Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Yesterday it was 20 degrees at my house when I woke up. My car's water temp didn't get off the peg it was running cooler than 140. Now I know some people from colder regions would say, "that's nothing!" And I know it is. When I was a kid in Amarillo single digits are not uncommon, along with wind and snow. I've seen negative Fahrenheit and snow dunes so high we had to turn back on our way to school because we couldn't see over the dune. I would temper their reaction to my complaints about 20 degrees with my difficulty in understanding how people die in those same colder regions from temperatures in the 90's to me that's a beautiful day!

Oh well. A few days ago while everyone was a buzz about the Lunar Eclipse falling on the Solstice nothing could distract or quell my excitment and now my almost daily thoughts of how we are marching toward hot summer days. The only unfortunate things that I can think of summer is the lack of rain. Since, we have recently expereinced a very severe drought and our fall was also very dry, I am hoping we start getting some good rain.

With the steady march toward summer accompanied by my thoughts of heat and sun, I also begin thinking toward gardening and lawn care. I am excited to start preparing for the start of gardening season which kicks off aweful early here in Central Texas. This year, I'll have my normal Roma and Sweet 100 Tomatoes, plus I'll have my asparagas, watermelon, cucumber, squash and Zucchini. This year I was hoping to do some corn since we don't have the squirrel problems we've had in the past. I'd also like to start some carrots, broccoli, lettuce and spinach but this would involve me building three more raised beds and I'm not sure if I'll have the money to buy all the materials including soil.

I love growing things and building things. I really want to try and use some rain water collection but being so frugal I can't justify the large expense for the materials versus the cost of the water I end up using. It would take almost 7 years to recoup the money not to mention any maintenance needed. If it is for simply being green that's one thing, the math doesn't work for a cost savings. I also suspect the cost is inflated because of the trend that exists here.

Besides gardening, I just enjoy being outside and feeling the sun on my skin. I have a Vitamin D addiction. Running and biking and swimming are my favorites. MGM already enjoys being outside emmensly. More so that I because she'll endure cold a lot longer than I am willing to endure, for the chance to be outside. It is one of her favorite words. I guess I need to stop gushing about summer, the sun and hot temps and get to work. I just can't stop day dreaming about the days getting longer, the nights getting warmer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Project

Yesterday, my wife and I were interviewed by a local paper on debt free living. It was fun, we enjoyed it and hopefully it will allow someone to see that debt really has control of some part of your life whether you realize it or not.

The doom and gloom part of me is worried someone will interpret our debt free lifestyle as rich with lots of cool stuff and break into our house only to realize we don't actually have any cool stuff and then I'm stuck with replacing windows or doors. I'll have to blog about my frustrations of not spending a lot of money on cool stuff which we did tell the reporter it is not a glamorous lifestyle.

Anyway, on to topic. We are in the final days before Christmas. I normally am not in "oh my gosh" mode but this year I am behind on finishing MGM's Christmas present. We purchased a kitchen months ago off Craigslist. We stored it in our garage under a blanket. It was pink and yellow and my wife and I decided to repaint it. Now, I've had some car body experience and so I have developed a good knowledge of how to paint things (including plastic) without them chipping and running and the such. However, if you're gonna do a good job you have to take your time. Especially with paint. Allowing it to dry completely is very important. Other details like humidity and temperature really affect how paints dry and act when their being sprayed. Recently we've had some cold days, but of course the great thing about Texas is how it can start out a bad day and end up a gorgeous day. Like this past Saturday we woke up to a chilly 30 degrees (3 degrees colder than DC) and by 3pm it was 68 degrees. 20 degrees warmer than DC. The problem this creates involves me working during the best time to paint and that 68 degrees is actually really cold for paint so it dries slowly. SO I'm having to let the paint dry overnight which dramatically slows the process.

So the way I figure I have at least two days until this kitchen is ready to reassemble. Which means I'll be putting it together Christmas Eve. I don't mind though... this is a Christmas rite of passage as far as I'm concerned. I'm looking forward to it. My wife has been helping me sand and paint and I think she'll blog about the process although we might both do it. Anyway I've had fun and it has gone well. I think it will look great and even if it doesn't MGM will love the kitchen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I learned more about blogging

So I learned that you can't use <> in the compose section of a blog. Apparently it translates that into HTML. Now, I acutally know HTML. I've been using it since the mid-90's. I am very familiar with that symbol use, BUT I incorrectly assumed that since I was not using the "EDIT HTML" function but the "COMPOSE" function that it would correctly interpret the symbol and add it accordingly to my post.

Oh well, in my last post I added a couple of little comments to help bring in the drama that my personality lends itself to when I'm telling a story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My sweet darling child

About 5 months ago we had some friends, who had a 20 month old, over for dinner. We've always enjoyed their company and like meeting for dinner every once in a while. This particular day I was shocked at how their sweet darling child, a girl who was always an angel, had turned into this mean kid. I thought to myself, "Oh man am I glad our kid is not in day care!" She was defiant, she was selfish and she had a blatant disregard for my sweet darling child. Our kid does go to church 2-3 times per week so she does get interaction with other kids but it is church so obviously it is better than regular day care. (said sarcastically)

I should say that two or three weeks later we had brunch with this same family and their daughter started reading a book at the table. My sweet darling child saw this book and wanted a book of her own. We told her she couldn't have that book and we didn't have a book so she would just have to wait until this other girl was done. As she began to cry because she wanted a book our friends' little girl handed over her book it a great demonstration of empathy, and the crying stopped and my sweet darling child signed thank you. All the parents at the table were SOO proud.

Just to forewarn you, I am building up to my point by trying to make my child look better so when you read what my post is about you don't think she's a monster and that we are a artsy fartsy. You have read that I was a race car driver right?

MGM is really talking. She says 26 words that would be easily recognizable by strangers, plus a lot more that require mommy and daddy interpretation. She can count to 3, a trick we worked on for about 4 weeks after I saw my sisters two year old count. Who knows if she knows how to actually count but she counts objects to three. She loves to diaper, feed, bath and cradle her two baby dolls. Her favorite song is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" which she will sing for you when she's not acting shy. So see she's smart and sweet, right? Oh, and we give her limits and do all the normal parent discipline things for a 17 month old that you would expect.

However, one of those 26 words that she says so well is, "NO!" I am sure you guessed it. As it turns out my sweet darling child is somewhat defiant. If she doesn't want to stop playing because it is time to eat she will say, "NO!" If she doesn't want you to kiss her or hug her she will say, "NO!" And sadly she'll push you or a person away as she's screaming NO! I am so glad that we had weeks upon weeks of her saying YES to everything because now it is all N-O, NO! And it is a very rude NO. It is the kind of embarrassing NO that when your parents hear it or GOD-FORBID receive it from my sweet darling child you cringe thinking in the back of your mind that they might think you don't discipline them correctly or you've spoiled them. Which causes another fear of mine to creep in, the dreaded grocery store fit. You know the one which involves a child flailing on the ground, kicking and screaming. Which almost happened but thankfully she hit her head on the floor and stopped. I'm praying against a case of the early terrible two's.

As a side note, it is very helpful that she can answer yes or no questions when she does.

So after much deliberating and talking and much praying my wife suggested something that sounded so ridiculous that I hoped it would not work because I honestly didn't want to do it. She learned it at a music class that MGM and my wife had attended earlier in November. It is artsy fartsy and seems like something you would do to Pavlov's dog, but it works SO well. It is actually bizarre how well it works, baffling really, but it works. All WE do is say in a chimey, singy, artsy fartsy voice, "Bum Bum." Said in a high note and then a low note. Bum Bum. It is like background noise, and she doesn't even know we're doing it but she stops whatever she's doing, without throwing a fit, without screaming NO, and just gets up and does whatever we're about to do. It is weird, but it works. Outside observers would think you're crazy, but it works! When you explain it to others they think you're no longer a cool race car driver mans man, but an artsy fartsy wanna be parent-child psychologist, BUT IT WORKS!!! And that's all I care about.

I'm sure it won't work forever, but having also been a high school teacher I wish I could have tried it on them because what if it does!?!?!