Saturday, October 29, 2005

Date Night? What's that?

Last night The Boss Lady and I were treated to a night out. One of The Boss Lady's childhood friends has moved into our neighborhood. She watched the kids for us and sent us to one of her favorite restaurants, The Melting Pot. Plus, she handed us the keys to her car, a really nice Lexus.

After gorging on a Cheddar and Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese veggie fondue appetizer and the Center Cut Entree (Filet Mignon, Black Tiger Shrimp, Chicken Breast, Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin and Teriyaki Sirloin)in a Coq au Vin fondue, we decided on the Flaming Turtle Chocolate Fondue for dessert.

They should serve the dessert fondue with a chaser of insulin. I thought I might turn diabetic after eating chocolate dipped marshmallows that had been coated in crushed Oreos. But I have never been one to waste food, so I ate them all. The Boss Lady was a little more health conscious. She dipped fruit and cheescake in the chocolate and caramel.

There was a chef's salad in there somewhere before the Flaming Turtle, but as Homer Simpson said "You don't win friends with salad", so who cares.

Everything was awesome, even the salad. But if you go to The Melting Pot, don't forget to sign the loan documents beforehand at your bank. And take me. I'll teach you how to really get those marshmallows covered.

After dinner we were real creative. We drove out to the construction site of a school that The Boss Lady would like to run next year. Then we drove home. But since we were in a nice car, we did take the long way home.

The kid's had a ball. They ate at Chick-Fil-A and went to a carnival at church. They were even in bed when we got home!

What a nice night. I still don't know exactly what we did to deserve it, but thanks, DamnYell.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Good thing he did not say that to his mother

The first words out of The Talker's mouth this morning were "Daddy, I wanna play play-doh". No real stress for mom there.

The second round of talking would have caused problems for Mommy, though. "I was dreaming about babies. Mommy has a new baby."

Dang, now I feel guilty for getting a great night's sleep. All while The Boss Lady was off birthing a baby... And finally, why is AtHomeDaddy always the last to know?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ewwwww... Pass the Clorox

The Talker, as he walked into the kitchen, from playing in the backyard: "Look Daddy, I got the dog poop off of my feet."

"Well that's good," I said, not wanting to know any more details.

As I lifted him into the kitchen sink: "Let's wash your feet. Don't want any poop on them."

"Yeah, and we better wash my hands, too."

Scarecrow, Three Year Old Style

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It is pretty amazing, what one can do with a helpful three year old, some swim noodles and daddy's work clothes. Who cares if he looks as if he has scoliosis and bow legs. The Talker is very proud of his creation.

The Princess deserves some credit, too. She slept late yesterday, making this whole thing possible.

But not as late as she slept today. It is 9:10 and the girl is still out. Yeah for daddy!

Just for the record, 9:50. One hour and 50 minutes later than usual.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Good thing you did not say that to her mother

This morning, after running some errands, the kids and I headed over for some pre-lunch park time. The Talker recognized a girl that he has only played with once. I could not remember her name, but the boy has great recall of names. Last time she was at the park with her grandmother, this time she was with her other granny.

Today's grandma asked if I was "the stay at home dad her daughter told her about". Since Other Dad lives right across the street from her daughter, I assumed she was mistaking me for him. The she explained that she has already met him. I was even more confused by her comment, but The Princess fell hard and cried, so I never got around to asking what she meant. Plus, the kids were having fun, and she was not running out of the park with her granddaughter, so I did not worry about it.

Later though, she hit me with a doozy. The Princess was trying to play with the buckles on the little girl's stroller. Also, she figured out where the snacks were stored, under the stroller, so my human grackle was not moving. Not until someone shared that snack.

Granny told me that she is a retired gifted and talented high school teacher. And that it is "obvious that your girl will need gifted services in school. Especially if you do a good job getting her ready for school."

What? Huh? Who the heck are you? You are such a great high school teacher that you can assign labels to 18 month old kids? Damn, pretty pretentious, dontcha think, lady? I am glad those smart kids in Dallas got to benefit from your insight and wisdom. Bitch.

I have no doubt that my kids will be smarterer than me. It would be hard for them not to be. But this is the same thing as someone telling me that the boy is a good candidate for a ritalin and focusin cocktail every morning with his breakfast.

I never have held gifted/talented teachers in very high regard. Probably goes back to me being left with the other kids while the geniuses got to benefit from the best learning methods. Or maybe I just think that kids need to be educated with their peers. All of them. Even the dumb ones. And the one eating paste in the back of the room.

Well, maybe not all of them. Keep the ugly kids away from mine. I don't want that stuff rubbing off on my beautiful little genius darlings.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Out on the town

The AtHomeTrio went to Costco this morning. We got home several hours later, and we forgot to buy diapers, but the kids and I had a great time.

After we shopped, we ate lunch at the snack bar. Cheese pizza for the kids to share and a hotdog for dad. Then we all scarfed on ice cream. A good outing and an easy lunch.

While we were eating, the snack tables were full. We ended up sitting at the last table, which was big enough for 8 people. Three strangers joined us. And did they ever get an earfull from the boy.

After he introduced everyone, he let the others know exactly what our plans were for the day. He is not a shy child. A shy child would not include bathroom breaks if he were to share his itinerary with complete strangers. By the time the other people left, they knew that The Princess blew out a diaper in the car and that our dog was in trouble for eating a tree.

They were really nice and seemed to enjoy The Talker's stories about baseball and pirates. But for some reason they ate REALLY fast.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Halloween Parade

This afternoon was our neighborhood costume parade. The kids and the wife were planning to attend, while I worked on the truck and watched NASCAR.

My work on the truck turned out to be menial, the race was boring and I could not nap, so I joined them as the parade was beginning. I also wanted to win a few 'Good Husband' points, so I rode to the parade with the bike trailer. That way The Boss Lady would not have to haul the kids the entire route in the wagon. Plus, I would be able to bring one or both of the kids home easier than the wife could.

During the parade The Talker rode in the bike trailer with a neighborhood friend he has not seen in a long time. And another buddy stood on the back of the trailer. Wish we has some pictures of Darth Vader, Batman and the Blue Knight cruising the 'hood.

In the end, the kids wanted to play at the park, so I left the family behind, so that I could get back to making no real progress on my weekend projects. The boy ended up hitching a ride home with a neighbor and The Boss Lady and The Princess enjoyed a nice quiet walk home.

When they all headed to church this evening, I really kicked my weekend into high gear and watched the Astros almost win another one.

Go 'Stros!

New Toys!

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The Talker got a new Buzz Lightyear light up toy a few weeks ago. I took some pictures of him playing with it the first night. Good thing I took the pictures then, because I think the toy is already broken, lost or eaten by the dog.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Returning to the scene of the crime

The Princess is trying to figure out to make apples.

This morning, when we went to play with a neighborhood friend, the same house we partied at yesterday, she found most of the neccessary ingriedients. Or so she thought. After her life-changing experience at bobbing for apples, the girl showed some good reasoning skills.

As soon as we walked into the friend's front yard, she started yelling for them. "Applesh, Applesh. Yum, Applesh."

A few minutes later, I found her dragging the water hose out to the now empty tub that once hosted the apple bobbing game. While she was working so hard, she was telling me "Applesh, I make applesh, Daddy."

Unluckily for her her, the apples did not magically appear. But she only had to wait for her lunch plate a couple of hours later for that to happen.

That's My Boy?

The Gruesome Twosome and I attended a Halloween party yesterday afternoon. Even though I started having doubts about the scheduled date while taking the kids over there. Could I have miss understood? Might the party be next week instead?

The Knight, the pig and I had a blast. And during the party I realized that The Talker was playing out in the wooded back yard, and he only checked in with me a few times. Mainly when he needed help eating something. But he never came to me to whine or tattle.

I can't remember a time when he played this independently. Especially for this long. It was great. Better than great when you know that I really needed the extra concentration to keep The Princess out of the apple bobbing tank. No, she was not trying to swim, but she was taking a bite out of each apple and putting it back in the water. She marked at least six apples. And she actually ate two and a half others.

The boy started getting back to himself, when the costume came off. At the end of the party, an older kid ran off with the entire unbroken pinata when the hanging string broke. The party host rescued the booty and shared with everyone... The Talker has finally decided that it was funny. Until this morning, he was still whining about the thief. I think he was ready to string that kid up on the pinata rope.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Taking a break

Our world record attempt is on hold. It is already hitting 90 degrees and we decided to eat lunch inside. Outside play was surely a successful idea for this morning.

After playing in the backyard for a while, we pulled out the bike and trailer and headed for the park. No other kids were there when we arrived, but we played for a few minutes and a crowd appeared. The kids and I hung out there for an hour or so, only stopping because everyone else was leaving. It seemed a little odd to be the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Once we got home, The Princess decided she needed some beauty sleep, no need to have two ogres at the afternoon party, so The Talker and I played hot wheels on the back patio. After naptime ended, we took a little stroll to try out the new Halloween costume. Sir Night is sure to be a hit at the party. The girl's costume is not ready yet. Who throws a party 12 days before Halloween? But the boy and I tag-teamed and found all of the necessary pieces to set her up with a new version of last year's costume. Freebie! So the knight and the pig-girl will be heading out to the party later today, after we all have a snooze.

Other than that, the big news of the day, I am washing my pillow. While not sleeping last night, I realized that my pillow stinks. Hopefully this will work out OK, because I seem to develop a serious attachment to my pillow. Anytime I change to a new one it takes me weeks to get a decent night's sleep. I'll try to get it all flattened out and perfect again at nap time.

Edit - Awwwww Mannnnnn, it was only the pillow case that was funky. I risked my perfect pillow for nothing. When I put the pillow case back on it, I realized which was the real violator. I changed sheets yesterday, but that pillow case must have been run through the laundry with that new "smells like crap on death" laundry soap.

Good thing it is nice weather

since the kids and I are going to set a new record for The Most Consecutive Hours Played Outside. Think Guinness will be interested?

We will not just be enjoying the weather today. The real point of this effort ends with me getting a decent night's sleep. Between a barking dog (not ours) that woke us up several times, our own barking dog who woke us up later, a crying 18 month old who just wanted the dogs to SHUT UP and a preschooler who wanted to play at 6:36 this morning, neither the wife nor I managed to get any sleep.

The Boss Lady has a full day of work, followed by a night out with the neighborhood hens. Used to they got drunk, played dice, ate a good meal and talked about me. Now they just eat, drink and talk about me. Tonight there might be a bonus, though. The dessert will be made in our kitchen, so maybe some extra scraps will end up being left behind...

The kids and I are heading to a costume party this afternoon. A knight, a princess and an ogre. Guess who I get to be... Plus, the 10,000 calories of candy and raw sugar should really help make everything go REALLY smoothly on a long day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tires, Take 2

Yesterday the kids and I took the minivan in to get the tires rotated and balanced. It has been needing it for a while. We were finished in an hour, but since we were there at 8:20 in the morning, it was pretty painful to keep the kids entertained without bothering everyone else in the waiting room.

So we walked around the shopping center. The other stores were closed, but it kept the kids from driving everyone else nuts. While they were actually working on the van, we stood and watched. The kids would cheer and clap every time the guys would do something to our car. Yeah! They took off a wheel! I bet it is the fist time the tire shop guys have gotten a standing ovation for doing such a fine job.

This morning we took The Boss Lady's car in to get the same service. But we waited to go, so that we could eat lunch at Burger King, across the parking lot. I figured it would take longer at 11 o'clock, but the kids would be happier.

Man, I am good! My plan worked perfectly. We spent most of the morning at the park, ran home for diaper change and potty stop, headed to tire shop/ lunch stopping back by the park on the way to pick up The Talker's forgotten sandals and then we headed home. Rotated, balanced and fed.

Now everyone is resting or napping, so I could clean something. But I think I'll just sit here and gloat about my perfect parenting.

Finally getting around to it...

When I was living in a dorm in college, my roommate and a bunch of friends from the dorm always hung out in the lobby of the dorm. There was this odd shaped little corner of the lobby that was never used. There was a chair or two, tucked beside several phone booths. But no one ever sat there.

For some reason several of us started sitting down there, just chatting and watching the world go by. The best part of hanging out in the corner was watching everyone come and go through the dorm lobby. It was certainly the easiest way to keep up with all of the dormitory gossip.

Eventually we robbed more chairs and some tables out of a study room. For some reason, no one ever seemed to use THAT room, anyways. Suddenly, ALL off the cool people, like me and JB, started hanging out in the corner. It got to where the regulars could not find a seat in the corner when we needed one.

So we staged a sit-in. One weekend JB and I decided to sit. Nothing else planned. We could play cards or called for pizza. But mainly we would just sit and watch the world go by. Lots of other people came and sat with us throughout the weekend. We did not stay for the entire weekend, but we did manage to not accomplish anything else during those days. And we sat a long damn time down there.

I think this is when the corner got it's name. Those memories are a little fuzzy but I am pretty sure JB and I were the ones that started calling the space Procrastination Corner. We joked that we would make a sign for it... someday.

Well this weekend I was hanging out in the garage, sitting in my chair, watching football and NASCAR. There were woodworking tools all around. I could have easily made a sign. But I did not. Instead, the neighbor came over to see what I was doing. I offered him the truck seat. We hung out for a while. We talked about fixing the car. And lots of other stuff. Good times.

Since the real Procrastination Corner is 250 miles North of here, the old dorm is now women's only housing and we have not sat there in over 10 years, I think I finally found a suitable replacement. But it needs a better name than PC2. I'll have to think about it. Maybe JB will come over and help me come up with a name that will last for generations... And we'll make a sign... someday.

C'mon over and hang out. You can sit on the truck seat. But I'm not adding any more chairs out there. That is what started all of the problems the first time.

By the way, I saw an article about the old dorm in a alumni magazine a few months ago. They had a picture and specifically pointed out the "coffee bar in Procrastination Corner..." The legend lives! But if JB and I were still around, that coffee bar would have to go. We were Dr Pepper drinkers.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I Don't Want to Know

This is what I found when I went to check on the boy this morning. I took this picture about 10 seconds after he woke up, so I am pretty sure he had a little party last night.

A single rubber boot, a bucket, a Potato Head hat, a pirate sword and a wooden gun. Right beside the stuffed bunny puppet. I feel bad for the bunny. Whatever that party was about, I think it involved Wabbit Stew.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Keeping with a theme

for this weekend, I managed to waste most of the afternoon on the wife's car. I washed and waxed it early. And I spent a couple of hours trying to polish the headlight lenses. They sell some stuff at the auto parts store to make dull plastic headlight covers shiny and clear again. But keeping with the other theme for the weekend, I am cheap.

We shall SEE how well my efforts work. Last week I noticed that the headlights seemed dim, but I was not sure if it was because the lenses were dirty or because the alternator was not putting out a full charge. After fixing the alternator, I was sure the lenses were to blame. So I used some rubbing compound and 000 grit steel wool to get most of the crud off of the lenses. It took a while, because I did not want to leave scratches. So I buffed as lightly as I could.

After I was satisfied with the result, I put a coat of auto paste wax on the lenses. Hopefully that will keep them clean for a while.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

King of the road

The Boss Lady and kids are gone for the weekend. They left Friday after lunch and should be home some time Sunday evening. With all of my hobbies, you might think that I would spend a free weekend doing fun and exciting stuff.


I decided last night that this would be the weekend I finally made the light go off. The Boss Lady's car has a light that shows if the charging system has a problem. It has been popping on every few days for a couple of weeks. And in the last couple of days, it seems to always be lit.

I have not exactly ignored it, but I could not figure it out. The battery was recharging fine. The car was not having any trouble starting. The alternator tested ok, the belt looks good. Everything I could think to check was fine.

After Racecar Man and I put a code reader on the car this morning and we spent a couple of hours chasing other problems, we were still left with a shiny little light on the dash. I ran to the auto parts store and asked to have the alternator tested for a 3rd time.

The manager helped me out and tested the car quickly. He noticed everything was fine ands suggested that I replace the voltage regulator and alternator brushes. I played dumb (something I do well AND often) and I admitted that I thought the regulator was inside of the alternator. He pointed it out on the side of the alternator and he took the time to explain that the brushes were underneath the regulator and it would not take an hour to swap out both parts. But of course, they did not have the parts in stock.

I found the regulator and brushes in stock, two auto parts stores later. They asked if I wanted the Mazda style or Motorcraft style brushes. I just wanted the right ones. Doubtful that the Mazda style brushes were the right ones, I opted for the Motorcraft style. But they were out of stock. So zoom zoom, I bought the Mazda style. While looking later online, I found that the two have identical parts numbers...

After installing the new parts and still seeing the light on the dash, I cried.

I took the brushes out, put the old ones back in, with a little modification, and Viola', no trouble lights on the dash! Unfortunately, when I was reinstalling them, I dropped the old brushes and a spring fell out. I never found the spring, so I formed a new one, out of a much larger spring. But I did not really trust this new spring, so I wanted to look closer at the new brushes again, perhaps I could rob a spring out of them.

Then I realized that the new brushes had a little tab that keeps the internal springs in place while you install them. Once you get everything buttoned up, you pull the tab and the brushes engage. But I only figured that out because I pulled the tab and the new part exploded all over the garage!

I managed to reassemble the brushes and reinstall the retainer tab. Then, I re-replaced the old brushes and re-re-installed the new voltage regulator. And after a few donuts in the cul du sac, NO MORE TROUBLE LIGHT!

And my seats were not rattling during the donuts, either.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I would look so cool!

I have recently realized that I have a bad case of WannaNewCaritis. I think there is a cure. A Mini Cooper would be the easiest cure but not the most practical, since I really want to replace the minivan. The Boss Lady's car is 10 years old, but running fine for her 15 mile a day commute.

So realizing that we NEED something big enough for family road trips, I have a new obsession. The Chevrolet HHR. I saw one a few weeks ago at a stop light. The only one I have seen so far.

The Chevy dealerships here in town have not gotten may of them, yet. And they can't keep them on the lot for more than a few hours. They can't even keep the brochures in stock. Which means these cars are either really cool or just scarce. Either way makes me want to get one even more.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cart rides in the rain

Thanks to Rick for the heads up, I am now blogging through MS Word.

The kids and I ran a few errands this morning.  We ended up downtown and it was raining, so we went to the newest Whole Foods grocery store.  The kids went a while back, but I wanted to see the store, especially the cart escalator, a big hit, and the chocolate fountain, a big miss.

After you shop, you can take your cart into the underground parking garage with you, on moving ramps.   The Talker, who hardly ever wants to ride in the grocery cart, certainly had fun on this ride.  It is kind of funky, because the cart wheels lock somehow onto the ramp.  I tried moving it a little to the side, so that other people could pass us, but it was stuck tight.  

The chocolate fountain turned out to be a bowl of melted chocolate that overflows and circulates while the staff dips fruit in the chocolate.  It was pretty boring, since I was expecting a swimming pool sized puddle of milk chocolate.    

But the best fun of the morning was found at the fish market.  The counter staff picked up a giant halibut and showed it to The Talker.  He was impressed by the 45 pound monster.  Also, they sell redfish there, so we will be making a return trip, soon.  

We spent less than $2 this morning.  A few dried cranberries a handful of banana chips and some fresh ground peanut butter.  We shall see if The Talker actually likes it, or if he just likes watching the machine grind up the peanuts…

Sunday, October 09, 2005

White Trash Wino Night

The entire neighborhood, at least those families with kids under 5, came to play at our house last night. The first nice fall weekend night, a UT victory and the opening of White Trash Fire Pit Season were all great reasons to celebrate.

Don't know about the fire pit? Lots of neighbors have fancy fire bowls on the patio. We have a broken barbecue pit sitting on the ground, surrounded by rocks. Looks like a cross between an Old Testament altar and a Boy Scout project gone horribly wrong.

Anyways, we lit the playscape with Christmas lights and everyone had a blast. The kids ate hot dogs and marshmallows while the male adults revived another neighborhood tradition. Bad Wine Night.

A neighbor empties out his wine closet and brings the entire haul over. Then, starting with some of his father's homemade vino, we try to find one bottle that is worthy of NOT being poured out on the grass. Last night, the first three went straight to the ants, including the homemade liter in a plastic vodka bottle.

By the fourth bottle, I was out of the tasting. The other men continued. They made it about 1/2 way through that bottle before moving on to the next. Which was neither finished, nor dumped out. I found it sitting mostly full, on the picnic table, later in the evening while I was cleaning up.

There was another bottle somewhere. Oh yeah, Law Talking Guy put it in the freezer, to chill. And then forgot about it. As it turns out, Mondavi '96 White will eventually blow it's cork in the freezer. This morning The Boss Lady found the wine flavored fishsticks and a fermented grape smelling freezer to prove that.

After a quick clean up, that bottle joined 5 others, in the recycling bin. Now I worry about what the recycling guys will think about our weekend. Probably more exciting if they just use their imaginations.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

They all come out in the Fall

The kids and I headed over to our neighborhood park this morning. We were going to make a quick stop and then head to Costco. But the weather was awesome and there were a lot of kids to play with, so we stayed right up to lunch time.

Usually at this park, and at the others that we most often visit, we are known. But today, it was like a throwback to my first days as a Stay at Home Dad. We did not know any of the kids at the park. And the moms, save for one, were a rude lot.

One of the kids at the park decided that The Talker was being a bully. I watched very carefully after I heard him say it the first time. The Talker was doing nothing worse than any other kid. So I knew that he was not bullying the older kids. Plus, it really looked like that kid was being a little punk. He seemed determined to keep The Talker from playing with or near the other kids.

I waited for a while to see if mom would deal with junior. After 15 minutes, and hearing him call my son a Bully for the 5th time, I was ready to deal with the kid myself. And I got the chance.

Mom had wandered off to answer a phone call. So junior and I talked. Well, I talked. He cried. After I told him that he was the one being a bully, junior ran off to his mommy, whimpering. Mommy was annoyed, because I had spoken to her child and broken his tender heart.

So I threw a rock at her, The Talker pulled her hair, The Princess knocked her cell phone in the dirt and we left.

OK, really, I started to explain what was happening, but she was rude, what a freaking surprise. And she told me that if her son called someone a bully, it was with good reason. I really wanted to say "takes one to know one", so we left.

As we were walking to the car, it was very satisfying to hear her kid screaming at her. She told him that it was time to go and he was shrieking "You're MEAN! I'm staying!" Guess, he knows mean people as well as bullies

What a morning

The last couple of days have been nice in the mornings, 75 degrees, or so. This morning, more of the same. Of course, the afternoons are still hitting, 90, but we can just stay inside and nap during the heat.

This morning, The Talker wants to be outside. It is nice and cool out there. Of course, sine we are not leaving the house this morning, I could not convince him to wear pants. Or even shorts. Who needs 'em? Buzz Lightyear underwear work fine, thank you.

But then he was cold. So that is MY boy, out in the sandbox, pants-less, shoe-less and wearing last year's jacket and hood zipped up tight.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Back to normal

Things are returning to the usual around here. The Boss made it home Saturday afternoon. We celebrated the reunion at our favorite barbecue place. Glad to see you, now let's go eat some cow.

The kids could not have been pried off of mom Sunday, so I went fishing. Twice. I was at the lake before sunrise, and I fished until early afternoon. Home in time for NASCAR and then I headed out to a private pond for a couple of hours in the evening.

Further signs that things are getting back to normal? The wife is working a 14 hour day. And doing it on 4 1/2 hours of sleep, thanks to a female child who decided to visit with momma for half of the night.