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Flip Video Greetings

Last week, someone at my office received a demo Flip Video Camera from a vendor, asking us to play around with it and see how it works. I was impress at how SMALL the thing is, and it shoots good footage. Rather than using iMovie to import and edit the clips, there's built-in "Flip Share" software that lets users edit and share their movies. While it's not as fancy as iMovie, the video greeting cards are really cool. Below are two samples of movies I took of Jake over the weekend, singing some of his favorite holiday songs.

Just click on the images to view:

Goodbye Chelsea Pt. 1

Goodbye Friend
Originally uploaded by mole555
When I first met Leah in 1996, she had two cats, Krizia and Chelsea. I grew to love them over the years, and suffered right along with Leah when Krizia passed away in 2003. And just yesterday, Chelsea was put to sleep. She was a great cat, filled with personality and humor, a kitty who always made me smile with her easy demeanor and ferocious purr.

Man, could she purr! I remember cracking Leah up when I came up with the phrase, "She's purring up the room again," and we'd often HEAR her coming before actually seeing her. That's just one of the things I'll miss about Chelsea. I tried to capture some of Chelsea's best moments through her 15 years. We'll miss her...

Click on the photo to see a larger version on Flickr.

Goodbye Chelsea Pt. 2

Goodbye Chelsea
Originally uploaded by mole555
Our dear friend Chelsea passed away on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008. She had been sick for quite some time, and was losing weight and having trouble breathing. Even though she must have been suffering, she still had her "purr motor" working until the very end.

She had one of the greatest purrs I've ever heard. She was a famous cat, too, appearing on Animal Planet's "Funniest Animals" doing her famous "carpet skooching" trick where I'd rub her back and she'd sneak along the floor like an infantry soldier. We also sent pictures of her to Stuff on my Cat, and the sunglasses photo appeared in 2006 under the title "Let's Roll."

We'll miss you Chelsea...and you'll always be with us.

Time Flies...

 Hard to believe that I completely missed posting something on Jake's birthday. Time just seems to be flying by. Anyway, Jake's birthday was two weeks ago (!). We had a party at Cook Park Rec Center, with about 6 kids and 10 adults. It was fun. Here's a video of the event that I posted to Jake's blog. We made a little iMovie, and Jake provided the narration. Even though he's been 3 for just a few weeks, we can already tell that the "terrible two's" is nothing compared to the 3's. He continues to test his limits, and throws a more serious fit when he doesn't get his way. On the plus side, though, his sense of humor is becoming more sophisticated, and so is his vocabulary. Just today he told Leah to "stop freaking out" which cracked us up to no end. 

On the potty training front, he is just about finished with diapers. The only time he wears them now is at night. And even then, he'll often get up early in the morning, all by himself, and go potty. That's one HUGE weight off our shoulders, not having to deal with poopy diapers anymore. He even insists on sitting on the "big potty" and not the little insert seat we got for him. He likes to put his hands on either side of the bowl and turn around to admire his work while he's pooping. It's quite funny. Matter of fact, everything about Jake's pooping routine strikes me as funny. He'll sit on the toilet, and look at me, but he's not really looking at me, but more "through" me as he goes through his pushing. He begins to breathe more emphatically as I can tell he's trying to squeeze something out, and he gets this look on his face that becomes serious and distracted at the same time. This whole routine amuses the hell out of me!

In other news, Leah's Mom and Larry visited last weekend. They were in town from Thursday to Monday. We went out to eat at this great place on Friday night called Fruition, a tiny little French restaurant on Capitol Hill. The earliest we could reserve a table was at 9:00, so it was a late evening, but a great meal all the same. The rest of the weekend we took turns cooking at home. Joyce and Larry made a seafood pasta on Saturday, and Leah and I made a Moroccan themed dinner of bisteeya and chicken stew. Larry and I golfed at Wellshire on Saturday, and Sunday Leah hung out with Joyce and Larry while Jake and I stayed home and napped.

Leah has been sick for almost 10 days now, coughing and sneezing like crazy. We even had to take turns sleeping downstairs a few nights last week because her coughing continued through the night. She's still not 100%, and neither is Jake. So far, I'm the only one who hasn't gotten sick, and I'm hoping that I won't. 

To keep you updated on my procrastination, there's also some new videos from Halloween on Jake's blog:I should really be more consistent posting to this blog. I find myself finding excuses not to write, much like what I do when it comes to going to work out at the gym. I've created a Twitter account, thinking that if I only posted short entries, I'd do it more often, but that hasn't happened either. Not familiar with Twitter? It's a condensed version of blogging, with all posts restricted to 140 characters or less. Here's my lame account so far. The cool thing about it, though, is that you can follow other people's posts, creating a personal network of people who have similar interests. Most of the people I'm following are leading figures in education technology.


The People Have Spoken...

Tonight Barack Obama just clinched the presidency. As I was hoping, he's going to not only win the 270 electoral votes needed, but he's going to exceed that number by a LARGE margin. The impact of this election is going to be felt around the world, and I truly feel it's for the better. He seems like a very thoughtful, intelligent leader who's going to bring back our reputation in the world, and here at home. The loud minority of right wing, out-of-touch, paranoid people can now fade into the background, and maybe they could try listening to what the majority is saying for a change. Instead of griping about everything that could go wrong, how about accepting the fact that he's now our president, and working TOGETHER to bring about some real CHANGE in this country?? There's no use staying bitter. It's not healthy.

For tonight, the people have spoken....

Yeah Baby...

So much to write, so little time to get it all posted.  Let's see, we'll start with the biggest news for this old Philly boy:


We've waited 28 years for this to happen again. And for a team that has existed for 126 years, with only one other World Series win to show for it in 1980, this has been a long time coming.I remember the last (and only other) time the Phils won the Series, I was 15 years old, in 10th grade. They beat the KC Royals that year. And then there was '93, and I remember it vividly, watching Mitch Williams give up the Series-ending home run to Joe Carter. Heartbreaking. And there was last summer, when the Phillies played in Denver on the verge of losing their 10,000th game in franchise history, only to eek out a win on the last day of the series, so they left Denver at number 9,999.

And now the city can celebrate at 25 year drought from a championship in ANY sport. The last team to win it all was the '83 Sixers. I was living in Philly at the time, attending Temple University. Yep, I've lived and died with the Phillies ever since i was a little boy. Dad used to take us to the Vet with tickets through Sloan Cheverolet. We had great box seats on the first base side, and would go to at least 3-4 games every summer.

Lots of good baseball memories with the Phillies:
- Trying to get Hank Aaron to autography my baseball, only to have some unknown Braves player grab my ball instead, and I was stuck with a worthless souvenir. I think I was 8 or 9 years old.
- Seeing a bench-clearing brawl on Richis Ashburn Hat Day, against the Cincinnati Reds. I went with my friend Rich from The Garden of Earthly Delights. I must have been 16 or so at the time.
- 1980 World Series team had Pete Rose playing for us, and I was never a big Pete Rose fan, but was feeling "forced" to root for him, since he was now a Phillie player.

"There's Something in my Butt..."

Yes, that's the new phrase around here. But it comes with the good news that Jake is finally potty trained. It started with us trying to get him to pee in the potty. He's been pretty good at making it to the toilet while he stands up on a little stool his grandpa made for him, and letting it flow. Getting him to do the pooping in the potty was a little more complicated. We've been using this little "mini-potty" that he'd sit on from time to time, but usually he just went in his diaper. Once Jake started wearing his "Big Boy Undies" he was more open to trying the potty. So one day he announced, "There's something in my butt," to which we rushed him to the little potty, and lo and behold, he made a dookie in the potty, causing all three of us to dance and celebrate like he'd just won an award. In order to continue this behavior, we decided to entice Jakey with a mystery prize for every time he poops in the potty. We bought a bunch of Hot Wheels cars, and wrapped them up to make a big production out of it. Now, every time he poops in the potty, he asks for his present. Jake calls his new collection his "Poop Cars" since he's gotten them for pooping in the potty. It's pretty funny.

And the good news is that now he's starting to sit on the actual toilet to poop, as we attach his mini-seat to the bowl so he doesn't fall in. This makes cleanup SO MUCH easier! All this is happening when he's about one month from his 3rd birthday. I guess that's fairly normal. Our little boy continues to grown up.

Jake is also becoming a big fan of They Might Be Giants. I got him a DVD on eBay called "Here Come the ABC's" which he absolutely LOVES! Check out their website to see some samples. It's also really helping him learn his letters and numbers. And the best part is that the music is catchy and edgy enough that we like listening to it, too.

In other (quickly becoming outdated) news, I posted some pictures I took during the DNC. CLICK HERE to view them.

There's also another new edition to my photo page from a recent trip to the mountains to see the fall colors. CLICK HERE to see them.

Catching Up...

I've been slacking with this blog, and haven't been keeping up with all the events that have been happening. Let's see, since August 5th we went camping, and the Democratic Nat's Convention took place, among other things.

Camping was fun. This was our first and only camping trip of the season. We went with Leah's high school friend Dale and her husband Scott, son Connor, and dog Otis. I had made reservations back in May at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. August 22-24 was the first weekend they had available. I wanted to go to the Aspen Meadows campground, since we camped there before, and I knew it's a "tents only" campground. I also wanted to get one of the hike-in sites that are about 100 yds from the parking lot. This way it's more private and there's no road traffic to keep you awake. It was a god time! Jake did well sleeping in the tent. The first night (Friday) he refused to sleep with us on the air mattress. Instead, he wedged himself at our feet, between the mattress and the zipper door. It didn't seem comfortable, and we kep checking on him during the night, but that's where he wanted to be. The second night he fell asleep on Leah's lap by the campfire, so he was easily transferred into our sleeping bag, right between us. Other highlights of the trip was a short hike around Panoram Point, skipping rocks at Dude's Fishing Hole, playing guitar around the fire, surviving short but intense rainstorm, and watching Otis maxing and relaxing around the fire. Here's some pictures from the trip.

The following week the Democratic Convention came to town. The news completely consumed the media and newspapers. I took a half day on Thursday, the same day Obama was set to give his acceptance speech at Invesco Field in front of 75,000 people. I wanted to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event, since it's not every day that the National Convention takes place in your home town. I was somewhat disappointed to see so few protestors and rallies. From how the media reported it, downtown was a hotbed of police confrontations with protestors, but I saw none of it. What I did see was lots of people trying to sell stuff like buttons, t-shirts, hats, pins, posters, etc. When I was there on Thursday, I saw more capitalism on display than activism. Oh well, it was a historic week all the same.

Break's Over...

My, how time flies! Last entry we were all set to move, with our house under contract. Well, things have changed. Let's recap, along with other events of the past month:

No More Contract:
The same day we were about to submit an offer for the 2nd house on our list (Jefferson Ave) we found out that our buyer had his loan denied, forcing him to back out of the contract for our house. Now we are back where we started in April, having to put our home back up for sale, and keeping the place clean every day for the possibility that we'll have a showing. It's been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, going from being in "moving mode" to having to come to grips with the possibility that we're going to have to wait until 2009 to see our house.

Police at Red Rocks: On July 22nd, Leah and I celebrated our 4th anniversary two days early by seeing The Police and Elvis Costello at Red Rocks. The last time we saw a Red Rocks show was when The Dead played there in 2003 (I think it was 2003). It was a GREAT concert! Sting sounded great, and Elvis was good, too, although he only played a 45-minute set with no encore. And unlike the last five times I've seen Elvis, dating back to the 80's in Philly, he didn't wear red shoes. Great concert!

4th Anniversary: Two days after our official anniversary (July 24th) we celebrated a second time by going out to a nice dinner downtown. Leah found this cool restaurant near the Denver Performing Arts Center, downstairs at the Curtis Hotel, called The Corner Office. The place had a very retro atmosphere featuring art deco and a combination of vintage and modern design. The menu was unique, too, with everything from mexican to asian to twists on popular favorites, like lobster mac and cheese. We sipped on martinis and soaked up the atmosphere. Good times!

Flying Daddy Breaks the Bed: Two weekends ago, Jake and I were playing on the bed. I started doing "flying Daddy" where I'd jump on the bed, pretending to crush Jake, only to move my arms and legs out of the way at the last minute. I learned that our bed is not built for flying Daddy tricks, and on my third jump I heard a loud CRACK and wound up breaking the entire side rail of the bed. It was completely shattered, and I was overcome with my own stupidity for thinking that the bed could hold my fat ass. We immediately went to a furniture store and bought a new bed frame. And this time, I got the 5-year warranty, so if something like this happens again (which it WON'T!) we'll be covered for repairs or replacement.

Fun at Lakeside: When Leah was in Cincinnati in late June, Jake and I went to Lakeside Amusement Park. This year Lakeside is celebrating its 100th year. We went a second time in July, when they were having a $1.00 unlimited ride pass for kids under 12. Jake had a great time in KiddieLand. He also had his first official ice cream cone, as I schooled him on the finer points of how to eat a cone without spilling. Here's some photos from our two visits to Lakeside, CLICK HERE to view.

Corel Painter: I just bought some new software for my Mac called Corel Painter Essentials. It has a feature called "Auto Photo Painting" where you can select a photo and let the software autmatically turn it into a painting. I can choose oil painting, watercolor, chalk, colored pencil, and more. CLICK HERE to see some samples I created from some of my favorite photos.

New Bike: Back in early June, right when summer break officially began, I used my "economic stimulus" money to get a new bicycle. After doing lots of research and test riding at various bike shops, I wound up getting a "performance hybrid" from Specialized called a Sirrus Sport. It's got thin tires like a road bike, but with a (lightweight) mountain bike  frame that makes for a quick, smooth ride around town. It feels good to enjoy riding a bike again!

Getting Closer...

Our search for a house continues. To update, our house is officially under contract, so we are all set with selling our house on Bails Place. However, we still haven't found a house to move into yet. We've looked at lots of homes over the past month, and we've narrowed it down to three. They are listed in order of preference:
  1. 9140 E. Eastman Ave: This house looks like a barn from the outside, but the inside is absolutely beautiful! It's got a great kitchen, hardwood floors and carpet, and the place is split into four levels. When we looked at it today, it was as if a surprise was around every corner, making the place seem MUCH bigger on the inside. The price is listed at $319,00, which is $19,000 above what we can spend, so we're hoping they can come down in price. If not, we have other options.
  2. 7453 E. Jefferson Dr: This house is in a great neighborhood, right behind Tamarac Square, and features some unique architecture. It needs some work to update it to a more modern era (a little old lady lived their into her 80's, and the house shows it in some places), but Leah and I both love the style and openness of the interior. The price went down from $319,000 to $312,000, but that's still out of our price range, and we're hoping they might come down in price if we make an offer, which would mean the Eastman house fell through.
  3. 2231 S. Poplar St: This house needs the least amount of work (other than some yard work, cutting trees, putting up fences, etc.) and has new windows, remodeled kitchen and bathrooms, and new siding. The price is $299,000, which is in our price range. It's just that the neighborhood is much more "urban" and surrounded by businesses. Leah and I can see ourselves living in the area, just maybe not as long as the other two houses.

CLICK HERE to view a Google Map of the three house that are at the top of our list, to give you an idea of how far they are from each other.


Joel and Leah's Blog

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December 2008


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