Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stay-at-Home-Dad Knowledge Base Article #002

NOTE - This one comes courtesy of my Mom, to which every respectable Stay-at-Home-Dad owes at least 50% of their success (perceived or otherwise) to.

Little kids love flashlights.

Controlling the darkness and keeping the nasties of the night at bay.

Piercing the pitch black of night with a beam of AAA luminescence.

Fending off the evil of the dayless empire and reinvoke the security that the brighter 12-hours of the 24-hour day offers.

All fine and dandy, but when the kiddies forget to turn the "electrical-salvation-portable-givers-of-light" off, those little alkaline power cells can run a chunk of change to replace on a regular basis.

Thus enter, the crank and wind-up rechargeable flashlights.

In addition to never needing batteries or spare bulbs, these little wonders gives the kiddies something to do during those eternal and infernal lighting strike blackouts.

They'll not only provide light for their Father who is stumbling in the dark in search of a candle and matches, but they'll burn a few dozen calories while providing a mental image of a squirrel on a wheel or Gilligan on his stationery faux-bamboo bicycle.

I love that these gems will provide 45 minutes of cool and calming ultra white led beamage for a relatively miniscule investment of time and effort (60 seconds).

And, if they leave them on, no worries to my debit card.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Be right back...going to get some gas

Now, you tell me...would this happen in the town/city where you live?

I have not a doubt in my mind that this fella did return the next day with $10 and an apology. Bet he even bought himself a grape SlushPuppy and a Snickers bar for the road.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Working the wire

My involvement as a board member on a non-profit organization here in town has led me to some interesting gatherings, introduced me to some interesting folks, and placed me in some interesting fish-out-of-water situations.

The other day I found myself doing a few things that I could never have imagined myself doing.

The 501c(3) group I serve as a board member with is involved in creating a series of walking, historical, and nature trails around our city. In preparation for the grand opening of a major section of concrete walkway across what was until recently a cattle pasture, the Board members came together to do a "workday."

It was during this workday that I found myself both removing and stringing barbed wire fencing, pulling down cattle fences, picking up (and flinging) cow chips along the 3/4 mile concrete walking path, and erecting an oak plank sign using, of all things, a forklift.

My roll of barbed wire was slightly smaller than the one hefted by my fellow Board member pictured here. Apparently they have a mechanism of some sorts that will spool / unspool the vicious metal wire, but we didn't have one.

BTW, this fella is the pastor at the extremely large and well attended First Christian Church in my town. A nicer guy couldn't be found.

Up goes the sign. The owner of the forklift is a fellow Board member and proprietor of the local Do-it-Best hardware store in town. He drove the forklift the 4 miles to the site from his downtown store.

BTW, those three logs that are holding the sign up...earlier in the year we chopped them down, stripped 'em clean, cut 'em up, hauled 'em to this site, dug deep holes for them, and erected them as they stand today. That is a story left for another blog entry as my city-boy emotional state has still not fully recovered from that ordeal

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Seeking a blue ribbon

No livestock.
No apple pies.
No canned peaches.
No humongous gourd.

Our family's first ever entry in the upcoming local county fair will be an original 3'x3'oil on canvas work of art by my 6-year old.

It's simply titled, "The Candle."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sippin' an chattin' at the drugstore lunch counter

In my small town we have three pharmacies.

There's the modern drive-thru express pharmacy in the new part of town and across the way is a mega-WalMart drug dispensing machine with acres and acres of free parking.

Then there's the old-fashioned drug store in the historic downtown district, complete with lunch counter, soda fountain, cosmetics in glass cases and two aisles of greeting cards dating back to the 70's.

8 chrome barstools with sparkly red vinyl covering and a formica countertop with original chrome border await hungry patrons looking for a quick, inexpensive snack and a smile from one of the lovely counter ladies.

Sitting next to the old time drink mixers (no blenders here), stainless steel drop-in containers pump out TWO kinds of syrup (chocolate and butterscotch), and dispense fruit toppings, jimmies, or any variety of nuts.

There are black press on plastic letters on the menu board overhead, tempting you with gastronomical delights such as pimento cheese sandwiches, turkey wraps, frito chili pies, hand-dipped ice cream sundaes, and drinks of all flavors and tastes.

The George Foreman grill and microwave oven stand ready to serve consumables of any kind, hot and delicious. They seem to appear apologetic for bringing their moderness into the old skool atmosphere of the lunch counter, but as long as they do their job without complaint, I think their presence is tolerated.

The elderly patrons prefer to populate one of the two melamine covered booths from the 70's, or either of the several square tables and chairs that look like surplus from a shuttered H. Salt Fish and Chips restaurant. They're the perfect "sittin' for a spell" furniture for the Red Hat ladies who come in every Thursday for nickel coffee, delicious cake and conversation.

The place is cool because it isn't trying to be cool. It knows it's place in the confines of the Drug Store, and accepts it's role as a historical nod to the way things used to be.

The other day, while sippin' an orangeade (yep, you heard orangeade -- THE most delicious beverage I've ever tasted and more addictive than an Ice Blended Mocha at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) at the lunch counter with my daughters, I was involved in a lively conversation (well, lively for this crowd) about high school reunions and the sizes of our respective graduating classes.

My graduating class had something like 900+ kids in it. At the last reunion I attended, they had to rent a ballroom at the Hilton in Downtown LA.

My wife grabbed her diploma with a little over 120 seniors. Her last reunion was in the local community center gymnasium.

The lunch counter girl partied with 43 other kids at her grad night. Her upcoming reunion is going to be at the local Lions Club facililty.

Then Charley the pharmacist walked up to and behind the counter, filled his mug from the tin pot full of freshly brewed joe and casually said,

"At my last high school reunion we just had to pick which booth to sit in at the mexican restaurant downtown."

I added, "So, not many people showed up?"

To which he replied, "No everyone was there."

[Me laughing]

"Two guys even brought their wives."

[More of me laughing]

" We took the big booth."

I barely finished my orangeade.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Stay-at-Home-Dad Knowledge Base Article #001

Somehow, my household has amassed a small collection of kiddie videos and dvds, worthy of a 4' x 4' glass enclosure at the local county fair in the oddly strange but seemingly curious "collections" section --right next to little Bobby Jones' "OU spongy oversized spirit fingers" collection and the awkwardly tall Samantha Peterson's "Pringle chips that look like farm animals I've raised and slaughterd for my FFA projects" collection.

Predictably, each of my kiddies has circled their wagons around a particular dvd/video for repeated viewing.

And when they're in the zone, they could (potty breaks notwithstanding) and would (if we allowed it) watch their fave video as many times in a row as there are blades of crab grass on my 1/4 acre of supposed bermuda grass lawn.

When "Chicka chicka boom boom" started to show signs of signal loss and video drop out, I knew it wasn't long for the vcr world. And with it, went the source of 7 minutes of joy in the life of my 3-year old.

My solution. I dubbed all of my kids favorite old skool VHS videos onto DVD.

DVD's don't need rewinding.
DVD's will last longer than a VHS copy (rumor has it).

And the topper...DVD's can be set to play over and over and over and over, ad infinitum while you hide in the next room pretending not to be singing along to that incessant music on the DVD.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back to school

You read right. It's the middle of August, 102 degrees and in my opinion, summer vacation should still be in full swing for the kids. Yet, the bags of school supplies are filled, the opening day outfits are selected, the go-to-bed-early to get-up-early practice sessions are in full swing and the postcards are in the mail.

You read right. Postcards.

This is a practice I wasn't familiar with. Don't know if this is a local thing, an Okie thing, or whether teachers everywhere send welcoming postcards to their new studetns.

The girls dug it. My wife dug it. In fact, we didn't even know who C's teacher was until we received the postcard, so that was an added bonus.

So, the big questions being, which of the five 1st grade teachers did C get, and which one did we want her to get?

Sure, I could have extended my influence as an elected officer of the PTO (I'm Secretary/Treasurer this year), but did I? No.

And while it was tempting to call up my So Cal-raised, Tommy's-burger-loving homeboy, who happens to be the Principal at C's school and chat a bit about teacher selection, I chose not to play that card.

Another option would have found me bending the ear of a fellow seat member on the non-profit board of directors that I serve on, who just happens to be married to the 1st grade teacher that we wanted C to have. Didn't go there either.

And yet when we read the back of the postcard sent to C...

...we happily learrned that she did indeed get the 1st grade teacher we had been hoping for.

Sometimes things just turn out right, even without me running interference.

Turns out we know PK's new teacher as well. We've played poker with her and her husband before. Also her daughter was in Pre-K with C when we first moved here.

Small town wonders.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mutant Watermelon Seeds from Space

The best watermelon I've ever had was in Japan.

I was told the entire melon cost our host family close to $127 (U.S.)

My friend and I were guests, so according to Japanese custom, we were afforded the biggest slices.

The soft, juicy, fleshy red melon was sweet beyond any soft, jucy, fleshy melon I had eaten until then, and since. There was almost a total absence of white melon flesh. It went from dark red, to pink, to green. How is that possible?

It was chilled in the icebox (don't submerge your melon in a horse trough full of ice water, since the melon will suck the surrounding fluid in and dilute it's sweetness) to perfect consuming temperature and sliced up with all the reverance of a Kobe beef prime rib filet -- which I had at this very same meal, but that's another story.

We each were given wide brimmed bowls to eat over, to catch the earthbound juice for enjoyment later. Every drop is sacred.

At approximately $21 a slice, nothing went to waste. We even sucked the juice out of every seed and ate the opulent pinkness almost down to the green of the rind.

It was that good.

The second greatest watermelon I've eaten was given to me by my Father-in-Law last summer. He had been to an auction, and got to talking to a fella who was selling home grown watermelons off the back of his pick'em truck.

This melon was everything my Japanese melon was, only about 75% as sweet. However, at $5 a melon and 3x the size, this domestic Okie melon was a bargain indeed. I'm not mathematically inclined enough to figure what THIS melon would have set back the lovely Tokyo-ite family in Yen.

The third best melon I've had was consumed by myself this last weekend. It was as good as any other melon I've eaten here in America's heartland, but it had the most amazing seeds I"ve ever seen.

Take a gander...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hormones in milk and B.O.

Why should a 6-year old girl funk in her armpits after a hard day out playing?

My wife is convinced that it's a side effect of all the PBF 50 sun block we're slathering her with.

Since neither one of us exhibits the same level of funkiness that our petite 43 lb. daughter emits (weight to weight ratio wise, I should funk 4.5x more than she does, but don't even come close), where is she getting all this pit steam?

I'm convinced it's all the hormones she's been getting in her daily moo juice intake since we moved here and starting drinking the local milk.

I miss Trader Joe's Raw Certified Hormone Free LowFat milk.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The mighty fury of Natural Gas

I don't know how much a 1990 John Deere Bulldozer weighs, but I'm sure it tops the scales a tad higher than my little Civic.

Yet it was blown back 15 feet, and rotated 90 degrees.

Remind me to stay away from 8" buried gas lines in the future.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Knot Tying Impaired

I wasn't a Boy Scout.
I'm not a sailin' man by any means.
I like slip on shoes.

Face it. I'm not a knot head.

In fact, you might say I'm knot tying handicapped.

Show me a knot. Step-by-step. Slowly and carefully. I'll follow along, seemingly aware of the process.

I may even remember the knot. For awhile.

Then, quick as you can say, "Perils of Pauline," I'll have forgotten it.

My Father-in-law has a good head for knots. He ties some doozies that inspire awe and reverance everytime I watch him tie down a load in the back of his pickup, or secure some hard won auction items to the floor of his trailer.

My Dad was pretty good at knots too. I think my brother is just as impaired as I am, so that helps some.

The other day, my 6-year old taught me how to braid her hair. She grew weary of the "pony-tail" (single), "doggie-ears" (double pony tails), or the "just-worn-straight-down" styled varieties that my male hairstyling genes are capable of doing.

She felt I needed to expand my hair styling repertoire so... guided by the loving and patient hand of C, I dove into the dreaded braid.

Even though my knot tying impaired brain battled furiously in it's efforts to guide my stubby sausage digits to do the wrong thing, I eventually got it.

In theory.

Now I just need lots and lots and lots of practice. Good thing I have two daughters.

Next up, the French Braid. I may need to go back to Grad School for that one.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The horror continues...

Apparently the car dealership at the center of the controversy surrounding the dismissal of two OU Football players is getting death threats.

Over 170 so far, and season opening kickoff isn't until September 2.

I told you OU fans weren't fair weather.

In response, the dealership has been innundating the local radio and tv stations with a commercial that basically denies their involvement in the OU season killing scandal.

They've also installed a pop-up on their website...

Hope they weren't projecting any record sales for this month...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Road Kill #2 - almost a year later

It's been almost a year since my first road kill.

My family was with me. It was a warm summer dusk as we drove in from town on the divided interstate.

The highway must draw the swarms of bugs to it's sun warmed asphalt, because that's where our car seems to pick up the majority of it's extra weight.

Not from the groceries filling the trunk.
Not from the gasoline at 6 lbs. and $2.89 a gallon.
Not from the acres and acres of school supplies we have to collect for the girls.

But from the millions of bug carcasses blanketing the front fascia and windshield of our just washed-and-waxed import.

That evening, the bugs were thick and swarming in vicious packs above the road. The local avian population does it's best to eat their fill and rid the night air of yet another no-see-um, or skeeter.

Many times, I've witnessed feathered kamikaze's dart into my car's path, only to get a mouthful of gnats, then disappear into the night

Many times I've yelled outloud, "watch out bird," as my brain kicks into defense mode and my foot momentarily gets off the accelerator.

Many times, I've wondered just how tasty a mosquito must be for a bird to play chicken (pun intended) with my un-fast and un-furious Civic rice mobile.

But this time... we all heard the unmisakable "thud" of miniscule flesh and bone hitting our grill...
...saw the billowing "poof" of feathers trailing behind us...
...and felt the momentary nausea of yet another of nature's creatures getting snuffed out (think how Ben Kenobi felt after Tarkin blew up Leia's home planet "just for fun?")...

...I knew this would not be one of those other many times.

Comments from the peanut gallery in the back seat?

C - "Did we just get hit by a bird? - My 6-year old thinking like the future attorney she'll become. Blame the other guy. We didn't hit the hit us.

PK - "Look at all the feathers. How come we don't have feathers." - For a small bird, there was an amazing amount of feathers flying around. PK is in her question asking stage right now.

S - "Oooh, poor bird. Did he come out the back? I hope he's not stuck in the front grill." - Notice how a dead bird becomes a "he" when my wife discusses it. If it made it and survived, I'm sure the bird would become a "she" when described in a future memory.

BTW, in response to S' comments above...

Yes, it did, it wasn't.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Simple math to a better life

Out here in the country, applying some simple math to one's daily activities may extend those daily activities by another day.

Case in point...

Where:N = Night (enveloping darkness)
CPR = Country/Private roads (no street lamps overhead)
ATV = All-Terrain-Vehicle (4-wheelin', yee hah!)
IH - Inoperative Headlight ($23 at the local Napa)
And given the following:
  • A 16-foot trailer parked on the road, while not too common an occurance, does happen
  • It's dark at 1:35 a.m. in the morning
  • Private roads are usually on private property, meaning that the person driving on said private road should probably be aware what is on said private property.

    Unless of course, they're trespassing or mentally impaired in some alcoholic induced manner.

  • N (ATV+IH) / CPR =

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Oh the horror!

    Local media is abuzz this morning about the following news...."Rhett Bomar and J.D. Quinn were dismissed from the University of Oklahoma football team Wednesday after a school investigation determined they had been paid for hours they did not work at a Norman car dealership"Columnist Jenni Carlson of the barely legible state rag, The Oklahoman, summed it up nicely..."I know all the fans where I work have just acquired high blood pressure and a few, we have put on suicide watch. They are in total disbelief. "

    "Rhett Bomar is gone, dismissed from the Oklahoma football team along with roommate J.D. Quinn because the zeros on their paychecks didn’t jive with the hours on their timecards. That’s a big-time NCAA violation, and that’s a ticket on the first train out of Norman."

    "But with the Sooners’ starting quarterback goes the high hopes for this season."

    "Forget a No. 1 ranking in the preseason polls."

    "Forget an undefeated season."

    "Forget a national title."
    My favorite quote of the day came from a morning drive time FM jock who enthusiastically bellowed,

    "This is no time to jump off the Sooner Schooner!"

    Which was surprising to me since I have never seen a state with so few fair weather fans as here in Oklahoma. The dedication the sports fanatics here in the Sooner state demonstrate for their teams through good times and bad is commendable.

    Little more than 30 days to kickoff and the sleeping *giant awakes.

    *No, not the OU Football team, I'm talking about the OU Fans in their XXXXXL Sooner T-shirts.

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006


    Yesterday afternoon, C got a call from a Kinder classmate inviting her to come to the VBS at her church that evening.

    VBS = Vacation Bible School

    Out here, VBS also equals big business for the local churches. Kind of like Pledge Drive Week at PBS.

    Anyhow, C showed interest in going, so I fixed an early dinner for the girls, and rushed out of the house to drop her off at 6 p.m. I got her registered, she found her classmate that had invited her, and all seemed well.

    Until I saw that all the little kids in her group were carrying $1 bills in their hands.

    I asked why.

    To put in the collection plate, I was told.

    Apparently, it was Boys vs. Girls to see who could collect the most money. The winner gets to hit one of the First Action Heroes in the face with a creme pie.

    Fair enough. But I hadn't brought along my money clip. I'll be back.

    10 block drive home. Get some dough. Get back. PK fell asleep in the car. Collect her in my arms, rush back inside. Make the cash handoff to C. All is well.

    FF three hours later and we pick C up. She's obviously stressed out about something. Not your happy, bounding about 6-year old. Perhaps she's just tired, being an hour past her normal bedtime. We get her home, bathed, and ready for bed.

    Time to cuddle over some books and discuss the day.

    "What'd you learn at VBS tonight? Did you have a good time?"

    "Well, not really."

    Here is comes.

    The classmate who had invited her to attend that evening, ditched her and didn't pay any attention to her all night. Nice.

    The girls were way behind the boys in payola so Joseph, the First Action Hero of the night, "encouraged" the girls to step up their efforts. Hmm.

    Finally, C was shaky with anxiety and felt like she had to stay up to think about who to bring to VBS tomorrow, since they were told that each person HAD to bring someone new the following night.

    My daughter takes things like this pretty seriously and was so keyed up about it she was near tears just thinking about it.

    So, whatever spiritual lessons or value she may have derived from the evenings festivities, were superceded by three somewhat negative factors.One, the fact that her friend only invited her to fulfill her "requirement" to bring someone to VBS, since once she got C there, she showed no interest in being with her.

    Two, it all seems to be about the Benjamin's, and getting the kids to cough up more moolah.

    Three, raising the stress level in innocent 1st graders by pressuring them to recruit others.

    I understand the need and desire for any organization to recruit. I understand the need and desire for any entity to profit. I understand the misguided innocence of a 6-year old to mislead a so-called friend in an effort to please their elders.

    I understand all this and more.

    But my 6-year old doesn't, and frankly, doesn't need to at this stage in her life.

    Tomorrow, we're going to the new Oklahoma History Center, then having a fun, family dinner with my wife downtown when she gets off work.

    First Action Hero Joshua will just have to wait.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Milestone #492 - Etch-a-sketch

    I enjoyed reliving a moment of discovery from my youth the other day thanks to a classic toy and my daughter's curiosity.

    The inevitable aggregate of being the proud owner/user of the one and only Etch-a-sketch is the question...
    "How does it draw like that?"I proudly demonstrated to my 6-year old the tried and true backandforth-upanddown-incrementalmovements technique of clearing the screen of all the "magic dust."

    She has the technique.
    She has the patience.
    She has the drive and determination to peek behind the green curtain.

    And now she knows how the magic works.

    After dreaming the impossible dream and finding the buried treasure at the bottom of the magical drawing board, we checked out the How Stuff Works site and learned more about it.

    We even found an online java-motored Etch-a-Sketch here

    However don't expect to find the secret to java programming underneath this applet if you do the screen-clearing technique on this Etch-A-Sketch.