Sunday, June 29, 2008

750 Miles, 4 Stops, and 3 Traffic Jams

Lovely wife and the crew headed off to visit relatives for the first leg of a family visit. So, hitting the road at the crack of stupid, 0630, the crew loaded in the Family Vehicle and headed East.

Traveling in the new age of high technology and rising gas prices allowed for some interesting stories from the road. There were even a couple of fun events on the first leg out.

With gas prices rising Lovely Wife reported that she saw gas prices in excess of $4.00 per gallon for regular unleaded. She even had to pay $4.10 for one batch. That is where technology has back fired on the sale. Most fuel pumps shut off sales between $50 and $75 dollars. Having a large vehicle this restriction doesn’t allow the purchaser to have a complete fill-up. I'm sure some of the restriction is to prevent theft through drive off's. This small inconvenience was overcome by fuel stop number two.

Princess Dabba was upset during a brief rain shower that her part of the car was not receiving the same amount of rain as the front windshield. Think about it, why should the adults up in the front get all the rain? That produced a story for The Book.

We had a MapQuest search from Home base to the travel vehicle. There appear to be three towns with the same name in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Doesn't sound like a big deal but when all three are on the same interstate route it can make progress tracking kind of fun.

George the GPS earned his keep on the trip by providing an alternate route around a major traffic delay. Now if we could just get him to see them as they are happening and rerouting that would be useful.

Please ladies and gentlemen get on your feet. Let's put those hands together for Lovely wife!!!!! There she stands with the cape flying in the wind. She achieved over 750 miles of driving in one day with four kids in the car. Referred only a few minor sibling disagreements, found routes around traffic delays, over came pesky fuel pump technology and high fuel prices. Unassisted in the driving with only a pesky husband onnthe phone asking his favorite travel question, "Are we there yet? Yes, I did, less than 10 minutes after leaving.

Let the standing ovation continue. Leg 1 of the Tour de America is in the books.

George is Guiding the Family

Oh! it is a sad day. There is another man in my lovely spouses life. His name is George.

Not the guy living in the White House. Not the actor, something like Clooney. And not the Curious Monkey in the book. This guy, he is not much of a guy. He is only about 3 inches tall by 5 inches wide.

The kids are all aware of it. They have even enjoyed hearing the guy talking to my wife. I mean, shameful. Unbelievable.

It appears that George is about to travel with my wife and children. Shocking!!!

I mean. To be replaced by a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) unit on the dashboard of the car. The guy does have a cool English accent. But, I guess I am a little jealous. He gets to go on vacation, he gets to hang out with the family. Shoot, I even like the guy.

We have had alot of fun with the Garmin GPS. It has been lots of fun to play with the maps, the directions, and to have a way to mark all of the places we go. So, go out and get a foreign friend to ride along with you.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another One Jumps from the Board

The summer is moving along. There are summer programs, reading at the library, fishing, spend the nights with friends and swim lessons. All of the elements of a kids summer.

Our family has passed a milestone today with the accomplishment of our youngest child. Princess Dabba, during swim lessons, made the leap from the diving board. When my lovely spouse called to tell me about the event I could tell this was a big deal for her. (Dabbing her eyes.) There is video, calls, and we talked about it a bunch.

So, this is it. We can all now swim and we can all jump off the diving board. This has to be an accomplishment of 6 up, 6 in. A family that cannon balls together stays together.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tour De France 2008 - July 5 to July 25, 2008

Let the biking begin. Starting on July 5, the 2008 version of the Tour de France will begin running over the streets, highways, and cobblestones of France. Teams and rides from all over the world will be competing for the honor of the yellow jersey. will be hosting reports each night from the venues all over France. The schedule will be live update coverage early in the day, twice daily coverage of the racing, and then a primetime coverage of the days events.

This should be an interesting year.

Here are some of the words you will hear during bike racing. Here is my translation on the meaning.

domestiques” - This is a French bicycle term for goofer. Or the other duties as assigned.

The Peloton - This is the term used for the posse or the pack of guys riding a bike.

The color of the jersey - yellow, green, white, and polka dot, each has a different meaning and the racers have a different goal in the race. The first time you watch the Tour it takes time to figure out what each racer is doing and which purpose they performing for their team.

Cool Parent Watch: Camp Rock Spend the Night Party

I have reached a confusing time in my life. There are days when I am seen through the eyes of my crew as nerdy parent, the please don't embarass me parent, the please don't ever dance like that again in public parent, but I got to see a glimmer of the promised land this weekend.....Cool Parent.

Now mind you, this is not something I aspire to since I am secure in my adult parenting role. My kids have on more than one ocassion heard me explain, "You do not live in a Democracy, in my house you live in a benelovent dictatorship" If you don't believe me we can open negoitations with your mother on any topic....sorry lovely spouse, I couldn't help myself.

We had a Camp Rock spend the night party at our house! Oh! yea, who's your daddy? Doing the dance that the kids say reminds them of Baloo the Bear in Jungle Book.

There are Jonas Brothers in a Disney Movie. The young ladies in our house had a freiend over to watch the movie, spend the night, and play video games.

I am thrilled that Camp Rock is the new movie. Hopefully, I can see a tv that doesn't have High School Musical playing. Kids, just kidding.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Important Day, NHL Draft Day

Start playing my favorite song. "I want to drive the Zamboni" by Martin Zellar and get your favorite NHL sweater out. Today is the NHL Entry Draft. This is the event where you hear names like Gretzky, Moose Jaw, Tikohov, Scott Bowman. This is the National Hockey League is NHL. And the Zamboni is the machine that makes new fresh ice on an ice rink.
Now that is Friday night entertainment. Talking hockey in June.
It doesn't get any better than that. Its time for a Puck Off!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy Dad Becoming Frugalicious!

Yep, it is happening. I am becoming my father or I guess just beginning to become aware of the things going on around me.

It wasn't the gas prices that really started changing things for me. It was watching the waste around me when I worked in a manufacturing environment. When they had scrap they disposed of it. Okay. By the truck load. Television and going green is the new craze. Taking up landfill space, using products that were convenient for me but causing a negative in the waste stream of the community. Some of it is so simple, this is not just spotted owl stuff, this is the area that we live, the environment.

The rest of this new focus I attribute to frugalness, or frugality, or frugalicious, (a word my kids would understand, if these are even words.) Turning off lights in closets, shutting off the video game when we are done, unplugging the chargers from the wall, using real plates instead of plastic or styrofoam. I could go on. Last night I saw the Ed Bagley show on TV followed by another show, Wa$Ted on Green Planet. I really wasn't paying attention then I heard a discussion about a family or home environmental footprint. They were referred to as Eco-criminals. Oh! You men, bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do, Annabelle and Holter will get on to you. I was hooked.

Now, personally, I think of myself as somewhat environmentally aware. We recycled but our current community doesn't, I own an SUV, but we are driving it less, oh sure! But the environmental footprint or to be more exact, your eco footprint, a project of the Global Footprint Network. What a great concept. Reducing bills, that is financial and has a clear benefit, but it is not always understood or shared. Showing people the stuff they chucked out over a week. Now that was pure, gross, genius. There is was. Your garbage. How can you argue with that. My point is the family on the show started looking for ways to reduce waste items in the waste stream, energy consumption, and started to recycle.
The planning has started. Not only do I want to save money. I also want my kids to know their environmental footprint and establish habits that are part of their everyday lives. There is a whole new vocabulary we are having to learn and I'll share those words with them and you along the way.

Let the frugaliciousness begin!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Book - I'm So Tired my eyes flickered

The last three nights me and the crew have been participating in after work fishing. It is a great family event. The calling at work starts on the cell phone asking me how the day has been followed by, Dad, what do we have planned this evening? Then it advances to calls about have you left yet? I have enjoyed the events. Lots of fun.
Once I get home we quickly grab the fishing poles, worms, the fishing box and head for the local pond. We will then fish until dark. All four kids are out fishing together, with me and sometimes my lovely spouse.

This evening there were a number of fish caught. Just as we are about to head home there is a flurry of activity, my son hollers. DAD, I've got a huge fish....with the sound of excitement and a little fear. The pole in his hand was about bent in half. The other kids are beginning to gather. Keep reeling I'm am hollering, keep the tip of the rod up. His sister is trying to help him lift the thing and get it where we can see it. Oh! No, I have caught a turtle, the young man announces! (This causes some concern, the girls love turtles and don't want to harm any, catching it on a fishing pole oh, my!) Relief, the fish breaks the top of the water. We land a monster bass, at least a couple of pounds. I know, this is a fish tale. Especially since it was dark and we don’t have a good picture. However, my son landed the biggest fish. (Pride welling up in my chest, that's my boy!)
All of a sudden the eldest young lady says, hey, DAD, I’ve got a fish. Okay, this is fun. I haven’t even unhooked the monster bass that my son caught. Then the kids are over trying to help the landing of fish two which was a close second in size. Unbelievable. What great fun. We try to take cell phone pictures while we are returning our prize fish to the lake. Great fishing, lots of fun, great activity, we are outside with worms, and bugs, and fish and fresh air. This is a Mutual of Omaha moment.
As all this activity is taking place I notice it is getting to be significantly darker by the minute. When a voice, of our youngest calls out. Hey, dad, I’m ready to go home. I’m so tired that my eyes are flickering. (All the kids together said, aaaahhhhhh!) As I am unhooking the second fish a small head is leaned against my leg. Dad, we really need to go.

So, home we go, fish stories in hand, a new entry for The Book, and plans already started for the next evening of family fishing.

Digital Self Portraits - Kid Style

We have a number of expressionist artists in our house. For some reason the miniature people in my home have become graffiti artists. If you put down a pad of paper and leave it when you return you will have names, doodles, and signatures of the one who passed by. This is the same phenomena with the digital camera.

Thank goodness for digital because you can save them without spending a fortune on development. It also makes it easy to hang onto the little tidbits of electronic blackmail, I mean history. Upon preparation for graduation from high school a few of these may reappear.

Just as the valedictorian at College is to give her speech a couple of these beauties may flash on the screen.

There are even a couple for the Supreme Court Confirmation hearings that may arrive in the packet. I'm sure by the time these events happen the pictures taken today will be equivalent to black and white photos the 1900's.
So, get a digital camera and watch the creativity. It is very entertaining and you never know quite what you will find.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads, Pop’s, Daddy’s, and Father’s on this wonderful day of the year. For those of you out there with young children, teenagers, twenty-something’s, older kids or geriatrics’, this day is a mix of giving and receiving. I’m not talking about just gift giving, phone calls, text messages and cards. All of us have a Father, so it is a day to honor, reflect, celebrate, and appreciate that special individual in our life. We wouldn’t be here without them. This is also the day for many of us who have reached the plateau of parental responsibility, fatherhood, to experience, to receive, that recognition, appreciation, and some good old fashion love from the people we are working very hard everyday not to goof up to badly.

Okay, I said it. Maybe I should have gone with the nice respectful post for the day. Do the daily comment and move on. But, oh, No, not on your life, that is just not my style. Don’t get me wrong. Being a dad is the greatest job in the world. It just doesn’t come with an instruction manual, not that we guys would read it! Instructions would be like a map, that we would have to stop and ask directions; isn’t that why the GPS was invented? So we wouldn’t have to ask anymore. There just aren’t lots of guy versions of OPRAH, or Dad magazine out there. Not that these would change the outcome.

This is a different, somewhat difficult day for me. This is the first Father’s Day that I will experience without my Dad. He passed away in April so I will move through this day with a whole in my heart the size of the state of Texas. It’s not that we would have a long conversation on the phone today, smile, they never were. We’re guys! It was the comfort of just knowing he was there if I needed him. That would make the day for me. We would exchange pleasantries, there would be a discussion about the weather, my other seven siblings, the status of the Washington Redskins, maybe some politics, and then we’d close out the conversation as he moved into the Grandfather role asking about the kids. Just thinking about one of those calls has helped me to hear the voice. He is missed.

Turning to my role in Father’s Day. I am very fortunate to be the father to four wonderful children. These are the people that make the world turn for me along with my lovely spouse. Each day I get to see with wonderment the development, the thrills, the spills, and the growth. These four beautiful people, each with the spark that makes them unique to this world, are there everyday and all it takes is one hug, a snuggle, or the head on the shoulder to make anything I face in a day all worthwhile. On this day, it is I who am honored to have such wonderful children, even when you don’t clean your room or you beat me in Wii, I love you.

Happy Father’s Day

What a Day and a New Warning

Yep, amazing but true. It is time to discuss those warning signs that you see on items and you wonder who in the worlds did that. My all time favorite is do not use electric hair dryer in the shower.

Okay, this sounds insensitive. But, sometimes in life if we have to explain to that level of detail should the individual really be allowed to participate in open society? That’s like putting a label that says breathe in: breathe out to maintain appropriate levels of oxygen. Maybe, just maybe, Darwin and the survival of the fittest is correct. We could save a fortune on warning signs and the gene pool might be improved just a bit when a few of the less fit fall out.

You remember the warning sign that is now up everywhere! Hot Coffee may be hot! Al Gore, inventor of the internet, came up with Caution: Ice may be melting because it is getting warmer! Really, no kidding. Okay so I paraphrased the Kyoto Treaty too much. Back to the point.

In the words of the comedic giant, Bill Engvall, “Here's your sign.”

On a very recent day, a good friend and I were running an errand to embarrass another friend on their birthday. What can be better than that? A mission of humiliation.

Miss T was driving her car and we were heading to the bakery to pick up the cake and then we would swing by and get some lunch then back to the office. So, it is pouring rain outside. We are talking about work and the mission underway then I get a call to join a work related conference.

The whole pace of the mission has to pick up because of the weather, the work call, and the fact friend we want to embarrass is on a tight schedule. Why all of the background? I'm getting there.

The cake looks great by the way.

We decide through hand signals since I am on a call to drive through to eat at the Mecca of food. Chick Fil A. Time to get some sweet tea and a Chicken sandwich. I'm talking the redneck version of Don Par rig non and Es car got with great service.

So, the order is placed. I'm working and she is driving, it is raining, I ask for my order. Miss T orders, I ask quickly for a Sweet Tea. I am only half paying attention, yes shocking, to both conversations, I ask for Sweet Tea, as I mute the conference call. The ordering takes place, we quickly close the window since it is raining, and move to pick up the goodies.

Through hand signals we argue about who is paying for lunch. Which is pretty amazing since there appeared to be real communication without words. I won. Who's the Man?

We get to the window and on board the goodies and the beverages. We end up with a couple of extra drinks. So, it appears! Anyway, we look at the receipt and the number of drinks was up since I had ordered twice. Everything gets slammed in the cup holders and I'm holding a drink in one hand and the active conference call in the other. Miss T is driving with one hand and holder her other drink in her hand. I'm thinking fluid management has gotten out of control. We head back to the office where we begin to unload.

Hey T, your cup holder is flooded with Sweet Ice Tea and rising fast. I grab out my cup, made of Styrofoam and see fluid leaking from the cup. This is a 32 ounce cup so there is lots of fluid. I grab out the second cup when I see tea pouring from the sides. This is tragic! Precious sweet Tea from Chick Fil A is being wasted. This is a national emergency!

I quickly begin to determine the root cause of this travesty. Thinking things about the supplier of the cups, wanting to talk immediately to someone at Chick Fil A, and then refocusing on the loss of the tea, I spring into action. Mind you it is raining softly. There are umbrellas, cakes, cake supplies, lunch bags, and enough fluid cups to bail the Titanic up off the bottom of the ocean being handled. What is a geyser doing on the side of my cup? Okay pull off the lid and begin to drink. That doesn’t solve anything. It appears that the fluid is going out the side faster than I can consume it.

The other cup is not leaking! Yea, the other precious cargo is safe. Focus back on the damaged one. Must save the fluid! Then something strange catches my eye. Just below the geyser on my cup something shiny and very out of place is on the cup. That appears to be a rock, a very shiny one affixed to the side of the cup. What did I win? What a strange way to win it? Are there camera people following me back to work? This must be a joke? Then the pressure in the cup, since I am squeezing it, and mean old Mr. Gravity, dislodges the rock and now a second steam of liquid gold is competing with me for the fluid. Okay, I give up. Dump the liquid in the nearby plants. (Moment of silence for Sweet Tea abuse). That’s not a rock it’s an earring with a post.

Quickly I recover the earrings for Miss T. The laughing is now at a volume that is causing people in the parking lot to look. She realizes that she stored her “lost” earrings in the cup holder of her car that now contains about 8 ounces of sweet tea. So we are now using every napkin to drain the cup holder. Which by the way did a nice job containing all the liquid.

So, the then and there we invented the newest warning sign for the car. Never store your earrings in the cup holder! Quoting Bill Engvall, “Here’s your sign.”

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now that's a fan and the Parent Voice!

Last week I had the opportunity to take two of my kids and two kids of some Alabama friends to a concert. It was Lifehouse and Taylor Swift playing together. It was a fun concert. I recognized some of the music from the radio and my kids I-Pods, MP3's, Zen players and shoe phones. We had a great time.

We had great seats for the event. And the venue was nice. Once the bands started no one wanted to sit in the chairs that had been provided. (Yep, showing my age again, huh?)

One young man, pictured below, had the opportunity to meet Taylor Swift before the concert. Well you know how some people when they get around celebrities will make the story sound better than it really is. This kid didn't. He had the proof.

Taylor Swift signed his head! I mean right on the forehead where everyone can see.

His dad even had pictures of the event taking place. Being a guy, even an olde one, I thought, dude, way cool!

This kid is a genius. He solved the number or the autograph washing off when he eats, drinks, goes to the little boys room and does the washing thing. He doesn't have to worry about getting it on his clothes or rubbing off on his pants. Shear genius.

This kid should be president! (Why not?)

It was right in the middle of his miniature hero worship session that the parenting voice kicked in. I don't know where it came from, or why. All of a sudden I noticed that all of the people that though this was cool were the males of our species. I then noticed that the proud father, showing pictures of the event, with a really cool camera, was only accompanied by a daughter who was not as interested in the outcome of the celebrity meeting. My initial thought, she is just not getting it because, you know, she is a girl! Then the parent voice got louder. The young hero is going to get killed when he walks in the door! I went from coolness to down right afraid for this former hero's development! His Mom is going to have a Code Brown! You know, first she is going to say it, then she is going to do it. How could this have happened? Instantly, I became worried if the Sharpie marker would come off his head without removing to much skin. I was also thinking of the comments the proud father was about to receive over this lapse in judgement. The parent voice. It had me. Then parent voice made me turn around and check on all of my kids. All okay. Nothing that would get me in the dawg house. Phew!

Back to the concert. I had a great time and learned that you don't have to have paper anymore in this digital age to get an autograph. My spouse is also concerned that with all of the youngins we have I will use the new method of communication for my next shopping list! On the kids silly, not me. How would I read it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Famous Parades in History..Maybe Not!

As a roving reporter of the useless facts and weird trivia I have a new entry for The Book. The funny part is that this entry comes from the keeper of The Book, Mimi.

It appears there is a Vermont version of the running of the bulls like they do in Spain....well kind of. I can only imagine all of the liberals in the Green State and the neighboring Granite state and the animals rights people starting to make banners and beginning a campaign based upon this news. Say it isn't so!!

Okay, the parade is not as dangerous or as fast paced as the Spanish equivalent. It appears the only danger in the Vermont activity is to step in a hot steamer or a stray cow chip on the highway. The event up in Vermont is called the Strolling of the Heifers! This is not to be confused with ladies night at the local steak house buffet. It appears the event is to promote the Vermont dairy industry.

You can see by the pace of the two and four legged participants that speed is not the most important criteria for participation. We believe the people version of this annual event is called Duggers on Parade!!

As you can see in the picture below that they appear to grow them very large. Mark your calendars for next year for the Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Blogging Break - Due to weather

The reason for the break in blogging has been the weather and work. The past 10 days we have had some weather watch or warning or a thunderstorm with enough lightening to light a large city each evening into the early morning hours. These haven't been the garden variety rain storm these have been the sit in the basement with your severe weather kit and wait out the storm. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a wimpy weather guy. This sounds like it deserves cheese and crackers to go with the Whine! But, this recent batch of storms have been unbelievable!

Then there has been a small distraction called work. Lots going on this time of year. I have a big project that has been lots of fun. Just putting all the pieces together is a bit like playing corporate Jinga. It's going well.

In blogging world I have been spending a lot of time learning from others. There are some really cool blog people out there in the space. I've been looking at the folks nominated for the best blog awards. Some of them are so funny. There are others that deal with let's say interesting content. It has been fun to blog around and leave comments.

So with all of that said. I'll be posting every day for the 100 days of summer. Planning this event has caused me to carry an extra notebook just for the blog insights that I pick up during the day. Yep, I'm at that age where if I don't write it down sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other. The note book also gives me the chance to sleep at night. If I don't write down the idea I'll toss and turn trying to remember. Maybe TMI (Too Much Information)

Anyway, let the 100 days begin.

Dad, don't you get a Summer Vacation

What a great question from my young man of the house. Don't you get summer vacation? At the wise old age of eight he has figured out that being a dad might require you to go to work even in the summer time! Why don't you get the summer off? This caused some discussion about why can't you just stay home, read books, play with your friends, go to the pool, fish, ride bikes, play basketball and travel. You know, just hang out!

I started to give the speech about responsibility, needing a source of income, him wanting a college education. There was even a comment about the cost of gas coming from the recesses of my brain. Then it dawned on me. Who is the brighter of the two. He is asking me about vacation and I'm about to justify why I have to work. Who is being the teacher now.

When I was asked about the work versus fun I was looking over a presentation for work. My son had come up from the basement with two Wii controllers in his hands. We discussed the work concept, having to get up early, and he asked if it was fun. Amazing! I really do enjoy what I do for a career. But, he had me doing some real examination of the whole concept.

Let's put it this way. The next activity we participated in together was not a discussion about project management or Six Sigma or anything work related. We were down stairs playing Wii Baseball, Tennis, and Bowling. The student had become the teacher.