Friday, February 27, 2009

Outdoor Movie Night

We found a good use for that 8 foot tall fence. It makes a great outdoor movie screen.

Kung Fu Panda 8 feet tall under the starry skies. What a deal.

The kids dancing to Ce Lo? Now that was just all bonus material.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did you ever

want to run, kicking and screaming, away from any and all persons under 10 years of age?

Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Welcome to the jungle wilderness

The Talker and I are planning a Spring Break Backpacking trip to the Sam Houston National Forest in southeast Texas. Specifically we are planning to backpack a couple of miles into the Little Lake Creek Wilderness Area to hike and camp along the Lone Star Hiking Trail. Right now our plan is to attack the north side of the North Wilderness Loop.

We probably won't hike too far in before we set up camp. I am too old and fat to go too far and I don't want the boy to have to drag my dead carcass over too many rough trails on the way outta there.

While we are out there we plan to do a lot of nothing and maybe some geocaching, too.

The planning for our trip has been going on for a month or so already. But we got serious tonight when I called in to reserve a youth sized backpack for the boy. I am not expecting him to tote too much gear, but it will be nice for him to carry his own clothes, sleeping bag and snacks. I'll use my ginormous pack to haul most everything else.

I got your Stimulus Package right here...

Have you noticed how often the news pundits like to use the phrase "Stimulus Package"? Anyways, seems like dentists and auto repair shops are doing OK in Austin this week.

The kids were in need of a dental checkup and we scheduled one for yesterday. Of course, I think it was in October when we scheduled the visit, but I digress. The kids didn't mind going to the dentist, since she has video games, computers, TVs and all of the fun stuff in the waiting room. Plus this dentist specializes in kids so the staff do a great job keeping everybody calm. The side by side chairs for siblings were a nice touch.

Four bills dropped there, before lunch time.

The AC in The Boss Lady's car crapped out a while back. It was no big deal, since the car has a sun roof and because I don't have to drive it very often. However, it was a big hassle when the window defroster would not work last month. So we planned to get it "looked at" yesterday.

I was thinking they could test stuff before ripping everything apart. Evidently the guys at the shop were thinking that ripping things apart sounded fun. Once they got to the problem, a bad fan switch on the dash, they were a couple of hundred bucks into tear down and diagnosis. Not wanting to pay anymore later, we had them install the new switch.

Four more bills dropped there, before dinner time. Would have been five hundred, but they just wanted me to stop crying.

Add in the $20 we dropped on a McDonald's lunch yesterday and the fact that I realized yesterday that I have lost my wedding ring again, and it seems the neighborhood is doing OK. I just hope other people are out there stimulating the economy, too.

Still, I think it all sounds a little dirty. Don't you?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Better bring the checkbook!

The AtHomeFam is heading north. Don't worry, I am taking the GPS unit with us.

We are driving up to see my nephew play basketball this afternoon. Amazingly enough, he plays directly across the street from the grocery store where I can buy can of The Good Stuff - also known as Dr Pepper with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar or sometimes as Dublin Dr Pepper.

Here's hoping the nephew wins. But either way, I know I am going to score. A few cases!

And keeping my nerdy-ness alive, I downloaded info about a couple of geocache sites near the basketball game. Maybe the kids and I will go treasure hunting this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For my friend(s) from the Tundra...

Austin = 81 degrees and not a cloud in the sky this afternoon.

That is all.

Enjoy your winter.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chicken pics and backyard fun

The weather was basically awesome here today. A little cloudy, but perfect for a day of having big fun at the homestead. I worked on fence issue #1035 for an hour or so this morning. For now I am declaring my part in this adventure, DONE!

With Mother of the Bride here this weekend, the kids are floating in new toys, so they had lots of options to keep themselves busy. For some reason I was more interested in the remote control helicopter than the Barbie set...

Everyone hung out and played chicken farmer with me this afternoon. The girls finally had enough snacks and they gave up to go rest on the swing set.

Fillet, M&M Butterscotch (left to right)

Guess what? Chicken butt!

Kodak, guarding the yard.

Still no eggs from out girls. According to my calculations and vast knowledge of all things chicken, they should be laying eggs in the next week or two. But they are so dang cute and fun that I am thinking they get to stay, even if I never get an omelet out of the deal.

And now for something completely different:

The Talker showing what we really think about Valentine's Day.

Now I can safely wander away from the backyard

I am pretty sure The Boss Lady is tired of hearing me whine/gripe/complain/bitch/moan and groan about our back yard fence issues. So she is preparing to send me away. With one of these.

I have looked at handheld GPS units for years, but it just seemed like another gadget for me to collect. That is, until Father of Five started chronicling his geocaching adventures. Then I got bit by the bug pretty good.

Still, I was torn. Maybe a car GPS would be more useful. My buddies have lots of different models that I could check out and they are pretty cool. But the reality is that I never drive anywhere exciting enough to need a map. Much less a GPS system.

A few weeks ago I started watching Amazon for a good deal on a handheld GPS. Basing my preference on FoF's experience and loads of good online reviews, I was mainly looking for an Garmin Etrex Venture HC, but I was willing to entertain other good deals that came my way. I amost gave in and bought a black and white screened Venture H last week, but in the end, I went with FoF's good word and bought the Venture HC. $134 with free shipping on

The Talker and I are planning a backpacking trip for mid-March. Hopefully the new toy will be seeing a lot of use before that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Legalizing the flock

An unexpected outcome of all the neighborhood togetherness lately, the legality of my chicken flock has been questioned. So I just spent the last hour and a half going through the yard, measuring and making sure that we are within the law.

Basically, I can have 10 or fewer birds living in an enclosure that is not less than 50 feet from the neighbor's houses (not the property line - so I get to add in the distance from my fence to the neighboring houses). There is also a noise ordinance aimed at roosters that prohibits animals that make long, frequent loud noises that can be heard on neighboring property. Then, the regular pet animal ordinances apply - they have to be kept healthy and clean and have access to plenty of feed and water.

The code does not address free-ranging, (letting the chickens out to forage during the day). S0 I assume since the birds stay inside my backyard fence, that is legal to do. They sleep in an enclosed coop at night and are locked in the outdoor pen when we are away from the house during the daytime.

First off, ain't nobody starving around here. And the water is flowing like wine. Oh, how I wish that was the other way around... We got rid of the rooster before it even became a problem. That leaves us with 3 hens (though I'll add a couple of more in the spring) and the coops are cleaned at least weekly. So no worries there.

That only left an issue of the location of the coop. Luckily, I happen to have a 50 foot long tape measure. The outdoor pen is destined to become the overnight enclosure once I can make it a little more secure from predators. After measuring it out, I am now sure the coop is more than 50 feet from all the neighbor's homes.

Thus, legal yard bird! Score one for me and my flock.

A long, long weekend with the fam

The Princess' preschool is closed this morning and Friday, thanks to parent/teacher conferences. The Talker is out of school Friday for teacher in-service training. Then, The Talker is out of school on Monday because they have parent/teacher conferences scheduled.

In other words, I am about to earn my keep around here.

The Princess and I will be around the house today, trying to prep for the arrival of The Mother of the Bride sometime on Friday. She will be here until right after she goes home. (That perfume lingers, man...)

So, for the next five days the kids and I will be holding court in our backyard. There might be noise. There will surely be chickens. And possibly explosions. There might be fun. There will probably be crying. And lots of yelling. Lots of yelling!

But most of all, it will be loads of fun, being home for a few days and enjoying our little part of the neighborhood. Come over if you want. Heck, bring your pet lawyer with you. The fresh air would do him some good.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Censor this!

We have great neighbors. It has been a fun place to live for the last decade. Just not for the last month or so. Any and all posts regarding my fence building neighbor have been removed for the time being.

I really don't like feeling like I can't prattle on about whatever comes to mind, but I need to step off of the fence storyline until the lawyers sort it all out.

Yeah, it is that much fun around here right now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snot nice to be kind to me

While at the preschool this morning, I was about two seconds too late into the sandbox to to prevent one 2 year old from biting another. The biter struck like a snake. I hardly saw him move, but there were teeth marks to prove that he had.

After the bite, I dealt with the bitten. The lead teacher handled the biter. She also got to deal with the paperwork. All I got was a shoulder covered in tears, sand and blubbery snot. No big deal. Believe my, in this line of work, I have had worse!

I tried to hand off the little girl to one of the other teachers, assuming that she would rather be with them. But she was not going to be traded away. I ended up holding her or I had her sitting in my lap for most of an hour. Also, no big deal. Her dad is also a Stay at Homer and I have known him for years.

All of that to share the funny: As I was finally able to extract myself from my newest friend, I felt something nice and slimy on my shirt so I was heading straight to the restroom to wash the snotty goo off. But a teacher from another room stopped me. "Hey Mike, you have something on you shoulder." Thinking it was just sand, she proceeded to brush it off of my shoulder and right into her bare, unsuspecting hand.

For her kindness she got a hand full of snot!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Really tall fences make for really pissed off neighbors

Evidently the Fence Warz are just beginning. The neighbor is MIA in Europe while the fence around her yard was completed. Sort of.

Well, she really is in Europe. But the fence is only sort of finished, though the builders have declared it complete.

There is still some structural work to be done in our yard. Looks like I'll be sucking it up and finishing that part out myself. But the entire fence is built so far above grade (to keep it from being torn up by lawn services) that the neighborhood dogs are escaping underneath.

Those of us who were "given" a new fence are now having to patch and modify the monstrosity. That makes everyone happy. Including the neighbor, who called from Europe to chew out neighbors for messing up her new fence with the additional work. Now lots more people are ready to take up the fence fight.

Yeah! for neighborly togetherness.

Have I told you how much I hate the Wooden Wonder?


This morning, as I was finally sitting down to write a letter to the neighbor about my problems with the fence (because I don't think going over and confronting her is going to help anything at this point, besides, that @#(* fence is too tall to go OVER, I got a call from the city.

About a month ago, after I tried many times to contact a homeowner near us, I finally resorted to calling the city. She has the house rented out to someone with big dogs and the fence does not keep them securely contained. The dogs have never gone after a kid but I am not willing to wait for something to happen.

Anyways, I got the bureaucratic run around for a while. Then the fence report was lost in the shuffle. Finally, this morning they came out to investigate the fence report. After realizing that the fence was substandard, the inspector called me to ask what I knew about the fence or the homeowner.

"Not much. She has always ignored my calls and letters." was all I could offer. Then, after assuring me that he would track down the owner and make sure she got the fence replaced, Inspector Man asked about the neighbor's new fence.

Seems her new fence may be built too tall and might not meet city codes! He spotted it while he was driving around, checking out the other fence. Which ironically enough is also too tall AND sits right next to Wonder Woman's house.

I declined to drop a dime on the neighbor this time. But only because I have a masterfully written letter outlining all of my concerns about the Wonderful Wall o' Wood that I want to share with her first. Besides, if the city building inspector wants her name, I guess he can track the neighbor too.

Addendum to the addendum:

It is now a couple of days later. the neighbor has now called me, from her European vacation, to explain to me that she has seen the error of her ways and is correcting the problem quickly, upon her return to the neighborhood.

Oh, wait, that was my delusion.

In actuality, she explained that she was about to tear the whole @#*@)(^ fence down and leave the entire neighborhood in a lurch. Plus she now wants to sell her *&*^$)(* house to the first #@$ who will make my life a living hell.


So this is your chance. Ever wanted to live next to AtHomeDaddy? Or wanted to make AHD's life a living hell? I bet you could get a fire-sale price soon! Nice house, big pool. Bastard neighbors.

Goodness knows if she tore down that much fence she could build a bonfire big enough to light up the entire 'hood!

I broke my broadband

That didn't take long.

I was trying to get a handle on the wire disaster that was left behind after our U-Verse install this afternoon. All I really wanted to do was get the wires contained a little and get the Wii plugged back in. Then I was going to move the entertainment center back into place.

Somewhere between all of the plugging in and one accidental bump to the broadband battery backup, our U-Verse service now needs a service call. The repair guy should be here about noon to figure out whatever it is I did that two hours on telephone support could not undo.

I didn't even watch one stinkin' show!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

THIS is U-Verse

U-Verse is AT&T's Bundled Television, Broadband and Digital Phone Service. We have been trying to get it installed for about a year. The installer just left about an hour ago after rewiring our whole house with new phone lines and co-axial cable.

He thought he would be in and out in 3 hours. Took more like 6. But everything seems to be working perfectly.

Now I am just hoping it does not take me 6 hours to get all of these wires straightened out so that I can move the entertainment system back against the wall. But I have to add the stereo speaker wires into the mix first.

U-Verse in the house!

The U-Verse installer is here! We have been waiting about a year for them to work out a kink in the network that was specifically blocking our house from the network. All of our neighbors have the service, so I am looking forward to getting the hook up.

Our house is pretty much an installer's nightmare. The attic is a pain to get into and there are old wires from cable and satellite connections all over the place. Plus, the previous home owner was the son of an electrician. So there are random electrical outlets and phone jacks EVERYWHERE! And it turns out the phones were not wired properly, so the U-Verse guy is currently rewiring all of the phone jacks before he can start the rest of the work.

The Boss Lady and I tried to make life easier for the installer. We unhooked every possible connection and moved most of the furniture early this morning. And to make the day easier on all of us I hooked up a TV and the Play Station in The Talker's room. That way the kids can watch movies and play games until the installation is done and I can avoid the whining that TV withdrawal can lead to.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A new home for Kernel

Adios, Kernel.

The Boss Lady offered Kernel, the now crowing rooster, to a friend at work. He will get to live on at their farm. Of course, if he gets too rowdy or they get too hungry, then he will get a trip to the stew pot. But this way I don't have to be the one processing the kid's pet for dinner.

I have been quiet impressed by the size of this roo for a while. He is only half grown, but he is BIG. Kernel is less than 4 months old AND he started out as a little ball of fuzz half the size of my fist when we brought him home back in October.

It looks like we will be delivering Kernel to the farm some time this weekend. The kids have been warned all along that this might happen, and so far they have been matter of fact about the whole thing.

I am hoping to weigh Kernel before he departs. Until then, I'll let the pictures tell the story of my ginormous rooster.

Here he is next to M&M

His legs look like tree trunks compared to the other Light Brahma, Fillet

Do you know how hard it is to get a nice picture of a chicken?

We have already established this point,
but it bears repeating...

I am an idiot. Thanks to evidence offered here and here (and numerous other places), we all know this.

But now it seems like Mother Nature and Big Pharma are trying to drive the point home. The facts surrounding my current bout of idiocy go something like this:

  1. I am allergic to almost everything outside. Thus, I spend about 6 or 8 hours a day outside. When the sneezing finally starts to scare away children and small birds, I take allergy medicine.
  2. The allergy medicine I take keeps me awake for about a week. Every. Time. I. Start. Taking. It. But once it kicks in and I stop sneezing, I forget to take it for a while. Then, with the next medicated sneezing fit, I go sleepless again.
  3. I started taking allergy medicine about three days ago. So I am working on a few catnaps and some snoozing on the couch right now. It has been a fun week!
  4. I finally got tired enough to actually go to bed at 4:20 this morning. But I kept hearing a noise. Sounded like a kid whimpering through a bad dream. After I checked on the kids, they were sleeping fine, I headed to bed.
  5. 4:23. The Boss Lady wakes up and figures out the source of the mystery sound.
  6. Kernel, the cross dressing hen, is practicing his crowing.
  7. Know how to stop a rooster from crowing? Eat it. Or give it away.
  8. Since I am now wide awake, I have been at the computer, since crow thirty. Prepping an ad for and Craigslist.
Sleep is for suckers, people not addicted to allergy meds and those poor souls who are not urban chicken farmers. As for me? I am wide awake and ready to crow!

Kernel, the 15 week old cross dressing rooster

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I told you those cookies were dangerous...

OK, it is rare that I post something that is not a product of my own imagination life. But some things even I can't make up.

From The Austin American Statesman website today:

Man accused of choking girlfriend with Wii controller

An Austin man has been accused of trying to choke his girlfriend with the cord of a Wii video game controller after she became angry that he had eaten all of her Girl Scout cookies, according to an arrest affidavit.

Christina Alvarado told Austin police that she woke up her boyfriend, Daniel Alvarez, 21, Monday morning after discovering her cookies were gone, according to the affidavit.

Alvarez became upset that Alvarado woke him and began to yell at her, according to the affidavit. Alvarado told police that Alvarez got her into a choke hold that lasted several seconds before she was able to hit him in the eye to break free, according to the affidavit.

The two struggled until they ended up in the living room, where Alvarez grabbed a Wii controller, according to the affidavit. He put his knees on her chest to pin her down and strangled her with the cord of the video game controller, according to the affidavit.

Alvarado was able to free herself and call 911. Alvarez fled the home but was arrested soon after, according to the affidavit. Alvarado had a faint mark from a cord around her neck, shortness of breath, trouble speaking and was coughing when police arrived, the affidavit said.

Alvarez remained in the Travis County jail today with bail set at $40,000. He is facing second degree felony charges of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The moral of this little story? Don't mess with a girl's cookies.

And always hide the Wii-mote nunchuck before you go to bed!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

An Open Letter To My Parents

Mom and Dad:

I want you guys to be able to revel and enjoy the moment. After the crap my siblings (and to a MUCH lesser extent, myself) dished out, I know you guys deserve the laughs.

I just set a new family record. I said "No! Stop doing that!" (or some variation of "cut that crap out!") no less than 15 times in the past 4 minutes. Heck, I said it at least three times since I started this blog post.

If you guys are the type to enjoy revenge, (and I know you are), then please consider this day as payback for at least one day from my childhood. And can I take a rain check for the rest of the revenge?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Look here, Super Family

I thought I had posted a few pics of The AtHomeFam back in the summer. Searching my archives I can't find them. So enjoy.

A rare sight indeed. All four of us in one place.

Obviously, not all four of us, but still one of my favorite pics of all times.