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October 19, 2007

Somebody asked me to describe what life is like for my family and it
took me a minute to think about it. I want to say, "normal family life",
but I am pretty sure that would be the best way to do it.

My priorities are very much along the lines of most patriarchs. My wife,
my kids, my recreation, my job. It is in the daily activities that really
bring out what our lives are about.

Our lives are very intertwined with each other’s, as well as with so many
other people in our circle of influence. A "family dinner" as shown here,
is rarely less than 8 or 10 people. Who occupies the seats, other than
Kristine, Dane, Emily, and I depends on what is going on at the time.
Here, we have Dave Olson, John Shepherd, Clay Wright, Stephen Wright, and
Lorraine (Kristine’s mom), along with the nuclear family, but missing Nick
who hasn’t returned from Newfoundland yet. We feel like family and each
guest is really a part of the Jackson family. John and Dave are living at
our house when in town. We play ping pong, backgammon, go running, eat, and
do a lot of work together. They also work with Kristine, and the kids.
Stephen and Clay were doing work at the factory all day long as well and are
regular fixtures of the Jackson scene in Rock Island and on tour. There
are so many other people who are part of the family that weren’t here on
this day, of course, but that is the beauty of our family life. There is so
much variety that our lives are quite enriched with so many different
perspectives and personalities.

Our home is quite the working environment. Laptops are out all over the
place with Dane making a boat assembly video, or his latest video for this
website, while Emily is conversing with people on 4 continents at the same
time on her laptop while charging through her final semester of high school
acing one test of the time, and still having time to organize the events
calendar for freestyle kayaking, her first official position with the
Freestyle committee. Kristine manages so much at the plant, holding daily
meetings with the top managers, while cooking dinner, doing the laundry, and
having time for me. Our conversation could be about Emily and Dane, the
Fun Tour, making boats, what’s for dinner, and all be about the same thing
and all be intertwined into a unified direction. We don’t just keep all
eggs in one basket, we keep the chickens, food, stove, and plates in the
basket too.

When we are on the road, kayaking is it, period. We are at a river, or
going to a river at all times. Our conversations are more about actually
paddling, and our focus is on competitions, etc. while at home we are more
about the boats and a little less about the paddling. (especially since we
are in a record drought and Rock Island isn’t running! At home we also
have our activities we do together.

The kids and I like to play ping pong at night and they are both getting
quite good. We also play on the trampoline during the day, having contests
like "add on" where you pick a move and if you complete it, each person
after you has to do that move, but add another move onto it with no more
than a bounce in between each move. Fun game. Since we can do a variety of
flips it gets interesting and the routines get long. Dane is the best at
the harder moves, but forgets the routine easier. Emily is the most
conservative, but certainly nails the routine each time, while I am in the

Dane just got a new horse with his own money. It is a blue Rhone (special
kind of quarter horse) and Kristine picked it out for him. Ricky has some
breaking of the horse left before Dane can ride it, but once broken, it
should make a great horse for him. Both Dane and Emily have learned to do
well with money for themselves. The treat it responsibly, with Emily being
really good about it, managing to both contribute lots of money towards her
projects in Africa and keeping enough for her to buy the Westfalia, etc.
with Nick, and always prepared for emergencies, though her parents are her
first line of defense.

We have a great coffee maker at home that has a coffee gauge on it like a
gas gauge. My friend Tony Rickert had one and I just had to have it. I
drink coffee every morning and can’t imagine wasting any, so when the gas
gauge isn’t showing empty, I keep pouring another cup. Today’s was
especially good. We opened up a bag sent from Costa Rica by a friend there.
I know it would be healthier to drink water, or juice, or milk, but coffee
is my routine, along with Kristine. As long as I have a cup of coffee in my
hand, we are still getting the day going, I figure. Kristine and I talk,
while she looks up a quote of the day for the chalkboard in the kitchen.
Today’s was "The greatest right in the world is the right to be wrong." By
somebody I don’t know. The next chalk board over has the day’s list of
things to do, a "Honey-Do, and Kiddie Do" list. I have to remember to look
at it or sometimes I could go a day or two and manage to not see the list.
Weird how the brain can do that. I never miss the quotes, but the list…
I say that because I am positive I didn’t do anything on the list yesterday!

I have a friend how sends me great wine from time to time. Riccardo Mora
from Napa Valley. He is the marketing guy for Icon Estates and a paddler,
with his son. I have really found pleasure in a good glass of wine in the
evening and it is the signal of the day that we are switching gears from
work to after work. This means, laptops down, look around the house and
see what we can do to get ready for dinner, and think about playing. With
coffee in the morning and wine in the evening, and work during the day, it
requires an effort to make sure I incorporate water and exercise each day;
we call that time "recess". Both of my kids are always ready for recess.
Nick is usually with us as well and is always ready for some kind of recess,
even if it is chopping wood. Football, ultimate Frisbee, and other outside
games break the focus from a job that never ends and is not physical in any
way. I get all wrapped up in the many things we are doing and have fun
doing it so tearing away from it somewhere in the middle of everything is
always a challenge. Kristine is quite good at saying, "EJ, get off the
phone and go do something with the kids." The kids are awesome at always
being ready to play with me. I have never had to worry about them
preferring to do something on their own instead of playing with me. This
is something I have to remember and be thankful for, since they easily could
just rather do something else.

The Tour this year is almost over. I am writing this from the airport in
Chicago at the moment, and on my way to the Whitewater Symposium. After
that there is Guest Appreciation Festival at NOC, which is a great event to
go to, and then the Green Race. I have heard different accounts about the
Green Race due to low water and haven’t mentally committed to that event
yet. I have been home several times now in August, September, and October.
Newfoundland, Symposium, GAF, etc. all make it seem like being home long
enough to feel like I am off the road is a ways out. The best part of my
new home is that I have a home to look forward to. The best part about the
tour is that I have traveling to my favorite places to look forward to. I
couldn’t believe it last April, but I was getting cabin fever and needed to
get back on the road. Seeing that I had only been in my new log house since
Thanksgiving last year, it was proof that I really enjoy variety. Emily
and Dane are really loving being home as well and last April they couldn’t
stop talking about being on the road again. Kristine, however, loves being
home now. She likes the RV too, but having her own house is something that
she has years of full time in it before she would get cabin fever. Luckily
she still has a great time in the RV too.

It is interesting looking at daily life and seeing if you like what you see,
or if you think change is in order. For me, change is always in order, but
it is most often the mix or "balance" that people always talk about. I
have a built in checks and balances for my balance of life and that is
simply by bringing my family along in work, play, and daily activities.
Even so, it is easy to overlook them and put them at the end of the list if
I am not careful. An extremely unbalanced life can be balanced after all,
if all of your eggs are in that basket, including family, fun, work,
friends, etc..

I look forward to Nick getting home so we will have an even number for
football, etc.. I see a golf game at Fall Creek Falls in the future too!
I shot an 89 the last time I played and that was a great game for me. It
is perfect golfing weather. Emily and Dane are doing good off the red tees
and are almost ready for the whites. Nick is a good golfer too.

Well, time to get to my plane…

Hopefully I’ll see some of you at the Whitewater Symposium!




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Dinner at the Jacksons

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Jack and Flow

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One big family

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Danes new horse Blue getting attacked by Fonzie