Monday, September 28, 2009

I met some trees.

I have no idea what the title of this post means. Miniwether came up with it a few minutes ago when I asked her what this week's blog entry should be titled. Yes, this is probably going to be another daddy-post. I'm finding the kids take up a huge amount of my time, which they'd better well make up for when I'm old and decrepit and trapped in a nursing home. What's the point of having kids if they won't smuggle whiskey and smokes past the nurses? Sidenote: I don't smoke although I will admit I came within 2-3 cigarettes of getting hooked on those coffin nails back in grad school. It was probably a good thing I was dirt-eatin' poor back then or else I would have ended up still smelling of Marlboros...

Anyway, Miniwether wants me to write about us all going back to the same spot on Spring Creek again Saturday with assorted more parents and kids.

Many
Assorted kids and one of the dads. He's a new member of what I used to egotistically call Merriwether's Men. I can't really call it that anymore considering it's grown into a large group of men, women, kids, dogs, and assorted other creatures.

I'm not sure how many kids we had out there Saturday. There were five dads, two moms (attached to the dads...not all the dads, just two of the dads!), and something like nine or so kids.

swim
Hey, our parents aren't stopping us!

Growing up I spent many a day swimming in the ponds, lakes, creeks, and rivers of Minnesota. Pools were boring, they didn't have any clams, neat rocks, or jumping branches. Most summer mornings every boy in town would jump on their bikes and race off to assorted swimming holes to spend the day thrashing about in aquatic adventure. Yeah, over the years several of them drowned but usually that was from doing something dumb like jumping off a railroad bridge or trying to go over the dam on an air mattress. Considering such dangers are not found on this sandbar, us parents had no problems letting the children splash and thrash fully clothed in the 2' deep water.

Of course, what fun is water without sand? Kids dug holes, kid made castles, kids poured water on the castles, kids buried other kids, etc...

Buried
We are still trying to get all the sand out of the washing machine. Note to self: next time do a better job of hosing them off!

And then there's the fire/food combo so important to a good day outside! Sausages on whole wheat bread seem to be the food of choice, with an occasional package of trail mix thrown in to complete the experience.

lunch
I'm not sure what just happened here, but judging from the expressions on everyone I'm guessing Mambowether just cut loose a most impressive toot...
It's posts like this that will come back to haunt the Wethergirls through their teenage years.

As the day grew on parents and kids had to drift on to other places more civilized than Spring Creek. Having learned a bit over the years, I had a gallon of water waiting in my truck to dump over Mini and Mambo to wash off the major clumps of sand. Once we got home they were hosed off some then sent to the shower. Coming downstairs after cleaning up Miniwether revealed her new friend to me, some sort of fuzzy caterpillar. She and Misseswether(!) spent some time examining it with a magnifying glass and then set it free to eat my garden. Maybe we'll get another cool butterfly.

In light of how good the day had been we decided to do a family camp-out in the living room. Since my gardening has taken over the whole back yard we no longer have a place to pitch a tent back there. Instead we just pull our mats and blankets into living room and pretend we are camping...though I must admit we've never watched Star Wars out in the woods.

movienight
Everybody loves Star Wars!

Okay, those of you getting sick of all the daddy-blogging will be happy to know I have a two adult adventures coming up. You'll just have to wait a bit.

Adventure! Excitement! More Sand!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back in the Green

Picture6
Proof we are good dads.

It's been about a month since I've been in the woods, which is probably my longest time away from the Green since China. The fact that I was out there with fellow dads and their kids just made it all that much better (of course the massive amounts of stick-roasted sausages and marshmallows certainly helped, too!). Bababrad was back from Africa, Dr. Zyme was escaping in-laws, and I could walk again. Where better place to gather with our kids than Spring Creek?

Picture1
Not shown, Dr. Zyme. Someone had to take the picture.

Years of exploring out there has given me many secret spots such as this sandbar. I wish I could say it's untouched but alas, this time we discovered a number of beer bottles and assorted other trash. Grrr. Some humans just need to be moved lower down the food chain.

Picture5
I have a feeling the CPSC would not approve of using empty bottles as toys. Oh well.
Sidenote: I policed the area for broken glass before letting the kids run barefoot.

The weather lately has been awesome with lower temps than normal. It's been getting down into the low 70's at night which is awesome...in theory. Anyway, after the 100's of summer this new "Fall" thing is quite refreshing. I think they should have it every year.

Now whenever Miniwether returns to nature interesting bugs seem to flock too her. She's kind of like one of the Disney Princesses (did you seriously think I'd link to THAT?!) who walks into the forest, whistles, and suddenly has dozens of cute woodland critters willing and ready to help out. Only in Miniwether's case these woodland critters usually have 0, 6, or 8 legs and eat their mates.

Picture3
She loves this sort of thing.

Meanwhile us men did what men have done since the later half of caveman times: build fire - eat meat!

Picture7
Starting the fire with flint and steel.

I was out of practice with my fire kit, so it took me a little over five minutes to get the fire going. After that it became a big, manly sausage-fest!

What?

There were mesquite-smoke sausages, there were cheese-filled sausages, there were jalapeno-sausages, there were...oh wait, I get it. Good grief people!

Now, where there are men, fire, and children there also needs to be marshmallows. Mambowether decided she preferred her marshmallows "raw" as she called it, but the rest of us (er, I mean the kids) wanted them nicely toasted. If one just happened to catch fire well then one of us dad HAD to eat it. We certainly wouldn't want it to go to waste. Eventually there was nothing left to eat but a few heels from the loaf of bread we had brought along. Mambowether likes that part of the bread so she gobbled those up. After that there was nothing to do but sit by the fire and talk while the kids played in the water. This doing nothing took a good two hours.

Eventually it was time to erase the fire, police the area for trash (ours and others), and head back to what y'all call "civilization". The kids were all coated in sand, a lot of which ended up in my truck and most of the rest got hosed off them in the backyard. After that came a real bath followed by me frantically trying to clean up all the sand they managed to track into the house even after the afore-mentioned hosing.

I think it's important for kids to get caked in mud and sand every so often. I've seen children in parks that were afraid of a puddle and I've seen parents freak out when their kid picked up a handful of mud. That just doesn't seem healthy to me. How can a child develop an appreciation for nature when coming in contact with it scares them or their parents?! Go out, get dirty, clean up after yourself. In the long run that will make the world a much better place.

Adventure! Excitement! Sand!

Sidenote: It was so great that we are going to do it again next Saturday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aftermaths can be fun!

As long as you are adequately prepared...

So I know some people who told some people about the big, week-long block party my street had after hurricane Ike. Turns out one of those people told is a writer for the magazine Popular Mechanics. Turns out this writer was preparing an article on The Rules of Survival for the October, 2009 issue of PM magazine. Turns out this particular issue is devoted to self-reliance, survival, and general preparedness.

PopularMechanics
Here's what it looks like.

Photo 25
I'm on pages 71-72 as an example of survival rule #4: Outlast the Aftermath!

Yep, I am now the mainstream model of how to be prepared! Pretty scary, huh?

Okay, now that I'm famous you'll all look up to me and hang on my every word, right? So here is my word: PREPARE

Prepare for what, you are probably asking. And to that question I respond, "How the heck should I know?!"

You know what threats are in your life (flooding, job loss, car accident, hurricane, earthquake, zombies...). Sit down and make a list of these threats and rank them in order of likelihood.

Here's mine:
1. accident while adventuring
2. trapped in car or at work due to flooding
3. car accident (me or other)
4. job loss
5. train derailment carrying hazardous materials
6. power outage
7. hurricane
8. house fire
9. terrorist attack
10. buying Misseswether wrong gift on birthday/Christmas/Valentine's Day/Mother's Day

Okay, now that you have a handle on your threats you can start preparing for them.

"But won't the government come in an rescue me?!" you might be thinking.

To that I answer, "Welcome home, Gilligan! It must feel great to finally be rescued from that island."

Seriously, the local, state, and federal governments are all asking people to have 3 to 7 days worth of water, medicines, food, and other emergency gear on hand.



Being prepared does not mean being some Burt Gummer clone with a bomb shelter filled guns, MREs, and bibles.
It means having a few jugs of water on hand (1 gal. per person per day).
It means next time you are at the store you pick up two jars of peanut butter instead of one, along with a few extra cans of other food you already eat. It means having a small radio, flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit ready to go. It means having all your friend's and family's phone numbers written down along with copies of your insurance policies, prescriptions, and kid's immunization records in a folder you can grab and run in case you have to leave your home in an emergency.

Once you have those things in place you are already way ahead of the game. I'll admit taking charge of one's life isn't for everyone. A lot of people prefer to stand around clueless and lost in an emergency but from what I know of y'all that's not your style.

Adventure! Excitement! Grover!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Getting better

The stitches come out tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and I dumped the crutches yesterday (Sunday). I still walk like one-legged pirate but that's okay. The time down did give me a chance to experiment with something I've been wanting to do: check out the rockin' facial hair I grew while stuck laying in bed:

Photo 7
My facial hair. It rocks.

Yes, that is a stuffed K-9 in the background.

As mentioned earlier I ended up having to go into work five days earlier than planned to redo some testing that had been disrupted. Then the three-day weekend hit and I still had limited mobility. I was able to take Mambowether to the park to feed ducks Saturday morning while Misseswether and Miniwether were at their classes. The park trip was going quite well up until Mambo was mugged for her tortillas by several dozen ducks. These were some foul...fowl (sorry I couldn't resist).

Ducks
Ducks. You can't trust them. Luckily you can eat them. Well, not these...at least while others are watching. I mean in the generic sense that ducks are edible. They aren't my favorite but cooked right they aren't bad.

But I digress.

For years (well, five years anyway) Misseswether and I have had an arrangement where she stays at home with the girls while I work. When I get home in the evening I become responsible for the kids as well as on weekends. However, holidays and vacation days when I'm off work are mine to spend as I see fit. It's great arrangement...as long as you feel no guilt. The girls have reached a point in interactiveness that I feel bad now about ditching them so I can have fun on my days off. So today I had thoughts of disappearing off somewhere (probably to my computer) but...I took the girls fishing instead. Miniwether had been begging to go as had Mambowether (who does whatever Mini does).

Fish2
They win.

We went to Tamarack park in The Woodlands. Previous fishing trips there had been fantastic. I figured nothing had changed. Wrong: it was loaded with a lot more minnows and turtles than last time.

Turtles
Also edible.

The fish weren't biting quite as well as last time, however Mambo did manage to catch one without freaking out and tossing her new rod into the pond.

Fish1
Mambo vs. a fish

Of course by "catch one" I mean I caught it and handed the rod to her to reel in. She refused to pose with it or even lift it out of the water. Too bad, it was actually a pretty nice fish. On the plus side she is getting over her fear of worms. She'll pet them now and even held one for a little bit.

Meanwhile Miniwether wasn't having much luck. The fish kept stealing her worms but she did manage to catch the same turtle...three times. I had removed the barb from her hook to make catch-and-release of the fish easier. This also helped a great deal with that damn turtle. Sadly I wasn't able to get a good picture of this gluttonous turtle.

Miniwether LOVES fishing but it was still brutally hot and lunchtime was approaching. She wants to go again later today but I'm claiming at least a small part of the day for me. Hey, I'm not perfect.

Adventure! Excitement! Daddy-blogging!

I'm such a geek.

Gnar Wars by Mike Benson from Mike Benson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

So very, very angry right now...

I just received an e-mail from my lab tech. Someone (not her) turned off my testing oven at some unknown time while I've been out. Doing so has rendered three months worth of testing useless. I have to start over from the beginning. I am so fracken ticked right now.

I'll have to go in to work tomorrow and try and see what can be done. So much for more recuperation.

Dammit.

Adventure! Excitement! RAGE!