December 12, 2017

News


Monday, February 15, 2010
There are many new pictures available now. There are pictures from Cub Scouts, including the Space Derby, the Pinewood Derby, and the Blue and Gold Banquet (where Neo received his Bear badge). There are also some pictures from the clan in Dallas enjoying the snow day up there.

There are some changes coming soon to the Blogger service which will no doubt interrupt the website, so the website may not receive any updates until I have time to re-architect it. :(

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Sunday, August 23, 2009
Just got through spending the afternoon with Neo on his last day of summer before school. Wound up going fishing and playing at the park with him and the dog.


While fishing, Neo reeled in some sort of huge fish! I'm not exactly sure what it is. A closer picture is here. You can't tell from the picture, but the fish was really thick, which is why I can't really say what it is.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009
Some more great pics in the following folders:

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Sunday, May 17, 2009
Boy, do I have a few updates!!

I know it has been a while. I hate it when I let these announcements stack up. We have done so much in the last couple of months, I think I will just let the photo galleries do the talking:

It's been busy. And it's about to get even more busy! End of school. Vacation trips. Summer activities. Work on the house. Good stuff.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
There are quite a few events to report on!

Neo and I had two camping trips this month in the new tent. The first was just him and I. We tried out the tent and had fun fishing and hiking. The second trip was with the cub scouts. I think Neo had lots of fun both times. I went ahead and combined all the pictures from both trips into one folder in the Events section called "2009 - March camping trips". Highlights included seeing snakes and alligators, Neo getting a corn snake laid around his neck (his favorite part), Neo catching way more fish than me, noisy armadillos, sneaky racoons, campfires, and amazing breakfast meals like this one:


Also this month, Christian took the kids to a local farm to pick strawberries. You can see all the pictures here.


And lastly, we made a trip to the park and had a picnic. That was a fun day. Pictures from that are here.


We are looking forward to more of this weather so we can spend more time outdoors!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009
Neo and I just returned from the "Blue and Gold Banquet" for his Cub Scout pack. Part of the banquest was a father-son cake bake.

Neo decided to make a Nintendo DS cake. Of course, I couldn't make an ordinary cake:



The cake was a big hit. You can see more pictures here.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009
Neo and I made our first foray into pinewood derby racing last weekend. We had been working on a car together in the garage. Neo drew up some plans on how he wanted to paint it. We modified it a bit once he realized we could make designs by masking with tape.


Overall, we had a great time. Neo and I learned a lot. Neo was very excited to get third place in his den, which got him a medal.


He is looking forward to doing it last year, so I guess that is some sign of success.

You can see pictures from the derby here.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009
It has been interesting to follow along with the election and inauguration of our new president with Neo. He is old enough to understand and pick up on quite a bit.

So when the president called on us to commit to an event on the national day of service, I tried to find something for us to do together.

I searched on usaservice.org and found lots of events but, unfortunately, most of the events were in downtown Houston, and many weren't service events. So, I decided to host our own event in the neighborhood. We put up an event that said we would walk the neighborhood for one hour picking up trash.

Even if no one showed up, I figured that Neo needed to do this for one of his cub scout achievements anyway, so at the least, he could wear his uniform and complete that.

And in the end, the event turned out to be great. We had quite a few people show up (including quite a few who didn't live in the neighborhood) and we really picked up a lot of gunk and debris along the curbs.


Overall, the event did exactly what I wanted it to do. People outside and driving by saw the group working on the day of service. The kids saw their parents taking the presidents call to service seriously. We met new people. These are all things more important than the trash itself.

And in about an hour, we picked up quite a bit. Many hands make the work load light.


You can see all of the pictures from the event here.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I hate getting this far behind on my posts. Since my last post, so much has went on. Let me see if I can touch on the major events.

A few weekends ago, Neo and I joined Paw-Paw, Vince, and Ethan at "Mr. Don's camp". Mr. Don is a friend of my dad, and he graciously allowed us to go up there and he gave up his entire weekend driving us around to deer stands and taking us out on the lake. What an amazing weekend! It was so nice to get away. The boys had an awesome time spending time with Paw-Paw.


A highlight for Neo was that he received his first BB gun before the trip. We used the time to practice walking with a gun and learning about gun safety with his BB gun. He did a great job and tore up some cans pretty good.


You can see all the pictures from our trip to Mr. Don's camp here.

Next up was a couple of events with cub scouts. First, Neo received his bobcat badge! He was very excited.


Then, Neo and I got to go sleep on the Battleship Texas!! We had a great time.


You can see all the pictures from the battleship sleepover here.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wow... weekend after weekend has been packed.

Many "thank you"s are in order. Thanks to those who helped in watching the boys during my high school reunion and Christian's, and during Christian's jewelry events. Thanks to everyone who got such wonderful gifts for the boys for their birthdays. Thanks to everyone that attended Neo's birthday party. A huge thank you to those who helped us set up, manage, and clean up Neo's video game party (it was a huge success!!).

For Neo's party, we needed to do something on a small budget. Doing it at home was an obvious choice, but we wanted to avoid renting a fun jump or entertainment. We came up with the idea of a video game party and things sort of flowed from there. Christian made some awesome invitations that looked like a Nintendo DS. When opened it asked the kids to bring their Nintendo DS and a Wii remote if they had one.


At the party, we had 4 video game rooms. Two rooms were Wii rooms playing Wii Sports and Mario Kart. The theater room became the XBOX room, playing on the big projection screen with the loud surround sound. Neo's room was the Nintendo DS room where multiplayer Mario Kart DS sessions of up to 8 were taking place. And outside, was a craft station for each kid to make their own "Mii" magnet. They picked their shirts, pants, nose, eyes, and colored everything and made a Mii that they could hang on their refrigerator. Kids were divided up into teams and rotated. I must say... it all went off pretty well, and the kids had a great time.


Pictures of Neo's video game party are here. Christian did a really great job with preparations and decorations. One kid said "this was the funnest party I ever been to". Another didn't want to eat his Wii remote/Wiimote cookie because he wanted to keep it. All signs of success I think.


There are also some great pics of Charlie and his 1st birthday party in his October folder.

Thanks again to everyone.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008
Neo and Charlie's birthdays are here. Many of you have asked what they might like for their birthday.

We have a list up in a published google document at the following link:

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc3n5jzg_13dgsqf4dk

Let Christian or I know if you get something on the list so we can scratch it out.

Thanks guys!

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Sunday, July 13, 2008
Got some new pics up.

There are some new pics in Charlie's July 2008 folder showing him being cute, and even a few videos showing him racing around in his walker.

Also, there are some pics in Neo's July 2008 folder showing him with his new glasses. We think he looks pretty sharp!

There are also some pictures from the July 4th parade, and some from the day at the beach.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008
I know I haven't posted an update in the while. Surprisingly, it's not because I don't have time, like you might think.

No, it's actually because we have set our machines to sleep/hibernate to save electricity. We have saved lots of power.

But one interesting side-effect is that since my machine is usually off, and I have to deliberately turn it on, I use it less. And since I use it less, I tend to get a few things done before I'm called away, and then it goes to sleep again.

So, I have had time to post, but just have been doing other things instead. Somehow, that feels like a good thing.

But, to get you up to date:

  • Charlie is in to everything. He is crawling, pulling himself up, and walking along as he holds on.

  • Neo went on vacation with Nanna and Poppa and a couple of other families. He had a really great time and came home with a pet hermit crab that he named, "Hermit".

  • Christian and I made a do-it-yourself Earthbox. An earthbox is a pretty neat little invention for growing produce that uses minimal water and fertilizer and requires a minimal amount of tending to. I'm really excited about it and how easy it is. We have started some cucumbers, tomatoes, and jalapenos. If you would like to learn about the earthbox, check the website here. For a version you can build youself, just search on google. We made one in about 30 minutes.

  • Neo and I have been playing Zelda on Wii. Neo is really good. We managed to work through the entire game/story. The game involves lots of reading, which was great summer reading practice for him. We just finished the game this morning with Neo beating Ganon. It was really exciting.

  • There are some new pictures in various folders. Just click around.


So, that's it in a nutshell. Things are really good around here.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008
Lots of new pictures on the website. There was the concert in the park. Also the mom's group meeting where the babies played together. Other pictures are in Charlie's May 2008 folder and Neo's May folder.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008
Just got back from a great camping trip with Neo. Since it was likely to rain, and was a pretty far drive, Christian and Charlie decided to take a rain check.

We had a great time. Neo was in charge of building the fires, and he did a great job. Before the trip I had been showing him a few things and he did very well, even managing to build a fire Saturday morning with wet wood.

Neo also swam in the lake, walked some trails, and got to pet a live baby alligator.

Pictures from the trip are here.

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Monday, February 25, 2008
This weekend was very nice.

Last week, Neo and I were going around looking for a new bike for him. He had significantly outgrown his first bike, so he needed a new one pretty bad. We almost bought one at Toys R Us, but they took so long to bring the bike out that we had to cancel. We looked at some bike shops, but the new bikes were just too expensive.

So, I took a gamble last week and found an old, beat up Huffy boys bike that someone was selling on craigslist. The entire drive home I was worried how Neo might react. When I got home, I told him that I had gotten him a bike, but it needed some work. Before I brought him outside, I told him that I wanted for him to look and see if he could spot the things that needed to be fixed.

Luckily, it went well. He pointed out the chain was off, the tires were flat, the handlebars were crooked and loose, the chain-guard was broken, and that the kickstand was loose and rusty. I told him we could work on it this weekend and fix each item.

He was excited to get started on it this Saturday. We got outside, and within a few hours, we had worked through all the problems except that it still needs a chain guard. Neo was very excited. He rode it around this weekemd and showed it off to some friends and neighbors. He thought it was very cool that one neighbor thought it was a brand new bike.

It was very rewarding for me. I felt like some of the mystery of how the bike worked was removed and that he might now be a little more motivated to adjust and fix it himself.

After that, we cleaned up his old bike, and listed it for sale online. He decided how much he wanted to list it for, and decided on a minimal amount below which he wouldn't go below if they decided to negotiate.

Sure enough, the bike sold the very next day at the price he had listed it at. He was very excited to get the money for it, and even more excited to know that the guy didn't get him to lower the price.

I'm very proud of that kid.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008
Neo's tonsil surgery is over. He is recovering at home now. He is still in a lot of pain, but I think that will get better over the next few days.

Pictures from our trip to the hospital are here. He isn't excited about talking on the phone yet, but send him an eamil if you haven't already.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Neo's tonsil surgery is today. From everything I've read, the surgery is easy but the recovery is hard. We are at the hospital now. Neo is calm and playing his games. Shoot him an email and wish him well and give him some advice for his recovery. I'm sure he would love to read a message from you all.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Neo had his CCD Christmas play tonight. Very cute. Neo did great.

Pictures and a couple of video clips are here.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007
Neo and I had a great day together this Thursday. Neo was sick the afternoon before, so we weren't comfortable sending him to school even though he was feeling fine.

I decided to use it as an opportunity to help make up for all of the time I have spent working lately, and all of the attention that his been focused on his little brother.

We drove around and found a neat little park. We went shopping and bought stuff to BBQ and some worms to fish with and headed back to the park. We cooked our lunch over the grill (some hamburgers) and had chips on the side and some divinity for dessert. We fished in the pond. Neo caught 6 fish and I caught 1. I wish I could say I wasn't really trying and was spending most of my time helping Neo, but I would be lying. I missed about 10 fish, and Neo only missed 1.

After fishing, we played on the playground and then went to see if any good movies were out. We couldn't find anything so we decided to rent one. We settled on "The Last Mimzy" which we thought was a great movie.

All in all, it was a great day. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera.

But, there are some new pictures of Charlie in his October folder, including this gem, and some pictures of Neo in his Halloween costume in his October folder.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Neo lost his first tooth yesterday. He was very excited.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007
Neo had a great 7th birthday party. Thanks to everyone for all the great gifts. Pictures from the party are here.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007
Things are still going well around here. We had visits from my mom and Christian's mom which helped out a ton! Thanks guys! Christian posted a nice thank you note on her blog as well.

Charlie is doing well although he has problems with gas and diaper rash occasionally. I swear he passes wind like a 65 year old man sitting in a recliner watching sports does.

I got sick this morning with some sort of bug that is going around. Now we are doing our best to keep me away from the baby, but I'm afraid he might pick it up since I was walking with him last night. We'll see.

Charlie's October folder has more pictures. Also, some pics of maw-maw playing the Wii with Neo are in Neo's October folder.

Also, Happy Birthday Neo!!! Neo's birthday party is coming up and he is very excited.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007
Another good weekend. Still no baby.

Neo managed to finish saving his money to pitch in for a Nintendo Wii. Wow, that is fun. We played it almost all day today. Already, Neo is updating his birthday wish list.

Speaking of that, the details for Neo's 7th birthday party and gift ideas are on his website at http://neo.graffagnino.net.

If you haven't been keeping up with Christian's blog, you should check it out. Christian and I have both been updating our blogs much more frequently lately. It is a great way to express yourself! Christian posts about news and crafts that she works on mostly. I post about lots of techie stuff on mine.

If you don't like having to manually check websites to see if their are updates, you should use a news reader! Christian and I both use Google Reader. It's great. Just paste in the RSS feed from the site you want to monitor (or, you can just use the website address sometimes), and then it will keep you informed of the latest updates. And if you use the Google Personalized Homepage, you can have Google Reader right there on your start page. We love it! We see updates to the sites we care about on our homepages as they happen.

If you start using a news/RSS reader like Google reader, here are the RSS feeds for our blogs:

* graffagnino.net (this blog): http://www.graffagnino.net/rss.xml
* christian's blog: http://christian.graffagnino.net/rss.xml
* frankie's blog: http://www.graffagnino.net/frankie/blog/rss.xml

That can help you stay in touch with our blogs and news as well as news from all the other things you care about. For example, you could have a running news search on google for anything relating to your town, or school, and then add the RSS link for that search to your news reader. Just like that, you can have instant updates without having to go and look for them.

That's your tech tip for this week :)

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Sunday, September 16, 2007
Well, we had a good weekend, but no baby yet.

I have been worried for a while about Neo adjusting once the new addition arrives. Mainly, I was concerned about him not being able to play with me and mom, and not really having many other kids to play with.

And then, yesterday, this kid rides by on his bike, gets a little past the house, stops, and yells, "Hey!"

Neo said, "What?"

"You wanna go ride bikes?"

"Sure."

The kids name is John, and they spent all weekend together. He is a great kid with great manners. Christian and I met his parents this morning and they played together all day again (and were hard to separate). Later in the afternoon I took them for ice-cream. It looked like they had a really great weekend. They are already discussing sleep-overs and how soon they can get together and play again. Reminds me of the friendship I had with a friend named Karl growing up.

So, it was a good weekend, and we are waiting patiently for the new one. If you think you might be able to make it into Houston to visit after the baby comes, please check out Christian's post on her blog for more info. We want to coordinate visits so that we are aware of who is coming and when.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007
News news news... lets see if I can remember whats been going on.

Christian and I bought our first pieces of furniture. And being completely new to furniture shopping, we also spent way more money than we should have. Having said that, we did get some beautiful, well made furniture (all solid wood, no veneers, dovetailed joints, etc.) and it should last a long time. This was a bedroom set for the new master bedroom we are working on. I don't have any pictures of the room yet. We still have a few more things to do in there, so after we wrap those up and clean up the room, I will take some pictures. Christian and I really love the color we chose and the new look. It is starting to become our "sanctuary downstairs".

Neo went to the YMCA Camp Pinetree again. This time, he stayed for five days. He really enjoyed it. Pictures are here.

Mom, Emily, and Kam came to visit us last weekend and helped us get some things together in the baby room. Also, Mom helped out with cooking and cleaning, which was a huge help. Thanks guys. We really appreciate it. A couple of pictures of the boys playing are here.

Christian is doing well with the pregnancy. "Enfant" is still doing well and planning his escape.

Neo spent his 2nd to last week of summer vacation at a Karate Camp. Much of the camp was not about karate, but he did manage to get a couple of lessons in, and we think he may try some karate lessons after school this year.

Yesterday, while mowing the grass, I found that the backyard had lots of spider webs. As I was going around weed-eating, I ran across one huge web with two banana spiders in it. Some pictures of them are here, along with a video of me feeding her a worm. These spiders are actually called golden silk orb-weavers, and are very cool. Neo and I had fun catching lovebugs and throwing them into the web and watching the big spider eat them. We threw in a worm after lovebugs started getting boring. I thought the worm might be too big, but the big one attacked it immediately and started wrapping it up.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007
We just picked Neo up from camp. Neo spent 3 days at Camp Pinetree.

Now, this was the first time Neo was away from home in quite a while, and was also the first time he was away and not with family. There was a bit of sadness. Some fear. Some crying. And quite a bit of anxiety.

But, Mom is better now, and was very happy to pick up her boy today :)

Neo had a blast apparently. He is already asking about when he can go again.

Christian and I also enjoyed some great time together and even got to go out on a couple of dates. It was a lot of fun.

After picking Neo up, we grabbed some lunch and then went and saw the Transformers movie. Neo enjoyed it. Afterwards, we stopped at a place and got some handmade chocolates.

Pictures are here

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Saturday, June 09, 2007
Today was Neo's last soccer game and the team had a pool party afterwards. Neo enjoyed playing this season. Thanks to the coaches and the parents who helped make it great.

Pictures from the pool party are here.

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Monday, May 28, 2007
We had a great visit in Louisiana. Neo and Kam played together almost non-stop. It is fun seeing them grow together. They played with the NERF guns Paw-paw bought quite a bit. They also went and picked a ton of blackberries, ate ice-cream, and went to see Spider-man 3.

One reason for the trip for us was to catch up with Emily since we couldn't be there for her graduation last weekend. We went over to Brent and Em's place on Saturday night and watched the UFC pay-per-view event. They introduced us to the sport, which we thought was pretty exciting. Now we just need to introduce them to Battlestar Galactica :) Thanks guys. We had a great time. We also gave Emily the graduation gift that we made for her. It's a paint brush holder/washer. We saw one like this online, but it was pretty expensive for such a small thing, so we decided to build a similar one. We decided not to use the steel canisters and also to make the cup disposable instead of using a fixed stainless steel cup. The other thing we did was make it non-symmetrical on purpose. So, one swing arm is longer than the other and we used various sized holes in the back. We put about 4 coats of polyurethane on it so it has quite a bit of shine. It also has some rubber feet on the bottom. I am really excited about the end result, and I think Em liked it too. Much of my excitement was because it was kind of my first detail oriented, small wood project.

The other thing we accomplished was collecting lots of old baby stuff that was in Louisiana - things that we had from when Neo was born and also some things that other people are sharing with us. Thanks to everyone who has helped us put all this together. This is going to save us quite a bit of money.

Pictures from our visit, mostly of the boys playing, are here.

Lastly, on this Memorial Day, we would like to thanks all those in our family who have spent time defending our country. Paw-Paw G. gave many years of service in World War II. Paw-paw Bergeron spent time in Korea, and Mr. Travis just recently returned home from Iraq. Thank you guys for your service. We all appreciate it.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007
Last weekend we wrapped up the work we are going to do for this phase of the treehouse. Since Neo was still recovering from his sickness, he couldn't help as much. We added a bucket and pulley (along with a swing-out type mechanism to swing the bucket inside and over the railing), a flag, a climbing rope, new stabilization and support boards, and sanded all the rough edges on the handrail. I was really hoping Neo could help with the sanding, but with his cough I didn't want him around the dust.

Neo started playing in it and decided to take one of our older welcome mats up there. He likes to fly paper airplanes from up there. Unfortunately, he left his new camera in his bucket and forgot to get it out after lowering it down. And then it rained.

I managed to get the pictures off the camera, but the camera is dead. Oh well.

Also, Neo graduated from Kindergarten this week and had his last day of school of the year. He had a great year. Congratulations Neo!

He also had a great teacher. Ms. France was a real blessing. She gave him the best introduction to school that I could have ever hoped for. God bless all those teachers who put in the extra effort to teach our children.

The pictures (and a couple of movie clips) from Neo's graduation are in the 2007 Events folder.

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Friday, May 18, 2007
Neo has been sick this week. After watching him last weekend to see if he would get any better, we took him to the doctor on Monday. He wasn't feeling that bad, he just had a fever.

The doctor thought it was bronchitis as she could hear some congestion in his upper left lung. She prescribed an anti-biotic and some cough medicine.

Throughout the week, the fever has been getting steadily better and the cough steadily worse. Neo is getting frustrated from coughing all the time, so we took him back to the doctor today. She switched antibiotics and also prescribed a breathing treatment to help control the cough and open his lungs up.

I'm sure he will get better over the next few days, but we won't be able to make it in to Lafayette this weekend for Aunt Em's graduation. Sorry Em. We are very proud of you. Congrats on your college degree. Also congrats to mom and dad for somehow managing to raise 3 kids and get them all through college.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007
Finally, some big progress on the treehouse this weekend.

On Saturday, first we had Neo's soccer game. Neo did great. He had two good stops as goalies and is starting to get better on offense.

Afterwards, we worked on the treehouse and Mr. Borland gave us a hand raising the larger pieces need to make the roof frame. After getting things together and bolted down, we put the tarp over and - "tada" - we had a roof.

On Sunday, Neo and I worked really hard to start putting up all of the handrail. We got 99% of it done, but we need a few more boards to finish off the corners. Also, we need some sandpaper so that we can sand everything down smooth. So next weekend, after getting some supplies at Home Depot, I'm sure we can knock out the rest. After that, we will start putting in fun stuff.

Pictures are below:

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Sunday, April 29, 2007
This weekend was not a great one for the treehouse. Last night, I went through about 4 redesigns before finally settling on a new one. The new design is meant to be a compromise so that we can get the treehouse finished sooner and give Neo something he can play in, while still letting me add on and enclose it in the future. It uses four posts to build up a square and then lifts one ridge rafter up which will be used to hold, and keep tight, a tarp canopy. I'm hoping this will give Neo a somewhat enclosed place to play while still leaving open the possibility of closing in the walls later. My doodling of the design.

And today, when trying to implement the design, I made a mistake and cut the main posts too short. The pictures below were taken before we decided to go back and take them down. So, even thought the treehouse looks almost exactly the same as it did last weekend, we got alot accomplished, including the new design, buying all the supplies, and making a few mistakes.

Also, it looks like my cameraman got a bit tired and started taking pictures of his feet, so there isn't too many shots of the treehouse :)

Pictures are below:

Also, Neo had another good soccer game this weekend. He is steadily improving. Thanks again to Mr. Borland for being there.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007
This weekend was wonderful. After getting some much needed rest, we got up Saturday morning and had our first garage sale. We did pretty good. We got rid of many things that were taking up room and also sold a few things that I thought no one would ever buy.

We closed up the sale a little early and took off to Neo's first soccer game. Special thanks "Mr. Borland" who came along with us and gave Neo some soccer tips. Neo did well and his team almost won, but the game ended in a tie.

After the game, we got some warmer clothes and headed to the Engineering Spring Festival at JSC. Neo had fun playing with his friend Rosemary. We had BBQ, sampled some gumbo, had sno-cones, ate cookies, and listend to live music.

Today, we had another garage sale day and Neo and I made good progress on the tree house. We cut down the large branch that was in the way and chopped up all the resulting branches. After that was out of the way, we were able to finish putting up the floor joists. Now, we just need a good floor plan to figure out where things will go. Pictures are below:

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Sunday, April 01, 2007
Last weekend, we got a few chores done. One of those was replacing the fluorescent light in the new pantry. I had installed one that I bought from Home Depot when Mr. Troy and I were building it, but it had a crack in it and also got way hotter than I thought a fluorescent light should. So, I went back to Home Depot and returned it, and got a better, name brand, slightly more expensive one. This one had a ballast that was WAY smaller than the other one and also promised "no hum". I installed the new one and it is much better. It doesn't hum at all, and barely gets warm (Mrs. Pam: make sure you tell Mr. Troy I replaced it... I know he was worried about it).

But the other thing we got at home depot was some wood. After climbing in the tree with Neo a couple of weekends ago, Neo and I got to talking about treehouses. I have always wanted to build one, and ya know, life is just too short. I'm sure there is probably more important things I should be doing, but this just feels right.

So, we started building. My initial plan was to design and build an ultimate tree house, but this gave way to wanting it feel more kid designed. So, we got some scrap wood along with our new wood, and I was hoping to just start placing boards one by one with Neo guiding where he wanted them and helping out.

But, once we started this, I immediately wanted to make every board sturdy and safe. And nails weren't going to cut it. So, we anchored one board into the tree with a 10" long x 1" thick carriage bolt and the other side with a huge lag bolt. This made me feel better, but it started bringing me back to a design. So, I gave in, and drew something up. Here is the floor design.

Since that first day, I have done a bit of research about tree houses and also some research about trees. We started building and are having fun so far, but it is obvious that this is going to take a while. Here are some of Neo's pictures for you to follow along with the construction:

We could have gotten more done today, but we decided to quit early since the next step is to cut down that huge branch and I want to think about that some more. Plus, it's going to be quite a bit of work.

I can't believe it... I'm going to have a .... uhh... ahem... I mean Neo... is going to have a treehouse.

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Monday, March 12, 2007
On Friday we left for Bastrop State Park. Earlier in the week, I was able to book the last remaining cabin there for Friday night and Saturday night (Spring break just started so most places are full).

We left Friday afternoon and managed to get there before the sun went down. Thanks to my handy dandy Texas State Parks Pass that my brother got me for Christmas (great gift bub), we didn't have to pay to get in (which probably saved us close to $70 bucks for 3 days at 2 state parks). After checking in, we got to our cabin and unloaded. The cabin was very cool: it was one of the older cabins that was built in the park in the 1930's. It is a stone and log cabin made entirely of native woods. Right outside the cabin is a picnic area and fire ring which was nice. Reading some of the brochures, it looks like building the first 5 cabins like this proved to be way too time intensive and expensive than was planned, so the remaining cabins were wood framed.

Neo and I took off into the woods with his metal detector and searched around for about 45 minutes. At first we were only able to find pennies (we found 4), but then we found a ring (Christian said it was marked as 14K) and a musket ball/bullet. Not bad for 45 minutes. Neo was very excited. I was too... it's like treasure hunting :)

We built a fire and roasted some hot dogs for supper. Afterwards, we all fell asleep at different times... it was obvious we were all very tired.

The next morning, after some breakfast, Neo and I kicked the soccer ball for a bit, and then we walked around in the woods for a while. After we got back to the cabin, we loaded up the truck and took the scenic drive over to Buesher State Park. It is a beautiful drive down some very hilly and winding roads. Beautiful as it was, it was making Christian car sick, so we didn't do that again. At Buescher, we played at one of the playgrounds and had lunch. On the way back, we picked up some bait for fishing in the afternoon.

We went to the cabin and rested before heading back to Buescher to go fishing. Even though there is a nice lake right outside our cabin, we couldn't fish in the lake at Bastrop because it was closed to protect the breeding of the Houston toad.

Fishing at Buescher was great. As usual, Neo caught more fish than I did.

Then we went and ate at a little country restaurant called Maxine's. The food was pretty good, including some really good crawfish soup. It was made even better by the live blues music.

Our last day in Bastrop was the best one. After we checked out of our cabin, we got ready for a hike on one of the great trails. Right before we got on the trail, a gentleman hiking with his family (a large family) asked if he was going in the right direction to get back to the front gate. Now I knew that he was roughly at the midpoint of the circle, and he had a long, long way to walk back to the front gate. Not to mention, I had just drove it in the truck, and there were some really steep hills in there. I grabbed the map and showed him, and it looked like his heart fell into his shoes. I could see his wife and the rest of the kids approaching in the background, and I could tell that he REALLY didn't want to deliver this information. So I said, "can we give you guys a" and before I could say "ride", one of his daughters yelled "Yes!!". They all hopped in the back of the truck and we helped them get back to their camper.

After that, we went on our hike. The hike was really nice and a good workout. After we got back to the truck, we headed back to Buescher for some last minute fishing. This was awesome. We whipped out the coleman stove and Christian cooked some incredible hamburgers and bacon, and we had the best bacon cheeseburgers under an oak tree. Fishing with Neo was great. This time, he was casting and catching fish without any assistance at all. And of course, he caught more fish than me.

After that, we headed back to Houston. We had an almost perfect drive until we got to our exit in Houston. Right there, we sat in near standstill traffic for about 2 hours before finally continuing home.

It was a truly great and relaxing trip. It was so good, that I hardly remember that I was sick the entire time. That's how good it was.

The part I think I will remember most was while Neo and I were quietly fishing for the second time.

"Neo, you have to tell me how you catch those fish so good."

"Well, dad, you have to be patient." (I had been telling him this over and over when he would get bored or distracted.) "... you have to be patient, and watch your cork. And then... sometimes... sometimes you gotta kinda look at that cork... and you look at it... and you have to get mad at it a little bit."

"I need to get mad at it?"

"Yeah... you gotta get mad at it a little bit."

You can see the pictures here and you can see Neo's pictures in his March folder.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007
It's been a long time since the last post, and I wish I could say it was because not much has been going on, but tons of things have been going on. Every time I sit down and decide to update the website, I get focused on something else. I guess, with another one on the way, I should start getting used to this. My buddy said, "Dude, a husband and wife with one child is a well-oiled machines. A husband and wife with two kids ...".

Looking at the last post date, Jan 28th... wow. A lot a has happened since then. I'm trying to remember where we were over a month ago.

First up, room reorganization is in full swing. We decided to change the dining room into the office. That prompted a quick remodel with new paint, crown moulding, base moulding, and window blinds. Here is a link to before pictures and after pictures.

Next up was the kitchen pantry. Mrs. Pam and Mr. Troy were in town a few weekends ago and Mr. Troy and I got in that excuse for a pantry and made a REAL pantry out of it. We were able to extend the pantry under the stairs for some added space and put in plenty of shelves. We dressed it up with moulding and new tile flooring. I think it came out really well, although the funky stud arrangement caused us to go through a few redesigns. You can see before pictures and after pictures. Thank you so much Mr. Troy (and Mrs. Pam, she helped out with painting a ton!). Christian, Neo, and I all are really enjoying the new pantry.

But Mrs. Pam did way more than paint. Her and Christian went on a spring cleaning rampage, which I couldn't have been more happy with. Mrs. Pam and Christian went through her entire closet and threw out tons of things that Christian no longer wears. They also went through some boxes of clothes for both Christian and I, and some saved clothes in the hall closet and got rid of a bunch more. Yay!

And to top it all off, the girls spruced up the living room with some new curtains and Mr. Troy and I installed some new blinds. Boy does the living room look a lot better. I don't have any pictures of it, but it really does change the room. Thanks guys... thanks a million.

The next room to remodel will be the master bedroom, but we will need to get the foundation repaired before we do too much on that one. Ouch.

And that's just stuff about the house. What else is going on?

Christian is getting over the morning sickness period. She still contends with sporadic blood-sugar levels, but overall she is doing better. Neo is still very anxious and curious about what life will be like with the new baby. He and I both.

Neo is doing great. He has been doing very well at school lately. Christian and I cross our fingers to see how long this run of good behavior will last. He is a great kid.

On Mondays, Christian has school so I pick Neo up from school. Since we are on our own for food, we have turned this into a "dinner" night for us. The rules are that we go out to try out new types of food and cannot eat at the same place twice. Also, we can't do fast food, unless it is a local mom-and-pop type place. So far, we haven't tried too much, but last week we tried Italian. I told him he could get anything except spaghetti. He had a chicken dish that he seemed to like. Next week we are going to try Indian food.

Also, in my last post, I told you guys I would be posting some lists. One would be the list of things we are giving away so that you guys could take your pic. I don't have that list ready yet.

The other list is the "lookout" list of things we need. Here is the first cut of the list. If you know the whereabouts of any of these items, please email me and let me know.

  • Baby swing

  • High-chair

  • Stroller

  • Playpen

  • Diaper bags

  • Diaper genie

  • Boppy pillow

  • Jumper

  • Baby monitor

  • Misc items such as:

    • Bibs

    • Nooks

    • sippy cups

    • bottles

    • a babysitter


  • ... etc.


Please keep an eye out for any of those things. In a couple of months we will take stock of what we have and what we are missing.

Oh, and mom got her a new laptop. Not only that, but she set it up by herself, reconfigured her home network router and DSL modem, set up a home network, enabled wireless, and connected to her wireless with her new laptop. All by herself. Good job mom. I'm proud of you. Don't be afraid to hit buttons and try things.

And lastly, we just signed up Neo for his first season of soccer at the YMCA. He really wanted to try it out. I have no idea what to tell him. I don't know the first thing about soccer. Perhaps that is best. I just tell him to kick it hard.

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Monday, January 01, 2007
Welcome to 2007! We made it!

Our family was blessed with a wonderful 2006, and I know I am very excited about the new year. One thing it will definitely contain is our first family vacation!

We have finally got some of the new technology settled in the house. I set up Neo's computer for Christian instead, and set up emily's old Mac for Neo. We got his new camera and printer dock configured on the new mac and you should see what Neo does. He docks the camera, imports his photos into iPhoto, prints them, emails them, plays games, checks his email... it's incredible. I even have it set up so when he see he has a new email, he can highlight the text, press a key on the keyboard, and the computer will read the email to him... he does everything himself! It's really fun to watch him learn. His website is set up to update every night with any pictures he has taken, so check it out often. You can find it at http://neo.graffagnino.net.

He gets super excited when he sees that he has an email, so if any of you get the chance to send him an email, I'm sure he would love it. His email is antonio "att' graffagnino d-o_t net (excuse the funky spelling, but I'm trying to avoid him getting junk mail.

Happy New Year to all of you!

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Saturday, December 30, 2006
Ok, I've got the pictures up on the website. You can see the pictures Christian and I took in the Christmas 2006 folder, along with the subfolder of pics from vince and amy.

And I've also got Neo's website all synced with his new computer/camera setup so that as he takes pictures and comes home and docks it, the pictures will show up on the website the next day, so be sure to check it for updates. You can see his pictures here.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006
The Christmas season is upon is! Neo is about to burst with excitement. He has spent alot of time making his wish-list. His Christmas wish list is linked to from his page.

We are having a wonderful weekend. We BBQ'd yesterday and had some amazing bacon-wrapped pork thingies (bacon-wrapped pork? I guess that is redundant isn't it...). And today, Christian fired up the slow-cooker and made an ubelievable dish with meat that fell apart if you just stared at it.

Looking forward to Christmas, although we are a bit unsure of Christmas plans. Eventually I am going to set the bulletin board back up to discuss these things. For now, let's get the emails flowin'.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006
A couple of weekends ago, I finally borrowed a ladder and got up on the roof to fix some facial siding that had come loose. I was able to hang slightly over the edge and nail it back in, which was good.

But this week, we had some freakish tropical storm winds come through houston which blew off two more pieces of siding, only these can't be reached from the roof, or with a small ladder. :(

So, I'm thinking about investing in an extension ladder.

Neo had his last game of the fall-ball season last weekend. Pics can be found on the gallery I made for his team.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006
Halloween was great. Neo had a lot of fun and got a ton of candy. This year, he was Mario.

We went over to a friends house for Halloween so Neo could trick-or-treat with their kids. They all had a blast. Other pictures are here.

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Friday, October 20, 2006
We want to thank Mom and Emily for coming into town last weekend with Kam. Neo really enjoyed getting to play with him. We have a few pictures in Neo and Kam's folders. I like the one of Kam in his new Superman clothes.

Also, Neo has a digital camera (a cheap one that I bought a while back for a project). He is taking his own pictures, downloading them hisself to his own computer running Edubuntu linux, and then viewing them with Google's Picasa. I have a script that runs every night that posts the pictures he downloads onto his website. You can see the ones he has taken and check for new ones here. Some of them are very good. I like this one. :)

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
What a great weekend. Neo's birthday was this weekend and we had a lot of fun with him. He had his party at the arcade/putt-putt place. He got way too many presents and it looked like all the kids there had a good time. He also had a baseball game immediately after his party which he did very well in.

Lori and Michelle came in to visit on Saturday and Sunday and Nanna and Poppa came in on Sunday and Monday. It was great that Christian and I to be able to spend a long weekend with you guys, and Neo really enjoyed sharing his birthday with you.

Thanks to everyone for all of Neo's great gifts. He has been playing with his toys all weekend!

Pictures from his party and baseball game are in his October 2006 folder.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006
Sorry about not keeping up with the posts.

A lot has been going on. John and I had a great trip into Louisiana for career day at UL. Also, Christian had a good birthday weekend. She hasn't posted yet, but I'm sure she will have a few words about it on her blog soon :)

There are lots of birthdays going on... there was Christian's this weekend... Neo's next weekend... Kam's this weekend... Dad's last week... Mom's this week... Mrs. Pam's this week...Paw Paw's coming up... geez. I don't know why I am surprised... it is this way every year :)

There are also a few pics of Neo at baseball in his folder for this month.

Speaking of Neo... if you plan on coming in from out of town for Neo's birthday next week, please be sure to let Christian and I know that you are definitely coming so that we can organize sleeping arrangements. Thanks! As far as gifts for him... clothes are good... XBOX games (regular XBOX, not 360) and Nintendo DS games are good... he doesn't play with typical toys and action figures much. Money is also good - he has a bank and knows what it is like to save money, so he will appreciate it.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006
My boy is off to school! The bus just picked him up. Mom managed to hold back the tears until she got back in the house :) Pics are here. Mom's thoughts about it are over here. :)

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Sunday, June 25, 2006
There are a few pictures now available that you guys might like to see.

The first one is a family picture we had taken. We think it came out very nice. A full size version is here.

A few weeks ago, we went to a company party given by Christian's employer. It was at Schlitterbahn in Galveston. It was very fun, although I don't understand how they afford that stuff. Pictures from the event are here.

Also, Neo has baseball pictures and a picture of his class at swimming lessons in his folder for June.

Things are good here in Friendswood, although with Christian and I both working with NASA, things can get pretty hectic as we get closer to the flight. We are dealing with it pretty well me thinks.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006
This week we received a package. It had Neo's name on it and he was very excited to open it.

It was a wonderful, hand-made baseball bat that Paw-Paw ordered for Neo. It is beautiful with Neo's name engraved in the barrel and his initial stamped in the end.

But the most beautiful part about it is the story, which I will do my best to recreate here.

My dad was at a lumber store, looking to buy a piece of wood. He asked for any large pieces of ash that he could use to make a baseball bat for his grandson. One of the guys in line noticed that, and told him that he could make a bat for him. My dad said sure and took his card and gave him the correct spelling of Neo's full name.

After the guy left, the man behind the counter asked Dad, "Do you know who that is?".

"No. Who is he?"

"That's Jack Marucci."

"Uhh... ok."

"He made the 'Curse Buster' - the bat used by a Boston Red Sox player to break the Bambino Curse and ultimately win the 2004 World Series!"

Jack Marucci makes bats for everyone... including major league ball players. They are all made by hand in his backyard. You can read more about Jack and his bat business here.

Neo's bat is beautiful, and we want to thank Paw-Paw and Jack for such a beautiful keepsake in the family. You can see some pics of Neo's bat here.

In other news, we came up to Dallas to spend some time with Vince, Amy, Ethan, and Kyle, and also to look at a used car that Christian was interested in. After some inspections by a VW dealer, Christian purchased the car! It is such a fun car, but you can judge for yourself.

The poor Prizm will have to sleep outside once we get home. It has served us well.

I can't tell you how proud I am of Christian. She has worked hard to save up money, find a great deal, negotiate with the seller and make it all happen. She got a GREAT deal on it, and I am so very proud of her. You did it babe. Now enjoy it. Open up that sunroof, and turn up the radio!

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Sunday, April 23, 2006
Got the new AC installed on Friday. There were some huge storms blowing through Friday morning so that delayed the installation a bit. The guys did a pretty good job installing it I thought.

The new AC cools much better, although the guy said he couldn't get a really good charge on it because it wasn't warm enough outside. I guess that makes the freon freeze up in the bottle or something. There is supposed to be a quality guy come around in a few days to check their work, so I will ask him about it. Other than it making a weird sound when it starts, I am happy with it.

The new AC motivated us to try and seal up some of the exterior of the house, so we bought a bunch of stuff at home depot and got to work. We sealed two of the divisions in the driveway with some self-leveling sealer and some backer rod. This worked pretty good, but it took me 3 $5 bottles of sealer to do only two joints. I need to get some sand to make sure the backer rod is as high as it will go so I don't use so much sealer when I do the rest.

We also got on our hands and knees and cleaned out most of the cracks in the driveway and then filled them with a concrete crack filler. Some of the bigger ones we are going to wait to do once we get some sand.

We took some "Great Stuff" foam filler and filled up some areas around the 1st floor window frames. Then, we removed as much old caulk as we could, and put a fresh seal of caulk all the way around. This may help a little bit, but the windows are so horrible that we might not notice a difference. We really need new windows, and before we do that, we really need to fix the foundation... sigh...

We also went through quite a bit of effort to replace the threshold on the front door. After taking of the threshold, I realized we also needed to replace the board below it as it was getting rotten. I went to Home-Depot again and got a pressure treated board and replaced it. I ruined about 4 masonry drill bits trying to drill into the cement, but eventually we got it in. We put the new threshold on and then installed some door sweeps to help make a seal. With the foundation as it is, there isn't a 90 degree angle in the whole house, so it is hard to get a good seal on anything, but this has to be better than it was. This was the last thing we worked on, but we worked till almost 10:30. Needless to say, we all slept hard.

Looks like those storms that blew in also ripped down some more siding and flopped it over onto the roof. I will have to call a siding guy to come out and repair it and the previous damage from the hurricane, since I don't have a ladder that can reach it... sigh...

Oh, by the way, did I mention that the refrigerator in the kitchen is about to go out? It makes a loud banging noise when the compressor shuts off. Reading on the web suggests it is only a matter of time before the compressor fails... sigh...

In other, less depressing news, Neo had a great baseball game yesterday. He hit well, ran fast and was paying attention. Daddy was very proud. Also, we are going to attempt to go camping next weekend. We have got some supplies ready, and we are thinking about going to Huntsville State Park, but we are open to suggestions. If anyone knows of any good tent-camping places around Houston, please let me know.

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Monday, January 02, 2006
Definitely much to report.

Before leaving for Louisiana, Neo and I worked on staining and varnishing some "Cajun Cadillacs" that Paw-Paw "G" had made for us. Christian wrote the letters on them and then we applied a couple of coats of varnish on top. I gave away a couple of them to some guys that I work with. Thank you Paw-Paw "G" for the pirogues - we had a lot of fun working on them. Some pics are here.

Our holiday season officially began on December 23rd. We left Houston very late (about 9:00 PM) on our way to Louisiana. Although we got there late, it was a great trip.

We spent Christmas Eve at the Graffagnino's. Neo and Kameron had a blast playing with one another and opening presents. Christmas day was spent at the Bergeron's which was also a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who helped out so much with Neo's Christmas. He received so much and was quite the happy boy. You can see pictures from all of the Christmas festivities here.

Another reason we were in Louisiana was to attend a wedding for one of our favorite people in the whole world... Lori. Neo was the ring bearer in her wedding and was so excited to play a part in it. Check out how sharp he looked! The wedding was amazing and so was the reception. We wish Lori and Travis the best and are very happy for them. A few pictures from the bridal luncheon, rehearsal, and wedding are here (including a video of Neo walking down the aisle).

While we were in Louisiana, we visited the Scott fire station. There, Neo got to climb on the truck, wear a real fire suit, ride in the truck, and even turn on the siren! He had a blast. Pics from the visit are in Neo's folder here.

New Year's was a calm one for us. We bought a few fireworks for Neo (mainly sparklers and smoke bombs), and watched some movies.

When we got home, Neo and I took some time to sand, paint, and assemble a wood train from a kit the Uncle Vince gave to us. It came out pretty good.

Overall, it was a great trip and a great holiday season for us. Now... back to real life.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005
This weekend is one of those weekends where you feel so blessed, you don't know how to accept it all.

What a wonderful visit with family. And today, God set the thermostat to "perfect" and we had the most amazing weather for the best birthday party in the park that anyone could ask for.

There was a moonwalk which the kids loved. Many of them also played in the park. Neo got an incredible (no pun intended) number of presents. The cake was awesome and the pizza was.. well... Domino's.

My friend Greg decided to give up his Saturday and make some really great cardboard cutouts of the Incredibles' kids. Thanks a million Greg. Those were great.

We want to thank everyone who came and also thank all of those who helped us so much to get this party together for Neo. He had a blast.

Of course, there are a ton of pictures here.

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Friday, October 14, 2005
After much confusion and delay, we have finally settled on a date and time for Neo's party. I apologize to everyone who was trying to work their schedule around this. Things have been pretty hectic around here.

The party will be on the weekend of the 22nd-23rd. Email me for the exact date and time. We would like to get an idea of how many people are coming from out of town, so shoot me an email at frankie@graffagnino.net if you plan on coming.

On Neo's birthday, he had one heck of a breakfast. Check this out. He claimed it was the best breakfast ever.

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Saturday, April 30, 2005
I know it's been a while since the last post. Let's see what has been going on.

Neo's T-ball has been going well. His first game is next week. I'm sure it is going to be quite a show.

His baseball pictures were yesterday, but he had to miss them. Why? Well, Neo had a doctor's appointment that ran REALLY late. He went in to have the doctor look at his feet (he has been complaining about them hurting every now and then). But, what he didn't know was the he was also going to get his next round of immunization shots.

I tried to prep him a bit in the morning telling him that if something hurts at the doctor's office, he doesn't have to cry. He can just grit his teeth and be a big boy. He agreed, but he had no concept of the doctor causing any pain. He has always associated it with feeling better.

The doctor's appointment ran very late, and Christian called me after they left. "Well, it's over" she said.

"Did he cry?"

"Oh yeah. He wasn't too happy. By the time we got to the third shot, we had to hold him down."

"Can I speak to him?"

I hear some background noise as Christian hands her phone to Neo. Then, all I hear is sniffling through the phone...

"Buddy, are you there?"

(in a low crumbling voice) "... it hurt daddy."

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Sunday, October 10, 2004
Happy birthday Neo!!!

Neo had an awesome Scooby-Doo birthday party for his 4th birthday. You can see all of the details on his website.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Neo's birthday is coming up! See his webpage for more details.

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