Went to visit Alex & Ian in Ripley.  Taylor met us there from Cincinnati.  We went to a farm to get pumpkins, go on a hay ride, and explore a massive cornfield maze.




We had some visitors over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was great having Mom, Dad, Dillon, Alex, Taylor, and Ian visiting.


Ian, Alex, Martin, Tanya, Taylor — outside Shedd Aquarium with Chicago skyline in background.

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Martin before the start of the Freestore Foodbank 5k with Alex.

Martin at the start of the race with the hordes chasing.

Alex and Roxanne waiting for Martin at the end of the Purpose People Bridge.

Martin coming off the Purple People Bridge near the 2 mile mark.   Finished in 23:51 (7:41/mi pace), 86th of 2,946 participants.


Merry Christmas to all our friends and family.

Taylor and Alex opening the Christmas Eve present… jammies.  Tradition is new jammies on Christmas Eve then stockings and presents on Christmas day.

Sammy staying up to wait for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Sammy got tuckered out and fell asleep before Santa came.


Christmas morning. Stockings stuffed. Fire lit. Waiting for the family to wake.

Sammy finally gets her present.


The ole dog, Brandy, gets a present, too.

Lest anyone think otherwise, Tanya was present, too. Showing Sammy one of her stocking stuffers.

Taylor the camera shy girl.


Alex with her gift from Ian.



Alex and Ian before he left to be with his family for Christmas.



Yes, we had a snowball fight in August when we visited Spokane earlier this month.  How do you have a snowball fight in the middle of the summer?  Well, you buy a bunch of flour and nylons and start making “snowballs”.

The nice thing about these snowballs is they don’t melt.  Once you have your snowballs you need a open outdoor space.  In this case we went to Indian Trail Park. Let the games begin.

Sometimes it looks like a war zone with the “smoke” from the flour trailing behind the snowballs in flight and exploding on impact.

This little girl looks innocent enough with her treasure trove of snowballs.  That cast certainly works well as a holder.

She can dish it out.

And she can take it, too.

The photographers neutrality did not spare them from taking some hits.

The rag tag crew after all the damage is done.

Now you can see why this is an outdoor activity. While it is a lot of fun, it is a little messy. This is where a leaf blower comes in handy.

Of course a shower is what is really needed.  This was the 2nd annual Spokane Summer Snowball fight. Good fun.


As we get ready for our annual trip to visit the family back in Spokane it reminded me of this previous trip.  We did a day trip up to the Boundary Dam and Gardner Caves.  Along the way we stopped at this little picnic area and found a nice little scenic spot.  It really is unassuming and unexpected as it looks like a little pull over with some picnic tables by a creek.

But if you hike a little ways back into the woods up the creek you find this…

This is about a half mile up the creek from the parking area.  This is just the lower falls.  If you go another half mile or so up the creek along a trail you come to a really cool waterfall.

I think this is a cool view with the large trees down above the fall and the large flat rocky below the falls.

There is some nice scenery and wild flowers, too.


Well, we had our now annual camping outing for 4th of July.  The last several years we have been getting together at East Fork State Park with a bunch of our the families from the swim team.  The park has some really nice camp sites, bathrooms with showers, and is next to East Fork Lake with a beach and boat launch.  It is nice as we know which sites to reserve, so we get a couple of adjoining sites that have plenty of room for tents with trees for some privacy.


This year we had 23 kids camping with us along with two other couples.  Some of the kids were from the swim team. Some were friends of swimmers.  This is something they really look forward to as  I know some were counting down the days until “camping”. The kids have fun with swimming, hanging out, eating (they eat a lot!), hiking, and playing in the creek.

Yesterday, they went on an excursion to hiker and explore the creek.  They came back with turtles, toads, a salamander, a couple of young crawdads, and some fish.  I think that covers it.  Of course they wanted to bring home their new pets.  We liberated the toad and turtles back into the wild.  The crawdads and fish are residing in Alex’s fish tank.

So everything was going well until the weather turned on us yesterday afternoon.  The weather is a funny thing. At the beginning of the week the were calling for a “slight” chance of scattered showers. As the week progressed the forecast got progressively worse until Friday when we were setting up camp it was a 50% chance of rain and scattered thunder storms.  Then Saturday morning it was 80% rain and thunder storms which was supposed to last all afternoon and through the night.



Now, Saturday morning it was beautiful.  The sun was shining and the temperature was ideal.  By noon it was getting cloudy.  Then around 1pm it started sprinkling, which is about the time we checked the radar.  It was not good.  A massive wave of rain was heading our way and it was a couple of sates wide. This was not going to be a brief shower by any means.

I decided to be the camping wimp and stated that we (the Dschaak family) were going to break camp. By now the sprinkles had become rain showers. The only problem was at this point we had one new couple arriving and setting up camp, one couple was out at their sons baseball game, and the third couple had gone home to let their dogs out and pick up some food. We couldn’t just abandon camp with them gone.

Well, we started getting things organized to break camp while we waited for the others to return.  I wanted to get the tents down and put away before they got too wet.  So we packed up our stuff and were pretty much soaked by the time we were done.  The thing is we had all this food (a ton chicken breasts, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcakes) we had brought to make dinner for the 23 kids and 8 adults. It was decided we’d move the gathering to our house and make dinner there.

We got everybody and everything packed up and off to our house.  We set up in the garage with the food, drinks, and the grill.  The adults hung out there.  The kids for the most part moved to the basement where they played Xbox and computer games plus watched movies. Everybody ate a ton of food.  All the girls in the group slept over.  Everybody had a good time, so it all worked out in the end.






Dschaak- What nationality is that? German. Really? Where does it come from?

With a name as unusual as Dschaak that is a frequent exchange when meeting new people. With that I decided this would be a good blog entry.

Where does it come from?

We know our most immediate ancestors are of German decent who immigrated to the U.S. from the Odessa area of the Ukraine in the 1800’s. There are many different spellings in the official records: Jauk, Jaak, Schaak, Dzaak, Dzauk, Dzauck, and Dschaak. Apparently, the official records most often were wedding and birth records which were recorded by the local priest. They often entered the name phonetically, which is why you find so many different spellings of such an unusual name. Dschaak is unique even in the Germanic areas.

Why so unusual?

Based on a letter from Joseph Height (circa 1970) the French name Jacques was germanized into Dschaak (and various other spellings) during the days of the French Huguenots. The Huguenots were contemporary with the Lutherans in Germany. In the mid 1500’s they became a large and influential political group. They were persecuted by the Catholic government. In 1572 the government began the Massacre of St. Batholomew’s Day in which thousands of Huguenots were killed. Many of the Huegenots left France for Holland, America, England, and Prussia. We can track the Dschaak family back to Prussia in the 1600’s, which lends to the theory that they were originally French Huguenots.

Written by: Martin Dschaak

Source: A Brief History of the Dschaak Family by Jennice Dschaak Abercrombie Curlee.

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