Monday, November 29, 2010

It's FALL!

The trees have dropped their leaves!
 Cari raked our leaves into a hugely enormous pile to which we quickly jumped into.  As I sat there swimming in the mountain of crunchy leaves I started to think about the bug paradise that survived in such a pile on a cold day. Playing in a pile of icky bugs didn't seem like as much fun.  The bugs playing on me was even less fun.  I didn't actually see any bugs, but I knew they were there.  Sometimes it's a case of knowing too much.

Brenna, on the other hand, doesn't know too much.  She LOVED the leaves.  Run, jump, throw, repeat.
The pile was great entertainment for three days.  On the forth day the pile changed.  A small amount of rain during the night transformed the pile from a crunchy bed of leaves to a mushy bug-breeding resort in my yard.
Now nobody is allowed to roll in the leaves.  No matter how much they know.

On the good side of a soggy pile of leaves is that moldy smell that tells you that it's fall.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Here, Let Me Help You

I haven't talked about the Yankees that moved in a few years back for a while now.  Let me catch you up on the neighborhood gossip.

Yankee husband brings home a girlfriend.  Not sure why he brought her home, I guess he wanted her to meet his wife.  OMG!

Yankee husband moves out and leaves kids with wife.  He moves a few towns over to live with the girlfriend.

Shortly after that, the wife moves to that town to make it easier for the kids to see each parent.  Or whatever.

Some time passes and the house sits empty.  For sale with no interested buyer.  Yankee husband barely keeps up cutting the grass all Summer.

A moving truck pulls in one day and they load a bunch of stuff into the house.  It's the girlfriend, the Yankee husband, and one of the two kids.  Oh!  Awesome!  Glad you are back in town Yank!

A new Realtor lists the house and rumors travel down the street that he is looking to sell and move before the end of the year.   Goodbye Yankee!  I'll even help you pack up.

Suddenly the FOR SALE sign disappears.  As I'm pulling the cork out of a bottle of wine I'm told the house hasn't sold.  Huh? Please don't tell me that. . . Please.   Please. . . Just leave.

So that's where we're at.

The neighbors are pooling their resources and doing everything we can to sell the house for him.  Even though it's currently not listed.

That's how it is in our neighborhood.  We help each other out.  Always just trying to help.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Smells like Christmas

My hands smell like pine.  This year we decided to get ourselves a real Christmas tree and leave the plastic one in the attic.  I guess we kinda missed the experience of going and choosing a tree. We kinda missed the piney smell in the house.  The constant sweeping up of pine needles in the house.  The daily watering of the . . .  we decided to have a real tree again.

We went to Lowe's and asked our kids if they were excited to be getting a tree this year.  Both answered, "no."
They wanted to know why we couldn't use the artificial tree.  None of the kids remember ever having a real tree so I'm not sure why they were so quick to object.

As we tried to choose the best shaped tree Meredith was selecting the shortest trees.  She didn't want it to be taller than her.  Randy was pretty hands off during the selection period.  He declared having a real tree too much work.  Brenna was mostly asleep in Cari's arms when she wet herself.

With the perfect tree for our house loaded in the car we made our way to Chick-Fil-A for peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes.  As we waited in line Cari said it was such a great night.  Choosing a tree as a family, the smell of the pine, the peppermint milk shakes, the getting peed on. . .

Well, except for the part of getting peed on.

I'm glad my hands smell like pine.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Video Blog #55

Do you want to see a girl buy expensive makeup?  A camera controlling smiles?  A toddler begging for candy?  A dog wearing expensive makeup?  Well, that's what Video Blog #55 is all about.

Check out Video Blog #55 and maybe you'll see those things and more.  Maybe.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Would You Like to Play a Game?

I don't remember exactly how I stumbled onto this game but that is exactly what happened.  It was an up-too-late kinda night and I was just wasting time on the internet.  The next thing you know, I'm reading three different sites about a game called Arimaa.

Arimaa is a pretty young game.  You can go to the website to read about the history and the reasons behind the game if you want to.  The original concept was designed using chess pieces, so if you want to try it, all you will need is a chess set.

I printed out a board and some pieces from the internet onto some construction paper.  Next, I glued the circle pieces to some cardboard to make them easier to move and I was ready to play.

Each side has sixteen tokens.   Each token has an animal on it.  Their power in the game is ranked from smallest to largest.   Rabbit, cat, dog, horse, camel, elephant.   The goal is to have one of your rabbits reach the other side of the board.

Each piece can move foward, backward, or to either side with the only exception being you can't move your rabbit backward.

Each turn you get up to four moves.  The four moves can be split among different pieces or can all be played by one piece.

During these moves you can push and pull weaker pieces owned by your opponent.  You can also trap a piece onto one of the four traps of the board and remove them from the game.

My level of experience with this game is still low.  In a short amount of time I have been able to easily teach the game to two of my children.  So far, I like this game.  The kids have also said they like it and continue to request a game against me.  There is a lot of planning and strategy in this game.  I find myself constantly thinking a few turns ahead and adjusting as needed.  Cari, on the other hand, is not a fan of the game.  There were a few game mechanics that she said she didn't like.

If you tend to like strategy games like Chess or Stratego, then I believe you'll like how Arimaa plays.  For the cost of a few sheets of paper, it's certainly worth a try.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Save the Cows!

I offered to help the kids with their homework and I was happy to find out it was with a history report.

A report about Harriett Tubman.  Harriett freed hundreds of slaves before the Civil War with the aide of a network of people known as the underground railroad.

In my book that makes Harriett Tubman a thief.  She stole property. Yeah it was for a good cause.  I wouldn't argue that it was for a good reason.  The fact is that she was breaking the law.  Federal law.  Now are we going to go around celebrating criminals?

Let's say I'm an animal right's activist and I don't believe we should be keeping cows penned up.  If I run around the country letting cows run free I don't think I would be seen as a hero.  It's more likely that I'd find myself in jail.  Just because I believe cows should be free doesn't mean I can run around settin' em loose.  Who's going to celebrate me for that?

And with that I was done helping with homework.  Banned from the homework table. . . until math.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not in the Routine

Sometimes I wonder, "What on Earth will I write about today?"  I'm just like you.  I go to work everyday and run kids to activities each night.  What's so exciting about that?  There's nothing to say about that.  Yesterday was one of those routine days and I started thinking about this post.  That's when something happened.  

Brenna came out of the bathroom, which isn't that unusual since she is potty training, and asked Meredith to help her open some more "gum".  Only the "gum" was Mucinex.  Roughly four of the pills were missing from the foil package and Meredith immediately took it to Cari.

Cari, unsure if any pills had been eaten, took no chances.  She called poison control and that lead to a trip to the ER.  The doctor prescribed that Brenna drink a charcoal mix.  It was black as oil and Brenna knew it wasn't juice.  After one sip on the straw she was done.

The nurse asked if we wanted to try and force feed her or continue to beg her.  I was ready for the force feed option.  There was no way anyone would willingly drink that stuff.  Cari and I held Brenna down and the nurse tried to get bit by bit into her mouth.

After a few swallows between screaming, Brenna got smarter.  She started spitting it back at us.  Some spits were more like drooling out of her mouth.  Others were more like a large spray.  Six adult hands became covered in the black liquid and as we tried to hold the baby, it spread.  The result was a black as ink baby.
Over several hours of observation the doctor said she likely didn't get much of the medicine.  She was acting normal and had no negative health symptoms.  It's also possible that she didn't have any at all.  Still better not to chance it.

After the bottle of charcoal was empty they took her to get a shower and uncovered a clean baby.
Everything is fine with the baby and the medicine cabinet above the toilet is now securely locked.

It turns out that with three young children there is no such thing as a routine day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This is a Lake

This photo and blog post is supposed to be all about hot air balloons.  Look closely at the photo again.  Do you see the balloons?  No?  Me either.  I woke up before sunrise on my day off for this.  Keep in mind this is AFTER we backed our clocks up an hour.

A neighboring town had their balloon festival and I checked out a schedule of their events.  They listed a sunrise launch from the launch field just as they had last year.   Last year I was able to get some amazing shots as I walked among the balloons being filled.  They silently lifted off the ground and above my head.

This year there was two guys next to a heater on the field.  They were drinking coffee and didn't look like they wanted their photo taken.

As I left and headed back for home I saw a few balloons in my mirror.  Several balloons took off from somewhere else with the game of floating back to the launch field.  Ugh.  I was already headed home and I'd have to wait for them to reach the field for a good shot.  I decided to ignore them.

What I couldn't ignore was this beautiful lake as the sun was coming up.  The fog on the water was just starting to lift as I passed by.  I jumped out of my car (after stopping it), and got a few shots.  I checked to make sure there was no balloons hovering in the back.  All clear.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Embarrassing Moment

An embarrassing moment that, thanks to my sister in law, was caught on tape. . .

Monday, November 08, 2010

Best Date EVER!

Cari set everything up and made plans for us to have a date.  A day with no children.  A day away from the house.  What to do?  What to do?  

The day before our date we made our plans and decided to head to the Carolina Renaissance Festival near Concord, NC.  
If you don't feel like reading the rest of this blog, I'll go ahead and tell you it was the best date ever.  We spent the whole day at the festival then ended our day out with a steak dinner.  

For anyone still reading this, the Renaissance Festival was SO much fun.  We're already talking about taking the kids there next year.  This year we got to experience it without the constant begging for random merchandise and complaining of starvation every time the pretzel vendor walks past.

Everything you might expect can be found at the festival.  Stages spread across the grounds featured belly dancers, a sword swallower, juggling, comedy story telling, and yes, a joust to the DEATH!

As you walk the paths through the festival, shops line both sides.  People walk around in full costume interacting with everyone, small groups play music with a hat at their feet, and carnival games like throwing axes and climbing a rock wall are mixed in as well.  
Some of our favorite acts were, Barely Balanced (acrobats and juggling), Thom Selectomy - Comedy & Sword Swallowing, Zilch the Torysteller - Tairy Fales, The Ded Bob Sho - funny puppet!, and Vegetable Justice - throw a tomato at the guy taunting you from the wall.   

It's easy to let the routines of your life swallow up your time if you allow it.  It's important to have a break once in a while and fully enjoy the day.  That's the kind of day I just had with my best friend.  My wife.  Cari.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dad's Diner

Woah!  It's my turn to cook dinner again.  The kids were excited about this the first few times.   Now they've learned to fear it.

And fear it they should.

My recipe book is not a very big book.  The pages are full of Domino's Pizza phone numbers and stuff you can grill.

The first night I cooked dinner I decided to make hamburgers.  I thought I'd get a bit creative and I made thin patties.  Then I stacked them like sandwiches and put swiss cheese in the middle.

The idea worked great.  It was a cheese burger with cheese in the middle.  But they were kinda plain.

A few weeks later I was ready to try burgers again and the kids seemed good with this.  This time, no cheese.  I wanted to spice them up a bit.  As I formed the patties this time I added Cayenne pepper.  Just a tiny bit. . . at first.  It didn't look I had added much so I started really pouring it on.

At dinner time everyone ate, and nobody was saying anything.  But I knew.  I could TASTE it.  Wow!  The burgers were SO peppery.  Randy ate half of his and said he was done.  This is the boy that would normally eat two with no problem.

This week I'll be cooking again.  Should I try another page out of my cook book or am I going to scar my children forever?  I think I might try that page with the Domino's number on it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Feed the Girl

My daughter said she was cold from eating ice cream.  She was just sitting there with her arms in her shirt so I offered to feed her.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

King's Mountain National Military Park

Our latest field trip was a visit to the King's Mountain National Military Park.  This park is the site of a revolutionary battlefield.  If you are interested in the full history of the battle you can visit their website.  

The park has done a great job of describing the battle.  As we walked the trail around the battlefield it was easy to imagine what would have taken place.  The British / Loyal troops were positioned on top of the mountain and they felt confident they would be able to defend their position.  

At the base of the mountain militia men, farmers, and hunters surrounded and attacked from all sides.  The British forces atop the mountain represented roughly a third of all British forces in the Southern colonies.
The untrained militia men won the battle against a trained and larger army.  This was a major victory for the colonies.  Winning this battle showed that the British forces could be defeated.
One of the things about the battle that I've been thinking about is the preparation.  Men from all over the Southern States came to King's Mountain.  There was less than six weeks to organize and meet.  It took several weeks after the battle before George Washington received word about the results.  Word traveled slowly.  It's not like you could just text all your friends over in Tennessee and they'd show up. There was a determined effort made to have the necessary force on hand for the fight.  

As we began our walk the first thing Meredith wanted to know was if we would get to see dead bodies.  

I already told you that the park does a great job of describing the battle to you, as a bonus the park is beautiful.  
We were also fortunate to have beautiful weather as well.

The battle of King's Mountain was turning point in the war for independence.  The battle only took an hour to fight.  It took longer for my family to walk the trail around the battle field than it did for those militia men to change the course of history.