Sunday, September 28, 2008

Great Holey Pants!

OK, let's just get this out of the way: I do indeed sit on my butt. A lot.

TV, video games, hanging out watching the kids in the backyard - they all lead to significant amounts of time sitting. And besides that, I am good at it. You gotta have a hobby, right?

Anyways, the years of sitting have not been kind to my favorite jeans. And now it is time to offer a final goodbye to my 501s. They have let me down one last time.

You see, when I was a ninth grader I begged, pleaded and brow-beat my mom into buying me my first pair of Levi's 501 blue jeans. I kept those jeans for about 10 years before I wore them out. During high school I would usually get one pair of 501s and a couple of pair of other, less cool jeans at the start of each school year. And I was still wearing some of those Levi's until 6 or 7 years ago, when I started perfecting my sitting skillz.

Levi's 501s have been a guilty pleasure of mine for decades now. Other jeans fit, but I love me some button-fly denim and I would rather have a couple of pair of 501s than a closet full of other blue jeans. Until recently.

A few years back I noticed that my older 501s were outlasting my newer ones. Thinner denim? Moving production from the US of A to the Dominican Republic? Maybe those things led to the inferior product. Whatever. Just know that I am no longer in the market for 501s.

I just pulled on the only pair of 501s currently in my closet and noticed a gaping hole under the button fly. My drawers peeking out for the world to see. But believe me, no one wants to see THAT.

The problem? I bought them in the spring. They aren't even broken in real good yet. But they are worn out. So much for wearing these things until they are as soft as a baby's blanket.

So now, for half of the cost, I am buying my jeans at Target. And I bet they will not show off my underwear any time soon. And if they do, I can still afford to buy another pair.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And it was such a nice plan, too.

We had a plan. And the plan was good.

We had stuff. And the stuff was good.

So Friday I bought more stuff to get the lower level of the playscape enclosed for a chicken coop. And I have to say, I did a nice job of estimating the materials I needed. I have one (1) 6 foot plank and about 3 feet of a 2x4 left over.

Friday afternoon I started by enclosing the biggest wall. Don't worry. The yellow slide will be moving soon.

Then I enclosed the playscape ladder down to the ground on one side and up to deck on the other. There should have been a small chicken-sized door under the ladder. But I was going to design that later.

The lower level of the playscape already had a side rail in place to keep kids from running into the path of oncoming swings. As a coop, that was to stay in place, with some wire above, to keep chickens safe and to let the kids still see chickens.

But if you look closely at that picture you might notice the newest resident of our chicken coop play house. Yeah, so much for THAT plan.

Here is an easier to see picture. Yep, The Princess decided that our chicken coop would make a very nice play house. After talking with The Princess, The Boss Lady and Racecar Man, I had to agree. It was way too nice for chickens.

It was much more worthy of little girls and doll house dreams; I had built a very nice play house.

I guess I will be looking for another way to enclose the converted dog house coops.

You see, I may have shanty-dwelling chickens. But I also have a happy daughter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hip Chick Style

In my entire life I have never bought a Polo Shirt of any type. I have one or two that Uncle Lemon gave me, but I bet his sister bought those...

Anyways, I couldn't resist this T-shirt when the kids and I went out to eat last night.

Seems like an appropriate t-shirt for a
Suburban Chicken Farmer, No?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Then you need the stuff

This is the second of a multi-part post showing how we are converting a large plastic dog house into a chicken coop. Go back here for the first post.

After The Princess and I compared the prices on dog houses, I decided on one that measures about 40 inches long X 30 inches wide X 32 inches tall. $75 for a brand new dog house that I was going to cut holes in? Sure, why not? Actually, I have been watching the Freecycle and Craig's lists for weeks, but nothing seemed too promising. So we bought one new.

Same exact dog house, $75 at Petco, $85 at PetSmart. So we went where the pets go...

An inside view of the coop to be.

The article in Mother Earth News suggested removing the clips that hold the top to the bottom, so that you can more easily access the eggs and clean out the coop.

And I ALWAYS take the advice of hippies, so I cut the clips off with a Moto-tool. I sanded them down a little bit, but I'll go over everything again later to smooth out any rough edges.

Next I cut a hole in the side of the house top, to secure a roost. Guess I can't get a refund, now...

Then I sliced my finger with the Moto-tool.

After I stopped the bleeding and got the second hole cut, I made a trial fit of a 2X4 roost.

Here is the installed roost, after I trimmed it to size and sanded the edges.

That is all of the progress I made tonight. Soon I'll add a wall about 12 inches or so from the back wall so the hens will have a more private place to lay eggs. Then I'll need to figure out a door so that the birds can be closed us at night. After all that, I'll need to repeat the entire process on a second chicken house, so that everyone has a nice place to sleep.

Until then, here are some gratuitous kid/chicken pics. Enjoy.

First you need a plan...

OK, The Princess and I have a plan. The chickens will be getting a better and home in the up coming weeks. We spent most of the afternoon shopping for materials and supplies to enclose the lower level of the playscape for a chicken coop.

The new space will work out nicely for the birds, and I think it will be more secure than Chicken Tractor V1.0. Also, the chicks will have more room for those days that they are coop-ed up all day.

For the record, the Chicken tractor is working our very nicely for the times that I can't, or don't want to, sit outside keeping hawks away.

I found a basic idea, over at Mother Earth News that should work out well. (I found some better pictures of the converted houses, but I can't seem to locate them now.) We will be converting a large doghouse (or two), like this one, into a a coop with a couple of nesting boxes and some inside roost space. Once we get the side walls and a couple of gates (one for people, one for chickens) installed on the lower level of the playscape, it should be a nifty chicken coop.

So far we are still at that great spot, where we haven't actually spent any $ on our plan. But in the next couple of weeks we will be getting the chicken coop and houses ready to go. It will not be much longer and the birds will be ready to snooze under the starts.

Also for the record, I am sure the chickens could handle being outside right now. But most of what I read says they should have all their feathers in first. And they all have a few patches that haven't grown in.

Kitty Theology

I was working on the kitchen, but I had to stop and blog this conversation between The Princess and Old Man, our 10 year old, super-sized tomcat.

"Old Man, when you die, we will have to get a new cat."


"You'll be up there. Not in the attic. It's higher than the attic. It's higher than the playscape. It's higher than the fence.

You'll be up there."


"Not IN Jesus. You'll be WITH Jesus. In heaven.

I'll miss you. Will you miss me?"


Meow Meow Meow. That is all you ever want to talk about."

Sounds like we didn't waste the money we spent on VBS this summer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pre-school Hooky

Yesterday was slated to be a busy day. As soon as The Princess was finished at school, we had to run to the bank and then I had to get a haircut. Then I was hoping we would have time to get a slowly-leaking tire fixed on my car. And if we were REALLY lucky, I was hopeful that we would have time to get the tires rotated and balanced at the same time.

But I knew that was asking a lot out of a couple of hours. So I had resigned myself to making a second trip to the tire shop on Saturday to get it all done.

When we got to her school, The Princess just didn't look herself. After watching her for a couple of minutes I took her to the office to check her temperature. No fever. But I also could not get the thermometer past her teeth for a long enough time to get a good reading. Why wouldn't the school have some type of instant read thermometer? That is why kids HAVE ears, right?

I decided to play it safe and we bolted from the school. I was planning to get the girl home and to let her rest, I swear.

But like someone flipped the switch on her personality, as soon as we got out of the school parking lot, The Princess was back to her usual self. My diagnosis? The girl didn't want to be at school.

So we played hooky. We ran our errands. We ate lunch out. We came home and vegged in front of the TV. We played with the chickens. We had a lot of fun and it was a good day.

I figure there are enough times in her life that The Princess will have to do things "just BECAUSE", even if she really does not want to. But for now she is four years old. And lucky for her, yesterday was not one of those days.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I got a bigger package!

Sometime back in 1999 or Y2K, we bought the world's cheapest satellite system. One receiver. A single LNB. No frills to be found at all. We bought the equipment at Montgomery Wards when they were going out of business, so we did not have to sign a service contract. We just gave 'em $40 or so for the system and hit the road.

I signed up for the cheapest program package they offered. It included somewhere near 40 channels (15 of them worth watching) and was priced less than $30 a month. But I was thinking long term.

We get lousy over the air TV reception. When we signed up, DirectTV wasn't offering local channels on their service yet, but I knew that day would come. And soon they started offering local channel broadcasts. But only if I would ditch the $30 a month package for a $50 package. After I whined/gritched/complained enough the customer service person hooked me up with my local channels and left my wimpy package alone. (Insert wiener joke here)

Over the years they have swapped a few channels and raised the rate a few times. But I just didn't see a good reason to mess with my package. (Insert wiener joke 2 here)

Tonight I finally gave in. I wanted to add the Fox Southwest Sports channel, so that I can watch the UT vs Rice football game this weekend. To add the station, I had to upgrade my antique package. (Insert wiener joke 3 here)

After it was all said and done, the new line-up includes the local channels at no additional cost and I was still paying the $5 a month for local channel service. Plus, our costs had gone up about $6 a month. So this change ends up costing about $8 a month and gives up about 15 new channels worth watching (Once I deleted all of the shopping channels, church channels and other junk we won't watch).

Yes, I am extremely late to the party, but now I can watch Colbert and South Park on Comedy Central, Spike TV and 100 more channels. I just hope I don't get distracted by my new super-sized package (insert the rest of the wiener jokes here) and forget to watch that football game this weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sushi schmooshi

OK, the raw fish didn't kill me. It didn't even make me sick. It just didn't taste very good. The Boss Lady finally identified the culprit as over-ripe avocado. How she knew that I dunno. But once she picked out the offensive green stuff, she snacked on the rest.

In other news. We had our fist chicken injury last night. One bird was bleeding like crazy. After finding the leaking chicken, it turned out to be a small scratch on her neck. A little triple anti-biotic creme on the cut and birdy is back with her pals. No idea what happened, but just glad it was not a bigger problem.

The kids and I start a weekly Bible club at church tonight. In a moment of early-onset-senility, back in August, I volunteered to lead the sports and games for 30 kids. After 2 hours of late night planning and 2 hours of set up at church this afternoon, everything is ready to go. Seems like a lot of work for an hour's worth of game time, though. Maybe next week the kids can just run around and chase the chickens.

Edit: I forgot to add my chicken movie: No blood or guts, just 3 little chicks getting friendly in the dust bath!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Because I am an idiot, that's why!

Should I have really been surprised that the sushi I bought out of the refrigerated case at Costco tasted a little odd?

Yeah, probably not.

I thought I was being nice to The Boss Lady and buying something different for dinner.  

And then I thought 'Hey, Mike...' because I like to be on a first name basis with myself...

Then  I followed up with 'That sushi ought to make for a better lunch than pizza from the cafeteria at The Talker's school.  I dare you to eat some!'  And I dare not back down from a dare that I dare myself, right?  So I ate.  

Now, just in case I die from a funky fish parasite, tell my wife and kids not to eat the leftovers, OK?


OK, so I have spent enough time bitching and whining about The AtHomeFamily's busy schedule. And I also understand that everyone else is just as busy. So I figure I should go a different direction today.

The weather is perfect. 70 degrees and a nice breeze. The Talker was a little worried that it might be cold enough to snow on his way to school. The Princess and I are home today. Nothing scheduled except a trip to the grocery store and lunch with The Talker at school.

I got my yard mowed this morning. On a Monday. Which means I didn't have to mow it on Saturday so that is one less busy thing I had to get done last weekend. And the only math I remember from college is that less busy always = good.

Anyways, we have been hanging out, watching the chickens. And The Princess has been playing dolls on the front porch. It is a good day to be around the house, I tell ya.

For everyone except Phillip, that is. Somehow he got caught by The Princess and had to wear the wedding dress.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

See that?

That my friends is a Saturday.

With nothing scheduled!

Too bad I have been to busy to notice until now.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Someday we will look back and laugh

And evidently that day is today.

The Boss Lady and I were going to make a fairly quiet evening for our anniversary. Corvette neighbor offered up his cherry ride for the night, and The Boss Lady's friend was on board to hang out with the kiddos.

After we pushed it out of the garage and jump started the 'Vette...

I should have just stopped there, no?

The Corvette had not been driven since I played with it a couple of weeks ago. So I cruised around the neighborhood to make sure we had a good charge going. Then we tracked down a problem with a bad fuse in the turn signals. But we didn't stop there, either.

The Boss and I hit the road to go to one of our favorite old haunts. Hoover's has good eats. So good that I once saw my wife cry when she spilled a slice of chocolate pie that she had carried 6 blocks home. Well worth a drive across town.

The convertible top had to go up when we parked. Seemed only right since we had to park at the side of the cafe and it looked like rain. Now this car never sits outside. I have never seen the top up. Didn't even know what color it was.

Turns out that if the roof stays folded FOREVER, the seal around the back window wears out. So the roof would do nothing to deter crime or rain. So we decided to cruise. What else is there to do on a cloudy night in a Corvette with a top of questionable integrity?

We cruised town. And we ate dinner at a grocery store. Why a grocery store? Because they have a parking garage, silly! The food is good, too.

After our classy anniversary dinner, we cruised. But because a storm was looming still and that top still didn't look rain proof, we decided to head towards the house. Luckily, there are some new streets under construction nearby, so doughnuts were made in the street.

Yep, you can fishtail a borrowed 'Vette, even with the traction control on. Even if the convertible top is giving you trouble.

And even after 13 years of marriage, driving fast and doing doughnuts in a high powered car will still make your wife puke. Luckily, NOT in the borrowed Corvette, though.

In the end, it seems a fitting salute to our marriage. No matter what the skies look like, and no matter how much car trouble, we always seem to find some good laughs. Especially when the other one is barfing.

And if that is not true love, then show me what is....

Thirteen years ago today

Dr Pepper taught the band to play...

Yep, she married this 13 years ago. Poor girl was either blind in love or just blind drunk. Time will tell for sure which it was.

You know, The Boss Lady sure has been a good sport up until now. So you think she will let me go fishing this afternoon, since she took off work early and all?

Or maybe we should just stuck to dinner and a movie without the kids.

'Cause I sure would hate to make her clean a bunch of fish for me this evening.

It is a joke people. Just a joke. The Boss Lady knows I can't catch fish.

And she won't clean 'em if I did.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Anything you need done?

Busy weekend.

I tuned up and changed the oil on my mower Friday after noon and then I mowed the yard Friday evening, so that I would have all weekend to relax and watch my chickens. It took me right through dinner to get the entire yard finished, but after The AtHomeFam's busy week, I was thrilled with the idea of a calm, quiet weekend.

So remind me never to do that again, OK?

Evidently I just freed up time for everything else. Saturday I spent most of the afternoon laying on the kitchen floor. No, the margaritas were not too strong, but thanks for your concern.

Wednesday and Thursday nights our dishwasher smelled funny. Like something plastic was melting on the heating element. Friday, same thing. Except it was more exciting this time. When The Boss Lady went to investigate the melting plastic smell for the 100th time, she saw sparks and we got a kitchen full of smoke.

Now I am all for special effects, but this IS a 26 year old house and I am thinking sparks and smoke might not be the best things to keep in the kitchen.

Saturday we shopped for a new washer until after lunch. Then I headed back to the first store we stopped at to pick up The Boss Lady's 13th Anniversary present. Yes, the dishwasher. Stick with me here, OK?  

After I spent my naptime on the kitchen floor, installing the new machine, I was planning to sit on the couch and watch college football. Instead I decided to beautify the neighborhood.

No, I didn't move. Or take the broken dishwasher out of my side yard. Shut up, dangit.

We have one neighbor who can't seem to be bothered to mow his yard. I found out that he was leaving town for a couple of weeks. So his front yard is now mowed, edged and the sidewalks swept off. He won't be around to enjoy the masterpiece of my mowing, but the rest of the neighborhood seems to be happy with the result.

After church I changed the oil in The Boss Lady's car. A task I had put off since July. It cost $29 just for the parts and oil. I think I last spent $35 at the dealership when I had an oil change done on my car. So I may skip the DIY part of oil changes in the future.

I finally got around to a nap and to watching some football this afternoon. This evening I am sitting out in my well-mowed backyard and watching my chickens.

See? It took all weekend, but I am finally getting to relax in the yard.

Unless something else stinks, sparks, breaks, or needs a mow or an oil change.

Edit: I forgot to add that technically the dishwasher is NOT the wife' wedding anniversary present since The Mother of the Bride funded the new machine.  N0 one really wants their favorite son in law to have dishpan hands, right?

Thanks, MotB.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You 've done it, too

If Piper Palin was a Stay at Home Dad, which would be disturbing since she IS a 7 year old girl, I think she would fit right in.

Just in case you missed the spit-shine she gave her baby brother last night, here it is:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Volunteer pay is for the birds

We are officially back to school, now. The Princess' part-time preschool program started today. So once again I am trying to figure out 3 different school schedules. Add to the general busy-ness of elementary and preschool. The Talker is going to try out the local YMCA Adventure Guides program this fall. And both of the kids will be back in AWANAs at our new church.

Taking leave of my good senses, I agreed to run the game time at AWANAs and help out with the monthly camp outs in Adventure Guides. Plus I am supposed to help organize the quarterly playground cleanup days at the preschool. And I was planning to help out with the landscaping and gardening at The Talker's school. Though I didn't seem to be too much help up there last year.

And now that we are all busy during the week, I need Saturdays for my mowing jobs. Boy, am I glad I have only 3 yards to mow!

Why would I agree to help out with all of this? Am I an over achiever? No. Seriously, have you SEEN the way I dress? But I am an idiot who forgot to check the family Google calendars to see that life was already busy enough.

So now it is official, We are fully booked. There is no room in the schedule for any other distractions. Or committees, meetings or volunteering.

Of course if I think up a new hobby or two anytime this fall, I MIGHT be able to squeeze that in....

Monday, September 01, 2008

Chickens make good neighbors

This morning the kids and I were playing out in the yard with the chickens when a neighbor and his kindergarten son started playing baseball in the street. The Talker couldn't miss out on that fun, so I pulled a rocking chair out to the street and watched my chickens, while watching the boys play ball. Yeah, it is a rough life. What can I do?

These same neighbors stopped by a couple of days ago to see the chicks. They had never seen the house or the backyard, so The Boss Lady gave the nickel tour. No one is ever terribly impressed by our 25 year old tract home. But the backyard and that monster of a playscape? They always get some attention.

Flash back to his morning: after a while, we ended up getting the same tour of their newly renovated house. Other than being a little bigger and two stories, they kind of have the same thing going as us. Small 25 year old tract home with a backyard and playscape that could entertain a dozen kids.

Until the last few weeks we have never really known these neighbors. But now they have a son in Kindergarten who likes to ride the bus home with The Talker. And their kids like our chickens. So we see a lot more of them now.

And then it just got weird.

You see, I have a college degree (yeah, it is sort of hard to believe, I know...) in Therapeutic Recreation. It isn't a terribly popular degree program. Especially for dudes. Even more so for guys who graduated from college a decade ago. There were always 75-90% women in my major classes. And the career field is much the same.

Anyways, Neighbor Man (I'll have to ponder a good name for him later) and I were chatting. Found out he also has a degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Excepting a few professional conferences I used to attend, in the 11 years since I graduated I have only met one or two other TR degree holders. And besides those same conferences, NEVER had I met another guy who has a Therapeutic Recreation degree.

Evidently that is because we both live here in the neighborhood. And I never would have known about it except for the chickens.

It's been a bad year for woodworking

Last year, in this post, and over here, too, I lamented the fact that I was spending hours out in the garage, using my drill press to punch 3/4 inch holes in tennis balls.

Back then I drilled about 300 balls. Most for The Boss Lady's school. Today I drilled a couple of hundred more tennis balls. These are all going to The Princess' pre-school.

Anyways, when I was setting up the workbench to get started, I started looking around for a 3/4 inch spade bit. Last year, after a lot of trial and error (and a few cut fingers) I decided that this was the perfect way to bore the holes. And there I was, almost ready to go,when I found my spade bit.

Still mounted in the drill press. With a tell-tale string of tennis ball yellow felt hanging off of it.

Which means it has been more than a year since I last used my drill press for anything OTHER THAN ruining several hundred brand new tennis balls.