Sunday, March 29, 2009

For Facebook

I added a link to this page from Facebook and needed a picture so I am just posting this from my web site so I can select it on Facebook. More later.

As Fonzie Says....

Aaaaaaaaaa! That is what Elliott got on his report card - straight A's! So he gets to keep the XBox for another marking period! ha ha That is very good!

We spent the weekend helping our friends move into their new place and unpack. There were about 20 people helping them unpack the PackRat storage units Friday night and we got everything out of them in 1 hour! It went fast and we had a good time. A few trailer trips were made that night and Saturday and now everything they own is on their property. Now to put it all away! But that too is going fast and we are very happy for them.

It's been raining the past few days which is good for my grass seed. The front plum tree is getting ready to bloom. We heard the peeper frogs Friday night so spring is coming!

Ashleigh's lacrosse team has been struggling. The first game wasn't too bad, but Friday's game was a disaster - they lost 23-4! Saturday they lost 11-0! Clearly there is at least a defense problem... Every time the other team drives in, they score. The goalie is a freshman and has a lot to learn. Ashleigh does well on the field and is very physical. In girls lacrosse you are not supposed to check, but she puts a body on the girl she is against to keep her honest. No easy passes! Her next game is Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First Lacrosse Game of 2009

Ashleigh had her first varsity lacrosse game of the year. And it was wicked cold! Lucie and I had our winter coats on and Lucie had a blanket on with her hood tied tight under her chin! Brrrrr! We got chilled to the bone. It was sunny but a strong cold wind cut through. Ashleigh played well and started and had 3 shots on goal but her team lost 10-14. But 10 goals is great! That is more than last year's first four games combined! She could have won if her goalie was active in goal. The goalie just stood there like a cardboard cutout!

And it was so cold... (sounds like the beginning of late night joke!). But it was so cold out this morning that my garden hose froze. But that didn't stop me. I cranked the water right up to wet down the grass seed and managed to crack my sprinkler! So off to Home Depot for another one of those!

The wind managed to break my bird feeder hanger. So I rigged up some wire ties and a carabiner and now it clicks right in place.
All else is quiet.

Pack Rats

No I am not referring to the girls to the right, I am talking about the storage containers that our friends rented to store their stuff in while they move! They sold their house pretty quickly once they got a good agent and found a really nice place near our church. So Lucie and I have helped them load their stuff into two of these storage units from Pack Rat until they move. Which is this coming Friday. The Pack Rat company will come and pick them up and move them to their new house. A bunch of people said they will come and unload them and I am sure it will go quickly. It has been some hard work but lots of fun. We are happy for them.

Sunday we went to Hibachi for lunch with the girls in the picture and their husbands/families. Getting the lunch specials with a coupons really makes the place affordable. We got a great chef who was very funny and the food was the best ever! Our chef went over to another table to cook and didn't have nearly as much fun as he did with our table. All of the Hales caught the shrimp they toss!

Ashleigh had a dentist appointment today. Two cavities. She brushes and flosses and mouthwashes every day. But they did find she only has 3 wisdom teeth so potential problems are down 25%! Her first lacrosse game is tomorrow. We are looking forward to that.

It has been chilly around here and windy but I am watering the lawn and am hopeful the new seeding will take and fill in some spots. I think the trees are going to bloom any day now.

Finally, today is our friend Katie's birthday. Happy Birthday Katie!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Creepiness And A Crown

If you have ever seen the old movie, "Burnt Offerings," then the smiling gentleman to the left should conjure up a creepy feeling. It was made in 1979 and it scared me then when I saw it. I was VERY young then (ha ha)! I saw it was on TV the other night - uncut with no commercials - so I recorded it. I told Elliott about it and he sat down to watch a few minutes of it and got hooked. He had to pull out the "scary pillow" - he holds it in front of his face and peers around it during scary movie scenes! ha ha It is just an old creepy movie about a family that moves into an old house for the summer and the strange things that happen. It is similar to "The Shining."

When they put my temporary crown on my tooth a few weeks ago, they left a gap the size of the Grand Canyon between it and the tooth behind it. So every bite of every thing I ate wound up getting compressed in the gorge. I was flossing the other night and flossed that crown right off! Who would have guessed I would ever be accused of over-flossing?! I stopped by the dentist and they were kind enough to glue it back in and put some "caulk" in the gap with no charge. Feels good now. I go back for the permanent one in April but I don't think they will be so generous then.

It rained lightly and steadily today - perfect for my yard and my new seeding. After basketball tonight, I turned the pool light on and walked on the cover. The cover is porous and with the light on, I can see through it. I walked all over and the pool looked intact - no leaks. I think it will be fine.

Speaking of basketball, my team lost every single game tonight except the last one! I am glad we pulled that off. We started every game strong but then fell apart. It was good exercise at least. I caught an elbow in the jaw causing me to bite my tongue with my molars. That got my attention but I survived.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dog's Don't Talk To Each Other

Perhaps my dogs need to check this book out. This morning at around 3, I heard the beagle whining in our bathroom. So I got up to see what the problem was and there she was, standing in the shower stall! The big golden retriever was sprawled out in front of it (she often sleeps on the cool linoleum there) and apparently the beagle didn't want to step on her getting out of the shower. What she was doing in there in the first place... So I guided her out and went back to bed. About 30 seconds later, she was whining again! What?! So I got up and went back in the bathroom and realized that the beagle wanted to get to the water bowl I have for them in there but couldn't get around the golden! It's funny - not so much at 3 AM! So I moved the bowl out and all was fine.

Ashleigh made the varsity lacrosse team this year at high school. Last year she played both varsity and junior varsity but this year she is all varsity! She is pretty excited about that.

Today I decided to get serious with the lawn. Every spring the front yard comes in very nice and lush and full. But at the first hint of heat or drought, certain spots turn brown and don't come back till the next spring. So I usually throw some grass seed on those spots and fertilize and put down Grub-X but it happens every year. This year I raked out the whole front yard - especially the bad spots. I put down some contractors seed - that stuff seems to grow anywhere! I used to buy expensive seed and it never seems to last. But the stuff the construction guys throw down grows in no time! I bought 20, 40 lb. bags of top soil at Home Depot and spread that over the seed, and then some more seed on top of that! We'll see how that works out.

The water in the pool seems way down. I think it is just evaporation. We haven't had hardly any snow or rain this winter, and usually the pool freezes over which should slow the evaporation. But we didn't get the "arctic cover" this winter so I think it just dried out some. I put the hose in for a while today and will see what happens. I don't think there is a leak.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Ell Bling

Above are two more awards for Elliott's pinewood derby car that he won in the regional competition. He won first place in his age division (the back of that medal says, "Pinewood Derby First Place Best Looking Car" and 2nd place overall. Not bad! And I didn't know any of the judges there! He is already thinking of what to design next year.

Friday night we stayed home and watched "Eagle Eye" on DVD. Pretty good movie. On Saturday Elliott was at the regional pinewood derby competition and Ashleigh was at a lacrosse all day tournament so Lucie and I went to our friend's house to help them pack for their move at the end of the month. Lucie is an expert packer and is super efficient organizing things like that. I was just the muscle (barely!) and lugged furniture and boxes to the storage containers in the driveway. We made a big dent. They bought us our favorite sandwiches for lunch - turkey and stuffing and cranberry subs! Like Thanksgiving on a roll! Lucie left before me and took the car to pick up Ashleigh and get her lesson ready for Sunday. So I drove our friend's mom's car (and her) to my house and she was going to go home from there. We were discussing directions for her to get back to the main road from our house when I saw Ashleigh's boyfriend pulling out of the driveway. Eureka! He could lead her out I thought! So I pulled up behind him and started flashing my headlights and honking the horn. He got spooked and took off down the road! Of course he didn't recognize the car I was in. Finally he pulled over and told Ashleigh to duck down and rolled down the window. He still didn't recognize me at first because I had a hat on and it was dark! ha ha Oops! The whole thing only took 30 seconds and he lead the mom out fine.

Ashleigh's team did pretty well all day at the tournament. It was chilly and damp and it was like spring training - the coach worked different line-ups and plays. Ashleigh scored and the ref was impressed but they called it back due to someone being off-sides.

Today was another quiet day. After church and lunch, I took a nap and we laid low. After church tonight, I entered my picks in the church youth group NCAA basketball tournment bracket contest. I won it last year and even predicted the exact final score. So the reigning champion is back. We'll see how I do. I have no clue about any of the teams but just try to logically predict the outcomes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Elliott's Bringing Home the Hardware

The bottom picture is the trophy Elliott got this year for his basketball efforts. The original plate had his name spelled wrong but we got that fixed. Though they didn't have a winning season, Elliott played well and the coach was nice to acknowledge the boys' effort and character.

The top picture is of Elliott's pinewood derby trophy that he won tonight - BEST LOOKING car! Second year in a row! And as I said, he did it all himself! Well, I mean I didn't help (although I am friends with the judges!). He did get help from a friend on cutting it out but he did the design and work on it. It wasn't the fastest car in the field but it wasn't designed for that. I think about 60 cars were entered this year.

All else is pretty quiet. I am spending some time with friends helping them pack to get ready for their move later in the month. Ashleigh has lacrosse practice daily. It has been warm out and nice. And the squirrels have not gotten into the new feeder!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just My Luck

My trusty Magellan GPS has been locking up and freezing on me lately and new maps are no longer available for it. So I have been doing a LOT of research to find a replacement unit. I love everything about the Magellans except they don't update their maps often. What good is the GPS if the maps are old? So I have been reading and looking and today I found the perfect unit at Radio Shack. A Sony NV-U94T. Has all the stuff the more expensive units have plus a 5 inch screen, Sony name, new maps, etc. AND 50% off. I played around with it in the store and really liked it. So I came home and read some more including reviews and it seemed like the way to go. I went back to Radio Shack to get it and the dude tells me that Sony discontinued it. "No way!" says I. I was just on the Sony site reading all about it. So I go back to the Sony site, and sure enough, it is discontinued! Great. I got on an online chat with two Sony people and sure enough, they no longer will be making GPS units and are unsure if future maps will be available! So now my dilemma is do I wait and see if prices drop further (it is available at other online places) and live with current maps that will eventually get outdated or just scrub this mission? I wrote to the map software maker (there is one map maker that supplies all of the GPS manufacturers with maps) and asked what the future holds and will wait and see what they say.

Pretty quiet day today. Lucie and Ashleigh are going to be tie-dying her lacrosse team practice shirts tonight. Woo hoo...


Above are the top secret images of Elliott's pinewood derby car for 2009. All his own design and creation (with the help of a friend who cut it out and Lucie who did some of the finish work). I had nothing to do with it - thus it looks pretty darn good! Actually, I did melt down some lead to attach to the bottom for weight/speed. Hard to believe that billiard table was once a block of wood. The race is Wednesday night. He is ready!

It was another warm, but windy day today. Did a lot of running around with Lucie getting snacks for the derby race night and took the kids shoe shopping at Kohls. And then the local grocery store had a super cereal sale so we loaded up on that.

Comcast notified me that the program they provided and I used to make the slideshows on my web page was being discontinued. To make matters worse, slideshows created using that software would be inaccessible! So I had to re-create them and set them to music and repost them. I used Google's Picassa program (free) and it came out fine. Pretty simple. Check 'em out. See the link at the top left of this blog.

Not much else happening. Ashleigh is having lacross practice every day after school now. My thumb continues to heal, and the garage door is working fine.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Birdfeeders and Burgers

It got over 70 degrees outside - we cooked out last night and had some burgers and chicken sausage on the grill tonight. I also had to concede to a birdfeeder design change to battle the squirrels. I looked out this morning and a big fat one was munching away out there - hanging right off of it! So we went to the farm supply store near here and walked around getting ideas. Which included a solar powered electric fence! ha ha The best design seems to be one with a screen around the feeder itself. I was trying to keep the birds off the tree to prevent them from jumping over. So armed with expensive ideas, we went to Wal-Mart and implemented them! I got the feeder you see above. It is a good idea actually - a metal cage is affixed around the feeder tube (and portals) with springs. Strategically placed metal leaves in the cage slide down to cover the feeder portals when a squirrel jumps on the cage. Online reviews say it works pretty good. The springs are the weak link but I can replace those if they go bad. And some people reported that some birds got their necks broken if a squirrel jumped on the cage while they were feeding! We'll see. I moved the other feeder to the front yard where there are no squirrels. For now.

Our Pastor asked me to pick up the missionary speaker tomorrow. It is Missions Sunday with a banquet at night.

My thumb continues to improve but it is pretty gross looking. I should have gotten it stitched up - it looks like an overcooked hot dog but it is pink and healthy and not infected. I fashioned a metal finger protector over it so I could play basketball Thursday night. That gave me a good excuse for my missed shots!

The warm weather melted all of the snow from last weeks storm. Which revealed a bounty of dog poop. But I got that all cleaned up today too.

Our neighbor across the street put his house up for sale today. They are moving down-state. They were nice people.

I picked up Elliott's trophy with his name spelled right this time. Ashleigh got selected to be one of 3 students from her high school to represent the school at a state driving competition later in the month.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Refer To The Manual As A Last Resort

Above is a schematic of the garage door opener where maybe you can see where the chain comes around the sprocket. And if you are not careful, the chain comes around your thumb AND the sprocket. To the left, from the owner's manual, is the warning that says, "To avoid possible serious injury to fingers from moving garage door opener: ALWAYS keep hand clear of sprocket while operating opener /securely attach sprocket cover BEFORE operating." Oops! In my own defense, the garage door was not operating when my thumb got pinched - I was trying to free up the chain. The thumb was looking gross today but not infected. I actually rubbed some Orajel on it because that stuff is mostly Benzocaine which helped. I changed the dressing a few times and kept the Neosporin on it too.

I went to the mall today to exchange the iPod Lucie bought for church - the HOLD button never worked on it. They swapped it out with no problem. The kids were off from school AGAIN today (by the way, the official snow measure was a whopping FOUR inches!! ha ha) so we thought we would eat in the food court at the mall. However, the Chinese food place and Arby's were closed due to some big construction going on. We went from there to Sears and got the replacement garage door opener on sale. The motor was exactly the same so Elliott helped me unbolt the old one and slap up the new one. I could clearly see where the chain drive mechanism was worn out on the old one. The new one works great. It came with a new security function though so my old remote controls wouldn't work. It came with one so Lucie can have that and I was able to program my built in car remote so we are functional. I will get some remotes from eBay. To program my car remote, I had to push two buttons in the car, run into the garage and up on a ladder, press a button on the door opener motor, and then run back to the car and push another button. I have three buttons to program in the car so I had to make a few trips. I felt like running an obstacle course. Then I erased all of the codes and had to do it all again!

The rest of the evening we spent catching up with 24 and Idol. Pretty low key which was fine.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stickin Out Like A Sore Thumb

A few minutes before this picture was taken, my finger was in that glove! We took the kids to a friend's house to go sledding (it was very windy and cold but they had a good time - Lucie too!) and when we came home, the roll-up garage door was open. To make a long story short, the gear from the motor on the drive was causing the chain to bind up and not letting the door close or open properly. So I started working on it and it was cold and greasy so I had a pair of gloves on. Good thing. I was trying to free the chain from the gear and it suddenly popped - right onto my thumb! It trapped my thumb - what you can't see in the picture is the gear behind where my thumb was. Anyway, it hurt like a son of a gun and I had to wiggle to get my hand out of the glove. I went into the house to have Dr. Lucie patch me up. Like Ashleigh says, you know I am in trouble when I come in and ask, "Where's Mom...?!" It was bleeding pretty good and I should have gotten it stitched up probably but my health plan doesn't cover any medical treatment... ha ha. I was actually afraid I had cut the entire end of my thumb off but it is just a deep gash - into the nail too. So we rinsed it out (OUCH!) and put neosporin on it and bandaged it up. Ashleigh got me some ibuprofen. It is a throbbin' now but I think I will live. I am hoping to go to Sears tomorrow and just get a new motor. Meanwhile we are securing the garage door manually and will use another door for access.

I made a very encouraging networking call today. Too early to report on that but it was very positive and I should hear more Tuesday.

It is bitter cold out but the driveway is clear and the weather should warm up by the end of the week.

The Early Dog Gets The Bird

We are still in the middle of the snowstorm here and may have gotten six inches or so. It is windy and cold out so it is hard to tell and it is still snowing. I went down to let the beagle and golden retriever out (Britni and Jasmine) and Britni took off like a shot for the birds. Well, less like a shot and more like a soft, underhanded lob... Anyway, somehow she managed to catch a bird! I think it was hurt before because it was jumping around in the snow and not flying. Anyway, she was walking around with it in her mouth and wanting to come in! That wasn't going to happen. So I waited her out. Eventually she dropped it but it was dead. Jasmine, as seen above, is happy to sit in the snow and observe. She knows her limits...