Saturday, September 27, 2008

Her Royal Highness, Princess Persnickety

Anna used her own money to pick up a costume for Halloween last night. It's a medium women's size. :-O

She really liked the dress, but wasn't sure if she wanted to get it or wait. I told her that if she really liked it, waiting wouldn't do much good, as the price doesn't go down until well after all of the good costumes are gone.

Plus, with her theatrical bent, there's always a need for good princess gowns.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Destination Biking

We've been trying as a family to ride bikes more now that Kara is doing so well. However, these bike rides have all been just little out-and-back excursions. Until yesterday.

Alyssa and I took the bikes and rode to her school. It's about 1.5 miles away, so not terribly far. And we can take back streets to get there, so we don't have to drive on the main road.

I remembered the route as being mostly downhill on the way, and mostly uphill on the way back, but last night it seemed to be pretty evenly split. However, the uphill sections going to the school are much steeper, so I had to work a little extra hard on the way. I even had to resort to the granniest of granny gears on the hill leading to the school itself.

Now if I could just get her to pedal!

The "party" was a meeting with pizza. The kids went into the gym to play, and Alyssa decided that was WAY too much mayhem for her, so she stayed in the meeting part with me.

Unfortunately, they didn't serve the pizza until after the meeting, so we sat there with rumbly tummies for 50 minutes, and then decided the line was too long to wait for pizza. The meeting ended just before sunset, and I new we had to get home before the twilight ran out.

And seeing as how the pizza had been sitting on the table for over an hour, I think it was just as well we passed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moosekiller Addendum - Alyssa Humor

So tonight as Anna oiled her valves in preparation for her evening practice, Alyssa began to giggle.

Her giggle turned into full blown hysterics as Anna pulled a couple of dirty socks out of her baritone's bell.

Nothing wrong with Alyssa's sense of humor, the little jokster.

Moosekiller* in Action

Anna has been practicing her baritone each evening after school. Mostly.

She actually has pretty good tone for a musician with less than a month's experience.

The school gave her a second baritone to keep at home for practicing. This is very convenient and will go a long way towards keeping Anna in band.

*No real moose were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back To School Slump

So here we are, in the fourth week of the school year. Less than a month, and my how things have changed.

During the first week of school, everyone was up and going as soon as the alarms sounded. I'd lay Alyssa's clothes out the night before, and she'd put them on all by herself. Kara and I practically had to arm wrestle to see who would make the girl's lunch.

Fast forward to this morning. Alyssa would not get out of bed, and I had to get her dressed while she lay there crying about wanting to stay home. I made strawberry banana smoothies for breakfast (usually a favorite) and she took maybe 3 sucks on her straw.

The one big surprise has been Anna. She's been getting up and getting dressed and even showering without (much) complaining, and usually before Alyssa is up - even though her bus comes an hour later.

Hopefully this is just a slump we can get worked out of.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

German Pancakes - Edible Abstract Art

The storm is gone. The sky is blue. Well, small parts of it are blue. It's still breezy enough to fly a kite, but only one of those cheap, light-weight store ones - nothing substantial or homemade.

For dinner we decided on German pancakes. These are good, and always interesting to look at.

1 c milk
1 c flour
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

Melt 1/2 cube butter in 9x13 pan in oven set to 450 (425 for glass). Blend ingredients in blender and pour into pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, and top with strawberries.

Ike Report 3

We got some rain. The grass swayed in the breeze.

I think I'm done reporting on the hurricane. I'm sure you're done reading about it.

Here's the weather radar from just a little while ago. We're the red dot. Not much going on. The storm is pretty much headed north-northeast, so we may get some more rain, but I think it's time to un-hunker down and do something else.

From here on out, no news is good news.

Ike Report 2

It's just after noon, and there isn't much to report. A small band of rain came through, and got the patio wet. I didn't take a picture.

To the eye of an untrained weather geek, it looks like the storm is tracking a little west of what's forecast, and there should be a couple of rain bands passing over our house. In fact, it's just started raining again.

There's still some significant rain to the south and east of us. Just how much comes our way remains to be seen.

I supposed I'd be safe to remove the plywood from the windows. Nah, I actually didn't board up the house. The tub full of water is starting to seem like overkill, though. But, as I mentioned to Anna last night, I'd rather have a tub full of unneeded water than a tub full of undrinkable air.

Ike Report and Hula Hoop Delusions

It looks like Ike is going to go even further to the east of us than forecast last night, but we're still expecting rain and wind this afternoon. This is what it looks like outside right now.

In other news, I've been trying to exercise every day, and several days this week I did Wii Fit. The exercises are a lot like the ones I did when I was taking a class at a gym by my office a few years back. Yow! Feel the burn!

I was also doing the hula hoop today (and doing pretty well, I might add), but Kara just couldn't stop laughing. "You really need to see yourself doing that," she said.

"No," I replied. "I really need to stick with the delusion that I'm as poised and graceful as that fat little Mii on the screen."

There will be no Wii Fit Hula Hoop pictures, by order of the Delusion Coordinator.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Preparing for Ike

Ike is coming. You can tell because gas is 20 cents higher tonight than it was this morning. Good thing I filled up when I did.

Can you say "price gouging?"

Anyway, Ike is supposed to pass 100 or so miles to the east of us, but given that the storm has been between 500 and 700 miles across, we should still get plenty of wind and rain.

We're being told to prepare for 3 days without electricity or water. So all of the portable electronics are plugged in. Heaven forbid we have to go all weekend without a Game Boy. We've filled several gallon jugs with drinking water, plus the stand-alone bathtub is full.

We don't know quite what's going to happen. It sounds like the wind and rain will probably show up late tomorrow morning or even afternoon, and we'll get the worst through the evening tomorrow. Winds are only forecast to be 20-40 mph where we are, but we're prepared anyway.

Probably over prepared, but then that's just the way we are. We've moved all of our blow-awayables into the garage. Good thing I cleaned it out last weekend, huh?

I'll post updates tomorrow, as long as I have power.

That's Gonna Leave a Scar

I injured myself this morning. Sharp pain and blood everywhere.

You see, today's the first day in a long time that isn't threatening rain. And with the arrival of Ike tomorrow, I saw this as my one and only chance to get the lawn mowed.

Fortunately, this isn't a lawnmower injury.

You see, the lawnmower is out of gas. Well, almost. And with the arrival of Ike tomorrow, we might just have a need to finally take our Y2K generator out of the box. So I needed to go to the gas station and fill up the gas can.

Fortunately, this isn't a gasoline injury.

You see, the gas can is in the back yard, and to get to it I had to go through the gate. Unfortunately, due to all of the rain we've had the ground has swelled and the gate was a little hard to push.

I was using my left shoulder to get a little extra leverage, when the gate hit an extra swelled part of the ground, which caused the gate to stop moving, which caused my head to bang into the gate, which caused my glasses to jump from my face, but not before the temple of the frames dug into the temple of my head.

So there I was in the pre-dawn light, blood running down the side of my face, and me searching the ground for my glasses like Velma from Scooby-Do.

Fortunately, I found my glasses and stopped the bleeding with a couple of napkins. The gash is about 3/4 of an inch long, and much deeper than I would expect for a low-impact collision with a garden gate.

We now return to our regularly scheduled tasks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It Worked For Me - Hot Lunch from Home

My blogger buddy Josi Kilpack over at What is a Sundial in the Shade has started an "It Worked For Me" linked list as "a way for us to share our tricks and tips about home, family, kids, etc." I've shared with several people our little strategy for sending hot lunches to school, and decided this would make a good contribution.

And this time I illustrate with fuzzy pictures.

The first thing I do in the morning is boil water in the teapot. Today's lunch menu is tortellini, so I also started some water in a second pot.

Once the water in the teapot boils, I pour it into our trusty little thermoses - one for each of the girls, and one for me. No need to make lunch twice. Unless lunch is mac and cheese.

Then I make breakfast and heat lunch while the boiling water warms the thermoses. This is also when I nag the sleepyheads.

Yum! Tortellini!

I empty the water and fill the thermoses with the hot food. We usually try to plan our dinners so there are leftovers to use in lunches. We've had mixed results with nuggets and burritos. Soups, stews, and pastas work great, although I have to be careful not to let the soups boil, or they're still too hot to eat at lunch time.

Casseroles all work very well, except for tuna casserole which is never good. Ick! Yuck! Blech!

Then I pack the thermos in with the sides, snacks, utensils, and a bottle of water. Today's menu includes Fritos, sliced apple, fruit snacks, a granola bar, and a sugar cookie with a chocolate chip in the middle, just in case you were wondering.

All in 30 minutes or less. My only fear with this method is that one day I'll accidentally forget to fill the thermoses and send my children to school with nothing but hot water for lunch. But so far, so good.

Share your "It Worked For Me" ideas with Josi. I've learned a lot, and look forward to getting even more good ideas.

Monday, September 8, 2008

By Popular Demand - Panipopo!

It's sad that when two people request something on this blog, it counts as a "popular demand."

But anyway.....

Panipopo is a Samoan dish, and is basically sweet rolls and coconut sauce. I stole this recipe from my sister Marri's cookbook. Feel free to replace the bread in this example with your favorite recipe.

(I would have posted a picture, but panipopo are so good, they don't stick around for long...)
2 1/2 c warm water
2 Tbsp yeast
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
2 tsp salt
6+ c flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add all ingredients except flour. Mix well. Add half of flour. Beat until smooth. Add rest of flour one cup at a time until dough is soft or cleans sides of bowl. Knead for 5 minutes. Let raise for 1 hour or until double. Shape and put in greased pan. Let raise.
Then make the coconut sauce:

1 400 ml (13.4 oz) can coconut milk
(Asian section of the grocery store)
3/4 can water

1/2 c sugar
1 heaping Tbsp cornstarch

Cook until thickened. Pour evenly over rolls, making sure to coat the tops.
Bake 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

With this recipe, we typically get a 9x13 and 9x9, with 12 and 9 rolls each.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clean, Cook, Party

Yesterday was quite full, and at the end I was more tired than I've been in weeks. I started by jumping in to the garage and sorting out the whole thing. OK, maybe only half. But it was the messiest half.

First, I moved everything out into the driveway, then I shop-vacced and rearranged the remaining cabinets I intended to install last spring (2007) but didn't get to. See the last 18 month's worth of posts for my excuses.

Anyway, I got the west half of the garage rearranged, then Kara and I went through the boxes, sorting, pitching, consolidating, and storing. We're getting geared up for a yard sale next month.

This is what the garage looks like now. Not necessarily good, but certainly better.

I only worked on the garage for a few hours in the morning, because last night was a BYU-Hawaii Alumni DFW chapter food fest, and I spent the afternoon making chicken long rice and panipopo, which is sweet rolls in a coconut sauce. Mmm-mmm-mmm.

One batch of roll dough usually gives us 21 large popos - 12 in the big pan, 9 in the smaller one. I decided that I should go manini on the things, and I got 24 of the little guys in the big pan and 16 in the small pan and 9 full size in the other small pan, which didn't go to the party but stayed home. Yes, I know I'm bad. No, I don't care.

Bread of any kind is impossible to rush, so we ended up leaving an hour late. No worries, though. This is Mormon Standard Time + Hawaiian Time, and we arrived just as people lined up for the food. One person noted that the panipopo was the last dish to arrive and the first to disappear. We were the only ones who thought to bring it, and were greeted like heroes who saved the day.

Well, not really. But people were glad to see our food.

Kara decided not to go, because she had been out and about quite a bit during the week, and it was wearing on her. Plus, her friend Cara is staying the weekend with us to avoid aerial pesticide spraying in Dallas, so she had someone to stay here with.

Anna played it safe with the food, and made a bunch of new friends, as she always does. Alyssa stayed close to my side and was willing to try just about everything.

I didn't recognize any of the people there, but soon learned that several were younger siblings of people I knew, and the older alumni had all taken classes from my dad, so there was still plenty to visit about.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Cold Shoulders

In an effort to provide my kids just a touch of historical pop culture, we rented Raiders of the Lost Ark for family movie night. There are so many allusions to this flick in movies and video games and TV shows that it's simply a must-see.

Unfortunately, this cinematic experience didn't appeal to my pre-teen girls the way it did to me as a 13-year old boy. Too much action. Too much adventure. Too much violence. Too many dead bodies and snakes and spiders.

Clearly the other three Indy movies need to come off the schedule, and my plans for a James Bond movie marathon have been abandoned completely.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if I didn't have the only Y-chromosome in the family. I mean, the only other male around is Tucker the cat, and he's not even allowed in the house.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Carly's New Job

These past two weeks, I've felt better than I have in months; possibly even years. I think it's a combination of things:
  • Kara's home and doing well
  • The girls are back in school and we're all on a working routine
  • I've been on antibiotics for three months to treat the Lyme
  • I've been off antibiotics for a couple of weeks, giving my body a break.
With my new-found energy and consistency, I've been able to exercise more in the last two weeks than the previous two years put together, and it's been great. I've been running and biking and Wii Fitting, and hopefully making a dent in the 25 new pounds that have made my waistline their home.

Since we sold the car and bought the van and Kara's been at home, we've been kind of a one-car family, and Kara's GPS has been the one we've used, leaving Carly to sit in a bag, waiting for me to take a work trip or something.

The other day, I had a flash of inspiration and took Carly with me on my morning jog. It was great to know exactly how far and how fast I had run. The actual numbers weren't all that great, but having them was superb.

I then decided to try and hook Carly to my bike. You can buy a bike mount for less than $20, but at the moment $20 is big money, so I decided to try a different approach.

With part of the car mount strapped to the handlebar neck using zip ties, Carly can come with me on my bike rides and tell me just how much room I still have for improvement.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Answer Is...72!

And that means the winner is Gloria!

Congratulations, Gloria! You have just won an Advance Reader Copy of J. Scott Savage's Far World Water Keep.

Just send me an email at dcarey68 (at) prism (dot) net with your physical address, and I'll get my people to send it to you right away.

I'd like to thank everyone who participated. The competition was fierce, as shown in the chart below depicting relative closeness of the guesses. (J. Scott absolutely loves charts, so I did this just for him...)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Realizing the Dream

Christmas 2006, when we all got our bicycles, I had visions of family bike excursions. Unfortunately, that dream didn't come together very well.

Until yesterday.

Our family labor day activity was to load the bicycles into the back of the van and drive to Granbury and ride the bike trail Kara and I took on our anniversary.

The bikes fit nicely into the van, with only minimal disassembly. We had a great time. Now if I can only get Alyssa to pedal.

I didn't take the camera, but these days everyone is getting left overs and learning to like it.