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Dazed indeed!

Did you hear that?  This entire week, it has sounded as if the entire planet was letting out a huge groan.  The San Andreas fault was not shifting.  BrittneySpears didn’t show he naughty bits to the world again.  No, school started.  Kids everywhere seemed to deflate a bit.  Of course, there must be balance in the universe, and indeed there was.   As kids were groaning, parents let out a cheer.  The same thing played out in our house…

Heehaw! 08_26_2009 300

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I don’t think they were as amused as we were.  Really, we are all a little excited and a little sad for school to start again…

Click to see the videos



Alas, we are back in school and that means we get down to business now. Of course, there must be balance in the universe…

I have a crush

My blog friend June Cleaver has an serious obsession with movie stars and I have to admit, I have a bit of a crush myself.  I have been reading the Twilight series of books so I could figure out why Emily was all the time dreamy-eyed.  She kept saying the name “Edward” in her sleep and I was beginning to get a bit of a complex.  I cracked the first book and I have to admit, I get her obsession.  In fact, my crush on Edward has now surpassed hers and I mumble his name in my sleep too…Emily has recordings of me so I will deny no longer…I have a huge man-crush on Edward Cullen!

(somewhat cool?)


Ok, so I am not the first person to have a crush on Edward.  There are tons of fans sites and many (way too many if you ask me) people have Twilight-inspired tattoos.  I laugh at those folks though.  Edward is a purist…he doesn’t want all that body art!

Ok, so I am bodering on gross here, but I really like the books.  The other thing I have to tell you is that I bought the movie soundtrack.  I liked the movie pretty well, but of course, it pales in comparison to the books.  Anyhow, the movie also has an awesome soundtrack.  I am no soundtrack guy, but this one is excellent!  We have been listening to it a lot lately and Emily and I dance around to it even more than the kids do I think.  It rocks!

So, here are a few selections from the soundtrack…

I love you Edward…call me!

I am not sure how he got through that one

(My family with Grandpa)

We went to PA a few weeks back for my Grandpa’s 95th birthday. I thought I would share a few stories about him in celebration of his 95 years!

– My grandpa was a great story teller. He wrote tons of things and I have copies of many of his writings. His stuff is so clever and I cherish it. His stories tell of all sorts of things from when he was a kid. His tales were tales of adventure or romance or insight into living through tough times.

– He was one of 8 children. The older ones were often tasked with watching the younger ones. Apparently at some point grandpa became too much trouble so the older ones strung him up in the barn. I am not sure how he got out of that one.

– He told about getting on top of train cars (which he hopped) and rocking them to confuse the winos and hobos.

– Grandpa was rebuilding the rear end of a tractor (not too long ago) when a gas leak tangled with a pilot light and blew him up. Actually, more through a wall than up…but anyhow, it melted his shoes to his feet somehow. I am not sure how he got out of that one.

(My new cousin with Grandpa)

– Grandpa got a motorcycle when he was in his 60s. I figure my first motorcycle ride was on the back of his bike. I got a motorcycle later on and loved it. I am not sure how either of us got out of that one.

– He often tinkered and built all sorts of stuff. He let me monkey in his garage and we tried all sorts of stuff. He was a genius with stuff like that though nothing ever had a safety guard. I am not sure how he got through that one.

– He went target shooting with some buddies and afterward, while enjoying the camp fire, threw a bunch of blanks into the fire. People scattered everywhere. Not sure how he got through that one.

_Grandpa loves to whistle and he whistles constantly.  I am sure that more than once, he has whistled and some husband turned his head to see who was whistling at his wife.  I am not sure how he got through that one.

(Click here for a different version if you have trouble with the above)

The stories go on and on and it’s hard to know how he survived many of his escapades. Isn’t that what makes a life well lived though? I am so proud to call my grandpa my inspiration. I certainly don’t want to ever look back and say that I only took the safe way through. I guess no one gets through life alive, but my Grandpa has spent every day of his life living it to the fullest!

Visited by a fairy


Abigail has had her first visit from the tooth fairy.  One of her bottom teeth has been loose for a few weeks and yesterday it just fell right out of her head!  The school has plastic tooth necklaces that the students use to bring the offending chomper home.  

Emily’s mom had recently sewn a tooth fairy pouch in which to place the tooth until the tooth fairy comes.  This pouch has a nice feature where it can be hung on the door knob so the tooth fairy can easily remove the tooth and leave her present.

In our house, the kids seem to have the same tooth fairy.  We figure they are unionized and the local shop sends a common fairy to our place.  She always leaves a gold dollar coin and gives the kids a big kiss on the cheek with her red sparkly lipstick.

When the tooth fairy visits your house, is she from the same shop as ours or does she work differently?


We started seeds about 2 weeks ago according to the signs.  Some folks may be naysayers but it seems to work (as do rain dances and adding a little eye of newt to the watering can…don’t be a doubter!).  Anyhow, we found a bunch of sprouts this weekend for just about everything we planted.  This first pass, we were heavy on tomatoes and cabbage though there is more to come!  I know most gardeners feel incredible excitement at the sight of seeds pushing through the dirt, but it can’t possibly compare to how excited I am this year. 

Winter is always a real drag for me so any signs of spring brighten my days and make me do a little garden dance…well really, a big barefoot, hobbit-feet-in-the-dirt garden dance.  Ok, picture this…, hollering and bounding through the dirt, rolling in the compost pile, gliding over the newly furrowed lines in the garden…yeah, that’s me!  Actually, come to think of it, the garden dance is not unlike the dance I do when I get a bee in my beesuit…but that’s a different dance altogether really.

Emily’s granddad always gets the itch pretty early too so we set seeds just as soon as we possibly can…but according to the signs.  He nurses the sprouts every day and talks to them.  We all sort of check on them as much as possible, but these sprouts are his babies. 

It’s a delight to watch him as he hums a tune or looks at the soil, trying to will the first head to pop through the soil.  We’ve all got the garden bug, thanks in great part to him.  Once the sprouts get in the ground, the tough work begins, and Emily and I love to rise to the occasion…but we always think of the simple joy of starting seds in the spring

Oh yeah…and for all of the doubters…here’s proof of spring in the South!


Isaac came home from school last week with a project.  He was to build a craft that would float on oobleck and carry a payload.  “Oobleck?”, I said.  “Yeah Dad, it’s this great stuff….”.  Whatever…huh….oobleck…back when I was a kid we didn’t have oobleck…and we walked to school…huh.  Anyhow, we built a ship to float and carry stuff but I figured water would be good enough…if it floats on water, we are golden.

Isaac’s craft did very well in the competition and he remained excited about this oobleck stuff.  We decided to make some, just so I can see what all the fuss is about.  I consulted the old intertoobs to find the recipe. 

So…before I say more…no matter whether you have kids at home or you are a solo adult, you MUST make this stuff!  Okay, so get this…all you do is mix 1 cup of water and 2 cups of corn starch in a wide baking dish.  See that big tub of corn starch? Only $2.38 at Sam’s! You’ll have plenty left over! Anyhow, you’ll have to mix it with your hands.  Just grab a handful of it and squish it in your hands…just like walking barefoot in the cow pasture!  I mean it now…adult or kid, you have to make this stuff…go try it…go on…I’ll wait!

Isn’t that the greatest stuff in the universe?!  We had an absolute blast squeezing it in our hands so it became solid, only to release the pressure and have it go back to a liquid state.  It’s incredible to play with.  Throw it in the air, float it in water…it’s amazing stuff!  We made a first-class mess on the table playing in it! We also learned some stuff too.  Technically, oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid which means it doesn’t react like normal fluids such as water or Mt Dew!  Instead, oobleck exhibits the dilatant effect, which means it becomes more viscous (thicker/more solid) when agitated or compressed.  

windows version if above doesn’t work

windows version if above doesn’t work

windows version if above doesn’t work

Here is a really great link explaining the age appropriate science behind oobleck if you are interested.

We also learned that there are other uses for non-Newtonian fluids including liquid armor.  Incredible!

Ok, so if you aren’t yet persuaded to make some of this stuff, check out these youtube videos of it.  We tried to make the oobleck dance on a subwoofer but we couldn’t get it to work.  In other news, I do have to replace all of my family room windows!

Scavenger hunting for nerds

I was talking with my sister-in-law, L1 about my new handheld gps (which I got at Christmas).  While Emily had a migraine on Saturday, the kids and I decided to try our hands at geocaching.  L1 calls geocaching, “scavenger hunting for nerds”.  Yes, that sounds about right, thank you very much!  Anyhow, I read a few hints about the first cache because I had no idea what we were even looking for.


We headed out and found the first cache which had a domino and a pencil sharpener in it.  With geocaching, the idea is to take something from the cache (which is any sort of weather-proof container) and leave something else in its place.  So, we took the pencil sharpener and left a jingle bell.  My gps, the Garmin Venture HC, has a feature called  “go to the next cache” so off we went.  I had no idea where it was taking us but we set off following the trail (which isn’t a trail as much as a general direction).

We headed into the city and found some more loot (we left the pencil sharpener and took a pencil).  Finally, we headed off on the trail of “the next cache”.  Of course, I was driving while following the gps.  The kids aren’t quite able to really guide us with the gps and the last time I let Isaac drive didn’t end well so I had to do both.

Soutside Bridge - Charleston, WV

We headed across one of the major bridges in town when the gps sounded the “close” alarm.  I debated stopping in the slow lane while we hunted but I decided against that.  Instead, we drove across to the other side and walked back to where the cache was located.  It was about 0.3 miles from the parking spot to the cache.  It was quite a thrill walking across the bridge as it is pretty high and pretty busy (we were on the sidewalk).  We hunted all over the footing of the bridge and found a dead pigeon, a snuff can and a half-full bottle of beer.  Ah, the family adventure.  We hunted all over to no avail so headed home.


The next day, Emily was better and came with us.  This time we parked on the correct side of the bridge.  We still looked all over and had about given up.  Emily was sitting in the van waiting for us to come back when she spotted it.  Wow!  The cache was small and well hidden and proved that we need to step up our vision care program.  Prior to finding the cache, she was not too impressed with geocaching.  Finding her first changed her mind though.

There are over 700 caches hidden around Charleston.  How on earth do we keep from tripping over all of them!  We have plans to find as many as we can and hide some new ones once we see some more.  Anyhow, the kids and I had more fun than we could carry in a bucket.  Each day, Abigail has asked me many times to go geocaching again.  I think we have  new hobby!

By the way, there are some more cool pics of the Southside Bridge…much better than mine.

Edit:  cheesychick asked in a comment who hides the caches…that’s part of what makes this cool…other geocachers hide the loot and report their stash on one of the geocaching websites.  We used and it seems to be the most popular.  They review the coordinates of the cache to make sure it isn’t at a school or a power plant, etc and then publish the cache.  From their site, I can download the cache coordinates directly into my gps receiver.   The last cache we found was hidden by an airline pilot who was on break overnight in Charleston.  He comes back whenever he is in town and checks on it (to make sure it is still there, isn’t wet, etc).  They can be all different sizes and should contain a log book and possibly other loot which people trade in and out as they find it.  We’ll hide some after we get a little more experience with geocaching.

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We all stayed awake until after midnight to ring in the new year! Isaac had to endure watching me smooch Emily so my evening was made! We played dominoes and Life and watched movies. It was a good time! I am a bit too tired to type any more. Happy 2009!

Gentile Dreidel


A while back, the kids were asking about Hanukkah.  Apparently they had some friends that had dreidels in preparation for the Jewish celebration.  I didn’t really know much about Hanukkah aside from the dime store version.

Anyhow, I figured in the spirit of…uh…learning more about Hanukkah, I’d do a little research on the holiday.  I told the kids about the Jews’ rededication of the temple in Jerusalem and how they only had one day’s worth of oil to burn in the lamp and how the oil lasted for 8 days.  All in all, it was pretty interesting.  They knew I was building a dreidel though so they were anxious to get to the game.

spin the dreidel

spin the dreidel

I don’t know if it is proper for a non-Jew to play this game so if we were out of line, someone let me know.  In the meantime, we had a lot of fun.  The dreidel has 4 sides, each with a Hebrew letter:  nun, gimel, hei, shin which form an acronym that stands for “a great miracle happened there”.  A cool thing that I learned is that in Israel, they change the letter shin to po which changes the acronym to “A great miracle happened here”.

So for the game, the letters are given these meanings:

  • Nun – nisht – “nothing” – nothing happens and the next player spins
  • Gimel – gants – “all” – the player takes the entire pot
  • Hey – halb – “half” – the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
  • Shin – shtel ayn – “put in” – the player puts one marker in the pot

spin the dreidel

The game can be played with any of a number of markers including money and chocolate.  Since the kids are thin on money, and since I might feel bad taking their money, we decided to play with mini-M&Ms.  It really is a fun game to play.  Each player spins the dreidel and does what the dreidel letter signifies.

I think spinning the dreidel might be the Old Testament version of Monopoly though as it appears to be a very long game to play.  We played for 20 minutes or so and were no where near declaring a clear winner.  In other news, I can confirm that M&Ms will melt in your hand.

Anyhow, we learned a little about other people and had some fun playing a new game as well. Abigail asked me if we could play again this morning. We’ll need to stock up on M&Ms I guess!

Of course, no discussion of Hanukkah would be complete without Adam Sandler singing his Hanukkah song!