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Blog Archives for January 2015

Claire's 5th Birthday

Monday, January 12th, 2015 - Comments (0) in Life

It seems like just yesterday I was dangling my sweatshirt strings in front of Claire to distract her enough to drink her bottle for me. Today she turns five years old. She picks out her own clothes, takes on the role of the 3rd teacher in her nursery classroom, folds towels better than I can and frequently enjoys informing me of everything I'm doing wrong.

claire sledding

claire and me sledding

Since her actual birthday was on a Monday we had a party for her on the Saturday before. We took a pretty big gamble by doing a sledding party at the Perinton Community Center. There is a huge hill there and they have some great party rooms you can rent for just such occasions. We picked a room that had an exterior door so the kids could go in and out and not drag snow and mud into the building and make a huge mess.

It did snow a little in the days leading up to the party which we needed. Not a huge amount ut just enough. What we didn't expect was the temperature. For days leading up to the party it was very cold, like single digits. The morning of the party, the thermometer in my kitchen was reading 8°f. I figured the kids would last about 5 minutes out on the hill and give up, which could have been problematic because we only had one craft to do with them and a couple games. To my surprise, we (myself included) were out there going up and down the hill for like 45 minutes! Even some of the kids who I knew were apprehensive just of the cold stayed out there and had a great time. We ended up getting these cheap little "sled" things as a favor for each kid. That way they could use that sled if they didn't bring one and they had a slightly more lasting favor than the usual bag of candy and little toys that get broken or lost instantly. We brought a bunch of sleds too for everyone to share.

nolan at claire's party


I thought the day turned out great. Everyone seemed to have a good time (even Nolan) and we succeeded in throwing a relatively inexpensive and unique party. I think next year we'll do a small family-only affair though, I was totally beat after that day.

Smart Watch

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 - Comments (0) in Gadgets, Life

When my birthday rolled around a few months ago, Rachelle asked me what I wanted. Usually I don't ask for much if anything, but one toy I thought was kind of cool was a smart watch. In case you're not familiar, a smart watch is a wrist watch that is connected to your cell phone via Bluetooth. Depending on the model of the watch it can do things like show you text messages, emails, use the phone and run custom apps.

pebble smart watch

My biggest criteria was that it had to be cheap. I ended up getting an original Pebble watch (model 301BL) which I love. Being the most inexpensive of them all, it lacks certain features, but that's fine with me. I really wanted something just for viewing updates (email/texts/calls) without having to pull my phone out of my pocket all the time. The Pebble uses the same e-ink technology as the Amazon Kindle so it has incredible battery life. I can charge this watch maybe once a week whereas its more colorful and feature-rich cousins have a hard time getting through a single day on a charge.

The one feature I wish it had is the ability to answer the phone. I can see who is calling and even send the call the voicemail from the watch, but I really wanted to be able to answer a call and talk on speaker-phone through the watch. I don't talk on the phone much anyway, so this isn't a dealbreaker, but I think it would've been awesome. Maybe in a few years when I wear this out I'll go for a slightly more expensive model with that feature.

I was a little nervous at first about asking for a smartwatch. I had given up on wearing a watch quite a few years ago and was not used to having one on my wrist anymore. And even though this was the most inexpensive model, it was still over $100, so I didn't want to waste this money by not using it. This was about 3 months ago and so far I've worn the watch every day with no problems. I've even found myself looking at my wrist for the time when I don't have it on (in the early morning or late at night), so clearly I'm used to wearing one again.

There are a bunch of apps you can get for it free and even an software development kit for writing your own. I haven't tried the SDK yet, but I have a few ideas for apps I would like (mostly nerd stuff). I was very surprised to find there is an app for viewing Foscam IP cameras, which is the brand of camera I have in each kid's bedroom. The image is awful on the e-ink display, but it does work!