Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!!

I got Kate a new laptop, sorely needed. I also managed to bring her over to the dark side by also getting her an Apple iPod Touch (a part of my multi-year plan to eventually get her fully into the Apple fold). We called Abbie this morning via Skype and saw them and their presents.

Jack got so much stuff its hard to calculate, but it looks like Lego, Iron Man and clothes are the highlights. (He Loves the Redskin helmet that Frank went all the way to FedEx Field to buy him, so thanks for that, Frank, he loves it!)

I did well, got a bunch of stuff like a mini helicopter, iTunes, a battery pack for my iPhone, clothes, "Despicable Me" DVD, a very cool wool hat (Thanks Mom and Dad!) and other assorted goods.

It even snowed this morning, no accumulation, but tomorrow we might get a few inches.

Thanks GG and PapaJohn for the Legos!

Uncle Frank and Debbie got him a Redskins helmet, he LOOOOVVVEEESSS it.

Oooooh, Lego Star Wars!

Helping Papu with unwrapping his present.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Funny Book and a Neat Idea

I came across this illustrator and he made a book through this web site. I love this idea, so I think I am going to create a character and make up a story so I can make a book like this too!

Hilarious Pic of the Day

Dog + Cupcake = Funny Picture


So about a year ago I heard about Square, which was started by one of the co-founders of Twitter, Jack Dorsey. Square is an upstart with some lofty goals, but fills a solid business need.

For years, the small guy/entrepreneur has had to struggle with how to take credit card purchases, but didn't want to invest heavily by renting the machine that reads cards and paying that monthly fee to use their service.

Square has bypassed all that by waiving the monthly fees and giving you a free reader that is much more compact. The catch is that you use it with only certain cell phones, but the list is growing every day. As of now, you can use it on these phones (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch (2G+), Motorola DROID and DROID X, HTC Nexus One, Droid Incredible, Evo, Desire, and Hero (with Android 2.x update), Samsung Galaxy S series, Intercept, LG Ally and Dell Streak. So its not like you can't find a cell phone, plan and carrier that you won't like.

On my iPhone.

I signed up online and within a few weeks, I confirmed my account by filling out an online form and then received a note saying my reader had shipped. Two days later it arrived in the mail. The reader is less than the size of a book of matches and plugs into the headphone jack on your phone.

The Square Reader

I downloaded the software (free on iTunes) and was off and running. I charged myself a dollar by swiping my card (it took three swipes, but that is because I am not used to how fast to swipe it), plugged in my info and signed right on the screen with my finger. Sent myself a receipt through email. I was amazed at how easy it is to do this.

Square charges 2.75 percent of the transaction and a .15 cent fee for transaction, so that is how they make their money. But considering the convenience and the lack of a monthly fee and no big, bulky reader to lug around, its a great system.

I think this company has a future. The credit card companies may have to step up their game if they want to compete if this catches on.

Dancing StormTroopers

Waaay back a long time ago, the Grateful Dead were big, I went to a Dead concert and find their music fun to listen to, but I'm more of an Allman Brothers fan. What's not to like; easy to listen to, good jams and they have their own peace-rock vibe.

I also like Star Wars. Loved it as a kid and now that I have a kid of my own, I am rediscovering all of that joy through Legos, Star Wars and other kids games.

I was running ideas in my mind when I came up with a fun mash-up by recreating the original Grateful Dead Dancing Skeletons with Storm Troopers.

Here is Jack modeling is a shirt I made for him with Clone Troopers on it:

Yes, nephews Jacob and Joshua, I will be making a shirt for each of you with Clone Troopers in the near future!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's A Girl!

We went to get a sonogram and found out its going to be a girl - WooHoo!!!
Now we have a full "set". Jack is excited he is going to have a sister.

(Still thinking of names)

Pizza Smells Like Happiness

We sit down for some pizza late last week and Jack says,"Mmmm, Pizza. Smells like,... happiness." I grabbed my phone and asked him to say it again, but of cours he hammed it up the second time. Its still cute, though.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cookie Frosting

Everyone knows cookie frosting makes you hyped-up. Kate took a video of the kids (Ellie and Jack) horsing around when they were making their cookies in Raleigh last weekend.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving in Raleigh (Rolly)

The cousins together.

I know, its spelled to sound like rally, but its pronounced rolly. Gets me every time.

After visiting Atlanta over the Thanksgiving holiday, we made a trip over to Raleigh to see more family ad have a big turkey dinner at Abbie and Jasons new house. Jack loves to visit with his cousins, thinks they are fun to play with and they all get along very well.

Ellie is growing into a little girl who is very sweet and is a pleaser, always wants to help in some way and likes anything that is fairy-related and pink. Nate is his own man, asks lots of questions and is really interested in Spiderman. He will also eat just about anything, he puts Jack to shame as far as eating habits go an will wolf down just about anything you set before him.

The kids spent a lot of time playing ,so at bed time, they were pooped, I don't think Jack had a nap at all during our trip, so he was cranky once or twice, but held up really well, considering.

An example of when one of the kids runs out of gas. They just lay down for a minute and boom, they are out like a light.

Nate gnawing on a drumstick on Thanksgiving.

We all found ways to keep ourselves occupied, Kathleen discovered the Nintendo DS that Nate usually plays and I think she is hooked.

Grandma playing with the DS while the kids look on and offer advice.

Ellie and Nate.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving (Atlanta) Part 3

The Big Peach in Gaston.

Joshua and Jack next to the bronze of the inventor of Coca-Cola, Dr. John S. Pemberton.

After visiting the Aquarium, we went to the Coca-Cola Museum right across the park. They had us wait about ten minutes so they could get a good crowd (of about 60 or so) and then let us in to a room that had a bunch of memorabilia. There was the Coca-Cola sign that hung on top of the headquarters for 50 years, an original ad, and some of there old campaigns, including their latest. The host gave us a good amount of trivia about the company, but it was definitely a marketing-based exercise

An Original Norman Rockwell.

Jack, Jacob and Joshua at the Cocoa-Cola Museum in Atlanta.

Coke Memorabilia.

Old Coke Machines.

After going through a room where they had a few dozen samples that you could try of coke products from around the world, you could get your own bottle of coke (hand-picked). After that, you were given the opportunity to purchase stuff from the gift shop.
Jack grabbing his Coke (and a smile).

Some of the artwork (Pop Art) that is on display in the art wing of the museum. Pretty impressive collection.

Thanksgiving (Atlanta) Part 2

On Monday, we went into Atlanta and visited the Aquarium and the Coca-Cola Museum. Both of them great attractions for tourists such as ourselves.

The Atlanta skyline with overcast clouds.

The Baby Beluga Whales at the Atlanta Aquarium. These were on loan from another Aquarium and so the Atlanta Aquarium got a few younger ones just the day before. Lucky us, we were some of the first to see them.

The Aquarium has many places that you can climb on if you wish, so the boys found a few places they could climb and view the fish.

A rescued Sea Turtle.

Papajohn and the boys at the Aquarium.

A Lionfish at the Aquarium.

The Bubble-Boys (Jacob and Joshua) at the Aquarium.

A Swordfish at the Aquarium.

At one place in the Aquarium, there is a walk-through tunnel where the fish swim over you. It also has a moving walkway so you can stand in place and it will carry you through the whole way. Its really an amazing place to watch these fish swim over you, just feet away from the top of your head. I got a good movie of the young whale shark swim over.

As you walk in, there is a large pool that is open that has a dozen small rays swimming in it along with a baby hammerhead shark or two. You are invited to reach in and pet them (with two fingers) and feel the difference between the two animals. The rays have a silky texture and the shark is more like wet sandpaper.

Thanksgiving (Atlanta) Part 1

We traveled down to Atlanta for the first part of our Thanksgiving vacation to see Karen, the boys and my Mom and Dad. We got there the night before Mom and Dad, so we went to the Mall of Georgia and had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. The Mall was , of course, crowded with youths all looking for each other, but too shy to actually talk to each other. The food was good and we go a chance to catch up a bit.

Me and Karen in front of the big tree at the Mall of Georgia.

We stopped off at the Carousel at the Mall and watched the kids. Jack didn't want to ride, even when we asked, so we just watched.

On the way down to Atlanta, we passed the big Peach in Gaston, which is in South Carolina. I still laugh at that little thing that hangs off of the bottom of the peach, which they included on the water tower version. I would have left that off and said it was artistic interpretation. I am going to find out what that thing is and report back.

We all had a great chance to bond after not seeing each other for a year. Mom looked great and Dad did as well.
Dad and the Boys.

Josh and PapaJohn.

The second night, we all went out to Olive Garden for a big dinner. Mom (GG) and the boys at Olive Garden.

Jack and Jacob, sitting next to each other at the Olive Garden.

Jacob showing off his shirt I made for him (and his brother).

GG and Joshua.

GG and Jack, sharing a moment.

The boys bonded by playing Angry Birds.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Since it was Veteran's Day, Jack and I had the day off. Kate reminded me in the morning to get out and do something, maybe a quick trip or go to the park since it was going to be a nice day. I decided that we would ride the Metro in to the Airport so Jack could ride the train and see the airplanes while we had lunch.

Turned out to be a good time, the Metro wasn't crowded and neither was the Airport. Lunch was good as well (burgers).

We parked at the Metro lot garage (which was free today) and hopped on the train, rode it to Rosslyn and switched to the blue line to the Airport. Walked across the hall and we were in the main terminal - bing, bang, boom.

Watched a few planes, one of which was the Philadelphia Eagles plane which, for some reason, had stopped over at National. They play here Monday night, so I didn't know why they would have their plane here, maybe to drop off some stuff? Who knows. Its a hop, skip and jump to Philly, so I am not sure why they would go for such a short trip this early.

We had lunch at TGI Fridays and the burgers were excellent, Jack ate everything on his plate, nothing was left. I think he is gearing up to go through another growth spirt here shortly.

We watched a few more planes and then headed back. The Metro ride was just as much fun back, we switched the lines again and then rode it all the way to Vienna (last stop).

Jack liked his day out and so did I as well. Cheap fun. We got to see Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Hyped-Up for the train ride outside Vienna Metro station.

The overpass walkway at Vienna where you can watch the cars go underneath.

(Reagan) National Airport's main terminal.

Jack at Fridays, enjoying the view, pointing out every plane that took off.

Jack in the Terminal in front of the Eagles plane.

Waiting for the train at the Airport (not long).