Monday, March 31, 2008

RacecarDaddy, Part 4 and 5

A follow post on the speeding ticket I got back on January 31.

Since I appeared at Municipal Court and was willing to pay the ticket within 10 days I could have been done with the whole mess for about $170 plus parking fees downtown. But I decided to beg the judge for a probated sentence, so they got no $ from me that day.

Instead I was scheduled to see the city prosecutor to try to work out a plea arrangement. I did not think I had an option to skip this step. But in the info the city gave me, they said that if I did meet with the prosecutor, then I would not be allowed to ask the judge for a probated sentence later on.

So I decided to waive that meeting and move to the trial. I was nice to the tax payers, though. I also waived the jury and the court reporter. Heck, I don't even care if the cop shows up.

On the way downtown I am stopping and picking up a copy of my driving record, to show the judge that I am not, in fact, a speed-crazed teenager in a souped up Camaro Z-28. I am just a dad in a Saturn. Who can't take Defensive Driving because I have that dang Commercial Driver's License. Which I haven't used in 6 years. Fat lot of good it had done me now, right?

This morning I finally have to meet my destiny. Downtown at 9:30. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whatever it takes to keep this cheesy little ticket off of my driving record.

After all, I have watched a lot of Law and Order. I know my rights and if all else fails, I'll order up an autopsy and some DNA tests. that should slow things down enough that I don't have to write a check today, right?

But I am betting that I'll now be out more than the original $170. I am sure they will be more than willing to tack on some court costs and all that stuff.

Any bets on what this $170 ticket is going to cost me in the long run?

And now,Part 6 as an addendum:

After I got downtown, I found FREE parking. So the $5 I would have spent on that went to a nice breakfast at a little walk-in bakery after I made sure I was early and in the right place for Municipal Court.

After I watched a couple of entertaining cases and I realized that the judge was assessing full fine costs PLUS $101 in court costs after finding each defendant guilty, I started thinking about cutting my losses.

My 9:30 time came and went with no sign of a police officer. So I was feeling good. An easy dismissal? Turns out that was the case for everyone who had been ticketed by that officer - EXCEPT me. Because of that @##$(*&#$%^ Commercial Driver's License. No dismissals allowed for CDLs. The judge wanted me to talk to the prosecutor and reschedule for a date in April.

While talking to the prosecutor, he made me an offer and I finally decided to just take the ticket on my record and plead no contest. I would not have to pay the full fine, only the court costs, plus at least $1 for the fine. He assured me that with the CDL I would not get the judge to allow anything better.

In the end, I am out about $150 on this ticket since I made one extra trip downtown with $5 of paid parking to get it all handled and I missed out on work today. Wah Wah :(

I could have just plead No Contest and written a check for $167 at the beginning to get it all handled. After all is done, I saved about $15.

Not the easiest way to pay for a couple of cases of Dr Pepper, but it'll work.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

We are famous!

and it is about time that the AtHomeFam gets the respect we deserve.

Yep, we made it to Street View on Google Maps.

Some people are worried about invasion of privacy and all that. Me? I am just sad that we did not know the Googlecar was coming by.

The Christmas balloons were not aired up. ThePolar Bear and Winnie the Pooh balloons are the colored blobs laying flat in the middle of the yard. And besides, I could have made one of my famous in-the-buff streaks around the neighborhood.

Maybe there is a reason they don't tell guys like me where they are headed next.

For the record I have narrowed down the date this pic was taken. Obviously at Christmas, because there is a wreath on the garage and the aforementioned balloons. Definitely this year since I did not have that car last Christmas. And more specifically, it was between Dec 5th, when I set up the decorations and Jan 5th, when I finally got around to putting them all away.

Actually, I know it to be at least a few days after that, because I put up a Santa balloon closer to the street, but it had a hole in it right out the box. After trying to make it work for a week or so, I dumped it on our next trash day, most likely the 18th of Dec.

Also, The Talker's school parking lot was totally empty when I took a look over there. So assuming that the streets were photographed the same day, I would bet that he was already out for Winter Break. And if that is true, then The Boss Lady would have been out on her Winter Break too, which likely means that she was Christmas shopping when the Googlecar rolled through the 'hood.

Yes, this is the type of trivial information that clogs my brain and keeps me from being able to do Algebra.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Because I know you couldn't sleep
until I told you

I took Terry and Jen's advice and renewed our cell phone contract for another two years. New freebie phone should be here Monday, but I chickened out and did not spend the $ to get a cool slider/smartphone/gps enabled/mp3 playing/video broadcasting unit. Heck it isn't even a flip phone.

So the teens will still laugh at me, but i get to laugh at The Boss Lady, since I ordered her a pink phone. The girl may like pink frilly stuff, but the momma, not so much. Heck, I only had to listen to her whine for a month when the kids bought her purple Crocs.

Hey, if she did not want the pink one, she should have beat me to the online order form.


We just returned from The Talker's first soccer game of the season. Of course, after running around on the field, trying to keep 5 kids at a time organized at least enough to all kick the ball at the same goal, I think I am done with my exercise for the day.

The Talker is playing his last season on a YMCA Kinder Soccer team. It is a fairly non competitive league. Heck, we are not even keeping track of the score. The kids? They keep up with the score because kindergartners can count. But officially it is one of those everybody wins type of things.

Now don't come in here bitching that AtHomeDaddy is a dyed-in-the red commie. I am all for competition, even in youth sports. Yeah for America and for capitalism. Crush the enemy and all that. The Talker just does not need that type of competition. Yet.

As for me? I'll just count the season a success if we can learn to keep our hands off the freakin' ball. But at this rate, I am not expecting that to happen any time soon.

And until it does, we won't worry about crushing the enemy on the other side of the soccer field.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sad, but sadly true

This afternoon the kids and I headed to the park as soon as The Talker got home from school. OK, not as soon as. We had to stop at Krispy Kreme on the way to the park. Yep, had to.

Anyways, we went to the neighborhood park to hang out. Usually the after school crowd is hopping, but today there were only three other kids and one mom up there. It was a family that I don't remember seeing before.

After The AtHomeTrio snacked on Krispy Kremes, the kids bolted for the playscape. I hung out at the nearby picnic tables and wished that I had brought a pillow.

One of the 3 girls with the other family came over to chat with me. She was maybe 4 years old. From where I was sitting, her mom could not see us, so mom came close enough to see the chatty daughter.

Believe me, I am not offended that the mom was keeping a close eye. I would be worried if the mom had not noticed her kid hanging around, out of sight. The mom had to move, to check on a younger daughter. So I moved to the other side of the playscape, since I was expecting Chatty Kid to keep up the talk. That way the mom could see all of her brood while she pushed her youngest on a swing.

Chatty Kid started gathering a collection of sticks. She would walk a few steps, find a stick and return to show off her treasure. Kind of like a lazy Golden Retriever dog. After she made a dozen trips to fetch sticks, I reached over the retaining wall and picked up a particularly gnarly and rough looking stick for Chatty Kid to add to the pile.

At the moment I handed the girl the stick, the mom called her over. They started gathering up their things and left soon after that. Since we were the only three left at the park, we headed home, too.

As we were walking away from the park, the mom stopped me. She mildly chastised me for giving her kid that stick. Now, she wasn't yelling or anything, but I think she was sort of freaked out. At one point she told me something like 'I don't want the kids to learn that they can accept ANYTHING from strangers.'

Sadly, I think the mom had a point. Maybe she overreacted. Or maybe she just doesn't know that this neighborhood is rife with stay at home dads. I mean I had moved so that she could see her kid more easily. But I still don't know the lady. She and I are in fact, strangers. And teaching your kids to be smart and safe around strangers IS good family policy.

If I had stopped on my way into the park to chat up the mom, playtime might have ended up differently. Or the mom might have though I was trying to hit on her. Either way, I was going to end up looking a little creepy.

In the end, I am glad to see the mom took charge of a situation that freaked her out. But I am sad that to think that I was the cause of the end of playtime. Playtime is supposed to be fun. But on days like this it just tends to be a lot of work for me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pre-School Musical

Around our house Annie is the current big thing. The Boss Lady loved it when she was a grade-schooler. Now our kids are watching it every chance they get.

Way back before Annie came to stay in our DVD player, though, The Princess wrote her own song. I have tried for the longest time to catch it on video, audio tape, a telephone answering machine. Anything. But the girl will not perform on cue. Prima donnas, what can you do?

So now I give you:

The Bad Princess Song
Words and music by The Princess

(Sung to the tune of: well, that gets a little complicated.
See it starts off sounding like the intro to It's a Big World. But it quickly
moves into this Pink Houses/We Will Rock You thing.)

I'm a bad princess
A bad, bad princess

I don't like people

And I've got my red eyes
My red, red eyes

I live in a castle
But I won't let you in
Won't let you in

The words are kid of fluid and ever-changing after the 'red, red eyes' line. But the first part of The Bad Princess Song never changes. Ever. Under penalty of torture.

While I was double checking the wording with the singer/songwriter, I missed one word. And she threatened to turn me into a toad.

Gosh! Most artists just complain that the publisher is ripping them off with a lousy contract...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Picking colleges for the kids won't be this hard...

or require this much math.

That is right. We are at that union of the holy and the unholy. The end of a 2 year cell phone contract. Deciding what we should do next has become my obsession.

For the time being I am holding onto my 2 year old flip phone, which once was The Boss Lady's one year old cell phone. But we are contract free. Old-school flip phone technology meets financial freedom. Or something like that...

I have been lusting after a web-enabled smart phone. Checking email and blogging on the go sounds really cool. Then I found out that all those bells and whistles cost an extra $15-$30 each month. As it is now, I hardly use my phone. We have the fewest minutes available from our cell provider and never go over on talk-time.

So the current quandary: leave everything as it is now, but get laughed at every time I pull the old flip phone out of my pocket, renew for another two years with our same contract and get new, but not totally cool, freebie phones, or drop the bomb, get a discount on the high dollar Smart Phone by signing up for a new contract with our current provider.

Of course, that does not take into account all of the other providers. they may have discounts that are just as good as our current provider. And most of them have cooler phones. But trying to compare plans between companies is like doing calculus while swinging on the monkey bars. And I have never been any good at EITHER of those things...

So which is more important? Ensuring that I don't get laughed at for a couple of more years or pinching every penny until my current phone bites the big one?


I find myself in a unique position for a a stay at home dad this morning. It is a weekday. And there are no children here. Mondays, I generally get my fill of kids on the first work day of the week. But The Princess' school is closed for Easter Monday. So she went to work with The Boss Lady.

The Talker is off at school. Where he stays until 2:45. I'll drive out and pick up The Princess at 1. Leaving me with 4 1/2 hours to get the following things finished up:

Front yard mowed, trimmed and edged
Workout at the YMCA fitness center
Dishes out of, and more into, the dishwasher
Dirty laundry washed, clean laundry folded, folded laundry put away
Backyard and veggie garden watered
My car filled up with gas
Grocery run - we are out of Dr Pepper...

OK, so that list may be a little much for a 4 1/2 hour block of free time. Just in case it is, I think I'll start at the bottom and work my way up to the top.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Bracket Braggin'

Some of my buddies take NCAA March Madness very seriously. I watch as many games as I can, but mainly because if I don't then The Boss Lady will take the remote control away and we will end up watching the Project Runway marathon or something.

A few years ago I started making up a March Madness bracket. Some guys spend days thinking through each pick. But I never spend much time on it. I think my bracket took me less than 10 minutes this year and that included registering for

So how does a guy who knows nothing about college basketball do during the first round? Top 96% of all entries on ESPN at the present time, thank you very much.

Hey, SOMEBODY had to pick Western Kentucky over Drake. Whatever that means.

For the record, no, I did not pick the 'Horn to run the table. Also, this likely concludes my bragging about college basketball for the year. The only bet I am willing to make for now is that by Round 2 my win percentage will be somewhere around 30%

Addendum 1 4:21 pm: OK, Once I quit updating this post, you'll know the downhill slide has begun. 97%, Babyyy!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Garden '08

The veggie garden is coming back to life pretty well. I kept a few plants in the ground over the fall and winter. Several lettuce plants came up after I harvested the last of the crop over the summer. One of the survivors is a purple leafed variety. While I was out there this morning, I noticed that the purple lettuce is blooming.

Who knew that lettuce would bloom? Not me.

Here are a few other pictures from the garden. The snow peas are coming on strong. The lettuce is tasty as always and we still have enough onions to make the Russian Army cry.

And just for Terry, the garden looks a little less like a graveyard this year. The watermelon bed, in the middle of the frame, is now kind of curved and bean shaped.


The guy who made this has waaaaaaaaay too much time on his hands. There are several others over at Ready-Set-Bumbo.

And just for the record, I KNOW you aren't supposed to put Bumbo seats on elevated surfaces. You aren't supposed to let your dog get shot by the baby's laser, either.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I think I look more like Woody Harrelson...

It is official. The Talker's new soccer team will be The Wildcats. Does that make me Goldie Hawn?

As it stands now, I either have two weeks to teach 10 kindergarteners to play soccer or I need to start teaching them some good cheer leading skills.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Need to feel young again?

Or at least a little less old?

Go hit up the U23D movie when it comes by. The Boss Lady and I went on our first date in about a decade tonight. We went to see U23D in an IMAX theater and followed up that awesome show with a little Frito Pie at Texas Chili Parlor.

Thus concludes the blog-able portion of this evening. Good night.

Well, they DID have a 30 minute head start!

It is official. My garage is/was a freakin' disaster area. That entire wing of our estate should be condemned/torched/abandoned.

I walked outside this morning, and noticed that it was a perfectly gorgeous Saturday. Our neighbors were having a garage sale. Lots of traffic on the street and lots of people milling around. A perfect time to expose the dump that is my car-house*.

* car-house (noun) A barn/building/shed big enough to store a car.
My grandpa called the barn closest to his house a car-house. I have no idea why, there was never a car in there. Just a big pile of junk. Much like my car-house.

I always seem to have too many projects half-started or half-finished. And I never, ever get around to putting everything back were it belongs. After a few months/years. It gets to be quiet a sight. Throw in a half complete 40 year old truck, and you have the makings of a horror movie set.

I organized. I straightened. I swept and I reorganized. Heck, I even managed to wash a load of laundry in the meantime. I spent a couple of hours out there. And I still am not finished. I need to finish organizing all of my hand tools and camping gear. Which are the two piles that were mostly mucking everything up in the first place...

After I had been working for a while, I noticed that the neighbors garage sale was over and they had already gone inside to count their pile of small bills. Which makes me feel really bad. Because evidently I could have sold this crap pile quicker than I can clean it up.

Anybody want a good deal on a pile of assorted tools and tents?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Heading home

The kids and I are heading back home today. Not the most exciting trip ever. The funeral ended as one would expect. And just to keep things interesting, the surgery almost ended as one would expect a funeral to end, too.

Good times. Now I just have to keep the kiddos happy until The Boss Lady flies home on Friday.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Made it

We made it to the end of the road trip. We were headed up for a funeral and surgery, but a birthday for my 5 year old nephew broke out.

I think I like this better.

Spring BREAK!

The kiddos are out of school and The Boss Lady has no class for a week.

So we are busting out on that most exciting of road trips, the out of town funeral, with a side of surgery on the other side of town.

Luckily, none of the four of us are the honoree at either event.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

She would really laugh if she saw my Superman Underoos.

The Princess was getting dressed this morning when she came running out of her room. I did not really see what was soooooooooo funny about a pair of her panties until she held them up and screamed "Daddy, these are the biggest panties, EVER!"

Though The Boss Lady would disagree that they are the biggest EVER, it is still pretty funny to find a pair of your mom's underwear in your own dresser drawer. At least if you are 3 and 1/2.

If it happened to ME this morning, I would be distressed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I wuz PIMP!

The wife and I started digging through some old pictures tonight. She did not meet me until the long hair and the 69 Volkswagen were both long gone. Her loss. And if she would quit laughing, she would realize that...

Pictures taken before I went to my high school prom.

Can you believe it?
This stud had no date for prom.
Not because my 1988 mullet wasn't trying hard enough,
that's for sure.

Just Talkin'

Now that The Talker is old enough to have an occasional conversation, I am constantly amazed by his insights and I wonder about the things that really get his brain working.

This morning I was flipping news channels back and forth between CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The Democratic Party primary system down here in Texas seemed to be the hot topic of the morning news. So the Talker started sharing his knowledge of the U.S. election process. And other than thinking we are electing a new President TODAY, I am impressed by how much he understands.

2 parties, check. Main players by name and on sight, check. Knowing that adults vote and kids don't, check. He knows that his mom and I voted early, to miss the chaos today. And he gets a bonus point for knowing that all the signs around town are trying to "sell you to vote for that guy" (his words, not mine). Plus, a game winning, final point for understanding that not all countries elect leaders in the same way.

While we were in the car, on the way to school, The Talker was verbally trotting along, just sharing everything he knew about elections when he hit a stumbling block. New York.

Seems that the boy doesn't know for sure if New Yorkers are allowed to vote. I assured him that they are. Then he wanted to know who MAKES them vote. I tried to convince him that voting is a choice. But he would have none of my nonsense when thinking about New York. He seems absolutely convinced that New Yorkers are forced to line up and vote.

I tried to get the boy off of New York's back. I tried to change the subject. Heck, I even turned on the 80's rock station that usually gets him pumped up in the morning, but somehow just makes me feel really old... But he stuck with New York voting rights.

Since his school is a polling place, there were signs and campaign staffers lining all of the sidewalks into the building. As we pulled up in front of the building he hopped out of the car. I wished him a good day. He reminded me "Don't forget to vote again."

Yep, even though the boy has only stepped outside of Texas once in his life, he sounds just like a good New York politician.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Migraine Math

Church this morning + Sunday School + Lunch Out + 6 year old neighbor's birthday party all afternoon + Dad's night at church tonight = Who has time for a good migraine today?

Well, evidently I FOUND time...

Who wants to loan me a Bible with a couple of shots of booze hidden inside?

Dance Party!

Last night the entire family headed over to The Talker's school for a Dance Party and Silent Auction fund raiser. The kids had a good time and popcorn and juice only cost 25 cents each.
The dance was a well-done activity for the families. We all had a god time.

The PTA brought in a professional DJ who played a good selection of kid-approved pop and rock tunes. After a couple of hours, we were heading out the door, but we got sucked back into the scrum by the Chicken Dance and the Cha Cha Slide. Is it odd that Vince Neil and I dance exactly the same way?

The silent auction is the school's biggest PTA fund raiser for the year. They have lots of baskets for sale that the class parents put together. OK, the class moms put together... There are lots of other donated trips and things up for auction, too.

Luckily, I don't think The Boss Lady won the Mom's 4 Day Spa Weekend Away that she bid $1056.42 on. So our house will not collapse upon itself some Saturday in March.