Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kohls Bargains

Lately I've been driving Anna nuts with my mad shopping skills. We went to Kohls a few weeks ago because Anna was looking for some new tops. She dug around the women's section looking for stuff and I decided to give her some relief by taking the kids with me and exploring the rest of the store. I ran across a 90% off clearance rack in the men's section that was chock full of Docker's dress shirts. I ended up getting 20 shirts for about $100. Every chance I get, I have to remind her that after 10 years of working on me, she's finally made me realize by bargain shopping potential. :) She says it was just luck.

As it turns out, this wasn't a one time event. On Black Friday we ended up at Kohls again. While Anna and the kids were busy getting stuff for Christmas I wandered over to the kitchen section (I like to cook.) I've had my eye out for a set of omelet pans. A few years ago we bought a stainless steel set of pots and pans. I like them, but it takes a lot of patience and skill to use them to reliable produce good eggs because they're not non-stick.

I dug around for a while looking at hard-anodized cookware. I found these nice Food Network pans and realized they were marked down. 80% off! Yeah baby. So, I picked them up. I was even more surprised when I got up to the register and they rang up an extra percentage off of the clearance price. Here's Hope holding my $70 Food Network pans that I picked up for $11:

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Anna's Altoid Addiction

If no one else gets this post, I'm sure Josh will....

When Anna was pregnant with Tori she craved Altoids. A lot. She did not consume them like a normal human being. Instead of gingerly sucking on the curiously strong mints, she would chew them up and eat them four or five at a time. At first, this completely weirded me out, but then I tried it myself and found that chomping up Altoids gives them a completely different flavor experience, and I actually liked it too.

So, now we chomp our Altoids.

Apparently, this phenomenon is contagious because our kids now eat them this way too. When Anna breaks them out, say, maybe after the end of a meal out, there's all sorts of good breath in our van.

At any rate, while Anna has slowed down her Altoid consumption considerably she still likes them a lot. Eating them has turned out to be a rather expensive habit since they're like $3 a tin. Whenever they run them on sale someplace, she stocks up. Apparently CVS recently ran a buy one get one free sale on them because I came home to this:


Yup...that's 34 tins of Altoids in my junk drawer...
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Breakfast Pontification

This morning Hope asked me to make her soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. Tori doesn't really care for eggs and asked me to cut up an apple for her instead. After it was all done and we sat down for breakfast, Hope started to give Tori a little lesson about eggs:

"Tori, did you know that Dad and I are eating baby chicks? An egg is a baby chick, and when we cook it, we're eating a chick. I think the chick is in the yolk and that's why it's my favorite part."

Tori looked at her a little stunned and replied, "I don't think that we should be eating God's creation."

So Hope looks at her and says, "Well, we didn't at first, but things changed and people started eating animals. You ate a deer once and you didn't know that it was a deer!"

Tori just stared at Hope so Hope decided to continue on with her lesson. "Yeah, Dad went hunting and killed a big deer. And you ate it. You didn't know it was a deer and you liked it! He went to this place and they cut off it's head and gave us the meat."

Tori, seeming to have forgotten about her objections to eating animals got pretty interested and started throwing in her own adages.

"Yeah, and they cut off the legs too."

"Nu uh Tori! They didn't cut off the legs. We ate those too."

Tori, a little shocked, replies, "And the shoes too?"

"No Tori, they took off the shoes."

And that, my friends, is how the conversation went this morning over breakfast.


In just a few short weeks Addi has gone through an amazing transformation from barely crawling, to turbo crawling, and now on to pulling herself up on things and trying to take steps. Here's a picture of her unloading the dishwasher while I'm loading it:

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Mom's Work

Mom made this outfit for Tori some time ago. Now it fits Addi! Here you go Mom:

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Lately Nintendo has exhibited a lot of marketing genius. First, they created the Wii, a gaming system which bucks the trend of all of their competition. It doesn't have awesome graphics and increasingly complicated games. It's simple, fun, and appeals to a much broader audience including people who've never played video games before. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that my mother-in-law is now addicted to Wii Bowling.

Then, they came out with Wii Fit. Instead of going to the gym you can now work out with your family on your Wii. Now you can play video games and get exercise at the same time. WhoDaThunkIt?

Just recently Nintendo introduced the Virtual Console for the Wii. Now, you can give your Wii your Credit Card Number and buy "points" that you can use to buy and download old Nintendo games to your console. It's awesome! I spent $5 (500 Wii Points) yesterday to download the original Super Mario my opinion the best video game ever created.

I remember one Christmas Eve many, many moons ago when I first played Super Mario Brothers. We went to the house of some friends, Rudy and Mary Guttierez, for Christmas eve 1987- I think. They had a Nintendo Entertainment System. I think it was pretty new. Us kids were completely enthralled and I remember we spent HOURS playing it.

It's amazing to watch my own kids experience the same delight playing the same game which is very cheesy looking compared to the other games out today:

They had a blast playing this thing. Also, Anna and I had a lot of fun playing this too. We were both suprised at how many things we remembered, like where the 1-Ups (Extra Guys) are located on level 1-1 and 1-2. We remembered how to get to the warp zones on level 1-2 and 4-2. It took a little digging but we were also able to figure out how to get to the coin heavens in level 2-1 and 4-2. We had a blast playing Super Mario Brothers.

And then we downloaded Tetris Party, which combines classic Tetris with some new Tetris games, including the ability to play Tetris on the Wii Fit balance board. You want a work-out? Try playing tetris where you have to move your body to make the pieces move. Anyhoo, Anna pretty much whipped me in Tetris. I put up a really good fight, but finally about 1:00 AM she turned to me and said, "Joe, I don't think you're going to beat me."

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I occasionally enjoy playing video games. I don't play that often, but we bought a Wii several months ago and have really had fun playing with the kids. I'm not super competitive, but the last person I expected to lose to was my mother-in-law. She was a bit hesitant to try it at first, but once she got the hang of it she was really pretty good. And then she discovered Wii Sports bowling and she really started to lay down the law. She went pro in a single day, and laid waste to the rest of us mere mortals. Here's a pic of her hitting a new high score...bowling a 237!!! Go Betty!

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nimitz Museum

We spent yesterday in Fredericksburg, TX, which is a very neat little place to go visit. It also happens to be the home of Fleet Admiral Nimitz. I knew it was his birth place and have seen the National Museum of the Pacific War on the main street but it's never quite worked out for me to visit.

All that changed yesterday. You see, Anna's parents are in town so I was able to talk her Dad into running over there with me while Anna and her mom shopped. From the outside it looks like the museum basically consists of the old Nimitz hotel (owned by Admiral Nimitz's grandfather). We popped in the door around 3 O'Clock expecting that 2 hours would give us plenty of time to see the place in its entirety. We were dead wrong. This place is huge! It spans 9 acres, includes 2 buildings, outdoor gardens, and another set of exihibits a few blocks away. It does have one exhibit hall that is dedicated to Admiral Nimitz, but the remainder of the museum covers the entire pacific war. Needless to say, we got kicked out at 10 after 5 and still had only seen about 50-60% of the place.

Along the way, I learned some interesting tidbits. For example, did you know that every president from FDR to George H.W. Bush was a WWII veteran? There's an outdoor garden at the museum with plaques that commemorates each president's role in the war. In addition, there's a Japanese garden - a gift from the people of Japan.

There's some very, very interesting artifacts on display. They have the spotting scope from the USS Ward, the ship that engaged a Japanese sub just outside of Pear Harbor. In addition, one of the Japanese attack subs in Pearl Harbor was captured. It is on display in the Nimitz museum. They also have one of the B25s used in the Doolittle raids. Lots of neat stuff on display.

Highly recommended if you're ever in the area. Even Hope thought it was neat.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Kids Have a Blog

We're trying to encourage Hope to write more and she's just dying to use the computer these days so we decided to get her an email account and let her start her own blog so she can publish her stories. Of course, anything Hope does Tori must do as well so we just decided to create them a single blog that they can both post to. Here's a link.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hot! Hot! Hot!

uh... it's hot here.

Almost as hot as it is in Baghdad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It Is Finished!

Well...sort of. Still have some staining to do and a few handles to put on. Plus, I want to add one more support so I can enjoy playing with some more concrete, but it's basically done.


More action shots here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Swing Set Saga, Part IV

This swing set is a merciless task master.I finished the rock wall assembly just after midnight tonight.  Anna helped me stain the umteenth board and we finally called it a night.  I hope to finish tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Swing Set Saga, Part II

We made some good progress yesterday (Wednesday). We completed putting the decking on the first level, framed up the floor for the second level and installed the second level decking. We also built the wall supports for the play house and stained them. Finally, I put together the ladder. (Neither of the last two items is shown in the picture below.)

By the way, if you think this set is over the top, check out this or this.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Swing Set Saga, Part I

We're building a Swing set, and it's all our neighbor's fault. We looked at swing sets last year but decided that most were just too expensive. We were planning on just waiting for a while, but then my neighbor Cody came home with one from Sam's Club. It was pretty nice and the price was reasonable. I helped him put his together and then decided I'd pick one up while Sam's still had them on sale. It took us about a week of evenings and a weekend to put his together. We started ours on Sunday afternoon.

On the first day, I put together the basic frame with some help from my other neighbor, Bud. Originally, I'd hoped to get farther than this on the first day. I wanted to have it levelled, square, and anchored by the end of the day. I discovered that my back yard is even more unlevel than I'd originally thought and ran into some problems. I decided to get some concrete pavers to help provide a nice smooth level surface. Here's what it looked like at the end of Sunday:

On Monday, I swung by the Home Depot on my way home and purchased the pavers I needed to help with the leveling process. Cody came over again and we managed to level the unit. Once everything was set and we were sure of the position, we moved the frame off the pavers and dug holes for the concrete footings we'll be using for anchors. When we got done, we moved the unit back on to the pavers to make sure it was level before we poured the concrete. Good thing we did because it was no longer level. Somehow, we'd upset one of the pavers while digging our holes. We were running out of daylight and I was frustrated with the ordeal so we quit for the night.

Tonight, Tuesday, we made some real progress. We finally got the unit level again, added braces, and the floor for the second level. Then, we finally got to pour the concrete anchors. I had the kids come out and make hand prints in the concrete. I figure 10 or 12 years from now if I'm still living here I'll tear it down and have an emotional moment and ponder how quickly they've grown up. I also marked the final anchors with the names of the construction crew.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lobster Man

So, I've been helping the neighbors put together a swing set. Not just any swing set, but a super dooper two story job with a tunnel, rock wall, slide, sandbox, and a cedar shake roof. So, it's supposed to be one of those assemble in 8 - 10 hour deals, which might actually work if you had a small army of illegal immigrants to help you, which, of course, is possible here in central Texas, but I digress.

So, we worked on this thing for several evenings after work over the last week or so. We didn't have a chance to work on it Friday or Saturday, so we finished it today. I thought we were only out there for a few hours because we were having so much fun. I've discovered that building stuff is sort of like having adult sized Legos. Anyway, when I came in and got cleaned up, I noticed that I'd gotten just a tad bit sunburned. I'd actually been outside working in the nice 87 degree weather for about 4 and a half hours, without sunscreen. um, so, I haven't worked up the summer tan yet, and uh, I temporarily look like Trevor when he gets embarrassed:

And of course, I'm getting no sympathy from Anna, so ya'll will have to give me some moral support here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Glad To Be In Texas Today

Minnesota Weather:

Texas Weather:

I especially appreciate's friendly reminder to "re-hydrate at each tee". It's too bad I don't play golf.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tim Hawkins

I was looking for something completely unrelated when I stumbled across Tim Hawkins' web site tonight. He's a christian comic. I about died of laughter when I watched this video. I highly recommend it.

If you think that is funny there's some more clips on his site.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Today's Activities

I guess we have a little bit of cabin fever going on, or something like that. We decided to go do a few fun things today. This morning, we went to the Lehnis Railroad museum because they had a special exhibit on date nails. These are nails that are driven into railroad ties when they are laid in order to track their age. That was a lot of fun. The girls really enjoyed it too. Here's some pictures.

While we were there we picked up a booklet on fun things to do in Central Texas. We saw a little blurb about the Regency Suspension Bridge and decided to go check that out too. Here's a map of where it is, about 30 minutes SE of Brownwood and only 889 miles from Wall Drug. Oh yeah, we took some pictures of that too. Make sure you check out the pictures to see an Axis deer. Well, sort of. It was on the other side of a game fence and I tried for a while to get a good picture of him. However, there were some other tourists driving around and this one old lady kept driving past every time I'd almost catch him. At one point I was only about ten feet away but there was some brush blocking my view. I was waiting for him to take a couple of steps when said old lady zoomed by in her Lincoln Towncar and spooked the deer. ah well...

We've been shooting a lot of pictures lately. I bought a Nikon D40 around Valentines day and I really like it. I bought a Magic Lantern DVD guide to it and it's really helped me to better understand photography. Reading Ken Rockwell has helped me too. So, I'm starting to take some better pictures because the SLR gives more control than a point and shoot and I'm starting to understand white balance, aperature, and some other basics. I have an old Nikon film SLR but I never really learned to use it well because by the time you got the film developed I could never remember what settings I'd used. But with the digital SLR, I can see the effect immediately and it's much easier to understand how the setting changes I just made have affected the output. I've shot almost 2000 pictures in the past 3 weeks. That sounds like a lot, but it can shoot 2.5 pictures per second. It would have cost about $450 to get that much film developed. The camera is a steal. I got it on a special deal at Amazon and paid about $460 for the camera, lens, extra battery. I'd highly recommend it if you're on the market for a new digital camera.

Other than that, not much is going on. We had so much fun stuff going on today that I forgot all about fertilizing the lawn. Managed to get to Home Depot and get the Scott's Turfbuilder but never got around to putting it on the lawn. Guess that will have to wait for another day. And for those of you up north who are still enjoying sub-zero temperatures, yes, I'm putting down weed n feed and watering the lawn already. :-) It's actually really starting to perk up down here. Anna took this picture the other day in front of the doctor's office:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Texas Snowman

Two days ago, it was almost 90 degrees here. Yesterday, it got down to 22 and we had snow flurries. Welcome to Texas! This kids were really dissapointed that there wasn't enough snow to make a snowman. It was still chilly this morning so the kids stayed in their "foot" jammies to stay warm. It got nice this afternoon (70 ish) and we realized Hope hadn't fed the dog. So, she went outside and the next thing I knew, both the big girls were out "feeding the dog". Thirty minutes later I went out to tell them to come in and this is what I saw:

Both girls, outside in their foot jammies and crocs just finishing up their Texas snow man.

Michelle Obama Is My Friend

The political season is definitely in full swing in Texas and everyone is clamoring for our precious votes down here. As a result of the tight democratic race, we've gotten to know Michelle Obama. You see, she calls our house nearly every day. The polsters have this well timed. She's never interrupted our dinner. Usually she seems to call just after we're through eating while we're sitting at the table.

You see, no one really calls us that much, so when the phone rings we can pretty much be sure that it's Michelle calling again. She's very polite, but I just can't figure her out. Really. I mean, she calls and says, "Hi! This is Michelle Obama."

"Hi Michelle," I reply.

"I'm calling to ask you to vote for my husband Barack. If we can count on your support, press one now."

"Really? You're calling just to ask me?"

"Obama needs your help. He stands for change and hope. blah..blah..blah... Press one if we can count on your vote."

And on and on she goes for about 2 or 3 minutes until she politely thanks me for my time and hangs up on me.

Now, this happens about 5 times a week. I've come to enjoy our little chats with Michelle. I even invited her for dinner a few days ago. When she asked me if she could count on my vote for Barack I replied, "Michelle, we'd love to have you and Barack over for dinner. Press one now to accept."

Funny, but she didn't answer me.

Tonight, I fear, will be the last night our post-dinner time will be graced with a call from Mrs. Obama. Ya'll are going to have to start calling about 6:15 in order to take up the slack.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Today's Thesis

I've officially decided that having three kids is WAAAAYYYYY more work than two.

The end.

On Jonah

This morning the kids and I went to the bank. On the way back, Hope was asking me some questions about Jonah and the whale. We had a little conversation about it and she seemed to be pretty satisfied, so I asked, "What can we learn from Jonah and the whale?"

"We need to be obedient to God and Mom and Dad and stuff like that," replied Hope.

And then Tori shouted out, "Yeah, or you'll get eaten by a really big fish!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Caught in the act

My new Nikon D40 is fast enough to catch my kids in the act of helping themselves to extra snacks.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008