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Outer Banks - Day 1

Sunday, August 16th, 2015 - Comments (0) in Life, Vacation

Today was the first day of our vacation in the Outer Banks. My alarm went off at 3:20am (!) in order for us to get out the door at 4:10am and to the airport at 4:30am for our 5:50am flight. The kids got up surprisingly easily and seemed to be ok with the early hour. In the car Rachelle asked Nolan if he was okay and he said, "No, Sleep!" That pretty much summed it up.

Even at 4:30 in the morning, Rochester International Airport was very busy. The line to get through security was huge. But it moved quickly and our flight took off without a problem. We were actually early landing at BWI and had to sit there and wait for a gate to open up. That was the worst of the air travel.

When I picked up the rental car in Norfolk, they upgraded me from a full-sized sedan to a Ford Expedition at no additional cost! I was super excited about having the extra room. I guess they had a bunch of big cars available and were offering to upgrade everyone. The poor kids finally got to take a nap in the car on the 90 minute drive to Nags Head. It wasn't long enough, but I guess better than nothing. 

Since we were the first to arrive in town we stopped by the rental office to pick up the keys. We were a few hours early, but the house was ready and they had no problem with the timing. The house was rented by my dad who has the same name, so I assumed I could get away with checking in for him, but they never asked for identification.

Aside from the ludicrisly early start to today, it was a great travel day. Hopefully the rest of the vacation goes as smoothly.

Lifting Weights for a Bad Back

Saturday, August 1st, 2015 - Comments (0) in Life

I've had a bad back for many years. It seems like it's just getting worse too. I was able to get along with it for a while now, but this past year or so I've had to resort to going to a chiropractor. That works sometimes for keeping me pain free, but I needed to find something that costs less money.

I discovered lifting weights actually does wonders for my back. I'm not talking about spending hours in the gym a few times a week, but rather a single set of a few different exercises every night.

I started doing a single set of each: bench press, bicep curl into overhead press, and dumbell deadlifts. Not super heavy weights or anything, just going through the motions.

Before starting this it seemed like every other day I was tweaking my back or neck. I actually had to delay starting lifting weights because every time I was going to start I'd hurt myself earlier in the day. Since I started, I haven't had a single show-stopping back problem.

Parent Visit

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 - Comments (0) in House, Life

My parents just came up for a visit this past weekend. Usually we bring the kids down to visit them, but I had a bunch of projects I needed my dad's help with so they came up here instead.

The big project was to get some airflow in my attic. This past winter was brutal and we everyone had serious ice-damn problems which in our case led to water coming in and floors getting ruined. My attic is very well insulated, all most too well. The insulation goes right out to the edges between the second floor ceiling and the roof, leaving no room for airflow through the soffit vents. The idea was to sneak these plastic channel things between the roof and the insulation to allow more airflow so the temperature in the attic would be closer to the outside temperature. If the temperature is the same, the snow won't melt and form ice damns. Well, after a very uncomfortable time in the attic we couldn't progress from there. We decided to try doing it from the outside at the soffit vents. That's when we discovered that the soffit vents in the siding are basically just for show. There are no holes behind them.

I had a bunch of small engine stuff that wasn't working well or at all and he helped me get all of that running too. One push mower didn't run at all but was in great shape, so we got that running. My other push mower ran, but very poorly. That's better now too. One is a spare for when my big mower has issues, but I'm planning on selling the other one on Craigslist. I also found a snowblower on the curb that was in very good shape. It needed some carburator work but other than that, it was fine. From my dad's research the machine was made back in 1970-1971. For its age, it is in amazing shape. It's bigger than mine in every aspect, which might actually be a problem. I like my current snowblower, but this might work better. And being bigger it will be harder to get in and out of the garage when needed in the winter time. As it is, my smaller blower is a tight squeeze to get around the Pilot. I suppose I'll hang on to it until I have a chance to try it out in the snow and then decide to keep or sell.

We also replaced the strainer baskets in the kitchen sink. The ones we had were in a different finish than the faucet and were disgusting. The disposal side also had all of the little rubber guard broken off, so all sorts of things were constantly going into the disposal that shouldn't be. This wasn't that hard, but plumbing is just miserable work. We were actually able to get everything we needed in one trip to Lowes, that's a new record for me. I ALWAYS forget about something.

I had a great time hanging out with my parents as I don't get to see them very often. And in a few weeks I'll get to see them again when we all converge on the Outer Banks.

Happy Anniversary!!

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 - Comments (0) in Life

Well, yesterday was Rachelle's and my 9 year wedding anniversary. Nine years is a long time (for me), but we've known each other for about 15 years!

We didn't do anything special on the actual day, but tonight we went to dinner at Shema, our favorite sushi place in the city. My mother-in-law was up watching the kids today since Rachelle had to go into work. She stayed long enough for us to go out and celebrate.

Next year we'll have to do something super special, good thing I have a year to think of something.

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!

Vacation on Lake George

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - Comments (0) in Life, Vacation

lake george

I'm mixing it up this year and taking my major vacation at the beginning of July rather than the end of August like I usually do. My sister is going to have a baby around the same time we'd all be in the Outer Banks so my parents decided not to do our beach getaway this year. Fortunately, we were able to get in on a big lake house on Lake George with Rachelle's parents and siblings. 

The house was great. There was plenty of room for everyone which is impressive considering there were 6 small children terrorizing the place and all their parents. We decided to split dinners up and have each family cook what they want for everyone on "their" night. Rachelle and I picked the first night which was rather hectic but I was very glad to get it out of the way. We were already frazzled from driving 5+ hours and all the chaos of unpacking, so what's a little more?

I'm used to more of a beach than what we had there, but it was still very nice for a lake. It had its own private dock and a 100" or so wide beach area. The kids absolutely loved it.

fun at lake george

Anyone with small kids knows that a vacation really is never a real vacation. By far the most challenging part of this was keeping constant attention on Nolan. He figured out how to open the doors and could walk right out. He would run circles out the living room door over the deck, in the side door by the kitchen and all over the place. None of the first-floor decks had any railings and he felt the need to constantly be right at the edge. And even though there was a big yard to play in, poison ivy was everywhere. We told Claire it was Meddlesome Myrtle like on her show Sofia the First because she knew it was very bad and wouldn't touch it.

me "fishing"

I had the pleasure of pulling Nolan's first tick off his neck! It hadn't bitten him yet; it was just surveying the land looking for a good spot. I was tempted to take a picture, but I know Rachelle would've murdered me for not getting it off him immediately.

I knew ahead of time that cellular service was going to be spotty and not very functional, so I brought my Verizon network extender that I use in my office at work. It uses the broadband to create a mini cell tower to supplement poor coverage. It worked great and we were all able to make and receive calls. Luckily I also thought to bring a wireless access point and various cables and adapters. I also knew there was internet and wireless in the house, but it was setup on the far side where we would be out of range a majority of the time. I was able to get the access point setup right in the middle of everything. The internet was very slow Verizon DSL which was less than desirable, but did function. 

The last night we were there Claire wasn't feeling very good. She had a temperature of 102° and still was pretty hot for the ride home. By the time we got home Nolan also had a 101° temp. At least they got sick right at the end and not on the first day.

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