Monthly Archives: October 2010

Punkins 2010

Is it a regional thing for people to say, “punkin”?  I can’t decide where all I have heard people say pumpkin that way.  Anyhow, we carved our punkins/pumpkins this weekend.  The kids are super squeamish when it comes to…well, about everything.  Abigail assured us that she could not continue the carving (or even start it really) without nitrile gloves.  Neither kid could bear to actually put their hands into the pumpkins to remove the stuff in fact.

Just to assert my awesomeness (and to remind the kids that I am not mentally stable), I grabbed a handful of the goo and pretended to eat it.  In fact, I did eat some of it which really sealed the deal for the kids!

They did a great job carving their pumpkins.  I saved a bunch of seeds…some for roasting and some for saving to plant next year.  We’ll see how both endeavors turn out later…

I have never seen seeds sprouting inside a pumpkin before but this year, we found several seeds which had good sprouts developing within the parent pumpkin.  I guess it is possible that the pumpkins we got were cannibals but I figure it’s just that the seeds got impatient and started to grow.

So, we lit the jack-o-lanterns and had big fun making spooky sounds and such.  I tried taking pictures and was able to get a few good ones.  I looked at the ones where I moved and believe that they may be even cooler…they sort of have a bit of spookiness to them, don’t you think?

I moved a bunch on purpose…I think it looks like they are leaking fire or something

The iron age

My parents were in town this weekend for a visit.  They come from someplace north of the Mason-Dixon line where it’s cold and where Yankees live.  We never cook at the house when we have guests…not sure why but it just never happens.  Typically we eat all sorts of snacks as well and then we fall asleep on the couch – just like Thanksgiving.

Anyhow, when I do cook, one of my new traditions is to cook eggs for the kids and Emily as they prepare for school/work in the mornings.  You may remember awhile back when I got Emily a frying pan for Valentines day.  It seemed like a reasonable gift to me but it didn’t end well.  I think I have learned my lesson though.  You see, for her birthday this year, I got her a cast iron skillet.  The frying pan was clearly too light and flimsy to suit her…why else would she not like my gift?

I used to cook eggs in the non-stick valentines day pan but I didn’t really like cooking in it.  Is it weird to analyze what sort of pan one likes to eggs in?  I thought so.  Alas, it has to be done.  So, I no longer use the valentines day pan for eggs.  I tried cooking eggs in the cast iron the first day and it was just absolutely marvelous!  It heats so evenly and I can control the temperature just right.  If the President ever needed an eggs-only chef, I could do the job!  Well, I could do the job if the President only ordered scrambled eggs.  Anything else and I am out…

After I cook the eggs, I like to play short order chef…”eggs are up!” I holler every morning.  It doesn’t matter if everyone is right beside me.  I channel Mel from Mel’s diner every time.  It’s cool to clean up too…I just wipe out the pan, add a dollop of butter and put it back on the heat to melt so the pan stays seasoned.  The cats love to lick the butter (found that one out the hard way) so I always have to watch the pan and store it in the oven when it cools some.

Aside from the race with the cats, I really like to use Emily’s cast iron birthday pan.  As long as I use it, she doesn’t feel the need to place it along-side my head!

Spitball for the generations…

We were at a birthday party last night for some family members.  It’s always a good time to get together with family.  This party was especially fun as the kids and I got to show off a little bit.  Isaac and his buddies at school must have been talking about spitballs because he asked me to show him how to properly make and deploy a first-class spitball.  When he asked, he even had straws for he, Abigail and me…I guess he figured what my answer would be.


We headed out to the front porch and I discussed proper spitball construction material, the physics of flight and viscosity issues with cold-weather spitballing.  All-in-all, I think they received a pretty thorough crash-course in spitball mechanics.

Direct hit

Of course, we took dozens of practice shots at each other.  I was able to score hits on both kids…above the neck…before I ran inside to shelter.  Isaac and Abigail devised a master plan to lure the unsuspecting adults outside into the “shooting range”.  They begged and pleaded and sounded pathetic…every trick they could come up with to get some adult outside to help them with their “problem”.  Finally Granddad picked the short straw and took one for the adult team.


I was proud of the kids for the expression of their new-found knowledge.  The three of us stood and looked out over the valley.  We saw the future as we stood there waiting for our straws to cool.  My newborn nephew was at this party and the kids and I schemed about all of the fun things we will teach him.  See, I am all about passing on important and useful information to younger generations!


I haven’t always been all that interested in bugs…at least not enough to have them as pets.  I guess I have always been curious about all sorts of bugs but it was with my bees that my insectophilia became more obvious.  Anyhow, as I was looking over some pics I have taken in the last few months, I noticed a large number were of bugs.  A few were of my kids and family, but that’s not what we are here to talk about now is it?

So, here a re a few bugs pics I found…mostly pretty ones so fear not!

Ok, this next set was pretty weird.  We have a clowder (I learned that from Big Bang Theory) of cats that have accumulated in our neighborhood.  A former neighbor sort of collected cats but never took care of them.  We’ve seen as many as 13 at one time on our doorstep begging for food (and that bugs me, speaking of bugs).  Anyhow, Abigail was outside the other day playing with Tommy and noticed he was too interested in one spot in the yard.  She called me and we rescued a praying mantis.  I like praying mantises…and turtles.  They all seem so primitive and helpless to me.  So, I braved the jaws of Tommy and rescued this praying mantis.  He was indeed praying as I picked him up.  His wings were in bad shape but he nodded his head in appreciation as I set him upon a tree out of Tommy’s sight.

Oh why not…here are a few pics of the kids…they have mixed feelings about bugs.

It’s draining

I have been pretty lame about writing much lately.  It seems like life has taken over and left us without a life.  We have soccer two nights and one day a week, we have taekwondo two nights a week and we sometimes have to go buy groceries now and then.  I know our situation is not unique, but gee whiz, life can be draining.  I hope to have some news in the coming weeks about what we plan to do to remedy that, but that’s another story.

Anyhow, in the time I have on the weekends, I have been working on our house.  It’s mostly slow more so than steady, but I have to ponder my progress in between stopping points.  Emily wishes I pondered a little less I think, but I always have to work up the nerve to tear into the next portion of a project.  Once I start, I am usually fine…it’s just that starting part that’s tough.

Anyhow, I have been working on the basement bathroom for…uh…a year or more?  Yeah, I know.  Well, it’s because the shower had me scared.  Our basement shower has water pressure like a fire hose so that makes it potentially awesome.  The problem is that whoever installed it did so with absolutely no vapor barrier and with a drain profile that makes the floor so steep that it is hard to stand in.  It was really really ugly and poorly done too.  I decided to redo the whole mess and let it watery awesomeness be available for our usage once again!  Yeah, sounds good doesn’t it?  As I said above, I had to work up the nerve to do something about it.  Once I crack the first tile, all was well, but getting to that took a great deal of pondering.

I started banging on the floor with a sledge hammer and a chisel.  I needed to get access to the drain underneath so I could remedy that awful slope in the floor.  My house has a mixture of clay tile and cast iron drain pipes.  I originally thought that the shower drain was cast iron.  It had a cast iron top piece.  As I worked my way through the concrete, I discovered that the cast iron pipe was a decoy…it hung over a larger clay tile drain depending on gravity and good luck to let the water fall through the cast iron and into the clay…and it basically worked.  I was using an electric hammer to do a lot of the work (after an unfortunate finger/chisel/sledge hammer incident).  I worked without a care until I discovered the clay…holy cow I did not want to break that or replace it.  It was in great shape and under a lot more concrete so I decided to leave well enough alone.

The famed finger of the unfortunate finger/chisel/sledge hammer incident

Eventually I got it opened and in tact.  The clay tile is a trap so water was laying in the pipe.  I was able to feel through the trap and found that it was clear (yes, it is big enough for me to run my arm through it!).  The local plumbing supply place hooked me up with some pvc to join to the clay since my original plan to use a boot to cast iron was foiled.

I got the new drain in place and started the process of layering concrete and metal mesh and rubber liner on the floor to make a proper shower floor.  The original floor had a slope of 3 inches.  By code, the floor was supposed to have a slope of 3/4 of an inch.  

My shower is not yet finished, but at least I now have a vapor-barrier-enhanced-properly-sloped-much-nicer-looking-shower-in-progress!

Braces – Caller 2

A little over a year ago, I was fitted with Invisalign orthodontic appliances (doesn’t that sound fancy?!).  I am still wearing them and my teeth are much straighter.  I know, it’s hard to imagine that I could be any more handsome, but my teeth are so much straighter now and I do look different (at least my Mom always told me I was a little different…) and better I think.  I don’t know how much longer I have to wear them but I am in the refinement stage now for what it’s worth.

Anyhow, a funny thing about moving your mouth around…blowing your nose doesn’t work the same.  At least for me, blowing my nose is something I am still trying to figure out.  My mouth is just shaped differently now and I sometimes blow all of the air out through my mouth rather than my nose.  I know…gross, right?  Sorry but it’s real here.

Ok, so the real reason I am writing is to report that Abigail now has expanders in her mouth.  I know this is hard to believe, but apparently she has a small mouth.  All of her teeth won’t fit in the space she has naturally so the doc is spreading her mouth wider before he attaches the regular old-fashioned braces.  So, her top expander is glued into her head while her bottom expander is removable.  Like any good kid with orthodontia, she misplaces and/or forgets it all the time.  Really though, she is doing a great job with it which makes this all easier.  We periodically have to spin a little dial on the pieces to open them a bit wider – that’s the stretch part.  As you can imagine, it is a popular event.

A few months from now, I suppose she will get her regular braces.  In the meantime, Isaac is having braces installed in a week or two.  No one doubts that his mouth is big enough!  So, if you are counting, that will make three of us in braces at the same time!  Oh, how exciting!

In other news, for our vacation this year we will be traveling about the city on public transit buses just to see what we can see.  I think they sell group passes, don’t they?  With a bald-headed discount too, right?  And I have a coupon…

We took a walk

As a family, we’ve been walking in the woods lately.  There may be more to say about that later, but for now, I have just enjoyed being outside and seeing what we can see.  Abigail and I took a walk together the other day.  We sort of just roamed around and skipped rocks in the river and talked and saw all sorts of stuff.  Abigail was super interested in seeing the heavy machinery at one place we were walking, but at the same time, she was terrified it would be illegal to get near it (and maybe it was?)

Isaac spooked a deer right beside him on one walk.  It was only a few feet from him in a hay field and I think he wanted to chase it down just to chat.  I suspect he was excited enough that he might have kept up for awhile.  Outside stuff is just amazing, especially when you’ve been away from it for awhile.  We saw fish and chestnuts and spiders and trees that were probably larger than any the kids have ever seen before.

Abigail was so into this...she wanted to carry it home but I thought Emily might not appreciate our wonder

My work has been stressful lately, but these walks have been so refreshing.  I need to escape technology and it doesn’t get any better than walking in the woods with the family!