Sunday, 26 February 2006

Office Reorg

Tina and the boys traveled up to Goderich this past weekend to give Adam some space and time to reorganize the office. The office consists of a large desk, a computer (and all related hardware), filing cabinet, bookcase, toys and a closet. It is also used as a guest bedroom (we purchased one of those air mattress beds with the fold out frame). However, the room was getting a wee bit disorganized. It needed more shelving (it had none) and stuff needed to be sorted (stay, garbage, yard sale/eBay). Adam finally decided that enough was enough and set aside a weekend to reorganize the room.

The first step was to take as much out of the office. Next task was to pull out the old shaggy carpet. It was very easy to do since the carpet was laid on top of the parquet flooring, but the amount of dust underneath was disgusting. It's amazing that we were able to live in that room. With the carpet gone, Adam spent some time moving furniture around seeing what fit best. Once the ideal layout was found, Adam drove over to Home Depot to buy some shelving and other items. He installed the shelving (3 shelves at 6 feet each) above the desk. The idea was that the first shelf would be occupied by computer hardware (printer, scanner, DVD burner, etc). The other two shelves would be used to put toys, books and other items up and away from the boys. Adam also installed a small shelf about 8 inches above the floor behind the desk. This shelf would hold all the power cords and bricks - keeping them off the floor away from prying hands and making it much easier to vacuum.

With the shelves and furniture in place, Adam began organizing. All the computer equipment was placed and connected. The bookcase was given a decent once-over, freeing up almost one shelf. To free up some room in the filing cabinet, Adam purchased a paper organizer from Staples. The organizer has 12 (3 x 4) places or slots for legal-sized paper. All the various papers we use plus any labels, photo paper, and envelopes went in the organizer. The closet was next. Adam discarded any summer clothes that had zero chance of ever being worn. All the eBay/yard sale was temporarily placed beside the desk to either be photographed or taken to the crawl space.

There is a tremendous amount of free storage space in the office. Tina and the boys were surprised by the office reorg. The new layout increases the amount of open floor space. Adam still has to finish sorting through the filing cabinet, a box of odds and ends, and all the eBay/yard sale stuff. A rug to prevent the boys from slipping and cutting down on noise is an interim design upgrade. In the future, all the floors, trim and doors will be redone and the walls repainted. That could be as early as this year or the year after.

The project took a little more than two days to complete (in between watching TV, browsing the net and playing some PS2). This did include cleaning and dusting our bedroom, cleaning the bathroom (including the bathtub), tidying and vacuuming the living and dining rooms and a quick tidy of the kitchen. Adam had wanted to clean up the basement but that will be another weekend project.

Friday, 24 February 2006

Terrible Two Tantrum

Seems that Jeremy believes that when he demands something that it should be taken care of immediately. Unfortunately for Jeremy, that is not the how the world works. Tina and Jeremy went to gymnastics today. They arrived earlier than usual. The class before gymnastics was running late. Jeremy demanded to go inside and start "jumping", as he calls gymnastics. Once his class began, he refused to sit for circle time. Jeremy thought that he could do whatever he wanted. Tina took him out the class and asked him to calm down before going back in. Jeremy through a full blown tantrum. He never did finish the class. You have to love two-year olds and their quest for independence.

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Boys Day Out

Today, Adam took Corbin and Jeremy out for a couple hours of shopping to give Tina some alone time to get some things done around the house. It is amazing how difficult it can be to get things done when a two-year old is vying for your attention. The boys headed out just before 10 am. Adam decided to max this trip, so he drove to Leamington to shop at Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire.

The trip to Leamington was uneventful. Corbin was a little on edge, asking "are we there yet" a few times. When we arrived in Leamington, he thought we were in Goderich. It was too funny. We spent a good hour at Wal-Mart, checking out the stationery, toy, electronics and automotive sections before going over to Canadian Tire. We drove back to Windsor and stopped in at Wendy's for lunch. The boys split a chicken finger meal (with no toy) and Adam had a spicy chicken sandwich combo. We arrived back at the house shortly after 2 pm. The kitchen was immaculate. Wow. Tina was happy to have the time to herself and was happy to see us.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Stomach Flu

The Szymczak household survived a round of stomach flu this past week. It began on Sunday when Corbin woke up by throwing up in his bed. Let the games begin. Corbin spent a good part of the morning sitting on the stool in front of the toilet. That was fun. The rest of the day he laid on the futon downstairs watched movies and tv. He was not 100% on Monday, so we kept him out of school. He recovered and was able to return to school the next day.

Adam did not feel well on Tuesday, so he took the day off. He returned to work on Wednesday, thinking all was better. That was wishful thinking. By Wednesday evening, Adam was becoming very familiar with the layout of the bathroom. That continued throughout the night. Thursday, Adam stayed home, sipped water and ate crackers and other bland foods. Yummy. Tina also suffered from the stomach flu, but no to the extent that Adam did.

All is much better around the house. Jeremy seems to have avoided any major ailments or side-effects. Lucky for him we suppose.

Friday, 10 February 2006

Holiday Inn Express - Saint John, New Brunswick

Hotel: Saint John Harbourside
Chain: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites

400 Main Street & Chesley Drive, Saint John, NB, E2K 4N5
Stayed: 07-Jul-2006 to 09-Jul-2006 - Two Nights

Room Type: 2 Queen Beds Non-Smoking
Room Rate: $109 CDN
Room Amenities: Coffeemaker, Fridge, Microwave, TV, Iron & Ironing Board, Small Table & Chairs, Desk

Access: Highway/Major Road
Breakfast: Express Start Breakfast Bar included
Floors: Four+ (Tower style)
Internet: Wired
Nearby Amenities: Restaurants, Movies, Entertainment, Shopping, Downtown
Parking: Outdoor/Garage Free
Swimming Pool: Indoor Heated, Whirlpool, Change Rooms, Multi purpose weight training station, treadmill and stationary bikes
Other: Elevators Laundry

Good: This tower-style hotel is located just outside the downtown. It is minutes from the World Famous Reversing Falls, about 5 minutes from the ferry dock, about 10 minutes from Irving Nature Park and about a 10 to 15 minute walk from downtown via the Harbour Passage Trail, a waterfront trail. Good access to Highway 1 and major roads. Rooms are spacious. Our room had a view of the harbour, an excellent place to watch the tide fall and rise.

Bad: The lighting system in the indoor swimming pool needs to be upgraded - It was dim in the evening. The area around the hotel may not be ideal, but it is close to most major attractions.

Overall: An excellent value and a good location. Great amenities and an awesome breakfast bar.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Review: Panasonic KX-TG5433 Cordless Phone - Initial Impressions

After getting about 5 years our of existing cordless phones, we decided to upgrade. The existing cordless phones conflicted with our wireless router, resulting in clicks and signal loss. Adam did some research and concluded that the Panasonic KX-TG5433 was the right choice for us. Coincidently, Best Buy had the system on sale for CDN$229.99, so Adam headed over and purchased the system.

This is a 5.8Ghz digital cordless answering system with three handsets. The system comes with 1 base and 2 chargers. The answering system is all-digital with a 10 minute total recording capacity, includes built-in greetings and can be controlled from any phone and the base. Each phone has a speakerphone, a headset jack, a 3-colour light-up indicator and 7 selectable ringtones (3 tones, 4 melodies). A total of 50 entries can be stored in the phonebook. You can transfer all or part of the phonebook from one phone to another. You can also select a specific light-up colour and ringtone for any phonebook entry. The system has an intercom system between the three handsets and the base. The system is not expandable beyond the 3 handsets provided. You must charge each handset for 6 hours before first use.

The display is a backlit (amber) LCD with 3 lines. The level of charge and handset number are visible when the phone is not in use. The contrast can be adjusted. The handset feels comfortable in your hand - not too heavy or light and not to small - and comes with a belt clip. The ring volume, speakerphone volume and regular volume are adjustable. The default ringtone is pleasant - the remaining ringtones are acceptable. The handset is easy to use. Either dial the number or use the phonebook and then press Talk (or Speakerphone) or vice-versa. There are mute, hold and redial buttons.

There is no speed dial (where a phone number is assigned to a keypad number). When in the phonebook, you can use the keypad to move quickly to the first phone number that corresponds to the letters on the keypad. You cannot keep pressing the keypad to cycle through other phone numbers with the same letters - you have to the jog button.

The menu system is straightforward. There are not many options to deal with - this makes it a very easy system to setup. One issue that some people have brought up with this system is that erasing the call display memory on one handset does not erase it on the other handsets. Some see this as a negative, but in our experience, it's not as bad as some people make it to be. First, it east very easy to erase the entire call-display memory in one shot. Additionally, it is easy to erase each entry - just hit the Clear button. Second, the other handsets that retain the call-display entries act as a backup. I know that I have deleted some entries by mistake. Now you have at least two other handsets with that information.

The audio and signal quality of this system is top notch. There are no audible clicks or signal drops. If you have any problems, you can activate a voice enhancer option that may improve the audio quality. An automatic booster system may kick in when audio/signal quality is poor - though this will use up your battery. The answering system can be accessed from the base - messages can be heard and deleted, greetings recorded, and the number of new messages are displayed. The base also has an intercom function, where you can call another handset. You cannot call more than one handset.

Our initial impressions of this system are positive

Sunday, 5 February 2006

Bev & Gerry, the Super Bowl and the Weather

Tina's parents, Bev and Gerry, traveled to Windsor to see the boys. They arrived shortly after 9 am, just as we were finishing breakfast. Corbin and Jeremy were quite happy to see them, running to the front door to greet them. Bev missed her grandchildren and was happy to spend some time with them. It was Super Bowl in Detroit, so Tina and Adam made a joke about Bev & Gerry winning tickets and that's why they came down.

The weather forecast called for rain changing into snow and about 4 to 6 inches of snow. Well, it rained until 2 pm, when the rain slowly switched over to snow. We got snow, but nowhere near the amount that was predicted - about 1 to 2 inches. I guess the area from Owen Sound to Barrie to Parry Sound got hit real hard though - at least a foot of snow. After 5 weeks of no snow, it was more of an inconvenience.

Bev & Gerry headed out Sunday morning. The weather appeared okay. It was not snowing and the sun even poked through every now and then. The boys had a good time - having someone to play and bother. And we got a break for a few hours.