Monday, August 29, 2011

My Nikon 18-200 VR Lens Experience

In case someone else out there is searching the web, as I did, trying to figure out why their front lens element is falling off their 18-200 VR lens from Nikon, I will share my experiences with this. I baby my lens, especially compared to my bro-in-law; I keep it dry, I don't throw it ever, things like that. But, I do use my light hood a lot when outside; and since my camera and lens will not fit in my bag with the light hood on, I frequently reverse it back on the lens to store it.

A few months ago, the lens stopped auto-focusing to infinity at 200mm. Eric was around when this happened, so we swapped lenses and learned that it was my lens, not my camera. I learned that I could still focus manually, so I sadly shrugged it off. Then, just about a month ago when hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, I noticed that I could not even manually focus to infinity at 200mm, and this really frustrated me. I also noticed that the front element felt a little loose. When I got home I inspected and saw that it was very loose!

I got online and started searching. I found a few threads around that indicated that their front element was coming loose and preventing focusing as mentioned above. Some people did not have the extended warranty I got for free, so they were fixing it themselves. I was still under warranty, so back to Nikon it went.

This was the best thread I found on this issue:

If this happened to you, good luck!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Big Thank You!

For a couple years now, I have often thought about all the people I need to thank; you see, the past couple years, many people have done us many favors during our life journey. Some did it out of love, or their belief in our dreams, or just a small favor that maybe they didn't realize how much we appreciated it.

Last week we visited a new church. While getting ready for church, I thought again about the big thank you I wanted to write. It was definitely timing prompted by the Holy Spirit as the sermon that day had to do with thanking people for the impact they have in our lives. I actually got to talk to the pastor about this! He said "Let me know what else you intend to blog about so I know what sermon to present next".

So... let's begin. These won't be in any order, which means keep reading :)

Nancy & Karl Hans - Kacey's aunt and uncle adopted our two kitties while we lived in Italy. This was actually one of the planning items I was most anxious about as we couldn't just stick them in storage with everything else. When Nancy heard about our anxiety, she said "Tell them not to worry about it, we can make it work". I was so relieved when I heard this! I know this was not an easy thing for them to do either; their two cats were known for being moody anyway. We are so blessed and thankful that the Hans watched our kitties for us and believed in our journey the way they did.

Noramay Cadena - Noramay, one of Kacey's classmates, did a couple things for us that really mattered. While we were getting ready to move to Italy, we needed to store 4 large suitcases and a stroller in Boston, but had no apartment. Even though Noramay was also getting ready to move across the country with her daughter, she gladly took our things AND even drove me and all our stuff back to our hotel before our flight to Europe. She went out of her way and it made our lives a lot easier, so thank you!

Eric Fetcho - Eric did many things. He helped us move out of our house AND took many of our belongings to store in his house for 2 years. He gave us a place to stay many, many times, even when he had things going on or maybe we wouldn't even get to really spend time with us. As we were preparing to leave for Italy, he drove to Indy to get us (after we stored our car) and brought us up to Ft. Wayne. Thanks for all your support, Eric!

Karen Phillips - Mom helped us several times while we were home from getting people together for get-togethers and spending time with Nolan. She helped try to make our trips to Indiana a little more comfortable. She also helped us with getting ready to leave Indiana, including car-sitting for us for a few months.

Todd Waldron, Chris Hopkins, and Cynthia Wilson - Three of Kacey's classmates who helped us move all our stuff twice! We had a lot of stuff in Boston, but they were willing and able to help us move it all to storage (when they all also had to do the same), and helped us move it all out of storage again upon returning to Boston (which they also had to do). Without their help, I really don't know how I would have done all that. Thanks guys!

Adam and Amanda Phillips - My brother and sis-in-law gave us a bed many times, even when they had plenty of other things going on in their lives. I know it wasn't easy to have us stay with them, but it really made our lives a lot easier! Adam also drove with me to Boston when we first moved there, and helped us unload the truck. Thank you Adam!

Mike and Maggie Fetcho - This one might be long, but they really supported us a lot! They helped us pack up our house, and took many, many things to store in their basement for 2 years! They gave us a home several times along the way, sometimes for a couple days, and once for almost 4 months! This couldn't have been easy on them and even though we tried to make it easier for them, they were just great along the way. Their support and belief of our journey made a lot of our lives a lot easier. Thanks memaw and papaw! Oh, and Mike drove with Kacey out to Boston when we first moved there, and helped Adam and I unload the truck!

Here is a list of folks I remember helping us load our moving truck in Greenwood in May 2009: Our CGPC family, all my Pike buddies (I will never forget your engineering efforts with my TV and treadmill, impressive), including Haycox who drove down from Chicago!, Adam and Sarah, my brothers and mom, Kacey's brother and parents, and I am sure I forgot someone. Thanks everyone!

My grandma and grandpa VanHook - When we needed to fly back to Indiana for a wedding in Ft. Wayne, they loaned us one of their vehicles for the weekend. This was very useful! They also let us stay at their house twice while they weren't there, once for 2 weeks while Kacey was away. This was a hard time on us, so it was nice being in a friendly location during that time.

Here is a list of folks that watched Nolan at some point, letting Kacey and I have time to ourselves once in a while: Chas (watched Nolan while I went for an interview), Christie, Karla, Cynthia, my mom, Maggie (so we could go to MBA Prom), Todd, and my mom and sis-in-law Amanda (so I could go to a Colts game with Adam).

Cynthia Wilson - Not only did Cynthia watch Nolan a couple times, and help us move, but she brought back some of our abandoned clothes from Italy. What a great friend, thanks!

Sharon and Vince Cullers - They gave us a place to stay for 5 days when we were visiting Indy before leaving for Italy. They opened their house and made us feel very welcome, even though we would be running in and out during that time.

I forgot one! Jack and Deb Snyder - They watched our cats for a month while we were between school and moving to California. Thanks!!!

I forgot two more!!
Carlos McGowan - Gave us a place to crash in Indy one weekend so we could visit family. Thanks bra!

Kendra and Kristen - Gave us a place to crash in Indy another weekend. Thanks Schmathas!

I have probably forgotten someone, which I said I wouldn't do.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finding the Right Home

When we lived in Greenwood, we had a great small group at a wonderful church. But the time we were in Cambridge, we never found this. I know and can see the effect it had on my life. So moving to California, one of our main goals is searching for our church home. I know this will take time; visiting churches, then dating churches (Thanks Pastor Steve O!)... and you really only see one church a week. And, what if that church had several families on vacation that week? (We think we have experienced that some)

Luckily, we have a great guide. The Holy Spirit!

But it still takes effort on our part. And patience. And prayer. And research. And an open heart. We have some criteria we have in our minds we are looking for in this home, but realize we have to be open to each place we happen to visit. And all of this time leads to impatience as I really want to find a place soon, but I also know as long as we keep the right attitude and willingness to look and listen, it will happen in the correct time.

Years ago, Pastor Steve gave a great sermon (of which I still have the mp3 and notes) about dating churches. But, before we can really date a church, we have to find ones to visit. Does anyone know of any good tools or ideas for learning about a church before we show up? I mean, if there are no other 3 year olds at a particular church, I doubt it will become our home (as I feel our home has to really be right for Nolan).

So far we have visited 4 churches out here (we didn't plan ahead enough one week), and have a few more we want to visit. We connected really well with the pastor's son and wife at one church, so hopefully they don't feel bad that we are still visiting other churches.

Please pray for us in our search!