Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Pics

Around our house, Kaylee and Tyler are the enforcers of Christmas Cheer...

Mid-day on the 24th, they were all set for the festivities to come!

Our Christmas Eve party includes an awesome, knock-down, drag-out, White Elephant gift exchange. When all 33 presents were piled up in the middle of the room, Danee set out to conquer Mount Presents!

Then on Christmas Morning, Danee received her first baby doll, which she immediately started loving on!

Later Christmas Day, Cindy's dad came over, and was surrounded by loving granddaughters...

Then the rest of the kids joined in...

After that, it was am amazing Prime Rib Dinner with all the trimmings, and an end to what was quite possibly the best Christmas our family has ever had!

Thanks to our awesome kids for being, well, awesome!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


While our tree has been up for a couple weeks now, there haven't been any presents underneath it. We started doing this a couple years ago, and it was great to see the wonder on the kids' faces on Christmas Eve when we pulled them all out, already wrapped, and let them distribute them under the tree.

Well this year, there was the added reason - our little one year old LOVES presents, and we had a feeling she wouldn't be able to leave them alone if they were out the whole time.

Sure enough, within minutes of the first presents finding their home under the tree...

...they became a jungle gym, perfect for climbing! And for some reason, the lights, which we had worried about initially and Danee surprisingly left alone, became the hot new item to play with!

Then she realized that the presents she was climbing on were similar to the ones she opened a couple weeks ago for her Birthday, and you don't need a caption to hear her saying "Oooooooh!!"

And yes, she was very happy with her new discovery!

First of all, this ribbon would be MUCH better in Danee's hands than around some box!

And this bow? Mmmmmm, Purple is my favorite flavor!!


And finally, some Multi-Tasking - Lights AND Presents!!

And now she's napping, with visions of sugar plums, or more likely, sugar cookies, dancing through her head...

Merry Christmas, Little Daneekins!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Story of Christmas

(By Cindy Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

I received this from my Sister-in-Law, and thought it was the cutest telling of the Christmas Story I've ever heard!

If you don't see a player below, head over to the blog and click play!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

...and not a moment too soon!!

The other day, I was at the grocery store, and while checking out, was thrilled to see this:

Yup, Carolers!! Right there in the store!! I guess the day before, there had been a jazz trio or something, but this was plenty of Christmas Cheer for me!

Then, last week, TWO DAYS in a ROW, as Kaylee and I were driving home, we got stuck behind this:

Pardon the horrible cell phone picture... It's Santa, in his Sleigh.. and there's an elf running back to the sleigh after giving us Candy Canes, and a present for Kaylee!

Fircrest Santa is really making the rounds this year!

Tonight right after dinner, we heard the fire engine's siren coming slowly up the hill...

And who's perched right at the back??

And one Candy Cane later, Danee's definitely sure that Santa is A-OK!

While taking those shots, I was wishing I had my good camera, but I left it at Donald & Lisa's after Thanksgiving. When we walked back up to the porch, there it was waiting to be discovered!! Not sure how Santa sneaked it past us, but he's crafty like that!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday Funnies (on Monday?)

Sorry it's late, Andy was working on it yesterday and I didn't have time to publish it... Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Geek Out - An Open Letter To Pandora

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

Dear Pandora,

You've certainly done well for yourself. In a very short time, you've become the darling of the web-radio world, and your name has become synonymous with streaming music over the Internet. You're the "Kleenex" and the "ipod" of your field.


Oh yeah, also, I hate you.

Hear the gasps from your legions of brainwashed minions? They think I just committed blasphemy. How could I hate Pandora?? After all, it was created to put the power of the "Music Genome Project" into the hands of the everyman.

Well, don't get me started about your precious music genome project... Because it's crap. Oh sure, in theory it's a cool idea. But music, especially to those who truly love and know it, contains complexities that approach those of the Human Genome. And that took many many years, and many many supercomputers to unravel. And even now that it's been mapped out, nobody's quite sure what to do with it. So take your kindergarten project-level music genome project, and get back to work.

I first met you, Pandora, more than three years ago. There was a buzz building about this great new website where you tell it an artist or song that you like, and then it entertains you for hours with music that is similar to what you started with.

I was so intrigued!

Until I actually logged on. I was in a mood for some good old fashioned Power Pop. I wanted upbeat, energetic music with guitars and drums cranked up to eleven, and I hoped you could introduce me to some new purveyors of powerful pop.

I started my quest with The All-American Rejects. I wanted to hear songs in the vein of "Dirty Little Secret" or "Swing, Swing". The first couple selections were promising, but then you started slipping in the same pathetic crap I had to listen to on the radio at work every day. When Eve 6's "Inside Out" came on, I hit that "Thumbs Down" button less than a second into the song.

You responded by apologizing, and saying you wouldn't play it again.

Cool! Except that the next song was by Nickelback. Seriously. Come on, Pandora, if I wanted to hear that bland, tired, overplayed crap I'd go turn on Star 101.5. You're supposed to save me from that nonsense!!

After a few attempts at salvaging my station, I gave up and tried to forget about you. But then a few weeks ago, my car flooded and the only casualty was the sound system. While I await to see if Santa can help me out, I drive in silence... Except that I hate driving in silence! So I reluctantly clicked on the Pandora icon on my phone. The half-inch speaker of the Palm Pre does a surprisingly good job of filling the silence, which was a pleasant surprise.

But it's not surprising, that I'm finding that the silence has many advantages.

It's Christmas Time. I love Christmas Music. I've tried many of your preset Christmas stations, and I've made some of my own. As a direct result, I'm not really feeling the love for Christmas Music anymore. Out of a 5 song sequence, it's VERY likely you'll hear the same song twice. It may be a different artist, but it will be "Winter Wonderland" again and again and again.

My favorite (and of course, by "favorite," I mean "un-favorite") example was hearing the same song, by the same artist repeated with only one song between, because it was featured on two different compilation albums. Wow, that music genome project is sure powerful!

The bottom line, Pandora, is that you suck.

And if you sucked a little less, I might just hate you a little less.

Love, Mike.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The First Present on The First Birthday

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)


Step One:

Eat The Card.

Step Two:

Eat The Tissue. (It's SO crinkly and good and... AAAH!! IT'S STUCK TO MY TONGUE!!! GETITOFF GETITOFF GETITOFF GETITOFF!!)

Step Three:

Pull the present from the bag, and inspect it.

Step Four:

Hey!! It's the best of these... I've ever seen!!

Step Five:

Pose for obligatory picture with the friends who gave the gift.

Step Six:


Step Seven:

Do the "Right Thing" and "Share" your new toy with your friends...

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Hate It Monday: Sideways Rain

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

Welcome to a new, possibly (semi) regular feature here on KUWTB, where I will attempt to work out my angst on a subject by publicly airing my frustrations. Sure the timing's a little off, what with the Holiday Season in full swing, but I need to work out this week's angst now, or it just may keep me from enjoying this Holiday Season. So here we go...

In July 2007 I bought my current car, which I still completely love!

In the 2 years and 4 months since then, I've almost always left the sunroof partly open - just a crack, really - no matter what the weather is doing, and I've never had a problem with water coming in my car.

Last Wednesday, the weather the the unthinkable and actually allowed for some sunshine to reach the wet side of Washington. I had an insanely busy workday, which included driving all over the south sound area, and was perfectly happy to have an excuse to crack the sunroof and let some fresh air in. I didn't get home from work until after 10:00 that night - see? insanely busy! - and when I did, I didn't think to close the sunroof because like I said, it's never been a problem.

Thursday was Thanksgiving (duh) and we went down to my sister Linda's house in Olympia. I noticed while we were there that it was raining most of the day, but didn't pay much attention to it. We had a great dinner, great time visiting, and great dessert. (12 pies to 11 people is a good ratio!)

When we made our way home, I lifted Danee's car seat out of the van and turned to walk up to the house, when I heard a weird thundery type sound. Even weirder, it sounded like it was coming from my car. Weirder still, it WAS coming from my car. I popped the trunk and it was super loud. A touch to one of the speakers confirmed my fear: even without a key in the ignition, something was causing the amplifier to try its hardest to rip the speakers to shreds.

To make things even more fun, it's a fully factory sound system, and I had no idea where the amp lived, so I had no idea how to do anything helpful. I opened the passenger door to start reaching around, and found a pool of water about 3 inches deep behind the passenger seat!!


Even though it was after 10pm, our neighbor's lights were on, so Cindy went over and borrowed their shop vac. Just a little guy, holds 2.5 gallons of sawdust or water. While emptying the Sebring Municipal Swimming Pool, I had to empty that little bucket three times, so I'm going with around 7 gallons of water in my car.

I was totally confused because again, leaving the sunroof cracked in the rain is nothing new! But Jason (the neighbor) came out and told me that for much of the afternoon, it was raining sideways, and the wind was blowing in just the right direction to direct the rain right into my slightly open sunroof.

Great. Through all this time, the amp was still thundering. It was doing so with such ferocity that the battery was starting to get weak - the remote lock/unlock wasn't working, the dome light was flickering, etc. So to save what was left of my sanity, I popped the hood to disconnect the battery.

Then I put a space heater / fan on the wet carpet and left it there for 3 days while we went to the Tri Cities to visit family.

When I got back, the floor was still wet, and was now starting to smell like laundry that gets left in the washer too long.

Oh, and the amp still doesn't work. In fact, when I re-connected the battery, the thunder started up all over again. Found the amp (under the passenger seat) and pulled the plug. Never could find which fuse or relay goes to the amp... I pulled everything in the box and it kept thundering. Neat, huh?

So now I have a soggy car with no sound system. The stereo is a glorified clock that holds a CD. When I get time to, I'll pull the passenger seat out so I can get the amp out, and find out what actually blew out.

In the meantime, I'll probably spend a lot of time singing along with the bumps in the road...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Keep It Safe!

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

I hate fearmongering as much as, if not more, than the next guy... But after being personally involved in the following story, I just wanted to spread the word on an important aspect of keeping your computer safe. Well, not necessarily your computer, but your precious data. Documents, pictures, music, all the things that make your computer YOUR computer.

In case any of you have been hiding under a rock or otherwise NOT Keeping Up With the Brinkerhoffs this year, I started my own Tech Services company back in May. This post is promoting a service I offer, but I think it's an important enough service to put a break in the coverage of our adorable baby.

The Friday before Thanksgiving, I upgraded the RAM in a customer's computer.

The following Tuesday I got a call from him, saying that when he got home from work and went to check his email, the monitor stayed black, and this is all he saw:

I told him it looked like there was some kind of hard drive error, and that I could swing by and pick it up. He had wanted to upgrade it to Windows 7 anyway, so we agreed this was a good excuse to do that.

I brought the PC back to my office and pulled out the hard drive so I could copy all their data to a safe location while performing the upgrade. As soon as I plugged the drive in, it started making really loud clicking noises, occasional whirring, and more clicks. I immediately knew this was not good. Sure enough, my laptop wouldn't recognize it as a working disk, because it was no longer a working disk. It was, in fact, a dead disk.

I ended up putting in a new drive and upgrading him to Windows 7, and the computer works great again. But it's working great WITHOUT any of their data. I'm sending his dead drive to a specialist who can usually pull data off dead drives, but that isn't cheap, and it's only a "usually" not an "always".

To sum it all up, I know that many of our readers here save tons of very important data on their PCs. I also know that human nature is to WANT to make frequent backups, but typically that only happens sporadically at best.

If anyone reading this would like to protect their data, I encourage you to join my online backup program. It's a simple, Set 'n' Forget program that copies your files to my secure server every night using your Internet connection. From my central server, it's copied to additional locations to ensure that even if something fails in one location, the data will remain intact.

I like to call it "Peace of mind starting at $15 a month." And that $15 a month is good for up to 30GB of storage, from as many computers as you have in your home or office. Click Here for full details or to sign up.

Mention this blog and get 50% off the first month, making it only $7.50 to take the service for a test drive!

Sunday Funnies

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Always Observant

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

From the day she first opened her eyes, Danee has been a very observant little girl. Nobody comes, goes, talks, eats, or drinks without her knowing it, and wanting to participate. It's been a strong trait her whole life!

Now that she's highly mobile, she takes that love of observation and applies it to her motoring skills, allowing her to miss even less of what goes on in her world.

The other morning, Cindy and I were buzzing around the house, getting the kids ready for school, and Danee had been crawling around the living room. Suddenly I heard the sentence that has become very, very common around here: "Mike, you have GOT to come see what your daughter is doing!"

I came in and looked, and Little Miss Big Girl had gotten herself perfectly situated in her little chair, and was watching TV!

But just what was she watching?? Well, keeping in line with her thirst for knowledge, she was paying very close attention to...

...THE WEATHER! I guess she wanted to know which jacket to put on, whether or not she'd need her stroller cover, and other important decisions!

Naturally when she heard the camera clicking, she had to turn and smile for us!

Guess who loves their baby girl???

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Moon Is New

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

Last Friday, literally millions of women, young women, and girls all congregated around the world to celebrate the second installment of "The Twilight Saga."

Since My Girls were there on opening night of the first movie, they again pre-ordered tickets and were among the first to see this one too! Cindy, Ellysa and Kaylee went with both Ellysa and Kaylee bringing a friend along (Ashley and Rozi, the same friends who went to the last movie, of course) and this time Rozi's stepmom came along for the fun, and to keep Cindy from drowning in a sea of teen and pre-teen femininity.

That's a sampling of the delegation we sent out to the opening night festivities... And a few hours later, they came bursting back through the door exclaiming that the movie was, in unison, "AWESOME!"

I'm guessing I'll see it when it hits the video rack...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bye Bye, Butta!

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

Remember this?

If not, click here to catch up...

In the short year that's passed since then, we've welcomed a new baby into our family, started a new business, successfully trained a teen driver, AND USED UP ALL 68 POUNDS OF BUTTER!!!

It was with great regret on Saturday that I opened the door to the butter cooler at Costco and grabbed a box.

At least it was (slightly) less than $2.00 a pound, which is good among the commoners, but for the last year, we've been paying a mere 50 cents per pound of fresh creamery butter, so it still hurt!

I'm hoping the magic butter fairy presents us with another screaming yellow deal soon because with Holiday baking season upon us, we go through a whole lotta butta!

For example, after Costco on Saturday, I took some butter, some powdered sugar, some flour and some nuts, and created these...

...which were then rolled in more powdered sugar to become these!

See, while we were at Costco, Cindy noticed a Betty Crocker baking mix for Russian Tea Cakes. I scoffed and said I could make them without any stupid mix... to which she replied something along the lines of "MAKE THOSE COOKIES!"

And so I did.

And they're delicious.

And the 2009 Holiday Baking Season is OPEN!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

What I Am Thankful For

To begin with, I am going to tell you about a few of the things that I am thankful for.

Like a million ants in an ant hill, I have a million things I am thankful for; like for one thing, my family. I am thankful for my family because they are always there with me through thick and thin. Ellysa, my sister, and Cindy, my mom are my main role models; I am very thankful that I have them in my life because they love me more than a bee loves honey.

Apart from my family, I am also thankful for my home and belongings. My home, cozy and warm, is special to me and I am very thankful to have it because I know that there are a lot of kids who aren’t as fortunate to have nice homes. Another thing I am very glad and thankful for are my belongings because I know I am very fortunate to be able to wake up on Christmas and be able to open presents or have my own clean bed to sleep in.

Independent and beautiful, I am thankful for the country we live in. I am thankful for this country because we get to have rights that other countries don’t such as freedom and the right to our beliefs. As you can see, I have a lot to be thankful for, and I encourage you to look and see what you have to be thankful for at this wonderful time of year.

written by, Kaylee Funk 9/18/2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mommy's Little Helper

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

Danee LOVES to help around the house...

A couple days ago while Cindy was folding the laundry, Danee decided to help her out a little...

How, you may ask, does an almost-one-year-old help her mommy fold laundry??

Actually, if you asked that, you've probably never HAD an almost-one-year-old of your own... Because the obvious answer is...

She climbed in the basket all on her own!!

Once there, she felt VERY proud of herself...

But just as quickly as the fun began, she started to doubt the quality of play one can have in a laundry basket.

So, being the fiercely independent baby girl she is, she decided that if she got herself in there, then she could get herself out of there!

And she did...

...with only a SLIGHT tactical error...

At least she chose to crash-land into a pile of her own laundry!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Danee Portraits!

(By Mike Brinkerhoff - from Keeping Up With The Brinkerhoffs)

It is so hard to believe that two weeks from today, Daneekins will be turning ONE YEAR OLD!

To celebrate how far she's come, and how beautiful she is, Cindy took her to the portrait studio today to capture this stage of her life... And they turned out AWESOME!!

May I Present... Danee Brinkerhoff at (almost) One Year Old!

And finally, one for my office...

Anybody who wants to see the birthday girl in person, can come to her first birthday party on December 5 - 11am, at our house!