Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm not dead yet!

But check back in about three days.

My nephew is staying with us for a few days and this 3 kids vs 2 adults game is tiring! No wonder I never was blessed with a younger sibling. FOF, you and MOF are super stars!

I am supposed to be watching one kid in the bathtub. Not really sure if it is one of ours in the tub, or one of my brother's kids. But I know that I am supposed to be the lifeguard and The Boss Lady is stuck outside in the backyard with the other two.

Hopefully we will figure out who is who around here before anyone accidentally puts on pink pajamas.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Must be summer.

'Cause I just spent like 60 hours doing absolutely nothing.

Nothing except eating barbecue and watching the greatest summer movie of all times, The Sandlot. And we all know that I love summer. But have I ever told you how much I love baseball movies?

In case you missed it, here is one of the classic scenes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Smoker FYI Part 4 - The Eating

This is another follow up to this morning's post about smoking a big fat one on my back porch.

I waited patiently on the meat... then I got hungry and finished cooking the brisket in the oven.

I was planning on serving our dinner at 7. After 6 and a half hours, by 7:45, it was looking like I might have to stay in the backyard all night, so we fired up the oven and ate brisket at 8:30. It was a late dinner, but worth the wait.

OK, so I was too hungry to make the plate pretty. Give me a break, OK? I skipped lunch for this feast. The final judgment? Not the best brisket I have ever eaten. But I have paid for worse.

I had some additional observations about my day, but hunger pains must have erased my memory. Maybe I'll remember after a late night snack.

Smoker FYI Part 3

This is another follow up to this morning's post about smoking a big fat one on my back porch.

2 1/2 hours until dinner time, 200 degrees in the box. 101 in the shade. Perfect for smoking brisket and napping in the lawn furniture.

The chicken tuned out perfect after about 4 hours. If the brisket tastes like hell, then we can all have a little of the bird. But you better get here early, I only cooked enough for the kids.

Throwing caution and good sense to the wind, I am going to smoke the other half of the brisket tonight, since the smoker is already warmed up. We won't eat it right away, but it will keep OK in the freezer.

Smoker FYI Part 2

This is a follow up to this morning's post about smoking a big fat one on my back porch.

200 degrees in the box. Time to open the top vents for a quality smoked brisket.

200 degrees in the yard. Time to open a cold one and find some nap quality shade.

This is hard work, cooking and napping at the same time. No wonder the guy at the BBQ place up the road gets $6 a sammich.

5 1/2 hours until dinner time. More updates later.

Smoker FYI

When I got home from fishing this weekend, empty handed, there was a present from The Mother of the Bride. A 9 pound brisket. Not 9 pounds of cooked brisket, but a big ol' slab of meat looking for a place to be cooked.

Since I eat about 10 pounds of brisket a month, I have been wanting to try my hand at cooking one myself, so I guess this was a sign from God and my mother in law that I should do it. I have been looking at barbecue smokers for a while now.

I was heading over to the sporting goods store to pick one up when I remembered a Christmas gift card from Home Depot in my wallet. So I brought home a box style Charcoal smoker. My neighbor has one like it and he is the master of pork ribs.

Took me a while to get it all unpacked and assembled. But it was fairly straight forward. Heck I managed not to break anything and I hadn't had any Dr Pepper in about 10 hours. Half an hour and I was trying to decide whether I would smoke the brisket in the backyard, by the new comfy chairs or in the morning shade of the front yard.

The backyard and comfortable chairs won out!
Besides, it will be shady again out there in about 4 hours.

While the smoker was heating up, I had a sudden realization that the meat wasn't marinaded or prepped for the smoker. Since it would take a day to marinade the meat, I went with a dry rub of paprika, brown sugar, onion and garlic powders and some dried, homegrown oregano.

I left the brisket to sit in the rub for an hour or so.

My dinner meat met it's fate at 12:19 pm.


Come over tonight about 7 and either eat some dinner or laugh at my brisket folly. The good news is I decided to only smoke half of the brisket. So if this is a waste of $15 of barbecue, I still have 4 pounds of beef for a second try, when I think I'll try this marinade.

After the brisket had an hour in the smoker, I seasoned some chicken and put it on the top rack. No matter how good the beef turns out, the kiddies probably won't like it. Might as well cook up some chicken for them, too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The countdown begins.

The Boss Lady will be off for her summer break in 9 and a half hours. 11 days of bonding with the kiddos and wondering where AtHomeDaddy is hiding. I'll give you a hint. Bet I won't be spotted in the kitchen. Or the laundry room.

Actually, we are quite possibly the most boring family in the entire history of the universe. During her time off we are making a trip up to Ft Worth this weekend and a couple of day trip to the coast, to catch all the fish I missed 2 days ago. In other words, the only exotic places we will see this summer are places that we have abeen in the past month to see people we have already seen this week.

But the kids SLEEP at both locations. And we have spent a lot of sleepless nights on road trips.

OK, The Boss has spent a lot of sleepless nights on road trips, trying to get the kids settled enough to sleep in a different bed. I usually find some way to catch a few Zzzzzzzzs. That is what allergy meds are for, right?

Instead we will will find lots of adventures around here. Lots of park and museum visits. Eating out at the finest Chich-Fil-A's and driving downtown to check out the arsonists work at the Texas Governor's mansion. All that fun stuff.

Maybe we will travel more than just to grandma's house when the kids sleep at night. Or when gas goes back down to a couple of bucks a gallon. Until then, the boring summers continue.

Just the way we like 'em.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fishing fun

JB, my old college roommate, and I met up in San Antonio on Friday night to eat some barbecue and to head down to Matagorda Bay to go fishing. Saturday turned out to be a great day of fishing and BSing. We didn't catch any whoppers, but we were in the fish all day.

After a full day of letting the fish eat our bait, we headed over to dinner at the world's slowest seafood restaurant in Matagorda. IF you ever want to go to River Bend, make sure you have an hour to wait for the appetizers and 2 hours to wait for your dinner. The food was great and the view ALMOST made up for the wait.

Good times at the bay. Makes for a great weekend. Even if you have to wait for dinner.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You know it is a guys weekend

When the fishing gear takes up more room than the clothes. And most of the real fishing gear is in storage down at the coast. This is really just the bag I smuggle my cigars around in.

To be honest, I could have packed all of my clothes in a MUCH smaller bag, but this was the smallest I could scrounge up.

I'm out. Be at the house Sun night, we will grillsome fresh fish.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's hot! So I am leaving.

The wife and kids are staying in town this weekend. Someone has to keep the heat company. But me? I am headed for the coast. Nothing like a little salt water fishing to make the summer blues melt away.

It is likely too hot for the fish, too. But at least I will be 3 hours away when The Mother of the Bride comes to visit.

For. The. Entire. Weekend.

And besides, just because I go fishing for the weekend, does not mean I actually have to fish, does it?

Swim Lessons and party time

While the kids were at swim lessons I met up with a neighbor and brought home her two boys. now there are 4 children from 3 to 9 years old in our house. I am seriously outnumbered!

The bouncer has already made it's debut,caused at least one round of crying and been deflated in favor of snack time in the air conditioning. The kids did manage to play outside until 11am, though. So I give them props for that. After all, it may only be 11, but it is already over 90 degrees.

In a less than an hour it will be hot enough outside to melt your face, so I guess we* will be playing inside from here on out. No sense in returning these extra kids with their faces melted off.

So I guess from here on out it is Legos, Star Wars on the PS2 and whatever fun I can find for this herd.

*we=they, since someone still has to go out into the blast furnace that is our backyard and fold the bouncer before it causes the grass to wilt. Wish me luck. But please don't hope that my face melts off.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Because the world means Texas.

On the way to swim lessons this morning, I spotted a Hyundai with that color shifting paint. As it was coming towards us, it looked hot pink. I pointed the pink car out to The Princess, but by the time it passed her window, it looked silver. I glanced in the rear view mirror a second later and it was driving off, looking mighty white.

The Princess was quiet sure did not see the pink car, so The Talker offered up his commentary about the pink/silver/white car:

"You know Sister, you don't seem many pink cars in our world. That is why they disguised it as a silver and white car. Maybe they are from California. Yep, that is a California car for sure."

Which is kind of funny, since I was sitting there thinking the same thing about Hyundai's with $10,000 paint jobs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

'Tater turmoil

Back when the garden was looking promising, I had high hopes for a huge crop of potatoes. Not this year though.

I just pulled the vines up and harvested the last three potatoes of the year. That brings the grand total to six potatoes for the season. Not six pounds. Six 'taters. All smaller than a golf ball.

Harvesting six potatoes a season would still be worth the hassle, since they are soooooooo tasty and I loves them so much., except for one thing. I planted NINE potatoes to get six back, three months later. And the ones I planted in March were bigger.

Next season, potatoes go in the ground earlier. Valentine's Day, according to my dad. Ever the optimist in all things veggie gardening, now I can hardly wait until the Spring.

Until then, I guess I am looking at a long winter of store bought 'taters.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Some guys grow up to be fathers

And some of us never master the growing up thing. I must fit into that group, as evidenced by my fabulous Father's Day gift from the kids.

To the rest of you dads out there, I hope you bounce through today, too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Vacation Bible Slacker

Today is The Boss Lady's first day off for the summer. Her break actually starts in a couple of weeks, but until then, she is off on Fridays.

Fridays are good.

Since The Boss Lady was terribly excited to drop the kids off at VBS this morning, I decided to let her so that I could get my car washed and cleaned out for our impending road trip. Plus, this way, I could hide from the VBS lady and not end up at the church all morning. After all, no one up there knows the wife, so surely they would not put her to work, right?

Plan worked perfectly. Kids dropped off, wife is packing clothes and my car is spotless. We will reach escape velocity in about 3 hours.

Fridays are good.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Time flies

Yesterday was another day when my services were not required at Vacation Bible School. So I came home and took a nap.

There. I said it.

I took a nap at 9:45 in the morning. But all that is really important is that I made it back to pick the kids up ON TIME. Because napping past noon on a perfectly good weekday would have just been soooooo wrong.

When I was picking up the kids, a random mom asked me how old The Princess is.

"She is five.

Oh? She sure is petite.

Nope. She is bigger than most of her friends."

Five minutes after we left I realized that my daughter is bigger than most of her friends. Since they are 4.

And so is she.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Before you go slandering a tomato,

You are hereby notified that AtHomeDaddy intends to pursue all reasonable recourse to protect his registered, copyrighted, and trademarked name, Death Fruit©®TM and all variations thereof.

Of course, if you want to use the name Death Fruit©®TM or Death Fruits©®TM, I can be bought at a reasonable price...

That is, unless you are starting a band. In that case I think I'll hang onto the name for my future recording career. AtHomeDaddy and The Death Fruit©®TM. Has a nice ring to it, no? Or maybe it'll be Death Fruit©®TM featuring AtHomeDaddy.

I promise I wash my hands before I pick 'em

Something odd is going on out in the garden. And it isn't only my garden. The neighbor's veggie plot is doing the same thing. Nothing.

I have tons of tomatoes or - as the national news media wants you to believe - Death Fruits©®TM. And there are a couple of watermelon on the vine. Everything else is a wash this year and I am about to give up. 3 varieties of beans and most days I can't find a single bean to pick. Last year I was picking a pound or two each day. Worst of all, my potatoes never bloomed. Which means not 'taters under ground.

The Boss Lady ate some of the Death Fruit©®TM the other night and she did not die. So evidently not only can I not grow beans this summer, I can't even grow salmonella.

Monday, June 09, 2008

It is sad. And a little cheap.

The kids are at Vacation Bible School this week. I am supposed to be there, too.

But this VBS is not at our church, it is at the church that hosts The Princess' pre-school. And it is being run by members of the church, who don't really know the legend of Mr Mike, the pre-school playground guy. Which may turn out great for me.

I checked in the kids this morning and looked around for anyone who might need my assistance. After I completed one task, there wasn't really anything else for me to do. I didn't want to stand around for a couple of hours, so I split.

But, this is the sad (and cheap) part, I couldn't think of anything more exciting to do than to run to the grocery store for cheap Dr Pepper, strawberries and chicken. Yep, I dropped my kids off for religious education and then I went and used my illegal, fictitious discount card at the other grocery store.

They had cases of Dr Pepper, 2 for$7. So that makes the lies and deceit OK, right?

But the point of this post (as if I need a point to post) is that it is sad that this was the best I could do with 2 and a half free hours.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Upgrading the castle

Back when The Boss Lady and I bought our house, most of the backyard fence needed to be replaced. And some of it still does. One side had been recently replaced by the previous owners. Then the neighbor decided it was ugly, so she replaced that same fence 5 years later. Luckily, it was the longest side of our yard. But we knew the remaining fence would come smashing down on our dogs just any day.

So I set to make a few little repairs, to just bide some time, since we had just depleted our funds buying our first house.

Yeah, coat hanger wire. But it worked. That wire has been there for 9 years! And the fence never actually fell over.

Straight line winds took care of our back fence about a year later. I rebuilt that entire fence myself. It still stands and looks pretty good.

No this isn't the one I built. Smart ass.
(But you can see it in the background. Looks good, no?)

This weekend our 26 year old wooden marvel is coming down. To be replaced with a nice, new version that will hopefully last us another 26 years.

The best part, someone else is doing the work. Because I am busy doing my hair.

OK, those were actually from a couple of weeks ago, when The Princess and I were playing Beauty Shop.

Edit - I guess we are getting a good deal on the fence. The neighbor's brother is doing the work but evidently not today. I hung out here all morning to make sure the dog was inside one demolition started. But it is 2:45 pm and no fence work, yet.

Friday, June 06, 2008

World's worst slobs?

I am starting to think this family would qualify.

The Talker had one of his buddies come over for about 4 hours today. I usually try to distract the kiddos by bringing in a friend or two, so that I can clean the house.

But today? In four hours? Got the kitchen cleaned and vacuumed the living room rug. That is ALL!

I wasn't really loafing either. Between cooking lunch and fixing snacks for the herd, I scrubbed and scraped and washed everything I could get to.

Almost 4 hours to get our kitchen presentable? Yuck!

Free patio set with purchase of box fort

I spent about half my afternoon trying to track down a complete set of our new patio furniture. Of course, all the kids really wanted were the giant boxes. Box fort city will hopefully move into the backyard soon, but it is raining.

And for the record, here is a picture of the picture from the box of our new patio set. It is raining and I am too lazy to actually walk outside to take a photo of our new outdoor dining room.

Plus, the box has an umbrella and a pool, neither of which I found in any of the boxes.

By the way, check the date stamp. We were up AND posting to the blog BEFORE 8!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

But it feels a lot like 40

4 years ago I started blogging about the minutiae and trivial crap that I thought might interest The Queen Mother and The Mother of the Bride. After all, they were grandmas whose heirs were 200 miles away and in the trust of a STAY AT HOME DAD. Gasp Ack Barf...

4 years ago, I had time to blog 3 times a day. Naptime. Those were the days.

Now a days, I blog while the kids are otherwise distracted from actively trying to kill each other. And yet, I still find time for 3 or more entries a day....

But I never have strayed far from my original mission to bring news of the day to grandmas throughout Texas. Every bit of boring, stinky news I can make up remember.

You gotta know your purpose

It took Navin R. Johnson a while to figure out his purpose. But The Talker is well ahead of the game, as evidenced by this conversation that took place in our car 5 minutes ago.

"Son, please quit arm-farting. It is getting old.

Dad, did you know that my friend can leg-fart? He puts his hand behind his knee and just does it. But I was born to arm-fart!"

So there you have it. No need for us to save for a college education for this one. His future is secure.


A few weeks back I started up an old hobby. I am trying to beat the man at his own game. The grocery store man.

Back in college I used to clip coupons like a beast. I loved to get a cart full of STUFF and only pay a few pennies on the dollar for the whole load. But the downfall to shopping at the stores with double and triple coupons is that I would end up buying stuff that we didn't really need, just because it was ridiculously cheap. Stocked up on a lot of carpet deodorizer that way.

Now a days I don't have the time or desire to clip coupons. Plus, we get all of our newspapers electronically, so the Sunday coupons don't show up anymore. So I am trying a revised tactic to get the good stuff cheap.

We have two chain grocery stores around here. The one where we do 90% of our shopping, without searching for specials or coupons, has fair prices an most everything in the store. The Other Store must be a mob controlled deal. They have crazy stupid prices posted on every item. But if you give up your phone, email, address, Diver's License number, firstborn and the deed to your house, they grant you with a savings card. With the card you get to pay prices that are only 15% higher than our usual hang out.

But along with the stupid high prices and the dumb shopper's card, this store does loss leader items once a week. Things that are so cheap you come in for the sale and you end up buying lots extra.

But not this sucker. They kids and I got in, bought the five 'give away' items and left. 4 boxes of General Mills cereal for $6. 2 CASES of Dr Pepper for $9. 2 gallons of milk for $7 and steaks for $2 a pound. Guess what I am eating tonight!?!

The best part of the trip? This store tries to have all the bells and whistles for shopper convenience. So they have specially designed carts for the kiddies. Complete with a 7inch monitor showing Wonder Pets or The Backyardigans. So my kids? Silent. Not a peep. For 20 minutes. And unlike other stores where I have seen these carts, this store lets us use them AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE - cause nothing is free, right?.

Still, even though they kept my kids happy with their high dollar cart, I stuck to the game plan. I even walked back in to cash in a coupon I had left in the car. But it was worth $4, so the 2 minute walk was worthwhile. All tolled, the receipt for this morning's shopping/entertainment, $100.10. But we cruised out of there for a reasonable $51.80.

I can hardly wait until next Thursday's grocery ad...

And for the record? The shopper's card? I lied. Bum phone number, bad email addy. And I made up a fake home address. When I signed up, I "forgot" my driver's license that morning. Since then I have lost the card, but they let you use your phone number to access the savings. And I still remember that fake phone number, 12 years later.

The damage could be worse, but the timing could have been a WHOLE LOT better.

We have been having wicked winds for the last two days. Last night, while we were playing in the backyard, I noticed that the new canopy over the swings was tearing at the corners. Last summer it took weeks for a small tear to work all the way across the canvas.Not this year.

First day of summer break and the playscape is closed for renovations. For the time being, at least until the winds of hell recede, I'll just take the canopies down and we'll have to limit our playscape time to early mornings and evenings.
Design of Version 3.0 will begin shortly.

At least the kids slept until 8. Did I tell ya that?

At this rate, I'll have a hit song in two weeks!

The beginning of an ode to summer, compliments of The Princess and The Talker:

On the first day of summer my children slept 'til 8.

Oh what a start to the day!

Don't tell my wife. Or I'll deny sleeping until 8:05.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I think we just fed the beast!

The Boss Lady and I forgot about her family's unhealthy disposition with buying stuff through the mail and off of TV. And we let The Talker order a canteen. Off of the back of a Pop-Tarts box. Yep, quality parenting. I know.

It was supposed to be an exercise in money management and also we could show him that stuff you order might not end up as cool as you thought it, 6 weeks earlier.

But dang it, Pop-Tarts, you guys seem to have trumped our lessons.

First of all, when the boy went into his piggy bank to fork over the cash for his canteen, he was loaded. $5 didn't seem to leave much of a dent. So I took the rest of his money and filled up my car's gas tank. Not really, but that would have been cool.

Then, the wait was supposed to be 6 weeks or so. But I would bet we didn't send those proofs of purchase in any more than a month ago. Strike, two!

Finally, this thing was supposed to be junk. But the canteen is pretty cool. So I can't really go too far with trying to explain that he spent $5 on something that wasn't worth it. Especially since I want one now, too.

The Talker turned into a babbling goon when he saw it coming out of the box. Even now, he is sipping from the new canteen while he is eating a snack and watching a little TV. Maybe I'll steal it the next time I go work out at the YMCA.