Archive for category Family

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Per Santa’s orders, we added a new member to our family on Wednesday. She was already named Rose and though the kids considered other names, they decided not to change it.

She’s about 4 months old and very playful.



A Bird, A Tree and A Lens

We (Marci, really) hosted some of my family (my Mom’s side and the local portion of my Dad’s side) for Thanksgiving dinner this year. It was a great time. I took some pre-party pictures, but then I set the camera down and never picked it up again, so there are no shots of people.

The next day, we continued our semi-tradition of trekking to a tree farm and cutting down our own Christmas Tree.

Some of my family returned that evening to help us trim the tree. Well, to help Marci and the girls — I don’t think I’ve hung anything on the tree other than the lights in several years. Again, no pictures of people. This time, however, what happened is that I went to attach my 17-40L lens and could not find it. Sadly, my best guess is that I left it at a venue back in July. Much sadness. I did take a few pictures of the decorated tree, keeping just the one shot at the right.

I’ve previously misplaced an HD camcorder back when they were still an expensive purchase. If this is becomming a habit, I wonder what I can do to try to curtail it?



Seventeen Wonderful Years!



In A New York Minute

The Lady and Her City

The Lady and Her City

It was a whirlwind weekend. We picked up the girls right after school and headed to the airport for our flight to New York – La Guardia (via DFW). It was the first visit for my daughters and we had a lot planned. Not surprisingly, we didn’t manage to do everything. Despite this, we still had a great time.

Brittney & McKenzie Under the Statue of Liberty

Brittney & McKenzie Under the Statue of Liberty

First up for Saturday morning was a trip to The Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, tickets for entering the statue herself had long since been sold out for this weekend, so we just toured the island. Marci and I had only viewed her via the Staten Island Ferry, so this was a new experience for us as well. As you can see, it was quite a cloudy day and, in fact, we got rained on while walking around Liberty Island.

Originally, we were going to meet up with some of Marci’s family at our hotel, but plans changed and we decided to meet them on Liberty Island. However, before they could arrive, it was time for me to head off on my own. My plans for the day were different from my families. While they toured Ground Zero, the Empire State Building, and went to a Broadway Show, I was having lunch with my second cousin, Dee, and then headed to the Houndstooth Pub for RenYC.

It was wonderful to catch up with Dee for a bit as we haven’t seen each other in a few years. At the same time, I follow her blog so I certainly didn’t feel out of touch. It’s funny, though not really surprising, that it took her moving from Kansas to New York for me to visit. After lunch, I had a few hours before the scheduled start of RenYC. I spent them walking around midtown for a while, headed back to the hotel. I took a short (though not as short as it was supposed to be) nap and then high-tailed it back to the Houndstooth Pub to join RenYC already in progress.

B.E. Earl at RenYC

B.E. Earl at RenYC

Poppy & Rachel at RenYC

Poppy & Rachel at RenYC

YKnot at RenYC

YKnot at RenYC

Robin & Poppy at RenYC

Robin & Poppy at RenYC

RenYC was a blast. In attendance were Poppy, Dawg, Robin, Rachel, B.E. Earl, Bill (aka YKnot), Bearette and her baby. We hung out eating and drinking for a number of hours. As always is the case at these types of events, time passed by much too quickly. For instance, I never managed to talk to Bearette before she had to leave.

Dawg, Poppy & Robin at Serendipity 3

Dawg, Poppy & Robin at Serendipity 3

From there, most of us (just barely — five of nine by my count) headed over to Serendipity 3 for dessert (or, in Poppy’s case, breakfast — which I think had something to do with her level of intoxication). I knew this place was semi-famous (or perhaps full-on famous, I’m not sure), but I hadn’t expected the hour-long wait that we encountered. No matter, the weather was reasonably nice and we were still able to socialize while we waited outside.

I had hoped that Marci and the girls would be able to meet us for dessert, but their show (Mary Poppins) ran longer than I expected and then they went back to the hotel before deciding to come get dessert after all. The result of this delay was that RenYC officially ended about fifteen minutes before my family arrived. No collision of worlds on this trip! 🙂

For other RenYC summaries, see Poppy’s and Rachel’s. And their Flickr streams.

Sunday was supposed to start fairly early with an NBC studio tour. Instead, we slept through most of Sunday morning. We did eventually head over to Rockefeller Center, but the tickets for the tour were sold out. Oops, we meant to get those on Saturday, but obviously didn’t. We went to the American Girl store, but I think my daughters are just a bit too old for that store, though they did buy a number of books.

Hard Rock Times Square

Hard Rock Times Square

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. What can I say, Dave2 has inspired me. Only belatedly did I realize that I need to do a much better job of exploring the place while I’m there. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised at how much more impressive this location was than the Toronto location we visited last month.

Our final plans before our flight home included visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and FAO Schwartz, but there simply wan’t time for both. In truth, there wasn’t really enough time for the Met at all, but Brittney said that she just wanted a quick visit through the Egyptian exhibit for some pictures for school. Also, she wasn’t interested in FAO Schwartz. Naturally, we split up. While Marci and McKenzie played on the piano mat at FAO Schwartz, Brittney and I went to the Met. After a longer than expected subway ride and walk across Central Park, we were left with only fifteen minutes at the museum. Luckily, it was enough. We got the pictures she wanted. Plus, the walk through the park was a pleasure in and of itself.

Brittney & Ren Riding a Bike Taxi

Brittney & Ren Riding a Bike Taxi

Our final adventure, excluding the plane trip home, was the bike taxi that Brittney and I decided to take to get back to the hotel. As you can see in the picture, Sunday turned out to be a very nice day and the ride was quite enjoyable. I think it was Brittney’s favorite part of the entire trip — or, at least it was while it was happening.

It’s normal to feel like a leisure trip has ended too soon, but trying to squeeze a New York City trip into 43 hours is just crazy.

And yet, I’ll do it again.

Many times.

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What to do in Toronto?

My family will be in Toronto in the near future. We’ll be spending a day at Niagra Falls, but we haven’t really determined what to do with our other day. We’ll possibly do one of those double-decker bus tours where you can get off of one bus and get on another after spending the amount of time you like at each stop.

We defintely plan on visiting the UC Tower, but other than that I’m not really sure which things around town are the best use of our fairly limited time. Suggestions? (In case it matters and you don’t already know, our two daugters are 10 and 11.)

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Introducing Star Trek to My Kids

My daughters (10 and 11) have expressed at least passing interest in seeing the new Star Trek movie. While I could simply take them to see it and be done with it, I can’t help feeling like they would be better served by seeing some other Star Trek canon first. The question is, what should the see.

The most obvious answer is The Wrath of Khan. But isn’t “Khan” better if preceded by TOS “Space Seed” where Khan is introduced? And surely it is necessary to follow-up “Khan” with The Search for Spock to see what happens to Spock?

Is that enough? Are there any other episodes that should really be seen first? I think the rest of the movies and other series can wait until later, probably on their own time if ever.

Also, I haven’t seen the new movie yet, but I go the impression that it might be beneficial to already be familiar with Pon farr, so perhaps they should also see “Amok Time“.



Happy Mothers’ Day



The Beginning of the End?

I bought my 11-year old daughter a cell phone this week.

It’s a $10 TracFone from Wal-Mart and I also bought 3-months of service (60 minutes total) for another $20. She’s not allowed to even have the phone in school, which means she won’t have it after school either. I’m hoping this keeps her usage down. I’ve told her that I’ll pay the $20/3 months but if she wants more minutes then she’ll need to pay for them.

$7/month seems like a pretty decent price for her to have a phone when we she’s around the neighborhood or at drop-off activites. We’ll see how that works out.

Oh, and text messages count as either a third of a minute or .3 minutes, I’m not quite sure which. And they offer larger blocks of minutes for better rates, but this is the best rate for getting months of service. Minutes don’t expire as long as you buy more months of service before your current time ends.



Cruise Highlights

Friends and coworkers keep asking how our cruise was, and my answer is generally along the lines of “meh”. However, the more I think about it the more I realize that that answer really isn’t fair. The vacation itself was actually very nice and relaxing and I had a wonderful time. The ambivalent feeling I have is really because I wanted the cruise to be something special. Instead, I came away thinking that I would have enjoyed a resort more.

As always, the devil is in the details. First, there’s the money. For an “all-inclusive” deal, Carnival sure spent a whole lot of energy trying to nickel-and-dime their guests. From the “Soda Card” I bought to the photo prints they offered for sale to the threat of fees if you lost any towels to the very over-priced bar drinks, it was difficult to not spend additional money.

Next, there’s the issue of time in ports. There simply not enough of it. The truth is, I’m sure there are many people who really enjoy the ship-board activities: drinking, hanging out by the pool, gambling at what passes for a casino and, well, eating. But I’m not really one of them. Well, except for the eating part. Then, when we finally get to a port and can leave the ship, we have to be back in time for the ship to leave port by 3 or 4 PM. I’d much rather leave at around sunset. I think those extra three hours in port would be very handy.

There are other things, like the food selections available at certain times of the day or even the specific foods unavailable during regular meals in the dining room, but I think that’s enough negativity. After all, I really did enjoy my vacation. My favorite parts were driving a 6-speed Jeep Wrangler around Cozumel and watching flying fish jump out of the wake from the ship and re-enter the ocean tens of yards away. (Look closely at the last shot below and you can see one of them.)

Here are some of the highlights from the pictures I took. (More can be found on my photo album site.)

Oh, and about the Canon 18-200 mm IS lens for which this trip was the real test? The results are mixed. I love the versatility of the lens and had no trouble with focus accuracy or speed. However, there was quite a bit of vignetting and pincushioning in a lot of the images. It was the only lens I took on this trip, so all of the images above were shot with it. The question I have yet to fully answer for myself is whether I am happier with this lens than I would have been with a compact super-zoom camera like the upcoming Canon 200SX IS. I think the answer is yes, but I’m just not certain. Without these two issues, the answer would be a definitive yes. Now, I think I’ll have to take another look at that camera when it comes out, along with its competitors.

The other result of this lens test is that I am that much more interested in the Canon 70-200 f/2.8.

PS: If you haven’t stopped by my photo blog in a while, please do so. Thanks!

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I’ve booked a cruise for Spring Break. I’m excited!

That is all.