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.