Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting on 2011

I write this on December 31, 2011 with about 8 hours left to go in 2011. Its been an amazing year and I was thinking about trying to recap this great year.

The year started with a flurry as our family bought a new house in the beginning of February and moved at the end of February. This is the third house Heather and I have lived in and second the kids have lived in. Our new home was a foreclosure, 2 miles and 1 stop sign away from our old house within Bedford at Falls River. We got a contract on our old house in April and it sold at the beginning of June.

We also became members at our new church, Harvest Bible Chapel North Raleigh, in February. Heather and I spent over 8 years at our previous church before being called to Harvest, a small church plant in our area. We have been active members and have enjoyed serving and having fellowship in the church ever since. If you are in Raleigh, come check us out at Fox Road Elementary School at 10 AM.

In April we went outside Jacksonville Florida with Heather's extended family. The girls had a blast and it was warm enough to spend most of the time on the beach. We also celebrated Maddie's 3rd birthday that month. Maddie's 3rd birthday was a ladybug party at our house.

In May, my mother (aka Oma) visited over mother's day weekend and that was very exciting. Then towards the end of May we watched our friends 4 yr old twin girls and Heather and I got to experience being outnumbered 2:1. They were great and luckily we were smart enough to expect if we had another two for it to be that easy. :-) Their stay lasted two weeks and afterward we celebrated a belated 8 year anniversary date.

We had a couple fun trips this summer including going to Figure Eight Island near Wilmington NC and going to Maine. Here are some great pictures of our trip to Figure Eight. We enjoyed that trip with Heather's family at the end of June. In early August, we flew up to Maine to visit with my family. This trip was Maddie's first flight and the girls did great. We enjoyed picking blueberries, riding on the lake, and having a sea adventure with Diver Ed.

In September, Anna started preschool for the first time going three days a week. She really loved it and has is looking forward to winter break being over. We also started finishing our attic in September. As part of that work, we cut the cord and got rid of cable. We are enjoying a cable-less household now. We capped off October by having a very small Alice in Wonderland girls only 5th birthday party for Anna.

2011 sadly didn't pass without some significant losses as well. We mourned the passing of Heather's best friend's father, Jeff, and a last grandparent, Maw-maw. These two family members will be missed and we have been praying for our whole extended family who have felt the effects throughout the holidays.

This fall/winter we also had great visits from my dad (Opa) as well as Oma, my sister, brother in law, and niece. This combined with seeing lots of Heather's family for Thanksgiving at our house and Christmas at their houses made for a great end of the year.

We are preparing for a fun new year in Raleigh, have enrolled Anna in school for the fall and Maddie in preschool for the fall, and are embarking on new adventures all over the place. For our extended friends and family, we hope that our 2012 adventures will include you.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Yee-haw - we are free of cable...

We had Windstream here on Friday to have internet and a *gasp* landline phone installed. Today I drove down to Time Warners place, stood in line behind about 20 people canceling cable (many took Black Friday specials from DirecTV and Dish), and then cancelled our cable completely. Just like that, we saved over $60/month off our cable bill (which was a "promotion" rate.)

What will we miss? I will miss ESPN, although Windstream gives me ESPN3 access. Anna and Maddie will miss the Disney channel. Heather will miss HGTV. We all will miss the DVR. I will miss the speed of Time Warner's internet connection. Windstream, while faster than the AT&T DSL I had one year ago, is still significantly slower than Time Warner (see image below).

What I won't miss? Shelling out an extra $60/mo for the above services. We won't miss the abysmal customer service. I won't miss the crappy VoIP service Time Warner provided. I won't miss the worse excuse for HD I have ever seen. I won't miss having to call every year or 6 months to get a promotion rate because their normal rates are so high.

Windstream commits to not change their prices by saying if they start offering higher bandwidth, you can choose to pay more ot get it. But it won't keep increasing on you. There is no promotion rate I have to fight for yearly. Amazing!

The kids are taking it well. In the last couple of days they were choosing to watch TV on the antenna rather than the recordings off the DVR. They have been excited to watch PBS Kids and Tri-state Christian Television's Family channel.

Still have not yet signed up for Netflix or Hulu Plus..that is still to come.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

What channels do we get?

The common question I get is what channels do you get. My TV says it found 49 channels but only is showing 24. Here is the list of channels, each of which comes through great. Two of these don't come from the south side of my house, where my omnidirectional antenna is installed. Those are ION (47.1) and TCT (30.1). PBS (WUNC) mostly comes from the west rather than east and comes in fine.

4.2 WUNC Kids
5.2 THIS?
11.2 ?
11.3 ?
17.2 ?
17.3 ?
22.1 CW WLFL
22.2 Country music
28.1 WRDC my ROC
28.2 The Cool TV
30.1 Tri-state Christian Television
30.2 different Tri-state Christian Television
30.3 Tri-state Christian Television Family
30.4 Spanish Tri-state Christian Television
47.2 ION Kids
47.3 ION Life
50.1 Fox WRAZ
50.2 Me TV

Channels I am not getting which TV Fool says I may are:
24.1 W24CP
40.1 Univision
44.1 WZGS
64.1 W64CN
68.1 W68BK

Another interesting nuance is when I go to a channel like 25.1 which is another PBS (WUNK-TV), my TV takes me to 4.1 (WUNC-TV). So I don't know if that counts that as I am getting 25.1. If so, this would account for the channels it says I am getting but I am not actually getting.