Friday, March 27, 2009

Today is the BIG day!

Today we make official what we know in our hearts, Danee is our baby girl. A gift straight from Heavenly Father's arms to ours. I didn't think it possible to love someone so much that wasn't created in my body. I can tell you, it makes NO difference. She is my baby, I love her and now I pray that I will be a worthy Mother all of her days.

I am SO excited!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Andy's Book Of The Month: "Flame, The Racing Tire"

Over the last couple weeks, you've seen a lot about our 16 year old daughter Ellysa. She's riding the Water Polo wave right now, as a sophomore on the varsity squad of the area's dominant team!

Meanwhile, our 16 year old son Andy is excelling in other ways. You see his weekly comic strip, "Rodney & Jim" here every Sunday, but he does much more than that... Andy started writing books several years ago - but in the past year, they have achieved new heights in the Three Q's: Quality, Quantity and Quantifiability. (Or Length. But Length doesn't start with Q, and I really wanted to go with the Three Q's, so Quantifiability it is!)

Last year I scanned one of his books in and made an e-book out of it, and we emailed it out to select friends and family, to great reviews - no surprise to us, because we thought it was great in the first place!!

Anyway, for the past several months I've wanted to start featuring one of his books each month on the blog, and I realized today that I already have "Flame, the Racing Tire" on the computer as an e-book, so it's the perfect choice to go first! It's embedded below, with a link to the full-screen version below that.

Or to view in full screen, just click here!

Pretty good, huh? We're really proud of his writing, and the books he's written since "Flame" came out, have pushed much farther into the realm of Awesome Youth Literature. Stick around for them!

Also, Andy started his own blog this week, and I invite everyone to go over and say hi! He's listed in the blogbar on the left, or you can just click here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beware The Savings!

I'd like to introduce you to Gill. Gill is a new comic strip that runs on the web Monday through Friday (Friday strips are in color!) at

Gill is a kid with divorced parents - a mom who tries hard and does pretty well, and a dad who is the very definition of a deadbeat, although he has shown glimpses of integrity from time to time.

Today's strip appealed to me on many levels, so it seemed like a good time to introduce Gill to my friends and family!

To see Gill's breakfast dilemma full size, just click!

Bless That Baby!

Here's your friendly reminder:
Bless That Baby!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Make Room For Daddy (Please?)

I shouldn't even be awake right now.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, which means it's a Racketball day, which means a 4:30am wake up time.

But I'm up, and actively working on this:

A friend from church with a PC so beaten down by years of use that it was barely functional. The backup is complete now, and the restoration is well underway. At least when I finish, I can look forward to escaping into my comfortable bed, right?

Wrong. I just went in to maybe lay down while Internet Explorer 7 was installing, and found no room at the inn.

Cindy (which is perfectly ok - she's supposed to be there!)



And as if to add insult to injury, Kitty.

So now I need to finish the computer repair, forklift Kaylee out of my bed and into hers (which involves carrying her upstairs), delicately transfer Danee to her crib (which inevitably involves her waking up and wanting a fresh diaper and a warm bottle) and finally getting my own sorry carcas into bed...

Makes me tired just thinking about it!

Kids @ Play

Tyler wrapped up his Basketball season last week, and I missed the last game of the year, thanks to a baby girl who decided - right as we were about to leave - that she was hungry, and needed to be fed RIGHT. THAT. MINUTE.

But I did make it to the team banquet after the game! Tyler forgave us for missing the game, on the condition that he got to hold his baby sister...

There was one thing his team did this year that I really liked. Instead of giving the kids yet another trophy to collect dust on some shelf, they made up T-Shirts with the team logo! That, along with a certificate made for a bunch of happy kids, including our own Tyler!

We mentioned a couple weeks ago that Water Polo season was upon us, and that Ellysa made the cut and is on the Varsity squad! It's a huge accomplishment for her, and we're very proud! Time for a fresh batch of pics to capture the 2009 Varsity Water Polo experience.

First, here she is, with some teammates, coming out from the locker room to the pool.

About to jump in, looking relaxed and happy.

Then it's like a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy, only it's high school girls instead of sharks, and they're not fighting over a wounded seal, but a volleyball-looking ball... and they have to tread water the whole time! (Ellysa is #9, on the right)

As she pulls herself out of the water, you can see the exhaustion on her face. But her eyes remain glued on the ball!

At the end of the game, it's all worthwhile. Another opponent bites the dust.

And since these days, it feels like a post isn't complete without a picture of Jasper sleeping on something not meant for him. He's upgraded from the boring old recliner, to Danee's vibrating bouncy chair! Next time I see him sleeping in there, I'm totally turning on the vibrating feature...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Evening With Chuck E.

Last Thursday, our honorary Brinkerhoff - Romeo - was celebrating his 8th birthday! And Thursdays are the nights that he's an honorary Brinkerhoff, so we decided to do something fun with him...

While Cindy and the kids placed our order, Danee and I found a relatively quiet place to hang out...

Relatively quiet, that is, until "The Show" began, at which point they cranked the volume way up to eleven, and all the kids in the room started screaming. Danee woke up and was just a little shocked and overstimulated, maybe even a little scared. Luckily, her mommy was there to protect her and make everything okay!

After "The Show" ended, our Pizza finally arrived (more than 45 minutes to make 2 pizzas??) so the kids quickly scarfed down just enough food to carry them through the next wave of ticket-hunting...

And then they were back off on their Ticket Quest! Both Andy and Kaylee had decided to give all their tickets to Romeo so he could get some extra birthday presents... And they did a great job of helping him along! Kaylee hit the jackpot TWICE on this "hit the button while the spinning light is in the magic ticket zone" game...

...and Andy spent most of the evening playing Skee-Ball, which he said was "a ticket machine!"

At final count, Li'l Ro had accumulated over 1,200 tickets...

...and made off with more loot than he could carry, so Kaylee was happy to offer the assist...

Good times were had by all, except maybe poor little Danee, who was officially overstimulated, which meant that she woke up at 2:30 AM, breaking a streak of more than two weeks of sleeping all night! (don't cry for us though, she's started a new streak by now!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Geek Out! - Hatin' on itunes, The Sequel

*note* I'm a technology geek. I sometimes want to ramble on about geeky stuff that probably nobody else will care about, since you're all here to see the latest family updates... So when I'm about to go geeksplosive, I'll mark the posts Geek Out!, and you can just know to move along. Fair? I thought so!

Don't worry, there are lots of new Danee pics and other family news, which'll be up here soon! *end note*

It's been a while since I've unleashed my righteous rage against apple's scamtastic itunes empire, and if you've missed my geek'd out ranting, today's your lucky day!

Since it has been a while, you may have missed the first round... If that's true, and you're wondering why on Earth the normally level-headed and incredibly handsome Mike would be pouring haterade all over the sweet and fluffy apple, just click here. It's all explained. Then come back here and join the rest of the class. I'll wait...

Hi, welcome back!! I hope you learned something, maybe had an eye opening experience back there. Anyway, here's what's happened since I wrote that optimistic tribute to Amazon's mp3 store:

Amazon was successful in bringing all the major record labels on board, so now there's not much domestically released music that can't be found there, in deliciously unrestricted mp3 files! Earlier this year, apple finally made all of itunes DRM-Free, removing the restrictions but keeping their pesky aac file format. In 2009, there are more music players that know how to play aac than there were in 2007 when I wrote that last article, but it's still just an annoying complication in a world where "mp3" MEANS digital music.

Also since we last talked, Internet speeds have steadily risen, to where now video is being as commonly downloaded as audio was a couple years ago. There are several ways to get movies on demand over the 'net now, with Netflix offering an outstanding service to computers, xBox 360, Tivo and other set-top boxes. If you haven't tried it, it's my favorite aspect of having a Netflix account! I can add a movie to my "Instant Watch" queue, then go over to the Tivo, and it's there in the list, ready to watch right now! You get unlimited movies with your $9.99 plan, in addition to the DVDs. The quality is great - I haven't had any complaints in the last few months of watching them. My only complaint is that the selection of instant-watch movies is limited compared to what's on DVD. That, undoubtedly will change.

Netflix isn't the only player in the online movies game, just the best. There are several other companies including Amazon, offering the same concept. The itunes store is one of them. Through there, you can "rent" a movie for $5, or "buy" a standard-def movie for $15. A few days ago, they added hi-def movies for $20.

Okay, already I'm irritated with the whole thing! $15 is the price for a movie on DVD. $20 will get you a Blu-Ray disc. Colour me cheap, but I can't justify paying the same price for a download with no disc, no case, no liner notes, no special features, and so on. But I'll admit, that's me. Other people may not have any issues with that, and they're welcome to spend $20 on a downloaded movie.

But they'd better have a brand-spankin' new monitor hooked up to their computer if they want to watch their new hi-def entertainment in itunes, which is the only way you can watch it...

Meet HDCP. High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. It's a system that ensures that the movie you're playing, is going to a dead-end in your monitor, and not being funneled out to a recording device. If they could find a way to ensure that only one set of eyeballs watches it, they'd add that in a heartbeat. Now watching content you've paid for is dependent on having the right kind of monitor and of course, the right kind of cable connecting it.

HDCP wasn't invented by apple, but they're among the first companies to use it to block consumers from using the content they've paid for. Conveniently, Apple would be happy to sell you a new HDCP compliant monitor...

My point? With the Netflix streaming service, I can watch movies on my computer or my Tivo, and it just works. apple has made a legacy out of ads mocking Windows for being hard to use, while their mac systems "just work".

Well, they "just work" as long as you keep re-buying your systems to stay caught up with the latest restrictive technology.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again - don't buy from itunes. There's way too much control involved, and none of it is in your hands.

Friday Funny - Cats, Ferrets and Facebook, Oh My!

Happy Friday - Time to smile!! I haven't come across anything that really split my sides, but here are the ones that I squirreled away to cheer me up on the gray rainy days... like today! And as usual, a hungry cat brings a smile to my face!

This cat may have been hungry at one point, but I suspect by the time the picture was taken, its thoughts had turned more to sweet revenge in the night!

Here we see that while cats are commonly known for being the cunning kings of captioned pictures, you can't forget about the ferrets!

My tolerate/hate relationship with facebook continues, and this handy chart illustrates why I rarely go above ''Tolerate'' in the relationship...

All that useless facebook nonsense leaves a bad taste in my mouth... Why not wash it down with a refreshing bottle of...

Happy Friday! Keep smiling!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Like Sheep In The Night

Commercials don't have to be grating, claw-your-own-brain-out torture segments, interrupting almost equally grating "entertainment".

Every now and then, a commercial comes along that gives me hope, that actually seems more enjoyable than the "entertainment" that it's interrupting. I think that big football game they have every year is a good example of that.

Here's another example. Take a bunch of sheep, put them in sweaters made of LEDs, and synchronize them into the dazzling displays you see below.

Until the tagline at the end, I wouldn't have guessed this was a commercial at all! Just incredibly cool!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We Got Leprechaun'd!

For years now, March 17th has been a day of chaos and disorder around our house... Especially down in the daycare!! From sun up, til the parents come in the evening, nobody's quite sure what's going to happen.

It all starts off as good clean (and green) fun... White milk magically turns green when it's poured into cups at breakfast time... Pancakes do the same!

But then, with the kids safely off at school, the fun turns a bit sinister...

May I submit Exhibit A - The Daycare this morning:

At some point between the kids leaving for school, and coming home six hours later, some pesky leprechaun (or leprechauns?) wreaked absolute havoc on our tidy, orderly Puddle Jumpers space!! Don't believe me? Take a look at Exhibit B:

That's an awful lot of carnage... Click on any of the pictures for a close up view of the destruction!! The veteran Puddle Jumpers have been through this before, but were still shocked at how drastic it was. The newbies - well, it's a good thing Ms. Cindy is CPR certified!!

You'd think the kids would be extra devastated when they find out that it's their job to clean everything back up. But it doesn't take much time in the tidying process before the first kid spots a gold coin, or gold egg (both filled with delicious chocolate!) and then it's a cleaning frenzy, with nobody resting until every single piece is back in its rightful place!

I guess in hindsight, it may not be such a bad thing that those pesky leprechauns keep trashing the daycare year after year... It's the one time all year that everything gets thoroughly re-arranged, and Cindy doesn't even have to be the one who does it!

Oh, and in case any rumors start swirling around that Ms. Cindy was in some way responsible for these shenanigans, she was at the doctor's office with Ellysa, who has been battling flu-like symptoms for a couple weeks (despite all the water polo and pep band commitments). She has testified, under oath, that when she left the house, everything was still in order.

I think they'd been watching the house all day, just waiting for their opportunity to strike!!

Finally, as the last kid was picked up, the magical hijinks seemed to fade away, and we had a peaceful - and crazy delicious - dinner of corned beef and cabbage!

...and I just realized as I typed that, that I've gone through the whole "Green" season without enjoying a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's.. Wonder if they'll stick around a few more days??

St. Paddy's Day Funnies!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good News!

The phone rang today with Good news. Our Final Adoption court date is here!!

The court has approved everything and Danee will officially be a Brinkerhoff,

Friday March 27th at 9:00 AM!

Mike and I, along with our attorney and any family that would like to join us will take our oath, sign our order and take our picture with Danee. We are so excited and feel so blessed that this day is finally marked in ink on the calendar.

We plan to have an Open House to celebrate our little girl joining our family saturday March 28th in the afternoon from 4:00-8:00 with food, drink and of course yummy chocolate!

We will have Danee blessed Sunday the 29th of March during our sacrament meeting at 1:00. We would love to have friends and family join us for this very special day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Funnies - Happy Anniversary, Rodney & Jim!

One year ago today (err... tomorrow, but ya know, Sunday and all...) Andy's comic strip, "Rodney and Jim" made its big debut! Counting extra strips for holidays and special events, they're on their 57th strip today! Andy still has lots of fun ideas for them in the coming year! Congratulations Andy, on reaching this milestone!