Sunday, May 25, 2014

Robin Williams and the Power of TV Licensing

Earlier this month, I decided that my kids would love Ms. Doubtfire. I remember the movie being funny and its based in San Francisco to boot. I wanted to share two observations from my quest to actually realize this desire.

First, finding the movie. I first had to find out if I already owned the movie. That required looking through all of our movies. I started with one or two hundred of DVDs, moved onto looking through 100 titles on Flixster, reviewed Netflix, perused Amazon Prime, scoured my personal and corporate Google Play accounts, searched my digital movies I have on my hard drive, checked my iTunes accounts, took a gander at my Vudu account - and then I just got sick of looking.

Observation #1: It is too hard to keep track of what movies you own. 

So, I decided to buy or rent the movie. It is, after all, Fox's biggest movie of 1993. The only movie that did better than it that year was Jurassic Park. So surely it will be easy to locate and pay for, right? Wrong. It isn't available digitally anywhere. The best I could do was find from Vudu that it would be available at the end of June. 

So, I went a mom and pop video rental place, signed up for a member and paid $3 to get a DVD of the movie. 

So, why is Ms Doubtfire not available digitally? Is it because of some sort of talent issues? I don't think so. Essentially all of Robin Williams' other movies - as well as the director Chris Columbus' movies - are available digitally. 

Is it an issue with Fox? No. Their biggest movie from the year before - 1992 - is available digitally.

The answer, it turns out, is TV licensing. Ms Doubtfire filled over 150 hours of basic cable airtime here in the US last year - holding the top spot for cable. The second and third spots are held by the Shawshank Redemption and Scarface, both of which are available digitally. 

By the way, before renting the DVD, I did search on my Google TV to see when the movie would be on again. It was showing later that week on TNT. 

PS They are making a sequel - 22 years after the original.

Monday, April 14, 2014

16 years is a long time

We finally gave in and visited Universal Studios today. Despite living a mile from it for over 3 years, we had stayed away because we didn't think that the kids would be old enough to enjoy it. Overall, it got positive reviews across the board. 

The last time Sarah and I visited was in 1998 - a month after we graduated from high school. Little did we realize that we'd still be together 16 years later - with 4 kids living in southern California. Fun stuff. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Burning House

Sarah argues that I am unsentimental about things - that I too easily document and get rid of various artifacts from our life. I'm currently getting rid of a bunch of my clothes. That coupled with news of the fires in Colorado and running across The Burning House, a blog where people document what they would take if their house was on fire, got us thinking about what stuff in our house we value. 

Our assessment of what we'd grab if the house was on fire? See the picture below. 

We'd stick with
- the kids' baby books
- a hard drive with most of our important files and documents
- our wedding license
- our family's passports
- our family's birth certificates
- the blessing gown Paul's grandma made for us

We're probably forgetting something but it was a stretch to even come up with that list. 

I asked the kids what they would bring. Ethan was the only one would seemed to understand the question (most of Sadie's answers were TV shows for example) and his picture is below.

Ethan would stick with

- snacks
- Nintendo GameCube
- Harry Potter books
- Nintendo Wii
- MarioCart Game

It was a fun exercise but, if we are honest with ourselves, there are just five things that we'd focus on getting out of a burning house. Picture below. 

Yes, we're including you on that list, Jabba.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sadie's fourth birthday

Hard to believe it's been four years since Sadie was born (her birthday was at the end of March).  And that we've had two more kids in that time period!  (but that's for another post)  Anyway, I decided it was time to let Sadie have a real birthday party this year where she gets to invite friends over, etc.  She's completely obsessed with princesses, but I kind of felt like that whole scene was a little overplayed, so I convinced her that she *really* wanted a candy shoppe theme instead.  I think all I had to say was "candy buffet" and she was totally on board.  I had so much fun planning it!  And now that I have all the stuff, guess what kind of party you're getting, Becca!  :)
Candy buffet- gummy bears, M&M's, candy sticks, shimmer pearls, gumballs, giant lollipops, jelly beans, rock candy, red licorice- all surrounded by a gumball garland and gumball topiaries!

Candy necklace making station and gumball necklaces for each of the girls


The birthday girl and her gang

Becca plays a party game

Party girls

Becca the goofball
Birthday cake

Blowing out the candles
Rainbow cake!! This was a lot of work but super fun to make

I think she liked opening her presents.   :)

Lollipops up the driveway
We love you, Sadie!

Oh yeah, and we had another baby...

Whoa, I totally suck at updating this thing. 

So... kind of a lot has happened since the last time I posted.  Numero uno: we had a baby!  Bridget Evans Snow was born on November 25; she was 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 20 inches long.  I had a pretty tough recovery from the c-section, but we all survived and are doing just fine now. 

Newborn sweetie pie

Home from the hospital, hooray!

One week old!

No pictures, please
 My mom was here to help with the kids/baby (thank goodness!!!), and then my dad also came out for Christmas.  It was really fun to have the whole clan together.  Even Claudia came with her girls for a few days!
Ethan with some of his sweet Christmas haul

Sadie in her new Cinderella dress

Becca just being cute
 Paul's family came to visit just after New Year's.  It was great fun to see them, too.  We blessed Bridget while they were here; the last time to use that gorgeous blessing gown!  :(

The family that goes barefoot together stays together
 And now we're kind of just settling into our routine, chugging along.  Bridgie is a really good baby, and of course SUPER cute.  I love the weird little faces she makes.  Here she is in January at two months old:

This is my "get off my lawn" face

Hangin' with my big sis

I'm a super smiley, happy baby

In February, at three months

Did I mention that I like to smile?

 We love our little Widget.  I am trying to enjoy and take it all in, since this is the last time I will get to do this baby thing...  But good thing we're ending on such a high note, don't you think?   :)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Glass etching

I've become kind of crafty lately.  Not really sure why, but I have found all these cool things that I want to make and finally decided to go with it.  One of my new favorites is glass etching.  I saw it done on some blog somewhere and thought "I could do that!"  It turned out to be way more fun and addicting than I had anticipated and I find myself wanting to etch every glass surface in my house.

I've had quite a few people ask me how it's done, so I decided to do a little example for demonstration purposes.  I bought these plain juice glasses earlier this week to use as dessert cups for Halloween dinner- $2.99 for a set of four at Target.  Can't beat that.  And at that price, I can afford to use one for my demo.

First of all, you will need the glass etching cream.  I've heard some people say they've found it at their local craft store, but I searched high and low at Michael's and couldn't find it anywhere (though, in all honesty, I didn't ask so maybe they do have it hidden away somewhere).  Instead, I just ordered it off of Amazon.  Anyway, this is what it looks like:

Next, you will need to decide what pattern/design you want to etch.  For this demo, I chose a pretty script S and just printed it off my computer (in a really huge font and bolded).  I've also used stickers as templates and that works really well, too.

Next, take a little square of plain Contact paper and trace the design onto it (or put your sticker on it).  I've found that a fine-point permanent marker works best for this.  Regular pen doesn't show up well and any other kind of marker just smears when you press it onto your glass.

Now just peel the backing off of your Contact paper and stick it onto the glass you want to etch, like so:

This is where it gets a little tricky/time consuming.  Once the Contact paper is stuck to your glass, take an Exact-O/craft knife and very carefully cut along the lines of your design.  I've found it helpful to move the glass around as I'm doing it, instead of trying to contort my arm into some weird position.  If you accidentally go outside the lines, it isn't a super huge deal; you can usually go back and correct it.

Now it's time to remove the part you cut.  Remember to leave certain parts of the Contact paper in place (i.e., if you cut out an "O," you'll want to leave the Contact paper in the middle or else it will just be a big circle).  If you find that your cutting was not quite as smooth as you would've liked, you can always go back and fine tune your stencil.  Here is what my fancy "S" stencil looked like when I was done.

Once you've removed the stencil, take your finger or some other blunt object and gently smooth down the edges around the exposed part of glass (I use the rounded end of my craft knife).  You just want to be sure there are no air bubbles or gaps because otherwise the etching cream will seep under the Contact paper and ruin your beautiful stencil!

From here on out it's easy.  Take a sponge brush and apply a thick layer of etching cream over the exposed glass.  Try to make it as even as possible, but you do want it to be thick.

Then just let it hang out for 10-15 minutes while the cream does its magic.  After the time has passed, put your glass under running water to rinse off the cream, rubbing it off with your finger if necessary.  Here's what mine looked like after rinsing:

Now it's time for the big reveal!  Peel the Contact paper away...

And voila!  (sorry, this picture is blurrier than I thought but it's the only one I took and I'm too lazy to go back and take another one)

So that's it!  A little time consuming, but I think it looks so cool and classy.  And not super expensive, either (I think the etching cream cost around $6-$8 and I had most of the other stuff lying around the house already).  And now my big Pyrex baking dish is un-steal-able!  :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Calling It Like I See It

We have completely stopped posting to this blog. At some point, we use to post pictures and thoughts - all in real time, anxious to share with friends and family what was going on in our neck of the woods.

We still want to share that stuff to those that give a rip (it is a technical term - look it up) but we have been doing it through other means. Sarah has kept all of her updates fairly private by sticking to Facebook. I have been using Google+ all summer and will start making all of the "blog-like" posts public.

So, if you're still with us and aren't getting your Snow family fix from some other source, feel free to check me out on Google+ here or feel free to add me to a circle if you're also using +. I will post a bunch of public updates this weekend to cover our summer here in southern California. In addition, I guarantee to update more regularly. Pinky swear.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And baby makes six...

Do you ever stop to look at your child(ren)?  I mean, really stop what you're doing and just take a good, long look?  Every once in a while I find myself doing this; I can't help it, really.  It's those little random moments when they're all sitting on the couch together, or playing outside or even strapped into their car seats on a long drive, when I feel compelled to just stop and look.  I examine their facial features, their expressions, mannerisms, physical characteristics- everything.  I love discovering the ways in which they are alike, and the ways in which they are oh so unique.  I admire the way Sadie's hair is highlighted so beautifully, the deep ocean blue of Ethan's big eyes, the perfect porcelain canvas of Rebecca's skin.  I laugh at their sweet giggles, the goofy smiles on their faces, and am moved by the tenderness that exists between them.  This is not to say, of course, that they are perfectly behaved or even nice to each other a majority of the time. Far from it.  But I relish in those moments when I see their sweet spirits shining through and am reminded of who they truly are; and what an enormous blessing and sacred trust it is to be a mother.  

I experienced one of those moments again this morning, when I saw my fourth and final baby during my 20 week ultrasound.  Obviously, this is not the first ultrasound I've had.  But it still takes my breath away every single time; I never tire of seeing them, or stop marveling at how something so small can be so amazing.  We found out that we are having another girl, our third, and we are over the moon.  Here she is in profile, with her sweet little snub nose:

My heart is overflowing with gratitude for this precious child, this baby girl that will complete our family.  In many ways I feel unworthy of such an amazing gift and responsibility, but I hope and pray that we are up to the challenge.  This little girl was not in our plans, but it's obvious to me that she had other ideas.  She is meant to be in our family, for reasons I hope to understand some day soon.  But for now I will simply love her and anxiously await the day when I can meet her and discover just what makes her special.  And mine.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Expect the unexpected

I have kind of adopted this as the Snow family motto.  It seems we have gone through quite a few significant life changes in the last two or three years, some of them not exactly what we had planned.

First we left everything behind- our house, friends, job, income- to go back to school.  Yeah, we planned that one, but it was scary nonetheless.  It turned out to be one of the best decisions we've made, so that worked out well.

Then came Rebecca.  We were sort of half-a$$ed trying to get pregnant at the time, but totally weren't expecting it to work as quickly as it did after struggling for nearly two years to have Sadie.  We were pretty stunned to be having another baby only 20 months after Sades, but of course now we wouldn't have it any other way.  Becca is the cutest, sweetest little girl and was definitely meant to be in our family.

When Paul started B-school, he wasn't completely sure what he wanted to do afterwards.  He originally thought that he'd like to go back into consulting, but after his first semester of school he pretty much decided that wasn't the path for him.  It took a long time for him to really pin down what he wanted, but eventually he decided to focus on the technology sector.  Unfortunately for us, that meant a much more non-traditional recruiting process.  While most of his classmates were accepting their full-time offers in the fall and early winter/spring of 2010, Paul continued to interview until the bitter end.  It wasn't until about a month before graduation that we finally had his offer letter in hand and knew where we would be moving to once school was over.  It was a pretty tense time, and I was nervous about the future.  But Paul refused to compromise and eventually landed his dream job at his dream company.  And that meant a move to California- a place I never in a million years expected to end up.

So we packed up and made the looooong drive from New Hampshire to San Francisco in June of last year.  We really loved it there.  The city is amazing; it has such a great vibe, great places to visit, great restaurants, beautiful scenery, you name it.  We made great friends, Ethan started kindergarten and was thriving, Paul was excelling at work.  Until one day he came home and told me that his current position was being eliminated.  He still had a job, but he would have to find a new project, either within YouTube or over at Google.  A couple days later, he told me about an opportunity he had to join a new, up-and-coming YouTube team down in Los Angeles that would work on film and television partnerships.  He was really excited about it, but I was not.  I didn't want to leave SF; frankly, I've never been a huge fan of Southern California and was worried about finding a good place to live with good schools, etc.  I prayed and prayed about what to do.  Eventually I just came to the conclusion that I wanted to be where Paul was, that I would follow him to the ends of the earth because we belong together.  He really wanted this LA job, so we took the plunge.  Five months later, I still miss San Francisco.  But we are together and making the best of it; life goes on.

Which brings me to now.  Expect the unexpected once again.

Yes, that is an ultrasound picture of our fourth child, who is due at the end of November.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted this.  There is most definitely divine intervention involved; I can't explain this child any other way.  We were not planning this.  We weren't even sure if we wanted another child, especially given the fact that it will mean my fourth c-section.  But apparently the choice was not ours to make, and here we are once again.  My heart is full of gratitude for this opportunity to bring life into the world one last time, to complete our family.

Who knows what other twists and turns await us, but we're looking forward to the ride!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Images From the Last Two Months of Our Lives

We are completely off the blogging band wagon. Not sure if we care or not but wanted to at least show how we've been spending our time.

Eating at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank

Le Bex

I Wanna Be Jackie Onassis. I Wanna Wear a Pair of Bright Sunglasses

Movie Night at Ethan's School

Eating Cupcakes with Pictures of Ethan's Teachers on Them

Food Trucks at Ethan's School

Playing at the Park

Visting with Miss Katie and Denise

Long Beach Aquarium

Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles in Hollywood

Rebecca does a wicked Ray Charles impression

Getty Center

Sadie Making a Mask at the Getty Center

Hollywood Forever Cemetary - Johnny Ramone's Grave

Krispy Kreme in Burbank

Dodgers Opening Weekend against the Giants

Disneyland for Sadie's Birthday

Ethan making an Android craft at Take Your Kid to Work day at Google's Santa Monica office

Sadie running an obstacle course at Take Your Kid to Work day