Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter

Winter officially starts (on the east coast of the US) today, December 21st, 2010 at 6:38 PM.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Samsung follow-up

This is just a follow-up to my last post about our Samsung FP-T5084 plasma TV.  After our TV failed to power up the other day (for the second time within a year) and Samsung rejected our warranty claim because the warranty had expired, I found out from the Samsung service rep that the power supply unit had been replaced last year (under warranty, of course).  When I priced the power supply online, it was available for about $130 at most electronics specialty shops, but eBay also had it for about $90 plus shipping. 

It was then that I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a guy who had the same problem I did with the Samsung FP-T5084 TV.  In the video he shows how to remove the back panel and replace one of three small fuses found on the power supply board.  Problem is, no one seems to carry the fuse in brick & mortar stores.  Places like Radio Shack, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowes didn't carry it.  Since I work in Philadelphia, I thought for sure I'd be able to pick up the fuse at either a hardware store, an electrical supply store or a television specialty shop.  Unfortunately, it never panned out.  The closest I came was a referral from Dara Electronics in Maple Shade, NJ (who were the ones scheduled to come out to do the in-home repair) to a place called HBF Electronics in North East Philadelphia.  Dara Electronics told me that they were planning to replace the power supply.  The cost would have been at least $200 (about $100 for the power supply, $60 for the trip charge, plus the labor to install it), so i told them I was going to try replacing the fuses first before having to spend that much money to fix it.  The guy understood and recommended the other place as a source for parts. 

Angie helped me take the TV down from above the fireplace.  I was then able to remove the back panel and located all three fuses on the power supply board.  I had no way of testing them (and they are ceramic, so you can't see inside of them like a typical glass fuse), but someone I work with told me he could test them if I brought them into the office.  We tested all three at work the next day and one of them came up bad.  At this point, I was pretty confident that replacing the fuse would bring the TV back to life.  I must have called 20 different places, but no one within 25 miles of Philly carries these damned things (12 Amp 250 Volt 5mm x 20mm ceramic "slow blow" fuses).  I called HBF and spoke to someone there who assured me that they had them in stock, they came in a pack of five, and were available for $5.  I was suspicious that the guy was wrong because on most web sites, these fuses were selling for $3 a piece.  Of course, when I got there the guy showed me a pack of five glass fuses (and they weren't "slow blow").  He assured me that they would work (and I bought them anyway since I'd driven all the way out to him), but I had no intention of installing glass fuses permanently.  I'd use one to test with, just to see if the set would power up (it did).

I ended up ordering a pack of five ceramic fuses from DivineLighting.com for $1.39 for a pack of five.  I called them just to make sure I had read the price correctly.  I paid $20 for Express Mail shipping from Atlanta, GA and had the fuses the next day. I threw away the bad fuse from the TV, and replaced all three with three of the five new ones.  I now have four "spares," just in case one blows out next year (since this seems to be a yearly occurrence).

I think I probably spent about $30 in gas, fuses, and shipping costs to fix the TV.  A substantial savings from the potential $200 parts and service fee I would've paid.

Here's a link to the YouTube video, just in case anyone else is looking for help with their Samsung television:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E17Wp0MyFe4

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Samsung Sucks

First, let me reiterate: Samsung SUCKS! My wife and I purchased a 50" Samsung plasma TV in March of 2008 for about $2300. In December of 2009, the TV refused to power up. When I Googled the problem, I found that it seemed to be a common thing related to capacitors blowing out in the power supply or something. Fortunately, the TV came with a 2 year warranty, so I called Samsung and they had a repairman out within about 3-4 days. Angie said the repair guy was in and out of here in about 20 minutes. Of course, this meant that we had to take the TV down from the wall mount for the repair and then put it back up
afterward.

   Today, Angie told me she had trouble getting a picture on the screen. When I got home from work, I found that the TV wouldn't power up!! I can't even describe my frustration with Samsung on this one. If the authorized repair person doesn't ACTUALLY fix the problem, then how can I be expected to pay for the SAME repair less than a year later? Samsung says it's outside the 2 year warranty and they won't budge. I expressed my extreme dissatisfaction with Samsung and told the guy I'd never buy a Samsung again. Now I plan on spreading the word and telling all my friends (and THEIR friends) not to buy
Samsung. Jerks.

   So I'm supposed to be contacted within two days by an authorized repair person. I guess I'll find out how much the repair will be then. In the meantime, I'm going to look for the YouTube videos that showed how to fix the problem (permanently) for like 20 bucks. It involves some soldering, which I'm not the best at; and I think you have to purchase the capacitors from Radio Shack. But if worse comes to worst, I would definitely take a crack at it. I mean, it's a hunk of useless crap right now.

   Meanwhile the cheap Olevia LCD TV that I bought from my dad last year when this first happened is back up in our family room and is our main TV again.

   Friggin' Samsung!!!!!

--
Sent from my mobile device

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things I Said Today

Category: Parenting

1. "STOP taking your brother's Mighty Beanz®!!"
2. "Watch out for the sticker bushes!"
3. "Stay on the hiking path, please."
4. "Don't throw the rubber junk at each other!" (on the ground at the playground)
5. "WHO keeps farting??"
6. "Stop crashing your cars into the walls and furniture, please!"
7. "Stop crashing your cars into each other, please!"
8. "Don't throw/roll your cars down the basement steps!"
9. "Doesn't anyone want to play with the new train tracks I put together?"
10. To Adrian: "This is a 'No Whining' zone!"
11. "Three chesseburger Kids Meals, please.  All plain, with chocolate milks."
12. Dillon: "Jason won't listen to me."
      Me: "What do you mean?"
      Dillon: "I mean he won't do what I say. He won't play with me."
      Me: "Lately, Jason only wants to play with mommy and daddy, Dillon." 
     [Jason has begun sticking to Angie and I like glue.  If we leave him alone in a room, within 30 seconds he stops what he's doing and looks for us.  Once he finds us, he makes up some bogus question to ask us, and then won't leave us.  It's cute, but gets old fast.  This morning he woke up first (around 6AM) and played quietly outside our door.  He'd poke his head in every few minutes to make sure we were still there.]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Professional" Photography

So... Angie had a photographer come to the house about a month ago and take some photos of the baby.  It was a free "sitting" fee and you get one free 5x7 picture.  Of course, you have to eventually sit through the full court press sales pitch before you'll get the free pic (if you ever actually get it), but that's the deal.

Anyway, the photographer was very nice (according to Angie), and she told Angie that she'd be willing to sell us the CD full of the digital images for like $40.  She said that the business "doesn't really take care of the photographers" and she'd be more than willing to sell us all the images for cheap.  Unfortunately, Angie never exchanged contact info with the lady, so a few weeks later we were contacted by the main office to schedule an "in home visit" so we could peruse the photos.

After much debate with herself and many unanswered phone calls (I swear the guy at the office called us about 8-10 times), Angie answered the phone tonight and scheduled the guy to come over around 6PM.  Luckily we finished dinner first and the guy showed up around 6:30PM.  I took the kids in the living room and played a card game with them while the guy gave Angie the sales pitch.  I didn't hear all of the package details, but a few of them ranged in price from $100 for a handful of prints (like one 8x10, some 5x7's and some wallets) to over $600 for a group of prints!  I asked how much the CD would be and Angie said it was "ridiculous," like $300!

Are these people insane?  Gone are the days of shooting rolls and rolls of film, not knowing how the shots came out until later, and developing film in a dark room with chemicals and manually enlarging prints.  I mean, they HAVE THE PHOTOS ON THE LAPTOP that he brought here.  I probably would have paid $50-$75 for the CD and told him to get the hell out.  I still would have felt slightly ripped off, but at least then I'd be able to make my own prints.  I can print them up at home or order them online, or walk into Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite-Aid, etc.  And best of all, I'd be able to back them up and give copies of the disc to my parents and Angie's parents.  So it would have been worth it.

Does anyone else feel this way?  Do I only feel this way because I know how to shoot digital photos and print them myself?  Does the "Average Joe" get taken in by these high prices for pictures?  And really, are they that much better than what you can shoot yourself with a decent digital camera?

Angie thinks we're (read: I'm) just cheap.  I don't think so; I just don't want to be ripped off for pictures that I can take myself.  The pictures were OK, but they weren't ALL great. Some of them were easy to reject.  The guy was really trying hard to get Angie to crack.  She even came into the living room a couple of times and asked what I wanted to do. 


We went with the free 5x7 of one shot that Angie liked.

What a racket!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010 was a lot of fun.  We all went to a pre-Trick or Treat party at a neighbor's house for some music and food.  Around 5PM, I took Dillon, Jason and Adrian around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating while Angie took Cameron back to the house for feeding and diaper changing.  (Already sounds like a hoot, don't it?)

The boys and I hit quite a few houses while we made our way back home.  They had only been out for about 30-40 minutes before I started hearing complaints about their feet hurting, or "I want a drink of water."  So when we got home I asked them if they just wanted to stay in and help give out candy or go back out.  They said they would help with the candy.

A couple of days earlier I had decked out the garage with a ton of bright-colored posters and cutouts, old Halloween costumes, pumpkins, skeletons, etc.  I went to Home Depot and bought about 4 or 5 black light bulbs to hang in the garage.  It turned out pretty cool (see photo).  Dillon enjoyed it until I turned on the sound effects CD and cranked it up.  He couldn't take it and asked Angie if they could go back out and trick or treat some more!  So she took them around to a few more houses while I held down the dungeon with Cameron.

Adrian wore a Superman costume this year, which didn't really fit the "haunted garage" theme, but Dillon and Jason had these costumes called "Unknown Phantom" that were pretty neat.  They reminded me of Jawas from Star Wars.  They were all black costumes with hoods and a mesh-front mask so you couldn't see their faces.  Underneath the hooded mask they wore special glasses that had red-glowing LED lights in them.  It looked great at night.  After trick or treating the second time, Jason became my dungeon master and would help escort our "guests" into the garage.  I wore the weird-looking ghost mask you see in the photo (it's on the table on the left).  It looked great in the black light.

We had trick-or-treaters coming to the house up until about 9PM, I guess.  As the night went on, I would say the age group got older.  Some kids weren't even wearing costumes.  I mean, c'mon!  Put forth some effort, at least.

The kids made out like bandits and we actually gave out about 80% of the candy we purchased for the trick-or-treaters (which is good).

Hope everyone else had a nice Halloween!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Valley Forge

Had a great time on Sunday with Angie's family at Valley Forge.

Here are some pictures:

Valley Forge Pictures

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cameron - One Month Update

Cameron is enjoying his new home.  He is such a good baby.  I mean, we don't really hear from him unless he's hungry or has a bad case of gas (which is more often than we'd like).  We really haven't had any bouts of uncontrollable, inconsolable crying (knock wood).  He's on a regular feeding/sleeping schedule of every three hours, but he still seems more like a night owl because he sleeps more soundly during the daytime hours.  Occasionally, we'll get him to sleep about 4 hours at night, so if we feed him at 11pm, he might last until about 3am (but it's rare).  Typically, he gets up around 2am for a feeding and then again around 5am or so.  Angie is the trooper that has been handling all the late night duties and then managing the rest of the clan during the day.  Fortunately, Dillon and Jason are in 1st grade this year so they get the bus at 8am and return home around 3:15pm, which lightens Angie's load a little bit.

Cameron officially turned one month old yesterday, so maybe we're getting closer to him sleeping 4-5 hours routinely...  That would be awesome.

He eats about 3 ounces per feeding now (up from 2.5 ounces about 10 days ago).  I'm assuming that if we can push him to 4 ounces soon he might sleep a little longer.

For his gas issues, we were using the little dropper-style bottle of gas drops (I forget the brand name but it came in what looked like an "eye drops" bottle), but we ran out a few days ago.  So on my way home from work one day I stopped off at Shop-Rite for a few groceries and remembered that we needed the gas drops.  I couldn't find them anywhere in there, but I did find something called Gripe Water.  I was skeptical at first, especially because the bottle costs about $8, but it said it was for "colic and hiccups" (which he has had a few times).  It says it's safe for babies and contains natural herbs that aid in digestion.  He seems to like taking it and it appears to work well.  I guess we'll stick with it for now.

His big brothers all love him very much.  Dillon and Jason ask to hold him all the time (we usually stage this on the couch while they are seated).  I always catch Adrian getting up real close to Cameron and kissing the top of his head. [I'm just waiting for the time when he bites his ear or something!]  Jason asked to help feed him this morning, but I opted to feed him the bottle myself.  We have let them feed him before, but they usually don't have the patience to sit there for 10-15 minutes while Cameron slowly guzzles his 3-ounce bottle.

I don't know when his next check-up is, but the last time Angie took him to the doctor he weighed 7 lbs. 14 ounces, and measured 21 inches long.  He was born at 7 lbs 10 oz, and 20.5 inches long, so he's growing nicely.

-More to Come-

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of 1st Grade!

Dillon and Jason

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Adrian vs. Potty: The Saga Continues

Yesterday, Adrian woke up dry, which he does most of the time. He had
an OK day as far as going #1. Number Two, though, is a different
story. In the afternoon, he told Angie he had to go so she put him on
the little potty in the downstairs bathroom. He asked to be alone,
but then started saying he didn't have to go. Angie thought for sure
he had to go number two, so I went in and gave him a little pep talk
and convinced him to sit back down on the potty. I left the bathroom
and went out into the backyard to get ready to mow the grass, and
within 60 seconds Angie yelled out to me that he had pooped. On the
bathroom floor (which she had just cleaned earlier that day)!

Later on we went out to dinner for my mom's birthday (which was
Friday). After dinner we decided to go play a round of miniature golf.
So before we left I took Adrian to the restroom (I had also brought
along our toilet seat 'adapter' for him). Angie hasn't had luck
getting him on there at home, but he went on there at the restaurant
with no trouble. Quite a bit, actually.

Then, at the golf place, he started acting strangely by the 14th hole
or so. Angie assumed this was a poopy dance, so as soon as we
finished golfing, we raced back home (about 12 minutes). I tool Adrian
straight to the potty upstairs and as I was taking down his underpants
he started peeing. He got it all over his pants, underwear, and the
floor. And none in the potty which was about a foot from him.

This morning, Adrian woke up with wet undies so he didn't make it thru
the night. This is very unusual for him so I thought I was going to
have another rough Sunday morning with him (Angie takes the twins to
church and out to breakfast with her mom). But I was in for a
surprise.

As soon as I got him up, I took him out of his wet undies and put him
on the potty and he peed a little. We went downstairs and he had a
little snack while watching TV (he said he didn't want breakfast yet).
Then he came out and sat at the kitchen table with me to have cereal.
About 5 minutes later he told me he had to go. So we went over, sat
down, and he peed some more.

After watching some more TV and having some cereal, he told me he had
to go again. This time he asked me to leave him alone for a few
minutes. He signaled me when he was finished and I was SHOCKED to see
that he went #2!! I cleaned him up and we went for a bike ride around
11:30 or so. Around 12pm while we were at an empty playground, he told
me that a little bit of pee "came out." I checked him and it was
nothing, but I knew he had to go so I told him he could pee on the
back of the school wall. He actually did it without any fuss!

We came back home and had lunch. Amazingly, Adrian told Angie he had
to go again, and (shockingly) it was another #2! So he's 2 for 2 with
the poops on the potty today.

I think he has turned a corner because he's telling us more often now.

He just likes his privacy when he's doing it...

--
Sent from my mobile device

Sunday, August 8, 2010

All Aboard the Potty Train 2

Adrian officially began potty training last Saturday morning (July 31st).  In the past, Angie had placed him on the potty a couple of times just to get familiar with it (and he even peed on it a couple of times).  But pre-school starts September 17th and he needs to be trained before then, so it was "All Hands on Deck" with no turning back now. 

It's been slow going for Adrian.  I remember the twins "getting it" within a couple of days.  That's not to say they didn't have accidents occasionally or that Jason didn't lapse back into having trouble going #2 on the potty (ended up wearing pull-ups for like 5 months more), but within a couple of days they each knew to go on the toilet or potty when they had to go #1.  Getting them to do #2 took a few days of practice, but it eventually happened.  Adrian hasn't yet told me that he has to go.  I just nag him constantly (which must get to be annoying for him) or I force him to sit on the potty if it's been about 2 hours since he went last. 

Angie has had some good luck and bad luck during the week.  He had a bowel movement on the potty on Friday morning (8/6), which was a major milestone.  Earlier in the week, he would go multiple days before finally having an accident in his underwear.  So this new development at least meant that he would know that he can poop on the potty as well as pee.  Unfortunately for Angie, she decided to take all three kids to see "Despicable Me" on Friday afternoon.  Also unfortunately for Angie, Adrian's poops turned into the "loosey goosey" kind after that successful healthy one in the morning.  When they arrived at the movie theater, he told her he had to go (which is great).  She got him to a bathroom stall and put him on the toilet (she didn't have the "adapter seat" with her, though) and his butt slipped into the bowl, freaking him out quite badly.  Of course, he wouldn't go after that so they went back out, bought their tickets and went into the theater.  A few minutes later, Adrian got up and walked to the end of the aisle, pointing to the exit.  Angie grabbed the twins and walked back to the bathroom with Adrian.  By the time they got there, he had let it out all over his underpants.  Fortunately, Angie had put him in a pull-up diaper over the underwear so it acted as a little buffer for his pants.  Underwear and pull-up went into the trash.  Angie had left the diaper bag on the seat in the theater, so she had to clean him up with regular toilet paper (yowza!) and put his remaining undies on him when they got back to the seat.  I think they had to leave the movie again to deal with a situation, and then he pooped again as they were leaving.  Since Angie was out of pull-ups and undies, he had to sit in it all the way back home.  Ugh!  I'm sure Angie won't be taking any kids out during potty training again any time in the next few years...

Yesterday was a success since he woke up dry, peed on the potty and even had a small #2 around mid-morning on the potty.  I don't believe he had any accidents on any furniture or flooring yesterday, so that's always a good thing.

Adrian wakes up dry most days, but sometimes he lets it go in the morning before getting out of bed (like this morning).  I haven't yet seen him walk over to the potty on his own, which concerns me.  I really feel like a broken record, asking him all the time, "Do you have to go potty?"  But the few times where I've thought, "Let's leave him alone with no nagging and see what he does," he pees on the kitchen chair or the family room floor.  It's been over a week now, and I just want it to "click" in his mind: "I have no options. When I have to pee or poop, I have to use the potty."  He wears only underwear during the day (no more diapers), but we'll put a pull-up over the underwear for naps and when he goes to bed at night.  Since he wakes up dry about 90% of the time, we'll probably just have to roll the dice and let him have an accident or two at night so he learns to hold it all night 100% of the time or to get up and go to the bathroom.  But first I want him to get more reliable during the waking hours. I really don't want to have to nag him any more.

We've tried the Cheerios thing, which is OK.  It got him to pee once when we knew he had to go badly.  But this kid is just really stubborn and wants to do what he wants to do on his own terms, I think.  I've noticed that two or three times now he has gone on the potty after I've placed him there and I've left.  This morning I was waiting in the bathroom with him for 15 minutes while he was sitting on the potty (not going), so I walked out and pulled the door partially closed behind me.  As soon as I did, I heard him peeing in the potty.  I waited a minute or so, then opened the door to see him standing there pointing at the potty.  I guess he just wanted his privacy! 

More to come...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Adrian and I ready to race

This was taken in Nag's Head at a go-cart track. Adrian had a blast cruising around.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What we did on our summer vacation

Well, we spent the last 8 days in North Carolina.  The Outer Banks; Nag's Head, to be exact.  We left on Sunday morning, July 18th and came back on Sunday evening, July 25th.  Some high- and low-lights of the trip:

- I got a speeding ticket in North Carolina (70 MPH in a 55 MPH zone) on our way to the house the first day. We were only about 25 miles from the house.  Very unfriendly female cop.  I called my insurance company today and they said that they do not surcharge for points, so all I should do is pay the fine ($166).  Even though this would be a 4-point ticket in NJ, it only ends up adding 2 points to my license because I got it out of state.  Weird NJ law, but I'm glad for it.  For each year I go without a ticket I'll lose three points, so I'll be back to zero by the end of next July as long as I'm ticket-free.

- Not quite out of NJ yet, Angie asked me where the video camera was.  Of course, it was sitting on the kitchen counter where I had plugged it in the night before to charge the battery.  I should have just packed it & the charger and worried about charging it at the vacation house.

- We went out and bought a lot of groceries for the week at Food Lion and picked up 5 large pizzas for dinner on Sunday night.  Angie was sick of pizza (we'd had it for dinner on Friday night) so she got a "Philly cheesesteak" that she said was pretty good.  It didn't really look like a typical Philly cheesesteak, though.

- On Monday, we got up fairly early and drove about 20 miles south to look for large seashells on a different beach.  The boys collected about 2 buckets worth.  They're looking forward to giving them to Mom Mom.

- I attempted to fly Angie's uncle's army plane kite on Tuesday because I'd heard he was having trouble getting it to go up.  Monday was extremely windy, so we thought maybe it was actually TOO windy to fly the kite.  Tuesday was almost the exact opposite, with not much wind to speak of.  I was sweating buckets trying to get that damned thing in the air, but it never really went up for more than 20-30 seconds or so.  It was in bad need of some electrical tape, glue, or maybe some napalm.  ;-)

- Angie's aunt and uncle strategically planted some plastic gold coins and "gems" along the walk way to the beach so the kids would find them.  All of the kids were ecstatic when they found the loose items, but then they found a bottle with a rolled up piece of paper inside.  Lo and behold it was a treasure map!  The map led them straight to a buried treasure chest full of coins and gems... AND five little pouches with ten gold one-dollar coins inside each of them!  How awesome is that?!  Now all of the kids had some pirate booty to spend while on vacation.  Our kids bought some toys the next day at a store called Super Wings.  Paying the cashier with the gold coins really made everything worthwhile.  Each kid went up to the counter, pulled out his little pirate pouch, untied it, and emptied out enough gold coins to pay for his item(s).  I don't think the cashier really knew what to do with them, but he took them (although his manager came over and removed all of them from the register while we were standing there).

- Angie's uncle dug a fire pit on Thursday night and we roasted marshmallows before walking around the beach with our flashlights looking for "ghost crabs."  We found quite a few of them in all different sizes and speeds.

- Each night a different family member would cook dinner.  Monday night was "our turn" so Angie's mom made a ground beef pasta dish with garlic bread, while Angie prepared a salad as a starter dish, and picked up some store-bought cakes for dessert.  Tuesday night was steak night - Paul, David and Carrin cooked up some steaks and chicken breasts on the grill with baked beans, mashed potatoes and brocoli on the side. The steaks were delicious and really juicy.  Wednesday night was beef enchilada night.  Carrin's parents whipped up some corn on the cob and a ton of enchiladas for everyone.  Super yummy.  We had lots of leftovers. Thursday night was kind of a free-for-all every-man-for-himself night.  Angie, me, the kids and Grandmom went to a place called Big Al's in Manteo.  We ended up not eating until pretty late, so by the time we got back to the house the campfire was already under way.  Friday night was boneless fried chicken night.  Angie's aunt and uncle cooked up a BOATLOAD of chicken breasts, which turned out great.  Saturday night we all went to Miller's On The Waterfront for our last dinner in Nag's Head.

- We went to Kitty Hawk Kites one morning for a free kids' event.  The boys got some balloon shapes (a fish, a couple of swords and a snake), and they got to play some free games outside.  Inside, we picked out some toys and a kite for ourselves and spent about $60.  But they gave us a $10 gift certificate to use on another day, so I went back the next day and bought some cheap sunglasses.

- Angie's mom and Bob took the twins to a go cart track on Tuesday night.  They had a blast, they said.  Wednesday night, we tried taking Adrian to miniature golf with Carrin, Paul and their twins, but the wait was 20 minutes to start and about 2 hours to play the game.  Since it was already after 8 PM, we bailed.  We knew that Alice and Bob had taken the twins to the go cart track again, so we stopped by to see if we could catch them and they were just finishing up.  So I got to ride a double-seater go-cart with Adrian on a figure-8 race track.  It was pretty awesome, and Adrian looked so cute sitting next to me.  I can't even describe the way that he looked.  His hair was blowing in the wind, and his right hand was on the outside of the car, while his left hand crept its way over to my leg and held onto my shorts.  After a couple of laps, though, he was waving to mommy and his brothers on the sidelines.  It was really cool.  I wish we had it on video.

- Of course, we spent a lot of time in the pool and on the beach.  The twins had a great time in the pool; they are really doing well with swimming, although Jason still "hugs" the sides.  Dillon started jumping straight in off the side (into the 3-foot area), which was neat to see.  They both have goggles and love going under the water and looking around.  Dillon started swimming more when he would go under the water, too.

- As I said before, the wind was out of control on Monday, so after going to the beach further south of us to look for shells, we didn't go back that day.  I believe we stayed at the house and went in the pool.  Tuesday was a lot nicer and made for a great day at the beach.  Well, for us a "day" at the beach is about 2-3 hours.  Angie's mom could stay there all day and night, but we usually pack it in after a few hours and they sometimes go back later on after the sun has started to go down.

All in all it was a very nice vacation.  Our kids all had a great time, and Angie and I really enjoyed ourselves.  I got to do some reading (finished one book, started a second), watched a movie or two, had some good food and drink, and got to spend time with some really nice people.

You really can't ask for much more. 

Click the link to check out some photos we took:
Outer Banks Trip Photos


And here are some photos taken by Angie's cousin and his wife:
More vacation pics

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

John Deere

The latest addition to the Hampton family.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Leaving Las Vegas

Who would have thought that we'd be sitting in the airport an hour and
a half after our scheduled departure time? I guess we should have
booked that earlier flight after all. Oh well. I knew things were
going too smoothly.

They (US Airways) keep making announcements like "we'll be boarding in
15 minutes" and "boarding will begin in 5-10 minutes" but they've been
saying that for over an hour now. We can see the plane sitting there.
I guess they know best. Hopefully we'll be in Philly by 9pm! We'd
like to see the kids, and we know they're excited that we're coming
home tonight.

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Caesar's Palace

Walked all the way through the darn casino to the back (felt like 2 miles) and then found this sign stating that the Atlantis show was out of service! They could have told us that with a sign at the *#*!?/@+ entrance!!!!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mandalay Bay hotel

Where we're staying...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Venetian

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hoover Dam site

Mandalay Bay 'Beach/Wave Pool' area

Four Seasons fountain

Vegas

Arrived in Vegas around 10:30 AM PDT. Grabbed a shuttle to the hotel after dropping $5 on a slot machine at the airport (there goes our snack money). Ate lunch at the hotel cafe (a couple of chicken caesar salads) and then explored the hotel a bit (it's huge). Took the monorail to Luxor and Excalibur, but didn't really do much exploring at those resorts. Paid $14 to take a cab about 2 miles to the Mirage hotel so we could pick up our ticket for the Beatles Love show (tonight!). Decided to walk the new strip a bit instead of paying another $14 to go back to Mandalay Bay. Watched the volcano eruption at 9 PM in front of the Mirage (pretty cool), and then walked to the Bellagio and checked out the botanical gardens there. Made our way to the Excalibur and then hopped the monorail tram back to Mandalay. We were pretty hungry by then, so I just grabbed some McD's from across the street and then ate in the hotel room.

We thought we'd "sleep in" but jet lag woke me up at 6:40 AM and Angie was up around 7:30 AM. I guess we'll grab breakfast here and then we're doing the Hoover Dam Tour at 1:30 PM. After that, it's the Beatles show at the Mirage at 7:00 PM.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

House 2

FHA says w have to remove the chipping paint from the chimney and have it repainted. Getting estimates this week and hoping it doesn't cost more than $100.

Don gave us a little scare when he called on the weekend to say that the dishwasher was acting flaky.  I bumped into him today over at Hahnemann Hospital and he said it worked OK last night.  We only have 16 days until settlement, so I'm hoping we don't have to spend any more money on stupid stuff.

We had to track down a document that stated that our original mortgage was "paid in full" because the title company told our realtor that it looked like it was never paid off.  We bought the house in 2002, and then refinanced in 2003 so it was paid off.  Luckily, I found the paperwork tonight so we should be covered.

Still need to grab a bunch of stuff from the storage sheds and from the basement over the next couple of weeks.  Also, the township has to come out on the 20th to award the certificate of occupancy, as long as we have all the appropriate fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and CO detectors in place.

The unnecessary termite treatment was done last week, so we'll pay for that at settlement.  That was a healthy $500 waste of money.

I am soooo looking forward to April 30th....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

House

We found out that even though the buyers specifically wrote "Washer and dryer excluded" into our contract a month ago, they've decided to keep them.  Now I don't have to worry about selling them or moving them out of the house!  I'm not sure if we need to change the contract language or not... It would seem like maybe we should, but I haven't heard anything. 

I guess I should put the wall and door back up since there is no need to leave it the way it is now.

I'm also waiting for the termite guy to call me to schedule a day this week to do the (unnecessary) treatment (which will cost us about $500).  He made it seem like he'd be able to do this one day this week, so I'm hopeful.  Once we cross that off the list and put the laundry area back to "normal" with the wall and door, I think we just wait for the Certificate of Occupancy to be granted, and then... Settlement April 30th!

Of course, I still have to cut the lawn there at least once, if not twice, and I need to grab all the remaining odds and ends that we left in the storage sheds in the back, and in the basement.  We're in the home stretch.

I'd just like to get everything done so that all we have to do is wait for settlement.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Nighthawk KN-COSM-B Detector

Just wanted to vent a little bit.  Since we're selling our house in Maple Shade on April 30th, we have to have a "Certificate of Occupancy" issued to us by the township prior to settlement.  Part of this process involves someone coming out to inspect your fire extinguisher(s) and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.  So I went to the house last weekend to make sure all of the batteries are new and that the detectors were all working properly.  Well, one of them was beeping every 30 seconds, even with brand new Energizer batteries! It's a KIDDE / NightHawk KN-COSM-B combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector (these ain't cheap either). 

After doing some research online, I've come to find out that these detectors "self expire" after 7 years, regardless of whether or not they are still actually functional.  So this one detector is basically trash even though it would probably work fine if not for this "feature."  We'll have to see what the inspector says when he comes out.  I'll just have to purchase new ones if needed, I guess.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bad Day

I guess this guy is having a bad Thursday... I saw a large dead goose near the car, so I'm wondering if it caused the accident somehow. When it was alive, of course.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garmin Nuvi 265W

Used my portable Garmin Nuvi 265W last Wednesday to get from my house to an address in Rockville, MD (for work).  It was fine the whole way there (about 3 hours), and I even used the bluetooth feature to take a phone call from work while driving.  After we were finished, I got in my car and tried to switch the Nuvi on, but it wouldn't power up (despite having been plugged in for the entire journey).  Since I've only had it since Christmas, it was still under warranty and Garmin offered to replace it for free (I had to pay return shipping - $5).  They were unable to explain why it failed to start up.  All I know is that this was the ONLY time I'd ever left the Nuvi mounted on the windshield after leaving the vehicle.  I'm wondering if the direct sunlight caused it to fail.  It wasn't melted or anything, but I just can't figure out what happened.

Lesson: always stash your GPS in your glove box or center console when leaving your car.

Please Touch Museum

Dillon on the carousel at Please Touch Museum in Philly.

Dillon's marble eggs

Here's a couple of Dillon's marble Easter Eggs. In the background are the horrible "egg tattoos."

Jason's Monster Eggs

Easter Egg Decorating

Angie bought the boys some Easter Egg decorating kits, so we decided to use the dyes last night.  Each pack also came with "extra" decorations: Jason picked the "monster pack" which came with pipe cleaners (for arms), "hair", and stickers for eyes, noses and mouths; Dillon picked the Star Wars pack, which came with Star Wars "tattoos" for the eggs; and Adrian picked a regular dye pack with no "extras."  Angie started the process before I joined in.  Each of the kids had one container in front of them, so Angie let them each pick a dye color.  They all chose blue.  So instead of starting off with three different color options, we had blue across the board.


Angie had placed large pieces of tissue paper on the table (three layers), but that turned out to be insufficient.  The table ended up getting dyed more than the eggs.  At one point, I knocked one of the blue containers over!  So in order to start getting more color options out for the kids, I grabbed a bunch of coffee cups and let them drop the tablets into each one.  So now we had purple, pink, yellow, orange, green, red, blue, etc.  Once we had the process going, this part wasn't so bad.  We even had a "marble" effect where you add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the dye mixture and drop the egg into two different colors.  Those turned out pretty good.

We made them wait until this morning to apply the extra decorations (stickers, tattoos, etc.), so the eggs would be completely dry.  Of course, the stickers are a pain in the ass, and I can't even get the stinkin' tattoos to work AT ALL.  I mean, they're ridiculous; I've tried everything to make them stick but they're worthless. And I feel bad for Dillon because he was really looking forward to putting them on the eggs.  And of course we've already thrown away the "instructions" that came with the Star Wars pack (although I don't recall seeing any instructions on how to apply the tattoos).  The trash bag is already outside and has been rained on for hours, so I ain't dumpster diving for something that may not help me anyway.  Jason's "monster pack" came with a little tube of glue to apply the pipe cleaners and the "hair", but the glue is horrible and doesn't even hold the pipe cleaners in place.

Verdict: total waste of time and money, in my opinion. Next time, we dye the eggs a color and we'll let the kids "paint" them with paintbrushes or something.  Or we can go with no egg dying at all; PLASTIC EGGS ONLY!  ;-)

http://www.markwarehouse.com

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Home repairs

Took care of a lot of the requested home repairs on the Maple Shade house yesterday.  The hole in the dormer soffit was repaired by a contractor that recently did work on my parents' house.  He was nice enough to do it for free, but this may present a problem since I need some kind of work order to present to the buyers.  We'll see how that goes over.  While I was there I also changed out the whole-house water filter, which was pretty much overdue by a few months at least.

The list of small electrical issues was also addressed.  A licensed-electrician friend of mine came over and spent the better part of the afternoon swapping out old outlets for GFCI-protected outlets in the kitchen, back yard, and basement.  I duct-taped the loose duct work to the vent in the bathroom myself, which the buyers agreed to.  I need to pick up an outlet & switch cover plate for one kitchen outlet and we need to get a second opinion on the termite thing, and then that's it.  April 30th can't come fast enough!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Omen V: Adrian

We went to a baptism service today for little Emma Bachowski (congrats, Emma!). Our kids wanted to draw with the pencils and little tablets that were placed in the pews. Since it kept them (mostly) occupied we were happy to let them do it.  At one point, though, I looked down at Adrian's tablet and saw that someone before us must have drawn in it and placed it back in the rack. I looked closer and saw an upside down cross with the words "Hail Satan" written across the page. 

I nudged Angie & said, "Look." 

She looked over, frowned and said "Did you do that?!" 

"No," I said. "He did!"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cyndi and Angie

Team Pic at Dunkin Donuts

Basketball Pics

Jason and Dillon's basketball pictures came in the other day:


Today is "Skills Day", which is the last event of the season.  After that, the coach is taking all the kids to Dunkin' Donuts and giving out their trophies.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Slayer Burrito

Has anyone tried Taco Bell's new Slayer Burrito??? Must be hot as Hell!

Random 'Hampton' sighting

I was driving behind this on the Ben Franklin Bridge this morning.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

All in a day's work


Today we did a bunch of snow activities...
We dug a tunnel along side the driveway beneath our mountains of snow... Here's Dillon peaking through the tunnel.




 
We went sledding at Laurel Acres Park...
Here's Dillon on the left and Jason on the right, getting ready for their first run...

Then we built a snowman (Jason on left, Dillon on right).











Then we finished shoveling and threw some snowballs around...
Here's Adrian, getting ready to go down the hill with mommy...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mom

 

Dillon and I walked a special path through the snow in the backyard this afternoon...

Snowblind

How strange that my last post was during the blizzard of '09, and this one is during the blizzard of '10... A matter of only a few weeks later.
This is always a good time to do stuff around the house since we're stuck inside (when we're not shoveling, that is - and by "we're" I mean "I'm").  So while the kids watch some "Jetsons" episodes (via Comcast OnDemand), I'm setting up a TV in the basement with the old PlayStation 2 and a VCR so they can watch movies down there from time to time.  We've got another VCR that I'll hook up to the 17" TV upstairs (at least until the "upstairs playroom" becomes the "basement playroom").

I also decided to upgrade my main home computer to Windows 7, and I must say it totally rocks.  I don't want to say it was my idea or anything, but it's really cool.  And the computer itself seems to run so much better on it than it did when Windows XP was installed.  That completely surprised me, even though I'd heard people saying that Win7 runs great on older hardware.

Getting hungry... Almost time for dinner!

East Coasters, enjoy the snow!