Sunday, October 31, 2010


 Happy Halloween!


We also carved pumpkins:

Don't worry.  There is more than enough candy to get us through until next Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Talet Showdown

The elementary school held a Talent Show with a country theme, hence the name "showdown".

The "N" in Talent fell on a kids head during the first song.  I kept waiting for the whole banner to knock some kids off the bleachers but it never happened.  Just the "N".  If you think it would be hard keeping a class of first graders focused imagine tossing an "N" onto one of them.  Chaos!

From then on this was the Tale T Showdown!  Otherwise known as the Local Taylor Swift concert.  My daughter was one of the many girls playing the role of Taylor Swift.  I must say, I was really impressed with Meredith.  She worked on the song at home and did very well.  But singing at home in her room is different than singing in front of your classmates and their families on a stage.

Meredith was the first solo act on stage and she did incredible!  We are so proud of her.  She was the best Taylor Swift on stage that night.

When I was ten years old, I would never have tried out for something like this.  I always knew in the back of my mind that if I was on stage the "N" would pound me in the head.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Have you ever met anyone that likes to pee on the floor and then sit and play in it?  I have.

She was doing really well with potty training. Recently that started slipping.  It turns out it is much easier to just pee wherever you are at that moment.  It's such a waste of time running to the bathroom.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cow-Print Purse!

I turned off the TV last night after the kids had gone to bed.  Cari and I were sitting and enjoying the rare moment of quiet.  We started talking about what else was going on around town on such a quiet night.

I loaded up a scanner radio application on my phone and tuned into the local police scanner.  It turns out it wasn't that quiet after all.  There was non-stop chatter on the scanner.

My favorite of the night was a suspect, of what I don't know, in Wal-Mart.  I just know it was a female carrying a cow-print purse.  The police department tried to reach Wal-Mart by phone and nobody answered the phone.  Maybe cow-print purse wasn't descriptive enough.

I was tempted to drive over to Wal-Mart and handle the situation.  Instead Cari suggested we stay and listen for the next report.  Five minutes later I was suggesting that we head over to the Title Loan store and see what the two guys in a white truck were doing.

That's when Cari told me that listening to the scanner radio was not a way to get ideas for going out.  It was just for listening.

Oh! I was listening alright.  Do you think I didn't pick up how excited Cari was about that cow print purse?  I'm thinking Christmas!  I'll have the scanner on again tomorrow to see if they have any ideas what I should get my mom.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

YouTube of the Week :subway music

This band plays one of their songs on the NY subway.  Instead of instruments, each person uses an iPhone app.  Well worth the watch:

Thursday, October 21, 2010


We've never been to a corn maze before and lucky for us there is one not far from home.  We loaded our kids in the car, noticed we had more room, then added more kids before heading out.  

I admit, I was a bit nervous about going.  What if I became lost?  What if the maze was harder than any of those maze books I did as a kid?  My kids re-assured me that I had practiced mazes all my life for this event. They also suggested that if I became lost I wouldn't worry about starving.  

When we arrived at Denver Downs I was relieved that they gave us maps. 
12 acres of corn to explore.  They placed signs throughout the maze and challenge you to find each point.  Then it's good luck getting out!
 We let the girls lead the way . . .
It seems that making mazes in your maize (I couldn't help myself) is more profitable then eating the corn or making bio-fuel.

 Gladly, we had no attitudes from the older kids on this family outing.  But the littlest one wasn't excited about waiting for a hayride.
 Once we got loaded up on the truck for the hayride I couldn't help staring at the guy sitting next to me.  He just stood out in the crowd.
 The Tiger was an instant friend of the baby.  She even plucked some hay out of his fur and he hugged her in return.
 Before we left, we had to check out the open barn next to the field of corn.  Inside they had mountains of hay and some ropes to swing from.
 Notice that you haven't seen the boy yet?  Yeah, well, he and his friends didn't spend much time in the corn maze.  They got out quick and headed to the barn. I found him flying into a pile of hay.

Denver Downs does a great job of putting on this fall activity.  I was surprised to see that it was its own little amusement park.  It was easy to make the day of it and there were plenty of things to do besides walking in a corn field.

Maybe next year they won't make the maze as difficult. . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mr. Wilson

I am NOT Mr. Wilson.  That doesn't stop Dennis the Menace from visiting my house on a regular basis.

Sometimes the seven year old shows up as I pull into the driveway.  Was he really just sitting in my driveway waiting for me?

The latest episode took place at dinner time.  Dennis was walking up the driveway as we ate.  I turned around and told him through the window that we were eating and would not be able to play right now.  He seemed to understand, walked down the driveway and picked up his scooter laying near the road.

He rode to the neighbors driveway and toward his house.  Then he turned around and came back to my house.  Dennis was again coming up the driveway.  This time I let him make it to the door.  At most, three minutes had passed since I talked with him.

I met him at the door and he started to open the storm door.  I held it shut as I talked to him.  "Can I come in and play?", he asked.

"Dennis, I told you three minutes ago that we are eating dinner.  Remember?"

He stared at me blankly.  It was like he couldn't believe dinner takes longer than three minutes.  I repeated that we would not be playing.  He said goodbye and walked back down to his scooter.

I went back to my dinner and my kids were staring at me.  "What?", I asked.
Meredith giggled and pointed to the windows behind me.  Dennis hardly set a foot on the road before turning back toward my house.  Seriously! I wasn't going to allow him back to the door this time.  I spoke to him through the opened window.

This time he got on his scooter and headed home.

After all of this hassling would you believe that my kids finished dinner within ten minutes and begged to go ride scooters with Dennis?  All my hard work of chasing the boy away undone in an instant.

Tomorrow I fight the fight again.  I'm not sure how Mr. Wilson survived it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crabby Gardens

It's fall and it's time for another field trip.  We all (even the dog) headed up near Asheville, NC and hit the Blue Ridge Pkwy.  Just a few miles East we arrived at Craggy Gardens.  I imagine this area would be much more popular in the Spring and fall when all the purple flowers are blooming.  That crowd scares me because there were a lot of people up there as it was.

Unfortunately we started out pretty quickly with a bad attitude coming from a kid. We pushed on.  Sometimes we let the dog run without a leash and she stays pretty close.  With all the people around on this trip we decided to hold her on a leash.  Randy held the leash and didn't quite control the dog to my standard.  This resulted in another kid developing a bad attitude.   The hike wasn't as relaxing as I had hoped.

BUT - It wasn't THAT bad and we still had an overall good day.  We also saw some amazing landscape.  Let me share:

At the top of this mountain there is an observation deck.  That's where we hiked to.

 This is a view looking toward the Blue Ridge Pkwy:
 This is the opposite direction, again of the Pkwy cutting through the mountains.  This is two photos stitched together.
 Is there anything better than driving through the mountains on a scenic highway?  How about driving through a tunnel on that same highway!
 Look!  Everyone smiling at the top of the mountain.  I told you it wasn't THAT bad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Brenna is THREE!  Happy Birthday!

If you ask her she'll tell you she is two.  Already hiding her age.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alone @ Eastatoe Falls

I can't remember the last time I went out exploring alone. But that's exactly what I did for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. After a morning spent on Flickr I found out about two waterfalls nearby that I didn't know about previously.

I was on a mission to see one of those.

I jumped in the car, rolled down the windows, turned the radio off, and drove into the mountains.

Eastatoe falls is located on private property but the owner of the land allows people to park next to the house and walk back to the falls. I read about where it was and even viewed the street view on Google. Still, I wasn't sure exactly what house it was. It's not like they put a sign up that says, "Waterfall this way." They don't advertise, but if you know about their secret, they won't kick you out.

When I reached the area I drove past the house that I thought it was. I turned around and went up the driveway. The drive goes straight to the house and then wraps around to the back of the house. There were two cars in the driveway and it felt creepy. I was a stranger just driving up on someones house. I turned around and left because I didn't see any signs that I was at the right place.

I went a few blocks down hoping a neighbor would be outside and could confirm the location but I wasn't that lucky. I went back to the house and as I rounded the backside of the house the top of the waterfall caught my eye. I made it! As I gathered my gear I was greeted by a barking dog.  The walk through the yard was short and I entered the woods to be greeted by the falls.

Before the photos, let me say thanks to the owners once more.  They certainly don't have to open up their yard to the public. Their property contains a real treasure and I'm truly grateful to them for access.

This is Eastatoe Falls:

Oh, and this is a scary rope bridge nearby.  I didn't walk on it, but only because the tree house didn't offer better views of the falls.
I spent a bit longer than I had expected at the falls because I took half of my photos with a bad camera setting.  As you can see, the falls are amazing.  The drop is around 50-60 ft.  There are so many boulders and downed trees it is easy to get photos from all angles without getting your toes wet.

If the boulders hadn't of been there, I was prepared to get my feet wet.  This was worth driving home with wet feet.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

History Lesson in Oconee

Our field trip this week takes you to Oconee Station Historical Site.  

Before leaving, I read that the buildings were only open on the weekends.  Still, we headed out to see the buildings, one built in the 1790's, and then take a short hike to a waterfall.  

As Cari and I stood reading the sign about the property, the ranger approached us and offered to let us in the buildings and show us around.  We were the only ones in the park and received a personal tour. 
The building above is Oconee Station.  In the late 1700's it was a military outpost.  Mostly used for scouts to watch for Indian attacks against settlers.  The ranger told us that they have records showing up to 26 men were stationed at this location at one time.  They believe most of the land around the building would have been cleared of trees to give better visibility.  The building itself was used for protection.  It has thick stone walls.  Look at the thickness of the doorway in this shot:
I asked if all 26 men lived in the one room building and was told that it was most likely that the troops had built small huts to live in.  There were also mounted units stationed here, so other support buildings would have been needed as well.  All of the buildings may have been walled in with this "Station" as the most significant building. 

Directly next door was this brick building built in 1805.  
The two are very close together.  In fact, the Station is located just to the right of the frame in the above photo.  This house was built for William Richards.  He ran a trading post out of both buildings.  By this time the Station was no longer used for a military outpost as threats of an Indian attack was low.

The amount of trade that happened here was amazing to me.  Wagons drawn by six horses would weigh two tons each.  A popular item to trade was deer skin.  The Indians would bring in deer skin to trade with the settlers.  During one recorded inventory, over 30,000 deer skins were held in the buildings.

One final note about William's house.  Notice the door on the 2nd story.  At one time there was a stairway outside leading to this door.  There were no stairs inside because they took up valuable space inside and provided a path for the heat to escape during the winter.  To go upstairs and go to bed, you had to walk outside and go up the stairs.

After our tour of the buildings the ranger went about his day and we headed over to the waterfall nearby.  I've been to this waterfall several times and was a bit disappointed to find very little water running.  The hike to the falls is a peaceful trail meandering through the woods and crossing the creek several times.

On this day, the waterfall was not the most photogenic.

On our hike back to the car, I bragged to Cari about the ranger taking us and showing us around.  He took his time and answered all our questions as he let us in and around the buildings.  Thanks to this park ranger I was able to get a much better understanding of the history of this park and a much higher appreciation of our park rangers.  

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why I Stubbed My Toe

Have you ever wanted a drink of water in the middle of the night?

At that point you can either take your cup and dip in the toilet for a quick drink or you can walk to the kitchen and use the cold water from the door.  I almost always choose the walk to the fridge.

When I got to the kitchen it was dark, as expected, and I went to turn on the fridge light.  The one that illuminates the water and ice on the door.  I fumbled momentarily in my half sleep state.  My finger slid across the control pad trying to recall the button order.  I counted the raised buttons and pushed one.  I think I just selected crushed ice.  Another slide across the buttons, another blind push.  Nothing.  I think I had tried to turn the light off.

I waited a moment for my eyes to adjust to the blackness.  That's when I gave up on the light and walked over to get a glass from the cabinet.


My foot struck something hard.  This wasn't a random toy.  This was. . . this was a chair.  Why?  Why was there a chair in the middle of the kitchen floor?  Oh!

Glass in hand I went back to the fridge for my water.  That's when I realized what would have prevented a stubbed toe.

Glowing buttons.  These buttons on the outside of the fridge door need to be illuminated.  Not much.  Maybe during the day you wouldn't even notice. But at night, late at night, they would provide a soft glow around their edges.  With the word "on" visible in the center of the button.  The one you would push to turn on the small light. Enough light to show the shadows of a chair. You know, the chair that only appears in the middle of your kitchen floor at two in the morning.

Or, if glowing buttons are too much trouble, you can always dip your glass in the toilet.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Flower is for HER

I almost feel bad when I bring home a rose for Cari.  She puts it in a vase and gives it a drink of water.  Meanwhile I'm setting up my camera.  I need that close up of the flower while it's fresh.

I don't want to give the impression that I picked up the flower for myself.  For photography practice.  The flower is for HER.

It's just a coincidence that I found it worthy of a photo session.

Friday, October 01, 2010

You Call This a Day Off?

There was so much work to be done on my day off that I needed a quick break to plan it all out.  I sat down with my cup of coffee and got to work.

After an hour or so of playing Civilization 5 it was time to get to work.  The cabinet guy showed up with a helper and installed a over-the-range microwave.  It took some modification of the cabinets because our house was designed without one.

I caught up on some TV while he was here.

After he left I needed a break.  I ate lunch and watched the new episode of Modern Family on TiVo.
Just before lunch was over I remembered that we needed to work on the septic tank today.  Don't ask why I thought about the septic during lunch.  It's just the way it worked out.

We've haven't done any maintenance to the septic tank for the past six years.  Well, when your back yard starts to smell like a port-a-potty, then it is time to think about it.

The truck pulled up and the guy went to work with a shovel.  He knew right where to go.  He backed up his tanker truck and some hoses and got to work.  I got to work on another hour of Civilization 5.

Shortly after the septic was cleaned out it was time for the kids to get home from school.

I made dinner on the grill. It's the only way I know how to make dinner without picking up the phone.

After dinner we went for a walk around the block.

This has been such a busy day.  I think I'm going to need another day off!