Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of Year Album

One last item of blog business before the year is up: our annual Best of Year album! Our definition of 'best' is admittedly vague; the album contains our best shots, stories we wanted to tell, events to remember, pictures that strike an emotional chord, etc (and you're left to guess for what reason the pic is included!). It's basically the closest thing we do to a year in review. As in previous years, every shot is in chronological order, so it's like watching our entire year in fast forward.

When I think back on 2011, the one word that comes to mind (unfortunately) is craptacular. But, as I look at the 81 pics (a new record) in this album, I realize how many happy and wondrous moments there were too. Perhaps 2012 will be better, perhaps it will suck even more, but I know that there will inevitably be similar unforgettable memories that make the trip worthwhile. May the next year be full of rewarding moments for you and yours.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Annual Family Photomosaic

Regular readers of this blog may have seen this next post coming. Anytime we take family pictures, there's always a photomosaic follow-up. The library of images used in the mosaic is our total collection of family pictures, now up to 23,124 images from our nine years of marriage. This photomosaic was made of 10,000 tiles at 1200 dpi, with 20% recolor. 

For full effect, make sure you expand the image.

A few interesting tidbits: 
  1. We've never had a family pic with so many dark shades before (as we're usually in casual dress), so I was really curious what images would be used for the suits...turns out we're mostly made of jack-o-lanterns.
  2.  My shiny bald head contains lots of Easter egg pics, which proves that I'm an egghead. Zing!
  3. There are probably more tiles of Davis than anyone else (most of the brown background is Davis). Either we're shutter happy or every single picture we take of him happens to be in a semi-dark environment.

If this is your first time seeing one of our photomosaics and you'd like to try one yourself, head over to AndreaMosaic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Pictures

Here are the best pics from our photo session on Dec. 17th, 2011. These are Davis' first professional pictures, so he was somewhat bewildered by the whole process.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Newsletter, An Apology

Nothing about our Christmas newsletter was easy this year.

Just ten days ago I had no idea that we were going to produce a newsletter this year. TLC said we needed to write about such a banner year, so I got to work. Seven days ago we posed for family pics. Three days ago I picked up the pics (and we didn't order nearly enough), purchased the stationary (which doesn't match), and stuffed the envelopes (which are business-style because the stationary envelopes were the wrong size). I feel like I almost had to use duct tape to make it all work.

Two-thirds were sent out two days ago and should arrive in time for Christmas, but the other third was just mailed Happy New Year. I stayed up past midnight twice during a workweek in an attempt to send these off. Next year, my goal is to have everything finished by December 10th...there...I made my first resolution for 2012.

So in light of not having enough to send to everyone, having mismatching items, bad envelopes, etc...I'm sorry this isn't the highest quality newsletter ever. But dang...I am ecstatic that I was even able to pull it off!

Here are the photo and newsletter for those that haven't seen it yet. Merry Christmas!

I did like our family pics this year; except that Davis would not smile at all. His dimples would have completed that funny picture of the three boys.

Note that the top margin is cut off in this pdf. Geez, this really was a tough year for the newsletter. Next year things will be better...right?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Video Regret

When we were married in 2002, my dad gave us this:

Strange how it seemed like such an impressive camcorder at the time but now it's like an ancient relic from some lost civilization.

I tried to use that camcorder as much as possible, but I was never quite sure how to watch the miniDV tapes on my TV or transfer a decent copy to my computer. As a result, I recorded a mere 50 total minutes by May 2006 when I stopped using the camcorder for good.

Now, there's no real excuse for this next part. I'm the geek who builds my own computers with massive RAID5s, roots phones for fun, and spends way too much time tinkering in general. Yet, I made several failed attempts to pull analog video from this $*@& camcorder! Well, this week I had an's a DIGITAL camcorder...all I had to do was buy a $3 Firewire cable, plug it into my computer, and the computer organized everything automatically.

So, I finally have videos that we took at the beginning of our marriage...

Don't feel a need to watch the whole's just newlyweds playing with a new camera on Halloween.

If you look closely at the first second of the video, you'll see an image of TLC at the kitchen sink and then some digital artifact stuff...that shows the extent of my ignorance with the digicam - I was trying to record over video like I would with analog - doesn't work too well on a digicam.

So, the REAL regret is that when I stopped using the digicam in 2006, the only option I had to take videos was our crappy 3 megapixel camera. So, our baby videos of Carter are of substantially poorer quality than Jordan's. I made this video to give a comparison...

I really wish I could have a do-over. Carter was the cutest little kid a parent could hope for...and the video quality sucks. *sigh* Live and learn, I suppose.

One more BONUS video...I found this on the digicam. I completely forgot about this event until this week...

My grandma used to dance with all of us kids and sing The Muffin Man. I asked her to do the same for Jordan and I got it on tape. I really miss her...especially at Christmas time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mega Post!

Folks, I've been busy. The amount of responsibility in keeping a family of five afloat and ahappy (creative wordsmithing) is kickin' my derriere. There are many things I'd like to post about, but this particular post has been in the queue for a while, so I'll post for the sake of posting and be back here soon... Promise.

I dunno what it is about Whole Foods, but my kids will eat anything we buy there. Edam cheese, naan bread, baby spinach, spirulina shakes, and most surprisingly...KEFIR! Here Jordan is suckin' down another serving of kefir. I honestly don't have the palette for it, but the boys can't live without it. Bless you, Whole Foods.

Here a Bald Eagle sits on his perch LIKE A BOSS! I believe this is the first time I've ever seen a Bald Eagle. Any guesses where it was? I snapped this shot from my living room window. My back yard is awesome.

I've never been a fan of bathtub photos, but my wife is. As long as the bubbles are strategically located, I *think* it's fine. TLC thought Davis looked like an old man with that bubble beard.

I still gush to everyone about how beautiful a Wisconsin Autumn is, but...apparently it doesn't hold a monopoly on Fall beauty. By the way, most of those trees are also visible from my living room window.

We've been doing tons of projects at Lowe's on Saturdays. This is a sampling of what we've built since October. The boys are currently working on a three-part Christmas train. This works really well because TLC loves to craft/paint so the boys get customized projects by the time we're done.

We used to attend the kids' workshops at Home Depot, but the Lowe's version is far superior. Plus they give you badges (instead of pins) at Lowe's so it feels more like a scouting event.

Ahh..Thanksgiving. We had a great time at home and invited some friends in our apartment complex. This was their first truly American Thanksgiving, so the most enjoyable part of the evening was witnessing their reactions to everything.

FYI, I also learned that obtaining a FRESH turkey in Portland is much more difficult than in Wisconsin due to greater demand. I must plan ahead next year.

Carter is just a cutey. Kindergarten is such a fun time. I love the goodies he comes home with.