Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas in 3D HD!

For the past 12 years, the Calandros have thrown a Christmas party, we've mentioned it here before and even posted an animoto video of last year's party. As we have said, we save all year for it to get snow on our front lawn, Santa comes, and we have tons of people here (overcompensation for year one of the party when we only had two guests show up out of the 40 that we invited). Our guests bring canned goods and new, unwrapped gifts to donate to a local charity and we provide everything else.

This year, just before Thanksgiving, we got an email from Greg Harper- the Living in HD Answerman and all around amazing person- asking if we would be interested in having a Panasonic 3D HD truck come to our party...or would it be too much?

By now, you probably have realized when it comes to the Calandro family, we haven't figured out what "too much" is.

Of course, we said we would totally be willing to do it! We weren't sure how big it would be, we weren't sure whether or not it would be pulled off (though we have come to learn that with Greg Harper and Panasonic working together, anything can happen). Heck, at that point, we weren't even sure who was coming to our party.

At noon on Saturday, Glacier Ice Company showed up to blow 5 tons of snow onto our lawn and house (they donated it to our party this year. They are wonderful people and if you are ever on the Central Coast of California and need ice, you need to look no further.). Moments after they drove away, up drove Greg, followed very shortly by the Panasonic 3D HD truck. The drivers/operators of the truck, Dan and Ryan (and their lovely significant others Anna and Rhonda) were friendly, knowledgeable and personable- just like every other Panasonic employee we have ever met. They got the truck set up in short order and were ready to go well before our first guest arrived.




Sarah, the camera person for Panasonic, showed up and Phil, an AP photographer was there to document the event for us and for the Panasonic executives in Japan. Everyone was ready to go. We hadn't told any of our guests what to expect at our party, only that this year would be bigger and better than ever!

Our guests were floored as they got to be among the few who would experience the next wave in HD Television: 3D! The truck has a capacity of about 25 people at a time and shows about a 10 minute montage of 3D clips- there is race car driving, skiing, soccer, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing (my personal favorite) and scenes from Disney's A Christmas Carol and a action-packed trailer for James Cameron's new movie Avatar (which looked incredible in 3D!).



What is it like? Well, it is hard to describe without sounding like a commercial. The 3D is amazing- realistic and crystal clear. The colors are sharp and the depth combined with the 1080P HD picture makes everything look as real as it can get without actually being there. I know that people will think that 3D HD is a gimmick, but that's only because they haven't seen it. Just like the jump from Standard Definition to HD, the switch to 3D just makes the viewing more real. Sports in particular will never be the same again. I am not a sports fanatic, but I would watch just about anything in 3D HD. It's not about things jumping out at you, it's about being immersed in the experience.

Our friends and family members were interviewed, we all got pictures taken in and out of the truck, and the whole Panasonic crew got to experience a Calandro Christmas Crazy party (now they're family and we're expecting them all back next year- even without the truck!).


Needless to say, the party was awesome! we ended up with 165 guests (63 of them kids) and almost $2,000 worth of donations in toys and food donated to a local organization that helps families who are struggling to get by.

We have been so fortunate this year. Panasonic has been so generous to us, and our family and friends have been so generous to our charities. We use our Christmas party as a way of saying thank you to our friends. This year, Panasonic helped to make that thank you extra special and very memorable. Thank you Panasonic, for contributing another once-in-a-lifetime memory for the Calandros and allowing us to share it with our friends and family.

And to Greg Harper, a special thank you for remembering that we do this craziness every year, and for making the journey out to be a part of it. We are honored that you were our guest and you know you are welcome any time!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We're hosting Thanksgiving. Panasonic, we blame you!


We're hosting Thanksgiving at the Calandro house this year. Normally, we go to my parents house on the odd years and my wife's sister's on the even ones. Unfortunately, my parents flew back east to Michigan because my Grandmother passed away last week. She was 96 years old and enjoyed good health, a loving family, and dear friends up to the end. Since my parents were not going to be around today, we suddenly found ourselves with nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.

Here's where I blame Panasonic...

See, all of my family members are fortunate enough to have homes where they could host all of us, but since we won all of this great LiHD equipment, and Panasonic has been so great to us, I feel the need to share it whenever we can. So, when the opportunity came up, I realized that we should host it here. I figured the cousins could play on the Wii on the awesome plasma and we could switch back and forth to the football games in High Definition.
Does this mean that we'll spend the whole day zoned out in front of the TV not interacting? Not at all. Panasonic Living in HD isn't just about having great stuff, it's about making connections with others and using technology to enhance and improve our lives. Panasonic has given us a great reason to continue to bring people over and has given us tools to share it with others. If having all of this great equipment inspires us to have others over here, then bring it on!
With my grandmother's death and the rearrangement of our Thanksgiving plans, we realize that the whole point of the day is to be thankful for our family and to enjoy being together. We will be thinking of my parents who cannot be with us today and we will remember our grandmother with love and fondness. We are happy to host everyone here and are looking forward to the great times we will all have together.

I hope that your day is filled with joy, love and togetherness. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Panaversary!!!

An open Thank You letter to Panasonic,

Dear Panasonic,

One year ago today, our family was at home watching the installers put in our new Panasonic equipment that we were chosen to receive through the Living in HD program. I’ll admit that my primary motivation was to get some really cool equipment, and that I knew our family would enjoy it, but I really didn’t think that “living in HD” would be any different from living in Standard Definition. We were already an active family. We already used technology.

I was so wrong.

When we were selected to go to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to represent the LiHD families, we had the good fortune of hearing both Yoshi Yamada, Chairman of Panasonic North America, and Bob Greenberg, Vice President of Corporate Brand Marketing, speak about why they started this program. They wanted to know how real families used your products. They wanted to know what was working and what wasn’t. Most of all, however, they wanted the technology to enhance and improve the lives of families.

Guess what? It worked! One year later, our lives are drastically different than they were one year ago. We have connected with our family and friends by sharing pictures and videos via email, the LiHD website, and social media sites. We always have a camera with us, shoot more video than we ever did in all of our years with our old video camera, and we actually watch the video we shoot because it is ridiculously easy to do. Our friends love to watch YouTube via the VieraCast and we love to play video games on a TV large enough for everyone to see.

We have gotten to travel to tell others how much we love your products. We have met so many wonderful and genuine people in, and connected to, the Panasonic Company: Greg Harper, Tom Murano, Carol DiStaulo, Naomi Pagidas, Joe Jaffe, Greg Verdino, Jane Quigley, and Adam Broitman. When we went to Las Vegas we got to meet Steve Garfield, Chris Brogan, and Stacy Debroff of MomCentral.

We have connected with other LiHD families- The Neilsons, the Pelletiers, the Richardsons, the Seamans, and the Korys. We have welcomed new LiHD families TimnEvan, and A Cowboy’s Wife. When we find out someone new has won, we are as excited as they are because we know how different and amazing their lives will be. We have gotten to know Kate Dickman and our kids got to run around with the Pollak kids while we were all in Las Vegas.

My wife, who never spent much time with technology other than a camera, made the decision to jump in to the technological world with both feet. This was both because we now had great equipment and because all of this equipment is so easy to use. She started to connect with others via Twitter (taught to us by Adam Broitman, thanks to Panasonic), made videos via Animoto to inspire others to donate to charity, and began to develop friendships with people near and far. She now has a job with MomCentral, working to connect moms with each other online. If it weren’t for Panasonic, we never would have had the opportunity to meet Stacy DeBroff in person, much less be a part of her amazing company! One year ago, my wife had no cell phone, was not that into technology, and certainly wasn’t interested in blogging. Now she has her own website (http://calandroclan.com), a job in social media, and we are, today, at a Momblogger’s retreat hosted by Activision to launch Tony Hawk’s new video game, Tony Hawk’s Ride. Our boys got to meet Tony Hawk and play with him at his offices. We have met moms and kids from all over the country and get to spend time with them. Thanks to Living in HD, our kids are having experiences we didn’t even know existed a year ago.

We can definitively say that everything that has happened to us in the past year is because of Panasonic and the Living in HD program. We are so happy to be a part of this. We have embraced the opportunities this technology has brought to our lives and we have found that when we do this, we just find more opportunities.

As a Living in HD family, our lives have become richer, more interesting, easier, and more amazing than ever before. Our products from Panasonic have done so much more than just make our Friday Night Pizza Nights spectacular. Every day we find that if we embrace the technology we have and use it to create and inspire, we open ourselves up to meeting new people and having new and fantastic adventures.

Thank you, Panasonic for choosing us. Thank you for creating products that are outstanding and easy to use. Thank you for knowing long before we did that Living in HD isn’t about having a really cool TV. It’s about using what you have to the fullest and enhancing your life by connecting to others. It has been an outstanding year- and we realize we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to Live in HD. We can’t wait to see what new and amazing adventures this year brings to us!

With endless gratitude,

The Calandro Family
LiHD family #39

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ponytail Victory Dance!



Months ago I asked you if you had hair to spare. http://calandroslihd.blogspot.com/2009/02/do-you-have-hair-to-spare.html I wanted you to cut your hair and donate the ponytail to help make wigs for cancer patients through Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program. My friend, Linda, and I created a contest to see who could collect the most ponytails hoping to inspire more people to make the cut. The final count was much smaller than we had hoped, but I still won the contest. I collected nine ponytails (plus one promised to me) and my friend, Linda, collected five.

As the winner of the contest I get to gloat and brag for the rest of my life. I also get to publicly perform a Victory Dance! This is my celebration for all the ladies who cut their hair; for all the ladies who battle cancer bravely and with dignity; and because life is to celebrate -and what better way than to dance!

Linda and I are growing our hair out again. If I can manage to keep out too much grey, I should have another ponytail to donate in about three years. Do you have hair to spare right now? Find out how to donate your ponytail here: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/beautiful_lengths.jspx

Thanks to everyone who read my posts, who cut their hair or even considered it, and for supporting me in another Calandro Crazy idea. My friends and family are some of the most supportive, generous people on the planet. Who's lucky? You guessed right -I AM!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

PARK DAY!!! The Best Day Ever

3 kids, 2 adults, 13 parks, 8 hours, 1 City...


video

Park day became an annual tradition in the Calandro household a few summers ago. The first year, we had very small children and went to 8 parks- each one for 30 minutes- in one day. Each year, we have added a few more parks (and somewhere along the way we added one more kid!).

The night before park day, we pack food, water, sunscreen and hats and plan our route around town. For a small town, we have found that San Luis Obispo has a lot of great parks! We never were more than 10 minutes by car between any two parks.

This year, with our youngest being a very mobile 3 1/2 years old, we decided to go bigger than ever and we hit 13 parks in one day- 25 minutes at each park... To be a Calandro means you have to keep up (If you've read this Blog at all, you know this about us...), and everyone did it beautifully.

The best part of the day is getting out at each park and watching the kids run to their favorite things with the same amount of enthusiasm as if they had not already been to several other parks that day!

We're already planning for next year- we're thinking Park Day T-shirts and buttons for anyone who wants to join us! Do you think you could keep up? Thanks to Animoto for the slideshow (check them out!) and thanks to Bowling for Soup for such a great song (The Phineas and Ferb Theme song!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy 9th Birthday, Noodle

Do goldfish have personalities? Science would tell you no, but personal experience would have me disagree. Our fish swims contentedly around the bowl, swims up to greet us when we are nearby, and blows bubbles against the side of the bowl, making a "ping" sound to get our attention. (At least that's the way we interpret it!) Noodle is one of two pets in the Calandro household. We have a dog, Mabel, and our goldfish, Noodle. I know to most people, goldfish are nothing special- but Noodle has become part of our family and we are so happy this hardy little fish has been with us for so long.

9 years ago we went to a birthday party and came home with the lovely parting gift of a goldfish in a small, water-filled, plastic bag. We had owned fish in the past and had a lovely Mickey Mouse fishtank with a filter, rocks and the works. For some reason (mainly thinking that most goldfish don't live that long anyway), we decided against going through the rigamarole of setting up the aquarium and ended up just putting the fish in a glass bowl that was from one of my dearest friend's weddings. We needed a name for the fish, so we turned to Max- who was 16 months old at the time. Max already had a pretty decent vocabulary at that age, and our favorite word to hear him say was "Noodle". Something about the way he shaped his mouth and stretched the "oo" sound in the word "Noooodle" was just cute, so that's what we named the fish.

Well, two weeks went by and Noodle was still around, though every other fish from the party had been dead for over 6 days now. Then a year went by, then two... We realized that this fish may actually stick around for a while! Noodle was three years old when our second son was born.

When Noodle was 4, we started adding a blurb about the fish in our Christmas letter. When Noodle was 6, we decided to move. The move was traumatic for all of us as it also involved the remodel of the new house. Our dog, Mabel, ran away 3 times during this move (fortunately she came back unharmed each time- we did lock her up- she just kept escaping). Since we were not staying in our house each day, we needed to find a place for Noodle.

We took Noodle down to our neighbor's house and he kept the fish for almost a month. We were a little worried, because Noodle was the oldest fish we knew and we didn't want anyhing to happen to our pet. Our friend took wonderful care of Noodle and grew very attached to this little fish. He was so sad to see Noodle leave and considered getting a fish of his own, but then told us that it wouldn't be the same if it wasn't Noodle.

When our third son turned 1, Noodle was 7 years old. We had a "Commotion in the Ocean" party. We bought lots of fish for our guests and placed them in bowls around the house as part of our party decorations (we Calandros love a good theme- more on that in other blogs). Everyone went home with a fish. We did not put any other fish in Noodle's bowl as we didn't want to upset whatever balance we have created for this fish.

The remaining fish from the party were put in the Mickey Mouse Aquarium with the rocks and filter. The fish that were in that aquarium were dead within two weeks. All of the fish that went home with guests died within 3 months. Noodle, the Methuselah of goldfish, just kept on living...

We have often thought of getting Noodle a larger bowl, but we're worried about upsetting the order of things. This great little fish is in the same bowl it started in 9 years ago. I went online this morning to research a title for this post- I was going to call it "The World's Oldest Goldfish" but then I found out that the world's oldest goldfish was 42 years old! Noodle is nowhere close! 9 years, however, is a record for anyone that we know and one worth celebrating.

So, how do you keep a goldfish alive for this long? We're not sure, but here's what we do:

1. Treat the fish with benign neglect- When the bowl is so dirty, I can't see the fish, I clean the bowl. I feed the fish regularly- meaning when I think about it- and in small amounts.

2. Don't mess with the system-I use regular tap water in the bowl, and I always let it sit for 24 hours before I add it to Noodle's bowl. I do this to lessen the effects of any chlorine that may be in the water, but who knows if it actually does anything. I figure it has worked for this long, so why mess with it?

3. No harsh cleansers-I use hot water to clean the bowl and dry it with a cloth towel (I read somewhere that whatever paper towels are treated with can be harmful to fish)- again, maybe it has no effect, but it has worked for this long!

4. Enjoy your fish!

Who knows, maybe Noodle will be the next "World's Oldest Living Goldfish"! After 9 years, Noodle is definitely a member of the family. We hope to have many more happy years with Noodle.

You can follow Noodle at http://twitter.com/noodlegoldfish

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another Miles(')tone brought to you by Panasonic

I know that title looks a little odd but it concerns our 3-and-a-half-year-old M3, Miles, who we are quickly realizing is becoming the Panasonic kid. About a week ago, Miles decided he wanted to take the training wheels off of his little bike. He's only been riding it for a couple of weeks with the training wheels because he is more interested in riding his scooter with his brothers. (I think it's because he can go so much faster on the scooter.) His balance on his scooter is great, so we decided "Why not?" and took them off.

After 3 back-breaking attempts (for dad, not for Miles- few things are more painful than running in a half crouch holding onto the back of a bike ridden by a wobbly three-year-old who is top heavy due to the ginormous bike helmet he has on...) and no success at balancing on the bike, we called it a day and he asked for his training wheels to be kept on. For some reason, he couldn't get it through his head that he needed to keep pedaling...

Today he asked for his training wheels to be taken off again. I took them off, and we had a little more success. I told him to race me and that got him motivated to pedal (even though I was running behind him hanging on to the back). On our first trip, I let go a little bit and I got the feeling this was actually going to work. Miles, on the other hand, decided he was done and asked me to put the training wheels back on.


Here's where Panasonic comes in. I knew he could do it, but I had to make it entincing for him. I told him that we would put the training wheels on, but he should try it one more time so we could film him. I got our video camera out- the Panasonic HDC-SD9- and told him that he would ride again, mommy would film it, and when he was done we could watch it on the "big TV" (which is what we still affectionately call our Panasonic TH50-PZ850). This was an incredible motivator. There are few things in the world that our boys like more than seeing themselves on the "big TV". Miles got back on the bike. We filmed it, went right upstairs, popped the SD card into the front of the TV and watched it over and over: immediate gratification.


You can see the results if you click on the video posted here. And he is now perfectly happy to leave the training wheels off.
video
Once again, Panasonic has inspired Miles to do more than he thought he could. When we were pulling our hair out trying to find something to motivate him to be potty trained, we found a goofy Japanese potty training video online. We used our Panasonic Toughbook Laptop (the CF-Y7) in the bathroom while he was sitting on the potty and would play the video when he did his business. We never had any worry about bringing our Toughbook into the bathroom- it can survive being dropped, bonked, and (as I found out when I accidentally spilled milk all over the keyboard while it was turned on...) wet. We do have video of this potty training process though for Miles' sake, I don't think I'll subject his future self to any undue humiliation by posting it! If it weren't for the Toughbook, I don't know how much longer it would have taken to potty train that boy!

When Panasonic gave us all of this equipment they hoped that it would inspire all of the members of our family. I know that they had expected this inspiration to come in the form of content that we would create, but they have inspired the youngest in our family to accomplish some major milestones in his life. Pretty darn impressive.

Thank you, Panasonic, for inspiring Miles to become potty trained. Thank you, Panasonic, for inspiring him to find the courage to ride his bike without training wheels. We love our equipment and will keep looking for interesting and exciting ways that it can inspire us and, hopefully, you.

Remember that you can be a Panasonic LiHD family, too. go to http://livinginhd.com/ join the community and enter to win!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Panasonic's Fearless Party

When we throw a party here at the Calandro Casa we always bring our A-game. We go all out with the invitations, food, decorations, favors and we even wear sweatshirts that are decorated with the theme for the party. Our friends and family travel from all over and re-arrange their schedules to be here for the festivities. We enjoy entertaining our friends and celebrating with them. It's just what we do.

We don't get paid for these parties, it's not how we bring money into the house. So, if a party flops it doesn't mean we don't pay our mortgage or we have to lay off members of our family from their jobs. It's just for fun, but we put so much effort into these events you would think that the lifeblood of our family depended on it. Well, our reputation for throwing great parties could get shattered, but we could recover from that ego-bruising pretty easily.

Now consider this twist: We plan for months for a party and the financial stability of our family is crucial to its success. Then we ask our guests to tell us anything and everything we did wrong or anything we did right. We've invited everyone to our house, fed them, entertained them and shared all our best efforts to show them a good time. Then we welcome their criticism as well as their accolades. This means that if people didn't have a good time, we'd have to hear about it and we would have a hard time paying our bills!

This doesn't sound like something I would want to subject myself to, but Panasonic has done this and we were invited to this party.

Panasonic created their Living in HD program as an invitation to a Panasonic Products Party and they want to know what we think of this celebration. This is a fearless approach that can only be created by a company that believes strongly in their product and seriously cares about what their consumers think. If you read back to our earlier posts you can see how this process began and the experiences we have had as a result of Living in HD. In a nutshell, it has changed our lives and we have Panasonic to thank for it. They gave us a suite of products and have asked for our opinions about them. And they really want to know what we think.

You may be thinking we have to say these things because we are a part of this program and we owe it to Panasonic. Well, we don't. Panasonic has never told us we had to say or do anything. In January we were honored to appear at CES in Las Vegas as representatives for the Living in HD program. Our entire family was up on the Panasonic stage to talk about what it was like to live in High Definition. We were not scripted in any way. We were just asked to talk about it-the good or the bad. We have three young boys; if there was something they didn't like or thought was junk it would have come out on stage and there wouldn't have been anything anyone could have done to stop it. What a potential loose-cannon!

We were also asked to do a podcast with Joe Jaffe of Crayon and other members of the Panasonic team. Again, we were invited, but never once were we told what to say. Even this blog you are reading can be whatever we want it to be. We can choose to turn it into a blog about dust-bunnies and their plight in North America and Panasonic wouldn't tell us we couldn't. (That's a joke, but the Panasonic part is true.)

Panasonic took a huge risk putting us out there in front of their audience without any control of what we were going to say. When you are confident in your product and message, you can afford to take risks and let people be who they are.

We are not a family that is in business or marketing, we make our living in education, so we are not experts in the corporate or advertising world. However, we think giving a group of consumers thousands of dollars worth of products and then asking them to tell you what you REALLY think about all of it is pretty outstanding and innovative. And brave. What if the TV stunk? What if the blu-ray player was a lemon and skipped around when playing a regular DVD as opposed to a movie in blu-ray format? What if this laptop I'm using right now malfunctioned when it got milk and cereal spilled all over the keyboard and it wasn't as "tough" as it was said to be? Panasonic would want to hear about it and they would want us to tell others as well. That's how great they know their products are. Panasonic knows the only way they want to compete for consumer dollars is through integrity and transparency. They have nothing to hide.

Who does this? Who invites people into their home, gives them the best of what they have to offer and then genuinely asks, "So, what do you think?" Panasonic does. They do it because they believe in their products, the minds that create them, and the people of their company. They all work together tirelessly to create the best products they can for their consumers. Panasonic wants their products and technology to improve our lives. They feel the best way to do this is by asking their consumer what works and what doesn't, not just relying on sales figures to dictate what the market demands.

Maybe our parties are driven by the same motivation as Panasonic's for their Living in HD program, just on a much smaller scale. We work tirelessly for our parties to be the best they can because we care about our family and friends' well-being. We look at our "product" -our parties - as a way of showing them we are willing to do our best on their behalf, for their entertainment. When our parties are over we assess how the event went; we look at what food was consumed and what is still left on the table. We think about which games were a hit and which ones caused injuries (yes, unfortunately, that has happened!). We don't give our guests formal questionnaires, but we learn from our experience. This is how Panasonic is creating a dialog between creator and consumer and they are listening to what we have to say.

Here's the best part about the Panasonic Party: this invitation doesn't have an end time; it just keeps going. So consider yourself invited to one of the best parties the Calandro Family has ever been a part of. Go to the Panasonic Living in HD community. Join the conversation. Tell them what you think. Be honest. Panasonic is listening and wants to know what you have to say. With Panasonic you are a consumer with a powerful voice. We always love a great party - and we don't have to clean up after this one! Enjoy! And tell them the Calandros sent you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mighty PIZZA NIGHT-y

We know times are tough - if you don't know that, you have been living under a rock and you need to come on out and get some air. Times have been tough in the Calandro house before: the toughest was when Max was born: we went down to one income and John had gone back to school to get his Masters. It wasn't pretty around here, just like it's pretty ugly in a lot of places right now.

Out of this difficult time, we created a wonderful family tradition: Friday Night Pizza Night. It all began when John got a bread maker for Christmas. (That year I got a jigsaw - we're not real big on gender specific roles here at the Calandros.) Anyway, we started making our own pizza dough with the bread maker and it was better than any dough we could purchase. We started making pizza on Fridays because it gave us something to look forward to as a family every week. Everything came to a screeching halt for Pizza Night. We got a movie from the library (because it was free), got a bottle of two-buck-chuck (do the math), and made our own pizza for a fraction of what it would have cost us to get it delivered to our door. We all watched the movie together, breathed a big sigh of relief, and celebrated making it through another week, and it only cost a few dollars. All our other meals are consumed at our kitchen table, but Pizza Night happens in front of the TV. This distinction makes it very special and something for our boys to look forward to.

Through the years, pizza night became "Pizza Night" with initial caps because it deserved that status. Our three boys know it as the benchmark of the week. Miles, our three-yer-old, doesn't know the days of the week yet and will ask all week long, "Is it Pizza Night?" He lets out a big,"Hooray!" when we finally answer yes to his question. All our family knows about Pizza Night and will schedule visits to either be a part of the tradition or avoid disrupting it. Friends honor it and love being a part of it. Some friends get "Pizza Night Cravings" and call us up when they need a fix. Family and friends are always welcome and as we say as the Calandros: once you've been here for Pizza Night, you're family.

Now Pizza Night has been taken to a new level thanks to Panasonic and their Living in HD program. Now Pizza Night is PIZZA NIGHT. It deserves to be in all capital letters because our set-up has made it unbelievably AWESOME! The movies we watch on our 1080p plasma screen television are better quality that we see in our local movie theaters. The sound is incredible and you can't beat the convenience. The combination of the clarity capacity of our TV and our blu-ray player quality is unbeatable. Even our DVDs look better when played through the blu-ray player and displayed on our TV.

We feel so lucky and spoiled. We probably shouldn't admit we're a little sad at the end of the evening when we turn off our TV and head downstairs to watch Letterman on our dinky little television in our bedroom, but we are sad. Our set-up is that good. I guess the good news is our TV gives us a reason for getting out of bed in the morning so we can go upstairs to watch it! Okay, that's extreme, but it is beautiful. John says he wants to hug our television. Until you see it, you would just think he's wacked.

With our fabulous Panasonic set-up or just our old TV, PIZZA NIGHT has become the stuff of legend for the Calandros. It gives us the opportunity to come together as a family and mark the passing of another week. We celebrate with family and friends depending on what is happening for all of us. It is grounding to have a tradition every week our children can rely on, no matter what. We hope our boys will grow up and remember PIZZA NIGHT on Fridays. We hope they know how much we love this tradition and how much we enjoy creating it each week with them.

If you're ever in San Luis Obispo on a Friday night, you probably won't see us downtown at the local movie theater. You'll see us at our own home theater, munching on home-made pizza watching a movie, thinking about how good it is to be here on a Friday. Heck, let us know you're in town, and you may even be invited to attend. And then, as I mentioned before, you won't just be a stranger passing through town, you'll be family.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I've Made the Cut!

In my last post I announced the latest Crazy Calandro philanthropic adventure and invited you to come along. I asked you to help me win a contest my friend and I have started to see who can get the most people to cut their hair and donate it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.
Well, I did it. I cut my hair last weekend, as you can tell from my "after" photo above and I'm already loving it after one week. My hairdresser cut off ten-and-a-half inches so it is definitely a new look for me! The last time my hair was so short was when I had just had Miles three years ago. I had forgotten how much less time it takes to have short hair! Less shampoo, less time combing it out, now it's just wash and go - I love it!

So now I'm asking again, do you have hair to spare? Will you cut your hair for a cause? My girlfriend, Linda, is ahead of me in our contest already - she has three ponytails and I only have two! (It helps that she has two daughters with gorgeous hair - I'm the mother of three BOYS!) Come on people! Check out the Pantene Beautiful Lengths website at http://www.beautifullengths.com/ to see a complete list of the requirements and get an address for where to mail your ponytail.

I can hear you already, "But, Eileen - I don't live in beautiful San Luis Obispo! How can I prove to you that I have cut my hair and help you get credit for my donation?"

I'm so glad you asked! Linda and I are hoping to get donations from all over the country for our contest. How to prove your donation is easy. Simply shoot me an email at eileen.hairtospare@gmail.com containing your before and after photos. In this email, please include some sort of declaration of authenticity. Here is a sample of what we have in mind:

I, (state your name), do solemnly swear, on my cut ponytail, to the sisters-of-another-mother Eileen and Linda, that I have cut my hair and have sent it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.

You can make up your own declaration, but this gives you an idea of what we are looking for. The most important part of this whole process is you actually sending in your ponytail!! If you are anything like me, you avoid the Post Office at all costs. (I swear I must have appeared on a wanted poster in another life!) I hate going there, but I will do it for a good cause.

Here is the address if you have made the cut and are ready to head out to the post office:

Pantene Beautiful Lengths
511 Wisconsin Drive
New Richmond, WI
54017-2613

Make sure your ponytail is dry and collected with an elastic band. Seal it in a zipper-lock bag and mail it in a padded envelope to the address above. Include your full name and return address with the ponytail.

Please keep in mind: I am not getting anything out of this. No one is paying me, this is what we Calandros do for fun. Okay, I'll admit, if I win, (WHEN I win) I am going to be ecstatic to do the victory dance and post it on YouTube and then gloat all over town about how I won this contest! Linda will have to endure much neener-neenering and ribbing from me for the rest of our lives (or at least until she beats me at another contest). But really, I'm just doing this because I wanted to see how much hair we could get donated. We're aiming for one hundred heads of hair - that's six hundred ponytails - and we can't do it without your help! Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested in helping me out. Thanks for your support!

As of now, the total count is 5 ponytails. Only 595 to go! WILL YOU MAKE THE CUT?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Do You Have Hair to Spare?

I have been growing my hair out ever since Miles was born three years ago and now it is time to cut it and donate it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program. I have donated my hair to another organization in the past, but this time I wanted my hair to be used for a wig for cancer patients. A friend of mine has recently been going through tests and consultations to determine if a cluster of cells is, indeed, cancer. She is being incredibly strong, but beginning what could be a long struggle is, understandably, worrisome for her. My ponytail is dedicated to the hope that she won't need a wig, that she won't be positively diagnosed, that this questionable mammogram will prove to be nothing more than a short scary time as opposed to a long, gruelling journey for a cure. Other women I have known have gone down this road and arrived victorious. They lost their hair, but not their lives.

These women I know, and women I don't know, who battle for their lives are my heroes. The least I can do is grow out my hair and send it off to help a woman feel more confident and comfortable as she faces a struggle I can't begin to imagine.

If you check out our last post, this process encompasses five of our six credos. Here's how I'm going to have credo #6 (the bonus credo: create fun and adventure) be a part of this process. And I need your help. My twin-sister-from-another-mother, Linda, and I are competing against each other to see who can get the most people to cut their hair and donate it to this program. Our collective goal is to collect six hundred ponytails. This is a lofty goal, but as we say in the Calandro Family, "go big or go home"! It takes six ponytails to make one wig. These six hundred ponytails would make one hundred heads of hair. One hundred wigs.

The contest ends on our birthdays: May 7th, 2009. The winner will get to do a victory dance that will be posted on YouTube for all to see. Of course, my dance (if I win - which I plan to!) will include much neener neenering and jubilation and would be fun to watch. Who doesn't love winning a contest? We are open to suggestions of ways the winner gets to celebrate and ways the loser has to endure the title of "loser". I'm guessing there will be t-shirts involved. We Calandros are big on creating t-shirts for big occasions, just check out previous blog posts.

So there you have it. I know cutting off at least 8 inches of hair (what Pantene requires) can be a huge change for most people. It may even be a Samson and Delilah moment, but trust me, I've done it before and you will gain more strength and identity from your donation than from any length of hair cascading down your back. Spring is coming, the weather will get warmer, your hair will grow back.

All I'm asking from you today is to think about it. Spread the word. Linda and I only have two ponytails to donate. This crazy idea won't be any fun unless you JOIN IN TO HELP ME WIN. In my next post, you will see an "after" picture of me, links to the Pantene website, and more information about how you can let me know you've cut your hair. Stay tuned.

Are you with me? Please consider cutting your hair, helping a cause, and, of course, helping me win! I can't do my victory dance without you!

Onward!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Calandro 5 Credo

Being a Living in HD family has brought us countless wonderful experiences. However, a by-product of this has caught us by surprise. Living in HD has helped us bring our family's values into clear focus. One of the questions on the former LiHD website asked: "What is your family motto?" This got us thinking about what ours would be. We have created our credo. It consists of five rules, plus one bonus rule, that the Calandro 5 try our best to live by. (We thought it was cute to have five rules and five members of the family, but the bonus one couldn't be ignored.) Here they are:
#1 Be nice to everyone.
San Luis is a small town and if you've been here long enough, which we have, everyone is connected by only two degrees of separation, as opposed to the usual six. Everyone is connected to everyone, so let's keep it clean, folks. The more people we know, the smaller the world gets. A little bit of kindness goes a long way, it is usually an unexpected surprise for the recipient, and it's free. Free is good. (Not a credo, but we say that a lot.)

#2 Do the right thing.
This credo can get tricky. Sometimes the right thing isn't what we want to do AT ALL, but it is the right thing to do, so we do it. Period. Sometimes the right thing to do is right for the Calandro 5, but not for others, and people get disappointed. Weighing out who gets to be right is the tricky part. Rest assured, if we're doing something, we feel it is right for the most important people involved in the situation, and we know we are not always the most important people.

#3 Respect.
This simple word encompasses a multitude of things. Respect people, family, children, the earth, nature, where people are coming from, honorable professions, time, energy, resources, talents. The list goes on. We will begin a relationship with respect, but this must be maintained. We are nice, but we are not doormats. Respect is given by us, but it is also earned and maintained over time.

#4 Help.
"What can we do to help?" We try to have this be the first thing we say when there is a celebration, a terrible situation, or anything in-between. In return, our family and friends are some of the most generous people on the planet. We give to them, they give to us.

#5 Contribute.
This sounds similar to #4, but it is different in a way. We contribute by the professions we have chosen and we believe our jobs should provide more than just a paycheck. They should use our talents to help make the world a better place. We feel we have been so fortunate and blessed in our lives and we try to give back in any way we can. We work to "pay it forward". If we can't contribute money to a cause, we contribute time, which is priceless. We contribute to our community because we love San Luis Obispo. We contribute to our schools because knowledge is power. We contribute as much time and energy as we can to our children and family because at the end of the day, we are all we have.

#6 (The bonus rule) Create fun and adventure.
And be ready for it. Adventure can come knocking any day, at any time. Being a member of the Calandro 5 is a wild ride, mostly by our own invention, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

So there's the Calandro 5 Credo. Of course, it is subject to change as we do, but it has gotten us this far and seems to work really well. Do we expect everyone to live by these rules? No way. We know how crazy we are. This list is all ours. Living with these rules at the front of all our decisions (along with "The Coin of Destiny" - but that's a topic for another blog post) has served us pretty well so far.

Do you have a credo? Is it working for you? How do you feel when it is challenged? We'd love to hear from you.

Onward!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Connected to Panasonic

It has now been almost a month since the Crazy Calandros went to CES and were wowed by Panasonic, their incredible products, and personable family of employees. The experience will go down in our Calandro Family History as the stories are told and retold. However, this little anecdote takes the entire journey to a new level of service and dedication. This is a story of when a little bit goes a long way:

A few weeks ago we received a very discrete letter from Panasonic. The return address was pre-printed on the envelope with the words "Panasonic Ideas for Life". It looked like it could have contained anything, but what was inside was anything but ordinary. It was a thank you letter from Yoshi Yamada, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic of North America. He thanked us for appearing on the CES 2009 Main Stage as a Spotlight on Ideas speaker. He told us we contributed "a new level of extremely relevant information" with our appearances. At the end he simply said, "I know this kind of commitment of your valuable time was a challenge, and I truly appreciate your making it happen."
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? Panasonic flew us there, gave us money for food, put us up in a hotel room for five nights, and celebrated my son's birthday as if he were a member of their own family and HE is thanking US! Sure, organizing the five of us to appear onstage every day and getting to and from Vegas was no small task, but we never dreamed of getting this kind of acknowledgement for our efforts.
Plain and simple: Panasonic gets it.

Mr. Yamada, in front of everyone who is reading and listening: we thank you. From the bottom of our Crazy Calandro hearts, thank you. Being with your company and your employees at CES gave us the opportunity to connect with a brand in a way we never thought possible. Everyone we met and talked with cared about us and what we had to say. Panasonic was interested in our opinions; we mattered. As humans, we instinctively want to feel like we are important, like we belong. Everyone at Panasonic listened to us when we talked about their products or even when we were just talking about our lives back in San Luis Obispo. For that, we thank you. We thank you for working tirelessly to link your philosophy to your consumer and the Panasonic products. Your company's vision was presented to us every day: you care about the people using your products and you want Panasonic to improve people's lives. Your personally signed letter following our trip demonstrated the importance of us to you.

That's the part you got completely correct, Mr. Yamada: you and Panasonic have improved our lives more than you can ever know. Tonight John is relaxing in front of our awesome TV and I am blogging via our laptop while sitting at my kitchen table. Tomorrow I will be taking our youngest son, Miles, to his first day of preschool. At night we will all gather in front of the TV, insert a little SD card in the slot on our television and our whole family will share in this momentous event in HD. Four months ago these occurrences would have been drastically different in our home and far less enjoyable. Thank you Mr. Yamada and Panasonic. Your "Ideas for Life" have made ours absolutely wonderful.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

LiHD Super Bowl Guilt


This is a photo of what you will NOT be seeing at the Calandro's this weekend for the Super Bowl. Oh, we're capable of it (this was one of two tables of food for John's 40th birthday party). It's just that we're not doing it, and we feel just a little guilty. Okay, maybe more than a little.
If you have been following the Calandro craziness it is no secret that we have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, so it shouldn't surprise you that we aren't hosting a Super Bowl party this year. In fact, we have never hosted a Super Bowl party, but that was before we were a Panasonic Living in HD family. Now, everyone knows we have all this great equipment, the HD channels, the killer sound system and we are NOT having a party. Oh, the guilt. The shoulds, the nagging voice in our heads, "Really, Calandros! You call yourselves party people, and look at you! No Super Bowl party!" We should be ashamed of ourselves and offended and we are - kind of.

Not that anyone expects it, and everyone knows we are not huge football fans anyway, but see, now we have all the EQUIPMENT (yes, it has to be in capital letters), and we feel like we SHOULD have a party and watch the game in HD on our big, awesome TV with a big throng of our closest friends. (Sigh.)

So, here's the deal: if you want to come over, and can accept our house AS IS (no fake house), and bring all the food, and clean up everything before you leave, you are welcome to come over. What kind of terrible invitation is that?!?!? Okay, that's why we're not having a party for the Super Bowl - who wants to be invited for THAT party? No one. Not even us! This is the first Sunday the five of us will be spending at home, alone, in months, and it happens to be Super Bowl Sunday. We gotta keep it to the Calandro Five or we can't be held responsible for our actions.

Sorry to all who were thinking it might happen or that it should happen - it wouldn't be fair to you to throw that kind of party. Perhaps next year - oh wait - next year is Matthew's big Star Wars party for birthday number seven - Re-Run of the Jedi (yes, we already have the theme picked one year in advance - that's a story for another blog - remember? - crazy!) and it will probably be happening Super Bowl weekend. Hmmm.

Anyway, please accept our apologies - we dropped the ball. (Get it? Super Bowl? Dropping the ball? Fumble? - GROAN!) Truthfully, we don't even know who is playing. Well, John probably does, but I'll admit I have no clue. I've already admitted guilt, so what's wrong with admitting ignorance, too? Keeping it real, people!

So here's to the Super Bowl in HD at the Calandro House! It will go something like this: John will buy a bunch of junk food, I will finally know who's playing, the five of us will watch the game, and John and I will live with the guilt. (Actually, the guilt will go away by the second quarter or the second beer, whichever comes first.) It sounds like a terrific way to spend a Sunday with the fam. Enjoy and thanks for your forgiveness!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Catch Us If You Can


First of all - thanks to those of you who have posted comments and second of all - we apologize to those of you who have tried to post a comment but have been unable to. We're trying to figure out why some of you aren't being allowed here. It certainly isn't us, so keep trying!!

We've mentioned in this blog about how "crazy" we are and here's our chance to prove it. Here is a list of all the adventures, parties, dinners, friends and family we have hosted since September. Another title for this entry which was rejected: Try To Keep Up. And, of course, we did most of these things in HD - Thanks Panasonic. As they say - it's all about connections!

This high speed adventure began before this date, of course, because when you are a Calandro the fun never ends; but just as a reference point, we will begin with the date Panasonic (or anything Panasonic related) officially walked through our front door. Hold on to your hats and glasses folks, 'cause here we go!

Saturday, September 13:
Create With Context interview


Saturday, September 20:
Miles' third birthday; Firefighter theme, 60 guests, 26 were children
Thanks SLO Firefighters for showing up with a huge fire engine!!!


Saturday, September 27:
Travel to Huntington Lake for Neil and Tina Wood's wedding
What a beautiful day to celebrate a wonderful couple!!

Wednesday, October 8:
Panasonic equipment delivered and Greg Harper arrives in SLO. Dinner at Applebee's - sorry!!!

Thursday, October 9:
Panasonic Equipment is installed
Greg Harper is a Rock Star!!!!

Sunday, October 12:
Eileen runs the local City to Sea Half Marathon and betters her time by a full eight minutes and is a "top finisher" - I'm just a tiny bit proud :)!!

Friday, October 17
Max enters a local Lego contest at Whiz Kids with four of his friends. They worked on their entries for weeks and coordinated their huge Hoth battle entry. So impressive, if I can brag a bit!

Saturday, October 18
Travel to Santa Barbara for Papa John's 70th birthday bash at Harry's Bar and Grill
A terrific night for an amazing man - John created an HD slide show to honor John and I was proud to do the flowers for the night

Sunday, October 19 - 2:30 AM
Clean up vomit for an hour and a half at our friend's house - thanks for letting us stay!!
Too many Shirley Temples don't agree with Matthew's tummy!!!

Sunday, October 19 - 10:30 AM:
Show up late to Papa's birthday brunch at the Calandro home in Goleta - SORRY!!! (see vomit entry above) - We couldn't get ourselves out of bed on time.

Monday, October 20:
Welcome Barbara Krahn to our home to view the beautiful mobile sculpture she funded for our living room by local artist, Jim Jacobson. What a treasured, beautiful piece of art.

Wednesday, October 22:
Lego Contest winners announced: Max and his friends won the group entry category! WAHOO!

Saturday, October 25
Neighborhood garage sale - anyone want a couch that didn't sell?

Friday, October 31 - Halloween
Co-hosted neighborhood party for all the kids in our 'hood - so much fun!!!
Trick-or-treating single-parent style because John was at a school dance - more fun than being thrown into a barrel of leeches, but not by much - God Bless the single parents out there!!

Saturday, November 1
John and I drive to Santa Barbara for a private 40th birthday party with our dear friends Tara and Sam at John's favorite restaurant: The Palace Grill. What a great night!

Wednesday, November 5
John turns the big 4-0!! Celebrate in traditional Calandro style at the Madonna Inn with dinner and dessert delivered to our table all at the same time

Saturday, November 15
Johnnie's birthday bash! 58 friends and family helped John welcome in his new decade - thanks to my sister for her food prep help and Bill for tending bar. Eileen created an interactive true/false HD slide show with photographic evidence for answers. Lost more than one party guest upstairs due to the impromptu Wii golf tourney that occurred. Good times! Surprise guests from Wisconsin! WOW! What a night!!!

Sunday, November 16
Family birthday brunch for out-of town guests in town for the party. Thanks for rescuing the eggs, Papa John! You are the egg man.

Wednesday, November 26
Travel to Pleasanton to celebrate Thanksgiving at Eileen's sister and brother-in-law's

Wednesday, November 26 about 9:00 PM after the kids are in bed
Lori and Bill announce they are awaiting the birth of a baby due Christmas Day for them to adopt - Is this going to be the one that makes them parents, finally? High-speed, non-stop praying begins

Thursday, November 27
Thanksgiving Day -what a feast!!! So many things to be thankful for it's amazing - the thankfulness runs in to Friday because the list is so long.

Friday, November 28
Travel back to SLO and start decorating for the legend that has become the Calandro Christmas Crazy Party - this is it's eleventh year

Saturday, November 29
Greg Harper asks us if we would be interested in travelling to Las Vegas for CES in January - we debate for all of thirty seconds - HECK YEAH!! See you in Vegas, Baby!!! (We are SO crazy!!!)

Friday December 5
Downtown SLO Christmas parade - more goats and tractors than should be allowed

Saturday, December 6
Snow is delivered to our front lawn and three hours later we welcome family and friends to our home to celebrate the season. We ask everyone to bring unwrapped toys and non-perishable food items for a local charity. Total number of guests: 137 which includes 58 kids. The donations were incredible this year!! Our friends give until it hurts!! You all rock!!!

Saturday December 13
Tara and her two boys here at the Calandro B&B because they are in town for a wedding.
Greg Harper and Owen here from 11:00AM until 11:30PM filming footage to be used in Vegas for CES. Day also includes a basketball game for Max, photo swapping with a friend, and the creation of a slide show for another friend's wedding reception. Pasta feed for twelve!! Phew!

Friday, December 19
Adam Broitman and Jody Gnant here to train us in all things social media. They join us for the infamous Calandro Pizza Night on our beautiful big screen TV. They are informative and fun!

Saturday, December 20
John drives kids to Goleta so they can go to a show with Grandma C and Papa and their cousins. He drives home again. Eileen stays home to try to get Christmas under control. AAAAAAA!!!!!

Sunday, December 21
Pick up kids in Goleta and drive to LAX to pick up Luke who is visiting from Australia for a month. Keep in mind all entries from here on involve one more family member that is fed, driven around and coordinated into the Crazy Calandro mix.

Tuesday, December 23
Grandma Frog and Grandpa Richard arrive from the Bay Area to spend Christmas with us - are they nuts?!?!?!? Light neighborhood luminaries at 5:30 and stroll the 'hood. Love living here!!!

Wednesday, December 24 - Christmas Eve, 2008
Head to Pismo Beach to watch the sunset. Prayers for no rain are answered and the tradition lives on for another year. Home for crab cakes with our neighbors, put cookies out for Santa and sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn. Kids go to bed and the adults prepare for the next day.

Thursday, December 25 - Christmas, 2008
Our kids managed to be good enough for Santa to come to our house for one more year! He brought Legos galore and we gave our kids Rock Band for Wii - Watch out Jonas brothers!! Auntie Lisa, Auntie Jo, Grandma C and Papa arrive for the traditional Christmas Brunch and we eat ourselves silly. Grandma C takes on Matthew in a Wii bowling match and then braves Wii boxing. Nothing creates Christmas memories like seeing your son beating up his Grandma! (WHAT?!?)

Friday, December 26:
Inhospitably kick out our house guests (except Luke, of course) because Eileen starts working on Becky and Bob's wedding reception flowers. Side note: No baby news yet for Lori and Bill - the baby is now overdue - we are still praying for the miracle of adoption for our family

Saturday, December 27:
Finish flower arrangements, load them in the minivan, and drive to Nipomo for the reception. The event goes off without a hitch at the beautiful Monarch Club at Trilogy. John created a fabulous HD slide show for all to see and burned extra copies for family members of the bride and groom. All five of us dance ourselves silly to relieve some stress and have a great time. (Luke stayed at home for a little quiet time - smart boy!!)

Sunday, December 28:
Day of rest so we go on a four mile hike up one of our favorite peaks in SLO: San Luis Mountain. There for the tree lighting. Have we mentioned we love living here??!?!?!?

Monday, December 29:
Dear, close friend Vince arrives for a visit and to celebrate New Year's Eve with us. Watch The Dark Knight in HD on our big TV. Did you know the Joker's string is purple in the bank robbery scene? Unless you're living in HD, I didn't think so.

Tuesday, December 30:
Another day of rest so we travel thirty miles up the coast to explore Hearst Castle with Vince and Luke. Spectacular day!!! (Someday we will swim in that pool - mark our words - any inside tracks out there? - you know it's all about connections....)

Wednesday, December 31 - New Year's Eve
See earlier blog entry
Other news not in that entry: The baby Lori and Bill have been waiting for is born at 5:30 EST. At 11:45 PM PST, John and Eileen are frantically looking into booking a flight to Maryland for Eileen and almost cause everyone to miss the Ball Drop!

Thursday, January 1, 2009, 1:00 AM
Back home from ball drop and John books a flight online for Eileen to go to Maryland that same day. Eileen can't think straight enough to do anything. Drink champagne and mourn the end of an incredibly amazing Living in HD year. The fun has just begun!!

Thursday, January 1 5:40 AM
John drives me to SLO airport for 6:20AM flight to Maryland. This little niece is closer than she's ever been, but nothing is final until papers are signed. Eileen wonders if the butterflies in her stomach could fly her to Maryland instead of an airplane. She goes for the sure thing and gets on her flight, abandoning five house guests, Luke and her family for the hope ahead.

Thursday, January 1
Back in SLO our guests leave after John makes them a killer New Year's Day brunch

Thursday, January 1, 5:00PM
Eileen crosses the Potomac river and wonders about how crazy life can get. Puts the thought aside and drives to the future of her family. God bless GPS and Visa!!

Thursday, January 1, 5:30 PM
Arrive at hospital, am greeted by the Birth Mom and my sister (the Future Mom) in the lobby. Baby Grace is beautiful!!!! Lori, Bill and I go out to dinner later to celebrate.

Friday, January 2:
Bright and early we all go to the hospital to sign the papers for the adoption. As Lori and Bill sign the documents, I get private time with Grace who officially becomes our niece in the middle of our special time alone. Grace leaves the hospital with her Mommy and Daddy. What a journey!

Saturday, January 3:
Home in SLO John prepares for the final interview with Create With Context - sorry to miss that, but I'm sure you understand the circumstances!
In Maryland, I pry myself away from my sister and brother-in-law (who are awesome) and baby Grace to head home on a flight to SLO. I have to sprint three-quarters of a mile in the Phoenix airport to make my connecting flight. I am so motivated to get home I am only passed up by a six foot-two college student. If I didn't have on a twenty pound back-pack I could have taken him! Arrive in SLO in time for dinner with the fam.

Tuesday, January 6, 4:30 PM:
Celebrate Matthew's 6th birthday a day early at the Madonna Inn - you know by now, dinner and dessert all at the same time!! YUMMY!! I certainly wasn't doing that six years ago!

Tuesday, January 6, 8:20 PM:
We get on our plane for Vegas. This is the first flight for Matthew and Miles. Hooray and thanks, again, Panasonic!

Wednesday, January 7 - January 11:
CES in Vegas - you can see the other entries

Monday, January 12:
Max and Matthew go to school, but I end up taking Matthew home. He is officially the casualty of Vegas. He has a fever and a cough, poor kid. He stays home Tuesday and Wednesday as well.

Wednesday, January 14:
Luke's last day in SLO is a full one. He watches the kids so Eileen can attend a funeral. RIP Phil Nolan - you will be missed. Luke takes us out to dinner downtown at Mo's, then we go to Arroyo Grande to Doc Burnstein's for dessert. Back home to pack and then Luke and Eileen head downtown SLO to celebrate his twenty-first birthday. Three bars and beers and shots later we head home to prepare for tomorrow....

Thursday, January 15:
Travel to Disney's California Adventure to celebrate Matthew's sixth birthday. This is the traditional birthday treat in lieu of a party (thank goodness!!!) What a great day! Meet up with Grandma Frog and Grandpa Richard who have flown in to celebrate with us. They ROCK!!

Friday, January 16:
Celebrate at the Big D. Matthew is so tired by the end of the day he almost falls asleep in his ice cream. Are we attentive parents, or what?!?!? We all had a terrific day together.

Saturday, January 17:
Up bright and early to get Luke to LAX. Said goodbye and were on the road to SLO by 9:04 AM. Max changed his clothes in the car and we drove him straight to his basketball game. Had make-up pizza night that night.

Sunday, January 18
John's brother David and his wife Donna and their two sweet kiddos, Nicolas and Ava, arrive for lunch and to hang out. They live in San Diego so we don't get to see them nearly enough. They are in town for business that could move them closer. We are crossing our fingers! They leave around 3:00 and later that night we have dinner just the five of us, at our dinner table, for the first time in over a month. Whew! John and I have been saying, "Closer than we've ever been," for months as we faced the journeys ahead. We drank champagne and said, "We've arrived!"

Monday, January 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
I am sick with a cough and a runny nose. I held it off for as long as I could and my body just can't take any more. We have put a shield around the house for the day: unless you are bringing us food or a massage table to use on me, we are shut down. Only the five of us are allowed at our house today. Thanks for understanding.

So there you have it. I think the last time John and I had this much going on was when we got married. At least then we got to go on a honeymoon!! We know we brought most of this on ourselves, if not all of it, and we wouldn't change a thing. Thanks, again, to all of you who came along for this craziness. According to our calculations, we hosted 286 people, in some form or another, at our home in the last four months. I'm sure we have missed a few guests along the way, and we apologize for leaving you out of our count. We also traveled countless miles - we could count them, but we're too tired to do it!

During all of this, John managed to do his job as an Assistant Principal at Templeton High, Eileen managed to manage the kids and all that entails, we decorated our house for Christmas and tore it all down, we coordinated all of the logistics and paper work on our end for CES, sent out Christmas cards, bought, made, wrapped and mailed gifts for people, and basically we lived our lives during our busiest time of year. No wonder I'm sick and we're all exhausted. We aren't sure what our next adventure is, we rarely are, but there's a baby up in Pleasanton that hasn't met her Uncle John or her Calandro cousins yet....ONWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Momming with a Brand


The connections that were created at CES between the Calandro Family, Panasonic, Mom Central, and Crayon were fantastic and beyond what we could have hoped. I'm excited for one of our blog readers to be the proud owner of a Panasonic videocamera and to start Living in HD. Simply click on this link to MomCentral.com and follow their directions for a chance to win. It will certainly change your life as all of the products have changed ours. Good luck and good videos!
Take a look at our other posts to see what Living in HD has done for us. And remember, Panasonic is looking for other families to Live in HD. It could be you! The experience is incredible! You can enter at http://www.livinginhd.com/.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What you didn't see at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show was nothing short of phenomenal. I know that it is an industry show, and primarily to promote what is new and what is next, but one thing struck me as odd- the consumer was missing.


Oh, sure there were plenty of people there and probably some people who were just there because they want to be in the know, but it was mostly the press, people from the industry, or people who were trying to sell/demonstrate their products.

Every display space was jammed with amazing technology and someone there to demonstrate all of it. There were plenty of movers and shakers in the industry presenting their slice of the electronics world. The Panasonic space had all of this, too, but they had something that no other booth or vendor had: The Calandro Family. What makes us special? Nothing, really, except for one small thing- we are the consumers and our opinions matter. At least they do to Panasonic. Our opinions were important enough to them that they put us on their main stage every day during the CES so that anyone could hear us. (You can too here: http://www.panasonic.com/promos/CES/2009/video/index.asp?id=7 )

The Living in HD program is amazing because we were given phenomenal equipment. The Lumix cameras, the Viera 1080p plasma with Viera Cast, the surround system, the HD camcorder, and the Toughbook laptop. We have used the heck out of all of this equipment (I recently had to clear off the hard drive on the laptop because I filled it up with video from the camera, pictures, etc...). One of our responsibilities to Panasonic is that every week we fill out a questionaire asking about how we used the equipment, what we liked and disliked about the equipment, what changes we would make, and what else we would like the equipment to be able to do.

While our family was in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, every Panasonic executive we met was interested in how we were enjoying the program. They really wanted to know what we thought of their products. Many of them were aware of my responses to the weekly surveys. They had seen this blog, they had looked at the content we had added to the http://www.livinginhd.com/ website.


All of the people we met whether it was Jeramie Maxwell- Sales/Training Support Tennessee Region, Carol DiStaulo-Media Director, Tom Murano-Director of Brand Management, Bob Greenberg- Vice President Brand Marketing, Robert Perry-Executive Vice President, Peter Fannon- Vice President Technology Policy, or even the Chairman of Panasonic North America Yoshi Yamada were not only kind to us, they all were truly interested in what we had to say. They cared enough about who we were to wear buttons that celebrated our son's 6th birthday, and they were excited that he was living it in HD!

Whenever we were talking with these people and all of the other fantastic Panasonic employees too numerous to list here, we were listened to. Our opinions were valued. To each of these people, we represented the consumer, but even more importantly, we represented the human beings who use their product.

Panasonic cares about us as human beings. The whole idea behind the Living in HD concept is that they want to know how people will really be using the products that they are putting out there. Our opinions matter, and they should. It is refreshing that a corporation as large and as global as Panasonic recognizes that the voice of the people is important and by listening to the people, they can create products that will enhance and improve the life of their consumer.

With the world being noisier than it ever has been with blogs, cell phones, the internet, and media of all types, it is a pleasure to be heard.

What you didn't see at CES 2009 was the consumer- except for in one booth: Panasonic.

It was an honor to be there representing you, the readers, consumers, and families, and an honor to meet the fine people at Panasonic who care about what we have to say.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Matthew lives his birthday in HD

After our press conference with Panasonic, we went out to dinner with The Pollak Family (you can see them at http://livinginhd.com/ ), Tom Murano, Greg Harper, and Carol DiStaulo. We were honored to be there and again amazed by how warm and accessible everyone is. The people at Panasonic are wonderful (as I've said on my blog before).

After dinner, we were whisked into another room filled with some of the titans of social media: Joe Jaffe, Greg Verdino, Chris Brogan, Steve Garfield, Jim Reilly, Melissa Pierce, Stacy DeBroff, Vicki Rellas, and Ponzi Pirillo, (you can read more about it at their blogs!), and Bob Greenberg (above), the VP of Brand Marketing. Matthew handed out his "Happy Living in HD Birthday Matthew" buttons to the room.
It was an honor to be in the same room with all of these people. We all went around the room and introduced ourselves. I do have to say that Max brought the house down when he stood up and explained why he was there. "I'm Max Calandro, I'm 9 years old and I'm here because my dad won the living in HD contest and Panasonic asked us to come and represent them at the CES." It was clear, accurate, and eloquent. We couldn't have been more proud!

Thank you Panasonic! We are looking forward to day 1 of CES!
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CES Day one in the Panasonic Booth

Wow! We are still coming down off of our first day at CES. The Panasonic booth is ginormous! Booth is definitely a misnomer, acreage may be more accurate! On the main stage is a 150" Plasma screen- one of only 4 in the world created by Panasonic... It is amazing- Matthew was calling the 60" screen next to it "the small screen"! We saw so much there!:

Completely Wireless HD tv? They got it.

A selection of 1" deep screens? Yep

LCDs with incredibly deep blacks? They nailed this one!

A remote control with a touchpad to navigate any type of screen with ease? You bet! (I want one sooooo much! Unfortunately, there is no market date for this yet!)



They had great speakers throughout the day- Here's Joe Jaffe talking about how companies need to realize their consumers talk to each other and that the community voice can be much more powerful than advertising.

And here's a picture of Eileen and Max on the 150" Plasma as partof the Living in HD video! Awesome!!! We went on stage later that afternoon to talk about our lives in HD! We are having so much fun.

Also, we got a chance to see 3DHD. It was absolutely amazing. The mvie clips they showed in 3d were impressive, but even more amazing to me was the footage of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics...The clarity and depth truly made it a brand new totally immersive viewing experience. The sporting events that were filmed in 3D were incredible. Watching a basketball being passed to another player and being able to see the depth of the pass completely changes the dynamics of the viewing experience. If this is the way tv is going, SIGN ME UP!

I think Miles (age 3) summed it up best when we were looking at scenes of the drumming from the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I was holding him and it got quiet for a second and I heard a quietly whispered "Awesome!"

That about sums up our day. There is more amazing stuff to be seen and more fun to come. I'll try to post some video of our interview yesterday when I get a chance!

Happy reading!
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our trip to CES 09- Las Vegas






We got into Vegas last night at midnight and took part in the press conference today. Lots of cool stuff coming up! Since it was Matthew's birthday, we made him an "I am Living in HD on my birthday" shirt. We also made buttons that say "Happy Living in HD Birthday Matthew". Greg Harper took Matthew over to the top brass of the Panasonic North America Corporation and had him give buttons to all of them. Pretty amazing.

Everybody we have met has been great.

Panasonic unveiled a bunch of great stuff. First off- 3D HD...Panasonic plans to have a working format for Blu-Ray by 2010...They are also working to standardize it within the industry so it becomes a reality for all. This is next year we're talking about, people! They will have a demonstration of it tomorrow!

Speaking of Blu-Ray, How about a portable Blu-Ray player? Here's a picture of it (I apologize for the quality- I was trying to manage the kids while taking pictures):










How would you like to have a flat screen tv that had NO WIRES and full 1080p HD? On the way. How about a 600mHz screen?

Got Viera Cast? (If not, you're missing out)- Good news! Panasonic will be partnering with Amazon to provide HD movies on demand! Gotta love it!

Think that's cool? How about a flat panel tv that's only 1/3 of an inch deep? Here's a shot of it from the front, then as compared to the width of an iphone. And they are creating all of this stuff while making everything more energy efficient and reducing emissions!










Amazing, no?














There is way more cool stuff to come as the Calandros continue our Vegas CES Panasonic adventure. We'll keep posting and keep you posted!










Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is the most anti-climactic holiday of the year. It seems that no matter how hard you plan, things never quite go the way that you want them to, so why bother? I mean, who really wants to start the year off on a downer?

That's why 16 years ago, our good friends the Warrens started the annual ball drop. It started with a disco ball being dangled from speaker wire off of a local parking structure at midnight to a crowd of about 15 friends and stragglers. Over the past 16 years, the tree at the base of the parking structure has grown so that the ball is only visible for a few seconds before it is completely obscured by the tree. The ball has become more elaborate (a hoppity-hop covered in tin foil and Christmas lights) and the crowd has grown- mostly because our families are getting larger.

We all show up about 20 minutes before midnight, watch the ball drop, take pictures, drink sparkling apple cider, and go home. We're usually back home by 12:30... Totally anti-climactic, but a perfect way to start the New Year. We love seeing everyone, we love the fact that there is really no planning involved (on our part) and that we can race out of the house at 11:45 and still make it downtown by 11:50 so that we don't miss anything.

We have added to the tradition by having the chocolate fountain after New-Year's dinner...messy, but delicious!

Enjoy the slideshow via Animoto (if you haven't checked it out yet, it is awesome!
What are your New-Year's traditions?