Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

Mindy wanted a new tree this year... a pre-lit tree. Luckily, there was one on sale and she was able to get it for 50% off. As you can see, there was no room under the tree (it touched the floor) but there was plenty of room for presents around it.

The first thing that Alex noticed was the wooden kitchen. Whenever we are up in Pflugerville at Betsy's, he loves to play with it... so we figured 'why not get one ourselves.' As you can see (by this and following photos) it was a hit!

The family unwrapping presents at 7:00 AM.

... Andee likes the kitchen too.

Aaron and Aimee got Nintendo DS Lites for Christmas. Santa brought them each their own (so they can stop borrowing their parents'). Now we can get some 4-player action going on Mario Party DS!

As soon as he unwrapped the apron and hat, he put them on!

Andee found the chocolate that was in her stocking... and everyone elses. Not to mention the apples and oranges and cookies and crackers...

Mindy and the kids - after opening presents.

Mindy got a new DS to replace the old one she busted (and no this isn't part of the "Santa/Nintendo DS Replacement Program").

Andee and Alex got a tent and tunnel system to play in.

Andee enjoying the tunnels...

... but not enjoying her new pajamas that we made her wear for pictures.

Alex got a big alphabet puzzle so that he can work on getting those ABCs down.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Golden Compass

I saw the trailer for this movie about a year ago and it looked like an intriguing fantasy adventure, along the same lines as Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia... but a little more civilized.

I like Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, so I figured it would be a good movie to see this Christmas.

Then about six months later the emails starting rolling in. You know the ones that that I am talking about; "Boycott 'The Golden Compass'"

It's funny how emails like this tend to have different effects on the recipients of these messages. I did read the emails and it became the impetus for me to start to seriously look at the book, author, and plot and why this book/movie would become such a danger that people would actually start a campaign against it.

Reading the cliff notes version of the stories, I really didn't see any harm in the plot or in the way Philip Pullman masks his distaste for the Catholic Church (and maybe organized religion in general), but there are many other texts that treat these subjects the same way. The Bible even eludes to this in Revelations... but not to the same extent.

So, I saw the movie last night and quite enjoyed it. I'm aware that the director (Chris Weitz) softened the story and the references that were more prevalent in the book... but I thought that the movie did a good job with what it had.

One of the undertones that I felt radiated the most from the movie was the idea of one's free agency and how important it is to one's soul. I can agree completely with that. Free agency is the reason that we are here and is what allows us to become who we are. Without that, we are nothing more than soulless beings lumbering about with no direction other than what we are told to do.

In this movie, the Magisterium is out to do just that: separate the children from their daemons (their outer soul in the form of an animal companion).

I find it funny (and at the same time ironic) that there is a campaign that spends more time on asking for a boycott than for an education on the topic and an invitation to exercise your own free agency.

I'm not going to say much more about the movie other than I liked it... but I'm curious as to what was left out or softened.

There is one event that happens at the end of the book that doesn't happen in the first movie, but would open up the next movie and it will cause some to cringe spoiler below (highlight to see it), but they did the same thing with the LOTR series.

Lyra's friend Roger is killed by her uncle as a means of gaining Dust so that a portal can be opened to another world. They are in a remote location and since they are the only people around I can see the reason for the sacrifice, but it wouldn't be a good way to end the movie.

Min reserved the first book for me, and I'll start reading it when it comes in.

I know how the trilogy ends (or rather what the Evangelicals are so miffed about) and I'd like to see what leads up to this choice that the children make to do what they do.

Anyways, I doubt that the sequels will be made. The movie only grossed $26M this weekend and that is far from an automatic greenlight. But I did find out that overseas this movie made $60M overseas (so an $86M world-wide ain't bad).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Important message...

This message was handed to me the other night after the kids were put to bed.

It's from Aimee:

Dear Daddy and Mommy,

Andee will not let me go out just because I will not be thar. But I really really really really really really really really really really really O what the hack have to go to the bath room really really bad.

That's exactly what she wrote.

It's going in her scrapbook.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My Halloween Costume for 2007...

... but nobody is going to get it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Two Car Family...

We are now a 2 car family.

Yup, I bought a car yesterday! A 2007 Hyundai Accent.

I was after a reliable car with good gas mileage and a good warranty. I originally went to the dealership to test drive a used 2006 Nissan Sentra (but it was sold), so I test drove a used 2006 Hyundai Elantra for the afternoon (I took that home and showed Min, and she loved it...) but I was a bit uncomfortable with the low roof.

Then I test drove the 2007 Hyundai Accent, and found it to be very roomy considering my height and was much more comfortable to drive (arm rests, headroom, leg room).

When it got down to talking numbers I was able to get them to drop the price of the used Elantra down quite a bit... but it was within $600 of the new car, so I took that one. Thanks to good credit and an okay down payment, I was able to get a really low rate, a shorter term, and take it home that night. The insurance on the Accent was cheaper than the Elantra to boot!

It gets 28/37 miles per gallon, and is now my commuter car.

Since it was a model close-out, it didn't have power anything (locks, windows, entry, etc.) but that saved me a good $2k.

I'm so stoked about having the car... but while at work today, a hazelnut fell out of a tree and put a small ding (hardly noticeable) back by the trunk key.

Oh well... it was bound to happen. Can't stop that.

Oh... and while Min was coming home from the dealership last night... the van passed 125,000 miles! Milestone!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Waiting for Cannelloni...

One of our favorite places to eat is a place called Zio's Italian Kitchen! We love to go there because kid's eat for $1.99 and the food is great!

We took Spencer there when he was visiting, and one of the perks is that you can draw on the butcher paper that they line the tables with.

Well, when you sit two artists down at a table waiting for their food, you get this (click to enlarge)...

... I told Spencer that I would scan it and post it on the blog. I have some time today, so I finally hooked up the scanner and scanned it. I did the stuff on the right (my caricatures) and Spence did the stuff on the left (his caricature and the other stuff).

... did I mention the food was good?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Devil child

We got Andee all ready for church on Sunday and then she went down for a nap while the rest of us got ready. When she got up she looked a little "devilish." While it was cute we did fix her hair before church.

BTW, for those who are complaining (Keli) we are working on updated pictures.

Monday, September 10, 2007

This is Jill's baby...

... until she has a real one. ;)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Has it been 11 years already?

It's our anniversary today. Has it really been 11 years since we got married? Time flies! I can honestly say that the last 11 years have been great! We have 4 great kids, Mike has a great job, we have a great house, have great family and friends, and live in a great place. (Do you sense a theme here?)

Happy anniversary Mikey! I love you and look forward to many, many more years together!

Also, Happy Anniversary to Nate and Betsy, and Jake and Amy tomorrow!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Roses are red...

I'd like to share a little poem that I found on the 'net:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
That's what they say
But it just isn't true

Roses are red
And apples are, too
But violets are violet
Violets aren't blue

An orange is orange
But Greenland's not green
A pinky's not pink
So what does it mean?

To call something blue when it's not
We defile it
But, ah, what the heck
It's hard to rhyme violet.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

My 2007 Summer Movie Experience So Far...

Most of y'all know that I'm a big Summer Movie fan! I made a list at the beginning of the summer of the films that I planned on seeing this summer and so far I've caught 9 of the 10 that have been released so far (I haven't seen Surf's Up yet, but I will).

Anyways, if I had to rank them according to a star rating (and numeric) this is how I would do it:

1 - Ocean's Thirteen [ **** ] - Best movie of the Summer for me (so far). I loved the first one and had a good time watching the (weaker) sequel, but with this film, Danny Ocean and his boys are in proper form. The way that they play their individual parts in the plot to take down The Bank in one night was extremely entertaining (albeit improbable in reality). I don't want to spoil it for you who haven't seen it, but I will say this... "The nose plays." Although we probably won't see an Ocean's Fourteen, I would welcome it.
2 - Live Free or Die Hard [ **** ] - "Yipee-Ki-Ya" John McClane! Even though my father says that the stunts are "over the top", I had a blast watching the fourth installment of the Die Hard franchise. Even though we haven't seen one in a dozen years (the other three were released in 1988, 1990, and 1995) this one was true to form... even without John McTeirnan behind the camera (he directed movie's 1 and 3) it was still good! Len Wiseman did a great job with the material he was given and the casting was good too. It was good to a younger, revolutionary baddie take on the hero of Nakatomi Plaza. The first 20 minutes are intense, and it doesn't let up from there. If you are looking for action (but don't want robots) see this film.
3 - Ratatouille [ **** ] - Just saw this tonight. Wow! Pixar and Brad Bird (The Incredibles and The Iron Giant) hit another one out of the park. this isn't your typical kiddie Pixar film. It has a heart and a truly older audience plot that the young ones will still enjoy. I was surprised that Pixar would do a more mature film at this point in their legacy, but it works extremely well. I didn't take the kids (just so you know Mom) but they will like it when they see it... but you might have to explain to them what DNA is. Wonderful, wonderful film.
4 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End [ **** ] - Crazy fun with Captain Jack and his crew. Loved the rock crabs. Saw the Calypso thing coming from a mile away. Keith Richards was in his element. Was surprised by the ending... and the new captain of the Flying Dutchman... but groaned with the after credit mushy stuff. Even with the duldrum in the middle of the movie, I can over look all of the flaws due to the wonderful pacing and interaction of the characters in the rest of the film. Depp could get recognized again for this role (which I think he'll take up again... he just has too). One note of caution: Rewatch Dead Man's Chest... it'll make things easier to understand.
5 - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer [ *** ] - Check your brain at the door and sit down and enjoy this popcorn flick. Not much to say except that it's funny and they did a great job with the Surfer... both in life and in CG.
6 - Transformers [ *** ] - I thought that this show would taint my childhood memories of watching the half hour toy commercial cartoon after school. I had a few of the toys, and a few of the comic books, but I wasn't a die hard like some of my friends, but when I heard that Michael Bay was helming the project, my heart sank. Thankfully, he didn't do too bad. Sure there were a few things that I didn't like (i.e. confused as to who was fighting who at the end, the Sector 7 guys, the product placement - eBay - and the change of Bumblebee from a VW Bug to a Camaro) and a few things that I loved (i.e. Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, the pouring of lubricants on the humans, and hiding in the backyard) but it was a good film all around. One that I will get on DVD.
7 - Spider-Man 3 [ **1/2 ] - My friend James said it best... "Everyone cried!" This movie was disappointing. I could have sworn that George Lucas took a shot at the screen play... the dialog was horrible. Horrible. Horrible! HORRIBLE!! Couple that with a wousy Venom, a tortured Sandman, a whiny Mary Jane and Emo-Parker... and you've got a doozie of a bad film. If the final conversation between Sandman and Spider-Man doesn't make you groan in pain, then you have a problem. In case you are wondering, I will get the DVD just to complete the set.
8 - Evan Almighty [ **1/2 ] - What can I say... I had a free ticket. Good family film. Good message.
9 - Shrek the Third [ ** ] - Three words... "Wait for DVD."
Anyways... all that are left on my radar is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which is out next week) and The Bourne Ultimatum (8/3) and my Summer Movie List will be complete.

Next summer is shaping up to be a good one too, where we'll see sequels to Indiana Jones, Batman Begins, and Hellboy as well as a relaunch of The Hulk and the initial offering in what will hopefully be an Iron Man franchise. Pixar will give us Wall•E and M. Night will offer up The Happening. Not to mention the next book in the Chroc

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I just like this picture...


Since we are staying in Texas this summer we decided it was about time the kids learned to swim, so we enrolled them in swim team. This has led to later dinners and bedtimes for the last 2 weeks of school. Next week we will start up with the morning practices. The kids are loving it and are doing really well.

There is a baby pool off to the side of the big pool, so the little kids get to swim while their older siblings do. This helps to keep everyone happy while spending a couple of hours at the pool everyday.

We love when the family comes to visit!!!

Kirsten, Isaac and Clara came to visit us down here in TX this last week and the kids had a great time. They got along really well for the most part (tired kids usually was what caused the "not getting along part" when in did happen.)

The day after they got here was Alex's 3rd birthday and due to a very busy schedule we had 2 days of celebrating. On Saturday Alex told us it was still his birthday "for one more day."

We went to the temple so that Kirsten and the kids could see our beautiful temple. Next time we will all plan better so that we can do a session!

We went downtown to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk, because you can't leave San Antonio if you haven't seen these. While we were down there we had some lunch down on the Riverwalk.

We had a great time and y'all can come back anytime you want!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Summer Movies 2007

Well, the Summer Movie Season has started and we went and saw our first one.

Yesterday I took Aimee and Aaron to go see Shrek the Third. They really wanted to see it, and I promised them that I would take them.

It was an okay movie. Not as good as the other two, but good in it's own right.

The only part that had me rolling with laughter was when King Harold (Fiona's father) croaks. That was great!

Anyways, I would give it about 2 stars (out of 4).

Looking ahead, these are the films that are my list to see this Summer. The ones that are bold are the one's that I will definately see, the other's will be seen if I'm bored and want to throw $6 away:
  • Spider-Man 3 - 5/4
  • Shrek the Third - 5/18 (take the kids)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - 5/25 (take Mindy)
  • Ocean's Thirteen - 6/8
  • Surf's Up - 6/8 (take the kids)
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - 6/15
  • Evan Almighty - 6/22
  • Live Free or Die Hard - 6/27
  • Ratatouille - 6/29 (take the kids)
  • Transformers - 7/4
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 7/13
  • The Bourne Ultimatum - 8/3
Looks like a good Summer for movies! By my calculations... that about a movie a week!

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'm a snapdragon...

... fine, I'll play.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Tooth: A Trilogy

Back in June of 2006, Alex did something and cracked one of this teeth.

Then in January, we thought that he bumped his chin and that it was just swollen.

A few weeks ago, Alex came down with Hand-Foot-Mouth disease, and had blisters and bumps all over his hands, feet, and mouth.

Well, one of the sores in his mouth didn't go away and we thought that it might be infected... so we took him to the dentist...

... and it is infected and needs to be extracted.

Oh joy.

He told us that the infection manifests itself in one of two ways: 1) a pocket of infection at the base of the gum under the tooth (as shown in the pic), or 2) the chin can swell like there is a golf ball under his skin...

... oh wait, that explains the swelling that he had in January, as well as the swelling last week.

So, needless to say, we are making plans to get it extracted.

We'll keep you updated.