Yesterday you turned seven, and each year you are sweeter and more caring. You’ve blossomed in first grade. I have to confess, I was a bit worried about your reading. Unlike your brother, you didn’t seem as interested in learning how to read on your own. I think you enjoyed having me or Sammy read to you a bit too much to drum up the enthusiasm to learn the rules on your own. Until first grade, that is. Thanks in part to your teacher, Mrs. Payne, and to your friends, you found the enthusiasm and focus to really learn. Now in second grade, reading is easy to you. Instead, I see you applying that same energy to learning math. I have no doubt that in a few months’ time, what seems hard to you now will be quite simple. It’s been the same way for swimming these last few months.
You have always been advanced for your age in the social arena. You are warm, friendly, loving, caring. You feel everything so strongly — whether it’s fear or joy. And such an easy-going girl; it’s no wonder you make friends so easily.
I also love how much you love music. Dancing with you is one of my favorite things in life. My love for you grows endlessly each year. I am overjoyed to watch you bloom in front of me. I can’t wait to see how your world grows next.
Sophie graduated from Kindergarten today. She began the year able to read and write her name and maybe one or two other words. After a year of homework and effort, she’s now able to read at a first grade level, and she enjoys writing her own stories.
You turn four today. What a wonderful presence you bring to the world! I love your joy, your good nature, your sense of humor, your boundless energy, how uniquely you see the world, and how much you’ve created your own persona. You can be stubborn about the small things (like what to wear in the morning), but you’re so easy-going and resilient about the big things.
As I told your brother, we have rough waters ahead, and I know how deeply you’re already feeling the changes that are happening. But you’ve already proven yourself to be so good at adapting to the complex world around you. Look at how easily you’ve adjusted to your new room at school, and how you jump right in to tell your friends what to do. With your family’s help, you will thrive and grow, endlessly.
Three today, but in many ways you’ve been a three year old for a while, with your big heart and endless energy and general good nature. You’re a wonderful, beautiful girl, and we love you very much.
In teaching Sammy and Sophie the value of coins and what money buys, it’s hard to come up with anything for the penny. (I’ve long advocated retiring one cent coins.). Fortunately, horsey rides at Lozano’s remain a penny. Hiho and away.
At Costco today, I bought myself an early birthday present, a Mino Flip HD, which is a video camera in a small form factor — about the size of my iPhone. (You can read this PC Mag review for more details.) Costco carries the 60-minute Mino Flip HD in black with a bonus tripod for under $200.
We do have a video camera, and it has more features than I’ll ever use, but it uses mini tapes, and it’s difficult to capture the video on computer to edit or publish here. It’s also not as ultra-portable as the Mino Flip HD. I’ve been interested in it ever since I saw David Pogue review it on The New York Times “Circuits” show a few months ago.
The package includes a soft pouch and wrist strap, plus composite cables for quick playback on your TV set (but that’d be in SD, obviously, given the cable). The product itself is well-designed in terms of UI, stripping down the feature set to only the bare essentials. It has only the most minimal controls, to make video capture simple.
I took two quick test videos, one of Sophie and one of Sammy. The first test video, of Sophie, quickly showed that I don’t have a steady hand and should really use the tripod.
For the second test video, I used the tripod, which helped the stability a lot.
The light wasn’t great for either test, and it looks like the Flip did a better job of handling low light conditions than our handheld Canon camcorder.
The Flip does capture in HD (see below for specs), and it was very simple to use the built-in USB to transfer the videos to my computer. After installing the software (automatic the first time you attach the Flip to your PC), transfer only took a few seconds.
The supplied “FlipShare” software is a little too stripped down. While it has very basic editing (titles, clip beginning and end, organize clips into a single movie, add music) and has functions for uploading to YouTube and other sites, there’s not enough control over the file conversion.
My one minute Sophie sample file was 70 megs in the native MP4 (H.264/AAC) file format, at 1280 by 720 resolution. FlipShare can convert to WMV on a PC (or apparently to MOV on a Mac). So I had it convert for me, but the version it produced for sharing via e-mail or uploading to a web site was 10 megs, in 640 by 360. It didn’t offer me an option to change that resolution or compress further. Ten megs a minute isn’t bad, but is too big a file size for uploading here to zeigen.com.
The YouTube upload is seamless, however, and it’s painless to embed (plus I don’t have to pay for hosting — thanks, Google!). The first test is below.
See, I wasn’t kidding about the jerky video. Sophie is now 18 months old.
Overall I haven’t used the Mino Flip HD enough to give a full review but I’m cautiously optimistic.
This morning I dropped off Kimi and Sammy at the airport for a flight to Tacoma. They’ll spend the weekend with Kimi’s sister Tomi to attend my niece Kira’s fifth birthday. That leaves Sophie and me running the household alone until Sunday. My plans include:
raging keg party
redecorate house with a “Lord of the Rings” theme
teach Sophie (now 18 months old) how to play poker
all fast food, all the time
see how high I can pile up dirty dishes in three days
In other news, Sophie has a new word! That’s the good news. The bad news is that the word is “no.” Except it really should be written as “NOOOO.”
Month count: 16.3
Word count: ~6 (oddly, “turtle” is one of them)
Maximum steps taken before falling down: Over 100
Limbs broken: 0
Average hours slept: 11
Diapers used per day: 7
Hearts broken: Countless