Sunday, August 31, 2008

News from the chicken coop

After waiting a week and a half, the kids broke down today and decided to name their chicks. The Light Brahma chicks are marked much differently, thus we can tell them apart. The Buff Orpingtons are all the same color and differences in their markings are much harder to see. There are two that I cannot tell apart. One has a much more prominent comb developing.

Evidently the way it works is this: The Light Brahmas are named. The Buffs have names that are to be assigned to a specific chick at a later date. I don't really understand the system, but trying to rationalize matters like this with my kids is a lot like trying to get me not to pick up a new hobby every two months...

The Light Brahmas -

Nightlight, has the darkest markings on her head and back
Moonlight, has medium markings
Starlight, markings on her head are barely visible

The Buff Orpingtons -

#1 Brier Rose
#2 Hannah Rose
#3 Garden Rose

By the way, I'll get a few pictures added later, when I am on my computer. For now I am on The Boss' laptop and watching NASCAR. So the pics will wait.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

This is Texas, after all...

The Boss Lady and the kids are driving a hundred miles away to watch a high school football game this afternoon. Seriously. The game is being played in Waco, a hundred miles north of us.

The Boss Lady's niece is in a trumpet player the band and this is her first marching band performance. Plus, the rest of her school's games are played 200-250 miles from here...

The kids are excited to see all of their cousins. And The Talker told me he wants to some "tackling and hittin'!"

Hopefully just not while the band is on the field.

I skipped out on the fun. I had three yards to mow this morning and then I'll be getting ready for company in case Gutsav makes it to Texas.

Right after I play some PS2 and Wii. And watch some college football. And drink a Dr Pepper or four. And...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yes, I did!

Did I really just tell The Princess, "I am sorry, you can't bring your pet rolly polly bugs in the house."? When we already have 9 pets in here?

Then later, did I tell her, "I am sorry, but pet rocks must sleep in the yard... Yes, even the ones that you have decorated with leaves, dirt and grass clippings?"?

I feel like such a hypocrite.

Besides that, pet rocks? They hardly eat a thing and only the decorated ones leave a mess that I have to clean up.

What was I thinking? I should have offered to trade one pet rock inside for one pet mammal in the yard.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

News from the backyard

We are on a 4 day streak! The Talker has been on time to school everyday this week! The real challenge starts next Tuesday though, when The Princess and I start school AND I start driving the Tuesday/Thursday carpool with a family that lives a couple of blocks away. Shouldn't be too much hassle, since the other girl is in The Talker's class and we have known her family for years.

The Princess and I have been busy out here this morning. The RacecarMan's dog (I just love writing that!) stopped by for a playdate with Mrs. RacecarMan. Big White Dog has been sleeping it off for an hour now.

I could have used a hay baler this morning. Instead I decided to shove the mower through our backyard/overgrown jungle of a suburban lot. I was mowing it once a month. Then we got rain four or five times in a 10 day period. To say the grass was tall is an understatement. I lost The Princess for about 15 minutes. I was thinking about tying a rope around her waist the next time she came when I realized the mowing was finished and The girl was inside watching cartoons.

After the mowing, the chicks were introduced to the garden plot. This was the first time they have seen dirt. Watching the first one try to take a dust bath was quiet a sight. They are still small enough that they can walk right through the garden fence. The Princess worked for half an hour setting up a dust bath pan, complete with fresh herbs, for the chicks.

The Big White Dog got his first intro to having the chicks on the loose in the yard. He was totally fine if the chicks were in or out of the garden, but once they started weaving in and out of the fence, he was ready to herd them back into the garden.

One chick caught a bug and she was cheeping so loudly with the bug in her mouth that all the others came running to her. Of course, she just showed off the bug and didn't want to share. The game of chase that lasted a couple of minutes was exciting for The Princess to watch, especially since the chicks were chasing all around, and over, her.

I still need to run the weed eater around the yard. Then it is time to move the mowing operation to the front yard. It has only been a week since I worked out there, but the neighbors will talk if I don't get to it before it gets too shaggy. And with the dog, cats, chickens and half dressed kids running around here, I already give them enough to talk about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's been a while

Since I gave The Boss Lady reason enough to kill me.

But I was assuming that some of these chicks would not make it through the first week. Since they have, and after looking around on and My Pet Chicken, I am now thinking that the chicken coop/tractor (Cractor? Trooptor? Cootor?) that The Princess and I spent most of the morning working on, is going to be too small for 6 birds.

The worst part? It isn't even finished yet! Luckily, the birds won't be using it for several more weeks.

2 days down

Just so you know and since it might never happen again, The AtHomeTrio have been out the door on time AND fully/appropriately dressed (meaning no plastic princess shoes or pirate hats) two mornings in a row.

You may applaud.

Of course, these are just the warm ups. Next Tuesday, the girl and I have to be somewhere on time, too. Luckily that school doesn't have a dress code!

Oh, and a follow up to last year. The idiots still can't park, even with an extra year's practice. Anyone have an extra tire iron?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The end of summer.

The chicks are a little young, but I could not resist letting the kids see them out in the yard for a few minutes this evening. The chickens were out for 5 minutes or less. But the kids had a great time. A pretty good way to finish off the last evening of summer.

Right after that kids and chicks, headed in to get ready for bed. Though it does not seem to be a cheap way to get fresh eggs, These little chickens are pretty mesmerizing.

By the way, someone on YouTube messaged me to let me know that I have "THE WQRST!!!" videos on YouTube. Since they have like 15 gazillionty vids over there, I quess it is an honor to have the wqrst!!!

Chicken update

We have now been chicken farmers for 48 hours. We must be naturals at this, since all 6 chicks are still alive and looking healthy. Saturday was a busy day for the chicks,since several neighbor kids stopped by yesterday to see the babies.

Later this week I'll make up a small chicken wire pen and we will these girls will get outside on the grass for a little while.

The kids are very excited about the chicks. They have never wanted to help so much with any of my past hair-brained ideas family projects. Having the help of the kids is making the chick upkeep very easy. The Talker is sharing his expertise from kindergarten, when they incubated and hand raised chicken, duck and guinea hens.

The Princess has been reading all of my chicken books to the chicks. She sits in front of the crate with her little chair and a book and she explains everything that these chicks need to know about being chicks. Hopefully she is skipping the chapters about butchering and processing grown chickens.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Corvette Day!

Back on my birthday, I hollered at my neighbor across the street that he should reward my surviving another year by letting me drive the convertible Corvette that sleeps in his garage. It's a fun car to watch go up and down the street. But that is pretty much as close as I had ever gotten to this or any other 'Vette.

Excepting of course, Rick's high school CheVette that I successfully rode shotgun in for many a mile.

Last week my neighbor borrowed my junkin' found/recently repaired power washer. So turn about is fair play, right? I loan you a $10 tool. You loan me a $30,000 car. You use my power washer to prep your house for paint, I leave a coating of tire rubber throughout the neighborhood.

Racecar Man and I took the 'Vette for a cruise this morning. We rode for 25 miles or so, mostly keeping it near the speed limit. A nice mix of highway and side street action. Several times I let traction control do it's job and keep us from spinning out the car. That is why they installed it, right?

After we drained the gas tank, I dropped off Racecar Man and The Talker and I ran to get a little gas. It was awesome watching the sheer joy on the boy's face as we cruised, maybe a little quickly, through town. Even though Racecar Man and I did the lion's share of the cruising, I am pretty sure The Talker enjoyed his Corvette ride more than the other two of us combined!

By the time the boy is old enough to drive, American Muscle cars will have surely gone the way of the dodo. So hopefully, he will get another chance or two at this car in the future.

For the record, The Princess was having a playdate with a neighbor and she could not be bothered to take a ride. So don't hassle me about gender equality in cruising or anything like that.

In the end, I returned A corvette. Actually, I borrowed this one too, from Law Talking Guy's daughter. But I think it is a pretty good swap for everyone.

Just don't tell my neighbors, OK?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chicken Watchin'

It's better than TV!

10 hours of chicken farming down, 100% survival rate. The cats have already lost interest and The Big White Dog only comes running at especially loud chirps. He even took a nap right beside the brooder.

And even though he is licking his lips in that last picture, I think he is going to make a decent chicken guardian dog!

Here chicky, chicky!

The kids and I have spent the last day of summer going to the birds. After a few stops, we ended up buying six chicks at the last (as far as I can find) real farm and ranch store in Austin, Callahan's General Store.

The woman working with with the chicks took tons of time with the kids to explain what the different breeds would be like as adults and to remind them that these are only 2 day old birds, so they need to handled softly. The kids even got quizzed on what chicks need to survive.

I am sure we could have paid less for each chick elsewhere, but these all looked healthy and content. Plus, after all of that attention from Chicken Store Lady, I decided running around any further would just waste gas.

We are now the proud owners of 6 baby chicks. 3 Light Brahmas and 3 Buff Orpingtons. At this point, the chicks are unnamed. Following the advice of Chicken Store Lady, the kids have decided to wait and make sure that the chicks survive at least a few days before the naming commences. We shall see how long they actually wait.

These girls are really cute and fluffy. Just like you would expect 2 day old chicks to be. So onto the pics.

Sure is a lot of mess for only being home 15 minutes!

One Light Brahma chick (right in the center) and the three Buff Orpingtons

One of the Light Brahma chicks is noticeably darker.

A closeup of a 2 day old Light Brahma chick.

Closeup of a 2 day old Buff Orpington chick.

The queen on her throne.

After I snapped this picture, we decide to set up the giant dog crate to give all of the pets a little time to get to know each other while minimizing the risk of carnage.

Chicken Run!

Today is the day of the Great Chickening. We are off to buy our chickens and supplies.

Wish us cluck.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back to Skool Night

Tonight was the big night. The Talker has been waiting since the end of Kindergarten to learn who his First Grade teacher would be. He decided months ago that the really wanted to end up in the class of one certain teacher.

He had decent odds, since there are only 3 or 4 other First Grade classes. But he has been hung up on the idea of being in THAT class. And it has pretty much consumed all conversations about First Grade. Lucky for him he ended up in the class of his dreams with about half of his friends. Good stuff!

This evening, The Boss Lady has Back to School Night at her school. So I had to do all of the meet and greet with the parents and teacher on my own. Oh the joy.

It is all OK though. I signed The Boss Lady up with the PTA. And offered for her to bake brownies for the first week of school. That'll teach The Principal to skip an event and The Talker's campus.

Or maybe she just won't send ME next time. That is good, too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Clay play!

We spent part of the morning putting the D'oh in Play-doh.

The kids wanted to play with play-doh and we are down to one can of half dried turquoise. There are only so many things one can make with a single color of clay, much less if that color is turquoise.

So what to do when dad has a migraine and the clay supply is low? Time to raid the kitchen! We made our own pink and orange dough this morning. The kids had fun mixing and cooking. And the novelty of hand-made play-doh is buying me some nice quiet time.

The whole process only took about 5 minutes from mixing to playing, using a recipe I found over here.

The only downside? Play-doh is cheap at Target. There is a big bonus, too. When you buy it, you don't have to clean up the mess left behind by 6 and 4 year old helpers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Doom, Despair and First Grade on me

This is the official start of the official final week of summer.

It's been hot, like all summers should be. It has been long (mainly due to the heat), like a good summer should. And hopefully, if you ask the kids, it has been fun. But if you are going to ask the kids, wait unlit next weekend, OK?

Friday, we were going to kick off The Final Week '08 a couple of days early, with a trip down to the Dinosaur Museum. Why there? Because reasons, three. Reason the first, the kids like it. Reason the second, it is free. Reason the neither first nor second, payday is a week away. I figured we could scrape together a few bucks to pay for parking in the garage next door.

The Princess fell asleep in the car. So the boy and I headed to even free-er pastures, the Texas State Capitol. Why there? For all the same reasons as above, plus, there is a visitor's parking garage that is free. The Princess awoke in the free parking garage and knew immediately that she had been duped. "But, I wanna see de dina-sawers! We always see de capi-dull!"

We had already parked, and The Talker was dead set on seeing his favorite Davey Crockett painting, so we cruised the capitol grounds. The Princess "forgot" her socks and ended up with blisters on her feet, so I was more tired than the kids, after the tour. Something about climbing endless stairs with a 35pound wiggling creature on your shoulders that can make one tire easily.

After we spotted the setting for the totally famous (in our house anyways), film shoot for Spy Kids 3D, we bailed on the capitol. Next time we will have to take some snacks for the world's friendliest squirrels. No, not the state senators, they aren't in session.

Monday morning we are off to the dino museum. Why? Simply because I am afraid to defy the girl's wishes twice in one week.

Thursday, it is free day at the Blanton museum of Art. At some point this week we will hit up the free water park across town and we will make use of our Children's Museum family pass. It should all add up to a busy, but fun week for the boy to talk about in the first grade.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good riddance

Six years ago today I was the guest of honor at the world's worst going away party. It was the last day of summer programs at the recreation center and my last day of full-time employment before I became AtHomeDaddy. The Talker was 8 months old.

The college students that I supervised planned a going away party for me. I think it was supposed to start at 6 pm. The only problem was that I was going to finish my work at an off-site program across town before I came back to the office for the party.

So several of the co-eds baked a cake. They probably robbed the rec center 'fridge for some other snacks. All in all, it was a really nice gesture. But the timing didn't work out so well.

I got stuck at the off site program. Didn't leave there until sometime after 8. Then I hit a huge traffic jam. So the party had all but broken up by the time I arrived. A couple of stragglers were cleaning up. And the cake? I did get the last piece. And someone had snapped a picture of it, so technically, I saw it. Other snacks? I think they were gone.

The college students had gotten together to make a really cool gift for me. They pulled all of their favorite pictures from around the recreation center and the girls turned each into an iron-on transfer. All of the pictures and some of the center t-shirts that I had designed over the years went onto a super awesome quilt that everyone had helped assemble. It really was a cool idea.

The quilt wasn't totally done. So one of the college students was going to take it and have someone help her finish hemming a couple of loose edges. And that is the last time I ever saw my going away present. But I remember that it was super awesome. And I am sure it made me cry.

For several years I helped out once in a while at the recreation center. And the topic of the going away gift would come up sporadically. Somewhere along the way the blanket disappeared.

The college kids that worked for me have all graduated (some of them several times) and gone on to bigger and better things. The kids who came to my programs are all 6 years older now and most of them don't remember me. The blanket? Who knows.

But what I do know is this: The past 6 years have been rough in spots. Downright ugly at times. Sometimes interesting and hugely entertaining. Al things considered, it has been a good ride, thanks to The Boss Lady, The Talker and The Princess.

Yep, it's been a good 6 year start to my AtHomeDaddy career.

Late nights, traffic, lost blankets and all.

Don't give me any crap, OK?

It was a rough night.

For the record I had not been out to the recycling bin in at least 12 hours.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry cat, you Uniqua now*

We were out of cat food for about 18 hours. And if he is not getting fed, then our big orange tabby will be biting the nearest leg. After he bit me and drew blood last night, I spent the early part of this morning avoiding the cat altogether.

The kids an I ran to get cat food this morning. So Other Kitty, OK, Old Man, Fatty, Fat-Cat, Grumpy, Stupid @#)*(@#, whatever you want to call him, is happy again. Happy enough that he just let The Princess dress him up in her Uniqua Halloween costume from back in 2006.

The cat seemed thrilled that I was there to rescue him from Dress-up Time. But he bit me yesterday.

Some people might not hold a grudge against a starving animal. But I am not one of those people. My leg still has teeth marks on it. So I went to grab the camera before I freed him.

For the record, I think it looks cuter on The Princess.

*Thanks to Father of Five and for the title idea.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chicken Tractor Part 3

I worked on the chicken tractor a little more this evening. It now has a floor for the hen house. I raised the floor 12 inches off of the ground. That will give the birds a little more shade when they must be cooped up.

I scavenged all of the wood and wire for today's progress out of my scrap pile in the garage. But I have now hit the bottom of my stock. So next up, a trip to the hardware store. I have to buy something to make up the sides and back of the hen house.

Since it is warm here most of the year, I made the front of the hen house, inside the coop, with a wire front. I'll have a simple ramp going up to a doorway through the wire wall. If it does not give the chicks enough privacy to lay eggs, then I should be able to add a solid front at a later time.

For the record, I am now about 6 hours and $6 into the chicken tractor.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Chicken Tractor Part 2

OK, after I slept on it, I am not giving up on the idea of my chicken tractor. I think I'll have to buy a decent set of wheels, but This thing is definitely movable. I drug it around in the yard, trying to find a nice shady spot to work on it.

It is a lot taller than the chicken tractors I was checking out online, but this is going to work out great for the kids to walk in and help with the birds. And in the end, if it is just too heavy to move around, it should be big enough to use as a permanent coop.

I still need to build the hen house in the far end and add the chicken wire.

It is likely over built, but since I hope to be moving it around the yard, I need it to be sturdy.

I can probably lose a few pounds if I remove the the diagonal slats on the roof. I added some cross braces inside and I don't know that these are really helping.

The entire chicken coop, except of one box of nails, was built out of lumber and hardware that I have scavenged from other projects. This far I am only $6 and about 5 hours of labor into the coop.

Once I buy a sheet of plywood to build the hen house, a set of wheels and the wire for the sides, I think I'll have about $50 invested. And our first eggs are still several months away....

Friday, August 08, 2008

The birth of a chicken tractor

After chatting via email with Susan, a friend from high school who raises chickens and a family on her farm, I have decided that the best way for us to have chickens is to use a chicken tractor, a bottomless pen that I can move around the yard and the chicks can scratch in the grass or garden plot. Wherever I decide to park them.

I found a website with lots of good pictures of chicken tractors. After that I set out to design pretty basic tractor for my chickens-to-be. I started out this afternoon with a stack of lumber that I took out of a neighbor's remodeling trash.

I want the kids to be able to climb in with the chicks, if they want to. So the sides will be 8 foot long and 4 foot tall.

The closest end is framed for the nesting box.

It is a chicken tractor, not a people house, so I laid out the first side carefully,then I just built the second on top of the first.

The nesting box will be 2 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot. I am planning to build two levels, or at least a couple of elevated roosts, inside the box.

I still have to build an end panel and a roof panel. The ends will be 4 foot by 4 foot. That will give the chickens 128 cubic feet to live and play in. Which is slightly larger than my first apartment.

I am going to have to decide whether I want to put a hatch on the roof or a gate on the open end of the tractor. The gate will make it easier for the kids to go inside, bu the roof hatch should be make it a little easier to keep the birds contained.

When I get around to building the nesting box there will be a door to the outside of the tractor that will make it easier to clean and to gather eggs.

The last thing I'll decide on is how I want to move the tractor around the yard. Unless it is simply too heavy, I'll probably just drag it around. Otherwise I'll add some wheels to the corners under the nesting box.

Edit: Stopping to watch the Olympics. I'll post some pictures Saturday morning, but ladies and gentlemen, I was unsuccessful in building a chicken tractor. Let's just say I never was very good at geometry.

What I did build is the start of a mighty fine chicken coop. But this thing is going to be too big and heavy to move. Maybe even with a tractor.

It's hot!

And I have two yards to mow today.

Yes, I know that I could be mowing right now, instead of blogging. The Boss already informed me of that. But thanks for sharing.

Did I tell you it is hot out there?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I used to be a backyard gardener...

Ever get a song stuck in your head? I suspect most of us have. For once I don't have a kid's song stuck, it is a good ol' Guy Clark song, Hanging Your Life on the Wall.

But I don't even have the benefit of singing the entire song to myself, I have one verse jammed on continual replay in my noggin.

I used to have a smokin' little fastball
I sure could show 'em some stuff
Now I can't even make it on the
church team anymore
I guess I'm finally through foolin' myself
This is all I have heard for about a week now. Of course, I am to blame. About two weeks ago, when the Wii came to visit, I needed to reset the audio and video systems in both the living room and The Boss Lady's bedroom. I brought my 200 disc CD player out of the bedroom, where it went months without use. Now that the singing beast is back in the living room, I have been listening to all of my great Guy Clark CDs. And that seems to be all I am listening to.

Anyways, I guess I am done foolin' myself about the garden. We had some good years and lots of great watermelons come out of there. But this year it was just a big chore wrapped up in hot and brown leaves. There was no fun out there. So I am retiring the garden plot. Or at least taking a hiatus for a few seasons.

The garden plot has looked horrible since July and I just couldn't face the clean-up that it needed. I didn't get enough veggies to make a good salad this summer. So the garden has sat out there all summer long, un-watered and neglected.

I yanked out all of the dead veggies this morning. For the time being I am leaving a few herb plants that SHOULD come back with some attention and water.

Adios 'maters,

and purple beans.

That tomato plant was begging to be put out of it's misery.

The sage, sweet basil and spearmint stay.
For now.

The onions get a pass.
They are heirloom plants, so I'll find somewhere for them.

Next up for the garden plot? Tonka trucks. The Talker is psyched to have that much free access to the dirt pile. I even took the gate off of the garden fence today, so the dog is getting dirt access, too. I know I'll regret that decision if it ever rains again.

So in the fall I am planning to use about half of the space for my chickens. I am hoping to build a coop that I can move around, so that the chicks can help fertilize the ground, in case I get stupid and try to garden again.

And next spring? Dunno. Veggies in a big garden plot? Seems unlikely from here.

Oh, and a side note. I once got asked, very politely, NOT to play anymore on our church softball team. Yep, I really was that bad.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The summer in pictures

I am supposed to be cleaning. But that is boring.

So enjoy some gratuitous pics from our summer fun.

I got nothin'

Can someone explain this?

It is August. 104 degrees here yesterday. Right this minute, tropical storm Eduardo is blowing ashore 200 miles away. There should be a cool front coming ahead of the rain that we ought to see Wednesday. The temps may drop to 95.

In other words, it is summer in Texas.

So why in hottest heck did I just pick up two (2) winter coats off of our living room floor? It hasn't been winter here since last... when is winter again?

Anyways, if anyone needs a couple of little girl's purple fleece coats for one of those freak August winter storms, they will be out of the dryer in an hour.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Are you calling me chicken?

Have I told you about my newest obsession? I want chickens.

Just a small flock of chickens to lay some eggs. But real live chickens none the less. I'll have a coop, but I want them to be able to cruise around in the yard, when we are out there too. Call it pesticide free bug control.

Racecar Man's family raised chicks in their backyard a couple of times a year or two ago. But those chickens moved onto a farm before they started laying eggs. I want to buy some grown chickens and have fresh eggs with breakfast lunch and dinner. Cholesterol levels be damned!

So I have spent waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to much time this summer planning for our flock that should roost here some time this fall, when it isn't 1000 degrees outside.

Sometime before Racecar Man's kids had chickens, they had rabbits. The last of the rabbits was in our care for a couple of weeks, while they are traveling. As for me, I do not know what rabbit meat tastes like so I have no desire to raise rabbits. And after this morning, I think it will stay that way.

The kids and I scootered down the street this morning to feed the bunny rabbit. We searched high and low for the rabbit, since he likes to hide in the shade of their bushes. But the rabbit wasn't in the shade, oh no.

Yep, The Princess found the ex-rabbit. Dead as a door nail. Which seems to happen when something bites your head off of your body. I was going to call Minnesota 911, but I couldn't remember their phone number.

Now it is like Law and Order, Dead Bunny Inspectors Unit around here. All day long the kids have chatted up the dead rabbit. Trying to figure out how it happened. They have compiled a list of the bunnies known enemies and a database of animals that might have held a grudge against the rabbit.

Anyways, The Talker just lowered the boom on me. "Dad, you know, whatever ate the bunny might eat your chickens, too."

So now I have to obsess a little more. I guess I need a predator proof chicken coop, first. Or maybe I can train Kodak to be the first Great Pyrenees chicken protection dog.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Barton Springs Pool

Back when I was working with after-school and summer day camp programs for the city Parks and Recreation Department, I was continually amazed at the numbers of kids who had never enjoyed some of the greatest parts of our city until I took them out on field trips.

Austin, being the state capital has some beautiful and historic sites that were regular haunts for my groups. But it was a common occurrence for me to take children to the capitol building, the museums and some of the awesome nature sites for their first time. And I am talking about kids who had lived their entire lives here.

Back then I swore that my own children would experience these treasures regularly. I did not want my not-yet-born-progeny to grow up ignorant of the history and beauty in our city.

And thanks to nearly 6 years as a Stay at Home Dad, I have been able to show the kids some of the coolest stuff Austin has to offer. But last week The Boss Lady mentioned that our children have missed out on one uniquely Austin experience. Swimming in Barton Springs Pool.

Even though we are at Zilker Park regularly, neither The Talker nor The Princess have ever actually gone swimming at the pool. It is a mighty chilly, 68 degree, spring fed pool, but still. Our kids NEEDED to swim with the fishes and the salamanders.

We hit the water with a neighbor family this morning. The kids decided it was COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD in the water but everyone had a blast. Especially when they were exploring the "island" at the north end of the pool.

After swimming, and trying to get creative with the digi-cam, we ate a picnic lunch at the playscape. While we were dining on some fine PB&J sammiches, we got to watch a squirrel digging through a day care center's field trip lunch.

Yes, I tried to chase the squirrel away. Once. After that, someone with the group should have been watching their stuff.

Yep, exciting stuff.

And even if their friends and classmates don't get explore our great city, I bet our kids remember this trip to Barton Springs Pool for a long time.