Monday, June 28, 2010

Full on Summer

It is hot out there. Now you know.

We have already gotten into a routine of playing outside in the mornings and evenings, with the heat of the day broken up with movies and video games. Not the most exciting summer, but it is workable and the chance of heat stroke goes way down this way.

Not only are we feeling the heat, the backyard farm is, too. The chickens have slowed down on their egg production to the point that I contemplated buying eggs at the grocery store yesterday. Head dips in shame.

The garden is suffering, too. I can't water enough to keep the plants from wilting. This morning I did manage to harvest the 4 puniest strawberries ever grown. Still, they tasted so good that I am not ashamed I didn't share them with anyone else. I found a couple of Roma tomatoes and a handful of green beans, too.

Today is another hot one so we are hitting the YMCA pool. Perhaps a few times.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm an Also-Ran for the World Cup of Dads/Chicken Farmers

Big, BIG (almost) screw-up on my part and I can blame it on studying for once!

My Sis-in-law is in town for a few days with her two sons. The Boss Lady wanted to take the entire herd, 4 kids and 3 adults, out to a water park. I knew I wouldn't miss out on anything too exciting, so I opted to stay home and finish up studying for my state exam.

I walked out while they were loading into the van and I decided to let the little chicks play in the yard for a few minutes. I headed inside to get my study material and promptly forgot about the chicks that were loose in the front yard.

That was before 10 o'clock this morning.

A few minutes ago I took a lunch break and I walked out front to check the mail. When I saw the wide-open chicken cage, I remembered the loose, unguarded babies. Lucky Day! I found them all (very much alive, thank you) resting in the front flowerbed under a big ol' rosemary plant. So not only are they now free range birds, but the have already "herbed" themselves.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Eggs for sale, (way too) cheap!

This morning, while the neighbors were having a garage sale, I took the 4 baby chicks out to play in the front yard. I was just hanging out, chatting from my side of the street with the neighbors while I was watching the birds to make sure no hawks, snakes, falcons, dog, cats, turtles, PETA members or organic chefs caused them any harm.

The birds were going nuts and having a great time when a garage sale customer pulled up and started heading up my driveway. As he was heading this way, he yelled out "Hey, you got any eggs to sell?" I knew we had a dozen and a half in the 'fridge, but I never have sold any eggs. I just give them to our friends and neighbors. So I hesitated and responded with some epic response like "Uh, I don't think so."

While we chatted for a couple of minutes I learned that he lives in one of the original ranch houses nearby. This neighborhood used to be divided into a couple of goat ranches and this man and his wife sold off some of the last of the property for neighborhood development. He told me that he kept ducks and chickens in his yard until a few years ago. He seemed genuinely thrilled that one of the "newcomers" to the neighborhood was raising chickens in the front yard.

After I learned a lot more about my neighborhood from the old guy, he headed over to the garage sale. I ran inside and grabbed a dozen eggs to send with my new, old neighbor. He was not going to be dissuaded from paying for the eggs so he gave me a couple of bucks.

As he walked back to his truck he was laughing out loud while he told me "I think I'll go home and tell my wife that since she won't let me keep chickens, I had to buy eggs at A GARAGE SALE. Then she won't want to eat any of them!

I think my new egg-customer is my kind of guy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lazy Summer Evenings

As busy as our week has been, with both kids in camps on opposite sides of town, we managed to find a little time to hang out in the backyard. That always makes for a good evening.

Kodak watching the newest part of his flock

The Princess with one of the Buff Brahma pullets.

Atom ball!

The result of dad climbing into the Atom Ball

The Talker holding a month old Buff Orpington pullet.

And "What is the Atom Ball" you might ask? Maybe a couple of videos will help explain.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Day Success

With both kids going to day camps yesterday, for the first time ever, our day was a little chaotic. The Talker was at an all day sports camp. He swam, played soccer and built forts in the woods with his new buddies. The Princess is going to a half day dance camp across town from The Talker’s camp. She hasn’t really said WHAT they did there, but I know she was worn out since she napped in the car on the ride home.

We all drove out to drop off The Talker. After we ran a few errands and watched a little World Cup, the remaining three of us left for a Doctor’s appointment and Dance Camp. After we fed the girl at Burger King and dropped her at the high school gym with about 1000 other grade-school girls, The Boss Lady and I ran away for a nice lunch out on the lake. Excepting the fact that my food tasted awful and the glare off the water was giving me a headache, we had a grand time!

A few hours after lunch we headed different directions. I had to pick up the boy 20 minutes away and The Boss Lady had to drive the other direction to get the girl , 45 minutes away. Oh the things we will do so that a 6 year old can hang out with her 16 year old cousin!

Today promises more of the same fun (except for the lunch out, since The Boss is at work today). The Boss dropped off the boy a few hours ago and The Princess and I are heading to dance camp in another hour. But today should prove a little less chaotic. I am loading up my study materials and I’ll just hang out at the library near Dance Camp while I study.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Summer of Mike is Rolling On

A while back The Boss Lady declared that this would be The Summer of Mike. In a month and a half I turn 40, so I guess she is letting me have one last blast of fun before the "old" sets in.

And so far The Summer of Mike has gone without a hitch. The kids and I have been hanging around like bananas and having a lot of fun. The Boss Lady works 4 day weeks during the summer break, so we have actually hung out as a family a little bit, too.

An aside: When I was 17 I first heard the music of the Cowboy Junkies. They had one video in rotation on MTV and I was hooked. I even named my first cat after the lead singer, Margo. Now closing in on a quarter century later and I still grab every disc that the Junkies release, though the last two or three have been digital downloads.

However, after all of these years I have finally given up on ever seeing the Cowboy Junkies live. I knew they would be in town in June, but the venue is small and the tickets are pretty pricey. I did mention it to the wife a few months back, but she didn't seem too interested, so I dropped that conversation pretty quickly and with a minimal amount of whining.

Evidently The Boss Lady did not really share my sense of despair about the Junkies. Turns out, she bought the tickets back then and thanks to a babysitter sort of spilling the beans, I just my Father's Day gift a few days early :)

For the record, the babysitter didn't really do any damage. She told me she would be at the house to watch the kids on Friday night and I had no clue what she was talking about. The Babysitter said that she was scheduled to watch the kids while the wife and I attended some wedding. I still had no clue, but it didn't sound like anything I really needed to worry about, so I promptly forgot the conversation until looking at the family calendar tonight.

The wife and kids are trying to fit in a trip to see The Mother of the Bride. So they will be out of town next weekend, on Father's Day but The Boss Lady has assured me that she will be back in plenty of time to go to the concert with me.

The Boss Lady and kids have rocked the Fathers' Day gifts for years. There was the see-saw for the backyard about 5 years ago. There was the clothesline last year. (And the GPS unit for the California road-trip.) But a night out without kids? Going to see the Cowboy Junkies? Yessiree, we have a winner!

Thank you Easter Bunny. Bwak Bwak! Boss Lady.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Summer update

We are almost a week into the summer break and life is just as exciting as always around here. the kids are wearing themselves out playing all day and sleeping late in the mornings. So life is great for everyone.

The Princess and I picked up with a forgotten tradition a couple of days ago. When she does not have to be asleep by a certain time, to be ready for school the next morning, we read together. The last story we read was the original Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont. That is truly a short story and it only took us a few nights to knock out.

A few nights ago we started on Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This is a much longer book and we will probably spend most of the summer nights working through it. I haven't read this since I was a kid, and I may have to read ahead soon, just to decide how we will read through (or skip through) the "bad stuff" that happens later in the story. The biggest downside of reading this story with a 6 year old girl has already happened at least once though. "Daddy, I REAAAAALY want a horse of my own."

It isn't a pony, but The Princess has recently gotten something else great. A new family has moved onto our block and they brought their very own 5 and 12 year old girls with them. The Princess is beside herself to have a new playmate living 4 houses away. There are more than 40 kids on our 2-block street, but there were no other 5-6 year old girls. Now we are fully stocked!

The Talker is loving the end of the school year. After 6 days of summer break he has yet to announce that he is "bored". And that may be the biggest success of our entire summer.

The AtHomeFarm is growing again. The kids have four new baby chicks. Last week we brought home a week old Black Australorp and a Buff Orpington. And a few days later we brought home two, 2 day old Buff Brahma chicks. I have bought all of our birds so far at the last real Farm and Ranch store in Austin. And I still love that store, but it is about a 2 hour round trip to Callahan's. This time we bought our birds at a little family owned feed store right in the middle of the city.

Going into Buck Moore Feed Store is like stepping back into the feed and seed store that we went to when I was a kid. Maybe that explains why we have been there 4 times in less than a month. They stock chicken breeds that I have never even seen, like the Australorp.

The kids took the new birds out for their first yard visit.

5 day old Buff Brahma chicks

Our 3 grown hens are laying like crazy. They keep us stocked with eggs. Which is good, since The Princess has discovered that she really likes hard boiled eggs. FYI, Fresh eggs do not make the best hard boiled eggs. They are too hard to peel and it is almost impossible to keep from tearing up the egg white.

Since deciding to grow the flock, I have also decided to build a permanent coop. Once my design was finished and I priced the lumber at about $500, I have decided to build a garden shed instead. I can build a shed twice the size, for less than twice the cost AND I can divide it into enclosed coop space for the birds and storage space for my garden tools. Plus I will be able to finally retire my hand-me-down, hail-damaged vinyl shed. Now I just have to find The Boss Lady's checkbook, so she can pay for this thing...

The garden is already showing signs of playing out from the summer heat. We have had several 100 degree days already and I can't keep enough water on the veggies to keep everything nice and green. I took everything we had harvested from the garden yesterday and made a veggie/beef stew. It was nice and yummy. Hopefully it isn't last of the harvest.

So there you have it and now, you may resume your summer fun.

Monday, June 07, 2010

In another 10 years this thing will be able to drive itself

Today is the 6th Anniversary of the AtHomeDaddy blog. 1750 some odd posts full of all manner of drivel and loads of whining; see, it really is a pretty good reflection of my life.

Blogger seems to be having issues today. I’ll come back later to see if I can embellish this post a little and give it the proper respect it deserves.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Mystery is still alive

I have blogged before about my love of Hot Wheels Mystery Cars. Over the years I have bought all of them I have ever found, but that total is still less than a dozen. Tonight I hit a double. TWO mystery cars were on the rack at Target AND the How Wheels were on sale for $.79 each!

I could have been a conscientious shopper and left one surprise car for some kid to discover. But I didn't. C'mon, you knew that wasn't going to happen.

The Prototype H-24 in red and the Nissan 350Z in purple with green stripe wheels.

The curious part of this mini-obsession is that I have never really collected Hot Wheels. I had a bunch of them when I was a kid, but they were played with and destroyed frequently. So I don't have any survivors to give to The Talker.

At least with the Mystery Cars, after I open them and give them to the boy, I am adding a few of my own cars to his Hot Wheels Collection.

Today I am AtHomeDaddy once again

Today is the first day of summer for kids. Our (now) First and Third graders have big plans for the summer. And a few days ago we established a few "Summer Rules".

First (and most importantly to me), the TV stay off until the afternoon. I am not a total moron, I know it is hot in Texas during the summer, so we will reserve the TV and video games for times that our faces might melt off if we were to venture outside.

Second, and finally, we are going to do STUFF. None of this sitting around complaining about being bored (for the first two weeks at least). At 8 1/2 and 6 years old, I expect the kids to be able to entertain themselves for a good chunk of time. If they can't keep boredom away, then I bet the chicken coop needs cleaning. Hint, hint.

That is pretty much our summer plan. The Talker is going to a sports day camp for a week and we will probably hit up the Vacation Bible School at our church. Otherwise, the next 2 and a half months are are free and easy.

The way I really like my summers.

To start off we are heading out to meet up with another Stay-at-Homer and his crew at the Blanton MoA. Yep, I could have spelled out Museum of Art, but MoA seems to give Father of Five a shudder. so I used the abbreviated form, MoA.

See that? He did it again.

So anyways, we are off and running in the Summer of 2010. I just hope I remember how to do this full-time dad thing.