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Catching up

Its been a busy two weeks and I have not posted much to my blog lately. So here is an update starting with the weekend we went to Orlando…

On Saturday October 6th we drove up to Orlando and stayed at the Hilton resort at Disney. My aunt and uncle put us up at the hotel to spend some time with them while they were in town for a conference. We got to the hotel sometime around 4:30 or so. We grabbed some dominos pizza for dinner and Liz’s sister Christina came over to visit for a while. My aunt and uncle arrived later that night and we visited for a while until after midnight.

Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at a waffle house. Once we were done eating we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go to Downtown Disney. On the way back to the hotel, we saw an IHOP which we would have all preferred, but didn’t know was right there. We got back to the room and got ourselves ready to go and walked over to the Downtown Disney marketplace. We walked around a little and let the kids play at the lego store and checked out some neat things they had setup on the street.

The kids rode a train around a little, and we got some cute pictures of that. They also rode a merry-go-round which they always love. Then we headed over ot the Rain Forrest cafe for lunch. That place is really neat, and has a unique atmosphere and awesome decorations and effects. Every 30 minutes there is a thunderstorm and the animals go wild and they flash lights, etc. Its a lot of fun, the staff are friendly and the food was good.

We walked around a little more and ultimately headed back to the hotel to go swimming. The kids and uncle David beat us all down to the pool, and when I got there, they were already in the water. I tested the water with my toe and found it a little cold for my liking, so I took advantage of the cool breeze and occasional sun to get a little rest on a lounge chair. I had just started to doze while the kids were playing in the pool, when I was awaken by the sensation of rain drop on my face. We got our stuff together and herded the kids under an umbrella and got ourselves ready to go back into the hotel. We got back to the room and changes and visited a little more, and by this time it was after 5pm, so we decided to get ready to go soon. I think we left close to 6 or so, and the rain actually stopped which was good, because traffic would have been slow if it had kept raining. We were home before 7 and got to crash for a bit before getting all the kids off to bed.

Then this past weekend, the 13th and 14th, we actually had a nice productive time at home. Liz and I got a good amount of yard work done and trimmed bushes and cleaned up, which was good. Sunday we spent the bulk of the afternoon at Bonnie Brae park in Temple Terrace, hanging out with friends and letting our kids play. It was a very nice evening and the weather was perfect! The kids played on the playground, and the adults visited and played with their kids. It was very relaxing.

Sunday morning I had a problem with my new phone (the tilt). I set my phone to vibrate in the morning and later it went off so I pulled it out of the holster to check and the screen was all washed out and practically un-usable. I tried to call AT&T about it, but the office I needed to talk to was closed until Monday. So Monday I called and they are sending me a replacement, which I should have by tomorrow (Wednesday). I hope this is not a bad batch of phones and just a strange fluke with the individual unit I received.

Crazy night

Last night was absolutely crazy from the time I got home, until I went to bed. It all started when I walked in the door and found the house to be almost 85 degrees inside. Liz had just left, and so I started checking out the system, resetting breakers, etc. Nothing I did would work, and so I resorted to checking the phone book to find the numbers of a good after hours A/C contractor. I found one of the ads for one of the companies we had out before A-Able. I called and they said someone could be out in a few hours. I gave us messing with it myself, and decided to make myself some dinner. I baked up one of those frozen pizzas from the California Pizza Kitchen. I must say I’m not a fan of frozen pizza, but the ones from the California Pizza Kitchen are really good. They are actually pretty close to the originals you can get at the restaurant. I love the Marguerita pizza, and its really good, even for a frozen pizza.

During all this commotion with the A/C I notice a car parked next door that looked suspicious. I saw some people going through the gate and they were playing with the pool supplies, and opening shed doors and stuff. As far as I knew this house was still vacant, and the kids in the neighborhood have been screwing around with the for sale sign for months, so I did notice it was missing, but it could have also been taken by the kids. So I called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report something suspicious. I explained what I saw and that I thought the house was supposed to be vacant. About an hour or so later, a deputy finally arrived, and I met him at the garage door of my house, told him what I thought and he went to check it out. A little later he came back by my house and explained that they were the new renters and everything was on the up and up. I was concerned because we’ve had kids breaking into that yard through the fence to swim, and they mess around with the for sale sign, and we are afraid something will happen while they are back there, and no one would know they were there and someone could get hurt. So I assumed it was the same situation here, and was just trying to make sure this wasn’t someone breaking into the house. Especially since I didn’t see anyone use the front door, only the door in the fence (which the lock is broken). I chatted with the officer for a few minutes and then he left. I felt aweful calling the cops on my new neighbors. What a terrible first impression. And they knew it was me I’m sure since I was talking to the officer in my driveway.

Then the A/C guy gets to the house and walks in and I tell him about whats going on, and he says that its nothing but a clogged drain. He pulls out the end of a sensor and empties some built up water, and then we turn the air switch back on and the pump kicks on and the unit starts cooling. I felt like an idiot! At least I know there are two drains now, there is one outside and one inside, I had checked the outside drain, but didn’t know to check the inside one. The system still won’t cool properly, so he came again today and checked it out and agrees with the other two opinions we’ve had. Everyone is telling us we need to replace the pump outside. The bad news is that this is going to cost!!! I got a quote from a guy on craigslist offering to install a 4 ton pump for $1500 everything included. So I am going to follow up with that, make sure he can accept credit card payment, and then see about getting some prices from one other place.

Then Liz’s mom called me and I helped her with some issues with their new computer.

During all of this, I was also running around the house with the hand vac chasing down little winged insects that somehow decided to swarm in my house. I’m not sure what they are, but there were a lot of them and I had to go around the house several times sucking them up with the hand vac. I’d get done going around once, empty the hand vac outside, put it down for a little while, then I’d walk out in the play room and find more, so I’d have to repeat the whole process again. I finally got most of them I guess, and then shortly thereafter Liz and the kids got home. They were late and didn’t get home till after 9pm. We got the kids to bed, and talked about our crazy days for a few minutes, then it was off to get ready for bed. What a day!

The long weekend

This is going to be a long post, so be prepared for some reading…

Firday I took a personal day from work to stay home and watch the kids while Liz went to a conference in Orlando. She actually left on Thursday afternoon, but her parents came earlier on Thursday to help with the kids. So I got home on Thursday evening and she was gone 😦 After some settling in, we decided to have soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches for dinner. This is a simple meal, but very tasty (I make a great grilled-cheese sandwich). I had a bit of a crazy time trying to time everything just right, making soup and sandwiches for so many people at once. It turned out good, which I was a little doubtful about since we were one package of soup short of what I thought we’d have. There was plenty for everyone and it was good.

We got the kids in bed on Thursday night and had some fun beforehand playing the wii. Once the kids were in bed, Liz’s parents played the wii and after a while we shut the wii off and watched a movie. We put on Eragon and stayed up late.

Friday morning, after the kids and I had breakfast, we had a wii tournament. I played a few games with the girls, and then Liz’s parents started a bowling competition. They both achieved pro status and had some very good games. They were beating me and I lost some of my pro points.

Then we decided to run out to a store to try to buy a computer for my brother-in-law’s fiance’ We went to Circuit City in New Tampa and looked around (this was while Sarah was in school). We were there for about 2 hours with Michael and Abby actually being pretty good. We found a computer we all agreed was a good one, for about $400 but it didn’t come with a monitor. They had a package deal with it, but the monitor it came with was a bulky CRT.

Kind of kidding, I said they could buy me one of the nice HP flat panel monitors and I would give them my 19″ dell FP at home and give them some money for the upgrade. They agreed and the rep checked inventory, but found they didn’t have any of the computer we picked out in stock. So my mother-in-law asked if they would sell them the display model. The rep agreed and came back with a price around $330 something. We went to check out and they were going to keep the computer for a few hours and re-image it and then have us come back to pick it up. We were about to leave when Liz’s dad found a problem with the receipt. After probably an hour of waiting and adjusting, they just couldn’t get it right. They ended up getting the computer for about $185 and they got an additional $30 discount on the monitor. All in all, they paid around $460 or so for the computer and monitor, which is an awesome deal!

We went to Wendy’s after that since we are all starving and it was around lunch time anyway. I was in a hurry because I wanted to hook up the new monitor. We got to Wendy’s and got in the drive through line, but the line was moving slow. Liz’s mom suggested it would faster if she just went in and ordered. So I pulled out of line into a parking spot. We waited in the car for what felt like 30 minutes, when finally Liz’s dad went in to check out what was taking so long. Turned out they were out of chicken right at noon (go figure) and had to cook more on the spot. We finally got out of there after 12:35pm and made it home to sit down and eat. I fed Michael and got him down for a nap and started setting up the new monitor on the computer desk. At first, it worked, but was blurry, and didn’t have the software installed for the proper resolution or settings. After installing the right software, the DVI output stopped working. When set to the right resolution, the monitor would go into standby, and the display would just stop. I tried everything, uninstalling, safe mode, new drivers, new ATI software, etc. Nothing worked and I ended up taking the video card out of my multimedia computer and reloading my home computer’s OS. Once reloaded with the other video card, there were no problems and things were fine.

So now my multimedia computer is stripped of its video card and is non functional. I ordered a new video card from TigerDirect online, and it should be here sometime mid-week. I got an HIS Radeon 512MB GDDR3 Pro card, with nice specs and enhanced HD support. This should be a major improvement! I was sad to find out later that my power supply in my multimedia machine is only 250W, meaning that the new video card won’t have enough power in that computer. I may end up for now putting the new card in my main computer and taking the original video card that was in the playback computer and put it back in since I know that works. But ultimately, I want to get new power supplies for both computers, a 500W for the main PC, and a 450 for the multimedia computer.

After spending most of the afternoon working on the computers and getting things setup, I began working on setting up the new computer that my in-laws bought. I managed to re-image the computer to factory, and do all the updates and install needed software. Then I moved all their files and settings off the old computer to the new one. Then I cleaned up the old computer and removed all the clutter and made it like new. (Liz’s mom ran home once we got back from CC and got their existing computer). The arrangement ended up being that they got the new computer, and my monitor. Then my brother-in-law’s fiance’ got their computer and exsting 17″ flat panel monitor. So the arrangement worked out well for everyone.

We had Pizza Hut dippin’ strips pizza for dinner, and I also ordered a large half cheese, half pepperoni pan pizza. It was sooooo good, we love the dippin strips, which is only a seasonal thing from what we can tell. I ordered online and had it delivered.

Friday night, we started watching Spiderman 3 and didn’t finish because it was late and the movie was long. So I went to bed around 12:30 something or close to 1am.

Saturday morning we played more wii, and I finished final touches on the computers. Then we started cleaning up the house in preparation for Liz to get home that evening. We had lunch after Liz’s parents left that morning. We got to play more wii and relax a bit before Liz got home. We had the left over pizza for lunch which was still good, we had just enough left to have enough for lunch.

I was just putting the kids to bed when Liz walked in the door. Must have been after 7:30pm and I had just put Michael to bed. So I went and got him back out of bed to say hi to her. I put him down on the floor in his room, and I think he already knew she was home. He ran out of his door and into her arms and just held her for a while. He is such a sweet little boy!

Got all the kids to bed Saturday night, and Liz and I sat on the couch and chatted about our weekends and relaxed a little. It was nice to catch up and fill each other in on all the goings-on of the weekend. She had a great time at her convention and told me all about it. I told her the long story of the computer work for the weekend.

Sunday we had Amanda and her kids over for lunch and the kids got to play for a while and Lizzie and Lina got to play bowling on the wii. Amanda finished a turn for Lizzie, and said it could definately get addictive.

All weekend I had meant to cut the grass, but never found time, I was busy all weekend and never got around to it. Then I took a sick day on Monday because I was getting over some stomach problems that I seemed to pick up over the weekend. I had thought I could try to at least mow the front yard on Monday, but it kept raining on and off all day. It was a weird weather day, it would be sunny outside, but a rain cloud would be over our house, and it would be raining. Sometimes hard rain would come down and it would get grey outside, but then it would stop and the sun would come back out. All day it was like this, so I didn’t get a chance to cut the grass.

Cleaning weekend

Saturday we decided we would try to tackle the garage again, and see if we could clean it out. We made good progress and got mostly done before getting distracted by things like eating and getting kids to bed that night. I haven’t parked my car in the garage for several days now. Its almost done and hopefully I’ll be able to park in there tonight.

Sunday, we took the kids swimming after some naps in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day, nice and sunny, and cool in the shade. I watched the kids play and swim and relaxed. I didn’t feel like swimming because I still had work to do at home when we got back. We got some pizza for dinner and had the kids cleanup the messes of the day, then it was off to bed for them. Liz and I crashed on the couch and watched Night at the Museum and then got ready for bed.

We also realized how sweet and cute our little Abby was. She said a few things this weekend that were so cute and the way she talks and how she says things is just heart melting.

Sarah's birthday plans

Today is Sarah’s birthday, she is now 7 years old. Or 7 blinks old as I like to call it. Time goes by so fast, it seems like yesterday that we were driving to the hospital explaining that Liz was in labor to the friendly cop who thought he’d pull us over for a safety light that was blown on my car! I can’t believe she is 7 now, she is so smart, and so beautiful and so amazing. She has gone from being my baby, to being my amazing 2nd grader! Sarah will start 2nd grade at the end of next month. We still don’t know where she is going to school, but need to start trying to figure that out. We are still hopeful that we will get the acceptance letter from Lewis, but if not, may have no choice but to send her to Follsum in Thononassa.

For her birthday tonight, we are going to give her the dinner of her choice, which tonight is Pizza from Pizza Hut. Its something Sarah and I both share, which is a love for a large cheese pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Sure its not as good for you as say, Papa johns, but we share a love for that pizza.

This coming Saturday, we plan to have family and friends over as they can make it, for a small get together and have food and dessert. I’d like to try to find something fun for her to do on her birthday as well, perhaps go to the park, or something before we have dessert…

Holiday weekend

Our weekend started a little early on Friday, my office closed at 1pm, but because new carpet was being installed, I stayed late to pack up computers and equipment to get it out of the way during the carpet install. So we started at 12:30pm on Friday, and were actually done by 2pm. I got home and found my in-laws had arrived, so we all went to a friend’s community pool. The kids all love to swim and it was a lot of fun. The wayer was a little chilly but only at first. We went home and ordered dominos pizza for dinner. Liz and here mom went to DQ and picked up some dilly bars for us for dessert.

Saturday I worked on web stuff for Liz’s MOPS group and my podcast site. I got most of the MOPS work done, and created a bunch of e-mail accounts. I also got the girls playing with the headset and they recorded some play podcasts for fun. I knew once they put on the headset they wouldn’t be able to put it down. They were fighting (of course) over who got to use the headset next. I posted three of their recordings as podcasts on my blog (look back just a few posts).

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Busy weekend with Birthday parties and Mother's Day

Friday night I went to WalMart in New Tampa to get a birthday present for Abby since we planned to have Abby’s 4th birthday party on Saturday. I got her a helium balloon kit and an extra pack of balloons. I made a few wrong turns and missed a few turns which made my trip a bit longer than I wanted. When I got back home Liz and I baked Abby a blue cake as a surprise, since her favorite color is blue.

Saturday morning we cleaned up a little and got ready for Abby’s party. Christina got there in the morning and Liz and Christina went to a salon and Liz got her hair cut. It looks really nice and she had a nice time. It took 3 hours from leaving to getting back, since it was the day before Mother’s day. We had a few people over and had a nice time.

Sunday, we took Liz to Romano’s Maccorroni Grille for a late lunch/dinner. We intended to go to the Olive Garden, but when we got there, there was a line out the door and a 1+ hour wait time. So we went to Romano’s instead. I loved the restuarant, it was very nice and the food was good. They have excellent bread! I wasn’t too plesaed with the sause they use on their pizza, but oh well. There were several other items I want to try later. I had the pizza because it was a Marguerita pizza, and I like the one at the CPK in the mall, so I thought I’d try the one at Romano’s. The girls had various thing like chicken, maccoroni, and ended with ice cream which neither of them really liked. Liz had the usual, and if you know her you know what I’m talking about. While at the restaurant, the girls and I played tic tac toe in crayon on the paper table cloth.

Five-Star Pizza

We tried five star pizza last night for the first time, its a local place nearby and we thought we’d give it a try. They had pretty good pizza, their pepperoni is really spicy! We still haven’t found a good local place yet that beats the taste of the big names like pizza hut and papa johns, or even dominos.

Pizza night

Tonight we are having Pizza Hut pizza for dinner. Its been a really long time since we’ve had Pizza hut, since other places are cheaper and closer. But Sarah and I really love Pizza Hut pizza so tonight we are getting a large pan pizza and a thin and crispy pizza. I think Pizza Hut is my personal favorite pizza, followed by dominos and then various independant places I’ve been. Dominos has the best cheesy bread hands down of anyone else! Papa Johns is also really good, but a bit more expensive so we don’t have it that often. I did NOT like their perfect pan pizza.

Papa Johns

Tonight we tried the new Papa Johns “Perfect Pan” pizza. It looked really good on the TV commercials. I got the deal where we get a free order of parmesian cheese breadsticks and the pan pizza. I can say that the bread sticks were really good! However, the pizza was not so good. It had a new sause which had large chunks of tomatoe and onion in it, which none of the kids (nor myself) really cared for. One other thing that we noticed is that the large pan pizza is actually rather small. I think you get more pizza with their round pizzas. This pizza was a square. I’m sure there are lots of people that love this pizza, but for us, it was a flop.