Saturday, December 20, 2008

Joe's Letter to Santa

Joe: Dad, we need to write a letter to Santa. I don't want that big guy around. I just want the elves to come.

Dear Santa,
I know... a lot of people ... like you, but some people don't. I'm one of those people. We pray that ... you will go to the houses of people who like you and... stay away from those who don't. Amen.

That's a lot of words.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Where have we been?

I know it's been over a month. I will tell our story and welcome suggestions for improving the situation. Kirk has been dealing with the sewer. We had to put an entirely new line in. This involved many obstacles that required many phone calls. Now it is all done, including a move of our washer and dryer up into our kitchen, and maybe Kirk will be back blogging soon.

I have been sick since before the last post. Never anything serious, but just there, underlying all that I do. The last two weeks especially have been a struggle between not being able to sleep at night because I'm tense about the 15 page paper that is due and not concentrating well during the day because I'm tired and sick. I now officially have a sinus infection and I'm on my second round of antibiotics.

That paper is due tomorrow at midnight. I have an outline, a bibliograpy, and six pages of text written. The task ahead seems impossible, but I also live for the fact that I only have to make it through 14 more hours before I can collapse on my bed and sleep peacefully (for a few hours before the boys jump up on the bed.) In the midst of my stress/sick conundrum, I have tried to think about how to prevent this from happening every semester.

I'll admit that this was partially to blame on my election anxiety which was relieved with regular watching of Rachel Maddow, the Daily Show, and the Colbert Report. This will not happen again while I am still in grad school, so that should help. I was also thinking about doing yoga. I don't have time for a class, but I thought if I worked with a DVD for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week, it couldn't hurt. I would have to get up slightly earlier to do this, but I think it might be worth it in terms of relieving stress and just generally feeling better.

I'm also going to try switching my post-lunch diet soda to black or green tea. I'll still get my caffiene hit, but with the added benefit of anti-oxidants and no fake sugar.

Any other suggestions for surviving times of stress? I'm all ears!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm not Joe

but I can pretend to be a plumber if I try. I spent the better part of Monday digging around the sewer line in preparation for the real plumber to fix the deteriorated 60 year-old ceramic pipes. I took the pictures while standing on the sidewalk (now bridge). All was going well until we discovered that the city's records don't seem to match with the reality of the backyard. Notice the not-90-degree angle of the pipe in the top picture. It appears to head for our neighbors backyard. Suspicion has it that our line might be connected to the neighbors - after all our houses alike and we share a garage that straddles the property line!

Continuing in the backyard & driveway, after a few hours digging and three large holes later, we decided to quit the excavation and wait until the public works department can come. With their wonderful expertise, they send the mini-cam into the main sewer line. I flush some fluorescent dye, or some such thing, down the toilet while the camera waits in the sludge pipe and then lets the workers know where our line meets the main line in the alley. Hopefully, it is then just a straight line from the that point to where it enters the house. Oh the suspense....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why I am voting for Barack Obama

I know there are some among my readers that just can not understand why I would vote for THAT ONE, so I'm going to tell you.

Foreign Relations - Barack Obama will reestablish our positive relations throughout the world. Positive diplomacy is necessary for preventing conflict and having support when conflict is necessary.

Iraq & Afghanistan - Obama knew from the beginning that we had no business invading Iraq. He has agreed that we will have to have some troop presence there for a long time, but that we need to end the occupation. It is immoral for us to be in Iraq. There were no WMDs and there was no connection between Sadam Hussein and Al Queda. Bush's pet war has killed thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens.

Abortion - Obama is not pro-abortion and neither am I. I think abortion is horrible. But I am the child of a man who had funerals for girls who died in botched illegal abortions and I think that will always affect me. Studies show that abortion rates are about the same whether abortion is legal or illegal, the difference is in the amount of young women who die because of the abortions. I would like for us to focus on reducing the numbers, which is exactly what Obama said in his acceptance speech. Cutting funds for homes for unwed mothers is not the way to do that.

Sarah Palin - Are you people serious? Sarah Palin would make a fine VP, as long as we could guarantee that McCain would stay alive for the next 4 years. But she is not in any way ready for the presidency. She has proven in her interviews that she has no clue about what is going on in the world or in the economy, for that matter. She's not dumb, but she can't even name a newspaper that she reads regularly. Now, let's talk about her ethics. The report from Alaska makes it clear that she used her position in an unethical manner. She also goes on and on about ending the earmarks, but she lobbied for that "bridge to nowhere" money and accepted it when it came.

The economy - It was clear that McCain had no idea what to do during the crisis. He blundered around looking lost. Meanwhile, Obama knew what had happened and how it happened. He was the calm in the storm. He has some ideas for how to fix the problem, including ideas for stimulating the economy and providing more regulation that will keep this from happening again. I know republicans hate that word, regulation, but this mess makes it clear that there have to be some checks and balances on our capitalistic system or businesses run amok.

I could go on, but the main point is that Barack Obama is a good man. He's intelligent and has common sense. He's looked at the issues closely in the senate and is ready to lead. The republicans have led us so far astray in the last 8 years that it will be difficult for anyone to lead us back, but I think Obama is the man to do it. McCain may change a few things, but he has shown that he believes George Bush's policies to be sound. The policies that led us to two wars, the largest financial crisis of the century, and numerous violations of personal freedoms. Let's get someone in office who respects the constitution, who is willing to listen as well as talk, and who believes that our weapons are the last resort after all efforts have been made in diplomacy.

Most importantly, I would hope that you would all join me in hopes for a fair and safe election.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where the Buffalo (I mean Bison) Roam

We went to the open house at Konza Prairie this morning. It is always delightful out there, but today the weather was beautiful and we were with good people, so it was even better. The only negative was that we didn't have time to do all the great things offered. We went on a hayrack ride where a biologist told us about all the cool research they're doing out there. Next time we want to do more of the crafts and activities. Joe did get to catch grasshoppers in a net, which he greatly enjoyed, as well as play with the trucks they use to put out fires during burnings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tom Friedman, Mary Poppins, Wall Street and Your World Today

The first video I discovered here. The second was an unintentional find.

For your viewing pleasure:

Monday, September 15, 2008

The People Speak

See the photos and video from the "Alaska Women Reject Palin" rally. Great stuff!

Voting is Fun!!!

I would hope that everyone I know is registered to vote. If not, go to Rock the Vote and, easy breezy, you're ready to raise your voice on election day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Two weeks into the school year and Joe loves it. He even, voluntarily, creates his own homework. He's really taken a liking to learning letters, words, & spelling. During the day Isaac and I putter about the house or go to appointments or run errands.

One thing about school I'm having trouble understanding is the food service. I can understand offering pancakes for breakfast or lunch, but when did a funnel cake become breakfast fare? The district implemented a "wellness policy" a few years back - I guess the food options were even scarier before! Now I'm all for healthy food and sweets in moderation, but I was at a loss when I tried to describe "chicken corn dog" and "chicken O's" to Joe - I at least knew what a corn dog is. Why not just have a baked chicken breast? I just have to remember that our family is the one that would skew the data and that for many kids the food offered at school is better, and maybe more, than what is offered in the home.

An exciting development is that Joe's school is one of several in the district that is part of grant to provide and staff a greenhouse for the students. I need to check into the options for parents interested in assisting with the project.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Train Ride

Went to Abilene last Saturday for a birthday train ride. Fun was had by all. Word is, next year the renovated steam engine will be ready!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School Lunches & WIC

Now is time to fight for better school food

Photo illustration for Slow Food Nation story in San Fran...

“If you are what you eat, then I’m fast, cheap and easy.” When Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse fame, saw that line on a bumper sticker, she wondered, “Is this really what we want the destiny of our nation to be?”

Click here to read the full article, or click here to comment on the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Programs and WIC. This includes the National School Lunch Programs.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hangin' Out

Every evening this spider builds a web - finishing about 9 o'clock. Then around 6 am, completely dismantles it and goes.....somewhere?? Only to return again that evening and start all over.

I don't recall the name of this spider, but I've seen this kind on tomato plants before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Catching up

August has been busy and haven't had much time until now. Rhonna went to Denver for a 3-day library conference then just after a couple days off to recover she worked the next weekend. A few more days at work and she left last Friday morning for the University of Alabama to attend grad-school orientation. With Rhonna gone and Joe in school all day, things have been pretty quiet around here. Rhonna comes home tonight and we are all looking forward to staying home for a while.

The remodeling is done and the house is ours again except we are now in the middle of having a new roof put on due to the June hailstorm. Next up is major work on the sewer line.

The math is quite easy:

add together:
One 90 year old house + 2 sewer clean-outs in past year
= we get to spend lots of money

All that's left after that is the water main! Yea!!!

Hopefully it can wait at least few years from now!

Now for pictures:

At the county fair

Playing with mom's birthday present from the boys

5 Years Old!

First day of Kindergarten!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This lawn is your lawn

Much better than the advice from 7 years ago to just keep on shopping. Just watch the video.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day out in K.C.

We needed a day off before beginning the rush of August so we dropped of the boys with their aunt and uncle and headed out to Kansas City. We did some classic K.C. activities: we wallked the Plaza (ho-hum), and went to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is great if you haven't watched the Ken Burns Baseball series he did for PBS. The true highlights of the day were Andre's and Architectural Salvage. Andre's is a Swiss restaurant south of the Plaza. It has a cozy atmosphere with a touch of class. The cost of your meal includes dessert, as our waitress said, "We force you to eat sweets." You've already paid for it, it would be a shame to let those luscious desserts go to waste. We had paprika pork with penne pasta for our main course and it was delightful. You must go to Andre's the next time you're in town.

Architectural Salvage is a huge warehouse of items saved from old houses: everything from chandelier crystals to doors and mantels. It was just fun to walk around and see all the beauty and quirkiness.

It was a good day out and we are now ready to face the challenges ahead (I think). We did decide that we need more little days out. There are nice museums here in town that we've never been to and that's just pathetic. We'll keep you updated.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Birthday Time

Joe was very excited to give mom her present this year. Maybe even more excited than last year when he gave her a Bob the Builder playdoh set. Below they are playing with the fire-rescue-helicopter set. Who knows what she'll get next year!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Budding Gardener

We picked and ate the first harvest from Joe's first garden. Green beans and summer squash pan-steamed/sauteed in butter and garlic. A great side dish (and cold snack if there are leftovers).

There are more beans to pick and soon we will be eating fresh tomatoes!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Family Time in the Mountains

We just returned from an amazing time at Kirk's family reunion at Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado. Family came in from California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Florida. It was good to get to know his family better.

I was amazed to discover that, even upon closer inspection, Kirk has a family of really nice people. Some highlights for me:
  • Uncle Harold reminiscing about camping when they were kids. Orva brought Grandma's scrapbooks from the trips.
  • Aunt Elaine blowing bubbles, surrounded by happy children.
  • Boys spending hours playing in the dirt with trucks and tractors.
  • Eating Alaskan Halibut caught and prepared by Andy.
  • Hearing Nora and Uncle Merl's story of tipping their canoe!
  • Enjoying the beautiful Colorado scenery. The air smelled of pine and I swear I heard a Mountain Lion one night.
The only unfortunate things about our trip were that not everyone was able to come, the really cold nights, and the dead and dying trees. Apparently the area has been ravaged by the Pine Beetle, so parts of the campground were really barren. The mountainsides were covered with brown trees. But, all things considered, it was a good trip.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Homework: Almost Done

Here are the (almost) final before and after pictures.

Everything is done except for a few touch-up items and the gutters! Those are on order and should be done next week. We are thrilled with our cute little back porch and the lovely crisp paint. Kirk will probably paint the trim bit by bit over time. I think we'll go back to the navy blue, although we've also tossed around orange (rust?). Any opinions? Overall, we are very pleased with what they've done with our cute little house. Now if we could only make the inside look that good! We're also enthused about finally having central air. No more loud, cold air blasting on us while we eat. No more nasty dirty window that we can't clean without hiring a crew to come over to help us move the AC. If you know anyone that needs a huge window unit that works quite well, let us know. We would be thrilled to get rid of it!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Homework: End of Week 3

Well... it looks like we'll also have a new roof thanks to the 2 hail storms earlier this month. Not only that, but we found out that it's best not to have a window a/c unit sitting in our new windows. It could be done, but the windows aren't made for a/c and it will void the warranty on the window. So maybe as soon as a week from now we'll have central air. What next? (what's left!? dare I ask?)

As for the "original" project, about all that's left is to finish the back porch, some electrical work (note the wires below), and install the gutters. All but the gutters should be finished next week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


First the duck jokes (courtesy of Tom Morton and his fans):

When do ducks wake up? At the quack of dawn.

(adapted for American audiences)
A duck walks in the pharmacy and asks what they have for chapped lips. He's given the best they offer and told it'll be $4.50. To which the duck replies "just put it on my bill".

Listen again for the next seven days for more duck jokes and good music.

Now for the video (thanks, Craig, for the lead):

Lamppost in Time

The title picture shows the lamp in the sideyard and on top of the lamp is this commemorative decoration.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Big strides were made today. Our back porch is gone. It only took them about 45 minutes to rip it off. They've also scraped and primed the north and west sides of the house. It already looks much better! While digging up the porch, they found an old Pabst Blue Ribbon can, old enough that it didn't have a pull tab. How far back did you have to use a tool to open a can of beer?


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cooking Videos

The mini-minimalist makes chocolate ganache....

To see the original

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Homework: Week 2

No gutters, new doors and windows, scraped paint, and a deconstructed porch.

Camp Mahoney

In-between storms (see post below), we returned Saturday night from the Williams family campout at Mahoney State Park in Nebraska. The plan was to stay until Sunday morning, but with thunderstorms in the forecast we decided to head home early. Packing in the rain and unpacking wet tents & luggage was not appealing. With three "siren calls" in a week we'd had enough. There weren't any tornadoes Sunday morning, but there was a lot of rain so it was a good call to pack up early.

Cool nights, warm days, and lots of sun - perfect.

Life is good...

Got it!

Gimme s'more!