Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monthly Update

so, as i thought i might, i've let myself down regarding updating the blog more often. no one's surprised, so we'll move on....

we're moving steadily toward parenthood, and it's a little scary. lol just not knowing exactly what it's going to be like and how we're going to be as parents, but i think that all new parents feel that way, and you just learn as you go. there's no doubt that Olivia will be showered with love at every chance, and that we'll give her the support and encouragement she needs. it's going to be an adventure, for sure! we also just completed our "special delivery" class this past weekend, which went well and answered some questions regarding natural vs. medicated vs. c-section births. toni is still planning on going completely natural but knows that she may change her mind once things get going. we're slowly but surely getting the nursery and other things done around the house but we've got a ways to go yet. luckily Olivia won't be in the nursery right away anyway, so we've still got some time.

made a few more upgrades to the Jeep as well. Got some bright LED bulbs for the interior as well as the license plate:

License Plate comparison:

License Plate final:

The photos don't do them justice - these things are BRIGHT, especially at night!

I also found out about a guy on ebay who sells decals you can put into the "Compass" stamped in the rear bumper. they come in a variety of colors, several of which also offer "reflective" so i opted for the "white reflective" ones since our jeep is white though i tried to get toni to go for a contrasting color to make it pop even more... Anyway when they came in they were more of a silver color when just looking at them, which i confirmed with the seller was correct. i was a little put out by this at first, but once i got them on, you can't tell as much and it looks really good. Here are some installation pics:


Halfway done:

Finished (no flash):

Full View, Day, No Flash:

Full View, Day, With Flash:

Full View, Night, With Flash:

Toni drove behind me the other night and said it looks really good, so i'm happy with the looks as well as the added safety at night. And for only $11 shipped (from Canada) it's hard to beat!

That's all for now folks!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Birthday Bash and Jeep upgrades (kinda)

First off, I know it's been about a month since my last post. I know. I'm sure there are some excuses I could use to some extent, but honestly I'm just not that concerned about it at this time. Though I will say that I (again) am going to try to post more regularly. I know you're laughing on the inside, too.

Had an AMAZING rock star karaoke birthday bash in Bham this past weekend - all I can say is WOW! Such a great time! Toni did such an amazing job putting it all together and everyone got into it, which made it even better. By far one of the best birthday parties I've ever experienced. We're not sure it could ever be topped, so we may end up doing a sequel for my 40th! lol I'll be sure to post more info with pics as soon as we get them all compiled. And tomorrow, I'll officially be in my thirties....and have a baby by the end of the year! 2009 is definitely a great year!

On to other news: as I posted last time, we got a new 09 Jeep Compass and have been enjoying it thus far. I've always been into lights (just like the look of the whiter, higher temp waves rather than the somewhat dingy looking regular halogen), so I invested in some Silverstar bulbs for the fog lights. Here's a look mid-install (Silverstar bulb is on the right, stock on the left):

Pretty decent difference for me from the outside (you can see the higher temp range on the ground as the Silverstar is noticeably whiter), and from the inside the visual range immediately in front of the vehicle seems to be much better. Here's a shot with both fogs installed and headlights on:

Last night I also installed Silverstar bulbs in the headlights, but the images didn't turn out great. They seem to be brighter looking out, but looking at them head on, you don't see as much of a difference as with the fog lights, but I'm still happy with them, especially for the price I got them for.

I just ordered some LED bulbs for the interior and license plate and reverse lights, which I'm really excited about (what a dork, right?). I'll be sure to post pics of the before and after as soon as they come in, hopefully this week. I also plan on putting in (not sure if I'll do it myself yet, or get the dealer to do it) a Cold Air Intake by either K&N or Mopar (which is made by K&N from what I understand, but is blue instead of red and may go over better for the warranty). That may be the extent of my upgrades for this vehicle, but we'll see.

Well, until next time!

Monday, August 3, 2009

What do we have for them Johnny?

It's a brand new 2009 Jeep Compass!

As some of you are aware, the government was offering (and may still be, it's kind of up in the air now) the Cash for Clunkers/CARS program, where you could get between $3500 to $4500 for your "clunker" (a vehicle that gets a combined 18 MPG or less) to be used towards a new car. Well, we so happened to have such a vehicle (a 2000 Montero Sport - 17 MPG). We were originally planning to do this in September (the program was slated to run through November 1st or until the money ran out) but when we started seeing articles online last week about how they thought they were already out of money after 4 days and may be suspending the program, we knew we had to make a move.

Knowing this was coming up, i've been looking around at affordable fuel-efficient SUVs since we've got the new addition to the family on the way. For a while I wanted the Nissan Rogue which was pretty nice looking and would get the job done.

Then last week my wife pointed out an ad for the 2010 Chevy Equinox . I'm not really an American car kind of guy, but this one really did a number on me. Not only was it sharp looking, it got 22/32 MPG with great cargo space, etc. Granted, it was going to be several grand more expensive due to adding the touch-screen navigation and rear entertainment (dual seat-mounted DVD screens) for the kiddie, but it was still pretty affordable considering the $4500 we'd get. Well, we sorely underestimated not only the popularity of the CARS program in general, but also that of this new vehicle. We called or visited all of the dealerships around town, all but one of them didn't have a single Equinox on the lot. One we called said they had just gotten one off the truck and we said "We're on our way!". Thirty minutes later, we walk in and the guy says "Sorry, I just found out that my boss already sold it." Wow. I won't get into what else he did to piss us off, but let me just say that i may not have purchased from this guy regardless.

Well, after all this i'm pretty bummed out since i don't really want to settle for something else after falling in love with this ride. So finally we go out to eat and we're talking about what we're gonna do, and we start talking about the possibility of selling my wife's Beetle. She loves her car, and it's been a good one for the past 3 years, but the more we thought about trying to get a car seat in and out of it, the more we realized we'd need to get something else for her. Since she's not as particular as I am, I brought up the Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge matching deal we'd seen advertised. We knew they had a few cars that were relatively cheap that we could get for her that would give her the additional room she would need. We ended up thinking the Jeep Patriot would be pretty good, especially after taking $8000 off the price.

We headed to the Jeep dealership first thing Saturday. Within 15 seconds we find out they don't have ANY Patriots on the lot. We're then like, "What about the Liberty? Does it qualify?" The guy (Skip is his name, good guy) takes us over to one and we take it for a spin. Drives great, but I can't help thinking about the V6 engine it has and the fact that the combined MPG on the sticker was 18, only one more than my "clunker". So we get back and I ask him to double-check it in the system to see if it qualifies, cause if not we're not interested. Sure enough, it's a no go.

While he's checking, I notice a white Compass on the floor. Now, to give some background, about a year or so ago, we looked at the Compass, even test drove it, and HATED the interior. It was all monotone and looked like cheap plastic. Pretty terrible. So when I saw one on the floor, I didn't really think much of it until I poked my head in. Apparently they had revamped the interior for 2009. It was pretty decent now. I called Toni over and the more we looked at it, the more we liked it again. So we took one for a spin, liked the drive, and said "We'll take the white one on the showroom floor." It has a sunroof, the upgraded sound system, fog lights, a year of Sirius satellite radio included and a few other options. It's not as decked out as the Limited edition we test drove, but it's good.

Other than having to wait quite a while to get in to see the finance guy, the whole process was extremely smooth (I had my doubts, especially about the government part of the deal). We're even happier knowing that the CARS program may not make it much longer, so we feel we made a good decision doing this earlier than planned. Now we can put up Toni's car at our leisure, hopefully get top dollar for it, and put a nice chunk down on an Equinox whenever they become more readily available, maybe even later this year. Here are a few photos of our new ride:

Monday, July 27, 2009

I haven't forgotten you, Blog

It’s hard to believe, I know, but I swear I haven’t forgotten you, blog. Got a little off track after (and before) vacation, which is really no excuse, but regardless I am back and fully intend on getting back in the rhythm of posting on a regular basis. Does that mean you won’t see another blog post like this? Probably not. But at least I’m willing to admit it.

Now, on to the show!

We had a wonderful time at the beach in Cape San Blas at the beginning of July. It was great to be with family and just hang out and relax. We enjoyed some pool time, some beach time, some fishing and boating, some great meals and just all around good times. We did get some pretty heavy rain several days, which bummed us out at the time, but I think that it was actually good since it let us just hang out together in the house playing board games and reading or whatnot. Seems like so many times on vacation you feel like you HAVE to go and do something down at the beach or whatever since you’re there, but the rain made us take it easy on those days. We’re already thinking about going back next year, and it’ll be so much more of a trip since we’ll have our little one with us. Which brings me to our other news…

We let everyone know last week that we found out that we will be having a GIRL! Say hello to the still-in-progress Olivia Marie:

It’s still pretty unreal, and I’ve half convinced myself that they got it wrong since I said from the beginning it was a girl, but now it’s really starting to sink in! We went to Babies R Us and got our registry filled out this past Friday. We had been in there a couple times before, but let me just say that that place is overwhelming! It’s hard to believe that babies have been born and raised without ever experiencing a forehead thermometer or a spoon that turns white if the food is too hot. It’s hard to comprehend how parents did it without all of these technological wonders, but I’m just glad we’re where we are now so Toni and I can benefit from them! But even with these great gadgets, it’s still quite overwhelming to think that in just a few short months, we’ll be solely responsible for the life of another human being during it’s most fragile and malleable state. Crazy! I know we’ll be great parents, giving our daughter the love, interaction and direction she needs to become a wonderful, caring woman. There’s no rush though! We’ll enjoy and cherish (and record in some fashion) every moment of her life as she grows so we don’t have to look back and wish we’d paid more attention, but even then I know we’ll do it still since Time seems to always one-up us right before our eyes. We’re sure gonna try though. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Belated updates

It's been too long since my last post. The whole weight-loss endeavor didn’t go as well as planned. I think lost some inches (wow that sounds really girly…) but no real weight, which kinda sucks but I guess it's better than nothing. I didn’t feel like The Blob at the beach this past weekend, so that counts for something as well.

Speaking of the beach, Toni and I will be heading to Cape San Blas this Thursday after work. Actually, we’ll hit Jacksonville Thursday evening, then head to Apalachicola Friday, then head to Cape San Blas Saturday and will be there through the following Saturday with Toni’s brother and sister and their families, and Toni’s parents. It’s gonna be AWESOME! There will be lots of relaxing, a couple of boat trips, some tubing and other various water sports and whatever else strikes our fancy. We are REALLY looking forward to it! I’m sure we’ll be posting lots of pics on Facebook, etc.

In other news, the pregnancy is trucking along. Unfortunately Toni is still nauseated most every day, which really sucks. We keep hoping that it’ll go away any day now. Other than that everything is good. I love seeing her belly get bigger, and can’t wait till it’s huge! :) She’s not quite so keen on that though, but it’s such a joyous thing to behold. We’ll find out the gender on July 22nd which we’re both really excited about. We’ll finally be able to move forward with the nursery, registry and so many other things, which will be nice. Lots to do before the arrival! :)

It’s such an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to meet our child in December.

Monday, June 1, 2009

battle of the bulge: first week results, part one UPDATE

Well, so far not so good. I really felt like I was making decent progress, getting in some good workouts and trying to eat better food and portions (though I did go overboard at my sister-in-law’s birthday party on Sunday, the BBQ was just SO good…) but it looks like I haven’t made any progress. As of this morning, I weigh EXACTLY the same as I did when I started. I’m going to weigh again tomorrow just to see if there’s any change since technically that would be a full week, but I’m not holding my breath, though I do plan on doing really well today both food and exercise wise to try to counteract yesterday's excess. I’ve also started doing planks in addition to my crunches to help with the abdominal area. Will post again on the morrow…

UPDATE: Ok, so I ended up losing 2 pounds last week...whew! now i'm pushing for 4 this week to get me caught back up to my goal. been eating a lot of salads so far, doing a lot of planks and crunches, and have had one really hard workout. gonna get in at least one more hard workout session and one or two lighter ones. will post more next week!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

battle of the bulge: the beginning

Ok, so like many Americans these days, I need to lose some weight, I’d say about 15 or 20 pounds, though I’d be happy with 10 to start. I’ve been kinda sorta half-heartedly “dieting” for a few months now, surprisingly with little success. That’s a joke. I know I haven’t been committed to the effort, so I’ve really only maintained my current weight, which isn’t a bad thing, just not what I was going for. Now with our beach vacation coming up at the end of June, I realize it’s time to get serious if I’m going to take my shirt off in front of people other than my wife (I can’t do anything about my albino-like skin tone, but if I can look more like a slightly flubby vampire instead of a bloated nightmare creature from the deep, I’ll be happy). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not obese by any means, but like many men my age, I have an ever-growing problem in the gut area.

I’ve always relied on Weight Watchers (not the meetings, etc., just the tools and methodology) for my dieting phases (my typical modus operandi is lose the weight then do ok on my own until I realize that the previously shed pounds have insidiously crept back onto my torso, rinse and repeat). What I realized from this past “effort” (I use that term in the loosest possible way – I’m not trying to kid myself) is that dieting alone, which worked well for me in the past (towards the end of college I lost 25 pounds doing WW with no real exercise) no longer holds up against the ever-increasing inefficiency of my body (i.e. I’m getting old). So now I have to diet and get serious about exercising on a regular basis as well, which I know I need to do anyway, which I am, you don’t have to tell me, so get off my back!

Sorry. Anyway, I will be posting my progress (no pics though, I will spare you that much at least) as we go. Again, my bottom-rung goal is to lose 10 pounds, which should be feasible in a month (I honestly don’t know what the potential weight-loss cap during a month is, but I can tell you that I won’t be wearing one of those shiny sweat suits or sleeping in a sauna, so 10 pounds sounds ok). If I can lose more than that without going to extreme measures, that’s cool. Hopefully knowing that I will be posting the info here will keep my focused, though I can tell you that I can already feel that I am truly determined this time. Of course, my wife will say “that’s what you said last time” which is true, but I mean it this time, just like I did last time. But it really is for real this time. But I said that last time too, so you’ll just have to take my word for it I guess. Either way, I’m gonna do it, so look for the Battle of the Bulge update next week!