen) and some babysitting and web-surfing (Niels) and left for Ohio again around 5.30pm.

Again an uneventful drive, well, not quite... More about that in the next post!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Month of April

Okay... we're breathing again... Wow, this was a month that has been CRAZY busy. It's the 23th now and this is the first time I'm actually able to sit down and write a blog-update. So what all happened:
1) Moved my apartment over to the Arlington house
2) Moved Jen's house over to the Arlington house
3) Hosted friends on 2 weekends
4) Unpacked many a box
5) Got a lawn-mower
6) Changed many a light bulbs
Oh yeah, and I actually worked a couple days as well ;-)

My move went relatively smooth, with a much appreciated visit of my best man and his wife, Joel and Carolyn. Love you guys!! No major issues, quick in-and-out, pretty much according to plan. Jen's move, well... that was another story. It was one of those weekends you just don't wanna have.

Jen went up to Michigan on the Monday before the move for some appointments and to pack. She also had a speaking gig on the Friday before the move. On that same Friday I got up at 5.30am to goto work and left work around 4pm. I went over to Crocker Park in Westlake to meet-up with my moving crew for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Everything was still nice and smooth...

We left around 6.30pm heading for a 10.30pm ETA in Grand Rapids. I called Jen to let her know we were on our way and she told me she had just one of days where nothing kinda went the way she wanted. Time was her enemy and the hand-outs of the speaking gig were the first victim. The next victim was herself, since due to rising stress-levels she couldn't find the location the first time around, so she actually was over an hour late... and hadn't eaten yet... Anyway, that all turned out well in the end and it was a VERY satisfying gig for her.

On the way back from the speaking gig, she called us for directions since the signs for Grand Rapids weren't around as plentiful as desired. I kinda told her where to go since we were still driving ourselves. We actually arrived earlier around 11pm and called her to guide her in. Around 11.45pm she was finally in and I was out... ;-)

Yeah, right... still had to drive Jason and myself to the boys' hotel (the vV's, thanks for letting us use your house...) since the girls (Rachel, Natalie and Jen) were staying at Jen's house. We finally hit the sack around 2am. The end of a 21hr day. And that was only day 1...

Day 2 ment we got up at 8.30am to head over to Krispy Kream and Starbucks for breakfast (drive-through for all of us) before we were allowed back into Jen's house. We dropped-off the food and headed over to Penske for the truck. Around 10.30am we parked the truck in front of the garage (and blocked the rest of the road...) and the planning was to be done around 2pm since Jen had neatly packed everything up in boxes and only the big-ticket items remained.

Well, as you might have guessed it, it didn't really work out like that. She had a few more things than originally planned, so half-way through we had to re-pack the truck before the other half fitted. A few other things took longer than expected, like removing the feet from the couches which was a royal... Thank you Gabe for helping with that.

So, 4.30pm came around and we were able to leave the house for the first leg of the drive to Ohio, Panera's which is only about 5 min away, for some much needed food. We finally left Grand Rapids around 6pm and we actually had a nice drive (short of the tears by Jen and the incredible noise of the truck). Rachel and Natalie drove my car, Jason and Bailey drove Jen's car. No issues so far... until we hit the Ohio Turnpike.

Mid April, nice and warm in Michigan and around 9pm in Ohio we end-up in a major... SNOW-STORM!!! Hello, Mid April... We had to slow down to 35mph on a day that already was running far longer as intended. Nice! By the time we found a decent place to stop (read: service plaza) the snow was tapering off, but it was already after 10pm and we were still on the Turnpike... yaiks.

Finally, a little after midnight we parked the truck in our drive-way, with room to spare... love that!! We all packed into my car to first drop-off Rachel and Natalie before heading over to Jason and Tony's house for some much anticipated hot-tub time. So we soaked from 2 to 3am and stayed over (read: out-of-juice!!!)

Next morning at 8.30am (and another 5-hour night) we went back to the house to unpack the truck. Thank God for friends, since otherwise we would have never had it empty by 1pm, but with the help of the Tinnins, Jason, Corey and Fantasia we actually did it. In time even to make it to Church. Well, sorta, since Jen crashed after 11am. She was on 'reserve' for a day-and-a-half, so I was very pleasantly surprised she lasted that long.

I was kinda running on fumes myself and finally around 2.30pm I hit empty and fell asleep on the coach in the basement of the Prices. I woke up at 5pm, still groggy, but at least a bit better. I headed back to the house and didn't do anything more than just watch a movie with Jen before we were finally able to get some actual sleep.

I was actually able to get to work on Monday, but Jen's crash took a few more days, but after Wednesday she also kinda regained consciousness... ;-)

Needless to say we didn't do much the next couple of days and this past weekend we actually were able to do some fun things with our guests Gabe and Emily. We visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Highly recommended as a 'thing-to-do' during the wedding visits... ;-)

Yesterday, we actually had our first day of Summer, with 75F / 25C weather and a nice sunshine that allowed us to use the grill... It was about time. We really enjoyed it all and instantly forgot the snow of last week, yes only last week.

Anyway, gotta run... time for bed. G'night all!!