Friday, February 29, 2008

Blog housekeeping

Yesterday I logged in to post and my text had disappeared from my blog pages. After dorking around with the template on blogger for a while, I got it mostly set up the way I like it. Except that I can't get the Archives to look right.

So I am trying out an archive calendar that I found over at If anyone can figure out how to push the archive title list over to a right side alignment, like the rest of my sidebar, I would welcome the help.

So if my blog tanks in the next few days, blame it on blogger.

Edit: I got the sidebar to line up properly. I couldn't tell you how I did it, but it looks OK in IE and Firefox

Edit 2: I did not like the way the calendar looked on the sidebar. I finally got that nearly fixed, too. It isn't exactly the way I want it ,but close enough. Pretty good for a guy with no knowledge of CSS code.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What do you do?

What to do when you have more babies than hands?

Use that shirt for something more than just covering your bod. It makes a great baby toting gadget, too.

Who needs a $50 Baby Bjorn?

Man, I feel important, but not really CONNECTED

Just today I have gotten calls from 2 city council members, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, one Democratic presidential candidate and one Republican presidential contender.

You would think with connections like this I could get my television and internet services changed over to a new provider with no real hassles, right?

Maybe I should have voted for some of those people...

Garden layout

Every Spring, before I get too far into the veggie garden, I try to plan out where things grow. Yesterday The Talker and I came up with a pretty good plan for our garden.
The kid's garden area is outside of the garden fence, so that The Talker and The Princess can dig whenever they see fit. Most years this leads to The Big White Dog digging up the rest of their garden, thus the fence around the main veggie plot.

Since there is not a lot out there for a meat-a-tarian like me to eat, I am doubling size of the potato plot. Also, we thought about leaving out the watermelons this year. I used to grow lots of them, but we haven't seen many good ones in the last few years.

It looks like the kids and I are going to have a lot packed into our little 25x15 garden plot. Every year I think about expanding it, but since there are still green beans in the freezer from last season, I think this is the perfect size for us.

Now if I was eating anything that came out of there, we might need 500 sq feet of garden plot. Just one of the may sacrifices I make for my family.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Garden tour

I got an email a little while ago about our funky tree. I found the timing of this email interesting, since I had just noticed the first purple blooms on our Mountain Laurel trees a few minutes earlier, on my way out to the mailbox.

After that email I decided to grab the camera and snap a few pictures of our yard and garden as everything is starting to come back to life.

The purple blooms of a
Texas Mountain Laurel Tree

Buds on the white blooming
Texas Mountain Tree

Purple blooms on a creeping lantana

The last of our daffodils

This little tree is the result of propagation of seeds from the seed pods of the white-blooming funky tree. It will take another few seasons to see if it blooms white or purple.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Road Trip!

JB, my college roommate, and I took a road trip this weekend to go fishing down at Pop's fishing cabin on the Gulf coast. Other than some piss-poor navigation on my part that added 45 minutes or so to the drive down there on Friday night, we had a heck of a good time.

According to Pops, stingrays move into the bay just before the flounder start coming in. And if there is anything to that, and you like flounder, then get down there and start fishing. I have only caught one stingray at Pop's place before this trip. Saturday I caught three or four 'rays.

At Pop's pier we reeled in a couple of small flounder, a few black drum and a couple of red drum while we were fishing in the bay. We also caught a couple of hardhead catfish on the sail line. After a late lunch, JB, Pops and I went fishing in town. We hit a ton of small fish there, including piggy perch, sand trout along with more of the same species we had caught earlier across the bay.

After 6 or 7 hours of fishing we had landed several dozen fish, but we never even got a peek at one that was large enough to keep. Which is OK, too. That just meant we did not have to clean a bunch of fish when we were done.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Time to sell this dump?

How can the three smallest rooms in the rouse take the longest to clean?

I just spent well over an hour cleaning a bathroom. That I can't even stretch my arms across without hitting a sink or a towel rack. Are we really the dirtiest people in the history of our neighborhood? I am starting to think that we might be.

Granted, the bathroom has not gotten a good scrub down in a while, but dang.

And our kitchen. That itty-bitty space where dinner comes from. No, NOT SONIC, smartass... How can a room that small get such a coating of gunk all over it? Do we just eat way more grease-soaked foods than anyone else, or what? Besides, what is this film of ooze all over everything?

In answer to the ooze question? I quit thinking about it. And used bleach. Lots and lots of bleach.

After all of that effort, our kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling clean. Of course, you need a gas mask to go in any of those rooms. The bleach fumes are pretty gnarly right now.

But I bet the place would photograph well for a real-estate sales flyer. 'Cause you can't smell the bleach on those.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We are pulling a quadruple

ALL FOUR of us are going back to school in the morning. The Boss Lady will head in at her normal time. The Princess and I will drive The Talker to kindergarten at the usual time. And then she and I will hang out at home for an hour or so before we head off for our school day. And we are all doing it on the same day!

We have only done this a couple of times since January. So we may end up running late at some point. But just to be safe I double checked a few alarm clocks and I have an attack plan in place for all of the meds that must be distributed before anyone leaves the house.

Wish us luck. It's probably going to be a long week.

At least for the rest of these poor suckers... I am leaving town on Friday to go fishing for the weekend. So I'll be playing hooky from work once more, later this week. The rest of these guys are going to have to cough up a lung or something worse to get to miss a day of school from now until Spring Break,which is now only 15 school days away.

Friday, February 15, 2008

You gotta have style

I heard The Princess calling the neighbor's new dog a few minutes ago, which means she is usually climbing on the fence to sneak a peek at the puppy. When I looked out in the backyard, I saw her hanging on the fence and the crape myrtle tree.

When I noticed her climbing shoes, I had to run for the camera. Those high heeled plastic princess shoes sure do get a lot of wear.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It only got worse

The Talker finally went to school today. He missed 3 days this week, but I think the boy willed himself well so that he would not miss the class Valentine's Day party.

Monday The Boss Lady stayed home with the boy. Tuesday, she came home after a half day. The Princess and I were both sick yesterday. So our house was not a lot of fun. Unless you REALLY like the Cinderella DVD. Then life is a party, 'cause that thing has pretty much spun non-stop since Monday.

By yesterday afternoon I was starting to feel better, but The Princess was feeling worse. After 6 hours in the Pediatric ER last night, the girls made it back home by 1 a.m. The Boss Lady had to haul the girl up there solo, since there was no use in me spreading my germs to the kids in the waiting room. Plus this way The Talker got to sleep a full night's worth last night.

Got to be ready for that big Valentine's Day party, don'tcha know?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sick Bay

Where is Corporal Klinger? My bedpan is full and I need to barf some more.

Yep, that is how much fun we are having here. OK, technically, I am still not sick. The Talker is on his 3rd day of a cold, the flu, a viral thingy. Whatever he wants to call it. All I know is that his doc's office doesn't want him there, getting the rest of the sick kids a little sicker. So we are hanging out at home again today.

Just not in the same room as The Talker. No way am I going in there without a Level 6 Haz-Mat suit and a bucket o' bleach water.

KB and his kids were supposed to stop by this week for a little fun in Austin. For some reason I think they were thinking of fun stuff like a park, the zoo or a children's museum visit. Not sitting around waiting for the boy to spew. So I guess we will miss their visit while they are in town. Their loss.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The wife's new favorite construction site

This is the Home Depot that has been torn down to make my wife exceedingly happy.

View Larger Map

The Boss Lady now knows that her personal Target store is scheduled to open October 12.

That tax rebate can't get here soon enough.

I see dead Depots

A few months ago our neighborhood Home Depot store closed up and moved to a new building another couple of miles from our house. the Boss Lady and I really hate seeing those empty big stores sitting after a relocation, so a while back we made a couple of decisions.

First, we try not to get in the habit of shopping at the newly relocated stores if the old was working fine for our family. Especially if the old store was more convenient than the new. Which is true of this particular Home Depot move.
Full disclosure time: Rule 1 has fallen by the wayside when our closest Target store moved further away and into a bigger store. We shop at the new store. A lot. But we feel bad about it. A little.

Second, we try to make it a habit to support stores that eventually move into the abandoned big box stores. Which worked great when our favorite grocery store took over an abandoned building a few months back. We want them to stay-put, so we shop there almost exclusively.

Anyways, we drive past the old Home Depot site occasionally and were curious when they tore the building down a month ago. Usually the different retailer throws on a new coat of paint, hangs a new sign and opens for bidness. A complete tear-down of the store is getting serious.

Today we passed by and The Boss Lady's Target Store Radar kicked into high gear. She spotted a single red banner on the construction fence that evidently announces a new Target store will be opening soon on the old Home Depot site. I thought she was going to cry.

Now this woman just laughed at me when I proposed to her a hundred years ago. She laughed at me when out children were born. She laughed throughout our wedding. Not necessarily in that order... But tear down a Home Depot and replace it with a Target store and here come the tears.

As we were running our errands this morning I kept hearing her mumble something about "pretty and red... right in my neighborhood... it's gonna be great..." Which is odd, since that is exactly the thing she kept muttering all though our wedding.

Addendum 1 (added at 11:40 am)- The Boss Lady just said to me, "Honey, the only reason I haven't slapped you in the face this morning, is because I am filled with the joy of a new Target within 4 miles of my house..."

See. I told you this woman is serious about shopping at Target. And all I did was tell her to get in there and cook my lunch.

Addenda 2 and 3 (added at 11:50 AM)-
Stuff I recently heard coming from our kitchen. Where my wife does not seem to be cooking my lunch. " You know, your crap is soooo much easier to take, now that there is about to be a Target nearby. " And "You should get a job at the new Target. They give decent discounts and have good insurance available for 20 hour employees. Plus, I'll be spending more over there since we will save money on gas driving to the Target further out."

I am a lot worried. It sorta sounds like this lady has done her homework.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Princess, Weather Girl

The Princess told me this morning that it was about to snow. So she wanted to wear her biggest, thickest coat to school. Yes, I gave in...

But for some reason, my front yard still doesn't look like Father of Five's backyard.

And just to twist the knife a little - 82 degrees and not a cloud in the sky today. Where my shorts?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Somebody must be barefoot

I am sure someone went to work or school barefooted this morning. Because I just made a pass through the house, picking up stray shoes and returning them to their rightful storage places.

While I was stowing the shoes I counted 8 pairs, including 4 pair of Crocs, two pair of plastic princess shoes, three single shoes with no mate and one unmatched pair of cowboy boots. If I was willing to look harder, I could probably round up another two or three pair of shoes from the yard and garage.

I won't even tell you how many pairs of underwear I picked up in the hallway and kitchen this morning. Or WHY there were three different sizes of underwear under the dining table...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Back at the school...

Since the first of the school year I have worked a few hours a week at The Princess' pre-school. It certainly doesn't pay the bills, but it gets us out of the house. Most importantly, those hours of work occupy the time that I would otherwise be sans children. And the math works out something like this:

ME, with free time - The Children = Expensive for The Boss Lady

or the corollary:

Child1+School+(Child2+School)+(Me-Work)=Bankrupt Wife

During my work days, about half of the time I end up working in a classroom, substituting for a regular classroom teacher. The rest of the time I am supposed to be planning and running "Outdoor Programs". Yeah, I don't really know what that means either...

Sometimes I plan gardening or nature study activities. Once in a while I let the kids pound nails into old tree stumps. Occasionally we saw big pieces of wood into little pieces of wood with real hand saws. No power tools here. Do YOU want a 4 year old running around the playground with a cordless reciprocating saw? Yeah, neither do I.

Anyways, I think I found a new favorite activity for the kiddos today. And I think all of my effort to find interesting activities for the kids has been wasted. We have a couple of those battery powered bubble machines around the school, so I set one of the bubble machines up on a second story walkway that cuts through the playground. We had gazillions of bubbles everywhere.

At one point I counted 41 kids on the playground. 35 of them were either chasing bubbles or working on the nature study project I had planned. The rest were playing on some of the almost $75K in playscape equipment that the school recently bought.

Yep 6 kids occupied by a massive playground. 30 or more entertained by a $12 bubble blower and a gallon of bubble soap that cost somewhere near a buck. I am fairly sure the bubble children went home a lot more tired than the playground kids. And getting the kids tired enough that they take an afternoon nap is what pre-school really is about, right? Oh admit it. That education thing will work itself out in Kindergarten...

After seeing that today, my current advice is this: If your kid's school wants to upgrade the playground. Slip 'em a twenty dollar bill and tell the PTA to buy a bubble blower and keep the change for extra batteries.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Spring yard cleaning

It isn't officially Spring. But it WAS hot enough today that we turned on the air conditioner. Therefore, I am betting that winter is mostly over here in Austin.

I spent most of the afternoon out in the front yard, building new flowerbeds. We try to get rid of a little bit more of our water hogging St. Augustine lawn grass every year. So today I started laying out a couple of new flower beds in the front yard.

Since the neighborhood deer will eat almost anything we plant out front, there might not be any actual flowers added to the beds. I will be moving some flowering lantana bushes and herbs that the deer won't eat, from other parts of the yard.

At the end of this project our front yard will hopefully be a little more water friendly and easier to mow, since I am reshaping one bed that has always been difficult to mow around.

One other major goal of this undertaking is keeping it cheap. I am hopeful that I will be able to move plants around in our yard, so that we won't need to buy a bunch of new plants.

Pictures of the low budget flower bed project will follow.