Friday, February 26, 2010


I am sitting here in an absolutely quiet house. The Dude is asleep. No clue who The Dude is? Check this post from last weekend. There are bottles that need washing and the trash and litter box need to be emptied. But all of those things require making noise, so they can wait.

The only sounds around are the hum of the 'fridge and the clacking of the keyboard, with a little extra noise coming from the often used backspace key. Otherwise, nothing. I even stopped the loudest of the clocks.

When our own kids were little they did not need a silent house to sleep and I am not sure The Dude does either, but he has been sick all week and I want to give him a fighting chance to get a good snooze going. The Talker could bust out a nap anywhere on schedule. The Princess never slept. So quiet was not a big deal around here.

At this same age I knew everything about my kids. I understood the meaning of every whimper, whine and cry. Bottle time? Nap time? Play time? Check, check and check. But the time I have spent with The Dude has been a little different. I feel like I am playing catch-up. I don't know him nearly as well. So the first few days of our time together has been spent in an extended meet and greet.

But for now I must go. M&M the chicken is squawking her "just laid a big, fat egg song" and she seems to be putting a little extra volume to it today so I am off to Shhhhh! the chicken. It is nap time, after all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The worst part? It is already melting and the kids are not home from school. Hoping it sticks around a couple of hours more.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Windows Live Writer Post

The new laptop  is here  and finally ready to run after  I installed all of our preferred programs.  Of course the new machine came whit a lot of bells and whistles that I now NEED to play with. 

Windows Live Writer is built into the Windows 7 operating system and it will let you push content to Blogger or other hosting services.  I’ll play with it a little more to see how it handles pictures and video, but for now I don’t really see the benefit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

'Cause I am a sucker, that's why,

On Monday I am going start hanging out with someone new. Really new. About 4 months new, actually.

A friend from church is between childcare providers and I told her that I would help out while she arranges for new care for her little guy. I offered a few weeks ago but Grandparents was able to cover the first part of the gap. Grandma is taking off this weekend, so I am back on duty on Monday morning.

Today I have been hitting up the neighbors to find a jogging stroller to borrow. The Dude sleeps a lot, like a good 4 month old should. (Yes, I am looking at you, Princess.) And I figure he can nap while I walk some of the hours away. Shouldn't be a big thing, right? Of course, it's been a long time since I did all of the usual stuff like grocery shopping and house cleaning.

Wait! Scratch that. I meant to say that it's been a long time since I did all of the usual stuff like grocery shopping and house cleaning with a baby to entertain, too. Hopefully this is like riding a bike.

In fact now that I think about it, like riding a bike, maybe I should just wear a helmet all the time. 'Cause obviously my brain is already on the fritz. Probably don't need any other big hits to my melon if this is the type of thing I willingly volunteer for.

Garden prep, day 3

The garden bed is finally prepped. This season I am using 5 rows, instead of a planting bed around the perimeter and one big bed out in the middle of the plot. I gave up my wide walkways and this will be tight to walk in when the veggies are full sized, but I was able to cram a lot more variety in this way.

In fact, I still have some space that is not occupied or reserved for a specific plant. The Princess talked me into trying carrots this year, so we have a row set aside for those. This year I am also adding eggplant to the mix. It has been a few seasons since we grew any. Like last year, the tomatoes will go back in the big pots.

The Princess and I will hit up the garden center one more time soon, to buy our tomato plants, an eggplant and some carrot seeds. I had hoped to keep the garden cost to about $100 this season and it looks like we will be coming in at less than half of that.

I think you can zoom in the labeled ares by clicking on the pics.

Looking Northeast

Looking Southwest

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Garden progress

The Princess has been excited to get the garden underway this year. On Monday she and I made a trip to the farm store for seed potatoes and sweet potatoes. The store did not have sweet potatoes in stock, so we will miss out on those this year. Growing both types in our garden was going to take up a lot of space, so we were not too disappointed.

This afternoon we planted our Red La Soda potatoes. But like great potato chips, we couldn't stop after planting just one thing. We planted a second round of Melting Sugar Snow Peas We will make one more planting of these in another week, to spread out the harvest a little bit. , some Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach, some Bouquet Dill and an entire row of lettuce, using a mixed pack that included a mix of Black Seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids and Prize Head leaf lettuces and Bibb head lettuce. The head lettuce varieties never make well for us but the others do well and make for an instant salad.

Since I re-shaped my garden this year (and have gotten rid of most of my nice, wide walkways) I should have some extra space for plants. We still have to get eggplant, green beans, jalapeno peppers and Roma tomatoes. After that I'll see how much space we have left. Maybe we will be able to add some more herbs to the mint, sage, oregano, rosemary and chives that we keep out there year round.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cheep Labor

This afternoon I hit the Tri-fecta! The Princess is gone with The Boss Lady, The Talker is out running around with a friend and it is a beautiful day out in the backyard.

Gardening this time of year is mainly about the hard work of getting everything ready. The easy part comes later, when the veggies and fruit are ready to be picked and enjoyed. But I think this is still my favorite time of the gardening cycle. The hard work hasn't killed me yet and the bare patch of soil seems to hold tons of potential right now. And then of course, there is the garden center. All of those seed packets with the nice, pretty, monster-sized veggies pictured on the packets really makes me want to increase my garden space. Please remind me of this post later in the summer, when everything has dried up and we haven't seen rain in a few months.

This past fall I dumped my garden tiller. I was tired of tending to it before every garden season and only using it for a few hours a year. It went away quickly on the local Free-cycle list. Without the tiller I faced a chore that I have not attempted in about 10 years, turning the soil with a garden fork.

After an hour of work I am almost done with that bit of fun. And I am sure I will feel it tomorrow! But this year I had some unexpected help once the earthworms started popping up in the newly turned garden soil, the chickens.

It took one wiggling worm to draw all three birds into the garden. I was tired 30 minutes ago, but the chickens don't seem to show any sign of slowing down. With all of the chicken scratching and digging in the garden, some of the biggest dirt clods should be broken down soon, saving me some time with the hoe and garden rake.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The best worst movie ever made

The kids and I were going to make a movie this afternoon. Our plan fell to pieces pretty quickly, so this is what we ended up with.

The specs: We shot this completely with The Talker's 5th Gen iPod Nano and put it all together with Windows Movie Maker.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I am pretty sure...

this page is what the internet was made for.

You are welcome.

Time to face music

The Talker is making his first ever visit to the dreaded Principal's office today. Seems he and a few other boys can't quit screwing around and being silly on the school bus ride home after school. And I have to admit, seeing the boy squirm and be nervous about this has given me a sick, cheap laugh.

By the time I was in the second grade I was on a first name basis with my elementary school Principal and most of the office staff. I probably spent more time in the office than I did in math class. (Then again, I probably preferred the office to math class.)

The Talker was nervous and twisting in the wind a little bit this morning. And you know, I think that is OK. I walked with him into the school today and we found out that the Principal would be calling them in to discuss the problem. He and his buddies will hopefully learn quickly that there are better times to goof around than on the bus ride home.

The Boss Lady and I discussed this last night. We decided that we will stand with the Principal when he doles out the consequences. Then, we had to revise that a little bit, since our kids do live in the era of ridiculous zero-tolerance policies. (None of which I expect the school to invoke in this instance.) So long as the punishment fits the crime, which might even include a day (or two) off of the school bus, we are OK with it.

Even though I never got in trouble on the school bus, only because we lived a couple of blocks from the school, please believe me, I remember what it was like to be a boy. Seems like only yesterday I was running around the house in my underwear, with a laundry basket on my head, scaring the dog and cats.

OK, so that WAS yesterday. But I wasn't doing all of that crazy crap on the school bus!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Brutal winter weather :)

A picture I took before the opening of gardening season.

For my legion of fans who live north of Waco, I apologize up front. I spent much of the day outside. Gardening.

True, we probably have another cold spell or two in the works before the 100 degree daze of summer hit us, but I decided to get a jump on the veggies this year. If we have no more cold weather, then I'll have a nice, showy garden a month earlier than anyone else around here. In case you don't think gardening is a competitive sport, hang around a garden center/nursery on a Saturday morning.

I started off a few days ago, thinking about the layout for my garden plot. Each year I plan out my garden on paper and think that I should increase the size of my garden. And each summer I complain that the large plot I already tend is a lot of work. So this year I am keeping my garden to the already established 250 square feet. Step one, done!

When we got the chickens I knew that getting rid of the "by products" would be a hassle. I decided to try composting the stuff in an enclosed bin and have had good luck with it. Since I use wood shavings in the chicken coops, the mulch still has a lot of wood in it, but it breaks down pretty quickly.

Today I dumped (that's a pun, son) almost a year's worth of "by product" onto my garden plot. I'll get it all mixed into the existing dirt with some peat moss. Once all that is dug in, the garden soil will be good to go. (Should I say good to GROW?)

Anyways, I stopped at the farm store for some chicken supplies today and they had seeds and garden supplies arranged all nice and neat, at the front of the store. I could not resist picking up a few seed packets. And some onion sets. And some garlic. And some...

When the kids got home from school we planted the garlic, the onions and some snow peas. All those should be OK if we happen to get any more cold weather.

Another shot before the opening of gardening season.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Proof that the boy is only half of my genetic makeup.

(Or somewhere thereabouts. Percentages scare me.)

I admit I am not a math genius. It has been that way since, well, I would count the years, but I would probably count wrong anyways. Numbers are > than my brain.

Anyways, The Talker is showing himself to be much more like his momma in the math department. This afternoon I quizzed him.

"So we have 11 eggs in the carton. M&M laid one less than the other birds. Roadrunner and Gold Diamond each laid the same number of eggs. How may eggs did your hen lay?

That's easy, Dad. M&M laid 1 one and the others each laid five. Oh wait, you said she laid one LESS than the others, so M&M laid 3 and Roadrunner and Gold Diamond each laid 4."

So at 8 years old, the boy has basic computational skills that I still so don't possess. Now, all of this just leaves me wondering one thing. How how long until he can take me in arm wrestling, too?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A response to FoF

So the Father of Five wondered where I blog. And I have to admit, with all of the chaos surrounding my recent computer misadventures, the last thing I really wanted to do was clean off the computer armoire (which is really just a big cabinet that contains the computer and whatever other clutter I don't want to see in the living room. Gotta love having doors on there!) enough to snap a picture of the workspace.

But now, the new netbook has freed me from the shackles of blogging at a designated workspace.

See? Here I am blogging on the reclining couch.

And here I am, sitting on the OTHER reclining couch. (OK technically this one is a love seat...)

Also in this picture you can see the primary computer workspace for the house. And you can also see why I like having doors on the computer amoire. Bonus prize, you can catch a glimpse of the Gateway desktop that has been the source of all of these years of AtHomeDaddy ramblings.

As of 2 am this morning that machine is officially retired (and reloaded with a blank slate of Windows XP for the kiddos). A new laptop will be landing in it's spot pretty quickly.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Field trip wrap up and news catch up

Sorry if you have been suffering through AHD withdrawal. Life has been crazy. The kids have been doing well in school, The Boss still loves her new job and for a guy without a job, I seem to stay pretty dang busy.

I went with The Princess' class on a field trip to the Austin Nature and Science Center. The kids had a lot of fun digging in the dino pit and then we ate lunch at Zilker Park. Zilker is the crown jewel of Austin's park system and one of the greatest city parks in the state. It always amazes me when I am there with a new bunch of local kids that many of them have never been to play in Zilker Park.

The Talker won for his grade division in the school science fair, with a project investigating probability. The probability that dad helped with that project? Not very likely, since I couldn't figure out the math involved. For his strong effort, the boy gets to display his project at the city-wide Science Fair in March

The Princess won a second place ribbon. Kindergartners are not allowed to compete in the city-wide event, but she had tons of fun exploring how to make different colors by mixing watered down food coloring samples.

The Princess is preparing to make her athletic debut in a few weeks. She will be playing in a girls only Kickball league. Northwest Austin Kickball has a great history in the area and I am glad the we are getting in on the game this year. Of course, my attitude may change a little later in the season - I was just begged coerced bribed recruited asked to be the team's head coach. So long as they don't give a team full of Kickball veterans I should be OK. I have coached enough kid's soccer and Special Olympics bocce to know a little about what I am getting into.

Spring is almost here. And I have been getting geared up for some full on veggie gardening. The chicken coop has been sitting in the middle of my garden plot since October. I moved the coop today it's Spring location. And the extra "fertilizer" the chickens have added to the ground and all of the rain we have had lately means that my dirt is good to go. And good dirt is the biggest part of a good garden. Happy soil=happy veggies!

Our computer has been dying for several months. It is four years old, and we use the heck out it so I am not surprised. Still, we are so dependent on having a computer now that I have been trying to keep it limping along. A few days ago I finally picked up the first part of the replacement for our desktop machine. I bought a Gateway netbook (I saved almost $50 since I was willing to take buy the red one instead of the identical machine in a black case!) and have been moving all of our important documents (and music) over to an external backup drive. In a few days we will be reformatting the old tower and if we can get it to run smoothly enough, then it will become the kid's computer. (Isn't that like Purgatory for a computer?) After we get all of that set up then we will be buying another new machine to be our main family computer. For the first time ever I am seriously considering using a laptop as our #1 machine.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, gets you up to speed with all of the goings-on around here. Aren't you glad you made the effort to stop by?