Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The three hour tour...

We are off to Mom and Dad's for the night. The Boss Lady has to attend a workshop an hour from there on Wednesday, so we are going along for the ride. We will hop out at the old homestead and the wife will drive on to her hotel. It takes us a little less than 3 hours if I am driving. It takes a little more than forever if The Boss Lady drives.

I am letting the kids skip nap time today and I'll let them watch a movie in the car. Hopefully they will sleep tonight. None of us really sleep very well away from our own beds. Though I suspect that The Boss Lady will sleep like the dead in her hotel room tonight, an hour away from kids crying for their own beds.

By the way, don't come over and break into our house, OK? But if you do, please clean up a little, OK?

Nothing to play with? Let's go hassle Roxie.

Since our children have absolutely nothing to play with,

they decided to climb the back fence, to yell at the neighbor's dog.

They love for Roxie to come jump on the fence and they beg for a chance to pet her, but for some strange reason she usually ignores them.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just never call me late for snack, OK Daddy?

This past week The Talker decided that he was putting an stop to the madness. No more nick names for him. "Just call me by my name, OK Daddy"?

He has lots of nicknames. Boy. Bro. Flash. Champ. Killer. Man. DudeMonster. Speedy. Stinky. Dash. Grumpy. Speed. They all get used pretty frequently. Just depends on the context. Some of these get used for his sister, too. But mainly she is Girl or Girlfriend.

Anyways, it went down something like this.

"Daddy, quit calling me Bro.
Why, Champ?

Cause it's not my name. And neither is Champ, OK Daddy?
Well I have to call you something.

How about you just call me by my name, OK Daddy? 'Cause that's what they named me.
Sounds simple enough, DudeMonster. And besides. I am They. I picked your name for you.

See? That wasn't so hard, was it?
But I called you DudeMonster?!?!

Yeah. But I think I like that name. Why didn't you just pick DudeMonster for my name?"

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jump In!

Tonight we attended a YMCA family night event. We thought they were just throwing the doors open to the pool and gym and letting families play. Turns out they had something else in mind, but we still had a blast.

The new Disney Channel movie, Jump In! was showing on the big screen. It was a nice family movie about a teen aged boy who gives up boxing to join a double dutch jump rope team of girls.

The Talker shadow boxed along with the fight scenes and both kids jumped their hearts out during the jump rope scenes. They were in heaven when three teenagers did a live demonstration of competitive jump rope and double dutch. Later, all the kids ngot brand new jump ropes and we all tried them out in the gym.

The absolute highlight of the night came when The Talker took his turn trying to double dutch. He had two turns and made a few jumps with the teenage team members turning the ropes. Then, when they told him it was the next kid's turn he looked totally serious. I did not hear what he said to them, but they gave him one more chance.

When the ropes started turning he jumped and then dropped to his hands and tried to pull off a mule kick, like he had seen several times in the movie. (It also happens to be his best break dance move!) He got his feet up, but the ropes tangled on his hands.

The parents and staff all laughed and cheered. The teens turning the ropes were stunned. We were all cracking up. The Talker just walked off real cool and calm.

I guess when you are a cool dude master double dutch jumper you don't need the crowd to tell you how great you are. You just know it in your jumpy little soul.

Break time!

The Talker and I were cleaning up our tools from the rock wall project, and we decided to take a break. And who happened to come walking down the street? A girl scout. Not my usual dealer, but she had a full stock, none the less.

So we macked down on some Girl Scout Cookies with The Princess, while The Boss Lady was across the street.

Less than an hour later the whole family went for a walk. Had to go right past My Dealer's house. NO sign of her, but her mom was out on the sidewalk pushing into buying some more of the good stuff. We managed to walk by without pulling out the wallet. See, I do have a little self control. Very little.

Total purchase this season, 6 boxes. And three weeks to go in cookie season.

OK, the rest of the story. Right after I posted this, I was trying to be nice to the family. They were down the street playing, so I was going to drive down in the truck and pick them up. Problem was My Dealer was out this time. I got stopped and had to admit to all of my recent cookie purchases to the wife. Then The Talker ratted me out. Told My Dealer that another girl was selling cookies at our house.

Now My Dealer knows that I was doing business with another pusher. And I am a little worried that she'll slash my tires tonight while I sleep off the cookie stupor from my ill gotten goods.

Moral of the story, don't go behind your dealer's back. And NEVER be nice to the family, it just leads to trouble.

New climbing wall

I have wanted to add a climbing wall to the kid's playscape since I first built it two years ago. Seems like every backyard playscape has one now. Plus, both kids have asked me to build one. And nothing gets stuff done around here than making dad feel guilty.

Pops bought some climbing wall rocks for The Talker's birthday. Once the rocks arrived, I started planning out the wall. Our kids are old enough that I felt like they could handle more of a challenge than the kit playscapes provide. Instead of a 45 degree incline, our new rock wall goes straight up the side of the playscape.

Of course, the wall is only about 5 feet high, so there isn't a lot of danger involved. And The Princess proved me right when she tackled the wall in her dress shoes!

I still have to work out the fall zone, so that they can climb when mom or I are not right with them, but this is a pretty good start.

I forgot to add earlier, in AtHomeDaddy style, the blue rocks were scrapped from the old playscape in Law Talking Guy's backyard. Yeah for junkin' up the playscape!

Friday, January 26, 2007

My little stunt man...

The Talker just told me something. Now I am thinking that maybe we don't need to worry too much about saving for his college years.

"Daddy, when I am a teenager I'll build my own parachute. And I'll put a steering wheel on it. You know, a balloon steering wheel? And then I can jump out of planes and go wherever I want."

Most kids just wait until they get mom's car keys and they speed all over town. Then they get into trouble like all the other teens. But my boy? He'll be the one with the scars.

It went on like this for more than an hour

Stewing in fun

Edit: My original send-up of this post contained an error. Corrections, like the words of Jesus, are in Red. I stand corrected. So sorry, Kel

Nothing great to report. The Boss Lady has been working late a lot lately. I am starting to think it might be a plot to get me into the kitchen. Either way, it has been one LOOOOOOOOOOONG week.

"I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days. And the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day, and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half. I have it written down, but I can show it to you tomorrow if you want to see it."
Steve Martin, The Jerk

I really like the idea of cooking, but I am not very good at it. Wednesday The Princess and I spent most of the afternoon making pizzas, home made crust and all. They turned out pretty good. Actually, they must have been great. The Talker ate a few slices.

He isn't a terribly picky eater, but he really does not get too excited about trying something new, especially if Dad makes it. On second thought, maybe he just has a fully developed sense of self-preservation. Avoiding most of the foods I make is probably a good idea.

Yesterday, I made a small pot of stew. Why a small pot? Because I don't think I had ever made stew and I expected it to taste like that. Though my stew started out looking like a staple of my college years, Kelvin's Chuck Wagon Special*, it turned out great. I ate some for lunch, we ate it for dinner and the leftovers went into the freezer. And like Kelvin's Chuck Wagon Special, someday it will come back to haunt me.

Tonight the family is on it's own. I'm heading to church tonight to help put the new projection screen system to use. Some of the guys are hooking into it with an XBox. I think Madden NFL 07 is on the menu for my dinner.

*This may be the first written recipe for Kelvin's Chuck Wagon Special.

Start with what you got in the pantry and 'fridge. Mix it all together in a pot and cook the hell outta it. The only requirement, ketchup. Lots and lots of ketchup in the pot.

It is done when you are too hungry to wait any longer.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My favorite time of the year

Some people like Christmas. My wife likes Thanksgiving Day. Me? I like the month of Girl Scout cookies sales.

I have been known to buy whole cases of Thin Mints or Carmel Delights. Sunday evening I bought four boxes from our 5th grade neighbor, whom I will from now on refer to as My Dealer. Two boxes are already gone. One is in the freezer. And I just opened the last. Almost time to get another hookup.

I guess my reputation has grown. Yesterday afternoon My Dealer stopped me as I was driving past her house. "Did you like the cookies? Do you need some more, yet? It's just between you and me, OK. I won't tell your wife, I promise."

What a nice little pusher she is.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The $700 baggie

We got our Disney World tickets in the mail this afternoon. They arrived inside a padded envelope, in a sealed plastic bag.

The bag had a warning label on it, stating something to the effect that "once you open the bag, there are no exchanges, swaps, take-backs, do-overs or returns. So check your damn tix carefully". That is the label, boxed in red.

Anyways, it made for an exciting couple of minutes tonight. After all, unless you are addicted to crack, when else do you get to rip open a baggie worth $700?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Another piece of the AtHomeDaddy puzzle falls into place

Didyaknow that I can sew?

Stop laughing. A sewing machine is a power tool! It is loud and you can make yourself bleed if you are not careful, so it is manly enough for me. Besides, I am not very good at it. That makes it a little more OK, right?

So this evening The Princess wanted a new toy. She asked me a couple of times for "a new pink mice". I told her we would think about how to make a mouse on Monday.

Then The Boss Lady remembered some leftover pink fabric from the Uniqua Halloween costume. And I remembered the basic design of a little stuffed mouse that I had when I was little.

I was just going to make a quick pattern, I swear.

But The Boss Lady has been making curtains for her office and the sewing machine was already out on the dining table. next thing I knew, I was finishing up by sewing the ears, and my finger, on to the pretty fuzzy pink mouse.

I guess the kids and I will have to find some other critters to stitch up tomorrow.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Another man's trash is AtHomeDaddy's theology

God is a woman. I am pretty sure of this since She laughed off junkin' season. If you don't know about junkin,' read the primer, here.

Everything was in line for a perfect junkin'. Neighbors in the throes of spring cleaning would surely be setting out some great stuff. The Truck is sporting a finished paint job and new spark plugs and rear end oil. Racecar Man and I had a great plan going.

But the neighbors all decided not to set out the good stuff until the Sunday night. Pick up was starting in less than 12 hours and there were hardly any piles out. It wasn't that big of a deal, Racecar Man and I could surely modify a perfect plan down to a good plan. Late Sunday night junkin'. It still sounded pretty good to me.

And the rain came down. Sunday night was a wash.

And the rain came down. Some more. No early morning run, even though it was a holiday and good junk was certainly piling up all over the neighborhood. The truck has no windshield wipers. (Hey it's almost 40 years old. See if you can still run a load of junk when you are 40...) And the wife would not let me have her car for some water logged treasure hunting.

And then the ice came down. And some more. And more. Two days and a half days of being iced in. Right when junkin' season should be in full swing.

Yesterday afternoon the trucks cleared the neighborhood. It didn't take long since most of the neighborhood did not set anything out this time. Junkin' season is now closed. Jesus wept.

And my wife and God are laughing at my total lack of new treasures. Silly women, there is always next season. The piles should be HUGE in six more months!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I feel the need to elaborate on

My last post. Why would two adults participate in such anti-social behavior? Chatting via the Internet instead of actually talking. Heck, we were only 15 feet apart.

Three reasons came to mind after I posted:

  • The Princess has decided to only sleep with her bedroom door open. And since our house is as small as a breadbox, if I say anything loud enough to be heard 15 feet away, the baby WILL hear it. Than she will respond by getting out of bed and coming to talk with us. And no one wanted that.
  • I am a nerd at heart. I know. You would never tell by looking. But finding another way to use my Google account makes me all googly moogly inside.
  • And most of all, the weather sucks. The Boss Lady was supposed to be home for a 3 day weekend, thanks to MLK Jr Day. But by the time I chatted her up, it was Wednesday night and we had been in the house since Sunday evening, thanks to a freakishly thick ice coating of the entire region. And honestly, I think we were sick of hearing each other's voices.
The Boss Lady headed back to work this morning. She has to work late and will be home some time before bedtime. The kids and I are off to the YMCA in a couple of hours. And the mountain of unfolded laundry that collected on the love seat during our 5 day incarceration will continue to grow. 'Cause folding is a sucker's bet. Why should I, when I can just dress the kids right out of the endless pile?

Looks like we are back to life as usual. Maybe I should email the wife and let her know...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who says we never talk

I am sitting in the same room with my lovely bride and we have been chatting up a storm.

Via Google Talk.

Not a work spoken in ten minutes.

She types slow.

Summer of Light, by W. Dale Cramer
An AtHomeDaddy Review

Occasionally I get asked to review products or books for this blog. For some reason I always seem a little flattered, but I had not accepted any of these items until last week. A book finally caught my attention and seemed to provide appropriate blog fodder.

I just finished reading an advance copy of Summer of Light, By W. Dale Cramer. A story of a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) trying to be a full-time parent and trying to remain a "real man" at the same time.

When I first started my SAHD gig, I was worried a lot about how our our families and our friends at church would view our new family structure. Generally I got a good reception. Still there were times that I hesitated to reveal my chosen occupation. So when I learned that Bethany House Publishers brings Christan books to the marketplace, I was interested in how one of their authors would address a father who would not be seen as the traditional head of his household.

After reading the book, I suspected that Mr. Cramer had spent some time in the trenches. His stories of a full time father's life ring too true to be a simple work of fiction. It is as if he were sometimes peeking into our household to see what being a full time dad is all about. After reading his bio page, I learned that my assumption is correct.

I would also bet he learned his lessons about ruining the wife's laundry the hard way, too. Just as the main character, Mick, did. And I did. So did most every SAHD I have ever met.

Mick and I have a lot in common. Tons of important questions. Few answers. And most of the time there is simply no time to think about the big questions. Instead there are times of chasing dogs and kids through the house, trying to keep an old truck running and following the trail from one mess to the next disaster.

But in the quiet times between the chaos and the craziness there is a chance that a man will find
answers to his questions. And hopefully, like Mick Brannigan, someday I'll fly right into those answers.

When I pick up a novel I need to be entertained. If a book makes me laugh, I'll cruise through it quickly. Because of that, I found Summer of Light a quick read and I am looking forward to checking out the rest of Mr. Cramer's work.

An aside. Usually one passage will stick with me as I read a novel. This book was no exception.
I found my favorite line barely 50 pages into the story:

"A baby is a lot like an old truck— it leaks and makes weird noises. Clean up the mess, top off the fluids, and the noises usually stop."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

We're off to see the mouse

I finally wore The Boss Lady down. The endless begging and pleading and maps and charts and spreadsheets worked. This morning we went online and bought our Disney World tickets. Now we just have to keep the kids (and their dad) from going too nuts during the next two months.

Thanks to Bro and his family, we are going to get to make this trip this spring. Hopefully we will be good room mates. And Bro, I'll do my best to keep the kids corralled and I'll try to keep The Boss Lady from swearing too much around your kids.

The only downside? Besides the huge hole that Walt and his roving gang of bank robbers are going to leave in our wallets? The almost 20 hour drive. With a 5 year old and an almost potty trained nearly 3 year old. (But she will still be able to get into the parks without a ticket!)

Makes you want to hop in the car with us and head to Florida, doesn't it?

And a side post that should be titled:

Well I am glad you cleared THAT right up...

The Princess told us tonight at dinner "I want to go to Cinderella's castle, now. But Cinderella doesn't want to see me naked."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's MY Birthday, NOT YOURS!

Today is The Talker's 5th birthday. It also happens to my brother's 40th birthday and one of my first cousin's 38th. None of that really matters to our little man, though.

Last night, we were talking about it in the car and he told us, "NO! My uncle and cousin can wait to have birthdays next year. This is MY birthday!"

So Bro, I guess you can hold at 39 for another year. The Talker's gift to you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Let the junkin' begin

This weekend is open season on junk.

Next Monday is our once every 7th month chance to get rid of things that won't fit in our city issued trash carts. It's the only time we can have the city haul off big junk without paying a hauling fee. But it is so much more than that.

Racecar Man and I have elevated it to a sport. Junkin'. The sport of the cheapskate kings of suburbia. Last season was a big one for me. Here are some posts about my haul.

Best Junkin' EVER
Junkin Journey 2
I can't wait unit February

Anyways, I started my pile this afternoon. I am anxious to see how much of this stuff gets taken away by other Junkers before the trash man cometh. But I am also enjoying the fact that we did not pay full price for any of the stuff in our pile of cast-offs.

The basketball goal came from a neighbor's garage sale and we spent $8 to fix it. It is broken again. The blue chair came from last year's treasure hunt. I fixed it and then never sat in it again. The wood was all scrapped from an old retaining wall in a friend's yard. I still have lots more to use on other projects. (Full disclosure, I see two items that were birthday presents from years past, so grandma's might have paid full price for those...)

Just FYI, in the 45 minutes since I snapped the picture, ate dinner and posted wrote this entry, the blue chair has already been picked up by some early bird junker! Junk on, Dude!

So here is to a great junkin' season. Maybe this year the kings will find another Maria, so we can quit fighting over our queen. Or at least so that we can really dress up Law Talking Guy's yard.

All Hail Maria, queen of Junkers.

Don't tell The Boss Lady

and I'll let you come over and enjoy the quiet.

The Princess coughed a few minutes before 7, so I was sure she was awake and roaming the house. The Boss was headed to the kitchen and I dove for the shower, hoping that the girl would be set up with breakfast and Sesame Street by the time I dried off.

5 minutes later, out of the shower and dressed, I ran around the house looking for the girls. The wife had already split for work and the girl is still in bed.

IN FACT, it is now 8:05 and BOTH kids are still asleep. So I am doing what any blogging at home parent does. Blogging, reading online and doing some laundry. Anything to keep from waking a child.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A positive self image is a good thing...

The Talker was playing on the mini trampoline yesterday before dinner. He was showing off some new "stunts", mainly jumping while turning circles with his whole body.

When he finally got dizzy enough to stop, he jumped off the trampoline, spun once more on the floor and then proclaimed, "WOW! I am AMAZING!"

That's my boy. No one else may be impressed, but we really wow ourselves a lot.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Just to prove I am not the only insane one here...

The Talker just told me

"Some people who live close to China don't really like clothes from Santa. But we do, because we are close to Bunting."

FYI, Bunting is the next street over...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

This winter break from reality is now over.
Back to work, slackers!

The Boss Lady headed back to the office this morning. That rude awakening was softened a little bit by the fact that the kids both slept almost 11 hours straight. A feat they never even attempted during the last two weeks.

So the kids and I are in an awkward time of year that occurs after New Year's and summer break. They go from having mommy around all the time and daddy out piddling around in the garage, or occasionally at work. It will take us a few days to get back into our rhythm.

Luckily for all of us, it is cold and rainy outside, so we will be looking for inside fun this morning. Now we have to decide if we are off to the Children's Museum or to the YMCA. Either one is more fun than sitting at home all day.

And a lot more fun than going to work.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Two things I never thought I would say...

Another day of work lead me to give out these two bits of advice...

"Honey, please stop licking the microwave."

"Oh man, please stop eating your diaper. It's gross and you'll never get a prom date with little bits of diaper all over your face."

See how much fun work can be? Now why was it I quit?

Blue enough for you?

The Boss Lady likes it. I like it. Which should really go without saying, since it makes the wife happy...

In this picture you can see a hint of the kitchen floors that I started working on before The Talker was born.
He is almost five.
They are still not finished.

In this picture you can see a hint of the front hall and a little of the front door.
I installed it a year ago.
It still needs inside trim and paint.

In this picture you can see more blue.
I framed the flag AND stained the computer cabinet.
And I got both things finished in less than a year.
(OK, maybe it took two...)

Monday, January 01, 2007

A blue start to the new year

The Boss Lady and I took a break from the Disney vacation negotiations long enough for her to decide it was time to paint the living room. We will soon have the blue-est living room on the block.

I got one wall completely finished in about three hours. The next wall is about half done. The last wall that will get painted is only a couple of feet surrounding a patio door, so it should be no problem. At some point in between now and then I'll have to deal with the third wall, also known as THE BIG WALL. It will take several hours on a ladder to get that one finished up. Oh joy.

I'll post some pics of the progress tomorrow.

We are gluttons for punishment

Just got back at 4pm yesterday from an 800 mile round trip to Bro's house. 18 family members sleeping in the same house might be a few dozen too many. Eveyone had a good time and we ate like calves being fattened for slaughter. Good times.

On the 5 1/2 hour drive home, The Boss Lady and I spent most of the time discussing how we could possibly make another long road trip in March. It is only 1400 miles to Disneyland or 1100 miles to Disney World.

Anyone want to ride along? There is almost enough room between the kid's booster seats for Mini Me or Gary Coleman. If you need more space than that, I guess you can sit in The Boss Lady's lap.