Friday, August 28, 2009

I suck at craigslist

One of my new favorite websites is There is always a good showing of craptastic stuff and the mastery of the English language with aside of photography combines for a fantastic train wreck.

But evidently, I suck at craigslist a different way. You see, I seem to never make any money on my craiglist deals because I am just enough of a bleeding heart liberal and a sucker for people who show up on time.

Granted, I never put anything on craigs, or the local freecycle list that I would not be willing to drop off at the neighborhood Goodwill store. We are not talking the highest quality merchandise, here. But whatever I have to offer online, it usually isn't complete junk.

A few years ago I tried to give away an old boat on craigslist. I grew really tired of people calling to quiz me about the boat and then not showing up to look it over. So I re-listed it a few weeks later, with a $250 price tag. Within 10 minutes I had two guys ready to drive over to check it out. When the guy who had first contacted me about the boat showed up, I gave him the dang thing, just to get it out of my backyard.

This week I listed The Talker's old bike($25), a wagon($40) and a tricycle($20) on craigslist. After I listed everything, (but before anyone contacted me about the stuff), I ended up giving the wagon to our neighbors. I deleted the ad listing the wagon and all was good. Then, this morning a couple came over to look at the bike for their 5 year old's birthday. They showed up when they told me they would so I sent them away with the bike and their cash so that they could replace the threadbare seat before the birthday party.

In the end, I have the trike still for sale. And if I find a sucker willing to pay me $85 for it, then I will have made my $$ AND cleaned out a few more square feet of my garage.

For the past two days I have been working on cleaning out the garage, trying to get ready for a slew of home improvement projects that are on tap for this fall. I stopped cleaning to hang a ceiling fan out there. I had stashed the fan away in the attic after a neighbor upgraded to a nicer fan probably 5 years ago. I was using the stashed-away fan to replace one that had finally died after I moved it out of The Princess bedroom and installed it in the garage at least 7 years ago. Since the washer and dryer are in our west facing garage, the fan is almost a necessity in the afternoon.

I was laughing about how my scrounging and pack rat skills had paid off once again with this "new" fan when I started thinking about the stuff I had listed on craigslist. Then I did not feel too bad about giving it all away.

The wagon sells new for close to a hundred bucks. But we found it brand new for something like $15 at at Target store that was remodeling and they needed to get everything out of the sporting goods section in short order. The clearance prices were ridiculous and I remember we brought home a van load of stuff.

The bike was given to us by a friend of The Boss Lady after her two or three boys outgrew it. The Talker got a new bike a couple of months ago when he finally outgrew the hand me down bike, too. And the trike came out of a dumpster. The handlebars wouldn't stay tight but after a little work, they have held perfectly for years. The Princess has ridden it a million miles around the neighborhood.

Anyways, if you ever need a good deal off of craigs, check for my ads. And be sure to show up on time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The school bell tolls for thee

Seven years ago I started the stay at home dad gig full time. I wasn't completely clueless or going into the job with no idea about what to do with kids. True, I knew very little about babies, but The Talker was 8 months old by then and I had already burned 3 months of FMLA leave with him earlier that Spring. After all, I had been raising other people's kids for a decade in my Parks and Recreation programs. So I thought I was ready and up to the task of bringing up my own kid.

Turns out, I was mostly correct.

Back then, though I never said it out loud, I was determined to finish the job. I was going to do the Stay at Home Dad thing until the boy was in Elementary School. After that I would figure out what was next. Of course, little sister came along and I stuck with the original plan, though she and I did detour through a couple of seasons of preschool.

And now, tomorrow, The Princess enters Kindergarten. But now I am sure, as my friend M pointed out today, my SAHD job is nowhere near finished. The kids are still going to need a chauffeur, a sick day and vacation day playmate and loads of other things I can only imagine.

Then there is our house. Have you seen this thing? I love it, but we put off a bunch of badly needed upgrades for years, because it proved impossible for me to do any real home repair or renovations with kids all over the place. Maybe I will finally get to finish up the bare concrete floors in our bedroom. Not to mention the other half finished projects lined up in the garage.

And the yard? OK, it may be a lost cause due to the drought, but I have put off mowing for a week simply because I knew that come tomorrow I could mow. On a weekday. While it cool(er) outside. And not waste a Saturday cleaning up the yard. That is good stuff right there!

The Boss Lady and I have started a list of things we want to do. There are a ton of things to get done around here. Probably more than I can do in a school year. But in this business, a really long To DO list = AtHomeDaddy job security.

For the record, tomorrow is a wash. Heck, I am not planning to get much done this first week. Cleaning the main house is in order: kitchen, living loom, the dining room. You know, all the stuff neighbors might see. The kids rooms can wait. I have all school year to get to that mess.

Addendum: Adding to the changes around here, the chicks have gotten the boot as of this evening. They have moved from their overnight quarters in the living room (in a Guinea Pig cage) to a giant dog crate in the garden shed. They have been living outside for a couple of weeks already during the daytime. M&M is getting used to them and she has almost quit chasing them around the yard. In another month the should be ready to overnight with her in the chicken coop.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Three of our favorite things (and one, meh.)

If I had my wish, we would have a whole herd of big dogs around here. I love me some Great Danes, Old English Sheep Dogs and of Course, Great Pyrenees.

Until then I guess we will have to make do with a dog food commercial aimed at people who own West Highland Terriers. At least the first 19 seconds of this clip rule!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Art and the Giant Spaghetti

The kids and I are trying to cram a lot of fun into the last week of summer. This morning's adventure had us exploring the Blanton Museum of Art, on the campus of The University of Texas.

One of the all time favorites at the museum is an unnamed work outside of the museum. The Princess and The Talker dubbed it Giant Spaghetti. After we played in Giant Spaghetti for a wile, we explored the inside of the museum. There were loads of paintings that the kids were not too sure about, like Jo Baer's work, Horizontals Tiered (Vertical Diptych). They wanted to know why the museum was showing a painting with nothing on it.

Still, there are also several pieces on exhibit that the kids really seemed to connect with, like George Sugarman's Two in One and, for some reason, Claude Vignon's David with the Head of Goliath. They talked about that painting the entire rest of the visit and on the way home, too. And I certainly hope they don't get any ideas for my next birthday present.

Of course, we ended up the morning with another visit to Giant Spaghetti, stopping to grab a couple of pictures on the way to the car.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It was (supposed to be) a rhetorical question

A dialogue between the girl and myself, after I heard the "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" song for the six billionth time in 30 minutes:

Me: "Baby girl, how many times have I asked you to quit repeating yourself over and over?"

The Princess: " I don't know. You said it a BUNCH of times."

The girl speaks the truth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

And everyone has survived this far...

I just realized that as of yesterday I have been a full-time Stay at Home Dad for 7 years. The Talker, who is entering the 2nd grade next Monday was 8 months old. The Princess, who is starting Kindergarten this year was not even a remote possibility and I was one clueless sumbitch about it all.

Still clueless, but the children have managed to live through to the start of school. I'll probably work up a little photo retrospective later. For now the kids are celebrating with sprinklers on the playscape.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

That's what she said...

As I was rearranging the living room and putting away the last of the cleaning supplies:

Me: "Do you think modern witches ride Swiffers?"

The Boss Lady: "I don't know. Call your momma and find out."

Me: "Oh. You are so getting blogged for that!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Man, these kids really know my number...

So the KnuckleHeaded Twosome has been at each other's throats all morning. Or at least since they woke up at a little after 8.

In my best Dad voice I announced that they would be helping me clean the chicken coop before they ate breakfast, because I was evidently sick AND tired of all of the griping. Then they pulled a fast one on me while I was dragging the gear and supplies out of the shed. The arguing little punks started playing nice.

So I left them alone so they could get along. And I cleaned the coop by myself.

Never fear, now that the cleaning is finished, life has resumed it's regularly scheduled bickering. I swear, as soon as the last of the coop cleaning stuff was put away, the bitching and complaining started back instantly.

At least I had 20 minutes of the kids getting-along and now I have a clean chicken coop.

An aside,
the chicks are now about a month old and they are getting sent to chicky boot camp. They will hereafter be taking some licks from M&M, our 10 month old hen, while she establishes the pecking order of the coop. M&M has been knocking the little ones upside the head all morning long, while they spend some bonding time outside in the yard.

Bet it takes her less time to knock them into shape than it has taken me to get my two little ones working properly...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out with the old...

The kids and I have spent about 6 days over the last two weeks helping my parents move into a new house. I am thrilled that they get to move in to a nice, new house and the fact that the new is less than half a mile from the old house just adds a little comic relief. From the neighborhood park just up the street from their new house, you might be able to see both places at once.

Anyways, I had time to help and the kids were glad to make a couple of extra trips out of town right before school starts, so we have been back and forth a couple of times to help The Queen Mother and Dad.

They haven't moved since I was less than 2 years old, so I assumed that they were a little rusty on how to get it all done. Turns out they had the right idea. Hire professionals! The move went without any major hitches. The only known MIA thing (so far) was the receiver for their wireless keyboard and mouse. And that was easily fixed with $50 and a quick trip to the office supply store for a new keyboard and mouse set up.

During the last two weeks I have spent more time in the neighborhood where I grew up than I have since I moved away a lifetime ago. Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with lots of friends from way back. And reminiscing about our shared experiences in my childhood 'hood has been a blast.

All of this has led me to realize that my parent's old house, though nothing special to look at from the street and certainly too small for a family of five, always will be a huge part of my life.

I only hope that my own kids can look back at whatever time we spend in this too little, not very fancy, rock house with as much love and good memories at I have for that little, yellow, brick ranch styled house with the big backyard of my youth.

And I just have to state, that for the record, much to my mother's consternation, all of those years of roughhousing did NOT in fact, tear down that little house.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Shoe Day!

The beginning of school must be near. The AtHomeFam hit the shoe store this afternoon.

The Princess scored a pair of black shoes that can work for school or church. The Talker scored a new pair of running shoes that should carry him around the track form any laps during his whole class running time. Every kid at the school runs laps several times a week to supplement the PE classes that they attend only every third day.

Old habits are hard to break, and even though I don't really have anywhere to go in the near future, I couldn't resist getting a new pair of running shoes, too. The Boss Lady hardly ever gets to wear non-dress shoes to work, so she skipped out on the sports shoe fiesta.

With the purchase of the shoes, I would say that we are ready for the first day of school. And we got it done more than 2 weeks ahead of time.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Mr Mike for hire!

The preschool that The Princess attended for the last two years was a big blessing for both of us. She made loads of great friends and her teachers were all top notch. I should know, I was one of them.

I decided early on the there was no real reason for me to send the girl to a part time preschool program. I would spend all of my free time driving to drop her off, and back again to pick her up. Like with her big brother, I planned for her to be at home until kindergarten.

Then I sort of stumbled into a part time job at the preschool. Suddenly, I was going to be getting paid to hang out from drop off time to pick up time. Plus, the girl would attend for free, making my $10 an hour job a lot more profitable.

For the past two years I have been Mr Mike, a title I never really liked - if a kid can call me by my first name, then why should I make him use a title like Mister?, Playground Activity Leader, Recreation Teacher, Assistant Classroom Teacher as needed, occasional Handyman and Janitor and Chicken Visit Coordinator.

Sure, sometimes the kids whined too much and the adults acted like the four year old children occasionally, but there really was not a part of the job I disliked. Turns out I made a pretty good Mr Mike. From what I could tell, the kids liked me, the other teachers appreciated my efforts and the parents liked having me around. For us, the job was perfect. My hours would have me home to drop the kids off at school and home before the bus dropped them off in the afternoon, with enough time to spare for a quick nap. A perfect daily schedule!

But now, due to budget cuts and a regime change at the preschool, The Mr Mike position(s) has gotten the axe for this coming year. So I find myself in the enviable position of having nothing to do once the kids start school in 22 days.

Of course, without the part time job I won't have any spending money to blow on projects like chickens, old trucks, guitars, TVs, video games, cigars or fishing. Why do I always feel a little too redneck when I list my hobbies?

So now I am on the hunt for another perfect part time job. I need something that keeps me employed Monday - Friday, from about 8am until about 2:30pm. Any later and I can't be home for drop off; any early and I'll oversleep and be late. (Just trying to set up some reasonable expectations).

The applicant comes with a wealth of experiences. Some of which might even be pertinent to the job. If not, I can fake it real well... And I sure would like someone to pay a bundle for my services.

After all, Mr Mike is kind of high Maintenance. Just ask Mrs Mr Mike.