2011-xmas-tree
Family

Christmas Tree Time!

Last year, the Sunday right after Thanksgiving I put up the Christmas tree with just the lights. I had intended to finish it after work but each week night I was too tired to do it. I get home after 7 PM and generally want to eat and relax. So the tree went a week without being completed.

Fortunately some friends came over the next weekend and with their help my family completed the tree. This year the same thing happened, except I planned it. The tree was put up this morning and after lunch my friends came over and helped my family again.

We all had a great time and Lily also put up some new decorations in front of the house. The kids made a mess in the basement but that happens when you have 6 kids running around. It’s now Christmas time and all is right in my world.

I can get used to this new tradition and I really enjoyed having our friends over with their kids.

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Family, Humor

8 bags of garbage

My family and I have been living in our house for over 5 years now. During that time, I have cleaned up my junk in the basement a couple of times.  Our kids? Not once. Our basement looked like an organized mess.  All of their toys (mostly broken) were piled up against the wall.

That changed today. This morning Lily and I started small and just kept going. We ended up throwing out eight 45 gallon bags (I could have sworn we bought 55 gallon drum liners but they weren’t). The kids helped too, so no hysterics.

What made me a little depressed was that the 1/144 HG Gundam models that my son made were damaged and had parts missing, so he decided to toss them out. Not all of them, but the four that he tossed were ones that I was proud of him working on.

Here is the models he tossed today.

It’s not really a big deal, and each one was broken. But I was a little sad at them being tossed out so casually.

The deal with my son is that if we clean out the old stuff, I’ll get him a Lionel O gauge set.  Right now he has an HO scale set but with all the space we cleaned out, we can get another folding table and set up a bigger set.

Geez, I really am getting old and sentimental. You are supposed to get attached to people and not things.  That is something I am trying to teach both my children so I can’t really be unhappy about them letting go of things.

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Family

Making a Tooth for the Tooth Fairy

Note from Jan Dembowski: This post is from my friend André Quitta. André sometimes shares his stories here.

My son, Aaron, is six years old and just lost his first tooth. It was one of his bottom front teeth, one that had been loose for about a week. He had heard about the Tooth Fairy and was excited about the nighttime exchange that was to come. He had lost the tooth somewhere at sometime during the day and became sad about the missed opportunity. However, his mother had convinced him that a visit from the Tooth Fairy would still be possible. The next morning he was happy to see a quarter under his pillow and planned to ensure that future teeth were safely put aside.

He called me last night to tell me about his monetary gain and I mentioned to him that there may be additional funds possible at our house, because I knew a thing or two about the Tooth Fairy. He was convinced it was the lack of tooth under his pillow that caused the shortfall in expected funds. His solution was that we should build a tooth by making a small white box with the prongs that hold a tooth in place. We could go to Home Depot and get the right supplies. He suggested we get a kind of paint to make the manufactured tooth “super white, whiter than anything, like yellow.” He also said we should buy paint of a different color so that when the tooth fairy comes, she’d be splattered and we would know she was there.

I shared with him that paint tends to dry quickly. His solution was to apply multiple coats of paint on the constructed tooth so that it stays wet. I also expressed my concern that the Tooth Fairy may not appreciate getting paint splattered on her and it could impact future financial transactions. Ever quick thinking, Aaron said we would buy clear paint at Home Depot. I had not heard of this before but told him that we could ask the people at Home Depot for guidance. The last detail on the manufactured tooth was that we would need to buy cotton to fill the tooth. He reasoned that because the Tooth Fairy is clever, she would know if the tooth was just a hollow box and thereby feel tricked, thus diminishing any future financial funds. Ultimately, we may go with tissues or paper towels, depending on availability and most importantly authenticity. I’ll let you know how the project turns out.

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Cool, Family, Photo

Washington DC trip

dome-painting.jpg

Going to Washington DC this year was quite an experience. Here’s what I learned.

1. The Acela is more expensive and only saves about 30 minutes. But it’s worth it, the Acela is roomier and more comfortable. We took the Acela on the way there, but on the way home we took the regional. Not really a good idea with kids; that additional space counts.

2. Charge your camera battery before the trip. My camera battery ran dry and I ended up taking photos on the Botanical Garden Museum with my iPhone.

3. Don’t worry about high ISO when in a museum. See the above picture? I like how it and others came out. That’s part of the The Apotheosis of Washington fresco I shot using my Nikon D60 with a AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 G ED lens and these setting:

  • 1/25 second exposure
  • F/5.3
  • 75mm focal length
  • 1600 ISO (auto selected by the camera, I started at 200)
  • Auto ISO turned on with a maximum sensitivity to 1600
  • Active D-Lighting turned on
  • Noise Reduction turned on

Normally I frown at taking pictures with such a high ISO and less than 1/30 shutter speed.  I took 600+ photos on the trip and shared on Flickr over 170. The one’s that were set to ISO >1000 came out really good too. You can see the results at this link here.

Here’s some of my favorite high ISO shots.

4. Plan out where you want to eat. We planned the hotel, the places we wanted to go to, and the travel arrangements. We did not plan out to well where to eat.  The first night we ate at the hotel’s restaurant which had steak, some steak, and more steak.  Not a lot of variety although the steak was good though and Lily had a bowl of clam chowder. The next day we ate at the Union Station.  If you have ever been to Roosevelt Field’s food level or even Pier 17′s food court then you’ve had the same experience. Not a bad thing but the same.

5. I still want a better camera. Even though the Nikon D60 performed well, I am still jealous of low noise at 3200 ISO.  The 18-200mm lens is on loan from Stefan but it’s way too useful to not include in my kit. It’s a good walkabout lens.

In September I hope to order my new kit. In the meanwhile I’ll keep abusing my Nikon D60.

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Family, Humor

"Let's go to a different cemetery"

Today we observed the anniversary of a close relative’s death by visiting the cemetery and leaving offerings (Chinese family members).  It’s very respectful and Lily and I want our children to understand the reasons for this.

But my five year old girl is sick and the place we were going to is very cold.  She would have gotten much worse so we left her at home.  After the visit the whole family went to Flushing to eat, did some shopping and we came home around 4 P.M.

She was still upset about it.  I once again explained that where we went was very cold and she would have been miserable.  I promised that next time we go, she will come too (if she is not sick again).

She: It was very cold?

Me: Yes, windy and freezing.

She: Let’s go to a different cemetery. Once that has heating.

What could I say to that?

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Family, Gunpla

Got some Speed Grade models

Gundam Speed Grade Collection

My soon to be 7 year old son is fascinated whenever I build a model.  He really enjoys just watching me and examining the parts I put together. It’s part of that whole son dad thing and I like him watching me too.

His school teacher wants him to work on things that have  step by step instructions to get him to work on his patience.  She knows about the models so we agreed that I would work with him on some easy models.  After looking some over with him, I ordered a set of  Speed Grade models, 2 of each, and tomorrow I’ll start one with him.

It’s going to be interesting.  I’ve explained that he will make mistakes and should not get frustrated.  He is really pumped about working with me on this.  He knows the difference between models and toys and I know he’ll work on this seriously. Today we picked up some clippers so he can remove the pieces from the mold.

These are pre-painted and meant for small kids. Once we’ve completed one I’ll post it on Flickr.

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