Monday, August 22, 2011

Jaiden's 1st Day At Pre-K

Jaiden turns 3 years old tomorrow, and today was her first day of school. As a military family here in Texas, she was able to start pre-K at three ... full day of school no less. So this morning we brought her over to the brand new House Creek Elementary School and set her up in the classroom.

httpv://youtu.be/nfnalRXVezY

Getting out without upsetting her too much was a bit of challenge. But since it's lunch time now, and we haven't been called to come pick her up, I'm going to assume that she eventually settled in.

I'm looking forward to getting home from work tonight, and finding out all about her day.

Now, as far as 1st days of school ... 6 down, 1 to go ... 2 more years til Joey can start. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]

p.s. I don't know what happened to the sound on the video .. it's there on my phone. Maybe youtube just needs more time to finish processing it.
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

The New House Is Almost Done!

Wow, it's only been 3 months since I stopped in at the D.R. Horton, House Creek North office to ask about building a house .. and now, our new home is just about finished. They still need to lay down the grass, put screens on the windows, and do a couple of other touch ups; but it's definitely looking like there's little doubt it will be ready for us to move in on the 30th.

Justin and I took a trip out there this morning. Since he spent the past 5 weeks in Hawaii, this is the first time he's seen the house since it was just a dirt lot. Of course I brought my camera along to grab a few new shots ...

Here's the view from the front. We have a pretty steep driveway. The bricks are in, an all the painting is done. The last thing they have to do, is put the black metal railing between those two columns on the front porch.
View from the street in front of the house

Once we got into the house, the first stop was the kitchen. The tile and carpet are down, the appliances are in, and they even cleaned up this morning before we got out there.
our kitchen

Next, I had to stop and get a picture of the master bathroom for Ana. There are two sinks, a separate tub and shower, and a block window (which is kind of hard to see in the daylight).
master bathroom

Then back down the hall to my favorite feature of the house .. the high ceiling entrance way:
high ceiling entrance hall

Obligatory "artsy fartsy" shot. Looking back down from the top of the stairs:
down the stairs

And finally, a picture of the back yard with the fence up. I can't wait to see what it looks like with grass.
fenced back yard

Really only two more things to do. We have a walk through with the home inspector next Tuesday, then the closing a week later, on the 30th. I'm thinking back to late last month, I was so excited to have locked in a 4.25% fixed rate for our 30 year mortgage. I couldn't have imagined that rates would go even lower this month. Oh well, if they'd gone up, as I feared, I'd be feeling pretty smart right about now. As it is, I still can't see any situation in the future where rates will be low enough that I'll even consider refinancing .. so that's one potential future headache eliminated before we even start. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Girls Help Daddy Make A Smoothie

You all know how much I enjoy a nice smoothie. So this morning, I decided that's what would be for breakfast ... I enlisted Jaiden and Joey to help me.

The first step is to get out the Vitamix, and gather the ingredients:


I let Jaiden flip the switch to turn on the blender .. apparently it was fun!


Then it was time to enjoy ...

Jaiden used her spoon:


While Joey was all about the straw:


mmmmm .. a good time was had by all. I wonder what we'll do for lunch?

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Central Texas Finally Gets Some Rain!

fort hood rain in the distance

Jaiden observed: "oh the water's coming from the sky". I'm almost surprised she didn't ask what rain is .. after all, it's been about 2 1/2 months since we've seen any precipitation here at Fort Hood. Add to that our streak of 100 degree days, and it's been a pretty miserable summer.

I'm not sure people were quite to the point of dancing in the streets. But I do know of at least a couple of my workmates who live out in Copperas Cove, that were very happy campers this afternoon.

I've still got a couple of weeks until I move into my new house. But with fresh sod going down, come about September 1st, I hope that the scene above becomes a very familiar site on my horizon.

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

U.S. Citizenship Test

Taking the citizenship test

Are you as smart as a brand new citizen?

This is a picture of my wife Ana outside the San Antonio USCIS office this morning, after successfully completing her citizenship test. It only took about 15 minutes. She had to show that she can read English, write English, and correctly answer at least 6 out of 10 questions about United States civics and history. She only needed 6 questions, as she got them all right!

We go down to Austin later in September for the actual swearing in, but for all intents and purposes, she's done with the process.

Anyhow, as I was helping her study for the test, I was struck by the idea that many "natural born" citizens would quite possibly have a tough time answering some of the questions on this test.

So, figured it was a good excuse for a little experiment.

I'm going to share a small sample of the type of questions that are asked on the citizenship test. Without googling the answers (prospective citizens have to answer these questions orally, without referring to the book), see how many of these questions you're able to (easily) answer.

Here we go ...


  1. How many amendments does the Constitution have?


  2. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?


  3. The Federalist Papers supported passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.


  4. Who was the President during World War I?


  5. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s?


  6. Name your U.S. Representative.


  7. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?


  8. Who is Chief Justice of the United States now?


  9. What did Susan B. Anthony do?


  10. Who Makes Federal Laws?




So how do you think you did?

answers:
answers

If you're brave enough, feel free to share your results (and maybe even some of your most "off the mark" answers) in the comments section below. (or on Facebook, if that's more your thing)

I promise not to make (too much) fun of you. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Homemade Pizza On Our Pampered Chef Stone



Jaiden helped me make pizza tonight!

... then decided that she'd rather have a yogurt for her dinner.

It's all good though, the rest of enjoyed using the Pampered Chef stone my mom sent me for Christmas to our yummy homemade pizza.

Here's what I did:

Mixed up the pizza dough, and spent about 10 minutes covered in flour kneading and shaping it.

Shaped the dough on the pizza stone.

Evenly spread one jar of fire roasted garlic diced tomatoes (instead of sauce).

Covered with one bag of shredded mozzarella cheese.

1/2 of a thinly sliced red onion.

An italian flavored chicken breast ... chopped. (cheated, and bought it pre-cooked in a bag)

1 tomato thinly sliced.

Cooked at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Ate :-)

[todd-sig]

p.s. 15 month old Joey had a whole slice of pizza to herself .. and her tray is now clean.
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Do I Need A New Camera?



Wow, my Canon 20D is nearly 7 years old. It's almost hard to imagine that I've owned a dSLR camera for that long. And it's almost equally as amazing that I still haven't upgraded, after all these years.

Lately though, I really don't even pull out the Canon unless it's a "special" occasion .. which seems to only happen every couple of weeks or so.

I'm not even planning to take the "big camera" with me when I deploy to Afghanistan later this fall.

For day-to-day picture taking, I've found that it's much easier to just rely on my Nexus S phone. Sure, there are quite a few things I can't do with the phone camera ... like zoom, or get a nice shallow depth of field, or have enough pixels to blow a shot up into a poster ... but really, how often do I need that kind of stuff anyway?

I'm actually looking forward to the idea of having my camera, post-processing, and storage all in a little 4" x 1/2" mini computer, that I can keep in my pocket as I travel to the other side of the world.

That said, when I get home, I think it really is time to get a new dSLR.

Don't get me wrong, amazing as it may sound, even after 7 years, my Canon 20D still works really, really good .. for what I need it to do.

But ...

Having a few extra pixels to play with in post processing would come in kind of handy.

I miss the tilt screen on my old Sony F-717. A few of the newer dSLRs have this.

While I'm not a big video guy (and actually my Nexus S makes pretty nice movies), the idea of slapping my Sigma 50-500mm, or even my 70-200 F4L lens on the camera, then shooting a video, just sounds too cool not try at least a few times.

So, I guess early next summer, I'll be in the market for a new camera.

And electronics being what they are, I'm sure I'll get more for my money then, than if I was in the market now. :-)

I wonder what sort of fancy ideas Canon has up their sleeve between now and then?

lol, could be like Christmas in June.

Til next time

[todd-sig]
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'll Be Your Honey Bee



Ok, so I stole the title from a popular country song, but none-the-less, today I do want to talk about our friend the honey bee.

Did you know, that as far as we humans are concerned, the honey bee is probably the most important animal in the world?

Do you know why that is?

One word: Pollination

As the bee goes out on it's daily hunt for nectar, at each plant it stops it usually also inadvertently picks up some pollen. As it moves on to the next food source, it deposits this pollen, enabling the plants (aka: our food) to reproduce.

So what can people learn from the bee?

What should we try to emulate?

As you go about your daily life, gathering the things you need for YOU, you'll also invariably pick up "stuff" that might very well be useful to others. You may or may not even be aware of this "stuff" .. but it's there.

Here's the thing about humans though .. unlike bees, we have this thing call Free Will.

The choices we make can have some impact on how much "stuff" we gather, what kind of "stuff" it is, and even how many other people we spread this "stuff" to.

Similarly to bees ...

Where we choose to feed (our minds) will have an effect on the quality and quantity of the additional "stuff" we pick up along the way. Also .. by choosing to "feed" in a variety of different places, not only will we enhance our ability to pick up a larger cross-section of "stuff", but we'll do a much better job of spreading the (hopefully good) "stuff" that's already sticking to us ... thereby enhancing the opportunity for additional sources of nourishment to prosper and grow.

Basically ..


The more we interact, and give back (consciously or not), the greater the chances that we'll Always be able to find (and get), the things we Need.


Wait a second though, aren't some people scared of bees?

Maybe there are some things about honey bees we don't want to emulate?

In addition to cool things like wings, big eyes, and six legs, bees also come equipped with a stinger (which I suppose some people might also classify as "cool").

As these wonderful insects go about their mission of spreading pollen and literally creating life; if they feel threatened, they have the ability to inflict a great deal of pain on their perceived nemesis.

But there's a catch:

Very often when a bee stings, it dies shortly thereafter.

Hmmm ...

So when a bee lashes out, and stings it's "victim", it almost always pays a much greater price than the person or thing it was trying to hurt.

Sure, a sting is painful, but by the next day, you might not every feel it any more.

The bee however, is dead.

Do you think we might be able to apply this lesson to a few (or even most) of our human interactions?

Just something to ponder.

Til next time,

[todd-sig]

p.s. This picture was taken with my Nexus S at about 8:30am this morning. While I'd hardly call it the ideal tool for macro photography, I have to say that this one definitely turned out not bad at all .. especially for a shot taken with a camera phone.
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Healthy Snacks In The Fruit Bowl

bananas and apples in a fruit bowl

Healthy food is what's on my mind lately, and I guess my pictures of the day will tend to reflect that. Today, we've gone to the fruit bowl, both literally and figuratively.

One of the easiest ways to lose a couple of pounds is to simply make the right decision, more often than not, when the question is some from of ...

"A cookie, or an apple?"

Needless to say, coming up with the correct answer is somewhat easier when you have well stocked fruit bowl sitting on the counter. Now I'm not sure you could really call ours "well stocked" at the moment. But at least the bananas are exactly how I like them ... almost, but not quite, over ripe.

When they're like this, they add just the right amount of sweetness to a smoothie. We can never have enough bananas in our house. It's by far my favorite fruit. But I actually ate a lot more when I was TDY to Florida ...

Because, here in the Morris house, it's also baby Joey's favorite fruit ... and breakfast on most days .. so as silly as it sounds, whenever I grab a banana, I always feel a little bit as though I'm "stealing" food from the baby. :-)

Ok, a quick word about the picture ..

Obviously taken with my Nexus S, using natural light from the window. I exported it to PicSay Pro, where I upped the contrast and saturation slightly, then applied the "cross process" effect. When I was done, I added the white matte around the edges, and sent it off to Wordpress.

Til next time ..
[todd-sig]
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Simple Spinach Tomato Salad

Simple salad

Lunch!

I'm still trying to lose and inch or two off my waist, so I've been trying to watch what I eat when I come home for lunch. One of the easiest things I've been able to come up with, is a simple little salad.

Today's salad consists of:

  • Spinach

  • Cherry Tomatoes

  • Sliced Turkey

  • Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing



Took all of about 2 minutes to put together. Is relatively healthy. And it tastes good! .. plus a colorful picture of the day.

What's not to like about this salad? ;-)

Til next time,
[todd-sig]
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Do You Drink After A Workout?

Rockstar Energy Drink

I decided to try a different energy drink today. After I got done exercising at PT, I swung by the shoppette to grab some caffeine .. preferably in liquid form. Normally, I'd just go for some Diet Mtn Dew, or maybe an Amp, but today (partially because it was on sale), I decided to try a Rockstar Recovery.

It met my first two personal requirments for an energy drink:

  1. Caffeine - 80mg

  2. Low, or No Calories - 10 in this case



But then the real test .. what was it going to taste like? I don't know about you, but I think some energy drinks are just nasty. You know, the funny aftertaste that's left in your mouth after every sip?

I'm happy to report that this particular drink has an interesting grape flavor. It tastes pretty good going down. That being said, I'm not terribly sure about how it's sitting in my stomach. Maybe I just need to eat ...

Where the heck did I leave those Clif Bars?

Apparently these particular Rockstars have some extra ingredients that help replenish my electrolytes .. maybe helping to offset the dehydrating effects of the caffeine? I don't know. In any case, I think I'll probably plan to drink some water for the rest of the morning.

Ok, shifting gears a bit ...

So, what do you think about the picture?

This is the third day of my new picture project. Another random shot, taken with my Nexus S phone. Seriously, I was just sitting at my desk, looking at the drink sitting in front of me, and thought to myself: "hmmm, I wonder if that would make a cool picture of the day?".

After a bit of editing in PicSay Pro ... I used the "Faux HDR" and the "Edge Lens Filter" effects ... I kind of like the way it turned out. I wonder what's going to catch my eye tomorrow?

Til then ... keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not Quite Hot Enough To Fry An Egg

egg on a hot sidewalk

Apparently 104 degrees isn't quite hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement. But hey, the last dozen we bought had one egg that was already cracked, and stuck in the carton, so it was an obvious candidate for this classic experiment.

... which unfortunately, turned out to be a big fat fail!

But at least it wasn't a total loss. I still got to take a fairly interesting picture of the day.

Til next time,
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Monday, August 1, 2011

The Morning Rush

intersection of Clarke Rd. and U.S. 190

It seems like I get stuck at this stop light every morning on my way to work. It's not a short stop light either. I usually end up sitting here for between 3 and 5 minutes .. long enough that it's worthwhile to grab my phone and read an article or two in my feed reader while I wait for it to turn green.

On the bright side, at least I wasn't going the other direction. That line of cars you can see in my mirror is waiting to get onto Fort Hood, main post. Once I make it through this light, the gate to get onto West Fort Hood, where I work, is much less congested. I call this my morning rush .. but really, it's just a relatively unstressful little 15-20 minute jaunt.

And today, it was even better, since I was able to knock out my very 1st picture of the day less than an hour after I crawled out of bed. No pressure. ;-)
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