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.