Thursday, December 30, 2010

Craig's List Fun

This afternoon The Boss and I made the final leap into the Internet age. We sold a car through Craig's List.

The VW went quickly. I posted the add at 2pm and by 2:15 I was answering calls. I set up to meet the first of the potential buyers and he test drove the car in a parking lot nearby. Within 15 minutes he was finished looking over the car and the haggling was done.

I probably could have held out for a couple of hundred more bucks with a another buyer, but getting this done in one shot was worth something too.

Of course, I wanted cash. No checks accepted when I sell you a car in the Sporting Goods store parking lot. But as soon as the buyer handed me the cash, I was instantly worried about taking counterfeit bills. The Boss Lady and kids were at the parking lot with another car, so we signed the paperwork and headed straight to the bank to deposit the cash. I think the cashier thought I was nuts when I asked her to check the bills.

So now we are back to being a 2 car family. But of course Marge, the 68 Chevy gets a pass on that count :) We celebrated by washing the Mini Cooper and the Saturn Vue. Then I went and shampooed the seats and carpets in the Saturn. After all, if The Boss Lady is going to let me drive her new car to work, she will be expecting mine to be clean and ready to go.

Driving Miss Boss Lady

A few days ago The Boss called me to let me know that she had forgotten to "remind" me that her momma was coming to town AND that The Mother of the Bride would be here in about an hour.

Since we were in the middle of a couple of weeks off from school, and there was a gigantic pile of clean laundry waiting for a grandma's special folding skillz, I decided that this visit sounded like a great plan. (and a chance to make the pile of laundry grow a little bit more).

Skipping over the real highlights of the visit, it seems The Boss Lady had a plan. She announced that we (without Grandma or kids) were going to pack a suitcase, jump into the new car and then see where the road took us.

I started dreaming of some spontaneous road trip scenarios and we decided on a few ground rules. We would not drive on any interstate highways during the entire trip. And we kept to that rule, too.

We used the Garmin GPS to help us find some good back roads to cruise. And we did a little dirt road driving, too.

We stayed overnight in one of the finest 2 star motels in Huntsville, Texas and spent the rest of the time avoiding big cities and heavily traveled, multi-lane roads. We ate beef jerky for lunch and we ran through most of the good stuff on two iPods. This was a successful spontaneous trip!

Thanks to The Mother of the Bride for the folded laundry (and for watching the kids).

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Motoring Adventure 1

The wife and I are hitting the road to try out the new car. We are swinging by to visit some old friends for lunch and then we have no destination in mind. My only goal for this trip - not a SINGLE mile will be driven on Interstate Highways 35 or 45 (Or 10, 20 or 30).

Taking the iPod, the netbook, the GPS a couple of cell phones and a change of clothes or two. The kids are staying with grandma at our house. Somebody has to babysit the chickens, you know...

Friday, December 24, 2010

A season to remember, that is for sure!

This Christmas Season started out with a bang AND a scrape AND a crunch. The Boss Lady was side-swiped by a high school kid about a month ago. Her 2001 Beetle has seen better days and we had already been entertaining the idea of replacing it in short order (But the plan involved waiting a few more months at least).

When we started weighing our options with Itty Bitty, it started to make a little more sense to either let the insurance total the car or to sell it as soon as we could get the body damage fixed.


Somewhere along there I went insane and agreed to take a new job. I'll be leaving my High School teaching gig and moving over to a Junior High School (6-8 grades) at the start of next semester. The job is going to be crazy busy, but the paycheck should be nice.

The Boss Lady started finalizing her plans about the time I took the new job. But she really hit her car buying frenzy after going out to eat with a friend who has just bought a brand new Toyota SUV. After that lunch, a new car WOULD be bought. And soon, I guessed.

We went out a few days ago and we test drove a few cars. The Toyota Matrix and the Corolla were in contention for a while. But there were lots of cars ruled out. Nothing too small, nothing too big. Safety and good gas mileage were absolute requirements. the more airbags the better and the higher the mpg count, the betterer!

After we test drove a brand new MINI Cooper Clubman, we were thinking a lot about that car. (Probably me more than the wife.) I kept snooping around and found a 2009 MINI Cooper S Clubman sitting at a Chevy dealership a few miles from our house. The car had 12,ooo miles on it and it looks like it was previously owned by a germ-a-phobe. This thing is clean inside.







It is true. I haven't even started the new job and the car is already in the driveway. But it is also true that I won't be seeing much of this car once skool starts. I'll be too busy and The Boss will manage to keep her foot out of the turbo charger enough that she should get decent gas mileage in her new ride.

Me? Yeah, good gas mileage thing is not gonna happen. I am a dude! This car wants to be driven and he wants to get there in a hurry. So it looks like I'll be sticking with the Saturn Vue. Good thing my car will get me reliably to work. It looks like I'll be needing the paychecks very soon.

A side story about the new car - He already has a name, Randall.

The salesman treated us great. Never been happier to deal with a salesman. Really!

The guy's name is Randall. When The Boss and I got back home, I was joking that Randall had tempted me to really NEED that car. Then I tried out my best John Goodman impersonation, I quoted Scully from Monster's Inc. and said "Randall's your monster."

A day later and the name has stuck. Even the kids are running around saying "Randall's your monster!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ready for Christmas Break

Turns out there is one thing all teachers, regardless of grade level or the subject they teach, look forward to. Winter Break! Two more half days and The AtHomeFamily can start ours.

Hoping to post some nice substance during the next two weeks. (But don't hold me to that, OK?)

I spent a good portion of this week prepping for a job interview. No word yet, but soon I may be getting the call-up to the big leagues. Hopefully soon I'll be moving into my first full-time teaching gig. If this job works out then I'll be switching from High School to Junior High.
And if not this job, then I'll keep chasing the next ones.

But for now that 2 weeks without an alarm clock is sounding goooooooooood!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Parade recap

We spent the morning at the Chuy's/Children Giving to Children/Blue Santa Parade. True, it may have the worst name ever in parade history, but it is also the greatest of all parades. For several reasons. One, it happens in Austin. Which is always cool. Two, the kids who attend the parade donate toys to the local Blue Santa program that is sponsored by our Police/Fire/EMS Departments. The toys are given to kids all over the area who otherwise might have nothing else to open on Christmas morning. And three, it is the one day a year that the kids can count on dad waking up way early. But really, it is about the balloons. This is the only parade all year that they use the big character balloons.

This year I hit downtown before 7am (several hours later that years past), but it was only 33 degrees out there, so I was confident that the crowd would be slow to form this year. And I was right! We still got our preferred viewing spot.

I loaded up the netbook and the cell phone, so I kept entertained with random Facebook posts and watching Groundhog Day on Netflix streaming, thanks to the wifi from the Starbucks across the street. The wait was a lot shorter this year, but much colder, so I would rate this as the toughest year yet.

Knowing that there are sometimes 100,000 people at this parade, I go downtown early and camp out on OUR spot. But we are always prepared for some fun while we wait. Last year the kids and I geocached downtown. This year it was chalk art in the street.

The Princess was proud of this drawing, her "Peace Sign Kitty"

The kids and I always stroll over to watch the crews blow up the balloons. This year they had Super Grover, King Prawn (?), The Grinch and the Coca-Cola Bear. The Princess was thrilled to see them inflating a My Little Pony balloon, but something must have happened with that one, it never made the trip down the parade route.

The pickup trucks stop at the end of the parade and the kids rush out to load them up with the donated toys.

Joe McDermott and his band. He is a local kids entertainer who the kids and I have stalked followed since they were babies.

The Biscuit Brothers and Buttermilk. From the PBS Show filmed right here in Cap City.


I'll admit, when I saw the weather report, I was not thrilled about sitting in a camp chair, freezing my fat butt off, just so the kids could see some parade. But at the last minute I decided to head downtown and park my blanket-wrapped carcass. The kids will be too grown up for all of this nonsense too soon so when the kids and The Boss showed up (with doughnuts, sausage kolaches and Dr Pepper) and they were bouncing around with excitement, then I was glad that we had continued this family tradition once more.

7am, 33 degrees

And here I am again. Too cold to type, so you'll just have to look here to see why I am on a downtown street on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where now?

I was looking back the other day and I noticed how this blog has gone exactly like most of my other projects. I posted a load of crap originally. Both in quantity and quality. Then I sort of tried to focus on substantial content. So the post count dropped. But the quality probably didn't really jump way up, either.

For the past year or so I seem to have been distracted by every other possible thing. And a lot of what I do now, working with other people's kids, is off limits. At the end of the day, I can only make my usual, high-quality, pity observations about laundry and chickens every so often, so the blog has been the easiest thing to back-burner.

I used to see something during the day and I would think "can't wait to blog this!" It is sort of ironic that now that I have the constant ability to blog via smart phone and netbook, that I seldom consider doing it that often anymore. Besides all that, there have been a lot of times lately when I just don't wanna blog. So I don't.

This whole thing started out as an alternative to a baby book. The kids are well past the baby book stage and my AtHomeDad days are mostly over now, save for summer breaks between now and college, but surely there are still some crazy, head-scratching events to come.

Last week I was debating if I should just shutter the whole thing. In the end I think not yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Her Momma told me there would be daze like this

The Boss Lady has escaped!

Please alert the media and call your local fabric stores. Mother of two is on the loose. Last reported sighting in Philadelphia.

I should have noticed that something was up last week. First, the kids got a sudden infusion of cash on their lunchroom accounts, all of the laundry suddenly washed AND folded itself right into the dresser drawers. An extra couple of gallons of milk and breakfast cereal showed up in the kitchen. I even tripped over a suitcase sitting on the freshly vacuumed living room floor.

Yep, the signs were all there. I should have figured it out, but I have never been accused of being "quick on the uptake" and usually respond better to a brick to the head than to subtlety.


The Boss Lady is attending a conference in Philadelphia. She and her team have worked themselves silly for a year to get a chance to present information about their research and methodology to a group of their educational peers.

I was recently "volun-told" that I would be helping with a huge public even that would take up most of my evenings for the past week and all day Saturday. Luckily, The Mother of the Bride drove in Friday night to hang out with the kids for the weekend so that they could hit up all their favorites - the movies, the Target toy aisles and McDonald's.

The Mother of the Bride is heading home this afternoon. The Boss Lady will return on Wednesday afternoon. I finished up my project after a loooong 12 hour day yesterday. The milk should not run out until Thursday morning and at least the know the kids will be getting nutritious meals at school. And they have clean underwear so what else could they possibly need?

Looks like we are good for the 4 day haul here but still, c'mon Wednesday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratuitous Hen pics

I was going to title this post Gratuitous Ch1ck P1cs, but I decided that might cause a traffic jam at my blogsite.

I got home from work a little early today, so I spent a little time in the backyard with the hens. FYI, all the hens are well, a day in the isolation ward seemed to do the trick for Gold Diamond and kept the other birds from getting sick, too.

Flower stalks the camera anytime I walk into the yard to snap a few pictures. Obviously she knows she is a star and who am I to keep her from her happiness?

Three Pullets sharing a dust bath. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are Buff Brahamas. Butterscotch Jr (at the top of the picture) is a Buff Cochin. All are now 5 months old. All are still slacking in the egg-laying department, too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

First Egg!

Flower has finally started earning her keep. She laid her first egg today!

I got home from work and turned the chickens out of the coop. There in the nest box was M&M's egg as usual. Yesterday we got none. Zero. Nada eggs. So I was sorta bummed to find a less than spectacular yield today, until I looked again and saw the tiny little egg tucked into the corner of the nest box.

I am assuming it is Flower's since she has been checking out the nest box since this weekend.

After letting the birds run for a few minutes I noticed that Gold Diamond was wheezing a little bit. I set up our old Hen Pen in the storage shed and isolated her for the time being just in case she has something contagious. Hopefully it is nothing too big and she will be feeling better soon.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

News from the coop.

It has been a while since I blogged anything about the chickens. I took a little time this afternoon to get the birds a little better set-up for our brutal :) winter weather. And of course, I had to snap a few pics of the girls.

This is Flower, she is a 5 month old Australorp and based on the way that she has been hanging out in the nesting boxes all weekend, she should start laying eggs any day now.

A couple of shots of Thing 1 (Or maybe it is Thing 2!?!) One of our 5 month old Buff Brahma pullets (with the gray feathers). The other bird is sometimes called Alarm Chicken, and sometimes called Nameless Bird or Butterscotch Jr. I guess the kids should get decided on a good name for her soon.

Flower is NOT camera shy.

The "Winter-ized" Coop.

In an effort to keep the birds from getting too hot during the summers, our coop was built with wire fencing around the lower 2 feet of the entire perimeter. This allows air flow all summer long and keeps my from having to run a fan in the coop. The extra ventilation is also good for the birds, because they are not as susceptible to passing around respiratory illnesses in an open coop.

Anyway, it is already getting cooler at night and I want to keep the birds comfy. Happy, comfortable birds lay better eggs you know. But I also want to keep to the original low budget theme of our coop, so today I am trying out a canvas tarp, cut to fit, around three sides of the coop. Hopefully this will block most of the wind, while allowing a lot of airflow, too, since I am keeping the front of the coop open.

I'll probably come back and add a few more photos, but my dinner is ready. So go away.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

It's not nothing. It's something. But just barely.

Yep, I am indeed still alive. The students haven't drug my bloated corpse into the back of the library to never be seen again. Yet.

The school job is certainly keeping me busy and I am usually worn out at the end of the day. But this job isn't exactly what I envisioned when I started in August. For the past few weeks, and likely for the rest of the school year, I have been working as a one-on-one student assistant. I work with one student all day long, every day.

Lucky for me he is a great kid. Unlucky for him, he sees me all day long, every school day. He has a complicated medical history that makes it necessary for staff to always have "eyes on". And it just so happens that those eyes are mine 95% of the time.

In the past I have worked with loads of kids with behavioral, physical, emotional, medical and whatever-other issues but this is the first time that I have spent this much time working one-on-one with a specific kid.

Anyways, we are a few weeks into the new job duties and so far, so good.

In other family news, Flag football seaason is almost over. High school football is nearly over. The University of Texas Longhorns football team has tanked for the season. And then some other stiff happened last week, too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Specialization is for insects

This afternoon, I was reminded of a quote that flew around the internet a while back while The Princess was laying out her carefully designed plan of seven careers:

"Daddy, I want to be a famous clothes designer, a famous ballerina, a famous car painter, a mommy, a famous artist, a house painter and a famous story writer."

Yep. looks like this one is on track for a liberal arts degree. We better start saving now, so that we can afford to have her move back home after college.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

See, I told you Rule Number 1 was a good one.

It is more than a year after the fact, and Rule Number One has only need a minor revision. The Kids and I took care of finalizing the details today while in the car on the way home from School.

With that, I give you the new, and improved Rule Number One.

Rule Number One - Don't be an idiot.
Rule Number One, subpart a - Don't eat the meatballs at a furniture store.
Rule Number One, subpart b - No tickee, no washy.

And that pretty much covers every eventuality that has come up in the past year.

I will say that I still feel that Rule Number One covers EVERYTHING but the kids are insistent that Rule Number One gets an overhaul.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's try this a different way

So one thing I am learning every single day in the classroom is the importance of presenting new information lots of different ways. The idea is that each kid learns new stuff a little differently, so if you give lots of variety in the way you present stuff, then eventually most of them will catch on.

Yeah, so that is the way it is supposed to work anyways.

So with that in mind, I have decided to try a new approach to this whole blogging thing. You see, I like facebook because I have been able to rediscover lots of friends for years ago that I thought I would never hear from again. But I always feel a little limited in what I am able to share. Some of that is a result of the way facebook (and twitter even more so), limit the AMOUNT of content you can share at one time. Now I have been accused of lots of things, but never have I been thought of as a "man of few words". So this space limitation is tough on me.

I also try not to share some things because of the mix of people on my friends list. I know most of them. And I even like many of them. But (and looking at my friends, it is a big butt!), sometimes I just want to think about a subject before I share too much about it. So with that in mind, I am going to start blogging occasionally ABOUT my facebook posts. Because I am too tired to think of anything more creative, I'll tag these posts as "facebook further". I now present you with the first installment:

From just a few minutes ago,

Sitting here watching the kids while they watch STOMP Live. I bet the house is going to be even louder in the next few days. Especially since we bought them all new drumsticks a few weeks ago when we were at the music store.
A few weeks ago I decided on a whim to change to strings on my acoustic guitar. In the process I broke one of the bridge pins. So we headed over to Guitar Center to buy some pins. The kids weren't too excited until they got tot he drum room. They spent about half an hour banging away in there. When we left The Boss Lady grabbed a couple of sets of real drumsticks out of a clearance bin.

Since then it has been a little more rhythmic around here. I occasionally hear some pounding beats coming out of each bedroom. No wonder I noticed a few new dents in each of the bunk-beds this week. With this showing of STOMP Live, I assume those dents are just the first wave. In fact, as we are finishing up the movie, The Talker is sitting on a giant exercise ball and drumming his heart out.

And from a few days ago,

Helped serve dinner for 25 on Monday night. Cooked dinner for 50 on Tuesday night. Helped teach a cooking class this afternoon at work. Followed all of that by whipping up spaghetti for 3 tonight at home with a ton of help for the 6 year old chef-to-be.

Hoping to not see a kitchen for a few days.

Lately we have been incredibly busy. I am realizing daily how much I loved our simple, uncluttered life with one income and a much less busy schedule. Most of that was bound to go away, as the kids get older and more involved in sports/dance/music/art/whatever. But I am still trying to wrap my little brain around how quickly and dramatically things have changed for our whole family.

A side story that I was too ashamed to put on facebook: we ran out of milk last Monday. Neither The Boss nor I had time to get to the grocery store until Saturday. The store is less than a 2 mile round trip from out house. I used to walk up there. But it truly was "that kind of week". As we get this figured out a little better, then we can plan a little better. But until then, we are jumping around putting out fires as the pop up.

Which reminds me, we are out of milk again. I should have time to grab some on the way home of Thursday. Oh wait, I have to cook for another meeting that night, so maybe Friday...


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Granny wuz here

The Mother of the Bride was here for a couple of days. So she got to be the first guest to sleep on the new guest bed that serves as the lower, full sized bunk in The Talker's room. I walked in to tell the boy "goodnight" and I was immediately met with a schnoz full of TMotB's perfume.

Thinking that we could change the sheets quickly before bedtime, I said "It smells like your grandma's perfume in here." The Talker quickly responded "Well, that is because I just took off my socks."

I have no idea if he actually heard what I said. But his response seemed appropriate enough, so I left.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Busy little Lions (and Mustangs and Falcons)

Life is busy as I ever feared it would be, with two kids and two full-time jobs. I'll be the first to admit, I still haven't made a full adjustment to being this busy. This weekend is a great example.

The Talker's football team (The Falcons) practice at 10 this morning, followed by a game at 11. Luckily they are right down the street from Torchy's Tacos, so life isn't all bad... But by 10 am I had already driven the Princess and her two cousins out to my high school so that they can all participate in the school's Cheer Day activities. The entire lot of us have to go back out to the school for a performance at 2pm.

We are skipping at least one birthday party to make all of this happen. Or else the day could be even busier.

Added to that, that there were 4 kids in the house, awake and playing before 6. Goodnight Nurse!

Off to football. Maybe I can catch a nap over there.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The kind of days Grandma warned me about

Austin is a great place. Everybody knows that. And if they don't know, then they haven't been here yet. If you are going to live in Texas (and why wouldn't you?) then Austin is THE place to live.

All of that is especially true in the Fall and Spring. It is hard to believe that a month ago we were still dealing with 100+ degree daily temperatures. But today we have a low of 45 and a high temp of less than 80. Not a cloud in the sky and it is NICE! out there. All of that is even better because it should stay like this all week long.

I have heard days like this called "Chamber of Commerce days" because this is the type of stuff you advertise on your website to convince companies to do business in Austin. But my Grandma had a different outlook on the beautiful weather.

She was a lifelong Austin-ite and evidently she liked her weather mild and also kept secret. And she liked her city small. I remember one gorgeous day about 20 years ago she stepped onto her front porch to greet me and she had a scowl on her face.

"Nice day, right Granny?" I asked.

She replied without hesitation, "I don't like it. this is the type of day that makes people want to move to Austin." Touche'!

So if you happen to be lucky enough to visit Austin during this awesome time of year, don't get any wild ideas about settling in for too long. My Granny is watching out for people like you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Too tired for anything too good...

Things are finally settling into a decent routine around here. Nothing too exciting (or hilarious) to report.

The kids are doing great. The chickens are still laying eggs. And shopping for the new TV has begun. LED, LCD or Plasma? 60Hz or 120 Hz? 720 or 1080? 1080p or 1080i? 42" or 50"?

These are the questions that are currently filling my off time and emptying our checking account.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The boy's first political joke

The kids ride the bus from their campus to mine each afternoon. The timing couldn't work out better most of the time. They arrive at the high school right as my work is finishing up and I am ready to head homeward.

Most days they see the last of the high school students hanging around as we are walking to the car. And for the record, these high school kids are a good group, so I have no worries about walking my little ones around campus. All of that is simply background info.

The kids and I were headed to the car this afternoon. The kids saw one of the high school boys making "the move". He was going in to kiss his girlfriend, but his hair is so shaggy that he had to push it out of his face to finish the smooch. I laughed and told the Talker that "If you have to move your hair out of your face to kiss a girl, then you might need to be named "Hairy McScary".

The Talker responded, "No. Maybe he should be called Hairy McRick Perry" - which as far as I can tell, was a direct slam against our Governor Goodhair, Rick Perry.

The Princess chimed in "Maybe we should call him Hairy Stinky Face McHairy." I'll leave it to you to decide if that one counts as a political joke or not...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm not dead yet. (just give it a little more time)

It is only Tuesday, but it has been one heck of a week already. I haven't seen much of the family lately, so if you know anything about how they are doing, drop me a line, OK?

In the rest of the AtHomeFam news, the chickens are fine, the yard looks like hell and the inside of the house does not look much better. As for me, I have adjusted to the new family schedule worse than anyone. And like my yard, my outsides look like hell and I am sure my insides look even worse.

Now you know. Sorry.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We may be the last ones around

to give into the dark, soul-sucking, hateful little things.

No, I am not talking about the kids, they have been around for a while and they really aren't THAT bad.

Today The Boss Lady bought the kids their first Silly Bandz, the brightly colored, little, shaped rubber bands that evidently kids all over the country have gone nuts for this past year (maybe longer).

Why are we so late to the fad? Have you seen the cost of those things? $4 a dozen? Yeah, uh, No! And us late adopters of all things cool seem to give in when the fad drops to about 1/4 the original price. $1 a dozen is a little more like it.

Wish us luck. I am just hoping now that we haven't accidentally unleashed a whole new Pok-e-mon/Bakugan/Disney Princess-ish 0bsession to collect 'em all.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

15 Great Years! (And a few extras)

I was at a meeting this evening and they were insistent that help was needed TOMORROW evening. I tried to decline politely (by not volunteering). But I got called out. Then I was quizzed about why I didn't jump at the chance to help. Still, I didn't offer up any assistance.

'Cause I gots stuff to do tomorrow evening. You know, it being a Thursday and all...

Actually tomorrow is a big day. The wife and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.

It would be staggering enough to think that this woman has put up with me for 15 years. But, that would discount the fact that she had more than 3 years under her belt before we got married, thanks to the longest engagement in the history of the universe.

To tell the truth, we have a real busy weekend planned, so we are not actually doing anything exciting tomorrow night. We will save that for the weekend.

CBH baby and thanks for all the cheeseburgers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Making a little time for the funny

Work has officially and totally kicked my butt. My legs and feet (and hips and back and arms and neck and toes) hurt like I have been working in a coal mine for decades. I think most of that is due to the fact that I managed to go 8 years with little more than flip-flops for my every day footwear. Shoes is heavy!

Everything is going as smoothly as I hoped (and much more smoothly than I expected.) The students are getting used to me and I am quickly hitting my stride and getting back into the game. We have had no major problems. Yet. I am sure things will settle in and trouble will pop up. But the tone for any decent class is set early in the year and I think that we have things going pretty well for now.

This past Friday the AtHomeFam hit the road right after work. We headed up to a summer camp where I worked and The Boss Lady volunteered while we were in college. This was a weekend dedicated to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of Camp John Marc, a camp for chronically ill and severely physically disabled kids. The weekend was great fun.

Those of us who were lucky enough to have been on camp staff for the first couple of years haven't had the chance to spend much time together since we left. 18 years is a long time to go without seeing some of your closest friends. But as soon as we got together the laughs and smiles came easily and quickly.

I am now convinced that it is possible to pull a muscle from laughing too hard!

We told stories and we swapped a few lies. We shared a lot of hugs, a few tears and we poured over old photos. And each of us got to introduce our own families to the other crew members.

I planned to pull out all of my old camp treasures, from t-shirts to arts and crafts projects, so that I could show them off again. Last week was so busy at work that I didn't get that done. Sitting around, checking out all of the treasures that the others had dug up made me really wish I had taken the time to haul my own things out of storage.

And finally, in one of those "I must really be getting older AND wiser" type moments, Kath and I, the first two people to ever make a camp golf cart fly - and subsequently the first two to ever endure a LIFETIME camp vehicle driving ban, found an unattended John Deere Gator. With the keys sitting in it!

The two of us laughed like crazy about how those keys must have been a divine sign that our driving privileges have been miraculously restored after 19 years. And we laughed more about the look the camp director would have on his face if we were to drive that Gator around camp. Then we decided that it looked like a lot of hassle to climb up on that big ol' thing. And besides, neither of us were totally sure that WE would survive making that thing fly, much less having to suffer the embarrassment of losing our driving privileges for all eternity twice in the same lifetime.

So we walked across camp, laughing the whole way. Just like old times.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lean and mean learnin' machines

The first day of school was a success for the entire AtHomeFam, even though we were spread across an entire school district. The kids go to an elementary school about 2 miles from the high school where I work. The Boss Lady works a few miles further out.

So for the first time ever we car-pooled to school. Drop off at the elementary went without a hitch. The Boss dropped me at the high school after a minimum amount of crying and whining. Then she got her day started at the office.

I spent my first day on the go. I think we are off to a good start and with this much running around the campus, I bet the extra 20 pounds I picked up as a professional couch surfer/ AtHomer will be gone by Thanksgiving.

The only hiccups in our day came late. The kid's bus dropped them off at my school about 30 minutes later than scheduled. In the end it was OK. That was 30 minutes that I did not have to entertain the kiddos after school and we left for home just a few minutes after they arrived. Also, somewhere along the way The Talker managed to lose his first lunchbox of the school year.

All in all, this was not a bad day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I survived the first week

Luckily it was a 4 work-day week. Otherwise the outcome might have been different. The kids and I are doing our usual thing today. Messiness, sloth and arguing with siblings seem to be very high on the agenda for our last summer day. That and getting the oil changed in my car.

Anyways, things at the new job will finally start to settle into a routine soon. The kids show up at 8am on Monday. The week leading up to the first day of school has been about what I expected. Lots of being busy and a lot of wondering what to do next.

I have gotten a crash course in what I shall kindly call "workplace personalities". One example, Farmville, is a co-worker. Want to guess what she spends 3 hours a day doing? Yeah. It kind of goes on like that. The biggest change from working in this role and my pre-AtHomer days, is that I have no supervisory role in this gig. So Farmville (and the rest) will be a problem for someone else to handle.

The reality is that my job becomes much more important when the students show up. So now I sit here and watch my own kids play like this is the last day of summer break, and for the first time ever I am saying "Bring on the school year!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I suppose I should post something

substantive and insightful about my 8 years as a stay-at-home dad, seeing as tomorrow begins the next chapter in our family's story. Tomorrow is the day I head back into the workforce for real.

I don't really know what I think about it all yet. Maybe soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

But is is so dang funny...

I know I should not be laughing at The Princess while she is happily singing and cleaning her Palace. But the combination of cleaning, dancing and song writing is just too good to ignore so I am sitting outside her closed door, listening to the chaos. I tried to record, but for once she is not being loud enough and if I walk in with the video camera she will stop instantly.

"Break. Break. Break the law.
I don't care what you do but I'll come see you
After I break the law.

Break the law. Break the law. I don't know what I'll do
But I'll break the law."

Then it just sort of goes into a be-bop, hip-hoppy thing with a country twang and it starts to repeat.

But for now I am more than a little worried that the girl saw me when I watered the lawn this morning. On my "illegal" day. If the tooth fairy gives $1 a tooth, how much do I have to fork over to stay out of the jailhouse?

It's all over but the crying

Naming. I meant that it is all over but the NAMING.

I finished the new chicken coop. Roof, side walls, wire. The whole deal. The hens and chicks even slept in it last night.


Like all things around here it needs a name. There are the usual names, The Hen House, Pollo Palace, The Egg Factory. But I have also come up with stolen a couple of more clever ideas. We live not very far from the site of the original Chicken Ranch. If you don't know, here is a Handbook of Texas Online link to get yourself all edjumacated. I long ago dubbed the backyard The Chicken Ranch. But the name could certainly be transferred to the new coop. If we go with this name we will be adding a sign over the door that says simply "Good Lays. All Days." Subtle, no?

Another idea, Fowl-catraz. Blatantly stolen off of the forums at Hopefully this coop is going to prove to be secure to prevent escape AND to resist attack from marauding gangs of neighbor dogs.

But my current favorite, and the only original idea in the lot, is an homage to my pal Father of Five, Coop-acabra. No idea what a chupacabra is? No fear, I'll give you a link to follow. That is what good teachers do, right? So go here.

Other ideas? Send 'em in. Otherwise enjoy the rest of the pictures.

Detail of the metal roof

The 2 month-olds are not too sure about the new coop.

The big hens are right at home.

Still need to paint the inside.
That is a job for the kids one weekend this fall.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Coop progress

The full-court press is on to get the new coop finished up. I have less than one week before the new job starts and I hope to have the birds in the roomier coop by then. I may shortcut the roof and install a tarp to keep the rain off of the birds for a while.

Today The Boss Lady and I escaped to the hardware store while the kids were at a play date. I am now about $75 into the coop and I think it looks pretty awesome. I still have 15 more feet of wire to stretch on the sides and I need to build a gate and figure out the best latch to use.

Finally a coop I can stand up inside!

The corner roost. I'll add a couple of other roosts later.

The view from the garden. The siding was already stained green when I pulled it out of the neighbor's junk pile. I think it looks awesome like this.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Coop construction

A few months ago I hauled home a ton (maybe more) of lumber from a neighbor's deck project that was torn down and rebuilt. My great plans included building a chicken coop with most of the found lumber.

The baby birds we have been raising all summer are getting big and it is about time for them to move out of my storage shed and into the much-too-small-for-7-birds coop that is out in the yard. So yesterday I started framing Coop 2.0. Also because of the new job, the birds are not going to be free ranging on school days, so they all need more room in the coop.

Coop 2.0 is going to have a solid roof and side walls to keep the rain off of them. It is quite an upgrade from the modified dog kennel that has served as my main coop for a couple of years.

The skeleton of Coop 2.0

Please forgive the quality of the picture. I am working in the backyard after dark, since daytime temps have been hovering around a million degrees for the past week

It may not end up being much to look at, but to quote my Father-in-law, this coops is "hell for stout". Most of the lumber I brought home was 2X8 and 2X10. I would never buy this these huge pieces for a small framing job, but I am going to use as much of the lumber that I have on hand for this project.

I'll have to buy some thinner material when it comes time to frame up the roof. but for now, the coop is looking pretty good.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Still AtHomeDaddy

I accepted a job offer this afternoon so AtHomeFam will soon go through a big transition. I'll be starting a new job and the kids will be switching to a new school, out in the school district where The Boss Lady and I will both be working.

The wife has less than a 15 mile drive to get to work. The kids new school is several miles closer to our house and the high school where I will be working is smack in between those two. It looks like we will be able to car pool frequently.

In the end this is not my dream job, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully next school year I'll be ready to handle a class of my own.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Interview day

This afternoon I have a couple of different job interviews lined up. The first is a little outside of my experience, but the school year is looming and this may be my best opportunity to get a foot (slammed) in the door.

This interview is for a middle school (grades 6-8) English Language Arts teacher. It is a Special Education position because it would have me working with students who are not reading or writing on an appropriate grade level. The ultimate goal is to bring the kids a little closer to grade level (and to get the 8th graders to pass their state writing tests).

There is a lot to do in that position for an experienced teacher and I am not yet convinced that it is even possible for a first year teacher.

Later (but not much later) I have an interview for a high school special education teacher's assistant. This would not put me in charge of a class. Instead I would be an assistant teacher, working with the students at the direction of a (hopefully) more experienced teacher.

The biggest problem is that the two interviews are at schools 30 minutes apart. And they interviews are scheduled for about 2 hours time difference. So there is just enough time to finish the first before I rush over to the second interview.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Father of Five Sneak Attack, Part 2

This is a continuation of the post I wrote a few days ago, sharing the story of how I lucked into spending a few days with Father of Five (and his much, much better half).

Father and Mother of Five (The of Fives?) and walked up to me at Torchy's Tacos and surprised the heck out of me. I was speechless. Which anyone who has met me in person will tell you that is something that does not happen easily.

FoF and MoF (Mother of Five) laughed at the kids while we were all waiting in line to order lunch. The Talker and the Princess showed their ninja-like table stalking skills when they spotted an open table inside the restaurant, in the air conditioning. The kids were off like a shot, away from the table they had been holding for us all out on the patio (far away from the air conditioning). The fact that they jumped to the better table without a word from me or The Boss Lady was pretty funny. FoF and I looked away for a second and the kids were instantly sitting at inside, with all the cool kids!

We sat at Torchy's for an hour or more, chatting and getting to know each other a little better. And drinking Dublin Dr Pepper of course!

After lunch we headed down to Zilker Park to see some Austin sights. We checked out the pool and the spillway below the pool, where the cheap people swim and where the shade is at. The kids and The Boss splashed around a bit, while FoF and I chatted some more.

I cruised back to the house with Minnesotans, giving them the nickle driving tour of Austin on the way home. We drove past the capitol and the UT Tower and I pointed out the Artist's Market on The Drag, but there was a surprising lack of freaky people out on the streets in the 100 degree heat.

There was more hanging out and talking when we got back to the house. I am pretty sure that David and I could sit for days and not run out of things to talk about. We hung out for a while at the house before the guests of honor headed to their hotel to check in and to rest a little bit (I hope), since they had been up waaay to late for an old guy like Father of Five on the previous night.

We met up again for dinner at another of my favorites. Pok-e-Jo's Bar B Q is always easy to get into, the food is decent and it is a pretty good representation of Texas (meaning Correct!) BBQ. I knew that we would be able to sit and yuck it up for a while too, so we passed on the other BBQ places around here.

The night wasn't over after dinner. We headed over to Amy's Ice Cream next. The kids ate theirs quickly so that they could climb on the nearby cow statues. And The Fives, The Boss and I sat and talked while we ate ice cream. (Big Surprise there, huh?)

While we were watching the kids I was tempted to run off with FoF to the nearby Cigar store. But I assumed that we were all due for an early night, so I passed on that opportunity. We went our separate ways after 9 o'clock. It was almost the end of a great day.

When we got home the Talker and The Princess got the bum's rush to bed and I went out to pick up the lawn equipment. Right then I realized that the lights I had strung across the yard for the party would make it real easy to finish up mowing the yard, even though it was closing in on 9:30. But it was also about 85 degrees. So I mowed by the light of a couple of hundred twinkling Christmas lights.

After all of that day's excitement I really didn't sleep very well. I watched a few old movies and tried to finish up plans for the party.

There is more to this story. But the laptop battery is dead and I am at the end of my cigar. So you'll have to wait for it.

Monday, July 26, 2010


The scores are just in from my last state exam. I passed and am now certified to teach your children in High School English Language Arts and Reading. (Along with all-grades of Special Education and the Elementary graded classes.)

I am officially finished with my teacher-training program. I registered for the program on March 1 and less than 5 months later I am ready to jump into a classroom full of students who are hanging on my every word and waiting for me to fill their minds with knowledge.

Hopefully a job offer will follow soon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grab a snack and sit down. This post is going to take a while...

This will probably end up being the first in a multi-part post. That is the sure sign of a good weekend, right?

The Boss Lady was at work on my birthday, and we were both real busy getting ready for the biggest party we have ever thrown at our house, so my actual birthday was a real low key event. Which was fine with me. It is too hot to get too excited about anything right now.

Unknown to me, the wife had made big plans for a couple of days later. REALLY big plans. Been working on getting everything arranged for a couple of months big. I mean to say, big plans.

Friday, while I was getting the backyard ready for the party, The Boss Lady came out and told me "Go take a shower and get dressed, we are going to lunch." Lunch didn't really fit into my yard work plan, but it is hot out there, so I didn't complain too much. I packed up the yard work and we headed to lunch.

She demanded to drive to lunch, so I was pretty sure something was up. See, I am quick like that.

When we parked at Torchy's Tacos, I reminded The Boss that the kids and I had eaten lunch there two days earlier. She had a very diplomatic response. Something like "Too bad. So sad. This is where we are going to eat." OK then. The line was pretty long, so the kids and I grabbed a table and were settling in for a long wait. Mainly because that is what The Boss Lady told us to do.

I was helping the kids get settled when a guy, a big guy, I mean a REAL big guy, walked up to me and said "Excuse me sir, I've never eaten here before and I was wondering what is good." Actually, that is a paraphrase. I don't remember exactly what was said, because he about 5 words in when I started to figure out what was going on.

The big guy's face sort of looked familiar, but I was not putting a name with the face very easily. At least not until I looked at his T-shirt. Right through the middle of the shirt it said Jordan. And then it hit me. I was in the presence of greatness and legend. The Father of Five and his lovely wife, fresh in from Minnesota, were hanging out, with me, at my favorite restaurant.

I was absolutely speechless. The video likely shows that I cried a little bit.

Standing right in front of me is a guy who I have know for 3 or more years, but I only knew him online. We had never met in person. In the last year or so we have gotten to know each other as well as a couple of guys could through Facebook and a couple of blog sites. We have entertained a couple of ideas to meet up, but those plans always seem to be made for the future, thanks to the 1400 miles that separate our home towns. And now Father of Five was in my town, to hang out with me at my birthday party.

Cool! Beyond cool.

The Boss Lady claims to be no good at planning surprises. After she and David arranged all that it took to pull off this visit without me ever catching a whiff of the plans, I don't think either of them can claim that title again.

There is more to the story and I'll get to it soon, so come back for the rest of the story. And pictures. Loads of pictures.

Follow this link to get to the second post in the series.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nailing down the party prep

Unless you are one of the handful of people who know the background information, you'll just have to wait for the full version of the story. I'll get to it in a few days.

But here is a little glimpse into the party preparations for our shindig this Saturday evening: We have enough people coming that I decided to take down a section of our fence to make it easier for the herd of party-ers to get in and out of our backyard.

While I was working on that this morning, I needed to remove a board that had been nailed onto a post. Evidently it was nailed on by King Kong, too.

If you will please notice, I broke 2 (Two! BOTH!) hammers trying to pry out that #$*& nail. First to go was my 23 oz. framing hammer with the pretty red hickory handle. She gave lost the battle, but not before leaving me enough space that I could go after the board with the smaller hammer and you can see for yourself how that worked out for the little claw hammer.

I was successful. I got the nail pulled and I got the board removed. But what price success? I used Big Red for pretty much every building project around here in the last 11 years. Before Big Red I went through a slew of framing hammers to find one that I really liked.

Now it looks like I'll be back in the hammer hunt before I tackle the chicken coop building project.