Feeling Better

I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because I’ve been both busy and sick. I only worked 2 days last week, but it seemed like there was always too much to do. I’m back at work today, though, and feeling much better than I have in a while.

Tonight, I fly to (just outside of) Washington, D.C. for a training class that will last through Friday. I don’t expect to have a lot of time to do any touristy stuff in D.C., but I plan to take at least one or two evenings to go downtown and walk around and see some of the monuments. I’ve been there once before (in October 2000), and I remember it being a huge place that would take several days to really visit, so I’m sure I won’t get to see everything I’d like to.

The really crummy part of the trip is the flights. The only direct flights available are in the late evenings. The flight there is not horrible (I’ll be getting in around 9:00 PM), but the flight back leaves D.C. at 10:00 PM on Friday! Yuck. At least I won’t have to go to work the following morning. I’ll just have to kill some time after the class lets out on Friday afternoon.

As of today, I’ve changed teams at work again. They basically asked me to take my old position back. The guy who took over for me has left, and I am needed more in that spot than where I have been for the past year and a half. I’ll still be doing a lot of the same stuff, but more of it (which is good), and I’m again considered a member of the development team.

There’s still no definite date for the acquisition, and people are starting to leave. So far, the communication from the new company about what’s going on has been poor. If that’s any indication of how things will be after the acquisition, I doubt I will be there long. We’ll see, though.

Holiday Photos

Dad, Owen, Ivan, Mom, and GrandmaWe had a great time with my parents and grandmother here this week. They left this morning and I don’t think Owen has quite realized that they are not coming back for a while. He acted like they were just going to the store or something, but I’m sure he will miss them by the end of the day. He had such a good time playing with them and getting so much attention – even if he did have to split it with his new little brother.

He’s doing great with Ivan, by the way. Many people have asked how Owen is handling the new addition, and I think he’s handling it about as well as anyone could expect. He’s very interested in Ivan – always asking where he is or what he’s doing – and he doesn’t seem to be too terribly jealous of him when we hold him or whatever. He has his moments, of course, but I think having a lot of people here around Christmas helped him feel very loved and secure.

Owen's New TrainsHe’s really enjoyed his gifts. He got a couple of Geotrax sets that he plays with almost non-stop. He also got some matchbox cars and airplanes, some more legos (always a good idea), several DVDs (Veggie Tales, Loony Tunes, etc.), some toy tools, and Darth Tater (from uncle Keith). At first, I think he was scared of it – he didn’t like it when the mask and cape were on it. He loved to put the regular ears, nose, and mouth on it, though, and after a couple of days he was playing with the other parts, too. I think we’ll have to get him some more Mr. Potato Head stuff to go with it.

Riding the Wild Animal CarouselWe didn’t get the snow we had hoped for. In fact, we had a wide range of weather from cold and wet to sunny and unseasonably warm. The weather was nice enough on Tuesday that we were able to spend the afternoon at the zoo. We walked until we were worn out and Owen had a good time as usual. My dad took him on the carousel, which he didn’t really like at first, but he got used to it and I’m sure he’ll be asking to ride it again.

I took my new camera along, of course, but didn’t get a lot of really good photos. The animals were somewhat uncooperative and there were too many people in some areas. I saw about 6 or 7 other people with the same camera, but most had the silver version (which made me all the more glad I got the black one).

Owen and IvanI’ve been enjoying my camera very much, but I’m increasingly reminded that a more expensive camera does not automatically mean great photos – I still have a lot to learn. I took a stab at setting up a “photo shoot” to try to get a good portrait of Owen and Ivan together, but the results were mediocre. I don’t have the proper lighting equipment or a good background to do something like that, and it’s hard to get kids to do what you want them to (even when you bribe them with cookies). I had the aperture set wrong, too, so in most of the photos only one of them is completely in focus. There just wasn’t time to adjust any of the settings with impatient and wiggly kids. I guess what I need to do is set up some of Owen’s stuffed animals in a portrait-like setting and practice a little before I work with real people (especially kids).

Owen and IvanThe main advantage this camera gives me is the speed of it, which enables me to capture those brief moments that fly by with kids. So many times, with our old camera, you couldn’t turn it on fast enough or time the shot right with the 1-second delay. Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to spend the next few weeks and months getting very familiar with the camera and its possibilities.

Rest & the Rest

Man, I was tired last night. Actually, I’ve been tired for a while now – I guess it started around November 29th, with that whole “we had another baby” thing. I slept pretty well last night, though. Ivan only woke up once to eat so even Mary got to sleep in 4-hour blocks.

I’ve actually had a couple of good nights’ sleep lately, but it feels like I’m still catching up from that week in the hospital and all of the time since then. I decided to take it very easy this past weekend, and I think it helped. I slept in on Saturday, thanks to Mary taking the boys with her to choir practice, and even though I had to get up early on Sunday to teach my class, the rest of the day was pretty easy-going. We went to the Buttons’ for lunch and to celebrate Halle’s first birthday, and of course to watch some Titans football.

I watched a lot of football this weekend, actually. There were NFL games on Saturday as well as the usual Sunday and Monday Night games. The Titans actually played very well against the Seahawks, but couldn’t pull out a win. And of course, anyone who follows football at all knows that the Colts finally lost a game. Eric is a Chargers fan so he was about as excited as I’ve ever seen him when we got the final score. The Sunday night game was a great one, mainly because Chicago’s defense is so very impressive this year. Last night was a blowout, which is good because I was too tired to stay up for the whole thing.

My Digital Rebel XT is on a UPS truck somewhere in the Nashville area, and should be delivered today! Woo-hoo! I’m glad I’ll be able to get familiar with it again before Christmas. I’ve already picked out several accessories that I’d like to get for it, but those will have to wait a while.

Yesterday was our annual “Holiday Breakfast” at work. The food was great. They had fresh waffles that were sooo tasty. There were a bunch of giveaways, and I got a $25 gift card to Chili’s. Not quite the big prize (a $500 AmEx Gift Certificate), but it’s nice to win something nonetheless.

My parents and grandmother are coming up for Christmas, and I’m really looking forward to having them here. I’m going to have most of next week off work and we should have a very nice vacation, even though there is no snow in the forecast (I was hoping we would have some for them this year). I think my cousin is going to come down from Clarksville, too, so we’ll have lots of family around this year and that will be nice. One of these days I’m going to get both of my brothers up here at the same time again, too. I don’t think Kevin has even been to our new house.

We haven’t done a lot of decorating this year, but we did get a nice, big tree and some new lights for it. We also put a wreath on the front door. It has lights on it, but I still need to get an extension cord to be able to plug it in outside. Other than that, we’re just making sure the house is clean and ready for guests.

I Did It

I ordered a Digital Rebel XT from Amazon.com this morning! I bought the camera body, a Canon USM Lens, and the remote control. It’s supposed to arrive sometime next week.

I was holding out until the acquisition of my company closes, because I’ll be due a bonus at that time. However, it looks like that is not going to happen until around February, and I think I’d regret not having the camera at Christmas (especially since our G2 is not working exactly right).

I predict many pictures in the coming months!

Now I just need a bigger flash card, a monopod, a lens hood, a couple of alternate lenses…

Much-Requested Photos

IvanMy appologies for not getting any photos on-line for a while. I know a lot of people have been looking for some. We’ve been fairly busy trying to recover from all that has happened over the last few weeks and resting whenever possible.

Both boys are doing well. Owen is definitely having to adjust to the new resident and to sharing our time and attention. I think the toughest thing for him to understand right now is how tired we are (if you’ve ever had kids, you know exactly what I mean). I think he’s handling it pretty well, though.

Owen and IvanOur neighbor came over this evening and remarked that Ivan is a lot smaller than he looks in the pictures. I guess we have taken a lot of close-ups of him and you can’t really get a sense of his size. Maybe these photos with Owen will give you an idea. He’s not really tiny or anything, but he’s definitely smaller than Owen was when he was born.

Ivan

Ivan

Brothers

Back to Work

I’m back at work today. I was originally going to take the whole week off, but I decided to try to conserve vacation days so that I can still take time off when my parents are here for Christmas. Plus, this will give Mary a single day at home alone with the two boys before the weekend, instead of having to jump into a full week (I’m really not sure if that will be a help or not, but it makes me feel better to think that it will). Also, I can spend today playing catch-up on all that I’ve missed over the past week and a half, and be ready to actually get stuff done on Monday.

It just hit me last night that we are only about 2 weeks away from Christmas. I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year, but with all that’s happened over the last two weeks, we haven’t gotten much done in preparation. Yesterday, I did a little shopping while the rest of the family took naps. I didn’t get it all done, but I got most of Owen’s gifts taken care of, along with a couple of other people. We don’t have a tree yet or any decorations put up, but maybe this weekend we’ll get to do some of that.

Camera Woes

My digital camera is messed up. Sometime in the last week or so, the lens has gotten skewed somehow, and when you use the viewfinder to take a picture, what you see is not quite what you get (it seems to still work properly if you use the LCD screen, but I’m a look-through-the-little-window guy). Several of the pictures I have taken of Ivan over the past few days have cut off the top of his head because of this.

The main problem with this is that it’s almost Christmas, we have a new child, family is coming from out of town, and there will be a great need to take pictures. This might just be the excuse I need to purchase the much-desired Digital Rebel XT, but I’m still not sure I should spend the money on that (especially connsidering that we just spent a week in the hospital with our newborn, and I’m sure that’s not going to be free). If Dell runs a special on it again, though, I may just have to take the plunge and buy it.