Apr. 13th, 2016 04:25 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Huh. Just got an e-mail from LEGO that dropped my jaw a bit. A few weeks back I visited Wal-Mart to check for clearance LEGO sets, and found a couple at prices I couldn't resist. One of them, the box was pretty beat up and looked like it had been resealed, but for the price I couldn't resist--it was normally a $50 set and I got it for under $10. But when I recently went to build it, I discovered that an entire bag of parts was missing. I figured oh well, at least I didn't pay much for the set, right? But I also figured what the hell, let me e-mail LEGO and see how much it would be to replace that bag, maybe it would still be a decent deal for the set. I said in my e-mail that it was a clearance set and appeared to have been opened, because I wanted to be clear that I didn't think the missing bag was LEGO's fault, and I asked for the replacement cost of that bag since otherwise you have to order individual pieces on their website, which is tedious and probably overpriced. But the e-mail I just got? They're just shipping me a replacement bag, no questions asked. That's my first time getting in touch with LEGO for anything like that--that's because of something else amazing, their quality control--but wow, not what I expected! Just wanted to give them a thumbs-up. :)

Now, time to go home!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Hey cp, what's in the cabinet?
Well let's open 'er up, shall we?
Open Sez-a Me )


Feb. 22nd, 2016 02:37 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Almost 3 weeks and I am STILL fighting the Great Phlegm Wars. Constantly trying (and failing) to clear my throat, and coughing even though the coughing does nothing. It is annoying. But it shall pass. Someday.

This morning.. should I even post about this? We live in an area with city water but not city sewer, so we have a septic system. And we'd never had the thing pumped out, so we decided we should do that before we have actual problems. So that happened. All was fine, and I learned a bit. The odd thing is that there's a pump in the system somewhere, the purpose of which is to pump water to the drainfield in the back yard. And the pump has been unplugged for who knows how long. But even so, everything looked okay with the tank and all. The septic guy was a bit flabbergasted, called it a miracle. Though in my experience miracles don't tend to involve anything septic-system-related. But whatever.

Weekend was pretty okay. Saturday we went over to the coast to visit my Mom, because Amy said she wanted to do that for her upcoming birthday. She'll be 5 tomorrow, hard to believe! Anyway, that was a pretty good visit. We had lunch at a yummy Mexican place we like (and my sister met us there--she is still a moron). Afterwards we went to check out the house my sister is planning to buy, since it was just around the corner from the restaurant. It's a HUD home with some issues, but for the price it's pretty impressive. Nice big separate garage that includes a bonus room and a little bathroom. And the house itself, apparently when they built the separate garage they converted the attached garage into additional living space, so the kitchen and living room were both huge. Sis has huge dreams for the place, though how she plans to accomplish them when she and her husband both live on disability insurance is beyond me. Should I also note that she's a big Trump supporter? Like I said, she's a moron.

Sunday it was decided that I'd take the girls to EPCOT and get us new WDW passes. We'd been tossing the idea around for a bit and decided to go ahead. I'm shooting a colleague's wedding this summer, and she asked if we could do the engagement session at EPCOT. I told her that wasn't an option since we were between passes, but then I got to thinking about it, and thought why not? I like to have a pass for myself and photo sessions when they come up, and I generally make enough from photography to cover the cost. So then the question was, who else gets a pass? The wife just wasn't interested--she's not a big fan these days because she says the place is always busy, and she's not too wrong (though I think she doth protest too much). But the girls and I still like to go, and it's particularly unfair to Amy since she's at a perfect age for the place, and would be missing out since we've almost always had passes when her sisters were her age. So at first I suggested just me and Amy, but we decided that wasn't fair to the other two either, so everyone but the wife got one. It's a win for her because it gives me a place to take the girls for a good chunk of the day now and then, which will give her a nice break to sew or clean or just relax in a quiet house with no rugrats. Nice, right? So anyway, we headed out there and had a nice time for a few hours. Didn't do much to speak of, just got our passes, had lunch at The Land, and made the grand circle tour of the world. And I scouted some nice nooks and crannies for that upcoming engagement shoot.

Speaking of photography, I need to get back on the ball with that. I've been feeling like my skills have gone downhill, and that was reinforced this morning while I was waiting for the septic guy to finish. Amy wanted to see photos of herself as a baby, after Heather was telling her we moved in to the house when Hallie was a baby. So they were looking at my Flickr photos from back then, and I realized I just don't take photos that good these days, for whatever reason. I need to figure out why that is, and what to do about it. I should really fire up Shutterbuggery again, if for no other reason than to pose some exercises for myself and whomever else cares.

That said, my Creative Commons photos seem to get picked up pretty regularly. I was paging through a recent Orlando Weekly, which is the free alternative newspaper thing around these parts, and there was a photo of the old mill at DeLeon Springs State Park that looked awfully familiar. I was like, "Is that mine?" And sure enough, there was a credit to my Flickr username. And on FB, someone posted a link to an article with some photos of the Bulow Creek sugar mill ruins, and the majority of photos were mine. Always kinda fun to see that. :) I need to get those chops back up as well.

After EPCOT I took Amy to the home improvement store to get lumber for the additional LEGO cabinet shelves, and tackled that yesterday before dinner. Didn't take long at all! And I think the LEGO cabinet is pretty awesome. I'll have to get some photos to share, because while it's silly to have a huge cabinet full of LEGO, and even more silly to be proud of such a thing.. we do have it, and I am kinda proud. :)

Have a great afternoon!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

This morning I got the rest of my stuff moved over to the new office and (mostly) put away, so I thought I'd take a couple iPhone snaps to give you the gist. I have some more posters and whatnot I can hang on the walls, but I dunno if I'll put that much effort into it. Marilyn came along and that's the important thing. :)

I feel like I forgot some updates when I posted last. Let's see.. while I was struggling through my illness one of the fence posts for our backyard gate broke (okay, okay, I broke it), so I fixed that over the weekend. Really I'd like to replace a good bit of our fence, and that thought must be in the air because yesterday when I got home our neighbor to the rear was having a stretch of theirs replaced. Might have to do it as a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses sort of thing now!

Starting to think about our next family trip. I've had an idea for a while now, fly to Birmingham (Alabama, that is) and rent a car, and spend a few days making our way up I-65 through Tennessee and Kentucky on the way to Indianapolis, whence we'd fly home. There's lots I saw in Birmingham and Indy that I know the girls would enjoy, and along the way we'd pass through our old Nashville stomping grounds, plus Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I'm thinking it would make a good fall trip, though--the October colors in southern Indiana were glorious. So for the spring I think we're considering something closer, just a shortish road trip. Atlanta, maybe. Not a bad time for that, gas prices as low as they are!

Oh yeah, I remembered the other thing! Saturday I woke up feeling sickly and planned on a relaxing day doing as little as possible. So of course instead we decided to indulge our hobby of rearranging furniture. Maybe I've mentioned it, but we have a fairly large LEGO collection. The girls like to play with LEGO, of course, so we like to keep it available. But I had it stored in a big 5-drawer metal lateral filing cabinet, which was a) rather ugly and b) fairly inconvenient, since you can only open one drawer at a time. So I'd been tossing around the idea of replacing that thing with something like an armoire instead, with shelves inside so everything can be hidden when the doors are closed, but easy to access with the doors open. And as it turned out, we had just such a thing in our upstairs bathroom. See, the previous owners of the house were big on hand-built antique stuff, so the bathroom vanities and a few pieces of furniture they left behind were just that. The armoire upstairs was fine for towels and linens, but always felt a bit out of place to us anyway. So we decided Heather could use the metal filing cabinet in her sewing room for fabric and patterns and whatnot, and we'd bring the armoire downstairs for LEGO. And that turned out to be much easier said than done, because the doorway out of our bedroom is 80" tall, and the armoire is 81" tall thanks to an arched top and trim. It was a bit of a comedy of errors for a while. We tried to get it through the door several ways and actually managed to trap ourselves in the little alcove at the top of the stairs, with the armoire completely wedged and blocking our bedroom doorway--I had to climb over the rail and down the outside of the staircase, and then climb a ladder into our bedroom window to pull the thing back through and set Heather free. :) But eventually I figured it out, and only almost got crushed into goo once getting the thing downstairs. And all's well that ends well, right? I'll have to get a photo of that too, but first I want to add a couple more shelves in the armoire for the smaller bins of LEGO. First World Problems, right?

Speaking of LEGO, have I mentioned how bad I want the Ghostbusters Firehouse? Oh man. We went to the LEGO store at Disney Springs a couple weeks ago to see if they had it, and it was every bit as awesome as I expected.

Okay, I should find some actual work to do today. Hope everyone is having a good afternoon, or whatever it is when you're reading this. :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
LEGO City: Undercover for the Wii U is pretty awesome. I guess it's best described as Grand Theft Auto, if the world were mostly made of LEGO and (naturally) it's friendly for kids. It's 1-player only, so I hadn't gotten to play it that much. But lately we've been playing it more, and it's so good the girls don't even mind watching and/or taking turns at the controls.

We're not very far into it, but part of the plot involves going into an Alcatraz-style prison, and it's rife with Shawshank Redemption nods, so of course I am loving it. There's a NPC named Blue, who sounds a lot like Morgan Freeman's Red, and even has a little sidebar where he denies being "Freeman", kinda funny. Then later, in a prison cell, there's a LEGO-fied version of the Raquel Welch poster that hid the tunnel in the film. Good stuff. :)

Okay, time to go home.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Oh man, what great timing. I have been waiting for this to finally hit the market, and it's perfect that it's coming just in time for Father's Day. I know what I want!

I have the Back to the Future Delorean set that was also released through LEGO Cuusoo (now thankfully renamed LEGO Ideas; I always thought Cuusoo was a weird name). That one is a pretty cool set, but this one looks simply awesome. Can't wait to get my hands on it!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I feel like I should post something because I suck about posting and want to stay in the habit. So.. yeah. :)

• Weekend was okay. Another rainy, chilly, gloomy, dismal Saturday, so we didn't do much. We went out in the morning for a bit--now I can't even remember where, how sad is that?--and to have lunch, but then we stayed home all afternoon. Hallie was sickly anyway, a little bit of a fever and she just wanted to sleep and relax all day. Sunday looked like much nicer weather and we had no plans, so we decided to head to LEGOLand since it had been a while. Luckily Hallie was feeling all better! It was a fun time, lines were generally short and the weather was indeed nice, if a touch too warm. We stopped at our usual place on the way home for milkshakes, because it was hot and they're damn good milkshakes. :)

• At LEGOLand Amy drove the little LEGO cars for the first time--it's supposed to be for kids 3-5 years old and she's a few weeks shy of 3, but she still did pretty good! She had some trouble coordinating her steering with holding the accelerator down, I think--she could focus on one or the other but not both. Still, afterwards she said she felt perfectly confident to drive the van. :)

• Speaking of LEGO, I totally want to see the LEGO Movie, which seems to be getting really good reviews. When FoxNews calls out a childrens' movie for brainwashing kids with commie anti-capitalist ideals, I'm on board as a general rule. I dunno when we'll go, though--maybe I can take Hallie to the theater some evening this week, since she's the only one who's usually interested in going to the theater anyway. Hermione takes after Heather, who would rather watch a film at home and in chunks. I'm glad at least Hallie appreciates the theater-going experience! Amy might too, but she's still a little too young and doesn't have the patience yet.

• I finally finished the girls' bathroom! Well, almost. I am notorious about starting projects and not finishing them. In this case we did a remodel of their bathroom last year, but I hadn't gotten around to attaching the backsplash to the vanity top. So I finally did that, just need to caulk it and attach one more piece of trim along the side. Easy!

• Speaking of projects, I really need to get back to work on our piano, which has been a work in progress for what, 5 years or so now? But I haven't wanted to tear it apart to work on the action because Hermione uses it for lessons and practice. But Friday night we went to Costco, and they were having a special display of Yamaha digital pianos, which got us thinking about getting one. Our piano is awesome as an antique artifact, but it really doesn't play very well, it needs new strings badly, and it's out of tune. So it's really not a good instrument for Hermione to be learning on, not least because she'll get to think an in-tune instrument sounds wrong, you know? So if we got a digital piano for her to learn on, I could work on the acoustic piano without depriving her of a means to practice. Bad thing is, good ones are pricey--the one I think we settled on is Kawai's CN-34, which goes for $2400 or so and seems like a good mix of features before leaping to the $3500+ models. (If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, I'm definitely interested to hear them!)

• Um.. I think that's about it for now. Oughta get some more work done before I call it a day, especially since I'm on the road tomorrow!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
But I don't wanna. My boss is visiting a call center in Jamaica, mon, so I'm being an egregious slacker. As if that's unusual. Anyway.

What to update about.. I took our kitten in to get spayed yesterday. All our other cats were shelter cats and fixed when we adopted them, but this one was a feral kitten who showed up at the back door while I was away on a trip and made herself right at home. And it was just after another of our cats died, so it seemed like uncanny timing. She's been a pretty good cat, but she hit puberty and started going into heat, and that's just not a pretty picture. So the time had come. It seemed to go well, I dropped her off in the morning and picked her up in the afternoon, and the girls have been keeping her in their bedroom with a towel and little toy teacups with food and water. It's cute. :)

Speaking of bedrooms, we really need to figure out how to kick Amy out of ours. As with all our kids, we took the front off the crib and set it up as an extension of our bed, so she could fall asleep with us and then sleep over there for the rest of the night. But that was only supposed to be for her first year or two, and it is getting old, especially when she interferes with, er, marital relations. :) Currently the older girls like to sleep together, and the idea was for Hermione to move into her own bedroom and then Amy would move in with Hallie. But no one wants to put this plan into effect. Hermione doesn't want to sleep alone, Amy doesn't want to leave our bedroom, and Hallie probably prefers Hermione to Amy anyway. So it's a fight on all fronts, and so far we haven't pushed the issue because we like sleep. But something's gotta give! Ideas, anyone? Just force it? Bribery? Tranquilizers? What?

I know I mentioned Hallie's love of Indiana Jones. I've been having fun scouting eBay for bargains on the retired LEGO sets. So far I've picked up 4, which are currently on the way. They're all used and missing pieces, but hopefully whatever's missing are things I already have or can replace, so I'm not too worried about that. And the prices people ask for unsealed in-box retired sets are insane. Out of curiosity I did a search for the Green Grocer, one of the nice big modular buildings. New it was probably $200, maybe $250. The cheapest used/open one I saw was $475, and for new-in-box? Anywhere from $800 to $1,500. One person had that and another nice one, the Cafe Corner--$2,750 for both. But hey, free shipping! What a deal! I need to get into the LEGO reselling racket, methinks.

I'm sure I have things to say on the political front--Syria, the DC Navy Yard, the upcoming game of government-shutdown chicken. But to hell with it, it just ticks me off.

Working to set up that newborn photoshoot for this weekend, and then next weekend I have an engagement shoot (I think--need to drop her a line to make sure!). Had an inquiry for another family shoot too, hoping to make that the following weekend. Then I'm clear until the weddings in November. Need to try to book a couple more now that the weather is getting nicer, though. I should try an ad for vacation photos, but I don't know how many visitors think to look at CL. I get a lot of that sort of business, but I think they just find my blog/website. That usually picks up around Christmastime, anyway.

Okay, gonna try to actually do some work. I hope everyone is having a good week!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

I'm getting used to these long weekends! I took Friday off because I had a photoshoot scheduled at the Magic Kingdom, as I think I mentioned. As I also mentioned, when we were setting up the time and place to meet the lady said they'd be easy to spot because one of their sons is on oxygen. That concerned me a bit out of sheer ignorance, frankly--how uch of an impediment would that be? What kind of photos would it make for? And you know, I came out of it better for the experience. Turned out he was an adopted son (they had a 2yo biological son, the adopted 18-month-old, and are expecting their second biological child, a girl this time). I really don't know (and was too reluctant to ask) what was 'wrong' with the boy, aside from his being on oxygen and a bit 'off' mentally--just meaning that he was developmentally behind, barely able to sit unassisted and essentially non-communicative. But aside from that and the complications of needing to switch him to the portable oxygen before going on rides, he was really good. And I had a lot of respect for the couple to sign up for all that by adopting him, you know? Having one toddler is tough, two is even moreso, but with special needs thrown in too.. more than I feel I could manage, even if I had no choice in the matter, and they did. So yeah, that was an interesting and valuable experience, I think.

After the shoot I was hot and hungry, so I headed for the exit. Grabbed lunch on the way home, and then for the rest of the weekend we mainly took it easy around the house. A few excursions to shop and get lunch, and we went to the Magic Kingdom as a family Saturday evening. We hadn't been there since our summer blackout period ended, so it was nice to be back, but it was still uncomfortably hot even as the night wore on. Hopefully just a few more weeks until we get a taste of fall. A cold front made it into northern Florida over the weekend, but there it stalled. Maybe the next one will have more oomph. :)

Oh, and also Saturday we finally checked out a store we've driven by for years and always said we wanted to check out. It's a big comic book/toy/collectible store, full of new and vintage stuff for geeks young and old. We finally decided to go because of Hallie--she's gotten a bit obsessed with Indiana Jones lately, which I personally think is very cool. But we have no Indiana Jones toys and they aren't exactly common anymore. The LEGO sets that came out a few years back were pretty sweet and would be big hits, but unfortunately they're retired and not in stores anymore, so we thought we'd look to see if they had any new-old-stock or used. They actually did have a couple, but they were pretty pricey. Might have to start trolling eBay for those. Anyway, we did let Hallie get a little Indy action figure, and she carried him around for the rest of the weekend, humming the score of the films while she made him a house out of a shoebox. Pretty cute, actually. We also saw an awesome Weeping Angel cardboard standup, which Heather now wants for Christmas so it can go up on the little balcony at the top of our stairs. :) We're not sure if the girls like that idea, though, it might creep them out!

Sunday we mainly relaxed around the house, and I got that photoshoot mostly edited. Oh, and I took Hermione to pick out a new ceiling fan--the one in her room was old and had gotten wobbly. So I put up the new one too.

Okay, have some photos! Under the cut! )

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