Saturday, June 30, 2012

Road Tripping. Again

The Boss Lady was not able to go on our jaunt to St. Louis and Memphis. Somebody has to keep working to pay for all of this running around, you know!?!  As originally planned, we were going to extend our original trip all the way down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.  Time and the fact that I was driving solo AND keeping the kids entertained finally intervened and I cut the trip off and headed for home as we left Memphis.

Last week The Boss Lady said  she would like to visit New Orleans.  Road trip #2 was on!

My go to trip planning sited this summer have been for rental cars and hotels (Best Western). and google maps for routing.  After about 10 minutes on Costco's travel website, I found a hotel that was in walking distance to most sites that we wanted to check out in NOLA and the nearby railcar system's 3 day passes would get us everywhere else.  Even better, the hotel was less than $110 bucks a night.

Turns out we did REAL good on the hotel room.  Because we only stayed in Best Western hotels on our first trip, we had a voucher for a free night.   Since we had never spent more than $75 on the earlier rooms, I was not sure they would comp us the full value of the room, but a discount would be OK, too.  One of the mistakes we made in traveling to new Orleans was under estimating the cost of parking.  Even our hotel charged $25 a night to park a car on site.

When the hotel comp-ed our room for the first night, they also gave us free parking.  So our total stay for two nights and parking was just over $150.  DEAL!

The biggest mistake we made on this trip was our serious underestimation of the cost of eating.  Sicne that is a big reason to go to NOLA, we knew it wouldn't be free.  We estimated about $40 a meal to eat at family friendly (aka CHEAP) places.  We should have upped that by 50%.  We never even ate at the fancy restaurants where dining for 4 could have been $150 or more.  If I had known we were staying so cheap, we might have gone a little higher-end on one meal.

In the end, we had a blast.  We ate great.  We checked out tons of awesome street artists and we heard a lot of incredible music.

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Home Grown

Somewhere near 4 years ago I started using the same egg carton for storing all of our fresh eggs in the 'fridge. It is a nice, sturdy carton but nothing too special.

When starting out with backyard chickens, I was trying to figure out ways to keep the costs manageable while keeping the flock in the best feed for the money. During that time we tried out a brand called Home Grown.

Though we settled on a different brand of feed, my juvenile sense of humor kicked in and I made all sorts of jokes about 'gathering my "home grown" from the backyard'. One pot joke led to another and soon I was carefully dissecting the feed bag.

I used the label to decorate my reliable egg carton. And it has been in constant use ever since. Just like real 'home grown', I giggle a little every time I put some eggs in the fridge.

Sadly, old reliable is getting worn out so I am retiring the carton. No worries, Home Grown gets a place of honor in the kitchen.

Besides, a guy might need a stash box next to the microwave, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Road Notes 5 - The final route

Now that we are heading home tomorrow, our route is ALMOST finalized.  This map shows a 1,555 mile route through the central south.  That does not include several hundreds of miles of running around and a few more miles of backtracking while trying to find the hotel driveway,  Twice.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Road Notes 4 - Upward!

Today was THE big day.  We spent a ton of time at the Arch, checking out all of the exhibits and the IMAX movie about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  And hanging out with the kids 630 up in the Arch is one of the memories I will cherish.

Still, the Arch may not have been the highlight of the day.  City Museum has got to be one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.  If I were a resident of St Louis, this would be my usual hangout with the kids.  As it was, we spent 3 hours and still did not climb (or see) everything.  The kids were wiped out this afternoon and fell asleep on the car ride back to the hotel, so I know this was a quality experience for them.

Tomorrow we are planning to hit the St Louis Zoo and then we will return to Citygarden with out splash worthy clothes.  Today we were not properly equipped since the Emergency Swim Bag had been left at the hotel room on accident.

After Citygarden, we are heading towards Memphis after a quick detour into Kentucky and Illinois.  Sorry Indiana, you didn't make the cut this trip.  

Tomorrow's proposed escape route:

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Road Notes 3 - Onward!

Today we head into St Louis. We will be visiting Grant's Farm and the St Louis Zoo.

We stayed in Springfield, Missouri, the home of the world's hottest hot tub. Awesome!

Today's escape route:

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Road Notes 2 - Getaway Day

We are sitting at The Queen Mother's House, waiting for our rental minivan to be delivered to the sales office.  Road Mistake Number 1 - I forgot to check the default settings on the Costco car rental search engine.  They plan on all pick-ups to happen at noon unless otherwise noted.  I did not note. 

I think we are in pretty good shape to hit the road within an hour of getting the rental.  I will be outfitting the car with a power converter so that the kids can keep a continuous charge on the DS games and the video system that we are hauling along.  After getting the creature comforts setup, we will hit the road for Springfield, Missouri by way of McAlester, Oklahoma and Galena, Kansas.

Today's alleged route:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Road notes 1

Thanks to some bad luck with our cars, the kids and I left a day early on our multi state roadtrip. We were only planning to stop at my parent's house long enough to drop my car and pick up a rental. Realizing we had a day to kill before even getting a real start, I started looking for something entertaining for the crew.

We ended up at the recreation center nears parent's house. And boy, do I feel dumb. It turns out that this place is exactly what I have looked for on every visit home since the kids were born.

We have just killed several hours in the indoor water park and made use of that necessary road trip item, the emergency swim backpack.

This bodes well for our trip. May the car and scheduling hassles be behind us.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hey FoF!

Look what I found when I replaced a geocache container last month.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

One more

There is one more thing I want to add to my summer "to-do" list.  Unicycling.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Hanging around.

Each summer the kids and I try to settle on a "thing" to do.  It is sort of like a theme.  Maybe you could call it a mission.  Last summer it was supposed to be biking.  We were going to bike all over our neighborhood and discover what we might about the place where we live.  Urban adventure!

Then I remembered that we live in Texas and it gets to a hundred and millionty degrees during the summer.  And it never rained, which made it hotter and dryer.  Mostly hotter.  In the end, we didn't ride our bikes very much.

This summer we are spending the first part of our time off planning for the Family American Road Trip.  We still have not decided on a summer "thing" for the time after our return.  I am thinking that it might be all about hanging out.  Hanging out at home, hanging out at the library, hanging out laundry, hanging on the monkey bars. Whatever and wherever something needs hung, we will be there.  Unless we are hanging out elsewhere.

Last summer, my first spent as a teacher, was also fairly uneventful because I spent about a month in training classes for a new teaching assignment.  The kids and I did not have a lot of hanging out time.  This year, even though I am facing another new teaching assignment, the required training classes are all scheduled for the first week of August.  And I didn't sign up for the optional ones... So that leaves the AtHomeTrio almost two months to hang out and chill.

And that my friends, makes for a good summer "thing"

Monday, June 04, 2012

OK, so here is the deal...

I got busted on a teacher review earlier in the year for using that phrase too often in front of my classes.  Evidently it is not OK to make deals with the students.  I am just supposed to lay it out for them and they are supposed to learn.

Like my students, I sat through the lecture on my technique and then returned to the classroom to make more deals but no real changes...

It is officially summer.  I have no keys to any public school classrooms and I like it that way.  I have very little work related that I need to do between now and August 1.  Awesome!  The kids and I are leaving in about 5 days on our epic road trip to St Louis and points East.  We will be gone for at least a week, running the roads in the south and central United States.  I bet we find some awesome adventures along the way.

In work related news:  I am officially finished with my tenure as a math teacher.  But I will always have the fond, happy memories.  When the new school year starts I will be back on my same campus.  Neither The Boss Lady nor I ended up taking a job at the new school.  My new class will be much different.  I was responsible for 30 7th grade students last school year as their Tracking Teacher. Supposedly I helped them keep up with assignments and communicated with their parents frequently about individual Special Education needs. I was also responsible for 25 math students in my drop-level math classes.  THEN, I saw about 75 more students in grade-level math classes.

Now I am not great at math, but that seems to add up to about 130 kids a day I was supposed to keep tabs on.  Next year I will have less than 10!  And THAT is math that I agree with.

Of course, there is a downside.  These 10 students (maybe as few as 5) come with lots of medical issues and LOADS of paperwork.  I keep thinking that no matter how much paperwork 5 students can generate, there is no way that it could be more than 130 can cause.  I am also afraid that I am about to be slapped right upside the head with a reality check!

The biggest change of all is that I will need to bust out my managing skillz again.  The new classroom comes with a staff of 4 or 5 that I have to keep corralled.  That will be the biggest job.

So there you have it.  The final installment on the 2011-2012 school year.  Forever to be known as The Year of Mikey Math.

Now let us never speak of it again.