Friday, December 26, 2008

It was a very merry Xmas

The kids had a wonderful time Nate got several lego sets (star wars and mars mission) a chemistry set and a remote control bat car.

Lexi got a bratz convertible car, a barbie head makeup set, and a makeup kit (grrrrr, thank you grandmoo, we already have glitter all over the bathroom and playroom) a Dora flying pegasus, and several barbie dolls.

The big thing we got this year was a Wii and several games. Nate played the tank battle and cow race from the Wii play all day.

Hope everyone had a happy new year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

With the freeze we get an icicle tree

So I was picking up the mail after work Monday and I looked up and saw the above.

Now all the other bushes looked normal so there were two possibilities: Chris is decorating the trees and only got one done or there is a BAD water leak somewhere. So hoping against hope I went in and asked Chris if she had decorated one of the bushes. After getting the expected answer (no) I went out and sure enough there was a hairline crack in the outside faucet. Which was shooting a fine mist of water about 12-15 feet and with the cold it was pretty much freezing on contact.

I showed it to the kids and gave each of them a small part of an icicle to munch on. It was pretty easy to convince Lexi that icicles grew on trees but Nate (being seven) was skeptical but did not connect the spraying water to the ice until he asked why I was not letting them get their own icicles.

So I called the plumber and ran up to work and grabbed my laptop so I could work from home Tuesday. Chris filled up a bunch of buckets, pans, containers with water and when I got home I shut off the water. The plumber showed up around noon and fifteen minutes and $125 later we had the faucet fixed and the water running. Luckily it was only the faucet that was cracked - I was deathly afraid that the connecting pipe had cracked too.

More than the campout did this experience teach me the simple pleasures that running water brings: a bath, hygiene, drinks, flushing toliets. Though we had plans for all of them except the last one you still miss the ease in which having water on tap can bring. Fortunatly it was only for a day.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Well another Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had both families over this year plus Bobby and Darlene were able to fly in too. My parents had offered to take us all out for the Thanksgiving meal but Chris really wants home cooked meals for the holidays (tradition) so Chris, Carol and I prepared and cooked the Thanksgiving dinner.

This was the first year that Chris and her mom did the dressing. The dressing was a family recipe that unfortunately was largely lost when Chris' Aunt Gail passed away last year. So there were some interesting times when the two of them were trying to figure out how much of what ingredient to put in. But after all that the stuffing was excellent (I liked it).

After dinner we broke up into different groups. Bobby and Darlene played with the kids while the rest of us swapped out between resting and cleaning up.

That night we had an early Christmas for the Conway family. The kids really enjoyed that. Nate got a Air Hogs flier that he has wanted for a long time. Lexi got a Build a Bear and she is in love with it.

Friday morning Mom, Dad, Bobby, Darlene and Nate went to go see Nate's great Nana in Carthage. I took Lexi over to Carol's to return some stuff she left over then I took her to McDonalds to play until she was ready to leave. After that I did some more shopping with her and called it the day.

Saturday Lexi had went to a birthday party for one of her classmates (Caleb) it was at 1:30 so I took her out to lunch at IHop and then we went to the birthday party. Lexi had a great time until she jumped out of one of the bounce houses wrong and landed on her knee. I thought she just hit her funny bone until Sunday when I saw a small bruise above her knee but she is running around okay now. After the party came home and rested. That night we had pizza and shortly after that Bobby, Darlene, Mom, Dad and Nate got home and we watched the Star Wars clone wars DVD and went to bed.

Mom and Dad left Sunday morning and I dropped Bobby and Darlene off at the airport.

And now its time to get ready for Xmas.....

I posted what pictures I took in the photo album. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mineral Wells campout: retrospective

Where I work at we have a retrospective meeting at the end of each iteration of the project. Basically we discuss the good, bad and ugly of a project to see what's working, what can be improved in the next iteration and what we never want to try again.

Given that I would like to try the same thing with the our campout

Mineral Wells campout (retrospective/lessons learned)

- Nate had a really good time (he really enjoyed the tug-of-war and the three mile hike)
- Nate has been more willing to try new foods.
- No rain! Originally there was rain forecasted for Saturday.
- The tent held up against the wind very well.
- I purchased my new favorite winter hat.

- Found out the hard way that a sleeping bag rated at 30 degrees means you will survive at that temperature – not be comfortable at it.
- Need to find more comfortable padding for under the sleeping bag (hard ground bad). The think foam pad I have is not enough for me. An air mattress is a BAD idea in cold weather.
- Layering clothing won't always work unless you have one thick layer or have a lot of layers.

- Was not fully prepared for the cold nights.

The Friggin hilarious (A new category I want to add in)
- The parents that complained on Friday that what we had was not a real campout because we had running water and a bathroom at the campsite. All I could do was remind them that this was a cub scout camp out – not Survivorman. After the first night no one complained (especially when they discovered that the bathroom had an electric hand warme....dryer. Though to their credit all the ones that complained on Friday all stayed through the whole ordeal, though I do want to point out that the whiner (that's me) stayed through it all too.

Lessons learned.

1.Get a thicker foam mattress for next camp out. Air mattress is okay if its a summer campout.

2.One of the guys at work suggested using a trash bag around the feet of the sleeping bad to help keep the heat in. I googled this and found some very interesting information.

3.Another interesting tidbit I will try out: put a tarp under the tent. The main reason I heard was that it helps the tent last longer but after reading the above article it also is supposed to add a layer of insulation under the tent. The main thing is though not to have any bit of the tarp sticking out from under the tent as it could help water to collect under the tent.

4.For cold weather I will bring the heavy clothing. This last trip I relied too much on layering. Next time I will bring the heavy coat and heavy wool pants that was not only comfortable in the 5 degree Minnesota winter but actually warm because I would only be wearing it for a couple of hours. But I definitely could have used the wool pants at night.

5.When its below freezing I will bring a blanket for inside the sleeping blanket (if I do all this I should burning up in all but sub zero temperature – but better than being cold because I can always remove a layer).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mineral Wells campout: Sunday


I have to say though I fell in love with the fleece cap. I like it even more than my Russian furry hat (sorry Jamie). Even though it got below freezing my head and ears were warm.

When we got up Sunday morning we discovered several things:
- The kids all got got polar bear patches (it got below freezing - 26F)
- Of the nine tiger scouts and parents there Saturday only three were there in the morning. Most had left the night before because of the cold.
- The minivan had a flat! Looking at the tire I saw what looked like a nail. I seem to have the worst luck with my tires.

Fortunately I had brought an air tank so I aired it most of the way up and then had breakfast. Breakfast was simple this time: Pop tarts, muffins and oatmeal cream pies. After a quick breakfast we broke down camp, did another trash patrol with the kids, doused and buried the campfire then headed out.

Because of the flat I went to the Wal-Mart in Mineral Wells to see if they could patch the flat tire. Now I have been to Wal-Mart before because I caught a nail in the tire. The last time was in Jacksonville and they would not fix it because the nail was too close to the edge of the tire - it was still in a groove though so it was not on the edge just too close for them to work on it. So I took it down the street and they had it fixed in ten minutes. This time the nail was in the center but they could not fix it because the minivan has an air pressure sensor on it and they could not fix my tire because they did not have a replacement sensor in stock. So all they would do is fully air up my tire so I could drive 15 miles to Weatherford to the nearest NTB to get the tire looked at.

While NTB was looking at the tire Nate and I walked over to Cracker Barrel for lunch. This was the first time I have ever been there and I was impressed! Both the food and the service was good. After that we walked back over to NTB - it turned out that the "nail" was really a flat rock and they could not find anything wrong with the tire. Better yet since there was nothing wrong with the tire they did not charge anything! I will definitely take my tire business to NTB from now on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mineral Wells campout: Saturday


Oh My God it was cold! And the wind!

I learned that night that all a tent is is a overglorified windbreaker - and at high winds some will still get in. Combined with the fact that it was 36 degrees it got cold.

Now the sleeping bag I had was rated to withstand 30 degrees. My body was okay but my exposed head froze. I ended up sleeping with my cap on. Nate on the other hand was small enough to duck all the way into the sleeping bag so he did okay.

If it sounds like I am whining its because I am. I am not an outdoor person. So giving up my soft bead with heated mattress pad and down comforter for a cold tent on hard ground in near freezing temperatures was not an fair trade by a long shot.

So when it was time to start breakfast and they realized that we did not have any flour I VERY quickly volunteered to run to Wal-Mart to pick it up. While I was there I got a fleece cap for me and a knit cap for Nate.

Breakfast was good. We had scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, milk, orange juice. One of the parents brought Pop Tarts for their kids so Nate and some of the others showed up with Pop Tarts. But even then by the time I got through the line the bacon was gone and there was only a couple of sausages left. The Webelos helped some with the cooking and alot with the cleaning.

After breakfast the scouts had a trash patrol where we walked over the whole camp area where we were staying and picked up trash. I was really proud of Nate - he voluntarily went through briar bushes several times to get trash and toward the end he was getting good at it.

After that we had games. The first game was tug of war. They broke it up by rank: Tiger (which Nate is), Wolf, Bear, Webelos one and two. It worked out as follows:

Tiger vs Wolf - Tigers won.
Tiger vs Bear - Tigers won (This was not surprising as there was only two bear scouts at the campout vs nine Tigers)
Tiger vs Webelos one - Webelos barely
Webelos one vs Webelos two - Webelos two.

After that it was Fathers vs scouts. The first was five vs five (fathers won) then it was five fathers vs ten scouts (fathers one) then it was five vs all scouts (fathers won barely after a couple of fathers jumped in and helped ).

Then there was Tank and Commander. Basically its twelve scouts - six tanks and six commanders and six or more soft nerf balls thrown out on a field. The tanks are blind folded and rely on the commander to give them directions to go to a ball, pick it up and throw it at one of the other tanks. If you are hit by a ball then you and your commander are out and the last one on the field wins. It was so funny listening to the 6-7 year olds give directions (over here, follow me, this way).

Then while the kids played the grown ups did lunch. Lunch was chicken and dumplings, Potato soup, and dutch oven cobbler. The dutch oven cobbler was awesome!

After lunch clean up we did a three mile hike. Nate did really good and would not let go of his buddy (we were using a buddy system) until the end when they had to go up a steep hill and I convinced him it would be easier if he would let go of Devon (his buddy).

After that was dinner. Dutch oven Lasagna, smores cake, and apple crumb cake. All of it was good. And even Nate enjoyed the meatless lasagna.

After that I helped with cleaning of the ironware. Now while dutch ovens are awesome to cook with they are a pain to clean as they are cast iron. Basically we cleaned it with steel wool then heated some water in the pot and dried that out with a paper towel (to get any food left behind) then we heated it again and then put a thin layer of oil on the inside, then we heated that.

After dinner the kids told stories around the campfire for a while then we all bundled up in multiple layers of clothes climbed in our tents/sleeping bags and went to sleep.

More later....

Monday, November 17, 2008

And blast off


After dropping Nate off at school I packed up the van. I then took Lexi out to CiCi's for lunch then I went home and took a small nap.

Then I picked Nate up from school and after meeting some of the other parents we left out for Mineral Wells State Park. Jim and some of the other parents had taken their kids out early so they could get there early enough to pay the park fees for the pack and start setting up the scout tent.

So when the rest of us showed we helped finished setting up the scout stuff then we set up our own tents. It was a bit of a challenge given that the sun was going down but it was alot easier than the troops who camped out at Texas Motor Speedway.

For Friday we were left to our own devices for dinner so I took Nate into Mineral Wells and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. After that we came back, climbed into the tent and fell promptly asleep.

More later :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cub Scout camp out T minus one day

Well Nate and I got back from the cub scout camp out today and boy are we tired! Nate really had a great time and I posted the pics on our photo album.

From our pack alone there were 88 people signed up and paid to go. They said this was the largest turnout they had ever had.

The campout started Friday and ended Sunday Morning. The pack leader, Jim Sears, took a week off to do the final preperations. Many parents took time off to help him - I took Thursday off to help with the grocery shopping.

So on Thursday it was Jim, David (a Boy Scout troup leader), and myself at wal mart doing the grocery shopping. So what do you get for 88 people? Well I did not have the whole list but this was some of the things that were in my cart:

18 dozen eggs
16 sticks of (real) butter
2 tubs butter
13 seven oz. bars of chocolate
7 tubs of Ricotta cheese.
4 lbs. of shreaded Monterey Jack and Colby mix
2 lbs. Mozerella
4 gallons milk (3 skim, 1 whole)
3 gallons orange juice
15 lbs sugar
12 canisters propane
28 D cell batteries
30 AA batteries
12 canisters Propane.

And that was one of six buggies we filled up!

After we packed up the food in the cub scout trailer (icing down the refrigerated foods) I then went back home and finished up my own packing.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Halloween was good/ Getting ready for camping

Sorry for the late update but its been real busy lately with scouts.

The kids had a great halloween (I already uploaded the pictures for that). Nate had a storybook costume parade I uploaded a video at Youtube. After that we took the kids up to my office for an office halloween trick or treat (the kids got lots of candy there). Then we took them to the Pennies from Heaven Halloween fair. The kids really liked the hayride through the baseball field/playground.

After that it was 8pm and even though the kids wanted to do more trick or treating Daddy was tired and it was time to get them ready for bed.

This week I have been getting prepared for Nate's cub scout campout at Mineral Wells state park. We plan to head out Friday after school and be back Sunday afternoon. Nate really is looking forward to it.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nate had a busy weekend

I took this weekend to knock out a couple of Nate's Tiger Cub scout requirements.

The one I have been trying to do for a while was to take Nate to a local sporting event. For Texas that meant football. With three games to go we had to go this Friday other wise the remaining games was either on Halloween (not happening) or it was LD Bell vs Trinity (an ungodly rivalry which several of the parents at work told me NOT to take a seven year old to). Nate really got into the game. I uploaded the pictures both me and Nate took as well as the following video.

The game started at 7:30 so I was afraid he would not be able to stay up that long but he made it all the way through the halftime show and most of the way through the third quarter before he wanted to go home.

Saturday morning I took Nate to the Bedford fire house off of Central where they were having an open house. It was really cool! Nate got to try on a fireman uniform and got to use a fire hose. The thing that really impressed me, especially considering the relatively small size of Bedford, was their Mobile command center. The command center can run all the dispatch communications for a small city in case of a disaster and it actually ran the fire and police department communications for Galveston after hurricane Ike.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nate and Lexi's first campout

Nate's cub scout den is going on a camping trip on November 14. To make sure that he would do okay I decided on a smaller scale camp out in our backyard.

I went ahead and got sleeping bags for Me, Nate, and Lexi (because she wanted to go with us too) and a tent. I set up the tent in the back yard and used the depression where the old tree used to be as a fire pit.

I went and got McDonald's for the camp out food. Then we roasted marshmallows over the campfire and then was the moment of truth - we climbed in he tent and went to sleep. The kids did alot better than I had thought. Lexi said she was a little nervous when the motorcycle went by but other than that they both went to sleep and slept all night.

In the morning I brought the kids in and broke down the campsite. The bulk of the ash from the campfire I threw into the compost bin then buried the rest. The sleeping bags I washed and was actually able to put back in their sacks. Alas the same could not be said for the tent. I ended up putting it in a garbage bag for now.

Lexi was upset that we are not spending tonight outside too (but I see through that - she really wants to roast more marshmallows). But I told her that maybe early next year when it starts warming up again we will have another little camp out.

I posted a couple of pics of the kids at the campfire and in the tent. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nate's day with puffy

Every year we try and give Nate a train ride for his birthday. This year it was not on the same week.

While Chris and Lexi took Grandmoo home I took Nate out to lunch at Pancho's then we took a ride on Puffy.

When we got there we climbed up an old engine they had out. This is where I found out that Nate was still afraid of heights. But fortunately I was able to talk him down. We had a blast in Fort Worth. Nate bought a toy gun with his allowance and I got a plastic gun for Lexi so they can play cops and robbers together.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lexi and her silver crown

Chris is almost done with Lexi's hat and scarf. I uploaded pictures of those.

I also took Lexi to the dentist this week. She had a cavity filled and she had a crown put in. Now all the kids at her preschool want silver teeth too.

Now because of her age they did not want to just do nitrous gas or Novocain. So they gave her "conscious sedation." Or in other words - kiddie Valium. Now I don't know what it really was but other than the fact it must have tasted horrible: she tried to spit out the first taste and I had to force her to drink the rest. But after that she calmed down and did exactly what the dentist told her. Do they sell this stuff in six packs?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A birthday and a scout event - Nate had a busy day!

Saturday was a busy day! First Nate went to Tristan's birthday party (one of two he was invited to this weekend). Everyone had a great time. The birthday party was a dinosaur theme and the (very excellent) cake was baked and decorated by his grandmother.

After the birthday party we went to tiger cub adventure day. Its a yearly advent the boy scouts throw for all new tiger cub scouts. Nate had a blast! he did almost all the events including archery! He would have done the BB gun too but he did not want to sit through another safety lecture .

To keep from feeling left out Chris took Lexi to IHop (The Pancake Place) to have her favorite pancake - pumpkin pancakes.

I got lots of pictures of the birthday party and the Tiger cub event. I also uploaded Nate's latest pics. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nate, Nana and Grandmoos birthday party

Yesterday we celebrated Nana's (9/29), Nate's (10/2) and Grandmoo's (10/2) birthday. Everyone had a great time. I was going to barbecue but after the chips, dip and cake everyone was stuffed.

Nate loved the presents! He got a speed racer track, a lego Mars mission set (Chris is enjoying putting that one together) and he got a real camera! He took almost a gig of movies yesterday - mostly of us eating, and took quite a number of pictures. I uploaded some of his better pics to the World through Nate's eye folder in our photo album.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rainforest Cafe, being sick, and the cub scouts

Sunday we celebrated our anniversary (nine years and she still puts up with me!) by taking the kids to the Rainforest cafe. Lexi took Adam Apple, her preschool class pet, with her and we got lots of pictures there. We all had a really great time.

But alas, I am not sure if it was something I ate or what, that night I started getting the chills bad! I checked my temperature and I was just 99.1 but my whole body was shaking. So I took some Advil and went to bed - Chris said I was shivering so bad the whole bed was shaking.

So Monday when I woke up with a 103 I decided to take the day off. Unfortunately that was the day that Nate's cub scout pack was going to march in the LD Bell parade. So Chris told Nate that daddy as sick and if I did not get better by that afternoon that he could not go. If you had told him Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny did not exist while dropping all his books in a shredder you could not have produced a sadder look on his face. So needless to say as soon as he was off to school I took a bunch of aleeve and went to bed. I stayed relatively immobile all day until Nate got home and I checked my temperature: 98.2. So I took Nate to the parade and walked with him as he passed out candy to the crowd. Nate had a grand time.

But I paid for it. Tuesday I woke up with 102. So I took Tuesday off as well. Sadly Chris caught it from me and by that afternoon I had to pick Nate up from school. But aside from that both of us were sitting or laying down all day.

The last two days I worked from home. Today I was able to walk around comfortably in a single layer of clothes so tomorrow if Chris is feeling okay I will go to work. Chris seems to be a day behind me as far as being sick goes so hopefully she will be okay tomorrow or Saturday. And with any luck we will both be 100% by Monday.

Just in time for the next cub scout meeting.....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nate joins the Cub Scouts

Tuesday Chris called me as I was leaving work that Nate brought home a cub scout flyer and he wanted to join. Well I took him to the scout meeting that night and he really enjoyed it. They made popcorn and water bottle rockets and while I was listening to the sales pitch (not really a sales pitch per se but more of a stressing a child will succeed in scouts if there parents are involved with them).

Nate's luck with leaders kept up with the scouts too (when he played football last year his coach was a professional football player!) The den leader was a military officer with five kids (all in scouts), former prison guard, juvenile probation officer, business owner. The only thing missing a big red S on the uniform :)

Well I really wanted to see if he was serious about joining scouts so I stressed that there was work involved too. There was fun things to be sure but he had to do work also and he said he still wanted to. So I signed him up on their show and sell popcorn drive. Now if you ever gone to a grocery store or Wal-Mart and seen girl scouts selling cookies or boy scouts selling popcorn - that was what Nate was doing. Saturday morning, in the rain, Nate and Conner (a second year cub scout) was on the first shift from 9-10 at Wal-Mart. Nate was a real trooper! I was really proud of him. Afterwards I told him that Scouts had to do that several times a year not really - just once a year and that was the last weekend of it) and was he willing to do that again and he said he was so I went and picked up Lexi, and then we went and picked up a uniform for Nate and then I took them to McDonalds for lunch.

I finally uploaded a bunch of old photos to the photo album. As well as Nate in his new uniform - enjoy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

You know the kids are watch too much tv when....

For a little more than a week both Nate and Lexi have had stuffy noses. Late last week we started giving Nate and Lexi a childrens claritin in the morning with their vitamin at breakfast.

So Friday I fixed their breakfast, set out their vitamin and claratin and called them to breakfast. Then I sat down at my computer to go through the morning cartoons when Nate came in holding the claratin. I told him it was a claratin for his stuffy nose when he told me "If you give a Zantac my stuffy nose would go away two hours sooner."

Damn marketers.

So I told him that they don't make chewable Zantac (not sure if that was true but I have never seen it at Wal-Mart) and that seemed to satisfy him that I was doing everything for his well being.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 4 & 5 - Parent’s day out and the drive back.

Bobby and Darlene took the kids for the day and left us to our own.

Oh sweet heaven!

Well we started out by sleeping late. Then we went and and watched a movie (Wall-E it was awesome). Then we had a break at Starbucks. Now I took my MacBook Pro to take advantage of the WiFi there but alas it kept dropping - even when I was the only laptop there. At least I was able to download my mail.

Then we spent some time at a used book store (Book Rack). That was very nice. We had not spent quality time in a bookstore in a loooooong time.

After that we had dinner at Red, Hot and Blue (good but the ones in Texas are better) and then off to Wal-Mart to stock up on supplies for the trip back.

The last day:

All good things have to come to an end. That morning we finished packing up and I made one last try getting the router to work with Comcast with no success.

Then we took Darlene out to lunch at Olive Garden. Bobby had to go to work that day but he got home just as we got back from lunch. So Bobby and Darlene played with the kids at the park while Chris and I packed up the van. Once we were done we said our goodbyes and, with mixed emotions, headed back home (around 2pm). Now its my theory that all the play time the kids had tired them out but regardless they were very good on the trip back. We got home around 4am our time and I was able to get the kids in bed then me and Chris were able to take a nap before the kids woke up.

I cannot wait until next year.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 3 - Santa's workshop

First we had breakfast at Mimi’s cafe. Now from my earlier entry you know how I feel about Mimi’s and breakfast did not change it one bit. Mimi’s is AWESOME. The breakfast was absolutely delicious.

Then we went to the North Pole . Santa apparently has a “summer villa” near Pike’s Peak.

Now when Bobby first described it to me I thought it was a bunch of shops with a couple of carnival rides for the kids. Boy was I wrong! The place is about half the size of six flags with about twenty five rides and a half dozen shops. And even though the bulk of the rides are nowhere near the caliber of Six Flags (better than carnival quality though) the kids spent the whole day there and still did not ride all the rides.

My favorite ride was the Ferris wheel. At the top there was some of the best views I have seen thus far. The worse for me, that I was willing to get on, was a simple high speed merry go round that went forward and backward. Forward was no problem but when it went backwards all my weight slammed into my stomach (right after a Mimi’s four pancake, two eggs and sausage breakfast). My stomach never fully recovered that day. Chris, of course, called us all wusses and then proceeded to take the kids on all the twirling rides I would never do even with a good stomach (got lots of pics of them though).

We stayed there all day until the park closed down then we went to Cici’s for dinner. The kids did not have any problems going to sleep that night.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 2 - The Royal Gorge

The second day was the busy day. We took a ride on the Royal Gorge Railroad which went along the Arkansas river (I wonder which state the Colorado river is in ). For the adventurous you can go up the river in the train then come down the river in a raft - but for us we went both up and down the river in the train. One of the most interesting sights for me was the wooden water pipe. Its a thirty inch pipe made of redwood planks that carried water down the canyon - the amazing thing is that the pipe was used until 1974 (over seventy years). It really drives home how, with proper maintenance, even items made of simple materials can last a looooong time.

After the train ride we drove over the Royal Gorge bridge, and walked through the shops and the petting zoo on the other side. Then we took a cable car over the canyon and while Chris and Darlene shopped Bobby and I took the kids on a couple of rides on the merry go round then down the canyon on the inclined railway. After that it had started raining so Chris and Darlene took the kids back over the canyon in the cable car while Bobby and I walked across the bridge.

As we were leaving the park Bobby was able to get several good pictures of a double rainbow (if you look a little above the first rainbow you will see the second one). After that we had dinner at Chili’s to finish off our day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Colorado Trip - day one

We left Friday night at around 7pm. The logic behind that was that, with any luck, the kids would fall asleep early and for the bulk of the trip and in the morning when they woke up. And really that worked for the most part. Nate stayed up until 11:30 because he wanted to be awake when we crossed into New Mexico, no matter how many times we told him it would be three or four in the morning before we got there he was determined to stay awake.

The big problem with driving at night was that there was nothing to see. No farms, no hills, no scenery at all - just dark. It really makes the driving alot more boring.

One thing to note - gas prices in northern New Mexico are outrageous!!!! We are talking about 50 cents a gallon more than prices 45 minutes away - so going back I made sure to fill up in Colorado.

The kids woke up around seven thirty in the morning when we had just entered Colorado. We stopped at a rest stop and changed the kids out of their pajamas and into their clothes, gave them an oatmeal square and continued on to Bobby and Darlene’s.

We got there about 9am (Mountain time) and after we got all the stuff in Bobby took the kids through the drive through at McDonalds and got us all breakfast. After that Bobby and Darlene took the kids to a nearby park while Chris and I rested (did I mention that we had just driven fourteen hours).

After they came back we all went to the Garden of the Gods. Now I now I have talked about the views in Colorado but this was just a mile away from Bobby and Darlene’s apartment!

Then we went out to Dinner at Mimi’s Cafe. Now this was one of the best eating experiences I have ever had. Not only was the food good, complementary sweet bread, the Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes were good, the service was AWESOME! Our server, Clayton, made sure all our drinks never got low, when he saw how much sweet and low we were using he brought me a whole bowl of it without me asking. When he found out it was our first time there he brought us a batch of complementary muffins (so the kids had breakfast muffins for the rest of the vacation). I would hands down recommend Mimi’s cafe just for the level of service they gave to their customers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back from Colorado Vacation

We got back from Bobby and Darlene's in Colorado Springs this morning (4am) and I have just started uploading the pics. I will do a day by day account of the trip as time permits. But let me start by saying this:


The things I loved about Colorado:

- The views! Its almost impossible to go anywhere in Colorado Springs and not see a mountain.
- The temperature. The whole time we were there we never needed to turn on the air conditioning. Mornings were a little tough as the apartment had an eastern exposure and the sun warmed up the apartment each morning (which will be AWESOME in the winter) but other than that just having the windows open was enough to keep the apartment comfortable (IN AUGUST!!!!).
- The temperature Part II. One of the first things Chris and I noticed was the cold water was actually cold! Here in Texas at this time of year hot and cold water is actually hot and luke warm. The only reason to have water in the refrigerator is because you have a filter pitcher.

Things that were not so great about Colorado (just to be fair)

- Comcast sucks! Okay, that's not a Colorado thing but after this trip I have a beef with them. My brother tried attaching a wireless router to their cable modem and even though he could get the wireless portion working (could get to the admin section of the router without a hard wire) he could not get the to the internet through the router. So I brought up my old Linksys WRT54GS and I got the exact same problem. Worse my MacBook Pro could not get to the internet even with a direct line to the cablemodem. Comcast response - call the manufacturer - NOTHING WAS THEIR FAULT! At least when I call AT&T (UVerse) with a problem they go out of their way to try and fix it.
- Winter? Now I have never experienced winter in Colorado so I don't know if this would be a good or bad. But being a Texan where everything shuts down at the first flake of snow I am not sure how well I would adapt to a real winter.
- Dr. Pepper. I believe this was the altitude but I could not get a good Dr. Pepper in Colorado. Worse canned DP seemed to go flat very quickly once opened.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Utility Room Remodel - days one - six

Well we are over halfway done!

I posted pics of the Utility Room remodel. We did not get to the dining room but hopefully we will get that done in August - September.

We had to special order the shelves from Precision Tools. Hopefully that will be in by Friday so I can get it in next weekend.

Monday evening we are having a plumber in to fix the water faucet for the washing machine - when Jorge turned it off and disconnected it it was still leaking some water so we ended up connecting a short water hose to it and running it into the drain. While he is doing that we are going to add a water line off the cold faucet and connect that to the refrigerator which we will move in Monday too.

While I was getting the washer and dryer together Chris went to Sears and finally Lowes and picked out a new refrigerator. Unfortunately the one she liked is on backorder so it will be a while before that arrives. We will find out by Wednesday when its going to be in.

Monday, June 30, 2008

calm before the storm

This week we are having our utility room and dining room remodeled.

The utility room we are taking out the closet and having the floor taken up. Once we can see the concrete we will decide if we want to keep the bare concrete or paint it. After that we are going to put shelves along the whole wall where the closet was (giving us ALOT more storage space) and then we will move the refrigerator from the kitchen into the utility room - and of course get a new refrigerator for the kitchen.

The dining room we are having the walls redone to remove the molding artwork on the walls.

So this weekend I spent taking everything except the washer and dryer out of the utility room and getting everything out of the dining room. I had enough time this morning to get some "before" shots which I will post with the "after" shots.

removing some of the original shelves in the utility room I found out the original color - a seventies style neon yellow-green. The previous home owners were definitely children of the seventies :)

Oh well I gotta run. Jorge (the man doing the renovations) is here.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Fun" two weeks

Oh this has been a fun couple of weeks.

The best thing is that Nate lost his front tooth. It's been loose for over a month and came out when he was brushing his teeth. So Nate had another visit from the tooth fairy :)

Friday last week Chris' back went out on her. It was a double whammy because the pain was so great she did not realize she also had strep until Sunday. So I took Monday off so she could go to the doctor. For those who really don't know Chris that was a indicator of how bad she was - she called the doctor. They gave her some medicines for both her strep throat and her back. I worked from home Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday because her back was still hurting her.

This weekend we had to face the consequence of Chris being sick. Every two or three days after Lexi's bath Chris would sit down with Lexi and comb out the tangles in her hair. Fast forward 9 days and Lexi had some tangles that would no longer comb out. So for the first time in over a year Lexi got a haircut.

I uploaded some pics of Nate and Lexi - enjoy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Took the kids to the park today

I had to work the last two weekends to get caught up on a project so I took today off as a comp day and took the Lexi to her class at the Hurst recreation center and then let them play in the park.

We signed the kids up for two classes each for June. Both Nate and Lexi took a kids cake decorating class last week. Thankfully that was a one time class because mommy and daddy had to put our diets aside that day to eat each of the cakes to tell them that they were both equally delicious.

Nate has a kids science class each Thursday. Last week he made a model of a molecule out of marshmallows. This week he learned about carbonation and had a burping contest after drinking a bunch of root beer.

Lexi has a kids sports class each Friday. The last two weeks they have been teaching her soccer.

After her class I let them play at the park outside the recreation center. Fortunately the morning weather was really mild and the breeze was cool so I was able to sit in the shade comfortably while the kids played.

While the kids were having snacks a squirrel came up and I fed him a cracker. When the squirrel came back Nate gave it another cracker then ran off and played. The squirrel kept coming back until it had enough crackers then took off.

I found some pictures on the camera that I forgot to post from our memorial day trip. I posted those and the pictures from today at the park. Enjoy :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The kids are sick

The kids enjoyed their first week out of school (Nate was in Kindergarten and Lexi was in 2 day a week preschool). This week though Lexi came down with something and Nate got it tuesday.

Kids being sick is an interesting experience. They will get up in the morning with a fever and feeling bad. So we give them some Motrin or Tylenol and they rest until it kicks in and the fever goes away. Then they get start running around trying to make up for lost playtime until the medicine wears off and they get feverish and crabby again. And the cycle goes on and on no matter how many times you tell them "if you just sit down and keep resting you will do alot better tomorrow."

They were both doing better last night though so hopefully by the weekend they will be okay.

Sorry - no picture updates.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Lexi's recital

Lexi had her dance recital this weekend. Saturday was her practice so I took Nate out to the parking lot across the street. He really enjoyed it but we almost did not go. His front tire was flat and I could not get it to air up. After taking the tire off I found out the innertube had a gash in it! So I took Nate over to the nearby bicycle shop and picked up a new tube and got that on and aired up so we were off. We had not even made it a block when I realized Nate was turning his bike but the front tire was not turning. We took the bike back to the house and I tightened up and then we were finally out riding.

Carol and Christopher came over for the recital. Lexi did very good. I did not get any pictures as they did not allow flash photography and my non-flash pictures did not turn out so well. But I did post some of the pics we took before her recital.



Sunday, May 04, 2008

Nate's team won their last two games!

Nate had two games this time, one a make up game from the week it was rained out. The first game was at 1:00 they won 2-1. I was very impressed with this game because this team had beat us before and both times they had superior organization - the first time they had two kids always stay back as defense, the second time they had two people as defense (and they would stay there) and two people as offense. Now having a constant offense against a team that puts all its people on your defense cuts both ways. When the ball was near their goal they were two men short but when the ball was near our goal they had several seconds free with the ball before our team could run in.

The second game was at 3:00 and we won that one 4-0. Now I am actually more impressed with the other team on this one because we played at one and three (and took Nate to Sonic in the middle for a meal in an air conditioned van while watching Scooby Doo) the other team played at two and three! So they had no rest whatsoever but they all still went in there and played for all they were worth.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This game was a tie: 0-0

It was a pretty fun game to watch. Technically Nate's team had a stronger offense (witnessed by the fact that most of the game was on the other side of the field) but the other team had a way better defense. So in the end the game was called at a tie.

Today I took the kids out across the street to ride their backs in the parking lot. They had a good time.

Unfortunately there are not that many pictures this week. I forgot the camera today but yesterday the batteries ran out and my spare batteries had a bad battery and the camera would not start. I am starting to rethink my philosophy about digital cameras. I have always picked cameras that used AA batteries (and used rechargeables) so that if worse came to worse I could always go into a gas station or drug store and get more batteries. But with some of my rechargables reaching the end of their recharge life I am finding a flaw in my Canon A630 camera - if any one of the four AA batteries are bad the camera will not function. Regardless of how good the other three batteries are. So at this weeks game when the batteries drained and my spare batteries I carried failed you can imagine my disappointment when I got home and checked the batteries in my tester and three of them showed a full charge.

My next camera I will probably look at getting one with a single custom battery and just buying a spare battery.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

They won!!!!

Nate's soccer team won their first game this week! The final score was 4-0 with 3-0 at the first half. Now given my previous post on their performance you would realize that my first thought was "My - they must really suck." But that was not the case. The other team played really well its just for the first time they finally gelled and worked reasonably well together. I was really proud of all of them.

They had their team photo taken this time too. I uploaded them on the website.

We took the kids today to a church block party held by a church next to Nate's school. They had alot of fun. They had a pony ride and a petting zoo. As well as the usual blow up slides and bounce houses. Unfortunately I forgot my camera so no photos.

Update: Well I did take a couple of pics with the camera on my cellphone and they came out okay. I posted those on the photopage.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

You don't know what you got until its gone.

Last week our air conditioning unit died. It was getting flaky for the past month - I had to reset the AC every day when I got back from work. Ian (our AC guy) came by Friday and found that the wiring in the compressor had burnt and had to be replaced.

The weekend and Tuesday was the bad days when it got into the eighties both inside and out. But we pulled out all the fans and we were able to tolerate it.

Ian called back Monday and the cost to replace the compressor all told was $1500 with a one year warranty. The cost to replace the whole outside AC with a new Trane AC was $2050 and had a 10 year warranty, more power and more energy efficient.

Needless to say Ian was over Thursday and installed the new AC. Around 6pm it finally got warm enough to kick on and ohhhh it felt so good not to burn up.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nate's second soccer game

Nate had his second soccer game today. They lost 5-1 but they did better than last game so I am happy about that.

I could name several reasons we lost. What tied for first though was that I could tell that the other coach was an experienced coach. He had his players going to their positions (John you're fullback - get back behind the line). Now if this was a second or third grade team I would be upset that their team was organized and we weren't but JEEZ its a kindergarden team for Christ sake.

The other #1 reason they lost was that there is still a lack of teamwork. Now once again I use the they are kindergarden kids defense but YOU DO NOT STEAL THE BALL FROM YOUR OWN TEAMMATES! We had two occasions where one of our guys were running the ball toward the goal and another teammate stole it from them.

Now the more forgivable reasons they lost were they got confused as to which goal they should be trying for (he halftime field switch really messed them up). And several of them were just hanging back (but they are ALOT better from the first game).

Unfortunately I did not get any pictures. I got to the game and the batteries were dead. I went though all the rechargeable batteries I had and tested them with a battery tester and threw away the ones that were not holding a charge very well so hopefully that won't happen again for a while.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter and the belated birthday.

The kids had a great Easter this year. Grandmoo, Christopher, Bobby, Darlene and Nana and Papa Conway was here today. We had a about 60 eggs all told but we only hid the plastic ones - that way if the kids missed one we would not have to worry about rotten eggs. Aunt Darlene joined in with the kids to hunt eggs and everyone had a blast.

I grilled up some Ham Steaks, Filets and Sausages for lunch and we all pigged out :)

Darlene introduced us to a Bulgarian Easter tradition. Everyone takes a easter egg and one person starts and taps another person's egg. As long as their egg does not crack they get to keep going. The one who ends up with an uncracked egg at the end of it all will have good fortune for the rest of the year.

Last week was Christophers birthday (Happy Birthday!) so we had birthday cake also! Add to that was all the Xmas candy and the kids were wired.

After the birthday cake Bobby and I took the kids outside to a nearby field and they flew their kites. We bought them a pair of small kids kites last year but never got around to flying them so they were really happy to get to fly them. We were surprised that that the kites were so small, only about four inches but it flew very well even with light wind.

But alas all good things must end. Lexi cried when Bobby, Darlene, Nana and Papa drove off but she was out playing with Nate after a couple of minutes.

I uploaded the pictures of the day on our photo album. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nate's first soccer game

Nate had his first soccer game today. They lost 3-2 but it was still a very good game. Nate really enjoyed it but I think he enjoyed the running around more than the game.

After that the kids played outside while I worked outside. I built a sandbox under their playhouse slide, which they really enjoyed. I also planted a pair of cucumber plants and a pair of strawberry plants (we will see how long Lexi lets those live).

By the time the day was over with the kids crashed.

I am uploading the soccer photos now - enjoy.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Winter's last push

Well I am writing this on my new compter (yay)! Right now I am ripping all my music CD's back into itunes since my others were lost when my hard disk crashed.

I took Thursday off because Chris had an early doctors appointment. Nothing major - just a checkup but they only had a early appoinment open. Anyway it was a good thing I did as the snow started around 11am. Lexi's school called saying they were letting out around noon because they were seeing cars sliding around. Nate's let out on time but I went early just in case and got over an inch of snow on the minivan while I was waiting for school to let out.

Nate and Lexi did have their dentist visit Wednesday. Lexi was pretty much okay except for the fact that her front two teeth are about to fall out! The dentist said that the roots were almost gone and it was probably because of a fall she had (and she has had plenty - let me tell you). Nate had several small cavities so we are going to have to start flossing them as well as brushing their teeth.

I uploaded some pictures of the snow around our house. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Poor kids can't win for losing

Poor kids.

A couple of days after the last blog (2/7) both the kids started to complain that their ears were aching. We took them to the doctor the next day and both of them had ear infections. So we have been giving them antibiotics and they took their last dose today.

The school nurse called yesterday and Nate had pinkeye. We got some eye drops for him and we have to give them to him four times a day for the next five days. The bad thing is I had to work late and after getting the drops I found out I missed Nate's soccer parents meeting. I just called this morning and found out that they assigned teams and the team coach will call us with the practice schedule.

The cat got real sick last week and we took him to the vet. Turns out he had a kidney infection and dehydration. We got pills we have to give him once a day. I looked on the internet and found two completely different instructions on how to give pills to a cat. We went with the real instructions, afraid it would end up being the joke. Fortunately we got them down okay. For the dehydration they gave him a sub-dermal water pack. He looked like a camel until it slipped down into one of his legs so he had one beefy looking leg. No pics - sorry about that.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Kids update

Well both the kids are sick again. I am not sure how it happened for Nate but he seems okay in the morning but by the afternoon he tires down and by night time he is running a fever. If this keeps up we will take him to the doctor soon - will have to because if he misses any more school he will need a doctors note to get back in.

Lexi just had a mild fever until we took her for her four year checkup where she got four shots plus they took three tries to draw blood. I was working from home Monday taking care of Nate when Chris came back with Lexi crying. Poor little girl cried in my arms until she fell asleep. Today though she went to school but was tired when she came back and crashed after we got her pajamas on.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Birthday Weekend

This weekend the we celebrated my birthday (1/26) and Lexi's birthday (1/27). Lexi got lots of presents and really enjoyed them. I got a big birthday cookie and Lexi got a dozen cupcakes covered with a THICK layer of buttercream icing. Needless to say we got our sugar for the month.

My mom stayed with Lexi and Nate while Me, Chris, Bobby and Darlene went to the mall. Bobby and Darlene shopped while Chris and I got to do that quiet, romantic thing we've been wanting to do for a long time - we got new glasses.

Damn, getting old sucks :)

While I was waiting for our glasses we went to the Genghis grill for dinner. Its a Mongolian grill meaning you take a bowl and fill it with the meats, vegetables, spices and oils that you want then they cook it up for you. I really like Mongolian grills because if you don't like the food its your own fault.

I posted pictures of the birthday party on our photo site. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mid Janurary update

Not much going on so far. Last weekend we put up all the xmas lights and this weekend I got the leaves mowed up and bagged. I took the kids to McDonald's today and they played around.

We took Thumbs to get his blood tested to make sure the hyperthyroid medicine was working okay. The Thyroid was okay but Thumbs has a Urinary Tract Infection. So in addition to the thyroid medicine for the next two weeks we have to take a dropper full of antibiotics and make him take it (twice a day). Fortunately I picked up the medication and had them show me the best way to give a cat medicine through a dropper.

We did take the kids last weekend to Toys R Us to spend some of their allowance. Nate got a "Home Depot" tool box and work stool and Lexi got a Barbie cheerleader dress and light up pompoms.