Going on a Digital Vacation

3 03 2009

As we enter our final week prior to our big family trip to Hawaii, I’ve been scurrying around trying to get things in place. Flight info, travel, hotel, the usual things right? Well, as a Dad, a geek and a budding amateur photographer, I’m also struggling with the questions of what gear do I take? This isn’t going to be a camping trip where electronics aren’t allowed. But, I still want to take the fewest things possible. Here, I present my vacation suggestions.

First, take your laptop. I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro to have 500 GB of drive space. That sounds like a lot, and normally it should be enough space. But, since I’m going to basically be on a mission of gathering digital artifacts, I’m going to need all the space I can get. I’m also bringing along an external drive with 250 GB of space. This drive is a normal laptop drive housed in a nice enclosure. In all, ~650GB of space should be enough. I like to be prepared. But, what is all this space for? Well…

Second, take a digital camera. I’m taking two. Recently, I upgraded my DSLR to the Canon Rebel XSi. I’ve got a few good lenses now, and I plan to set aside some time during this trip to just take some photographs. Hopefully the kids won’t mind. I’m also taking my new Canon SD880. The photos that come out of it are terrific for the size of the camera, and I’ll have it in my pocket, ready at a moment’s notice. Perfect for those times when you just don’t want to lug around an SLR and three different lenses. But these cameras only take a few GB of pictures, you say? Sure, but I use the DSLR in RAW mode, so I’m using 12 MB per picture (it’s a 12 megapixel camera). Ok, fine, but that still seems like overkill on the space…

Until you consider the digital camcorder. While my SD880 does have a movie mode, I also plan on packing my Sanyo HD1000. This high definition camcorder is capable of recording in 1080i resolution. I have a 4 GB card for it to help my be more mindful of my recording. I may yet still find an affordable 16 GB card for it. But, if you add up a few hours (over two weeks) of video, well, you can easily eat up the 250 GB drive alone.

Now, if you’ve read down to this point and started thinking “This dude is a total geek, and is crazy for trying to do all that to his family on vacation”, well, you’re right. I don’t plan on record every single second of my trip. However, there will be days where I will be focused on the pictures, and others where I will focus on the activity in front of me. But, it sure doesn’t hurt to bring along these little items just in case because they are just so small these days.

So, check back here, our vacation site, or on our photo page to see how our vacation is going!


Birthday Number Three

15 02 2009
Birthday Number 3

Birthday Number 3

“Annabelle, my younger daughter, recently celebrated her 3rd birthday. We live in a multicultural house, and thus had two different types of ways to celebrate. The first is the traditional Korean seaweed soup breakfast. The second is the traditional cake and ice cream party. We didn’t have a large party for Annabelle this time because she was a little sick the day before and didn’t want to get everyone else sick. She had a fun day either way.”

The Polar Express

18 12 2008

Nearly two weeks ago, my wife and I took the kids on a trip to the North Pole. Amazingly enough, there was a train that goes right near Santa’s village. The Polar Express was a fun ride for the kids, and they had a chance, ever so quickly, to see Santa Claus.20081208-IMG_2613

The trip to Williams, AZ was fairly quick from Phoenix. I guess that’s just me getting old. After three hours of driving, we arrived at our hotel only to be greeted with cold air and a long checkin line. Santa set up accommodations for us in his hotel, the Grand Canyon Inn. The checkin line went very quickly, as this seemed to be the normal daily routine.

After settling into the hotel, the kids, excited to see Santa again, put on their pajamas. The rule is, on The Polar Express, you can only see Santa in your pajamas. After dinner, we ran out in the chilly air to our seat on the Polar Express. The silly Dad, me, picked the wrong car to get on, so we had to run back up to the head of the train to the correct car. After a few minutes, the friendly helper elves gave us friendly instructions on being safe on the Polar Express.


And then we were off to the North Pole.

On the train, we were provided refreshing hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie. And, then we read the Polar Express story. And, it happened so quickly, that after a short while, we eventually made it to the North Pole. And Santa was there waiting for us. The girls we excited to see Santa. As the train turned around, Santa had disappeared. Then, the conductor told us that Santa was on the Train with us! Great!

Santa made his way to our car, seeing every girl and boy on the train and making sure they received their christmas present.

On the way home, we sang christmas carols, something I haven’t done in years. I only wish the cold air hadn’t had an effect on my throat.

I think next year, we’ll make reservations on the Polar Express again. Seeing the joy and excitement in the kids is what makes being a parent so fun. The girls, in their excitement do get a little wild, but the world melts away when you’re on the Polar Express. After all, Santa knows when you’ve been bad or good.

Remebering Christmas

30 11 2008

Tulsa, OK McFarlin Building (Skaggs Drug Center)

Tonight, I pulled the big fake Christmas tree out of the closet, and helped my two girls set up this year’s Christmas Tree. The smell of fake tree, the glow of the mini lights, the glass ornaments always leads me on a trip down memory lane. More over, I think of how Christmas for my daughters is different, and will always be different, than the Christmases I remember.

In particular, I thought back to the times (I can’t be so sure about how many) when we would all go to with my mom to her store, and help set up the Christmas displays. When my brothers and I were small, each under 10, and living in our original childhood home in the southern part of Tucson, just east of I-19, my mom was working hard at what as then Skaggs Drug Store. This store was nearly a 30 minute drive one way for my mom, and she would always come home late. Nearly always after our bed time. Even being so young, we knew our mom had to work. Besides, we would call her after school every day complaining that one of us was breaking some house rule … but that’s another story.

From what I remember, these Christmas parties were part work, and part Christmas party. There was food and drink provided. I think some times it was even a potluck. But, as far as each employee knowing everyone else in the store, this was definitely the case. I mean, my mom knew everyone, and we had several good family friends working with her at the store. Me and my brothers at least knew the names of the other kids in the store. In all, it was a fun time, even if there was some work involved.

These are fond memories of a time long ago. In fact, every time I visit a local store with a big Christmas display, I think of the people who took the time when the store closed one day, and put up all the ornaments and helped to decorate the trees. I doubt there was a big family gathering when it came to putting up the displays in stores nowadays. In fact, I’m guessing, the family has been taken out of the retail work environment. From what I remember, I think the modern retail store worker is missing out on some good ol’ fashioned family fun, with some family memories thrown in for good measure.

Has it been that long?

10 03 2008

Wow, it’s been nearly a month since my last post of random thoughts about my kids. I’m trying to remember what I’ve been doing that whole time. Sadly, I think most of that time has been spent on work trying to get my latest project completed. This brings me to my topic for the day: time, and more specifically, the passage of time.

Annabelle had her 2nd birthday about a month ago. Eliana’s birthday is a mere 3 weeks away. She will be four years old. It has seriously been four whole years since Eliana was born, and changed my life. (Kids are a life-changing experience, no doubt about it.) But, looking and talking with Eliana everyday now, it still boggles my mind how she grows right before our eyes, and yet we only notice when we stop for a moment and take a quick look back.

It’s this quick passage of time that drives me to take so many pictures and videos of my children. It’s important for us, and them to have these records for their future to remember where they came from, and things we have done together. Its important for me to look back on all the things we do with fondness. I enjoy creating the media we all love to watch, and enjoy sharing those moments with the world.

Having children will very quickly make you realize how fast time can pass. It seems that lately, time has passed at lightning speed as I still vividly remember things from past October, but some things from the other day are more of a blur…

This blog was meant to help log that passage of time so that we all can share in the thoughts and events of now when everyone involved has a different perspective on things. I can only imagine what my parent’s blog might have looked like. We all had so many life changing experiences, and to be able to talk about those now, adult to adult, is a connection I fear I lack with my parents. I hope my kids will read these posts and understand the problems of life we face on a daily basis. I also hope they can look fondly on some of the things we did together. This should help to jog their memory of all the family memories yet to come.