Monday, March 29, 2010

Somewhere in between is about right

Over the years I have kept this blog and the other one. Over here I usually focus on the good times, the silly, the mundane, whatever I thought it was OK for grandma to read. Over there, it has been a little more free flowing, whinier and bitchier even.

Real life has happened somewhere in between the two blogs. Life is never as organized and chaos free as you might think if you only read this blog. Also, it is not as gloomy or frustrating as one might think after cruising through the dark side.

That is a long ways to go to say that I still have a lot to learn about all of this dad-as-caretaker stuff. I think I just hit on one of those lessons this morning. And the boy isn't even my kid.

The Little Dude finished a full bottle about 30 minutes ago. But he was unsettled and grumpy. He wouldn't nap and he was acting like he was hungry. I started to let him cry it out, but I have failed at that effort before.

Now, back when ours were little, The Schedule ruled the house. Keeping the kids on a nap and eating schedule simplified life. And that was important since I was trying to figure all of this stuff out as I went along. So once a bottle was finished, the next one would not come out until The Schedule said so.

Today is different. The Little Dude was hungry. So I fed him again.

It was a simple solution and now, he is sleeping with a happy, full belly. The windows are open and the birds are singing. It is a great day!

Even though this was an obvious choice, I bet if it had occurred the same way with one of our kids, The Schedule would have won out. Which would have led to an unhappy baby and worn out daddy until I finally gave up and called The Boss Lady to beg her to come home early.

Back then I used The Schedule to keep us from going crazy but I never was very good about realizing when The Schedule was the very thing causing chaos.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It was good, too!

Ydeerday I thought of something awesome to post. It was going to make for a great, earth-shattering, life-changing event. It was pure greatness.

Too bad I forgot what it was.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Celebrating with a pissed off Pizza Guy

I passed my first certification test to become a certified Special Education teacher! The Boss Lady decided that we would go out to celebrate - without the kids.

A little back story -We don't really use babysitters. When the kids were little, we just didn't do it. Besides, all of our friends had little kids too, so we would occasionally swap childcare with one of them, but we have only had a paid, teen babysitter one or two times.

Anyways, The Boss made a deal with the parents of The Little Dude. When they came over to pick him up, they would stay with our crew and hang out while we went to dinner and maybe did a little shopping for The Princess' birthday. Since we were swapping babysitting, the teens were not getting paid, but we did arrange to have pizza delivered for the whole herd. The teens and children were all happy and settled in when The Boss Lady and I left for dinner.

A few minutes later the babysitter called and said that there was a hissy-fit in progress. Not one of our kids, though, Pizza Guy was pissed because he didn't want to take the check we left for him. He talked to The Boss for a few seconds while she was trying to figure out a solution, then he slammed our phone at the sitter and he stormed off mid-sentence.

Unluckily for Pizza Guy, we were right beside the delivery store when this was happening. So we pulled in and chatted with the manager. The manager assured us that the pizza would be free and the check would not be cashed. Just then Pizza Guy pulled up and went into the office for a butt-chewing from the manager.

I asked to get our check back as Pizza Guy left the restaurant, with our check in his hand! The manager was sending him back to our house to apologize. The Boss and I assured the store manager that the returned check and free food was apology enough, but we really did not Pizza Guy heading back to our house. We took the check after handshakes all around, and we headed to a nice dinner.

After all of that excitement we could not find anywhere "fancy" that sounded good. So we headed to Torchy's Tacos and ate outside for less than the cost of two pizzas. Of course there is a HUGE upside to going there. They serve Dublin Dr Pepper on tap!

Free pizza and Dublin Dr Pepper. A pretty good way to celebrate!

Monday, March 22, 2010

T Day

I have a little less than 24 hours until I take my first state exam to become a certified Special Education teacher. The major study is done. Anything that I haven’t learned, or at least reviewed, probably won’t catch my eye before 1pm Tuesday.

The Boss Lady has been doing this stuff since she started teaching, so I have had a pretty good tutor (unlike the time she tried to teach me College Algebra).

I was really nervous about the test when I went to bed last night but after studying with The Boss again this morning, I am feeling pretty good. It turns out that I do not need to score 260 points to pass the exam. A 240 score is passing. Thanks to The Boss Lady for finding that little loophole and boosting my confidence this morning.

After this test I will take some all-day Saturday classes and I will be visiting classrooms to watch the real teachers work their magic. But most important of all, once I pass the exam, I can start sending out the resumes and trying to hustle up a job for the 2010-2011 school year. Luckily, The Boss Lady has been hiring teachers for about a decade, so she might have some knowledge about that, too!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My new shirt

Even though I recently cleaned out about 75% of my clothes and donated them to Goodwill, I could not resist this $10 T-shirt from Target. The picture seemed like a natural fit too.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Flashback fun

I have been looking through some of the oldest posts on this blog. If you wade deep enough into 5 years of crap, there is some good stuff buried here. Or you can just follow some of these links. I dug up some of the best stuff for you.

In no specific order I give you Volume 1 of of The Best of AtHomeDaddy (2004-2006).

Next Time, I'll Take a Spatula

Can You Tell Me Why...

I admit it. I am a catfish eating cheater.

Is this really it?

It's gonna be a good Thanksgiving

Rooster news you can use

I seldom blog anything noteworthy from the real world. OK, I seldom blog anything noteworthy PERIOD. But here is an article from the hometown rag, about chickens and roosters in neighborhood backyards. It is a pretty long article, but I wanted to share it, since our family has really enjoyed having our backyard flock of hens.

Full disclosure, I don't really see enough benefit to keeping a rooster in a small flock of 2 - 6 hens to annoy the neighbors so much. But if I lived on 5 acres, you bet I would have some big, studly roos running the show.

Here is the direct link to the article, but I think you have to register, so I am including the full text below.

As backyard coops abound, neighbors seek remedy for rooster noise

Rooster advocates say the fowl are integral to local food movement

By Marty Toohey


On Gillis Street, a two-lane South Austin road that meanders from Ben White Boulevard into an otherwise quiet neighborhood, the roosters begin their crowing a little before sunrise. It's a scene repeated throughout fowl-friendly Austin but one that Helen Rockenbaugh says has been allowed to go too far.

"It's not just early in the morning; the roosters are so loud that sometimes when you stand in the backyard, you can't hear yourselves talk," said Rockenbaugh, whose Gillis Street house sits next to a neighbor who keeps up to 20 roosters at a time. "The city needs to make a change."

City officials are considering a change. But banning roosters, as Rockenbaugh is urging City Hall, would run counter to Austin's long-held pride in its unconventional thinking. Long before a national backyard-chicken movement began spreading its wings, coops were a fixture in Austin neighborhoods both modest and chic. Austin even has the Funky Chicken Coop Tour, an April event at which homeowners show off artsy or unusual pens.

But the movement has ruffled the feathers of folks such as Rockenbaugh. Now anti-rooster residents are telling City Hall that the birds are an unnecessary nuisance, while rooster supporters contend that the males are as important to their flocks as the hens and can, in fact, be kept quiet by responsible owners.

"Dogs can also make a lot of noise," said Dagmar Grieder , a Bouldin Creek neighborhood resident who owns a dozen chickens and a red-and-gold Brabanter rooster named Hansel. "In fairness, if we allow dogs, we should allow roosters."

City officials say the dispute touches on bigger questions that cities must confront as more people live in closer proximity. What behavior should a neighbor be expected to tolerate? How should the city define a nuisance? And what role should the city play in resolving relatively minor disagreements that nonetheless matter a great deal to some residents?

Austin is considered at the forefront of a national movement to produce food — particularly vegetables and dairy products — in backyards. (The city government includes a Sustainable Food Policy Board.) As roosters and chickens have popped up in suburban backyards in Austin and elsewhere, with the promise of fresh eggs and meat, their cause is being championed by personalities such as Andy Schneider ("The Chicken Whisperer"), who hosts a popular radio show in Atlanta. Advocates say chickens should be raised locally, as opposed to in industrial poultry operations criticized by animal rights activists.

But the movement is being opposed by groups such as Farm Sanctuaries, a consortium of animal shelters that says roosters are unsuited for an urban environment.

The fowl question has been answered differently across the country. Dallas has few rules that speak to chickens, but Plano has banned them. Portland, Ore., and Madison, Wis., recently decided to allow chickens but not roosters. Los Angeles and Miami allow one rooster per household; San Antonio allows two. Waco allows roosters, but only if they are kept 100 feet from the property line, effectively banning ownership in most cases.

Austin allows an unlimited number of roosters and chickens per household.

"In general, the trend nationwide seems to be to allow chickens in the backyard," said Robert Heil, a senior planner with the City of Austin. "But different cities have different policies."

Austin has historically considered roosters, hens and other fowl to be pets. They've been fairly common in more rural pockets. But the organic food movement has led more people across the city to raise chickens on modest-size city lots surrounded by homes.

Michelle Hernandez is among the chicken owners. Last year she and a few others formed the Austin Backyard Poultry Meetup, which now has 485 members. Dallas and Atlanta also have chapters.

"There's huge interest in Austin," Hernandez said. "People are getting really interested in where they get their food."

Grieder, the Bouldin Creek resident, said that in the spring she brings eggs, rather than wine, over to friends' houses.

"I know what went into the eggs," she said, "because I know what goes into my chickens."

Grieder said her rooster, Hansel, is vital to the flock's health because he herds them and protects the hens from animals such as hawks and dogs. Someone who owns a rooster can ensure that the genes of a rare breed aren't diluted, Hernandez said.

"You need to know where your stock comes from," she said, "so it's not as simple as renting out a stud."

Rooster critics dismiss those arguments.

"You take in the male, he does the deed at breeding time, and you take him away," Rockenbaugh said, seconds before one of the dozen or so neighboring birds pierced the late afternoon quiet of Gillis Street. "The rooster doesn't exactly need much time to finish the business, and he definitely doesn't need to live there."

Others have complained about the noise.

"They have woken me up as early as 2:30 in the morning," South Austinite Vicki Salazar wrote to the city recently. "The point is that it is highly rude and irresponsible to have a pet, and as a city allow a pet, that is known for its loud noises during the calm of night and early morning."

Late last year, Rockenbaugh's complaints found their way to Austin's Planning Commission, which advises the City Council on many policy matters. Planning Commission Chairman Dave Sullivan said he volunteered to mediate the dispute because he spent time living next to a farm while growing up.

"The birds are remarkably loud," Sullivan said. But, he said, the city already prohibits pets that disturb neighbors. He said owners can minimize roosters' noise by keeping them in opaque enclosures, which block the ultraviolet light that comes at dawn and triggers a rooster's crowing.

Sullivan's recommendation: Instruct the Police Department to more vigorously enforce the noise rules. The matter will probably go to the City Council this spring.

But Sullivan acknowledges that the recommendation would take time away from other policing duties.

"The police always have a quandary in a city where serious crime and even murders take place," he said. "They have to be judicious about how much attention is paid to things like quality-of-life issues."

Police rarely issue citations to the owners of roosters or other pets that bother neighbors. The Police Department does not track rooster-related complaints.

Grieder said she does not think a household needs more than one or two roosters but said the city's existing rules are sufficient to ensure that they don't become a nuisance.

"I can't hear Hansel in the morning unless I really listen," she said. "He's in his coop; I'm in mine."

Rockenbaugh called the police out to her new Gillis Street property twice late last year. Both times, the officer said there was nothing to be done except have the Municipal Court sort out the dispute. Attempts to seek comment from the owner of the roosters next door were unsuccessful.

Cpl. Scott Perry, a police spokesman, said the department's district representatives sometimes try to mediate disputes such as pet noise, but patrol officers must focus on higher-priority calls.

"It's not unusual on a Saturday night for a low-priority call not to be responded to for a couple hours," Perry said. "Obviously crimes against people, where somebody is being attacked, are going to be a high priority. Rooster complaints are going to be pretty low on the priority list."; 445-3673

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not as young as I once was. But I am as cool as I ever was.

My 24 year old niece is hanging out with us for the evening. She is cool, interesting and hip. Everything I am not.

Besides that, I spent several hours working in the front yard flower bed this afternoon. So my body is hurting from stooping over and digging out the weeds. Add to that, I spent a brutal 90 minutes in a kickball meeting, so my brain hurts, too.

Getting whiny(er), old and uncool(er) sure does suck.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Scenes from AtHomeLand – Or not.

Here are some recent pictures having NOTHING to do with education proficiency exams.

Well, I was working on a picture post, mainly to do something NOT involving reading about education. Turns out my brain is fried, because I just formatted the disc that the pictures were on. BEFORE I moved them to the computer’s hard drive. Smooth move, AtHomeDaddy!

There were some awesome shots in there, too. I was especially fond of some The Boss Lady took at our Kickball skills clinic last weekend. She wanted to title one of them “Our Daughter was the One in Pink”. Which would have been REALLY hilarious if you could see the sea of pink in that picture of 100 kindergarten aged girls practicing for the Kickball season.

Now I am thinking I should take a proficiency exam in how to use my new computer.

Pushing towards the test

Next week is Spring Break and I was planning to take the boy backpacking for a few days, but he has decided that he does not want to go. Normally I would force the issue and we would just go camping, but this year I am a little preoccupied with this test.

I have 16 days to prepare for my Special Education teacher's proficiency exam. Between loads of review books, lots of info that the wife dug up for me and some help from a neighbor who just took this test last year, I am starting to feel a little bit more comfortable with the information. Then I'll be trying to learn everything that The Boss Lady can teach me about public education for the 9 days she is supposed to be getting a break from teaching and public education.

After I get past this test I can start preparing to look for a job. Then, there is at least one more exam, a bunch of hours visiting a public school classroom and a and a lot of online and in class coursework to get through this Spring.

After all that, it is simple. I just sit back and collect paychecks. Or something like that. I haven't really gotten that far into my ready yet.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

You remember the house

the one where all the neighborhood kids naturally always seemed to congregate? My Mom and Dad's house was like that. There was always an endless stream of kids coming and going. And yeah. I always hoped The Boss Lady and I would have that house. And it turns out, we do.

This afternoon I was hanging out with The Little Dude while The Princess and Talker were playing with the neighbors. The Boss Lady pulled up right then and she brought a couple more kids along, so that their mom could run some errands. All together we had our two, plus 3 extras. Combine that with another neighbor who had her two, plus one extra and we had quiet a crowd!

Today the weather was perfect, so all the herd played outside. In fact, I was one step ahead of everybody and the crowd ended up playing at the neighbor's! Which means no mess to clean up here. Well, except for the fact that I started assuming the herd would migrate to our house for dinner, so I cooked a ton. The kids all got sorted back out to their own homes before the dinner bell rang, so now I have a mess of leftovers to clean up. Good thing I like chicken nuggets.

On to the next adventure

AtHomeDaddy is about to re-enter the workforce!

I have thought about getting my teacher’s certification for years. It is one of the many things that I SHOULD have done in college. As opposed to that even longer list of things that I should NOT have done. But some of those were really, really fun, mom!

Before I started college I planned to be a high school Special Education teacher. Partially because I knew it would be a good fit for me and partially because I had a huge crush on the woman who taught the Special Education classes at my high school. I found the Therapeutic Recreation program in college and realized that I could do a lot the same things, working with the same kids AND I could do it while wearing shorts at a recreation center. So I went that way.

The reality now is that I could still jump back into the recreation center gig. But the hours are not great if I want to see the family and the pay is about 75% of what I can make as a Special Education Teacher with hours that are much closer to the kid’s hours at school. If I am heading back into the working world then The Boss Lady and I realize that it is going to be important to minimize the effect on the kids. Therefore, classroom teaching wins out.

This morning I electronically submitted a check to the Texas Teacher’s Alternative Certification program.And as quick as the payment could be processed, in something like 6 seconds, I found myself staring at a computer screen that lined out exactly what classes I need to finish before I can start looking for a teaching job. And it turns out that there is not a ton of stuff to be done. Of course, my perspective on that may change as I get deeper into the program.

I have about 15 classes to take, between a half-dozen all-day Saturday and weeknight sessions and about that many online classes. I knocked out the first of the online classes, Introduction to Special Education, this morning. I had a great surprise when I logged into the system to begin the class. One of my old friends from pre-AtHomeDaddy days, who is an amazing Special Education teacher and administrator (and all around nice guy) leads the online curriculum. When I heard his voice I knew immediately who it was even though I haven’t seen him in several years.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

It was only a M atter of time

I went to vote today with The Little Dude in tow. One of the other voters dropped the "Manny" title on me when she realized that the 4 month old was not my kid. For the record, professional nannies make some pretty good bank around here. So I am already doing something wrong.

Also today I used Facebook's privacy features to block a relative! Cool! Take that, cuz! Time to let the boy own his own dramas. Without Facebook I would have never been involved in any of it, and now, thanks to FB, I am out of the loop once again.